HOME     SITEMAP     RSS     TWITTER     EMAIL    
Search:   

FollowSteph Follow Steph as he posts Blog Blazer Friday
 
 

Archive for the 'Blogging' Category

Blog Blazer Friday – Aaron Wall of SEOBook

Each week I will be publishing an interview from the book Blog Blazers (in alphabetical order) which can be purchased on Amazon here. The interviews were all done in 2008 and the full list of bloggers interviewed can be found by clicking here.

So let’s start this week with Aaron Wall of SEOBook

aaronWall

Aaron Wall
SEOBook
https://www.seobook.com

seobookLogo

Biography:

Aaron Wall is a well known blogger who primarily focuses on search engines, internet marketing, and why ideas spread. He is also the author of the eBook entitled “SEO Book” which has sold innumerable copies and is referenced throughout the internet.

Although Aaron is successful now, it has not always been easy for him. Early in his youth he was nearly legally blind, at least until half-way through high school without knowing it. Even through this adversity he still had a strong disposition towards entrepreneurship, most notably buying and selling baseball cards.

After graduating high school, Aaron joined the military as a nuclear reactor operator on a special operation fast attack submarine. However this was not the lifestyle for him for several reasons and he soon left the military. Upon leaving the military Aaron went through some rougher times and almost went bankrupt. This is when he took a job as a middle level manager.

He continued to work as a middle-level manager for almost a year while simultaneously learning everything he could about the web. He finally quit to focus on his web initiatives when he had reduced his debt to $10,000 and was making at least some money on the internet, which at the time was about $100/month. It didn’t take him long to go from there to making $10,000 a month. Within a year (the end of 2004) he had achieved success! Since then he has only been growing his success.

Interview:

Steph: What makes a blog successful according to you? Is it traffic, reach, revenue, etc.?

Aaron: It depends on the goals of the site. I have some blogs that make no money and have a low readership but help people, and to me those are successful. Other blogs are just about personal expression while my business ones are more income oriented. It is easy to get stuck on traffic stats, but you still have to pay your way.

Steph: When did you decide you finally reached success with your blog?

Aaron: I started my blog in December of 2003, started selling my eBook on it in February of 2004, and was fairly successful by April of 2004. I got started on the web in January of 2003.

Steph: How long does it take to become a successful blogger?

Aaron: I had a little known blog on my other site for about 3 months prior to creating SEO Book, so I guess it took about 7 months total. Though you don’t really become successful overnight or at any set point in time. I think of being successful as being self funding and having the confidence necessary to keep learning and keep trying new things.

Steph: Who do you think are the most successful bloggers on the internet today?

Aaron: I think Seth Godin and Matt Cutts have great influence. I love reading GapingVoid.com. I am mostly focused on internet marketing at the moment though, so my view of the web is a bit limited.

Steph: Which five blogs do you regularly read?

Aaron: I read every post Frank Schilling writes on his Seven Mile blog. I am a regular reader of SearchEngineLand.com. And while it is not updated as frequently as those two, I love TropicalSEO.com by Andy Hagans. CopyBlogger.com and Paul Kedrosky are equally refreshing.

Steph: Which websites would you recommend for any new bloggers starting to blog?

Aaron: Brian Clark’s Copyblogger is a must read if you want to understand how to write compelling conversion oriented copy. Daren Rowse’s ProBlogger.com is a must read if you want to get into understanding the mechanics of blogging. I also think you should read at least a dozen blogs about a topic you are interested in to learn how and why ideas spread amongst bloggers. Use iGoogle or Google Reader to make it easy to subscribe to a wide array of blogs.

Steph: Which book(s) would you recommend for new bloggers (these can range from marketing books, blogging books, etc.)?

Aaron: The Cluetrain Manifesto teaches you why the web is different than monolithic marketplaces of the past. Steven Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think teaches you about how to create a usable website. If you make a site that is usable and market demand oriented people are going to use it. Seth Godin’s Purple Cow teaches you how to be remarkable. Links are nothing but citations or remarks. If you know how to be remarkable then marketing is easy.

Steph: What is your most successful blog post ever?

Aaron: As far as spreading on the web, I would have to say that posting about getting sued for blog comments went far. I also launched an SEO tool called SEO for Firefox. Beyond those, I don’t think I have had any signature posts that I could easily point out as examples of successful posts. I actually had one article that did well before I became a popular blogger, but I think many of my posts are pretty good and I was lucky enough to enter a growing market early with a unique voice.

Steph: What’s your biggest tip on writing a successful blog post?

Aaron: If you are new to blogging and want an idea to spread make sure you get community feedback early on such that market leaders in your industry have a vested interest in talking about your blog post.

Steph: What’s your best advice in regards to content and writing for bloggers?

Aaron: It is easy to think that if you had one hit post that would get lots of readers, but people are fickle and competition is fierce. Doing well with blogging is not about writing one key post, it is about performing day after day and helping a few people at a time. Eventually big success comes out of all the smaller successes. Sometimes it arrives via an accident or mistake.

Steph: How important do you think are the headlines of your blog articles?

Aaron: Headlines are critical. They set the tone for the piece and a strong one can even change the mood of the reader before they even get to the content. Some social media sites will vote up a story based on the headline, without even bothering to read the story.

Steph: Do you spend any money and time on marketing?

Aaron: I have spent over $100,000 and over 3 years marketing my blog.

Steph: What are your main methods of marketing your blog?

Aaron: I have an affiliate program, I buy AdWords and AdSense ads, and I pay for a lot of custom programs that I give away. In turn, people link at my site and tools and talk about my site, which leads to more sales.

Steph: Which marketing tactic has surprised you the most in terms of its effectiveness?

Aaron: Just performing day in and day out. Making oneself available via email, blog comments, etc. allows you to make connections and build brand loyalists one person at a time.

