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New Year’s Resolutions: Guide to Success
As the new year approaches, the tradition of New Year’s resolutions rises to the top of our minds. We start thinking of all the positive habits we’d like to create and the vices and missteps we’d like to correct. January 1st comes along and we enter the new year with a vim and vigor that we’re able to sustain for a short while but often results in disappointment. Before you make your next resolution, resolve to take an honest look at where you’ve been and where you want to be. Reflection To plan for the future, we first must reflect on the past. What successes are you most proud of? What challenges have been stumbling blocks? What can you continue to do to enjoy your successes and overcome your challenges? Remember, there is a lot of luck involved in both situations—you can only change what you’re in control of. Be honest about your abilities. Refocus Refocusing allows you to envision your life incorporating your new goals and setting priorities. Do you have the time, motivation, and resources to prioritize your goals? If you vow to exercise 10 hours a week, how will you carve out that time between your job, family responsibilities, and other obligations? You have to be honest about your expectations. Having an unrealistic vision of success only breeds disappointment. Goal Clarity What is it you want to achieve and how will those new goals impact other areas of your life? What steps do you need to take? Do you have a plan for setbacks and how to get back on track? Break down your goals into manageable steps. Within these steps there will be more challenging aspects that may slow you down or sidetrack you. What tools will you need to meet those challenges? Is your timeline reasonable? Do you need the support of family, friends, or colleagues to help you achieve your goals? Do you need the support of outside resources? Are you willing to be accountable to those people? Develop A Plan Once you are clear about your goals and how to manage setbacks, you can develop a plan. Give yourself permission from the start to alter your plans without changing your definition of success. Many people feel the resolution list they make on the first of the year is set in stone. It’s not. Few situations are truly life or death, and making any improvements is far better than stagnating year after year. Take action Start today. Start January 1. Start December 28. Just start. The date doesn’t matter, your actions do. Celebrate You will have successes. Acknowledge them. Celebrate them. Those successes are the fuel you’ll need to go the distance. If you fall off track, then start again tomorrow or next week. There is no shame in falling short of your expectations, you’ll feel better continuing forward and tackling those challenges.
Blogs: We Don't Need to Reinvent the Wheel
In a very short time, blogs have gone from being “the new kid on the block” to the “go-to format” for many, even most categories of web content. There are so many of them on seemingly every imaginable topic, it’s hard to know where to begin. So which ones get read and which ones are ignored? In short, what makes a good blog? What is your objective and who is your target audience Whether you’re a freelance blogger or a member of your company’s marketing team, y ou wouldn’t be writing a blog if you didn’t have something to say and an intended audience. Because blogs can inform, entertain, educate, market, influence and sometimes combine all of these, the first order of business is to focus on what you want to say and to what audience. Who are you targeting, what is your objective, and (if applicable) what is the call to action at the end of your blog? It all starts with your title To engage a target audience, the blog writer has a number of variables to work with (title, headers, tone, content, length, point of view, colorful graphics, and sometimes giveaways). Your blog title is the first opportunity to grab attention, set the tone, and if you’re lucky, prevent readers from moving on. Stale or predictable titles will most likely be passed by. If your title is fresh and engaging (and your blog is accompanied by eye-catching graphics), there’s a much better chance readers will keep reading. Hook, capture, and grab hold If the title acts as your hook, the first paragraph needs to capture your audience’s attention, sparking interest in what your blog has to offer. Start to tell your story in a way that is both fresh and informative for your target audience. A good title helps hook readers in, while your first paragraph incents them to care about what you have to say and keep reading. Well-structured design, high-quality content Like all marketing copy, content is king. Are you offering up something that is easy to read, has a unique perspective, and provides fresh insights on your topic? Your blog needs to be informative, well-researched, and engaging to maximize value for your readers. And of course, it needs to be well-written, well-organized, and free from spelling and grammatical errors. Originality, credibility, and readability Originality is a tough one, particularly with so much already on the web covering every conceivable topic. The trick with each new blog is to rise above the noise with something authentic and relevant, not something that rehashes existing content. Offer fresh ideas and build trust by backing up key points with credible sources, data, and references. For readability and retention, make your content easy to consume with subheadings, bullet points, and short paragraphs. Visual appeal A well-structured and visually appealing blog is more likely to retain readers. Posts with images typically perform better than text-only posts on social media and other online platforms. In fact, the right image (or images) can raise