by Guest Writers Suzie Cheel and Des Walsh
Not a typical beach shot.
How do you keep yourself motivated when inspiration seems to be hiding under the Oriental rug in your office?
A few weeks ago, Tiffany Matthews detailed suggestions to âBeat Writerâs Block with These Simple Tips.â Absolutely trips and exercise change the perspective and refresh the spirit. What if you have a pressing deadline and you need an immediate energy infusion?
Perhaps these suggestions will release your frozen fingers from the keyboard and allow the words to flow again.
When I am in word deficit and needing a quick burst of inspiration, all it takes is one glance up at the top of my roll top desk and smile at the pictures of my blond curly headed grandsons. One peek at their innocent impish grins and it is easier remember the purpose of writing is to inspire, empower and improve the lives of the readers.
Think about the fun moments with them and the lessons you both learned from your shared adventures. There is always a glimmer of inspiration in memories. It may be the brain boost you need to refresh your spirit and thus your keystrokes.
Darren LaCroix, 2001 World Champion of Public Speaking, listens to Tina Turnerâs âSimply the Bestâ and the epitome of testosterone, âThe Theme from Rockyâ before he delivers a major keynote speech. Music gives him energy to give his very best to the audience. Isnât that what we do as writers, give our very best to our audiences? Many network marketers put on rousing tunes to accelerate their adrenaline before picking up the phone for morning calls.
What music frees your mind, engages your energy, and opens the door to creativity? For me it is Josh Groban or Andrea Bocelli; there is something magical about a romantic Italian with a beautiful voice.
When my eyes open of a morning it is time to pull on the exercise tights and a sweatshirt, grab a quart of Smart water and head for the treadmill. The exercise invigorates my body. The CD player on the stand by the treadmill contains the latest CD from Success magazine or the newest Success book summary CD. There is always a wealth of inspiration packed in those audio discs.
Keep a notepad handy. Hit pause on the treadmill and jot a fast note to yourself. You may be coordinated enough to write while walking or running on the treadmill. Either my handwriting would not be legible or I would fall off the machine; jumping off to write seems to work better.
One deep breath of fresh Colorado mountain air clears the mental cobwebs and relaxes the mind. Watching a doe with a tiny spotted fawn having lunch on my neighborâs perfectly trimmed shrubbery can cause a smile to cross my face.
Sometimes all it takes is a tiny mental break to refresh the spirit and free the mind.
We created hundreds of beautiful documents together over the years, but it’s time to move on. I’ve moved up, into the “cloud.” I’ve moved all of my content creation to Google Docs.
Why? There are some obvious reasons:
So, let’s use Docs. Here’s how to use a Google Docs content marketing template:
1. Set it up with whatever content standards you set for your own writing.
Use the template to prompt yourself to use the formatting, length, tone, images, keywords, links, calls-to-action and author bios that you know work best for you.
If you don’t yet have a content template, here’s CMI’s own Template for Killer Website Content, which you can adapt from a PDF version into your own Google Doc. I’ve included a link to my own Google Doc content template at the end of this post.
2. Link from it to your favorite resources.
If you’re like me, you’re always referring to online tools while you write. I’m looking up keyphrases (Google Keyword Tool), finding possible experts to contribute or share with (FilterTweeps), or researching possible host blogs to pitch to (Open Site Explorer). It’s fast to get to these when you have links in the template.
3. Link to it from your other planning tools.
Since your draft articles are now online, you can link to them easily from your content calendar or other internal tools. Keep a Google Docs spreadsheet of all the articles you’re working on with links to each.
4. Collaborate with your editor, graphics person or other contributors.
Sharing a Google Doc is easy. No sending attachments. No wondering if you’re looking at the latest version.
Put your own standards for length, tone and topics into the template, so when you share it with possible guest bloggers, they’ll see your guest blogger guidelines right there in the template.
5. Plan your promotion in advance.
ItÃ¢ÂÂs smart to think ahead about who you’ll share it with, how you’ll tweet it, what keyphrases you’ll target, and what the email subject line will be before you write something. When the template includes these aspects, it’s impossible to write without promotion in mind.
6. Access it quickly from anywhere. My template is called “Content Template – MASTER”Â and since I access it so often, I just need to start typing “Âmaster”Â into my address bar and the doc shows up.
Feel free to use the shared version of my own Google Doc content template. Just make a copy, and adapt it for your own content marketing. If you have questions about this template or Google Docs in general, let us know with a comment below!
