Welcome

After a number of years online I finally decided I really have got something useful to say. Building an online business is not much different from building a physical business. The cost of entry may be lower, but it still takes hard work and perseverance. In fact many of the things it takes are shown in the blocks above. I know, it’s not a great graphic, but just like those drawings the blocks don’t have to be perfect to get the job done. If you’d like some insights into building a business online take a look aroung the blog and you’ll find opinions, resources and information that will help you with your online business building journey. I hope you find them useful.

 

How To Help Your Communities And Attract More Prospects

Group of people

 

“Every successful individual knows that his or her achievement depends on a community of persons working together.” Paul Ryan

I’ve been networking for my offline business for a number of years. It’s all about making connections, building trust and becoming the go-to person when a prospect needs help in your area of expertise.

Does this principle work online too? Well, it’s usually referred to as getting involved in communities rather than networking, but if you do it right it can build your client base.

There are two types of communities you can get involved in. A community of your peers and a community of your prospects. You have to know what to do in each of them for best results.

Peer Groups

There are two types of peers, those with whom you are in direct competition and those who offer complementary products or services to yours. Both can help you get clients, but it may be easier to approach the complementary group because they are not in direct competition with you and so may be more willing to listen to proposals. I’m not saying that competitors will never enter into a mutually beneficial arrangement, but there are often barriers to overcome.

Business and industry focused groups, mastermind groups, and so on all exist to help you educate yourself further and provide connections. Once you have established trust in the community you can start to get clients through ‘word of mouth’. Peer groups also offer opportunities for joint venture (JV) partnerships which can widen and expand your audience.

Prospect Groups

Prospect or audience groups are the best place for you to spend your time because they are often full of your ideal potential clients. You can locate these groups by looking for relevant Facebook Groups, searching for groups on LinkedIn.com, and searching for and joining message boards and forums devoted to your particular niche.

The way to make these groups work for you is to join the group, freely answer questions for them and let them come to see you as part of the group. If you are on a forum let your signature line speak for itself and do not try to sell your services or products at all. Your prospects will come to you when they see that you offer what they want. Your job is to establish a level of trust through sharing your expertise.

What To Focus On

“Social media is not about the exploitation of technology but service to community.” Simon Mainwaring

Be a free and open source of information regarding your niche. This is how people will get to know you and trust you and start seeing you as someone they can use, work with, or refer to others.

Spend more time in communities that are made up of your ideal prospects than with your peers. You should certainly participate in peer communities so that you can become known as a community expert, but you don’t want to spend most of your time in a group of competitors.

When you join either type of group you should realise that when you first join, you are the new person and you are unknown. No one is going to trust you immediately. Take the time to get to know others before mentioning your products or services, and get to know the culture of the group. Let your signature line act like a business card and start the selling process for you. Make helpful participation your goal and you will be more successful in attracting prospects and turning them into clients.

What Makes a Good Marketer a Great Marketer?

“Good marketing makes the company look smart. Great marketing makes the customer feel smart.” – Joe Chernov

You have a well-defined niche, know your audience, and have sold some products to them. But now you want to take your marketing to the next level. To move from being a good marketer to a great marketer requires effort, commitment, marketing knowledge, and the following qualities.

Being Ethical

Ensure that any product, service, or content that you promote is ethical. This goes far beyond legality. Remember, just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s ethical. While most of the time something that is not ethical will also be illegal, the reverse is not true. Ethics for each business person and business entity will vary depending on their values and beliefs. What’s important is that you walk the talk and practice what you preach.

Being Authentic and Real

To be truly authentic you need to know who you are and what you stand for. You’re unique as a person and as a marketer so once you find your voice, don’t change it – just do more of it. Be more authentic more often.

