First Day of the Year Blogging Tasks

FirstDayYearBloggingTasks


1. Change copyright on email and website footers

Remember that “Copyright 2019” in your footer? Go ahead and find that part of your dashboard where you can change that and make it 2020. Surely it will impress someone that you’re on the ball.

Dani Meyer suggested this option for code monkeys. . .a dynamic footer you never have to change.

2. Write down all your social media numbers – set goals

The only way you’re going to know how awesome you are tomorrow is if you write down how much you suck today. You are not going to be able to figure out how many YouTube subscribers you had on January 1st. . .so go write it down. Twitter, Pinterest. . . you know. And maybe your Klout score. You might want to skip your age and weight. . . those tend to get worse. 🙂

3. Get the Evernote App on your phone to photograph receipts

If you aren’t the best at keeping track of your taxes and stuff, time to kick that into gear. One of the great things about Evernote is the app allows you to take pictures, tag them and save them in your Evernote account. What’s even better? Evernote recognizes text in images. So if you write on the receipt “business lunch with Helga” you’ll be able to find it later just by searching “Helga”.

4. Put a brown paper sack in your car

Take a white piece of paper and staple it to a brown paper bag. And put it in your car. Then when you need to keep track of your mileage, just write it on the paper. And if you need to keep track of a receipt while you’re out, put it in the bag.

Or, if you’re a smart phone user. .. there are a ton of mileage tracking apps.

5. Create new folders in email for receipts

You’re going to need an email folder called “Biz Receipts 2020”. Sometimes an email confirmation is all you get. Whether you buy a shirt on TeeSpring, a new computer on Amazon or make an online donation, you’ll want a place to keep those emails. Get that set up.

6. Add weekly tickler to calendar to do your tax tasks/books

The CEO side of digital marketing isn’t the most fun, but it is necessary. Set up a time each week to meet with your team, to go over your numbers, your tasks, your goals. Talk about the benchmarks you need to be hitting. If you’re going to grow YouTube by 1,200 subscribers this year that means 100/month. Talk about that.

Also do your books, record your expenses and see what your profitability is. Force yourself to become an awesome manager of your business.

7. Assess your risks and what measures you must take

Do you have a back-up system like CrashPlan from Code42? Do you need to renew it? What about the life of your computer. Going to need a new one this year? Look at all your risks. Is your site prepared to thwart attackers? Know what you’re going to do if you suddenly get tons of traffic and your hosting plan can’t handle it? Now’s the time to figure out this stuff.

8. Determine Your business’s capital needs

What are you going to need money-wise this year? VA, New Computer, Conferences, Upgraded Hosting? Forecast your capital needs. What are you going to do to create this capital?

9. Change passwords

Now is as good a time as any to change all your passwords.

10. Login to your Domain Registrar and note dates

When are your domains expiring? Do you really need them or can you part with them? Losing your domains is almost the biggest disaster we potentially face. Make sure you renew in plenty of time.

11. Re-assess your editorial calendar for the next 18 months

Did you read our Campaign Assessment ebook? From 2019 you should have all the plans you need to dominate your campaigns this year, knowledge of where you need to step it up and ideas to fill in any gaps. Make sure your plans still fit your site and audience.

12. Begin (if not already) tasks for your Jan/Feb campaign

What are you doing for your audience this month? What keywords are you targeting to attract new visitors? Where are you directing them and how are you making their lives better? If you haven’t taken our 21 Day SEO Challenge, this would be a great time to really think through your SEO Goals:

 

13. Assess 2019 expenses, look for ways to cut costs in 2020

A dollar saved is a dollar earned. What can you do to save money in 2020? Got two different stock photo subscriptions? Paying for things you’re not using? Not using things that could be making you money? This last year we reduced the cost of printing our Blogging Concentrated books from $9 to $2.50 by switching to Create Space. What can you do?

14. Organize your computer to make sure 2020 files are easily found

Need to change anything for 2020? Tax folders? Clean up your desktop? Rearrange? No better day than today to work on these things.

15. Update your Gravatar and all your avatars online

Unless you’re a Realtor, most people assume you’re going to look like the picture on your business card or Facebook avatar. Only Realtors can get away with putting a 20 year old photo on their signs. Show everyone that new smile.

