Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Facebook Ad Scheduling Now Available August 2014

Facebook is a great advertising platform. We have access to their massive subscriber base, their subscriber demographics, their subscriber’s attention; what it didn’t have was a way to schedule our ads. Now Facebook ad scheduling is finally available. Hooray!

Here is how to access Facebook ad scheduling. It is located in your Power Editor so you will have to use Chrome browser for now to get this to work. But it is totally worth it to be able to run our ads when we want to for maximum ROI.

Follow these steps:

1) Using the Chrome browser, go to https://www.facebook.com/ads/manage/powereditor.

Facebook Power Editor

 
2) Choose your Campaign, then click on Ad Sets.

Facebook Ad Sets

 

3) Select “lifetime” from the Budget (USD) drop-down. It normally says, “Daily”.

Facebook Ad Scheduling

Facebook Ad Scheduling Lifetime

 

4) On Ad Scheduling, choose “Run ads on a schedule”. The Ad Scheduling calendar will show up. Then choose the days and hours when you want your Facebook ads to run.

Facebook Ad Scheduling Calendar

 

Publish on Kindle in 9 Easy Steps

Publish on Kindle in 9 Easy Steps

What to learn how to publish your ebook on Amazon Kindle? Here is a 9-step guide to get you started, complete with screenshots. Use this guide as a slightly more than a checklist for your Kindle publishing project. Going through all the steps will help you plan it and fit it into our schedule.

It will also alert you in advance to steps you may find especially time consuming or just not up your alley, allowing you to plan for, find and hire the correct outsourcing contractors to complete these particular modules.

Step 1.  Write Your Book

Lots of people talk endlessly about writing a Kindle ebook:  Not so many do it.  If you are writing non-fiction, you need to come up with a hot topic.  Checking out magazine stands, best seller lists and the Amazon marketplace itself will help you get an idea of what people are looking for nowadays.

Discount books written by celebrities.  Those will be heavily promoted and subsidized, and won’t give you a true picture of what’s currently in demand, topic-wise.

Narrow your topic down to specific Kindle book categories.  Come up with a dynamic Title if you can.  (Don’t get too hung up on that, however:  You can change it later.  It just helps you get a feel for the character of your book, if you come up with a strong title at this stage.)

Write an outline.  It will help you stay on topic and produce a much tighter, more focused book that feels professional and reads clearly.

Then sit down and start writing.

The Secret to Writing – and Finishing – Any Book

Schedule it.  Don’t wait for inspiration. Ruthlessly put aside your feelings.  Just give yourself a minimum word count per day that you have to write:  Then stick to that minimum.


1-surfer

 

That’s the magic formula that published authors the world over have discovered.

(The real secret?  If you make yourself do this every day, and turn off your Inner Critic, it soon becomes a habit.  And that’s when you suddenly catch the wave and learn to surf!

And what a high it is, when you can’t wait to sit down at your computer in the morning (or evening, if that works better for you) and get started.

That’s how books are made.

Step 2.  Proofing and Editing

Writing your book is a huge accomplishment for many, but it’s just the raw bones of your finished product.  Put the book aside for at least a week if you can, and then come back to it and begin the process of proofing and editing.

Spell-check first, then proof it again for readability.  Then proof it again for consistency.  Then proof it again for flow.  And run the spell checker a final time.

If you’re new to writing and have the budget, hiring an editor at this stage can free you up to continue with other projects and get the book ready for print a lot faster.

Step 3.  Create your Ecover Image/Have it Created

Your ebook’s cover image is one of the most important components to getting your book approved by Amazon, being taken seriously as an author – and inspiring people to buy.

If you do not have solid art skills, don’t waste time or cut corners here:  Hire an artist experienced in creating Kindle ecovers to produce a polished, vibrant product.

If you do have artistic experience, you still need to be totally familiar with ecover formatting for Kindle.  Here are the requirements:

  • Your cover image has to be in .JPG or .TIFF format
  • Resolution:  72 D.P.I.
  • Minimum size:  500 pixels wide X 1,000 pixels
  • Maximum size:  1,250 X 2,000 pixels
  • Maximum file size (interior photographs):  127k

Don’t use black and white photography for your Cover unless it is an essential part of your cover photo’s statement and enhances the book’s mood and premise.  Your interior photographs will display in black and white on older Kindle versions, but your cover will always be competing with other richly-colored covers on Amazon’s Kindle book site.

Game of Thrones Book

 

Your cover photo should be 100% original. If you hire an artist to produce the artwork only (as opposed to producing the entire ecover) make sure she signs a “work-for-hire” clause, ceding all rights to you. Do this also if you hire a photographer to produce a photograph.

If you outsource through oDesk, perform due diligence to make sure the artist is not using improperly licensed stock photos.  This is the sort of risk you take when you outsource through abnormally low-priced sites – but it can also help you unearth great talent.

If you purchase an image from a stock photo company, make sure you also purchase the correct commercial license.  But original is always preferable.

Step 4.  Do Your Own Formatting for Kindle/Have it Formatted for Kindle

So your book is ready to upload.  Your ecover is also ready.  You have a variety of options available as far as formatting tools go, but since you most likely created your ebook in MS Word, let’s take the easiest route – publishing it with KDP Select. Before we even begin to worry about the actual formatting process, however, you have to make sure your manuscript is Kindle format-ready.

If you don’t already know how to format for Kindle and you don’t want to outsource, download Kindle’s own Building Your Book for Kindle guide.

And before you upload your book, make sure you have created and thoroughly tweaked:

  • Your Cover photo for the book
  • Your Description

Research and know your keywords too, as well as the categories you’d like associated with your book.  Finally, decide on a price for your book.

