Consistency is King

We moved from Pittsburgh to Raleigh in early Spring 2014. Now we’ve moved back from Raleigh to Pittsburgh this fall. It’s hard to sort through your stuff, pack it up and move it several states over. It’s even harder to leave relationships you’ve started, knowing they won’t be the same when you’re hundreds of miles apart. Moving is hard.

But it’s even harder to stay. It’s hard to maintain relationships come hell or high water (or children or distance). It’s hard to go to the same job year after year and put 100% in each day. It’s easier to quit. It’s easier to walk away. It’s easier to run.

You can do something for a brief moment that is beautiful and valuable. But those who consistently put in the sacrificial work are the ones that make the most sustainable difference.

Consistency is hard. But its rewards are great.

Why consistency is hard:

  1. Rewards aren’t immediate.
  2. New is exciting. Think about a new job, a new house, a new love – they all offer hope of something greater than what we already know. So new is inherently exciting and consistency generally isn’t.
  3. Consistency can mean you’re unseen. When you are consistent, people may take your consistency for granted and you may feel unseen. However, a benefit of your consistency is that random drama likely won’t follow you like a bad penny.

Why consistency is worth it:

  1. Trust is built over time. Healthy relationships are formed through mutual trust. And healthy relationships are rare and valuable. They are mutually life-giving, beneficial and enriching.
  2. We can be improved through consistency. When we deny ourselves and consistently sacrifice for others, we become better people. We find when we give our lives away, we are better for it.
  3. We achieve great feats through consistency. Great achievements are completed by consistent work. A marathon, a skyscraper and a life-well lived are all built through consistent steps. Those who have consistently sacrificed themselves for others are the greats of history.

We might decide to move a mountain in a major life-decision moment. But it’s in our day-to-day consistent work that we actually move the mountain, shovel by shovel. It’s when we are consistent in the seemingly mundane and the boring steps that we actually create major change.

Let’s encourage each other in consistency, in the less-than-glamorous day-to-day. Because we are all changing the landscape, one shovel at a time.



Image info: Original image by Paul E. Harrer.

About the Author: Lindsey Tolino comes alongside artisans, craftsman and people monetizing their passions to help them create healthy businesses. She shares her heart at Follow her on Twitter @LindseyTolino or connect with her on Google+ .

What’s the Best Time of Day to Publish a Blog Post?

Whether you are new to blogging or have been blogging awhile, you might have noticed that your readers comment more frequently on certain days or share more often on others. It is no mystery that there is a science to developing the right time to post to your blog and to social media. There are numerous studies devoted to tracking the frequency of shares, comments, likes and views and they generally don’t have the same answer. In this article, we will go over three different studies from KISSmetrics, Track Maven, and Shareaholic and discuss their findings.

  • Social Shares—Both KISSmetrics and Track Maven suggest posting your blog during non-peak hours between 9pm and midnight or on Saturday or Sunday to get the most social shares. Their reasoning is that there are fewer other posts and, therefore, yours will get more prominence. Shareaholic’s data indicated that posting between 9am and 10am on Thursday is your best bet when it comes to social shares.
  • Website Traffic—KISSmetrics found that the best time to post a blog in order to get the most traffic to your website was Monday at 11am. Shareaholic’s data came to the same conclusion about Monday, but suggested 9am to 10am.
  • Comments—KISSmetrics was the only one to focus on which day showed the most people commenting. Their data suggested Saturday at around 9am. The reason being that people have more time to spend on the website reading the material. KISSmetrics also found that if you are posting more than once per day, you are more likely to get comments and inbound links.


Overall, the data from each different source showed that people are the most active during the work week. KISSmetrics also studied whether men or women were more likely to read blogs during the day or evening. They found that men were more likely to read blogs in the early evening or at night, while women tended to be more daytime readers.

The truth is, you know your audience best of all and are the best judge of when to post and share. You can import Google Analytics for your website to study your page visits and views. Review the data as you post to the blog at different times and days. This will give you a sense of the best day and time for your company. Also see which topics received the most comments, likes, and shares. When you are putting together your writing calendar, keep this data in mind. If you review it frequently and correctly, it can guide your entire marketing strategy.