As an entrepreneur you canÂt anticipate every obstacle business or life throws your way. And sometimes the curveball thrown impacts both. Which is how I found myself, on the tail end of one of the most beautiful Fall seasons I had experienced in the Pacific Northwest, on a call with the fabulous Liz Strauss. Liz and her son had just finished visiting me in Seattle after completing a successful SOBCon Portland, so I was hardly expecting serious news.
The news Liz had to share was not light. She had been diagnosed with a serious health issue late last year. Now, after connecting with her medical team and having a better sense of what she faces, Liz wanted to share the news with you; her community. What follows is a series of Q&As that I conducted with Liz to help answer your questions about her illness, how sheÂs handling the ongoing medical treatment, her plans for SOBCon 2013, and what it means to be an entrepreneur facing these challenges.
I have cancer of the larynx. ItÂs still localized. The analogy the doctor used is that while it was at the threshold of the door it hadnÂt gotten to the hallway yet.
I was scheduled to speak in Hawaii. Eric, my son, went with me. IÂd been bothered for quite some time with symptoms that caused me to lose my voice. The doctors said it was allergies and prescribed steroids. I would get a periodic pain in both my throat and my ear. The pain in my ear would come and go and come and go. After five hours on the plane from Honolulu back to the States it was sort of more coming than going.
So I asked a friend in LA to hook me up with her doctor who is an ear, nose, and throat specialist (ENT). ThatÂs how I found myself in a strange doctorÂs office. After putting a camera down my nose, he started showing me pictures and say that we needed to talk about what heÂd found. It’s interesting to have pictures in front of your face of something growing on your vocal cords. It was stunning. I didn’t know how to respond.
Cancer is not a one-size-fits-all disease. What information our healthcare system provides is often contradictory and rarely provides a clear roadmap.
I was really lucky. The ENT in LA told me that I needed to get treatment immediately because they were worried my airway was going to close. The options were that I could get this done right there in California or I could go to Chicago and walk into the ER and tell them I can’t breathe, and I have a sore throat. So my first big decision was do I undergo surgery with these two doctors I don’t know in LA or go back to Chicago and take the luck of the draw. In the end, Chicago won out because of the support system that comes with being home.
There are plenty of hospitals. Some of which are good at this particular type of cancer and some of which are not. Finding the one that was good at what you need is important. For instance, one the best hospitals in Chicago has only one specialist in neck and throat cancer. However, the hospital I’m going to has seven people who specialize in neck and throat cancer. And that makes a big difference having access to people who live and breathe a specialty makes a big difference.
Back in LA, the ENT and the radiologist were in agreement that the situation was so serious they were going to have to take my voice box. That meant they would also have to take part of my esophagus out. IÂd have to learn how to eat all over again. When I got to Chicago and picked my team they said to me you’re not nearly as far along as folks in LA, well-meaning though they were, would have you believe. We’ve seen people much further along than you are and with chemo and radiation, weÂve seen an 85% rate of success in helping them overcome their cancer. The doctors, their specialty and experience, as well as their bedside manner both make a big difference.
“I remember saying early on to my best friend and my son that I didn’t like the way the disease was progressively turning me into an introvert.”
The first thing that comes to mind is just how much the medication is affecting me personally. My bodyÂs response to the drugs has created more mood swings than that of a pregnant elephant. But my biggest surprise was how much time it takes to attend to all the medical stuff that is now part of my routine. ItÂs kind of like living in a region that gets a lot of snow. You don’t think of how much time cumulatively it requires to take off your coat, put on your coat, take off your boots, put on your boots, cleaning the snow off the car, driving slower because of the weather, all of those adjustments you make in winter, until you live someplace where it doesn’t snow.
I spend a lot of time figuring out which pill to take, what time I take those pills, what pills I need to take next, taking the pills, and trying to remember whether I had taken the right pills, ordering the pills, finding a pharmacy that delivers. Not to mention the process of seeing the doctor, answering the same questions over and over again to the hospital staff. All of the medical stuff has made me focus more clearly on what else I need to get done because of all the precious time it eats up.
I didnÂt want to start talking publicly about this until I had more information. The challenge is that my work is inherently social. My natural reaction when I want to communicate with someone new about business is to invite them onto a phone call. But the process of communicating becomes clumsier and less effective if I can’t talk.
I noticed early on when I started losing my voice over the past couple of years that there were people who are willing to take the time to listen to what I had to say and those who just had no patience for the obstacle. If people care more about the obstacle than they care about who they are communicating with well that’s kind of an issue. Those people are probably not going to be your friends.