Step 5. Sign Up or Log Into KDP Select.

You may see a message like the one below in the upper, right-hand corner. Click on the anchor text: “Update Now”.

update now

 

You will be taken to your account screen. Fill in any missing information.  Put your real name. You will be able to choose a pen name later, if you’re planning to write for different niches or genres under different pen names.

Step 6.  Upload Your Book

  1. If you don’t see the “Update Now” message, simply click on “Add New Title”.

add a new title

 

Don’t be intimidated about uploading your first Kindle ebook.  You will be able to “Save it as Draft”, and no one will see it until you are ready to publish.

When you click on “Add new title”, you’ll be taken to section # 1, “Your Book”.  Beside it, you’ll see # 2, “Rights and Pricing”.

You will also see a window for the KDP Select program.  Decide whether or not you want to be enrolled, and either check or uncheck the box accordingly.  And if you need to find out more about it before making a decision, click on any of the anchor text links or visit KDP Select FAQs.  (You can always enroll later, if you prefer.)

KDP select enrollment

 

Next, start entering your book details…

enter your book details

 

As you can see, this phase is extremely easy and self-explanatory.  Clicking on the little “What’s this?” anchor text brings up simple pop-ups explaining each step.

If this is a new book, enter “1” for edition number and if you don’t have your own publishing company (something you should definitely explore once you’re comfortable with the Kindle publishing process) enter your own name as Publisher.

Don’t skip clicking on each anchor link:  None will take you away from your page.

Don’t enter an ISBN number or Publication date for now.

Notice that Amazon also offers you the option of setting up a series. (And in this screen shot, you can see how the pop-ups work.)

book series

 

  1. Verify that you have the right to publish your content. If it is in the public domain, you cannot include it in the KDP Select program, and you must disclose its status here.

Otherwise, go ahead and select “This is not a public domain work…”

verify your publishing rights

 

  1. Next, enter up to 7 keywords (single words or phrases); then click on the “Categories” button to choose the 2 main categories in which you want your work to be located.

target our book customers

 

  1. When you click on the Categories, a pop-up will open up.

If you can’t find the exact categories you want, you can either enter “NON-CLASSIFIABLE” and contact support while your book is being reviewed, letting them know the exact categories you’d like the book placed within… or pick a similar two categories for now.  (You can always change it later.)

choose book categories

 

  1. Next, upload your book cover.  It should be “camera-ready” – meaning all text should be in place, rather than just uploading the photograph alone.

upload book cover

 

Select “Browse for image” if your cover is ready and waiting on your hard drive.

An alternative is to use Kindle’s brand new Cover creator:  However, since your cover is one of the most important selling tools for your book, careful pre-design is recommended.

  1. Once your image is selected and you see your filename in the pop-up, press the “Upload” button.

upload product image

 

  1. Next, upload your book.  If it contains images, upload it as a zip file.

upload book button

 

IMPORTANT:  While your book is being uploaded, you will see message asking you to click “Save and Continue”.  Resist the urge to click “Save and Continue”, and instead select “Save as Draft”.  (This enables you to thoroughly review your book before publishing it.)

save as draft

 

  1. After your book is saved, you will see a green “successful” notification, just as you did with your book cover.

You may also see a notice alerting you to possible spelling errors.

spelling error check

 

Step 7.  Preview The Formatted Version

Next, you will be offered the chance to preview your book.  If you have prepared it in MS Word, go ahead and preview it online.  If you have used formatting tools or prepared it in HTML, you may prefer the second option:  To preview it by downloading one of the suggested tools. Once again, pop-ups are there to help you choose the right one.

preview book

 

If you preview online, you will be able to move back and forth between pages.  If there are image errors, you will see them.

screen

 

Since you have saved it as Draft (and even if you didn’t) you can simply go back, correct the errors in MS Word, update your TOC if you need to an re-save as “Web page, filtered”.  (Remember to right-click on this file and “Send to” a zip file format after doing so.)

Once you close your Online previewer, press “Back to the Bookshelf”.

back to your bookshelf

 

You will be taken back to where you started.  You will see it displayed as your first Title, along with the status and the option to enroll it in KDP Select.

book status

 

This gives you plenty of time to troubleshoot any glitches that showed up in the previewer or explore KDP Select further.

Step 8. Rights and Pricing

Once you’ve corrected your uploaded book and are ready to “Save and Continue”, do so.  You will then be directed to continue on to the next page, # 2 Rights and Pricing.

Here you will be able to set your preferences for:

  • Publishing Territories
  • Price
  • Royalty Rates

Here’s what Amazon offers you…

royalty options

 

In other words, if you’re charging up to $2.98, you are locked into a 35% rate.

If you are charging $2.99 or more, you can choose a 70% royalty rate.

If you have decided to go with KDP Select, check their terms also.  You may need to charge a different rate.


Step 9. Get Approved

Once you have made your pricing decisions and published your book, you will have 24-72 hours to wait for Amazon to review it and approve it.  (Your actual book will appear for sale after 12 hours – but wait before promoting, because other approvals may not yet be in place.)

Use that time to implement your marketing and promo plan – and be ready to roll when you get the green light!

Top 30 Ideas for Content Publishing

Top 30 Ideas for Content Publishing

Most people get stuck when it comes to content publishing ideas. More than likely, the only content they can think of is “blog posts. But did you know there are at least 30 types of content you can publish online?

Here they are.

1.  Blog Posts

We had to say it.  But take note that short blog posts are going out of fashion again.  Google has let it be known it will penalize blog posts that are so short, Google feels they are nothing more than excuses for ads and affiliate links.  Their emphasis on “quality, original content” has all the top bloggers writing posts over 500 words long and very often, twice that number of words.