Steph: What are your quick and short five best tips for blogging?

Aaron:

Link out to other interesting pages. Linking out is a form of free marketing, plus it prevents you from wasting time trying to create the web again from scratch.

Read and write everyday.

Write a second personal blog for family, political, and off topic posts.

Consume information in a variety of formats, including books, DVDs, magazines, and blogs.

Mix up your format. Use pictures, headers, and sub headers.

Steph: What is the most common pitfall new bloggers generally fall into?

Aaron: Many bloggers get burned out because they try to be too rigid following someone else’s advice, and thus take the fun out of blogging or feel everything has already been said before.

Steph: If you knew what you know now when you first started, what’s the one biggest tip you’d give yourself today?

Aaron: Re-invest more aggressively sooner.

Steph: What repels you the most from a blog (animations, in your face advertising, etc.)?

Aaron: AdSense ads plastered above the content on a blog with a default WordPress design. It basically says I don’t care for you.

Steph: Do you make any direct money from your blog through advertising, product placements, etc.?

Aaron: I sell a bunch of eBooks. As an indirect revenue stream I sell consulting services.

Steph: What is your best monetization method (Ads, affiliate marketing, etc.)?

Aaron: Selling my own product far exceeds the profit potential for selling ads in my market. In the search marketing community most people are quite ad blind in nature, and there are only a few scalable business models that are willing to spend heavily on advertising across blogs.

Steph: Do you find you get more from direct monetization of your blog or from opportunities that come because of the existence of your blog?

Aaron: Right now I would say direct monetization is ahead, but I have lots of opportunities I am still building on. I just don’t like to count checks until they are cashed.

Steph: What’s your most interesting story related to your blog and blogging experience?

Aaron: My wife met me through buying my eBook. If I did not start my blog so she could find me I will still be a hollow lonely man.

Steph: What’s the one biggest opportunity that came to you because of your blog?

Aaron: Getting married to my wonderful wife. I don’t deserve to be with someone so wonderful. I need to work hard to become the person she deserves.

Steph: Any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share?

Aaron: Thanks for the interview Steph.






Blog Blazer Fridays

blogBlazers

Like I said I will start posting an interview a week from the book I published called Blog Blazers (seen above). However I decided to first have an introductory post today to give you a list of the bloggers that were interviewed (in alphabetical order as they are presented in the book). As well I thought it would be good form to add a link back to the introduction on every post for people who join later on as way for them to quickly catch up. This way they can have a starting point.

First the details for anyone interested in purchasing the printed book, you can buy it on Amazon here as well as a digital copy from the website here. The main difference is that you can click on the links in the digital book where as the printed book you have to type them in. Other than that the printed book and digital books are identical. In any case, I will be publishing all the interviews here so you can also just read them here and click on the links here. The printed book is really more for people like myself who prefer printed books, or the digital book for people who want everything together in one nice file for their iPad, Nexus, Kindle, and so on. Also please note that you can also subscribe to receive emails of the interviews by entering your email in the form in the top right corner or entering your email in the form on this page.

That being said, the book was published about 5 years ago, back in 2008. So over time some things have changed, but the interview questions were intentionally selected to be as timeless as was possible and while making it interesting and offering the reader a lot of actionable items. I also tried to ask everyone the same interview questions so that the book would make it easy to study how different people succeeding at blogging. You want to know the secret to blogging success, there is NO ONE SECRET! Different bloggers succeeded in very different ways. The biggest hurdles to blogging success are number one starting and number two stopping. There is no one single way to succeed or a single secret recipe for success. Different bloggers have succeeding in different ways using different techniques.

Back to the book, and before I go ahead and list the bloggers interview, if anyone wants to peek ahead and read the individual blogger’s bios, you can read their bios here. Warning of shameless plug: Also if you’re interested, you can find the reviews about the book here.

Now, as I was about to say before, deciding who to include in the book was very very hard. I wanted to not only include successful bloggers, but also up and coming bloggers, bloggers that weren’t mainstream yet. I wanted to include bloggers for different subjects and niches. There seems to be more technology related blogs than other niches. I also tried to include bloggers that I believed would be around for some time, at least 5-10 years. When it comes to blogging, most people are notorious for only blogging a short time, from a few months to maybe a year, so I wanted to avoid bloggers that were going to be gone shortly.

So without further ado, here is the list of bloggers interviewed in alphabetical order:

As you can see the list of bloggers interviewed is quite large and substantial. At the time some were just starting out and have now reached new heights of success!

I’ll be posting an interview a week for almost a year, for 40 weeks in all! It will be called Blog Blazer Friday.

Thankfully the vast majority of the bloggers I invited to be interviewed in the book have lasted the test of time, at least in blogging time (5-10 years). Almost all of the blogs are still alive, all but just 2 blogs!! The ones without the links are the two that are no longer online. A few more do have their blogs online but aren’t actively posting anymore. But overall the vast majority are still very active bloggers and have only grown more since the book was published! Overall I have to admit I’m pretty happy with the results 5 years later.

There’s definitely a lot of good information and details in the interviews and I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed compiling them.






The Move to Aweber From Feedburner is Completed

Handing keys over

As most of you realize, about two weeks ago I made the hard decision to move the email subscription list for this blog from Feedburner over to Aweber. I basically had come to the realization that Feedburner is coming to an end sooner than later, most likely sometime later this year to at most sometime next year. The signs are pretty obvious in my opinion. So as a result, rather than continue to build up the email subscriptions only to lose them later, I decided to take the hit and move to Aweber now.

I knew it was going to painful and I would lose many subscribers over in the transition based on what I read from many other bloggers. It was pretty clear the subscription count would drop significantly. There was no if, the only question was by how much?

