successful business tips

9 Free Resources You Can Use Every Day to Market Your Creative Business

Sometimes you just want to do everything yourself. Or, you don’t know how to delegate your marketing needs to another person, because quite frankly you haven’t figured out what works and what doesn’t.

And then there’s that feeling when you say want to say f**k it. Or, “what’s the point?” But then you resign - you know you must must promote your business, but you get overwhelmed and don’t know where to start.

So here are 9 free marketing tools and resources you can use on any given day. Each provide various sparks of motivation plus a good dose of reassurance that you’re probably doing a lot of stuff right.

1) I start with the marketing Queen, Marie Forleo. Delivered in a straightforward manner, she‘s a New Jersey gal who knows how to sell. And she’s full of heart and freebies. Her paid program, B School, has some 40k participants around the globe, plus she’s creative, funny, outgoing and motivating. She provides formulas for how to drive traffic to your site, and use ‘inbound marketing’. I.e - get more customers to come to you.

2) Miki Agrawal - she’s not a “marketeer” but she kills it at marketing. Her brands like Thinx are a result of a personal need and when it comes to creating visual marketing assets for any project I find myself frequently repeating her advice : “Does it pass the refrigerator test?” (jump to 15 minutes where this is addressed) I.e - is your postcard, business card, poster, ad, etc personal enough that someone would want to put it on their fridge? If so, you discovered something powerful. Watch her youtube videos (for free) and take notes.

3) Interested in Geeking Out over SEO? (Search Engine Optimization - the results in Google or Bing that get your site higher up on page one). SEMRush Webinar series are a GOLDMINE of information. These free webinars are live, and did I say free? And they’re held by the best and brightest SEO geeks from all over the world. There is zero gimmick, here. These brilliant people just enjoy talking about what they do and want to share it with you.

4) Amy Porterfield. This warm, generous host of a podcast called ‘Marketing Made Easy’ offers a ton of online courses for how to market your business. But her email is free and so is the podcast. While she targets individuals who’d like to run an online only business, she offers tons of free and very applicable tips for any business. Oh, and she worked for Tony Robbins so she knows her stuff.

5) Seth Godin. The master marketeer. His quirky, brainy, and insightful advice is loaded with digestible tips. If you’re bootstrapping, if you have investors, if you have an agency, or you’re freelancing, he offers little bits that apply to the bigger picture.

Image via Unsplash

Image via Unsplash

6) Add some laughter to your morning email routine with Talking Shrimp, and learn a bunch about writing your own copy. Laura Belgray, the mini genius behind Talking Shrimp works for NBC, Nick at Night, TNT, and has a daily blog and plenty of paid classes, too. But for free you can get her email delivered to your inbox which will remind you every day the critical value of getting your copy RIGHT (she also offers a free copy-tips download).

7) Very cool agencies that inspire, or good companies who present a powerful online presence are worth noting. Enter Sister London. Take a peek at their site and see what grabs you. These ladies are doing it right. Remember - you can always learn something new. It’ll become your own when you execute what inspires you.

8) Duct Tape - Owner, John Janstch is pretty buttoned up if I do say so myself. In his t-shirt and sports jacket or button up shirt + blazer, he delivers for big-box company. But here’s the thing - the marketing formula used by a marketer at Verizon or Nike is the same formula you can (and ought to) apply to your own small business. And Duct Tape offers a very special funnel-like resource for a very streamlined and specific method of implementing your marketing strategy. And John Janstch really wants to help. If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re probably slightly Type A and that part of your personality will be thankful.

9) This one takes a little work - but more like mental work. Get into the mind-frame of consistently thinking about people (influencers) or companies (brands) that really grab you. You may find that you’ll go back to these again again. Or you’ll get excited when you see their images on Instagram or read their posts. Do a study of these businesses. What ‘voice’ are they using when they write? What style or tone do they communicate by use of images? Are they partnering with anyone? What are they promoting and how? Let these case studies become your best teachers. Their examples and triumphs can easily be replicated - but remember, when you do it, the idea becomes your own.


Here’s a few more people and co’s that inspire me every day:

Block Shop textiles - These sisters offer daily creative sparks via their Instagram feed and Stories. They’re also marketing savants, so take notes.

Casey Neistat - The quirkiest video producer out there. Or “Vlogger”. He rose from nothing to securing an amazing video deal with CNN through his daily vlogging experience. He’s a born story-teller.

Mother Bees - A service-provider and distributor of nutrient-rich food products, this sweet company has totally nailed their target market with a soothing and trusting approach.