Remember also that you can schedule your blog posts to self-publish. Let’s say you review your data and see that you get the most traffic on Monday for your blog posts. Problem is, that is the same time as the weekly staff meeting and your day just gets crazier from there. Write that post when you have some down time during the week or even on the weekend and schedule it. It’s all about working smarter, not harder.

Do you have any other surefire ways to get the most views for a blog? Let us know in the comments.




mickie 2Mickie Kennedy is founder of eReleases and offers free ebooks and whitepapers on how to grow your business’s traffic.

“Gotta Get Mine” Is Unsustainable

I fall under this lie a lot – that I have to live like I gotta get mine.  If I’m not out for me, who else will be, right?

Wrong. So wrong.

Think about your closest relationship – maybe with a spouse, a friend or a family member. Think about a time when you approached that relationship solely with a “gotta get mine” mentality. How did that go? How would it go if you did that all the time with them?

Ok, but that’s personal relationships. It’s different in business, isn’t it?

I sat down with a few businessmen a month or so ago. I asked them what is the greatest lesson they’ve learned in business. The eldest two affirmed that they’ve learned the value of giving something away and not strapping people for money for everything they do. They’ve experienced growth in their business when they haven’t nickel-and-dimed people, but instead have been generous with their skills and connections.

We know this intuitively, don’t we? We dislike paying people who feel like they’re only out for themselves. Trust is an essential component of business.  And we don’t usually feel like we can trust people who seek their own interests over ours.

And we also know the opposite is true – we more easily trust individuals who sacrifice for us.  I trust my mom with my life because of how much she’s sacrificed for me. And there are a few select others I trust because of how they have served me so thoroughly. You’ve got people like this too. 

“Gotta get mine” isn’t really accurate either. It’s backwards. If we truly were out for our own interests, we would seek to serve others. We would probably be happier and run more sustainable businesses if our primary focus was on serving others. In fact, the people I know that constantly focus on themselves are the most miserable people I know.

“Gotta get mine” is unsustainable in business and in life because we live and do business with people. We need to be able to trust each other if we want to do well. We’re all better if we’re out for each other’s best, rather than our own. Let’s bury “gotta get mine.”


Image info: Original image by Death To The Stock Photo.

About the Author: Lindsey Tolino comes alongside artisans, craftsman and people monetizing their passions to help them create healthy businesses. She shares her heart at Follow her on Twitter @LindseyTolino or connect with her on Google+.

How to Minimize Blog Load Time and Increase Subscribers [WordPress]

By Jessy Troy


Your blog load speed is both a ranking and usability factor. The faster your readers can access your site, the more they will actually stay and become your subscribers.

While it’s possible for more advanced webmasters to go in and alter a number of areas for their WordPress blog, those who are less code savvy or who have more time restrictions may prefer to use a simple plugin instead.

There are three major WordPress plugins to increase site load-time: W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, and Minify.

How Caching Speeds Up Your Site

W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache center around the “caching” concept. The standard way that WordPress pulls up your entry is by sending a mysql query to the database. While this won’t normally take long, large numbers of visitors can overwhelm your database server. By eliminating this unnecessary step, cache plugins will speed up the load-time on any site and make a truly dramatic impact on popular blogs.

W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache

Both of these WordPress plugins, which are designed to increase site load-time, have a long history and are used by a number of major sites. One of the big differences between the two is that, unlike many other caching plugins, the W3 Total Cache makes a cached copy of every detail of your site.

This includes your theme, images from your entries, widgets, and anything else that you may add to your site. The company behind W3 Total Cache has research showing that site performance improves 10 fold or more when compared with an unmodified WordPress blog that lacks any form of caching plugin. While not quite as thorough, the WP Super Cache has similar positive effects.

This caching functionality includes a setup that allows for full browser caching from your visitors. In layman’s terms, your visitors will only have to load the page once, since their browser will effectively be able to capture a cached version of the site for future visits.

Cutting down on all the queries to the WordPress database can also save on bandwidth. Bandwidth has been reduced by up to 80 percent for users of these plugins. If you’re using WordPress hosting, that can mean avoiding a slow down due to traffic spikes. If you are using your own hosting, this can mean saving bank.

Better WordPress Minify

Better WordPress Minify

Better WordPress Minify takes a very different approach to speeding up your site. Rather than caching the information that you already have, Minifty compresses all your Javascript and CSS files, getting rid of unnecessary code. Depending on how many CSS and Javascript elements you have, this may make either a minor or truly substantial difference.