Firstly, and this is the hardest to swallow, everyone you import over to Aweber basically has to re-subscribe (re-opt in but it’s really the same thing). To prevent spam, and thus to prevent people from importing random email addresses and email lists and causing harm to their service, Aweber require that every single person you import re-opt in. That is they will send out an email saying that if you wish to continue receiving emails, you have to once again click on the link to confirm your subscription. Not a big deal, but this does require an action from all your subscribers.

The problem here is twofold. Firstly many people are afraid of clicking on links they receive. When it comes to subscribing, they usually get it within a minute or so, so it’s very fresh in their minds. It’s an expected email and they’re ready to respond. However when it comes out of the blue, even if you announce it in a previous communication, it’s still not as expected, so a lot of people will be reluctant and just not click. It’s unfortunate but that’s reality.

Also, and this is again another reality of our world today, asking people to perform any additional steps is enough to lose a certain percentage. Yes they may still be interested in your articles, but any additional work will cause a drop of some people. Just like adding an extra field in your purchase is likely to lower your sales conversions, asking to re-opt in will unfortunately drop some people.

And of course, and this is probably a good thing, over time some email addresses will no longer be valid. For example I still had many hotmail.com email addresses which Microsoft have since converted over to outlook.com. So for some people they may just have re-subscribed with another email address. Others just missed the opportunity. Similarly others may have used their work email address and are no longer employed at the same place so the email address is still in the list but is no longer active. Basically a bunch of little reasons for why some subscribers are no longer valid. So all list naturally need some pruning over time. It’s just psychologically tougher to do at the same time as everything else even if you know why.

With that in mind, the last blog post I wrote here was to let people know what I was doing, so that they weren’t as big a surprise when they received the email to re-opt in. Basically a friendly notice. And since then I decided to wait at least a week to give as many people as possible a chance to re-opt in before posting again so they wouldn’t miss anything. So yes although I was planning on writing more often, I held back to give the transition a little bit of additional time.

So what was the end result? Well firstly I’m happy and relieved it’s done. I’ve been wanting to do this for at least the last 2-3 years. I don’t know why I held off so long, probably it just didn’t seem as important. That and I didn’t want to lose any subscribers along the way. In any case it’s now done and as a result I can breathe more freely. And most importantly I can feel more comfortable that any efforts I spend on growing the list are not going to be lost in the future.

And now for some metrics. Well right off the bat 26.6% of the emails bounced when sending out the re-opt in email. So yes although that stung, that’s actually a good thing. It’s the pruning I just talked about. S4o basically 26.6% of the email subscribers over the years are no longer active. So this is a good purge. No point in sending out emails to people whose email addresses are no longer valid.

After that, in terms of re-opt ins, well let’s just say that quite a good number of subscribers were lost. I expected it, and it was definitely within the norm from what I read online from other bloggers who did the same thing. Everywhere you read about it, people say do it sooner than later because the cost of transitioning is painful. After this experience I completely agree. Do it sooner than later. It’s not fun so if you’re going to do it, do it sooner rather than later. It’s better to keep the number of lost subscribers in absolute numbers lower because the percentage will most likely be about the same. In other say losing 10% of 10 is much better than losing 10% of 1 billion in absolute numbers. That being said, I’m finding a week later previous subscribers are still in the process of re-opting in, so I don’t yet know what the final percentages will be.

On a positive note I’ve absorbed the cost so that’s now done. And although I lost some subscribers, quite a lot did transition over which is great! Above that, all the RSS feed subscribers are still there, they haven’t changed in numbers at all according to Feedburner (I left Feedburner for the RSS feed for now since there’s no reason not to – there’s no penalty if they go away and I transition that later).

What’s also good is that I already have quite a large blog with almost 500 posts written over 8 years so that will definitely help me re-grow it back to the same level of subscribers pretty quickly. My guess is that I’ll be back to this same levels within 3-6 months, so that’s about the cost for moving if you’re curious. Which like I said before, if you research it, that’s actually pretty good.

I believe this is also the very first time ever that FollowSteph has had less email newsletter subscribers than my company LandlordMax Property Management Software email newsletter! By the way the company email newsletter is also managed by Aweber and has been for at least a year now. In any case I don’t expect that to last very long, usually blogs get more subscribers than company newsletters, regardless of how good they are. What’s nice though is to see both of them growing on a daily basis!!

And on that note, I welcome back everyone who has transitioned! I also look forward to posting quite a lot starting now. And later this week, I will start to post one interview a week from my book Blog Blazers which you can find on Amazon here. The list of bloggers I interviewed can be found here (and I will be posting in the order of the book). So it should be quite a lot of fun. There’s lots of great interviews in the book.

Until then, here’s goes to the first post using Aweber!






Moving Email Newsletter to Aweber From Feedburner

future and past

Today’s post is more for the people who follow this blog by email, those who have subscribed to the email newsletter to receive emails of the posts. Basically the recent closing of Google Reader has made me realize I can’t hold off moving away from Feedburner any longer. It’s pretty clear that Feedburner is on it’s last leg and that Google will drop it shortly. Another example of some of the risks of hosted services.

In any case, as a result I’ve decide to transition over to Aweber (affiliate link). I’m going to import the email list into Aweber, but the downside is that Aweber requires that everyone re-opt in to get the email newsletter. In other words they will not send you any new blog posts by email unless you confirm your subscription. They do this as a policy to prevent spam on their system. Otherwise anyone could just import any list of emails they wanted and Aweber’s email service quality would go down. The downside is that you’re almost guaranteed to lose some subscribers along the way, and as unfortunate as that is, I don’t think I have a choice.

Therefore please accept my apologies for this inconvenience, and please do go ahead and re-opt your email newsletter subscription when you receive the invite. I look forward to continuing to post many articles in the future. Also starting next week I plan to post one chapter of my book Blog Blazers each week (an interview a week). You can find the list of people interviewed for the book here. If you can’t wait, or you want a hard copy, you can order the book on Amazon here.

