Transform Your Readers Into Enthusiastic Customers Using The Circle Of Trust Content Plan
Transform Your Readers Into Enthusiastic Customers Using The Circle Of Trust Content Plan

Do your readers trust you? Do they trust you enough to buy from you? How can you build and nurture that trust? The ‘Circle of Trust Content Plan’ is designed specifically to help you do just that.

When I started my first business I made the mistake many new business owners made. I launched my business and expected people to buy from me. Immediately.

I did get a couple of sales early on, from supportive friends, but it was going to take a whole lot more work to get the business ticking over.

I needed to sell to people beyond my circle of friends if I was going to be successful.

My blog was an early addition to my marketing armoury but even then I didn’t get it right straight away. I plugged away at creating content but I wasn’t always creating the right content for the right people. The content that would attract them, nurture them and convince them to buy.

I was blogging without a real purpose, without a plan, I wasn’t thinking about how I could use my content to build trust.

Sound familiar?

Our friends buy from us because they know us and trust us to deliver. We need to replicate that in our blog audience.

That’s where the Circle of Trust Content Plan comes in

The ‘Circle Of Trust Content Plan’ will help you build trust with your readers. We’re going to look at each stage of the circle and the type of content you can create.

Listen below to find out more



I look at a lot of business blogs and there are two big mistakes that I encounter time and time again.

  1. Businesses talk about themselves and promote too much, so much so that readers aren’t interested in visiting their site.
  2. They only offer soft content, it attracts readers but they don’t become leads or customers. They don’t learn about your business.

If we’re going to be successful we need to balance content that attracts new readers and encourages them to buy.

To do this we need to build a content plan based on trust. I call it ‘The Circle Of Trust Content Plan’.

The circle of trust consists of five phases that our customers pass through:

Tune in
Relate
Uptake
Sell
Tell others

Build a content plan based on The Circle Of T.R.U.S.T
Build a content plan based on The Circle Of T.R.U.S.T

Each phase requires content.

Tune In

Get your ideal audience to 'Tune In'
Get your ideal audience to ‘Tune In’

This is all about attracting new people to your business. Your goal is to reach as many people within your target market as possible.

There are a few ways you can approach this.

1. Write about broader topics

If you’ve created a customer persona you’ll have a good idea of the things that your ideal customer is interested in. They may not be directly related to your business but if they share a common interest you can tap into that with your ‘Tune in’ content.

For example a local bar might write about local news, feature local celebrity interviews or talk about remote working.

They will attract a local audience and an audience of people that need to find somewhere to work whilst they are in town.

Read more on creating customer personas here.

2. Go all in on SEO

Search for keywords not just related to your business but the topics you know your customer is interested in. Identify the top topics and write thorough posts about them. You’ll find lots of keyword tips in my interview with Ray from FreshBananas.

3. Approach guest bloggers

Asking people to write guest posts for you will expand your audience beyond your usual bubble. Guest bloggers will add knowledge to your site and share your content with their own audiences.

Read more about creating a guest post strategy here.

4. Newsjacking

What’s hot in the news at the moment? What are the top topics being discussed in your industry? Can you find an angle and write about it?

It doesn’t always have to be a news story. Our local bar could create a cocktail for the finale of the current series of Dr. Who called ‘The Sonic Screwdriver’ (if they knew this would interest potential customers). Then share the recipe and a short video on the blog showing readers how they came up with the idea and how to make it.

5. Shareable content

It’s not easy to come up with shareable content. There’s an art to it. Writing an expert round-up post or an ‘ultimate guide’ can help if you pick the right topic.

Roundup posts work well. If you pick the right contributors they’ll share your post giving you a reach way beyond your regular audience.

My roundup post for International Women’s day featured the morning routines of 17 successful women and is still one of the top shared posts of 2017 on my blog.

Find out more about writing expert roundup posts here.

Relate

Get your readers to relate to you
Get your readers to relate to you

Now people have discovered you and tuned in, the next stage of building trust is getting them to relate to you. Your Tune in content was all about attracting an audience based on their interests.

Your relate content is more specifically about your business and industry. It’s still not sales content but it has more relevance to you.

Here are some content types that you can use in your relate content.

1. Tutorials

Share processes and step by step guides to help your customers with the specific problems they have. Our local bar could share tips on organising a work night out, how to pair beer with food or the official rules of darts (or other bar games they have).

2. People

People are the heart of your business and it’s people that make your audience trust you.

When someone walks into your premises, gives you a call, drops you an email or starts a messenger chat they’ll feel more comfortable if they’ve seen your face.

Can you feature interviews with staff or encourage them to write posts/record vlogs and podcasts for you?

You should also use your own stories to help the audience relate to you. I started this post with a story about my first business did it help you relate to me?

3. Reviews

This works particularly well if you have a commerce business. What products do you stock? Can you review them or will you ask others to do it for you? Honest reviews that talk about the good and bad will help you build trust with your customers.

Mick’s Garage do this particularly well.

If you don’t have a commerce business look at products that are related to your business and industry that you could review. Maybe there’s a new book out that your customers will be interested in. Is there a TV show on relating to what you do?

4. Industry news

What’s happening right now in your industry? Can you write a weekly or monthly update about the things your customers really need to know and how it relates to them? Are there specific topics that you want to cover in more detail?

Sometimes this won’t be breaking news, it could be seasonal. For example, every Christmas my posts about Facebook competitions get a boost. I reshare them every year.

Uptake

Get readers to uptake a freebie offer
Get readers to uptake a freebie offer

We’ve begun to build trust with our audience. Instead of getting them to take the leap to buying straight away we can get them to make a smaller initial commitment.

This could be asking them to hand over their email address or phone number so you can stay in touch. Or you can encourage them to visit key web-pages so you can retarget them with social ads.

We need to incentivise this with our content. Here are some ideas:

1. Content upgrades

Do you have a download that compliments your blog post? This could be a simple printable version of the post, a checklist or an eBook.

Our local bar could have a party planning checklist, a downloadable cocktail recipe eBook or even better a voucher to taste some of the beers they have reviewed in-house.

Read more about how my lead magnet performs here.

2. Cornerstone content

Look at each type of customer or each product range or service you want to sell and create an epic piece of content (or series of content) around it.

Make sure you have your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and search pixels installed so you can retarget visitors to those pages with ads.

You’ll know that the people who visit those pages are interested in specific aspects of your business making it a more relevant audience to sell to.

3. Competitions

If you are reviewing a product consider running a competition on the blog post as part of the review. Your aim should be to get an email address or phone number as part of the entry process so you can stay in touch and sell to them later on.

