I regularly speak to small business owners, on both a personal and professional level, and if there’s one thing they all tell me it’s that when they first started out they tried to wear too many hats. In other words, they bogged themselves down with tasks that they really shouldn’t have been doing and ultimately lost focus on what they should be doing: building their businesses.
Unfortunately, this is one of the pitfalls of running a small business. It’s only when the owners realise that by trying to do everything themselves they’re actually hindering their businesses that things start to change.
But as we all know, hindsight is a wonderful thing and we can all learn a lot from it. That’s why I wanted to share with you some of the tasks that I carry out for my clients. While you will undoubtedly know about most of them, there are a few that may surprise you.
What I want to do is get you thinking about which of the tasks you’re currently doing yourself that could be delegated to someone else. Even if you manage to reclaim just five minutes of your time each day by delegating or outsourcing a task or two, I’ll feel as though I’ve done my job.
Here are just some of the duties I perform for my clients:
Project management – most business owners have got lots of nice little projects they want to undertake, but overseeing them all personally is often a time-consuming nightmare and something that detracts from the overall value of the project.
Newsletters – this newsletter didn’t write itself and yours won’t either. That means you’ve got to spend time thinking about what you want to include and then even more time compiling it. Time that could perhaps be spent doing something more constructive.
Social media management – we keep being told that our businesses need an online presence and one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to achieve this is via social media. But unless your business pages are updated regularly and your audience kept engaged, your social media efforts will fall by the wayside.
Blogging – Like social media and newsletters, blog posts are another necessity for most businesses today. And, like social media and newsletters, blogs are at their most effective when they are regularly updated with fresh content. Can you give your blog the time and attention it deserves?
PA services – general admin duties need to be done, but it doesn’t have to be you who does them, right? Even if they’re mundane, there’s someone out there who would willingly help you with them.
Email management – how many emails do you receive each day that warrant a reply, but not necessarily require a personal response from you? Responding to emails consumes a lot of time and unless those replies produce leads or sales, your time may be better focused elsewhere.
Calendar management – okay, so it’s similar to email management in its nature, but nevertheless it’s still a crucial part of running a business. Much better you concentrate on preparing for client meetings than organising them.
Research – conducting research is something that every small business does from time-to-time. And while the Internet has given us an overload of information at our fingertips, wading through the sea of resources to get to the stuff that matters can take hours.
WordPress management/maintenance – WordPress updates seem to be released on an almost weekly basis nowadays. Couple this with the constant plugin changes that also occur and maintaining even a basic WordPress site can be time consuming. That’s before you’ve even thought about making any content updates.
Data management – as your business grows, so too will all its data. Nothing is more frustrating than not having the information you need to hand. The technology exists to make it so, but all those documents and files still need to be put in the right places.
Did I give you any ideas? I really hope so…
Need a bit more inspiration? Drop me a line and we can talk about it in a bit more depth.
Jo and I talk a lot. Well I say talk, but quite often it consists of me moaning and Jo listening. In fact, Jo should probably charge me for her ‘listening time’ but I’m very thankful she doesn’t.
Now you may be wondering what it is that I moan about. The usual day-to-day stuff mostly but, until recently, there was something else quite specific on my list of bug bears; something that I like to call ‘desperate SEO’ – the inspiration behind this post.
As a freelance writer, I can obviously choose which assignments I grab by the horns and which I let slip me by. However, even when times are quiet, I still need to provide for my family and so take any work (within reason) that I can get.
It’s at times like these where I sometimes find myself at the disposal of digital marketing agencies who employ said desperate SEO practices.
The bottom line is that I strongly believe that great content really is king. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s a cliché that sounds cringeworthy but I genuinely believe it and I’ll tell you why…
But first I want to elaborate a little further on desperate SEO – something that exploits content to achieve a desired backlink outcome.
So what is this desperate SEO I’m referring to?
Well it comes in the form of carefully crafted blog posts and is used by some SEO companies to simply tick a box on their client order sheet. For example, their client may have paid for x number of backlinks on various websites that have favourable domain authorities and one way to satisfy this is through blog posts.
Now you’re probably familiar with the terms ‘white hat SEO’ and ‘black hat SEO’ – basically ethical and unethical. Desperate SEO comes with a light grey hat. It’s not necessarily bad but – and this is only my opinion – it doesn’t provide any real value for the reader.
And that’s the important thing right – providing value? After all, Google’s sole purpose with its search offering is to provide people with content that’s engaging, useful and relevant to their search.
Now I’ve got nothing against leveraging blogs to boost a brand’s coverage, but some of the posts I’ve seen (and even created in the past) provide very little in the way of value for the reader.