Justina Blakeney - She’s a self-made interior design guru with a Target partnership while openly sharing she only pays herself $60k/year because she’s more interested in long-term investing for her business than a short-term pay-out.


What's Instagram’s Algorithm? #3

This is the third post in a series about Instagram’s algorithm. You can read session 1, here and session 2, here.

As I wrote in the previous posts, I’m not a social media strategist. I’m a marketing strategist who, among other things, can help professionals determine which social media platform is best for their needs - Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Then I can help curate content that speaks both on my client’s behalf but also solicits authentic engagement from a target audience.

Lot of marketing jargon in that last sentence. But it’s important to differentiate that a social media strategist is more likely, for example, to help you accumulate that audience of 10k within 3 months on Instagram. And to even do that you’ll likely need to engage in a paid advertising campaign to push your ads - on any platform (I may also add that your presence online needs to be sharp before you bring 10k followers to your content - that’s also where I typically come in :))

So I continue to do the research so we can use a platform like Instagram without all the paid (or too much of it) advertising and still benefit. And I find the insight from Alex Tooby is both relevant and useful. I did, for example get an out-of state client using my Instagram account. As I write this, we’re currently working together on a monthly basis. Not to mention a number of old colleagues have contacted me via Instagram for work. A return on your Instagram investment is certainly a positive.

Image by Earvin Huang via Unsplash.

Image by Earvin Huang via Unsplash.

Alex’s backstory:

She studied digital graphics and design in college and when she started her own business in social media consulting out of Vancouver she worked hard to “figure out” the Instagram algorithm. Insta with Alex, one of her verified accounts has over 40k followers. Men and Coffee has over 400k followers, also verified by Instagram. Plus…she’s reached a $1 million in revenue via her online work. She’s Canadian so we believe her.

4 Ways to Increase Your Following Engagement in 5 Minutes

Session 3

Not all followers are created equal. Get followers who are actually going to support your goals and visit your website to buy what you’re offering. Attract the right follower, not just any follower (This goes back to defining your target market. Who is your ideal customer? Know this. Learn it. Take time to develop it).

Optimize your headline

This means toying with the first bolded line of your instagram bio. The Headline of your profile is searchable. Added keywords are needed to make your bio become searchable. And you must select keywords that will attract your target market to your feed. This Headline will show up in grey when your account appears in search results within Instagram’s search bar.

Right now? Your head line likely has your name or your company’s within it. But you should dedicate this Headline bio space to keyword placement. Add searchable terms to your Headline. For example: Architect Firm. This specificity to industry gives the account a chance to show up in keyword search for architecture. (Go to your profile and edit this bio, stat! Takes 1 minute to change)

 
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Engage with specific content and people

Go to ‘search’ within Instagram and toggle over to ‘tags’: (you must first know your target market) and type in a keyword that describes this target person: “independent business owner,” “interior designer.” The results will have ‘top’ and ‘recent’. Click on recent.

Here’s where you get to have fun. What catches your eye? Which image grabs you? Go in and like those images. Aim to find a few images within each account that you can like and maybe even write a comment.

Be genuine and just wander through images that are within this keyword search. This should be enjoyable!

You’re giving engagement and encouraging these people to visit your page.

(Alex does not mention this, but you can follow that tag. And that tag, which is relevant to you, will begin showing up in your feed. You won’t have to follow all the people within the tag, you can just follow the tag and use the same advice above - engage.)


Use Instagram Poll Features

To get more engagement, you need some to start with. You must encourage it.

Try taking advantage of Instagram Story features like polls, questions and quizzes. Ask people things that are relevant to what you offer and when people start participating in it, Instagram signals that people are interested in what you’re sharing and will share your content to those people again next time you share.

Only takes a minute or two to set up a poll or quiz! Additionally, this will give you some insight into what your audience likes. You could ask: do you prefer to see images of houses in the woods or do you prefer city scapes?

Be relatable and honest

Typically, people will read a caption to the end and may comment on something in which you’re being honest and raw. This is hard with a business profile - but if you present yourself as an individual, this is a major opportunity to be open. You may have experienced this before in pervious posts. Use that as encouragement to keep going. If you’re a business, you can tell a personal story related to your industry but doesn’t have to be embarrassing or revealing of your businesses weaknesses or shortcomings.

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You can watch Alex’s session 3, here. Approximate view time: 35 minutes.







































What's Instagram’s Algorithm? #1

Precursor: I’m not a social media strategist. I’m a marketing strategist who, among other things, can help professionals determine which social media platform is best for their needs - Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Then I can help curate content that speaks both on my client’s behalf but also solicits authentic engagement from a target audience.

