Keep Moving Forward: Succeeding at your Goals

Tree blocking your pathIt is a beautiful day and you are talking a walk in the park.  You are following a path when all of sudden, there are large trees blocking your path.  You can see the clearing just beyond this massive grove of trees.  Then you notice the sign and it says, “Stay on the path and you will be successful in your journey.”  You take a step back and notice that the trees are in groups; fruit trees, evergreens and hardwoods and that if you could navigate the different groups, you can stay on the path and reach the clearing on the other side.

Your business (and your life)  can often feel like this park.  You know where you want to go in your business/life and yet there are so many things to accomplish that you can get “lost in the woods.”    However, if you take a step back and focus on what you need to accomplish, you will see that they can be grouped into different projects.   By completing each of these projects, you will feel less overwhelmed and reach your desired outcome.

There are three components to a successful project:

1)   Begin with the end in mind

2)   Set milestones to measure your progress

3)   Break it down into smaller pieces

Begin with the end in mind

Before jumping into your project, decide what you want as the outcome.  This becomes your target (I like targets so much better than goals but more on that another time.) Then set a deadline.  Deadlines can be used to your advantage and are proven to improve your success rate when trying to achieve your goals/targets.

A deadline is a time commitment by which your tasks must be achieved. They serve as a powerful reminder of not only what you are trying to achieve but that there is an end to the process. Project achievement is about setting a goal in a reasonable timeframe and building the plan to get you there.  If you do not set a deadline and you leave it open, human nature will allow you to believe that you have unlimited time to achieve the results you desire and procrastination will take over.

It is proven that those who set deadlines (and meet those deadlines) were twice as effective at completing projects and meeting their goals as those who didn’t.  Deadlines demonstrate commitment, accountability and urgency.

Set milestones to measure your progress

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when trying to achieve a project is to just plow ahead with a grand idea without drilling down the steps you need to take every day to get there.  If you don’t set milestones along the way with strong deadlines, you will not accomplish what you set out to accomplish.

Milestones allow you to determine the beginning, middle and the end for your project.  Once you set mini-deadlines, you can gauge if you are on track with your desired outcome or if you need to make adjustments along the way.  Making adjustments, in a timely manner, allows you to meet your overall goal of completing a successful project.

Milestones also show where you are in relation to your final destination.  They keep you motivated to continue along your path.  Imagine you are driving on vacation to a place where you know you will have fun and relaxation; you just need to get there.  You see the sign that says, “15 miles to your desired location.”  You become excited and continue on knowing that you are almost to your destination.  Reaching each milestone for your project will keep you excited and motivated until you reach the end.  Plan to celebrate each milestone as this will keep you motivated to get to the next one.

Break it down into smaller pieces

So we have determined that the successful completion of a project begins with having the end in mind and setting a deadline.  Then you created your signposts to let you know you are on the right track and to keep you motivated.  Now, let’s get down to actually working through the project.

Creating a webinar is an example of a project you may want to accomplish.  Some of the milestones may include determining an audience and a topic, setting the date, creating the content, creating a landing page for the webinar, creating the follow-up email campaign, presenting the webinar and creating a follow-up strategy to name a few.

Now take your milestone of determining a topic that appeals and is needed by your target audience.    How do you know what they want and what topic will provide information that is needed and positions you as an expert?  Some of the tasks involved in determining a topic may include:

~      reviewing your emails or blogs for questions from your audience

~     researching what your target audience needs

~      creating a survey to determine what your customers want

By breaking the project down into smaller tasks, you create momentum.  When you complete a task you move closer to the completion of your project.  Momentum is important when you are working toward a goal.  It is important to have consistent “mini wins” to feel successful.  Success breeds success and keeps you from becoming overwhelmed by your project.

So the next time you feel that your path is blocked, take a step back and see where you are.  Look for the next step toward achieving what you want.  After all, it is by taking that one little step that you can often seeing your way “out of the woods.”  Keep moving forward and you will reach your destination faster and with greater ease.

So what projects are you working on?

Values are a Key to Success- What are Yours?

Values are a key component of how we think, what we believe and how we show up in the world.  When you create you life and business based on what you value, you experience greater connection and passion.

What is Important to you Changes on a Regular Basis

Interestingly, your values can also be a window into how you are feeling on a particular day and thus what is important to you right at this moment.  So for fun, take a look and share what are the first 3 words you see.  Are you surprised?  OR did they reinforce what you already know is going on for you right now.  Share what you see and your reaction to it.  Consider how you might use this as you move through your day.  ENJOY!

