So You Want To Scale Your Blog Biz: What You Need To Know

Despite having been around since the very first days of the internet, blogging still remains very much a staple of the digital world.

Modern content monetization methods were all brought into existence by bloggers. And though the level of competition today is overwhelmingly tougher to contend with than it was a decade ago (or even earlier), the big improvements in technology accessibility have ensured that turning blogging into a source of income is still completely viable. 

But there’s a big difference between picking up some small amounts of affiliate commission, and making enough money from your blog that it can conceivably become your primary revenue source.

Regardless of your current level, scaling a business is a real challenge. It’s essential that you do your research first — so before you try to scale your blog, here’s what you need to know.

Automation tools are essential

Blogs almost always start out as solo operations, and there’s a decent chance that you’re in that boat right now.

Handling a business solo has its pros and cons: having complete control over everything that happens is a big positive, but it makes you the bottleneck. Only through your work can anything happen — the moment you can’t keep up with demand, your business will be left in limbo. This is why you need to free up your schedule as much as possible.

If you’re serious about scaling, you’re going to have to embrace automation. Luckily, there are many automation options available for bloggers, and it’s usually easy, free and fun.

Think about all the tasks you do for your blog on a frequent (or even daily) basis. Which parts need your creative input, and which are repetitive processes that require little thought? The latter are going to cause you trouble the larger your business gets, so it’s best to find ways around them right away.

For example, take social media and email marketing. If you want to scale your blog biz, you will also need to scale your promotion.

This is where automation will be invaluable. There’s no shortage of great email automation tools, and plenty of advanced social media tools for communicating across multiple platforms.

Think carefully about everything that goes into your average day, and hunt down tools for saving time and making your life easier.

Take shortcuts with your visuals

Your visual content on your blog is as important as your written content — it’s what’s going to grab people and reel them in, illustrate your points, and inject some vibrancy to your posts. Every blog post needs at least one image to accompany it.

And although it would be great to use original images taken with an expensive camera and edited on PhotoShop until they’re perfect, this isn’t always (or usually) possible. Time and money get in the way — especially if you’re trying to scale your blog biz.  

Thankfully, there are ways to get around this. The creation of free stock image sites — which offer millions of high-resolution, royalty-free images — is the blogger’s savior when it comes to scaling a business. It’s an easy way to scale up, offering you countless images to add to blog posts and social media promotion without the effort or money previously needed.  

Plus, if you want to further reduce the time you spend hunting down stock images, you can try a stock image plugin (if your blog runs on WordPress) to choose an appropriate image without even needing to leave the post window.

You may need help with content production

No matter how prolific a blogger you may be, and how relentlessly you can type at pace, it’s super unlikely that you’ll be able to hugely scale your content production process without suffering from burnout. Whether this is creative (writer’s block is the worst) or physical (RSI is a real concern for bloggers), or both, you definitely want to avoid this.  

That’s why you’ll need some kind of human assistance at some point. 

You may not like the idea of farming out your content to other writers (especially if your blog is your baby), but you don’t actually need to do exactly that to speed up your production. There are other elements you can hand out — like research, graphic design, networking, or even editing (you can write the rough draft, then pass it to someone else to be cleaned up, or vice versa).

How you go about it is totally up to you. You can hire a full-time employee, get a part-time employee, or hire a freelancer using a freelance website like Fiverr or Upwork (there are many different freelance sites that you can choose from).

The point is that you have options. And, if you feel that you’re biting off more than you can chew when it comes to scaling, you can find ways to pick up the pace without completely sacrificing your creative integrity.

Reworkable material is invaluable

Getting the most value you possibly can from each piece of content becomes more important the more you scale.

This is because quality demands get much higher, requiring you to invest more time, effort and resources into everything you do. Uploading a blog post that ultimately gets a couple of thousand views might be solid for an amateur operation, but not for a business.

One of the best ways to increase the value you receive from a piece of content is to make it reworkable.

What we mean by this is that you can create a substantial piece of content that can then be adapted for various distinct platforms. For instance, writing a post that can easily become a script for a tutorial video, or be turned into a podcast, or cut down to an infographic. There are lots of ways that you can repurpose a blog post. 

It’ll take longer to create a comprehensive piece of source content, but that investment will pay off in the long run, allowing you to create 4-5 unique pieces of content that will attract different (and bigger) audiences. This will also allow you to showcase your expertise in specific areas, which makes you look great if you’re trying to establish yourself as a thought leader in your niche.

A mix of evergreen and seasonal content is ideal

Broadly speaking, there are two types of digital content: evergreen, and seasonal.

Evergreen content covers topics that are always relevant. For example, this piece is (in principle) evergreen, because people seek to grow their blog businesses all throughout the year.

 Then there’s seasonal content, which covers topics that are only relevant either temporarily or at certain times of the year — topics like recent news stories, or public holidays, or (as the name suggests) the changing seasons. 

Each type of content has its advantages. Evergreen content is great for building up search rankings over time, because it’s always valuable to someone. Seasonal content is perfect for attracting maximum attention when deployed at the right time.

That’s why it’s good to aim for a decent split between the two for your scaled-up content — that way, you’ll cover your bases.

You should monetize everything you can

Unless you happen to be super-rich and you’re scaling up your blog business just to have something to do, making money is going to be a primary concern — perhaps the primary concern — of your blog.  

