Make things better – or Make ‘Better Things’

I’ve come to realize that this is a controversial statement for some people.

Two issues, it seems:

  1. Better implies that what we have right now is imperfect. Better requires change, and change is scary. Better might be in the eye of the beholder. Better is an assertion, one that requires not just the confidence to say it, but the optimism to believe that it’s possible.
  2. Make implies that it’s up to us. Someone needs to make it better, and it might just be you. In fact, if you don’t enlist to produce better, you’re part of the status quo, which is a problem.

I’ve seen that there are pockets of our culture where both of these ideas are difficult to embrace. That authority pushes us to fit in, not to seek improvement, and deniability encourages us to whine instead of doing something about it. Power enjoys passivity in others.

Power doesn’t want you to get uppity, doesn’t enjoy your dissatisfaction, doesn’t want to be on the hook to continually upgrade all of its systems. And so power has sold a cultural norm of acceptance, deniability and ennui.

And yet…

Everything in our built world–the water we drink, the food we eat, the place we live–if it’s good, it’s good because someone, a generation or two ago, decided to make it better. And if it’s not good, or not good enough, only our action is going to make it better.

We can see the world around us, and if we try, we can see it becoming better.

It might be a podcast or a political campaign, an engineering insight or a more inclusive policy. It probably involves finding and organizing others on a similar path. It definitely takes guts.

I’ll reiterate my belief that we each have a chance to assert. To announce our vision, to propose a change, to do the hard work to make things better.

It’s on us, right now.

Make things better by making better things.

       

“You can hire just about anyone…” Freelancers

“and you’re in luck, since I’m just about anyone.”

It’s time to start avoiding the Fiverr trap.

You can fill your day as a freelancer taking easily accessible work from clients who simply want you to meet spec.

Or you can build a career as a freelancer by getting better clients.

Websites that offer lowest common denominator jobs for freelancers (like Fiverr, Uber, ZocDoc, Mechanical Turk etc.) are focused on the generic. They intentionally blur the identities of the people doing the work–a simple star rating, a measure of reliability, that’s all.

These are easy jobs to get. If you’re the cheapest, you’ll be busy all day.

But is being cheap and busy the point?

Because that’s a race to the bottom. And the problem is that you might win that race. You’re not generic, so why act that way?

The alternative is to be distinct. To be uniquely you. To bring a point of view to the work, one that is worth seeking out, paying for and remarking on.

It is the difference between, “what do you need me to do?” and “I can offer you this.” It is the difference between being handy and being indispensable.

Why is this so difficult? Two reasons:

The first problem is that the typical client doesn’t want that. The typical client wants cheap and reliable. And you’re not going to persuade the typical client to change his or her mind. Which means that if you’re going to do your best work, you’ll need to send the typical client to someone else.

The second problem is that it takes guts to be specific. To stand for something. To turn down mediocre work for clients that will settle for mediocre. It takes guts to have a point of view, a protocol, and a skill set. It takes guts to make a stand.

Your day is priceless. You only get it once. And then another chance tomorrow. Your career is what you invest in it, and if you spend your days building a career that consists of doing reliable work by being the lowest bidder, you’ve bought yourself a job that’s hardly rewarding or steady.

The alternative, the one you deserve, is to find better clients. Not to resent your ordinary clients, but to focus your energy and your passion earning better ones.

To become the sort of freelancer who can proudly say that you deserve it. Because your clients deserve your best work.

I hope you’ll consider joining our new workshop. It takes guts and support to make these choices, and it helps to find the others on a similar journey. That’s what we do–assemble and connect and inspire the sort of people you want next to you as you go on this journey.

       

How To Set Metrics And Review Analytics Data With Your Clients

Metrics and analytics data are some of the most important tools of your business. These numbers essentially show you how your business is doing, where you stand in the market, and what kinds of changes need to be made. When you’re sharing analytics data with clients, there are a few different ways to go about it.

1. Find The Right Medium

Step one to sharing analytics and setting metrics is to pick the right medium to do so. You can utilize email to send information, but often times information is lost of misinterpreted via email or simply never received at all.

A conference call is a step towards clearer communication. You’ll be able to share the info in real-time instead of waiting for an email to be read. To take it one step further, use screen sharing software and a video conference to get incredible clarity and be sure the client fully understands the material you’re presenting.

How we communicate with others is as important or perhaps more important than what we’re communicating. The wrong communication method can leave confusion and holes in the information. Choose the right way to share information to ensure the success of your message.

2. Goals Are Different Than Metrics

Before we discuss setting metrics, it’s important to note the difference between the two terms “goal” and “metric”, as these two are often confused. The easiest way to differentiate these two concepts is to remember that a metric is a measurement (like the metric system?) and a goal is, well, a goal. Something to strive for. Your metrics will be the measurement of that goal.