A typical desperate SEO brief may require that you write a post to be published on a travel blog – so far so good. But then you find out that the client you are writing the post for is a company that sells blu-ray DVD players and you have to naturally insert a link back to their website within your post.
Oh and just to make the post look even more natural, you’re asked to put a few other carefully placed links to websites that are non-competitive or in other words, don’t sell blu-ray DVD players also.
The end result is a post that lauds some of Europe’s most beautiful beaches but contains a link back to the DVD retailer. You may be wondering, how do you make that look natural? The answer is with great difficulty and as a writer, it’s a very frustrating task.
That’s why I have made a conscious effort to steer away from such practices and now only focus on creating stuff that I think provides value to the reader.
I was fortunate enough to cross paths with Jo and in-turn be introduced to Neil and Phil at Positive Sparks. The stuff I write for all of them is a breath of fresh air compared to churning out desperate SEO pieces.
Desperate SEO isn’t going to disappear overnight. But Google’s regular algorithm updates should be warning enough that creating fresh, original and high-quality content that engages your audience is the key to SEO success. Furthermore, it will boost your brand’s online presence at the same time – what could be better than that?
James Devonshire is a freelance writer who specialises in creating content for social media, SEO and digital marketing purposes for a wide variety of businesses. With a strong knowledge of website monetisation, entrepreneurial practices and optimisation techniques, James has carved out a literary niche for himself from his adopted home in the Philippines.
Last week, I gave you an insight into my top 5 productivity tools. Whittling that list down to the final 5 was actually quite difficult and I’ll tell you why… When I started planning the post, I soon realised just how many tools and applications I use on a day-to-day basis!
In fact, it could have quite easily been “My Top 10” or “My Top 15” but I felt that that would detract somewhat from the overall impact and meaning of the list. That said, there was one other application that nearly made the list but didn’t – and there’s a reason for that.
You see, when I was composing the other post, I was in two minds about whether to include Spokal or not. In the end I chose not to, but promised myself that I would write a separate post on it.
Spokal – for those of you who haven’t tried it – is quite simply, brilliant! Basically, if you want a fast and easy way to create highly effective inbound marketing campaigns then Spokal is for you.
It works in unison with your existing WordPress website/blog and a host of other applications such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ Facebook and Mailchimp. From my point of view as a virtual assistant, the best thing about Spokal is that incorporates so much functionality into a single tool, which saves a huge amount of time and immensely boosts productivity.
Spokal has many features and I can’t begin to go into them all. Therefore, I’ll outline the three that I find the most useful – which was difficult to determine as every aspect provides real value.
You’ll no doubt understand the importance of great content as part of an inbound marketing strategy and Spokal makes creating it not just easier but also more fun. That’s because Spokal features a content editor that is predominantly drag & drop.
Therefore, you can create exceptional pieces of content in just a few clicks using your imagination. Spokal even serves up a variety of Creative Commons images, from sources like Flickr, which you can use royalty-free and the relevant photo attributions are automatically created.
Also, the real-time SEO advice is great for anyone who is looking to really optimise their content for the search engines – aren’t we all!? It provides an SEO overview for your post as you create it and offers tips on how to improve your post’s SEO score.
The Twitter integration is really powerful and allows you to literally drag relevant tweets right into your content to add extra depth. Spokal will display a list of relevant tweets and you can choose the ones you want to include.
Social Media Sharing
With your high-quality and engaging content created, Spokal then enables you to schedule it in a highly efficient way. Basically, Spokal will automatically share your content based on a custom schedule that you define.
Again, the social media calendar is drag & drop, which makes the whole process much quicker. You can start building a comprehensive schedule in a short period of time. Once configured, Spokal will take care of the rest and you can concentrate on doing what you do best: running your business.
Furthermore, the Feedly integration allows you to curate content from other people in the same calendar, thus saving you a lot of time.
We all know that social media is no longer an optional extra to boost marketing. In fact, it now represents a significant part of our marketing arsenals and, when used correctly, can drive traffic, create more business and allow us to really engage our customers and potential customers.
Spokal’s Twitter builder is perfect for those of you who want to tackle the social network but aren’t sure where to start. It’s designed to get you leads and traffic more quickly than you would alone.
It’s designed to help grow your Twitter following on autopilot with genuine followers who have an interest in what you have to say. This allows you to forge new relationships and steadily engage more people to boost your brand’s reputation, ultimately driving more sales.
I’d love to hear if any of you have tried Spokal – or any similar tools for that matter – and if so what your experience has been.
Photo credits: Spokal
Once upon a time, websites were built exclusively by people in the know. A strong knowledge of HTML was an absolute must and websites were created using code alone.