Demonstrating Honesty

Demonstrate your honesty by sticking to what you say you’ll do and delivering what you promise. If you write a review that misrepresents a product, fails to meet your own promised deadlines, or even start a blog post with a headline that is deceiving, word gets around. Social media can spread bad news and views quickly, and it won’t take long for you to be seen as dishonest or untrustworthy. Show how honest you are by not misleading your customers and prospects.

Staying Informed About Your Niche

A great marketer makes sure they stay informed, keeping up-to-date on the news, hot topics, trends, laws and information regarding their industry at all times. The more informed you are, the more you can stay ahead of coming trends and new technologies, creating a situation where you can be a major thought leader within your industry.

Being Empathetic to Your Clients

A great marketer cares about their customers. They have passion about their products and/or services because of what they do for their customer. They strive to understand their audience and to demonstrate the care they have for them in their actions, products and services.

Being a Savvy Business Person

A great marketer is able to look at things from different angles to come up with useful products and services as well as interesting and compelling campaigns. Someone who is savvy knows how to listen to their customers and create a product based on what they learn, as well as turn it on its ear to create something amazing and new.

Always Prepared

A great marketer is always prepared for changes in the industry and knowledgeable about what their customers want and need to solve their problems. On the technical side they are also ready for the traffic from a new campaign or publicity in order to avoid crashes and other technical problems.

Always Pushing for Improvement

Finally, a great marketer is focused on always improving. They check their metrics, study the numbers, and run A/B testing on every new campaign, seeking to always improve and become better.

7 Tips for Creating Great Affiliate Tools That Boost Your Sales

Affiliate Tools PageOne way to boost your sales is to recruit affiliate marketers. There are a number of factors that will influence an affiliate’s decision to promote a product, including level of commissions, their familiarity with the target audience, and the promotional tools available.

Most affiliates are going to be less likely to promote products that don’t offer them resources like banners, well written content, promotional videos, etc. The more good quality, easy to use tools you offer the more likely you’ll be to recruit affiliates.

If you are unsure which resources you should be offering the following tips will help you decide.

1) Consider Your Audience

Who is the audience that will buy your products and/or service? Who do you want your affiliates to market to? Once you know the answers to these two questions you can think about the best ways to contact your prospects. Knowing this will help you create better, more effective tools for your affiliates. For example, if a sizeable portion of your buying audience use Pinterest you’ll want to produce images that can be posted there. If they are more likely to consume the written word then you need to produce that type of content instead.

2) Ask Your Affiliates

Your affiliates are the people most likely to know what works. If you already have a few potential affiliates in mind ask them to help you come up with a list of the types of tools they would need to promote successfully. Do they need great artwork, brandable content, videos, or other tools to promote what you are selling?

3) Have a Budget

Creating affiliate tools can be expensive. You need to determine if your investment will pay off. You should have an idea of the cost of producing the resources you want to provide and how much your affiliates will have to sell to cover the cost of creating them. If your numbers seem reachable you need to set a budget and keep to it. You could even plan to create and release some resources only after you have reached a certain level of sales.

4) Personalise the Tools

The easier it is for your affiliates to personalise your resources, the more likely they will be to use them. If you offer various versions of resources like review blog posts, ad text, etc. the easier it will be for your affiliates to personalise their promotional content and avoid looking like they are one of many affiliates who have just copied something from a swipe file.

5) Make the Tools Easy to Use

Use any means you can to make using your tools easier. Affiliates are busy people too and if you can shorten or simplify a task the more likely it is to be done. For example WordPress Affiliate Builder enables your affiliates to enter their affiliate code once and have that cascade down through all the resources you offer, saving them time and making the whole process easier.

6) Use Experts

If you want to offer good quality resources you are probably going to have to hire experts. If you don’t have the expertise to create certain affiliate tools it will be better to outsource these tasks to those that do. It is much better to use experts in coding, graphic design, etc. than to try to produce something yourself. It will likely take longer and produce inferior results if you try to go it alone. Hiring these people should be built into your budget.

