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. James and the giant teach.
How do you compete with giants in the digital commerce space like Lynda.com (who was recently acquired by LinkedIn for $1.3 Billion)? Is it too late to jump into the online education space, create your own online courses and other digital products, like ebooks, and have any success with companies like Lynda.com making millions each year? Brian Clark, CEO of Rainmaker Digital, thinks it’s not too late at all. “There’s never been a better time for the little guys to jump in and create something successful than right now,” he said in a recent Copyblogger podcast show about trends and predictions for digital commerce in 2016. “It’s all about coming at something with your own unique spin to add more value, instead of feeling like you’re going head-to-head with some big guy.”
My prediction for 2016? Virtual reality selfie videos filmed by quadcopter drones published on Facebook (viewable with Facebook’s Oculus Rift VR goggles) are going to be the next big thing in marketing. Virtual reality, drones, selfies, and social media. What could possibly go wrong?
2. Unfollow your bliss.
“And I want to point one very important lesson from all of this: Passion is not enough to make a living doing what you love. So if you want another rah-rah treatise on why you should just follow your bliss, stop reading now.” The ever poignant Jeff Goins, on what you should do first if you want to get paid for doing your passion. I chased my passion tail around in circles for years, like a lost hiker in the wilderness with a broken compass. One day I realized it would be much easier if I just chose a path that had potential and worked on falling in love with it, instead of wasting so much time trying to find THE PATH that’s perfectly aligned with my passions. If you ever struggle with this one, read Jeff’s post. And don’t follow your passion. Just bring it with you wherever you go.
3. The long and short of it.
“To answer your question, I personally am besotted with your teaching and commentary around the links you share. It’s that value you add that keeps me reading each newsletter. Your annotations contextualize your recommendations and provide your opinion and twist on what you share. It makes your newsletter stand out from all the background noise clamoring for my attention – and you couldn’t have named it more aptly for that reason. I hope you don’t change a thing.” That’s Victoria Smith, a regular reader of this newsletter you’re reading right now, in response to me asking her if she’d enjoy my newsletter more if it were shorter.
After my last newsletter, I got some feedback from a couple of people who were suggesting that I make my newsletter shorter (so that it only took a couple of minutes to read.) I listen hard to feedback, so, I started asking around to try and confirm or deny the validity of the suggestion. I asked the guys in my mastermind group as well as a few frequent readers of my newsletter.
Just barely, there seemed to be some consensus around going shorter. But…that would mean that I’d be teaching and commenting MUCH less around each piece of curated content. “Maybe people don’t really care too much about that stuff though,” I pondered. Until I got Victoria’s response above.
I like her response. A lot. She totally gets exactly what I’m doing with this newsletter. Spot on. While going shorter is appealing (because I really get that we’re all busy) I’m actually not going to change what I’m doing around the length of these newsletters right now. My theory has always been not to worry about the length of pieces. Instead, focus on delivering high value and big benefits to people. If the content is good and it helps the reader, they won’t mind slowing down and reading a bit.
So far, that approach hasn’t done me wrong. (For example, I wrote a very extensive, long blog post review of a piece of software. Waaaaay longer than the expert “recommended” guideline of 1000 words per blog post. It’s more like 5,000 words. And to date, that one post has brought in over $11,000 in affiliate commissions. It took me 20 hours to do the research and write that post, and it continues to make money each month. Long and thorough is something to consider for your own content marketing.)
Over the past year of writing this newsletter, I’ve heard almost this exact phrase from about 50 people: “Your Signals in the Noise newsletter is one of only two newsletters that I read all the way through, every single time.” And I keep getting that feedback, even when some of these issues get a bit lengthy, like this one.
So, get comfy. Take a deep breath and relax. Because I’m keeping it long, yo. I can’t deliver the same amount of benefits to you if I make this newsletter short, and that’s a HUGE reason I’m doing this: because I want to help you.
4. Impatience is a virtue.
Speaking of wanting things to happen more quickly…have you ever tested the page load speed of your website? Think it doesn’t matter that much? If so, you are underestimating the power of impatience. Business to Community’s Eyal Katz explains that “According to a research conducted by the Aberdeen Group, a single second delay in the loading of your site, costs you up to 7% in conversion rates. In addition, every second a user stares at a blank screen on average lowers pageviews by 11% and user satisfaction by 16%.” Translation: if your website’s pages take 4 seconds to load instead of 3, you will likely lose a great deal of money each year. Because people don’t like to wait for webpages to pop up on their screen. It’s best if you can get your pages to load in under 3 seconds. 2 seconds or faster is an even better goal.