2.  Infographics

Still at the height of popularity, the latest trend is to impart information in visual format people can absorb with a single glance.

    infographic example

This works so well not so much because many people are visual learners, but because all of us internet-and-mobile age denizens have trained our brains to scan-and-glance digital content, to see if it’s worth spending time exploring further.

3.  Slide Presentations

Social platforms such as SlideShare make it easy for people to share slide presentations.  You can create these as stand-alone information modules… or as accessories for webinars you are holding.

slide presentation content

Plus you can have people follow you from SlideShare – and share your work across other social networks.

4.  Media Page

Every online entrepreneur should have a Media Page (section) on his or her blog or website.  Within this tab, radio hosts, news reporters and readers should be able to find:

  • Photos they can use (including your headshot)
  • Archived newsletters
  • Archived Press Releases
  • Bio information
  • The latest news about you/your business

And anything else you’d like them to share.

5.  Skype Chat Text Interviews

This is a brand new, dynamic and interactive way to present Skype interviews – a live link for people to join in and a blog transcript for those viewing the post after the call has completed.

Skype interview as content

Again, you can generate shares and follows for this type of content – as well as sharing your interviewer/interviewee’s website link, as Vera Raposo of Creative Biz has done with Kristen Eckstein’s Ultimate Book Coach site.

6.  Landing Pages

Short pages you send people to so they will sign up – either for your newsletter, a “freebie”, your website or blog – or a paid product.

7.  Sales Pages

Not-always-longer versions of Landing pages, promoting your paid offer.  Sales pages can come in many formats:

  • Traditional long letter format
  • Short landing page format
  • Horizontal
  • Vertical
  • Video
  • Audio

Pick the format that best suits your audience’s engagement style.

8.  Podcasts

You can make your website more interactive by providing Podcasts — .MP3 audio files your visitors can listen to (or download, if you let them).

podcasts as content

They can listen in real-time, if you provide a teleseminar phone link – and then enjoy the recording in podcast format on your blog.

9.  Newsletter Archives

Everyone who owns a blog or website should have a newsletter – and archive old newsletter editions either on a Media page or in an Archives page.

Newsletters provide an instant history of your business.  People can go through each newsletter, from your very first one, and see where you started out – and where you are now.

If your newsletters are high enough in value you can even choose to keep them in a hidden section for paid members of your membership site.

10.  Templates

People will return again and again to your site if they know you have great resources such as templates at your site.  These can be blog post templates, review templates – even HTML templates.

11.  Tip Sheets

This is another desirable type of content to offer as a sign-up incentive on your blog or website.  The key is to make it highly specific to their most pressing interest at this time – or to new technology that is affecting their niche: (E.g.  “30 Tips For Making the Most of Facebook Changes”).

12.  Images

We don’t just mean “stick a picture in your blog post”.  Image use should be an integrated strategy you use to brand your business and tell your story.

They should consistently support your online identity and “voice”.

13.  Animated Gifs

There’s been such a prejudice against “distracting” animations; this is not a method most people think of, when it comes to content creation.  Yet under the right circumstances, they can be used effectively.

There are two keys to creating a positive rather than a negative effect:

a)    Choose a “loop” that looks natural repeating (e.g. a candle flame flickering, water gently tossing in a bay), rather than a moment in time endlessly replaying.

b)     If you just want to catch attention, simply set the animation to repeat only once, as laid out in this Yahoo answer.

Yahoo Answers

There are many free sites that allow you to create animated .gifs.  Two that are easier than most are Lunapic and  Makeagif, with tutorials and wizards respectively.

(Click on this link for an example of the sort of thing you can do.)

14.  Video

Every online entrepreneur should make videos and share them across platforms like YouTube, Pinterest and Vimeo.  The real issue is what type of video best supports your business?

  • “How to” demonstration
  • “Talking head” update from you to your followers
  • Animation
  • Recorded webinar with slides
  • Video blog entry

15.  Downloadable .PDF files

You can offer eBooks and reports in .PDF format as sign-up incentives for subscribing to your blog or website.

16.  Checklists

Another great sign-up incentive – or bonus.  People love checklists – it helps make them feel organized in a world of chronic digital overwhelm!

Checklists as content

17.  Google Hangouts

You can host a meeting, interview or seminar by creating a “Hangout” within your Google+ account.  Ask fellow Circle members to join you.

Better yet, choose the live streaming option to help it go viral, if it’s something you want everyone to see, and it will automatically be recorded and uploaded to your YouTube channel.

18.  Logo

A Logo that captures in a blink the essence of your business (and helps people instantly think of it) is essential, if you’re branding your business rather than you, yourself.

19.  White Papers

A “white paper” is much like a report, but is usually a formal presentation of statistics or a document analyzing something of great importance to your website visitors.

If your target market is corporate-minded, white papers are usually deemed of more value than “reports”.

20.  About Page

This is one of your best pieces of online real estate.  While you are talking about yourself, you are doing so to build identification and rapport with your ideal visitor, so even when talking about yourself, it should really be all about her.

Use your top keywords in your About page contest.  And it’s a great spot to put a headshot, if you haven’t done so anywhere else on your site.

21.  Bonuses

Bonus downloads and perks add value to your offers, blogs and websites.  These can take any format – video, .MP3, tip sheets, reports…

And they can be created by you… or by a JV partner. (Pick the format your target customer or client would love best!)

22.  Coupons

A coupon can also add value to your offer or website.  You can make them printable, if you have a local business… or give a coupon code at checkout to sweeten an offer.

Just be sure to set a start end date (and limit the number), to keep your ROI in the black!

