Here’s the thing with new year’s resolutions – if something is so important it requires a public announcement, a ritual, or even one gram of dedication, you should start doing that thing now.
Not tomorrow. Not next year. Right now.
I say this because I’ve grown a lot this year as a professional copywriter. Namely because I’ve evolved from casual freelancer writer to full-time copywriter and online marketer. I’m approaching the end of the year with one weary eye on 2014, and the other on 2015 blinking frantically in excitement, and I know that I need to make some huge changes with the way I operate my business.
I don’t talk about change from purely a revenue or subscriber perspective, because financial gain isn’t my soul’s modus operandi. I talk about change from a personal growth perspective, and professional practice perspective, too. Yes, I want to reach new income goals, but I also want to grow as a writer and an online marketer.
I don’t write this from a place of absolute authority, because productivity is not my zone of genius. It is an area I’m dedicated to improving upon, though, and I’m making strides every week. Starting with this check-list below, which I’ve created with 2015 in mind. It is, of course, ready to be implemented right away.
If you’re someone who I’ve conversed with, done copywriting work for or taken to dinner, you’ll know that I have a tortuously beautiful struggle with productivity. Sometimes I am an organisational monarch, ruling my to-do list with lazer beams of productivity. You’ll also know that sometimes I give in to my ego, and for whatever reason, the frameworks I’ve set up for myself fail. But I try my best.
I hope that you can find something in this checklist I’ve compiled that will help you grow your business in 2015, or just be a little bit more productive.
Automatic social media scheduling
Some like to schedule their social media posts once per week. I find this counter-intuitive, because the culture of social media is so thoroughly ingrained in real-time events. I like to dedicate around 15 minutes per day to pre-schedule content in advance of posting, ensuring my updates are fresh, on topic and relevant. I do stick to a weekly plan which outlines what kind of content to post, but I leave the granular-level details out of my weekly plan.
I post to two platforms daily: Facebook and Twitter.
When I first decided to focus my efforts on building my social media following, I would spend every spare second scheduling Tweets to articles that mostly weren’t mine. Partially because I don’t have a comprehensive archive of content to share, and partially because I was choosing to ignore what Twitter is most beneficial for:
There is no other realm where I can shout out to Kendall Jenner or virtually high five my favourite writers. I still share other’s content (plus my own), but now I usually begin my day by trawling through my Lists and responding to other writers and online marketers.
Don’t shout into the nether. No one will hear you. Start talking to people.
Every week I plan what type of content to post and at what time, and every day I schedule this content in advance. Confused? This means I don’t include the details of my content (headlines, URLs, links, body copy) in this weekly plan. I actually leave the plan pretty loose so that I can make the decision on the day, ensuring that I’m posting what is timely and relevant. If I stick to what I think might be a good link from a week ago, I’d just be posting old stuff that nobody cares about.
Anyone familiar with Tim Ferriss will have heard his sermon surrounding inbox management: limit it to twice a day.
I find three times per day to be more effective for myself, because I’m not at the 4-hour work week level as yet. By scheduling interruptions like this, I’m able to focus for longer periods of time. If I don’t shut down Thunderbird, I find I end up just living in my inbox. It’s not the most productive use of my time.
Networking Groups + Facebook page
Engaging with like-minded peers is one of the most effective forms of marketing.
I’m a member of two networking groups, but I check in with one more regularly than the other. The Dream Big community is active practically every hour of the day, providing compassionate support and advice for small business owners all over Australia. I check in every day with this Facebook group, either posting my own stuff, or commenting and liking on other’s posts/comments. I try to be as present as I possibly can online by offering genuine advice and by being as personable as possible.
I also make sure that I like and reply to every single comment I get on my own Facebook page – usually within 12 hours.
Social media calendar
As I mentioned above, I prefer to schedule my social media content daily. This doesn’t mean I pull something together on the fly – I’m actually referring to a pre-planned content calendar that covers my Facebook, blog and email marketing content. I don’t include Twitter in this plan, because my Twitter focus is on real-time engagement. This means that every day I look at my week-by-week plan, and schedule Facebook updates in correspondence with what I have outlined.
Social media growth tracking
“What get’s measured, gets improved.”