16. Refresh your About Page . . .your kids are not 3 anymore

Does your About Page still say you have 2 kids when your youngest of 5 is already 8 years old? Does it say that you got married last year, in 2010? Head over to your bios and About Pages on your site, LinkedIN, Facebook, etc. . . Update those things. You never know who’s reading them.

17. Stick some testimonials in your content

You’ve got another year of social media love and people saying nice things about you. Find those testimonials and add them to your services pages, About Us page and product pages.

18. Fix your banking

If you don’t have your personal business account separated from your business checking account, tomorrow is the day to do that before your first dime is deposited. Get everything set up correctly.

19. Handwritten notes change lives

Anybody do anything super special for your business in 2019? Provide lots of referrals? Champion your biz? Bring lots of smiles. Maybe, just maybe sending them an actual thank you card that comes in the mail would be great. Think about it. Who wouldn’t love that?

20. Get a top to bottom website review

From your social media messaging, engagement, post schedule and strategy. . . to your monetization execution, products, ads, sponsors . . . to list building and overall growth direction . . . a deep dive website review will give you things to work on instantly in improving your business.

Can you start a new site outside your niche?

Prior to going to BlogWorldExpo I’ve maintained the position that trying to build an audience in a new, unrelated niche wasn’t the best idea. The whole point of list building and empire creation is culling together an audience of similar interests to which you can create a community.

Starting a second site in a related niche means you have the power of your community behind you. Emailing your loyal fishing enthusiasts about your new rainbow trout site makes a ton of sense. You get instant engagement and typically great testimonials from the old people. And doesn’t it make more sense than inviting all your fishing enthusiasts to your new quilting website? Continue reading “Can you start a new site outside your niche?”

Why are you doing that again?

There are so many things to do, isn’t there? Podcasts, Pinterest, Facebook, e-books, email, Flickr, Youtube, Hubpages, Google Places, backlinks, Twitter, Stumbleupon, Cinch, Slideshare, Instagram, Digg, BlogTalkRadio, Kunaki. . . the list goes on and on.

Does the existence of a social network, a social utility or a marketing tool mean you have to use them? Of course it doesn’t, but then why do so many companies maintain presences on all of them? The answer is purpose.

When you begin your marketing efforts, make sure you have a plan and can execute that plan. If you can successfully execute an entire marketing plan on one network, then you can probably expand that to two. A well executed plan means you’ve tested your messaging so that it attracts the right people to your funnel. Then you’ve tested the parts of the funnel so you’ve maximized the number of prospects that make it to your goal.  Finally, you’ve tested the backend and have found surefire ways to monetize them over and over again. Continue reading “Why are you doing that again?”

Don’t build a Facebook page! (Unless. . .)

It’s true I’m an internet marketing guy who loves and values the proximity Facebook creates – but I’m telling you now, do not “get a page”. Stay away from it like the plague, like the green fuzz on old bread, like the highway during a construction project.

I know you’ve wanted to get a page for a long time and you’re thinking it will be a great place to post your real estate listings, or the status of your most recent client meetings. I know how valuable you think it will be to post photos of the new clothes you just got in stock – and you’re sure if you just do that people will flock to the door.

So if you’re thinking that getting a Facebook page would be a great addition to your company, you’re not even in the ballpark. In fact if “let’s get a Facebook page” is something your company has said, you’re missing the boat.

The biggest challenge I see small companies have with Facebook is they don’t completely understand the utility of it. “Build it and they will come” just isn’t a sound philosophy. In fact, it should probably be reworded to say “Build value and they may come once. Build a valuable community and they’ll be back.”

Facebook is not radio or billboards. It’s not a site to just post stuff. However, it is a great answer when you’re determining your company’s marketing strategy and you’ve reached the “how do we communicate with our customers better” section. Or perhaps answering the question, “how do we engage our cheerleaders and have them work for us?”.

There is a huge difference between “getting a page” and deciding to better communicate with your customers. Facebook pages can be great tools in your efforts to create a client community. However, you’ll hear crickets if you decide to “get a page” just so you can post your stuff for sale.