Lot of marketing jargon in that last sentence. But it’s important to differentiate that a social media strategist is more likely, for example, to help you accumulate that audience of 10k within 3 months on Instagram. And to even do that you’ll likely need to engage in a paid advertising campaign to push your ads - on any platform.

Organic Growth. Image by Francis Cheung via Unsplash.

Organic Growth. Image by Francis Cheung via Unsplash.

So keep in mind, that while these social platforms were in fact built on the premise of free access for sharing personal and business content, the promise to investors and shareholders was and remains revenue growth. Enter business platforms and added features that come with a price - like access to the audience you’ve either organically grown already, or now need but must pay to get and grow. Hence paid advertising. And valuable paid advertising.

So I do the research to make sure that while the algorithms are consistently evolving, shifting and morphing to help shape and build the advertising and paid platform, you can keep up without having to pay.

The results are not the same as paid, but the basics are a must.

Image by Mark Adams via Unsplash

Image by Mark Adams via Unsplash

At this point, if you have a basic business profile, you’re probably interested in not losing more followers, or you’d like to get another hundred or two in the next few months and perhaps hit 1000+.

But how do you do that.

Instagram has a few guidelines.

Enter Alex Tooby. Her light hearted but strategic Instagram verified account like Men + Coffee has over 400k followers and she’s taught social media management for 3 years. Via her job as a social media strategist who generates income from selling tools like workshops, she claims to have reached $1 million in revenue. And she’s Canadian so we believe her.

The content below has been transcribed by me while listening to her work via Youtube. The transcription is not exactly word for word, but pretty close. Please keep in mind this is her advice, not mine. Though I do endorse her work as I’ve found it relevant and valuable. I’m not getting paid to write this :)


Understanding the Insta Algorithm and 3 Ways to Get it on Your Side

Session 1

First of all, lower engagement is being experienced across the board for everyone. It’s not just you. The kind of engagement that one could get a year or two ago is just no longer.

So what’s the secret: the longer you or any user are on the app, the more money Instagram makes. Longer use = more opportunity for Instagram to show advertisements. And Instagram rewards more engaging content by showing that content to more people, more frequently.

So - how can you create content that keeps people on the app longer? This is really the way of the platform. Really.

Also, if you haven’t gathered this so far, Instagram first shows you the content that it thinks you’ll like the most. This is based on what you like, who you DM, where you comment, etc. This is likely obvious. But you can use this feature to increase your own engagement.

Action Tip #1

Discover what content your ideal audience already likes.

(This means you need to be following the people who you’ve defined as your ideal audience).

Do some market research.

Go to your notifications tab and hit the “Following” tab in the upper left hand corner. See screenshot.

 
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This space in the Instagram app will tell you what the people you’re following like (which may also introduce you to cool, interesting and new content).

What do you see pop up the most? Paintings? Graphics? Loud colors? Black and whites? Posts with text? Faces or selfies?

Look for recurring themes. These themes can tell you a lot about what your ideal audience engages with most and inform your decision next time you post.

Action Tip #2

Use more video.

A video keeps people on the app longer. And longer engagement means Instagram will show your work more.


Action Tip #3

Write longer captions.

Again, longer time to read = longer time spent on app.


Timeliness

Instagram prioritizes information relevancy not by the content itself, but by when that content is posted.

The newness of a post is not based on the last time you posted, but the last time the user was active on the app.

If you post at 8 am and your audience comes online at 11am Instagram will show posts to users that were most recently made at say 10:45 am or 10:50 am. Yours post from 8 am will get pushed further back.

That means posting multiple times a day is not the answer. Determining when your audience is online, is.

If you have a business profile, you can go to your profile and hit the three stacked lines in the upper right and corner.

Click on “Insights”.

Hit “Audience” and you’ll see the times your audience is online most frequently.

 
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Alternatively, you can use a third party app called WhenToPost. (I’ve downloaded this and it’s Instagram approved. And Alex reminds us that whenever you use a third party app you should see the Instagram logo front and center. This format will indicate you’re not giving your login info to a spammer.)

 

This WhentoPost tool can give you up to the minute indicators of when to post or not. You’ll also see 3 best times to post per day and other days of the week. (I’ve been using this but haven’t found any major difference, but will give it a few more weeks for testing). If you don’t have instagram insights on a business profile this tool can be helpful, Alex says. If you do have a business profile with insights, this tool can help you cross reference.

Correct format when logging into a 3rd party Instagram app.

Correct format when logging into a 3rd party Instagram app.