Sell

Help your readers through the buying process with your content
Help your readers through the buying process with your content

Actual sales won’t happen on your blog but you need to have supporting information that will encourage the sale. You need to make sure that your reader has every piece of information they need in order to buy from you.

This is where Marcus Sheridan’s ‘They ask, we answer’ content kicks in.

1. Answer all the questions

The frequently asked questions page on a website is often lacking. It’s hard to answer every question your customer could possibly have on just one page.

Instead, write in-depth content that answers everything your reader could possibly need to know before buying. This should include price, the process your customers need to go through and any other common questions you are asked.

Keep a note of every question you get asked by readers, customers and other people you meet and write a post about each. You can link to these from your FAQ page or create a ‘Learning centre’ on your site that features them.

2. Call to actions

Write about your product and service in an honest way. It’s just as important to point out the downsides of your offering as the upsides. For example, you may be the best but you’re probably not the cheapest. Perfection comes at a price after all. Be clear about this and your customer will trust you.

Read more about Calls To Action here.

Tell others

Help your happy customers and advocates spread the word
Help your happy customers and advocates spread the word

The final phase of our Circle of Trust Content Plan is the one that completes the cycle. Once a customer has done business with your, or even if they haven’t but you’ve helped them in some way they’ll want to share their experiences.

The beauty of Tell others content is that it feeds new people into the circle, if you can get your customers sharing you’ll be reaching their friends and connections.

There are two key ways you can encourage this:

1. Case studies/Testimonials

The testimonials page on a website tends to look stuffy and dull. You can make them more believable by adding nice images and video but you can’t beat a good case study.

Case studies allow you to dive deeper into a testimonial. To tell a story that shows exactly how a customer benefited from your business.

Start with the problem they had, talk through the process of solving it and quote results. Include photos (and video if possible) of your customers. This will help your audience understand more about how you can help them and the story format will make for a good read. Far better than those stuffy testimonial pages.

2. User Generated Content

Are your customers active online? Can you inspire them to share photos, videos, tweets about their experiences with you.

One of my favourite restaurants in Dublin offers prizes for the best food photos shared online with their hashtag.

If you run a campaign like this you can choose your favourites and create a blog post with them. This works particularly well with Instagram as the visual nature makes it more attractive.

One note, write some good terms and conditions that make it clear how you are planning to use the user generated content.

3. Shareable content

There’s a local restaurant in Athy that I love. The food is amazing and although they don’t blog I’m always looking for opportunities to share my love of the restaurant with my social connections. Yes, I take photos each time I’m there and share it widely but I’d love some more meaty content from them that I could pass on to friends.

A blog post about their story, how they set up the restaurant. Articles about their suppliers and how they choose their ingredients, all of this would help me promote their business without getting too heavy handed with the sales.

What’s next?

Of course, some content will fit into more than one category but by consciously thinking about the phases of the circle you’ll ensure that you have a more focused content schedule.

There’s no time like the present. Sit down and brainstorm content ideas for each phase and start planning your content.

If you find yourself going off track remember my story. People don’t just find you and buy from you. They need to trust you before they commit themselves to you and your product.

Balance your content using the Circle of Trust and you’ll gain the trust of your customers and continue to attract new audiences.

 

Join the free community for Small Business Bloggers On Facebook, meet other bloggers, share and learn.

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Transform Your Readers Into Enthusiastic Customers Using The Circle Of Trust Content Plan
Transform Your Readers Into Enthusiastic Customers Using The Circle Of Trust Content Plan
Talking To Robots - How I'm Using Facebook Messenger Bots To Grow My Blog
Talking To Robots – How I’m Using Facebook Messenger Bots To Grow My Blog

Facebook messenger chatbots aren’t just the hot new thing, they’re a great way to promote your blog and build stronger connections with your audience. 

Listen and find out how I’ve been messing with Facebook messenger bots



There’s something about Facebook chatbots that excite me. I remember my first one. Pegg, the Sage chatbot that assists businesses with their bookkeeping. You tell it what you spent money on and it will keep a record of it for you.

The Pegg chatbot connects to Sage One and keeps a record of expenses
The Pegg chatbot connects to Sage One and keeps a record of expenses

It turned out Pegg was a gateway bot, before I knew it I was out there looking for more to subscribe to. It wasn’t long before Hi Poncho joined Pegg. He’s a cheeky cat that tells me the weather forecast twice a day.

Twice daily weather reports with a sense of humour from the Poncho messenger bot
Twice daily weather reports with a sense of humour from the Poncho messenger bot

Then there’s the more serious Wall Street Journal, sending me their latest headlines once a day.

Why the Wall Street Journal? Because they had a chatbot! Soon other media outlets joined in.

Headlines from the Wall Street Journal straight to Facebook Messenger
Headlines from the Wall Street Journal straight to Facebook Messenger

Then I started on fashion… Tommy Hilfiger is choosing outfits for me.

OK, I might have a problem…

But they are addictive.

Since I first said hi to Pegg I’ve been wanting a bot of my own. instead of relying exclusively on email, could I use a bot to update subscribers by Facebook message?

The answer is yes and the process was a lot easier than I imagined and that’s what we’re going to look at in this post.

Chatbots?

If you got this far and are still wondering what I’m talking about, a Facebook messenger chatbot is an automated system that will respond to messages on Facebook for you.

For example, if you get a lot of enquiries about your products and services you probably find yourself answering the same questions over and over again.

Instead of typing the answer every single time you can get a chatbot to do it for you.

You can set it up to ask a series of questions that qualifies respondents and points them in the right direction.

That’s what the Tommy Hilfiger one does. It asked me questions and came up with a selection of outfit choices as a response.

The Hilfiger messenger bot asks a series of questions and diverts your enquiry accordingly
The Hilfiger messenger bot asks a series of questions and diverts your enquiry accordingly

But chatbots don’t have to be for big business.

A hotel could use it to point customers to the right package or deal, an online grocery could suggest recipes, a cinema could assist you in buying tickets.

In fact, there’s a great chatbot that recommends Netflix movies for you. Check out ‘AndChill

Pick the right Netflix movies with And Chill
Pick the right Netflix movies with And Chill

Any business could use them to deal with frequently asked questions from customers.

As bloggers we can build a list of people who want to receive our posts by messenger, we can direct people to our lead incentive or suggest specific posts to them depending on their enquiries.

There’s huge potential in Facebook messenger bots. Let’s look at how to create them.

Before you start

What do you want your bot to do?