Once you decide you’re going to build a Facebook community, the challenge becomes content. How do you allocate the time? What content do you post? How do you stay engaged on a daily basis? And how do you determine what your customers really want to hear that keeps them coming back?

That’s a challenge you must undertake internally as a company. To some degree you’ll have to test what works and what doesn’t. As long as you’re treating your customer the way they want to be treated, your testing will come off just fine. Don’t get discouraged if the feedback doesn’t come right away. Engage. Engage. Engage.

To get back to the topic at hand. . . Don’t get a Facebook Page, UNLESS what you really meant to say was “Let’s create a customer community, and utlize the power of Facebook”.

Are You An Advanced Level Blogger: Part 1

What level of expertise would you say you have achieved in your blogging career, and how do you measure that for yourself? If you’re not a beginner, are you an advanced level blogger? And what would you have to know to consider yourself an expert?

I’ve put together this list of activities that I’d consider to be evidence of an “advanced blogger”. I’ll add the caveat that there are highly successful bloggers who don’t do all these things. Choosing which activities to do from day to day is a sign you know your business well; knowing which activities fit is the “advanced” part. It’s not important as a professional blogger that you know how to do everything, but familiarity is good insurance against poor consultants and bad advice.

So let’s start with the first thing you do as a blogger:

Website Creation

Can you get a website up and going, whether WordPress, Joomla, HTML or otherwise? Do the terms nameservers, hosting and 301 redirects leave you at ease or cringing? Can you upload a site via your cPanel File Manager or by using a utility like FileZilla? Do you know what to change, if you upload using Fantastico,  to secure it from hackers and malware? Are you familiar with the process of adding a subdomain or redirecting a different domain name to your site? Finally, have you customized your .htaccess file to protect your site the way you want, not the default?

Writing Code

Oooh. . . code is scary isn’t it? With utilities like Windows LiveWriter you don’t really have to know any code, but it sure is handy to know how to do a handful of things – and perhaps how to fix some easy, common problems. For some bloggers who outsource coding, knowing how to do it isn’t important. But knowing how gives you great insight into what things should cost  so you never have to accept a high bid.

First of all, are you able to make your posts look like you envision them? I would consider bold, ordered bullets, h1 tags, tables and images to be beginner stuff, do you agree? Can you do the hard stuff like changing the global font in your site? Are there things like centering photos, creating Johnson Boxes and eschewing photos that you just can’t do? How about customizing WordPress themes or knowing when you should hardcode a plug-in instead of uploading it? Do you know how to add hard coded “hooks”, change the header or modify links in the sidebar?

If you’ve done all these things, you’re on your way to expert status for sure.

Money

Are you making money from lots of different sources like speeches, Adsense, affiliate income, membership site dues, Kindle books, mobile apps, in-text ads, coupon prints and even physical products?

Do you understand your site’s money map? From your AdSense account you probably know which ad in your sidebar or on your post pages generate the most income. But do you know which kinds of ads (Adsense, affiliate, or even email opt-ins) in those positions make the most money? Are you A/B testing ads using an adserver or Google Website Optimizer? If someone asked to advertise on your site, do you know what each position is worth in the private marketplace?

With AdSense have you optimized your campaign testing ad sizes, locations and font colors? Have you been to an “AdSense in the City” event to have Google look over your campaign? And do you have the necessary channels set-up to really understand which ads are making you money? Do you know which pages on your site are optimized for “commercial keywords” and which are not? And have you tested whether internal ads make more sense on non-commercial pages than pay-per-click ads?

Have you attracted the attention of Sponsors or better yet gone after the ones you really want? Have you put together a long term contract with a Sponsor that benefits you, them and your audience? Are you finding others requesting Sponsored Posts or advertising opportunities from you? For that matter, do you have a Media Kit easily accessible to those searching?

Are you monetizing everything? For instance did you make sure to change the “powered by Thesis” language in your blog footer into your affiliate link? Are you doing the same thing with your emails where it says “Powered by Feedblitz”? Are you using redirects for your affiliate links in case the affiliate changes something or you get a better offer? Are you using a plug-in like Alinks that automatically turn your main keywords into in-text affiliate links automatically (even in blog comments)?