Relationship

No matter how many accounts you follow, you should see your ‘best friends’ posts, first. This is based on again, your previous actions and the actions between another account with mutual engagement back and forth.

If you like images a lot on an particular account and that person is not liking back, the relationship is not considered strong.

The strength of an Instagram relationship can be built when you engage more with your ideal target market and encourage them to engage back. One way to do this is by ‘giving a little Instagram love.’ Go into your following list and begin participating in the various accounts of the people who are following you.

You’re basically opening up the lines of communication. Also, it tells Instagram the relationship exists. A CTA (call to action) can also help encourage relationship building by asking your followers to respond to something.

Image by Annie Spratt via Unsplash

Image by Annie Spratt via Unsplash


That content above is from Alex’s first session of her Insta Education series.

That said, I will allow that some of the above tactics are time consuming. This process takes work and commitment and consistency. You must know you ideal target market and you must have content that resonates with this group. I’ve made money off Instagram simply by attracting a client from out of state with whom I now work on a monthly basis. But I do have a strategy, I do use it consistently and I know who my target audience is. And I engage with them. And yeah, it’s a lot of work.



































The Solution You Can't Find in a Google Search

Last week, via Instagram, I mentioned having lunch with an old friend and colleague from my days in New York. He’s an incredibly talented designer and painter.

And he works in marketing.

And not just any marketing. He’s the creative director for the digital campaigns of a global fashion company that sees over $100 million in annual revenue from digital sales alone (I so so so wish I could say the name of the co. but the company is extremely private and he asked I keep the name to myself when sharing stats).

But wait, what does ‘creative director for digital campaigns’ mean exactly? It means he signs off on all digital content that goes public representing this company. And his job is not just about making the work look visually appealing or just aligning with brand guidelines. It’s a lot more.

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And that “more” is the kind of solution we all need to improve online campaigns, a solution you can’t find via a quick Google Search.

So first, a few numbers:

  • Digital ad-effectiveness of this co. ranges from a 2x - 10+ x return on investment. This means for every dollar the co. spends on say, a Facebook ad, they’re seeing 2 - 10+ dollars back.

  • Next: they earn about $100 million dollars annually from just digital campaigns. How does the co. know this to be true? They track where the customer comes from and what the customer purchased on the company’s site. This isn’t big brother spying, this is simply a way of seeing what source or channel sent the customer to this company’s site and if the customer bought anything, and if so, what. If the company is running Facebook ads, the marketing team wants to know if people are clicking on those Facebook ads, going to the site and buying something. This is called a ‘customer journey’ and it’s trackable without being creepy. Plus, learning what’s working by means of your marketing tools and what’s not, is critically important. Say you run 4 ads simultaneously - by tracking how many people click on each ad and observing where people go on your site via each ad, then documenting what the customer buys will teach you a lot about which ad ‘performs’ best.

And there’s another piece:

What happens when the Facebook ad(s) works - ie is enticing enough that people click on it and land on the company’s web page? The web page has to have enough relevant information, but not too much to get the customer to take the next step. That step is buying something and this is called a conversion. A conversion in marketing terms is act of transitioning a potential customer to a buying customer.

My friend participates in making sure the text on the company’s page, the buttons, the images - all the content - is approachable and actionable and speaks to the customer such that the customer’s decision to make a purchase is as easy and as attractive as possible. The UX (user interface) on the site must allow the customer to buy easily and quickly. Remember, you have about 30 seconds to grab the customer’s attention and about 2 minutes to keep it.

So yes, there’s a formula to getting the customer on your page and keeping their attention and then ‘converting’ the customer to buying. And this process does not have to be sneaky, slimy, or manipulative in any way.

If you’re still not convinced:

Think about this experience like a brick and mortar store: you want an eye catching window-shopping display so the customers want to come into the store (a captivating window display is in effect the equivalent to your online Facebook ad). After the customer enters the store, you want them to easily scan your merchandise to see what you offer. Stores spend a lot of time on attractive, accessible display. Your website needs to do this, too. The cash register is also very visible in a brick and mortar store. You want people to be able to pay easily in a physical store and online. And pricing - the most important part - the PRICING is visible and easy to read. This piece must be presented and presented immediately - especially online. People, my friend reminded me, shop by price (the amount of data he must have access to is mind boggling).

So your Facebook ad is your window display and your website as we may have all heard, is your online store front.

Biggest point:

How do you get the people to respond to the window display and come in and then buy something?

Test. You test and you test and test again.

Just as you would likely play with various arrangements in your store’s window display to see what people respond to most, you do this with your Facebook ad. Then just as you would inside a store, you move your merchandise around a bit to see what people buy most and put those items up front, so customers can see this opportunity right away and buy more of those items.