  • Send people to the correct page on your website?
  • Answer Frequently asked questions?
  • Send blog updates?
  • Encourage people to subscribe to your email list?
  • Find the best product for your customers?

Manychat

My first attempt was to send my blog updates out by Facebook messenger with the goal of driving repeat visits to my site.

I’m using Manychat. It’s free to get started and well priced if you decide to upgrade.

The first step is to connect it to your page, you’ll need to give it the usual permissions.

Next set up a welcome message. It took me a few goes to get this right.

Remember as a business you need to be open to chat to customers about enquiries, it can’t just be about getting subscribers to your blog.

Manychat has a default message so I customised that. Although this is an automated message I wanted it to sound like me so I’m currently testing:

The Spiderworking chatbot welcome message
The Spiderworking chatbot welcome message

 

 

If you click the ‘Yes Subscribe Me’  button you get tagged as ‘blog subscribers’ I send blog updates by messenger just to the people who are tagged. That means I’m not spamming people with my messages. I got opt in.

If you do subscribe you’ll get a follow-up message from me:

Follow up messenger to messenger subscribers.
Follow up messenger to messenger subscribers.

Setting up an RSS

The RSS feed on your blog is a special link that pings services like Manychat to tell them that there is a new post. To find out if you have a feed on your site try typing in your website domain followed by /feed.

For example, my site would be www.spiderworking.com/feed (I’ve also set up a Feedburner feed but I won’t bore you with that detail for now read more about RSS here).

In the ‘Engage/Autoposting’ section of ManyChat you can enter your RSS and set up sharing to your subscribers from it.

Add your RSS feed as a channel to ManyChat
Add your RSS feed as a channel to ManyChat

To be honest, I was underwhelmed by the RSS function, it didn’t send an image and it was unclear where to click.

In a most unbot like way I’ve decided to personalise these messages instead of automating it. This means I can add other calls to action and inspire engagement too.

3 updates a week may be too much so, just like my weekly snacks email I’m going to start next week with a weekly digest instead.

Beyond blog updates

Once you’ve set up your bot on ManyChat you’ve started building a list of subscribers. These are people you can message again whenever you want to.

There are rules:

  • You can’t send promotional messages to anyone who hasn’t messaged you in the last 24 hours.
  • You can send non-promotional broadcasts, this could include your blog digest or latest post
  • You can send a promotional follow-up message 24 hours after your initial promotional message

You can see why these rules are in place. Facebook don’t want Messenger to be a hive of spammers. They want people to enjoy getting helpful messages from businesses.

Read more on the Facebook developers site 

Sequences

Although getting new readers will be great I want more from y bot. Here are some of the ideas I’m pursuing.

Ask a qualifying question when someone gets in touch to see what they are interested in and send them a series of posts related to that interest.

Encourage people to message me so I can send them to my lead incentive or service page.

Oh and this one is really cool, if I upgrade ManyChat I can respond to people who leave a comment on a Facebook post.

For Example: I can create and organic post about my Blog Post Publishing Checklist. If you leave a comment using the word ‘Checklist’ it will trigger ManyChat to message you with a link to the download page.  I totally stole this idea from Molly Pitman of Digital Marketer who did a webinar for the Social Media Society.

Promoting your Facebook messenger bot

You get it, bots are great but if people don’t know about your bot all that effort will be wasted.

Here are a few things I’m trying for promoting mine:

Organic Facebook post

Underneath your status update box on Facebook that there are a number of ‘Suggested posts’ from Facebook.

Use the ‘Get messages’ one (if you can’t see it try clicking ‘see more’).

Set up an organic post to promote your messenger bot
Set up an organic post to promote your messenger bot

This will open up a post that has ‘Send message’ as a call to action. Customise this post with an image and text encouraging people to click the button.

Customise your post to encourage people to click
Customise your post to encourage people to click

Facebook ads

Run Facebook ads with the objective of getting people to start a chatbot conversation (or just boost the organic post).

To do this use the Traffic objective and add Messenger as your destination at the ad creation section.

Choose the traffic objective when setting up ads that encourage people to message you
Choose the traffic objective when setting up ads that encourage people to message you

 

Choose messenger as your destination at the ad creation phase.
Choose messenger as your destination at the ad creation phase.

Add a call to action to your site

ManyChat give you add buttons, pop-ups and more that you can add to your site to promote your chatbot.

Or you can just link people to your messenger account. Your personal link will be https://m.me/nameofyourpage

For example mine is https://m.me/spiderworking

Click and see what happens

Fringe benefits

Something unexpected happened when I set up my bot. Since I launched it Facebook has replaced my woeful response rate from ‘Responds in a few days’ to ‘Very responsive’.

It’s a vanity stat for me but one I’m delighted with.

What’s next

I’m moving up to the paid version of ManyChat so will be playing with lots more features. I hope you’ll join me.

If you want to set up a Facebook messenger bot of your own get started at manychat.com. Let me know how you get on.

Oh and if you want help setting up your own Chatbot give me a shout.

 

Join the free community for Small Business Bloggers On Facebook, meet other bloggers, share and learn.

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Talking To Robots - How I'm Using Facebook Messenger Bots To Grow My Blog
Talking To Robots – How I’m Using Facebook Messenger Bots To Grow My Blog
How To Make Your Job Easier Every Time - 3 Productivity Keys
How To Make Your Job Easier Every Time – 3 Productivity Keys

A long time ago in a place not so far away, just when I was beginning to set up my first business I was a temp. I was sent to different offices each week to complete admin work, answer the phone and various other office related duties. One week I was sent to a very busy supermarket chain to work in the buying department.

On my arrival I was handed a big book. It was the manual of how to do the job written by a past employee. It was full of tutorials and checklists.

Whoever had put that manual together had ensured that anyone taking over would be able to carry on their job to the letter. It helped me be more productive from the moment I arrived.

It made my job easy. It was my bible.

I’ve not always been the most organised business owner, but now, as those of you who have been listening to this series of podcasts will know, things are changing.

I’m not ready to write a whole bible yet but there are plenty of repetitive tasks in my working week that would benefit from a checklist or system. This week I took a step the first step.

Listen to my diary and find out how to be more productive with your recurring and business tasks



The story so far

This is the last in a series of podcasts on productivity and time management.

My goal is to get ahead with my blog content by one month.

  • In week one I made a plan
  • In week two I created a timesheet so I could measure exactly how I was spending my time and how long tasks really took
  • In week three I looked at how to apportion tasks into a recurring weekly schedule

In this, the last instalment I’m going to look at how creating checklists and systems could speed up repetitive tasks. I’ve also been investigating some of the tools you can use to help you implement a structured task list.

