If you’ve been following the site for a while, you know that I’ve been a MailChimp user since … well, since the very beginning of my online adventure.

Over time, though, things have started to get difficult. I mean, MailChimp is still cool and all, but sending my emails for free has become rather troublesome.

But hold off on that for a minute … I will give you the entire story later down the page.

In short, what I have for you today is my take on:

The top 5 email marketing platforms of 2015

In this post, you will learn:

  •  what the top 5 email marketing platforms of 2015 are and why (my subjective opinion) ,
  • how they stack up against each other,
  •  what are the pros and cons of each ,
  • which is the easiest to use,
  •  which is the cheapest platform out there ,
  • which is the best for someone just getting started with email marketing,
  •  which is the best when your list has grown over the 2,500 subscribers mark ,
  • which is the best for operating at scale.
Okay, you’ve seen the headline so there’s no point having you wait any longer. The top 5 is:

GetResponse, MailChimp, SendinBlue, Sendy, and MailPoet

(Scroll to the conclusion / comparison table)

You might be wondering why I’ve chosen these five solutions for my review/comparison… “Where’s AWeber? Where’s Constant Contact?” Okay, I hear ya, but my reasoning is this:

Although there are a lot more viable solutions for anyone who wants to start experimenting with email marketing, the 5 presented here are significantly different from each other in the way they work.

They all have a place on the market, and each will cater to a different kind of user.

In other words, read on to find out which is the right email marketing tool/solution for your specific business, website, and for your individual preferences.

GetResponse

getresponse logoGetResponse has a special place in my heart due to the fact that they are a Polish company that has taken the email marketing space by the storm, becoming one of the worldwide leaders.

But that’s not the only reason. GetResponse delivers truly world-class solutions for anyone who wants to get into email marketing. Their brand is not only about the tool, but also about various resources and education/training that you can jump on.

But let’s get to the nitty-gritty. GetResponse has clear pricing options based on the number of subscribers you have. Particularly:

Subscribers  Emails Price
1 000 $15,00
2 500 $25,00
5 000 $45,00
10 000 $65,00

Unfortunately, there’s no free plan, but they do offer a free 30-day trial (even though this is not openly advertised on the website, you can find the landing page via Google easily).

The good thing about GetResponse plans is that no matter which plan you select, you can send an unlimited number of emails (which isn’t the case with some of GetResponse competitors, as you’ll see in a minute).

Also, paying annually gets you 18% off, and if you run a non-profit, you get an automatic 50% off whatever plan you select. Overall, it does seem like GetResponse has thought of every possible type of customer with their pricing options.

getresponse ngo offer

Let’s look at how it plays out for a couple of possible scenarios:

GetResponse cost:

For a new list:

If you’re just starting out then GetResponse will cost you $0 for the first month, and then $15 / month if your list is less than 1,000 subscribers. You can send an unlimited number of emails on that plan.

For 2,500 subscribers: 

In this scenario, your GetResponse bill grows to $25 / month, but you still get to send an unlimited number of emails. This gives you much room for testing. Quite frankly, no matter if you message your list twice a month or twice a day, the bill is still $25.

For 7,500+ subscribers:

Your GetResponse bill is now $65 / month. Still, unlimited emails.

Features:

  • Create multiple types of subscription forms: standard forms, exit pops, scroll forms, shake boxes, etc.
  • 500+ web form templates to choose from.
  • HTML-based email template editor for advanced users.
  • Responsive email designs. This means that your newsletters are going to look great on every device (mobile and desktop).
  • Drag-and-drop email creation tool.
  • Landing pages. You can create, edit, and publish landing pages straight from GetResponse. There are more than 100 mobile-friendly templates available, a nice drag-and-drop editor, and a set of optimization tools.
  • A/B testing. Run split testing campaigns and see what converts better (huge feature for optimization).
  • Autoresponders. AKA. email marketing automation. Send triggered emails, follow-up messages, or anything else based on your subscribers’ activity.
  • Tracking and stats. Allows you to monitor your results.
  • Inbox preview. You can see what your email message is going to look like on the most popular email clients and devices.

Overall, GetResponse gives you all you can ask for when it comes to growing your list, building, sending and tracking your email.

GetResponse is also the most education-centered solution on this list. Right after you open an account with them, they invite you to join their free daily sessions (tips on how to grow your email list), where they share lessons, video tutorials, presentations, and tasks for you to complete (like a normal course).

 Who’s GetResponse best suited for: 

  •  Startups and small businesses that want to have all aspects of email marketing handled in one place, by one tool/solution. 
  •  GetResponse also presents good potential for growing alongside your company due to their affordable rates on every step along your list growth. 
  •  Perfect for non-profits. No one else on this list gives you 50% off if you’re a non-profit. 
  •  Great if you’re going to be contacting your list multiple times a week, regardless of that list’s size. For example, contacting your list of 1,000 subscribers every day of the month is going to be the cheapest with GetResponse (when it comes to hosted email marketing solutions). 

MailChimp

mailchimp logoLike I already mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’ve been a MailChimp user since the very beginning of this site. And I have to admit, MailChimp has a great editor (to build your emails/newsletters with), great reputation (it’s an established company in this market, handling all types of customers, from sole-proprietors to big corporations), and a wide range of features.

However, there’s also a downside.

And that is the cost of working with MailChimp. Let’s take this step by step:

To begin with, your MailChimp account is free, which is great. It basically allows you to get off the ground and start learning your craft in the world of email marketing.

But then, once you’re above the 2,000 subscribers mark, your MailChimp bill is going to grow quite a lot. Here’s the math:

  • Getting to 2,000 subscribers is free = $0 / month, $0 / year.
  • Having 2,001 subscribers is $30 / month, $360 / year.

That is a huge jump … there’s just no other way to say it. For many businesses, switching from $0 to $360 / year is just too huge of a gap. For me also.

More than that, MailChimp also has some ridiculous pricing models in the 2,000-3,000 subscribers range. Particularly:

mailchimp pricing

Yep, you’re reading this right … that’s $5 for every 100 subscribers.

Anyway, MailChimp also gives you a pay-as-you-go plan. In other words, instead of paying a monthly fee, you pay only for the emails that you actually send.

On paper, this option sounds great. In practice, though, not so much.

For example, if you have a list of just 1,000 people, and want to message them once – just once – it’s going to cost you $20. If you want to message them, say, twice a week for a month, that’s $160 / month. And that’s provided that you buy your “email credits” (MailChimp’s pay-as-you-go email currency) for $0.02 a piece, which means buying at least $100-worth of them.

In short, MailChimp … not the most cost-effective for a growing list.

MailChimp cost:

For a new list:

Until you grow your list to 2,000 subscribers, MailChimp is going to be entirely free for you. On that plan, you can send up to 12,000 emails a month (e.g. you can email your list of 2,000 subscribers a total of 6 times per month).

For 2,500 subscribers: 

  • If your list is not more than 2,500 subscribers then your MailChimp bill is going to be $30 / month. The good thing here, though, is that you can send unlimited emails.
  • For 2,501 subscribers, the price grows to $35 / month.

For 7,500+ subscribers:

Here, MailChimp gets quite expensive. For up to 10,000 subscribers, you have to pay $75 / month.

Features:

  • Flexible design and great newsletter building tools.
  • Drag-and-drop email building.
  • Email automation, and advanced tools for automated marketing. Allows you to target customers based on their behavior, preferences, previous sales.
  • Advanced analytics and reporting. You can see everything there is to know about your audience and how they interact with your emails.
  • Great mobile apps. Both for managing your campaigns and tracking your stats.
  • Integrations with multiple third-party apps and tools.
  • Split testing.
  • Custom subscription forms creation, and much more.

If I’m honest, MailChimp is the top league when it comes to the number and the quality of the features they offer. But the price tag makes them a tough choice for a bootstrapping business owner.

 Who’s MailChimp best suited for: 

  •  Bloggers, startups, local businesses, and small business owners that don’t want to invest in email marketing just yet. The free plan allows you to do that. 
  •  Business owners that want the top-of-the-line features and price is no object to them. 
  •  Great for whoever is going to work with a list of less than 2,000 subscribers and not messaging them more frequently than 6 times a month. 

SendinBlue

sendinblue logoSendinBlue is a newcomer to the email marketing space. The company was born from a web agency that wanted to cater to their own customers, and solve their email marketing needs. Over time, SendinBlue has evolved to a full-fledged email solution that’s opened their doors to the public.

The area where SendinBlue really stands out is their pricing model. To say it simply, SendinBlue is a solution that will grow with you, and give you the exact plan that you need and can afford.

sendinblue pricing

For example, when compared to MailChimp, SendinBlue is a lot more cost-effective, and especially if you have a list of around 2,500 subscribers. More than that, SendinBlue doesn’t actually pay attention to how many contacts or even individual lists you have. For example, having 10 lists with 250 people on each will cost you just as much as having one list with 2,500 subscribers. This isn’t always the case with the other providers.

Let’s see how that works:

SendinBlue cost:

For a new list:

There’s a free plan with SendinBlue. It doesn’t restrict the number of subscribers you can have, but it does limit your daily emails to 300, and your monthly emails to 9,000. What this means in practice is that SendinBlue is a good solution for those of you who are just starting out and want to experiment with email marketing for free. So, new list = $0.

For 2,500 subscribers: 

  • The math here is a bit tougher to do. SendinBlue doesn’t limit your number of subscribers at all. What it does look at, however, is the total number of emails you send.
  • Having the above in mind, if you have 2,500 subscribers and you want to message them twice a week (so 20,000 emails in a month), it’s going to cost you $7.37 / month.

For 7,500+ subscribers:

If you have 7,500 subscribers and you want to message them twice a week (60,000 emails in a month), it’s going to cost you $39 / month.

Features:

  • Responsive design builder – allowing you to build responsive email designs, smartphone-friendly, and with no HTML knowledge required.
  • Drag-and-drop newsletter builder.
  • Have unlimited number of people on your email lists. SendinBlue doesn’t restrict you in any way.
  • Autoresponders and trigger marketing – email sent based on your subscribers’ behavior and previous actions.
  • Good and clear reports and analytics.
  • Real-time tracking.
  • Heat maps showing how your subscribers interact with your newsletters.
  • Subscription form creation tool.

Overall, SendinBlue offers more than enough to get your email marketing efforts going and allow you to keep things on a budget at all times.

The email designs that SendinBlue lets you use are easy to grasp and render well on most devices and screen sizes. In other words, SendinBlue is email marketing simplified.

 Who’s SendinBlue best suited for: 

  •  Small business owners that want to test the waters and see what’s possible with email marketing. The free plan is great for that, especially since it doesn’t restrict any functionality. 
  •  Businesses that want their email marketing solution to be able to grow with them. The pricing progression is clear and easy to follow. There also aren’t any huge jumps in pricing like with MailChimp … everything is gradual. 
  •  Businesses that have a handful of email lists instead of having one main list. With SendinBlue, emailing one list costs just as much as emailing 10 lists. 

Sendy

sendy logoSendy has one huge advantage over everything else on this list … sending one email with it costs just $0.0001. This is around 100x to 200x cheaper than the other solutions on the market.