So what are the first 3 words YOU see?
Values

Thrive For Success Blog: The Heck With Balance, Let’s Thrive

sueblogpix2I  invite you to change your thinking about work/life balance because I think  it is an unattainable myth. Yep, that is right. Work/Life balance is a Myth. There I have said it. Yes, I know it is one of the most universal sought after ideals. It is not just in North America but it is listed as one of the most important issues around the world. Everyone is seeking work/life balance.

Ah, but does seeking something automatically mean it is attainable?

I say “No!” At least not the way most people are going about work/life balance; as a “to-do” item and another thing that needs to be accomplished. There must be some secret out there to achieving it and if I try a little harder, I will achieve it also. And the game begins trying to find the secret to work/life balance.

There are plenty of people trying to sell you the secret

Everywhere you look there is a magazine article or someone else telling you “The 7 Ways to Achieve Work/Life Balance.” Again another “to do” item and boy, does it feel stressful. Not balanced in the way I want you to feel. What if we looked at balance as a “to be” item and that balance meant feeling a sense of harmony? Now we are getting somewhere that feels a little bit better.

I am not against balance per se but I think there is something much better

I just don’t think that being in balance is good enough. Once you get the seesaw of life “in balance”, something comes along to push you back out of balance. This kind of balance is static. It is a tenuous place to exist and people often are in a place of striving when trying “to balance it all”. So, I invite you to say, “the heck with balance, let’s thrive!” Now thriving in work and life is exciting and allows you experience your work and life in a way that is dynamic.

What exactly does thriving mean?

Thriving is a term we hear a lot about these days.  Thriving according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary means “To grow vigorously and/or to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances.” “Despite ofor “because of circumstances”; isn’t that another way of saying “life”. So thriving allows us to do our best work and experience our best life.   For years I have talked about Thriving and I like to add that when you are thriving, you are able to take risks; you are able to make mistakes and have “do-overs” so you don’t need to be perfect.

Thriving allows you to think and grow from a place of abundance and possibility. Sometimes thriving means slowing down and nourishing yourself as a plant often does in winter. Thriving is a way of Being instead of a way of Doing and it allows room for peace and harmony to co-exist with mistakes and messiness. All the while supporting you in moving forward toward your goals.  And by first “being” you can be more successful at taking action and “doing”.

How do I start to thrive?

If you are ready to thrive, I invite you to visit me here again at The Thriving Revolution, a community devoted to creating  businesses and lives that truly thrive.   I will be sharing (and inviting you to share) tips, resources, and ideas to support you and each other in this journey. Together we can accomplish so much more than we can alone.  Please add your comments below and join us at the Thriving Revolution Community Calls held on Tuesdays at 1 PM EDT beginning again in November 2016.

So, back to our myth that work/life balance is attainable. I hope you have decided that work/balance as another “to-do” item is no longer something you desire. I invite you to go beyond seeking balance so that your work and your life will both truly thrive.

Cross-Linking Blog Posts for More Interaction from your Readers

cross-link social media posts

What is Cross-linking?

As your blog starts to grow and you’re adding more and more posts, chances are readers won’t see every single post you write. Why not make it easy for them to find related content by cross-linking where appropriate.  You can even do this across social media platforms.

Here’s what I mean. Let’s say you blog about social media marketing and a particular post talks about using images effectively on Facebook. You could link within that post to an older post where you talk about using images on Twitter, or a more specific post where you explained how to fix things when Facebook doesn’t pull up the right image from your site. Do you see how this works?

The Power of Leveragecross-link social media posts

Let’s look at another example. Let’s say you’re writing a recipe blog and you’re sharing a new recipe for an amazing BLT tomato salad. You could link to an older post where you shared how to cook bacon in the oven. This is pretty easy stuff, right?  Or you can link to/from a post you did on Pinterest or Instagram or LinkedIn.  What about a video you posted on Youtube?  Sure, link them as well!   The more ways you can connect your content, the better.

This strategy serves a few different purposes. You’re engaging your readers more with your content. This gives them a chance to get to know you and your blog a little better. It also means you’re getting more exposure  and your visitor numbers will start to look better. It also helps you with search engines, believe it or not. They keep track of how long readers stay on your site and if they click around to read more. This is an indication of the quality of your content and your blog. In other words, if you can get readers to stick around longer, it will help your blog rank higher in the search engines.