If you have a goal to reach 1,000 web subscribers in three months, that’s a goal. Your metrics will show you that you actually had only 600 users subscribe to your site. You haven’t met your goal but by examining your metrics, you can adjust the goal and take the necessary steps to encourage the success of that goal.

3. How Do I Set A Goal?

Your goals will vary based on numerous factors, so for the sake of this article, we’ll discuss a client who is seeking higher site traffic on a website you’ve managed for them. Let’s say the client is seeking a 50% boost in traffic over the next six months. They already have a daily traffic number of around 4000 users. That means over the next six months, you need to increase traffic by 2000 users per day.

What kinds of goals do you set for this task? First, let’s examine the desired outcome: a 50% increase in traffic. What brings traffic to the client’s site? Do they offer a viable product? An informative blog? It’s important to consider what the content is that you want users to see.

Take a look at your metrics. Show the client how many people visit their site, how much time they spend on the site, the top-selling products or highest visited pages, and how their external links drive traffic to the site.

Analytics data is your best friend when working with clients. Without a clear picture of what’s already working and what absolutely isn’t working, it’s impossible to find a route to the new goal.

4. Where Can I Find Analytics Data?

If you’re running a website or app, analytics are pretty simple to obtain. In fact, Google offers a service that you can attach to any website or app called Google Analytics Tool. This handy tool will track your website’s traffic, as well as other information you can utilize to set goals and make required changes to the site or app.

Collecting analytics data on a site or product is usually automated, so you really don’t have to do much in the process of gathering the information, but rather in what you do with it. Sharing this information with clients will give them a clear idea of what direction they need to go and how you can work together to get there.

5. It’s Only Getting Better

One of the most exciting developments of the last few years is the addition of AI, or artificial intelligence systems into the business world on many fronts, from financials to marketing. Artificial intelligence has a unique ability to manage certain tasks and learn from them.

This includes analytics and metrics. Setting metrics and reviewing your analytics data will be easier than ever with AI, which will not only track user activity and marketing performance but learn from mistakes and offer improved processes to drive more traffic and turn leads into paying customers. Now that’s impressive.

6. The Presentation Is Everything

One important thing to remember when presenting analytics data to a customer is that your presentation absolutely matters. That’s why sharing in-person or with screen sharing software and a video conference is the best way to go about sharing data. Connecting with the client is half the battle, and this is much more difficult to do via email or phone call.

Conclusion

Metrics and analytics are both essential tools for tracking business performance and keeping clients updated on the success of products, marketing campaigns, and lead turnarounds. With the advancement of AI technologies, analytics are sure to continue to change the way we do business.

Sharing with your clients requires the right medium to do so. Always try to show your clients the data you’re discussing. It’s always easier to explain a concept with a visual aid to back up what you’re saying.

The post How To Set Metrics And Review Analytics Data With Your Clients appeared first on Blogtrepreneur.

Workshops are not courses

Traditional courses, online or off, are linear. They’re based on a direct connection between the instructor’s content and the student’s attention. Write this down, memorize this, understand that.

Traditional courses scale in a particular way. They scale even better when the instructor appears on video.

Workshops are different. Workshops are about the cohort. The other students. The people you meet, the people you learn from and the people you teach. Workshops involve work, not the compliance inherent in testing and certification.

If you want to learn to build a boat, take a workshop.

It’s very difficult to run workshops at scale in the real world. The physics of interaction make it awkward. But it turns out that online, a workshop is a powerful way to learn.

A course can be quite effective. Students get a ton of actionable insights from the highly-rated video courses I offer at Udemy. But a course can’t possibly provide the magic of a workshop.

And workshops are the future of online learning.

That’s because in a workshop, you are able to connect, and connection is at the heart of the economy we live in now. Connection means finding the others. Embracing peer support, giving more than you get, engaging with ideas and with other people. Connection is part of the process of growth. Connecting with possibility, with change and with the generosity of new ideas and new approaches.

The Akimbo Workshops aren’t courses.

In the most recent session of one of our seminars, a typical day saw students interacting with each other every three minutes, 7,000 times a day. In a typical course, that number would be zero.

We’re launching two workshops this week. One might be a good fit for you, if that’s the direction you’re headed:

The Freelancer’s Workshop (a short sprint toward finding better clients).

The Bootstrapper’s Workshop (a deeper dive into building an organization without outside funding).

Each of these is specific. They use Akimbo’s customized discussion platform to create large-scale communities built around solving a particular challenge. They are there to help you find the others.

Four times a year, we run the altMBA, our elite flagship, a workshop that’s very different from the others. It has curated small groups, video conferencing, hands-on alumni coaches and focused cohorts that meet every day for a month. It’s designed to help you see more clearly, decide more effectively and most of all, transform into the leader you’re capable of becoming.