That being said, Sendy is also very different in other areas. First of all, it’s not an online solution (hosted tool) like the others. In fact, it’s a stand-alone software tool that you have to install on your web server (similarly to how you install WordPress). After that, Sendy connects to your Amazon SES account and sends the emails through there.

When it comes to the features that Sendy offers, all the basic stuff is there, but not as advanced as what GetResponse, MailChimp, or SendinBlue have to offer. In other words, if you’re going to go for Sendy, you’re doing it for the price, not for the high-level features.

Let’s break things down:

Sendy cost:

For a new list:

Getting the Sendy software itself is $59 (one-time payment). Then, you need to get a hosting account from a third party (starts at $5 / month). After that, sending a single email is just $0.0001. For example, if you have 1,000 people on your list, and you want to message them twice a week, it’s going to be just a silly $0.8 / month (+ hosting + the software).

For 2,500 subscribers: 

Same as above, you have to pay for the tool (one time) and for the hosting (every month). Then, if you have 2,500 subscribers and you want to message them twice a week (20,000 emails in a month), it’s going to cost you $2 / month.

For 7,500+ subscribers:

Similarly, if you have 7,500 subscribers and you want to message them twice a week (60,000 email in a month), it’s going to cost you $6 / month.

Features:

  • You can manage multiple lists/services/brands. Sendy doesn’t pay attention to what number of lists you have hosted.
  • All email sending is done through Amazon SES.
  • Good-looking and clear reports. No fluff, just the info you need and nothing else.
  • Automatic bounce, complaint and unsubscribe handling. Great for campaign clean-ups.
  • Autoresponders. Having autoresponders for this low price is really incredible.
  • Basic email creation tools – editor and HTML templates.

 Who’s Sendy best suited for: 

  •  Businesses that send a lot of email on a daily basis. Nothing beats Amazon’s pricing, and with Sendy, it’s always going to be the cheapest solution. 
  •  Re-sellers. With Sendy, you can white-label the tool and make your own email marketing solution available to the world. Great if you run a design/development agency and work with clients directly. 

MailPoet

mailpoet logoFinally, we have MailPoet – an email marketing solution that’s quite different from anything else.

First of all, it’s a WordPress plugin. This means that you need to have your own WordPress site first, and only then you can install MailPoet and use it to send your email messages.

The installation is standard in terms of WordPress, so there’s nothing particularly difficult during set-up.

Even though the main plugin is free, there are also premium plans if you want to unlock some of the additional features. The main restriction is that the free version of MailPoet limits you to 2,000 subscribers (just like MailChimp).

The good news is that you get to send unlimited emails to those 2,000 subscribers. The bad news, though, is that you’re sending the emails through your web server, which isn’t always the most optimized solution.

For instance, even though MailPoet doesn’t restrict the number of emails you can send, your webhost may do so. And in extreme cases, you sending too much email could lead to your web host banning you from the server (you’re going to have to research this before doing anything radical).

MailPoet cost:

For a new list:

That’s $0 for a list up to 2,000 subscribers. The only thing you have to pay for is your standard hosting bill.

For 2,500 subscribers: 

If you want to have more than 2,000 subscribers, that’s $8.25 / month.

For 7,500+ subscribers:

It’s still $8.25 / month. In fact, Sendy doesn’t restrict the number of subscribers above the 2,000 mark. Once you’re a paid customer, you get to keep unlimited number of contacts on your lists.

Features:

  • Drag-and-drop newsletter editor.
  • Automatic blog post notification emails whenever you publish anything new.
  • Autoresponders.
  • Good stats: opens, clicks, unsubscribes. (More with the premium version).
  • Drag-and-drop subscription form builder.
  • Mobile-friendly newsletter templates.
  • Over 70 templates available for your newsletters.
  • Automated bounce handling for good list health.
  • List segmentation and categories.

 Who’s MailPoet best suited for: 

  •  Only site owners that have a good web host that can handle the load of sending email. (Important!) 
  •  Good for those who want to have everything handled in one place – within their WordPress site – and not have to use third-party tools. With a solution like MailPoet, you don’t have to go anywhere to manage your email lists and campaigns. 
  •  Good for small lists and business owners that want to minimize their costs managing such lists. 
  •  Your MailPoet account is going to be associated with the brand of the website where it’s installed – since it’s a plugin. This means that using it for more than one list/purpose can look weird. 

Conclusion

Here’s a direct comparison and my scores for each platform.:

GetResponse MailChimp SendinBlue Sendy MailPoet
Cost * 4/5 0/5 5/5 10/5 3/5
Ease of use * 5/5 5/5 4/5 2/5 3/5
Features * 5/5 5/5 5/5 3/5 4/5
Extra perks/tools * 5/5 4/5 4/5 1/5 2/5
 TOTAL POINTS  19/20 14/20 18/20 16/20 12/20

Some comments:

  • Cost – Even though the scale is 0-5, Sendy is simply above the competition here, so it got a 10. MailChimp, on the other hand, is just too expensive.
  • Ease of use – basically all of the tools are easy to use once you get a hang of them. However, when it comes to a first-time user – someone who knows nothing going through the door, GetResponse and MailChimp are the leaders.
  • Features – Summing up my overall impression of the range of features and possibilities with each platform.
  • Extra perks and tools – things that you get as a cool addition/bonus … education, landing page builders, special offers, etc.

So that’s me. But what do you think? Have you found the right tool for you and your business on this list? Is it GetResponse, MailChimp, SendinBlue, Sendy, or MailPoet? Feel free to let me know if there’s anything I missed.

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GetResponse vs MailChimp vs SendinBlue vs Sendy vs MailPoet | NIO

13-featured

Confidence When Starting an Online Business

kk-2

Getting started in the online was a bit tough for me.

It was 2009 or so, and all of my friends already had nice jobs and paychecks, while I was still sitting in my mom’s apartment, trying to figure things out on my own and find my place among my online mentors.

I carefully analyzed every piece of online business advice I could find and dived into almost every “next big thing” tactic that the gurus were trying to sell.

My results? Few and far between. I was making next to nothing, and if it hadn’t been for my mom who was very understanding, well, life would have been difficult for me.

Obviously and not surprisingly, I wasn’t confident at all about what I was doing.

I started thinking that maybe I don’t have what it takes, that maybe I should abandon the web, put together a CV and send it out to a couple of places, so maybe I could catch up to my friends and secure myself a nice shiny job too.

But for some reason I decided to keep going.

I probably had some internal resistance telling me that “a job” wasn’t the right path for me or something.

Along the way, I stumbled upon Sylvester Stallone’s story. It taught me two things: (1) my situation was, in fact, nowhere near tough yet, and (2)  failure is just a step towards success .

I can’t explain why this particular story resonated so well with me, but it helped me regain my confidence and stop worrying about all the small and big failures I was experiencing. I knew that if I dedicated myself to doing something for long enough, eventually it would pay off.

And it has.

However. Looking back, I can honestly say that I spent way too much time running on willpower alone instead of having the right tools and mindset in place. And although it has worked for me, this can’t be the optimal way of finding your confidence.

Relying on luck is never a good strategy, and you can easily run out of your willpower much sooner than you’ll find any success.

Therefore, what’s a better solution? And is there a road-map to confidence when running an online business?

I believe there is, and that we don’t have to be wandering in the dark endlessly until successful.

So this brings me to the actual topic of this whole blog – finding confidence when running an online business.

I’m aware that I can’t give you a road-map to confidence all on my own. It’s way beyond me. After all, I’m just one guy, and no matter what I say, it will still be just one guy’s perspective.

That’s why I reached out to 13 generous experts from various niches and asked them specific questions on the topic.

Before we start, let me just be honest for a minute and say that I’ve gained an incredible amount of insights on entrepreneurship and finding confidence when going through these answers and preparing them for publication. I am very happy to be able to deliver this resource to you, and I’m also more than certain that you will get just as much value out of it as I did!

Let’s welcome the experts:

Cliff Ravenscraft Cliff Ravenscraft
Bogdan Condurache Bogdan Condurache
Ruben Gamez Ruben Gamez
Demian Farnworth Demian Farnworth
Adam Connell Adam Connell
Mike McDerment Mike McDerment
 
Bamidele Onibalusi Bamidele Onibalusi
 
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The road to becoming a confident online entrepreneur

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SHARES

map1

Step #1: Finding the right mentors

Some people say that getting business advice from our friends or family isn’t the best of ideas (unless they are entrepreneurs). However, when we’re just starting out building our “thing,” it is rather difficult to find knowledgeable people who would invest some trust in us and share valuable information (on top of the cliche “create quality content”).
How to find people worth paying attention to? People who can give us this much needed confidence boost, who will get us going and motivate us to take action. And what’s probably even more important, how to get them to pay attention to us? Can they really have that much impact on our confidence and therefore our businesses?
Jaime
Jaime Tardy
Finding a mentor has been HUGE in my life.

I was constantly on the lookout for people that were where I wanted to be.

I would do whatever I could to reach out, talk to, seem eager and know how much I valued and appreciated them.

One of the biggest problems mentors have (as told to me by many millionaires!) is that they give advice, but then the person listening doesn’t DO the advice.

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One of the best ways to get them to pay attention to you is to DO what they say!

And then tell them you did it, and how much of an impact it made.

And yes – they can have a HUGE impact on confidence. My first mentor made me cold call 50 people a day. He was like – you’ll get used to it! And I would never have pushed myself that much because it seemed too scary. He changed my life!

john wide
Bamidele Onibalusi
Bamidele Onibalusi

I think the best way to start is by quoting the bible verse that says “By their fruits you will know them.”

I believe this is critical, because I recently ventured into fish farming here in Nigeria and quickly realized that success in the business mainly has to do with who you learn from; various people have various “secrets” to success, and the failure rate is generally high, but why I really followed my teacher was because of the results he is getting; he has the biggest fishes and makes the highest profit of everybody else I know (sometimes his profit is up to 150% in 6 months).

Follow your mentors based on the results they are getting
However, most of the others who are very opinionated about “what works” and what doesn’t are barely getting results; they have really small fishes, profit margin is low if there is any, etc.

Determining who is worth paying attention to is simple; look for someone getting the kind of results you are getting, and follow the person until you are getting your desired results.

Once you’ve determined the leaders you want to follow, the most effective way to get them to pay attention to you is to …

reveal your PASSION to them

If you are really passionate to succeed, you will give it everything it takes and you won’t care how difficult or ineffective it seems. Leaders see that, and they are ready to support those who have that kind of passion; look for tips they share freely online, passionately utilize these tips to get results, and showcase your results to them, letting them know it is thanks to them, and tell them you will like to learn from them in a closer way. This can be very effective!

Getting advice and support from the right people can impact your confidence as well as ability to succeed; sometimes, it is often the no. 1 most important factor.

map5

Step #2: Making your vision clear

The way I see it, problems with confidence are often connected to our lack of clear vision as for what we want to achieve (and how we want to achieve it). In other words, because we don’t have the right goals set, it’s not clear to us what to do next. This prevents us from getting stuff done and building our confidence along the way.
How to go about setting the right goals? How can someone get over the initial vague idea of “think about what you really want to achieve and make it your goal?” How to be specific and create goals that motivate rather than discourage?
risley
David Risley
The best way to get those goals is to break it down like a hierarchy.