Recurring tasks

Be more productive - Streamline your recurring tasks
Streamline your recurring tasks

Last week I identified the recurring tasks that I needed to complete each week. Each one can be broken into sub-tasks. By dissecting them like this I can ensure that they get done properly each time, I can save time by taking the thinking out of it.

Checklists, forms, worksheets. All of these things can simplify what I need to do and make tasks quicker and easier to complete.

Start with a list. What tasks do you have to do each and every week?

Last week when I was creating my weekly recurring schedule I identified recurring time slots for tasks that I needed to repeat each week.

There was time for:

  • Planning
  • Social media updates
  • Measurement
  • Training and course preparation
  • Creating my video post
  • Creating my podcast
  • My Facebook Live Show
  • Accounts
  • Ad Reporting
  • Email marketing
  • Learning

Not all of these recurring tasks can be systemised. In fact I think it’s a good idea to leave some of your time looser. For example. I’m not going to create a checklist for planning. That’s a loose time-slot that will be filled differently each week. The same goes for learning. Some week’s I’ll do webinars, others I’ll read.

The recurring tasks that I can systemise are:

  • Social media updates
  • Measurement
  • Creating video blog post
  • Creating podcast
  • Accounts
  • Ad Reporting
  • Email marketing

On top of this, I have work tasks that need systems:

  • When a new client gets in touch I need to have a process for responding
  • When I take on a new client I need a process for ensuring I have everything I need to complete work
  • I’d like a process for more efficiently creating and updating courses

The recurring tasks can be dealt with quite easily. All I need is a checklist.

The business tasks are slightly harder and although I’ve started work on these this week it’s going to take me longer to complete.

Time to plan

Find time to plan your processes
Find time to plan your processes

Up until now my productivity drive has saved me time. I haven’t been ploughing time into my plan just streamlining what I do. Last week I spent an hour creating my recurring calendar but that’s it.

This week was different. It’s taken time and I need to put more time into it. I don’t want to scare you off I just want you to be aware that you’re going to need to put aside half a day to get this sorted.

The up-side is that once you’ve systemised your work you’ll waste less time every day and eliminate the stress you feel when tasks get on top of you.

Checklists

Create checklists to be more productive with your time
Create checklists to be more productive with your time

By now you should have a list of recurring tasks that you need to complete each week. You should also have narrowed these down to the ones that can be systemised. The next step is to start pulling them apart. Think clearly about how you approach each task. What are the individual elements that make it up?

It’s not always as easy as you think. I started compiling a list of tasks for my video posts, it started quite simply with:

  • Record video
  • Edit video
  • Write post
  • Publish post
  • Promote post

But then each of those tasks has subtasks of its own. My finished checklist is:

  • Write 3 x titles
  • Create images
  • Decide on the one thing I want people to learn
  • Write post
  • Set up social sharing
  • Complete the Yoast section of the past
  • Record video
  • Edit video
  • Create video thumbnail
  • Upload to YouTube
  • Edit captions
  • Embed video in post
  • Publish post
  • Create pretty link for video
  • Add cards to video
  • Download .srt caption file from YouTube
  • Share on Pinterest and Google+
  • Upload video to Facebook
  • Upload .srt file
  • Add custom thumbnail

Not only did I pull apart the task I was also able to work out the order in which I completed it. It should save me time with next week’s post and ensure I don’t forget anything.

Work tasks

Systemise your business tasks
Systemise your business tasks

This is much harder. More than a checklist is required. Instead, I need to set up a series of emails, forms and worksheets (for want of a better name) that will ensure I’m dealing with client work efficiently and to a high standard.

If like me you have different strings to your business bow you will need a lot of these.

Start by identifying the different types of clients you have. For me it’s:

  • Facebook advertising clients
  • Consulting clients
  • Group training clients
  • One to one training clients
  • I’m also expanding to offer more online products so I’ll need to create systems for these too.

The easiest way to create a system is to walk through the process you go through with a client from first enquiry to completing work.

It could be:

  • First contact made (usually by email)
  • Respond by email to get more detail
  • Schedule call
  • Send quotation
  • Send contract of work
  • Send email with requirements
  • Complete first draft of work
  • Get approval
  • Complete work
  • Send invoice

That’s a simplified system, the area ‘complete work’ alone will need to be broken down further.

Now you know the process you can start creating the elements that will make it easier.

  • Can you create draft emails for each section of the work?
  • Do you have a standard quotation and contract templates?
  • How do you send draft work to clients?
  • What worksheets do you need?
  • What is your invoice procedure?

I recently implemented a system for my Facebook ad clients, it’s not 100% finished but it’s already streamlined the process.

  • I have an enquiry form
  • Tutorials for clients so they can complete my requests
  • Template quotation forms and contracts
  • A Facebook advertising planning spreadsheet
  • A filing system for proofs

I’m working on the draft emails for each stage of the process too.

Knowing it works well for this part of my business I’ve started rolling it out to the other areas.

Tools

Use tools to boost your productivity
Use tools to boost your productivity

So far all the productivity work I’ve done has been on paper or on a whiteboard. Now it’s time to embrace some tools.

To get some recommendations I went to my Small Business Bloggers Facebook group. There were lots of suggestions but the two I chose to test were:

Both promised to be able to handle my recurring tasks and had a checklist like format.

Trello

Organise your tasks onto a board
Organise your tasks onto a board

I’d used Trello before to manage projects. It’s very visual. You create boards and tasks within that board. You can attach checklists, files, labels and due dates to each task.

Luckily I found this comprehensive post from Ellen And Company Design it helped me to understand the potential of the tool.

It didn’t take me long to get hooked.

Features

  • Create re-usable checklists within each task
  • Add team members
  • Attach files to each task
  • Set due dates
  • Duplicate tasks
  • Synced web and mobile app

The killer feature for me is the ‘Power-ups’. These are add-ons that enhance your boards. For bloggers, the Calendar power-up that turns your task list into a calendar is a must.

Power-up your Trello board to create a content calendar
Power-up your Trello board to create a content calendar

Wunderlist

When I first tried this tool on the mobile app I was underwhelmed. I couldn’t see how it would help with recurring tasks.

It’s much easier to set up on desktop, once I’d got a handle on it I kinda liked it.

Wunderlist helps you manage your todo list and recurring tasks
Wunderlist helps you manage your todo list and recurring tasks

Wunderlist lets you create a series of to-do lists. Just like Trello, you can break each list into individual tasks. For example, I created a list for my video blog and added each task as a sub-task within that list.