23.  QR Codes

Are your best paying customers avid Smartphone users?  Then put QR codes on your website, blog, business cards, flyers, merchandise – and more.

You can also set this digital bar code to take people straight to:

  • A telephone call (your number)
  • A text message
  • Your website
  • A coupon or special offer

24.  Cartoons

You don’t often see cartoons  in digital marketing – but that’s all the more reason to consider using them, if your niche members are highly visual-oriented.

cartoons for content

25.  Statistics

Sharing statistics can be a huge draw for many business niches.  You can share them in:

  • Chart format
  • Graph format
  • Tables
  • Lists

26.  FAQ Pages

Having a list of Frequently Asked Questions on your site is a great way to please visitors – and cut down on repetitive emails.

A FAQ page is also indispensable in your Affiliate section, if you have affiliates.

27.  The Legal Stuff

If you are an affiliate marketer, you’ll know you need to provide a Disclaimer or Disclaimer Page, stating that you may receive compensation for recommendations.

Other types of “necessaries”:

  • Terms of Service
  • Privacy Policy (this one’s a “must” too)

28.  Maps

Indispensable, if you’re a local business and want people to either visit your premises or see your range of service.

maps content

29.  Reviews

If you are recommending products, use a review template to provide consistent reviews.

Your aim should be to become a trusted resource for people in your niche, so that yours is the site they turn to first, when looking for product information.

using reviews as content

30.  “How to” Tutorials

These can be in video, diagram, audio, graphic or written format… or a combination of any of these.  (An added bonus: “How-tos” turn your site into a resource.)

how-to content

There are many more content types you can use on your website and/or social media properties – but whichever you choose, be original, unique – and tuned in to your visitors.

Ten Tips on How to Create an Editorial Calendar

Ten Tips on How to Create an Editorial Calendar

The best way to avoid random content publishing is to create a publishing calendar. This is a standard practice in the offline world. Think magazines and other regular publications. If magazine editors waited for inspiration or for free time, no magazine would ever get published.  So how do they churn out high quality content, month after month?

By using an editorial calendar.  And top bloggers have learned this secret too.

An editorial calendar is a plan for producing regular written or media content, at regular intervals (e.g. monthly) at a perfect pace.  It leaves you with deadlines you can use as a roadmap. You won’t have gaps in your postings and there’s no chance for people to forget who you are or give up on your blog.

And it can help eliminate writer’s block and reactivity – the sort that leaves you realizing you forgot that your readers and subscribers were expecting Part Three of your series… yesterday!

1.  Use the Method that Works Best With Your Learning Style

An editorial calendar is only useful if you use it.  And if you set up a physical calendar that doesn’t work with your natural learning style, you’re more likely to forget to use it… or even, ultimately, abandon it.

a)    If you are a kinesthetic learner who likes the hands-on approach, a paper calendar may be your best option.  (Tip:  You will most likely to be able to find plain desktop calendars with large enough slots to be useful in your local Dollar Store.)

Just be sure to put it in a place where you are likely to see it, rather than hiding it away in a desk.

b)    If you are an aural learner, make an audio recording of your upcoming schedule.

c)    If you are a visual learner, paper or digital will work – it’s just a matter of preference.

d)    If you are a read/write learner, a dated, chronological list format will probably work better for you than a graphic calendar format.

If you want to find out or confirm your ideal learning style, try one of the free online questionnaires or quizzes, such as the VARK model.

VARK

 (No sign-uprequired for the basic assessment.)

2.  Create and Coordinate Monthly and Annual Calendars

Many people find that two versions of their editorial schedule work best:

  • A monthly calendar (e.g. WordPress Editorial Plugin)
  • An annual calendar (manual or digital)

The reason for this?  On your Annual Editorial Calendar, you can enter important posts to tie in with events scheduled far down the road; or with seasonal events.

annual editorial calendar

 

Then, every month when you sit down to fill out your monthly Calendar, a quick visual check with the Annual Calendar will allow you to transpose these events onto your monthly Calendar before you input new posts for the current month, making sure nothing gets double-booked – or missed.

(If you like the format in the example above, download it by going to  Angela B.me.)

3.  Use the WordPress Editor Calendar Plugin

If you use WordPress, then the free WordPress Editorial Calendar  plugin can be your best post-scheduling friend.  So do install it.

wp-editorial-calendar

 

While you’re writing your posts or maintaining your blog, you have access to the Editorial Calendar at a click of the button.  And you can log in and glance at your Calendar to see what you have to do today before writing a word.

4.  Use MS Excel to Create Your Editorial Calendar

If you are more comfortable using Microsoft Excel or you are a text-based learner, you may find Excel the best tool for creating your Editorial Calendar.

Another reason for using MS Excel:  If your business is highly fluid, and you know you are going to be tweaking and adjusting your Editorial Calendar perhaps more than the average blogger.

In fact, there are many MS Excel templates for doing precisely that.  (You can download – without signing up; just right-click and save – a very nice template courtesy of Vertical Measures.)

MS Excel for calendars

 

5.  Use Color Coding

If you are a visual or kinesthetic learner, try color coding the different cycles – then highlighting scheduled posts according to each cycle color.

This is also a fabulous trick if you have learning disabilities or any other form of cognitive impairment, as the visual stimulus and cueing helps you mentally “sort” and remember better.

You could also designate cycles by creating a Category field in your Calendar, along with corresponding two- or three-letter Category codes… or combine  both categories and color coding.  (Tip:  Include a Legend at the top of your chart-style annual Calendar or beginning of your multi-page or monthly Calendar.)

color coding

 

6.  Include Your Calls to Action in Your Editorial Calendar

Write down the call to action (CTA) for each item on your editorial calendar.  Not only will this ensure you remember to include it in your blog post, but you will be able to more objectively judge the level of engagement your post is likely to create.

call to action

And yes:  You could designate a color and highlight your CTAs too, if you wish

7.  Learn to Think in Cycles

No matter what your learning style, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to think in a linear fashion – I. E.  A B C D E F G.