I’ve been a teacher my entire career, and the workshops we’re running now are the most effective way I’ve found to help people level up. I hope you can join us.

[also, another new riff on this from me on Medium]

       

Rare QA video, a new workshop, and a path forward for entrepreneurs

It was 100 degrees outside, and far hotter inside the barn (which had no air conditioning.)

But SwissMiss invited me, and I’m glad I followed through. Watching this video a year later, I’ve realized I have very little recollection of what happened in that jam-packed barn, so I’m thrilled that Kertis Creative captured the day.


[You can rewind for a very kind intro from Tina.]

I ended up riffing on dozens of topics, and it might be the best session like this I’ve ever done. I hope you get something out of it. And thanks to the amazing Creative Mornings community for bringing so much care and energy to the event.

The timing for the release of the edit couldn’t be better, as we’re launching two workshops today:

The Freelancer’s Workshop is brand new. Join us as we work together on the single biggest issue facing anyone who is out on their own: How to get better clients.

And The Bootstrapper’s Workshop is an effective and proven method for starting an organization financed by customer investment. We’ve brought it back for entrepreneurs who are looking for a better, saner way to make a difference.

Early birds, don’t forget to click the purple circle.

I’ll be posting later today with some thoughts about the urgent but non-obvious choice so many of us face: Which are you, a freelancer or an entrepreneur?

       

20 Podcasts To Elevate Your B2B Marketing

Woman rock climber scaling roof over water and sky image.

Woman rock climber scaling roof over water and sky image.

Gaining insight, advice, and new perspectives from top B2B marketing industry leaders is an incredible way to help scale your marketing skills and efforts to new heights. And podcasts, which are exploding in availability and popularity, can be a fantastic medium for getting access to those talented and seasoned industry leaders.

From the emerging B2B marketing trends to heartfelt stories of life’s great successes and bitter failures, there is so much we can learn by listening to people who have persevered and thrived. And lucky for you, we’ve compiled 20 of the best podcasts for B2B marketers right here.

via GIPHY

We’ve touched on podcasts a time or two here, with Senior Content Marketing Manager Josh Nite bringing you a first edition of digital marketing podcasts to consider back in 2016. Many of those podcasts have continued to evolve, making it hard not to mention them again here. But there are some new kids on the block, too.

And with adoption as a marketing medium and a learning and entertainment tool rising, we hope you’ll find something that strikes your fancy.

2019 January 11 Statistics Image

[bctt tweet=”Great stories happen to those who can tell them. — This American Life podcast host Ira Glass @iraglass” username=”toprank”]

Now let’s fast-forward to our list of 20 diverse podcasts that will provide a fascinating array of ideas and trends to expand and improve your B2B marketing efforts, presented in random order.

#1 – Marketing Over Coffee

Marketing Over Coffee

Summary: Marketing Over Coffee explores the intersection of marketing and technology, with news, tips, and author interviews.

  • Hosts: Chris Penn and John Wall
  • Recent Topics on Tap: Influencers, Social Media Listening Tools, Heirarchical Ontology
  • Recent Guests: Brendan Kane, Samuel Monnie, Jocelyn Brown
  • Episode Length: 25 – 30 minutes

#2 – Six Pixels of Separation

Six Pixels of Separation

Summary: Six Pixels of Separation offers insights on brands, consumers, technology and our interconnected world.

  • Hosts: Mitch Joel
  • Recent Topics on Tap: Business, innovation, and the marketing landscape.
  • Recent Guests: Joseph Jaffe, Bernadette Jiwa, Ekaterina Walter
  • Episode Length: One hour

#3 – Marketing Smarts

Marketing Smarts

Summary: Marketing Smarts talks to industry leaders and authors such as Chris Brogan, Ann Handley and Gary Vaynerchuk, as well as c-suite executives from organizations including IBM, National Geographic, Dell, and the Baltimore Ravens.

Hosts: Kerry O’Shea Gorgone

  • Recent Topics on Tap: Livestreaming, Branding, and a Scientific Approach to Metrics, Measurement, and Marketing ROI
  • Recent Guests: Laura Gassner Otting, Minter Dial, Brian Fanzo
  • Episode Length: 25 – 35 minutes

#4 – Social Media Marketing Podcast

Social Media Marketing

Summary: Social Media Marketing presents success stories and expert interviews from leading social media marketing professionals.

  • Hosts: Michael Stelzner
  • Recent Topics on Tap: Facebook organic marketing, How to Avoid Distraction as a Marketer
  • Recent Guests: Mari Smith, Brian Solis, Nathan Latka
  • Episode Length: 45 minutes

#5 – Scott Stratten’s Unpodcast

Scott Stratten's Unpodcast

Summary: Scott Stratten’s Unpodcast presents real-life examples, tips and guidance from experts on human resources, marketing and branding, networking, public relations, and customer service.

