A Better System for SEO: An Interview With Fresh Banana's Ray Field
A Better System for SEO: An Interview With Fresh Banana’s Ray Field

What can you do on your website to appear higher in search rankings? How can you find keywords now that keyword planner is pay to play? What is a long tail keyword anyway?

Ray Field from FreshBananas, an ex-fireman built his first website in 1996. 1996, I’d only been in Ireland a year then and was still writing long letters to my friends and family back home. I didn’t even get my first email address until the following year.

He had a lucky break and his first website secured a big contract for his client. He decided he needed to understand why her site ranked so high to he could apply the principles to other sites. Over an 8 year period taught himself SEO (search engine optimisation). Now SEO is his thing.

I talked to Ray about SEO, how to make sure your page sustains a good ranking on Google, a hack to get around the new restrictive access to keyword planner and a useful process for testing keywords.

Ray has launched an online SEO course that focuses on on-page SEO. I took the course and found it so helpful I became an affiliate. Find out more about it here.

I started by asking Ray why he’d developed his SEO course

About 10 years ago I had the notion of documenting what I do because what I do is different to what most SEOs do. Most SEOs work on links and I don’t because when I was teaching myself SEO it was all about words on pages. I did that small website for that catering company in 96 and there were no links. That fluke, and it was a fluke wasn’t down to links. It was whatever was on the pages was affecting the rankings.

The client didn’t give me copy or images so I read, I went to the library, I became a little bit knowledgeable about catering and I put the words on the pages.

So I put the words on the pages so I thought, it’s got to be the words and then I got to realise that it’s got to be where I’m using those words. So that’s where I’ve stayed. I don’t build links but most SEOs do. And that is one of the big problems with the industry.

I know a lot of other bloggers are getting most of their traffic from Facebook and Twitter. Should we still bother with SEO?

I think we need to bother because we need to look at and try to embrace any marketing channel we possibly can.

If someone is doing well on social media, if someone is earning a fair bit, a well worth wage on social media, then there’s every chance that if they look at another channel to market themselves they can double that.

The other thing with SEO is that if you don’t do anything dodgy in the way that you manipulate Google you can be there (on page one of Google) for years. I’ve worked for a lot of clients and I can still randomly check keywords that I worked on 10 years ago, 12 years ago and they are still on page one. I haven’t touched that site in 10 or 12 years but they’re still there.

A common comment I get from people is that they’re on page 14 for a keyword so they are ranking around 140-160.

They’ll say to me that ‘my page is targeting this keyword’ but when I look it’s not targeting the keyword it’s mentioning the keyword which is different to targeting it. They’re talking about it but incidentally. They’re talking about other things in the copy and on the page that makes Google think that it’s not a dedicated page on any particular keyword.

Google can’t work out what the page is about so it gives it a poor ranking.

Boris is an interior designer who wants to target bulk orders with developers. Where should he start?

What he should do is make some simple checks to determine the popularity of some of his keywords.

His first step would be to go to Google’s keyword planner. You need to have an active AdWords account.

Is there a minimum spend on that AdWords account?

I don’t think there is. What I do is I pick a keyword that is really cheap if someone clicks on my ad and where there’s very little monthly search activity. So my ads might show 30 times a month, I might get two clicks and a click is one pound.

Even if I spend £10 a month Google opens up and gives me accuracy with keyword planner.

The other thing that people can do which is even cheaper again is to make sure that the bid price that they are setting for the bid on the ad positions the ad lower down. The bottom of the page will do.

We’re trying to discourage people from clicking. We’re just running the ad to get the use of Keyword planner.

Boris is in keyword planner now. He’s set up an ad to get full access. What’s next?

First of all, he looks at how many interior designers work in his locality because they’re the guys he’s wanting to get talking to. They can move his carpets, his sofas in much bigger numbers.

If he wants to reach them, and if he’s in London for example, he’s needing these designers not just to see his website but to come in and talk to him. So he needs to look for the interior design companies based in London.

In Keyword planner he types in ‘Interior designers London’. He looks at how many people type that in, he looks at those designers and then he looks at the price Google suggests for the click of a link on an AdWords ad.

Now he creates the ad, uses wording in the ad that is talking to these interior designers. Before he sets the ad live he then creates a page on his website, he frames the copy the way he wants to talk to the designers because it’s not a page that’s going to rank for the keywords.

Once he’s got the page up he’d put a contact form, make sure his address and phone number are on it. Make sure that information is in an easy to see place on the page.

Once he’s created the page and the ad he could be live easily within an hour. That’s a simple initial step that he can do.

This is just the testing phase. If he finds that the ad is working then he needs to SEO that page for those keywords. Get it to rank and then he can stop the ads.

If he’s done it the right way, that page would sit on page one ranking for years.

If Boris identifies a few keywords that work should he bring those all together into one page?

That entirely depends on the relationship between the bunch of keywords he’s got. If he’s got a couple of keywords directly related to ‘interior designers London’ but he’s found a bunch of other keywords that step away from them his success will be dependent on how far away those second set of keywords are to his first bunch.

Just to give an example, not related to Boris.

A client asked me a while back to SEO her website for ‘VAT Calculators’. It’s a simple page with a simple online tool. I SEOd the page for ‘VAT Calculator’ but when I was doing the keyword research I realised that lots of people type in a very wide variety of other keywords and all those keywords are very highly related to the one keyphrase ‘VAT Calculator’.

So I could create a page that ranked for a high number of keywords because they were very highly related. (Just look at this spreadhseet – That’s 293 Keywords Ray found for his client kashflow.com).

If you’ve got that kind of relevance between a wide bunch of keywords then it’s absolutely doable to create a page of copy and target all of those.

In an average Google day it usually sees between 25% and 33% of keywords that have been typed in that have never been typed in before.

When Google sees a keyword it’s never come across before it’s got to attach it to web pages.

So Boris can absolutely target a bunch of keywords but they’ve got to be related. If there are any other keywords people type into Google, directly related to the keywords Boris wants to target, that he hasn’t noticed then Google will make up for that shortfall because it has to attach keywords to particular pages.

Is there any specific trend we should be looking at in 2017 SEO wise?

It’s the same one that comes up every year. Be extremely careful if you are looking for link-based SEO because Google is really hammering that now.

Before you give us your challenge can you explain the term ‘Long Tail Keyword’ because a lot of people won’t know what it means?

Let’s talk about a Dyson vacuum cleaner. If someone is looking to change their vacuum cleaner has packed up and they go looking online for another one.

What we all tend to do at the start is what we call ‘browser-based searches’ where we type in the word ‘Dyson’. We get Dyson popping up at number one because we typed in the brand name. We get tens of thousands of other pages all selling Dyson products. Because we’ve never had a Dyson cleaner before we’re not sure if it’s for us and we’re not sure if we are going to go for a Dyson what model.

We type in Dyson and from that search we spend hours over the period of a week or so looking at Dysons, getting the feel for if we want one that you drag along, the cylinder models, one that’s got a big handle on it or whether you want the battery operated one so you don’t have a cable. We generally look for information based searches.

Once we’re armed with the information, we then change the keywords we type into Google. We no longer type in ‘Dyson’ we go for long tail searches. Long tail searches are far more specific and people are ready to buy, they have the credit card out on the desk.

Long tail keywords for Dyson might be:

  • Cheap Dyson DC25 cleaner
  • Dyson multi-floor hoover

Then the buyer will pick maybe ‘This site has the best out of the nine on page one of Google’ and does the website look like it’s trustworthy?

There’s a big difference between primary competitive keywords and long tail keywords but the sales are at the long tail end.


To get into the swing of long tail keywords. Go do some research and come up with 10 long tail keywords for:

1. Flying lessons
2. Villas Majorca
3. Chandeliers

Find out more about Ray’s excellent online SEO course here (affiliate link). I’ve done it and I learned a lot.



A Better System for SEO: An Interview With Fresh Banana's Ray Field
A Better System for SEO: An Interview With Fresh Banana’s Ray Field
How To Score Your Social Networks So You Know Which Ones To Use For Your Business
How To Score Your Social Networks So You Know Which Ones To Use For Your Business

What social networks should you be using to promote your business? How do you choose the ones that will be most effective for you?

Do you ever get that feeling that you are doing too much? You’ve updated Instagram, now Facebook, now Twitter, what about Snapchat? Have you looked at LinkedIn recently? What about that new site everyone is talking about?

Your mind is all over the place. You need to run your business but how will people know you are here unless you keep on top of your social networks? If you stop posting your blog posts to Reddit will people stop reading?

I’ve been there. My head spinning, my anxiety rising… and all over a few posts online.

Marketing our blog and business on social media takes time, if we spread ourselves too thin we end up rushing and doing everything badly. That’s why, when we start building a strategy we need to be selective about where we spend our time.

But how do you choose which networks to use and what should you use each for?

How to choose what social networks to use to promote your business

Score your networks

Before we delve deeper I want you to do something. I want you to write a list of all the social networks you are using at the moment. Then I want you to give each one a score out of 5 for how effectively you are using them.

Consider how often you post good quality content, how much you communicate with customers and influential people there and how many sales you have directly made.

Here’s my list:

Score the social networks that you are using most effectively
Score the social networks that you are using most effectively

That’s 6 social networks, it’s no wonder that I’m performing badly on some.

Before you choose which of the networks you should be concentrating on you’ll need to do a bit more work.

Analyse your networks. Which ones will bring you the most customers? It’s easy to get carried away with networks that deliver lots of traffic to your blog but unless those are the right people and they are hanging around on your site for a while, signing up to your newsletter, enquiring or buying you could well be spending your time somewhere else.

For example, I realised that I was wasting my time on StumbleUpon. It was delivering traffic, a whole load of it but it wasn’t the right traffic.

You might have thousands of Instagram followers but unless they’re clicking the link in your bio or clicking the contact button it might not be worth your time spending time engaging with your audience there.

If you’re using social networks already you can take a good look at your Google Analytics to see which ones are working for your business.

Does this change the scores you recorded above?

Knowing your customers

You’re probably getting tired of me saying this, but it is really important that you know and understand your customers. The more you know about them the more accurately you can market to them.

If you haven’t created a persona yet you’ll find more on how to do that in episode 14.

Once you know even the basic information about your customers you’ll have a good idea where to start with your social networking.

Sprout Social just released a report that shows the networks that are most popular with each generation.

It’s not a comprehensive report, LinkedIn isn’t included in the statistics and it’s missing the youngest generation (Generation Z) but there’s some interesting reading there.

For example, it might surprise you that more Millenials are using Facebook than Snapchat?

In fact, no matter who you are targeting online it looks like Facebook is the place to start.

But we can’t just rely on an age group to define our audience. There are always people who succeed on networks we may not expect.

For example Chocolate Johnny (chocjohnny on Snapchat) is extremely successful on Snapchat  and Periscope even though he is far from being a Millenial and his products seem better suited to a Gen X audience.

Does the type of business you have affect your choice?

When I analysed my social networks I felt that my presence was strongest on are Facebook and Twitter. I’m a B2B (a business that targets other businesses) brand so why Facebook?

It can be hard for a B2B business to excel on Facebook and I definitely lag behind some of my customers who are B2C (target consumers) but I do have an audience there.

I work with small businesses. Small business owners use Facebook for business every day so having a strong presence there makes sense. Are my customers likely to share my posts with their friends? Not very often but it’s a good place to meet them and engage with them. My Facebook page and group have been valuable for this and it’s also great for getting readers, listeners and viewers who I can convert into customers. If you also target small businesses it’s well worth looking at Facebook for marketing.

If you are B2B and your target is larger businesses you should still consider Facebook. Are there professional groups you can join? Are the CEOs and decision makers of the companies you work with actively using it?

Of course, LinkedIn is a better fit fo B2B so perhaps that’s where you should spend your time. And don’t forget about Twitter.