Your blog will feel fuller, richer, more organized and more enjoyable to your readers if you learn to schedule your blog in multiple cycles.

cycles

 

Take your Annual Editorial Calendar and go through using the following “cycles” (and any others unique to your business), one after the other:

  • Seasonal cycle (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter)
  • Holiday cycle (Christmas, St. Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, etc.)
  • Events cycle (e.g.  Annual Cycling Workshop, Victoria Day Race, etc.)
  • Contest cycle (e.g.  Summer Photo Challenge, Christmas Giveaway, etc.)
  • Fiscal Cycle (e.g.  .  Your annual business quarter-years, from beginning to end)
  • Product Cycle (All your scheduled, upcoming product launches)
  • Sales Cycles (High and low buying trends – base these on previous sales metrics)

Learning to plan your editorial calendar in this fashion will really help ingrain your business’ “big picture” in mind – and make much better business (and editorial) decisions.

8.  Formalize Your Editorial Calendar Management Protocol

It really doesn’t matter whether you alone update the calendar and distribute information, or your authors or staff are allowed to cross things off and add them – the important thing is a clear understanding of the ground rules – and a clear chain of communication.

communication

 image source: pixabay

So decide on…

a)    Who will update the Editorial Calendar(s)

b)    How the Editorial Calendar(s) will be updated

c)    Who will notify the rest of the team of necessary changes or completions

d)    How they will do this

Making sure everyone understands the system is the best way to avoid scheduling conflicts or omissions.

9.  Create Other Types of Editorial Calendar too

Consider adding social media coding – or a separate Social Media Editorial Calendar.  If you don’t coordinate your social media campaigns with your posts, you could be missing opportunities to allow each platform – blog and social media – to enhance the other.

Plan on the keywords you are going to use in your social media posts, as well as in your blog posts. Align these with ad campaigns, if you are planning any.  (Yes.  Have an Advertising Editorial Calendar too.)

social media calendar

 

You can download the Social Media and Blogging Editorial Calendar template illustrating this tip simply, without sign-up, from Eydie’s Office.

And if handling multiple versions of Editorial Calendar seems too overwhelming – start off with just one, for your blog.

10.  Consider Publishing Your Upcoming Editorial Calendar

Not only will it inspire you to meet your own deadline (since there is nothing more lame than not following through to your readers) but you may attract quality submissions – leaving you with great content to use for your blog and the time to plan next month’s editorial calendar in comfort.

You don’t have to publish it in full Editorial Calendar format:  You can simply make sure you create a section of upcoming stories (with Submission Guidelines) on your website or blog, just as many online magazines and publishing companies such as Chicken Soup for the Soul does.

publishing editorial calendar

 

But when all is said and done, remember that Editorial Calendars are simply tools:  Only you can decide what type works best for you.

And, of course, they’ll be no use unless you use them!

How To Create An Investor Ready Business Plan with LivePlan

How To Create An Investor Ready Business Plan with LivePlan

You have your excellent business idea ready to go. Now you need funding. So the next step is to create an investor ready business plan. There is the hard way to do this and there is the easy way. You’ve decided to make things easy and sign up for LivePlan.  This guide will walk you through quickly setting up your account and creating your first investor ready business plan.

LivePlan is safe and secure.  There are over 500 sample plans and templates. You can access it anywhere, from any device (as well as allow your team to work on the plan with you).  You can also integrate your LivePlan business plan with QuickBooks, for really easy financials.  And Tim Berry’s “Plan-As-You-Go Business Plan” ebook is included with your subscription.

Step 1.  Signing Up

  1. Go to LivePlan.  Click on either the green “Start your business plan” button or the “Sign Up” link. Fill in your contact information.

Sign up on LivePlan

  1. LivePlan will confirm that your data is not a duplicate of someone else’s as you enter your information.

enter your data

  1. Enter your credit card information, including your zip code or postal code, and your three-digit security number (found on the back of your credit card).

enter your cc info

  1. Press the green “Get Started” button in the next screen that opens up.

get started button

  1. Download your free ebook (bottom right corner):  Then make a note of the Help phone number and times, and finally click on the green “New Plan” button.

download LivePlan ebook

Step 2. Preparing to Build Your Plan

You’ll build your plan around what author Tim Berry calls the “core” – market, identity and focus. This will help you create a dynamic, active plan – not a “ponderous document” that is guaranteed to put your investors to sleep.  Yet it will contain all the hard data you need.

You will love planning with LivePlan, whose aim is to help you “keep it simple and practical”.

Before you go any further, take the time to read Berry’s ebook.  If you’re in a hurry, go to Page 14 and treat the three points he makes as an exercise:  Brainstorm and write down your core competencies and focus.

the core strategy

Step 3. Getting Started

Once you’ve read through the book (which is not a long read at all) and done your preliminary brainstorming, return to your LivePlan screen and continue creating your first Business Plan, using the easy Wizard.

  1. Name your plan, indicating whether or not it is for a new business.

start a new busines plan

For our purposes here, we are going to create a simple Start-up Plan.

  1. You may find it easier to start by selecting “Strategy” – though jumping immediately to your financials is also an option.

select strategy first

  1. The next frame that opens up presents a myriad of options. Don’t let this throw you.  What the Chapter Set-up Page does is allow you to work organically.

You can add, remove, re-order or rename the sections shown on the Chapter Set-up page.