But you must test. The variables you can play with online:

  • photos in your facebook ads (think: if you sell textiles and your customer is used to seeing a lot of patterns, maybe use solid, bold colors in your ads so the images stand out).

  • copy in your facebook ads.

  • the text and position of the call to action (button) on the page where customers land from the Facebook ad.

  • placement of pricing on your website.

  • display of items for sale on your website.

  • quality of photos.

  • how many times must the customer have to click to reach the pricing after they landed on your site? Get these clicks down to as few clicks as possible. 1 is ideal. 3 should be the max.

  • scrolling - eliminate scrolling as much as possible.

  • desktop vs mobile. Remember, many of us are on our phones. Esp. Facebook users looking at your Facebook ad. Test the legibility of your information on both desktop and mobile.

And really, have fun with this. Take your time. Some ‘tests’ can last an entire month. Maybe the first month fails, but by month 6 you could be winning.


The Best of Badass Leadership - Without the List

I wrote this blog post, below about leadership before the new year. Then it sat in my drafts folder. I felt it wasn’t’ really done. I was writing about leadership but I have no leader. I don’t like to think I have one nor need one. But I do need to be inspired and if happens to be by someone who also leads me to becoming a better person, a better business woman, a better friend, a better listener, and better liver (someone who lives life abundantly, not the organ), then I’m in - and in this department, Miki Agrawal has gotten my attention lately, and she’s pretty badass.

If you got to this blog post as a result of my Instagram post, the next paragraph is redundant. If not:

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Miki Agrawal speaks with a strong voice, and with her businesses (plural) she’s making CHANGE in this world. She’s determined to break taboos, build businesses that everybody told her she can’t, plus have FUN while doing it. Her resume is killer: companies valued at a collective $150 million, filmmaker (for the likes of Justin Timberlake), soccer player through college, several amazing books under her belt, speaker, restaurant owner, dancer - I mean come ON. This woman is exactly what we need more of in this world. And in fact I believe there ARE a lot of women like her out there, we’re just still finding our voices. If you want to find yours via some incredible inspiration, check her out. Below, I’ve linked to one of her talks that got me filled with all the good fire. But prepare yourself - she touches on topics so pointedly and directly that the ideas have the potential to make some uncomfortable - and then she holds your discomfort in your face and shows why it’s time to get rid it.

The link you’re looking for is, here (scroll to the video below the huge block of logos). This talk is 16 minutes, and heads up her message only gets better as it goes on so give yourself the whole 16 minutes.

A couple good reasons to watch:

  • Building business around taboo topics requires 3 processes to ensure success

  • What’s the 1 for 1 model, what’s its flaw and the solution (hint Tom’s Shoes, and Warby Parker use it)

I couldn’t let the topic of leadership go to the wayside, so the rest of my post is below. There’s a few additional links to some other really cool people doing really cool things in both business, marketing and changing the world. So please check out if you have time!

Original Post:

I’ve been thinking about leadership - a lot. And thinking about next year. It’s coming fast. 2019 is coming fast, that is. Leadership it seems is a slow, steady, persistent tortoise race won as a result of many things - and moving too fast would not be one of them.

When I began this work - that is starting my own little company just over a year ago, it felt right. Not only that, a number of life-events lined up simultaneously allowing me to work for myself with clients I like and trust. I felt and still do that I was able to provide valuable insight and tools to a group of various companies who were so busy with their really good ideas that they just couldn’t find room to enjoy promoting their business - and mostly they don’t really know how. They have so much to say, too little time, and experience real confusion about why whatever they try isn’t really getting them exactly where they want to go. The initiation of this work - my work, solving these problems - began, admittedly with some trepidation. I had ideas, too, but why would my ideas work for others, and were my ideas valuable?

Today, I have plenty of clients to keep me busy and they pay me for my ideas! My rate has gone up, the quality of my work has gone up and my commitment to this work has been defined. My work is working and I want more of it. Enter a bit more of trepidation, mixed with impatience, mixed with ambition, curiosity, a lot of unknowns, plus a solid dash of excitement.

And enter thoughts on leadership. Enter a new year approaching. Enter all the opportunity I could ever need to take the next big step and go deeper into the commitment of this work. To keep me motivated rather than stuck in fear, I allow the daydreaming to begin and the opportunities to enter. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that day dreaming leads to showing not only what you want, but what you can achieve. And remaining open and awake to the possibilities breeds discovery. And the thoughts aren’t just a dream impossibly out of reach without tangibility, the thoughts are the process of creating ideas which are entirely desirable and possible. Kinda like: if you can see it, you can build it.