#6 – Adweek’s CMO Moves

Adweek's CMO Moves

Summary: Adweek’s CMO Moves podcast offers inspiring career advice and the personal success stories behind an array of top marketing leaders.

  • Hosts: Nadine Dietz
  • Topics on Tap: How to Win as a Team, The Hunt for a Signature Move
  • Recent Guests: Emily Culp, Seth Freeman, Meredith Verdone
  • Episode Length: 30 minutes

#7 – LinkedIn Live with Marketers

LinkedIn Live with Marketers

Summary: LinkedIn Live with Marketers is a video-based series that can also be enjoyed listening to only the audio, as the LinkedIn (client) hosts tackle challenges top of mind for marketers.

  • Hosts: Jann Schwarz and others
  • Recent Topics on Tap: The Staying Power of Breakthrough Ideas, Brand Awareness vs. Lead Gen: Battle or Balance?
  • Recent Guests: Wendy Clark, Rob Norman, Peter Weinberg
  • Episode Length: One hour

#8 – Lexicon Valley

Lexicon Valley

Summary: Lexicon Valley digs deeply into language, from pet peeves, syntax, and etymology to neurolinguistics and the death of languages.

  • Hosts: John McWhorter
  • Recent Topics on Tap: Is Social Media Changing English?, One Tongue to Rule Them All
  • Recent Guests: Deborah Tannen, Lane Greene
  • Episode Length: 40 minutes

#9 – Should This Exist?

Should This Exist?

Summary: Should This Exist? is hosted by Flickr and Hunch co-founder Caterina Fake, and explores the impact technology in all its forms has had on humanity. “We’re seeing amazing new technologies that are emerging every day that we need to have a conversation about,” Fake recently told Fast Company.

  • Hosts: Caterina Fake
  • Topics on Tap: Affectiva: Software that detects how you feel, Halo: A headset that makes you learn faster
  • Recent Guests: Neuroscientist Daniel Chao, entrepreneur and scientist Rana El-Kaliouby
  • Episode Length: 35 minutes

#10 – The Art of Process with Aimee Mann and Ted Leo

The Art of Process

Summary: The Art of Process sees hosts Aimee and Ted talk to friends across the creative spectrum to explore how they work, and the process of turning ideas into art.

  • Hosts: Aimee Mann and Ted Leo
  • Recent Topics on Tap: The rise of streaming services, How to tackle a blank page
  • Recent Guests: Wyatt Cenac, Rebecca Sugar, Dan Wilson
  • Episode Length: 50 minutes

#11 – Without Fail

Without Fail

Summary: Without Fail is hosted by former This American Life contributor and NPR journalist Alex Blumberg, and takes a weekly look at someone who’s taken a big risk and either failed or found success.

  • Hosts: Alex Blumberg
  • Topics on Tap: Bringing Brands Back to Life, The Man Behind the Iconic Apple Stores: Ron Johnson
  • Recent Guests: Andrew Mason of Groupon, Sophia Amoruso of Nasty Gal and Girlboss
  • Episode Length: 50 minutes

#12 -The Marketing Book Podcast

Marketing Book Podcast

Summary: The Marketing Book Podcast fills each Friday with a new episode interviewing bestselling marketing authors.

  • Hosts: Douglas Burdett
  • Recent Topics on Tap: Marketing Flexology, Laughing @ Advertising, Questions that Sell
  • Recent Guests: Guy Kawasaki, Jay Acunzo, Mark Schaefer
  • Episode Length: 50 minutes

#13 – The BeanCast

The BeanCast

Summary: The BeanCast is a weekly exploration and roundtable discussion of advertising trends that could have an impact your brand.

  • Host: Bob Knorpp
  • Recent Topics on Tap: Marketing Ethics, Branded Podcasting, Frictionless Brands
  • Recent Guests: Jay Baer, Colin Glaum, Lisa Laporte
  • Episode Length: One hour plus

#14 – Social Pros Podcast

Social Pros Podcast

Summary: Social Pros Podcast, named the best podcast at the Content Marketing Awards, provides inside looks at real people doing real social media work.

  • Hosts: Jay Baer and Adam Brown
  • Recent Topics on Tap: Why Your People Are the Secret to B2B Social Media Wins, How to Use Authenticity to Become an Iconic Business,
  • Recent Guests: Seth Godin, Rohit Bhargava, Need James
  • Episode Length: 50 – 55 minutes

#15 – The Marketing Companion Podcast

The Marketing Companion Podcast

Summary: The Marketing Companion Podcast serves up insights and ideas to boost your marketing skills. It’s billed as “always fun, always interesting, and always on-target with insights and ideas that will turn up your marketing intellect to an ’11.'”