In any case, I do appreciate your patience, help, and understanding in transitionning to Aweber. And if you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to contact me. In the meantime expect to see an invitation email to the new email newsletter service later this week.

And thank you for following FollowSteph.com!!






Are Shorter Headlines Always Better?

Are shorter headlines better?

It’s generally assumed that shorter headlines are better. Not just a little bit better but significantly better. The reality is that it’s necessarily not true. Shorter headlines are indeed better, but just marginally better. The difference between a 3 word headline and a 13+ word headline is not even 10%!!

A study of 2500 ads done in 1939-1940 by Harold J. Rudolph through the Saturday Evening Post found that the content of the headline is the major element that determines the effectiveness of a headline, not it’s length as is generally assumed. The table below shows the difference in the number of people who read the headline based on the number of words in the headline:

.

Number of Words in Headline Percentage of People who Read the Headline
Up to 3 87.3%
4-6 86.3%
7-9 84%
10-12 82.5%
13+ 77.9%

Therefore what we should learn from this is that if you have to add extra words, do so as long as it makes your ad more effective. A shorter headline with poorly chosen words is not as good as a longer headline with well chosen words. After all the difference in effectiveness isn’t even a full 10%. It’s definitely not as much as we’re generally lead to believe.






Top 10 Reasons to Take a Break

overworked person

As many of you know, I took the summer off from writing on this blog. Actually it was a bit more than the summer, but close enough. Anyways, the reason I took the break is that I needed time to recharge myself. And this of course led me to this post.

Nobody can work forever at a grueling pace, it’s just not possible. Everybody needs to take a break or holiday here and there, some more than others. And today we’re going to cover the top 10 reasons why you and everyone else needs to take breaks from time to time.

1. Your body needs to relax

As simple as it may sound, everybody needs to slow down once in a while. As much as some of us want to believe we can work through anything, we are human and our bodies and minds do need to rest. You can only keep going on fumes for so long. It’s even harder if you quit caffeine!

The other thing to remember is that it takes a bit of time to unwind. Weekends aren’t really enough to catch your breath. Even a one week holiday barely gives you enough time to unwind. Most people find that they finally really start to relax after a few to several days of rest, which means by the end of a week you’re finally starting to truly relax. It’s generally not until the second week of holidays that you really relax and benefit from your holidays. Unfortunately for a lot of us, it’s very difficult to take more than a week at a time of holidays.

And just taking a day off here and there is definitely not enough, sometimes you truly need to take some time to slow down your pace. It’s amazing the difference it can make. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that one day off is enough to fully recharge, it’s not. It’s a good start, but that’s all it really is. I view it as more of someone drowning and being able to get a grasp of air. It’s not enough to save you, but it sure does feel great!

2. Get new perspectives

If you never take a step back, you’re always going to be looking at it from the same angle. Taking a break or a holiday gives you the opportunity to take a step back and look at what your doing from a different perspective.

It’s amazing what a little difference in perspective can make. The theory of relativity is really just looking at the world from a different viewpoint. Instead of everything being absolute, Einstein basically realized that everything is relative. In other words we move relative to others, not from an absolute point in space. A simple little difference in perspective lead to a massive improvement in physics. That simple change in perspective completely changed how we view the world and lead to incredible discoveries.

While you probably won’t make the same level of groundbreaking discoveries as Einstein did, it may be enough to give you a significant boost in whatever it is you’re doing. I know being an entrepreneur sometimes I have to look at how I run my business from the outside, otherwise I would just keep doing more and more of the same. Looking from the outside allows me the opportunity to grow when and how I least expect.

3. Appreciate what you have

Like anything, if you do it too much, you start to lose your appreciation for it. For example, imagine if everyday someone did your laundry, cooked all your meals, and so on. After a while you would start to lose your appreciation for everything that’s done for you, it would almost become an expectation. Many hilarious Hollywood movies are based on this single idea.

It’s not until you stop getting the benefits that you really appreciate what you had and lost. For me blogging had become somewhat of a chore and I was no longer appreciating the benefits. And after writing for many years on a regular basis, I kinda got use to it. Once I stopped, about a few weeks into it, I started to want to write again. And the more I wanted it, the more I appreciated that I had the opportunity. And so instead of blogging being a chore as it had eventually become, it’s now something I really look forward to!

4. Improve the quality of your work

Generally if you do something a lot, you start to get lazy with it. A good example is a business manager or entrepreneur that’s had a nice growth and success history. After a few years of getting lots of good results, they may start to slack off a bit on their work because everything is going well. They have the midas touch. That or they’re getting so busy they start to take shortcuts. And unfortunately they may be able to get away with it for some time, riding on their previous successes. The bad news is that eventually it will catch up, and that’s when bad things happen. We’ve all heard stories of people who had it but then road the wave until they crashed.

For whatever reason, I find that when I take a good break, I have a tendency to ramp back up my quality of work. When you come back, you want everything to be done as best as you can. Things that you’d let slide you now address. Of course we always have to be careful about doing busy work just to be busy (like making sure your email inbox is completely clean). It’s just that in many cases you feel refreshed enough to address some of those bigger issues head on rather than deferring them where before you would defer them as much as you can. You’re up to dealing with the hard issues.

5. Disconnect to relearn how to focus

It’s amazing how good it can be to disconnect. Turn off your cell phone. Step away from your emails. Instead of always being on, multitasking like a mad person, it’s great to be able to relearn to focus.

We’re so used to constant distractions in our day and age that we forget how intrusive they can really be. After you’re disconnected for a while, you start to realize how many of those distractions are really just disruptions. You don’t need to receive all your emails right away. You don’t need to address every issue right now. You don’t need to respond to every email this minute. The world doesn’t come to a grinding halt! It’s good to remember that once in a while.

