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!
I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid your logo needs help.
If you’re in the first year or two of your online business journey, one thing you do not need to spend your time and money on is an expensive graphic logo. I always tell new entrepreneurs who come to me for advice to start with a simple typeface logo. Just find a nice font you like, buy it, and use it for the name of your business (or your personal name, if you’re building a personality based brand.)
I still feel that way, except that the logo game just changed. I stumbled across a new website and logo service last week that uses artificial intelligence to design logos. It’s called Logo Joy. I spent 45 minutes trying it out and ended up with 6 or 7 options for a new logo for Clarity Lab (which is still using a simple typeface logo.) When you’re ready to buy a logo that the Logo Joy AI designed for you, they cost just $67. So, now my advice for relatively new businesses is: stick with a simple typeface logo, or spend 30 minutes and $67 and get a logo on Logo Joy.
Category: graphic design tools.
The social (media) collective sigh.
If you have any remaining doubts about whether or not to spend time and money on social media marketing, let this article from Mediapost lay your them to rest, once and for all. The data is hard to ignore: direct marketing via email crushes the return on investment of social media marketing.
There is one type of social media marketing that has some promise, though. If you’re building an inspirational, or aspirational, personality driven lifestyle brand for your business, and if you mostly share lifestyle type of posts on social media, that can work well.
I’ve watched my wife do that for years, simply because it’s a natural, rewarding outlet for her, and we’ve seen undeniable proof that it’s helped grow her business. I’ve tried doing what she does, but it never seems to work. I just keep posting links to interesting things I find on the web. Like this gorgeous canvas tent that I just heard about 5 minutes ago from my business partner, Chris.
Category: social media.
Signed, sealed, delivered.
Okay, so, email marketing is still the king, but what time of day is the best time to send out your emails? Surprisingly, at least for those of you sending emails to folks in the U.S., different parts of the country check their emails at different times. In general, there are two big blocks where most people check their email: in the morning before 9 am, and again after dinner.
This data leads to an interesting experiment you can do to increase your open rates: send emails to different parts of the U.S. at the times of the day when most of the people in that region are checking their emails (see this post for the data on email activity by location.) I check mine before I get up each morning because my last dream is usually a precognitive dream about my inbox. I call it “pre-mail.”
Category: email marketing
Marketing.guru #startup-founder #millionaire #bullshit
There’s a lot of self-titled marketing gurus regurgitating online marketing advice on the web. They direct it primarily at tech startup founders but look closely enough, and you’ll see the same advice posted over and over within the small online business and information marketing space. Unfortunately, we should jettison a lot of it overboard. Here’s the always good Jon Westenberg with four of the top marketing tips that won’t do anything to move your business forward: posting on LinkedIn groups, hashtagging the crap out of everything on social media, recommending someone’s business and then asking them to recommend yours, and auto-tweeting on Twitter. (When someone auto-tweets at me, I wait until the next telemarketer calls. I tell them I’m busy but say that they can send me a private message on Twitter, and I give them the auto-tweeter’s Twitter name.)
Here’s a few more I’d add to his list:
1) Running a telesummit of any kind where you require the experts you interview to tell you their list size and then follow your rules for how they need to promote your event.
2) Adding people to your private Facebook group without asking their permission, and then promoting things to them in the group.
3) Meeting someone somewhere, offline or online, and adding them to your email list without their permission, and then sending them your marketing emails.
4) Spending large amounts of time and effort on social media marketing (which doesn’t work well at all) that doesn’t involve running paid ad campaigns (which are currently still working well for most businesses and companies.)
5) Writing a book or selling a product or launching an online program without first building a sizeable audience and email list (e.g., a 1000 people) that love you and your work.
Only the long survive.
“Like you, I was skeptical about long form content at first. ‘Nobody wants to read 4,000 words,’ I thought. I was dead wrong. Because long form content rocks. It seems intimidating at first, but the benefits are insane. Need proof? Back in 2012, I ran an A/B test on my site Crazy Egg. I tested the regular homepage against a shorter version. And the longer version converted 30% higher than the short version.” That’s Neil Patel, on why longer is better when it comes to your blog post or Medium articles. (You thought I was going to say something else, didn’t you?)
Personally, I love going long, as long as I can stay focused on providing a ton of useful value in a given piece. My first Medium post last week was 4,123 words. (So far, it’s performing quite well.) And our most popular, highest grossing software review? Is also our longest, coming in at 9,981 words.