To make as much money as possible, you’ll want to monetize as much as you can without damaging your content and turning your blog into a walking, talking advert for someone else’s business.  

Here are four tips for achieving this:

  • Sign up to all relevant affiliate schemes. There are plenty of affiliate programs out there, with lots aimed squarely at bloggers. When you link to particular products (many of which you might link to anyway), you can get a commission for each person who clicks that link and places an order.

  • Clearly state your willingness to do business. Many bloggers are interested in finding ways to monetize what they do, but not all of them are. If someone arrives on your site and decides that they’d like to work with you, you’ll need some copy in an obvious place to explain that you do work with brands and you’re willing to listen to ideas and form partnerships.

  • Run ads on your blog. We maybe wouldn’t advise using something like Google’s AdSense, because even a small number of automatically-loaded ads can really dissuade someone from following your website, but you can easily run manual ads. Let people know that you’ll consider ads, then figure things out as you go.

  • Start selling branded products. It’s great to have a large audience and build sponsorship deals with big companies, but making your brand marketable will really expand your range of options. Think about branding merchandise: print-on-demand shirt services are very convenient and easy to use.

  • Reach out to prospective partners. It’s always good to be proactive instead of waiting for potential income sources to find you. If you think you have an audience that would be valuable for a particular brand, send them an email. Realistically, the worst outcome is that they turn you down, and you try again with someone else.

Lastly, and maybe most importantly for your sanity, you need to know that it’s going to take time to get where you want to go.

Blogging is a slow and labored business, with audiences typically building up over years. While you can definitely get some fast results, there isn’t really any way to take a shortcut to lasting long-term success.

So be patient with your scaling, stick to your long-term plan, and don’t make any snap decisions. Good luck!

5 Rookie Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Your First Book

Writing your first book is simultaneously exciting and terrifying.

It’s a journey, and as a new writer, you’ll learn plenty of lessons along the way. (And come out of the experience a whole lot wiser and stoic than you once were!)

One of the things that you won’t be able to avoid when you’re writing that first book is making mistakes. It’s a given, and these experiences will help to mold you as a writer. However, there are some very obvious mistakes that you can easily avoid, that will save you a lot of time and effort.

To give you a helping hand, we’ve come up with a list of the five big rookie mistakes to avoid when writing your first book. Read on for some handy tips.

Recommended reading: New Grads: How to Get Your Career Started After College

1.   Thinking your book will be perfect instantly: it won’t

This is one of the first things you need to get your head around when you are penning your first book; your book will not be perfect.  

Don’t be too hard on yourself when you’re writing. It’s all too easy to get frustrated when you don’t like what you’ve written so far, and when getting rid of it all is as simple as hitting the “delete” button, it’s pretty tempting to scrap the lot.

If the overwhelming urge to delete everything you’ve written so far and throw your laptop in the river becomes too much, take a step back. Go outside. Make a cup of coffee. Play with your dog for a bit. If you’re really not liking where a chapter or draft is going, save it away somewhere safe and try a different angle — but don’t delete. 

A note taking tool like Evernote means you will never lose track of an idea. Transferring all your notes to this app means you can tag offcuts based on chapter, character or scene. With your notes organized and accessible via a few clicks, it’s easy to keep work not deemed good enough safe, just in case you change your mind.

2.   Using inappropriate dialogue tags: “said” is enough

When we say using inappropriate dialogue tags, we mean words or phrases like “said” that describe characters speaking.

This is one of the most common mistakes that novel newbies make and it’s a clear earmark of a new writer. Dialogue tags from new writers can often be clunky and obvious, using words like “laughed” or “snarled” to convey emotion in a messy way. 

You don’t want your tag to stick out in your sentence — it should be there to gently guide the reader without getting in the way of the story, while perhaps giving an indication of the tone that the character is using. Dialogue tag mistakes can be easily avoided

Sometimes, less is more, and “said” is enough. Knowing what is effective and what isn’t will help you to craft a better story.

3.   Not seeking help: invest in book editing services

Writing a book is hard, and writing your first book is even harder.

A classic rookie mistake that many writers make when penning their first novel is not asking for expert help and then sending off their manuscript to publishers expecting it to be picked up instantly. And chances are, it won’t be. 

You need to make sure that you give your novel the best chance it’s got of being published. The best way to do this? Investing in editorial services.

Agency editors will help you fine tune your manuscript and produce the best final draft you can. Leaning on highly experienced editors save time, addresses issues with your work, and reduces frustrations, whether you’re writing non-fiction, a children’s book or a thriller.

But editorial pros do more than get your manuscript in good shape. Editing service Jericho Writers states that “when you submit your manuscript to an agent, you’ll require a synopsis, a cover letter and the first three chapters of work.” Don’t know where to start? Seek a helping hand from the experts.

4.   Mixing your POVs (point of views): stick to one character

POVs are frequently mishandled by new authors, who chop and change between the thoughts and feelings of different characters too suddenly.

Needless to say, this is extremely confusing for the poor reader, who has to struggle to keep up with which character they are currently following. It also makes it unclear who the protagonist in the story is — who are we meant to support and empathize with in times of conflict?

Mixing up your POVs is a huge no-no: stick to one protagonist’s thoughts to avoid confusion.

