Life and The Power to Choose

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Our lives are determined by the sum of our choices.

Sure, some of us are born into or experience circumstances that offer advantages or disadvantages but the path to who we are and who we become is determined by the choices that we make.

There are many though who think they don’t have a choice.

Maybe it’s a job that makes them unhappy or living paycheck to paycheck and barely paying the bills. Their circumstances beat them down every day, making them feel stuck without much hope.

But, that too is a choice.

It’s the choice to accept the situation as a permanent reality instead of seeing it as a temporary circumstance to overcome. It’s what happens when they believe the lies that they tell themselves (I’m not good enough, I can’t, I don’t have the ___, etc) and then begin to THINK there is no way out.

But, there is. If only they made the choice to see it and pursue it.

Then there are those scenarios when things happen that are indeed out of our control. Getting laid off or finding out someone close to you passed away or discovering some news that just rocks your world in a negative way.

What then?

That too is about choice. No, you didn’t choose for it happen and no choice of yours made it so, but how you respond to it IS your choice. And the choice you make in that response will determine if your future rebounds from it.

Every choice has an outcome or a consequence that influences our direction and perspective on life.

Our choices matter and you have The Power to Choose.

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5 Resources to Build a Better Blog

Whether you have a blog now or are thinking of starting one, here are links to several resources I’ve found useful in helping to build a better blog. They are proven tips and tricks to help you succeed and to draw in more readers.

1. The Ultimate Guide to Launching a WordPress-Powered Blog
If you are new to blogging, start with @tentblogger‘s Ultimate Guide to Launching a WordPress-Powered Blog. Actually, even if you are a seasoned blogger you need to check out this guide. It’s packed with tons of great insight from, in my opinion, one of the best minds in blogging out there (John Saddington). He’s the guy who leads the team that created Standard Theme and many other cool things.

2. 21 Tactics to Increase Blog Traffic from SEOmoz
Great advice for bloggers who want not just more traffic but better, more targeted traffic.

3. A ‘Secret’ of Growing the Readership of a Blog from ProBlogger
Darren Rowse of Problogger, one of the top sites on the net, shares what he would do to promote his blog if he were starting out all over again.

4. How to Get 6,312 Subscribers to Your Blog in One Day via CopyBlogger
This resource is geared more around launching a blog with a big bang but the tips are useful regardless of where you are in the life cycle of your blog.

5. 20 Must Know Websites For Latest WordPress Hacks, and Tips via SaveDelete
A listing of great sites that offer tips to enhance your WordPress blog even further.

Bonus… beyond the traffic building tips for your blog, nothing matters more than content. You can have all the right tools but if the content or the headlines stink… you won’t get much traction. Here is a post by Michael Hyatt on 4 Strategies for Creating Titles that Jump Off the Page. You should also read this post on How to Write Great Blog Content.

If you have run across any good tips, share them.

Knowing is Different than Doing

Most of us know what we should do.

It’s the doing that sometimes gets in the way, doesn’t it?

I mean, you know that if you want to be fit you need to eat healthy and workout but actually doing it is something entirely different.

Same goes for that idea you have.

It’s one thing to have it and another to do it, to take the necessary actions to turn it from a dream into a reality.

Doing is hard. It’s a lot of work and a constant battle with the resistance that pushes back against us.

But… knowing is different than doing and those who do, win.

Don’t let another day go by knowing what needs to be done but not doing it.

Take the first steps (you already know what they are).

Do.

14 Ways to Increase Your Blog and Newsletter Subscriber Rates

In a previous post I talked about 8 Benefits of Email Marketing and Why You Must Build Your List.

If you aren’t building a list, you’re missing significant opportunities to capture leads, build community, and create a sustainable way to communicate with those who are interested in what you have to say (and/or sell).

Your list is like gold and it’s a resource you must develop, nurture and grow.

You know that by now right?

But knowing is different than doing isn’t it?

That’s exactly why I want to share these 14 Ways to Increase Your Blog and Newsletter Subscriber Rates with you. Each one is about building your list and expanding the foundation on which your ability to communicate is built (also known as your platform).

And while these 14 tips aren’t the only ways, they are a few tried and true that will help you achieve results. I’ll start from the beginning for those who are new and work my way down to more tactical steps.

1.       Don’t think of your list a List. Think of it as a Community. Your list is not just a bunch of numbers. Each subscriber is a PERSON, a live human being on the other side of the inbox. If you think about them as a list then you’re thinking about transactions instead of relationships. The more you build the relationship, the stronger your relationship shall be and that my friends will help you create a strong, engaged list (which is what you ultimately want).

2.       Provide Value. Value is subjective but you need to make sure that what you are providing people is something that they can use or benefit from. Don’t spam your list with nonstop promotional junk or things that are just about you… make it about them. Serve them in the best ways you can. Remember, they’ve invested in you by signing up and giving you a chance to speak to them. Honor that and they will honor you when you ask them to take some sort of action.

8 Benefits of Email Marketing and Why You Must Build Your List

One of the best things you can do in building your platform, regardless of the business you are in, is to build your list. And by that I mean an email database of those people who are interested in your product, service, ideas or offerings.