You can create folders, which act like the boards on Trello and add multiple lists to the folder. Each list can be one off or recurring.

Toggl

As you’ll have heard in the podcast Toggl was recommended to me by Laura Kenny as a tool for measuring time spent on tasks. I started using it immediately and it’s already a keeper.

Set your projects, hit the play button and it will record the amount of time spent on tasks. Great for blogging and also great for businesses that charge by the hour.

Features

  • Create recurring tasks
  • Create checklists within lists
  • Set due dates
  • Synced web and mobile app

Although after some digging I liked the way Wunderlist worked it was no competition. Trello won the day.

Summary

Using checklists, worksheets and templates you can make your working life more efficient. It will make completing tasks and projects easier and it will help you do them well every time. Tools like Trello can help you organise your schedule better as well as your business.

Your task:

  • Make a list of recurring tasks in your schedule
  • Make a list of work tasks
  • Break down your tasks into checklists
  • Walk through your work processes and look for areas that you can systemise with template emails, checklists and worksheets.

What about that goal?

I’ve put in a lot of work, I’ve become more efficient but am I ever going to make my goal?

I’m still suffering from laryngitis which has put me behind schedule as far as the rich (video and podcast) elements are concerned but I’m ahead with my writing. 6 days ahead.

It’s slow progress but yes, I anticipate I can make my goal within the next month.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series. I may not be talking about productivity for the next few weeks but I’d still like to hear about your productivity tips, wins and fails so do leave me a comment below.

 

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Could Checklists, Templates and Worksheets Be The Answer To Your Productivity Dreams?
Could Checklists, Templates and Worksheets Be The Answer To Your Productivity Dreams?
How I Became A YoYo Productivity Dieter (And How I Fixed It)
How I Became A YoYo Productivity Dieter (And How I Fixed It)

Trying to be productive is like being on a diet. You’ll be trundling along for a while making progress and then you slip.

So here I am again, the night before my podcast is to go live and I’m writing. What went wrong and what did I achieve? Listen to find out.



The story so far…

If you’ve been following this series you’ll know I set myself the goal of getting a month ahead with my blog content. I was tired of the last minute rush, I wanted time to write better and to edit.

And I made progress. I started last week by conducting a time audit. I wanted to see how long tasks actually took in comparison to the time I thought they would take.

It was a great task in itself. I got a lot of work done just by knowing the timer was ticking. I got 1.5 days ahead with my content, a small but encouraging start.

My task this week was to put that data to work. I was inspired by Darren Rowse (yes again). Back in episode 40 of the Problogger podcast  he shared his productivity tips. He talked about his weekly schedule. In it he assigned time slots for his weekly tasks.

Now that I knew how long stuff actually took I intended to do the same.

If you joined me in auditing your time you can follow my process. If you didn’t there’s no reason why you can’t join in now.

How to create a recurring weekly schedule

Step 1. Analyse your data

I started by scrutinising the time-sheets I had completed. There were seven in all (it seems I have problems counting a working week of five days).

To do this I created an excel spreadsheet.

The headers for each column:

  • Day of the week
  • Task
  • Category (type of work)
  • Time spent

I colour coded the sheet by day of the week.

Now I had the data in a worksheet I could start to answer some questions.

Question 1: How long do I work each day

As you will know if you work for yourself, the length of time we work each day can be an issue. At the beginning we work every hour we can sacrificing sleep, relationships, pretty much everything in our lives for getting our project off the ground.

Once our business has started to grow we need to take a reality check, however much we love our job we need to have time away from it.

To calculate the time spent working each day I calculated the sum of time spent on business related tasks over the seven days and I divided it by seven.

The answer, 10 hours a day. That’s 10 hours productive work a day which isn’t bad.

Your task

Find out how many hours you are actively working each week and day

Question 2. What was I spending my time on?

When I started this process I identified some key areas that I needed to assign weekly time to:

  • Client work
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Learning
  • Admin

I’ve decided to add in one more category to my weekly schedule and that’s business planning, something I spend very little time on at the moment.

Looking at my spreadsheet I was able to see how many hours a week I spent on each of these categories and what percentage of my week this represented.

I like a good pie chart so here it is.

how do i spend my time
I spend most of my time on client work (unsurprisingly)

I guess I’m not really doing sales!

So unsurprisingly client work was the category I spent the most time on. Marketing came second.

Your task

Don’t be tied to my categories. You might want to get even more granular and compare how long you spend on social media compared to blogging.

Make a list of the categories you want to add to your week

Question 3: How long do specific tasks take?

I can now stop fooling myself about how long it takes me to do big tasks like podcasting, video making or blogging. I have my data.

Scarily, according to my timsheets a podcast takes me approximately four hours to record, write and upload. A video takes slightly longer and that’s without procrastination.

Now I know this I can allocate time more realistically in future and I’m able to decide if the results I get are worth the time expense.

Your task

Make a list of these time hungry, recurring tasks and calculate the time it takes to complete them.

Step 2. Mapping out the week

This was the bit I’d been aiming for. Darren had persuaded me when I listened to his podcast that a weekly schedule would reduce stress and I’d get *everything* done. At this stage I hadn’t actually looked at his schedule but I had the idea, I’d listened to that podcast more than once.

It turns out Darren uses a Google calendar (something I might use next week).

I chose a whiteboard and some coloured dry wipe markers (you’ll be familiar with these if you watch my Facebook Live).

I like the whiteboard because when I mess it up I can erase and start again.

I drew out the working week on the whiteboard and used a purple marker to allocate recurring tasks to days. Some of this was easy. I already do weekly social media updates on a Monday morning. Every Friday I do the Facebook Live, Tuesday mornings are stat days.

It was harder to map out other tasks. I needed to allocate five hours a day to client work. Some weeks there may be more some less but I realised that a lot of the work I did was prep work. If I’m smart I can pre-load client work by reviewing the courses I run and I can get ahead with the Facebook campaigns I run.

I also need to schedule eight hours a week for blogging/podcasting/video content. At the moment I’ve allocated two half days a week but I can see myself breaking this down into sections later on.

I’ve given myself two hours for learning on a Friday as well as an hour for my favourite thing (sarcasm) bookkeeping.

I think it’s important when you’re completing your weekly schedule to try and leave some flexibility. Like a diet when you try to be too regimented you’ll eventually find it too hard to keep.

So far so good. Now all I need to do is test it, does this weekly plan work.

Your task

You don’t have to use a whiteboard. You can use pen and paper, Google calendar like Darren Rowse, or something else.

Look at the chunks of time you need to allocate in the week and find a recurring time you can schedule it for.