For a B2C business, Facebook is a must, beyond that look at Twitter, Instagram and even Snapchat if you have the time for it.

You shouldn’t discount LinkedIn either, it could be a good place to connect with the people who influence your customers.

That’s not helping me narrow my options

So far I’ve just given you a pile of options, I may have even broadened the choice of networks for you.

Now that I’ve done that you’ll need to narrow them down again. Go back to the list you made earlier.

So far you’ve scored the networks you use for how effectively you are using them. You might want to add a few new networks to your list.

The next step is to score them for how closely they fit your audience. Once again give them a score out of 5. 5 being a perfect match 1 being a loose match.

Here’s my list:

Add how effective you are on a network to how well it matches your audience
Add how effective you are on a network to how well it matches your audience

Add the two scores together giving you a score out of 10.

Choose the 3 top scorers.

Or, if you are feeling brave

Choose the 2 top scorers and throw in a wild card like Chocolate Johnny did. Do you want to give Snapchat a try? Or Instagram?

These are the networks you should focus on first.

Try them out for a three month period and then review them to see if they are performing as expected.

What should you use each network for?

If you are going to build a strong strategy for the networks you have chosen you need to define what you are going to use each one for.

This is perhaps the hardest part of building your strategy. Consider the type of customer or the customer persona you are targeting with each, the type of content you will post and the specific goal.

For example, here’s a rough outline of my chosen networks:


Page – Share useful information for my target market to consume, promote my blog content
Group – Build a community around small business blogging. Research the problems people have and build relationships with other small business bloggers.
Personal – Share behind the scenes of my day to day life (to a point). Connect with influencers and real life friends and family.


Share useful content with my target market, build relationships with my customers and the people who influence them.


Share more in-depth content that will appeal to marketers.
Build my reputation amongst peers in the industry and make connections with customers and the people who influence them.
Find podcast guests and contributors for my blog.

Overall goal

Build my email list, get people to visit my site so I can retarget them
Use my email lists ad re-marketing ads to sell my products and services

And that’s just the beginning. Get more granular about the type of people you are targeting with each social network. When you’ve done that turn the same process onto your blog and the different types of content you create there.

By focussing on less you will have a better idea of what’s working and what’s not. It’s easier to build a content strategy around the networks you choose and you’ll be spending your time wisely.

I’ve found that concentrating on one network at a time and spending time with it can be an enjoyable experience. I find myself doing better stuff and that horrible feeling of anxiety and overwhelm visits less.

If you need help putting your blogging and social media strategy together I can help so get in touch.

Your Challenge

  • Use the method above to score your social networks
  • Choose three you will focus on for the next three months
  • Decide what you will use each for

Let me know how you get on.


Register for my FREE webinar: Top 5 Mistakes Businesses Make on Twitter (And How to Avoid Them)



How To Score Your Social Networks So You Know Which Ones To Use For Your Business
How To Score Your Social Networks So You Know Which Ones To Use For Your Business
How To Make Better Facebook Ads With Split Testing
How To Make Better Facebook Ads With Split Testing

Split testing Facebook ads will help you get better results.

I remember when I started using Facebook ads. I was blown away at how effective they could be. I loved the targeting and it seemed like by spending just a few euros I could get the results I wanted.

As more businesses started to recognise how effective Facebook ads could be they became more competitive. All of a sudden there were hundreds, if not thousands of advertisers wrangling for the limited advertising space in the newsfeed.

For small business owners this hurt. We’d found an exceptional tool but it was becoming harder to use, big businesses with unlimited budgets were pushing our ads aside.

But that doesn’t mean we should give up. Facebook ads are still effective. We just need to work a little harder. In this post I’m going to look at split testing (also known as multivariant testing). What is it and how we can use it to get better results from our Facebook ads.

Read more about how to get started with Facebook ads here.

What Is Split Testing?

Split testing your Facebook ads helps…

  • Identify the ads that deliver the best results
  • Eliminate the ads that don’t work
  • Get more bang for your budget

What are you measuring?

The biggest mistake I find businesses making is measuring the wrong thing. Just because video posts usually get more reach doesn’t necessarily mean they are getting more solid engagement, reactions, comments, shares, clicks or conversions.

When you set up your ad campaign make sure you’ve defined how you’ll measure success and choose the best performing ads.

Start with your ad objective. What is your goal?

Are you building an audience?
If so you could measure:

  • Number of page likes
  • Reach

Are you warming up an audience?
To build a receptive audience that is more likely to buy from you in the future you could measure:

  • Engagement
  • Reactions
  • Post comments
  • Post shares
  • Website clicks

Lead capture
To get your warm audience one step closer to a sale you can encourage them to sign up for a list or get them to visit a key page on your website so you can retarget them later. You can measure:

  • Lead gen form completions
  • Website conversions
  • Link clicks


  • Conversions
  • Offer redemptions

This is by no means a comprehensive list. Once you know what you want from your ads you can choose the metrics that measure success.

What should you split test?

There is almost no end to the number of split tests you can do. The trick is to try just test one element at a time so you can see which is having the effect on your results.

Here are some of the things you may want to test:

  • Different versions of an image
  • Different versions of ad copy
  • Images v Video
  • Single image v Carousel
  • Audiences
  • CTA buttons

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How to split test

There are two ways to split test your Facebook ads

1. Let Facebook do the work

Split testing Facebook Ad creative

When you create more than one ad within an ad set Facebook does some automatic split testing. It will show your ads to a small segment of your target market and then continue to deliver the ads that perform the best.

This is the easiest way to split test but there are disadvantages:

1. It doesn’t always try all variations of your ad
2. You’ve no way of knowing how it chooses the winner

Despite the downsides, I’ve found auto split testing extremely effective.

2. Manual split testing

Doing the work yourself gives you more control but it also takes more time. Not only do you need to set up all the variants but you’ll need to monitor them constantly and create reports to understand which are working best.

Facebook does give us some help here:

Split testing audiences

When you’re creating ads in ads manager create your campaign as usual. When you move on to the ‘Ad set’ section click the ‘Create multiple new ad sets’ tab at the top of the page

Split test your audience at 'Ad set' creation stage
Split test your audience at ‘Ad set’ creation stage

Now as you create your ad set you’ll find you have options to vary your audience variations.

Audience variations for split testing
Audience variations for split testing

You can choose the way you’d like Facebook to distribute your budget between the two ad sets. By default, it’s evenly distributed. This means your ad sets will get an equal share of the budget regardless of audience size.

Click on the drop down arrow and you’ll get the option to ‘Balance Distribution’. This will let Facebook apportion the budget dependant on the size of the audience. This is useful if one of your audiences is significantly larger than the other.

Chose your budget allocation for each ad set
Chose your budget allocation for each ad set

More Facebook Split Testing

There are more multivariate testing options available to some Facebook users including placement, optimisation and delivery but they haven’t appeared on my account yet.

I can’t wait to get my hands on them and will share details in a future post.

Until then here’s Jon Loomer’s walk through.

Setting up your own split testing

To set up your own split test you’ll need to create an ad set for each variant you want to test.

For example, I’m currently running a split test for a client on two different styles of image. I’ve created an ad set within the campaign for each style and am monitoring results.

I could do the same for different ad copy (text), different audiences, placements and more.

Split testing campaigns

Most of the elements you’ll want to split test can be set at ad or ad set level but if you want to test your campaign objective you’ll need to test at campaign level.

For example. If I wanted to drive email subscribers or sales to a client I have three options:

1. Lead gen ads
2. Conversions ads
3. Traffic ads

Which will work best?

You can guess or you can test.

Because your ad objective is set at Campaign level you’ll need to set up a campaign for each objective.

How do you know when it’s time to choose a winner?

I’d recommend you let an ad run at least three days and preferably a week before you make a decision on a winner.

Numbers wise, wait until you’ve reached at least 1,000 people per variant.

This sample size should be enough to give you an accurate result.

Have you tried split testing?

I’d love to hear about how split testing has worked for you. Have you seen positive results or do you find it hard to choose a winner?


Register for my FREE webinar: Top 5 Mistakes Businesses Make on Twitter (And How to Avoid Them)



Everything You Need To Know About Split Testing Facebook Ads
Everything You Need To Know About Split Testing Facebook Ads
Do People Know What You Do? A Business Bloggers Guide To Honing Your Message
Do People Know What You Do? A Business Bloggers Guide To Honing Your Message

Do you struggle to tell people what your business does? Does your blog and website make it clear? How can you hone your business message?

I hate it when I’m out socially and someone asks me what I do. I tend to mumble and say ‘aww it’s boring‘.

I think part of me is scared that if I start talking about my work, which I love, I’ll never stop. I’ll take a breath after a while, look at the person I’ve been talking to, notice the dead look in their eyes and realise that I’ve bored them to tears.

I sometimes envy people with jobs who can say quite quickly and easily what they do and move on.

Of course, telling people I meet socially is the least of my problems. Some of those people may be potential customers or know people who are but not many. It’s worse when I stumble at a networking meeting or when I’m face to face with someone that I can actually help.

I know I’m not alone. I meet business owners all the time that struggle with their message.

How to tell people what you do

As small business owners we tend to want lots of work. We grab anything that comes our way. We haven’t refined our message as we haven’t really thought about narrowing our focus. We haven’t thought about how we can become specialists who are really good at what we do.

I remember watching one of those television programmes where someone goes into a business and fixes it a few years ago.

I think it was ‘Mary Portas – Queen Of Shops.  If you’ve not heard of Mary, she helps retailers market their businesses. Her no-nonsense personality makes the show entertaining.

In the episode she was helping a boutique. But the boutique had too much stock. Amongst the fancy dresses, she found a lot of cheapo looking dressing gowns:

‘Why have you got those’ she asked

‘Well, there’s a hospital down the road and people kept coming in asking for dressing gowns so we got some’

That shopkeeper had done what a lot of us do, she’d found out random people, not necessarily her customers, wanted something so she started selling it.

She hadn’t thought about how the cheapo dressing gowns affected her brand. How the high-end dress buyer was going to be put off by the piles of cheap looking clothes in her store.

She’s a typical example of a business that hadn’t really thought about what they do. She could either be:

‘A boutique offering stylish quality clothing to middle aged women’


‘A thrift shop offering everything you need for your hospital visit’

It doesn’t matter which she chose but she could only be one. Trying to be both diluted her message.

Let’s keep our dress retailer in mind for this post and we’ll call her Charlotte.

Defining our message with blogging

Being able to define what we do is good for our online marketing and blog too. If you don’t specialise you’ll find yourself writing random posts related to your business instead of focussing in on the ones that deliver the best value to your ideal customer, the ones who will pay you the best money to do a good job.

Charlotte could expand awareness of her business by blogging. If she knows who she’s targeting she could write about:

  • The styles of the season
  • How to put a look together for a local event
  • What to wear to a wedding
  • News about the local area


  • What to pack for a hospital stay
  • The best gifts for hospital visits
  • News stories about the local hospital
  • Places to get breakfast near the local hospital
  • And those are just ideas off the top of my head.

If those two topics are mixed up in one blog it becomes confusing. Can you imagine if you landed on your favourite digital marketing blog one day only to see fashion tips?

What do people think you do?

If you are already in business the first step to defining what you do is to ask people.

Ask your community, your customers your friends to look at your website and blog and tell you what they think you do. Make it clear that you think your message might be muddled and you need them to be honest with their responses.

Brace yourself, you might be surprised by their answers.

Now you have some sort of idea about what people will think when they arrive on your site it’s time to fix it.

Charlotte cleared all the dressing gowns out of her store and went high end with her product range. She turned her boutique into an exclusive shop.

Now she can blog consistently, and on topic content for the people she is targeting with her range.

Know your customers

To chose the right clothing ranges Charlotte had to know who her customers were and what they wanted.