7) Provide Training

When you create a resource, don’t assume your affiliates will understand the best way to use it, especially if you are recruiting newer affiliates. Create training that shows how to use the various tools that you supply. This could be provided in PDF reports that include screenshots, video walkthroughs of processes, or both.

Recruiting affiliates is a great way to help you contact a larger audience, market your products and services, and increase sales. But you can’t do it effectively without providing great tools for your affiliates and the training to ensure that they understand how to use them.

Increase The Chance Of A Sale With A Powerful Guarantee

Guarantee badgeThere are a number of factors that influence the chance of making a sale. Perceived value, price point, bonuses, and more. When a vendor or affiliate is putting together an offer they are likely to put some thought into each of these, but one factor that is probably given least thought, where we follow the herd, is the guarantee.

The principle of offering a guarantee associated with the sale is risk reversal. This means if a product or service doesn’t work as promised, it is not the customer that has something to lose, but the vendor.

The most common guarantee in online marketing is probably the money back guarantee. This makes a sale more likely by promising the buyer that the vendor will return their money if the product or service does not work as advertised.

However there are variations on this promise based on the ‘does not work’ part of the guarantee.

Probably the weakest guarantee used in internet marketing is the 30 day money back guarantee. If the buyer can discover whether the product or service works within this time period the guarantee is appropriate. However if it takes more than a month to produce impressive results the guarantee is unlikely to persuade a prospect to buy and may leave purchasers with the impression the guarantee lacks authenticity.

 

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All our products are covered by our cast-iron money-back guarantee. If for any reason (or no reason at all) you’re not completely satisfied, simply contact our helpdesk within 90 days of your purchase for a full refund.

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This type of guarantee can be improved by increasing the period in which the guarantee can be claimed. The most common alternatives to the 30 day period are 60 or 90 days, or even one year. Another way to improve the guarantee is to increase the circumstances under which the buyer can claim a full refund. This is where the buyer can activate the guarantee “for any reason, or no reason at all”.

A guarantee that is valid over a long period of time and has no conditions related to claiming a refund is one of the best risk reversal strategies. However it could be argued that it places too much risk on the seller’s income.

Statistics show that many people who buy the books and courses online often do not complete the material they have bought. It’s even quite common for people to purchase an information product and then never access it. This means it is possible that a customer can purchase a product, leave it untouched on their hard drive, find it just before the guarantee expires and claim a refund without ever trying the product. This and similar scenarios have led to the use of conditional guarantees.

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Use our course, go through all the material and follow the steps to make more money.If you don’t see immediate and consistent results, contact us within 1 year of your purchase date for a full refund of your money.

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The conditional guarantee promises a full refund in the event of the product or service underperforming, but only if the customer can demonstrate they have used the product as intended and taken the appropriate actions.

This means the validity of the guarantee depends on the customer following through and taking action. However, as mentioned above a percentage of buyers will never take action and therefore will never be in a position to claim a refund. This makes the vendor’s income more secure, so they can consider offering a bolder guarantee.

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Download the ebook today. Read it from cover to cover and see for yourself just how much (and how fast!) your results improve once you start using our methods. Then, if you don’t make at least 10 times what you paid for the ebook within the next year, just email my team and we’ll refund you twice the amount you paid. That’s double your money back!

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Did you spot the conditional part of the guarantee? Offering something like double your money back can appear to be an impressive way to reverse the risk to the prospect and help encourage the sale.

The key to creating a powerful guarantee is to consider your offer from the perspective of a sceptical prospect. What risks will they see to buying? What worries will stop them purchasing?

Unfortunately there are some worries you won’t be able to address with a guarantee. The consequences of a product not delivering as promised can be more serious than loss of the purchase money. Using an advertising method that does not work can waste far more money than the cost of an information product, following poor SEO advice can drop your website from the search engines, yet another money making method that does not work can put a strain on your relationship with your spouse, and online strategies that don’t work can waste time that you’ll never get back.

