April 29, 2016

My Blog Post Recycling Process

Each time I post a new article on this blog, there are a few regular things I do to start the recycling process. You may find some of these useful, too.

#1. After emailing subscribers and posting on my social media feeds, I save time by immediately scheduling some future tweets (including images) using Hootsuite - once a month for the next 3-4 months.

#2. Next, I grab sentences that can stand alone as tips or quotes for posting on social media. These go into a spreadsheet so I can continue to rotate them, for example, my daily enewsletter tips. (You can grab a similar spreadsheet here.)

#3. I fire up Canva and make some graphics with tips and quotes for future use. I've got a file folder I can delve into when I need something to post.

#4. If the blog post was a suitable list or process, I file it with my soon-to-be infographics.

#5. About a year later, I'll review the post with the intention of repurposing my ideas. Depending on the post, I may expand on it in a new post, or give the information in a different way, such as worksheets or checklists.

Of course, these ideas work with your newsletter content, too. If you recycle your ideas, you'll never run out!

originally published in Work Better, Not Harder on April 28, 2016

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April 28, 2016

Repeating Ideas is Strategic

I'm a big fan of recycling content for a few reasons. I've written about 350 blog posts and I know you haven't read every one. That means you've likely missed a good idea that might appeal to you - so I should repeat my ideas. Finding different ways to do that means my ideas will impact a larger audience. Rereading my past articles often triggers new ideas for me to write about. Plus I make the most of my content creation time investment.

photo by localben / Flickr
originally published in Work Better, Not Harder on April 28, 2016

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April 22, 2016

eMail Productivity: Automate Course Certificates

If you're a teacher or trainer, you've likely struggled with the process of providing Certificates of Completion (or Certificates of Attendance and such) to your workshop attendees. Using a Word template, your process might be something like this: prepare your spreadsheet for a mail merge, complete the merge, convert each .doc to .pdf, print, fold, mail merge the envelope addresses, print labels, affix to envelopes, stuff envelopes, lick stamps, run to the post office. Even if you're paying someone to do this for you, it's pretty labour intensive and prone to error. Add the cost of printing and postage, and providing certificates isn't cheap.

Consider using your bulk email application, such as iContact, to automate this process. There is a little set up involved but, once it's done, it's quick and easy to use.

How to set-up your certificates:

First design a certificate template in your email application. You can do this in much the same way as you would in Word. Leave blank areas for the person's name and the completion date. If you teach different topics, you can also leave a blank area for the course name to fill in. If there are other pieces of info to be included, such as professional accreditation codes, location, or student numbers, leave blank areas for those, too. Now save your template as a draft - we'll come back to it.

Next create the custom fields you're going to need. Your application already has fields for first and last name but not for things like completion date or course title - you'll need to set these up yourself. As an example, let's say you set up segments called compdate and coursetitle.

Now open your draft certificate template and plug in the form fields. Again, this is done very much the same as using merge fields in Word. In the area for the person's name, enter the field names in square brackets - [fname] [lname]. In the the area for completion date, enter [compdate], and so on with the other fields.

That's the set-up part. Now you're ready to send those certificates by email once your next course is finished. Can you believe it'll take less than 10 minutes to customize and send those certificates, whether it's 30 or 300?

How to send your certificates:

Set up a new list in your email application. It'll be temporary but you won't want to reuse the same list name in the future, so I suggest using something distinct like the date.

Upload your attendee list in spreadsheet format. It must have columns for each of the merge fields you're using in your certificate. If we use the same example from above, the spreadsheet will have 5 columns labelled: [fname], [lname], [email], [compdate] and [coursetitle]. The exact process will vary depending on your software but the list upload done properly will result in those contacts having the custom fields assigned.

Send the certificates. Open your draft template, pick the list to send to (the one you just set up), and send.

Warning! Test it.

After the set-up, run a test using a spreadsheet with your own information following the send process above. Remember to proof for errors.

The person who receives the certificate has options, such as printing the email or converting to .pdf to save. It's also easy to forward on to their HR department or supervisor for tracking.

If you are good about gathering your attendees' information, the certificate sending really will be less than 10 minutes. The savings of this process will quickly add up when you're regularly sending certificates.

(Of course, we can do the set-up, and even the sending, for you. Contact me for details and pricing.)

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April 15, 2016

How to Set Up a PayPal Link to use in eMail

When promoting anything, it's always best to have a way for people to pay right away. PayPal is usually an easy way to do this but sometimes I need a PayPal button in a place where I can't embed the html code, like in an email, Word document, or social media post.

You may not know there's a simple way to get a PayPal link without the button code. It's a link just like any other url and can be shared anywhere online (although it's an ugly link so you'll want to hide it behind text).

Here's the caveat: you have to avoid using any of the 'customize button' options. Once you're finished creating your button, on the next screen, click the tab for 'email' and copy the link. (see image)

Now you can have people 'Buy Now' using that link instead of having to embed a PayPal button.

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April 11, 2016

Content Template - The Newsjack

Every part of your business needs some type of content. And you need to develop content consistently to reap the benefits.

There's a content creation trick that can speed up the process by providing structure. Using a content template is sort of like filling in the blanks on a form, and often in a particular order.

Don't waste time staring at a blank screen. Use a template and plug in your ideas to create fresh original content. This technique allows you to write quickly.

The Newsjack Template

The purpose of this template is to help your readers stay up-to-date with news that affects them, such as breaking industry news or new regulations. Click here to download this template now (.pdf).

Get More Templates

If you like that one, grab our mini workbook Quick and Easy Content Creation which has 10 templates, plus some tips for using them to be more productive.

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April 5, 2016

What Happens Once You're Found?

"We’ve mistakenly made being found the number one goal of our marketing." 
~ Bernadette Jiwa

This line from a recent article really caught my attention. Over the past few years I've heard many people talk about SEO (search engine optimization) as something desirable without really knowing why.

SEO is something done to your website so it'll be found in Google searches. So, what happens when someone gets there?

There's no value in investing in SEO if your website can't make something more happen when a potential customer arrives. Imagine having a store with no employees.

First, make sure your website can work for you. It should contribute to reaching your business goals and the here's-what-we-do-feel-free-to-call approach won't do much for you. It's one thing to get found and quite another to make the sale.

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