Signals In the Noise – Issue #2

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!


Hi there friends.

Well, the feedback I received after the first edition of the Clarity Lab curated newsletter was amazing and extremely positive. Which means I’m going to keep going with this experiment.

I’ll be adjusting the format and the amount of the hand-picked content I bring you in these newsletters, because I want to find the best balance between summarizing and adding my own commentary.

Thanks to everyone who wrote in with great feedback and suggestions for this newsletter! Keep it coming. All feedback, constructively critical or effusively positive, is super helpful.

Signals In the Noise Weekly Content Roundup – Issue #2

This just in…

One of my favorite, new marketing conferences just got a lot better for the 2015 version of the event. It’s called the Authority Rainmaker conference, and is put on by the good people at Copyblogger Media in Denver. This year’s event will happen between May 13th and May 15th.

I went to this conference last year and was pretty blown away by the quality of presenters they were able to attract to the event in it’s first edition. The roster of speakers looks just as good this year, as well.

Just a few days ago, Brian Clark, the founder and CEO of Copyblogger media, sent out an email announcing that they decided to reduce the conference fee from $1295 to $795. It turns out that the new venue they’re holding the event at in Denver, a beautiful opera theater, is much less expensive than they anticipated, so they’re passing on the savings to the participants. Very classy, and very kind.

I’m a big fan of everything that the Copyblogger folks create, and this conference is no exception. Well worth checking it out. 

Free Puppies!

When you run a business online, you will end up running into a lot of unexpected things that you need. Things that cost money. Things that are inexpensive. And others that are free. Website templates. Stock photos. Email marketing software. Calendar apps. Photo editing software. The list is long.

Here’s a massive list of 300 FREE Things for Entrepreneurs. The resources on this list will help you in many, many ways. I’ve used, and am using, so many things on this list.

+ Speaking of really useful free things for entrepreneurs, I want to highlight a few of my favorite sources for free stock photography that you can use on your website and in email newsletters. There are a lot of free stock photography resources listed in the big list above, but here’s a few of my favorites:

Death to Stock Photography

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance can play a major role in keeping us from making changes to how we do business, and thus the amount of success we get to experience as a result of our business doing well.

In order to break out of the rut of the way we’ve always done things (ways that may not be the most efficient or productive), we need to see our process from a broader perspective, and it usually works best to have an outside party (meaning, someone outside the party in our own heads) look at what we’re doing and suggest changes.

“There’s a reason why organizations hire consultants, why authors hire editors, and why athletes hire trainers: someone who isn’t as emotionally attached can be objective in their analysis and help create clarity in understanding what’s broken and how to fix it.”

Why do we have such a hard time fixing what’s broken? 

Don’t drop the balls

Do you have a business that needs to nurture sales relationships with potential clients, like a web design firm? It can get difficult to track where each prospect is in the sales process of your business. A good Customer Relationship Management app can save you a lot of headaches. Here’s a CRM I’ve been hearing good things about from colleagues of mine: Pipeline Deals 

+ Check the speed that your site loads from multiple different web servers around the world with Dotcom Monitor.

+ You can also cross-check the load time of pages on your site with the Pingdom Load Test tool, which I’ve used often over the last 8 years.

The waterfall reports on the Pingdom tool and the Dotcom website speed test are super useful. They will show you exactly what files or images are taking the longest to load. Often times, it’s just one WordPress plugin that’s significantly slowing the load time of your pages. But you won’t know which plugin is causing your site to load slowly unless you run a test with a tool like either of those two load test tools above.

Baby, baby, baby…light my way.

Lighting your videos can be a big pain, even with “easy to use” softboxes (which I’ve always used for lighting my subjects in video shoots for my businesses.) But the guys over at Wistia (my favorite video streaming service) just blew my mind. Here’s a VERY inexpensive, super portable way to do video lighting, by replacing big, unwieldy softboxes with Chinese paper lanterns (a.k.a. “China Balls.”) If I were more witty than I am, I’d insert a tasteful, but very funny joke right here. But I’m not. And I won’t.

+ Here’s another route you can take to create great video lighting on a tiny budget. This short video will show you the materials needed to create the set up, like bucket lamps, diffusion paper, and small daylight balanced fluorescent bulbs. Most of this setup can be purchased at a place like Home Depot. Check out the Down and Dirty Lighting Kit video here.

Cash to make your rocket go.

Think you could benefit from getting some startup capital to get your business idea off the runway? You might find Fundable interesting. They give you a platform to raise capital for your business from the crowd (which is like the cloud, only it’s made of people instead of computer servers). Fundable is like the crowdfunding site Kickstarter, but is specifically for starting businesses.

+ There are other ways to fund your startup or small business. Ways that don’t involve getting investment money from other people (and all the complications that ensue from doing that.) There’s many ways to bootsrap your business while you build it into a self-sustaining engine that can support you and your family. Here’s ten solid options for bootstrapping your biz from revenue that you generate in side businesses.

Killing Me Softly

There’s a good chance that there are things on your website that are silently turning prospects off from liking and trusting you and your business. It can be surprising how many things like this there are. Here’s 42 ways that bad website design can hobble your business. From not having a mobile friendly site, to tiny font sizes, to talking too much about yourself. There’s oh so many ways we can mess up the face of our business on the web.

+ One of the ways I’ve messed things up in the past is with my horrendous lack of skill at picking new colors for things on my website…colors that go well together. Add to cart buttons, sign up buttons, background colors for menus, blog post heading colors. I suck at creating good color palettes. If you can, I highly recommend hiring a web/graphic designer to help you do this. If you can’t, here’s a great tool I’ve used when I want to find a few different colors that go well with other colors already on my site: The Paletton color picker.

Squeezing juice from eBooks

“As far as premium content goes, eBooks make a great pillar in your content marketing mix for exploring topics of interest to your ideal buyers and generating more qualified leads for your funnel.” I completely agree. If you’re just starting a new business online, creating a free, valuable ebook that helps people in your audience solve a problem they have is one of the easiest ways to start building your email list. You’ll hear it over and over in the online marketing world: the money is in your list.

But you can’t just pump out low quality ebooks and expect them to work, says the author in this post: 8+ Key Elements to Get the Most from Your eBook. You’ll need to define your topic and tone, create a nice looking design, identify the major pain points you’ll be solving with your ebook, build in smart calls to action, and measure the success of your ebook, among other things.

Shock the monkeys.

But before you start revving up your content marketing machine, you should be aware of potential “content shock” that may be happening for the peeps in your target market.

“Content Shock: The emerging marketing epoch defined when exponentially increasing volumes of content intersect our limited human capacity to consume it.” Content shock is here. Most of us call it “information overwhelm.” Call it what you will, but there is now far more content published online (in almost any niche) than anyone can possibly consume.

Content marketing is all the rage. Has been for about the last 7 years or so. The general premise? Publish great free content on your site to build up a list of people you can eventually market products, programs, or services to. If you play your cards right, content marketing is a very, very powerful way to build your business quickly. It’s worked wonders for me in multiple businesses.

The trouble is, however, that many people are using this approach. That means more and more content on the web. An ever expanding supply with a finite demand means that content marketing may not be a sustainable marketing strategy for long.

+ Fear not though. Here’s 10 Strategies to Battle Content Shock.

If you liked this issue and think some of your friends would enjoy it, I’d be ever so grateful if you could forward this link to them:

Here’s to you building a kick ass business,
~Forest Linden

p.s. Find the archive of past weekly content roundups right here.

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