If writing from different perspectives is key to the concept of your story or is a valuable contribution, then you can, of course, use multiple points of view. However, it is wise to keep to one POV per chapter or section of your book. This will help you to avoid rejection letters.

5.   Being too “wordy”: show don’t tell

Getting carried away with unnecessary descriptions and excessive, over-the-top words is a rookie mistake that should definitely be avoided.  

Many new writers do this — they want to portray the story that’s stored up in their heads, but they end up rushing over descriptions, hyperbolizing and using far too many unnecessary words to get their point across.  

Laundry lists of clichéd descriptions do not make for good reading; they’re boring, and add very little to the story. If you’re going to paint a picture of your characters, do it with subtle details and show their personality through actions rather than just stating the obvious. 

Don’t dump information: weave the backstories and personalities of your characters into their actions in the story you’re telling.

Everything you write should have a reason behind it; every sentence, every intricate detail, should be considered and should help to build a character or set a scene.

It’s worth noting that another rookie writing mistake is to write weak, bland descriptions or write a book that is absent of descriptions entirely. You want to transport the reader to the setting of your novel; make them feel involved in your story and invested in your characters. The best way to do this is to paint a vibrant picture with your words. 

These are just some of the rookie mistakes that you should avoid when writing your first book. Of course, there are many more — lacking direction in your plot, unbelievable characters or dull concepts, to name but a few. It’s always best to seek a second opinion (and third, and fourth…) from the people around you, as well as proofreaders and editors. They will help you to discern what your novel needs, and what can easily be dropped.

Lastly, remember to enjoy writing! It can feel hard sometimes, but it’s all worth it in the end.

How to Start Your Own Online Trading Business

Trading

Back in October, Fem Founder published ‘7 Easy Business Concepts Every Founder Needs to Know’. The article discussed what you need to know to establish and run a business — from gaining a competitive advantage to customer acquisition, cost and everything else that matters. 

But just in case the pursuit of a traditional business — selling a product, for instance, or providing a service — doesn’t appeal to you, there are alternatives. One alternative is online trading. Here, all you’ll need is a bit of capital, internet access, a PC, and lots of knowledge, foresight, and courage. So, if this pursuit interests you, here is a primer on how to start your own online trading business. 

Trading Stocks

First thing to do here is to familiarize yourself with the stock market. The Balance defines stocks as “small pieces of a company.” When trading stocks, you are in effect buying shares in a company and earn a profit by selling them in the future, when the price increases. So, say you buy Apple stocks for $1,729.2 at $172.92 per share and suppose these stocks appreciate to $180 per share. You can then sell your stocks for that price, meaning you will have earned $70.8 from the trade. 

Once you’ve acquainted yourself with stock trading, go online, find an online stock broker, and open an account. Some of our recommendations in this regard include TD Ameritrade, Fidelity, and E*TRADE, although you can try out other sites, too. From there, it’ll be about applying what you have learned, following the stock market, and buying and selling stocks. 

Forex

Forex stands for foreign exchange. As with anything trading related, first thing to do here is to learn why currency values rise or fall, and what influences these fluctuations. Once you understand this, you can proceed to opening your own account online. 

For forex, BM Magazine recommends starting with at least $1,000. Having that initial capital means you’ll have a buffer just in case you incur any losses at the start. Even if you do, it’s important to stay the course. Remember, not every venture will provide you a revenue stream right away. Study the different currencies you’re interested in trading, get the latest news, and keep trading. 

Trading Precious Metals

The process involved in trading precious metals is pretty much the same as the previous two options: learn about it, open an account online (peruse the web for this step), and start trading. Articles on Investopedia that teach you how to trade gold are a great resource and are written clearly and are easy to understand. Gold happens to be the most popular among precious metal traders, as they use it to diversify risk during tougher economic times, which might impact their financial holdings. 

As far as trading gold is concerned, there are a few options. One is through public exchanges, which are regulated platforms that are centralized and act as intermediaries. Another option, according to FXCM's article on gold trading, is over-the-counter trading through the New York Commodities Exchange. Among these two options, trading via public exchanges is the recommended as many risks, including fraud, lack of transparency, and loss of funds are mitigated. 

The most important takeaway here is the need to continue to learn as you go along, starting with the basics up to the more advanced workings of the market. The trading platforms are relatively easy to use, and the capital required is by and large within your reach. Now, it is worth keeping in mind that investing doesn't guarantee anything. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try it. 

New Grads: How to Get Your Career Started After College

Graduation day is nearly here, and your excitement is rapidly transforming into terror. Becoming a working woman sounded great in the hypothetical, but what about in reality? There’s so much to do and you don't even know where to start, let alone where you want to end up.

Before you spiral into a panic, stop and breathe. You don't need to have your whole future planned out right now. Take these steps to get started in your career, and as you gain experience, you'll develop a clearer picture of what your dream job looks like.

Find a Path

The biggest mistake new grads make is waiting for inspiration to strike before chasing a career. But waiting for the perfect opportunity wastes time and kills your momentum. Rather than stressing over your perfect career, find a job that suits you and make the most of it. It might not be your forever career, but most women switch jobs three to four times between college graduation and their 30th birthday. By doing something, you build your resume and your confidence so you're prepared when that perfect opportunity comes along.

