Leaving Work Behind

SEO Strategy Series: Keyword Research & Competition Analysis Mastery

Written by Tom Ewer on October 31, 2011. 6 Comments

Keyword ResearchLast Friday, I started work on what I thought would be a modest article on keyword research and competition analysis, with the intention of publishing it today. It quickly turned into an absolute beast that is currently over 5,000 words long (and counting).

As such, I have had to postpone its publication until Wednesday, and am taking this opportunity to shamelessly promote it!

I don’t consider myself an expert on keyword research and competition analysis, but I do know a fair bit. I have researched rather a lot of keywords in my time, and ranked no. 1 in Google for several small – medium competition keywords. So I think I can help those who are looking for guidance.

More importantly (I think), there is no definitive keyword research and competition analysis guide out there. Plenty of people have created excellent tutorials specific to certain disciplines (e.g. niche sites), but I haven’t noticed any in-depth guides relating to the underlying principles that I believe should be focused on when carrying out keyword research and competition analysis.

As you might have gathered from the title, I intend this to be part of a series. I am not holding myself to any deadlines and will only write on topics that I am fully comfortable with. Most importantly, I make absolutely no excuse for the fact that I am not an “expert”, or a “guru”. I just have what I think is good advice to share with others, and you can decide whether or not it is worth your time!

So, stayed tuned for Wednesday, when I will be releasing my free “Keyword Analysis & Competition Analysis Mastery” eBook!

Photo courtesy of Yauhin

Are You Intimidated By Success?

Written by Tom Ewer on October 28, 2011. 7 Comments

Are You Intimidated By Success?

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

~ Winston Churchill

Most people are afraid of success.

We look at the achievements of others with a mixture of awe and jealousy, and silently remark to ourselves how we are not capable of such things.

But we are. The majority of “successful” people out there haven’t done anything that you aren’t capable of. Usually, they have just two advantages over you:

  1. They are not afraid to succeed. They are not afraid to try (and fail) until they get to where they want to be.
  2. They believe in their potential. They believe in themselves, even in face of multiple failures.

Do you know why success is so intimidating to so many? Because they look at step 100 without considering the fact that there were 99 incremental steps leading up to it. As M J DeMarco says, they see the event, not the process.

Did you know the first ever item to be sold on eBay was a broken laser pointer? The vast majority of first-time business endeavors have humble beginnings. It doesn’t mean that they can’t turn into something huge.

Remember this – success is always forward-looking. Success doesn’t dwell on the past. Success is incremental. If your first step is small, it doesn’t mean that it won’t lead to huge strides in the future. The important thing is to just keep taking steps.

If you take time to examine the process of a “successful” person, you will suddenly realize how success is almost always preceded by a cumulative process of endeavor. Something that we are all capable of.

And that is why success shouldn’t be intimidating. It is just a process.

Image courtesy of Carlos Blanco

Bouncers, Groupies, Fence Sitters, And IEMing Your USP

Written by Tom Ewer on October 26, 2011. 10 Comments

Bouncers, Groupies & Fence Sitters

This article follows on nicely from my previous one, Blogging Isn’t A Two Way Street, in which Judi left a thought-provoking comment:

As I read your post, I kept thinking how do I learn more about the 90% to better serve them if I never get input from them.

Bloody good question that, which I attempted to answer in the comments section. I quickly realized that the topic deserves an article of its own, which brings me here.

The fact is, it is very difficult to know what the ‘90%’ really want from you. What you need to do is have a very clear idea in your head as to who you are targeting, what you want to offer them, and how it will benefit them. In that way, the 90% becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

But there is another layer beyond that, but thankfully, it makes your life a little easier.

There are three different ‘types’ of people that will hit your blog, and you only need to worry about one of them. Let’s address each type in turn:

1. Bouncers

Bouncers

Not this kind of bouncer...

Bouncers, as you might expect, will hit your site and just bounce straight off. They’re just plain not interested. Most likely they thought your blog was going to be something it is not, or they have absolutely no interest in your topic and just happened to hit your blog randomly.

2. Groupies

Groupies

Your groupies probably will not look like this...but then you may consider that a good thing.

Groupies already love you. There are many reasons why your blog might attract groupies – they could have been referred from a trusted source, they may have read and loved a guest post you did, or they might simply hit your site and feel like it has been made for them.

3. Fence Sitters

Fence Sitter

Charging bull offscreen

Fence sitters are perhaps intrigued by your blog, but certainly not sold. They have an interest in your topic, but are yet to see what you offer that makes taking a solid interest in your blog worth their time.

Who Should You Cater For?

You can ignore the bouncers. There’s no point trying to sell ice to Eskimos. And whilst you should of course love your groupies, you do not need to worry about them – they will take care of themselves. It is the fence sitters that should get your special attention.