Many of these worries can’t be addressed by a normal guarantee, but they can be overcome by building trust in your integrity and expertise. A blog with impressive content, a social media presence that shows you to be honest and helpful, impressive but believable testimonials and case studies related to your offer can build a perceived guarantee in the minds of your prospects.

Work on these factors and then take each perceived risk and try to reverse as many as you can so that it is you the seller who stands to lose instead of the customer. However if you want to stay in business don’t stand to lose too much.

How To Be More Successful At Making Money Online

If you’ve been trying unsuccessfully to make money online for some time there are two questions to ask yourself. Why have you not yet achieved that goal? What have you been doing to make yourself the amount of money you want and reach your goals?

If you’ve been doing the same thing over and over again for more than six months and you haven’t got the result you aimed for then it may be time to try something different. There are a number of ways to make money online. Try not to limit your beliefs regarding what is possible.

Many fail to make money online because they don’t understand that an online business has to follow the same principles as any other business. Working online doesn’t mean basic business practices no longer apply. It certainly doesn’t mean you can set up a business with less effort.

If you want to earn a lot of money you’re going to have to do a lot of work to make that happen. That means staying away from pushbutton software and methods. Don’t waste your time looking for a single product that is going to make you five figures a month, or whatever your target is. Realise that that particular online dream is as impractical as hoping to make money from most business-in-a-box offers in the off-line world. If you want five or six figures a month you’re going to have to build a business to get that sort of money.

Don’t buy a product from a sales page believing that you can automatically get the results described in the sales copy. Not every ‘make money online’ product for sale is a waste of time, but you may need to find your own method of what’s going to work for you. Every business owner has their own approach and talents. That’s why a method of making money can work immediately for some, but not others.

Creating an automated income from a website takes time and effort. Creating a website is easy. The challenge is to provide something of value and letting your prospects know it’s available. You need to work out how to initially engage with your audience and how to continue engaging with them.

This is basic business practice, whether it’s online or off-line. People are not going to go into a shop and buy something off the shelf if it is of no value to them. They’re not going to buy something if it looks cheap or the shop looks like it’s setup to make the owner a quick buck with no regard for the customer. You need to build trust, and that will take time and effort too.

If you want to make money online it is no different to building yourself a business off-line. The only difference is that you are digitally delivering your product or service. The concepts and principles of business are basically the same. You still have to put in the time and effort. You’re  still selling to human beings, but the delivery is different.

If you’ve been doing the same thing for the past six months and your income has not yet increased then something needs to change. Look at what you have been doing and discover why it is not working for you. Have you been building a business or trying to implement a silver-bullet push button method?

You need to focus on one niche where you can deliver value, and preferably that you enjoy. Even if that leads you to something you believe no one else would be interested in, the internet is probably vast enough to contain that small niche. Your customers are out there somewhere. Whatever business you choose, go into it with persistence and expect to have to work for it. Treat it like a business and you’ll be more successful.

Time To Improve Your Business With A Half Year Review

So the sixth month has passed and we are just over half way through the year. Although a review of progress can be done at any time it seems appropriate to do one now. So here is a process I went through over the past couple of days. I hope you find it useful.

Step 1 Progress To Date

You should have a set of goals that were due to be achieved by this time of the year. The first step is simply to review how well you have met those goals. What steps were completed, were they completed on time, and how much of each goal was achieved?

You should end up with an honest review of your progress in the first six months of the year. Include how far adrift you are from meeting goals that have not been achieved yet. How many weeks behind, how much content is still to be produced, etc.

Step 2 Two important Questions

That snapshot of reality may lift your spirits or it may inspire disappointment. Whatever your reaction, put those details aside for now and ask yourself the following two questions:

  1. What are the biggest opportunities to grow your business in the next 12 months? There may have been developments since you last considered your action plan. You may now be able to access new resources that open up new possibilities. These changes may mean you could abandon some goals, be more ambitious with others, or consider a change of direction.
  2. What content does your audience need to see to know, like and trust you? This is particularly important if you are solely based online and use social media. Yet your answer can also involve producing blog posts and/or products to help establish your expertise and trustworthiness. Don’t answer in general terms. If you aim to publish more blog posts what topics would work best to increase your audience’s awareness of you, or convince them that you are trustworthy?