Start out with with the big, grandiose goal that you have.

Then, beneath that, break it down into sub-goals or purposes.

Then you define plans to achieve those purposes.

And the plans are broken down into programs, projects, etc.

When you do it this way, then you can step back and see that the little tasks you’re doing are in alignment with the larger plans, and hence your purpose, and your goals. This allows you to get specific for what you’re shooting for (very important), but also know that everything has a direction to it.
natalie
Natalie Sisson
Note. In her answer, Natalie refers to the concept of “Painted Picture,” which was originally introduced in a book titled Double Double: How to Double Your Revenue and Profit in 3 Years or Less, by Cameron Herold. Natalie teaches us why creating our own Painted Picture will help us get our vision cleared and our goals nicely defined.
Enter Natalie:
A Painted Picture is a clear vision of where you want your business to be, three years from now.

He [Cameron Herold] suggests you get out of your office or normal working domain (which for me is never normal) to actually write it.

It’s a really interesting exercise to go through each section of your business (and your life), writing out your vision in the present tense.

It’s powerful too. It’s as if you’re already there and you can visualise what the future looks like…which is the whole point.

It got me all jazzed up reading about what I wanted my business to become. Even though I’m not there yet, seeing it written down on paper, just gets me excited.

It took me about two hours in total and it was challenging, and also fun. I mean you get to let all your inhibitions go and dream up a grandiose vision for what you really want your business and life to look and feel like.

Natalie also shares:

When we ONLY focus on our vision for our business and our life, then it makes it much easier to do everything in our power to make that vision a reality.

Each of our goals we set, and the strategies and objectives that support them, suddenly become so much more doable, because we have the big picture staring us in the face.

We have the WHY we’re doing what we’re doing. Then we do everything in our power to stay true to it.

Bogdan-Condurache
Bogdan Condurache
I believe that it was Benjamin Mays who said:

“The tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goals. The tragedy lies in having no goals to reach.”

This is perfectly true for me and talks about setting any kind of goals for yourself, be it small or high-sky. Of course, setting the goals high-sky will make it very hard to achieve them and will probably discourage you along the way, so I wouldn’t actually recommend that, but from my personal experience the key is to set intermediate goals or step-by-step goals, which are easier to achieve and will motivate you just enough to keep going.

I can actually share a bit of personal experience from my own career path: after graduating college and getting a major in Financial Banking & Insurance, I decided I don’t really like this field of work and wanted to do something in the graphic design business, which was just of a hobby for me at the time. This was something I have never studied seriously, and I didn’t know a whole lot about the industry, but I felt that this is what I really wanted to do and my long-term goal should be to have my own graphic design studio and be successful at it.

So …

I started splitting this long-term goal in smaller pieces

… knowing that this would take a lot of time and effort to get there, but having an achievable goal in front of me would motivate me just enough to keep going.

This got me to my first goal which was learning the trade, that I have achieved mainly by getting an internship job with a graphic design firm and also studying design tutorials and online classes. After a few months, I have learned the basics and “stolen” a few tips & tricks from my colleagues, so it was time to move on, setting a different goal.

Along the 7 or 8 years that had taken me to finally achieve my goal, I have set and achieved a lot of different goals, like: “getting a better paid job,” or “trying to be more creative” and “getting more creative responsibilities” and so on, until the skills, confidence and experience had all build-up enough to start on my own. Also, meeting cool creative people with the same drive as me, has finally helped me bite the bullet and co-found ThemeFuse (and PixelKit later on). Of course, this is a goal that I now consider an intermediate one, as I have moved past and set higher expectations, but still taking them one step at a time.

So, in my opinion setting smaller goals is the right way to achieve a bigger, high-sky goal.


Setting smaller goals is the right way to achieve a bigger, high-sky goal.
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Also, it’s very important that you have passion for what you plan to do, because without it, just setting the right goals will never be enough.

map5-rev

Step #3: Going for a minimal viable product or not?

Nowadays, it seems like we’re witnessing a major product launch every week, or a success story that’s extremely impressive. As a result, we trick ourselves into thinking that whatever we aim to create has to be huge, has to have a ton of features and offer a ton of benefits. But then we lose our confidence when we find out that building something huge also takes huge time and huge resources.
How to overcome this? Should we go for a minimal viable product instead? Is it really that effective? And can we gain confidence by building a very simple solution for just one pain first, and then expand over time?
Demian

Demian Farnworth:

Much better to build the audience first. That way you can learn what they need and then give it to them. Most people and businesses have it backwards. They build the product first and then try to find the audience. Of course, there are exceptions. Regardless, do your market research.

Adam-Connell
Adam Connell
The problem with creating a product with a huge number of features is that sometimes we can overcomplicate our offering.

I’ve seen too many start-ups that roll out a product where it seems like even the founders aren’t exactly clear on how the product can be of value.

I’m talking about the kind of sales pages where you look and end up thinking “Yeah, but how is this going to help me?”

 
Sure, the copy comes into it but when you’re trying to solve too many pains all in one go, you can end up tripping yourself over.

I believe the best way to start off is to:

Step #1

Identify the biggest pain point …
Step #2

… Solve it first.
You will be clearer on who the product is for and that will reflect in how you position the brand.

The bonus here is that creating the product will take up fewer resources and you will accomplish it quicker.

You will be able to get feedback quicker and get early adopters on board.

This makes things easier for you in a personal way and also financially.

You can then shape the rest of your product roadmap around the bigger picture that you have envisioned for your product (as well as customer feedback).


When you’re trying to solve too many pains all in one go, you can end up tripping yourself over.
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Ruben

Ruben Gamez
I like the idea of starting with a smaller goal as a starting point. With Bidsketch, my original goal was to learn how to make money from a product. I went very niche because of this and planned to apply what I learned to the next product. Once I accomplished my initial goal, I realized that I could continue growing the product, so I simply set a new goal. I’ve done this four or five times now.

For me, this approach of smaller quick wins keeps me focused and motivated.

I think too many people aim for huge goals with unrealistic timelines. You obviously should have a goal that motivates you, but keep in mind that your goals (and approach) will change over time.

Mike McDerment

Mike McDerment

The answer to something like this isn’t binary – it’s about philosophy and approach and context, more than hard and fast rules.

It’s also about psychology – let’s start there.

Whenever you encounter something overwhelming – and there are lots of those things in a start up – you need to take a step back, and focus on what you can control.

… you need to take a step back, and focus on what you can control …
You can’t control what other people are going to do. You can’t control the fact that your competitors are massively outgunned in terms of resources, but there are things you can control – like managing to your next milestone. Stay focused there – however seemingly insignificant that milestone may seem because execution is just about everything when you are a startup.

WRT to philosophy, I think there are a bunch of ways to approach this. Philosophically, I think you want to play to your strengths. So when you are small, chances are any users you have are early adopters – people that found you before anyone and take pride in that. This kind of audience is encouraging and supportive as a rule – it doesn’t take as much to convince them like a mainstream audience.

The consequence: you will be celebrated (and you should celebrate progress), whereas the big guys need you to blow their mind or it’s like, “who cares?” and the difference is entirely about audience maturity and the philosophy and approach you apply to assessing your progress as a result.

map5

Step #4: Get only the essential education that you need

Every online business owner tries to learn and acquire new skills every day. But at the same time, we often lose our confidence when we realize how much there is to master and how seemingly insignificant we feel.
Do we need to be spending hours every day acquiring knowledge in order to become confident? Or is it actually a trap because we will never feel competent enough? How to tackle this and how to seek the truly essential education we need?
danny iny
Danny Iny
cliff

Cliff Ravenscraft

I think that acquiring knowledge is important and helps us bring additional value to those who follow us. However, I don’t see a direct correlation to how much knowledge you have to the amount of confidence that you have.

Many people suffer from what we like to call “Imposter Syndrome.” The fear that we are not competent enough come from the fear that others know more than we do and that we will be judged for where we are in the journey of our area of expertise.

I believe that everyone can confidently step out into this world, no matter where they are in the journey, and avoid the “Imposter Syndrome” by simply focusing all communication in these four areas.

Area 1
Start with what you have experienced so far in this area of expertise. Tell people “your story.”

In many cases, the more mistakes you’ve made, and and you share with your community, the more relatable and likable you will seem to those who are fellow strugglers on the journey.

Of course, you should also share your successful experiences as well. Don’t worry about those who will be offended by your sharing, telling you that you sound boastful. The fact is that sharing your success stories, and giving the details on how you succeeded, will do much to encourage and inspire others.

Share the challenges that you are facing now. Don’t pretend that now that you have a platform in this niche that you no longer face challenges. By sharing them, again, you are being more relatable to those who follow you. Also, there is a great chance that many, who are further along in the journey, may reach out to help you overcome those challenges.
Area 2
Area 3
Share what you are learning right now and how you plan to implement what you are learning.

Obviously, this means that you are actively learning new things. I make it a point to read books that are devoted to my personal and professional development. I listen to podcasts from experts in business, social media, technology, etc. I’m always learning something new. Being a great student of life makes you a great teacher for your community.

Share what you hope to accomplish moving forward. DREAM BIG DREAMS. Know where you want to go. Have a destination in mind. This is the only way that you will get there.

Also, if you don’t know direction that you are heading, why should anyone follow you?

Area 4
By focusing on sharing those four areas of your life, you can lead with great confidence! If you are always true and honest about those things, you can not be considered an imposter. Just be yourself and know, for sure, that many will criticise you for that.

You don’t need to spend hours a day, every day, gaining more knowledge to become competent and confident enough to deliver a message. You just need to grow some thicker skin and then put that skin in the game.

yaro

Yaro Starak
In my life as an entrepreneur true confidence has only come from achievement.

Tangible outcomes are what drive motivation. Of course learning is necessary – and some of the best education comes from the projects that don’t succeed – so you have to find a balance.

The best advice I can offer is:

Always acquire knowledge that is directly correlated to an outcome you are working towards today.

Only study what you need to know to solve today’s problems, and put into action what you learn immediately.

If you are unsure of what path to take, then the problem you have is a decision making one. You must study what you need to know in order to make the decision of what path to take.

map5-rev

Step #5: Master the craft of planning

Lack of confidence leads to procrastination, and that sometimes leads to complete inaction. Unfortunately, the enormity of the project at hand – building a business – literally paralyzes many entrepreneurs.
How to master the craft of planning? How to create a good plan that breaks down a large project into doable chunks? Are there any quick hacks we can implement to feel confident about executing our plan one step at a time?
Adam-Connell

Adam Connell
I’m a firm believer that anyone can accomplish anything that they put their mind to, whether you lack self-confidence or not.

The key is passion; we have to believe in the product we create.

When planning out your project you need to break it up into smaller tasks and create a complete road map for your project. They need to be manageable otherwise they may start to become tedious.

It’s important that the plan is as thorough as possible, consider everything from creation to marketing and growth while considering the possibility that you may need to react quick to demand in future if your product takes off.

Consider a time frame but keep things realistic and allow yourself some room to manoeuvre.

Try not to let falling behind schedule phase you, you cannot account for everything and sometimes things don’t go to plan.