Polish Your Resume

There's nothing worse than realizing you can't fill a one-page resume. Before you send in a blank sheet of paper, take a closer look at your skills. You may not have job experience (although your on-campus job totally counts), but you probably developed valuable skills in your volunteer gig or while leading a campus organization. 

Don't merely list experience and expect employers to make the connection to their open position. If you really want to convince employers your skills are transferable, you need to frame them the right way. Focus on accomplishments and keywords, not a list of your duties.

The right format also helps your resume look polished, rather than bare. Search for professionally designed resume templates that make creative use of white space to design a resume that's modern, visually appealing, and easy to read. That way, you can include all of the vital details without adding fluff just to fill space.

Land an Internship

Having trouble landing an entry-level job? Rather than taking a dead-end job to pay the bills, look for an internship in your desired field. Some internships don't pay, but many do. Check with your college's career services department, search job boards, and reach out to companies you'd like to work with. An internship is the ideal way to get your foot in the door and start making valuable connections in your field.

Network, Network, Network

Speaking of valuable connections, networking is easily the most important thing you can do to help advance your career. There's a lot of truth to the saying, “It's not what you know, it's who you know.” Companies are more willing to take a risk on you if you have a glowing recommendation from someone they trust.

Networking is also one of the scariest parts of your career search. However, networking doesn't have to mean cold calling strangers and praying they'll meet you for a coffee. Start with your professors and campus connections and ask if they have industry contacts they can put you in touch with. (Yes, your parents really were onto something when they told you to meet your professors.) If you feel awkward networking, just remember the people you're reaching out to had to do the same thing to get their career off the ground.

Banish Imposter Syndrome

If you're constantly second-guessing yourself, so will everyone else. That's why it's so important to not let imposter syndrome rule your job hunt. If you don't try for the jobs you want because you think you're not perfectly qualified, you'll never get them. Even if you don't check every single box for a job you want, apply! The worst that can happen is they say no.

As a new grad, there's so much pressure to have everything figured out. But what your career counselors aren't telling you is that most people are winging it, at least at first. As long as you're taking steps forward, you're headed in the right direction.

Image via Pexels

Why E-commerce Businesses Need to Develop a Brand

Kayleigh Alexander

By: Kayleigh Alexander

A strong brand is essential for any business, whether you’re a freelancer or run a multinational corporation. But in an environment as competitive as online business, a failure to create a strong brand puts you at a huge disadvantage.

Every business must have a brand. It has always been important, but now it is more important than ever. Here’s why you cannot afford to neglect building a brand—along with some tips for how to go about doing so successfully.

Recommended reading: 7 Easy Business Concepts Every Founder Needs To Know

Why branding is essential

Branding has never been more important for ecommerce stores. Your brand will have a strong say in whether your e-commerce business is a success or a failure.

With any business—but e-commerce in particular—you need to create a bond with your customers. After all, there are plenty of other e-commerce stores waiting to take their money if you don’t provide what they want. 

While people are more comfortable with the idea of spending their money online than they were even a few years ago, they still need to feel comfortable when they arrive at your store. They need to trust you before they type in their credit card details, and this is where your brand can help.

It boosts brand recognition

Branding also boosts your recognition online. You need to be recognized online because you need to stand out. There may be dozens of stores selling what you sell, and you have to find a way to make your store memorable for positive reasons.

Your brand makes you unique. It’s something that other stores cannot offer, and it is what helps to set you apart.

It creates (and capitalizes on) emotion

Branding is all about the emotional connection and how you make your customers feel. When people think of your store, you want them to immediately feel a positive association with it, which will help to drive more business. 

Essentially, you want them to feel good when they shop on your site because this increases trust and increases the chances that they will choose your store rather than the competition.

It inspires loyalty

Finally, a strong brand inspires greater loyalty, which is essential for your e-commerce store to survive and thrive.

You want your customers to not only come back but to tell all their friends how great you are. You want to convert them into brand advocates so they will promote your business for you and provide compelling social proof.

It helps you stand out in a saturated market

The market is saturated. Competition from other e-commerce stores is tough enough, and then you have marketplaces like Amazon to compete against. 

Your brand can make the difference, not only in tempting customers away from the industry titans either. It also gives your business value beyond its essential operations (should you ever want to test out direct selling, an increasingly-popular pursuit for e-commerce entrepreneurs, that value would be essential).

How to brand an e-commerce store

Now you know the importance of branding, you need to know how to build your brand.

It all starts with your design

Start with the basics, which means setting up a website that is well designed, mobile friendly, blazing fast, and with a simple and straightforward checkout. When people come to your store, they should have a memorable experience from the off, and that starts with your website design. 

Focus on a strong and attractive design. Make wise choices with your color, fonts, logo, tagline, and more, and use the same style in everything you do to increase recognition, including your emails, blog posts, social updates, and guest posts.

Implement a strong content strategy

Part of a successful website involves creating amazing content. Create blog content based on user guides and helpful information surrounding the products you sell. Consider the tone of your content and decide whether you want it to come across as funny, upbeat, friendly, welcoming, or anything else.

A quick hack is competitor research. Identify what your competition is doing and the topics that they cover, then do the same, but better. Check out ecommerce websites for sale in your niche and get a feel for the kind of content they publish. Find those e-commerce businesses that command a higher price than their competitors — these are the ones that have perfected their brand, boosting their value as a result.