Imagine a user car salesman that spends 45 minutes trying to sell a car to a guy who was ready to sign a check after 5 minutes, whilst undecided customers come and go. You run the risk of losing the fence sitters because you are trying so hard to please your groupies, who already love what you do!

So how do you turn fence sitters into groupies? Simple – you need to IEM your USP (apologies for the acronyms).

Unique Selling Proposition

Unique Selling Proposition...otherwise known as having awesome donuts.

For the uninitiated, USP stands for “Unique Selling Proposition”. Otherwise known as “what sets you apart from the crowd”. Yes, the concept has been beaten to death, but with good reason – it is vital to the success of your blog. So let’s explore the three ways in which you need to exploit your USP – Identify, Establish, and Maintain.

1. Identify

IdentifyIf you don’t offer a unique solution, or a unique spin on a well-covered topic, your blog readership will never get above the average. You have to figure out what it is that you bring to the party that will make you the centre of attention. Otherwise, you’ll just spend the whole evening munching on the canapés and feeling sorry for yourself.

It helps if you have a good knowledge of your chosen topic. Having true passion for your topic is a huge selling point – it will shine through in your writing, and can be infectious. Alternatively, you can think outside of the box and approach a topic from a unique angle. Finally, you can broach as yet unexplored territory. Although this may seem impossible, the world is developing at a rapid rate – there are always new things to talk about. And blogging is the perfect way in which to do so (i.e. it is instant).

2. Establish

Once you have identified your USP, you need to establish it. Not only do you need to create content that reflects your USP, you need to actively ‘sell’ your angle. It is not enough to just “do it” – you need to promote your USP.

The internet is far too crowded a place to rely upon the quality of your content alone. You need exposure. I could talk to you about marketing but that is not the purpose of this article. But the inception (or re-launch) of your blog should be irrevocably intertwined with your USP, placed front and center, in bright neon.

3. Maintain

MaintainBut don’t stop there. Your USP should course though the veins of every paragraph that you publish – now, and forever more.

You may have written that ass-kicking manifesto a few months back that laid out exactly what your intentions are, but 95% of new visitors probably won’t even read it.

You constantly need to revisit your USP and ensure that your message never gets lost in the noise.

Conversion Of The Fence Sitters

If you can successfully establish and maintain your USP, you will have a much better chance of converting your fence sitters into groupies. Because ultimately, all they want is a reason. You’ve got them on the hook – you just need to reel them in.

If you successfully inject your USP into the DNA of your blog (apologies again for the acronym fest), you can rest assured in the knowledge that you have done all you can to convert the fence sitters. If they are still not convinced after that, then they were probably closer to bouncers than groupies to start with. Or perhaps they’re not just enamored by your angle. That in itself is fine – I’d rather appeal to a small bunch of groupies then attempt to keep a large bunch of fence sitters in check.

Over To You

What is your take on this topic? Do you agree with my theories? Or do you follow a different path? Let us know in the comments section!

Images courtesy of Robert Park, macwagen, Tom Rolfe, Esther Dyson, Lee Carson and Incase

Blogging Isn’t A Two Way Street

Written by Tom Ewer on October 24, 2011. 14 Comments

Blogging Isn't A Two Way Street

I am aware that this article will probably not attract many comments and won’t be particularly popular. However, I have something to say that I think is important, and that tends to overrule any of my other goals.

I mention comments and popularity for a reason. I read Marcus’ latest post over at The Sales Lion last Friday: 10,862 Comments Later, I Realize Blog Comments are NOT a Business Model. Although you probably understand that blog comments in themselves aren’t a business model without Marcus having to tell you, the article has a lot more to say than just that.

Marcus heads up the article with the following recent exchange between him and John Falchetto:

“Marcus, of all the comments on your blog, how many of the people turned out to be actual customers?”

“Hmmm,” I thought “I really don’t think anyone that has commented on TSL has ever turned into a paying customer. Some customers have turned into commenters after being a client, but not the other way around.”

“Exactly,” said John, “Me neither.”

Think about that for a second: Over 10,000 comments and not a single customer.

What does this tell us? Well, we can speculate endlessly, but one thing is for sure – your blog’s success does not depend on the number of comments you get.

Let me clarify that statement – whilst the number of comments you receive can be an indication of your blog’s reach and “engagement factor”, it is highly limited as a metric of success.

Why? I will refer to a post by Darren Rowse: 10 Techniques to Get More Comments on Your Blog. In it, he refers to a study in which it is purported that your visitors can be ‘split’ as follows:

Now I appreciate that the aforementioned post and study are rather dated, but I highly doubt that the figures have changed by more than a couple of percentage points since.

Where Are You Going With This?

Cater To The Masses

Don't cater just for your pond of loyal supporters when there is an ocean of readers out there.

