Category: Net Productivity

What It Means To Be An Entrepreneur In 2016

entrepreneur1

In the online marketing space, there seems to be a false equivalency
between the “freedom of quitting your 9 to 5” and “being an
entrepreneur.”

More appropriately, there’s the misunderstanding that becoming an
entrepreneur won’t mean putting in many, many more hours than 40 per
week; this is especially true if you’re hoping to ever be able to
replace, let alone exceed, the salary you made in your previous ‘normal’
job.

Not everyone’s cut out for it, and that’s ok.

If you are one of the brave few who’s going to go it alone or has
already started working from home or on your own business full time,
well, here are a few things you should keep in mind.

#1) Being an entrepreneur means more discipline than ever before.

Working for yourself, “being your own boss,” etc. all sound pretty
sweet, but they also mean that you’ve got to really be on top of things.

Organization and discipline need to be far above average to succeed as
an entrepreneur.

You will spend long hours starting at a computer screen, even on the
activities you aren’t that excited about doing, so make sure you can
keep yourself in line.

#2) Being an entrepreneur means sacrificing ‘you’ time.

Not only will you need the discipline to keep hacking away at important
tasks, you’ll also need to change your mindset to include less ‘you’
time. As you look at people who have become famous for their
entrepreneurial spirit and success, you’ll notice they don’t often
subscribe to the same personal reward system that the rest of us do.

For example, you’re worked 9 hours today already, so you should reward
yourself with a beer and an hour of your favorite show, right? It
sounds great to me, but top tier entrepreneurs are going to shun that
time in favor of getting more done.

#3) Being an entrepreneur means managing others.

Whether you’re after “work from home” freedom or want to build a company
that someday hits the Fortune 500, you will need to interact with and
manage others. Whether their regular employees in an office, or
freelancers completing online contracts, smart entrepreneurs know that
the biggest key to their own success is the people that they associate
themselves with.

Not only that, it’s how they interact with those people. Make sure
you’re ready to make the swap from being the one who asks questions to
being the one who is constantly asked for direction. Can you keep sane
balancing your own tasks with the needs of others?

#4) Finally, being an entrepreneur means leveraging.

Starting out on your own is scary, and so the quickest (and most
comfortable) way of growing fast is learning to network with other
people who have already been through what you’re going through.

Find out what you’re good at that others aren’t and use that skill to
barter early on. Maybe you evaluate someone’s website for SEO for them,
and they give you advice on your marketing funnel, etc.

Whatever you have to do, be scrappy and don’t stop working until you’re
where you want to be (then build something new).

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A Brief Exploration of Value in Internet Marketing

internet-marketing

Most anyone reading this is going to be familiar, at least in some
abstract way, with the concept of “value.” The concept of value, or
utility derived from content, products, or other offerings, is not
unique to IM, however, and those working across a variety of markets,
both online and offline, have to be keenly aware of the ways in which
their value is perceived by customers. In this post, we’re going to go
over the importance of balancing your ‘give’ with your ‘take’, and a few
ways in which you can maintain that balance when working with IM
clients.

The Why

Basic economics courses teach students that most people make their
purchasing decisions based on a concept called ‘utility cost’; whenever
someone is deciding whether or not to purchase an item or make a trade,
they weigh whether the utility of what they will receive is greater than
the utility of what they already have. Most commonly, this is the often
quick and (nearly) subconscious assessment you would make as to whether
an item is “too expensive” or seems like a “good deal.”

In online marketing, your customers make these decisions several times
throughout your sales funnel:

– Is the freebie being offered worth more to me than the potential
privacy giveaway and possible unwanted messages that entering my email
could incur?

– Is the information this person posts on their site helpful enough
to me that it’s worth taking ten minutes out of my day to read?

– Do I trust this person enough to take their recommendation that
what they’re offering is worth my hard-earned money?

For many marketers, the second and third bullet points are where they
lose people.

