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!
Wow. It’s the end of the year already. I’m not sure how that happened, but Signals in the Noise is coming up on it’s one year birthday. To celebrate that, and the end of the year, I thought it would be fun to join the roughly 7,427 other people who are doing “top ten of 2015” list posts and do one of my own.
I’ve just combed through all of the issues of Signals that I’ve published this year and have pulled the 10 most popular things you guys have loved, based on the number of clicks each item received.
To summarize the interests that have emerged in this top 10 list, I’ll say this about you: you’re interested in making money online, choosing the best software platform for your business, getting beautiful stock photos for free, and bringing consciousness into your business.
And I’m like “No way. I totally have those same interests. I feel so comfortable around you…like I could tell you anything. Do you want to go get some dinner with me?” And you’re all “Toats McGoats. Let’s do it. But I’m warning you…I like to talk about business and marketing and making money online and optimizing email subject lines. You cool with that?”
“Oh my. Yes. Yes I am. You are speaking my language. Let’s go eat!”, I reply.
Here, then, are the top ten most popular curated items from a year’s worth of Signals in the Noise issues. Feel free to discuss them in your next business geek dinner. You’ll connect and bond better with the entrepreneur you’re chatting with, be they a new business partner or romantic interest.
1. The secret is not here.
This is one of the most profound, and profoundly short, blog posts I’ve read in a long, long time. (It takes less than 5 seconds to read it.) Venture Capitalist Jay Acunzo on the one secret thing all successful people do.
2. Mic drop.
“No matter how many shiny, cool features and benefits you cram into your marketing messages, brochures and presentations, you better find ways to help the prospect get what they really want. And, no matter if you sell heating and cooling services, legal services, hand painted greeting cards, or consulting, at the end of the day, your customers all buy some variation of the same five things.” That’s John Jantsch, of Duct Tape Marketing, about to drop the mic on your marketing efforts. I love this guy. Here are the five things people actually want to buy.
Speaking of creating websites, this is my current favorite platform for doing that.
4. Death to the stock photo.
Does anyone remember the days when you used to have to pay $2 – $10 per image for royalty free stock images to use on websites or in blog posts? They were the only game in town at one point. The stock imagery sites I used to use are still up and running, but there’s a seismic shift happening in this space: a proliferation of totally free, gorgeous, non-stock photo looking stock photo sites.
Here’s a list of 95 of them, many of which I’ve used myself. Thank you, dear interweb business people with photographer friends. You are riding the internet of cheesy, inauthentic stock photos. One free, artistic, classy photo at a time.
5. Sentences to grow a cash cow.
“You could run yourself ragged for $5 an article. You could take shit writing jobs in the name of putting food on the table. You could take on clients you hate, feel a constant sense of dread, and pray that your big break comes along…soon. Or, you can learn how to build an in-demand writing business…the smart way.” That’s the inimitable Ash Ambirge getting to the heart of how to build a lucrative writing business.
Ash is launching a new course right now. It’s called Sentences and Money, and if nothing else, you should go check out her sales page for the program. You’ll see some of the best copywriting on the web right here. I won’t hide it. No, not this. I LOVE Ash Ambirge. I’ve taken some of her writing programs before, and my mind was blown. Ash is THE BOMB. A genius writer and marketer, and an over-the-top generous person.
I am a lover of words. I study them. Kneel before them. And kiss the screen when I see them used brilliantly. They can make or break your business, or, you can make them your business. And if you want to make a living writing words? Check out Sentences and Money.
6. LinkedIn + Consciousness + Compassion = WTF?
In all the hundreds of articles, blog posts, and podcasts I’ve gone through over the last few years, I have rarely come across something in the mainstream that addresses bringing a higher level of consciousness into the way we do business. Sad, but true. Things are changing though. Led by Fred Kofman, the author of Conscious Business, LinkedIn is in the process of publishing a large, free course on how to bring wisdom and compassion into the way we do business.
I’ve seen Fred teach live at an Integral Institute seminar, and he is not only brilliant but has such a warm heart. His presentation was the highlight of the event for me. He now works at LinkedIn, and this course they’re publishing for free was initially meant just for LinkedIn employees. They wanted first to become an example of a conscious business before teaching these things to a broader audience. It seems that the time has come, because they’re releasing the same course for free to the public. This is definitely worth checking out.
7. Open bait.
“35% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line alone and that 69% of email recipients report an email as spam solely based on the subject line.” Ty Rothstein, on the over-the-top, can’t-over-emphasize-this-enough importance of writing email subject lines that get people to open your emails (and how, exactly, to go about creating them.) Out of the 47 things (roughly speaking) that you have to do right in order to win at the online business game, I would put “writing compelling email subject lines that cause people to open your emails” in the top 5 most important things to focus on. You’ll hear this a hundred times if you study online marketing long enough: the money is in your email list. It’s absolutely true…but only if the people on your list open your emails.
+ From the Convince and Convert blog: 4 Adjectives That Should Dominate Your Email Subject Lines
8. Validate before you activate.
If you don’t do this at the beginning of your business building journey, you can easily end up in that group of 50% of new businesses that fail. That one thing? Is validating the idea for your product or service before you ever start creating it or offering it.
It’s painful to watch new entrepreneurs pour their hearts into creating something for months, or even a year or more, and then see them launch to the sound of crickets. I most likely don’t know you, but I really don’t want to see this happen to you. Please, if you do one thing differently as a result of reading these newsletters, let it be this: validate your idea before you spend any time and money on creating a product or service to offer to your target market.
You need to find out if the people in your market actually want the thing you’re going to offer…and want it enough to pay for it. The best way to find that out is to talk to a handful of people in your target market…people you don’t know. Here’s 5 steps to validate your business idea in the real world. Take some notes folks. Then go out and talk to people…
“Mostly what I want to stress is that you can do this. Prior to creating courses, I didn’t know how to create a course. But I worked at it, tested things, and measured what worked. It’s not rocket science (which doesn’t technically exist—it’s aerospace engineering), it’s just starting small, launching quickly and iterating. If I can do it, so can you.” Paul Jarvis, on exactly what it took to make $294,000 from an online program in one year. I love Paul’s authenticity and transparency, and after reading his work over the last year, I have a feeling that his course on how to become a successful freelancer has amazing content inside it. Plus, he goes barefoot in his marketing videos…and shows off his sweet tattoos. I tried taking my shirt off for a marketing video once, and for some reason, it didn’t convert very well. Must be the dad bod.
10. Turn your blog posts into bank deposits.
If you’re reading this newsletter, I’m going to make an assumption that you’re interested in making money from things you do online in your business. Many of you write blog posts as part of your content marketing strategy, and still more of you may have nothing but a blog site where you publish great content for free. Blogs are cool. Blogs that make money are cooler. And blogs that allow you to live the kind of lifestyle you want to live? Are the BOMB.
To that end, here’s Michael Hyatt (author of the New York Times #1 bestseller Platform: Get noticed in a noisy world) on three tried and true ways to monetize your blog.
See? Wasn’t that fun?
Do you know what would be even MORE fun? If you shared this issue with a friend or two. If you want to share the love of this issue of Signals in the Noise, just clickety split on one of the links below, or go old school and forward this email to someone.
Here’s a BIG THANK YOU for sharing, if you do.
And a Happy New Year to you, wherever you find yourself today.
See you in the new year, and here’s to next year being one full of your business reaching new levels of awesome in so many ways.
Signals in the Noise
p.s. You can find the archive of past issues right here.