Delegate Your Way to More Time

You can’t really get more time in a day. Time is one of those limited resources that you cannot create more of, or get back after you have wasted it. There are 8760 hours in a year, but we have to subtract out hours for sleeping, which we’ll make an average of 8 hours a night which leaves 5840 hours. Take out 48 hrs a week for family time, and you have 3344 hours left, take out a two week vacation and you have a total of 3004 hours remaining. Most yearly salaries are figured on working 2080 hours a year. We all know business owners tend to work double this at about 4160 hours a year. If you look at the numbers, it becomes clear something is suffering, and more than likely it’s you and your family and possibly even your business.

A great aspect of owning your own business is that you can always delegate tasks to others. Even if you don’t have employees it is possible to delegate some tasks virtually as well as delegate household tasks to other family members or hire some household help. If hiring someone, whether they come to your business, or whether they are virtual contractors, or whether they clean your house it automatically frees up your time.

One of the issues with delegating often ends up being an erroneous fear of the financial costs. But you have to look at this outside of the immediate financial cost and figure out how much your time is worth. Remember, you can’t get it back, and you need more of it because you need to be able to do all the things you dreamed of doing when you became a business owner. A good rule of thumb when outsourcing any type of task, is that if it costs less than you can earn in your core money making activity to outsource, then you’re better off outsourcing. If you can get it done free by family members, so much the better.

We all want to be a superhero, but if you try that route eventually something will end up not done, or not done well. This is not good for your business reputation, and when it comes to letting family fall through the cracks the consequences can be disastrous. Fortunately, one of the secret methods of time management that all kinds of business owners use is to outsource and delegate. Even if you can’t technically get more time in a day, you can feel like you have more time if you’re not doing everything alone.

Try making a list of some of the non-core business activities you do each day. Non-core activities are the tasks that you don’t make most of your money from. If you have a business store front, obviously you may need to be there, but do you need to be there from open to close, or can you hire someone to cover some of the less busy hours? If you work from home as a bookkeeper you don’t want to outsource the bookkeeping, but you may want to outsource some housework. Of course if you wanted to have an entire firm of bookkeepers, eventually you can hire other bookkeepers when your business is busy enough. Don’t forget to involve your family by delegating tasks at home. The sky is the limit when you start realizing how you can outsource and delegate.

Sound Quality in Video Marketing

Nothing can take the edge off a good marketing video and flip it into the realms of dismal amateur production or “deadly dud” faster than poor sound quality during recording. Yes, it’s true that candid videos do phenomenally well on YouTube, but you should never confuse “candid” with “low quality”.

When you’re actually planning to sell that video you’re making, it becomes even more crucial that the sound quality creates no “glitches” or rough spots to distract viewers from your message. Fortunately, today’s video editing software (and hardware) can go a long way towards helping your video present a polished and professional image.

Recording short segments, and putting them together after the fact in the editing process, also helps cut down on and minimize mistakes such as you stumbling over a word and getting tongue-tied – which happens more than even professionals care to admit. (Just look at all the “bloopers” shows there have been, over the years.)

One of the first components of sound editing you need to know about, however, is “layering”. You speaking on camera is the raw, unedited reality. Adding in that soft soundtrack behind your voice, fading out as you begin to speak, or setting a video entirely to music, is “layering”.

Throwing in sound effects is also “layering”.

In most video editing software, inserting a sound effect (such as a crowd cheering, or a bird tweeting) is as simple as dragging the sound clip and dropping it onto the second (or third) “track” in your software editor. The same applies for inserting music.

Most video editing software allows you to apply special effects to your sound clips, just as you do to your video clips. You can fade in or out, and adjust the volume at the basic level. With more sophisticated video editing software, you can do much more, including removing unnecessary background noises. This is done by using multiple “tracks”.

Your Hardware

Another key element, however, is the hardware you use. If your video making equipment consists of an old digital camera, you’re stuck with a lot of background noise (especially if you’re shooting outdoors) and “tinny” sound quality. If your aim is a “candid” video, these are faults that can be overlooked (in spite of what sound professionals would probably tell you): However, poor sound to the point where your viewers can’t really make out what you’re saying is not acceptable.