But, if you can consider potential road blocks before they happen and account for them you will make things a lot easier for yourself.

Prioritize your tasks but be prepared to re-evaluate these as your project progresses.

Most importantly, try to make things as easy as possible, consider what tools are available to make managing the project as easy as possible and think about how you can make your business as process driven as possible. You will love how much more efficient processes can make your business, you need them in place early on.
… try to make things as easy as possible …
Ruben

Ruben Gamez
I like to keep things simple, so my plans aren’t very detailed. I usually start with a goal and then work backwards from there. From a high level, what do I need to accomplish this goal? I end up with a rough idea of what needs to get done, then spend some time prioritizing.

At that point, I add about two weeks worth of tasks to my active list and only research as the need comes up – not weeks before the project has started, but right as I’m working on those specific things. The only exception might be with risky tasks. For online businesses the biggest risk is building something that people don’t want to pay for. So it’s probably a good idea to make your first task testing your assumption that people want to pay for whatever you’ll be providing.

Anyway, going back to planning, the idea is to move as quickly as possible and stay focused. I do this by creating a high level plan, prioritizing things that matter while delaying ones that don’t (like a business account), testing assumptions, and breaking down my work into four hour tasks (maximum one day tasks).

curve-under

Bamidele Onibalusi

Bamidele Onibalusi
I would first advise not to become too obsessed with planning, as that alone can deter you from your main goal of getting things done.

I believe the most effective way to go about this is by breaking down each task into the smallest possible task that will take the smallest amount of time necessary. Once this has been done, you should start working on the most rewarding tasks, that will deliver the quickest results.

Seeing these results will motivate you and give you confidence to proceed with your other tasks.

map5
Bonus round!

map1

Defeating confidence problems

What were the main confidence problems you experienced in your career and how did you overcome them?
John Lee Dumas
John Lee Dumas
risley
David Risley
Not having promotions work as well as I had hoped. Hey, it happens. The best way to overcome it is to have something pulling you forward so you don’t stop. For me, its my family.
Jaime
Jaime Tardy
I wasn’t confident in my value at first – and I had a hard time asking for what I wanted. Like when I found my mentor, it took all of my strength to send the first email to him!
Demian
Demian Farnworth
Thinking I could compete with the big boys and girls. You cure that insecurity with hard work, training, education, and experience. Everyone starts at the bottom.
Bogdan-Condurache
Bogdan Condurache
During my career as a graphic designer, I have encountered many times what I would call “feedback fright”. What I mean by this is getting a bit uneasy about showing the client a pitch or a design proposal that I have have been working on. Lack of confidence made me doubt my initial feeling of “wow, this is great stuff” and made me start questioning the whole design style, idea, execution, etc. “What if the client will not like this?” or “What if the idea is too bold or not bold enough?” are questions that fuel the “feedback fright” syndrome and can influence your work in a bad way, because what happens is you start changing the proposal without a real reason, making it worse actually.

I have somewhat overcome this (I still experience it from time to time) by making sure the foundation of my work is sound and that I personally like the outcome – because if you don’t like it yourself, there’s a big chance no-one else will like it either. Also, getting better at your job and accumulating experience will increase your confidence, so even if someone doesn’t like your work and gives a bad feedback, you can fight back with good arguments and ideas that come from experience and gut feeling, challenging the client’s feedback. I know this is very specific stuff, from a specific industry, but maybe you can extrapolate it to a more general business model.

cliff
Cliff Ravenscraft
My greatest confidence issue that I’ve faced in my business was pricing. Especially when I’m offering a new product or service that I’ve never offered before. Questions like, am I good enough, will believe believe I’m worth this price, etc?

I overcame these fears by putting my new products out there with a price that was just beyond my comfort zone and allowing my clients to tell me that I should be charging much more than I charged them. In every product or service I’ve ever offered, I’ve ended up more than doubling the price of what I originally charged. It was putting myself out there and not failing that gave me the confidence to grow in this area.

yaro
Yaro Starak
My main confidence issues originally stemmed from being so different to everyone else around me. All my peers went on from school to university to jobs. I had no desire to get a job, and I knew I wanted to be my own boss, but without any local role models it was difficult to believe I could pay my bills with my own business one day.

I have to admit during the first few years out of university I was very lost and had little confidence. However as I started to get results and slowly generated enough money to live independently I realised what I was doing was so much better than anyone else around me. Eventually I became proud of being an entrepreneur, and people came to me asking how I did it.

I learned an important concept I call the “success ladder,” which is one tool that can give you confidence, step-by-step, as you strive towards full independence as an entrepreneur.

The success ladder is a simple idea – you celebrate each step forward and use it as the building block for the next step. When you apply this principle every day, you see how the small tasks you complete lead to bigger results. It becomes stronger and stronger as more results come your way, until you reach a point where you feel as if your results are inevitable – a very powerful form of inner confidence.

Danny Iny
Danny Iny
map5-rev

Getting instant confidence

What would be the one thing to do right now to gain some instant confidence in your business?
Demian
Demian Farnworth
Shoot low. Set some easy to achieve goal. Knock it out, and do it again. Those small success will build your confidence.
Jaime
Jaime Tardy
One thing I LOVED to do, was to have all of the kudos, testimonials, etc in one place. When I wasn’t feeling confident I would go back and read those. They were amazing people singing my praises, and while I was hard on myself – it was easy to see how much value those people got out of working together.
Bogdan-Condurache
Bogdan Condurache
The one thing i did was to make sure we built a product that people need and want. If you have something that people want, in our case great looking and perfectly working websites, you build a client base that appreciates your work and buys your stuff. And with this appreciation comes confidence, you start feeling more secure, more sure of your decisions and ultimately more successful. As i said earlier, having great foundations, like passion and skills for what you do, is the key to being confident and having a successful business.
yaro
Yaro Starak
Do something. I learned a long time ago that you must focus on output – on creation, not just consumption. Consuming things, whether education, or entertainment, will not lead to an outcome. Only creating things for the consumption of other people leads to the results you want, so get out there and create something for other people.
risley
David Risley
Generate your first dollar. From there, it gets easier.
Mike McDerment
Mike McDerment
This is a tough one – it really is a question that varies company by company, person by person, day by day. The answers for me have evolved over the years because the measures of progress have. To begin, it was customer validation in the form of feedback. Then it evolved into watching product usage, and eventually in time it was revenue added. But normally what gives me confidence are subjective things. For example, I get fired up when we hire someone awesome and see them getting ramped up on our business. That gives me confidence, because I know a super capable performer is going to be applying themselves to making FreshBooks a great company for other FreshBookers and our customers.
map5

Being a successful entrepreneur

Is it possible to be a successful entrepreneur without being confident?
John Lee Dumas
John Lee Dumas
Mike McDerment
Mike McDerment
One of the best things I ever read – sadly I can’t remember where – is that every “successful” person has had moments where they have doubted themselves and felt like a failure at the very moment the world is exalting their “success.” I know I’ve had moments where everyone around me thinks “this is a big success” and is patting me on the back, but for me it’s not like that – all I can see is the work ahead and it’s daunting.

So I guess what I take from this is, successful or not, we are all human – we have moments of doubt and fear. I think there is a tendency to believe this is not true of “successful” people. What I’d say to those who aren’t feeling confident is, that those internal demons are a source of motivation. Control them. Channel them. But don’t for a second think you are the only one. You are not the only explorer of the terrain you are on, and as lonely as the path of building a company can be, you have to keep that in mind and just focus on what delivering on the things under your control.

Adam-Connell
Adam Connell
I believe it is.

In some cases I’ve known people to turn their lack of confidence into a positive attribute and go on to do great things purely by striving to do better.

And for others, the confidence comes along when achieving success.

Wow, that was a lot of information to take in all at once! I’ll let you process this in peace, but remember to take action on what you’ve learned here as soon as possible.

Also, are there any confidence issues you’re experiencing right now? What one thing are you planning to do ASAP to solve this issue?

 In the meantime, don’t forget to share this with whoever might consider the information inspiring. 

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13 Successful Entrepreneurs Share How to Gain Confidence When Starting an Online Business | NewInternetOrder.com

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Shhh! …

What follows is something you surely haven’t heard before! In order to truly grow your business you need to:

Step #1
Step #2
Step #3
Step #4
Step #5

Okay okay, just kidding. These – and similar ideas – have truly been beaten down to death on the web as it is. Really, how much Facebook marketing advice does the world need?

But I digress, so let’s get back on track!

 
… scroll down for 14 non-obvious marketing tactics that work …
What I have for you here is a set of marketing tactics that are hopefully not that obvious. (Although, it’s very likely that you’ve heard of some of them before.) But what’s more important is that not all of them come from me.

I’ve been kind of fascinated with this topic lately. So I’ve decided to do a bit more research and find some truly inspiring stuff, which I can then expand upon and share here. So, the ideas themselves are something I’ve stolen from the likes of Neil Patel, Forbes magazine, Jeremy Clarkson, John Jantsch, and a bunch of other people.

1. Be a true-blood guy (or gal)

mma

Everyone’s way too nice on the web these days if you ask me!

No, wait. This doesn’t sound right.

Anyway, what I mean is that there’s a general belief circulating around that we should always be nice to all people (no matter what they say about us) and that if we have a critical – yet not fact-based – opinion, we should keep it to ourselves.

Bollocks.

This works against the one thing we probably all want to achieve – getting our personal brand across.

For the life of me, I can’t remember who said it, but it was something to the tune of:


‘People come for information, they stay for personality.’ – Who said this?
Click To Tweet


And the problem is that if you want to be all things to all people, you will probably end up attracting no one.

Jeremy_Clarkson
Jeremy Clarkson (twitter) is a great example here. He’s built the popularity of his show – Top Gear – to a worldwide phenomenon. Do people watch it for the cars? Sure, some of them do. But most of them watch it because it’s incredibly entertaining, and cars just play a supporting role (Oscar worthy role, but still).

For example, here’s what he once said about Sarah Jessica Parker:

“People think ‘oh she must be pretty, she’s on television’. She isn’t – she looks like a boiled horse.

Did he offend some people? Probably so. Did he make thousands of people around the world laugh? For sure.

So what I’m trying to convey is this: Be real. If you want to say something, say it. It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.

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Let’s grow our businesses together!

2. Create products and give them away for free

salesman

I should clarify. If you’re in the physical products business then it’s probably more difficult to give those away for free. Like, for example, giving away shoes or refrigerators. But in the digital market, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t.

Let’s take a look at what happened with Quick Sprout a while ago. Previously, the site’s homepage was the blog (I think). Now, there’s an online SEO tool.

Neil – the founder of the site – said that the tool cost him $100,000, yet he decided to make it available for free.

Wow!

And yes, he did make it profitable eventually. Neil has a great funnel set up in the background. In short, everyone who visits the tool is also exposed to Neil’s Pro membership.

qs

Although Neil is clearly far ahead, I can mention a small success of my own too. It’s my Social Share Starter plugin. Since its release, it has generated hundreds of new subscribers and opened a couple of doors for me in terms of WordPress software projects.

“Free is the most powerful word in the English language.”

3. Break the pattern by publishing unusual content

pattern

At one point, virtually all websites hit a plateau and become predictable.