Of course, from my point of view, I didn’t want to stress or stretch people’s patience that far. I remember saying early on to my best friend and my son that I didn’t like the way the disease was progressively turning me into an introvert. I would just make the choice not to talk because trying to talk was either too hard on me or the other person. In retrospect the decision we made not to do surgery and remove my voice box first was the right one. My voice is stronger now than it has been in years.
My son asked me how I deal with this. too. I take it from the point of view of an international traveler who’s on an extended 90-day trip for business. You can only think about two things: the adventure and what you need to do to catch the next airplane. If you start thinking too much about a whole trip, about the whole string of airports, hotels, transportation, red tape, and try to map out everything you have to do between now and the last day of the trip, youÂll wear yourself out with stress. If you can stay with the adventure mindset, it makes it easier to roll with the things life throws your way.
The first thing is to understand is that you can only do what is humanly possible and to think that you can do more is foolish. You must allow for your humanity. Give yourself room to reflect and think. Stop and do what you need to refill the well so you can keep moving forward. Reach out and to let the people around you help you do that.
“Surround yourself with people who know your goals, share your values, and who are willing to help support you in getting back on your feet again.”
That’s the way I do it. I believe in the people who won’t let me fail. That mindset for me has become really important. We’re going to do what we need to do from one day to the next and I’m going to rely on my team and my close friends to ask the questions I don’t think of.
I had two choices: don’t contribute, which to me was not an option; or, contribute in ways that are useful. If you pay attention you get really good at being efficient and contributing. That also makes it easier to step away when you’re not needed or when someone else is better suited to completing the task. Sort of learning the rule if anybody can do it then maybe anybody should do it.
What was required was a shift of the time workload so the two or three good hours I have a day are spent focused on what I can help get done. IÂve become more useful because I can focus on the strategy of what we’re doing with the business and less time attempting to touch everything. I’m more than just a little bit surprised how natural the changes weÂve implemented feel and find myself asking why weren’t we doing this before. Funny how fast we’ve adapted because necessity dictated it. It’s a new kind of risk-taking for me but everything about entrepreneurial work is about risk-taking.
As an entrepreneur, one day you think you own the world and the next day you’re losing your house. That’s just the nature of being an entrepreneur. Fear is what makes you better, fear is what keeps you going, and if you can’t face fear every day you are probably not meant to be an entrepreneur.
If I had a job at a corporation I might be able to take time off for disability. A paycheck would still be coming. I might be worried about losing my job but I wouldn’t be worried about not having an income. At least not in the short term the way entrepreneur is.
HereÂs one tip: If you are going to get sick, do it at the beginning of the year instead of the end. Because now with the New Year, the $5,000 deductible I finished paying last month needs to be paid again this year. I just want to say to the insurance company, Ã¢ÂÂOh golly, aren’t you nice.Ã¢Â?
Luckily I have a best friend who doesn’t mind calling on every insurance claim to say, Ã¢ÂÂTell me again why you discredited this procedure. If we coded it this way could we get it covered?Ã¢Â? She actually works with the insurance company to make it easier for me.
I was very lucky to have many of those people around me already. My business partner Terry Starbucker took the news in stride. He not only encouraged me to take care of my health but helped find ways to keep me involved in the important aspects of the business that donÂt require me to have my feet or as it were, my voice, on the ground.
I pity the people who try to run their own business and havenÂt gathered a support team around them because you need those people around you to tell you that you can’t do everything. Surround yourself with people who know your goals, share your values, and who are willing to help support you in getting back on your feet again. By bringing in those people who wonÂt let us fail weÂre actually doing way better than simply not failing. WeÂre actually growing in new ways.
IÂm an entrepreneur because I can’t understand why people do stupid things. I like to watch people build things. And sometimes I find myself suggesting, if you try to do this thing this way you’ll save yourself a lot of time and money and everyone will be much happier working.
Often when you mention that to a corporation you’ll get responses like, Ã¢ÂÂBut we’ve always done it that way.Ã¢Â? or Ã¢ÂÂWe can’t change that because the board or the CEO likes it that way.Ã¢Â? or Ã¢ÂÂIt will take us 6 to 8 months to make that kind of change,Ã¢Â? even if the change itself is a simple one.
I get frustrated because I don’t like watching people do stupid things.