Investing in decent audio recording equipment, however, is something you might want to seriously consider – particularly if your video marketing is going to include teleseminars or interviews. You can get decent equipment and software for less than the price of a mobile phone nowadays – and one other advantage of modern sound recording software lies in the way it’s so easy to learn. (You’re likely to have more trouble programming your new TV remote, in the majority of cases!)

When should you invest in decent sound recording equipment and/or software? If you’re planning to specialize in any of these areas:

• Teleseminars
• Interviews
• Re-purposing content
• Updating existing videos with new material
• Archiving your material
• Video narrations or voice-overs

Sound is sometimes an overlooked element of video marketing. Keeping it real is one thing – but not being able to hear what’s being said is simply unacceptable. Decide for yourself whether your present equipment is not up to the job, or perfectly fine – but don’t leave it to chance. Know what you’re doing, and why.

Use Affiliate Power to Boost Contest Promotions

Now that you have an email list, you want to promote it. You’ve decided to use an online contest to boost email list sign ups, and now it’s time to get it all in motion. You’ve done the blog posts, created the graphics, decided on the type of contest, got all the technology in place, and now you’re ready to roll.

An online contest will generate leads, make sales, drive traffic to your website, increase brand recognition, and even create consumer generated content. All of which will add to your business’ bottom line. There are many ways to promote contests and you should use them all, but one overlooked method is to use affiliates.

Affiliates can use your contest to help them promote your products and services, so why shouldn’t they want to promote it? You can sweeten the pot by offering some sort of pay out, or you can have another simultaneous contest only for your affiliates awarded to the person who gets the most people to sign up for the contest. This will encourage them to promote your contest even more.

If you don’t have affiliates yet, you can use the contest to boost subscriptions and affiliates at the same time. Email lists and affiliates are fabulous ways to promote all your products and services to the most people with the least effort. If you have more than one person promoting with you, at the very least you’ll double your efforts. But, if you have an army of affiliates excited about the contest then you may be able to multiply yourself. What can be better than that?

Online contests are an enormous boost to traffic and if you use the contest the right way: To get new email addresses for your email list — you’ll be reaping the benefits of the contest for months and even years to come.

It is important to follow some basic guidelines when creating an online contest:

* Know the laws — Every state and country has different laws regarding contests, including online contests. Do a double check to ensure that your contest is legal.
* Know your goals — Clarify your goal of building your email list via online contests and ensure that you’re set up to do just that.
* Be creative — Don’t skimp on graphics and other marketing collateral for your online contests. Contests are fun so have fun creating it and everything that goes with it.
* Use all avenues — Marketing is never a one trick pony. It’s important to use all avenues of marketing for your contest including email, social media, blogging, podcasting, webinars, guest blogging, etc… don’t ONLY use affiliates. Use everything.
* Be ready — That’s right, don’t ignore the technical aspects of the contest. Ensure the technology works, double check with your website host that it can handle a sudden boost in traffic, and ensure that your landing pages are set up right. Nothing is worse than doing all that work only to have a crashed site or someone going to the wrong landing page and not being able to enter their email address.
* Educate your affiliates — Before the contest let your affiliates know about what you’re doing so that they will also be ready to promote your contest. Get them excited too about promoting it and winning something themselves.
* Announce the winner — You’d be shocked at how many people have a contest and never publically announce the winners. It’s important to promote your winner as much as you promoted the contest. Believe it or not, it’s yet another opportunity for you to get more newsletter signups because they’ll want to know about the next contest once they see a real winner.

Marketing Your Business Blog via Social Networks

If you have a business blog but aren’t using social network marketing to promote it, you are losing out on literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of potential readers and customers.

Social network marketing is becoming, if it’s not already, the number one way businesses are marketing today. This is because the potential to reach people all over the world is on the Internet through social networking.

In order to make social networking work for your business blog, obviously you need to be a member of the major social networks. However, more is required. You must be active on the social networks. You simply can’t just belong but not interact with other members and expect to build your business that way.

The whole idea of social networking is not simply to drive more traffic to your blogs and sites, it is to build relationships with potential new readers, subscribers and customers. It is then through those relationships that your new contacts will come to know and trust you. Therefore, they will be more apt to purchase from you as well.