So what went wrong?

Why am I sitting here on a Wednesday evening writing? Why haven’t I recorded the podcast that is due out in the morning?

The answer? We had a bank holiday and I didn’t allow for it.

I remember when I started working for myself I ignored bank holidays, I ignored weekends but now I look forward to them just like everyone else. Time out of the office, with friends and family, recharges my batteries. It means that when Monday morning comes I don’t’ get the blues, instead I’m dying to get back to work again.

But if you’re going to be productive you have to allow for bank holidays. You need to plan around them. I didn’t. Squeezing five days of work into four has put me behind schedule again.

I also lost my voice. I attempted to record my audio diary but the squeaks and coughs would make you want to switch off. Today I have most of my voice back. Tomorrow I will record.

What now?

I’m not going to let this setback get me down. I’m still a day, well less than a day ahead and by this time next week I’m aiming to be three days ahead.

Next week in the final part of this series on making better use of your time I’ll be looking at how you can put systems in place to improve your productivity. I’ll also be trialling two tools recommended by the Small Business Bloggers Facebook group. Wunderlist and Trello.

 

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How I Became A YoYo Productivity Dieter (And How I Fixed It)
How I Became A YoYo Productivity Dieter (And How I Fixed It)
How To Audit Your Time - My Journey Towards Blogging Productivity Part 2
How To Audit Your Time – My Journey Towards Blogging Productivity Part 2

How long are you spending on digital marketing each week? You can guess or you can know.

This is part two in a series of podcasts and posts on getting ahead with your blog content. Last week I set the challenge. This week I’m measuring time.

How long do we actually spend on digital marketing?

People ask me this question all the time and I tend to fumble the answer. I don’t want to lie but I don’t actually have the statistics.

I think I spend a day a week on content but is that true? If I’m going to get ahead with my content I need to know the answer. I also want to know where on earth all that other time is getting spent.

Find out how I got on this week including my audio diary



Where I am now:

Good routine

Last week my sister in law revealed that she thought I worked in my PJ’s. I was horrified. I’m 12 years into running my own business and I’d say I probably work in my PJ’s maybe four days a year, usually because I’m sick.

No, I like most workers have a daily routine.

I get up at 6am, I shower, dress, have breakfast, read the social media news and I’m sitting at my desk at 7.30am.

I take a lunch break and try and finish work by 7pm

The routine has been crucial for keeping me productive. If you don’t have a daily routine yet, implement one, it’s going to help your productivity no end.

Working space

When I started my first business I had a laptop sized space on a desk. Stuff, cluttery stuff (not mine) surrounded me. I’ve grown over time and now I have a room in my home. I have a big desk that is almost empty. I have space to think and work and more importantly, I can close the door at the end of the day and switch work off.

It’s good for my head and it’s great for my productivity. My office is where I go to work and that’s it. I installed a PlayStation here two years ago but I think I’ve only used it once since I did.

This isn’t a space for non-work related fun.

If you can’t find space in your home look for co-working space elsewhere. You’ll always be more productive if you have an allocated working area.

Break times

It’s so easy to skip lunch. I know office workers who sit at their desks for lunch but I try to get out of my four walls for at least 1/2 an hour a day. Going for a walk, getting a bit of shopping, even eating in a different room will reset my brain. I come up with some of my best ideas over lunch.

It’s easy to think you don’t have time for lunch or a break but your productivity will go up, you’ll procrastinate less if you switch off for even a short time during the working day. If you haven’t tried it yet give it a shot.

The goal

If I want to achieve my goal I need to write one blog post a day for the next 2 weeks.

A series like this is handy, I already made progress. I wrote a chunk of this the week before publication and I’m finishing it two days ahead. It’s not a lot but it’s better than my recent last minute rushing.

To see how I can find time in my week to write content I first need to find out how much time creation is already taking.

Enter, the time sheet

Use the timesheet to audit your time
Use the timesheet to audit your time

How long do tasks actually take?

It seems like this would be an easy question to answer but I know I’ve been getting it wrong. I plan my day every day, I allocate chunks of time to tasks yet I still seem to be behind schedule by lunchtime. The only way that you can actually know how long you are spending doing tasks is by timing them.

I created a timesheet to keep a record of the time spent. I have become a slave to the stopwatch on my phone that keeps a record of the time I’ve spent.

The timesheet I’ve created contains 5 Columns

  • Task: The task at hand
  • Allocated Time: How long I thought it would take
  • Actual Time: How long it really took (timed using the stopwatch on my phone)
  • Distractions: What got in the way of me doing it faster. Include procrastination, unexpected phone calls, interruptions from the cats here
  • Category: At the end of the week I want to know how much time I spent on marketing, work prep, paid work, admin etc. So I’m giving each task a category.

There’s a section for additional tasks completed and how long they take. I added this because some days I’ll have a task from an email to complete that I hadn’t planned or I’d suddenly find some time to do an additional task, it all needs to be measured.

I create a new form every morning and pin it on my wall. The plan is to run this system for a working week so I can assess my time better.

Problems

The first issue that I encountered was that I was rushing. I saw the time as a challenge and was working really hard to get stuff done in that time. It’s great to be hyper-productive like that but just like a crash diet is unsustainable.

It’s not possible to keep going at that pace. It’s the tasks that I think about and spend time on that I do best. I had to take a step back.

The purpose of the timesheet wasn’t for me to work faster, at least not yet, it was to know how long tasks actually took.

Once I slowed down I settled into the system. I’m happy logging my time at a sustainable pace.

If you’re interested in hearing my blow by blow audio diary on working with the time sheet be sure to listen to the podcast above.


If you want to join the challenge download your timesheet here


What I’ve learned so far

It’s early days but I’ve already started being more efficient. When you are working against the clock you begin to understand how important that time is. I’ve created some checklists, the wall behind my desk is beginning to fill up with them. These ensure I don’t have to go back over and over again to edit something I haven’t completed properly.

My wall is filling with checklists
My wall is filling with checklists

Knowing exactly how long tasks are taking means I’m looking for ways to do the tasks more efficiently. I’d already implemented some systems in my routine tasks but I’m looking at adding more.

How far ahead am I after week one?

Let’s not take our eye off the ball. I’m trying to get a month ahead with content. Currently, I’m 1 day ahead. Not a great step forward but I know after I understand my time better and allocate it better I will get there. My goal for next week is to be three days ahead.

What’s next?

My next task is to map out my week realistically. Now I know how long things take I want to find regular timeslots for them in my working week. We’ll discuss that in next week’s episode.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here to make sure you don’t miss it.