Step 3 Your Guiding Sentence

Next try to summarise your main goal for the next 12 months in a sentence. If you need help with this try completing the following:

In the next 12 months I will focus on …

State your main focus and add what benefits you will gain from completing the goal. If you have lost focus in the past six months and your course has drifted away from your goals, reading this sentence should remind you of where you should be heading.

Step 4 Project Ideas

Next list all the projects you currently have underway. Then add any projects you could start in the next six months. Don’t judge how practical or successful they are, just list them. Then compare them with your guiding sentence. Remove from the list any that will not help you achieve your main goal for the next 12 months.

Step 5 Identify Your Roadblocks

Now it’s time to return to your review of the past six months. If you have not met goals consider your journey towards each one. What have been the top problems in reaching the goals? What have been the main roadblocks?

Write down a numbered list of as many roadblocks as you can. The more thorough and honest you are the more helpful the next step will be.

Step 6 List The Solutions

Now you need to brainstorm solutions for the roadblocks and list them. Use a numbered list so that the appropriate solution has the same number as the roadblock it solves.

This step may need some research. Some solutions may mean committing yourself to learning a new technique or putting in more effort to your business. If you are reluctant to invest the time and effort maybe you’ve identified another roadblock.

Step 7 Identify The Best Projects

Once you have completed step 6 it’s time to look through your list of project ideas and identify which ones solve the most roadblocks. The best solutions should be the projects you focus on for the next 12 months.

You may find that you are already working on some of the best solutions while other projects will need to be started and replace ones that are currently in progress.

You may find this process indicates you should drop projects that you are heavily invested in. If you are reluctant to abandon any projects take the time to think through why it would be better to continue with it, even though it has not been identified as one of the best roadblock solvers. If you can’t convince yourself then the project has to go for now, no matter how much you’d prefer to keep it.

Step 8 Plan The Next 12 Months

Having worked through the above steps you should have a short list of projects you will implement in the next 12 months. It’s likely this list won’t exactly match what you are currently doing. Set aside four weeks to make adjustments. In this time aim to close down or complete the projects you are not going to continue with and start planning when and how to implement you first new project.

Your 12 month plan does not have to be detailed right now. Just enough to know when you will start each project during the coming year with time built in to prepare for its implementation. Once you have this outlined the last task is to build in reviews so that you can repeat the above steps at least once every six months.

How To Refresh Your Email Campaigns For Success

Email SequenceOne of the great things about an autoresponder is that it can be used as a set and forget mechanism. Unfortunately that also means your emailed messages can be left for so long that they can become stale and irrelevant to your list. If you suspect you’re not getting the results you used to from your list or that there is room for improvement here are eight steps you can take to update and improve your email marketing.

1. React To Your Metrics

Study the metrics from your email marketing and see how well it is working. Are there emails that are not opened as often as others in your campaign? Try different headlines. Are there links that are clicked infrequently? Look into the information or offer the link leads to and decide if it’s still relevant to your audience and whether you can offer something better. Are there some subscribers who are engaged and some who are not? See if you can segment your list to encourage better engagement. And so on.

2. Ensure your promotions are still viable

If you’re promoting the same products and services via affiliate links that you were promoting last year, it’s important to check these are still available. The vendor may have changed the offer or discontinued it. Even if it remains unchanged you should review its relevance to your list. Over the past year you may have gained new insights into their needs and pain points. Look for offers that can help your list even more and add them to your campaign or swap them with the ones that are least successful.

