Design Your Life by Priorities

Sitting here watching my husband rock my daughter to sleep for a nap, it is difficult to forget just what my priorities are.

Sure, having a million dollar business would be great.

Being on the cover of Forbes before I hit 30 would be amazing.

Revolutionizing the world would be incredible.

But so is that moment when I pick up my little girl and she smiles at me.

So is that moment when I’m half asleep and we bring her into bed with us, and she falls asleep in my arms.

And that moment when she looks up at me as if I’m her whole world means way more than revolutionizing the world ever could.

I can have a million dollar business and cause a revolution without giving up my priorities, it will just take focus and planning. I have to design my life by my priorities, not design my life for success and fit my priorities in where I can.

What are your priorities? Is your life designed for them, or around them?

How to Write for Your Small Business Blog

If we at BuzzCrate consistently tell our clients one thing, it is this:

Online marketing, of any type, starts with a blog.

There is no question about this, no argument, no debate, and no change of heart. A blog is the very core of any digital media marketing campaign – period. Why? Well, for starters, blogs are…

  1. Cost effective. Who needs display ads when your blog could get more targeted views for the ongoing cost of hosting and a domain name?
  2. Great for search engine optimization, especially if they integrate into your company website. Search engines love relevant, helpful content. The more relevant and helpful your content is, the higher you will rank. Blogs consistently outrank static websites for some very competitive keywords.
  3. Outperforming email in many cases, and can often be used with email. Rather than designing an email newsletter, create a blog post. You’ll receive search engine and social media traffic, you can syndicate the post out to your email list and receive that traffic, and you may pick up some new customers who aren’t on your email list as a bonus!
  4. Easily syndicated to other social sites, like Facebook and Twitter. You can simply use a service like NetworkedBlogs to automatically publish your new blog posts through your pages, accounts, and profiles. Gone are the days of “just the click of a mouse!” Today, services like these don’t even need a click. They do it for you behind the scenes.
  5. Actually read by current and potential customers alike. How many people come visit you from your newspaper ad? How many clients do you think contact us because of our blog? We’ve tried traditional advertising – blogging gets us the most eyes to our important information.
  6. One of the highest ROI things you can do online. Even if you don’t have a website, have a blog. Out of every online marketing activity, blogging has been consistently ranked as the marketing activity with the best return on investment. Compare that to television advertising, and the point quickly becomes clear.

So with these benefits, you would assume that everyone we talk to wants to get their new blog up and running, and just dying to jump in. Unfortunately, many small business owners and managers have heard misinformation over the years from well-intentioned people, and so they are afraid of starting a blog for one or two key reasons.

Either they think…

  1. It is too time consuming, or…
  2. It takes too much effort, or…
  3. It is too expensive, or…
  4. all the above.

Of course, none of the above is true.

As far as cost concerns, you can get a complete blog platform, custom designed and connected to all of your social media, for less than the cost of an average newspaper ad in a small city.

Time and effort are about how much you are willing to put in. If you publish an email newsletter, simply syndicate your blog content to your email subscribers and shift your time focus from email to blog. If not, you will likely need to pull an hour or two each week from somewhere else – but the returns are well worth the effort.

So how do you find the time to blog?

Here are 7 tips to help you keep your business blog management going, without sacrificing everything else!

  1. Plan your blogs. Sit down once every month and come up with 4-10 different topics you can write about. Use the “Editorial Calendar” plugin you were provided with your blog (or install the plugin if you are not a client of ours) to schedule these posts throughout the month at semi-regular intervals. You can write them now, or set a date on your calendar to write the posts before they are published. Scheduling time to do this takes a lot of the pressure, confusion, and difficulty away!
  2. Ask for help. If you are stuck on topics, ask your staff what questions they are often asked. Contact us and request some keyword research to find what your potential customers are looking for. Don’t just claim “writers’ blog” and walk away, ask someone in the know to help you!
  3. Schedule your blogging. Plan to spend an hour or two each week writing and researching new blog posts and topics, and keeping up on social media.
  4. Allow your staff to help. If you have an employee who is especially good with words, have them write a blog post or two. Maybe even have them take over the blog and social media for you. These tasks, even when dedicating staff to them, will take no more than 10 hours each week for a very effective campaign!
  5. Invite guest posters. Do you partner with any other local businesses? Ask them to write content for your blog! They can answer questions that some of your common customers may have, and in exchange they receive a link to their site, promoting their business. Win-win for everyone!
  6. Don’t be afraid. The number one reason that blogs go without updates is because the blog owner is afraid of how long it will take to get things up to date. Don’t do this to yourself! Blog updates are not time-consuming. Even a slow typist can complete a short post within an hour!
  7. Get things set up properly the first time. Don’t use a blogspot.com or wordpress.com blog, because you are not in control of those spaces. Get a blog set up with your own website and hosting, have it installed by a professional if you are uncertain of how to do it yourself, and have your design done professionally to match your site. That small investment in your blog today will pay dividends for years to come!

So there you have it – in one post, we have told you why you need a blog, and how to actually keep it up to date and make it work for you. What are your favourite ways to manage your time for social media and blogging? Share with us in the comments, or send us a tweet @buzzcrate and we’ll feature them here!

How to Update WordPress

With so many of our client sites driven by WordPress, we often hear from clients when a WordPress update is released. While updates can be an intimidating process, you don’t have to fear! We are here to walk you through the process step by step.

