Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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Growing pains? No, not at all!

As some of you may have noticed, I didn’t publish a post here yesterday.  That’s because I’ve just had this blog moved from it’s former hosting, to what’s known as a dedicated server.  In other words, this blog now lives on it’s own hardware with only my sites on it.  The new server is extremely high spec and will hopefully allow me to continue to grow the blog, without the need to keep upgrading.  I outgrew my “old” server, in just over 4 months!

2 lessons from my experience

You get what you pay for: This is the first time that this blog has been hosted on a dedicated managed server (rather than a shared server, VPS or cloud).  Not only is the hardware massively better, the service level is too.  Of course, all this comes with an increased price tag, but that cost meant that this was a 100% hassle free exercise for me.  I didn’t need to do a thing and the whole exercise had a dedicated project manager handling it, who kept me updated throughout.   I have full, 24/7 direct telephone access to the server engineers for the lifetime of my contract and these engineers are located in the same building as my hardware.  It’s total peace-of-mind.

The time to upgrade is before you are forced to: The new service agreement and hardware specifications are massively more than I needed even 12-months ago, and to have upgraded to something as comprehensive as this, back then, would have made little commercial sense.  However, I have always believed that when it comes to web hosting, you should upgrade before your site becomes slow or unreliable, too often.

I started out 2 years ago on a wordpress.com hosted blog, which was free.  I then graduated through $10 a month hosting providers, to $50 a month providers, to Virtual Private Servers and cloud providers – Right through to dedicated hosting with my current provider.  Because of the costs involved, and the fact that many small business bloggers operate with a pretty low budget, it makes sense to upgrade carefully.  If your current provider is working well for you and you are happy with the service you have, stay where you are.  Upgrade only when you know you should.

Of course, if you are seeing a significant increase in visitors to your blog, it’s worth thinking ahead and figuring out your next step.  There are some very good offers out there, but also some shockingly unreliable providers too.  Do your research and find who is offering the best deals – NOT the lowest price, but the best match of hardware, service and price.

For example, if your site is a key part of your business, you won’t want to have to raise a support ticket, with a 24-hour response time, if you notice your site has a serious problem!  That’s what many providers at the lower end of the market offer.  In that scenario, you will want a dedicated, tech support phone number, that actually gets answered by someone who can help.  Conversely, if you are building up a new blog and getting a moderate volume of visitors, there’s little point spending hundreds each month on hosting.  It’s all about balance.

If all goes according to plan, you won’t notice much of a difference with my sites; as I moved them before they were under too great a load, too often.  However, the move should now allow me to focus on developing content for you, without too many hosting-related distractions.

Most importantly – THANK YOU for your support over the past 2 years!

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: Docklands Boy

This post is for bloggers only!

If you have a business blog, which is not generating the results you want, this post is written just for you!

I received an email this morning, from a reader who has a 12 month old business blog, which he’s unhappy with.  I get emails like this every day.  The problem is so common that I wanted to bring it out into the open and share it, in case it resonates with you and what you are experiencing right now.

He explained that he has published 2 blog posts most weeks, yet the site gets few readers, even fewer comments and no sales inquiries.  He told me he has been using blogging and SEO techniques from some of the blogs he reads, but it’s not working for him.  He asked me to take a look, which I did.  Within seconds, I spotted a number of problems on his blog and was able to tell instantly that he has “had a go” at developing and marketing his blog, with no hands-on, professional help.

The reason most business blogs under-perform is NOT because the blogger is a poor writer or boring.  It’s not because they lack the right plugins or lack killer SEO skills.  It’s because they are applying generic answers, to their unique situation.

Here’s the thing:  You place a very low ceiling on your marketing and business potential, by trying to develop a successful blog using generic, free advice you find online.

Ever wonder why so many blogs from within the same industry are so similar? It’s because they are using the same generic ideas and approach to blogging!  Those bloggers grab the same advice, from the same people, and as a direct result they become invisible.  By being so alike, they camouflage themselves – Which is the exact opposite to what they should be doing.

If you are serious about turning your site into a lead / business generating machine, you need to develop your blog and online marketing, based on your unique needs, resources, business targets and personality.

