All posts by Wendy Dessler

Wendy is a super connector who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses her efforts on developing customized marketing plans depending on the industry and competition.

work culture
Digital Branding

Creating A Workspace Culture With Your Employees In Mind

Is your workspace culture employee-oriented? Are your employees satisfied with their workspace? If you asked around your office how everyone feels about their surroundings, not every answer is going to be positive. The fact is that in these modern times, often people aren’t happy with the place they are working in.

If you don’t update the workspace or ignore providing your employees with benefits, this is certainly going to be true. In result, their productivity will downfall, and your business efforts will suffer. Therefore, it is essential that you create a workspace culture that focuses on your employees.

Have a mission and a vision

Do you know where your company is going? It is vital that you have a mission and a vision of your company’s state and future. Define what your business is about, where it’s heading, and why it’s there in the first place.

By doing this, you will create a kind of compass. It will help you know which moves are right and which are wrong. Everyone in your company needs to be aligned with this. By knowing your mission and vision, your workers can actually feel like they are a part of it. They will be able to contribute to it, and feel like their contribution matters.

Without it, you and everyone else will feel like they’re lost at sea.

Have office design in mind

Office design is one of the essential aspects of how your workers feel about their workspace, and it can boost or diminish their productivity. You don’t want to be looking for cheap solutions. You also don’t want to go for an overcrowded space where people feel like they are in a jam.

productivity tips

As an employer, you want to provide your workers with a place where they can feel comfortable doing their jobs. An important aspect of this is providing them with ergonomic furniture. You need to think about your employees’ health.

Encourage social interaction

It is essential to encourage social relations between your employees, as they are important for them to feel like they are a part of a team and therefore satisfied. You should focus on creating a workspace that promotes communication. You can arrange workstations in a way that employees can interact with each other.

Furthermore, don’t forget about office celebrations and birthdays. Even when there isn’t a particular reason to celebrate, call everyone for a lunch together. You can even promote socialization outside office hours via volunteer programs. This is a chance for people to build relationships outside the office.

Think about hygiene and cleanliness

Proper hygiene and cleanliness are vital for every workplace, and they boost your employees’ productivity and morale. Working at a messy office full of clutter isn’t something anyone wants to do. You need to have your office space carefully thought of, and look for good storage solutions to keep the only the items that are actually necessary in the office.

Next to that, the cafeteria needs to provide various choices of healthy food. You need to hire a reliable company to get rid of pests that might be an issue in your offices, such as cockroaches. You don’t want the workspace to be a health hazard.

Build trust with your employees

Your workers want to be treated like people and not like robots which are assigned to finish tasks. Every person wants to be acknowledged for what they have done. That is why it is important that you form a relationship with them that has trust as its foundation.

productivity

They want to know that you believe them to do their job, and to know that their efforts have some worth. While constructive criticism is occasionally necessary, you need to make every employee feel like they are worth your trust and that they are a part of your company.

In summation

Your employees are the cogs of the machine that is your business, so it is essential that you create a workspace culture that focuses on them. They need to be satisfied with their workplace and feel like they are a part of the team. You need to prioritize their health and encourage social activities, in order for them to bond together, and be more productive at work.

How does today's branding work?
Digital Branding

Today’s Social World Branding

In today’s social media enriched society, many businesses assume they can do the branding and marketing themselves.  This could not be farthest from the truth.  Businesses, new or old, need help with their brand and marketing more than ever in our social world branding environment.

Remember there is a difference in brand and marketing.  Brand IS the Company and what you represent.  Branding includes everything about the company, from the tag line, to colors, to logo and more.

Marketing is the effort(s) put into making your brand known.

What are some practical tips that small businesses can take until they can hire a company or someone knowledgeable to assist with branding and marketing?  There are some things a business can do, especially in the social world, to help make their brand known.  This can even lay some groundwork for help later.

Branding Tips Include:

  1. Audience – who are you trying to reach?
  2. Consistency – are you consistently putting out articles, blogs, posts and more?
  3. Hashtags – be sure to make use of hashtags for the industry you are in and your company name, as well as, who the brand wants to reach.
  4. Focus – there must be a focus, not simply putting out a massive amount of data or arbitrary posts.

Audience

An important factor to reaching others with your brand is to make sure that you are targeting the right audience.  Too many people and companies throw so much up on social media but do not try to reach a specific audience. They are casting a net that is too wide and, if anything anyone is reached, it is usually by mere accident. 

To begin targeting the right audience you must think like the person(s) or company you are trying to reach.  Who would be your perfect client? Even consider some of your current or past clients that were a great fit. Assign a name and characteristic to your ‘ideal client’.

There are many good ways to write up a profile of your ‘Ideal Client’ that a simple Google Search can assist in finding.  Many go to the trouble of drawing or sketching their ideal client (often also called a ‘Buyer Persona’).  There are many templates that can help you through the process of finding out ‘who is your ideal client?’.

Consistency

It is impossible to build a brand, especially in the social media world of today, without being consistent.  There are too many images, sounds, and videos on social media to make an impact if you are not always making sure you are branding your work and shares. 

Inconsistency breeds confusion.

Consistency not only applies to branding all posts but also applies significantly to how much you share.  The company must post on a regular basis whether you want to or not, whether you have material or not.

A couple of ways to keep consistent posting:

Use a scheduler for curated content – this can be Buffer, HootSuite, Social Pilot or others.  In the past Buffer was our go-to, but recently changed to Social Pilot and must admit is much better with awesome options at reasonable pricing. You can even find out the best times to post with these programs and set it as scheduled and leave it.

Create content ahead of time.  When there are a few extra minutes somewhere (I know it is unusual for a business owner), but sit for 5-15 minutes and capture quotes or write a blog, even record a few tips on your phone or computer and schedule it to post when needed.

Post at least a few times a day.  It used to be good practice to just post a few times a week. That is no longer the case.  Think of all the images and videos that come across one of your platforms in a day.  It really would be impossible to know a brand without seeing it often.  It can take 7 touch points before someone will begin to think about doing business with your brand.  How will they be able to have those if they only see 1-2 posts from the brand every other day?  It certainly will not stick in the mind unless consistent.

Hashtags

Yes, use hashtags!  Those little ‘#’ symbols before wording and separate them with a comma.  Be sure to decide on a hashtag for the company prior to beginning to use.  Shorten the name, if it is a long name, and if able include the local city. For instance, our local networking group is eWomenNetwork and we are in Richmond, Virginia.  The organization is International, so our hashtag is  #ewnrva.

Be sure to use hashtags related to the industry you are in and where your ideal client will be hanging out.  If the person your company is trying to reach is in groups of sales, then you would include #sales or #salestips possibly.  There are many articles regarding the use of hashtags, so if curious about more information they are easy to find.

Focus

Finally, Focus is key.  When doing social world, branding keep focused on the core values and brand of the company.  This includes curated content and other posts you share.  If your company is a marketing company trying to reach lawyers, you do not want to share how your grandchild just cut his first tooth on your company page.  Keep focused on the goals set and keep the brand and colors the same in all you share as much as possible. Others will soon recognize the articles and posts you share on online as coming from your company. 

It is very easy to become sidetracked and distracted on social media.  Therefore, the focus should also apply when online sharing.  Set a timer or even as soon as finished doing the company work, just disengage.  Save it for personal time, otherwise, three hours go by without your realizing. Be mindful and focused on the people you are trying to reach.  Try to think from their perspective and what they will want to see or what would be helpful to them.

Social media can be very successful for many brands.  Although it is recommended to hire a professional, it is understandable that small businesses, starting out, may want to try some of these steps themselves.  Be mindful while you are on social media that you represent the brand. When able, hire a professional to assist your company with their social world branding.

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Tammy Durden is President & Founder of Tammy’s Office Solutions.  Tammy’s Office Solutions helps micro, small and enterprise businesses in bookkeeping, digital marketing (brand, social media+), virtual assistant services (OBM, Presentations+) and Writing Services.  Tammy loves empowering disabled professionals to work by assisting their clients to achieve success.

pexels-photo-388240
Local Branding

Brilliant Tips for Wedding Invitations

Wedding invitations are a very important part of the wedding ceremony. However, they can also bring a lot of stress. They must be designed, mailed, and RSVP cards must be collected. They announce your wedding and advise you of who will attend and what their food choices are. This can be the difference in preparing food for 100 guests or for 200 guests. The difference is a lot of expense.