  • Hosts: Mark Schaefer and Brooke Sellas
  • Recent Topics on Tap: Social media burn-out, Mind-bending social media trends
  • Recent Guests: Kerry Gorgone, Mitch Joel
  • Episode Length: 25 – 40 minutes

#16 – Copyblogger FM

Copyblogger FM

Summary: Copyblogger FM gets to the heart of the latest marketing tips, tactics, stories and strategies that provide acceleration for your business. Featuring a rotating lineup of analysts, this podcast covers a variety of tactical areas such as email marketing, content marketing, conversion optimization, and more.

  • Hosts: Sonia Simone
  • Recent Topics on Tap: Getting Your Big, Scary Projects Finished, The 3 Plus 1 Foundational Elements of Effective Persuasion
  • Recent Guests: Amber Naslund, Pamela Wilson, Nathan Barry
  • Episode Length: 25 minutes

#17 – Invisibilia

Invisibilia

Summary: Invisibilia joins narrative storytelling and science to make you see your own life differently, with lessons applicable to marketers.

  • Hosts: LuLu Miller, Alix Spiegel, and Hanna Rosin
  • Recent Topics on Tap: The Remote Control Brain, Who Do You Let In?
  • Recent Guests: Cord Jefferson, Max Hawkins, Renato Rosaldo
  • Episode Length: 35 – 55 minutes

#18 – The Strategy Hour

The Strategy Hour

Summary: The Strategy Hour offers actionable strategies and marketing tips for growing your business, plus in-depth interviews that go straight to the “meat and potatoes.”

  • Hosts: Abagail Pumphrey and Emylee Williams
  • Recent Topics on Tap: How to Listen to Your Audience, Why Creating Community is Crucial for Your Brand and Happiness
  • Recent Guests: Kathleen Cutler, Sarah Peck, Nikki Porcher
  • Episode Length: 35 – 40 minutes

#19 – Behind the Brilliance

Behind the Brilliance

Summary: Behind the Brilliance features “smart and funny” conversations and takes a weekly journey with leading innovators, creatives, and entrepreneurs.

  • Host: Lisa Nicole Bell
  • Topics on Tap: The link between self-awareness and success, The importance of starting small to make big changes
  • Recent Guests: Laura Vanderkam, Jonathan Jackson, Paul Jarvis
  • Episode Length: One hour plus

#20 – Women in Tech

Women in Tech

Summary: Women in Tech explores marketing and technology featuring inspiring women who are Engineers, Founders, Investors, UX and UI Designers, and Journalists.

  • Host: Espree Devora
  • Topics on Tap: Women Empowering Technologies, Building technology-driven businesses
  • Recent Guests: Kristine Kornilova, Linda Sinka, Marite Aleksandra Silava
  • Episode Length: 11 – 40 plus minutes

Lifelong Learning From B2B Marketing-Focused Podcasts

Incorporating podcasts in the world of B2B marketing can be challenging, yet the advantages they offer make a strong case for considering them in your own campaigns. And it can be done.

For example, our client 3M conducted one of the largest science studies ever focused on global attitudes about science. The resulting State of Science Index research report led to the launch of 3M’s first podcast, the Science Champions Podcast.

Hosted by 3M’s Chief Science Advocate Jayshree Seth, the first season featured 21 science experts and influencers on topics ranging from an introduction to science in everyday life to careers in the field.

3M Science Champions Podcast Image

Results: The Science Champions podcast exceeded all expectations for downloads and engagement, resulting in the launch of Season 2 in March 2019. The podcast has also created relationships with science influencers and helped to showcase internal influencers.

As another example, Dell Technologies wanted to partner with industry influencers to create useful content for customers and increase the influence of their internal experts, which led to the creation of the Dell Luminaries podcast, hosted by influencers Mark Schaefer and Doug Karr.

The podcast highlights technology visionaries from inside Dell and out, and helps put a human touch on technology innovation.

Dell Luminaries podcast image.

Results: The Dell Luminaries project built a single platform that brings voices from multiple companies under the Dell brand together.

Our CEO Lee Odden recently wrote a Digital Marketing Institute article, which featured 3M and Dell’s podcasting success along with eight other B2B companies that have had strong results from influencer marketing.

It’s Only Just Begun — What Are Your Favorites?

This list only scratches the surface of the excellent marketing-related podcasts available. If you have a favorite not listed here, please leave a comment with a podcast that inspires your B2B marketing efforts.

Considering a podcast for your B2B brand? Get the what, why, and how lowdown on B2B podcasting from our own Joshua Nite.

The post 20 Podcasts To Elevate Your B2B Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Be Your Own Boss

Are you a freelancer or an entrepreneur?

It’s not simply semantics, your answer changes everything.

Freelancers get paid when they work. We’re not focused on scale… and we’re not tiny versions of real entrepreneurs. Freelancers do the work for clients who need them.