Part 2

I would consider all these things to be the assets of an “advanced blogging” mind, but that’s not it. In Part 2 we will be discussing “Advanced Level” SEO concepts, how great bloggers are contacting their audiences, and how they’re thinking through their content strategy. And in the final chapter we’ll explore the tasks necessary to becoming an expert in your field, advanced steps to traffic generation and how to use tracking tools to make big moves.

Are You An Advanced Level Blogger: Part 2

There’s a huge difference between a blogging hobbyist and a professional. While some bloggers seem to have defied the odds and have stuck to WordPress.com, TypePad or Blogger, the rest of us have taken on the challenge of a self-hosted, totally controlled site. But even some beginners start that way. So how do you know when you’ve broken free of the “beginner mold” and are truly advanced?

In the first of this 3-part series, I offered up some of the more advanced knowledge activities associated with website creation, writing code and monetizing a site. In this episode, let’s discuss SEO, audience contact and content strategy.

SEO

Organic traffic is one of the best converting sources when you’re optimized for the correct keywords. No matter your niche, there are people out there looking for exactly what you’re offering. The key is to place yourself directly in their way when they’re searching for it.

The focus is choosing the right keywords. Are you using Google AdWords to test your messaging to determine which keywords convert for you best? Have you tried analyzing written survey responses to look for common phrases used by your audience? Are you using a great keyword tool to find keywords that have a good amount of search volume, but little competition? And did you know that Google’s Keyword Tool is not what you’ve been told.

SEO is different for each search engine, beyond titles and tags and placement, are you doing what’s necessary to get your videos ranked on YouTube, podcasts ranked in iTunes, and your boards ranked on Pinterest? Are you using Google’s Contextual Targeting Tool to determine which related keywords to get ranked for, bolstering your main keywords?

For keywords that are bringing you the most relevant traffic, are you optimized for more than one page in the search results? Have you dominated those keywords by getting YouTube videos, slideshare presentations and podcasts into the search results as well? Have you written guest blog posts that are optimized for your best keywords? Only when you dominate the top 10 for your best keywords are you assured great traffic.

Email and RSS

Are you giving your audience a reason to join your email list? Have you tested different opt-in forms and opt-in incentives? And once you found the perfect ebook or language that inspires your audience to sign-up, have you tested the location and color and font till you found a winner?

Are you using an autoresponder or managed RSS system to contact your community, instead of relying on RSS alone? Are you able to segment your lists by their desires and send them targeted messages? Does your system give you the option to send mass email blasts as well? Have you built in automation rules that unsubscribe members from one list as they add themselves to another?

Are you looking in the “Campaigns” section of Google Analytics for your Feedburner stats? Are you actively following your open rate to determine what kinds of subject lines your audience pays attention to? Are you following up with those that opened your first email with another one of value? And are you resending your messages with changed subject lines to those that didn’t open the first one?

Are these decisions you’ve consciously made?

Content

Have you mapped out the steps that your audience needs to follow to attain their goals and are you leading them from step to step? Does your content also teach them the process and lead them to what you’re offering next? Does your audience know what your next blog post is going to be about before you write it? Do you know what you’re going to be talking about three months from now and are you already starting to plant the seed of that topic’s importance?

With a marketing plan in hand, are you writing the content now that you’re going to need when life gets really busy (like during the holidays)? Have you started creating the images necessary to create great Pinterest boards when the time comes? And have you determined if your audience would occasionally prefer a podcast or a video or just images?

Are you repurposing your content into ebooks, videos, downloadable printables? Are you then loading up your ebooks to Amazon, Google Reader and Kindle to reach a wider audience? Are you turning your great content into powerpoint presentations and putting it on Slideshare? How about repurposing your images for Pinterest, Flickr, Tumblr, Stumbleupon and Infographics?

Are you recording and transcribing interviews, podcasts and videos and turning them into blog posts, emails and other written assets? Have you turned your content into a real book that can be found on Amazon? Are you turning your blog photos into videos with Animoto?

The question is . . . is your content on purpose?

3 Part Series

I would consider all these things to be the assets of an “advanced blogging” mind, but that’s not it. There are still a few parts of a professional blogging outfit that we haven’t discussed. In our final chapter, we’ll talk about becoming the expert in your niche, how to use tracking tools effectively and driving traffic from many different sources.