If you know who you want to buy from you marketing becomes a lot easier. It will help you with your business, your blogging and it will help you chose the social networks you spend your time on.

Find out more about creating persona’s here.

Charlotte was able to choose clothes for her shop that suited the women she wanted to walk in the door. They were big spenders so she didn’t need to sell the cheap dressing gowns just to put money in the till.

What do you enjoy doing?

We all chose to go into business, to abandon the 9-5 lifestyle in pursuit of something else. It could be freedom, flexible hours, ambition, wealth or something else. Whatever that mission is, we owe it to ourselves to be true to it.

The last thing we need is to be stuck running a business we hate, that makes the day drag, that is less enjoyable than having a job.

Take a look at your business and pick the bits you enjoy the most. The parts of your job that excite you and make you happy. The things you could do all day long and still be contented.

If you make these parts of your business the focus you’ll continue to be excited by your job and you’ll keep striving to deliver a good product or service.

Charlotte opened a boutique because she loved fashion. She didn’t love granny style dressing gowns. Somewhere along the line she’d forgotten about that.


We also need to think about the money

What parts of your business bring you the best income. I’m rubbish at this. I’d quite happily do my job for free if I didn’t have to eat and keep my cats happy.

That doesn’t mean I work for free, I’m not even cheap. I do need to make money. There’s no point me working unless I can pay my bills and keep my cats in tins of food. The customers that I get are the ones that value my services and keep me challenged and happy.

There’s always a part of me that thinks I’d love to just sit at home and write blog posts but in reality I get a kick out of training, presenting, speaking and working with businesses that grow as a result.

It’s those jobs that bring me the money and massage my ego enough to keep me striving to be better.

Charlotte kept her till ringing by focussing on high-end customers who appreciated quality fashion. She’d have to sell hundreds of cheap dressing gowns for the price of one decent outfit.

Do you have a USP (Unique Selling Proposition)?

This is always a tough one. How can you be different when there are so many people doing what you do?

It’s easy to say that your point of difference is ‘good customer service’ or ‘we’ve been in business 100 years’.  But lots of people can claim the same.

If those are your USP’s you need to go all in. What do I mean by that?

You can’t be the only one with ‘good customer service’, no one is going to claim they have bad customer service. You need to have the best customer service.

If customer service is going to be your USP you need to look at ways you can prove it.

I’m sure you’ve heard stories about US department store Nordstrom who once refunded a customer for a set of tires even though they didn’t sell tires. Their mantra is that the customer is always right.

Nordstrom’s USP could quite rightly be ‘the best customer service’.

That’s the standard you need to aim for. Is your customer service so good you could become famous for it? Will customers tell stories about the wonderful things you’ve done for them?

When you settle on a USP you need to align your entire business with it. Your content, your staff, your culture your attitude. Only then is it bordering on unique.

If that sounds a bit too much aim for try something else. Do you have a system, a specific way or working that helps you spread your message?

If you are a marketer do you have a process that you take customers through that makes your consultancy different?
If you are a printer do you focus on price or graphic design? Can you turn your design into a process where you bring the customer along with you.?

Is Charlotte the only clothing store in her town that offers personal shopping?

Once you know your USP prove it with your content.

On your blog you can share:

  • Tutorials
  • Case studies
  • Advice
  • Insights
  • Knowlege

Create themes and categories for your blog revolving around the topics you specialise in. 

  • What stories can you tell relating to your specialities
  • What posts can you write that are helpful to your target market

If the personal touch is important to you make a video, record a podcast use live streaming.

All of your content should feed into your core products and the reasons people should come to you specifically for them.

Now grab a pen, pencil or device and jot down

  1. What your core products and services are
  2. Who your ideal customers are
  3. How you are different
  4. What content you can create to prove you are different

On your website

  • Make sure your home page tells people exactly what you do
  • Make sure your about page tells people how you can help them

Now show your site to an honest friend again and cross your fingers.

If you got it right they’ll be able to tell you what you do.

If you didn’t you need to start the process again.


Now back to that social occasion. You meet someone and they ask you what you do. What do you say?

You need to be able to tell them in less than a minute and you need to keep them interested.

Stand in front of your webcam, or put the selfie mode on your phone and practice. Do it over and over until you’ve got it right.

Blogging Challenge

If you are up for a challenge here’s what I want you to do:

  • Decide on an ideal customer
  • Choose the products or services you can offer them that you will enjoy delivering
  • Define or create a USP
  • Plan your blog content around your core products and your USP


Register for my FREE webinar: Top 5 Mistakes Businesses Make on Twitter (And How to Avoid Them)



Do People Know What You Do? A Business Bloggers Guide To Honing Your Message
Do People Know What You Do? A Business Bloggers Guide To Honing Your Message
17 successful women share their morning routines
17 successful women share their morning routines

What is your morning routine? Are you an early bird or a night owl? Do you start the day with a cuppa or get stuck into your work straight away? Can the way you start your day have a knock on effect on your success?

There’s been a lot written about the morning routines of successful people. The tasks they do first, the time they take out. I read them and I wonder if real people actually do any of that stuff.

So I decided to ask. I talked to 17 successful women about their mornings. This is what they said.

Abby Green AuthorAbby Green – Author

Abby Green spent her teens reading Mills & Boon romances. She then spent many years working in the Film and TV industry as an Assistant Director. One day while standing outside an actor’s trailer in the rain, she thought:  there has to be more than this.  So, she sent off a partial to Harlequin Mills & Boon. After many rewrites, they accepted her first book and an author was born. Find out more at: www.abby-green.com .

When I’m operating at my *best self levels (unfortunately not as frequently as I’d like) this is my routine: Wake around 7/7.30am. (After working in the film industry for the guts of 20 years when pre-dawn calls were the norm, any time after 7 is sheer decadence).

Exercise for an hour.


Sit down at desk to work which usually means faffing about with emails and social media for an hour to help brain wake up.

Start working in earnest around 9.30 and hopefully keep going till lunchtime with approx 1,000 words to show for it.

(*The more regular self version of the above is the same without the exercise and moved on by a couple of hours with less words to show by lunchtime!)

Jill HoltzJill Holtz – MyKidsTime

Jill Holtz is co-founder of Mykidstime.com, the award-winning information website for parents, that has grown from a local Galway directory to a global website and one of the most trusted online brands for parents. Jill has a passion for all things digital and social, having personally overseen the growth of the Mykidstime social media community (currently 620k+ fans) as well as the recent launch of a new online training website, www.Digital4Sales.com, for businesses who want to market to parents.

usually get up about 6.45 and do 20 minutes of HIIT, I like getting this out the way first thing as it means I have done some exercise no matter what the rest of the day holds. Then we’re into family breakfast time. I like to vary my breakfasts so I don’t get bored, e.g. porridge one day, toast another day. A coffee is a must to get me going, and I use my coffee drinking time to do a quick catch up on the Mykidstime and Digital4Sales social media channels.

Then it’s focusing on getting everybody out the door on time. I usually drive my eldest daughter to high school or if my husband is doing that I walk the youngest to the school bus and take our dog for a 20 minute walk. I am usually back at my desk at 8.45.

Each day I make a list of hourly blocks and assign key things I want to achieve that day against the time blocks. It’s a new method I started using last year to try to manage my time better and not spend too long on things either.

I check emails first thing and then I try hard not to look at them during the time I am focusing on a task because multi-tasking is less efficient. I stop about 10.30 to have a 2nd coffee and a quick break then back to my desk until lunchtime when I do a second check in on social media.

Because I work from home and have kids coming back from school in the afternoon I try to really focus to get the main things on my list done within the time I have so I can be there for them. Once a week I do my best to block off a 2 hour time slot for deep content creation or strategy work too – if I don’t diary this it doesn’t get time!

Joan MulvihillJoan Mulvihill – IC4

Joan is Centre Manager at IC4 (Irish Centre for Cloud Computing and Commerce). She previously worked as an independent consultant and prior to that was CEO of the Irish Internet Association.

For the past four months I’ve been working for myself and from home. Interestingly my morning routine hasn’t changed much. I’m clearly a creature of habit. The alarm goes off at 7.30 and the 8 minute snooze button gives me time to gauge the weather and what I’m going to wear. Then I give myself a 30 minute turnaround time to get showered, dressed and ready to go. Even if I’m just going as far as my kitchen table for the day, I still dress for work, for me. I could no more work in my PJs than I could go for a run in a dress.

Then I have my first coffee, no laptop, no phone, just me on the chair by the window with 10 minutes to contemplate the day ahead. Then I’m ready. Laptop on by 8.30am; emails check, diary check, to-do list check. I appreciate that this morning routine is quite luxurious. I’ve no commute and I don’t have to worry about getting anyone else ready, school runs or packed lunches.

As I write this I’m about to start back working in Dublin 5-days a week with a 9am start. I will need to leave the house by 7.45am so the alarm clock will be set for 7am. I’ve been commuting for years and it doesn’t bother me at all. When I lived in Dublin I regularly spent an hour in the stop-start of shuffling traffic to cross the city. Now that I live in Mullingar most of that drive time is now on the freer flow of the M4. I listen to LyricFM on the way to work. Its cheesy but it’s easy and there’s enough ‘real world’ in my day that a bit of escapism is important. That said Kathy Scott of The Trailblazery has recently converted me to podcasts; “Design Matters” and “On Being” in particular.

lorna sixsmithLorna Sixsmith – Author

Lorna Sixsmith is a farmer and author now with three books under her belt. She won the CAP Indie Book Award for nonfiction with her second book How to be a Perfect Farm Wife in 2016.

As a dairy farmer, author and occasional social media trainer, my routine varies according to the time of year. I’m not a morning person and regard those who manage to wake at 5am and write 1000 words before breakfast with more than amazement. In fact, if I didn’t have to get up early, I’d much prefer to work till 2 or 3am and then sleep in.

At this time of year when we’re busy with spring calving, I get up at 7am, prepare school lunches, unload the dishwasher and have breakfast with the children before leaving them to the school bus for 7:50. I usually start the calf feeding at 8:30 so I’ve half an hour to do things like respond to emails, have a second cuppa, read a couple of blog posts and check Twitter.

Depending on the number of calvings and what else is going on, I could finish my yard work anytime between 10 and 12. It’s then time for a second breakfast before I settle at the laptop to do two hours of writing / research. If I’m seeing a client, it’s a quick shower and off in the car.

My routine is different in summer and autumn as if I’m working on the farm, it’s usually in the middle of the day. Once the children are gone to school, I give myself half an hour with a second cup of tea to ease myself into writing mode by checking emails, reading a couple of blog posts and checking the social media platforms. I’ll then write from 8:30-10:30. Brian comes in for a “second breakfast” around 10:30 so I’ll stop then for 30 or 40 minutes. While half an hour might seem a long coffee break, it’s also a mini meeting as we discuss what has to be done or deal with some paperwork.

One of the best time management tips I ever got was from Owen Fitzpatrick: rather than looking at a long to-do list, create a “closed list” of the things that I will do today. I often put estimated times beside each task and yes, I still underestimate how long things will take.

Joanne Sweeney-BurkeJoanne Sweeney-Burke – Digital Training Institute

Joanne Sweeney-Burke is the CEO of Digital Training Institute, an Irish-based digital marketing consulting and training agency. Joanne inspires boardrooms and decision-makers to adopt new digital approaches by writing strategy and training teams to bring their skills into the Digital Age.

She is also a published author and is currently writing her second social media book on Digital Transformation in the Public Sector. 

When I’m not travelling my morning routine involves getting my children up and out for school and university. Sophie is 21 and Bobby is 7 and most morning’s I’ll find them in the same bed. I wake up to my radio alarm clock at 7am with RTÉ’s Morning Ireland giving me the news of the day.

