Signals in the Noise – Issue 49

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!


Make charm, not smarm.

In the online training and information marketing space, there are, unfortunately, a lot of aggressive, smarmy marketers. Their tactics are nauseating enough to leave a bad taste in your mouth when it comes time to promote and market your own online programs. “Do I really have to do live webinars that are thinly veiled pitches for my program? Ugh. No thanks,” goes our thinking. Thankfully, there are many ways to promote your online courses that your audience could actually love, meaning, your promotions can be so good and fun that people won’t feel like they’re being sold to. Courtney Johnston describes 12 great non-smarmy marketing tactics right here. Some of these are basic, but others will get your mind thinking of creative ways to promote your courses. Bonus: none of them involve adding countdown timers and fake urgency to your marketing.

category: marketing

Tools of the paid.

There’s tech stuff out there on the interwebs that could automate a lot of things you’re spending time on in your business, or, just plain make your business engine run smoother and more efficiently than it is now, allowing it to generate more money. The right combination of apps in your tech system can help you make more money. Sometimes, a lot more. The thing is, it’s super crazy hard to know which tech thingies are the right ones to use for your business. You may not even know that there’s a whole shmuguggle of apps out there that could open up new revenue streams for your business. Lucky for you, we geek out over all that stuff here at Clarity Lab. We can help you find the best tech tools to use and then set them up for you. Because the Mailchimp + Paypal thing? Can only take your business so far. Find out how we can help you build a better tech platform.

category: software

Market to your heart’s content.

“Content marketing is entering a dangerous new phase. It’s heading into a trough. You could call it……the dip of disillusionment. For many the promise hasn’t arrived and the returns haven’t materialized. The idea at first glance looked good. The reality? The execution was poor. Content was created and shared, but nothing of substance showed up. Few leads and little or no sales. They had bought into the hype but didn’t realize the work and effort needed to make it effective.” That’s Jeff Bullas, with predictions about 15 content marketing trends that need your close attention.

These aren’t 15 ways you’re doing content marketing wrong. They’re trends, suggestions, and opportunities for crafting your content marketing efforts into something that can actually deliver the Great Promise of content marketing. That promise is this: Done well, content marketing can attract large numbers of people to your website and business, and the people who came for your great free content can eventually become your paying customers.

The trouble is, the content marketing secret got out a few years ago. The marketing departments from small online businesses to medium sized companies to large corporations are putting their full weight behind the content marketing wagon. Hundreds of thousands of businesses around the world are clamoring for the attention of people every day with free blog posts, videos, webinars, podcasts, live streaming videos, tweets, Facebook posts, and newsletters like the one you’re reading now. How will you and your business stand out in the overwhelming sea of sameness? Jeff’s post above will give you a great start with heading in the right direction. We’re discussing this post deeply over here at Clarity Lab as well. Changes are likely coming for our content marketing strategy, and there could be kittens involved.

category: content marketing

Putting ten to paper.

Venture Capitalist Marc Andreessen famously said that “software is eating the world.” From what I’ve seen, I think he’s right, but there is still great power and opportunity in using non-software, analog approaches in life, especially in business. Take journaling, for example. With an actual paper journal and a pen (otherwise known as retro business tools from the 80’s.) Jane Lee, from the Shopify team, recently dove into the productivity benefits journaling can bring to entrepreneurs, and she loved the results of her testing so much, she created a daily journal for us business geek types called 10x: The Entrepreneur’s Journal.

+ Here’s another great journal from my friends at The Dragon Tree Spa: The Rituals For Living Dreambook. It takes the journaling and visioning process to a whole other level (especially if you get a massage from them first and then do your journaling.)

category: productivity


Public transformation.

“It’s never the delivery method that takes someone over the top. Seth Godin’s mailing list runs on fucking Feedblitz. The top podcast lives on iTunes with every single other podcast in existence. Some of the best books I’ve read have been turned into some of the worst webinars I’ve watched.” That’s the always good Paul Jarvis, on the seduction we can often fall prey to as online entrepreneurs: the allure of the latest trends in how to market or sell our products and programs. One year, webinars are THE THING everyone is doing. The next year, it’s online courses. The next, it’s video product launches. But it’s not the delivery method that matters. It’s the concepts, value, and transformation you can help deliver into someone’s life that matters. Focus on solving a big problem for people in your target market and you’ll never be short on customers, no matter how you deliver your help.

category: business strategy


Billable flowers.

Does your business sell services that require you to track billable hours and then create and send invoices to clients? If so, there’s an app for that. Actually, there are more than 30 of them. Here’s a roundup of the best of the time billing apps out there. I’m still waiting for an app that rounds up all the time that technology saves me each week and gives it to me on Saturday.

category: software


Track your stats, STAT.

“If you’re in the processing of building out your e-commerce software, then it’s important you understand the inner workings of how people visit, navigate, and ultimately convert online. Just building a well-designed website and stuffing it with a host of cool products isn’t enough to ensure success. You’ve got to dig deep into e-commerce website metrics to determine where you have been successful, what needs to be improved, and how customers are making their way through your website’s architecture.” From PC Mag: The 7 E-Commerce Metrics Every Small Business Should Track. You can’t improve what you don’t measure. Things like conversion rates, bounce rates, average order value…they all matter far more than most people realize. For example, I track my productivity by shots of espresso. When I reach six, a whole lot gets done very quickly.

category: metrics


How to make a great first obsession.

People online who could become your paying customers are, like almost everyone else online, overwhelmed with information and to do lists. Often, your only chance to bring someone into your world and start a relationship with them is when they read a few short, large-fonted words that you’ve written, otherwise known as a headline. Email subject lines, blog post titles, and headlines on opt-in or sales pages are the most important words you’ll create for your business. It’s healthy to be obsessed with them. In this post, Editor-in-Chief at Rainmaker Digital, Stefanie Flaxman, shows you how to ask yourself three simple questions to craft better headlines.

category: copywriting

Public display of reflections.

“The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health reports computer vision syndrome affects about 90% of the people who spend three hours or more a day at a computer, which means almost everyone in our industry is susceptible.” Presumably, the other 10% are staring at their phones playing Pokemon Go. (At least they’re getting exercise.) For the rest of us online entrepreneurs who spend 6 to 12 hours a day staring at an assortment of multi-sized screens, here are some tips to reduce your computer vision syndrome, which, you’re about to read on some type of backlit, computerized screen. Oh…the irony.

category: well-being


Something worth writing home about.

Many of you reading this share a dream that I have as well: to write a book and have it published. There are some big challenges that stand in between the idea of becoming a published author and actually being a published author, like how do you actually go about writing a book? Best-selling author Jeff Goins has some poignant thoughts on how to actually write a book. I could do steps 2 through 8 on his list just fine. The problem is, I can’t seem to get past step 1: choosing a topic.

category: writing


Sure hope you found this issue of Signals in the Noise useful in some way. If you enjoyed it, I’d love it if you share it with your friends. Thanks a ton if you do that!

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Good luck with your to do list today! Go bring the awesome.

Until next time,
~Forest Linden

P.S. You can find past issues of this newsletter right here.

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