How to Blog More Efficiently

While maintaining a blog for your small business reaps tons of rewards, I’m not going to lie – blogging with consistency can feel like a monumental task at times. After all, we’re small business owners, we have a lot going on.Racehorse

So how do we manage this massive task week after week, when inspiration, creativity, time and willingness are such limited resources? Here are three ways to become a more efficient blogger:

1) Schedule a Writing Time

Decide how often you want to publish your blog and then schedule time once a week (or twice a month, whatever) to write. Give yourself a limited time slot and get it done. Notice I said schedule time to write, not schedule time to think of ideas. That’s number two below…

2) Keep a Running List of Ideas

Often times, the hardest part of blogging isn’t the actual writing, it’s coming up with good ideas on what to write about. Try to avoid getting yourself into a situation where you have to force inspiration by keeping a running list of ideas by your desk or in your laptop bag or on your iPhone or be an anarchist like me and use a Post-It. Yeah, seriously, a Post-It. Add bullets and lists and subheadings to the Post-It whenever they hit you. Then when your scheduled time slot for writing your blog rolls around, hit something on that list that either appeals to you in that moment or is already mostly fleshed out in all its Post-It glory.

3) Steal Other People’s Ideas

Haha! Just kidding. No seriously, don’t steal.  That’s not cool. But what you want to do is keep your senses open and “borrow” (not steal) from your environment. It will keep your brain fertile for inspiring ideas. Every time a client asks you a question (especially if it’s a question that seems like it has SUCH an obvious answer… because these are the things we as experts take for granted and need to address in our blogs) write it down on the Post-It. Keep reading industry blogs and articles and follow trends and news; agree, disagree, spin and reinvent, whatever it takes to turn it into fodder for your blog. Keep adding to the Post-It so that when it’s time to write, you hit the ground running like a thoroughbred out of the gates.

Need help setting up or writing your business blog or email marketing campaign? Get in touch!

- Nishi

 

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Has CASL Killed Your Email Marketing List?

Now that Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) has been unleashed, I have had several small business owners and email marketers asking me if the email lists they’ve been nurturing over the past few years are now considered illegal because they haven’t received what CASL considers to be Express Consent.Spam-Teriyaki

Express Consent is defined by the Government of Canada’s website as: “Valid consent given in writing or orally. The recipient gave you a positive or explicit indication of consent to receive commercial electronic messages. Your request for consent set out clearly and simply the prescribed information.”

I’m still not a lawyer (yaaay!) but based on the information provided by the Government of Canada’s website and a response I received from Constant Contact, I’m going to say that unless you’re a shameless spammer (and if you’re sincerely worried about the whole CASL thing you probably aren’t), you are likely working from an email list built on Implied Consent and you will have some time to get Explicit Consent.

Implied Consent is defined by the Government of Canada’s website as an: “Existing business relationship. The recipient has made, or inquired about, a purchase or lease of goods, services, land or interest in land, a written contract or the acceptance of a business, investment or gaming opportunity from you.”

In other words, even if you haven’t yet received Express Consent from everyone on your email list, but the recipients are people you’ve maybe met, exchanged business cards with, or done business with in the last 2 years, you still have 3 years to get their Express Consent. This is the email response I received from Constant Contact when I inquired about the legality of my own email list:

“For the implied contacts that were collected in the past two years or had an ongoing relationship with the company in the past two years, there is a three year conversion time. In other words, you do not have to take them out of the list if they have not yet confirmed until July 2017.”

So there you go. Hopefully, this clears up the fog for any of you small business owners who are feeling overwhelmed by the whole CASL thing. But if it doesn’t, get in touch with your questions! Or if you need help launching or managing or even writing your email campaign, let me know if I can be of service.

Best regards,

Nishi

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How To Grow Your Email List Using Facebook

Are you a small business owner? Do you send email newsletters as part of your marketing strategy? Do you use Constant Contact to manage your email list and publish your e-newletter? Are you also on Facebook?email-marketing

If you answered yes to all of the above… you’re amazing. Did you also know that you can combine the power of Facebook and Constant Contact?

It’s true! You can add a form directly on your business’s Facebook page (like this), enabling you to encourage people to subscribe to your email publication (and it’s all in line with Canada’s upcoming anti-spam policies).

You may be wondering, “If they’re already following me on Facebook, why do I need them to subscribe to my email updates?” Good question. The answer: because as great as Facebook is for finding and engaging people who are interested in your business, you may miss a few now and then thanks to timing or Facebook filters or any number of factors that are largely out of your control. Being able to send an email directly into a willing subscriber’s inbox just increases your chances that you’ll get read.

So here’s how to add a Constant Contact email subscription form to your Facebook page:

  1. Log into Constant Contact
  2. Go to Home > Sign-Up Tools > Facebook Sign-Up Form
  3. Click “Add App” and select your Facebook business page. Click “Add Page Tab”
  4. Log in to Facebook and visit your page. Select the new “Join My List” app under the  “More” tab
  5. Click “Log In” and sign into Constant Contact. Allow access.
  6. Click”Customize” if you want to upload your logo, change the text, etc.
  7. You’re done! But I’m going to suggest you do one more thing before calling it a day. Click on the “More” tab on your Facebook page one more time and select “Manage Tabs.” Move your “Join My List” tab up in the list, so that visitors can actually see it… otherwise, it will just get lost under “More.” And let’s face it, no one goes under “More.”

Ta-daaah! The power of Facebook and Constant Contact all rolled into one beautiful, integrated digital marketing machine.