3. Improve Your CTAs

Having decided what you will promote to your list you can look at the Calls To Action you are using. Events and developments in your niche over the past year may mean you could try a different approach. What worked a year ago might be old news today. You can also take a look at your metrics again to look at the effect of the CTAs you have in place now. See if there is a type of CTA that works best with your list and try to improve upon them so that you’ll get even better results.

4. Review Technology

Each year software is released that claims to improve list conversion and retention. Take a look at what is new that could make your landing pages easier to setup, change or convert. If you don’t use a video on your landing page this is the time to consider it. You need to stay informed about new technology and methods for building your list so you can decide whether to change or not.

5. Be Responsive

Most emails are now read using mobile devices. If your email marketing isn’t responsively designed, you could be missing out on most of your potential market. Even if your email marketing is based on responsive sites you must check that is also true about the web pages you ask your list to click through to see. Are they on responsive, mobile-friendly sites? If not, they need to be. If the sites are your own the solution is obvious. If your links lead to sites belonging to others it may be worth asking if they have plans to ugrade to responsive sites, especially if your conversions at their site have dropped.

6. Consider Refreshing Designs

Updating your artwork or the layout of your emails can be a good way to encourage your audience to take notice. Changing your graphics, logo, or changing the look and feel of the emails you send out can act as a relaunch and breathe new life into your email marketing campaigns

7. Update Your Segmentation Strategy

Many people don’t start segmenting their list until after their email campaigns have been running for a while. Some never segment. Often the first segmentation put in place is between buyers and non-buyers, but there is more you can do. Again, look to your metrics to see if there is an opportunity to provide more targeted messages. You can segment by product interest, topic interest, how responsive people are to offers, and more. You can get a better return on investment the more you segment your list because it will enable you to deliver the best message to each part of your audience.

8. Make Greater Use Of Social Media

You may already use social media in your marketing campaigns, but do you use it within your emails so your subscribers can help you get more subscribers? You should also be inviting your subscribers to join you on social media. If your audience is reading your emails and interacting with you on social media, you’ve got the best of both worlds and more chance of conversions.

If you’ve set up an email campaign you need to keep it fresh and relevant to your list if you want to get the most from it. Schedule to review your email marketing at least once a year, just like you get your car checked for roadworthiness. In both cases you’ll get better results from a well maintained machine.

Solve Big Problems And Test New Ideas With A Quick Sprint

Sprint bookSprint by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz reveals a process that focuses on making very rapid design and product improvements by focusing on a specific project for a period of one week. The book says it is a method “to solve big problems, test new ideas, get more done, and do it faster.”

The book is based on the “design sprint”, a five day problem solving process that Jake Knapp created while working at Google. His ‘sprints’ were used on Google Search, Chrome and Google X. Jake then joined Google Ventures, a part of Google that invests in startups and then grows them into successful companies. It was there that he met his co-authors Braden Kowitz and John Zeratsky, who had worked on products like YouTube, Gmail and Google Trends. Together they have run over 100 sprints with their portfolio companies and this book claims to be the distillation of those experiences.

I’ll admit I wasn’t sure if I should spend time reading this book. It was based on a method used by companies and requires a team of up to seven people. However, this includes a number of experts, including a finance expert who knows the finances of your business, a marketing expert familiar with your competitive environment, and someone familiar with your customers. If you run a solo or low employee business you are probably those experts anyway. So I decided to ignore the big company aspects and just concentrate on the process.

For many businesses the traditional method of approaching a problem is to research a market to uncover insights into the products or services they could offer, then develop and test the solutions. In the ‘sprint’ approach you design a prototype first, then test it to uncover more insights. You learn by testing rapidly built prototypes first, not by focus groups and surveys.

Esentially the first three days are spent working through ideas and solutions, day four is spent on prototyping, and on day five you stage a user test. So within one week you solve the problem conceptually and create a prototype.