6. Discover and learn new things

How often can we just take the time to learn new things which will in turn make us that much more productive? To be quite frank, most people just keep doing things the same way because of two reasons.

The first is because they’ve always done it that way and they always will. It’s easy and they’re comfortable with the way they are doing things.

The second reason is that they just don’t have the time to learn anything new. That, or in my opinion, they don’t take the time. That is to say they don’t really understand the value of learning.

For example in software development I believe it’s crucial that you investigate your possible solutions before jumping on what you know. Sometimes the difference can be an order of magnitude increase in productivity. Not always, but often the difference in productivity is staggering. This of course doesn’t mean research everything to death, but do take the time to look at alternative options. You might be surprised more often than you think.

This is also partially where you can get the sunk cost effect. Basically the sunk cost effect is where you keep going the same path because that’s what you’ve always done and have invested large amounts of effort and/or money to get it working. In technology, this may be where you create a framework and stick to it regardless of where the programming world is going, or even how badly it’s working out. At some point alternatives and much better solutions come around, but forcing your people to stay to a specific solution because it’s worked in the past and because you have a large system built on it isn’t always the best solution.

As a quick tip, this is why I strongly believe all companies have limited lifespans. Eventually companies get stuck in some way or other due to the sunk cost effect, and they either collapse under their own weight or another new company eclipses them by leveraging a better and more productive way of doing things. As the cliche goes, out with the old in with the new.

7. Create a strategy for the future

When we’re in the thick of it we rarely take the time to create strategies for what we’re doing. We’re mostly just acting and reacting. Rarely do we plan and strategize. It’s generally only when we take a break that we can really do this.

My favorite example for this is video gaming. Before you start a video game, especially multiplayer games, you prepare your strategy. Then you try to execute it. Rarely do you adjust your strategy in the middle of a game. You’ll sometimes make tweaks to it between games, but often they won’t be very significant. It’s not really until the time between when you end your gaming session and you restart your next gaming session that you really take the time to plan what you’re going to do. That’s when you think about what you’ve done, and what you can do to improve your gameplay.

The same is true for almost everything in life. When you’re in the thick of it you’re too busy dealing with the situation. It’s generally only after the fires have been squelched that you figure out what happened, and look at how you can prevent it for the future.

8. Spend more time with family and friends

As though it wasn’t obvious enough, we’re probably all guilty of working too much. As much as I try to balance work and play, I’m sure I work too much. So taking a break is a good time to improve that balance.

And if you think you aren’t working too much, let me ask you this: On your death bed, will you ever tell yourself you should’ve worked more? Never have I heard of an instance of someone regretting not working enough. All you hear are stories of people regretting they worked too much and didn’t spend enough time with their families. Ask yourself right now, if you only had one week left to live, what would you do? I doubt your answer would be to work 24/7 for that week. Most likely you would completely skip working. That says it all right there!

9. Catch up on much needed sleep

A really weird thing I found is that when I take a holiday, I always get a lot more sleep. Suddenly instead of sleeping 4-6 hours a day, I start sleeping 8-10 hours a day, sometimes more. Why is that? I would assume because my body naturally needs more sleep than I allow it to take. I make no mistake about it, I am in no way hiding the fact that I’m fooling myself into thinking I can do this and get away with it. No one can. Eventually something has to give.

10. Improve your health

And last but not least, it’s a good chance to improve your health. Go outside and get some sun. Exercise. Ride a bike. Take a walk. Swim. Go for a hike. Whatever activity you prefer, it’s a good time to do it. We’re almost all guilty of not exercising enough. And although exercising during a holiday is not enough, it’s better than nothing. Plus, if you’re lucky you’ll continue doing it for a long time after you come back from your holiday.






A Failed Experiment – And why It's Important to Measure Everything

Lazy Friday Reading Assignment

For some time now I’ve been considering having a weekly post where all I’d do is list interesting blog posts, articles, news, etc. that I found online over the week. In late April I decided to go for it, and so was born the Lazy Friday Reading Assignments. These posts consisted each of a list of links with information around each link explaining why that link was interesting.

In terms of results, I mostly expected that these posts would have much higher clickthroughs than normal (because it’s a list of links to check out). I also thought that the overall traffic, and the subscriptions (Google Feedburner count), to the blog would continue it’s normal growth. And if I was lucky, other sites would learn about this blog and hopefully send additional new traffic.

The results were not what I expected! And this is why it’s important to measure everything.

In the graph above, the blue line represents “Reach”, or as Google defines it, the number of people who have taken action on your content. I had 4 Lazy Friday Reading Assignments on the graph, and all 4 resulted in higher clickthrough days. There are actually about 8 posts in the timeframe of the graph, with the last post being on May 21st (I’ve been too busy over the last while to post). In any case, the end of the graph is the baseline with no posts (about 2+ weeks since my last post), the lower levels of the blue line on the left side are the baseline for normal posts, and the higher numbers are the Lazy Friday Reading Assignment post days. Exactly as I would expect them to be!

The traffic, as measured by unique visitors, did increase over this time, but not much more than my normal growth levels (it’s not displayed on the above graph, I measure unique visitors through other sources). This is more or less what I expected.

But, and this is a big but, the subscription count as measured by Google Feedburner (the green line), was not at all what I expected! Looking again at the graph above, you’ll see that while I was publishing the Lazy Friday Reading Assignments, the green line has dips and overall didn’t really increase. Although the dips don’t exactly correlate to the Lazy Friday Reading Assignment days, I can assure you it’s the first time I’ve ever seen this behavior (there’s also some delays with when Google Feedburner sends out the newsletter by email for those that subscribed by email). Normally when I write a post I’ll see an increase in subscription count on those days (the reverse). I would’ve included an example, but I wasn’t able to find a way to generate a graph from Feedburner for a specific date other than the last 30 days (the full length is too massive).