Today’s bride is in a unique position. Until recent years the wedding rules of etiquette were written in stone. It was tacky and tasteless to change the standard invitations and you had to include all of the accessories. The family of the bride would be embarrassed. You would be the talk of the town and you’re standing in the community would not get off to a good start.

The modern couple knows their wedding is theirs alone. They have options past generations did not have. Invitations are being customized to match the style of the actual wedding. There is nothing wrong with using a casual design for the vineyard wedding where the groomsmen will wear jeans. You can skip the ivory paper with gold or black print and use colors. The colors should match the colors of your wedding. Like your brand, you should use the same colors on your wedding social media sites.

The wording does not have to be strictly formal. In fact, a very formal invitation to a less than formal wedding is quite confusing for your guests.

Consider the function of the item you are working on. The invitation is to announce your wedding and ask people to join you. It should be in your style and taste and include the necessary information. If it does, then it is “right”. The RSVP card is to advise you of who will attend so you can plan. Make sure they serve their purpose and go with it.

Remember the only people that need be impressed are you and groom.

We will share with you tips from brides, printers, and others who know first hand about the challenges of wedding invitations.

wedding-invitations

Pro Tips

  1. Theo, Development Manager of Eventrii offers this tip.
    “In our experience due to a common problem of lack of RSVP’s to invitations, we have found that giving your guests sufficient time and a simple clear channel to RSVP generates the best response. Typically, no less than 6 weeks allows your guests to make arrangements so they can attend your special day. Using Eventrii allows organizers to send well-designed invitations with a QR code that allows guests to respond at any time using their electronic device and only takes a few seconds to do. It also generates a guest list for the organizer.”
  2.  Demi Mist, creator of Beauty and The Mist gives this advice.
    “Your wedding invitations should be sent to your guests at least six weeks before the big day. This way your friends and relatives will have enough time to arrange a couple of days off work or book a hotel room if necessary. The sooner they know, the better!”
  3. DOM Barnard, of Virtuals Speech, tells us.
    “While it’s important to match the design of the invitation with your personality and wedding theme, don’t get too carried away with fancy fonts. The purpose of your invitation is to provide details of your wedding and where the guest can RSVP so make sure that your font isn’t so elaborate that it’s difficult to read what the invite actually says. It’s best to stick to a more simple font or traditional calligraphy style that everyone can easily read, and ensure that the font colour contrasts enough with the background so that the purpose of your invite is clear.”
  4. Professional, Lizzy D. Lee of DoLeeNoted.com explains money saving techniques.
    “Coming from someone who made all 291 of her wedding invitations on a budget, my best advice for DIY invitations is to create the wording template on Microsoft Word or Microsoft Powerpoint and then print them in bulk at Staples. You can bring your own cardstock to print onto, or you can use the cardstock Staples has available. I also included RSVP links on my invitations in lieu of postcards to further save on postage and printing costs, although I did include printed postcards for guests who are not as tech-savvy and aren’t as comfortable clicking a URL to RSVP.”

 

How To Create A Video Advertisement That Works?
Digital Branding

Real Talk: How To Make A Video Advertisement That Influences

This is a guest post from Gary Cain of Memory Tree, a video production company that works with high tech firms in Austin, Texas and Waterloo, Ontario. Over the last two decades, they’ve produced thousands of videos, from 30-second National TV commercials to 20-minute orientation videos produced in 18 languages and everything in between.
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Times are A-Changin’

When you’re creating a promotional video, there’s a temptation to stick with the same old format we’ve been seeing for years — the classic booming announcer’s voice, grand statements, and a smiling homemaker washing pans with fragrant dish soap. The trouble is, the classic ad format doesn’t work like it used to. According to a recent Marketo survey, nearly two-thirds of consumers are sick and tired of the hard-sell.  The classic ad format is seen as insincere and their messages just aren’t seen as credible. The times have changed, and consumers are now rewarding brands that communicate with authentically. The days, people are only responding positively to real talk.

Nobody Trusts your CEO

No matter how inspiring and earnest your CEO, a message directly from him or her may still fall flat. When you have a personal vested interest in selling your product, people will be skeptical of everything you say. The solution? Let someone else do the talking for you.

Choose a Champion

Find a champion — a customer that’s not only willing but eager to talk about how your product or service has enriched their life.  To convince consumers that your product is worthwhile, it helps to hear it from somebody who is just like them. 

In this video for Westmount Golf & Country Club by Memory Tree, a lifelong member shares his personal story.

 

 

If you’re a little misty-eyed after watching that, you’ve experienced firsthand the powerful impact that a lightly branded advertisement can have on a viewer.  This advertisement is effective because of its authenticity; a real person sharing a personal story about his life and family.  The golf course is another character in the greater narrative. The drone footage of the mist over the greens and sound-ups of the birds are there to convey that this is a special place. It’s the quiet backdrop that facilitates important moments of father-son bonding and communication. Instead of a cheesy slogan followed by a “sign up today” call to action, Westmount simply adds their name briefly at the end – a light touch that completes an authentic message.

Conclusion 

People crave authenticity. If you believe your product has made a positive impact in the lives of your clients, let one of them become your champion in your next advertisement. By allowing someone else to tell a real story that involves your brand, you will gain the trust and the business of your target audience.

Building a social media presence
Digital Branding

The Branding Power Of A Strong Social Media Presence

This is a guest post from Pamela Henning of Tresnic Media, a digital agency that helps brands implement growth marketing systems that turn strangers into customers. Her experience in social media is vast, so we got a chance to pick her brain a bit – read away!

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Social media is one of the most powerful tools companies have at their disposal. It allows them to frame themselves in just the right lighting. Companies who maintain a consistent presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and/or Pinterest are more successful than their competitors who don’t.

These social media platforms help to increase brand exposure, leverage credibility, close cold conversions, capture referrals, and overall increase cash flow and customer engagement.

Increase brand awareness through social media presence

It isn’t rocket science, it’s simple math.

A greater social media presence creates a greater opportunity to be recognized. More impressions equal more brand exposure, which makes your company more popular and credible.

For example, suppose you want to be hired as a keynote for a conference. Most event planners start their search for credible candidates the same place we do when we’re looking for answers–Google. By establishing an online presence through social media, you’re more likely to rank higher on search engines, increase your popularity, expand your following, and improve your chances of being seen as an industry leader.

Leverage credibility

So you’re not the most credible source yet–no one knows about your little company. What if you’re an entrepreneur and Mark Cuban retweets you? Or Gary Vaynerchuk? What does that say about your brand to their audience? What does that say to your audience?

Social media is powerful stuff. It’s the easiest way to leverage credibility. One of the biggest challenges any business can face is creating trust. Social media posts connect you to industry leaders and their following. Their “share” is a non-committal way that they can endorse your product, increasing your credibility. Something as slight as a retweet could open a huge door for new leads to come pouring through.

Close cold conversions

Let’s say a potential customer has identified their problem and is evaluating potential solution providers. If you have a social media presence (blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) and your competitor doesn’t, who do you think is going to gain their trust and capture their attention? You. If you and your competitor both have a social media presence, but your content is better than your competitors, who do you think will win? You. Again! So much winning, because you understand the importance of managing your brand with an active online presence.

Capture referral

People don’t trust companies they don’t know, but they do trust reviews. Last year, a study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found that 45% of digital buyers worldwide said that reading reviews, comments and feedback on social media influenced their digital shopping behavior.

Social media is the ultimate tool to promote positive customer experiences. You can do so by featuring customer testimonials or by simply responding to people who mention you. The best part about social media is that a little bit goes a long way. You don’t need to write a three page thank you letter to your customers, but favoriting one of their tweets will make you more human and, therefore, more likable.

Increase cash flow

In addition to establishing an online presence, leveraging credibility, and capturing referrals, social media can act as a funnel to your website, where you can convert strangers into customers.

If people like the things you are sharing and the personality of our company based on what they have gathered from your social media platforms, they will want to learn more. Social media is an excellent opportunity to nurture your customers through each stage of the buyer’s journey.

Improve customer engagement and satisfaction

Remember what I said about social media making companies more human? I meant it. Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook literally give companies a voice. Better yet, they let companies have conversations. How a business interacts with not only their audience but the things that their audience is interested in makes them more relatable, more likable, and more trustworthy. Are you sensing a theme?