And don’t get me wrong, in a way, predictability is a good thing, especially if your content is predictably exceptional.

However, introducing something new every once in a while and breaking the pattern, so to speak, can work even better.

Here are some ideas:

  • If you’re known for publishing ultra-long content, publish an image post with a quote on it and no additional text whatsoever. See how it goes, how many shares it gets, and so on. Like this one:
you are right
  • If you’re mainly publishing text-only posts, try investing in an infographic.
  • If you’re publishing just your own perspective on things, try inviting someone who has a reputation in your niche and do an interview.
  • Need more ideas? Try either of these 52.

The idea behind this is to check if what you’re currently doing really is the best use of your publishing calendar, and if maybe your audience would actually resonate with something else even more.

This knowledge is something you can only get through experimentation. No case study on the web will give you reliable data whether you should or shouldn’t try Technique X in your content game.

4. Focus on just the essential info and invoke curiosity

curious

We often feel the urge to go into incredible detail when describing our services, products, or the thing we do for a living in general.

As it turns out, this doesn’t always work. Actually scratch that; it rarely works. The thing is that people don’t really need all that information when making a purchase decision.

For example, consider the following. Do you know what components your iPhone was built with? Do you know what’s the processor, who’s the RAM manufacturer, how many mAh does the battery have, and so on?

Most likely, unless you’re an iPhone freak, you have no clue, yet you still wanted to buy it when it came out.

Your clients only need to know the essentials – how your product is going to enrich their lives.
It’s a similar story with all kinds of products. Your clients only need to know the essentials – how your product is going to enrich their lives.

And it’s not just me talking here. Neil Patel reports this to be the case as well. At one point, he shared that changing the landing page on his private site from long-form, in-depth content, to just the essential short form has given him 318 percent more leads.

It’s kind of sad, but people really don’t care about us or our stories. The only thing they want to know is how your content can benefit them. (Or maybe that’s not sad at all?)

5. Dedicate just as much time to writing your headlines as you do to writing your content

headlines

Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit. But please bear with me.

It’s a known fact in the world of publishing that headlines account for around 80 percent of a given publication’s success.

What this means in plain English is that headlines are more important than content. And it makes sense when you look at it.

At the end of the day, if your headline isn’t a success, no one will even get to your actual content.

So here’s what I encourage you to do:

Write 25 different headlines for every piece of content you create.

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

This is not my idea, and to tell you the truth I was also shocked when I first saw it.

The reasoning behind it is that writing the first 5 headlines is ultra-easy. Writing the next 10 gets difficult, but you can still get through it. However, writing that final 10 will get you bleed through your fingertips.

It’s those final 10 headlines that can give you some gems – things that are not obvious at all. Things that you’d have never come up with if you hadn’t used all the common ideas on the first 15 headlines.

The secret is that people tend to resonate with things that break certain patterns.

6. Steal ideas from Reddit

reddit

Reddit isn’t called the front page of the internet for no reason. It’s also the best way to waste a Saturday afternoon, but that’s another story.

Reddit is an extraordinary source of content ideas that are interesting to people at this very moment. Now, I don’t encourage you to steal content in any shape or form. But I do encourage you to steal ideas. So if something works on Reddit, maybe it can work in some other form on your site as well.

Here’s how you can implement this:

  1. Look for things that are fast growing in popularity.
  2. Try identifying something about them that you would be able to do or present better.
  3. Release your own version.

I know that such a description is a bit generic, but I leave it up to you to find exact applications.

I will give you an example though. Here’s a popular entry from Reddit’s DIY section: http://imgur.com/a/fD4e4. It’s a guitar-shaped cat playground. The idea is great. The execution is okay-ish. But for someone in the carpentry business, building something that’s of better quality shouldn’t be a problem.

7. Invest in relationships with potential clients by doing free work

free hugs

First off, I like getting paid for what I do just as much as the next guy. That being said, it’s kind of impossible to make every hour of your work billable, especially if you’re just starting out.

The big problem here is trust, or lack thereof.

In other words, people don’t really trust your expertise enough to pay you for your services if you’re new to the market. To overcome this, you can do either of two things:

(a) Offer your services really cheap – so your clients don’t have to trust you all that much because the investment is small.
Not recommended.
(b) Offer your services for free.
Recommended.
The trick here is that if you start by offering your services cheaply, you will find it very hard to increase your rates later on – the clients will resent it.

On the other hand, if you start offering your services for free, people will understand that it’s not a permanent thing, and that you are likely to ask for money pretty soon.

However, what’s different now is that you’ve already built trust with them and proven that you can deliver results. This entitles you to ask for higher rates.

Speaking from my personal experience, offering free advice is what got me most of my initial freelance writing gigs. I talked about it in one of my guest posts at Be a Freelance Blogger.

8. Be a show off

ferrari

Note. Showing off isn’t in all people’s nature. And there’s nothing worse than a pretender who wants to show off but doesn’t really know how or why, so they just end up looking cheesy. So in short, if you don’t feel confident showing off, please skip this point.

Showing off is a very interesting marketing and promotion method. On one hand, it’s very easy to appear like a jack ass who’s just bragging about a new watch or some other gizmo. But on the other hand, it can reinforce your message and present a specific persona that resonates with your audience’s wants.

This can work especially well if you’re in the coaching business, or in consulting. The idea is to make people think, even subconsciously, “Hey, this guy has what I want to have. Maybe if I listen to what he has to say, I’ll get there too!”

Whether it’s a valid thought or not is another thing.

9. Reuse your existing results

recycle

During the course of your online career, you will naturally have better and worse days, better and worse content, that’s only natural.

But there’s always a small set of posts or articles that did exceptionally well and gave you big recognition. Maybe they even continue bringing consistent traffic through Google today.

So first of all, by all means, go out and find those articles. And then reuse them as a marketing tool.

A man much wiser than me once said that it’s easier to improve something that already works, than it is to build up something that doesn’t.

I couldn’t agree more!

Here’s what you can do exactly to reuse some of your best content:

Step #0

Well, you need to identify this content first. So go to your Google Analytics or Clicky (my preferred tool) and see which posts are the most visited ones on your site. Also, check for your most commented posts (you can sort posts in WordPress by the number of comments) and the ones that have brought in the most social media shares (you can do this via the Social Metrics plugin).
Make sure that there’s a specific call to action under each of these posts/pages. Either invite people to join your newsletter, download your thing, or buy your product (whatever it is you do).
Step #1

Step #2

Erase all distractions from the page. I encourage you to focus on convincing the visitor to do one specific thing. For example, if that thing is newsletter subscription then try making the subscription form the only possible route out of the page. Get rid of sidebars, and if it’s possible, get rid of the top menu as well.
Build additional internal links from other posts on your site to those that bring the most results. This way, you should be able to improve those results even more. After all, your popular stuff is popular for a reason, so if you manage to get more eyeballs on it, people are likely to start sharing and resonating with it more than with your average post.
Step #3

10. Guest post with a purpose

writing

Guest blogging is a very popular promotion method these days, I give you that. However, not many people use it as an actual element of their business.

Here’s what I mean. Every day, I see tens of guest posts where people link to their generic websites (from the bio boxes) or social media profiles. I’m sure this gets them some traffic and recognition. But at the same time, they’re leaving a lot on the table.

(I need to be honest with you and admit that I was just as guilty of doing this as anyone else.)

To give you a good example of things done right, consider this post by Milica Pantic. She explains how she makes money from guest posts directly.

In short, it’s all about these four main elements (in that order):

mitz
  • Picking what you want to promote with your guest post.
  • Deciding what you can write about to pre-qualify the people that are your target group.
  • Figuring out how you can point them to what you want to promote.
  • Finding the best place where to publish your post to reach the exact target group you’re looking for.

The main reason why guest posts are great for this sort of promotion is because you get to position yourself in front of any audience you wish. You just need to find the right website. There aren’t many advertising methods that give you this opportunity.

11. Try local offline marketing

mainstreet

Everybody’s hot about promoting their businesses on the web these days, and rightfully so. However, we shouldn’t forget about all the offline possibilities that are still there and can work exceptionally well.

What’s even better, oftentimes, they are really cheap to execute too. Literally, all you need is some creativity and a bit of time on Saturday.

Here are some of the cleverer things I heard people doing:

Leaving stickers in random places like bars, cafes, public spaces, basically anywhere where other people hang out.
Using chalk to advertise on sidewalks.
Donating branded bookmarks to libraries.
Leaving branded pens at places like banks, post offices, or any other place where people sign their names on pieces of paper. The idea is that the staff won’t notice everyone’s using the wrong pen…
Using sticky notes wherever it makes sense around town.
Printing out beer coasters and leaving them in your local bar.
Leaving your business cards everywhere. Trying places like public bulletin boards, restaurants (along with your tip), inside books at the library, and of course, when you meet a new person.

12. Find, and get on board with existing giveaways

giveaway

The web is chock full of various giveaways these days. And this is especially valid for all kinds of digital products. Be it plugins, WordPress themes, short e-courses or memberships, e-books, icon packs, you name it. People are ready to give them away left and right.
find giveaways that are related to your niche, then add one of your products to the giveaway
What you can do to capitalize on this trend is find giveaways that are in some way related to your niche and website. The best case scenario is finding something that’s directly in your niche, but if that’s not possible, then go one step up.
For example, if you’re in dog training, there might not be a specific dog training giveaway going on, but there probably are some giveaways or even contests focusing on dog owners in general. Maybe someone’s giving away leashes, treats, or some other dog-related stuff.

There’s nothing holding you back from picking one product from your own offer, and adding it to the giveaway. That way, you’re piggybacking off the giveaway’s popularity by itself. It requires almost no marketing on your part whatsoever.

Of course, the difficult part is contacting the giveaway’s managers and convincing them to include your stuff.

13. Supervise everything

supervise

Granted, this is a very counterintuitive piece of advice.

In today’s world, countless experts preach the idea of outsourcing and finding other people to do some of your tasks for you. (By the way, I’m generally preaching it too.)

But the thing we need to keep in mind is that we shouldn’t ever let anyone take over a whole department of our business for us.

For instance, let’s use content as an example. When you first started out, you likely created all of the content yourself. But as you grow, you might get tempted to invite other people on board – to hire help. This is all great and it’s actually the direction you should aim for. However, you should still be the person who’s making the top-level decisions.
be the person who’s making the top-level decisions
The thing is that as you build up your site’s presence, people come and identify with your content. They come to read “you” primarily.

This is a relationship very easy to lose if you disconnect yourself from the publishing process later on. Whoever you hire, will always have their own ideas and ways of handling things. And while you do want to get the most out of their expertise and skill, you need to be very careful not to lose that unique touch that only you can provide.

And this goes for all kinds of tasks you’re doing in your business.

So all of my rambling boils down to this:

Be the decision maker. Don’t assume that others will be better at it than you.

14. Be persistent

persistent

Let’s end this list with the simplest advice possible, yet at the same time, something that makes all the difference in our marketing efforts, and basically in anything we do in life.
Being persistent is what makes you successful.

Not talent.

Not hard work.
(If hard work paid off, slaves would be the richest people on the planet.)

Not connections.

It’s persistence.

You maybe know this story, but let me tell you about Michael Jordan.