Need more guidance on Constant Contact or email marketing? Need someone to ghost-write your emails? Need help setting up or managing your small business’s Facebook page? Get in touch, I love this stuff! – Nishi

 

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Size Matters: Updated Social Media Image Specs

Heads up! Facebook is rolling out a new look this month.

If your business is on Facebook, you’ll want to make sure your images (profile, cover, previews, app icons, etc.) meet the right specifications so that they look their best. It’s a little thing, but it goes a long way in giving your business a professional edge on Facebook.small frog

And since you may still be reeling from Twitter’s new updated look, this may be a good time to re-evaluate all your business social media profile images; just to make sure they are optimized to look their best. With all the recent changes, you may decide to rework their sizes and dimensions.

Thankfully, the good people at Insight180 have compiled all the image specs you need for:

  • Faceebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube
  • Google+

… all in one beautiful graphic. Seriously guys, this is a work of art. See here: (click image below to see larger)

social-media-dimensions

 

 

 

 

 

 

Need help with your business’s social media presence? Get in touch! – Nishi

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Reluctant Blogger, What’s Holding You Back?

When I was six, I was introduced to the deep end of a swimming pool. As I stood there by the edge of the pool for what seemed like a REALLY long time, I must have imagined every possible thing that could have gone horribly wrong by jumping in.

Eventually, someone pushed me in and I’m still a crummy swimmer to this day, but that part of the story is unimportant. The part that’s important is where I stand at the edge filling my mind with self-doubt and misery.swim

That’s the scene that plays in my mind whenever I’m about to launch a new blog with a client. Often, we’ve spent hours fine-tuning the look and features of their blog, I’ve coached them on branding and content, all they have to do is start blogging and then… they freeze. I can see it in their eyes: absolute terror, standing at the edge of the pool, making excuses to not go for it.

So. Many. Excuses.

I’ve never tossed a client into the deep end, so to speak, but I’ve had some lengthy discussions about what’s REALLY stopping them from writing their original content. And most of the time, it boils down to an inner voice saying, “why would anyone care about what you have to say?”

In other words, they don’t yet perceive themselves as an expert or a consultant in their field. They may see themselves as a business owner and a worker or technician within their industry, but not someone able to dispense valuable advice to a captive audience.

It sounds like a small thing, but when you’re standing at the edge of that pool and the water is deeper than you are tall, it’s a massive obstacle to have to overcome.

Seeing yourself as an expert is a significant mind-shift, and it doesn’t always come easily. The thing is, you can’t always wait until you feel like an expert before you start blogging, because then you might wait forever. You need to just go for it. And once you start, you may be surprised at how much you know. Blogging will gradually make you feel like an expert. Then the mind-shift will happen and then suddenly you’ll be an expert! Ta-da!

This mind-shift has to happen if you’re writing any kind of original content, be it in the form of an email newsletter or a tweet or a Facebook post. Need a push? Contact me! – Nishi

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Email Marketing and Spam Laws in Canada

This post is about two of my favorite things: spam and the law.

Sales Of Low Cost Canned Meat Spam On The Rise Amid Rising Food CostHaha! Ok, but seriously now…

Small business owners who use email as a marketing tool will want to pay close attention to Canada’s Anti-Spam legislation, the majority of which comes into force on July 1, 2014.

Now I’m no lawyer (and we all know why) but from what I can gather from the government link above, if you’re sending bulk emails for commercial reasons, and you don’t want to break any laws, you should watch out for 3 things:

  1. Make sure you have verbal or written consent to send someone your bulk email newsletter. In other words, don’t send them unsolicited email, get their permission first.
  2. Identify yourself in your email, so the recipient knows exactly who you are and how to reach you.
  3. Give them an easy opt-out so that if they want to unsubscribe from your email list, they can.

Are you worried that these restrictions will dampen your email marketing efforts? Stay calm. These parameters will only make you work smarter and become an even more awesome email marketer. Just remember:

Be a sharp-shooter – It’s always better to cultivate a targeted list. Whenever possible, have some kind of relationship with a person before adding them to your list: maybe you met them at a networking event, or they were referred to you by an existing client. This way, they are far more likely to open your email than if you just “cold-emailed” them. Sure your list will be smaller and take longer to grow, but it will be a solid list. Would you rather have an email list of 10,000 that few open and generates 3 excellent leads, or a list of 100 that everyone loves to read and also generates 3 excellent leads? Exactly.

Help, don’t sell – Kind of hard to call your email newsletter spam if you’re targeting people who need your expertise AND you’re offering them sound advice, making them laugh and inspiring them to be better versions of themselves.

Be in a relationship - Don’t e-blast your way into people’s in-boxes, make a quick sales pitch and then disappear. Use your email campaign to encourage conversations. Invite your readers to events so that you can meet them in person. Direct them to your Facebook and Twitter feeds so you can stay in touch. Your email newsletter should feel like the start of something special, not a one-night stand.

“It’s not me, it’s you” – Look, breakups happen. Don’t be afraid of offering an easy opt-out, such as an unsubscribe button. If it didn’t work out, it’s because it was a bad fit. Remember, it’s not the size of your list that matters, it’s the quality. Let the wrong people bow out gracefully. Do not obsess about losing readers.Obsess about finding the right readers.

Need some guidance with your email marketing campaign? Need a ghost-writer to create your e-newsletter? Need a Constant Contact tutorial? Let me know how I can help out your small business! – Nishi

Read more about e-mail marketing…

How to be Amazing at Email Marketing

Create an Unstoppable Email Marketing Super Team

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