I wake up my digestive system with hot water and lemon and boil two eggs. When I’m travelling I’ll probably get up an hour earlier to do some work or prepare for a pitch, presentation or speech that I’m delivering that day.  My weekend mornings are different. They start with me pulling on my runners and running for six or seven miles. It helps me unwind from my busy week.

Carol TallonCarol Tallon

Carol Tallon is the author of the Irish Property Buyers’ Handbook series. She has contributed to Irish and international media on current affairs, industry, property, innovation & technology (PropTech).

She works as a strategic/communications consultant – at operational and project levels – to State agencies, industry representative bodies, private developers, construction companies, auctioneering firms and media outlets. Find out more at www.caroltallon.com.

My alarm is set for either 6am or 7am on weekdays but I usually wake before the alarm. I love being woken by natural light so winter in Ireland is never my most productive time!

My morning routine has changed dramatically over the past decade. I have gone from being a habitual night owl to the proverbial lark but I cannot tell whether that is due to the changing demands of my business, the changing needs of my family or perhaps it is simply an age thing.

When I started my first business I was in my mid-twenties, with a young child, I was regularly working 15-18 hours a day. It was not unusual for me to start into a new project at 11pm, work until 3/4am and start again in the morning.

Start-ups are like children (and puppies), they require boundless energy, patience and the resilience to keep going through challenging phases without losing enthusiasm. But like children and puppies, businesses must mature. ‘Start-up’ is only ever a temporary stage, at the end of which a business either lives or dies. Staying on the start-up treadmill indefinitely is the ultimate entrepreneurial delusion (guess how I learned this?).

Ten years on, I definitely sleep more and I sleep better. When I wake up, I know the key tasks and appointments that I have to deliver that day. I have stopped checking email and social media when I wake up. Instead, I check three or four times a day, maximum (except on Tuesdays, when I abandon all technology). I have a fifteen-minute morning mediation routine where I visualise my day and that genuinely kick-starts my motivation. I have recently started doing yoga in the mornings but follow that with the strongest coffee I can find, which I suspect defeats the purpose of the yoga…

The most powerful predictor of whether or not I have a productive day comes down to discipline. I resist the temptation to be a busy fool and one of the ways that I have done this is by separating my role as leader of the business from my tasks as employee of that business.

At the weekends, I allow myself time and space to strategise and plan. At this stage, I am the leader. But once Monday morning arrives, I become a mere foot-soldier for my business. My week is all about achieving prescribed tasks; daily actions all designed to move the business in the right direction. I take away my discretion to avoid unfavourable tasks and this effectively eliminates procrastination.

Entrepreneurs are great at feeling busy and can make excuses for not ‘sticking to the plan’ (because it’s written in pencil, right?). But often, this comes down to a lack of self-discipline that translates into inconsistencies in work. In every failure I have experienced (and there have been many), inconsistency has played a big part. In reality, my morning and daily routines, as set out by my ‘boss’ – or weekend me – are vital to achieving the goals of the business.

Pauline SargentPauline Sargent – DigiWomen

Pauline is a qualified Digital Marketer. She lectures in digital media and marketing studies with Dublin Business School.

She set up DigiWomen in 2013 It supports and encourages women to use technology and understand what it can do to support and grow their business. We provide networking events to help women make connections in the technology industry. We also run workshops and seminars throughout the year for members. It’s also a support group that advocates for women in technology.

It is generally an early start for me. I like getting up early. I go to bed most nights at 11pm and get up sometime after 6am. Getting up before my kids wake gives me time to get a good chunk of work done for 45 minutes. I find it easy to concentrate and ideas come quicker. Come 7am I spend time getting the kids ready for the day, lunches sorted and some general housework.

By 8.30am one of us will walk the younger fella to school and get the dog walked as well. I am usually ready to start my working day and sitting at the desk by 9.30am if I am not lecturing. An ideal morning would include 15 minutes of meditation or some sort of yoga/stretching practice. Some day I will make that a consistent habit.

Sian PhillipsSian Phillips

Sian is an accountant for four local companies and content editor/proofreader for three companies in USA – Egg Marketing & PR, LegalMorning.com and Tweak Your Biz. She also picks up ad hoc work from a local accountant and other proofreading jobs for fictional books, business books and website content.

She’s also the VA for Spiderworking so you might find yourself talking to her on the phone soon.

I live in the country down south in Ireland, right on the borders of Cork and Waterford, in a cul-de-sac of fields. My three dogs, and myself, need walking every day and we are spoilt for choice in this area. Our main daily walk on a weekday is what we call the “Claddagh Ring” which is 6km of lanes which circle and bring me back to my front door. This is the first thing I do every morning as soon as I’m out of bed. The dogs won’t let me hang around and also, if I do, then I’ll find other things to distract me and spoil the start we get. This walk normally starts around 9am and lasts an hour. Then I get home, shower and have my breakfast so I’m ready to start my working day around 11am. This may sound late to some but seeing as I probably won’t stop working until 10pm I think I’m allowed.

Whilst I’m walking the dogs I start off just enjoying the countryside and the antics they get up to. Once I’m about half way around and heading towards home I’m thinking of the work to get done that day and the best way to approach things. Most of my working week is done from home so I have to structure myself, especially as I could be switching between clients or even changing from accounting to editing and proofreading. Thankfully my mind is used to this switch over now and sometimes I even crave it so as to break up the routine. I’ll have made out my “to-do” list the night before – it’s always the last thing I do when I switch off the laptop. Although I have some set days for a couple of my accounting clients the rest of the time I just slot in whatever is coming up that week. Once the laptop goes on I check all the emails that have come in overnight – weeding out the spam and prioritising anything I need to look at that day using the flags and tasks on Outlook. As I have 8 separate emails for the different clients and work that I do there can often be a lot to get through. My editing and proofreading clients are all in America so their emails mainly come in while I’m sleeping. So that’s my normal morning routine – throw in a few strong, black coffees and I’m sorted.

Elaine RogersElaine Rogers – The Smart VA

Elaine is a Virtual Assistant and Online Business Manager. She helps businesses create, build, and grow their online revenue streams. She is a pain reliever who helps business owners get stuff done over at www.thesmartva.eu.

I left a routine life in 2013 to discover another way of living. For two years me and my husband had no routine whatsoever. Our only goal was to discover and make delicious meals in our new French home. Since then, my work has become a bigger part of my work-life integration.

We are still in our winter routine in SW France, and this will change as the sunrise changes. The three things that MUST happen every morning are – the hen villa must be opened, the cats must be fed, and Elaine must have coffee.

The cats wake me up about 7:30 to open the hens. They come with me, and we return to the house to have breakfast and said coffee mentioned above. I will then go to the office and review my ToDo list for the day and let emails download. My mornings have a common theme – don’t eat the Elephant first. I am a slow starter and pick up pace as the day goes on. My Monday mornings are the best (slowest). Happily doing fun stuff for the first hour or so, and then it’s mindfully showering and getting dressed. I don’t even shower every day so I can enjoy guilt-free long slow showers. It’s a game changer for me. I love my mornings now!

Sinead HylandSinead Hyland – Irish National Stud

Sinead is Marketing Coordinator for the Irish National Stud & Gardens a unique attraction of outstanding natural beauty that is home to some of the most magnificent horses and sumptuous gardens to be found anywhere in the world.

Depending on the time of year my mornings can differ however at present during the foaling season ( mid-January to end of May) is always an exciting time! I get a text first thing (7am) to update me on the foals that have been born during the night. Approximately 270 will arrive in these 5 months with sometimes 4, 5 even 6 in a night. I arrive at my office, grab my cannon and head to the foaling unit to get some snaps of the new-borns for social media. I then follow the loop to the Restaurant, get a takeaway coffee and head to my office to upload and post. Not a bad way to start the day!

This is followed up by alternative brainstorming, liaising, planning, preparing for upcoming events, publications, deadlines etc.

As well as being a busy stud farm working in the public eye, tourism is also a big part of our business where we welcome over 120,000 visitors per annum to the Japanese Gardens, St Fiachra’s Garden and of course the stud itself. Each day is different which is great as it keeps you on your toes and is definitely never mundane! I’m very lucky to work in an industry I am so passionate about and a job where I am encouraged to push the boundaries and try new things.

Joanne DewberryJoanne Dewberry

Joanne is a 30 something coffee lover living in rural Dorset with her long suffering partner and three children. Joanne is a blogger, owner, designer and creator at Charlie Moo’s specialising in handmade fabric party bags.  Sage Business Expert and author of Crafting a Successful Small Business.

In her spare time she likes to eat and watch crime dramas sometimes at the same time!

I’d love to sit here and say my morning routine is conductive to a full day of tranquil working but sadly it just ain’t so!

I’m a sleeper. Mornings aren’t my strong point. I wake grumpy to the sound of arguing. Always to the sound of arguing. Our 5 year old hasn’t quite realised who is in charge and any excuse for a row she’s there. She looked at me funny. I don’t like the way he smells. He sat on my chair.

I haul my grumpy ass to the kitchen, feed the cherubs and make their packed lunches whilst inserting an intravenous coffee drip. Once the caffeine takes effect and I’m washed a dressed I start to feel a bit more human. Until of course I ask a small human (yes the 5 year old one) to get dressed. Somewhere between asking Olive to get dressed and climbing the stairs this information is altered into spend the next 10 minutes playing ponies. WHAT!!! Which of course ensues is STRESSFUL! It’s a never-ending cycle of nagging, come on, we need to leave NOW!! By the time the girls are delivered (late of course) to school, I’m not even sure if I even said goodbye to Charlie when he left with Daddy.

Once I return home I NEED more coffee. I also spend sometime (not a lot though I’m on a tight schedule school closes at 3!) tidying up the morning clutter, putting the dinner on (gotta love a slow cooker) and calming myself down.

I usually start my working day with (more coffee) emails. I hate having a full inbox and I take the time each morning to sort through what needs doing today, or diarising for the next few weeks and deleting.

There is nothing more satisfying than a clean inbox. I check my social media as I schedule a lot of content and like to spend a bit of time replying. I usually find by this time I’m in the right mind set to start my to do list. (well after more coffee of course!)

Elanor Goold-HiscoxEleanor Goold-Hiscox – Kreativ Copywriting

Eleanor Goold is owner and founder of Kreativ Copywriting a forward thinking and friendly writing, copywriting and content creation service.  She also has her own branded website EleanorGoold.com where she provides business owners with smart ideas, copy tips, the art of storytelling and access to free social media strategies to boost their business success. 

I start each day pretty much the same way. I like to get up early and before I do anything else I sit down with my diaries and journals and get writing. I religiously jot down my thoughts, ideas and all the things that have been happening in my life. I put everything down in either my moleskine writer’s diary or my ‘morning pages’ journal (a handwritten stream of consciousness). Either way, I have to write to clear the way and my mind for the day ahead. This is usually performed with a steaming hot mug of tea in hand and a Parson Russell Terrier curled up at my feet. I have tried the whole hot water and lemon thing…but it just wasn’t me…so English breakfast tea it is.

Following this, my usual routine is to take my dog for a long walk in the local woods, weather permitting. This is a key part of my day, serves as my meditation and is where the majority of my ideas percolate. I love to commune with nature in some form or the other every day. If the weather is really bad and I cannot go to the woods, I will go into the garden, regardless of the conditions, bring in firewood in the winter, or vegetables or fruit in the summer. I then make freshly brewed coffee (for two), and usually a breakfast of eggs of some description…scrambled, boiled, poached and then I am good to go. If I miss any of these things, journal, nature, dog walk, coffee and eggs…then my day never feels complete.

Jenny BrennanJenny Brennan – AgoraPulse

Jenny is Director of Prospect Happiness (Inside Sales) at Agorapulse and blogs on her own site JennyBrennan.me.