So, how do you go about making social networking work for your business? One way is to add, follow or friend people in your target market or niche. Then, begin building relationships with them first. Yes, let them know about your blog, but don’t be all about expecting them to go read it without first knowing why they should. This is where the relationship comes in. Once your subscribers know they can trust you and that you’re not just out to sell them something, but you genuinely want to help them, they will be interested in what you have to say and what you have to sell or your services.

Social networking can be tricky too. You may have a tendency to want to build up your number of friends and followers, but if they are not part of your target market or niche, then they are just a bunch of people. If you don’t have to offer what you’re followers need and want, then all your efforts are a waste of time.

As mentioned earlier, social networking takes time and effort. If you don’t personally have the time to devote to really make social networking work for you, hire a virtual assistant or social network manager to do it for you. It won’t do you any good to belong to social networks if you never have the time to spend building relationships with your potential new readers.

The hottest social networks right now are Twitter, Facebook, Digg, De.lic.ious and Stumble Upon. Of course there are numerous other social networks you can join as well, but these are recommended to get started. Trust me; you will be plenty busy trying to keep up with these five.

Once you start building relationships through social networking, then you can begin promoting your products and services to your audience. But remember, helping your readers, finding ways to benefit them is what’s going to keep them coming back to your site for more! Don’t let your relationship become all about only selling to them.

How to Hold a Conversation in Church

I have a question for anyone who has ever been to s Sunday church service: What happens on Sunday mornings?

The preacher preaches from his pulpit. Everyone sits and listens (or pretends to listen). They’re a captive audience, held by guilt, duty, pressure from a spouse, guilt over the kids or even – occasionally – real interest in the sermon.

So they stay.

Too many people give in to the temptation to mirror those Sunday sermons. They climb up on a soapbox, and Expound.

Unless the soapbox is a particularly off-the-wall one, the usual result is much the same as Sunday service. Everybody shuffles out, without saying a word…

…or else they click away and close in the first couple of sentences. After all, your blog ain’t church. They don’t need to stay. There’s no guilt or duty holding them on your browser page; no spouse to look over their shoulder and condemn the action. (In fact, any shoulder-peeping spouses are more likely to say: “Good. Now we can talk!”)

Why is it, then, that so many bloggers sound off like a preacher; either dully, or with faint condemnation?

That’s not what gets your posts comments – and links!

“Invite and Incite”

Before you can lay down the law to people, you need to provide proof you have the right to do it. That’s number one question to ask yourself, when tempted to wax forth on why most marketers fail, or why clear skin is not reserved just for the young. It should be like holding a conversation with your buddy.

Conversations give room for answers and interaction. On a blog, you have to do this by:

– Asking questions (especially ending with one)
– Making sure those questions invite and incite an answer

To do this, you need to keep the focus of your question specific – “What do you think?” is just not gonna cut it:. The average blog reader hastily decides a question of that magnitude is going to take too long to answer… and clicks away.

Give your reader an incentive to answer. Make the question personal. Leave your topic open for debate by presenting two sides of the same coin. When you do that, human nature has readers evaluating which position they agree with. They’ve engaged with your post – and that’s a huge step in the right direction.

Most of all, however, care about your post. Care about what you’re asking. Don’t be afraid to let them see the real you; the one with the doubts (that doesn’t mean pouring your heart out about your lousy marriage, by the way!)

After all, when you care, your readers are more likely to care, too.

And that’s the real secret of inciting valuable, relevant, topic-related links.

Setting your niche marketing goals

Every successful business venture starts with a plan. Without one, how will you know where you are going and how you will get there? Take the time to not only become familiar with your niche and target market, but set goals for yourself.

Time Goals
Set a date for when you would like to launch your niche marketing website and business and do everything in your power to meet that deadline. As you move forward, continue to set goals and timelines to follow as a way of keeping yourself on task and on schedule.

Budgetary Goals
Be sure to set a budget and stick to it. If your plan is to invest $100 or even $1000, set up a budget that allows for expenses that stay within your means. Sticking to your budget will be a large deciding factor as to whether or not your business becomes a success.

Profit Goals
Of course, the purpose is to make money, but you must set realistic financial goals in order to meet them. In other words, say your ultimate goal is to make $5,000 a month. Well, that is a great goal. But is it realistic for your particular niche?