If you, or someone on your team, takes care of your own website, here’s some advanced tips on how to speed that puppy up. In the late 90’s, people used to be fine waiting for 5 to 10 seconds for a page to load. Now they want them to load in 2 seconds or less, or they won’t buy your stuff. In a few more years, they will expect your web pages to load with ideal solutions to their problems before they even ask Google a question.
+ Test your site’s speed and strength with this awesome tool from HubSpot: Website Grader.
5. Sell your cake and eat it too.
A guy on Reddit asked this question: “We run a monthly subscription that provides a certain service for other businesses. At the moment we have a few clients but are currently really struggling to get some more. We have only really been in business for a couple of weeks but was hoping for some more clients. At the moment we have a tried a fair bit, mainly trying to build a Twitter following and keeping our blog up to date at the moment (daily high-quality posts) in order to build some authority. We have also sent out a heap of emails (tried a few different subjects + content) but still not really getting any more customers. So my question is, what are some tips you have for getting clients in a service based industry?” Nathan Konty, the CEO of Highrise, gives a stellar response to that question. The answer to getting more clients? Sell cake.
6. Motivational seekers.
“Most people have this vague feeling they’re not doing something right, but they have zero concept of how to take a specific action forward. When I asked them, ‘What are you going to do?’, most didn’t reply at all, and the only people who replied said… ‘What do you mean? I’m going to get more motivated in 2016 and start making a list of things on Monday.’” That’s Ramit Sethi, on how some of his readers replied when he asked them directly about what they had done recently to move their blog business forward. He then lays down the hammer with some blunt truths about why many people aren’t making the amount of money they want in their online business…and if you’re in that camp, what you can do about it.
I love it when teachers like Ramit don’t hold any punches and tell it like it is. Motivation and goals are good, but working hard and getting shit done is better. Plus, if you do a few sets of several week long work sprints throughout the year (where you’re so busy you don’t have time to eat much), you’ll lose weight. New Year’s weight loss resolution solved.
7. I’ll second that.
“How do you feel when you’re talking to someone, and the conversation is dominated by the other person speaking only about himself or herself? After a short amount of time, you probably don’t pay much attention to what the other person is saying. However, if the conversation is more balanced or more about you, you probably pay a lot more attention and are actively involved in the discussion.” That’s Susan Gunelius, founder of Key Splash Creative, on the importance of using second person pronouns (rather than first person pronouns) in your copywriting.
The bottom line: I, me, mine, we = not so important to your prospects. You, yours = way more important. Write your copy, put your prospect hat on, and ask yourself this: “Why should I give a shit about this?” If you can answer that, and if you can say why what you’re writing is important to your prospects, you’re on the right track. It might be your business, but it’s not about you. (My son uses that line all the time when negotiating for more game time on the iPad.)
8. Killing me softly.
“The app has a very simple basic premise: once you start the app, you can’t use your phone for 30 minutes. Over that 30 minutes, a little tree will grow. It will stay healthy and thriving as long as you don’t use your phone. However, as soon as you close the app to check your email or browse Facebook, the tree will die.” Eric Ravenscraft, from Lifehacker, describing a new mobile app that helps you increase your productivity by helping you stop the unconscious habit of checking email and Facebook on your phone every 2 minutes. If I put this app on my wife’s phone, she’d be killing trees all day long. Good thing she married a Forest.
9. Pulp infliction.
We are now officially under a deluge of content on the web resulting from the exponentially increasing popularity of content marketing. It’s getting harder and harder to find the good stuff among the content pulp out there. That’s one of the reasons I started this newsletter: To help you find the best, most useful content to help you and your business. To that end, here’s the top 15 most shared pieces of content about marketing from 2015. (Yes, I just linked to a curated list of great content from my curated list of great content. I know, I know…it’s so meta.)
10. Intelligence Advisory (White) Board
You know, there’s just something so powerful about collaborating with a team of people using a ginormous white board in a room. (Part of the allure, admittedly, is that whenever I draw complex interconnected concept diagrams on a big white board, people think I’m smarter than I actually am.) But what if you work with a distributed team and still want the white board experience? Enter Realtime Board. It’s the coolest collaboration app I’ve seen in a while, and it’s way more powerful than an actual whiteboard. I’m going to give it a whirl with our team for a website redesign project coming up. I have a funny feeling that it won’t increase my perceived IQ though.
As always, thank you for spending a few minutes with me reading this newsletter today. I know how valuable your time is, and I hope that you’ve found something here that will help move your business and life forward a notch.
If you enjoyed today’s issue, would you mind sharing it with your friends? That would help me a heap ton. Here’s some links to make it easy peezy:
Or, just forward this email to someone you think might benefit from reading this email.
Thank you kindly if you share something. It helps more than you know when you do that. I’d email you a hot mocha right now if I could.
Until next time, go kick some ass with your business!
Signals in the Noise
p.s. You can find the archive of past weekly content roundups right here.