First, you will (obviously) need to log in to your WordPress Admin Panel at www.YourSite.com/wp-admin.

Once you have logged in, you’ll likely see a bar like this across the top of your WordPress Dashboard:

Simply click on “Updates” on the left, or “Please Update Now” on the right, and you are to the updates page.

As WordPress is the most important part of your site, your WordPress updates are at the very top. You’ll see something like this:

Now, it is important to back up your database and files before an update. Thankfully, your WordPress installation likely came pre-installed with an automated backup. If you received a manual backup plugin, please go ahead to the Backup Plugin page as you were shown when you received your site, and back up your database and files before proceeding.

Now, click “Update Now” – the blue button in the image above.

WordPress will automatically put itself in maintenance mode, download the new files, install them, activate them, come out of maintenance mode, and take you to a window that looks like this:

Simply check to make sure your site is still in working order, and you’re done! Congratulations on updating WordPress!

**Note: Yes, this is why we choose to drive your website with WordPress. It will likely take all of 3.5 minutes to update your system, with no downloads, no difficulty, and no coding. No other CMS in use by a web design or development firm is that simple and easy to use. We know, because we’ve looked.

If you, as a client, have any questions about updating WordPress then please – contact us right away. If you are considering switching to WordPress, request a consultation from us today!

How to forget your priorities in under a year.

Do you know what the most commonly viewed post is on this site to date?

10 Tips to Clean a House in Under an Hour.

Out of over 3,000 unique views that this site has received since its inception, 12% of all visitors came here solely for that article.

I didn’t intend for that post to become the biggest content draw to my site, nor did I intend for it to end up doing well in the search engines. I just wrote the post because I was nesting, strapped for time, and don’t like cleaning.

Right now, my house is a disaster. I wish I had an hour to clean, but I don’t. And that doesn’t make me a bad person, but it does mean that my readers have their priorities straight – and I don’t.

Business success is important to me and to my family. I want to make an impact, help people, and support my kids. If I want my daughter to go to private school and get a good education, flipping burgers will barely pay her tuition and our rent. Entrepreneurial success is something I strive for.

But these 60+ hour weeks lately have been absolutely killing me. I never get to spend any time with my lil’ fluff monster (as we speak, grandma and grandpa are over watching her and cleaning my house so I can get work done – all because hubby had to take off with little warning to work tonight), I feel stressed and tired, and I am burning out fast.

I’m on a hamster wheel – must get work to feed family. Must cook food for family. Must buy more food – need more work. Squeak, squeak, squeak…

But I’m getting out of it. I’m going to re-learn how to clean my house in under an hour. I’m going to rediscover what it means to cook a “quick dinner”. I’m going to make my bed in the morning, play with my daughter, keep up the house, and not kill myself at work.

I know how to clean my house in under an hour, and you guys come to me for that.

Now I need to learn how to run my business in less than 10 hours a day. I wonder if there is a blog somewhere else, just like me, who posted how to do that?

Systematizing Your Online Presence

One of they keys to business success is to create systems – this is a well-known fact. From hiring staff to automating tasks, systems on a basic level keep us from having to do everything ourselves. This increases our time, our potential, and our revenue.

I suppose it is because so many people see online marketing as a system in itself, but very few people bother to carry out systems in their online efforts.

Here are a few key system strategies that you can start today, and see the results as soon as tomorrow.

  1. Autoresponders. Constant Contact, MailChimp, Aweber, GetResponse… There are dozens of autoresponders out there. These email systems are a way of automatically sending out information to current and potential clients. You can schedule emails based off when a person subscribes (1 day, 2 day, 3 day follow-up), when a lead contacts you, or when you would like to send out your information or newsletter.

    Many of these systems can also automatically send out your blog feed. Every time you publish a blog post, the autoresponder will send it to everyone who has subscribed for updates. No time spent creating a manual email, finding the link to the post, and blasting it out.

    This is one of the most basic forms of online automation, but many people still don’t make this simple step. Try it!

  2. Google Analytics. This may not seem like automation at first, but in reality, this is a system at its finest. Imagine you have an assistant who would track every visitor to your website – where they came from, what marketing initiatives are working, where those visitors clicked, what content they viewed, whether or not they buy, and how they left your website.

    Now imagine that assistant also provided demographic data for your visitors, keyword references from the search engines, and told you exactly what was having the most impact on your bottom line.

    Then imagine that assistant worked for free. That is exactly what Google Analytics can do – and it produces nice little reports that you can view once per month to check up on how you’re doing, or view every single day to see how quickly things are changing. The data is there – at no cost – for you to use to optimize your online presence.

  3. Pre-posting blogs. Not every blogging software has this ability, but WordPress does it really well. You can write all of your blog posts on, say, Monday, and then schedule them for the rest of the week. No one can see the content until it is actually published, and everyone sees your site is often updated – even if the reality is, you only have time to worry about it a couple of times per month.

    A great way to add to this strategy is by creating using the Editorial Calendar plugin. Not only can you schedule posts quickly and easily, you can schedule them months in advance. Each week, you simply log in and create the posts your calendar tells you are due. You save them, they publish on time. You may never run out of post ideas if you spend an hour each month filling up your calendar!

Obviously there are more systems that you can add, from apps that automatically feed your Facebook updates to Twitter to project management systems like Zoho and Basecamp that remind you when projects are due and need organization.

Invest in systems, and watch your business grow!