Look out for trends and popular posts. These will help you flesh out your content strategy quickly without resorting to (often expensive) research tools.

Create a genuine customer relationship

Engage with your customers on social media and in your blog comments. Always reply to their comments, and use every contact as an opportunity to build your brand. This extends to your customer service too. 

Provide exceptional customer service, whether on your website, over the phone, or via social marketing. Amazon is known for its focus on brilliant customer service, and you can do the same. Get known for this, and you’re sure to drive more business.

Appeal to your USP in everything you do

Know what your unique selling proposition (USP) is. Work out what makes you different and why people should shop at your store and not the others. 

It could be that you offer more choice, better prices, better customer care, free shipping on everything, no-questions-asked returns, or something else entirely. Ensure you keep your USP at the heart of everything you do, from  sure everything you do has this as the focus.

Write a brand story with heart

Create an About Page that tells your story. Provide details about the people who started the store, why they did this, and what your mission is. Make it personal — by giving your brand a human history, you breathe life and personality into it.

And get creative with your story delivery too. A written story works fine, but so too does a video telling. Interviews with your brand founders, Q&A sessions, or even an interactive timeline all make for an engaging brand story delivery.

Embrace a multichannel social presence

Be present in more than one place. Build your presence on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and other sites. People find brands in different ways, and you want to make sure they encounter you.

And creating a sprawling social presence gives a human element to an otherwise flat business. Regularly posting on social shows that you’re more than just a business — you’re a lively, active brand that your customers can engage with on a human level.

Your brand is how people feel when they think about your business, and you want to make sure that the emotion is a positive one. The more people trust you and enjoy buying from your store, the stronger the relationship will become—and the more they will want to continue being your customer. 

Everything you do affects your brand. So decide how you want people to feel about your business, and then set about defining a strong brand in everything you do to make your business more competitive in the e-commerce space.

Data Loss: 4 Ways to Help Your Small Business Recover

By Amy Collett

By Amy Collett

Data is invaluable to any modern-day business and losing it can mean the death of a company. According to Clutch, 58 percent of small businesses are not prepared for data loss. Because of this, the majority of small businesses that lose their data are forced to shut down within six months of an event. Don't let this scare you just yet! If you act quickly and take the correct next steps, your business can recover and you can prevent this problem from occurring again. 

1. Call in Professionals

When you first notice missing data, don’t try to recover it yourself. It’s very possible your data is still accessible somehow, but messing around in your storage system can lead to permanent loss. Specialists like Secure Data Recovery know their way around hardware and software, which makes them the best bet for safely recovering data without causing additional damage. They can also help you keep your important business operations online while you work to recover from the loss. Until the pros can conduct an analysis of your problem, it’s best to shut down your computer completely.  

2. Determine the Cause of Data Loss

Most often, people have no idea why their data is missing. Try to find out what went wrong so you can help your data recovery specialists get your data back and prevent the problem from happening again. Data is most often lost due to human error, technical failure, or targeted attacks. For example, it’s easy to accidentally delete the wrong files or overwrite existing files when updating your business records. On the other hand, your data loss may be the result of a virus or malware. In this case, it's very possible that attackers are stealing data rather than simply deleting it. Look out for the signs of a data breach if you suspect this may be occurring. 

3. Write a Letter to your Customers 

Most states have laws in place requiring businesses to notify their customers if their data is stolen. Although this can hurt your company’s reputation, it’s much better than facing class action lawsuits. You may be required to send your customers a written notice detailing everything you know about the data breach. Two of the most important things to include in your notice is what your business is doing to fix the situation and what specific actions your customers can take to protect themselves.

4. Be Prepared Next Time

Just because you already lost your data once doesn’t mean it won’t happen again. Preventing data loss is an important part of business planning and should be one of the first things you do as your business recovers from this setback. Set up a solid recovery plan and a system for conducting regular backups. Mashable recommends backing up your files to more than one computer and storing at least one copy off-site. Ideally, you should backup your important files every day and a minimum of once per week.

 

An IT disaster recovery plan should also be developed so you know exactly what to do the next time you’re faced with a major system problem. This should include a way to quickly switch your operations to run on backup data so you can reduce downtime. 

Finally, be on the lookout for signs of a failing hard drive

●      Frequent error messages

●      Slower computer performance

●      Scrambled file names

●      Frequent program crashes

●      Files and folders that disappear

●      Grinding or clicking sounds in your computer

If you notice any of these problems, back up your data immediately and have a professional take a look at your system. Your computer's hard drive is the device that stores and retrieves digital information. When it goes, your data goes with it. 

Although being faced with significant data loss will likely cause immediate panic to any business owner, there’s a very good chance you can get it back. The greatest cost to your business will be the downtime you're forced to endure as you get everything back up and running again. This is why you should turn to professionals who know how to fix the problem as quickly as possible.

About the Author:

Amy Collett is creator of Bizwell.org, a website that helps professionals and entrepreneurs build and strengthen their personal brand. She is author of the upcoming book, You, Exemplified: The Role of Personal Branding in Your Professional Life. When she isn’t helping clients boost their careers or businesses, she enjoys coaching her daughter’s soccer team and training to become a yoga instructor.