It took me a long time to realise that to be successful in your career that you really need to put yourself first in the mornings. I have two young boys, a couple of dogs and a husband to look after as well, so my life is hectic.

Last year I made a few key changes:

  1.  I follow Tony Robbins and practice his priming exercise
  2. I workout 5 days a week no excuses and always in the morning. Sometimes REALLY early and some days mid-morning, but it gets done and transformed my productivity
  3. I schedule my diary in advance and include time for myself every week, whether that is nails, hair, coffee with a pal or just a simple bath. That keeps me motivated and gives me something to look forward to. I used to journal and stopped, but maybe that will come back.

Elli SilsonEllie Silson – Sage

Ellie is social media community manager at Sage UK. She loves chatting to people on and offline. If she’s not building communities or networks you will find her watching a great game of rugby league.

My morning route is pretty normal I’d say. With only two of us in the household we dash around in our own little worlds to meet and exit by 7.

Just before we exit I wiz together an energy boosting smoothie consisting of mango, banana, protein powder and almond milk. We jump in the car and I drop James off in town.

I then have a 30 min ride where I’m able to plan and prepare my day in my head. This 30 minutes truly helps me focus and priortise my time. Once at work first stop is a strong cup of tea and chat with my colleagues before work begins.

Madeleine ForrestMadeleine Forrest – Duckett’s Grove Tea Rooms

Madeleine’s passions include family foremost, customer service, data protection, internet security, home education, networking, supporting live music in Carlow and Duckett’s Grove’s potential as a tourism destination.

Het background includes law, civil service, tourism, and more recently, studies in IT Management. She lives near Carlow town with her four children and grandson.

Saturdays are slightly different from my Monday to Friday routine. It is still an 8am start, but instead of heading to school in Bagenalstown with my daughter Madeleine, we drive to Duckett’s Grove. My daughter Mary Kate has recently re-opened the tea rooms there every Saturday.

Mary Kate looks after the visitors, Madeleine makes the crepes and waffles, and I bake the brown bread, scones and cakes. I love to bake. I enjoy the peace and quiet there and very easily get lost in the therapeutic little world of measuring and sifting, mixing and kneading. It is a mindful activity concentrating my mind on the present, the concerns of the past week melt away.

The scones are always first out of the oven, our need to test the quality ensures that I take fifteen minutes to enjoy a warm scone with a deeply flavoursome Americano, Saturday morning breakfast! The brown bread and cakes are usually ready to come out of the oven then.

The girls have breakfast while I clean up the kitchen and put out the menus. I bring the café board down to the car park, then go for a walk around the grounds before we open. I love the pastel hues of the morning light, the stark, desolate beauty of the castle ruins silhouetted against the skyline, and the promise that a new day holds.

Mandy MortimerMandy Mortimer – Jelly Bean Media

Mandy recently stepped out of 16 years of full time video editing work to start her company, Jelly Bean Media, so that she can spend more time doing what she absolutely loves. That is food photography and video production. She styles, shoots and edits all her own work, so she’s a one-stop-shop for delicious looking food-centred content.

My business involves working in two different modes.  Some days I’m on set either taking photos or filming.  Other days I’m based at home editing everything that I’ve shot.

The at-home mornings are pretty relaxed.  I set an alarm so that I don’t sleep all morning, after all, just because I’m at home doesn’t mean I can waste the day away in bed (if only!).  Thankfully the alarm isn’t set for as early as most people have to endure, a perk of the job.  I hop into the shower to help wake up and start the day afresh, then shuffle into the kitchen, probably in slippers or fluffy socks, to get something to eat.  And as clichéd as it is, I have to have my cup of coffee.  It’s not about the caffeine (I’m a latté kinda girl), I just love the smell and I can’t imagine a morning without a cup.

Depending on what I’m working on – it could be writing up recipes, editing various videos or photos, researching etc. I like to jot down a list of things I’d like to get done in the day.  I find it very satisfying to cross things off a list and it helps me keep track of what I need to do so that nothing slips through the cracks.  It also helps me prioritise which jobs need to get done first.  I also check my e-mail and have a browse through my Facebook feed (yeah, I can’t help myself).  Breakfast eaten, an idea of what needs to be done, I get stuck in.  A pretty simple morning!

On the other side of things, and in stark contrast to my easier mornings at home, are the days I’m headed out for a shoot.

The night before I would have packed and grouped all the equipment I need so that it’s ready to grab in the morning.  These days tend to start a lot earlier for me, definitely not my favourite as I’m a night owl, so having things in place the night before is really important.  I lug all my equipment to the car and get it packed (lights, props, cameras, foods I’ve pre-prepped for the shoot, etc.).  I check things off my mental list (sometimes a physical list, depending on the complexity of the shoot) to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything.  Then I get showered and dressed, put a face on (you won’t catch me in public without mascara, at the very least!) and get all my own food for the day packed.  I make an effort to pack my own breakfast, lunch and snacks otherwise I end up eating crap! (Can I say crap? Sorry, just did…).

One last scan around the apartment then I head out.  I get some music pumping for the drive which keeps me awake (what is this 6, 7 or 8am, anyway?!) and it also gets me revved up for the day.  The rest of my morning routine happens on set where I unpack, start setting up my equipment and then have my breakfast and oh-so-important cup of delicious smelling coffee.  Then the day can start!

And that’s just a glimpse of my morning routines.  I much prefer the more relaxed days at home (who wouldn’t!), but the other mornings do keep things interesting!

Eveleen CoyleEveleen Coyle – Fab Food Trails

Fab Food Trails has been on the go for ten years, the first company to do Food Tasting Trails in Dublin or in Ireland.

Born in Dublin, Eveleen started her working life first with a magazine group and then in book  publishing.

The idea for Food walks came when she attended the opening dinner at the Adelaide Books Festival in Australia. Seated between the doyens of Australian food, she found herself telling them about not just the quality of our food, but all that was happening on the food scene in Ireland when a fellow guest remarked, ‘so why don’t you do food walks in Ireland?’. That was 14 years ago.

My day starts early, around 6:30.

Armed with a large pot of tea, I check and reply to emails, do orders for upcoming walks and events, and then schedule texts, tweets etc for later in the day.

Then I do the list – pencil and paper – of things to be done later in the day. All this can take anything from one to two hours with no interruption. There is that slightly smug feeling when you sit down at a clear desk at 9:30!

After that it is a walk, just twenty minutes or so to clear the head.

Meetings are generally scheduled for the start of the week and my preference is for earlier in the
day so that any follow up required can be done that afternoon.

Some days I might wander an area with my colleague Catherine, just to see what is happening around the place. We are always on the lookout for new stops and tastes not just for our Food Trails walks but for our Dublin Food & Fashion walk which has become very popular recently.

At present we are setting up a number tasting trails of neighbourhood haunts, starting with one a
month each in a different parts but within a stones throw of the city. Very exciting suff!

What’s Your Routine?

Is there a perfect routine? Most of our women seem to lean heavily on coffee but apart from that they are all different. There may not be a morning routine that guarantees success but I think having a routine is a crucial part of working for yourself.

Do you have a routine? I’d love to hear about it.


Register for my FREE webinar: Top 5 Mistakes Businesses Make on Twitter (And How to Avoid Them)




The Morning Routines Of 17 Successful Women
The Morning Routines Of 17 Successful Women




What To Do When You're Stuck For Facebook Ad Inspiration
What To Do When You’re Stuck For Facebook Ad Inspiration

Do you have ad creators block? Are you stuck for Facebook ad inspiration? You’re staring at a graphic, a bit of text and it just looks bland. Why would someone click your ad when you find it so dull?

The truth is, your work is probably fine. Like most creative blocks we tend to stumble into a lull from time to time. We can shake that sinking feeling by taking a walk, a shower, a nap or by looking at the work of others for inspiration.

It’s inspiration that we’re going to tackle in this post. I’m going to look at four ways you can find your Facebook ad mojo. I’ll show you some cool tools and hacks that make it easier.

How To Find Facebook Ad Inspiration

1. What ads are targeted at people with similar interests to you?

I recently discovered this trick and now I’m hooked. It’s fascinating to scroll through the type of ads that are targeted at people with a specific interest. This won’t just give you creative Facebook ad inspiration but it will give you targeting ideas too.

Here’s where to find it:

  • Scroll through your Facebook feed until you find an ad
  • Click the down arrow
  • Select ‘Why am I seeing this’ from the drop down menu
Find an ad in your feed and click the down arrow
Find an ad in your feed and click the down arrow
  • The next screen will tell you why you have been targeted for this ad.
  • Click ‘Manage Your Ad Preferences’
See why you are being targeted
See why you are being targeted
  • The next page shows you your interests.
  • Click on one of these and you’ll be able to see ads that have been targeted at people who have that interest.
Find inspiration for your Facebook ads by clicking your interests
Find inspiration for your Facebook ads by clicking your interests


Ads targeted at people who are interested in Social Media Examiner
Ads targeted at people who are interested in Social Media Examiner

Do Facebook ads make you tear your hair out? Let us manage your Facebook ads for you. We'll save you time and improve results. Get A Quote Now.


2. Creative Hub

Creative Hub is a tool in your Facebook ads manager that lets you mock up ads. It’s really handy when you are pitching to clients but it also has a section that can help kick start your creativity.

You can access it by clicking the three lines at the top left-hand side of your ads manager and selecting ‘Creative Hub’ from the ‘Plan’ menu.

Find 'Creative Hub' in your ads manager.
Find ‘Creative Hub’ in your ads manager.

Click ‘Get inspired’ at the top of the screen and select the ad type you are looking to create on the left-hand side.

Click 'Get Inspiration' to see different ad examples
Click ‘Get Inspiration’ to see different ad examples

3. AdEspresso Facebook Ads Gallery

This is essentially a search engine for Facebook ads. Where the tools above will give you general inspiration you can narrow your results to industry or topic specific ads using the AdEspresso Ads Gallery.

You can filter results by company, topic, industry, placement, objective and more. I, of course, searched for cats.

AdEspresso Facebook ads gallery is a search engine for ads
AdEspresso Facebook ads gallery is a search engine for ads


Cat related ads found by AdEspresso
Cat related ads found by AdEspresso

4. Create a swipe file

When you’re scrolling through your Facebook feed and an ad captures your attention take a screen grab. I have an album on my phone dedicated to cool ads I’ve seen and I scroll through it anytime inspiration escapes me.

What do you do?

What do you do when you get stuck for inspiration for your Facebook ads? Do you have any tools or techniques you use? I’d love to hear about them.

Want more Facebook ad tips? Read more here.


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What To Do When You're Stuck For Facebook Ad Inspiration
What To Do When You’re Stuck For Facebook Ad Inspiration


Marketing Automation - Not As Complicated As You Might Think
Marketing Automation – Not As Complicated As You Might Think

What is marketing automation? Is it complicated? Where do you start? That’s what we’ll talk about in this post.

As businesses we spend a lot of time doing routine work. We need customers and that or course should be our focus but can we spend our time more efficiently? Can we implement a system that nurtures customers from the moment they read a blog post until they buy?

That’s what I discuss with automation expert Diana Koshedzhiyska from Buzzfixer. She talks us through the basics, what is it, the systems we can use, the benefits and the automation flow… yeah it’s not as complicated as it seems… that we can follow to nail those sales.

Marketing Automation & Your Blog

The term ‘Marketing Automation’ is scary to many

I think the term marketing automation is scary for people because they think it should be easy and make your life easier but it turns out to be this complicated content driven monster in their life.

Can you briefly explain what marketing automation is?

What I do is more about small business automation, it’s focused around:

  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Nurturing leads
  • Scoring your leads
  • Sending them to the right sales person if you have a sales team
  • Managing relationships with your partners
  • Delivering content
  • Processing payments through your website
  • Creating landing pages
  • Assigning tasks to your team
  • Follow up tasks and outcomes

All those things you do on a daily basis in your business.