This is a habit I picked up from my time spent as a social media manager. Every week on Friday afternoon, I would look at how many Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest followers my client had gained or lost, their cumulative post reach and engagement compared to the previous week, and any website traffic and sales generated from their social media activity.
Seeing as I am not a nation-wide fashion retailer with comprehensive analytics set up, my process for my own business is much simpler.
As I said above, I use a simple Excel spreadsheet to plan my social media content for the week. At the start of each week, I go to my Facebook Insights dashboard and note down the reach and engagement for each individual post. After I’ve had a close look at the numbers, I write a few lines in one of my Evernote folders about what I learned that week. It could be something simple like, “This week I learnt that my personal posts resonate strongly with my audience so I should post more types of content like that”, or “This week I learnt that my usual posting times aren’t as effective as they used to be, so I shall be experimenting with different times.”
After that’s done, I open up another Excel spreadsheet and track my follower growth for the week. Because my focus is on Facebook, Twitter and email marketing, those are the three platforms I pay attention to.
Plan my week
Every Sunday afternoon I set aside some time to look at what deadlines I have coming up, what meetings I can’t get out of, and any content I need to produce for my blog or email newsletter. Then I use Teux Deux, a very clean and minimalist online to-do list, to schedule what I’m going to do and when. This includes marketing activities, like analysing my social media growth for the week, building landing pages, or even updating my own website content.
I’m sure there are many other ways to plot your week, but I find that Teux Deux’s functionality and simple design to be the most appropriate for needs and productivity. To mark things off my list, I just click on an item once and they appear as items with a strikethrough. If I don’t complete a task, it gets automatically added to the next day (you can also drag and drop items yourself to reschedule tasks).
Without Google Analytics, I wouldn’t be able to gauge how successful my website is as my never-sleeping sales person. Google Analytics is a free piece of software offered by Google that generates detailed statistics and insights about my website’s traffic (visitors), my top traffic sources (like search engines and social media), and my most popular website content (pages). If I had a store and I had Google Analytics set up correctly, it would also give me key insights regarding my online sales.
If you’re a small business with a web presence, or even a blogger, you should have Google Analytics set up. If you don’t, and you’re not sure how to set up Google Analytics, email me and I can talk you through it. Seriously, I’ll take 10 minutes out of my day to help you – for free.
Once a month Google Analytics kindly emails me a monthly snapshot of how my website is performing. I usually log in a couple of times per month to keep an eye on things, but I fill in a designated reporting spreadsheet once per month. My system for this isn’t sophisticated – once again, I just use an excel spreadsheet and note down:
- Sessions (Number of times that people visited my website)
- Visitors (Unique, individual people who visited my website)
- Page views (Number of instances where a user viewed a page on my website)
- Average session duration (How long they stuck around for)
- Bounce rate (the percentage of people who visit my website and then leave without interacting with the website at all. Not to be confused with Exit Rate)
- Traffic from search engines (Visitors from Google, etc)
- Traffic from Facebook (Visitors from Facebook)
- Traffic from Twitter (Visitors from Twitter)
- Bounce rate from each respective traffic source
As a rule of thumb, you’ll find that the higher your sessions, the higher your bounce rate will also be. You should generally aim for a bounce rate of around 50%. If it’s any higher, it’s time to assess your website design and content.
Social media goals
A good habit I’ve adopted is setting an intention every to try and grow my social media channels by a certain amount per month, dependant upon my resources. What this entails is deciding upon an achievable number, then planning some strategic action around how I’ll achieve that.
Because building my profile as a writer and online marketer is my priority at the moment, I don’t really have any launch dates to base my strategy around. I don’t have any e-courses or workshops planned for the next 3-months, which can make things a bit boring. My goals is building my subscriber list and Facebook following, so what my strategy involves is consistent actions completed over the course of three months to achieve these goals.
What I do is simple: I plot the basis of this strategy in a particular folder in Evernote, starting with my goals. Then, I break these down into specific actions. After that, I go and plot when I’ll do what in Teux Deux.
I find it also helps to have your goals written down or printed near your work station, so they always stay top of mind.
So that’s quite a simplified run-down of how I’m planning to keep my marketing and business-as-usual more organised and manageable for 2015.