Jordan was not accepted on his high school basketball team. This may not sound like a big deal, but what it actually means is that he was not a talented kid. I mean, clearly, no trainer in the world would say no to a talented young player who wants to be on their team.

Yet despite not being talented he became the biggest star in basketball history.

He did it because he was persistent.

Michael Jordan at Boston Garden
He even summarized this in one of his famous quotes:

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

Let me end this post with this. If you don’t believe me, believe Michael Jordan.


Be persistent. Fail forward. Fail to succeed.
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Photo credits: superwebdeveloper / CC BY 2.0, Steve Sutherland / CC BY 2.0, wwarby / CC BY 2.0, ankakay / CC BY 2.0, stevenritzer / CC BY 2.0, mhauri / CC BY 2.0, gfreeman23 / CC BY 2.0, lydiashiningbrightly / CC BY 2.0, alisonchristine / CC BY 2.0, Hedgehog Fibres / CC BY 2.0, mario-mancuso / CC BY 2.0, jdhancock / CC BY 2.0, http://www.freevintageposters.com/2013/01/the-adam-forepaugh-sells-brothers_15.html

3300+ Words Worth of Non-Obvious Marketing Tactics That Work | NewInternetOrder.com

simplify

simplify

I need to confess something to you.

Remember the big comparison feature I did on the top productivity / to-do tools out there?

Well, shortly after publishing it, I went all the way back to full caveman style, handling my to-do lists on paper. You know, as in dead trees. Not an app called Paper or whatever.

So yeah, pretty offline. Actually as offline as it can get.

But why?

 

The superiority of paper

Quite randomly, I stumbled upon this video by Neville from AppSumo -»

His method – using just a legal pad – seemed like an efficient and interesting one, so I’ve decided to give it a go.

And boy was I in love with it from literally task one!

If I were to point out a single reason why paper to-dos still manage to be more efficient than apps, it would have to be the simplicity of paper.

When you look at it, a to-do list shouldn’t have a big learning curve. You should just be able to use it right away because in the grand scheme of things, the to-do list itself is not important. It’s the tasks that are listed on it that are important.

Paper is something everyone can use, and with some general guidelines, they can use it very effectively. There’s very little learning curve.

 

The problems with apps

Apart from the steep learning curve of most apps, there’s also something that’s potentially even more problematic.

And that is the implied encouragement to cramp your list with 10-20 tasks at a time (for a single day’s worth of work).

It’s the design of the screen, the structure, and the functionality that encourages us to do so.


Paper has very little learning curve. #to-do #productivity
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Just look at the following example. It’s my all-time-favorite app for to-dos – Remember The Milk (by the way, it’s still THE top app in my opinion, so if you’d like to stay with apps, I strongly encourage you to test it out):

rtm

This’s been taken on a 1920p HD screen. Just notice how much space there is. The app is literally begging for you to fill it out with more and more tasks.

This isn’t healthy.

And it sure as hell ain’t productive.

There’s no such problem with paper. You can only fit so much stuff on a piece of paper.

 
 

Why you shouldn’t have too many tasks on your list

So you can pretty much already see where I’m going with this whole message. It’s this:

 

The main idea is to not have too many tasks on your to-do list.

 

I don’t know why that’s the case; maybe it’s human nature or something, but chances are that if you have 15+ tasks on your list, you will do almost next to nothing during that day.

But if you have just, say, five then you’re very likely to take care of them all.

 
 

“But Karol, I have to do more during my day than just five things!”

-says you.

Okay, I get that … but you’re wrong.

And please don’t get all defensive with me; I was there too!

I too thought that I needed to handle 15+ things at the minimum each day, or the world would stahhppp!

However, every interview and every podcast I listened to kept trying to teach me otherwise. I mean, there were all those successful business people on the air talking about pretty much the same productivity method again and again. It went something like this:
 

Have just one crucial task per day – the task that needs to be done no matter what. And apart from that have only 2-4 more side tasks.
Don’t do anything that doesn’t get you closer to your goals, and don’t add more tasks after you’re done with the initial set.

 
Now here’s the thing – and also the thought I had in the back of my head – if those uber-successful people can build their legacy on just 3-5 tasks per day then why can’t I, damn it?!

Or maybe I can?

Eventually, and inevitably, I’ve decided to give this a go. And guess what, it does work!

I’m way more productive doing just 3-5 tasks every day than I’ve ever been trying to plan for 10+.


Join the #productivity challenge – just 3-5 important tasks every day, no more!
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The paper to-do solution

So finally, after friggin’ 700 words of introduction, here’s one of the two productivity solutions I want to share with you.

(The other one will go live as a guest post shortly, I will keep you informed. I know that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for everyone, so I want to give you two alternatives. Both paper-based and both effective.)

The one I have for you here is called:

 

the daily action cards (or the daily task cards)

 
The idea is to follow the process that’s used in most restaurants. I know, weird, but hear me out.

In a restaurant, there’s often an area called the pass. It’s where the final plating is done, and it’s also where you can find the check rail. Looks like this -»

rail
So with the daily action cards, we’re creating something very similar. Here’s my actual setup with the task rail:

 

card2
card1
Each card represents a single (yet not all that simple) task. When the task is done, the card can be discarded or kept for reference.

Let’s break down an individual card:

 

task card
Here’s the download link for the printouts (no opt-in … but please do opt in if you like this stuff; I have way more goodies waiting on the other side).

It’s a PDF. Just print it out on a standard A4 sheet of paper. Each page holds 6 cards.

cards5

 Looking for some online business advice for normal people
and more resources just like this one? Jump in. 

By the way, when doing my research, I found that Dave Seah designed something similar a couple of years ago. Feel free to check it out if my version is not 100 percent up your alley.

1 Simplistically Simple Way to Simplify Your To-Do List (Hint: It Involves the -P-) | NewInternetOrder.com

spam-words

spam-words

There’s much information online on starting an email list and then growing it as one of the main parts of your online business.

This isn’t one of those articles.

The harsh truth is that no matter how good your marketing is, and your individual tactics are, a big portion of your email messages will still get filtered out into spam folders.

People won’t even see them in their inboxes.

“So I spend all this time trying to get subscribers and then my email tool fails to deliver? Really?!”

Well, yeah.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly the case.

MailChimp actually reports that on average, 10-20 percent of email gets killed off by spam filters.

And this concerns legitimate businesses, not spammers. Heck, if you’re a genuine spammer then the numbers are probably more like 95 percent, but I digress.

So why after learning all those great list-growing-techniques we still end up defeated by a script that calls itself the spam filter?

The answer:

You’re using the wrong words

There are two sides to writing proper email copy:

  1. Writing copy that converts and convinces your people to take action on what you’re saying. This is something guys like Derek Halpern and Neil Patel will teach you.
  2. Writing copy that doesn’t get flagged as spam by an automated piece of software – a spam filter. This is what I will be talking about here.

We can argue which of these aspects email copywriting is more important, but frankly you can’t have one without the other.

That being said, if your copy doesn’t check out with spam filters then the fact how good it is conversion-wise won’t even matter.

Let’s try to understand how spam filters work and how we can defeat them.


arrow-l

What’s a spam filter?

A spam filter is a small piece of software that’s installed on every email server.

The only task it has is to read (yes, read) all email coming in and decide whether it’s spam or not.

Spam filters use complex math to make that decision.

At the core of this math, there’s a database of phrases, expressions, and the relationships between them, along with specific point values for each entry.

Having this data, the spam filter calculates the individual message’s spam score and checks if it exceeds a given threshold. If it does, off to the spam folder the message goes.

The difficult part is that there’s no single internet-wide threshold. Every server has its own, so you can never know what’s a safe spam score.

How to defeat the spam filter?

Since we do know what’s the spam filter’s game, we can adjust our copy to get thee lowest score possible.

Now, spam filter algorithms are not secret (like Google’s). If you go to http://spamassassin.apache.org/tests_3_0_x.html you will get the complete list of factors with their exact spam values.

The list is long and complicated, though, so what I’ve done here is I’ve taken the most crucial expressions and put them on the following typography chart.

How to read this thing? Generally, the higher up the list the expression is, the more you should avoid using it.

Note. I’m excluding a big part of Viagra, porn, dating, and pharmacy -related stuff. Those are the biggest spam factors, but I figured no one here is in this business anyway. If you do want the full list, however, feel free to contact me through the contact form.


95 most spam-filter-visible things to avoid in your newsletter emails

 

Tier 1 (spam factors of 2.5-2.0) “the high risk list”

Message body mentions many internet domains · Subject starts with dollar amount · Offers an alert about a stock · Contains a URL with an affiliate ID code · “University Diplomas” · “What are you waiting for” · Subject contains lots of white space · Contains a URL in the BIZ top-level domain · Tiny font size (HTML) · Talks about a million North American dollars · Claims to honor removal requests · “Money back guarantee” · Claims you registered with a partner

Tier 2 (spam factors of 1.9-1.6) “the avoid if possible list”

“Confidentiality on all orders” · HTML includes a form which sends mail · Claims you have provided permission · Stock Disclaimer Statement · Subject includes “life insurance” · Incorporates a tracking ID number · HTML font size is huge · Describes body fat loss · Subject contains “Your Bills” or similar · Subject “GUARANTEED” · HTML has a low ratio of text to image area · Contains a URL in the INFO top-level domain · Talks about quotes with an exclamation! · Message body has 70-80% blank lines · Subject contains “Your Family” · HTML link text says “push here” or similar · “No Claim Forms” · “Free Preview” · “Home refinancing” · “Compete for your business”

Tier 3 (spam factors of 1.5-1.1) “the better not do list”

Talks about millions of dollars · Send real mail to be unsubscribed · Claims compliance with spam regulations · Prestigious Non-Accredited Universities · “Be your own boss” · Domain name containing a “4u” variant · “Buy Direct” · Message body has 90-100% blank lines · They have selected you for something · Talks about exercise with an exclamation! · Claims you can be removed from the list · Claims you wanted this ad · Contains mail-in order form · Subject starts with “Hello” · “Get Paid” · HTML font size is large · “You can search for anyone” · “Freedom of a financial nature” · Subject: contains G.a.p.p.y-T.e.x.t · Contains “earn (dollar) something per week” · Weird repeated double-quotation marks · “Have you been turned down?” · “Home refinancing” · Talks about free mobile phones · Talks about “starting now” with capitals · “People just leave money laying around” · “Why Pay More?” · “Eliminate Bad Credit” · Claims you can be removed from the list · “Receive a special offer”

Tier 4 (spam factors of 1.0-0.3) “the quiet killers list”

Contains “Dear (something)” · HTML has a low ratio of text to image area · HTML font color similar to background · List removal information · Subject contains “As Seen” · Possible mention of bill 1618 (anti-spam bill) · “Amazing Stuff” · Information on mortgages · “Save big money” · “There is no obligation” · “Consolidate debt, credit, or bills” · “Lowest Price” · Mail guarantees satisfaction · Subject contains “Your Own” · “While you Sleep” · Offers a full refund · Subject is all capitals · Doing something with my income · Talks about Oprah with an exclamation! · Subject contains “For Only” · “One hundred percent guaranteed” · HTML is extremely short · Subject line starts with Buy or Buying · Describes weight loss · “See for yourself” · “Dear Friend?” That’s not very dear! · “Free Membership” · HTML has very strong “shouting” markup · “Requires Initial Investment” · “As seen on national TV!” · “Accepting credit cards” · Mentions millions of dollars

Quick fixes

Okay, so the obvious path would be to not do any of the above, but that will rarely be possible. So here are some quick fixes that you should look into.