When I work with my clients, I help them stand out and get noticed, by developing an online marketing strategy that’s clear, easy to follow and designed to get them noticed by their prospective clients or customers. That’s the approach I recommend to those of you who are not seeing the results you want right now.  The generic approach may be free, but it can be extremely expensive.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Financial security is more than a number!

A business owner asked me recently, what my definition of financial security was.  I started by asking him what HIS definition was.  He said that if he had a million in the bank, that would give him enough to be financially secure for life.  I disagreed.

Financial security isn’t a number

Financial security is more than just an amount of money. This is why we see so many lottery winners going broke, even after winning 10 or 20 million!  Equally, there are many, many shocking stories of good, honest people, who have worked hard all their lives to save some money for their retirement, only to be conned out of it by crooks; promising them riches if they just sign some forms.

In such cases, simply owning a large sum of money did not make the people financially secure.  If financial security had been about having a certain amount of money, those people wouldn’t be broke right now.

Financial security: My definition

For me, financial security is about having the ability to make as much money as you need, plus more on top – AND the ability to use money correctly.  When I was a kid, the local window cleaner once told me that as long as he could get a bucket of water and a cloth, he would never be broke.  What the window cleaner forgot to mention was that when he was ill, his income stopped.  He forgot to say that when he got too old to climb a ladder, his income would stop.

One of my first employers gave me some better advice on earning money.  He told me that success came when you started getting paid for what you created, from the neck up, not the neck down.  He suggested I should feed my mind with valuable information and put it to work,  because that would increase my income. He was 100% correct.

It’s been said many times that if all the money in your country was evenly distributed among the people, that it would eventually all end up back in the same pockets again.  I don’t think this is completely true, but I do believe that those who don’t understand how to make or retain money correctly, would lose theirs to the people who understand the process.

Financial security and the ability to create massive value

I wrote yesterday about residual income and the value of developing an income that didn’t require you exchanging your time for payment.  It’s a useful way to make money, but there are many others.

For example, if Pete Cashmore the twenty-something founder of mashable.com decided to sell his business, he would make many, many millions.  Yes, Pete has worked hard (and smart) to build such a wonderful business, but he could sell-up and go and sit on a beach all day.  That example is not a residual income, but it’s a GREAT example of creating something that’s brilliant, which has enormous market value.  Many residual income gurus suggest anything other than a residual income is a waste of time – I think they are wrong.

Financial security: What is your definition?

That’s just my definition, there are many others.  How would you define it?

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Why I LOVE passive income and why you should too!

Today, I thought I would quickly talk with you about what some people call passive income, though is more accurately referred to as residual income.  It’s something I am working on with almost all of my clients right now.  It’s easy to see why.  The idea is that you create something once, then earn from it over and over again, without much additional input.  It scales wonderfully, costs little to set up and can earn you a fortune, if done correctly.

Residual income streams

For example, with some clients, I am helping them develop digital products, such as ebooks and audio programs.  I help them develop the product and then market it correctly.  Then, once the product is created, people can buy it over and over again.  There’s no additional work required on my client’s part, when they sell 10,000 products, than when they sell just 1.  Once they get that first successful income stream flowing, it’s a matter of repeating the process.

With the right guidance, it’s possible to generate a number of superb income streams.  I currently have 18 residual income streams myself and am in the process of developing number 19.  What I love about this process is that you can not only create a significant additional income, but because you are not tied to it with your time, it can significantly improve your lifestyle too.  When you get the balance right, you can make as much money when you are on the beach or asleep as you make when you are in the office.

Of course, the key challenge most people have when setting up residual income streams is that they don’t know how to develop or market the products correctly; which is where I come in.

I show them how to develop products that their marketplace will want, and then how to make them irresistible.  I then show them how to repeat the process, so they have a number of streams – It’s genuinely exciting! You know what?  It’s one of the things I love most about the work I do with my clients, as the potential is enormous in so many ways.

I very strongly recommend you look into setting up some residual income streams yourself.  If you would like me to help you, let me know.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Some people I want to thank (Check them out!)

It’s always great when people take time out, to share your work with their friends and contacts.