I think we are all guilty of (at least occasionally) assuming that the readers who communicate with us (via blog comments, emails, social media, or any other medium) are representative of our readership. But they’re not! In fact, they probably account for just 1-10% of your total readership. That is a very small proportion.

We often find ourselves living and dying by the number of blog comments or emails we receive. But there is so much more to your blog. And if you cater your blog to the 10%, you are catering it to the “hardcore” fans of your blog – not the “lurkers” – not the undecided.

Don’t Sell To The Sold

It’s like a car salesman spending 45 minutes trying to sell a car to someone who has already decided to buy, whilst five other potential customers are ignored.

Car Salesman

You don't want to be this guy, do you?

Personal updates are a great example of catering solely to the 10%. Presuming that you don’t have a “personal” blog, let’s say that you post three times a week, and you decide to start dedicating every Friday to a “personal update”. It could be anything – a story about your dog, what you had for lunch, your Tuesday trip to a local food market… you think it is a good idea, as you seem to have attracted a following who are genuinely interested in you as a person.

That is fine, apart from the fact that only 10% of your readers give a damn about your dog. Sorry to give it to you straight, but the vast majority of your readers just aren’t interested.

I’m not saying that you should never do personal updates, but I am saying that it should not be at the expense of your regular content – which does appeal to “the masses”.

Don’t Stop Loving Your Biggest Fans!

Stormtrooper In Love

Even Stormtroopers have time for love...

Let me make something absolutely clear at this juncture – I am not saying that you should ignore your loyal supporters. Far from it. I am extraordinarily grateful to the guys and girls who have been consistently supporting me. It means a great deal.

But you do have to strike a healthy balance. Write for your whole audience – not just the ones that are interacting with you.

Blogging is in part a two way street, but for the vast majority of your readers, is completely one-sided. They come to read your content and learn, and for whatever reason, they have little or no interest in contacting you.

And for what it’s worth, that is absolutely fine – after all, if you go back 20 years, blogging as a concept would have seemed utterly bizarre. If you have any kind of audience, you will never be able to communicate with all of them, so be thankful that the majority don’t want to talk to you!

So please, don’t just write for the 10%. Make sure that you are catering for everyone.

Do You Write For The 10%?

I’d love to know what you think about this. Do you agree with what I’ve said, or do you take a different approach? Let me know in the comments section – because, people of the 10%, I value your thoughts!

Images courtesy of Steve Snodgrass, Kevin Dooley, Belly Acres and J D Hancock

The Secret To Leaving Work Behind

Written by Tom Ewer on October 21, 2011. 2 Comments

The Secret To Leaving Work Behind

A lot of things have to come together in order for you to leave work behind. There are practical considerations – are you financially stable? Will you be able to support yourself and any dependents? And there are less tangible factors – do you have a healthy mindset? Are you suitably driven?

But all of these are for naught if you ignore the key to leaving work behind – recognizing and leveraging your ‘assets’.

What Are Your Assets?

If you have aspirations to become self-employed then you will of course need to figure out exactly how you are going to form a successful business.

What is a business? In its most basic form, a business is a mechanism for providing value to consumers, in exchange for money. The key to any business is that the level of financial reward comfortably exceeds the cost of providing said value.

So in order to start up your own business, you need to decide what value you are able to offer. That forms the basis of your future direction.

That’s where your assets come in. By assets, I essentially mean “what you are good at”. What you do well. What interests you.

The beauty of our world is that every person has something of value to offer. There are no “masters of all trades”.

An Exercise

I want you to do something for me. I want you to make a list of all of the things you are good at, and what interests you. I want this list to be as comprehensive as possible. Here are some examples to get you started:

It doesn’t matter how obscure your interests and skills may be – just get them down. It is truly amazing what can be turned into a business. In fact, all of the items on the list above have been turned into businesses. Do you know what that means? There is no reason why you can’t too.

I think that Chris Guillebeau said it best in 13 Steps To Leaving Work Behind:

Ask yourself, what do I know how to do that other people are always asking me about? For example, are you the person who gets the call when a computer crashes? Are you the “creative one” that people go to with questions about art? What is it?

Think carefully about this question – figure out what is easy to you that is difficult to other people. It will be much easier to leave work behind when you craft your exit strategy in line with the skills you have that are desirable to others.

Recognize your assets. Then leverage them to provide value to others. The basic concept really is that straightforward. And although the idea of creating a profitable business can seem overwhelming and/or impossible, that simply isn’t the case. Just start small, put one foot in front of the other, learn from your (inevitable) failures, and progress.

Over To You

If you really want to leave work behind and you haven’t yet recognized and started leveraging your assets, can you tell me why?

If you have started out on your path, what is it that you are doing, and how are you getting on so far? I’d love to hear about your progress.

Photo courtesy of Tim Snell