For two and a half years, every two weeks I sifted through over 140 blog posts and podcasts that talk about how to build successful online businesses. I found the best content, summarized it, added a bit of my commentary, and delivered it to the inboxes of entrepreneurs around the world…for free. I’m no longer writing Signals in the Noise issues (because my business partners and I are focusing on other parts of Clarity Lab), but please enjoy these archived issues. There’s a ton of useful information in them!
1. It’s about the people, people.
“But herein lies the problem — what’s good for Google rank is not the same as what people consider to be good copy. People are far more discerning than an algorithm and you can see it in the three content examples in the above case study. None of the three articles are any good and the one with the highest SEO score is the worst of the lot.” Silicon Valley Watcher’s Tom Foremski on why you should create content for humans and not the Google algorithm.
It’s an odd game in our modern world: write content that will please the Google bot and thus draw more organic search traffic to your site, or, write useful, timely content for the people in your tribe that is so good they want to share it and link to it. Here’s my vote: create content for humans, with a small bit of attention on having a few targeted keywords in the important places, like the title of your blog posts. Google’s algorithm is moody. Best not to put the fate of your revenue streams in its lines of math calculation code.
2. Not with haste.
“We don’t find the time, we make it. You’re either hungry to grow your business or you’re not. Hunger, desire, hustle, whatever you want to call it. This is the characteristic that separates successful people from everyone else.” That’s Ryan Hanley on one of the biggest differences between successful and unsuccessful online entrepreneurs: those who are making it big are making time to create their success.
I agree with him…up to a point. Yes, we need to work hard to build our businesses. Harder than most people realize at the outset. Problems arise, however, when there is a direct correlation between your definition of success and the amount of money your business brings in.
If you dive into a game of “World of Entrepreneur-craft” with an attitude of “Stay hungry! Hustle! Sacrifice! Work your ass off! Gotta reach big success AS FAST AS POSSIBLE!” you may indeed succeed in leveling up in the game, but at what cost? Achieving one-dimensional success leaves most people feeling flat. And exhausted. And alone.
How about this perspective instead: Redefine success. You are not your bank balance. Make enough money to support the lifestyle you want to live. Do something that matters. Work hard, stay focused, but don’t sacrifice the very things you’re seeking by chasing after money alone. Instead, build a business that helps people while you build relationships with your intimate companion, your children, your friends. Grow slowly and not with haste. Give attention to your health, body, mind, and soul while you grow your business. Maintain work-life balance by removing the boundary between work and the rest of life. It’s all part of your life. Choose to spend your time wisely. There are no rules. Make them up as you go. Experiment. Listen. Iterate. Learn. Love. Above all else…love.
3. Founders at your fingertips.
Making decisions is difficult and the path of an entrepreneur is full of them. Even if you have a partner, or a whole team of people involved in making decisions, it’s still difficult to know which choice is the right choice when the big questions start coming up. “How much should I charge for my online program and consulting services? Should I create a free offer or launch my product first? How do I get more traffic to my site? How much equity should I give my new partner? Should I hire someone to do copywriting or should I just do it myself? Should I look for investment money, or should I bootstrap this project?”
The list goes on. There are hundreds of questions you will need to answer. What if you could get on the phone with founders, executives, marketing experts, paid ad campaign experts, or essentially an expert in any field where you need help? That would be amazing, right? You can do just that at Clarity.
People charge by the minute for their advice, and you might be surprised at the level of expertise and credibility some of the people on Clarity have. You’ll be able to get on the phone with the founders and executives of some big tech companies around. I’ve used Clarity before and I’ll use it again. It’s truly an incredible resource.
4. Podcasting for dollars.
“It’s the new thing: 1. Start a podcast. 2. Attract an audience. 3. ??? 4. Profit! Sounds a lot like blogging in 2006. Problem is, with the exception of a few huge sites, it didn’t really work out that way for most bloggers. Which is why thinking in terms of content marketing and developing your own products took off in that field.” And now it’s becoming the best way to monetize a podcast, says Rainmaker’s Brian Clark.