The Mindset Swap

Even though your end goal may be to make as much money as possible, your
customer always wants to feel like they’ve “won.” In most IM-related
instances, this means feeling like they’ve gotten the promise of greater
future value from a product, tool, or training/coaching course than what
they paid for it. However, there is another crucial evaluation that
happens long before they’ll ever get close to purchasing, and that’s
value-based-trust.

I recommend marketers practice a mindset swap, which involves taking the
focus off of their bottom line and simply becoming a customer. Read
every offer you’ve got, every promotional email, every review, and ask
yourself, does this feel valuable? You are not smarter than your
customers; if you know deep down that something you’re offering feels
like a half-solution or copout, they’ll pick up on it too.

Most marketers, both experienced and novice, have a sales funnel riddled
with these holes where offers feel like they’re doing more for the
seller than the (potential) buyer. Remember, when perceived utility of
an offer is viewed as a loss, people aren’t going to bite.

Actually Over-Deliver

Many of these low-value gaps occur because marketers are afraid of
giving away ‘the whole solution’, system, or secret. Why then, you
might ask, would someone make a purchase if they feel they’ve already
been given the solution to their problems? It is a tricky balance, but
too many err on the wrong side of the scale and come across as
withholding value from their customers.

It shouldn’t be surprising that customers are often more likely to
purchase after they have already had success with your methods and
recommendations, and you offer them up a paid product that complements
that success, rather than offering them a tiny piece of the puzzle with
what they need to see any positive results locked behind a paywall.
Which scenario do you think is more likely to foster an ongoing,
positive relationship with a new customer? An opt-in freebie that gives
visitors a complete system to make $1,000 per month, which you then
upsell to a different version with larger earning potential later on, or
just offering them the first page of the main system right off the bat,
which essentially renders it useless to them and gives them nothing they
can act on immediately?

The former has a high chance of resulting in a lifelong customer, the
latter might just tick someone off and see them opting out of your email
list as fast as possible.

The point? Give before you ever ask to take, work from the customer’s
shoes, and always over-deliver.

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How to Stay True to Your IM Vision

Remember when you first made the decision to pour yourself into internet
marketing? Maybe you’ve felt the rush of quitting your 9-to-5 in favor
of starting off on a venture where success or failure rest squarely on
your shoulders and yours alone, where earning potential is virtually
unlimited and the possibilities seem endless. It’s an exciting moment,
to be sure… but are you still excited?

Far too many marketers find themselves ambling down a boring dirt road
that started out as a gold-paved promenade. In other words, they burn
out. They get discouraged as they hit a ceiling, or maybe they just get
bored in their routine. Whatever the reason, it’s always important to
have a few tools for getting out of a rut on hand.

For starters, the biggest obstacles are always mental: While you want
to be constantly learning and getting smarter from your experiences, you
don’t want to lose sight of your original vision and mindset. There’s a
talent to learning from experiences without letting them make you overly
cynical or discouraged. Remember how excited you were to be your own
boss? Remember how excited you were to bring your
business/product/vision to the world? Good. Now be that person again.

Of course, it also helps if you’ve got the concrete routines and systems
in place to help foster such mindsets. Often, the hardest part about
working for yourself is, well, making yourself work. Having a strict
daily schedule in place can help you stay on task. Many pros use their
first few actions of the day as a psychological trigger and launching
pad for the rest of the day. For example, you might begin each day by
doing a 30 second speed organizing of your workplace, then a 5 minute
email blitz, followed by brewing your morning cup of coffee. Repeating
your process each day can get you in the mood to work.

Don’t be afraid to expand. Sometimes, you’re starting off with next to
nothing and have to do the grunt work for a while, but even someone with
the smallest of starting capital (or none at all) should be looking to
move to delegation and expansion as soon as possible. A couple of years
ago, article/content marketing was huge. The people who made a
substantial living off of it, however, weren’t those writing articles
day in and day out. Instead, these people quickly hired a writing and
website team under them to allow for rapid growth. Or perhaps they
started a large writing outfit to cater to the marketers working with
content volume. Either way, they were running a business, not a
self-employment hobby.