Hiring employees to scale when you’re a freelancer can be a bit of a trap, because you are likely to give up the very thing you set out to do in the first place.

Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are organized for growth. The job of the entrepreneur isn’t to do the work, it’s to build a company that does the work. Mary Barra doesn’t make cars at GM. She organizes so that GM makes cars.

And, it turns out that there are two kinds of entrepreneurs: Funded and Bootstrappers.

Funded entrepreneurs are the ones you hear about all the time. They use other people’s money to fuel their growth, and one day, they have to pay that money back, either by going public, selling, or distributing the profits.

And Bootstrappers? Bootstrappers build a business using their customers’ money. Bootstrapping is a special case, an intentional choice, the chance to serve your customers so well that they eagerly fund your growth.

I’ve been a funded entrepreneur, and I’m fortunate it worked out well.

And I’ve also been a bootstrapper, more often than not, and sometimes that’s worked as well.

Today, I’m often doing the work of a freelancer (no one writes these posts and those books but me).

Which means, if you work on your own, you’ve got three choices, and we’ve built two Akimbo workshops that might help.

Today, we’re launching the first session of the Freelancers Workshop. It’s an intensive interactive workshop with about ten lessons… you can finish it in just a few weeks if you want to, but you don’t need to worry about falling behind. Mostly, you will meet and engage with freelancers from around the world who will help you accomplish your goals (and vice versa).

The Freelancers Workshop is focused on just one thing: Helping you get better clients. Because better clients are the only way for a freelancer to find the support and respect and income you seek.

And, also today (because I want you to make the choice!) we’re relaunching the famed Bootstrapper’s Workshop. To date, thousands of people have experienced this deep dive into making deliberate choices about how to be an entrepreneur without scraping together money from investors and banks.

I’ve been talking about the freelancer/bootstrap/entrepreneur trichotomy for years. Here’s what I hear most often:

“Thank you for giving me permission to be a freelancer. It’s as though a weight was lifted, and I’m doing the best work of my career.”

and

“I’m so glad that I don’t have to obsess about valuations, bro fundraising culture and the rest of it. Our business continues to thrive, because we’re proud to be bootstrappers.”

 

Resources: More than 23,000 people have taken my Freelance course on Udemy. You can get it here for 10% off.

And nearly a million people have read the Bootstrapper’s Bible. Here’s a free copy.

The new workshops take these ideas and run with them. They connect you to others on the same path, using the proven Akimbo methods to help you go way beyond text or video and dive deep into how it works and why.

Today’s an excellent day to decide if you’re a Freelancer, a Bootstrapper or something else… And if you visit the site, look for the purple circle for a rapidly decreasing discount for early birds.

 

       

“How to” Tips for Content Marketing Managers

When I was in high school, we had a science class project in which we were grouped into teams, and tasked with building a catapult. Whichever contraption could launch a tennis ball the farthest would win the contest.

We quickly learned that the hardest part wasn’t constructing the actual catapult. It was wrangling all the team members, divvying up assignments, and keeping a collective group of energetic teenagers on track. In hindsight, maybe that was the point.

Managing Content Marketing Projects and People

Content marketing managers deal with these types of responsibilities on a daily basis. There are so many roles and functions typically involved with a time bound content initiative that we often must act as project managers, facilitating collaboration and ensuring that everyone is in a position to succeed.

That’s tricky, because in most cases content marketing managers are not trained in project management. Your team is (probably) not a bunch of rambunctious high schoolers, but creatives and specialists can be fickle, and we all know that keeping them happy and harmonious is essential to producing quality work.

It’s also something the business world at large could be doing a better job at. According to the 2019 In-House Creative Management Report from inMotionNow and InSource:

  • Only 45% of creative and marketing professionals report that morale on their team is high
  • 72% say that “obtaining the necessary information to get started on a project” is the biggest administrative task that consumes their time
  • 22% opine that collaboration between creative and marketing is ineffective

This study represents just one system in a much larger galaxy, but the results feel universally reflective. In the B2B content marketing realm specifically, the 2018 benchmarking report from CMI and MarketingProfs found about one-third of respondents rating their project management flows as Fair or Poor, with only 8% deeming theirs Excellent. (The 2019 report didn’t ask this question, but we’re guessing the percentages would’ve been similar.)

CMI Project Management Flow Data

(Source)

In the symbolic emoji measurement scale above, how can we shift the faces on our team from glum/shifty-eyed to smiling/delighted? Many organizations don’t have dedicated project managers on staff — or don’t have them available to assist with content programs directly — so this often falls on the content marketing managers themselves.

How to Improve Content Marketing Project Management

While orchestrating a variety of different individuals — all with their own personalities, preferences, and styles of working — can be highly challenging, there is a science to collaboration. So let’s map out some ways you can catapult your team to greater results.