And in every daydream, I’m responsible for big ideas that require bigs groups of people to help the ideas come to life:

  • an independent firm filled with the outlier creatives who have the ideas which convention typically shuns. Yeah, I want those people.

  • the success of said firm funnels resources (i.e cash, mission and values) into an organization that participates in civil society. Said organization is run by people who have ‘giving’ running through their very DNA. They can’t help but….help.

So these two recurring ideas remain a bit loose, but the overarching themes and concepts are there. And they’ll require: leadership.

Seth Godin, an all time favorite, reflects: “Leaders…know where they’d like to go, but understand that they can’t get there without their tribe, without giving those they lead the tools to make something happen…Leaders take responsibility.”

That’s a big bite. Taking responsibility. Taking responsibility for the notion that where you’re headed is great enough to bring along others - to bring in their time, resources and ideas in order to achieve what you believe will affect change. I added that last bit about affecting change. Because I want to affect change. I want to do things differently and affect people differently. I want to run a business that shows people that marketing isn’t gimmicky - that everyone uses marketing every day and when used correctly this small tool can help amazing people achieve phenomenal things.

I want to grow an organization (foundation? collective?) which will approach issues that move me: food waste, diversity in schools, girls and STEM, pollution/recycling and getting kids on board, nutrition and food integrity + education…the list goes on and could include an initiative to plant more trees because we need them and why not? All this could be done in non traditional ways. Rather than getting a group of volunteers together to plant trees, why not work within a city’s structural system to penetrate the schools so the health of our forests and clean air is a lesson across all classrooms? Then, donate the resources for each child to plant 1 tree every spring until they are 18? Simultaneously work with (an) artist(s) or arts institutions, like Laurene Powell Jobs did, to create gorilla art which boldly communicates the importance of climate change and preservation? Talk about leadership.

What would it take? At this point, the only thing I can think of is leadership. Leadership to be daring, to take the next step and do the damn thing. Starting is achieving and achieving can last forever if you just take one step at a time.

I began this post wanting to write about the poor leadership I’ve experienced in the past year, purely as a result of circumstance. I was going to list all the things I’ve learned that are required in leadership, with a smattering of what not to do, but the internet is already slathered with millions of lists. And I wanted to explain my take on leadership…differently.

Squarespace SEO Checklist

As a result of my work, I’m an administrator on a number of Squarespace accounts so I receive ‘special access’ to certain Squarespace forums (pretty cool). The Squarespace SEO Checklist-link below is in fact public but came across my plate as a result of this feature.

Image via Unsplash

Image via Unsplash

Also, note if you’re familiar with editing your Squarespace site, you’ll see a new update when clicking on the little gear icon in the pages editing section. There’s now a ‘SEO’ section within each page allowing for the manual entry of SEO-specific content for better results. Each entry only takes a couple minutes. I recommend copy + pasting only a few lines of text here. Copy + paste the most descriptive content from the page you’re editing. The SEO section for your About page, for example, should cover what your business is, who it serves and how. Again, just repurpose the content you already have on your site by copy + pasting it into this new SEO section.

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Click below for the Squarespace SEO Checklist. Note, the first section suggests ‘Before Launch’, but much of these suggested tasks can be performed even after your site is live. Good luck! It’s easy but yes, it takes time :)

https://support.squarespace.com/hc/en-us/articles/360002090267


You're a Woman. And you can make $1 Million Dollars

Today, there’s a lot of attention on women. We’re in the spotlight. For phenomenal reasons and terrible reasons - terrible reasons as related to terrible things we’ve endured, not necessarily caused. The news and topics can be defeating. Some days. I feel defeated.

Other days.

I feel like this is it. Our time.

I was raised by a feminist. I am a feminist. And I am a business owner. And I feel there is really not a better time to be both a woman and a business owner. We are being heard, we are collectively using our voice and we are succeeding. There are drawbacks. Today, note the date, might be one of those days of drawbacks. I personally decided to not listen to the news this morning while I work so I can be more productive. I’ll have to learn later what the Senate decides.


As for being a powerful woman and a powerful business owner, take some notes, here. Forbes.com supplies some solid tips, that in my years of working in sales, marketing, business strategy and running my own business (s) ring v true to me.

Ste. Sébastienne by Louise Bourgeois

Ste. Sébastienne by Louise Bourgeois


First, I find this is very common (I’m guilty):

“Women entrepreneurs aren't staying stuck at $100,000 to $600,000 because they aren't smart, capable or hard-working,” says Pimsleur. “It's usually that they don't have the right mindset or strategy, don't know how to scale up or even what the scalable part of their business is. Most women are what I call ‘octopreneurs,’ meaning one person trying to do eight jobs.” - Julia Pimsleur, founder of Little Pim (raised $5.9 million in funding).