First of all, there’s one fix (to rule them all) that allows you to never worry about ending up in the spam folder ever again. That fix is convincing your subscribers to add you to their white lists.

The value of this fix, according to Spam Assassin, is -100 (negative 100). This basically makes you invisible to spam filters even if you’re selling Viagra.

Other things worth doing:

  • If possible, mention only one URL in your message.
  • If you can set up your email service provider to not say anything along the lines of “you’re receiving this message because you opted in yada yada” then do so.
  • Don’t say anything about spam in the email.
  • Don’t say anything about actions required for unsubscribing.
  • Don’t start the subject line with “Hi”
  • Don’t start your email with “Dear [someone]”
  • Don’t claim compliance with any spam regulations.

Compiling this list gave me a lot of insight into what I should be doing with my own emails, so I hope you will get similar value as well.

For convenience, if you’d like a more printer-friendly version of this chart then it’s on the “thank you” page of my email newsletter signup (hint!).

Get the thing here:

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[Downloadable] The Words to Avoid if You Don’t Want Your Emails Flagged as Spam | NewInternetOrder.com

19

19-wide

I don’t usually repost stuff.

Actually, I never repost stuff.

But there’s this one short article I stumbled upon at Business Insider that hit a complete home run with me and I knew I had to share it with you guys.

The article’s so true.

It’s so accurate.

It’s so relevant to anyone who’s doing anything that can be considered “business.”

It’s so spot-on if you’re facing any kind of challenge right now.

It’s exactly the kick we need to keep us going and help us achieve great things in our lives.

That being said, the original presentation of the article did suck a bit – guess nothing’s perfect. So if I’m going to repost anything, I want to step the game up a bit and give it some top-notch presentation!

Honest note. If there’s anything you can read this week that’s going to have a significant impact in your life, it’s this.


19 hard things you need to do if you want to be successful

 

(1) you have to  make the call you’re afraid to make

(2) you have to  get up earlier than you want to get up

(3) you have to  give more than you get in return right away

(4) you have to  care more about others than they care about you

(5) you have to  fight when you are injured, bloody, and sore

(6) you have to  feel unsure and insecure when playing it safe seems smarter

(7) you have to  lead when no one else is following you yet

(8) you have to  invest in yourself even though no one else is

(9) you have to  look like a fool while you’re looking for answers you don’t have

(10) you have to  grind out the details when it’s easier to shrug them off

(11) you have to  deliver results when making excuses is an option

(12) you have to  search for your own explanations even when you’re told to accept the “facts”

(13) you have to  make mistakes and look like an idiot

(14) you have to  try and fail and try again

(15) you have to  run faster even though you’re out of breath

(16) you have to  be kind to people who have been cruel to you

(17) you have to  meet deadlines that are unreasonable and deliver results that are unparalleled

(18) you have to  be accountable for your actions even when things go wrong

(19) you have to  keep moving towards where you want to be no matter what’s in front of you

 

You have to do the hard things

The things that no one else is doing …

The things that scare you …

The things that make you wonder how
much longer you can hold on

 

Those are the things that define you

Those are the things that make the difference between living a life of mediocrity or outrageous success.

The hard things are the easiest things to avoid

to excuse away. to pretend like they don’t apply to you.

The simple truth about how ordinary people accomplish outrageous feats of success is that they do the hard things
that smarter,
wealthier,
more qualified people
don’t have the courage – or desperation – to do.

Do the hard things.
You might be surprised at how amazing you really are.

(Here’s the source. And let me just say, I’m so jealous it’s not me who came up with this post.)

Please share this list with whoever can benefit from it. They will thank you for it. I honestly believe this.

 Looking for some online business advice for normal people
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[Real-Talk] 19 Things You Need to Do if You Want to Be Successful | NewInternetOrder.com

sss-featured

If you have a website, which you do, then you obviously need some social media share buttons.

But what if the buttons you currently use display all zeros? Like this:

0 shares

There are probably very few things that are worse for your social proof than showing such numbers.

I guess this will sound quite obvious, but we’d surely wish to see this on our social media counters instead:

a lot of shares

In fact, let’s just tell it like it is:

 

For new and up-and-coming sites, showing counters on social media buttons is negative social proof.

 

Now, you might be thinking that we all go through the low-numbers phase – that we all have to see those zeros before we can see 10s … 100s … 1000s (maybe).
 

So, do we?

Well, no.

 
Today, I want to give you the best quick fix I can think of.

I’ve developed a plugin that solves this problem.

Three of its main benefits are:

  • It’s meant for new and up-and-coming sites.
  • It gives you social proof you can leverage.
  • It doesn’t give you negative social proof.

 

Introducing the Social Share Starter

social share starter In a sentence, it’s a social media buttons plugin. And while it may seem like the others, it’s not.

The two main features it offers:

 
(1) instead of showing an individual share number for each service, it shows a cumulative number for all of them.
 
(2) it allows you to set the minimal displayed number of shares.
 

By the way. Showing a cumulative number is a trend online, and we might as well just follow it.

 

Here’s what Pat Flynn does on his site:

pat

Here’s what’s going on at Mashable:

mashable

 
Now, back to my plugin.
 
Here’s what the settings page looks like. All settings are optional:

sss_settings

Two examples of the usage:

Example #1: A page with a nice number of shares

If you go to my Sylvester Stallone post on this site, you’ll see the total number of shares, currently it’s 264:

264

But, when you put it through a popularity checker, you’ll see that the numbers are a bit less impressive from a service-by-service point of view:

popularity

Currently, I have 98 likes, 50 shares, 40 comments (Facebook), 18 Tweets, 54 LinkedIn’s, and 4 G+ actions. Together, though, they look great – 264.

 

So the plugin showcases nice social proof when it has the possibility to do so.

Example #2: A page that’s slightly less popular

Here’s the plugin in action on one of my older posts:

old

As you can see, there’s no negative social proof. Only the buttons are displayed without the counter.
 
Now the best part …

 

– Update –

I’ve been getting some great feedback about this plugin, so I was forced to speed up the development a bit. Long story short, there’s been a big update and now the plugin has one more cool functionality – a shortcode.
 
Here’s what the shortcode looks like:
 
[sss_counters_here /]
 
Nothing fancy, right? Maybe at first sight, but what this shortcode does is it allows you to place the social media buttons wherever you wish. This includes:
 
Posts
 
In case you want to add another block of buttons in a specific place within your post; like I’m doing here, for example, bam(!):

323
SHARES

Pages
 
I purposefully didn’t include any automatic placement for pages in the first version of the plugin. That’s because you don’t always want these buttons everywhere. For instance, my main email subscription page doesn’t have the buttons. The reason is simple, I don’t want people getting distracted, I just want them to subscribe.
 
But a shortcode is a great alternative. With it, you can selectively pick where exactly you want the buttons to appear on your pages.
 
Custom landing pages,
custom post types,
custom home pages, etc.

 
Basically, the shortcode works everywhere you need it to work.

 

The plugin is free

This is the first phase of its release, so I want to get it out to you and let you reap some of its benefits first before I release it to the official WordPress plugin directory.

 

How to get it?

If you’re reading this on the blog then all you need to do is tell me where I should send you the plugin.

 

 Just let me know where I should send the plugin: 

If you’ve come here through the newsletter then you already have the direct link to the plugin in the same email message.
 

Feedback encouraged

I need your feedback on this.
 
If you like to share your experience with the plugin, don’t hesitate to reach me through the contact form on this site.

[Giveaway] Here’s Why Social Share Counters Suck, Plus What I Can Give You That Doesn’t (Hint, It’s Simple, Effective, and Free) | NewInternetOrder.com

scared-of-wordpress

scared-of-wordpress

Let’s not fool ourselves here … WordPress is a complicated thing.

And no matter what most tutorials on the web try to say, getting a good grasp on it does take some time indeed.

Besides, if it hadn’t been complicated, I wouldn’t have been asked to write a whole book on how to work with it.

So what I want to show you today is a slightly different approach to WordPress.

Instead of being all technical, I will focus just on the part that an actual online business owner would care about.

My guess is that you don’t care that much about code, or streamlined processes, or CSS, or HTML5, or any of that stuff.

What you do care about, however, is how you can use WordPress to make running your website as easy and straightforward as possible, so you can focus on what’s really important – your actual business goals.

So this resource is a type of roadmap. You can go from station to station and take care of all the steps one by one. Also, if you have something already figured out then you can skip a given station and move on to the next one.


Things you must do

Every new WordPress site starts just about the same. Although there are tons of things you can do when setting everything up, from my point of view, there are actually only two essential elements:

  • Mastering the 5 minute install. You don’t have to hire a developer just to get your site up and running. Doing this yourself takes 5 minutes.
  • Setting proper user roles. This is something that 90 percent of people overlook when it comes to new WordPress sites. Something worth keeping in mind is that setting the correct user roles is the first thing you should do to secure your site and make your data safe.
 
 
 
start-map
 
Design

When we’re talking WordPress, design = themes.

Nowadays, it’s really ineffective to hire a designer and tell them to build you a site from the ground up. This will be awfully expensive and you get no guarantee that the results will be any good.

A much better solution is to just get a theme. However, two rules:

Two major theme stores that I can recommend are ThemeFuse (worked with them on a number of projects) and StudioPress (this site runs on a StudioPress’ theme).

Okay, but how do I choose the perfect theme and then have it installed?

Glad you’re asking!

I wrote two guest posts on ProBlogger on this very topic:

map1

Extra features

Again, when we’re talking WordPress, extra features = plugins.

Currently, there are more than 30,000 different plugins available in the official directory at wordpress.org. What this means in plain English is:

There’s surely a plugin for that.

– is how you should be thinking of extra features for your site.

Now, as much as people like to publish those “top 10 essential plugins you must get” lists, the fact is that very few of them are truly essential. And the list changes every year.

For me, there are only seven plugins that I use on every site I run, and this is something I mentioned in my book too (shoot me a message if you’d like a free chapter, by the way).

They are:

 
map4
 
 
SEO

SEO, as in Search Engine Optimization, as in “how to lose a lot of money with no results to show for.”

Okay, just joking, but the fact is that I’m not the top expert on SEO out there. That’s why I wrote this: How to learn SEO online if you’re a beginner.

map5

Running a business

This point right here is why we’re actually using WordPress on our sites – to run a business.

Quite frankly, this whole website is about this very topic, so I won’t even attempt to give you any in-the-nutshell solution. There isn’t one.

Instead, start here and dominate!

dominate

Over to you

I’m curious; do you have WordPress figured out when it comes to running your business website? Or is there anything you’re absolutely clueless about and would like to learn? Hit me up.

More cool resources just like this in your inbox.
Let’s grow our businesses together!