How To Repurpose A Blog Post: 3 Ways To Supercharge Your Content

By: Kayleigh Alexander - MicroStartups.org

Content is great for your business. It drives traffic to your website, sells the value of your brand, and converts visitors into customers. Repurposing blog posts is a way of producing brand new content quickly.

Below I’ve explained 3 great ways to repurpose blog posts, each of which adds immediate value to your business.  

Recommended reading: 25 Ways To Improve Your Content Marketing & Get More Traffic

Make an ultimate guide from existing articles

Long-form content is excellent for SEO. Blog posts over 3,000 words are more likely to get shared on social media, earn backlinks, and appeal to Google. You can create long-form content by making a guide from your existing blog posts.

Drill down to the root of your business. Are you a content marketing website, a e-commerce brand, or a female geared creative agency?  

Whatever your area is — that’s what you want to focus on.  

Then, give yourself a broad title and use your existing content to thicken it out. I’ll show you how this works using content marketing as our example.

●      Title: Content Marketing 101: The Ultimate Guide To Content That Converts

●      Existing blog titles:

○      Why Pinterest Is The Best Marketing Tool

○      5 Top Tips For Writing Content For Your Blog

○      How To Improve Your Blog Shares On Facebook

Add in every article relevant to content marketing and make each one a subheading. Then include a few new points for each one, so that the content isn’t duplicated. In no time at all you have an enormous mega-guide, giving you supercharged long-form content. 

Turn your blog posts into a free eBook

It’s over a decade since Kindle was launched. Millions of units have been sold and billions of eBooks have been published with the device in mind. Kindle has had its time in the sun but people still love eBooks, especially free ones with specialist advice.

Turning your blog posts into a free book is not so different to making an ultimate guide. Group your articles around a title and create a larger resource. I’ll show you now: 

●      Title: An Expert Guide To Content Marketing

●      Existing blog titles:

○      Why Instagram Is The Best Experiential Marketing Tool

○      5 Reasons Niche Content Is Perfect For Your Business

○      How To Boost Your Business With Email Marketing   

You add the “expert” flavor to your content by including quotes from your own business:

●      Your Head of Marketing gives their rationale for Why Instagram Is The Best Experiential Marketing Tool

●      Your Creative Director summarizes How To Boost Your Business With Email Marketing

●      Your CEO includes one reason Niche Content Is Perfect For Your Business  

Simple. Where it differs is in the value it adds to your business. Ultimate guides are great for SEO, eBooks are excellent as lead magnets. Lead magnets are a great way of driving customers to your business because they give them an incentive to do so – it’s a gift for their attention.

Overthink found HubSpot’s ten most lead magnets of 2017. Four of these were eBooks:

Once you’ve decided on your title, selected your blogs, and added the expert quotes, turning it all into a traffic-driving eBook is easy. Using a tool like Designrr allows you to create an eBook in minutes. Then add your eBook to your website and start getting more customers for your business using your repurposed content.

For more on lead magnets, check out the video below:

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Optimize for a niche audience

Niche audiences let you target quality over quantity. Narrow audiences are more responsive to topics angled to them. This is because they address their needs, not a general idea. This also makes them more receptive to sales promotion in your blogs. It’s simple enough to take an existing blog and optimize it for a niche audience.

Millennials are a great example of a niche that many marketers and brands want to appeal to right now. 

I’ll start with those same titles:

●      Why Pinterest Is The Best Marketing Tool

●      5 Top Tips For Writing Content For Your Blog

●      How To Improve Your Blog Shares On Facebook

Now they become:  

●      Why You Should Use Pinterest To Market To Millennials

●      5 Content Writing Tips Designed For Millennials

●      How To Reach More Millennials Through Facebook

Next you’ll need to optimize the content so it’s angled towards the topic of millennials. A quick way of doing this is to change references to “customers,” “audience,” or “readers” to millennials. This needs to be done naturally in order to show Google your blog isn’t a spam post, and you will obviously need to add in more data and research to show you understand the topic. 

Add a couple of new subheadings so there’s some fresh content in your blog post. Use a software like Ubersuggest to give you ideas on what you include. You should also try Google’s People Also Ask:

After doing all this you’ll have a new blog post that’s niche focused and targeted to engaged readers.

Busy business owners don’t always have time to produce new content. By using these three tips you can turn your existing blog posts into a fresh asset. So go away and get repurposing!

All You Need To Know About Starting A Home-Based Business

By Amy Collett

By Amy Collett

Working from home is a dream for thousands of people, but making that dream a concrete reality is one of the most daunting things you will ever do. After all, it takes a lot of guts to let go of the safety net of a steady paycheck to work for yourself, but the rewards are well worth the risks. Running your own home-based business gives you flexibility, control, and incredible job satisfaction, but getting started can be the hardest part. That is why we’ve compiled everything you need to know to finally take that step and answered some of your most burning questions. 

Where Do I Start? 

There’s not one correct place to start when setting up your home-based business, but your website and social media presence is a good place to start. If you don’t have any experience with building a website, don’t worry: it’s not nearly as intimidating or expensive as you would imagine.

Essentially, you will need a domain (the name of your website) and a web hosting provider. Both are usually available through web building services, and doing everything in one place is better if you are a beginner who is making a simple website. Modern web builders feature intuitive, easy-to-use, drag-and-drop interfaces, allowing anyone to put together a good-looking website with little to no design experience. Check out this detailed guide to web builders to help you choose the best one for you.