But here’s her advice, which upon reading, compelled me to write this post and share the article (see article link at end)

THINK ABOUT THIS: What are the high-margin products or services you sell?

  1. What can you sell more of without massively increasing staff or overhead costs?

  2. If you’re running a service company, is it possible to productize your services? (If you’re not familiar with this term, productizing means selling your services as a product. For instance, if you design web sites, you might offer two to three different web site packages, named just as a product would be. Some entrepreneurs are able to sell their services for higher prices and earn higher margins this way, thus making their businesses more scalable than if they charged retainer fees or by the hour)

  3. Do you need to run your company in a new way? Companies that make over $1 million may use different systems and strategies than you do now.

  4. Do you need to run your company in a new way? Companies that make over $1 million may use different systems and strategies than you do now.

I can’t help but personally observe that as women we’re often afraid to be strategic or opportunistic. These traits can be looked down upon as greedy or selfish or overbearing. All traits that when you stop to think about it, are admired and revered in many men.

I think this is changing. I’ve always been an opportunist because I love getting my way and I love getting what I want. But I’m kind, caring and deeply empathetic. Here, lies the super power of women. We can be all of it. We can be the powerful, the successful and the grounded and the caring. All at once.

Do it, own it, be it, live it, love it. This is our time.

Read more at Forbes.com.


“The Art of Making Your Website Compatible for Google Search Engines”

The first memory I have of hearing a dial-up modem reaches back to the age of about 5 or 6 years old.

I used America Online and probably chatted with too many people, was too young for exposure of that sort, and had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Precursor: I'm not a techie, not a coder, but I've always found consumer behavior & marketing fascinating.

When SEO became a thing many years ago, I understood it in concept - I got that it matters and still does, but I didn't understand what was happening behind the scenes.

Therefore I found the topic too ambiguous to dive deeper.

Since, and through reading, research, various info osmosis, I get SEO. But still, it can remain daunting.

In my line of work, I listen to a lot of podcasts about the topics that relate to marketing. And I'm picky. I don't love everything I hear.

So what I'm about to share, I share because I've filtered out much of the repetitive, irrelevant, maybe even uninventive information. 

And focus instead on information that works.

karina napier creative portland maine marketing plan seo nick hiller photographer

 

Well, that's why when I listened to a podcast today (link at end of article) with Amy Porterfield and Neil Patel, I was taking notes through the whole thing and even listened twice.

Amy is the sweetest and Neil is not only sincere but incredibly credible.

While Amy is a marketing maven, she relies on paid advertising for her online business.

Neil suggests, why not both?

 

“It’s not [paid advertising OR SEO]. You need to optimize your business for total profitability."

 

“Warning,” he says, "with SEO you won’t see results right away. It's long and hard and why most people don’t do it. And SEO simply does not ‘convert’ as well as paid advertising.”

He goes on to add, “...the majority of people don’t click on paid ads, Google is worth around $7hundred billion+.
And $80 million or $80 billion of that is from PAID AD REVENUE."
This is important:
"Hence why organic results are worth so much <because  they are competing with paid advertising>. Google is not going to make it easy to have organic results otherwise companies wouldn’t spend money on advertising.”

 

You see? SEO matters because the engines controlling the results are designed to push you into two options:

1.) Pay

or

2) learn SEO for your website.

If you're still with me it's because I'm not the first person to tell you SEO matters, and you're waiting for the plan that Amy and Nate shared in their v. long podcast. (Sure, you can listen, but you can also use my notes, below. The sharing of these notes is in fact for you.)

Again, Amy doesn't really rely much on SEO.

So this plan is from Neil.

He offers a 3 month plan. Yes, yes. SEO results take a long time! And then the plan takes management.

But don't spend more than 10 hrs/wk on this stuff. If you are, Neil says something's up.

 

MONTH 1 - Check out your online competition. Do your homework.

Gather, say 5 URLs of your competition and then try these tools:

  • UberSuggest - Free. Type in keywords of your ‘industry space.’ In return, the engine will give suggestions to keywords in your ‘space’ and provide the cost per click to use those words in paid advertising.

If a keyword has a high cost per click...it’s worth more! If you’re getting clicks for pennies on the dollar, you're probably not going to get many results because the use of those words don’t generate results.