Start with Creative Briefs

We’ve been harping on the importance of documenting content strategy, and creative briefs are important incremental steps in this process. This was a key theme in the aforementioned In-House Creative Management Report, which found teams that receive adequate information at project kickoff are:

  • 26% more likely to say marketing leadership is effective
  • 23% more likely to report high morale
  • 14% more likely to get projects approved in three days or less

A good creative brief outlines expectations and deliverables for everyone involved, sets clear timelines, and firmly states the project’s objectives. It will take more time upfront to develop a comprehensive creative brief, but it pays off in the long run because team members can reduce  confusion and answer their own questions.

Keep Communication Lines Open

Even with the right groundwork in place, it’s inevitable that things will pop up over the course of a project requiring back-and-forths with multiple team members. There is a delicate balance in enabling snappy and responsive communications while ensuring creatives have the uninterrupted time they need to produce.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution here. One company’s ideal communication methods will look vastly different from another’s. In some cases, daily standup/huddle meetings (popularized by the agile framework) are just the ticket. For others, an office communication tool like Slack or Skype is preferred. And sometimes even plain old-fashioned email can suffice, although this seems increasingly rare.

The best approach is to continually consult with your people and absorb their feedback. Figure out what works best for them and tailor it to the needs of your project.

Find the Right Tools and Partners

We mentioned a couple of popular office collaboration platforms in the previous section. There are others built specifically for project management — such as Trello, Workfront, and Basecamp — and others still that are customized for content marketing initiatives. These platforms include Contently, CoSchedule, DivvyHQ, Kapost, Percolate, and more.

If you manage a large, distributed team that produces high volumes of content, it might be worth your while to invest in such a solution for centralized organization and coordination. Many of the options offer free trials.

Additionally, you might consider working with a partner to can lighten your load with time- and resource-consuming projects. For example, an experienced agency that specializes in content marketing (I can think of at least one!) reduces stress in numerous ways, freeing up your people to fully plug into their own work while offloading much of the management and execution.

Standardize Your Review and Approval Processes

This has been an internal focus for us at TopRank Marketing. Quality assurance is a vital component of the content production process, and one where things frequently get bogged down. Nailing down the various considerations above will help smooth out reviews and approvals that push content over the hump.

There are a lot of handoffs, prompts, and dependencies in play during QA, so it’s critical to have those communication lines locked down. Editorial calendar and content management software frequently has built-in workflows for multiple rounds of review. A detailed creative brief will also help provide structure for edits and feedback.

Putting the Pieces Together

Ideally, you’d have a dedicated project manager running point on your content initiatives. But in reality, these responsibilities often fall on the content marketing manager’s shoulders, meaning we need to put on our PM hats and guide the ship as best we can.

Pushing projects to completion, efficiently and exceptionally, isn’t all that different from building a catapult or any other class project. It’s all about understanding your people, establishing clarity with everyone involved, and giving them the tools, partners, and resources they need to succeed individually.

If you’re curious about how my team’s catapult turned out, we decided to put our own twist on the assignment. We jury-rigged a spring-loaded baseball bat that — once triggered — swung forth powerfully and drove the tennis ball like a hundred yards.

Unfortunately we were disqualified from the contest because we failed to adhere to the actual guidelines.

I suppose that if our group had a documented plan, superior communication, suitable tools, and a more stringent review process, we might’ve delivered something more in line with the actual objective.

I guess I did learn something that day. Certainly not how to build a catapult.

Efficiency is often top of mind for any content marketing manager. How can you enhance your ability to manage your work and save time. Check out these tips to overclock your B2B marketing efficiency.

The post How to Get It Done: Project Management Tips for Content Marketing Managers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Ways to Keep Your Website Audience Engaged

If you’ve been managing your website or online content for a while, it can sometimes be challenging to maintain your audience.  Sometimes your followers may become disinterested in your content, or you may gain followers from a demographic you didn’t consider you’d gain.  Many factors can influence a fluctuation, and it’s important to track them all. However if your website isn’t engaging enough it’ll be impossible to maintain a steady flow of web traffic as there won’t be anything to motivate click-through rates.  Here are a few things to consider if you want to up the ante of your website engagement.

Re-Learn Your Audience

It may be the case that your website’s audience has changed.  Maybe a new demographic is interacting with your posts that you didn’t expect, or perhaps the type of content (videos, images, articles, etc…) are reaching different audiences than you intended.  It’s important to measure these metrics (there’s many free online programs that can aid in this) to ensure your content reaches the audience it’s for, and to re-package your content creation to engage more effectively with new ones.

Laptop Stickers

The majority of people who look at websites are also more likely than not computer owners.  And where can you go to see people gazing into their laptops? Practically everywhere. If you’re an e-commerce, try including custom laptop stickers with orders, or simply get a pile to hand out at events or trade shows.  Laptops are prime advertising real estate, because they have the potential to be seen wherever the owner of the computer goes.  

