It’s almost the halfway point of 2013–time to take stock and make sure you’re putting your best foot forward. Remember those shiny dreams and goals you came up with in January?
To quote my favorite Friend, Joey, “how YOU doin?”
Let’s find out by running through 10 quick checkpoints. There’s still the whole second half of the year to do a course correction and kick butt.
10 Step Half-Year Blog Checkup
- Go into your Google Analytics and find your most popular post. Use that as a jumping off point for more content. Update the topic, do a “part two,” or simply re-promote it via your social channels. You might be able to get more juice out of it.
- Run a poll or send an email to get feedback from your readers about what they need. Use the results to guide your writing for the rest of the year.
- Make sure you are up to date with your software and plugins. When’s the last time you updated your WordPress? Are there better plug-ins you could be using? Do you need to renew any licences?
- Check current best practices for your sidebar, ads, and extra content. Is it time to delete some of those old conference badges, test removing your social profiles, or add a promo for your new e-book? There’s a great blog/community review video at Live Your Legend.
- Do you need to update your logo, tag line, or branding? When is the last time you refreshed your graphics?
- Is your editorial calendar set for the rest of the year? You don’t have to have a headline for every day of the week, but it might be good to sit down and come up with broad topic areas for each week or even each month. You’ll be sitting pretty if you feed your stockpile of headline ideas at the same time. How is your blog draft “slush pile?”
- Check in with your goals from the beginning of the year. How have you done? Do you need to make any course corrections? Pat yourself on the back if you’ve checked any big goals off the list already. It’s so important to take time to celebrate your wins. If there’s something on the goal list that you haven’t accomplished, think about whether it was a good goal to begin with.
- Update your social sharing tools and make sure you’re taking full advantage of new developments. All of the major social networks have undergone major changes since January. There are now verified Pinterest pages for your business, Facebook has changed its cover photo policy to allow more text, and Twitter now has interactive “cards” available to embed in blog posts. Have you looked at List.ly yet?
- Get up to speed on disclosure regulations. Are you compliant? It might be time to take a moment and read the updated FTC guidelines.
- Is your mobile experience optimized? Check your Google Analytics again and note how much of your audience is reading your blog on a mobile device. My guess is that it’s a big chunk! Take time to ensure that your site is mobile-ready.
Let’s use the rest of 2013 to inspire each other to success!
By James Ellis
A website can be and do just about anything. It can be a brochure, a greeting card, a catalog, a conversation space, an announcement, a research tool, a library, a photo gallery, a way to spark ideas, build connections, engage people and speak about your corner of the world.
But it can’t really do all those things (unless you are Google or maybe Facebook, in which case, “hi!”). It can do one or two of those things well. It can do three or four of those things well with an exponential increase in resources, but that’s it.
So instead of spending millions on a legion of developers, creative directors, content managers and the staff to populate their respective armies, maybe you should focus your intention down to one thing.
What is your website supposed to be or do? Boil it down to a phrase a five-year-old could understand.
Amazon was a bookstore. Now it is an everything store. Google is a search engine. Those are easy, mostly because they have smart marketers and leadership who knows that you need to excel at one thing before you expand to something else.
But what about the website for your favorite coffee shop? It could be a brochure: hours and location with a pic of a cute barista. It could be a branding peice: pictures and animations that are warm and inviting about the idea of coffee and scones. It could be a business development peice: Get you excited about the idea of hand-roasted select gourmet coffee and how it will make your life better. It could be a store: place your coffee order and schedule a pick-up time or delivery. It could be a research tool: Everything you could want to know about coffee from different regions of the world, how it should be roasted, what the types of roasting levels mean and how they affect taste.
One coffee shop, four intentions. Each intention shapes the nature of the website, who uses it and why. Intention therefore determines the site’s success
For example, will more people come to your coffee shop because they know more about all the different coffee varieties? If your goal is to sell more coffee, then maybe that intention doesn’t align with that objective. If you spend 3,000 words talking about thirty different coffee varieties, and you only sell two, what was the good in that? You may have just gotten them excited to go to another coffee shop.
Nailing down the intention of your site, especially in relation to your total marketing strategy and your business strategy, increases your likelihood of success. Now I’m going to go drink some coffee.
By Tiffany Matthews
There will come a time when you find yourself unable to write, not just for hours at end, but days and weeks. The worst is when those weeks stretch into months. By then, the screen’s cursor constant blinking would become a taunting reminder that you have yet to type words, not even one word. If you’re suffering from a serious case of writer’s block, simple tips to beat blank page syndrome will no longer suffice. Badly burned out and drained of every last drop of creative juice? It’s time to call in the big guns.
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
When a writer friend suddenly announced on Facebook that she was going to unplug and go away for awhile, I was concerned. I wondered what she could possibly be going through. I had my answer when she resurfaced online three long months later. Apparently, she had been dutifully following a 12-week program based on Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way. Judging from her relaxed and happier mood, the long break has been helpful in restoring her creativity as well as productivity. The program also helped her get over her major case of writer’s block and gave her more insight on the artistic process.
Some people will not like everything about The Artist’s Way. The long period required to complete the program will not appeal to active writers–who are trying to survive daily life and–who can’t afford to break off from work just for the sake of creativity. There are a couple of things in this book, however, that they can can still do–morning pages and artist dates.
Every day for the next 12 weeks, you have to pen three handwritten pages, all done first thing in the morning during a stream of consciousness, which means you can’t look back at the previous pages you have written. If you’re not a morning person, you might think twice about waking up early for this exercise. You’ll probably wonder how you can write when you’re still drowsy. Once you get started, however, you’ll be surprised to discover clarity and how easily you can fill up 3 pages. When you write, don’t think, just let the words flow. Ramble if you must. When you read the sheets, you’ll find out that your true thoughts–some repressed–and find a way to resolve some of the issues that have been in your mind for a long time. This practice of morning pages also helps transform writing into more of a daily habit and makes the words flow easier.
“Artist Dates are assigned play.” Once a week, you must embark on an expedition alone in order to explore what is of interest to you. It doesn’t have to be overly artistic, but it should fire up your imagination. An artist date should be fun and whimsical, something that encourages play. Art is all about the play of ideas, so open yourself to fun things that you want to try. When we experience something new or something that we enjoy, it helps fuel our creativity and build up another reservoir of inspiration that we can draw from. Artist dates replenish our creative juices, adding new ideas and images that bring us closer to our inner artist and craft new masterpieces.
Sometimes people dread spring, not because they are not looking forward to warmer weather but because it’s time for spring cleaning. Cleaning your house from top to bottom until you drop can be therapeutic for writers and artists, not to mention productive. Just remember to invest in a good vacuum cleaner. The no-handles type can help you get rid of every speck of dust, even in those hidden corners under beds and furniture that you can’t reach. Who knows, you just might get some great ideas while you’re cleaning. Having a sparkly clean house also feels very rewarding especially after all the hard work you’ve put in. The actual spring cleaning helps relax your mental state and makes you feel refreshed. The more relaxed you are, the more your ideas will flow so you can now get back to work.
Spring cleaning isn’t just for the house. Sometimes, we need to apply it to ourselves so we can recharge and welcome new changes that will help us grow as writers and artists.keep looking »