In a business, you would work toward hiring and expanding, and that’s
exactly what you should do. Take stock of your resources, and look at
which tasks can be quickly contracted to freelancers to help give you
more time to plan company growth. For many, the first task to go is
content creation. For others, it might be SEO efforts. Whatever isn’t
exciting to you and is within budget to hire out, do it.

Finally, don’t be afraid to adapt. You may have started your IM venture
two years ago, and a lot changes in two years these days. Constantly be
learning, researching, and ensuring that your own methods are still
considered best practice today; never mistake comfort with
effectiveness.

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Is Email (Finally) Dead?

For years, people in the tech industry have been predicting (or
lamenting) the death of email as a form of communication.

“Kids don’t use email anymore.” “There are better, faster and more
effective ways to interact with other people, such as texting and social
media.” “I know people who don’t even have an email address.”

These are some of the most common statements you hear regarding the
death of email. (Perhaps it’s telling that I’ve been hearing these same
statements for nearly a decade now.)

The Death of Email?

So what’s the real deal? Is email actually dead?

To answer this question, let me ask one of my own: When was the last
time you checked your email account? This week? This morning? Just now?

The truth is that most people will go to their email every time their
smart phone beeps, vibrates or otherwise indicates that a new email
message has just landed in their inbox. It’s just a natural human
response, kind of like when people used to answer their home telephones
whenever it rang. It takes some time to de-program it.

More Popular than Ever

In reality, email is more popular than ever, especially among marketers.
According to an April, 2015, study conducted by Yahoo! Labs and the
University of Southern California called “Evolution of Conversations
in the Age of Email Overload”, most people are now receiving more emails
in their inbox than ever before.

Part of that is businesses finally catching up with available marketing
technology. While many small businesses have been collecting customers’
email addresses for years, it’s only been recently that many have
finally figured out what to do with them.

People are more willing to give up their email address than they are,
say, their mobile phone numbers. That’s because they know they can
easily ignore or delete emails they don’t really want to see.

Too Many Emails

Today, most people receive more emails than they can conceivably read
and respond to. Personally, I usually begin each working day by deleting
about 80% to 90% of the emails in my inbox mostly from marketers or
others promoting something I’m not interested in.

Yet like me, most people won’t go to the trouble of unsubscribing from
the source of all those emails out of fear that they might miss out on
the one offer or email that they genuinely are interested in.

Ease of Email

It’s also easier than ever for people to keep up with their emails. Spam
detectors have done an effective job of filtering out the truly
irrelevant and unwanted emails. And now people can read their emails –
or at least their subjects and who they are from – as a scroll on their
smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices.

And because more emails today are being sent and received on mobile
devices, they tend to be shorter. Perhaps this is why the average amount
of time it takes for people to respond to emails sent from smart phones
(28 minutes) is so much shorter than those sent from tablets (57
minutes) or from desktop computers or laptops (62 minutes,), according
to the Yahoo!/USC study. Could that mean that emails and text messages
are beginning to morph into the same thing?

They Myth of Young People and Email

As expected, older people tend to use emails more than younger people.
But the difference may not be as big as many people might think.

During the course of the study, 53% of adults between 35 and 50 years
old sent emails from their phones or tablets at least once, compared to
only 49% of teenagers between 13 and 19 and 48% of young adults between
20 and 35 years old. Older people (51+) sent the fewest emails via
mobile devices, at 43%, according to the study.

So email is definitely not dead. It’s not even wounded. Eventually,
however, it may eventually morph into something entirely different, in
the way the telephone did.

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Is the Party Over Now that the FCC Passed Net Neutrality?

net neutrality

As you probably heard by now, the Federal Communications Commission
recently approved new rules based on the principles of “net neutrality”
that essentially finally put some sort of regulations over Internet
usage. Some are calling it the “Equal Opportunity Act” for Internet
speeds and access to websites.

But is this ultimately good or bad for the typical Internet user?

First of All, What Is Net Neutrality?