Even if you choose to go the extra mile by doing everything else possible to speed up your site, having plugins like these is important for minimizing your load times. As the start to or final touch on your load-time optimization, using one of these WordPress plugins to increase site load-time is vital.

Never Forget the Basics

No matter which plugins you use, nothing will help if your hosting provider is awful in terms of delivering your content to the web user.

I don’t have too much experience with WordPress-friendly hosting solutions (I am definitely not a techie) but I know this one is pretty good and reliable too.

If you are not sure what slows your pages down, do use this tool: You can compare any page of your blog with another one that seems a bit faster!

Page speed

Is your WordPress blog fast enough? Please share your thoughts and tips!


Featured image via Flickr CC: William Warby

Author’s Bio: Jessy Troy is a creative writer and editor at Social Media Sun. She Tweets as @JessyTroy.

Keeping Your Core – How To Still Be You and Grow

Any type of growth is hard. It’s hard to grow and not lose who you are – physically, personally and in your business. No matter what, there’s always going to be something you leave behind.

When you were a child, you left behind your short stature and your nose-picking (did you leave that behind?) to grow taller and become an adult. But when you grew up, you kept part of you – maybe it was your mom’s nose or your humorous personality. Sure, you changed, but you were still you.

In your business, things are more fluid, you don’t have permanent fixtures that remain by default, like your mom’s nose does. It can be a much harder process to grow your business, leave the baby stuff behind, but keep your core intact.

So that’s what we’re diving into – how to grow and keep your core intact. It’s actually a simple process, but we tend to ignore it when we’re growing our businesses. It’s essential, though, if we want to keep our core intact.

How to still be you and grow:

  • Assess your core:
    • What are your businesses core strengths? Why do your customers keep coming back? What makes your business unique? What brings in the most revenue?
  • Find the superfluous and bottlenecks:
    • What could you leave behind and few would notice (i.e. processes, products, etc.)? What feels like it’s holding you back?
  • After you’ve done steps 1 & 2, make a plan to intentionally protect and pour into the core while you cut/fix the superfluous and bottlenecks. Then follow your plan and adjust as needed.

But what does this look like practically?

Say you run a bakery and your sales are growing so fast, it’s hard to keep up. The bakery’s tagline is “Fresh. Local. Handmade.” You bake everyday, multiple times a day so everything is fresh. You use only local ingredients and you deliver locally. You make every item by hand. Your best seller is your blueberry oatmeal bars. Customers are happy with the quality, which you attribute to the items being fresh. Your customers love that you use only local ingredients and that you have local delivery. You’ve gotten good WOM advertising because of your local delivery. This is your core. Some things haven’t been working great – a gluten free line hasn’t been selling, expanding delivery to further counties hasn’t been promising and your inventory system can’t keep up. You’ve also spent money on advertising space in a local publication that hasn’t yielded a solid return. These are your superfluous and bottleneck items and.

From this assessment, you should be able to create a logical plan that helps you keep your core intact as you grow. This means you should continue to focus on fresh and local and protect and grow those strengths. However, no one seems to notice or care that items are handmade. You’ve been looking into a machine that can make your oatmeal bars in less time, for less labor, which would help you meet market needs. Since you’ve assessed your core and know what you need to protect, you can more clearly make that decisions.

When businesses grow, they move toward chaos. It takes intentional persistence to ensure your business’s core stays intact while it grows. If you commit to protect your business’s core as it grows, you’ll likely find that you still have the essential parts intact, just like you still had your mom’s nose after you went through puberty.


Image info: Original image by John French.

About the Author: Lindsey Tolino comes alongside artisans, craftsman and people monetizing their passions to help them create healthy businesses. She shares her heart at Follow her on Twitter @LindseyTolino or connect with her on Google+.

Marketing Money: It Isn’t For You

Your business is not your home.

Your home, with all its aesthetics and function, is largely to serve you and those you live with. If you like a piece of art, you buy it and hang it in your house and enjoy it. If you want a newer refrigerator in your kitchen, you buy one to replace your old one.