Dialogue Not Monologues

One of the most effective ways to keep your website audience engaged is to engage them.  Audiences are more prone to follow content if they feel like they connect with it.  The best content is always a dialogue and not a monologue. Ask your followers their opinions on a post or to impart their own advice on a topic.  Talk to your audience instead of at them for expert engagement.

Badges

Just because you don’t have a large (or any) staff doesn’t mean you can’t put your most professional foot forward.  Create and personalize your magnetic backed badge of your website’s logo, mascot, or motto.  This shows others that you take your website seriously, and therefore you take engagement seriously as well.  Magnetic backed badges are also super trendy accessories because they don’t have to permanently affixed to clothing, so it might be worth it to get some to hand out to potential followers.

Repost Update

For a lot of content creators, constantly creating new and unique feed can be exhausting.  It is however totally kosher to recycle past content to keep your audience engaged – as long as it’s reformatted.  Different demographics interact with media differently. Some prefer to access information via articles, some infographics, or videos, etc.  Maybe one of your videos could also be turned into a gif heavy article, or you could post a transcript of an audio interview you’ve conducted.  Presenting material in different ways keeps many different ways can keep audiences engaged and influence a positive relationship with your followers.

The post Ways to Keep Your Website Audience Engaged appeared first on Blogtrepreneur.

Dropping Digital Distractions With Brian Solis

Brian Solis at Social Media Marketing World 2019

Brian Solis at Social Media Marketing World 2019

Photos. Texts. Emails. Video. Digital is a pivotal part of our daily lives.

So what if we stopped using it?

Brian Solis, the author of Lifescale: How to live a more creative, productive and happy life, wants us to think hard about our digital distractions and drop them from our habitual behavior. As digital marketers, this notion sounds antithetical to our mission. But Brian promises that disconnecting is beneficial to marketers as well.

Below, I share Brian’s thoughts on digital distraction and business from his session at Social Media Marketing World 2019.

Focus Is Elusive

“My ability to be creative, to dive deep, to focus, to give myself time away from my device, was not only difficult but impossible,” Brian said.

In fact, this inability to tune out the noise and focus prevented Brian from finishing his eighth book.

Now, Brian isn’t suggesting that we stop using technology. He’s just suggesting we use it in a different way. Instead of using it for productivity, Brian suggests using our devices for the purpose of creativity.

If we’re able to put our devices down and truly ignore the notifications, we can focus on the tasks that are important. It will improve our output in quality and quantity.

Disconnection Improves Our Health

How we currently use digital devices isn’t healthy for us.

Brian pointed out that an astonishing 41% of people have had an accident relating to our smartphones. There’s a new health concern called “selfie wrist.” Plus, depression and anxiety are on the rise among teenagers, the world’s most avid social media users.

“As with cigarettes in the early days, we didn’t understand that our digital indulgences were made to be addictive, and we didn’t have information about the health effects on our bodies, emotions, and psyches,” Brian said.

He then added: “Living our best life isn’t really living at all.” It’s just posturing.

These distractions weigh down our cognitive load, robbing us of creative moments and pulling us out of focus, and this has a real business impact and we need to change:

  • The average person spends 2 hours on our smartphones each day – and it’s not work related
  • Humans used to shift attention every 3 minutes – it’s now 45 seconds

How to Disconnect

Be Aware

Getting over our digital distractions boils down to one thing: Awareness. If we’re aware of our dependency on the digital world, we’re more empowered to do something about it. We can make more intentional choices about how to avoid these distractions and stay focused.

Measure Your Distractions

Check how many times a day you:

  • Reach for a device
  • Check messages
  • Check your feeds for updates
  • Share a picture

Knowing how often you’re taken away from your work is a good indicator of how much creativity you’re losing. This also allows you to make more noticeable improvements in your work, life, and mental health.

Dedicate Time for Creativity

Write. Draw. Paint. Play guitar. Sing. Creativity is like a muscle that needs to be worked. So just like you workout at the gym, you need to make time to be creative.

And it’s not about talent, it’s just about expressing yourself. It’s about being happy, mindful, present, and intentional about how you spend your time. Block off time to be creative and block off time to check email, respond to tweets, etc. Just make sure you don’t mesh the two.

Dropping Our Dependencies

To do our best work, we need to be our best selves. And digital distractions take us away from the creative activities and ideas that make us happy. As a result, digital distractions make it impossible for us to focus on the things that really matter in life and instead take us out of the moments we’re living.

So, take some advice from Brian: “Allow yourself to color outside the lines and do something absolutely silly.”

Hear more of Brian’s thoughts on creativity and digital distraction by reading our full interview with him.

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