People banter the term “net neutrality” around like they understand what
it means, but what the heck is it, really?

Net neutrality is the concept that your Internet provider should be a
neutral gateway to everything that’s online. It shouldn’t act as a
gatekeeper that decides to load some sites slower than others or try to
extract fees for faster service.

Another way of looking at it is that net neutrality is a concept in
which Internet service providers (ISPs) can’t discriminate when it comes
to Internet traffic.

On February 26, the FCC voted 3 to 2 to adopt net neutrality rules to,
as it declared in its announcement of the vote “protect the open
Internet”.

Why Do We Need Net Neutrality?

So why should Internet users be concerned with net neutrality of the
Internet? There’s plenty of great reasons.

First, without net neutrality, ISPs could, in theory, demand more money
from companies like Hulu or Amazon to speed up traffic to their sites.
Conversely, they could slow down traffic from sites that aren’t willing
to pony up the extra cash.

Is this a big deal? Yes , it is. In fact, it’s a very big deal.

For example, during peak periods in the US about 30% of Internet traffic
comes from a single service: Netflix. So let’s say your Internet
provider is AT&T. They might tell Netflix, “We want you to pay us double
what you pay now or else we are going to slow down your streaming speeds
so that people watching ‘House of Cards’ will ditch it because it keeps
dropping in the middle of President Frank Underwood’s best scenes.”

Or AT&T could cut a deal with Amazon making them their prime video
service and speeding up their delivery to their customers at the expense
of slowing down Hulu or Netflix.

At the FCC did was to get rid of all those scenarios and create a more
level playing field for everybody.

So What Did the FCC Do, Again?

Technically, what the FCC did was vote to reclassify broadband access as
a “telecommunications service under Title II”.

In English, what that means is that the FCC made broadband a utility,
which in turn gives the FCC a lot more regulatory power over Internet
providers.

This all began back in 2010, when the FCC actually passed rules that
made the Internet neutral. But in January 2014, Verizon filed a lawsuit
claiming that the federal agency didn’t have the authority to make such
a declaration. The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit agreed with
Verizon, but added that the FCC could reclassify broadband as a
telecommunications service. That way it would have the authority.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler did just that. And when Republicans in Congress
recently dropped their opposition to the new rules – because the
Democrats wouldn’t support it and they didn’t want to be the only ones
left twisting in the wind and the stage was set for the FCC’s historic
vote.

What Does This Mean for Me?

The FCC’s vote will ban three basic things:

1. Blocking Broadband providers can’t block access to legal
content, apps, services or non-harmful devices.

2. Throttling Broadband providers can’s impair or degrade lawful
Internet traffic on the basis of content, apps, services or non-harmful
devices.

3. Prioritization Broadband providers can’t favor some lawful
traffic over other lawful traffic in exchange for consideration. The
rule also bans ISPs from prioritizing content and services of their
affiliates.

This is a big, bold move by the FCC and the consequences for Internet
users probably will be felt for years to come.

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Are You Retargeting Your Visitors?

retargeting-strategy

Are You Retargeting Your Visitors?

Did you know that only about 20% of all first-time visitors to a website will become a conversion on that visit? That means 80% of your site’s visitors are leaving without converting, even if they want to.

With shopping cart abandonment making major waves in the eCommerce industry
because of how recoverable these consumers are.
(Studies show that about 68% of all abandoned shopping carts can be recovered)

It only makes sense that the people who bounce off your site are recoverable as well, even if you don’t run an eCommerce site.

What is Retargeting?

If you don’t know what retargeting is, it’s a simple concept.
You place a code in your site’s footer (typically JavaScript) and that code compiles a list of all your site’s visitors. When someone comes to your website, the code implants a cookie into their browser that acts like an “on” switch for advertisements.

Then, as your visitor browses other sites on the internet, as they come to sites that have ads on them, the cookie you left in their browser activates your site’s ad.
This helps do a number of things, including keeping you fresh in their minds, reminding them that they might have wanted to make a purchase with you or simply creates another avenue to your website.