Your potential for revenue will directly depend on what you are selling and whom you are selling it to. Some niche markets lend themselves to higher profit because of the value of the product being sold (like limited edition watches), while others require more volume in order to meet high revenue goals. Neither one is better than the other, it just depends on your individual business scenario.

No matter what your goals or how extensive they are, the most important thing to remember is to be realistic with yourself first. If you are, and you know and understand your boundaries and limitations, then the rest will follow and your goals will be that much easier to achieve.

Are You Ready to Outsource?

Business is booming and you have more work than you can handle. You really aren’t ready to bring on an in-house employee, but what can you do to keep up with everything? It is time to consider outsourcing some of that work to a freelancer.

Outsourcing is becoming an increasingly popular way for small businesses and solo-preneurs to increase productivity while keeping costs under control.

The best place to begin outsourcing is with a task that you don’t do well or one you don’t particularly enjoy doing. When you are struggling with a project due to lack of skills or lack of interest, it is bound to slow you down and take more time than it needs to from your hectic schedule. By outsourcing that task, you eliminate the time drain and the frustration. You are freed up to work on tasks that are in your expertise, which adds to your bottom line.

Not up on the latest technical skills involved in building a profitable web site? Hire a top-notch web designer and turn the project over to him. A quality partner will spend time understanding what you need as well as what you want in your site design. By carefully looking at your target market, your products and services, your desired outcomes and your budget, you will work together to develop a plan. Once all the necessary information is gathered, your new virtual partner will complete your project while you devote your time to other things.

Outsourcing can be used for a wide variety of office tasks. From accounting and payroll to content production to graphics and websites, outsourcing can help you add an extra pair of hands to your small business – which translates to extra hours in your work week. Try outsourcing some of your business processes today and find the extra time, expertise and money you need to drive up your profits.

Keeping your personal and professional life separate on Facebook

Pretty much everyone has a Facebook page. There are over 845 million users on Facebook. Naturally, with that large of an audience it’s important that your business be there. Marketing your business via Facebook is a great way to get new business as well as create free word of mouth marketing.

In addition, it’s easy to create Facebook advertisements, and more on Facebook. But, there are some serious roadblocks with social media that can cause problems for any business owner. You innocently click “like” on someone’s picture, article, or meme and before you know it someone you do business with us offended and fires you.

Dr. Phil says that perception is reality, so it doesn’t really matter if you’re within your rights to have your own opinions when it comes to social media. Of course, you do! However, so do your potential clients. There are some best practices for using social media when it comes to business. One of those best practices is to keep your business and personal life separate.

The way to keep your business and personal life separate is to:

Create separate accounts — Choose very carefully when business associates or acquaintances want to follow or friend you on your social media. It’s perfectly within your right to turn someone down to be your friend. Creating separate accounts can solve a lot of issues.

Think twice before doing — On social media where people can follow you without your permission, it’s important to consider the ramifications of the things that you choose to share. If you want to be controversial, think about it first.

Use privacy settings — On social media where you can set privacy features, and even block people; ensure that you take advantage of the technology. No one will know they are blocked or that your account is even there in most cases, if you set your privacy settings right. Don’t underestimate the power of keeping private things private.

Understand the technology – When you set up any social media accounts be sure to understand how it all works. For instance, consider the chain of events that occur when you “like” something. Who sees your “like”? Do you care who sees your “like”? Is it really private?

What will your Grandmother think? – A good test to see if something is appropriate to post, including pictures, memes, and thoughts — is to know whether you would want your Grandmother to see it or not. If the answer is no, don’t post it.

Stay focused on your audience – When using social media to promote your business stay focused on what your target audience wants to see from you. It’s okay to promote your business on private networks occasionally so that your family and friends know what you’re up to, but don’t share private matters unless necessary on your business social networks.

Your personal life is none of your clients’ business. It’s likely that they don’t want to know much about your private life either, especially super private information that covers the three topics that you should not discuss in mixed company: Religion, Politics and Money. Keep that in mind going forward and keep your personal and private lives separate on social media as much as possible.