It’s more than just sending out emails to a specific audience at a specific time. It’s about saving hours from your work day or work week. That can be a lot of hours because you always do some repeated tasks.

The idea of small business automation and business automation is to take those repetitive tasks out and free up some time to allow you to communicate with your leads and potential customers.

Where did you pick up your enthusiasm for marketing automation?

It started in early 2013 when one of my clients wanted to explore that space.

Really early on when I started working with Ontraport I realised that marketing automation was a passion for me. I’ve always been more technical and it allows me to combine my passion for communication with the technical side. I don’t need to talk to thousands of people a day I can just automate that communication which was great.

So you have just one client to thank?

Yes Ian Cleary! Thank you Ian.

Automation isn’t something I’m really doing. I have a welcome email but should I be setting up a sequence of emails?

People are often told what they should have and they start thinking about the elements and sequence they need to build and create. They think about autoresponders and lead nurtures but I think that’s totally the wrong way to approach marketing automation or email automation.

What we do and what we ask our clients to do is to think about the user experience journey. What do they want the user to do? What are the steps and actions they want them to take and where do they want to lead them at the very end, the product?

So what I should do is look at my end goal. For example, I want people to hire me to consult for them and then work back from that point?

What I suggest is that if you have a product you should identify the main issues that this product is solving. Once you identify those small issues see if you can create a lead incentive for them. (more on lead incentives here)

Those are the bigger topics that you are handling. Those lead incentives then become content themes for blog posts you can create around them to promote them. Instead of starting with the blog post and thinking about what lead incentive can I prepare for this blog post you start with the product, with the end in mind.

You want people to purchase the product. Before they purchase they need to be convinced that they need it so we talk about the issue that they have and how we’re going to solve it.

In order to attract the people that have that issue we write a blog post that is pointing to that lead incentive. It’s like a pyramid.

There’s a user interaction map that you have to build for every type of product and promotion that you want to use marketing automation for.

Download your interaction map here

Your map will have the steps you want the user to take in order for them to purchase.

For example, they have to:

  • Visit the blog post
  • Download the lead incentive
  • Go to the sales page
  • Go to the order form page
  • To checkout
  • Then the thank-you page

If you think of those steps that the user has to take you’ll also identify the types of content that you need.

For example:

  • Cart abandonment emails
  • Nurture emails
  • Welcome emails
  • Content delivery

Then you can also identify where the drop off stage is. For example, someone didn’t purchase the product after they downloaded the lead incentive. What do we do then? Do we just leave them be or do we try to get to them in another way like using Facebook ads or another email series?

All of those interactions which can be really hard for people to think about because they always focus on sequences we’ve outlined them in a really clear and precise map that you can download here.

Can I do automation with the likes of Mailchimp or should I use something else?

You can do it with Mailchimp you just have to have the pro version (I think) that has trigger rules. For example “If this thing happens take this contact out of this list and move them to another”.

My problem with Mailchimp and other list based tools like Aweber is that they train you to use a list so you have to create a new list for each and every new download or product that you have. This means you never really know how many people are actually on your list because one contact can be in 10 or 20 lists.

You are overpaying and you are starting to think linear. You might think, this person I’m going to send to this blog post. But then what happens if they download or they don’t download? It’s those in-depth automation experiences and features that are missing. That’s why I don’t usually recommend Mailchimp, Aweber and list based tools.

You don’t always have to start with a really expensive automation tool especially if you have a small list or are just starting. There are good entry level products like ActiveCampaign  or ConvertKit  that really make you start to think in terms of marketing automation.

These are tools that don’t have lists, they have a database of the contacts. All of your contacts are stored in one place and you can see that they appear in different lists defined by the tasks you have assigned them.

This means you know that this person who is downloading this free lead gen guide is new to your list. They are completely new, they have never been on your list before and you need to prepare a welcome email and a nurture sequence for them.

If someone has been on your database for a while and has been through your nurture and welcome sequences you don’t want to put them there again. That will just irritate them and push them away from your end goal.

You need to send them the messages that they have to get and only send them those once.

Is automation software very expensive though?

ActiveCampaign starts at $9 a month for 500 contacts. It’s advanced it’s easy to use, it has great email templates and it has a lot of automation in it.

ConvertKit starts at $29 per month for up to 1000 contacts.

When we send our newsletters and marketing emails should we go for a fancy design or should we be writing what looks like a normal email?

We receive about 100 emails a day, at least I do, and we don’t read most of them.

If you are using Gmail and you have the different tabs: Primary, Promotions, Social you probably only have a few of those emails reaching your primary tab. You chose when and if to read the emails in the other tabs.

For email deliverability, if you put an image in your email like a header image, a test has shown that you’ll definitely end up in the promotions tab which means a lower number of people are going to read your emails.

The spam filters encourage us to write emails as if we are writing to a friend.

This means we shouldn’t change the font all the time, bold big sections of the email or alternate between bold and italics.

Think about the way you would write an email to a friend. I personally use a lot of paragraphs to separate the different ideas. I wouldn’t add lots of links, I wouldn’t be changing the colours or using lots of fonts.

You can use an image in your signature because most people do now, even in their personal email.

The more it looks like a standard email that you would write to a friend, your Mother or Grandmother the more likely it is to reach the inbox and the open rate will go up.

How can automation help Boris?

Regular listeners and readers of this podcast will be familiar with Boris. Boris owns an interior design shop. He sells furniture, carpets, wallpaper.

He wants to attract more large customers and that’s one of the reasons why he blogs. How can marketing automation help Boris?

I think the most important thing is that Boris already knows he wants to attract bigger clients. He knows he wants to market directly to them.

The first stage is for him to identify the issues that they have. For example, it might be hard for them to order a product in bulk and get it delivered by the date they need it.

So he can write about the size of orders he can deliver. For example, ‘We can deliver 2000 tables in 2 months’ or something similar.

Another issue might be, do you have it in more than one colour so that not every apartment we do looks the same?

By knowing your audience needs this specific thing or many things you can work your way from the real offering which is ‘Come to my shop and buy this stuff in bulk’ to the pain points that I can discuss with them in my nurture sequence.

What is the lead incentive I can use? Is it my catalogue? Is it a guide ‘How to design a block of apartments and make each one look different’?

If Boris wants to meet a lot of those interior designers who are working on the big apartment blocks a discount coupon of 10% won’t work for him. He’s working in big quantities. They’re not really concerned with price. They’re looking for someone who can work with them and fulfil their contract in a short time and deliver a good product.

You need to focus on the need your customer has. It’s not the same as the customer who just wants to furnish his bedroom. If I want to furnish my bedroom I’d get that coupon for 10% off. If I want 1000 beds I’m searching for a reliable partner and this is the type of communication and interaction you need to build with these people once you attract them.

In order to attract customers to the lead incentive you can create a series of blog posts that for example, you have 10 pieces of furniture for a living room and you want to show 20 types of living rooms you can create with those pieces of furniture.

These posts will attract the exact audience you want.

We have the blog posts, they attract people to the lead incentive. Then we retarget people who visit with Facebook ads if they don’t download it straight away?

Yes, that’s part of the automation. You can always retarget with ads. Another way to retarget is with your email automation system.

Most automation tools have a tracking script that allows you to track people who are already signed up to your content.

If you already downloaded something else but you haven’t seen this latest post or latest incentive I can use my automation system to see that you visited link X but you haven’t visited link Y. I decide that I want to promote this new blog post or new resource to you so I just send you an email. You don’t need to create a big audience for that. You don’t need to invest in ad copy or ad design and rely on Facebook. Instead, you directly contact those people who have shown they are interested in that.

So that’s what you do at each dropout phase of the process? If they are signed up you target them with email, if not you can retarget with ads?

Yes, when you target them with email it’s the same as a cart-abandonment sequence. That’s when someone has been on your sales page, has opened your checkout page but they haven’t purchased the product and haven’t been to the thank-you page.

When you know they haven’t been to the thank-you page you can set an automation rule to trigger and send them an email to see what happened. Did they get distracted?

A good cart-abandonment email can actually convert with 40%. 40% of the people who dropped off will come back and purchase it.

Think about it, the phone could have rung, it could be you didn’t have the money at this moment or you weren’t sure about the product.

At the moment you are already paying for your automation tool, you don’t have to pay for Facebook ads on top of that.

For Facebook ads to work in this kind of targeting you’ll need an audience of a certain size, a certain amount of traffic to those pages or they aren’t going to work.

This is why email is so much more powerful and that’s why tools like ActiveCampaign and Ontroport are more powerful than MailChimp. There isn’t a single step where you can’t do that email retargeting. You know when they have visited, when they have taken action. You know they have visited this page, downloaded this content and you can segment them based on their interactions.

What’s next? People have read the blog post, signed up for the lead incentive and now they’ve landed on a sales page?

You can send them to a sales page or to a thank-you page with links. It depends how you identify the leads at that very moment.

If you think you have a specific product that is related to your lead incentive and it’s not expensive, you can give it to them for a discount. Maybe 20% or 30% discount as a one time offer directly after they have downloaded that free lead incentive.

If Boris wants to convert designers what he can do is ask them ‘Do you want to order a hard copy of our catalogue for your business?’ and just ask them to pay for the shipping.

Or could he ask them to book an appointment?

He could. I’d recommend on the opt-in page for the lead incentive to add the phone number as a field on the form. Usually you don’t ask for too much information but when we’re talking business to business you do need to get information like company name and company phone number so you can call them.

In this case I’d just send them to a thank-you page. Give them some links to valuable blog post content or resources perhaps pages from the catalogue or portfolios. Then I’d continue with a nurture sequence before moving on to the hard sell period.

So that’s too early to go in with the sales pitch?

Yes, first you need to build some trust and engagement with these people so you’re not just saying: ‘Here’s your free thing, now let’s get on a call so you can buy this’. Instead, you’re saying ‘Let me show you why I’m the expert in this field’.

Now you can track if they’ve clicked on the links. If they have they are more interested, they haven’t opted out so far, I’m going to give them a call at the end of this nurture sequence.

Those who have just opened one or two links, that haven’t opened their emails, I’m going to send them to a longer nurture sequence later.

That could be three emails over the next seven days in addition to the original welcome email. In that sequence you show them why you are the good partner. You have to show them that this is what I’m good at and I’m going to show you why I’m good at it.

This isn’t just showing them what you know and that you can provide 1000 units in 2 months but how you can customise it for them. Showing your leads that you can help them achieve what they want to achieve.

At the end of the day, every business is about helping their target audience achieve their goals.

Getting started

I think the biggest issue with email automation is that people think they can just purchase a plug and play solution, they buy the tool and that’s when it all starts happening. It’s actually like the cookie monster but it’s a content monster. It wants to be fed content constantly. A lot of people get overwhelmed with that stuff and don’t know where to start.

If you need help the tool you choose will have recommended consultants or find someone who can guide you through the process. It will cost you a lot less money and time to do it with a little help. Learn how to do it the right way and you’ll see results faster.

Get your automation template

If you want to get started with marketing automation you can download Diana’s free flow chart that will help you design your process. You can download it here.

Blogging Challenge

Let’s start with the lead incentives that feed your content monster:

  • Decide who your customer is
  • What pain points do they have that you can address?
  • What lead incentive can you offer that answers their issues?
  • What blog topics can you cover related to each of those pain points?

About Diana

Helping small businesses integrate email and marketing automation into their business strategy, Diana Koshedzhiyska is a consultant that follows the core value – ‘do what you do best’. Her goal is to reduce the overwhelm and help business owners understand the underlying connection between strategy and software and teach them how to do things on their own.