Are You An Advanced Level Blogger: Part 3

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Tracking

Tracking is what separates the hobbyist from the professional. With Google Analytics alone you can know where your traffic comes from, which keywords consistently bring traffic, where that traffic goes and you can know which buttons on your site your traffic doesn’t care about. Imagine that!

And that’s just Google Analytics. There are many great ways to track what’s working and what isn’t in your business.

As far as tracking goes, are you using trackable urls in your emails, pamphlets and .pdf’s to help determine their effectiveness? Are you tracking origin sources, such as keywords, which are creating sales? Did you know that you can use the Google Analytics Goals feature to see exactly how people get to specific pages on your site? And you can see what happens when they leave.

Are you tracking your email open rate and sending a second email to all the people who didn’t open it the first time? Are you able to watch your site rise in the rankings for your intended keywords? And did you know Google provides evidence of their tracking efforts to tell you which keywords directly support your main ones?

Are you putting filters in your analytics services so they don’t track when you’re looking at your own site? When you change something on your site, are you flagging that date in Analytics so you when something you changed actually worked? Did you know you could track pretty much everything including phone numbers, contact forms and even how the on-site activity of your first time visitors is different than your regulars? Knowledge is golden.

Expert Status

Click-and-Clack became auto repair experts through a syndicated radio program that pretty much ran on Saturday afternoons across America. Think of an industry, can you name that industry’s experts? Or even just one?

Seth Godin became a blogging expert  with a book. Lance Armstrong became an expert with a race. My folks became experts on front porches because you’re hard pressed to search for any front porch related keyword and not find them. And Dr. Phil became an expert because he was a guest on someone else’s show.

What are you doing to prove to the world that you’re an expert? Have you interviewed the other experts in your field? Are you proactively looking for guest blogging opportunities in your niche? Do you have a podcast, a mastermind group, or a syndicated column? Are you providing weekly information to your local news or run a forum known in your niche?

Check the “topics” in Klout and the “lists” in Twitter. Both might seem hokey, but if you look at the experts in your industry, their lists and topics reflect accurately what they’re known for. If you’re a landscaper and you seem to be mainly listed on Fantasy Football lists, perhaps you’re not sharing your knowledge as much as you should be in your quest to become an industry expert.

Traffic

Traffic is the holy grail isn’t it? The key to massive traffic is leveraging lots of small sources of traffic to build up to large sources of traffic. Do you dominate lots of small keywords in your niche? Going after small keywords means less work dominating them. And once you’re on the first page of the search results you start getting comments, forum posts, and social media mentions. All good stuff.

Are you also writing the posts necessary to support and bolster your efforts with bigger traffic numbers? Have you completed a keyword theme map and are you working the plan? There’s nothing like thinking about your traffic generation plan ahead of time and putting it on paper. Have you completed and executed a marketing calendar complete with a hashtag schedule, editorial and holiday calendar?

Once you’ve determined which keywords are working for you, have you started dominating other properties with those keywords? Have you created YouTube videos, uploaded images, created Slideshare presentations, joined forums, and started writing guest posts to drive traffic?

Google traffic is great but it can fluctuate. Make sure you’re looking for other “non-Google “sources to maximize your traffic. And if you’re doing keywords make sure you’re concentrating on both evergreen keywords and seasonal ones. Meet your audience where they are searching and they will find you.

3 Part Series

I would consider all these things to be the assets of an “advanced blogging” mind, but that’s not it. In all three parts, we’ve discussed some of the activities that should be considered once you’ve moved past “hobby” and into a professional role.

You don’t need help, you need leverage

 

blog-leverageRemember learning about leverage in physics class?  I think the discussion revolved around weights, pulleys, fulcrums, and anvils. Or something like that. The idea was we needed to lift something heavy and needed to find leverage to make it easier.

In our blogging  world we’ve already gotten leverage in so many ways:

  • WordPress: Isn’t adopting a content management system like WordPress easier than developing our own?
  • GoToWebinar: You could always call the phone company and coordinate a bridge conference line. But isn’t using a system that works without much effort easier?
  • Facebook: Go ahead Email all your contacts your daily status updates, then call and ask them what they’re doing so you can comment on it.