Be of Service

Let’s not forget about the positive influence this has on your readers. You’re going out of your way to be helpful and share all sorts of great information with them. Not only does this allow your readers to get to know you better, it also builds credibility and trust which is exactly what you want.

Last but not least, the more pages your readers  look at, the higher your chances that they’ll comment or share your links on social media. That, in turn, will help you broaden your reach and grow your audience.  So, let’s see some cross-linking.

Today is the last day I am writing a  “How to” type blog for the October challenge ( I will keep sharing blogging strategies, resources and tips with those in the October Blog-A-Day Challenge so you can sign up  to keep getting this information –  http://www.blogadaychallenge.com).  I would love to hear what you have found helpful so far. 

Starting tomorrow I will demonstrate other ways you can blog and create a relationship with your audience. 

Yes, Your Blog Posts Need Images

Cute redhair dachshund is among the photos

Your blog is often the first thing new readers, new prospects, and new clients see of you and your online business and first impressions count. That means you need a well-designed and layout blog, great content, and pictures that draw you in and enhance your content. In other words, yes, your posts need images.

It doesn’t stop there. You want to keep encouraging your readers to come back and read more of your posts. Before that can happen, you need to catch their attention and draw them back in. It takes a while to build a loyal following of readers who will devour anything you write. Images will help draw them in again and again. In other words, yes, your posts need images.

We live in a very social and internet based world. One way to broaden your reach and grow the traffic to your blog is social media. Guess what captures attention on sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter. That’s right, it’s images. The images make people click through to read your blog post.

Getting Images

You have two options when it comes to getting images for your blog post. You can use your own pictures, or you can buy photos to use. Your best option for purchasing images is a stock photography site like Istockphoto.com, Depositphoto.com and Pixabay.com  to name a few. You can find both free and paid stock photo sites. Get your images and move on to the next step.

Formatting Images

How you format and size your pictures will depend on a few different things. The first is where and how you are displaying them in your blog post. Next, keep the different social media sites where you’re active in mind. Different sites prefer or convert better with different images sizes. Do a little research and come up with an image for each of your most important social media sites.

Images and SEO

Last but not least, let’s not forget about SEO. The file name and the alt tag are both used to determine what the page (or post) the image is found on is about. Use this to your advantage by including your keywords.

There you have it. Start using images in your posts regularly. Play around with style and things like adding text and titles to your images until you find a winning combination for you, your blog, and your audience.

Content Recycle – Turn Your Emails Into Blog Posts

recycle your content

recycleOnce you build a bit of a following with your blog, you will start to get questions and comments via email from your readers. Or you may find yourself chatting with a friend or colleague about a topic, again via email. Take a look at your inbox and more importantly your sent folder right now. Chances are you’re doing a good bit of writing on a regular basis and much of it applies to your target audience.

Reach a larger audience

Isn’t it a shame that many of these emails only go out to one person? Which means only one person potentially reads them?

And what about the emails you send out to your list? Yes, they get seen by many more, but once you’ve sent them, they are gone and a few days later no one will look at them again.

There is an easy little content recycle strategy that will turn those emails into evergreen content for your blog. The basic idea is simple. Anytime you write an email, be it a reply to one person, or an email you send to your list, ask yourself, “Can this content  be repurposed into a blog post?”

Recycling One-on-One Emails

An easy way to recycle one-on-one emails where appropriate is to introduce the topic, share the email conversation, followed by your comment where applicable.

For example, you may share how the conversation started or that you received a question from a reader in response to another post on your site. Then you would share the email they sent you (anonymously unless you’ve gotten permission to share their name) along with your reply.

From there you can elaborate a bit, or give more general advice if it was very specific. This is  a quick and easy post since you did most of the writing when you replied to the email.

Recycling Email Messages and A/R Messages to Your List

Paste the entire email message into drafts and edit away. Maybe you can expand on an idea or tip, or maybe all you need to do is change a few words so it reads more like a blog post than an email. Use the formatting tips we talked about a few days ago (here is the blog on formatting tips)  and you’re good to go.