The point here is that you are getting advertised across the web to an extremely targeted audience: people that have already expressed interest in your website. Whether they left to look for better offers, they left the stove on or had to run

Whether they left to look for better offers, they left the stove on or had to run into a business meeting, you get another crack at them by simply adding some code to your website and running a few ads.

But Won’t People Find this Intrusive?
Of course, some places people absolutely hate targeted ads, such as ads that hit on keywords from people’s emails. This is intrusive and likely to backfire unless you’re a fairly large brand.

Nobody wants to think that a penis enlargement cream site is filtering through their emails and placing ads on their Gmail account!
But with retargeting, your ads will actually provide people with a better, more individualized browsing experience since the ads will be tailored to their interests. It’s always important to think about how your ads will be perceived by your audience.

There’s a fine line between being intrusive and being customized and the best web sites walk this line perfectly.

Retargeted Emails

Of course, not every internet marketer’s site lends itself to retargeting code and ads. Some marketers will do better to retarget their visitors through email campaigns It’s important that you re-contact people who fell out of your sales funnel so you can bring them back in.

As with the shopping cart abandonment, there’s no telling why the person fell out.They could have simply been distracted by a football score and forgot to go back.

The power could have went out, any number of things could have happened so assuming that everyone who bounced from your site did so because they didn’t like what they saw is faulty thinking that leads to zero sales.

What do you have to lose by sending out some emails saying,

“Hey, we’ve been thinking about you and we want you to come back! Here’s 10%  off your next order”

or

“Did you forget about us because we didn’t forget about you!
We figured you might have some questions so let’s set up a time to chat so I can answer them for you!”

 

The point is, you miss all of the sales that you don’t reach out and grasp, so retargeting visitors can only result in sales, what’s the worse that can happen, they ignore you?
Well, right now if you aren’t retargeting, you’re the one ignoring them!

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How to Recover from a Google penalty

recovery-from-a-google-penalty
If your site has been hit with a Google penalty, the loss in traffic and
revenue can be absolutely devastating.  Some marketers might well choose
to scrap their site and start all over again (which isn't a bad idea if
your site isn't a monster), but for others who have a good flow of
traffic and great amount of reputation and subscribers, restarting isn't
an option.

So, what do you do if you're hit with a Google penalty?

Work Fast 

The first thing you need to understand here is that time is of the
essence.  The longer you wait to start recovering your rankings in the
SERPs and traffic, the more money you are going to lose (or not make,
same thing).  Further, your reputation is going to take a hit, meaning
even your most loyal clients might start wandering over to the other
side of the fence to see where the grass is greener.

Your first order of action should be to audit your entire website. 
Determine whether you have an algorithmic or manual penalty and then
pinpoint the cause.

That's the first area you should focus on. Typical
Google penalties include black hat SEO practices, buying links,
low-quality or duplicate content, high-bounce rates, on-page strategies
deemed manipulative, spamming and low-quality backlinks, so be prepared
to tackle those issues.

Depending on which update from Google caused the penalty (e.g. Penguin,
Panda, Hummingbird, etc.), your course of action will be dictated by the
latest fixes.  Take a deep look into your messages on your Webmaster
Tools account and look for communications from Google that might have
warned you (such as the Web Spam Team).

Take This Time to Fix Everything

Of course, you can just fix the problem as stated by Google and move on,
but it's much wiser to use this as an opportunity to clean up your
entire site.  Take a long, hard look at your practices, was this
penalty an anomaly or have you been toeing the line in terms of white
hat SEO practices?  

Run an analysis on your site with Hubspot or Nibbler
and fix up any code errors, warnings or other problem areas that are
holding your site down.

Any backlinks (aka inbound links) that are coming into your site that
are low-quality or "bad" should be removed immediately.  This can be an
arduous process if you have a lot of links, but using tools such as
Moz's Open Site Explorer, you can expedite the process.

Using these tools, check out all the websites that are linking to your site and
really evaluate which are "good" sites that are beneficial to your
ranking and/or business.