 

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How To Audit Your Time - My Journey Towards Blogging Productivity Part 2
How To Audit Your Time – My Journey Towards Blogging Productivity Part 2
Imagine A World Where You Are Ahead With Your Blog Content
Imagine A World Where You Are Ahead With Your Blog Content

Do you have a time management problem? Do you dream of a time when you get blog content written well in advance? Do you struggle to find time for digital marketing?

If so this week’s episode of the Blogcentric podcast, part one of a series if for you:



Productivity ugh!

Last week I published a blog post I wasn’t happy with, not in a perfectionist way but in a this just isn’t up to scratch kind of way.

I’ve been kicking myself ever since. How could I let my schedule get so out of control again that I’m writing posts at the last minute without time for editing, images, improving?

So this time I mean it. I’m going to get ahead with my blog content. Will you join me in my quest to get a month ahead with your blogging content?

I’ve been doing this job long enough to know that I can’t just decide to do something, things don’t simply happen by wishing they will. You’ve got to have a plan.

So over the next month or so I’m proactively going to work towards better productivity. And hopefully, by listening to this series of podcasts you’ll be able to follow and learn what I learn whilst avoiding any mistakes I make.

I’m going to be recording an audio diary as I go.

I’d also love your ideas and feedback. How do you manage your productivity? Share your ideas with me and I’ll give them a go.

This is part one.

The Small Business Owners Problem

Someone at Social Media Summit last week said.

“Small business owners give up a 40-hour working week to pursue their dream of working a 100 hour week”

(I may be paraphrasing)

It made me laugh out loud. I remember when I decided to start my first business. I imagined it would give me more time off and looked forward to that time off.

I wasn’t entirely wrong, I often do take a lot of holiday days but as you know, those holiday days come at a price. You need to work every hour you can before and after the break.

Small business owners have to:

Service clients to the best of their ability – After all the best marketing is word of mouth. We have to work hard to keep our customers happy so they can tell other people about us.

Do admin – everyone’s favourite part of running a business (yeah, look at my sarcastic face)

Do marketing – We need customers, we have to attract them. That’s what our digital marketing is all about.

Do sales – This could be direct sales or following up leads attained by marketing

Learn – Courses, training, reading. Anything that helps us grow personally within our businesses

We need to find time in our weekly schedule for all this and try and find time for ourselves as well.

Working flat out is a must in the first few years of starting a business but after the grind is over you need to find a work-life balance and that should include looking after your body, your mind and your relationships.

Unbelievably, I used to think that didn’t matter but I was wrong.

My problem

I’ve been working on my productivity for a long time and more intensively since January. I have paper to-do lists, whiteboards, calendars, schedules, goals, strategy, all that stuff people tell you will help.

And I am productive. I turn out a lot of work every week but my to-do lists still seem to be aspirational rather than based on reality. At the end of each day I may be looking at a lot of ticked items on that to-do list but it’s the non-ticked items that keep me awake at night.

And then there’s that blog post last week the one that wasn’t up to scratch. I need to get ahead with content.

I figure if I can nail this, not just my productivity but my time management, I’ll be able to:

  1. Work out a better pricing structure by knowing exactly how long work takes to complete
  2. Eliminate pointless tasks
  3. Find more tasks to outsource to my VA (and others)
  4. Find more downtime

I’m sure I’ll find other benefits along the way

My plan

I’m starting with a goal:

Get one month ahead with blog content

But I’m adding a caveat:

Without sacrificing the quality of client work

Here are the steps I’m planning to take, they may evolve along the way:

1. Measure where I am

I’m doing a time study on myself to see how long it actually takes to do tasks. I have a feeling my estimates are way off.

Once I know where I am I’ll be able to allocate time better and stop overpacking my days with work.

I’ve created a basic timesheet that I’m working from. I’ll talk you through that further in the next episode.

2. Formulate a schedule

Using the data I collect in part one I’ll put together a more realistic weekly schedule. Because I have to travel for work it’s hard to nail a weekly regime but I try and spend Monday and Friday of each week in the office.

I can focus on these days first and then have a floating schedule of tasks that have to be completed on mid week days.

3. Measure

After a month of implementing my new strategy, what results am I seeing? Am I being realistic about my time? Are the fees I charge clients in line with the time I spend with them? What jobs can I outsource?

Is my blog content better? Is it properly edited? Does it pass my strict standards?

4. Review

I already do quarterly content reviews. I’m going to add a productivity review to this by re-implementing stage one.

So are you with me?

Will you join me in the challenge to get a month ahead with content and become a better business along the way? Be sure to subscribe to my podcast.

Don’t forget, I want your input. What strategies do you have? What tools work for you? How do you allocate time? Share them with me and I’ll give them a go.

 

 

Improve your blog. Follow my weekly blogging challenges as I try to create a better blog. Subscribe on iTunes or Subscribe on Stitcher

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Imagine A World Where You Are Ahead With Your Blog Content
Imagine A World Where You Are Ahead With Your Blog Content
How to create content at conferences
How to create content at conferences

Events and conferences can be amazing both for learning and relationship building but how can you create content at and around the events you attend?

That’s what we’ll look at in this week’s podcast.



I’m just back from a conference, the Sage Summit in London, and before that, I was just back from a conference in San Diego. Can you guess what I’m doing this week? You got it, going to a conference.

Conferences and events are great opportunities for content creation. You’ll find yourself packing your learnings into your content schedule for weeks, even months to come.

I still look back at my notes from Inbound in 2015 and the Content Mastery Summit last year when I need inspiration and over the last few weeks I’ve packed notebooks full of notes.

But it’s the content we create at conferences, whilst on the go that can have the best results.

Why create content at conferences?

1. Relationship Building

As you know, I can be a shy networker at times. Having a content plan and project can help you break the ice. You could talk to people and ask them to share an insight with you. Or if you find a good conversation ask if you can capture it in a live video.

Krishna De did this effectively at the Sage Summit when she shot this Live relating to a panel on Diversity we were about to attend.

2. Be Remembered

We’ll talk about apps you can use and creating a conference style for your images later on. Doing this means that when people see your images pop up in their feed the know they are yours.

3. Fill your content calendar

I alluded to this already but if you learn something, pass it on. Your readers will appreciate that you are sharing the knowledge you’ve picked up.

4. Reaching beyond your own audience

If you create a content project and get attendees, speakers and the organisers involved you’ll be able to extend your reach beyond your own followers.

How to create conference content

Planning

How do you plan your content in advance, how do you create it, what should you bring with you and what apps should you use?