Podcasting is going through an explosive growth period. It seems like everyone has a podcast these days, or is at least planning on starting one (I’m in the latter group.) As fun as they are to make and as entertaining as they can be to listen to, the big question with podcasts is always “How the hell are you supposed to make money from doing it?”
In the episode of the Rainmaker podcast above, Brian Clark, Jerod Morris, and Robert Bruce dive into what may be the best method for creating money from your podcasting efforts: keep the podcast free and use it as a lead generation and audience building tool. Then, build a relationship with the people in your audience over time and eventually sell them an opportunity to join an online training program you create.
This approach can work extremely well, and when coupled with traditional audio ads in your podcast and affiliate sale revenue, you can start generating enough money from podcasting to start making your lifestyle goals into a reality.
5. Cafe latte with whipped productivity creme
Turns out that there’s more to productivity in a cafe than the large amounts of caffeine we drink while we’re working there. There’s actually a fair amount of science behind the boost we can see in our creativity and productivity when we work with different types of white noise in the background, like the background noise of a busy cafe.
Cafe’s are great for white noise, except when you go to the same one all the time and you see all your friends there (lots of conversations with friends tends to negate the productivity boost of the white noise in a cafe.)
So, why not bring the noise of the cafe to you? The Coffitivity app does just that.
+ As I write this, I’m listening to stereoscopic 3D nature sounds created by an iphone app called Windy. Why? Because my son is kung fu jumping off the couch while singing about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in his loudest opera voice. Kicks and punches are flying. There is improve opera coming out of his mouth, but all I hear is a gentle, bubbling stream, chirping birds, and crickets off in the distance. Ahhhhh….yes. Writing bliss.
+ Here’s a great 8 ½ hour Youtube video recording of stream and birds in Ireland. ‘Tis quite lovely to work with this in the background.
6. I’m all about display.
Where are people reading your emails…on their phone or their laptop or desktop computer? “To answer that question, we researched desktop and mobile email habits over the course of a typical workday, drawn from over 14 million messages sent by Yesware Enterprise users in Q1 2015.” Yesware’s Bernie Reeder on the infographical results of an incredible amount of data aggregation about what devices people are using to open and read emails.
With the continuing rise in popularity of mobile phones, I expected this infographic to show that most people these days are reading emails on their phones. Sigh. Surprisingly, that’s not the case (Yay!). I love my iphone, but I only use it for email and web browsing when I absolutely have to, which isn’t that often. I don’t quite understand why anyone would prefer to consume content on a tiny 4 or 5-inch screen. I prefer a large array of two or three 27 inch displays. NASA command center wrap around style. “Launch systems ops is go for take off.”
7. Speaking of infographics.
They’re pretty. They’re popular. They can drive a tremendous amount of traffic to your site if they go viral. And, they’re usually very expensive to create. Infographics have been an emerging trend in content marketing for the last couple of years. Up until recently, you had to be willing to spend $1000 or more to make just one of them, which made them a less-than-smart content marketing option for everyone except companies with large budgets.
Things are changing though. There’s now an app for that. Actually, there’s several. If you’ve got compelling, useful data that you want to put into an infographic, here’s two apps that will allow you to do it for much less than $1000:
+ If you do want to hire someone to create a custom infographic and have a bigger budget, here’s a great service: Visually. Their infographic packages start at $2,000.
8. Tweet the change you want to see in the world.
“Change The World With 140 Characters. Take a small step towards making a big difference! Share your ideas for making the world a better place on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and you could win a grant to help your idea grow!” That’s the headline on a page of the SoDelicious website for a grant contest they’re running. It’s the world’s shortest grant application. A tweet length application for a business or project idea. If you win, you get part of a total of $30,000 to help get your concept off the ground. It’s a brilliant marketing idea, and will also bring some great projects into the world. Now, if only the IRS would give us the option of using a 140 character tax return form.