Anytime you don’t feel like writing much, or don’t know what to blog about, dig through your emails. I’m sure you’ll find something you can use.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Down and Dirty Formatting Tips to Make Your Blog Posts Shine

blogging tips

blogging tipsWe live in a world where people have very short attention spans. We’re bombarded by so much content every single day, it simply isn’t possible to read and consume it all. The solution we have developed is to scan things quickly and decide if we want to invest the time to read the article, watch the video, or listen to the podcast.

Blog readers are no different. That’s why it is important to format your posts in a way that makes it easy to scan, get a quick idea of what the post is about, and then make a decision about reading it. That’s what formatting is all about. It’s an important step in your blogging process.

Add to that the fact that formatting is also an important part of on- page SEO and it is something you want to pay a lot of attention to.

Formatting For Your Readers

Always start by formatting for your readers. While search engines are important, they won’t do you any good if no one is reading your posts.

Make It Easy To Scan the Content

The most important thing you can do for your readers is to make it easy to scan the content. Use headlines, break up text, etc. to make it quick and easy to scan the post and figure out what it’s about. Of course your headline and your images are a big part of this.

Break Up Things into Bulleted or Numbered Lists

Break up your content, tips, ideas, etc. into lists. Depending on the context, those could be bulleted or numbered lists.  Lists are easy to ready, quick to scan, and help readers consume your content.

Keep Your Paragraphs Short

Reading online is different from reading a print book or newspaper. It’s much harder on the eyes, and since we’re consuming so much written content on a daily basis and scanning much of it, our attention span for reading has gone down quite a bit.

Make it easy on your readers to read your posts by keeping your paragraphs short. One to three sentences is usually all you want in each.

Bold important Concepts

Highlight the most important concepts or keywords of your post by bolding them. Not only does this help readers understand that this is an important point, it also helps with scanning before they commit to read your post.

Formatting For the Search Engines

Now that your post is pretty and easy to scan and read for humans, let’s talk about formatting for search engines.

Use H Tags

Using H tags like <h1>, <h2> etc. show search engines what words on the page are important. Use an H1 tag for your post title. If you’re using blogging software like WordPress, your theme should take care of this for you.

But don’t stop there. You can use various other H tags throughout your content. Let’s say your blog post can be slit up into two major sections like this post for example. One section is about formatting for readers, the other for search engines. Those sub headings are H2 tags.

Bold Key Words

This one is easy. If you haven’t already done so for your readers, find your main keyword and make it bold. This will also show search engines this particular word or piece of text is important. Don’t overdo it though.

Use Alt Tags in Images

As you’re adding images, include text in the alt tags that describes the image, but also includes your main keyword. As with the other tags and formatting tips, this will help with ranking.

Use Your Keywords in the Text

Last but not least, give your post a quick scan and make sure you’ve used your keyword several times in the main body of your post. Again, it’s important to strike a good balance here. Don’t overdo it, but also don’t forget to include it. In a 400+ word article like this, using the keyword about 3 times is a good general rule of thumb.

Quick Blog Content Idea: Answer Comments in New Blog Posts

Questions And Answers Computer Keys Showing Support Knowledge And WikisComing up with fresh content ideas for your blog isn’t always easy. Today I have a great new content tip for you and the best part is that some of your post is already written. It’s a bit like getting to skip ahead in line. Perfect for those busy days when your calendar is full but you want to get a blog post published.

Got Questions?

Keep an eye out for questions in comments. Save them, horde them, and when you need a quick post, take that question – copy and paste it into your blog and answer it. That was easy, wasn’t it?

Of course you want to answer your readers right away when you see the comment come up. Go ahead and do that. But keep a mental tab on this question and ask yourself this:

  • Will other people have the same question? (99% of the time the answer will be yes)
  • Is there more I can share on the topic?

If you answer yes to both questions (and most likely you will), then the commenter question qualifies for a follow up blog post. And that’s exactly what it is; a follow up to the original comment question and your answer.

Answer those questions

Start by introducing the topic or question. Share the question and then let your readers know that you wanted to give a more detailed answer, thus the new blog post. Share the answer you gave the reader in the original comment and elaborate as you see fit. That’s it. A quick and easy blog post and for a portion all you had to do was copy and paste.

Format it, add a graphic and you’re ready to hit publish. Rinse and repeat with other questions as they pop up in your comments. Readers love these types of posts because they often had the exact same question, but they were too shy to ask.