Traditionally corporations are made to move and manage big groups of people. To achieve a sort of lowest common denominator, low-risk result. I think itÂs way more fun to work with fewer people on a team that really wants to get things done. That’s why I’m an entrepreneur.
The risk is that you don’t get all of the benefits that come with the support infrastructure inherent to a corporation. The nine other people who know how to cover your job, the benefits program, the rules that say one of those other people who know how to do your job has to cover for you because you’re on disability for six months.
If my dad got sick and couldn’t run his saloon, well the doors still had to open and somebody had to be there to serve folks. And if that person took something from the cash register or if a fight broke out and someone got hurt my dad ultimately was still responsible. That’s the downside of being entrepreneur; you never really separate yourself from the business.
Every time you hold an event you take the model and experience you just created as a threshold for the next one. If you’re doing it right each new one is the best event you ever did.
SOBCon is more than the Liz and Terry show. It is all the businesses and ideas that started in that room. It’s all the people who have connected with each other over the years. It’s a hugely clarified network of smart, dedicated people who are serious about building the next generation of businesses online.
SOBConers (the entrepreneurs who attend SOBCon) are developing new methods and models that breakdown the barriers that corporations have built up along the way. I want to enable that. I want that process to happen faster, better, and more meaningfully.
I want to bring the ethos of true collaboration that we have at SOBCon inside the corporation so that the corporations learn to actually collaborate with their customers. Not just touch base with them when there’s a problem or a customer service issue or when there’s a sale, but to actually bring their customers into the process of building their brands. Much in the same way they might currently bring their best third-party vendors into the process. So that businesses can truly become part of all the people who help them thrive.
I’m very much looking forward to SOBCon Chicago 2013. It will be our 10th event. For me itÂs going to be a sort of coming out party because I’ll be done with all my treatments by then. Hopefully I will still have all my hair. And I would love it if the folks who have taken part in SOBCon in the past or who read Successful Blog and believe in our vision come out and help me celebrate making it through the crucible.
I won’t be seeing many of you between now and then. You wonÂt see me at all the parties at SXSW this year. But I do look forward to connecting with people who want to share the SOBCon values. We can have a big opening night party in Chicago to celebrate. I think it’s going to be incredible journey for the next 10 to 12 weeks. I’m so focused on the endgame, which is a fabulous event in Chicago, with the goal of taking an unexpected curveball and turning into something good.
Like me, many of you have been helped by LizÂs business acumen and personal generosity. Now is the perfect time to show your support for the vision that is SOBCon and join us for LizÂs coming out party. SOBCon Chicago 2013 takes place at the Summit Executive Center from May 3-5. Hope to see you there; it will be the best one yet!
Today the world is more oversaturated than ever; on television you see insurance companies, retailers, car dealers, and pretty much every company under the sun all telling you theyâve got the lowest prices, and trying to compete by offering customers the best deal.
But, recently, I noticed thereâs one thing missing from all these commercials, advertisements, and marketing pieces; something that would instantly make any company who used it stand out, so they could lead their industry instead of compete.
Want to know the secret?
It can be summed up in one word:
Imagine that you saw a car commercial, and while all the other companies were telling you about how they had the lowest prices, this company decided to innovate out of their passion, their love of what they do, and their desire to create the best experience in the world for their customers?
This company went a step ahead of all the other dealerships, found something they could improve (car buying is usually considered a pressure situation with a lot of hassle), and gave customers REAL BENEFITS that they could offer.
Now, imagine this commercial said:
âWe want to make your car buying experience most pleasurable, simple, easy, and fun. We have a commission-free showroom, so that our focus is specifically on helping you, educating you, and making sure that you have all the unbiased information you need from our experts to make sure you get the perfect car for youâ¦ we also employ extra team members to make sure that you can always get helped right away when you come to our dealership; youâll be welcomed the moment you walk into our dealership, because we believe our customers are people too, and people should be treated like familyâ¦ we want to create the best car buying experience on the planet for YOU.â
Now, while this might be good for customers, itâs also good for your team of workersâ¦
People with a common goal connect with each other.
While the desire to make money might motivate the boss of most companies, it doesnât often motivate the salaried or hourly people working for you.
So what does motivate people?
If you ask most people why they come to work each morning, you typically get a common answer, âbecause I need to make moneyâ.
There is rarely, if ever, true loyalty to a company or business.
Because your company lacks a purpose.
