February 28, 2019

Asking Your Friends Works Better Than Asking The Universe


During the past two weeks, I've been repeatedly reminded of The Secret and its message of asking the Universe for what you want and being open to receiving what comes. Except it's not the Universe I've been asking - it's my friends (aka business colleagues).

Since the new year started, I've been doing a lot of strategizing and planning about how to adapt my business to a changing life situation. I'm rethinking the way I do things, whether I should even be doing some things, and how to make the best use of my time (while still loving work). Phew!

From all that strategizing, I got a list of options, then pros/cons and risks/costs, and finally a pared-down list of things to pursue. One of the things on that list is to make sure to let all my friends know what kind of work/clients I'm looking for.

As it turns out, talking to some of those friends, asking for advice and suggestions, as I went through this process has led directly to new opportunities.

Asking the Universe may well be a useful thing to do but asking my friends has had a much more immediate impact.

When was the last time you updated your friends and work colleagues about what's going on in your business and, specifically, what kind of work you're looking for?

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Originally published in Work Better, Not Harder newsletter February 28, 2019

February 25, 2019

Your Blogging Deadline is Looming


It's time to write your next blog post. Or maybe the time has already passed. What do you think when your deadline is looming? My own lament is often, "What can I pull together fast that will be useful?"

I talk to a lot of small business owners about blogging - while teaching, networking and over coffee. What I know is this: everyone has different reasons for blogging, or not.

Before starting a blog, there are many different reasons, mostly related to the unknown. Once our blog is started, there is another set of obstacles that might give us grief:
  1. coming up with ideas
  2. adapting your ideas for writing
  3. starting to write
  4. finishing writing
  5. editing and proofing
  6. finding or creating graphics
  7. keywords and publishing
Understanding what stops us, can help us uncover ways to conquer it.

This will be my 575th blog post. You might think I've got all the obstacles wrangled - and I did for quite a long time. But since the beginning of this year, I've been struggling to get blog posts published on schedule... and it's been driving me a little nuts. I know it's clearly #4 on the list above that's causing me pain.

Because I've been aware of this problem, I've been more attentive to understanding what's causing it. I finally pinned down what has changed - some of my work habits. The details will be a future post but, now that I know what I know, I can do something about it. Having a deadline looming is not my favourite feeling. Now that I know what the problem is, and what I need to do about it, what's left is the actual doing.

Do you struggle with meeting your blogging (or newsletter) schedule? What's stopping you when your deadline is looming? Please share in the comments.

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February 16, 2019

How Giving Options Reduces Unsubscribes


After sending out clients' newsletters, I'm often asked by them why someone would have unsubscribed. The worry seems to be that something in that particular issue made them disconnect. This is rarely the case.

I can't tell you all the reasons people unsubscribe but I can tell you that it is always about them. Lives change, interests change, jobs change, priorities change, time changes... all of these things can result in unsubscribes. You should never take unsubscribes personally.

You can typically expect list attrition - the natural pattern of unsubscribes you can consider normal - to be 25-30% per year. That industry-wide benchmark is not as useful as the one your own list will give you over time. You will see what your typical unsubscribe rate is. As long as you are growing your list faster than that rate, you shouldn't spend too much time worrying about unsubscribes.

On the other hand, if you are experiencing a sudden spike in unsubscribes, you will want to dig deeper into your recent email statistics and take a look at the content strategy in your last few newsletter issues. You should be able to pin down a problem - or a change that created a problem - and adjust. A strategy only works to the extent that you are willing to adjust based on feedback.

One thing that can cause a spike in unsubscribes is adding campaigns. For example, if you have been sending a monthly newsletter and then add a campaign for a large event, generating repeat sends, you might experience list exhaustion. Readers that are not interested in the event are feeling overwhelmed with messages about it.

A solution is to provide your readers with subscription options. Set up a second list for event emails so they can unsubscribe from those messages but still receive your newsletter. You will want to consider this strategy if you send a newsletter and promotional emails, as well. Over time, you will see that some of your readers only want event notices, some only want your newsletter, and others want both. They will sort that out for themselves if you give them options.

Readers will unsubscribe from content they are not interested in. Publish content that is useful, relevant and interesting to your target market. Send on a consistent and reliable schedule. Then keep your eye on the unsubscribes... but don't spend your time worrying about them.

February 9, 2019

Quality Control for Your Content


You've just finished an insightful new article for your blog. You're anxious to publish it and find out what your readers think.

Depending on the topic and type of article you've written, it might make sense to do a little research before publishing.

Researching after writing might seem backward but it has helped me many times. Here is why I often research after writing:
  • To check that I haven't missed something really important on the topic.
  • To see what others' opinions are and whether there are points of debate I haven't addressed.
  • To make sure my information, instructions or lists are complete.
  • To develop a headline by seeing what shows up in Google searches.
Every time I research after writing, I've been glad I did. I often find ways to enhance my article and, even if I don't, it gives me confidence that I've done a good job.

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