9. Like sands through an hourglass.
“A traditional marketing funnel might have stages such as Awareness, Consideration and Purchase, while our Marketing Hourglass consists of seven connected stages – Know, Like, Trust, Try, Buy, Repeat and Refer. Here’s the thing that the marketing funnel neglects to address – when it comes to lead and referral generation a happy customer is your best tool.” That’s John Jantsch, from Duct Tape Marketing, on why putting serious attention on the end-to-end experience of your customers is one of the most important things you can do to build a successful business.
So many of us overlook this bit when building a new business, and unfortunately, not paying attention to the customer experience can end your business experiment quickly. In this free PDF report, John Jantsch and several of his team members explain the importance of building an incredible customer experience journey, and then outline how to do it.
Every place where your business touches people becomes a point where marketing is happening. Every. Single. Place. Sales pages, thank you pages, your Facebook comments, receipts for purchases, blog posts, podcasts, your LinkedIn profile, customer support ticket emails…every place where your customer interacts with you and your business needs attention if you’re going to create a stellar customer experience. You’ll see where all those touch points are and how to do them right in John’s PDF above.
10. Facebooker’s Anonymous.
“The dopamine high people get from virtual interactions (including texting, emailing, and tweeting) can lead them to spend more and more time online. People have lost their jobs. College students have neglected their studies. In some cases, parents have even let their children die while they browse Facebook or Twitter.” And with that, Kerry Gorgone, of Grow, lays a topic on the table that isn’t getting much media attention: social media addiction.
I find that last comment about children dying hard to believe, but who knows. Whether or not that’s true, I have a feeling that many of us entrepreneurs would be able to increase our productivity substantially if we stopped wasting time on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest and Google+. If you’re curious, you can find out how much time you’ve spent on Facebook recently right here.
To be realistic and honest, some time spent on social media sites can be extremely valuable for your business. The contacts and connections and friendships my wife has made on Facebook have likely resulted in many tens of thousands of dollars in revenue over the past several years.
I think everyone needs to draw their line in the sand for how much social media site time is enough. I have the opposite problem of most people it seems: I have to work really hard to get myself to go on any social media site, even for 15 minutes. Any other introverts in the house have the same problem?
Okay, so, you know what? You’re awesome. You actually read all the way down to the bottom of this issue. I’d make you a mocha right now if I could. I hope the read was worth your while.
Now that I’ve got you here, I’ll tell you something…something that I keep front of mind while I’m reading dozens of blog posts and listening to podcasts each week for this newsletter. I pretend that there’s a giant search bar on my website.
In this search bar, you’ve typed out a search query with these words in it: “How do I build a successful, profitable online business that will allow me to live this dream I have in my heart? How can I do it without resorting to icky, aggressive business practices? And how can I make great money while doing something that matters, something that makes this world a better place?”
Each issue of Signals in the Noise is an answer to those very honest, very human questions. Questions that Google will never be able to answer very well. It’s those questions that cause me to look forward to the work that goes into each issue with childlike excitement. I will hit publish on this week’s issue in a few minutes, and seconds after I do, I’ll quietly say something to myself that I say after I send out each new issue: “I can’t wait to get started on next week’s issue.”
I hope you’re enjoying the expression of joy that each of these issues are. If you liked this one, please consider taking a moment to help me spread the word about these weekly newsletters by clicking on a link below and telling your friends about them. You helping me by telling your friends about Signals in the Noise helps me grow my audience, which will help me reach my goals and dreams in life.
In a few days from now I’ll be unplugged from the internet (gasp!) while out in the desert on a camping trip with some friends. This means that I won’t be able to publish an issue next Monday. But I’ll be back in your inbox on Monday, May 25th. Hopefully my internet disconnection withdrawal symptoms will be manageable.
See you in a couple weeks, my friend.
Signals in the Noise
p.s. You can find the archive of past weekly content roundups right here.