Head photo by freevintageposters, fireworks by bayasaa / CC BY 2.0

Here’s a Handy Roadmap for Anyone Scared of WordPress | NewInternetOrder.com

manifesto3

Something got me thinking the other day.

The thing is, have you noticed how difficult it is to find simple and short advice on the web these days?

I mean, wherever you look, all you see are “ultimate guides” for this or that. And although I love in-depth advice as much as the next guy, it’s becoming really hard to keep up with the online world.
 

For instance, here’s the most recent guide by Neil Patel – the guide to building your blog audience.

guide

Want to take a guess at how many words it is?

arrow-down2

30,000

You know … the casual number of 30,000 words. I bet this is a nice afternoon read, provided that you don’t have a life to live and stuff to do.

But I’m not hating. Not at all. I’ve actually had a quick look at some random chapters in the guide and they do seem to provide top-notch advice and insights from the man himself.

In other words, if you have 30,000-words-worth-of-time to spare then go on, read it and then apply the advice to your blog. It will most certainly help you make it awesome.

 

(By the way, just to give you a general idea about the scale, “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding is almost exactly 60,000 words. I leave the math to you.)

 

But what if you don’t have the 30,000-words-worth-of-time? What then? Are you effectively outed from getting quality insights?

Quite frankly, you are.

At least in part.

Feel free to correct me, but most of the content I see being published on the web these days (meaning 2014) falls into one of these categories:
 

  • Ultimate guides – great for in-depth advice on a complex problem; upwards of 25,000 words.
  • Infographics – there are better and worse, but the good ones achieve the goal of showcasing data-heavy information in an understandable manner.
  • Short posts – explaining one idea in a simple manner; and not being connected to any specific big picture of things.
  • Long posts – explaining one idea that’s a bit more complex; this type of post isn’t connected to any specific big picture either.
  • Link bait – usually a gathering post where a number of experts chip in on some problem and share their advice; the idea is to then get those experts to link back to you.
  • Filler content – content created for marketing/SEO/fill-in-the-blank purpose.

 

And out of all of the above, I would say that the only type of information that’s usable in the long run is indeed the ultimate guide. The rest is just entertainment.

If you don’t believe me then just try to pay attention to your own attitude towards the next blog post you read. Ask yourself this:

  • Did I take action on it?
  • Did I make any notes and included anything new into my business?

Probably not. But that’s okay … me neither.

Ultimate guides, however, are a bit different. Whenever you’re going through one, the time investment is so significant that it simply feels bad not to do anything about it later on. Even if you end up not applying 100% of the advice, you will surely do something.

Going back to my initial question, yes, you are outing yourself if you can’t devote significant time to ultimate guides.

And this bothers me, personally.

It bothers me because I’m one of those people (also known as normal people) who don’t have time for a new 30,000-word guide every week. So whenever something new comes out, I’m like “Damn it! One more thing I have to go through!”

That’s why I’m aiming at leveling the playing field a bit. And I’m going to do it with the new series of posts coming out soon.

Instead of being just yet another online business blog, I will focus on the essential, the actionable, and the easy to grasp advice.

You can see a sample of this in my previous post – the comparison of the 5 top to-do list tools. Feel free to tell me if I achieved the goal or not, but the idea was to make that post usable even if you just have a quick glance at it and don’t actually read it.

So to make this mission clearer, I’ve just published a manifesto. The Normal People Manifesto – I call it.

In it, I explain what online business for normal people means, and what’s the first step to fight the information noise of the 21st century.

I’m also making the manifesto my new About page. I actually think that it’s one of the more important things I’ve ever published here. Jump in:

 
arrov-curve-1

manifesto2

Have You Seen the Manifesto? & Here’s Why “Online Business Advice for Normal People” Is So Scarce on the Web | NewInternetOrder.com

To-Do List Tools

To-Do List Tools

Remember The Milk (RTM) // Trello // Asana // Any.do // Evernote.

Since I’m really serious about following the main idea for this site – which is making normal people’s lives easier by providing structured and actually useful info – I’m starting with something that’s an important part of every internet person’s existence.

The fact is that if you’re doing any sort of business on the web then you have tens of projects to deal with, tens of tasks, tens of people to contact, and tens of goals to achieve…and probably other tens of things as well.

A productivity tool does come handy. That’s for sure. But which one to use? This is the question we’ll answer today.

Important

This isn’t a fake review. I did actually spend a considerable amount of time testing all these tools. And this was real testing, meaning that I made those tools part of my daily work. In short, I’ve become a user. Heck, here’s a proof of my RTM usage:

rtm-proof

So I guess what should follow now is a handful of blocks of text talking about various features and then giving you my verdict on the best to-do list tool out there, right? But that would be: (1) boring, and (2) wouldn’t be a usable resource.

That’s why I’m going to do the following instead…

Below, there’s a simple table that presents all 5 tools, their strong and weak sides, their purpose, their level of simplicity, their ease of use, their feature-richness, their GTD-friendliness, and their (assumed) target group of users.

Top 5 productivity tools compared

Remember The Milk

Remember The Milk
BASIC DETAILS

PRICE
Free.

PURPOSE
To-do list management for a single person.

FEATURES
Tags, multiple lists (projects), deadlines, priorities, keyboard shortcuts.

MULTIPLE USERS
Not as far as I know.

APPS
Android, iPhone, iPad (Siri integration), BlackBerry, Gmail plugin, Outlook plugin, Twitter integration, Google Calendar integration, plus a number of third-party apps.

INTERFACE

SIMPLICITY
9/10
(just a single list of tasks/things; no place to get lost).

EASE OF USE
9/10
(setting your lists and your tasks should only take a couple of minutes).

GOOD/BAD

GTD SUPPORT
Easy to implement (it isn’t built in from the get go).

STRONGEST POINT
The ease of use, the speed of use, the ultra-functional keyboard shortcuts and the number of additional apps available.

WEAKEST POINT
Their iOS apps. The sync is done only once a day (you have to pay for real-time sync).

PREFERRED USER GROUP
I’ve been using this tool (on and off) for more than 2 years. It’s very optimized for heavy desktop users. It’s fast and reliable. However, it doesn’t support any teamwork, and like I said, the iOS apps are weak. So this tool is for heavy desktop users that work alone.

Any.do

Any.do
BASIC DETAILS

PRICE
Free.

PURPOSE
Very simple task management.

FEATURES
Only simple task management, and basic project functionality.

MULTIPLE USERS
Not really.

APPS
Android, iPhone, iPad.

INTERFACE

SIMPLICITY
10/10
(there’s just one main list-style layout with some buttons on the top).

EASE OF USE
10/10
(it takes no time to learn it; you can get started right away).

GOOD/BAD

GTD SUPPORT
Kind of. You can use Any.do as one of your GTD elements, not as a manager to handle a whole GTD setup.

STRONGEST POINT
Its simplicity. There’s literally no learning curve

WEAKEST POINT
If you want to use it on desktop, you only get the Chrome plugin. There’s no official web interface.

PREFERRED USER GROUP
People who just need the simplest task manager possible.

Trello

Trello
BASIC DETAILS

PRICE
Free (the basic plan).

PURPOSE
Task management and overall “things” management (snippets of notes, etc.).

FEATURES
Boards (projects), lists, tasks, sub-lists, drag and drop, labels, deadlines.

MULTIPLE USERS
Yes.

APPS
Android, iPhone, iPad, Window’s 8 Tablet.

INTERFACE

SIMPLICITY
9/10
(there’s just the main workspace with lists and cards, nothing fancy).

EASE OF USE
10/10
(the interface is highly intuitive and it takes no time to master).

GOOD/BAD

GTD SUPPORT
Easy to implement (it isn’t built in from the get go).

STRONGEST POINT
Ultra-easy to use. Setting it up and getting started takes no time. Strong focus on teamwork.

WEAKEST POINT
A design that’s a bit too simple. No clear way to mark tasks as completed.

PREFERRED USER GROUP
People who need a powerful task manager, but most of all want to be able to get started with it right away with no hiccups.

Asana

Asana
BASIC DETAILS

PRICE
Free (the basic plan).

PURPOSE
Project management and task management in a group setup or on your own.

FEATURES
Projects, deadlines, collaboration, subtasks, tasks, hearts (whatever that is).

MULTIPLE USERS
Yes. Up to 15 users in your team for free.

APPS
Android, iPhone, iPad, Chrome plugin, Google Calendar integration, and more.

INTERFACE

SIMPLICITY
8/10
(the tool uses a classic list layout; there are sections for projects and tasks; in short, kind of simple, but you need a while to get a grasp on everything).

EASE OF USE
8/10
(creating tasks and projects is very simple, but you need a while to learn how to make the tasks actually appear on your dashboard and how to speed up the process of creating and editing the tasks).

GOOD/BAD

GTD SUPPORT
Easy to implement (it isn’t built in from the get go).

STRONGEST POINT
High focus on teamwork. Plus, the design is very nice to look at.

WEAKEST POINT
There’s a centralized place for tasks. What this means is that you need to create a task first, and only then assign it to yourself so you can see it on your dashboard. This isn’t the most optimized solution if you’re working on your own. But at the same time, it’s a huge advantage if you’re a project manager.

PREFERRED USER GROUP
Project managers and people who like to be able to expand their operations above some standard task management. For single user, this might be an overkill though.

Evernote

Evernote
BASIC DETAILS

PRICE
Free (the basic plan).

PURPOSE
Advanced note management system.

FEATURES
A ton of them: real-time cloud sync, multiple notebooks, support for various types of content, tags, reminders, sharing, and a lot more.

MULTIPLE USERS
Yes, in Evernote for Business.

APPS
Android, iPhone, iPad. Plus, a range of other side apps and third-party apps.

INTERFACE

SIMPLICITY
5/10
(Evernote is advanced, and because of this, the interface isn’t simple).

EASE OF USE
4/10
(We’re talking about using Evernote for to-do list management, and Evernote is simply not optimized for this; it requires a lot of setup before you can use it for this purpose).

GOOD/BAD

GTD SUPPORT
Possible to implement. The fact that Evernote can be used for GTD is actually the only reason why I’m including it on this list. (There’s a great guide called The Secret Weapon on how to configure your Evernote for GTD-enabled task management.)

STRONGEST POINT
The possibility to make it your cloud-based central for all kinds of notes. It goes a lot further than a simple task management.

WEAKEST POINT
The amount of work you have to do before you can start managing your tasks and projects with it.

PREFERRED USER GROUP
People who are taking various types of notes heavily and like to have everything in one place. People who like to have complete control over their tasks and projects. Also, people who for some reason, don’t like any of the other task management tools presented here.

good-job

And the best to-do list manager is…

The best tools for me personally are Any.do and RTM. But that’s only because of the way I’ve built my personal productivity system – taking my current setup into consideration, the kind of work I do and the kind of tasks I usually take care of.

Let me emphasize this again, those two are the best for me.

Will they be the best for you? I don’t know.

That’s why I’ve created this comparison so you can take a glance at each tool’s basic features and make an educated guess based on this data.

I am curious to hear your opinion about these tools, by the way, so don’t hesitate to contact me.

 Looking for some online business advice for normal people
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Which Is the Best To-Do List Manager / Task Manager? Top 5 Tools Compared | NewInternetOrder.com