In no particular order, here are just some of the people who were kind enough to share my posts and ideas, help and support me over the past 7 days:

Thank you!

Julie Walraven from Design Resumes

Maggie Shiels from The BBC

Brent Pohlman from MidWest Labs

Barney Austen from My Project Tracker

Tessa Shepperson from The Landlord Law Blog

Gareth Howell from Business Continuity UK

Grant Griffiths from Headway Themes

Gemma Went from Red Cube Marketing

Calvin Lee from Mayhem Studios

Irene Koehler from Almost Savvy

David Spinks from DavidSpinks.Com

Scott Gould from Aaron & Gould

Mark Harai from GAC Consultants

Sarah Worsham from Sazbean Consulting

Rob Mangiafico from Lexicon Internet Services

Jon Stow from Jon Stow Tax Consulting

Kevin Garcia from KG Creative

Last and very much not least: Nile Rodgers – The musical genius behind Chic, one of the most influential bands of all time, who took time out yesterday to connect with me.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

There’s gold everywhere!

I live in the countryside and this time of year, something visually amazing happens: Everything turns to gold!

The green country lanes of a few weeks ago are slowly transforming into golden, spiralling highways.

It serves as a great reminder to me that golden opportunities often start off by looking very different.

We only see the gold when the time is right!

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Some blogging magic for you!

Yesterday on Twitter, someone told me that she thought I was a mind reader.  She said that she was just about to start writing a new blog and that she was amazed when this post arrived in her inbox, with ideas on how to generate more sales and business leads from your site.

The reality is that there was no mind reading or magic in play there.  I write about marketing all the time and frequently share ideas with you, about making your Internet marketing fly.  All that actually happened is that someone with the foresight to subscribe to a marketing blog, received some marketing advice.

The reason it seemed uncanny, is that the information came to her at just the right time!

One of the benefits of regularly sharing information with your readers, is that you will tend to turn up just when they need you.  If you can understand the value of this from a marketing perspective, you may have found one of the more compelling reasons to blog more often.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

How to attract more sales leads from your website!

Would you like to attract more sales, leads or business enquiries?

Are you currently using a website to market your services? (BTW: It’s the 21st century, you should be.)

Here’s a quick marketing tip: Don’t turn your entire site into a sales pitch!

  • Use your site to connect with people.
  • Use your site to provide information and ideas.
  • Use your site to help people find answers.
  • Use your site to showcase your skills and how effective you are – But don’t turn it into one giant sales pitch.

There should be a key marketing page on your site, which gives people a short explanation of whatever your service is AND it’s benefits.  It should list the problems that your offering solves and highlight the most compelling benefits or working with you or buying from you.  It should have a few well chosen testimonials and it should regularly ask people to take action; to call or email you.

There’s an example of such a page, which works extremely well here on this blog.  Study it.  Check out where I place the calls to action and how easy I make it to get in touch with me – That phone number goes to a phone that’s right here on my desk!

Your key marketing page should then be sign-posted throughout your site, as I do with that small rectangle box beneath every post on this blog (if you are reading this post via RSS, click here.)  By placing that small box at the bottom of each blog post, I reach people at the exact point, where they are most likely to contact me.

Here’s how it works: So, Mary reads a post of mine and really finds it useful.  The very next thing Mary sees, is a message from me, which lets Mary know that I work with small business owners just like her and if she wants to know more, she just needs to “read this”.  Each time someone comes here and reads something I’ve written, which leaves them wondering how many additional sales they would be making by working with me – BOOM, that box is there with a simple call to action.

By using the alternative approach, where the service provider is actually trying to sell their services on almost every page, it’s a lot harder to build rapport with your readers.  It makes everything read like a glorified sales pitch.  It’s like when you go to one of those stores where the salesperson approaches you as you walk through the door and asks, “how can I help you?”, rather than wait until you have entered the store, and maybe need help finding something or making a decision.  The first approach bugs you – the second approach helps you.  Two very different approaches and two very different end results.

Use your site to showcase your value.  Show people that you are friendly and approachable.  Make it as easy as possible for people to contact you and encourage them to do so.  When you make that shift from pitching to connecting, the results can be amazing!

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

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