Although those dips may not look too big, they do represent a decrease of several hundred subscribers. This is significant enough! And more importantly, it’s consistent. During the experiment the subscription rate had absolutely no growth. There’s been more subscription growth with me doing nothing for 2 weeks after the experiment than during the whole month of the experiment!

In other words the experiment was a failure. Therefore the Lazy Friday Reading Assignment is no longer. Although I thought it was a good idea, this didn’t turn out to be the case. Which is why it’s a good idea to measure what you’re doing. Had I not had these metrics, I may have continued for a long time before realizing my error.

Which is why it’s important to measure, measure, and measure again.

PS: Looking at the graph also reminds me I should be posting more consistently.






You Can Only Achieve What YOU Believe You Can Achieve

Believe

What’s the furthest you believe you will go in life? Do you believe you will own your own company? Do you believe you will be the boss at your job? Do you believe you will climb Everest? Do you believe you will make $1,000,000? Do you believe you will marry the most amazing person?

Firstly, notice I said believe and not think you can. With that in mind, which of the above questions do you truly believe you will achieve?

Now here’s the kicker, I can pretty much guarantee you that if you don’t believe you will achieve it, then you won’t. It’s not very complicated, it’s really that simple!

In the movie Fired Up!, an Animal House style movie, there’s a scene where the team believes they suck and because of that they do! That’s when the hero chimes in with a pretty colorful and somewhat offbeat speech about the importance of believing that you’re good. Below is the exert with some edits (to keep it cleaner for this blog):

– Sorry, guys, I just suck.
– It’s not just you. We all kind of suck.
– We’re not good at all.
– Hey, stop. Stop talking like that.
– But it’s true.
– We’re just not that good.
– Stop.
– Enough of that. You can go as far as you want.
– What do the Panthers have that you don’t have?
– Skills.
– Athleticism.
– Kickass cheers.
– Laser hair removal.
– Big-a** t******. I’m just saying.
– Confidence. They’re cocky a*******.
– Like Nick, the cockiest a******* on the football field. That’s why he’s good.
– He’s right. I’m awesome.
– Because he believes in himself.
– Also because I’m awesome.
– He knows he’s gonna be good, so he’s good. And he takes chances.
– Not hard due to the fact that I’m awesome.
– Nick. Trying to make a speech here.
– I’m sorry.
– Either bet big or go home.
– If you don’t wanna take any chances, then you shouldn’t even be here.
– I know you wanna be here, because you finish last every single year… but you keep coming back…  even if it means taking endless shit…  from total dong-knockers like the Panthers.
– All right. Come on, guys. Let’s be cocky a*******s.
– Yeah, you know what, he’s right.
– And I can say that… because I am the best cheerleader here, so you can all suck my d***.
– I was just being a cocky a*******.
– Oh, nice. That’s what I told you. Look, did you see what she was doing there?
– That’s exactly what I want from everybody.
– All right, let’s do this.
– And remember, you’re awesome. Let’s risk it to get the biscuit.
– All right, get cocky, b******.
– Let’s do it. Come on, guys. Ready.
– Hit it!

Although a bit colorful, and not exactly what I meant the idea is still really there. If you don’t believe you will succeed you won’t. And because the team thought they were bad, they always finished last.

As an aside, if you don’t believe in yourself, you’ll never take chances, which means you can never really lead. Part of success is also knowing how to create your own luck.

Let’s look at a more concrete example that you can associate in your life. Let’s say you’re making $50,000/year right now and you believe you can’t make more than $65,000. Will you ever make $75,000? No! Why? Because if you don’t think you can make that much, you’ll never ask for that much. You’ll never try to make that much. You won’t do what it takes to make that much. You may achieve up to $65,000, but you’ll never go above that level because that’s as much as you believe you can make.

The same is true with your dream job, the raise you want, the promotion you want, and so on. If you don’t believe in it, you will never try or get it. The very fact of not trying alone will prevent you from succeeding.

And it’s not just jobs, the same is also true for finding your perfect girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband. How many people are just too shy to approach the person they really like? They just sit there and wait, thinking they don’t deserve that person. They never take the chance. How many movies are about someone in love but never having the courage to take that initial leap?

The reality is that you have to believe you will succeed to succeed. When I started LandlordMax, I knew it was going to be a success. It was a fact a fact in my mind. And it is succeeding!

As Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear so well put it in the Bolivia Special episode (4:48): “If you believe something will happen, it will happen”.

What’s the furthest you think you will go in life? Do you think you will own your own company? Do you think you will be the boss at your job? Do you think you will climb Everest? Do you think you will make $1,000,000? Do you think you will marry the most amazing person?

Whichever questions above you answered no to, I can almost guarantee you won’t ever achieve. If you don’t believe you can do it, you won’t. It’s not very complicated, it’s really that simple!

In the movie Fired Up!, an Animal House style movie, there’s a scene where the team believes they suck and as such they do! But then our hero explains, in a pretty colorful and more entertaining method, the importance of believing that you’re good. The following is the exert:

Looking at a more concrete example. Let’s say you’re making $50,000/year right now and you believe you can’t make more than $65,000. Will you ever make $75,000? No! Why? Because if you don’t think you can make that much, you’ll never ask for that much. You’ll never try to make that much. You won’t do what it takes to make that much. You may achieve up to $65,000, but you’ll never reach above that level.

The same is true with your dream job. If you don’t think you deserve or can do it, you will never try for it. The very fact of not trying alone will prevent you from succeeding.

And it’s not just jobs, the same is also true for finding your perfect spouse. How many people are to shy to approach the person they really like? They just sit there and wait, thinking they don’t deserve that person. They never take the chance. How many movies are there about someone trying to fall in love with their dream person but never having the courage to take that initial leap?