Imagine if you asked someone why they came to work each day, and they said:
âWell, I do need the money, but the job I do is also focused on helping people make important decisions in their lives, and my focus every day is on putting smiles on peopleâs faces with the service I deliver, making people happy, and enriching lives by giving customers the best car buying experience on the planetâ¦ and my every day my work helps me learn something new and grow as I connect with more and more people.â
Now, when a company pressures with sales deadlines, quotas, or commissions, that doesnât give people a sense of purpose, a sense that theyâre having a positive impact on peopleâs lives, or a sense of true purpose that goes beyond making money for the customer.
And if you give your employees a common goal that involves creating the best experience in the world for your customers, itâs good for your customers, itâs good for your employees, and it fosters loyalty all around, which usually also means many customers referring additional business to you.
The benefits of this are:
For years, the game of competing on competition has worked. But the world is growing more than ever before, and itâs becoming increasingly clear that competing on price or consumerism is NEVER going to work again, itâs time to start defining ourselves in a different way, and focusing on enriching lives, and creating amazing experiences for people.
If you make this your focus, give an actual purpose to your business that extends beyond simply selling something, and you share this vision you have of a better world with your customers; whether itâs creating the best breakfast restaurant on the planet, the most amazing online shopping experience, or just putting a smile on someoneâs face, make your focus on something that has meaning to others, and youâll be amazed at the transformation that will take place in every area of your business, and your relationships with everyone you work with and serve.
At the end of your life, the amount of money you made isnât going to matterâ¦ but the legacy you create, and the ability of what you created to enrich lives, and make people happy, will love on long after youâre gone.
Thanks Chris, great thoughts to start 2013!
When it comes to search engine optimization, people all around the world prefer Google; It is one of the most popular and efficient search engines. Google used to favor websites that had more links to high page rank websites. In other words, a website could have a better ranking if it had more high PR links. This was considered as a vote of confidence in terms of the content of the website. Over time, there have been changes in the ranking criteria of Google; however, the prime focus is still the same â providing the best information to people. The new Google algorithm is based on quality signals and social media presence. Having informative and valuable SEO content is the key for developing a successful website or an online store. This is a tried, tested and a sure way of generating traffic and thereby driving sales.
How to create good content? Just keep these points in mind while you are creating.
When you are creating content on any topic that is already present on many other websites, you must be creative with it and try to find a way of presenting this information in a unique way. Even if you see content on the same topic, research the other websites and check which points they have missed. You can incorporate new information, images and videos to enhance readability. You can also consider presenting the information in some other forum, for instance you can use an eBook instead of posting it in article directories or blogging websites. If you are operating a website, make sure it provides the most relevant information. The content can be added in the internal blog or in article directory or any other blogging website. Make sure that there is something different in the content published by you.
Research and finalize the keywords you will be using. For creating good SEO content, it is essential to use the relevant keywords. Research commonly used keywords pertaining to your industry. You will come across many online software tools for finding new keywords. Google keyword tool is one of the most efficient tools that provides information on the global and local monthly searches of the keywords along with a wide range of keyword variations. Once you finalize the keywords, start using them in the content; however, make sure that it looks natural.
Web users normally have a short attention span. You must come up with short, precise and informative content that will hold the attention of the reader.
Your headline is one of the strongest attributes of your content that creates the first impression in the minds of the readers. The title provides the users with an idea about what can be expected from the post. It also appears in the email newsletters, social media shares, RSS feeds and ofcourse in the search engines.
If you have written a long, in-depth article, there is no doubt that it will provide value to the users. However remember that brevity is most important. At times readers only scan pages for some important and interesting information. Highlight the crucial aspects through the use of a table of contents, headline and sub headings along with the right keywords. Preferably make use of short paragraphs so that it is easier to read.
When you are setting up a website for a global audience, using simple English is advisable so that it is easier to read and understand the information given. Also try to put yourself in the shoes of the reader so that you will know which information must be presented to them.
Make sure that whatever information you are providing is accurate and is up to date. If you are taking the information from somewhere, ensure that it is an authoritative resource.
Once you are done writing the article, make sure to proof read and edit it properly. If you have completed the post, do not publish it right away. Read it and give yourself time to edit it. By doing this you will be able to improve on the content further.
An article with images and videos surely has an edge over just a plain article. When it comes to videos, add them only if you think they can provide value to the users. Images can perfectly synchronize with your post; whatever topic you are writing on, you can always find relevant images. Make sure you use high quality images that can also be viewed on mobile devices.
The content creation tips mentioned above are simple and can be implemented right away. You can count on these points in terms of creating the most impressive, efficient and readable content.