Check out some of my favorite (and most successful) social media accounts:

@Wendy’s Twitter
@burtsbees Facebook
@AlexandAni Pinterest
@RedBull Youtube

productivity-tips
Digital Branding

40+ Productivity Tips To Save Your Life And Business

Productivity is essential for the efficiency of your personal life and business life as well.
Overcoming the deadlock of the dreadful indecision and taking that first step is much appreciated and wanted.
After all, when talking about boosting productivity, you will surely improve yours once you go through all the rules presented in this article.

As a single mom who juggles kids, baseball games and running a business, it’s so important to stay on top of everything that needs to get done. Let’s face it, we wear a lot of hats as a woman. Something that I do every day is to create a list of what needs to be done. I tackle those big important ones first. You know, the ones that people put on the back burner while they go through those little, easy to complete ones. I think we have all been guilty of that! Creating your daily list, completing ones that immediately generate revenue first, then the ugly ones that we put off and following up with the little things that can be pushed off to tomorrow if need be. By following this pattern, I feel more accomplished by the end of the day! Deanna Fusillo, Sassy Girl Media

There’s a really simple way to increase productivity. Make an audit of your daily work routines and identify all points that you can automate or cut loose. E.g. use a tool like YouCanBook.me to avoid what I call the “meeting setup ping pong” (“Hey, is Wednesday at 9 AM ok?”, “So maybe Thursday?”) and integrate your CRM with other software. By eliminating few clicks from every process, you gain more time to do the stuff that matters. Bartosz Majewski, Right Hello

It’s so important that tasks are delegated between your team. Do not undertake tasks that are too large and cannot be completed within a certain timeframe. The hardest aspect to this is trusting the team behind you. We’re lucky enough here at MadeByShape to have a solid team who love what they do and excel in their relevant fields. Andy Golpys, Made By Shape

productivity

The CEO of Swipii, Chitresh Sharma, quoted Winston Chruchill on productivity as his favorite tip: “Success is the ability to move from one failure to another without loss of enthusiasm.”

Identify your biggest obstacles that are preventing you from reaching your goals. For example, as a writer, I need to find a way to write stellar content efficiently to get more work from return clients and attract new clients. To achieve my goals, I use Grammarly to make the editing process much easier and a tool like Ninja Outreach to scour for potential leads. By refining your goals, you pinpoint goals you need to accomplish and focus all your energies to reach them.
Christopher Jan Benitez, ChristopherJanB.

As a content marketing team, we find automation and routinizing the most effective.
Automate less creative processes by using management tools (Trello), editing and proofreading (Grammarly, Hemingway) and more. This clears more space for creativity.
There’s a blend of collaboration and solitary work in marketing to keep everyone on track – so time management is crucial. Choose whatever works best for meeting deadlines – the 5-3-1 rule, the Pareto Principle, or the Pomodoro Technique. But to boost the quality, this content strategy is essential:
Conceptualization. Research the topic in general and understand the basic concepts.
Ideation. Research smaller chunks – micro-goals are easier to achieve and more manageable.
Drafting. A first draft is not a post yet. It outlines two or three problem areas that might interest our audience.
Writing. Research key ideas in depth and develop them into articles.
Revision. Look at ways of getting ideas across through storytelling, imagery, and metaphor. Choose the tone. Improve cohesion and readability. Konstantin Pogrebnoy, Code Tiburon

I am always looking for ways to do my work more efficiently and thus I like to develop scripts and workflows to optimize my work, this allows me to increase my output while reducing the amount of time I spend on a particular task. Also, a big productivity booster is the fact that I delegate, reduce or eliminate tasks that I don’t need to do. I really believe in and live by the 80/20 rule which states that 80% of the results that I achieve will come from 20% of the tasks, so I only focus on the tasks that will yield the best results. Alejandro Rioja, Flux Ventures

Plan your day before going to bed, get up early next morning, take on the least desirable and energy burning tasks first, and stay away from social media! Desirable and energy burning tasks first, and stay away from social media! Saad Khan, Cygnis Media, Inc
productive-energy

Work with a Timer – I always use a timer when writing articles or working on a project. This strategy lets me dedicate a set amount of time to devote to a project and helps me stay on task. I use Toggl and can see the timer ticking on the tab at the top of my computer screen. Writing becomes a game to beat the clock. If I gave myself 2 hrs that day to write an article draft and see the timer creeping towards the deadline, I can feel a surge of determination to get more done and more words on paper before the time is up.

Get Rid of Your Phone –  Do more than putting your phone on silent – get it out of sight! I throw mine in a drawer and don’t touch it until break time. Better yet, try giving it to a trusted co-worker and make sure they don’t give it back to you until the break you pre-establish with them. While you may know better than to respond to a text while working on a project, even glancing down at your phone screen when it lights up with a notification can cause you to lose focus. Kaycee Wegener, Rentec Direct

For me, planning and prioritizing are the key to maximizing productivity. I always plan my weeks and days in advance, using Trello to map out my tasks, prioritize activities and ensure I hit my deadlines. Trello is also great for teams, helping everyone keep track of what they and their team-mates are working on. Cam Shearer, Digital Risks

Even though I work for a technology company, I still rely on writing to-do lists in notebooks to check off each task I complete. It adds an extra feeling of accomplishment and keeps me organized. I also like to set appointments for myself on my Outlook calendar – this allows me to prioritize and get the most important things done without interruption. – Ashley Fontes, Tech Networks of Boston

to-do-lists

I’m more productive when I give my attention to one thing at a time, so setting my phone to airplane mode helps me focus on the task at hand and frees me from the distraction of endless notifications. Nwando Ivenso, CapitalSquare

Always pre-plan the subjects and points you want to touch on before you dive in. This helps separate the create processes and the writing processes & always results in a lot more of a focused & informative blog post. Personally I mindmap all the points I want to cover, then arrange the headings after to create a logical flow through the article. If you aren’t a mindmap fan I know other well-known bloggers who just bullet point all the points they want to cover first then start writing. Henry Reith, Fridge Magazine

The most powerful productivity technique that I use before starting any sizeable task, or even before starting my day, is planning, planning, planning! Starting with the end in mind gives you a great head start.
When you have an idea of how you want something to go, it’s much easier to begin a task (no easy feat) and stay focused on it (probably even more difficult).

A simple, yet astonishingly useful tool you can use in any situation is the list.

A list is an extremely versatile tool, in that it allows for quickly jotting down steps or building a detailed plan.
With big projects, I like to break down my lists into categories. When I’m creating a website, for example, I’ll break down my list to include staff, roles, budget. marketing. social media, and so on.

Whether a list is straightforward or intricate, it remains a powerful key to getting organized and staying on task.

Acey Gaspard, A Touch of Business

I’ve found that one of the best ways to work productively is to plan out your entire week as if it were a puzzle. Whether it’s a regular weekly take, a long on-going project or a quick one-shot task, we only have a certain amount of time during the week to get work done. Make a list of all your weekly tasks and block out time during your week to work on each task. Schedule time to work on high priority tasks earlier in the week and lower priority tasks later in the week. This will ensure that you have time to touch on all projects and make the most of your time. Shawn McFadden, Dallas Riffle

productivity

Having an editor and someone to post the finished article is essential. It’s usually the last 10% of edits and getting it live that I find most challenging. Being able to hand that off to others is extremely valuable and helps me keep my commitments. Diona Kidd, Knowmad

Write and post on a schedule and post the same time each week. If you can’t post at least once a week you probably shouldn’t be blogging for a living. Look to hire help if you can’t post regularly, such as freelance writers, to keep your blog fresh. If you don’t have the funds, many writers will write for credit, if you promote them on your site. Shell Harris, TopTenz.net

As a blogger and a freelance writer, I never had the luxury to wait for inspiration to start working. I had to train myself to work whether I feel like it or not. So, after searching for ways to keep myself focused on my work and motivated I found out about the 52/17 rule. It’s simple. You work for 52 minutes with the complete focus on the task at hand and take a break for 17 minutes. Then you repeat. I use a timer app on my phone to manage this. So far, it’s been quite effective. Roshan Jerad Perera, Freelancing Hacks

“Constant distractions from social media and email made it hard for me to focus when working on my book series, so I had trouble meeting deadlines with my publisher and editor. To remedy that, I began to check my email and social media first thing in the morning and then unplug from the outside world for four hours. My productivity has more than doubled and the quality of my writing is much better when working with no interruptions. My routine has become food for my soul.” Cherie Ruffo, author of Amanda Fisher & the Source Crystals book series, CherieRuffo

“Automation is my greatest productivity hack. Good automation means keeping your personal touch while spending less time doing it!” Sean and Mittie, Sean and Mittie

To make my days as productive as possible, I schedule tasks in my calendar the night before. Rather than just winging my todo list, I treat every task that needs to get done as an appointment. This keeps me on track and ensures that everything gets done in a timely manner. Allyssa Barnes,allyssabarnes.com

Don’t lean on technology. Technology can be a godsend to productivity, but it can also be a time suck. I have applications that allow me to sync my calendars and task lists to my various devices, which is great. However, I’ve also spent countless hours trying to figure out different programs in the name of productivity to no avail.