Neil isn’t joking in his post. Longform content far outperforms 500 to 1000 word blog posts. But making long form content work isn’t as simple as just writing more words. Neil’s post lays out a simple blueprint for how to make long form content that succeeds at growing your business. [ https://www.quicksprout.com/2016/12/02/the-ultimate-blueprint-for-a-high-converting-longform-blog-post/ ]
Category: content marketing
“Three years later, GitHub is considered a leader in the space of distributed work. Although GitHub is headquartered in San Francisco, the company’s roughly 600 employees are dispersed: 44 percent are based in the Bay Area, 35 percent are scattered around the US, and 20 percent are located internationally.” That’s Backchannel, with a clear look at how distributed teams of digital nomad employees have become the norm.
If you’re running a small online business, or if you’re building one, your team will almost certainly be distributed (e.g., your virtual assistant, your online business manager, your copywriter, your graphic designer, your tech wrangler. They’ll all be in different cities and towns.) I had a distributed team once, even though the team consisted of just me. I would have conversations with myself in Slack. I called it “creative problem solving.” My therapist called it schizophrenic.
Category: building and running a team.
So, you’ve poured your soul and mind onto the page by ceaselessly tapping out a new blog post with your fingers. You sent an introduction out to your email list about the post and told your community of followers on Facebook about it. Now what? Keep going. There are many places you can promote your hot-off-the-press content. Here’s a list of 35 of them.
Bland title guarantee.
Well, hold on. Before you hit publish on your new post, there’s something we should talk about. Your post titles. The success of your content marketing efforts hinges on your blog post (or podcast, or video blog) titles. If you create great content, but your title for it is ho-hum yaaaawn, few people will click through to it. Come up with great titles, though, and your business life will get better. You can even use your post titles for the other big hinge point in your marketing efforts: email subject lines.
Coming up with great titles is hard work, though. Thankfully, there are tools that can help. Like this one, called SEOPressor, which helps you wrangle not only your search engine optimization efforts but also has a great title tool built in. Or Sharethrough, which will analyze your titles and help you make them luminous and compelling. Or Blogabout, which presents you with proven blog title structures, or templates, leaving you to fill in the topic of your post.
And one more, since we’re talking about title generators, and because this might make you laugh inside: I give you…The Silicon Valley Job Title Generator. I just hit the generate button on that site a few times, and now my new business card will say “Forest Linden. Senior Information Guru.”
It’s the end of the year as we know it, and I feel fine.
It’s the end of the year, and many writers are making predictions for what trends will emerge in 2017. I’ve read a dozen such posts over the last week, and here’s the best one, from the Content Marketing Institute, on what content marketing trends to keep an eye out for, and possibly use yourself, in 2017. My hunch on a big marketing opportunity in 2017: the return of physical media that you can hold in your hands, like print magazines.
New Year’s Restitution
“Indeed, this is often what’s necessary to achieve something big. But, there’s a problem. More times than not, that vision is built upon false assumptions. We believe that achieving our vision will make us happier, more fulfilled, confident and content. It will give us a greater sense of power, prestige, respect, authority and connection. And, it may. But, all too often, it does not.” That’s Jonathan Fields, with a clear and present look at why our lofty visions and goals often lead us astray (because we’re chasing the wrong thing), and how to create larger vision plans for life and business that work (by basing it on our values and shaping it along the way.) Every year I set the same New Year’s goals: 1) Protect and care for my family. 2) Help more people with their businesses. 3) Find and make the best gluten-free doughnut recipe.
Whatever Holiday you’re celebrating during this season, I hope it’s a beautiful time for you and your family.
Work life is starting to gear down across the world this week, it seems. It’s a perfect time to spend some quiet moments going within to find the places you want to take your life and business in the coming year.
I’m heading off to do that now myself.
Be well, and if you have a moment, I’d love it if you share this issue with a friend on Facebook or Twitter or a good old-fashioned email forward to one person. Thanks for that. It helps more than you know.
Rest well so you can get it in gear in the new year. Your dream will take an incredible amount of effort to build, but is there anything else more worthy of the time and life energy you have left in this life?
Co-instigator of Clarity Lab (a.k.a., The Tech Headache Reliever)
He-who-taps-on-his-keyboard-to-create Signals in the Noise
P.S. You can find all the past issues, of which there are many, right over here.