This interface allows you to work in whatever way works best for your methods of processing information.  It also allows you to organize your chapters.

You can jump straight to:

  • Your Pitch
  • Your Plan
  • Your Schedule
  • A Scoreboard – all using the horizontal tabs at the top of the interface.

If you want to manage your Users, simply click on the anchor text at the top right.

manage LivePlan users

  1. We are going to create our sample Start-up Plan in a chronological, linear fashion, beginning at the beginning.

Select “Cover Page” up in your horizontal menus:  Then click the green “Get Started” button.

cover page get started

  1. Enter your contact information and other cover page data; then press “Save Changes”.

enter contact info

Be sure to keep the radio button checked in the yellow Table of Contents box, if you want to include a fluid TOC, which will grow or shrink as your document does.

  1. Once you’ve saved your changes, you won’t see any sort of prompt as to what to do next.  Simply go up to the top-left area of your screen, and click on the “Plan” tab, to return to your Chapter Set-up overview.

plan view

  1. Next, write your Executive Summary.  Remember Chapter 14?  It’s broken down, section by section, into an easy-input Executive Summary creation tool here.  If you made any notes, now is the time to copy-paste them into your sections.

executive summary section

Just click on “Go to this section” within the “Who We Are” field

  1. Confirm your selection.

who we are

  1. Type or copy-paste in your data.

enter who we are data

It’s a good idea to open a simple text-editor such as Notepad, and copy-paste sections back and forward to your business plan Wizard entry fields.  Keep referring to the left-hand menu for prompts as to what information should go in each field.

who we are

Don’t worry about putting the “wrong” information in each field.  You can always move text around by copying and cutting your text, selecting sections in the left-hand, vertical menu; then inserting your clipboard text.

You may also decide – at any time – to include a section detailing what your business is not, in order to narrow the focus for your market.  These differences should be limited only to key discrepancies that might affect your investors’ decisions; not minor ones.  They should dis-qualify specific elements in your potential target market.

Don’t be afraid to use specific industry terms – this shows you know what you’re talking about – but do avoid jargon and “filler” phrases, whenever possible.

Be clear and direct.

Also be sure to proof carefully as you go. While LivePlan will underline obvious spelling mistakes, just as MS Word does, it doesn’t catch such errors as a missing initial capital letter in titles.

spelling error

  1. Once you’ve finished, pressed the green “I’m Done” button.  You’ll immediately be able to see how your text will look as a finished product.

Note you can easily edit anything you want to check, simply by pressing the “Edit” button. (Tip:  Single-space your sentences to avoid unwanted indents.)

edit section

  1. When you’re finished editing (or if it’s fine, the way it is) press “Go to Next Section”.

next section button

Repeat this process with the next section; and the next – all the way through the left-hand vertical menu – to complete your Executive Summary.

what we sell

Pay particular attention to the tips contained within the “Instruction” area above the textarea box (highlighted in orange).

Note also that you can apply common formatting commands to your text from the format bar – as well as add images.

formatting commands

Step 4.  Adding Images

You can go back to any section at any time and add an image as easily as you add them to Facebook posts, or to your blog – in much the same way.  Simply press “Add an image” in the formatting bar above the textarea box…

add an image

You’ll be prompted to upload your image.  You can either do so from your hard drive, or simply drag-and-drop your image from an open file or from your desktop into the image area.

upload image

Resize or align your image as you wish.  Click the green “Insert Image” button when you are satisfied.

resize image

Once you press the button, you’ll see your image nicely positioned within your document.

image inserted in doc

As you go through each section, be sure to pay attention to the “Instructions” box.  In addition to tips for creating the most effective text, you will sometimes also find helpful video instruction from Tim Berry.

Step 5.  Your Progress

Every section is as easy as the one before – even the financial data (which many people dread tackling).  LivePlan does all the calculation and formatting for you.  All you have to do is input your raw data and add it to your forecast or chart, one piece at a time.

financial data

Notice you can check a preview at any time.  (Remember to press the “I’m Done” button when you’re finished entering data!)

It’s painlessly easy to create charts, tables and forecasts. You can even connect directly to QuickBooks to integrate your data without having to manually input it.

connect to quickbooks

Scheduling – This is a wonderful feature, of which you can take full advantage.  Your LivePlan Business Plan is a fluid, active document; and as your business progresses, you can refer to your Schedule and add achievements and Milestones.

Your schedule can be a wonderful tool for making sure you proceed on track and on time.

sheduling in LivePlan

You can create as many business plans as you like, as well as returning to them any time to update, edit or even delete plans, simply by clicking on “My Plans” in your top menu bar.

my busines plans

And that’s really all there is to it – everything is made easy as clicking a button.

Step 6. Extras and Resources

But wait, there’s more… Specifically, a Resource section.

help and resources

Here you will find the Sample Plan Library, the Help Center, LivePlan’s toll-free Help number, an email contact link and a section packed with free resources such as:

  • Industry research data sources and authority sites
  • Legal resources and advice
  • Legal forms
  • Startup advice
  • Funding sources
  • Financial management instruction
  • eBooks and reports
  • Planning Tutorials – and many more resources and options

sample plan library

You can also send feedback to LivePlan.

send feedback

Finally, be sure to read the instructions above every textarea box in your planning Wizards.  Not only do the instructions tell you specifically what to do and how to do it, you’ll also sometimes find helpful video links.

video advice

LivePlan is much more than a piece of Business Plan software – it’s a resource kit, mentor and business education course, all in one go.

Canceling Your LivePlan Account

You can cancel your account at any time… but with all the resources and its ease of use, you may find you don’t want to.

When you do cancel your account, you retain access for the rest of your paid month.

After that, your data is deleted.