Leverage is how we exist the way we do. So why do we work ourselves to the bone trying to do every other thing in our business? And then when we stop working why do we work ourselves to the bone cleaning the house and doing all that? Why is it that some kinds of leverage is ok, but others we just won’t accept?

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Let’s switch gears, sorta. How many ideas do you have written down that you’d like to do? Get a book on Kindle? Load up all your presentations on Slideshare? Do more YouTube videos? Start a 30 Day Challenge with your audience? Create a physical DVD to sell and mail your people? Do a giant coupon workshop?

How many of your most bestest ideas ever would be great because they would make you money? I mean think deep. Think of your mostest bestest idea that you wish you had time for. (Did you think of it?) Yeah, that one. Isn’t it awesome? I can’t wait to see it too.

Back to Reality

So what do you have to do today? Blog posts? Affiliate links? Pinterest Photos? Facebook updates? Worry about SEO? Email? Blog Posts? New Deals? Pin stuff? Blog posts. . . . and even though we’ve been doing this for a long time everyday. . . something tells us that it’s going to payoff tomorrow.  Right? Why else would we wake up everyday to do these monotonous things?

Really deep down inside we know that if we keep doing things this way, we’re going to keep doing things this way. Nothing will change.

That’s why you need to think about getting leverage.

Help

Leverage doesn’t mean hiring the lady at church who knows how to write recipes. Leverage doesn’t mean asking your VA to do a couple more tasks. Leverage means making a list of all the things that need to be done and finding an expert to do them. Don’t hire someone you have to train how to use WordPress. That’s adding several hours and to-do’s to your list.

Write out what you need, specifically. Make it strict.

I need a housekeeper who can come on Monday’s between 3 – 5, clean the house including the laundry, dishes and backyard dog poo. I need them to be able to fold clothes and put them in the right drawers in the bedrooms. I need someone who won’t leave all the washed dishes in the sink to dry, but will dry them and put them away.”  LEVERAGE

“I need someone who knows how to use WordPress including uploading tables, images, links, iframes, fixed width and full width pages. Knowledge of CSS, style sheets, anchor text links, Feedblitz. The person should be able to set-up and manage an automated network of posts to all my social media properties and create new profiles on new social media properties as we find them. The person should know how to write web copy and drive sales from blog posts to shopping cart pages. The person should be able to work 20 hours per week, communicate via Skype, phone and email,  be prepared to clock-in using Freshbooks, attend Monday morning meetings and be happy”.  LEVERAGE

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Only when you get Leverage can you do what you’re good at. Which is all the stuff on Page 2 of your to-do list. Going to conferences, speaking to brands, writing books, creating podcasts, doing interviews, coming up with new ideas for the team, directing efforts and spending time with family.

Get past the idea that you can’t afford to  hire someone, because you’ll NEVER be able to afford it if you’re not freed to do the things that make you money. Eat rice and beans if you have to. Just do it. 

Now iff this post resonated with you, then you’re 100% ready to take that next step. If not, you’ll get there. At some point you’ll get that “I’m burnt out” feeling in the back of your mind and then you’ll realize that you weren’t gifted with the ability to post deals. You were gifted with the ability to help people. When that day comes, you’re ready.

Dan R Morris 

Marketing Checklist

banner-retargeting-marketing-strategyHow do you know if your marketing makes sense. Here’s a simple checklist for you:

1. Tracking. No matter what it is, whether it is a guest blog post, a yellow page ad, a billboard or web banner make sure there is some form of tracking so we can tell at the end of the year what worked and what didn’t. Whether that’s trackable phone numbers, trackable url’s,, it doesn’t matter. Just be able to track it. Continue reading “Marketing Checklist”

Don’t Start That

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Have you met my folks? They run http://front-porch-ideas-and-more.com and they’re not even Geeks. My dad didn’t have any real internet or marketing expertise before starting it. And my mom, well we call her “smartest +1”. . .

Anyway, they built this great business that generates revenue from organic traffic clicking online Adsense ads. They also have a couple ebooks, some direct advertisers and some list building.

What they don’t have are dates or ties that really bind them to their site. They don’t have clients, deadlines, membership programs, forums, speaking engagements or really anything that ties them down every week. Continue reading “Don’t Start That”