Today, however, innovations like WordPress have made it possible for anyone who has a basic understanding of computers can build their very own website from scratch. This is why more and more people are documenting their day-to-day lives and even promoting their businesses via WordPress blogs.
And you can too with this beginner’s guide to setting up WordPress!
WordPress.org or WordPress.com?
Okay, let’s start by outlining the characteristics of WordPress.org and WordPress.com because actually they are very different in nature.
Here are a few reasons why:
|Allows you to use your own domain name e.g. www.mydomain.com
|Restricts you to a WordPress.com suffixed domain name e.g.
(unless you pay extra)
|Requires your own web hosting
||Provides a free hosting service
|Allows for endless customisations
||Restricts customisation (unless you pay extra)
|Has no ads
||Is supported by ads
|Supports thousands of fantastic plugins
||Allows just a few pre-defined plugins
Those are just a few differences between the two platforms and it really boils down to a case of flexibility and customisation. Cost is also a factor but, in theory, both offerings are free.
For the purpose of this guide though we will concentrate on the more customisable of the two – WordPress.org – and look at the necessary steps to get it setup.
Registering a Domain Name
The first thing you’ll want to do is come up with a great domain name for your new website. This is actually more difficult than you might think and it pays to spend a bit of time on this stage. After all, your WordPress website is going to have this name for many years to come. Try to think of several as there is a good chance someone may already be using one of your ideas.
There are tonnes of sites that allow you to check domain name availability and inevitably purchase one that you want. Godaddy.com, for example is one of the most popular and you can search for your desired domain name in just a few seconds.
Securing Your Own Web Hosting
There are literally thousands of companies who offer web hosting services and their packages and prices vary greatly. Just make sure that whichever one you choose meets the WordPress minimum requirements.
Whichever you decide to go with, be sure that the price is right for you. Any good web-host will happily help you choose a relevant package for your needs, so send them an enquiry.
Download and Install WordPress
The WordPress framework can be downloaded directly from their website and subsequently installed. WordPress is actually famous for its ‘5-minute installation’ which is one of the reasons why it has become so popular and a comprehensive installation guide can be found here. If, however, you are not confident installing it yourself, many web-hosts provide extremely convenient one-click WordPress installations. Check beforehand if the one you are considering using provides such a service as it will make your installation seamless.
Now The Fun Begins…
Open your internet browser and navigate to your domain name so you can see for yourself exactly what a fresh WordPress installations looks like. As you’ll find out, the standard offering uses a very basic theme by default, but the beauty of a self-hosted WordPress site is that it is hugely customisable.
You’ll probably be feeling relieved to have gotten this far and the thought of now designing your site may be a little daunting. Don’t worry though…
My inexpensive WordPress design service will remove any of the stresses associated with laying out your website. I’ll work with you throughout the entire process to ensure that the end result is exactly what you dreamed of.
Furthermore, my bespoke WordPress maintenance plans will ensure that your site remains fully functional and up-to-date. Many people setup a WordPress site and then neglect to maintain it because they don’t know how.
Don’t be one of those people!
Contact me right away to take advantage of my design services and maintenance plans today and realise your website’s full potential.
Photo by Christopher Ross / CC BY-SA 2.0
I wanted to write a blog post today on something that people were interested in. I looked at my Google Analytics to see what the most popular posts were so I could find a topic to cover again, or in more detail, or from a different perspective but it didn’t work. I asked myself some questions, what time period should I base the stats on, should I check to see what the bounce rate was rather than just the page views… it wasn’t very helpful. I then decided to check out which of my posts received the most comments, easily done in WordPress by just sorting them into comment order (descending of course).
So rather than write about a recurring topic, I decided to use this post as an overview of the last couple of years and let you look back over the most popular posts on my blog. Those posts which received the most comments, which I am assuming are my most popular.
In descending order of course…
Do you Check your Spam for Ham? – 23 Comments
Guest Blogging – is it all it’s cracked up to be? – 23 Comments
Self Publishing your eBook the DIY Way! – 24 Comments
Five Useful WordPress Plugins – 24 Comments
Facebook: Should I Stay or Should I Go? – 24 Comments
Do I Break up with my Books for a Kindle? – 25 Comments
Help Family and Friends Understand you ARE Working! – 26 Comments
Promote Your Business Here! – 28 Comments
Plugins Your Blog Readers Will Love – 30 Comments
Spread the Luv on your Blog! – 37 Comments
I was actually surprised that these were the posts which received the most comments. I feel I have written some much better posts in the last year, but I suppose these are the ones that people felt most inclined to comment on.
I’m always looking for new blog topics, so if you have a problem I can help with please do let me know in the comments.