But your business is not your home. It’s primary purpose is not to serve you. Your business exists to serve others. That’s not to say that you can’t spend money in your business on things you like, you can – but that shouldn’t be your priority. Your priority should be to serve customers and employees with your business spending.

Serving others with your business spending isn’t only the right and most fulfilling thing to do, it’s also the wisest. Spending your business funds only on what you want, and not on what serves others best, is foolish.

Case in point:

Last year, Reader’s Digest published a short article on the National Guard’s sponsorship of Nascar. The article explained how the National Guard spent $136 million over 5 years on the sponsorship, but only yielded 20 potential recruits, with none joining. Missouri senator Claire McCaskill was cited as saying that the issue was due to marketing to the wrong demographic as most race-car fans are from 35 to 54 years old, but the National Guard seeks 18-to-24-year-olds.

It’s hard to understand why the National Guard initially decided to sponsor Nascar, since the demographics were so dissonant. But it’s clear from that case that we can’t make marketing spending decisions based solely on what we want or what we think would be cool.

In order to get the highest ROI for our marketing funds, we need to spend on what best serves our customers. We know this. But we also know how tempting it is to spend on putting our business names on something shiny, even if it doesn’t best serve our customers.

To run great businesses, we must sacrifice our desires to better serve others. We all have limited resources. The businesses that use every last resource to sustainably serve others well will be the businesses that succeed.

So let’s not worry about spending our marketing dollars on what we like. Let’s examine the best ways to reach out to and serve our customers with those funds. After all, we’re not in business to serve ourselves. We can use our homes for that. We’re in business to serve others.


Image info: Original, royalty-free photo from Kaboompics.

About the Author: Lindsey Tolino comes alongside artisans, craftsman and people monetizing their passions to help them create healthy businesses. She shares her heart at Follow her on Twitter @LindseyTolino or connect with her on Google+.

On Being Entrepreneurial For Another’s Benefit (And Your Own)

You can be entrepreneurial in many ways and through many venues. However, most of them revolve around seeing a new opportunity, taking it, and seeing it through, even if it’s difficult.

A movie I watched a few weeks ago, McFarland USA, exemplified this. Have you watched it?

In it, Jim White (played by Kevin Costner) loses two football coaching jobs, the most recent at McFarland high school. McFarland is shown as a poor, Mexican-American town. Though he lost his coaching job, Jim stays at McFarland, working as a PE teacher. In PE, he notices how fast some of the students can run. He observes them further and finds that they run to and from school and working in the fields. He even follows one student, without his permission, to clock his speed (which ends up being around a 5 minute mile).Running

Jim then works to create a cross-country team, despite his lack of cross-country coaching experience. He works through various obstacles – principal’s permission, lack of interest and parental permission – to put the team together and see it through.

In the movie, Jim saw an opportunity, a significant strength, in the school and capitalized on it. He embodied entrepreneurship – and not just for his own benefit. His entrepreneurial skills benefited his players as well, with many of his runners receiving scholarships to college, which they may have not received otherwise.

I often think of entrepreneurship as a numbers game. I think of it as comparing the cost of an opportunity with its potential income. I think of it as taking an opportunity so I can make money off of it. Yet I love how McFarland turned that on its head.

Our entrepreneurship doesn’t have to serve us alone. We can be entrepreneurial for those around us. We don’t need to be all about ourselves. We know this, but sometimes we need a reminder.

I know I do. I sometimes get caught up in looking out for me and living much smaller than I should. I miss too many of opportunities to use my observations and skills to benefit others. And here’s the clincher – I’m pretty sure I’d be better off personally if I always used my entrepreneurial skills to serve others rather than to serve myself.

I mean, isn’t customer service a tenet of great business? Plus, I’ve been far more satisfied when I’ve used my skills primarily to serve others rather than to make money.

So, when we notice an opportunity that will serve others, maybe even more than it will serve us – let’s use it, let’s take it, let’s do it.

Because the most beautiful life we can create is one in which we use our skills, including our entrepreneurial ones, to benefit others. It truly is better to give than to receive.


Image info: Original image by Stefania Bonacasa.

About the Author: Lindsey Tolino comes alongside artisans, craftsman and people monetizing their passions to help them create healthy businesses. She shares her heart at Follow her on Twitter @LindseyTolino or connect with her on Google+.