Visit her website: www.buzzfixer.com

Follow her on Twitter:  @buzzfixer


Register for my FREE webinar: Top 5 Mistakes Businesses Make on Twitter (And How to Avoid Them)




Marketing Automation - Not As Complicated As You Might Think
Marketing Automation – Not As Complicated As You Might Think


How a mastermind group can give your small business the edge
How a mastermind group can give your small business the edge

What is a mastermind group? How does it benefit your business? How do you go about setting one up. That’s the topic that guest writer Sinéad Noonan tackles in this post.

I consume a lot of of podcasts. Fifteen to twenty hours worth of content every week is about average for me. I primarily listen to business and marketing podcasts and am always trying to learn something that might help me build my small business. One thing that quickly became apparent to me was that most of the successful business men and women I admired were members of masterminds.

So about two years ago I decided to take the plunge and set up my own mastermind group. Within a year I had set up my own business and was attracting clients. Without the mastermind group, I would never have done this. Today, I am going to show you the benefits of being part of a mastermind and how to set one up.

What is a mastermind group?

What is a Mastermind group?
What is a Mastermind group?

In simple terms, a mastermind is a group of 3-8 people who come together on a regular basis, who have similar aims and want to reach certain goals. It’s important that the people involved in the mastermind group are committed and dependable. A mastermind will only be successful if everyone buys into the idea and will do the work. You need people that will commit to meeting regularly because attendance and accountability are what gives mastermind groups their power.

Benefits of a mastermind group?

So far you might be thinking that just going to a networking event will give you the same advantages as organising a mastermind. But masterminds have certain benefits:

Accountability – If you are a solopreneur, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. There is so much to do and keep on top of. You may have a ‘grand vision’ for your business, but you are stuck in the nitty-gritty of day-to-day tasks. By sharing your grand vision with your fellow mastermind peers, they can help you ensure that you are making progress towards this plan. Months and years can go by so quickly and you may not have made the progress you want towards your vision. A regular accountability check-in can make the difference and help you focus yourself on what it is exactly you need to be doing.

Share your grand vision with your Mastermind group.
Share your grand vision with your Mastermind group.

Education – It is likely that each member of the mastermind group has certain skills and strengths that other members lack. By teaming up, you enjoy the benefit of learning new skills that can help your business. For example, perhaps one member has a knack for copywriting and you have excellent photography skills. You could trade skills or even teach the group some of the fundamentals of your expertise.

Instant feedback – There can be nothing more disheartening than launching a product or service, only for no one to buy. The major advantage of mastermind meetings is that you can receive constant honest feedback from your peers. This can help avoid working on a project that you are super passionate about but has a limited future.

Brainstorm – Sometimes just the act of bouncing ideas off other people is all you need to spark a great idea.  People with different backgrounds and interests can help you view your ideas in a new light and possibly provide you with the breakthrough you need for your business.

Get feedback from other Mastermind members
Get feedback from other Mastermind members

How to set up your own mastermind group?

Before approaching people to take part in your mastermind group, you should be very clear about the aims of the group. By knowing exactly what you want to get out of the mastermind, it will make it easier to communicate to others why taking part will benefit them. Having a vague notion of how the group will work can lead to people only half-committing.

Download your free Mastermind workbook 

Questions to ask yourself

  • It can be useful to sit down and think through what exactly you are looking for in a mastermind. These questions can help:
  • Why are you setting up a mastermind group? What do you hope to get out of it?
  • What are your short-term goals for your business? Where do you want your business to be in a years time?
  • What are your long-term goals for your business? Where will the business be in 5/10 years time?
  • What are you struggling with in your business at the moment?
  • Where are you spending most of your time? What aspects of your business are taking up most of your energy?
  • What areas of your business are going well?
  • What skills do you have that you are confident enough to share with others?
  • How much time do you have to commit to the mastermind?
  • Do you respond better to people face to face or over Skype?
  • What type of people will make up the group?
  • Will all members be from the same industry or would you rather a diverse group?
  • Do you want to lead the mastermind, or let someone else take the reins after initial set up?
  • How often will the group meet? Will it be a fixed date or worked around everyone’s schedule?

Where to find people for the mastermind group?

There are numerous ways to find people interested in joining your mastermind.

  • Facebook Groups – This is where I found the members of my mastermind. Start by looking at groups that involve your local business networks. Try to identify members that seem to be engaged and willing to help others. You want to attract members that are willing to give back to the mastermind, not just take advice and give nothing in return. If you can’t find people locally, maybe start to look into groups that centre around your industry.
  • LinkedIn – If you have built up a network of contacts here, this could be the perfect place to find mastermind members. Send messages to people you think would be a good fit for your mastermind, or ask contacts if they would know people that would be interested.
  • Conferences – The best part of using conferences as a place to find perspective mastermind members is that you know you already have things in common. Concentrate on conferences that are closely aligned with the vision you have for your mastermind.
  • Networking events – Local networking events can be an ideal way to strike up a conversation with people near you. Make note of any person you chat to that you think would be open to attending a mastermind. Ensure that you follow up with that person a few days later.
  • Friends and Colleagues – Ask your own circle of friends if they would be interested or know people that would. Word of mouth is a strong thing, and people are more likely to try something if a friend suggests it.

What to look for in mastermind members

As well as looking for people with some common ground there are a few key characteristics that you should keep an eye out for:

  • Goal-orientated
  • Positive attitude
  • Creative
  • Disciplined
  • Communicative
  • Committed
  • Supportive
  • Collaborative
  • Focused
  • Respectful
  • Attention to detail
  • Discreet

Not every member will have all of these traits, but you should have a mix of people that cover them. It will help with the success of the mastermind.

Should you allow your competitors into the mastermind group?

This is really your call. To get the most out of a mastermind, you want to be able to speak freely about your business and know that nobody will use the information against you. However, before you write off a competitor from the mastermind, consider if they would actually be a benefit to you.

For example, say you are a hotelier. The manager of another hotel comes to you wanting to join the mastermind. Your initial reaction maybe to decline their interest. However, your hotel has a target market of retired individuals and your ‘competition’ is targeting stag/hen parties. Neither of you is marketing to the same demographic, but you would both benefit from industry knowledge. So it might be useful to have them in the group to share marketing strategies and other tips.

In the end, if it is your mastermind group, you can decide who fits best into the group.

Meeting with your mastermind group

How to run a mastermind meeting
How to run a mastermind meeting

First mastermind meeting

When you have assembled a suitable mastermind group, it’s time for the first meet-up. In the first meeting, you and the other members will be deciding on a few key issues.

  • Who will lead the meetings? Will it be the same person all the time, or will it rotate?
  • Will a record be kept of what is said at the meetings?
  • Will the meetings always take place in person?
  • Where will meetings be held? Will it always be the same location? Will it always be at the same time?
  • Will the meetings be structured or free flow? (see below)
  • How often will the meetings occur?
  • What happens when people start missing meetings?
  • Will new members be allowed to join?

Answering questions like these now avoids misunderstanding later.

Regular mastermind meetings

Finally after all that, it’s time to start regularly meeting with your mastermind. Mastermind meetings tend to be run in two different ways.


This is where one person chairs the meeting and makes sure that each member is given a chance to talk about their business. In a structured mastermind, a timer is generally set and everyone is given the same amount of time to talk. In a group, it can be easy for one person to dominate the conversation, but by having a timer in place it ensures everyone will have an opportunity to participate. Having a timer also allows for the discussion to dive into the topic at hand, rather than get sidetracked.

The chair in a structured mastermind needs to make sure that everyone is focusing on the topic of discussion and not letting the conversation be hijacked. Not everyone has to speak for their entire allotted time, but they always have the option to. After everyone has had a chance to speak, the chair can open up the discussion to other business or can focus on a topic that might not have been totally resolved in the previous discussions.

For a reasonable schedule aim for about 2 hours. For example – start at 7 pm and engage in relaxed chat until everyone arrives. Deal with any business from the last meeting. Start with the timer and allow everyone to have their allotted time. Close the timed discussions at 8:30 pm and allow for any follow-up discussions and goal setting. End the meeting at 9 pm.

If you have a tighter schedule to work with, you may want to consider leaving goal setting and other business discussion to follow up emails and just concentrate on the timed section.

To avoid people in the mastermind showing up to the meeting with nothing to say, you can suggest that members have answers to certain questions prepared before each meeting. For example, possible questions could be:

  • What’s going really well for your business at the moment?
  • What is your business struggling with?
  •  What tool/resource are you finding particularly useful?
  • What book/article did you find insightful recently?
  • Names of people you recently interacted with that might be of benefit to others in the group.

A structured mastermind works well for larger groups (5+) as the meeting can easily go off-topic or break off conversations can occur. Keeping the focus on the topic being discussed is vital.

Free flow

This is a more relaxed meeting where the members get together and just discuss their businesses. There is no chair and no timer. It is up to each member to make their voice and opinion heard.

This might be a better option for smaller groups. It allows the conversation to develop and is excellent for brainstorming and creativity. It also does not feel as constrained as a structured meeting.

The most important aspect of a mastermind group

The most important aspect?
The most important aspect?

Accountability is the key to a successful mastermind group. If everyone feels invested in the group, it is far more likely to succeed. I would suggest that at the end of each meeting, everyone sets a goal that they will have achieved by the next meet up. Whatever the goal is, have someone make a note of them and have regular check-ins before the next Mastermind so that everyone is held accountable. This accountability can be invaluable when the temptation to procrastinate or give up hits. Do you really want to be the only one in your mastermind group not to reach their goal this month? This accountability can really spur you on. I would suggest having a private Facebook group or WhatsApp group so that members of the mastermind can check-in. This gives the group a constant support system between the meetings.

So, do you think that a mastermind is right for you? Are you inspired to set one up? If you do take the plunge, let me know how you get on! If you have any questions, feel free to ask me in the comments below.


Sinéad Noonan - Sinead Social

Sinead Noonan runs a Dublin-based Mastermind group aimed at bloggers. Her website sineadsocial.com helps part-time bloggers to turn into full-time brands. She loves to teach productivity systems and branding as well as content creation methods that will make you stand-out and build a blog you love!




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To swear or not to swear?
To swear or not to swear?

Swearing has become a thing recently. Last year I attended a conference and every single speaker used the F word in their presentation. LinkedIn posts featuring the F-word in their titles are going viral.

Is swearing a taboo that is obsolete or do we risk alienating our customers if we let it into our business language?

Should you swear?

When I was a kid my parents were critical of a member of their social group. She was a warm, entertaining woman but she let swear words flow into her conversation easily. It made my parents uncomfortable particularly when they had me in tow. What if I asked them what the words meant? Worse, what if I started using them myself. All that effort to bring up a well-mannered child would be ruined.

I’m sure part of their distaste of the woman in question was as an example to me. If you swear people won’t like you.

As an adult, I swear. I do try not to do it in front of my Mother but expletives are part of my everyday vocabulary. They enhance the points I’m trying to make, they add emphasis and impact. But I’d never let those words creep into my business communications.

Here’s why:

My customers

I’m sure my customers swear. I’m sure if I used the ‘F’ word in a blog post it wouldn’t be the first time they’d seen or heard the word. But even if they swear I don’t think me swearing, in a professional setting would put across the right impression about me and my business.

As marketers we’re told that we should speak the language of our customers and I’m all for that. Using words and phraseology that is familiar to them can help you build trust. They’ll feel like they are talking to someone familiar, a friend, someone who understands them. But I draw the line at swearing. Why?

If you went to the GP to discuss your health and they dropped an ‘f’ word into the diagnosis how would you feel? What if your accountant told you that tax was a ‘F**king pain in the a**e but you had to pay it? Would that feel like comfortable banter or would you be taken aback?

When I go to the Doctor I’m relieved when she speaks in a manner I can understand, she’ll explain any treatments clearly. She makes me feel at ease.

But if she started telling me my blood pressure was ‘almost f**king perfect’ I’d feel uncomfortable straight away.