A Viable Alternative – What do you do, if you don’t want to lose all that data, but you’re pretty sure you’re not going to access your account for several months (or even a couple of years?)

LivePlan has one more gem of a solution up its sleeve:  It allows you to place your account “on hold for  however long you want, for a nominal monthly sum ($2.99 at time of writing).

That way you retain all your data and archives – and you can restart your monthly subscription any time you like.

LivePlan is a superb example of good business planning and growth – and that’s just one more reason why you will find it exceeds its monthly value.

 

How to Optimize for Social SEO

How to Optimize for Social SEO

Optimizing your website for search engines is no longer a question of filling it full of keywords and exact-match anchor text while madly blog-commenting in other people’s blogs to create relevant back-links.  In fact, following this formula will almost certainly leave you down in the rankings under Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithmic changes – and more are coming.

But you shouldn’t just pay attention to Google:  SEO nowadays involves maintaining an active social media presence and profiles.  Hence the term “Social SEO”.  Social media actions can actually improve your Google rank, if done right.  And you need to pay attention to what people see… and what’s behind the scenes.

Here are ten highly relevant Social SEO practices for today…

1.  Remove or Revamp Your Traditional Meta-tags

Google’s Penguin algorithm filter tends to take meta-keywords and other traditional tags as keyword-stuffing.  It won’t help your site ranking – and it could hurt.

If you use the Thesis theme, check out instructions at Binary Turf on removing the meta description tag correctly.

how to remove meta description

According to SearchEngineWatch, Penguin isn’t actually an algorithm, but a “link quality filter” that “is designed to take out sites that use manipulative techniques to improve search visibility”.

Bottom line: If you have too many repetitions in meta data, your site may be penalized.

2.  Adjust and Correct Your Anchor Text

If your anchor text is an exact match to your keywords and doesn’t make descriptive, readable sense, scrap it and give your anchor text more clickably-appealing, descriptive words.  (That goes for the Alt Tag text for your graphics, too.)

You need to do this because Google’s Penguin filter now targets and de-ranks exact-match domains (e.g. “highproteinfoodsfatlowcarb.com”), after Google clued on to the fact that names like these were evidence of attempts to manipulate.  Anchor text has been affected too.

The less spammy you can make your anchor text and Alt tags, the better.

twin babies

For example if you were displaying the above photo on your blog, you might want to change:

<a href=”page.html”><img src=”graphics/twinmatchinggirlgreen.jpg” alt=”twin matching girl green“/></a>

…to something more descriptive and real, such as:

<a href=”page.html”><img src=”graphics/twins.jpg” alt=”twins in green”/></a>

Again, if you’re trying to manipulate rather than describe when using keywords in anchor text, domain names or Alt tags, Google will penalize you.

3. Familiarize Yourself with Graph Search

Facebook graph search

The old way of searching involved keywords.  Facebook’s new Graph Search combines keywords plus your Friends’ Facebook content.

This way, you can find out what connections you share with them, causes you both support, Pages you “Like”, places you’ve both been connected with, common interests and just about every type of connection you can think of.

 (Graph search results did dip recently, but Facebook assures the “dip” has been corrected.)

4.  Optimize Your Facebook Page “About” Section

This is the one part of your Facebook Page where you can put your best keywords, descriptions and anchor text.  Make the most of it, as artist Steph Dix has done here.

FB about page

She has included in her description:

  • Specific keywords (pencil portraits, free shipping worldwide, guarantee, website)
  • A link to her website
  • Email contact details

In addition, her text is not too long – it doesn’t run off the page, with vital sentences hidden. It’s clear and well-optimized.

5.  Use Facebook Social Plugins

Once you click on artist, Steph Dix’s link, you are taken to her website http://www.stephdix.co.uk/… where those who have “Liked” her page immediately see a widget from the Facebook social plugins, containing their own Profile photo plus a selection of other fan photos.

FB social plugins

Anyone who clicks on hypertext within the widget will be taken to her Facebook Page – and that is a high-quality backlink, as far as Google is concerned.  She is leveraging the power of Facebook very efficiently.

6.  Make the Most of Google+

SEO author Simon Penson predicted recently  that Google+ will play a much more prominent role in validating social links over the coming months, so if you haven’t created a profile there yet, do so.

And if you have signed up, but visit Google+ only sporadically or not at all, start exploring Google+ and spending time interacting and exploring its SEO-powerful platforms, apps and features daily.

One of its most powerful features to explore:  Google+ Hangouts.  If you live-stream them, they will be automatically recorded and posted to your YouTube channel, which is now also automatically linked with Google+.

Google+ hangout

If you haven’t yet bothered with Google Hangouts, learn more about them right now.

7.  Make Sure Your Titles Match Your Content

Again, it’s all about not being carried away, trying to include keywords.  Titles that don’t feel natural and don’t match the post they headline not only will displease Google, but will not get shared via social sites (as well as losing trust).

Here’s an example of a simple but effective title followed by relevant content from Copyblogger.

Write magnetic headlines

Your best bet is always to make sure your blog post or web page title are:

  • Attention-grabbing
  • Easy to read
  • Descriptive
  • Clean

A truly interesting and intriguing title is your best route to making sure your posts and pages are found and shared.

8.  Make it Easy for Visitors and Readers to Share

Make sure you’ve included social media plugins, widgets, share and follow badges, buttons and icons to help people share your content with one click.

Place them above the fold on all your web pages in the upper right-hand side of your page.

social share buttons

For extra effectiveness, include calls to action in or with your social media buttons, such as Daylan Pearce does in the right hand side of his blog, above.