Be the dumbest person in the room

One of the best productivity hacks I’ve learned is to hire people who are better at specific things than I am. I actively work to ensure I’m the dumbest person in the room. By doing this, I become less needed on a day-to-day basis to complete projects, and the company’s talent actually accomplishes more than I ever could. Joshua Conran, Deksia

I’ve found that the best way to increase productivity is to create a routine around the tasks that need to get done. I do the same things at the same time each day. It may sound robotic, but I also block time for ideas that require more creative thinking. This way everything has a place and a process. These routines quickly turn to habits once repeated, and I find myself checking off my to-do list rather easily. Joseph DiTomaso, All The Rooms

As a working mom, I typically get my kids up and off to school in the mornings. This could leave me quite unproductive since I often don’t even get into the office until after 9:00am. However, about a year ago I started getting up early to do my hardest work (brain work and writing) after meditating. To be most productive schedule meetings and other “talking” in the afternoon. Amy Rosenberg, president Veracity

Keep your email minimized during the day to tackle what’s on your to-do list. Set designated times to check your inbox such as 11am for 30 minutes and 6pm for 30 minutes. This will help you tackle your to-do list and eliminate interruptions.  Lindsay Joy Higgins, LeaveittoLindsay.com 

I’ve found that changing up my location is incredibly helpful for increasing my productivity. When I get restless while working in an office or at home, going to a local library or cafe can revitalize my creativity. For me, it’s important to choose a new work location that’s quiet, as I’m always reading and writing. The morning is my most productive time and it’s often most helpful for me to change up my environment in the afternoon and evening to keep that flow going.  Angelica Valentine, Proto.io
As a blogger and a freelance writer, I never had the luxury to wait for inspiration to start working. I had to train myself to work whether I feel like it or not. So, after searching for ways to keep myself focused on my work and motivated I found out about the 52/17 rule. It’s simple. You work for 52 minutes with the complete focus on the task at hand and take a break for 17 minutes. Then you repeat. I use a timer app on my phone to manage this. So far, it’s been quite effective. Roshan Jerad Perera, Freelancing Hacks

A strategized task-list can really boost your productivity level drastically.  Start the day with tasks that directly align with your “bigger picture” then gradually move on to other day-to-day less commanding tasks.  Avoid getting lost in your to-do lists by reviewing your performance daily to assure being on the right track. David Kosmayer, CEO – Bookmark Website Builder

Stay inspired – in my case this means getting outside and challenging myself to new Kauaʻi hiking adventures on a regular basis. By doing so I am able to write with more fluidity and passion, remembering why I started the blog in the the first place and coming up with great new content ideas. I feel it’s very important to maintain a directly felt sense of connection to your subject matter/that of which you are most passionate about! Jeremiah Felsen, Kauai Hiking Tours 

List everything. I use a mix of paper lists and SimpleNote app, so I have my lists everywhere. Breaking work into manageable chunks makes life much easier. Elliot Taylor, Raison

Even though I work for a technology company, I still rely on writing to-do lists in notebooks to check off each task I complete. It adds an extra feeling of accomplishment and keeps me organized. I also like to set appointments for myself on my Outlook calendar – this allows me to prioritize and get the most important things done without interruption.   – Ashley Fontes, Tech Networks of Boston

Limit your time for everything.  The more time you allow yourself to complete a task the longer you will take so keep deadlines short.  If you give yourself a week to complete something that will only take 2 hours if you just crack on with it then get on with it, do it quickly, finish it and move on to the next thing. Lynette Green, Virtual Head Office

Set Goals and prioritize daily! In addition to establishing goals, I find myself constantly re-prioritizing things daily. Working in a content and advertising operations environment means things are always going to pop-up that need immediate attention. These can be a major distraction against overall productivity. Prioritizing daily, allows me to measure not only what was accomplished each day but keep a tally against overall productivity tied back to my goals. Everyone has their own methods of organization whether it is lists, post-its, notes, email, tasks, etc. but prioritization is the key to increasing productivity. Mark Verone, Gogo 

At wandermelon, we believe in setting yourself up today for tomorrow. So the day is not done till you’ve written up tomorrow’s to-do list, in order of importance, and cleared your desk in preparation for a brand new day. To begin, try a cold shower, a brisk walk and a hot cuppa to energize the body. Then, all you need to do is focus your mind on your list and power through it – no distractions! Reward yourself with a healthy mid-morning smoothie, do some yoga stretches with the cat, cross those done’s off, and move on to the B, C, D list. Rinse and Repeat. Kate Ayrton,  Wandermelon

Understand, Understand, Understand — Understand your audience, you must know who you’re talking to so you can save time. Understand people! Once you understand your audience, understanding what makes your audience tick is your next step. Finally, understand your craft and become an expert in your industry. As an SEO, I have to be an expert so I can reassure people without any doubt that I can help their rankings grow. James McMinn JR, Matchbox Design Group

productivity hacks

The most important part of productivity is process, and the most important part of process is people – you’re only as good as your process and your people.” Anthony De Marco, Boston Web Group

 Keep blog posts short, and always include a picture!  I try to keep my blog posts short enough so that they fit on the average cell phone screen, and I always include an attention-grabbing photo.  Miriam Otto, Blue Frog Shoes
My most effective technique for getting things done is to map out a schedule of my entire day with clear, actionable goals. The night before, I’ll write down 3 goals that I need to accomplish the following day. As soon as I get to my office, I map out my schedule hour by hour leaving just enough time to accomplish those 3 goals while still allowing for regular meetings and anything else that might pop up. This forces me to stay focused and get things done because I hate not accomplishing my goals. – Christophe Limpalair, Scale Your Code
best-tech-blogs
Digital Branding

50+ Best Marketing And Tech Blogs To Follow In 2017

The universe of tech blogs is vast!
One of the reasons for it is an inescapable fact: people interested in technology spend hours and hours time with computers, so there’s no surprise why a Web-based medium is so wildly popular.

Just notice how many more tech blogs there are than, say, blogs about home remodeling or sailing! And, surprise, surprise there are even more tech blogs than blogs dedicated to cute kittens.

So, in the ocean of opportunities, the question becomes more difficult than ever: Which of all of these tech blogs are worth your time?

To help answer that, the following list surveys the very best:

1) Gizmodo
Shiny tech toys, cell phones, portable electronics, gaming consoles – all the stuff that helps you increase your credit card balance.

2) Engadget
Still more tech toys, like a calculator watch and a device that reads aloud your Twitter feeds. (Do you really want to hear them?). A good place to look for the newest generation of mini Netbooks.

3) Lifehacker
Learn how to live more productively by leveraging the latest technology, from new software to helpful gadgets. For instance, find out how to recycle a cereal box into gift packaging or find the best FTP clients.

4) TechCrunch
An exhaustive range of tech subjects, from Web business news to software releases to consumer trends to enterprise IT. Co-edited by Michael Arrington and Erick Schonfeld, who seem to have a pipeline to all the upcoming rumors.

5) Scobleizer – Tech Geek Blogger
Robert Scobleizer is obsessed with technology. A constant and intensely passionate commentator who follows tech news of every stripe.

6) GigaOM
Speaking of obsessed: the hard working Om Malik had a heart attack at the end of 2007, but just keeps on posting (though he does claim to be off the Scotch and cigarettes). Malik and his team focus on broadband, Web news, mobile, and more.

7) Silicon Valley Insider
The deals, the dirt, the money – even as you read this, someone is pitching to someone.