Think about what your website needs, and try to keep it simple to start with - an “about me” section, portfolio, and contact page are usually enough. Then, consider which social media platforms you want to be on. Doing something visual? Instagram is a must. Showing off your way with words? Keep a witty and engaging Twitter feed.

Make sure you regularly set aside time to maintain your online presence. Don’t worry if you don’t have anything to show off on your website or social media yet. Just setting the processes in place and having these ready for when you do will save you loads of work down the line. Online tools like Later (which allows you to schedule Instagram posts on a calendar) and IFTTT (which can help you update multiple platforms at the same time) can be a huge help.

How Do I Start Getting Clients?

This is probably the biggest question for most budding freelancers and entrepreneurs, and the answer is that it depends. If you already have an established network in your area due to past jobs, then this part can be easier for you. Reach out to any contacts that could be interested in your services, and let them know what you can do. Even if you don’t have an extensive list of professional contacts, you can start by reaching out to friends and family members to get the ball rolling.

 If you are freelancing, you may find online platforms like People Per Hour or Upwork extremely useful for getting your first clients. However, bear in mind that the jobs listed on these portals are not likely to be high-paying ones and that you will be competing with people from all over the world who can afford to request lower rates. If you do choose to use these services, make sure you take your time setting up an attractive profile and writing careful, tailored bids for work. 

Finally, you have the option of cold pitching. While this can lead to great opportunities, it does come with its challenges - think about how many unrequested marketing emails you receive at work or in your personal inbox that you actually read and pay attention to. Make sure any emails you send are personalized and engaging, and always try to find a specific email address on LinkedIn rather than a generic “Contact Us” one. This guide to cold emailing by the Harvard Business Review is a good place to start.

 What Should I Charge?

Again, it depends. It depends on the work you do, your level of experience, and your ongoing expenses. Take some time to look up the average rates for your area as well as the different ways you can charge for your work. For example, writing work can be paid per word, per piece, per hour, or per day. Consultancy rates can be hourly, daily, or weekly.

It is a good idea to set your ideal rate for each of these methods, as this gives you a starting point for negotiations. Be realistic - you won’t be able to charge high rates if you are a beginner with a small portfolio. However, you should also be able to take pride in your work, so know how low you are willing to go. One option is to offer different rates based on the complexity of different clients’ work and their budgets, and then establish a set rate based on what seems to work for the majority of them. Using an invoice app (Square Point of Sale is a popular option, and it’s free) will help you keep track of what you’re charging everyone and which rate(s) are the most widely accepted among your clientele.

Finally, many business owners just starting out wonder if they should accept “experience” as compensation in the beginning of their new venture. The question of whether to offer free or extremely cheap work during the start of your career is a difficult one, and it comes down to personal choice. Some people believe it cheapens their work and can lead to being trapped with low-quality clients, while others swear by it as a way to build experience. It’s best to take this on a case-by-case basis - for example, this list by Forbes outlines four times in which it’s a good idea to take on work for free.

How Do I Stay Productive?

One of the hardest parts of running a home-based business is staying productive. After all, home is where you relax, and there are endless potential distractions lurking around every corner. Being your own boss is all fun and games until you realize that you have to monitor and motivate yourself.

First of all, focus on properly setting up your home office. Working from your bed or the dining room table is an attractive option (and you can always do that occasionally), but you need a desk with a proper work area to get your head in the right space for productivity. If you don’t have a separate room to turn into an office, then a partitioned corner of any room can work. The important thing is that it has everything you need to be productive and that it feels separate from your home life. 

Technology is a great ally to the home worker, so use it to be as productive as possible. There are apps that can streamline your invoicing, web extensions that can block certain websites (we’re looking at you, Facebook), and thousands of online playlists filled with music to promote focus and concentration.

Now that you know the basics, it’s time to start putting your plan into action. Don’t worry - anyone who has ever started a business has been slightly terrified, but the truth is that millions of people have fulfilling, prosperous careers working from home. With some planning, organization, initiative, and motivation, you can join them and have the business you always wanted.

7 Easy Business Concepts Every Founder Needs To Know

By Kayleigh Alexander

Over 500,000 new businesses are set up every month, but only half manage to get to the five year mark, a statistic that can be a little alarming if you’re thinking of founding one of your own. 

The infancy period of any start-up is volatile, and it can be especially difficult for entrepreneurs who don’t have any previous business experience.

Having a grip on some basic business concepts will give you some of the tools you need to successfully establish your brand and then keep it growing. Don’t blindly fight against established business norms — learn them, boss them, and then choose to subvert them if you want.

Here are seven easy business concepts that you need to know to help you realize your wildest creative business dreams.

Competitive advantage 

One of the main challenges for young businesses is finding a way to achieve and maintain a competitive advantage over other brands in a given market.

Put simply, a competitive advantage is an advantage you have over your competitors.  This is achieved by giving your customers greater value — either by offering lower prices or justifying higher prices by providing a better product or service.  