The book breaks this process down further. The ‘sprint’ runs from Monday to Friday, but I’m going to present it in terms of days. Each day starts at 10am and runs to 5pm with lunch and breaks between sessions, but if you’re a solopreneur or don’t have to round up and coordinate a lot of people you can follow your own timetable.

Day 1: You start by creating a path for the sprint week. Start with the end in mind and identify the goal you want to achieve by the end of the fifth day. What would success look like? What problem(s) would achieving the goal solve? What answers do you need?

Day 2: Start finding solutions by reviewing what’s already on the table. Consider which of the existing possible solutions you can remix and improve. The core principle of design thinking is that “all design is redesign”. So each member of the team (or just you, if you are working alone) works individually to create redesign variations and then creates a rough ‘sketch prototype’ of their preferred remix. The goal for this day is to produce these sketch prototypes ready for the next day.

DAY 3: In the morning, the team (or just you) critiques the sketch prototypes, selects those most likely to succeed and decides which one to progress or which ones to combine and progress. This is done using a voting process involving coloured stickers placed on the sketches. Next you turn the winning sketch into a customer storyboard that outlines the steps from product discovery to purchase, use and disposal.

Day 4: You adopt a “fake it till you make it” philosophy and convert the storyboard into a realistic prototype that you can present to a customer and learn from their feedback. It doesn’t have to be a finished product, it’s a prototype. So you can use Powerpoint, Keynote or a word processor to summarise a digital product, or outline a sales page. You could create a prototype advertisement or even build a rough webpage to send people to. Alternatively produce some prototype packaging or a brochure related to your product or service.

Day 5: It’s test day. Share your prototype with customers and record their reactions. The authors suggest you get the prototype to five customers as that number will probably identify around 80% of all problems. Collect feedback with followup questions and combine the answers with your observations and customer comments to get an early insight into how end users will see the product or service. If feedback is favourable you can get an idea of how successful your solution might be. You’ll also get an idea of what and how to improve.

So what insights can we take from this process?

  • Take time to map out the problem and decide on the goal you are aiming for.
  • If you are working as a team it’s best to work independently to come up with possible solutions instead of brainstorming as a group. Then present the options, discuss, vote, then optimise.
  • The quick development and voting aspects of the process stop progress being held up by endless debates and deferring decisions.
  • Develop a quick and easy prototype that you can immediately show a few customers.
  • Once your customers have seen your prototype observe their reactions and get feedback so you can learn, adapt and optimise.

In summary, if your product or service is fairly straightforward ‘sprints’ can help move you forward quickly and give you the chance to fix obvious issues at an early stage.

If you’re interested in taking a closer look at this process you’ll find the book at http://www.thesprintbook.com. There are also free resources, including slides and pdfs, and there’s a bonus pack available too.

Is your content focused on growing your business?

There are a number of ways to measure success and growth in business. It may be tracking how well known your brand is, or how many followers you have on various social media accounts. However, for many businesses these statistics are not indicative of success. Earning money is.

One of the most important resources an online business can use to promote growth is content. Blog posts, newsletters, social media updates, videos, podcasts and more can all be used to increase your reputation and your traffic, but you should really be using content to grow the turnover of your business.

Content – The Resource To Leverage

Online, everything revolves around content. Whether you sell products or services your business will need a lot of content to engage, educate, and encourage your prospects to buy from you. If you create information products you need even more content. So, the more you can leverage the content you create and the better you organise it, the more efficiently your business will grow.

Content Formats

There are many different formats of content you can use. It can be text, audio or visual in nature. You can place this content on your own blog, as guest posts and articles on other websites, on social media and in emails and newsletters. Discover which formats your audience prefers and where they are most likely to find it. Then create a combination of different types of content to ensure you reach more of your potential audience.

Create With a Plan in Mind

To leverage your content properly you must have a plan. Don’t create content without deciding on a point of view, voice, and the goals for the content. Ideally each piece should act as part of a path your audience can follow until they reach a destination you can use to increase your income: an opt-in page.