8) Valleywag
Gossipy, uncensored stuff – both business and personal – about the tech world, focusing on Silicon Valley but also traveling far afield. Special bonus: It’s actually well written, unlike the great mass of semi-literate blogs.

9) Boing Boing
Presents the weird and wacky, like a guide to watching videos while driving, microbatteries built by viruses, and a clown cigarette umbrella. The self-described “Dictionary of Wonderful Things” has few boundaries.

10) ReadWriteWeb
Helmed by the intrepid Richard MacManus, with help from an extensive team, ReadWriteWeb covers Web technology and news: Twitter, enterprise Internet news, eBay, Google.

11) Techdirt
A team of IT and tech observers provides in-depth coverage of industry developments, including legal issues. They also post reader submissions.

13) Mashable
News, rumor and comment about social media and social networking: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and all the other examples of semi-organized Web-based crowd behavior.

14) Seth Godin’s Blog
The prolific and peripatetic Godin focuses more on marketing and branding than tech, yet much of what he does overlaps with Web/emerging technology issues.

15) Ars Technica
Is Ars Technica a blog? As blogs evolve, it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between a “blog” and a traditional news site. While Ars Technica is commonly listed as a blog, its posts are often full-length pieces written in traditional reportorial style – not the individual voice associated with blogs. If this site is a blog, it’s a good one, covering IT, Apple, gaming, hardware and more.

17) O’Reilly Radar
Tim O’Reilly and his team put out intelligent tech analysis, with the emphasis on predicting what’s coming before it fully arrives.

18) Bits – Technology – New York Times
Smart writing and reporting about both consumer and enterprise tech, with substantially fewer unproven rumors than the typical Red Bull-fueled tech blogger.

19) Internet.com Blogs
Informed commentary by a top crew of veteran writers and reporters, providing insight into everything from software to hardware to mobile to security to PCs. (Published by Jupitermedia, which publishes the site you’re reading.) Among other must-reads, check out Andy Patrizio from Silicon Valley and Sean Michael Kerner on the Linux/enterprise beat. Plus: the new Semantic Web blog covers the emerging Web 3.0 world. Oh, and don’t miss the Datamation blog.

20) Wired’s Blogs
Preternaturally irreverent, but backed up by a hefty staff of in-the-know tech reporters, the Wired News stable of blogs is one of the Internet’s most influential.

21) ZDNet Blogs
Clearly one of the best collections of tech analysts on the Web, including longtime Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley, the uncensored insight of Jason Perlow, and the peripatetic musings of Larry Dignan and crew.

22) InformationWeek Blogs
The formidable resources of Information Week gives depth to its panoramic coverage of IT and consumer technology, aided by piquant analysis from Alexander Wolfe, Serdar Yegulalp, Paul McDougall and others.

23) CNET Blogs
Not only does tech heavyweight CNET offer the full universe of tech news, it’s so massively all-encompassing it even has a blog about mechanical engineering. (Can you top that?) Particularly noteworthy is the tech-politics coverage of Declan McCullagh.

24) TechRepublic Blogs
Covers the enterprise IT world: servers, security, tech staffing, virtualization, software as a service, and consultancies.

25) Computerworld: Opinion/Blogs
Experienced voices providing commentary that focuses on enterprise technology yet also delves into consumer tech, featuring voices like Windows pundit Preston Gralla and IT watcher Don Tennant.

27) Dwight Silverman: TechBlog
The Houston Chronicle’s Dwight Silverman earns a spot in the blogrolls of many of top bloggers with his well-written commentary on consumer technology.

tech-blogs

28) InfoWorld
Topics like JavaScript, Sun, Dell, SOA – these blogs focus on mission-critical tech for large corporations.

29) eWeek Blogs
If it has to do with technology – from jobs to security to platforms – there’s commentary about it at the eWeek blog portal. Keep your eye on leading tech pundit Eric Lundquist and security expert Matt Hines.

30) RedHerring Blogs
The once hot print publication still thrives online. (Kind of funny to think they needed a print version, huh?) A mix of software, gaming, gadgets, mobile and big player news.

31) The Guardian’s Tech Blog
Bright, smartly penned commentary with an English accent, mostly about consumer tech: Googlebombs, Windows 7, the iPhone.

32) Financial Times Tech Blog
One of the Continent’s great newspapers analyzes who’s making money and who’s not.

33) BusinessWeek’s Blogspotting
Heather Green and Stephen Baker survey cutting edge technologies: behavioral technologies, privacy rights, social media.

34) Technology Review’s Blogs
Wow, these folks have high IQs (no wonder they write blogs published by the August Massachusetts Institute of Technology.) “Personal genomics”…“people aware computing.” Getting ready for some very heady stuff.

35) Schneier on Security
Is there a more famous security guru than Bruce Schneier? What’s impressive about his blog is the expansive reach of subject matter: software, hardware, the Net, privacy, as well as security issues in a larger societal context.

36) Network Security Blog
Longtime blogger Martin McKeay holds forth on spammers, hackers, black-hatters, and the good IT folks who work to keep them at bay.

37) Securosis
Privacy, app security, physical and home security, Securosis offers thoughtful analysis with a hefty dose of uncensored opinion.

38) Mike Rothman’s Security Incite
Covers the information security marketplace and also offers comment on major security news stories.

39) Brian Krebs’s Security Fix
Backed by the reporting chops of the Washington Post, Security Fix is a deep and widely inclusive resource. Very well done.

40) Rational Survivability
Big time insight about risk management and disruptive innovation. As proof of his street cred, blogger Chris Hoff wrote the infamous “DNS Debacle” poem: “A few months ago/ Kaminsky discovered a flaw / It was with DNS/ It was nasty and raw.”

41) Stiennon on Security
A well known name in the security business, Richard Stiennon pens pithy commentary about enterprise security.

42) Microsoft Security Response Center
All the bulletins and updates you’ll need (or at least most of them) for Microsoft security vulnerabilities. Sign up for a notification so you don’t need to check in regularly.

43) Danger Room
National security coverage written and reported with a high profile reputation. I’ve even heard the Pentagon keeps on eye on this blog.

44) Tao Security
The personal blog of Richard Bejtlich, director of incident response for General Electric. He gets around and knows how to share his insights.

45) The IT Security Guy
Blogger Joel Dubin authored The Little Black Book of Computer Security, which is geared for IT security managers.

50) Matt Cutts: Gadgets, Google and SEO
Cutts, a former software engineer and head of Google’s Webspam team, covers a lot of Internet-related issues along with a smattering of personal tech.

51) Esther Dyson
Describing herself as the “Internet’s court jester,” Dyson blogs about Web business and social media, among other topics.

52) Dan’s Cartoons

Dan Rosandich profiles the cartooning business and world of cartoons.

53) TechLila

TechLila covers unique topics related to Android, Windows, and technology. The main goal of TechLila is to provide unique information, such as quality tips and tricks, tutorials and how-to guides.

54) OpsGenie

OpsGenie is an alerting and incident response orchestration platform which provides reliable alerts, on-call schedules, and escalation policies to ensure the right people are notified about any alert event via email, SMS, phone calls, iOS & Android push notifications and chat/collaboration tools. Through their tool and blog, OpsGenie empowers and teaches DevOps teams to stay connected and collaborate in real-time to respond to problems faster and efficiently.

55) Glanceinfo.com

Glaceinfo is a unique blog about social networking, gadgets, technology, blogging tips and much more. This blog provides latest updates on various modern products and gadgets.

56) WorldBank’s Section About Latin America

We live in the land of plenty and high-tech marvels, but we need to be mindful of those less fortunate, explains Gloria Hernandez from Aesbus. Latin America is gaining marketing attention more and more, but it’s important to understand the politics and culture of these emerging markets. So, although this is not technically a marketing blog, it does provide a look into global financial aspects of new market segments.

With a mission to “end extreme poverty within a generation and boost shared prosperity,” the World Bank blogs provide research and data analysis on international financial markets, developing country entrepreneurship, and government leadership and decision-making that impact economic growth, poverty reduction, and the quality of people’s lives. The range and depth of topics and the impressive list of collaborative bloggers ensure an insightful treatise of current issues that are playing out daily across communities worldwide.