In his 1985 book ‘Competitive Advantage’, Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter outlined three core ways that businesses can achieve a sustainable competitive advantage:

●      Cost leadership means providing reasonable value at a lower price, which can be done by improving operational efficiency. Basically doing more with less — gig economy businesses are great for this

●      Differentiation means delivering greater benefits to the customer than your competitors can. This can typically be achieved through having an innovative product, a very high quality product, or delivering a similar product as your competitors, but offering exceptional customer service. Differentiation is often how creative businesses like yours stand out

●      Focus means that the company’s founders understand and serve their target market better than their competitors. The key to focusing is to choose one specific target market, often a niche that bigger companies don’t serve, and then concentrating hard on nailing it.

Supply and Demand 

The concept of supply and demand is directly relevant to any company competing in the marketplace, regardless of its size. Supply and demand means that a market will respond to changes in demand and supply to overcome surplus and shortages and therefore maintain an ‘equilibrium price’. For example, a shortage of gold leads to a higher price, because, as demand for gold increases, the upward pressure on prices would naturally prevent a shortage.

Supply and Demand Chart

Source: The Dasinger Daily

Understanding the specific supply and demand issues affecting both the sales and the purchases that your business makes will enable you to make more informed decisions.

Return on Investment

Return on Investment (ROI) is the financial benefit that is received from an investment, or, put more simply, a measure of what you get back compared to what you put in. For example, say you spent $1000 per month on Google Adwords, and your business made $2000 as a direct result of the ads, your ROI would be the difference. ROI is usually measured as a ratio, which in this case would be 2:1, because for every $1 you spend, you get $2 back.

Calculating ROI will help you to track what’s working and what isn’t working for your business. If your ads aren’t generating a profit, you will know that you need to make changes to them, or drop them altogether in favor of another form of marketing. 

Fixed and Variable Costs

When you start a business, your costs come in two forms: fixed and variable. Fixed costs don’t change when your sales volume changes, but variable costs do. Examples of fixed costs include the rent you pay for the space that your company uses, such as an office or storage facility, insurance, marketing and management salaries. Examples of variable costs are material and labor, the costs of which go up and down depending on sales. 

Economics

Source: PrepLounge

Understanding which costs are fixed and which are variable will enable you to budget and plan accordingly, and help you to identify what is a profitable price level for your products or services. If you suddenly lost your biggest customer account and therefore 25% of your sales, you’d still need to cover your fixed costs to keep your company running; figuring out these costs could be crucial to keeping your company alive.

Customer Lifetime Value

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is the total worth of a customer to a business over the entirety of their relationship. It’s important to your business because it costs less to keep existing customers than it does to acquire new ones. According to the book Marketing Metrics, “businesses have a 60-70% chance of selling to an existing customer, whilst the probability of selling to a new customer is only 5% to 20%”. Increasing the value of your existing customers will really help to drive growth. 

However, measuring CLV isn’t easy, with only 42% of companies feeling able to do it, and citing poor systems, lack of coherent marketing and lack of integration as the reasons why.

If big, established businesses struggle to measure CLV, then new and small businesses are likely to find it hard to make accurate measurements, but you can make a start with this simple formula: customer revenue minus the cost to acquire and serve the customer. If you are prepared to really drill down into the concept, there are more complex calculations that will help you get a more accurate result.

Customer Acquisition Cost 

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) means the price that your business pays to acquire a new customer. It can be worked out by dividing the total costs associated with acquisition by total new customers, within a specific time period. For example, if you spend $500 on marketing in one month and acquire 500 customers, then your CAC is $1. Web-based companies can roll out highly targeted campaigns and track customers from leads to conversions, making their CAC highly accurate. 

If you’ve just started a business, acquiring customers is crucial to making sure it is a success, but if you spend too much money on acquiring customers, then you won’t be able to pay your other costs and keep your business afloat. CAC is directly relevant to CLV, and combining the two will allow you to calculate what is the true value of a customer to your business.

Minimum Viable Product 

Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a development technique where a new product is introduced to the market with basic features, which will capture the attention of early adopters. Companies such as Uber, Dropbox and AirBnB all started as MVPs and achieved very rapid growth. An MVP is a bare-bones version of a product that includes a minimum of features and directly addresses the core problem it is trying to solve. Once the initial product is successful, more features can be added.

Pyramid marketing

Source: Cheesecake Labs

An MVP allows you to release your product to market in the shortest possible time, reduce start-up costs and test demand before spending money adding all the bells and whistles.

An easy creative product-based MVP would be a print-on-demand business with low overheads. Simply set up shop, hook up with an app like Printful, and go out looking for ways to make your first sale. Using print-on-demand methods means you can keep costs of production down while you test your designs and brand out with your target market. 

On the service side, you might be looking to start a consultancy coaching business for creative entrepreneurs. Before going all-out, test the waters with a series of blogs, a webinar, or a training course (Thinkific is good for this) to gauge whether you have a viable market and compelling message. You may find that you need to adapt your messaging.

You can work directly with users to analyze behaviors and get feedback, allowing you to develop your product in ways that you know customers will like. Developing your business in this way can also avoid large capital losses, therefore attracting potential investors because it is a low-risk venture.

There’s a lot to learn when setting up a new business and there is no guarantee of success, but educating yourself about some of the basic principles will stack the odds in your favor. A firm grounding in everything from basic economic theory such as supply and demand to sophisticated development techniques like MVP will help you found a business that is both profitable and sustainable.


Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to giving through growth hacking and shining a light on innovative startups. Visit the blog for your latest dose of startup, entrepreneur, and charity insights from top experts around the world. Follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.