In my last post “Will Documenting Something Now Save You Time Later?, I confessed to being a documentation junkie. Since I received more than a few comments that made me believe it was helpful, I started thinking about other ways this obsession with process, procedure and documenting might be of benefit to others. One of my blog readers asked about tips on organizing their computer files and someone that I often exchange emails with mentioned being overwhelmed by emails generated from a LinkedIn group. Both of these conversations prompted me to share a couple of ideas that work for me.
What adds extra time while you’re doing it but saves you even more time when you need it? For me, it’s documenting and organizing. Like most entrepreneurs and small business owners, I dabble in a variety of things. Often, I encounter topics that I have to research. Sometimes I undertake an unusually complex task with multiple steps that I need to figure out. Even though I often tell myself, “I’ll never need to know (or do) this again”, I document it. Even if it’s just the link to the website where I found the solution, I document it. Sometimes, I actually wonder if I should be keeping track of how much time I spend documenting and tracking things. – And then, comes the time when I need that documentation.
Are you the sole proprietor of a business? Are you a 1-person shop? Whether you’re trying to make a living online, supplement your income or build a nest egg, more and more people these days are looking to the Internet as a way to make money. Every day hundreds (maybe hundreds-of-thousands) of websites and blogs are being launched in this country alone. So how do you stand out? Even after identifying your niche, doing your keyword research, understanding your target customer and carefully mapping a business plan … what’s the secret to success? How is it that some people are sitting back and boasting that they’re making 6-figure incomes while some of us are struggling to pay the mortgage? How does the “little guy” (or “gal”) compete with companies (and individuals) when you’re faced with limited resources?
Paul Colligan (someone you may want to follow if you’re serious about getting your blog/website found online) talks about the ISYOT (“I’ve Seen You Out There”) effect. The ISYOT effect is a lot like the marketing term top-of-mind-awareness but it applies to being seen online – to the point that you’re being recognized on the Internet. Somewhat the same way you would be recognized if you were networking face to face in the brick-and-mortar world. So how do you do that? How do you build confidence, trust and name/face-recognition online? Paul recommends being seen everywhere using social networking sites, podcasting and media channels like YouTube. Participating on Facebook and LinkedIn, Tweeting, posting videos on YouTube…. all things that we know we need to be doing but if you’re a one-person-shop (or even 1 and ½ or 2)…. How do you get started? How do you make the ISYOT effect work for you?
I was commenting on an interesting blog article the other day and I clicked off the little box to be notified by email if someone replies to my comment or if someone adds a new comment. Should be simple right? (I mean I just gave them my name and email address in order to leave the comment in the first place.) So, I should be able to just click and go on my merry-way. Right? If the author replies to my comment (showing how much they care and that they value what I have to say), I’ll be notified. If someone else cares enough to comment, I’ll get to know what they’ve added to the conversation. I’m clicking to be notified because I truly found the article interesting and I want to follow it. So why, did I wish I hadn’t started the whole thing?
Seems these days, everyone knows someone who’s blogging. Whether it’s for fun or for profit, people are blogging. In my previous post, “To Blog or NOT to Blog. That is the Question”, I geared the discussion towards people who want to make money either directly with a blog or by driving traffic to an existing website (presumably where you’re trying to make money promoting a product or service).
Ok… you’ve “opened the virtual doors” to your business/blog by telling your friends, family and anyone else who would listen. So what now? (Maybe you’re seeing flashbacks of Kevin Costner in “Field of Dreams”… “if you build it, he will come”.) As reality sets in, and you’re not seeing an increase in the number of visitors (or commenters) or more importantly you’re not seeing the results that you’re looking for (sales, email addresses, attention…), you may start asking yourself what next? Well, there are lots of things you can do like using the Google Webmaster tools, submitting your URL to directories, commenting on blogs and optimizing for search engines but…
Let’s just get back to the basics here…
Are you experiencing slow response times? Is your website sometimes unavailable? Are you frustrated by incompetent tech support? Is it time to choose a new website hosting company?
Looking for low-cost ways to drive traffic to your website? Establish an online presence, build awareness and make connections – basically the same methods that entrepreneurs and businesses have been using to promote their products and services for years. In addition to networking on the Internet by participating in forum groups, message boards and social networking sites, you can also comment on blogs. There are even online communities for people who are serious about commenting. One of the more popular ones (and the one that I’m a member of) is the ComLuv network. CommentLuv is a “plugin”/program that works with blogs. When a member of the ComLuv network comments on a blog that is running the CommentLuv plugin, in addition to their comment, a link to one of their blog posts will be included. This is a wonderful opportunity for a blogger to get a “backlink” (link back to your blog/website). Thousands of blogs have installed this simple plugin. In addition to building awareness, useful and constructive comments can help to build a reputation too.
There seems to be two camps of website hosting companies these days. You have the hosting vendors that are competing on price and you have the vendors that are competing on customer service. Now, your choice of a website hosting company may not be what you consider a major decision in the scheme of things. There are certainly decisions that will have more impact on your business. You can always change your mind later and move your website to a different host right? Well, yes you can. And that move can range from a minor inconvenience (waiting for the DNS records to repopulate so your visitors can find you) to a major hassle involving your time (and possibly a lot of teeth-gnashing and pulling out of hair). After all, if you do decide to move your site, there has to be a good reason for it – possibly you were experiencing a large amount of down-time where your website was inaccessible which could translate to loss of revenue. Having to move your website is necessary sometimes but if you can avoid it, why not? So, it’s prudent to do your due diligence before you decide which hosting company you want to go with.