It’s like the holy grail of marketing and despite what you may have been lead to believe, email marketing is not dead. It’s alive and well. And for those who are doing it right, I believe it’s often more effective than Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any other social media outlet available today.

Why? Here are 8 Reasons…

  1. Because when you build a list, you own it and you have 100% access to it. If Twitter or Facebook collapsed or instituted a change tomorrow in their privacy or user settings, your ability to communicate could be hampered instantly. You don’t want 100% of your access to be controlled by someone else who you have no control over.
  2. It’s a permission based asset, meaning that those who sign up have given you permission to share and communicate with them. This gives you authority.
  3. It’s proactive and enables you to communicate when you need to with a qualified audience who is likely to pay more attention (since they opted in to your list).
  4. Despite the popularity of Twitter and Facebook, etc. not everyone is on them but almost everyone has email.
  5. Even if you have a blog, many of your readers still have no idea what an RSS is or how to use it. An email newsletter or email blog subscription makes it simple for those who are less tech savvy.
  6. Most people read or at least glance at their emails as they slide through their inboxes. On the other hand, when someone is following thousands on Twitter or Facebook it’s harder to get your message seen because they may only be “actively” following a much smaller group.
  7. Email can be used to drive engagement on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
  8. It’s low cost and it helps you capture the impact from any promotional efforts you do (example… if someone links to your site and sends traffic there but you aren’t offering any clear way for them to signup then you lose out on the impact of that traffic).

Now, I’m not saying it’s and either or situation here. As if you need to pick email over social media. I’m saying that it’s a both and scenario but your list is the gold that you should be focusing more attention on.

Sure, there are cons to email marketing too but everything has pros and cons and that’s why you use multiple methods but don’t discount the continued impact and effectiveness of building your email list.

Let me share an example… I have several clients who we’ve worked with over the years and made growing their lists a priority, a priority that pays off again and again. One author has over 50,000 qualified subscribers to his email newsletter now and when he comes out with a new book he’s almost guaranteed to sell several thousand copies with simply the push of a button, hitting send on an email.

And then there’s a church I work with who we’ve grown their list to 12,000 subscribers. It’s a makeup of regular attendees, members, guests, prospects and people from all over the country who are interested in sermon messages and more. Having that list helps them to be proactive and send updates when needed to those who want to hear.

It doesn’t matter what type of business or nonprofit work you are in or how big or small you are. You need to build your list. But simply putting a newsletter sign-up form on your site isn’t the most effective thing you can do.

It’s also about how you place it on your site, what tactics you use to drive subscribers and it’s a LOT about content… what you share and how you communicate with your list so that you provide them value.

I’ll expand on this more with specifics in a post called 14 Ways to Increase Your Blog and Newsletter Subscriber Rate.

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A Fast Nickel or a Slow Dollar – Ideas for Building Your Business

There are two basic ways to make money.

One is to offer a product or service and charge a premium fee. If you go this route you likely don’t need as many customers to turn a nice profit because your margins are higher. This is the SLOW DOLLAR METHOD because it takes fewer transactions to reach your goal. Think of a Mercedes. They don’t need to sell as many cars as Hyundai to be successful. Or think of an elite coaching program that sells off of exclusivity and access offering a prime fee for both because only a few people can get in.

Then there’s the other way.

It’s when you offer a product or service and charge a lower, sometimes rock bottom fee. If you go this route you need volume and scale in order to turn a profit. This is the FAST NICKEL METHOD because you need a lot of transactions to make it work, but a lot of transactions is easier since your barrier to entry is much smaller (consumers see less risk in departing with their money). Think of an iPad app that sells for just a few bucks… like Angry Birds for example. Angry Birds was released in 2009 and has gone on to sell 12 million + copies via Apple’s App Store and supposedly over 50 million copies across all platforms (mobile, Android, etc). Now, because of the tipping point volume that was created there is Angry Birds apparel, merchandise and even talk of a movie or TV series (indirect revenue which spawned from the fast dollar approach of access and scale). Would the same impact have happened if Angry Birds had tried to go the SLOW DOLLAR route? Probably not.

It’s not that one of these ways is better than another. One plays off of scarcity, exclusivity and the positioning of premium status. The other plays off volume, crowds and a perceived discount value that minimizes risk to consumers, making access easier.

There are pros and cons to each but either way… if you are starting a business or launching a product of any kind you need to consider these two methods in order to determine which route is best for you based on your goals and ideas.

You must evaluate your potential market and determine which method would bring you the most success.

In some cases it may be best to use them both. Have a FAST NICKEL product or service that is on the lower end of cost in order to serve as sort of a funnel. It’s what gets some people through the door but then you can have an “upsell” or a “premium version” that is the SLOW DOLLAR next step.

Finding the right mix requires some trial and error. Experiment with your offerings. Don’t be afraid to test before launching full steam.

Finding that magic mix is worth the effort.

Question: Do you sell a product or service? Which method would describe yours best? Have you experimented with an alternative of your method?