your blog to a whole new level, increasing engagement, improving click-through rates, enhancing storytelling, and driving better retention. It’s also important to use a clean and easy-to-navigate layout with readable fonts, proper spacing, and a mobile-responsive design. According to a report by HubSpot, social media posts with images receive 650% higher engagement than text-only posts. This heightened engagement can lead to increased brand awareness, customer loyalty, and ultimately, higher sales. Optimize your blog to be more readily found using search (SEO) Knowing your audience and the topics they are searching for will help you know which in-document SEO keywords to embed throughout your blog to optimize search results. In the same way that every blog post should have a clearly defined goal and target audience, each piece of content should correspond with the specific search intent of your readers, which will improve your blog’s visibility in search results. Ideally, your blog will appear in the first 50 in Google searches for your “target” keywords. The length of your blog can be an SEO success factor as well. Use analytics to understand and finetune Search engine analytics are the data and insights from various tools and platforms that measure how your blog is performing with readers. By measuring your blog’s performance across several key criteria, you can see how many users have clicked on your blog, how they found you, and find out what keywords work. Search engine analytics are complicated with many moving parts, so you might want to turn to SEO experts who are familiar with popular search engine analytics, tools, and scores (Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster Tools, and Moz). Social media posts Once your blog has been published, you can add posts to your social media accounts (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and X) to broaden exposure, build your business and brand, and grow traffic. Sharing your blogs on social media is a great way to establish expertise that can make you a thought leader, and a desired influencer. As a bonus, posts are often shared by readers, which helps spread the word even further. Calls to action One way to gauge the effectiveness of your blog is to add a call to action, and then see how many people take that extra step. You might offer a free white paper, upcoming webinar, consultation, or assessment that readers can sign up for based on your topic and their interest. Remember – what makes a good blog can vary depending on your niche and your audience, so your job is to always keep it relevant and valuable to your readers. So the thing about blogs is … Whether you’re a freelance blogger or a member of a company’s marketing team, there’s a lot to consider when writing your next blog. Each one is different, each one has a specific target audience, and each one requires a certain level of knowledge and craftsmanship to deliver on your objectives. There are some very useful tools in your toolbox if you choose to use them. And you can gauge your blog’s effectiveness with analytics that measure traffic and audience engagement. What do you think – I guess it’s only fair to ask, does this one pass the test?
We Want Results for Our Efforts on LinkedIn!
Let’s face it, we have a love-hate relationship with social media platforms. So why do we continue to put in the effort? Because it can have positive results that will pay off. LinkedIn is a great social media platform to put in the effort. You can connect with colleagues, clients, and companies in your field. You can seek new job opportunities and exchange ideas with industry leaders. LinkedIn can also be used for business development and lead generation. This is key in today’s environment where so many are shying away from the “hard sell” and “cold-calling.” Whether it’s for your own professional growth or for the growth of your company, spending 5-10 minutes a day checking LinkedIn notifications and engaging with past and current clients is a great way to maintain visibility without feeling intrusive. When you acquire new clients, send them a connection request; when you’re working with a new company, follow them. Check in on clients you haven’t heard from in a while. See if they’re still working for the same company, if not, catch up with them and see if they have new business for you. Don’t forget about your 2nd degree connections. 2nd-degree connections are people you share a mutual 1st-degree connection with. Ask for an Introduction from your 1st-degree connection. Join groups, especially ones where your connections participate. This gives you common interests and goals to discuss. Groups are a great way to expand your network and highlight your own expertise. Post your own articles and blogs. Articles and blogs, written by you, and posted on your timeline encourage users to comment and share their views and expertise. Use hashtags to make your content easy to find. In the same vein, share other people’s articles, blogs, and videos. You can share from any source including news media, websites, and video platforms. Toot your own horn! Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date with your new title, a change in workplace, a new certificate or degree, or some other successful endeavor. Toot your client’s horn. Go to their profile and leave a recommendation or an endorsement. They will get a notification and often return the favor. Use LinkedIn Learning. These courses are set up as short modules so you can learn at your own pace and when you’re finished you click the box to add that certification to your LinkedIn profile. Use LinkedIn to post job opportunities at your company. Spend 10 minutes a day or 10 minutes a week, and watch your time add up to increased visibility for both you and your company. I’d say that’s worth the effort!