Your Personal FAQ section

If you find yourself with quite a few questions, you may even want to make this a new featured category on your blog. It will quickly become a valuable resource to your readers.  You can even answer them all at once (in different blog posts) and schedule them to be published on a certain day.  If you are consistent with this, your readers will know look forward to reading the answers.  You can also do this as a video if you would like just to give people a more personal connection to you as you are answering their questions.

It will save you time in the long run. By being thorough in your answer, it will not only apply to this exact question, but a multitude of related questions. When they pop up in comments, all you have to do is reply with a link to the post. You have created your own personal FAQ section for your blog.

Wasn’t that easy?  So, do you have any questions for me today?

Day 5: Blog-A-Day Challenge

Which is Better? Quick Blog Posts vs. Epic Blog Posts

blog post

Blog posts come in all shapes and sizes and range widely in both formatting and word length. Heck, some of them have (almost) no words at all, sharing instead and infographic or a video for example (more on this in a future post.)

For the purpose of today’s post, we’ll compare two different posts that are on opposite ends of the content spectrum – quick posts, or short posts, if you will vs. epic posts.

More than just about the word count

While there is no set number to define a quick post or an epic post, in my mind, short posts are anything under 500 words. Some may define it by a lower number. To me, the post you’re reading right now is on the long end of a quick post, and not just because of the low word count. More on that in a minute.

Epic posts are long, well-thought-out posts that convey a lot of information. They are usually at least 2,000 words long. They also take a lot more research and aren’t something you can quickly sit down and write in an afternoon.

Which brings us to the next big difference between quick posts and epic posts – and one that I think distinguishes between the two better than some random word count.

Epic Posts

An epic post requires some research and planning. You gather your thoughts, figure out what you want to share and convey and then come up with a plan or an outline. From there you spend some time writing a long post that covers a lot of ground. You may also choose to include several different images or graphics to illustrate your point or embed some videos. You may even go so far as to summarize the main points of your post in an infographic.

There’s a lot more work that goes into an epic post and it isn’t something you’ll want to publish two to three times per week. Instead, it’s the rare project you put together to gain authority, links, and hopefully a lot of traffic via social media and the search engines.

Quick Posts

Quick posts on the other hand are something you can write and share quickly. They are shorter and to the point and frankly, are easier to read. These are your bread and butter posts. Quick posts are the posts that you’ll publish several times per week to keep your readers happy & engaged and your blog fresh.

Each type of post has its place in your publishing schedule. Are you using both types of posts?

Use Drafts to Get Ahead with your Blogging

writing-quillI have a quick tip for you today that will come in handy as you’re working on getting ahead on your blogging. It’s using the draft feature. Yes, it’s handy that WordPress and most other blogging platforms have a way to save your posts as drafts so you can continue to work on it over the course of a few days. It’s even better that they usually auto-save for you – at least it is in my case. But there’s another great way to use the draft feature.

You can use drafts to get ahead of the blogging game in several different ways. Let’s start with the most obvious one.

Use Drafts to Work on Your Next Blog Post (or Two)

The most obvious way to use drafts is of course to work on your current blog post until it is ready to publish. But don’t just stop there. If you know you have a busy day tomorrow or later on in the week, go ahead and give yourself a head start by creating a draft and working on it here and there as you can fit it in your busy day. You’ll be glad you did when it comes time to wrap up that particular post.

Use Drafts to Plan Out Your Week

You can also use drafts to plan out your blogging for the week. Let’s say you want to post 5 times per week. Come up with 5 topics and create a draft for each. Then start working on them, making sure you wrap up and publish at least one of the posts on each of your publishing days.

Not only will this keep you on track and show you at a glance what you’ll be blogging about this week, it also allows you to work on multiple posts throughout the week, giving you options when you get stuck on writing one post.

Use Drafts as A Way of Storing Blog Post Ideas

Let’s wrap this up with my favorite way to use the drafts feature. And that’s to use it as storage container for ideas for future blog posts. Here’s how to do it. When you get an idea for a blog post, go ahead and create a draft. Come up with a working title and make a quick note of what your blog post will be about. If you’re feeling ambitious, go ahead and write a quick outline for the post. Then save it as a draft.

Do this anytime you come up with an idea and save them for later. Then whenever you need something to blog about, browse through your drafts and pick one of these. The idea is there and you may even have done some of the writing already. These drafts make for fast blog posts and are just the thing when you’re suffering from writer’s block.