The reality is that you have to believe you will succeed to succeed. When I started LandlordMax, I knew it was going to be a success. As a matter of fact, I also didn’t really have a choice. It had to succeed. As Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear put it in the … episode, if you believe it enough, you can will it to happen!

Jeremy clarkson

Sorry, guys, I just suck.

– It’s not just you. We all kind of suck.  – We’re not good at all.

– Hey, stop. Stop talking like that.  – But it’s true.

We’re just not that good.

Stop.

Enough of that. You can go as far as you want.

What do the Panthers have that you don’t have?

– Skills.  – Athleticism.

– Kickass cheers.  – Laser hair removal.

Big-ass titties. I’m just saying.

Confidence. They’re cocky assholes.

Like Nick, the cockiest asshole on the football field. That’s why he’s good.

– He’s right. I’m awesome.  – Because he believes in himself.

Also because I’m awesome.

He knows he’s gonna be good, so he’s good. And he takes chances.

Not hard due to the fact that I’m awesome.

– Nick. Trying to make a speech here.  – I’m sorry.

Either bet big or go home.

If you don’t wanna take any chances, then you shouldn’t even be here.

I know you wanna be here, because you finish last every single year…

but you keep coming back…

even if it means taking endless shit…

from total dong-knockers like the Panthers.

I wanna cut the blond one.

– What?  – What?

– What?  – What?

– What?  – I’m just saying.

All right. Come on, guys. Let’s be cocky assholes.

Yeah, you know what, he’s right.

And I can say that…

because I am the best cheerleader here, so you can all suck my dick.

I was just being a cocky asshole.

Oh, nice. That’s what I told you. Look, did you see what she was doing there?

That’s exactly what I want from everybody.

All right, let’s do this.

And remember, you’re awesome. Let’s risk it to get the biscuit.

All right, get cocky, bitches.

Let’s do it. Come on, guys. Ready.

Hit it!






Why is Feedback Important?

feedback

Several months ago I had the bad luck of catch Strep Throat. Since I’ve had it several times in my life, I pretty much knew I had without having to see a doctor. But if you want antibiotics to treat it, you need to go see a doctor.

Before I continue, let me just say that the main reasons you want to treat Strep Throat with antibiotics is two-fold. Firstly in rare cases it can easily prevent some pretty severe complications. And secondly, you’re much less contagious.

In any case, I initially tried to see my family doctor but unfortunately he was unavailable for whatever reason, maybe he was on vacation or something, I just can’t remember. (by the way my current family doctor is the best doctor I’ve ever had – not only is he good, but he also cares!). Because I couldn’t see him, I went to a local walk-in medical clinic.

The doctor saw me, did a quick swab test, and of course the results came back positive for Strep Throat. However, for whatever reason, the walk-in doctor didn’t want to prescribe me any antibiotics. She was very adamant, saying that my body could, and should, fight it off naturally.

Now I understand there is a lot of abuse going on with antibiotics, but Strep Throat is an infection that can potentially lead to serious complications in some cases if not treated, and it was 100% certain I had it. Sure it might go away naturally, but let me tell you, once you meet someone who’s experienced the serious complications from this infection, you understand why they recommend treating it. So why not take the antibiotics, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Plus, I’d be a lot less contagious.

But she refused. She said to go home, relax, and come back in a few days if got worse. So I left. But after a few hours, I had second thoughts and called the clinic. I explained that I had been diagnosed with Strep Throat, that the tests were 100% positive, and that it was highly recommended by the medical establishment to treat it with antibiotics. Not just to help fight the infection, but to help prevent any potential complications from the infection. Talking to doctor via the receptionist, she basically informed me the doctor really didn’t want to treat me with antibiotics and to come back in a few days if it got worse. I pushed some more and since it was near closing time, the receptionist said they would have to call me tomorrow.

The next day I decided to get a second opinion since I hadn’t heard anything by lunch time. I went to another walk-in clinic and saw another doctor. He quickly did another swab test and it was also positive for Strep Throat. He immediately gave me a prescription for antibiotics. I mentioned about the other doctor who refused to give me antibiotics, and asked why she wouldn’t just to get a better understanding. He said he had no idea, that with Strep Throat you should always give antibiotics. Again, this isn’t a sore throat, it’s a confirmed (now twice confirmed) case of Strep Throat.

Two or three days later, I forget now, I got a call from the initial medical clinic. This time the receptionist said that the original doctor that saw me wasn’t in today, but another doctor from the clinic would like to talk to me on the phone. She said, and I’m trying to remember the exact words as best as I can here: “You have Strep Throat and we HAVE to treat it with antibiotics. You can come in within the next hour to pick up a prescription, I’ll leave it at the front.”

Now you may ask, what was the point of this whole story? And how is it related to feedback? Well, if you look at the first doctor, she basically refused to treat Strep Throat with antibiotics. Since she’s not my family doctor, once I leave the clinic, she has no way of knowing whether her treatment was effective. Or worse yet, whether her treatment (or lack of treatment) helped or made things worse. She can only assume that things got better.

Let’s take this one step further. Let’s say her lack of treating me with antibiotics caused a rare kidney complication from the Strep Throat. How would she ever know unless I returned to tell her about it? She can’t know, and therefore she can’t learn from her mistakes. As far as she can tell her treatment was very effective since I didn’t come back.

How rare are the complications? I don’t know. But did you know it’s speculated that Mozart, the famous composer, may have died due to a kidney failure complication because of Strep Throat. Although rare, it does happens. But what’s worse is it’s so easy to prevent.