9.  Clean Up Your Guest Blogging Practices

Last year saw Google over-zealously penalize exact-match domains and anchor text, akin to thousands of healthy trees in a forest being chopped down to make sure a dead one in their midst is culled.

Now, just as their Search Evaluation team is reassuring us that they’ve learned from this and will be toning down the axe use, it looks as if Google has a new target:  Guest blogging.

A recent YouTube video from Google’s Matt Cutts warns of what to expect – and what you can do to comply with new guest blogging rules.

on guest posts

To sum up what seems to be in the wind…

  • Make sure guest post writing – to and fro –  is of the highest quality
  • Use guest bloggers who either are terrific, professional-level writers or who have a well-established and validated reputation in your niche
  • Write or accept longer posts – Google now frowns on short guest posts under 400 words, seeing them as excuses to link
  • Don’t accept guest posts that are published elsewhere.  When someone wants to write for you, make sure you ask that the content be original and exclusive to your blog
  • Posts from and to other blogs should be relevant to the blog’s overall mission.  Posts should be eloquent and well-thought-out
  • Make sure your guest posts are from writers who run high-quality blogs.  You may be penalized for spammy back-links in your guest poster’s blog, so check that blog out first, if you’re not familiar with your guest.  (Hint:  See how well she or he ranks in a Google search.)

And from Jeff Foster of WebBizIdeas (in an actual guest post in Problogger, February 2013):

  • Stop using terms like “guest posts” and “guest bloggers” (if you have to spell it out for readers, he suggests calling the writer a “guest author”)
  • Don’t let your guest author put “unnatural links” in their post or author bios
  • A simple link to their website is okay

One last thing to do:  Create a rel=author tag for yourself, allowing Google to validate your own blog (and use guest posters who are also validated this way).

10. Optimize Your Social Media Profiles (and Claim your Pages)

It’s not enough simply to use social media in 2013:  You also need to make sure you optimize your social profiles to the max.  Fill out all Profile sections across all social networks as fully as possible.

Think of doing this as an investment.

For example, if your local business appears in a Google Plus Local search for your city, make sure you claim it and add your photos, your logo, your description and your contact information, the way you want it.

Make sure no sections are left blank.

Google+ Local

Social profiles with missing elements are not ranked as highly as those with complete profiles and validating elements such as business logos and clear descriptions.

It is as important to optimize what people see as much as it is to optimize HTML and meta-tags, just as it is as important to optimize for your social networks as it is to optimize for Google searches.

Creating a well-balanced, SEO optimized web presence for both the search engines and social sites – but most of all for the benefit of your ideal viewer – will have a visibility effect worth more than the sum of its parts.

The Whoopdeedoo* About Yahoo’s Recalling Their Work-at-home Workforce

The Whoopdeedoo* About Yahoo’s Recalling Their Work-at-home Workforce

“Beginning in June, we’re asking all employees with work-from-home arrangements to work in Yahoo! Offices…“Being a Yahoo isn’t just about your day-to-day job, it’s about the interactions and experiences that are only possible in our offices.” (AllThingsD.com)

It’s now been over a week since Yahoo’s head of Human Resources, Jackie Reses, communicated the message from Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s CEO that has had far reaching impact on the business world, especially with those who work from home, or business leaders who support that type of workforce.

Commentary has ranged from strong support, to derision to what some have called a step back from the growing changes in how organizations get their work done. Ellen Galinsky of the DailyBeast writes, “They are going against process on this decision as the U.S. economy moves into the 21st global economy. According to Families and Work Institute’s 2012 National Study of Employers, 63 percent of employers now allow at least some of their employees to work part of their regularly paid hours at home on an occasional basis, up from 34 percent in 2005.”

Mayer responded to critics in a statement to Huffington Post, “…don’t project your office culture issues on our company…This isn’t a broad industry view on working from home — this is about what is right for Yahoo!, right now.” CBS News analyst, Melanie Hobson also attributed the following to Mayer: “You can’t build a culture by email.”

Richard Branson, head of Virgin Enterprises, adds, “It was perplexing to see Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer tell employees who work remotely to relocate to company facilities. This seems a backwards step in an age when remote working is easier and more effective than ever.”

Others have praised Mayer’s decision as she’s been charged about rebuilding the Yahoo brand. Rocco Pendola, reporting on The Street : “Do you really think Mayer did not…communicate with the A-players (or at least their managers) ahead of making this move? She’s using this ‘edict’ to further streamline a bloated, self-entitled and largely ineffective segment of the workforce.” (http://www.thestreet.com)

I was really struck by the statement: “What’s really troubling about this is that a technology company can’t figure out how to collaborate remotely,” Kate Lister, president of the Telework Research Center, said in an interview with Bloomberg.

A different perspective

At the core of this decision and the surrounding brouhaha are critically important facts easily overlooked in discussing how work gets done.

  • Being present at a job location does not necessarily equal work being done
  • Working in the presence of others does not naturally bring about collaboration
  • Collaboration, in person or virtually is a product of enlightened management
  • Motivated employees are those who know what’s needed to be done, have a investment as to how it’s done, and receive recognition for production, not for just “showing up”

To close, another quote from Richard Branson, “If you provide the right technology to keep in touch, maintain regular communication and get the right balance between remote and office working, people will be motivated to work responsibly, quickly and with high quality.”

It will be interesting to see where this controversy and discussion goes. Will it soon be forgotten, and Yahoo’s future be positive because of it, or will Yahoo continue it’s downward spiral into becoming a second class site – all because of or in spite of the loss of talent due to the ending of the WAH program? What do you think?

BTW. What the heck is a Whoopdeedoo? According to Dictionary.com, it’s a Heated discussion or debate, especially in public.  So let’s discuss and debate this. Comments welcome.

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