57) Merix Studio

On Merixstudio’s blog you can read about software house’s everyday live, cutting-edge technologies, and web development. They cover topics such as startups and hiring developers. And believe me, it’s not everything! They even won the best company blog title in 2015 in the Polish contest organized by Blogifirmowe.com.
humanize your brand
Digital Branding

How To Humanize Your Brand And Deepen The Relationship With Your Audience

The age of cold PR is long gone and the businesses that will truly prosper in this new economy are those that know how to connect authentically with their audience. When so much of what’s out there is a commodity and when most businesses compete on price, what’s the one thing that makes your brand memorable?

The Gold Is In Your Story

The likeability factor lies in your founding story told truthfully and wholeheartedly. It’s the vulnerability you’re willing to share with your audience that will make them say “Hey, this guy gets me!”

No matter how hard you try to flood your audience with facts, figures and the benefits of them buying from you, it won’t be until you prove that you hear and understand them that they’ll start to actually pay attention to you and open their wallets, too.

If you balance good brand storytelling with delivering high value, you will build a strong following around your brand. Always aim to prove your readers that you understand their problems and make sure that you have a clear intention for every piece of content you create.

How do you want people to feel and what action do you want them to take after consuming your content? The more character you infuse into your content, the more your audience will relate to you and your brand. And likeability is a powerful currency in business.

Why Your WHY Matters

Having a strong connection between you brand and your audience provides a strong base for long-term loyalty and sustainable growth in the future. Telling stories about your brand and business is not just about standing above your competition.

It’s about helping people connect with your big WHY and making them care about what you have to offer. It’s about establishing your authenticity and dictating your value.

Having a good story is what turned Starbucks from just another coffee provider to building a whole new category in their niche and putting themselves above the competition.

Authenticity is not something you can fake. People have strong BS radars and expect a lot from the brands they choose to support. And this is mostly true with millennials who’d rather choose a less than perfect product or service if it has a strong enough “Why” and social mission.

Authenticity Is Bigger Than Marketing

The purpose of running your business – communicated clearly and genuinely – is going to be at the core of a deeper connection with your audience.

Think of Gary Vaynerchuck, one of the most authentic entrepreneurs out there, a guy that’s extremely authentic and charismatic. But why is it? It’s because he’s extremely open, acknowledges his mistakes, he shares his processes, pours his personality into everything he does and always communicates his “Why”.

This is the type of entrepreneurs that you just feel how much he loves serving his audience and making his followers feel understood. It’s from this place that an authentic leader can start to build a strong relationship and really make an impact through his or her business.

So What’s Your WHY?

People are more than happy to support a business that proudly stands for something. Think of “Pencils of Promise”, a charity organization that builds schools all across the world. They have a really strong following and are heavily supported because they have a genuine founding story that connected them to their audience.

This is an invitation to start seeing your brand not just part of a bigger picture, but rather the big picture of why you’re in business. The more compelling your story, the easier it will be for you to rise above your competition and make your audience stick with you for the long run.

The biggest brands in the world, Disney to Nike and Apple are so loved because they went beyond being just a product and became an idea that nourished people’s emotional desires.

Your Followers Are Your Friends

Keep this in mind every time you create a new piece of content. Act as if you’re talking to a friend and you’re describing how their life can be improved as a result of using your product or service.

Take them behind the scenes and give them a personal view of what goes on behind the doors. Use your social media profiles to show photos and videos of you and your team at work or just having fun around the office. This will humanize your operations and help people connect with you on a more personal level.

People connect with people, not faceless businesses, so give your brand some personality. If your brand were a person, who would it be? What kind of qualities would they have? If your brand were a celebrity or car, which one would you choose? And why? What are their traits, skills and interests? Think about human-like characteristics to describe your brand. Zappos, for example, is friendly, helpful, fun and sometimes even silly.

Be open about your path, talk about the hard times and people will be more likely to relate to you. Always stay centered on your customer’s interests and aspirations and remember that the stronger the connection you have with your audience the longer you’ll stay in business.

In Conclusion

Creating an authentic, deep, lasting connection with your audience is not easy and takes time. This is also good news because going the extra mile is never crowded.

And ultimately, all you need is a plan with some goals and lots of perseverance. This is not rocket science. We’re all humans working with humans and if you keep this simple truth in mind, you’ll be OK. Simple may not always be easy but if you love your customers more than you love your business, you’ll always be in business.

Humanizing your brand, fostering trust and a genuine and lasting connection with your audience is serious work. It may not always seem to pay off in the short term and it’s not easy to measure and scale. But in the long run, it’s the only path to lasting success and meaningful impact.

blogging
Local Branding

Pro Tips For Growing A Bigger and Better, Blogger List

Regardless of the industry you are in, creating and maintaining a blog list is part of your world. If it is not part of your world, you are a little behind, since now literally everyone can work on cloud. Having a blog is step one to introducing yourself, your business, and your services as your brand. It is not just important that you do it, it is critical that you do it well. You have to do it “like a boss”. In this article, you will find pro tips from some of the best wedding expert vendors in the world.

Enlighten people

People are always shocked when they discover what goes on behind the scenes of any trade. This is especially true for professionals who work in the wedding industry. People rarely know the options available to them and the steps to take to make things happen. Enlightening people through the strength of their blog is a powerful way to share the knowledge.

grow list

  • Marcia Hanscome and Barbara Miller, owners of Vacation Rentals of North Myrtle Beach explain. “Keeping a close eye on current trends and upcoming events in the area and writing about it is our strategy with growing our mailing list. Although promoting our own property management business is very important, we believe promoting outside activities and events in the area where families vacation is just as important. Our mission, here at Vacation Rentals of North Myrtle Beach, is to be the “go to” blog site where people go to see what’s going on in the Myrtle Beach area. And as our way of saying thank you to our readers, we attach a rental special to each and every one of our blog articles. So, we believe because of this strategy, growing our list comes very easy for us.”
  • Michael Solomon, Founder of 10x Management offers this: “We pick topics related to technology that we know inside and out because we only want to write about what we know. We are experts in facilitating freelance tech work for major companies and startups alike, so we tailor our content to the growing demand for freelance work in the modern economy. We write about subjects that are topical, engaging and ones that we can ideally form an opinion on. We also like to link our content to great articles that are already out there. We place our content on a select few outlets and the growth has been steady.”
  • Kaitlan Whitteberry, Social Media Manager, and Tiffany Rivers, Director of Marketing of iOFFICE, Inc. offer this. “We have found that while understanding your audience is the ultimate key to success, ensuring the conversation revolves around them shifts the focus back where it belongs. Your job as a blogger is to enlighten your audience with information they haven’t been previously exposed to, but also to ask what they want to learn. You should want to be their ultimate guide. Where they look first when seeking information. If you start by focusing on providing relevant content, that speaks to their needs – your list will grow itself.”
  • Teresa Matich, Copywriter at Clio, says: “When growing an email list, we’ve found it’s most important to keep quality top of mind. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel—we get the best results by consistently delivering quality, on-topic content, as this respects list members by staying in line with what they expect to find. Flooding their inbox with mediocre content simply doesn’t work. Whatever other tactics you use to grow your email list, always put the quality of your content first.”
  • Dana Baardsen is the founder of Agile Trend Media. She shares with us her unique strategy for DynaPro Direct and lets in on her insight: “Growing a brand’s blog is fun, and if it’s not, you’re not doing it right. It’s crucial to be savvy with SEO, feature catchy (not click-bait) headlines, and provide serviceable and accurate information regularly — but it’s even more important to ditch your personal itch to micromanage every piece of content. Here’s why: By allocating energy to public relations and opening up your site to editorial collaborations, you’ll feed new energy into an otherwise one-sided stream of content. What happens when you schedule collaborative blog content regularly? An increase in engagement, views, shares, likes, sales, and fun!”