Time Management Success Secrets for Business Owners

Upon starting this article I wrote the title as, “Self-Management Success Secrets for Business Owners,” which is what they call a Freudian slip. I accidentally replaced the topic I am talking about, time-management, with the actual truth of the entire lesson. The truth of time-management success secrets for business owners is that managing time is all about managing yourself. You can’t get more time in the day. Time is finite and can’t be replaced. But there are things you can do to train yourself to effectively use the time you have.

You probably hoped your days of clocking in where over when you started a business, but now it is almost more important that you create a schedule and stick to it. The difference is that you can create the schedule that works best for you. The only exception is that when you own a store front you naturally need to be open when your clients are there, but if you function better after 10 am, you can always hire someone who functions best before 10 am to be there in your place and vice versa.

The important thing is that you create a real schedule that will work for your needs during the hours you plan to work. Mark out time for doing each task that you need to do in a given day, week, month, and year. If you have tasks scheduled, you’ll be more likely to do them, and you will feel good about having done them. Your daily tasks should be prioritized putting money-making tasks first. Even though it is important to do other tasks too, doing the money making tasks first will ensure that the bills are paid. Consider outsourcing the most mundane non-money making tasks to someone else, and make a strict schedule for tasks that need to be done but don’t make money.

For example, it is important to participate in social media, however, it can be a huge time waster. Automate what you can such as automating an announcement of a new blog post with specialized software that will do that. There is even software like hootsuite.com, which allows you to schedule future posts as well as many other features. It might take a bit to set it up, but once you do it many social media tasks will be completely automatic. Then, you can schedule your time to participate in social media by replying to just 10 combined social media comments and posts per day. Alternatively, you can set a time limit for how long each day you’ll participate on social media. Don’t try to convince yourself that playing “Words with Friends” is business related social media. Do those types of things on your personal time.

Schedule some personal time throughout your day in a manner that works best for you and your family. For instance, if your children get off school at 3:30 pm and you need to be there for them, obviously you need to hire someone to be in your place in a store front, or if you work from home, you need to work around the time available to you. While you can outsource childcare to a nanny or sitter, if you don’t want to, you don’t have to if you hire or outsource strategically. Organize your days around what you feel is important then manage that time well by sticking to your schedule as close to possible.

It is amazing how much more time you have in your day when you self-manage the time that you have. Time is not an unlimited resource therefore it is important to have a plan of action each and every day that allows you to get the most bang for your buck. If you’re nervous about outsourcing consider this: If you can outsource any tasks whether it has to do with your business or home life, and it costs less than you earn hourly doing your money making tasks, why wouldn’t you do that? The more time you create for yourself to do money-making tasks, the better off you are.

Seven Ways To Generate Incoming Links

Content, as you might already know, if the first item search engine spiders look for when they’re cataloging and indexing web pages. The second item they look for are links coming into and out of your website. The links coming into your site have more weight than the ones leaving your site, which is what makes generating incoming links a very important search engine strategy.

Here are seven ways to generate incoming links.

#1 Write and publish quality content. People, other website owners, link to relevant content. If you write and publish tons of quality content, you’ll receive tons of incoming links.

#2 Online directories. While there are many directories that charge for a listing, there are also several that will list your company’s site for free.

#3 Write articles for other sites, article marketing. Writing articles and publishing them on other sites including article marketing sites, is a great method for getting inbound links.

#4 Write press releases and submit them to online press release websites. Be sure to include your website link at the end of the press release so media representatives can contact you, but also so you have an incoming link and interested visitors can find your website.

#5 Reciprocal links. Some reciprocal links are good as long as they’re coming from relevant websites. The trick is to balance reciprocal links with one-way links. Mix up your linking tactics so it looks natural to Google.

#6 Blog. Blogging is a spectacular way to generate fresh content and guest blogging on relevant blogs works a lot like article marketing, you generate links to your site in each blog post you write. You can also include links back to each of your web pages and allow your readers to reprint your blog posts as long as they keep the links in place.

#7 Participate in social networking. Posting tweets, and Facebook posts create incoming links to your website. In addition, when you comment on forums and other blog posts you also create incoming links via your signature.

As you’re creating and implementing your search engine optimization strategies, take the time to consider and include these linking tactics. While you may not be able to complete them all at the same time, instead focus on one tactic at a time adding to your SEO strategy as you grow.