Define Your Own Blogging Success

The headlines scream new (and often contradictory) dictates in black and white, every morning.

“Blogging is dead.”

“Content is King.”

“Video is a must-have.”

“Orange is the new black.”

Wait, that last one is just a Netflix show. I just wanted to make sure you were paying attention.

You must define your own version of success for the marketing tools you’re using.

If blogging is your chosen tool, there are many possible versions of success:

  • A creative outlet
  • Leads for your business
  • Search engine rank/traffic
  • A portfolio or resume of published work
  • Thought leadership or credibiilty in a niche
  • Platform for book authorship
  • Information & tips for your customers

The only way you fail is if you end up just going through the motions without a purpose.

“You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.” Yogi Berra


Monetized Blog vs Non-Monetized Blog

The first big dividing line would be, do you want to make money directly from your blog?

Direct monetization routes would include a paywall in order to read the posts, or the selling of sponsorships. In both of these cases, you need to be pretty established up-front in order to succeed. No-one is going to pay to read your posts unless they already know how fantastic you are. Teaser content might be effective in this case.

By the same token, you won’t be able to sell sponsorships until you’ve proven a large readership or a very definable audience. Sponsors will want to know your page views and number of subscribers, something that’s not generally very impressive when you’re first starting out.

If you know that you want to run ads in the future, but don’t have enough traffic to be enticing to advertisers, set reader expectations. Consider reserving a footer banner or sidebar square that you will use for future advertising, and use it to promote something of your own (or for a friend). If you make it look professional, you will be subtly letting readers know that your blog will contain advertising. Much better than launching with no ads, and then stuffing them in all of a sudden, months later.

Indirect Blog Monetization

If you want to derive value from your blog, but not direct monetary value, consider the following:

  • Include a call to action with every post
  • Be minimalist with your sidebar information; don’t distract from the primary CTA
  • Be sure to collect email information, to start building your own marketing asset for the future
  • Make it very clear what the purpose of the blog is…if you’re all about thought leadership, consider a photo image of the primary author (perhaps a photo taken at a speaking engagement). Remember social proof too. A quote from a peer or colleague might be appropriate on the page.
  • If your blog is supporting an SEO strategy, don’t be “that guy” who stuffs keywords without meaning. Google doesn’t like that anyway. Focus more on creating in-depth, valuable articles on a regular basis. If your blogging platform includes SEO tools, use them!

Tracking Success

All of the effort you’re putting into your blogging will be for nothing if you don’t have any way to measure progress.

Once you’ve determined what blogging success looks like, you must come up with a way to track whether it’s fulfilling the purpose.

Here are some examples of things you can track:

  • For a “thought leadership” blog – track social mentions of your name or brand, or links back to your blog from other authority sites
  • For a business blog – track leads or emails captured
  • For SEO – track your rank for specific search terms
  • For a customer-focused blog – track any decrease in support requests, or if you’re using customer satisfaction scoring (like Net Promoter Score), see if that is affected over time

Don’t forget to baseline your metric before you start, so that you can see progress as it happens.

The metrics shouldn’t be set in stone, either. Establish a quarterly routine of looking at the numbers, reviewing your blog, and making tweaks as necessary.

Your blog is only one tool in your marketing arsenal, but it should be part of your marketing metrics in order to be effective.

How have you defined blogging success for yourself?


Featured image via Flickr Creative Commons: Paxson Woelber

Author’s Bio: Rosemary O’Neill is an insightful spirit who works for Social Strata — makers of the community platform. Check out the Social Strata blog. You can find Rosemary on Google+ and on Twitter as @rhogroupee

Freelance Writing – Guide to Inspiration

Freelance inspiration

By Jessy Troy


I have spent several years in the wonderful, strange world of freelance writing. While it is a blessing in many ways, it can also have a downside. Mainly trying to maintain inspiration and motivation when writing for such a large number of publications. From magazines to newspapers to webmasters, there are so many projects that can sap your time and energy.

Because the topics are always the same, and they are almost always on subjects you have to come up with, it can be difficult to get that spark of artistic genius that leads to a successful, interesting article.

While common sense would dictate that taking a hiatus to clear the mind would be the way to go, such as with novelists, that isn’t an option for the freelance writer. This is the job and if you don’t do it you don’t get paid.