Entertain, educate, and give useful tips

Blogging is unlike any other form of communication. The reader does not want to read an instruction book, nor do they want to feel as if the writer does not “get them”. They want to laugh, be inspired, and shake their head in agreement with the author. They want to hear little tips and bits of information that make their lives easier.

blogging

  • Aaron Zapata of Impactprop.com shares: “My best strategy for growing my list has been two-fold) Whenever possible, my content is very personal and I share personal experiences through storytelling. I want people to know me, my struggles, and my successes and find that people come back for more when they find my site. When people want more, they are willing to subscribe. Offer free useful downloads in exchange for an email address. This is a strategy used by most bloggers so it’s not unique but it definitely works.”
  • Karen Cruz of Cloudbric firmly agrees with this approach. She said: “Cybersecurity is a daunting topic for many, but Cloudbric was developed precisely because we want to make a crucial and necessary topic accessible to many. We try to put ourselves in the shoes of our readers by breaking down the jargon and using fun analogies and by incorporating a good mix of informative, technical, and “fun” content. Additionally, we use marketing automation software to see what readers enjoy and don’t, optimizing our content each time to make sure that we’re staying on top of trending topics in the IT security industry.”
  • Emily Jo Jerue of Tuleburg.co explains further: There is no real tip or secret to growing a list from a blog. That is to say, quality writing is key. People respond emotionally to the content. You could be a really solid writer but fail to entertain. Conversely, you could compose a superfluous story but fail to inform your audience. My best advice is to have a mix between entertaining and informing. The most successful blog writers make you laugh and make you think. I have found that if I can make fun of relatable business situations while offering serious alternatives to a problem, I gain more readers.

Quality Content

Mark Monchek of The Opportunity Lab tells us: “Make your content match your values. As a consulting firm, content development can seem forced and insincere. However, when we started posting about topics that our team cares deeply about, rather than content we thought would “perform well”, our readership got larger and more engaged. There’s so much content out there that sincerity, and a values-based approach really stands out. It also indirectly exposes your readers to your unique value proposition, and helps them understand how your ideology sets you apart from similar companies”.

  • Sandeep Singh, Co-founder of InfiSecure, a bot protection platform says: “Apart from having a great navigation, user experience, and prominent opt-in form, the best way to grow lead list is to publish high-quality blog content and provide an insightful resource for visitors to download according to the buyer persona. Building and distributing such content assets builds thought leadership for a brand in the longer run and also gives an opportunity to nurture such leads to become potential prospects. This high-quality content and downloadable resource need to be regularly amplified via social media, online contests, and paid promotions.”
  • Sam Smith, Undernews, shares:  “I started in radio news, including writing nine newscasts a day, and one of the things I learned was to keep it lean and to the point. When I started the blog I worked on the same idea. Lots of short stuff to balance out the longer pieces. And don’t be serious all the time. Readers become bored just like you.”
  • Pamela Sutton, Owner of Pamela Sutton Photography urges people to dig deeper. She states: “Taking time to know my wedding couples personally and listen to their expectations is essential to building a photography business that stands out. By limiting the number of weddings I accept I’m able to do just that. In my experience, people don’t realize what they are looking for is a Photographer to personally connect with as much, or maybe even more, than they are looking for visual artistry. When clients feel cared for, they tell their friends and family which creates organic growth. Also, by offering a referral program, I can thank my clients for their word of mouth while at the same time creating a network of happy, repeat clients.”
  • Olivia Gumienny of Fox and Mint has inside tips to share: “There are many successful ways to grow your list, but it’s the strategic ways you engage with your subscribers that matters most. It doesn’t necessarily have to be with giveaways and competitions (although those are a great incentive to keep people sticking around).Targeting your message to your audience by segmenting your data is integral if you really want your subscribers to connect with what you’re telling them. For example showing your adult and family subscribers content that they can relate to. Personalizing your email marketing also is a super easy and simple way to bring your subscribers closer to you. By using their names in subject lines or by providing discounts on birthdays are just some very easy ways that allow your subscribers to grow closer to you.

Promo’s and Giveaways

email subscribers

  • Ryan Watkins of Ryan Watkins Professional explains: “Most people are reluctant to give away their e-mail and be put on your list. After almost a year of little success in getting people to sign up, I started giving away coupons as incentives for people to sign up. My list tripled after the first newsletter exclusive coupon I gave away.”
  • Kandice Kelso, Author at Green-Eyed Girl Productions, takes it even further. She said. “As an Online Wedding Coordinator, my blogging focuses on our E-Courses and The Project Block System, the cornerstone of our company. I use a 2-tier strategy to build my lists: Amazing Lead Magnets and The Excel Guest List Spreadsheet for couples which calculates their budget. (they download it for free when they subscribe. Once Subscribed, a 3-Email Series introduces my E-Courses. This series provides links to all other lists as well. Once on a list, they are exposed to all other lists and continue to subscribe throughout all my other services. All lists eventually end at my main product, The Project Block System.”
  • Dominic Barrios of the Top Knotters, breaks it down for us. He says: “Provide valuable content for your target readers. In our case, soon-to-weds love to hear our practical wedding tips and real stories from brides. Offer them free e-books, tools or any freebies because people just love getting free items easily, especially if these are of value to them. Don’t make things complicated for them.”
  • Easton Reynolds, founder of The Art of Six Figures lets us in on his strategy: “I have found the best way to grow our list is to host free webinars and reach out to our partners to help spread the word. Consumers want value before they feel comfortable giving you their contact info. A free webinar is a great way to be able to give them that value with real actionable nuggets of information. We drive registrations with Facebook ads which we believe is the most effective PPC lead gen platform on the market today.” LuRey Photography

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to build your blog. These experts and others have crafted strategy that fits will with their business. You can do the same thing. With a little trial and effort and a by letting your true personality shine through, there is a way for you,  

pexels-photo-169198
Local Branding

Essential Wedding Planning – Tips and Tricks

Most of us dream of our wedding day for years. We have this image in our mind of what the perfect wedding is. However, we have no idea what goes into making that perfect event. There are a million details that must be addressed to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.

In our minds we see bridesmaids rushing around getting dressed, and the groomsmen in their tuxedos laughing on the steps of the chapel. What we do not give much thought to is the florist, caterers, DJ, minister or official, or the videographer. We do not think of the crews setting up chairs and setting tables, the cake being delivered, the limo driver or the bartender. There are so many ways to make wedding planning mistakes, but professionals are here to help. 

There are a lot of talented people that must work together in order to give you that perfect day. We have interviewed wedding professionals from around the country to get some great tips and tricks that you can incorporate into your wedding. So let us share with you advice from the experts.

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Wedding Planners, Vendors and other pros

We believe in the importance of a good wedding planner. The vast majority of problems and issues that dance on the nerves of the bride and groom are easily dealt with by an experienced wedding planner. If you can only afford one luxury for your wedding day, we suggest you hire a wedding planner.

Professionals Scott and Dana Halvorson of Weddings By Scott and Dana explain it best: “Dream weddings come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and to plan a truly memorable wedding can seem overwhelming. Here are a few tips to ensure your wedding will be an event to remember.

  • Know what you want: This is not just any ole wedding, it’s your wedding. Talk to you partner and decide what type of wedding you both would really enjoy. Personalize your wedding to match your personalities. Starting with a solid idea of what your dream is will make all the other decisions easier.
  • Get Help: Armed with your dream in mind, search out the professionals that can turn that dream into a reality.Everyone you hire, from your planner to your invitation designer, should know what your expectations are. Hire people who have experience with your type of wedding, then trust them to do what they do best.
  • Consider your guest: Think about your guest and how they will experience your wedding. Taking time to make sure your guest will be comfortable, occupied, entertained, and appreciated will create an event they will remember for years.
  • Have fun: Plan to enjoy this special day. Everyone will notice and it’s contagious. If you have fun so will everyone else. When everything is over, and you are reminiscing about your wedding, the fun you had is what you and your guest will remember the most.”

Cassandra Key-Lyons of Bridal Magic advises brides on ways to lighten their load and make things run much more smoothly:  

“My advice to couples planning their wedding: once you’ve made a decision, like picking your decor and color palette, stick with it. Don’t cause yourselves stress and confusion by continuing to look at alternatives. There are plenty of options out there but go with your instincts and what you want as a couple. Pouring over wedding websites and magazines long after you’ve already settled on something will only muddle the process. Also, don’t do something because you think you’re supposed to. If you don’t want a guestbook or to hand out favors with your initials on it, then don’t. It’s your wedding, so make it everything you want it to be.”

Courtney Branson from Lovely Little Blog also shares the idea to keep it simple. The internet is flooded by the ‘best wedding ideas’ but what if the brides just stick to what makes THEM happy?

“Pinterest can be your best friend or worst enemy. It’s great for sparking ideas and showing vendors your vision. It’s tempting to let it go past that but I encourage you to plan the wedding that fits your budget and vibe. There’s nothing less magical than realizing you’re in debt day one of marriage or planning a wedding that feels disingenuous to your relationship. You want folks to say, “This feels so y’all”. Don’t let the Pinterest board cloud your instincts.”