The context of her swearing wouldn’t work.

Sometimes it does work

If you read my recent review of the book ‘Made to Stick‘ you’ll know that being surprising can help you be memorable.
If my doctor swore I might feel uncomfortable at the time. I’d laugh later and tell people about my ‘sweary’ GP.

The question you need to ask is. Do you want to be remembered for being sweary?

A few months ago I read a blog post by Ann Handley. She talks about a LinkedIn post written by a working mother. The title of the post was How To: F**king Work From Home.

The post was successful, to date over 9.5 thousand Likes, over 1,600 comments (not all favourable) and over 600 shares. More impressively the post led to sales. I imagine had she omitted the F word she’d have seen little impact.

So a good result even if the author is going to be branded as ‘The sweary woman on LinkedIn’ for eternity.

Should you swear?

To this day I avoid swearing in front of my parents, I avoid swearing in front of children and I avoid swearing at work.

The LinkedIn post was successful because it was surprising. At the conference I attended the F words woke us up, jogged our minds that could easily wander after 20 minutes of a presentation. They were words we didn’t expect to hear in a business lecture.

In both these cases the expletives worked. They served a purpose, they made us pay attention.

The downside is that once you are known for swearing there will be a portion of your audience that will be turned off, that will look elsewhere because although swearing is part of all our lives there are times when it seems inappropriate.

If you’re comfortable with that and if you know that swearing could have a positive impact on you and your brand. Go for it.

Your Turn

What do you think. Is swearing a bad thing or does it enhance your business?


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To swear or not to swear in business communications?
To swear or not to swear in business communications?
Beyond The Boost Post Button: A Business Bloggers Guide To Facebook Advertising
Beyond The Boost Post Button: A Business Bloggers Guide To Facebook Advertising

Do Facebook ads work? Should you be using them to drive traffic to your blog posts? How much do they cost? That’s what we’ll look at in this Facebook ads guide for bloggers.

The problem with Facebook

I have a love hate relationship with Facebook. I love the way it keeps me in touch with my old friends and helps me make new ones. I hate that it’s become so hard to market on it.

I get it, I really do. There are so many businesses on Facebook flogging their stuff that if there was no algorithm to hold us back it would resemble a free ads newspaper.

People, me included go to Facebook to talk to people, to friends and colleagues and be a part of their lives. Our business posts are just getting in the way.

So although the algorithm means that my posts reach a fraction of the audience I’ve built over the years I’m willing to forgive Facebook. They do after all have their customers, their real customers the every day users at the heart of their decision making. Without their massive user-base they’d struggle to make money.

If I was Facebook’s business consultant I’d be telling them they were doing a good job.

Like many businesses who know the Facebook is a valuable tool but are suffering from the tragic reach I advertise. I advertise to reach the right people with my posts, I advertise to build my brand, my list my readerships and sales.

In this post I’m going to share with you a basic guide to using Facebook ads. I’m going to share my process, results and mistakes.

Going beyond the boost post button

Blog visitors are like magazine readers. Some will read the whole thing from cover to cover, others will read a few select articles others will have a flick through whilst in a waiting room or in a queue.

Our goal as business bloggers is to make sure the next time any of these readers see our magazine they pick it up. Eventually we’ll buy their loyalty with our content and they’ll become loyal and subscribe.

It’s easy to click the boost button underneath your posts but this button is designed to boost engagements on your posts. People will take a look at the cover of your magazine and smile but they won’t look inside. If you want them to open and start reading you’ll need to delve deeper into Facebook ads and you’ll need a plan.

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The big question

As with any plan you need to start with the big question.

What is your goal?

We’ve established we want people to click through to our websites or to follow the magazine analogy open the cover but what’s our goal beyond that?

  • Do we want to build up our email list?
  • Get people to keep coming back to our site?
  • Build an audience of readers that you can sell to later on?
  • Do you want to build your online brand as a source of good information?

Once you know the answer to the big question you can start putting together your advertising plan.


Who do you want to reach?

There are many ways to build an audience on Facebook. The type of audience you select can have a dramatic effect on the success and price of your ad.

Some Facebook users are going to be more invested in what you do than others.

Retargeting with Website Custom Audiences

If you shop on Amazon or book accommodation on Booking.com you’ve probably noticed that once you’ve visited their sites or viewed specific pages they seem to follow you around the internet.

They do this using cookies and the Facebook pixel. This is a bit of code that you add to the head section of your website that builds an audience of Facebook users from your website visitors.

You don’t have to go full on Stalker like Amazon does but you can use this audience to encourage repeat visits. If they’ve read your previous blog post but not your current one you can ask Facebook to put your latest post in front of them.

It’s like putting the latest issue of your magazine in a shop display. They read the last issue, when they see the latest cover you can attract them again.

These existing readers are aware of your business and content so theoretically they should be cheaper to convert to clicks on your newest post. It doesn’t always work that way as I’ll reveal later on.

Reaching the people who like your page

The people who already like your Facebook page are also a warm audience. At some point they clicked that Like button so they are interested. If you push your latest blog post out to them it gives them the opportunity to re-engage with your content.

These people haven’t read your magazine before but they are familiar with your title and branding so a good cover could entice them to read.

Targeting page engagers

Facebook recently introduced a new audience type, the ‘Page engagement’ audience. This is made up of the people who have interacted with your page or content in the last year. Targeting these people with your new content could be a good way to get them to re-engage.

These people are more committed than just the people who Like your page. They’ve had a taster of what you do already. They may have picked up a copy of your magazine off the shelf but not read it through.

Targeting your email subscribers

You can target people on your email opt-in list. These people have gone one step further than visiting a page on your website or Liking your Facebook page. They have filled in a form showing they are interested in what you do, agreeing to receive more information from you.

These are your magazine subscribers, they may not read every issue but they’re interested enough to want regular personal communications from you.

If you are smart with your list building (see episode 66 on building better email subscribers with lead incentives) the majority of the people on your email opt-in will be strong leads and potential customers. Using Facebook ads you can reach them again even if they don’t open your emails.

Lookalike audiences

For all the different custom audiences I’ve described above you can create ‘Lookalike audiences’. These are Facebook users that are similar to the people in your original audience.

These audiences will never be as good as warm audiences but they can help boost the number of people you reach if you find your existing audiences are too small.

Interest targeting

Finally you can go in cold and target people who may never have heard of your magazine before but fit your ideal reader profile.

Facebook interest targeting can be extremely effective at reaching a brand new audience. Instinctively this won’t be as strong an audience as the others as they haven’t encountered you before. If you can find a big enough sample you can make it work. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with my cold targeting.

Targeting cats and dogs

One trick that many advertisers miss is that you can target people who like one thing and another thing. People who like Cats and Dogs.

Targeting people who like cats AND dogs
Targeting people who like cats AND dogs

By default when you add interests to your audience you are targeting people who like Cats or Dogs. See below.

Targeting people who like cats OR dogs
Targeting people who like cats OR dogs

Go large

I used to believe small audiences offered better results on Facebook ads but I’ve learned that bigger is actually better. Only a small portion of people on Facebook click ads, if you aren’t targeting warm audiences it’s worth throwing the net wide and seeing who bites.

Using multiple audiences

You don’t have to choose just one of these options. For each post I promote on Facebook I create three audiences.

1. Website custom audience (excluding people who like my page)
2.Page Likes audience (excluding members of my website custom audience)
3. Interest based cold audience

Which works best? Keep reading and I’ll tell you.

Setting the objective

I talked vaguely about goals at the beginning of this post. Whichever goal you chose you can chose a Facebook ad objective that aligns with it.

As we’re talking blog posts here I’m going to stick with three key ad types:

  • Boost post (page post engagement)
  • Website clicks (people who click the link to your blog post)
  • Conversions (people who take an action like filling a form or reach checkout on your site)

All three of these ad types can be applied to your blog posts shared on Facebook

Here’s the thing, depending on which objective you chose, Facebook will show your ad to a different group of people.

  • If you chose a Boost Post objective Facebook shows your ad to people it knows are more likely to click the Like button or comment.
  • If you choose the ‘Website clicks’ objective Facebook will show it to people who are most likely to click the link.
  • If you choose the Conversions ad type it will be shown to the people most likely to convert.

If you want people to read your blog you need to abandon the boost post button and create your ads in ad manager.

If you want to optimise for conversions you’re going to need to do a bit of magic with that Facebook pixel I mentioned earlier. This is probably something you are going to need your web developer to do.

How much will it cost?

Now you know the type of ad you want to run and who you want to target the final decision is your budget.

The minimum cost for a boost post ad is €1 per day. For a website clicks ad it’s €5 per day.

I spend a minimum of €10 per week on boosting one post.

Your cost per click will vary depending on who you are targeting, where they live, the time of year and the industry you are in.

When you buy Facebook ads you set a daily or lifetime budget. Facebook will spend that the best it can and you’ll see afterwards what it cost per click, engagement or conversion.

It’s only after you have run a campaign that you will have a CPC (cost per click) or CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions) to benchmark yourself against

For more on pricing read this post from Buffer.

You’re ready to create your ads

I have to take my hat off to Facebook, they have made the ad creation process really user-friendly.

The one thing that may not be obvious is the structure of a Facebook ad campaign. Before I share my process and results with you I just wanted to give you the basics.

Facebook ads are structured a bit like a tree:

  • The campaign is the trunk of the tree – It defines the objective of the ads you want to run (engagement, website click, conversions)
  • The branches of the tree are ad sets – Each ad set can have its own budget, schedule and audience.
  • The leaves that grow on each branch are the ads. – Each ad can have its own creative elements, images videos and text.
Facebook ad structure
Facebook ad structure

Facebook will automatically split test the ads within the ads set and use the ones that produce the best results widely.

My method

When I promote my blog posts I Have one campaign the objective is website clicks

In that campaign I have three ad sets, each one reaches a different audience:

1. Website vistiors
2. Page likers
3. Interest based audience

Each one of those ad sets contains one ad (although best practice would be to have at least three). I use my Facebook page post as the ad in all cases.

Right so that’s the theory. Lets look at the results

I’ve been analysing the results of my website clicks ads since the beginning of the year and I have to say I’m surprised.

CPM (Cost per 1,000 impressions)

The audience it’s cheapest for me to reach is my page likers. They cost me an avearge of €1.80 per 1000 impressions. I pay twice that to reach my interest audience and three times that to reach my Website custom audience.

Facebook ad results - CPM (Cost Per Impression)
Facebook ad results – CPM (Cost Per Impression)

CPC (Cost per click)

When I look at my cost per click the Interest audience wins with an average CPC of just 17c. In second place it’s my Website custom audience at a massive 47c per click and lagging behind is my Likers at 51c per click. That’s three times the cost of my interest audience.

Facebook ad results - CPC (Cost Per Click)
Facebook ad results – CPC (Cost Per Click)


Does this mean you should ignore everything I said about warm audiences?

No, I don’t think so, I’d like to offer a different conclusion:

  1. I’m not excluding the post I’m promoting when I target my website custom audience. This means that many who see the ad may already have seen it.
  2. A lot of my website visitors will be reading posts that aren’t relevant to the latest post I’m sharing. I need to target interests within my website audience rather than a one size fits all approach.
  3. I’m targeting really well at my interest audience.

I’m going to keep experimenting with this. I’m also going to be running some lead gen and conversion ads shortly. It will be interesting to measure those results against the theory too.


If you haven’t started using Facebook ads to target your audience yet give it a try. It’s a great way to get exactly the right people to read your blog posts

Do what I’ve done and split test your audiences, work out the ones that are working and hone the ones that aren’t.


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Beyond The Boost Post Button: A Business Bloggers Guide To Facebook Advertising
Beyond The Boost Post Button: A Business Bloggers Guide To Facebook Advertising