The Email List Is Where Your Business Grows

It’s a cliche, but ‘the money is in the list’, is as true today as it was ten years ago. Okay, some will get pedantic and say it must be a targeted list, or a responsive list, but they’re just trying to appear that bit more clever. The bottom line is you will create more customers from the prospects on your list than from anywhere else. Advertising and social media marketing can produce customers directly, but probably the best way to leverage them is to lead people to your email lists.

Incentives To Join Your List

In the most successful solopreneur businesses the blog posts, social media updates, and sometimes even webinars are designed to recruit people to an email list. Get the right target audience on a list and you can market to them regularly. The key is to have something free or low cost that will persuade your audience to hand over their email addresses while anticipating a valuable and useful reward for doing so.

Joined Up Content

Ideally your content should work together. Start with the product, service or event that you want to promote. Decide what email content your prospects will need to consume to become educated and enthusiastic so they are more likely to purchase from you. Then work backwards again to decide the content you will need to get more email subscribers. The blog posts, articles, etc. that will catch their interest, and the incentive that will persuade them to join your list.

Create a Content Calendar

When you know what content you need to create, it’s important to work out in a calendar when you will create the required content. If you are planning to launch a new product in three months, you have to make sure you can create the promotional and educational material in that time frame. It will be a missed opportunity if you don’t give yourself time to grow and educate your list before launch day.

Create Content For A Purpose

Earlier I said you should really be using content to grow the turnover of your business. With this clear goal you’ll be able to look at how your content works together to recruit prospects and encourage purchases. You’ll be able to identify and fill gaps in your content and thereby create a more efficient way of growing your business.

How to choose great blog topics that increase readership

Deciding on the type of content you’re going to post can be crucial to the success of your blog. Often this can become a choice between posting evergreen content or a post about a hot, currently trending topic.

Evergreen Posts

Evergreen content is material that will usually be good for many months or even years, while hot topics rapidly become ‘out of date’ after a short period of time.

If you are just starting a blog you want to build a good foundation of material for your visitors to read. Usually, evergreen material is best for this. If you are starting with only a limited number of readers you want posts that don’t become outdated and remain of interest to the readers you gain as your blog grows.

While evergreen topics remain relevant longer than hot topics it is likely you will eventually have to update them. New developments or changes in fashion or best practice will make this necessary.

However having plenty of evergreen content on your site can pay off even years after the post was published. You can link to it repeatedly over time from social media accounts and refer to it in later material. Writing regular evergreen topics is a great way to showcase your personality and tell ongoing stories that are of interest to your audience.

Topical Posts

Topical posts may only remain so for a day or two, or perhaps as long as a week or month. However they can show your readers you are on top of the latest developments in your niche, which can increase your authority in their eyes.

They can also spread your content. Your readers are much more likely to share a well-timed hot topic post simply because it is relevant, will reflect well on them for passing on useful information, and can be shared immediately with friends and colleagues across social media. Hot topics can also be a great way to get discussions going.

A post about a trending topic can also take advantage of the fact that people will be searching for this information when the post is published. They are also a good option for when you can’t think of anything to write or don’t have the time to produce a post that goes in depth on a topic. Just search the latest news in your niche for inspiration for hot topic content.

The Right Mix

Ideally you want to have a blog consisting mostly of evergreen topics, interspersed with some hot topics.

The right mix of both evergreen and hot topics depends entirely on your niche. Some niches remain static throughout most of the year, while others change daily. The mix could range between 80% evergreen for a fairly unchanging niche to 90% hot topics for a blog aimed at keeping its readers informed on a niche that changes daily. As a blog owner you just have to try different percentages to see what works best for your niche.

Having a variety of content will make your blog more interesting, current and relevant to your target audience. Include evergreen material to give your visitors plenty of interesting posts to read, and topical content to show your readers you are aware of and have an opinion about the latest developments in your niche.