Betsy Tomasello, of Betsy Blue Photography, is in agreement on brides letting the professionals do what they do. That is the only way to get the best results. She says:

“One of my favorite ways to serve my brides is to include timeline assistance with every wedding booking. I’ve witnessed hundreds of weddings and am always happy to share my experience on when the best light might be for portraits, or possibly a more flattering position to angle the arbor in order to allow for the best light on the couple for their photographs.Planning a wedding is a huge undertaking, so why not rely on the experience of professionals around you to help plan your day to be as fluid and beautiful as possible.”

When it comes to wedding vendors, photographers, planners, and other professionals, John Lennon of Lennon Photography had this to share:

“Look for vendors who have a passion for what they do. A typical sales pitch equals common quality. You deserve vendors who dream of the perfect wedding because those are the people who care enough to deliver it to you.”

Trust your event coordinator to have some pretty cool ideas. They are up to the minute on wedding trends and traditions. Be open to their suggestions.

Kristin Rockhill, Wedding Stylist & Floral and Event Designs, has an eye for design and color. She says:

“Grey is my favorite color! When it comes to setting a stunningly styled tablescape my go to linen choice is grey. It pairs perfectly with wood tones, neutrals, pastels and even bright and cheery hues like lemon and tangerine!”

Sometimes we have to ask ourselves if we are creating the wedding we really want. If you want a small, intimate, gathering, then go for it.

As wedding expert, Maria Fernanda Marion of Blog da’ Maria Fernanda points out: “keep it small. Small weddings are more intimate and cozy.”

Bride showing Engagement Ring on Left Hand on Wedding Celebratio

Beauty

On this single day, you want to be the most beautiful you have ever been.

Take these tips from Nina Moran, Cheekadee Makeup Artist:

“Summer can be hot and sticky but let’s keep the hot in our makeup and ditch the sticky! Whether you are doing your makeup yourself or having it professionally done, here are some tips to keep your makeup fresh on your big day!

Tone with witch hazel, we really like Thayer’s, Witch Hazel. This will remove any unwanted oil that may interfere with the longevity of your makeup

Prime your skin- We love Tarte Clean Slate Poreless 12 Hour Perfecting primer. This product refines the skin, is waterproof and diffuses fine lines and imperfections.

If you are super oily you can use a mattifying product like Face to Face Super Matte Anti-shine. Just a bit it the t-zone will do.

Set your makeup with a setting spray! Our favorites are Model in a Bottle, or Makeup Forever Mist & Fix. This will really improve your makeup wear!”

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Photography

Photography is a major priority for any wedding. This is a day that must be captured for eternity. Some day our great-grandchildren will look back on this day and we want them to see the love and hope we had for the future in our photographs.

Bethanne of Bethanne Arthur Photography offers this advice:

“When searching for a photographer to capture your big day, keep a few things in mind.

  • Can you afford this photographer?
  • Are you willing to expand your wedding photography budget if you find your perfect match, in regards to photography style?
  • Do you feel comfortable with them?
  • Does your fiance feel comfortable with them? Do they seem personable?
  • Does this photographer seem to treat clients and events as just transactions, or do they try to get to know you or find a point of connection?
  • Do you love their work? It is so important to choose someone that actually has a photography style that you love.

 

These are your wedding photographs; these are priceless heirlooms you will have for the rest of your life and beyond, as they are passed down through the generations. Do not just hire someone because they are the least expensive, someone you know is friends with them, or they have 10,000 followers on Instagram. Choose a photographer that shoots images you love and swoon over; choose a photographer that you feel like you can connect with!”

Jillian McQuerrey, the owner of B.O.B. Photography, agrees with Bethanne about that special connection between the bride and photographer. She shared: “One tip I can wholeheartedly recommend is to do your research. I always tell couples I speak with to chat with more than one photographer. After that, choose the photographer you “click with”, love their work and feel comfortable around. If you think about it, you will spend more time with your photographer on your wedding day than your significant other. So you want it to be an enjoyable experience. The more comfortable you are with your photographer, the more natural your photographs will look.”

Many brides try so hard to control everything, for forget that they have hired professionals to relieve them of that stress.

This point was driven home by Betty Simpson, of Betty Elaine Photography, “Trust your photographer and other vendors! Yes, it is your wedding day (hooray!), but you do not need to be burdened with having to control the day or schedule out your timeline by yourself. Once you know what your wedding day is going to look like (location, ceremony start time, etc), it is important to talk to your wedding photographer about how much time they need for pictures. Let them draw up a schedule for portraits and help you figure out when hair and makeup should be finished. Your photographer will know the best time of day for outdoor pictures, how long you need them for getting ready pictures, and if a first look would be more practical for your wedding day.”

There are always little budget busters that manage to show up with weddings. Take care of small things and the big things will take care of themselves. The main thing is to have your day, have your memories, and have fun!

Here is a great tip by Jenna Henderson, of Jenna Henderson Photography “While wedding planning, don’t forget to budget a little money for after the wedding to use for prints of your wedding photos! After all, when the whole day is over, the photos are the only thing that will remain. You want to make sure you have enough cash stashed away that you can give your beautiful memories the treatment they deserve, whether that be in the form of a fine art album or perhaps a gallery of large framed prints. Printed photos also make a great gift for your parents as a way to say thanks for all of their support.”

Brandon O’Neal, of Brandon Oneal Photography, says it like this:

“As a photographer, I see weddings as a dance between preparation and chance. We like to allow the celebrations unfold naturally, but we often manipulate the timing and locations ahead of time so they work out in our favor for great images.Prepping for the day is essential- create timelines, do the meetings, set up the vendors. But, when the day comes, my biggest advice is to enjoy it no matter what. Brides put lots of time and energy into planning the day and it would be such a waste to not enjoy it. I want to photograph my brides and grooms having the time of their life, not micromanaging every detail and worrying about the flowers being just right – that doesn’t make for great images. So plan, then let go!”

Wedding photography is an art. So much depends on the location, timing, lighting, and ambiance.

Leslee Mitchell of Leslee Mitchell Art is an artist and photographer. As such, she has a wealth of knowledge she was gracious enough to share. She says:

“Light is 100% of every photo. It’s not 99%, it’s 100%.

Don’t let family photo time eat up more time than necessary. After all, the most important photos of the day are the ones of the bride and groom. No wedding is complete without the family photos, but family photos do not have to monopolize a majority of photo taking time.

However long your hair and makeup artist tell you it will take to complete hair and makeup, add at least 30-45 minutes. It’s common for hair and makeup to run over on schedule. When hair and makeup run over, you will receive fewer photos due to lost time that cannot be recovered.

Just relax. The most beautiful photos are the candid shots. Make a point to not know where the photographer is every second of the day. Chances are they’re somewhere looking right at you through their lens. Don’t mess up what could have been a beautiful, candid moment of you because you’re scanning the room looking for your photographer or trying to figure out if you’re being photographed.

If you hate being photographed to the point you almost break out in hives have a cocktail and relax. If you can’t relax, you will appear tensed in your photos. Don’t be hard on yourself. The majority of people are uncomfortable when they’re being photographed. Have a plan in place to be able to relax when it’s time to be in front of the camera. You’ll be very glad you did.”

Communication is key when it comes to your wedding. Details must never be left to chance. This tidbit from Leigh Fabozzi of Leigh Elizabeth Photography is right on the money! Leigh says,

“Maximize your photographer’s coverage by creating a timeline in advance. Make sure to sit down or have a phone call with your photographer about a month out from your wedding to finalize the timeline. Ask questions, iron out the details, and get on the same page. This will ensure your wedding day runs smoothly and stress-free!”

Carly Fuller from Carly Fuller Photography shared the idea of picking your home as a location for engagement photos. She stated: “Stay at home and capture your first professional photos in your first home together as a future married couple! One of my favorite places to capture a couple is in their own environment. All your favorite things surround you and even kitties are welcome!” By doing so, the engagement photos will be natural, and they’ll reflect your true personality.

Our Favorite Tip

Throughout the rest of your lives together, there will be issues and situations that monopolize your time. Take this advice from Candice Benjamin of Candice Benjamin Photography. Make this a habit throughout all of life’s challenges and you will always be content.
Candice simply states: ”Have a weekly date night where you aren’t allowed to talk about the wedding. Enjoy your time together!