But all is not lost, whatever despair you may feel. Keep this list of ways to keep your creative juices flowing, to look at whenever you find yourself stuck.

Freelance Writing, a Guide to Getting Inspired

  • Get away from your computer and do something relaxing, such as go for a walk, get a cup of coffee or take a long shower or bath.
  • Move on to something else for a while and go back once you feel more clearheaded.
  • Ask someone’s opinion. This can be anonymously on the web, or from someone that you know personally. Just make sure all direct quotes are properly credited.
  • Find sources on a topic. You should obviously never copy these sources, but using them for ideas can be a great way to bump start the brain.
  • Go back to old ideas. Remember that article you were thinking of writing three months ago that ended up as a hastily written sticky note pressed to the side of a filing cabinet? It might be time to get on it.
  • Check out some local places and see if anything strikes you as interesting. Maybe speak to a local business owner about the latest news, or ask around about any interesting developments in your area.
  • Get a community calendar or join a website with a local community focus. This will often show you upcoming benchmarks in time for your city, state or county. Take some time to research an upcoming anniversary such as when your area was founded, and write something interesting and educational to commemorate it.
  • Check out sites that host press releases, especially those about trending topics.
  • Use real time search engines to see what people are speaking about right now, to see if there is anything interesting you could look into.
  • Use your own life. For example, I am a writer and I frequently struggle with trying to come up with ideas for articles when I have been writing all week. I am now writing an article to discuss that, and to give other writers the benefit of my brainstorm on the subject.
  • Write an article based on a numbered list. For example: Five Ways to Get That Summer Look in November.
  • Ask for help: There is a free community for people to brainstorm together!
  • Go out for a night on the town with no set plan of what you are going to do, in an area you don’t know. Ditch the car so you can walk around and learn about new restaurants, movie theaters, galleries, cafes, etc.
  • Find a client or publication that is looking for a specific topic to be researched and written about.
  • Get writing! You will be amazed at what can come from a stream of consciousness.

How do you keep yourself elevated and inspired? Please share your tips!

Author’s Bio: Jessy Troy is a creative writer and editor at Social Media Sun. She Tweets as @JessyTroy.

What Do You Do When You Feel The Heat?

By Lindsey Tolino

We’re experiencing record-breaking heat in Raleigh this week. I like it warm, but triple digits is just too hot.

I get so irritated in the heat. Do you get like that? I bet many of us do.

Heat stresses my body. When I feel hot, I’m more likely to be short with people, cut them off and be impatient. Sometimes, things other than heat stress me out and I become just as irritated.

When we’re under stress, whether it be from heat or a mountain of bills, it seems that we’re more likely to snap at people and be task-oriented rather than people-oriented. This can be a dangerous place to live.

If we don’t force ourselves to slow down when we’re under stress, we’re more likely to burn bridges with the most important asset in our lives – people.

When we are stressed, we often need to do the opposite of what we want to do. For example, when we’re under financial pressure, we may want to put our heads down, get to work and do as we’ve always done to get our businesses back on their feet. But if we deny the stress and force ourselves to stop, look around and engage with others, we may discover a solution to our financial issues.

It’s essential that we listen to our “guts” in business. But when we’re experiencing stress, we may not be able to hear our guts over the loud hum of stress running in our brains. Furthermore, we know that stress keeps us from being creative. But when things aren’t going well, that’s when it’s most important to be creative.

The most valuable practice that’s helped me handle stress is similar to the CDC’s recommendations for dealing with extreme heat – first, get to a “cooler” spot. Then I can stop and breathe.

Once I relax, I’m able to think through the situation more clearly. I can question how much the heat/stress is affecting my current decisions. Is the stress driving my decisions or is solid reasoning? What could we do differently here?

When we feel the heat, we need to step back and find a cooler spot. Not only for the sake of our businesses, but also for those around us. When we’re stressed, it’s vital that we get to a cooler spot, so we don’t hurt anyone in the heat of the moment.

Though it’s only June, it won’t stay this hot forever. When it gets cooler, I don’t want us to regret any of the decisions we made in the heat.

Author’s Bio: Lindsey Tolino comes alongside artisans, craftsman and people monetizing their passions to help them craft healthy businesses. She shares her heart at Follow her on Twitter @LindseyTolino or connect with her on Google+.