Getting back to our story, let’s say there are complications in 10% of the cases. How can any doctor from a walk-in medical clinic know (and learn) on the effectiveness of their treatments? As far as the first doctor who treated me can tell, there were no complications. No one came back. Although they might have ended up in a hospital, she wouldn’t know. She might not even be aware that another doctor from her very own clinic treated me with antibiotics. She could theoretically believe her treatment was right and continue treating her other patients the same way, re-enforcing her belief that her treatment (or lack of) works. A vicious cycle. And it’s really not her fault, there’s no way for her to know if it isn’t working.

Which is why it’s so important to have a family doctor. Unlike a walk-in clinic doctor who you’ll only see once, or maybe a few times over the years, your family doctor is going to be following-up with you on an on-going basis. Your family doctor is going to be getting feedback on their treatments. They’re going to see the results of their treatments firsthand and learn from them. They’ll know what works and what doesn’t. It’s not necessarily that one is better than the other (although it may be case), it’s that one has the chance to see the results of their actions, and learn from them, while the other doesn’t.

Feedback is the key! Without feedback how can you learn anything? How can you know if something really works if you never get to see the results of your actions? Feedback is the key ingredient in learning!






Are Your Backups Actually Good?

Computer Failure

Being the founder of a property management software business (LandlordMax), I can’t tell you how many times we’re contacted by people who’ve lost their data because of a hard drive failure, a complete computer failure, a virus, and so on. It happens all the time. So much so that a few years ago I wrote 4 Simple Steps to Protect Your Data From 99.9999% of all Computer Failures to help prevent this from happening to as many people as possible.

The good news is that today I’m seeing a lot more people pro-actively backing up their computers and their data. The bad news is that not all solutions are good. Whatever your backup solution is, you should test it before you NEED to use it. You might be surprised at how exactly it works. Or maybe it just simply doesn’t work. Maybe the automated backups aren’t actually backing up anything. Maybe it’s backing up the wrong files. Maybe the software you’re using is faulty. Whatever backup method, test it.

To give you an example, I was recently talking to a customer who was very active in her backup procedures. She knew that backing up was important, and she was very actively using a service to remotely backup her data in real time. I highly commend her for that, that’s better than most people. That’s exactly what we all want to see. I can’t praise her enough for being pro-active. And because of this she felt confident that her data was safe, which is completely reasonable, I would too.

However there’s one very big issue, and maybe you’ve already spotted it. If not, re-read the previous paragraph. Can you see it now? Her data was backed up in real time! If you think about it, this only protects you from a hardware failure or theft at best. And even then, if the harddrive is bad, you’ll still have the bad (corrupted) files overwrite your good files!! It only really protects you from a computer failure that’s very quick (power supply that shorts the machine) or theft. Maybe a few other situations, but it’s very limited. It doesn’t protect you from a bad harddrive, you’ll just push the same bad data to the backup service as the files get corrupted. It doesn’t protect you from a virus, the virus is just pushed over to the backup. It doesn’t protect you from accidentally deleting a file, the file is just as fast deleted on the backup!! Real time backups are good for backing up you system as it is exactly right now, good AND bad!

In other words, real time backups can be very limiting unless you can revert to a previous day, week, or month. And because most of these services are low cost, they don’t really offer these options. They just can’t, it’s not economically possible. For example, the solution use by the previously mentioned customer charges $54.95 a year for real time backups. If you look at the numbers, that’s less than $5/month for unlimited storage. I did notice that in her case the bandwidth was really slow, an 8MB file took about 15 minutes to restore. I would also assume support is about as good as $5/month hosting. But ignoring that, how can they feasibly offer tagged (dated) backups at those prices? Would most consumers pay $100/year for backups? My guess is probably not. Which means you won’t be able to revert to a previous version, just to your current version, whether it’s good OR bad.

Which means that if you overwrite a file, it immediately overwrites your backup. You can’t revert. You can only get what’s on your  disk right now. The same is true if you’re infected. All you can do is get back the infected files. The only time it will save you is if you’re computer dies suddenly due to a hardware failure, theft, or other even less likely events.

So the moral of this post, whatever your backup solution is, I strongly recommend you verify it before you NEED to use it. You may be in for some surprises. The backup disk may not work. The backup system may not actually be backing up anything. Can you get a previous backup that’s not from today (in case you have a virus)? How long will it take you to get your computer back up (at 8Mb/15 minutes, a 1 GB backup could take days!!)? Don’t just think because you have a backup solution that you’re good to go, test it!






 


SOFTWARE AND BOOKS BY STEPHANE GRENIER:

LandlordMax Property Management Software

LandlordMax is the EASIEST
Property Management
Software available!
Try it for free!

Real Estate Pigeon

Real Estate Pigeon
The place to ask and answer
all your real estate questions

Blog Blazers: 40 Top Bloggers Share Their Secrets to Creating a High-Profile, High-Traffic, and High-Profit Blog!

Blog Blazers is a book that
features secrets from the
Top 40 Bloggers on the web

How to Generate Traffic to Your Website ebook

How to Generate Traffic to
Your Website
is an ebook for
to you achieve success


 

FollowSteph
More resources from Stephane Grenier:
PUBLICATIONS
For people who work on the web
Blog Blazers
How to Generate Traffic to Your Website
 
SOFTWARE
The EASIEST Property Management Software available!
LandlordMax


Copyright @2003-2020
LandlordMax Property Management Software

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog about my thoughts, experiences and ideas. The contents of this blog are for informational purposes only. No content should be construed as financial, business, personal, or any other type of advice. Commenters, advertisers and linked sites are entirely responsible for their own content and do not represent the views of myself. All decisions involve risks and results are not guaranteed. Always do your own research, due diligence, and consult your own professional advisors before making any decision. This blog (including myself) assumes no liability with regard to results based on use of information from this blog. If this blog contains any errors, misrepresentations, or omissions, please contact me or leave a comment to have the content corrected.