Plan your day

Most conferences have an app or release the agenda in advance. Make a list of who you want to see and second choices for if you can’t get in the room.

Who do you want to meet?

If you can get a list of attendees in advance you’re at an advantage. If not follow the event hashtag on Twitter and Instagram and make a note of the people who are planning to go.

Are there specific people you want to meet? Can you connect with people who share a passion with you? For example, at Social Media Marketing World we organised a dinner for attendees who were excited about facebook advertising.

You could do the same and approach some of the people you meet for a short interview afterwards.

Do you have a content project?

I like to have a project whilst I’m at a conference. At both Social Media Marketing World and Sage Summit I created video.

At Social Media Marketing World I chose a topic everyone was talking about. How long it took us to travel. I approached everyone I met and cut it together into a short video.

How Long?


At SageSummit, assisted by fellow blogger Joanne Dewberry I made a more quirky video as we tried to tie down one of the speakers. Dragon Deborah Meaden.

Where’s Deborah?

Having a topic makes it easier to start creating straight away.

Making space

It’s just terrible when you go to take a photo and your phone says no, no space. By the time you delete something you’ll have missed the moment.

Clear off your phone before you arrive. If you are an iPhone user like me you’ll need to clear your deleted photos before it frees space.

List the Twitter handles of speakers and key attendees

Prepare this in advance and save it to your notes application. it will make it much easier to tag when you can just copy and paste.

Equipment

This is my kit bag (shot live on Twitter)

Apps

If you want a memorable online presence at an event create a house style for your visual content. This is my process:

1. Take a photo with your fancy camera

You can use this later on in your blog posts.

2. Take a lot of photos of each speaker with your phone

In most cases you will need to use your digital zoom here but don’t worry, I have a secret weapon that means even a very low res image can still look great.

3. Use PS Express (iPhone and Android)

This is a cool app that lets you crop, edit and filter photos on your phone. Us the same filter each time to get the consistent look.

4. Use Prisma (iOS or Android)

This is my secret weapon. Prisma is an art filter app. It makes your images look like paintings. Because it alters the image so much poor quality images can look great once the filter is added.

Choose one filter that you will use for all your conference photographs.

5. Keep a note of speaker quotes

I use a pen and paper for this but if you prefer you can use the notes application on your phone. You will overlay these quotes on your images later.

6. Add quote overlay using Adobe Spark Post (iOS only) or Wordswag (iOS or Android)

I like adobe spark because you can copy the template from your last image and use it again. Once I’ve created my image I can just swap out the image and text to create a new version.

7. Share

Now you’ve created the image share it on Twitter or Instagram. I created daily Instagram swipe posts for Social Media Marketing World and Sage Summit and tweeted the individual images as I created them.

The finished image
The finished image

Don’t forget to tag the speakers and add the event hashtag when sharing.

After the event

When creating content at an event the emphasis is always on speed. You need to get it out there fast whilst people are paying attention.

Your after conference content can be created with more thought. Look at what you made on the day and think about how you could repurpose it.

1. Video content

Did you make a video? If so can you transcribe it and make it into a blog post?

2. Visual content

Curate the quotes you collected into a blog post telling your readers why each resonated with you.

Use those quote photos you created and make them into a SlideShare. You can embed this in a post or simply share it on social media.

You can make a video from your quote photos using the Flipagram app.

3. Pick a theme

What was the theme of the conference for you? Was it networking, the future of your industry, diversity,

Choose something and make that the heart of your blog post on the event. Once you have the theme find two or three highlights from the conference that tie into that theme.

Your Task

Next time you go to a conference think about the content you can create. You’ll find it helps you build relationships and it will give you great ideas that you can share with your audience.

What’s the best bit of content you’ve created at or about an event you’ve attended? Leave me a link below, I’d love to see it.

 

Join the free community for Small Business Bloggers On Facebook, meet other bloggers, share and learn.

“Small

 

How to create content at conferences
How to create content at conferences
Live From The Airport - The Social Media Marketing World Debriefing
Live From The Airport – The Social Media Marketing World Debriefing

What did we learn at Social Media Marketing World?

I grabbed Maryrose Lyons from Bright Spark Consulting and Kate McQuillan from Pet Sitters Ireland at LA airport on our way home and we discussed some of our highlights from the event.



Mark Schaefer

Mark Schaefer telling us how to be Known
Mark Schaefer telling us how to be Known

Mark was one of my fist interviews on this Podcast, we all attended his session and some of our top quotable moments were from his speech.

He talked about how we can become ‘Known’ not famous and that’s the topic of his latest book (affiliate link). We’re not his only fans you should have seen the queue to get books signed and selfies after his presentation.

Maryrose reminds us of one of his most amusing analogies. Auntie Maude in Iowa who you know you should visit, feel guilty for not is LinkedIn.

Marcus Sheridan

Marcus Sheridan - Content that gets you sales
Marcus Sheridan – Content that gets you sales

Kate talks about Marcus and his session that outlined the types of blog posts you should be writing to capture people at the point of purchase.

He also shared case studies of clients who had followed his method.

Marcus was also a guest on this very podcast.

Larry Kim

Larry has been a favourite blogger of mine for a while but I missed his presentation. Luckily Maryrose attended and was able to share his method for content promotion.

He recommends auditioning content on Twitter and only picking the best from there to promote on Facebook. His term for top performing content is Unicorn and badly performing content is Donkey.

Pat Flynn

Pat Flynn - Creating HIT podcast episodes
Pat Flynn – Creating HIT podcast episodes

I was inspired to record this podcast at the airport after attending Pat Flynn’s session. He gave us a list of podcast ideas that could attract more listeners. Only time will tell if you listen to this one more than the others.

Ian Cleary

Ian Cleary on measuring digital marketing success
Ian Cleary on measuring digital marketing success

ROI and measurement are the focus of many small businesses now. We need to know that our efforts are improving our sales.

Ian talked us through the tools we can use to measure our online success. Using his PRISM system he broke the tools into sections, each representing a stage in the sales funnel.

I talked to Ian about PRISM in a previous episode.

Ian agreed to share his presentation with you. You can request a copy here.

Did you enjoy this podcast format?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and if you did we might do another in the future.

 

Improve your blog. Follow my weekly blogging challenges as I try to create a better blog. Subscribe on iTunes or Subscribe on Stitcher

“Improve

 

Live From The Airport - The Social Media Marketing World Debriefing
Live From The Airport – The Social Media Marketing World Debriefing
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.

Challenge

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:

Facebook

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.

Twitter

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

LinkedIn

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.

 

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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