  • Semrush.com - Costs money. But here, you can type in your own URL and results will show your closest competitors who are selling the exact same service as you. Will also show the keywords your competitors are ranking for (read: show what keywords your competitors are using to get results) and how many visitors they‘re getting. If your competition is successful, their keywords could be valuable.

  • Ahrefs.com - Costs some money. Provides another version of the options, above.

Month 1 Takeaways:

  • Competition (should be low), cost per click (should be high) and search volume (this means a lot of traffic and search volume should be high).

  • Have at least 10-20 keywords, to start, then expand into hundreds if not thousands of keywords as you master SEO.

  • Spend a few hrs a week on SEO. Much more is not realistic.

  • How to keep organized: these tools, mentioned above, have their own dashboards. They update as the competitors update. You don’t have to keep doing the research over again, or refreshing.

 

 

karina napier creative portland maine marketing plan SEO annie spratt photographer

MONTH 2 - How to make great content for SEO.

First, Analyze Your Current Content

For Wordpress users, “Yoast SEO” plugin is free and basically optimizes your content and images for keywords.

REMEMBER: Google reads source code (and your written words), not images.

So we have to make our websites compatible with Google. Google needs to crawl the site in order to gather your info and rank you in search results.

You won’t rank high in search results if Google can’t crawl your site. If you're a Squarespace user, a tool for implementing keywords is at the bottom of this post. This step is critical. So be patient.

Also, if you haven't already, you must, must sign up for Google Search Console. It's free. And it breaks down how your site is performing with keywords. Google Analytics won’t show which keywords are driving your traffic. Console showcases that data. (Neil suggests getting this installed during month 1.)

Creating new content.

Start off with just one blog post per week. Video does not rank as well on Google. Audio content is good for engagement but still does not rank as well as words.

FYI, Google knows if your content is user-generated (your audience is leaving a comment, for ex) or if that content i's a blog, or if you have ‘show notes’ - notes posted after audio or video on the audio or video page. And Google likes blog posts a lot.  “Show notes” will not help with SEO.

Google is looking at engagement which tends to arise via blog posts.

And remember, you can always review Semrush to see which of your articles are performing on the world wide web.

IN CREATING CONTENT, KEEP THESE TIPS IN MIND:

Content in conversational tones does better. “You and I.” Create a conversation with your text versus "a teacher talking at you." This is good for engagement. Which is good for Google's tools.

  • Articles which show up on pg 1 of Google tend to have 2500 words, versus only 500 words. Make sure your content is thorough.

  • Use subheadings. Think of it as your book. Title of book, plus subheadings as chapters.

  • Keep your paragraph short 5-6 lines as rule of thumb

  • Use images or video and audio clips for engagement

  • Always wrap up the post with a conclusion, so if people scroll down first before reading, they may like the end and scroll back up to actually read from the beginning.

 

MONTH 3 - Building your online network via links and sharing.

A site ranked at the top of a search result is based on keywords and which site has the most 'votes'. Voting for sites happens in 2 ways:

1) A vote is a link to your site. The origin of the link also counts. A more powerful origin site will help your vote, more. Think RELEVANT origin site. Radiohead.com vs the casual resume-site of your best friend.

2) Another vote is social share. Here, think AUTHORITY links. Shares from the most authoritative links in your field. (If Amy Porterfield shared one of my links, I’d be getting a GREAT vote, in Google’s eyes.

Try: Ahrefs.com - you can enter in your competitor URLs and receive information about every single person and site which linked to that URL.

Neil's tip: Take that list and export it and find a contact person for each of the sites. Then email each contact and ask if they'll link to your content. Of course, this takes some time and savvy, but it is, in fact, an option... And you can get a Virtual Assistant to help with a lot of this.

TOOL:

Buzzsumo - put in keywords and URLs of your competitor’s article, and results will show how many social shares the article has, plus each person who shared that article. Neil's Tip:  you can reach out to those “sharers” and ask that they share your content, as well (apparently, some people are willing to do this).

 

Also with Buzzsumo, you can type in keywords and the results will tell you all the popular articles based on a keyword subject matter. Plus, you can see what people love and spot patterns and trends to help guide your ideas. I happen to like this one option. V. helpful.

 

karina napier creative portland maine marketing plan seo luca bravo photographer

Ok, that's it! if you're still with me, here are a few resources:

Amy's Podcast episode with Neil Patel:

https://www.amyporterfield.com/2018/07/221/

The Squarespace tool for keywords:

https://logicalseo.net/blog/squarespace-seo-plugin-the-alternatives

Semrush.com

Ahrefs.com

Ubersuggest.com

Buzzsumo.com