Get rid of any sites that might be bringing
you down (especially if those sites are the penalty trigger).  Don't
only remove these links, but construct a list of them and request Google
disavow them from your attributable backlinks.

Submission to Google

Once your site is completely fixed up, if your penalty was manual, you
can submit a reconsideration request to Google.   If your penalty was
algorithmic, you have to wait until the next time Google updates its
algorithms, 
This can happen a few times a day or once a week Google
doesn't release this information unless it's a large update like
Hummingbird or Panda.

Either way your site's recovery is completely in
the hands of Google's team.  But by keeping a detailed record of all the
changes you made to come into compliance, you show that you are eager to
play by their rules.

Going above and beyond what you were penalized
will look good in the eyes of Google's team and you will likely be
reinstated to your former glory much faster than not.
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How to Fix a Broken WordPress Install

wordpress-logo
While WordPress is easily the most simple to use and complete blogging
platform and content management system out there on the market, it does
have a few major flaws.  One of them in particular can be extremely
frustrating to deal with and that's when the software breaks down. 
WordPress is software so just like any other software program, yours can
stop working and create all types of problems for your marketing
operations.

When WordPress "breaks," the culprit can be any number of things: faulty
plugins, corrupted files, problems in the database, etc.  The good news
is that most of the time, your data will remain unharmed, it's just that
your blogs and/or site won't be visible to the public (meaning no sales,
which is equally bad!).  The even better news is that it's super easy to
fix a broken WordPress install.  Here's how.

                       Back Up Your Blog

The first thing that you want to do is to back up your entire blog and
site.  You can back it up on an external hard drive, use the wp-backup
plugin or even just copy/paste all of the content into documents or
notebook.  This is to protect you in case you make a mistake while
fixing WordPress.  The last thing you want is for all of your data 
to be lost forever

Be sure to back up the following:

- The /wp-content/ folder

- The database from your blog

- Disable Your Plugins

After you back up your data, the next step is to start checking to see
where the problem is coming from.  Just about everyone who uses
WordPress uses plugins as well, mainly because they add some killer
features and make the site more functional.  But they also can create a
ton of errors causing nothing but blank, slow or error pages to both you
and your visitors.

Here's what you do:

- Go to your admin page and navigate to the plugins screen.  Select all
of the plugins and then click to disable them.  (Note: If you can't get
to your plugins page, FTP into your blog and then rename the plugins
folder so that the next time you start it up, all plugins will be
deactivated. Simply rename the folder back to plugins to bring them back
and then enable them one at a time to find the problem plugin)

- After you've disabled all plugins, make sure the problem you are
having is gone.  If so, it was a plugin creating the problem (if the
error persists, go ahead an enable all the plugins and go to the next
check)

- If the plugin is the problem, enable each plugin one by one until you
find the problem plugin

- Check One: See if the problem plugin has an update.  If not, you will
need to remove it and try to find a similar plugin that doesn't cause
the problem

- Check Two: The Config File

If you are seeing an error message stating that you "Cannot Connect To
Database," chances are your blog isn't loading up at all.  Here's what
you do:

- FTP into your blog and then find the wp-config.php file

- Make sure that the database name, password and user name are all
correct

- If they are not, change them.  If they are correct, get in contact
with your web host and ask if any changes have been made to the database
or if any issues have been reported

Check Three: Reinstall Your WordPress

If you are still having issues, it's time to reinstall WordPress files
to wipe out any corrupted files.  You can do this with every file you
have and not cause damage to the blogs content except the /wp-content/
file.  Do not reinstall the /wp-content/ directory!

- Log into WordPress and go to Tools.  Hit "Upgrade" and then select the
option for reinstalling

- This uses the updater that is built into WordPress to reinstall all of
the core files but won't damage any of your plugins or themes

- If your WordPress updater isn't working, you will need to upload all
the files by FTPing into your blog.  Delete old files and then upload
the new ones. Remember not to touch the /wp-content/ file!

If your problem still persists, head over to the WordPress support
forum.
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