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5 Easy Ways to Stay Focused Throughout Your Day

stay focused throughout your day

Increased efficiency seems to be the Holy Grail of today’s modern fast-paced society. It’s created a multi-billion dollar industry composed of countless smartphone apps and self-help books promising to increase your ability to get things done. It’s all frankly quite distracting!  Before you go spending your hard earned cash on that sort of thing, save yourself a few dollars and read the list below.

I believe at the heart of being efficient and being productive is the ability to stay on task. If you’re focused you can not only get things done quicker, you can then get a lot more things done. Pay attention in your office, or to your friends and you’ll soon notice the people who get the most done are the ones who start and finish things in one sitting. This is what the tech boffins in Silicon Valley mean when they say, “don’t work hard, work smart.”

So, here are my top 5 ways to stay focused throughout the day.

1. Keep a Tidy Workspace

You probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how neat your workspace is but you definitely should. Excluding your bed, you probably spend more time in your workspace than anywhere else on the planet. Keeping it tidy will improve your efficiency and reduce distractions.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “out of sight, out of mind.” Well, this is the attitude you should apply to your workspace. Every item within your line of sight should be relevant to what you do. By all means, personalize your workspace, put up pictures of loved ones, have a few pretty plants, but don’t place them directly in front of you. Having an organized workspace will dramatically unclutter your mind and help you focus on the task at hand.

stay focused throughout your day

2. Get More Sleep

Sleep has been referred to as the single greatest performance enhancer known to humankind. Oh sorry, correction, single greatest natural performance enhancer. I’m sure Lance Armstrong and his friends have a few other performance enhancers up their sleeves. But for you and I, nothing has the power to improve our ability to stay focused during the day than sleep.

Study after study has proven that individuals who sleep better are more accurate in their work, better at retaining and recalling information, more efficient, and better decision-makers. Should you want more detail, the team at the Sleep Advisor blog often discuss the importance of a good night’s rest has on mental performance in much greater length.

3. Experience the Benefits of a Power Nap

Nothing, and I mean nothing, can beat the cognitive performance boost that a good night’s sleep gives you. One thing does come close, however, and that’s a power nap. A microdose of sleep taken during the daylight hours.

Napping has been shown to be particularly effective if you are attempting to learn new skills or retain information. Studies have shown that individuals studying languages have an improved ability to recall words if they take a nap shortly after a study session.

Throughout the course of the day we all experience peaks and lows in terms of energy known as circadian rhythms. We are thought to be our most effective around 11 am and then comes the post-lunch slump, or the postprandial torpor, a decline in energy in the early afternoon.

Many power through this slump with caffeine. But a more sensible option is to lean into it and have a nap. You will find that after you wake you will have a vastly increased ability to focus.  That’s what I call working smart!

Related Reading: How to Care for Yourself While Running a Startup

4. Exercise More

Stress is one of the biggest impediments we all have to get things done. Worrying too often clouds our thought patterns and can lead to muddled behavior and sometimes complete inaction.

When we worry, the body releases a chemical known as cortisol into your system, also known as the ‘stress hormone’. Apart from sleep, the most effective way to combat elevated levels of cortisol is to engage in physical activity. This can be anything from going for a jog at lunchtime, lifting some weights or targeting a flurry of jabs at a punching bag.

You might be saying to yourself, “who has time to exercise during the day?” Well, I’d answer that exercise again falls into the category of working smarter. An individual who sits at their desk all day worrying – their system flooded with cortisol – will have less ability to focus on the task at hand than someone who gets up, goes for a run and comes back with a clear head.

5. Make Lists in the Evening

Some of the most focused people I know are also the most avid list makers. They make them in the mornings and in the evenings. I even have one friend who makes lists of lists. While that might be taking it a step too far, I do firmly believe the process of writing a list has an incredible power to focus the mind on what’s really important.

Take five minutes in the evening to list your duties for the following day and then highlight the number one priority. This will give you a great boost to how you start the morning. Achieving that top goal should come before everything else, before you check emails, return calls, before anything. Then once you’ve ticked that off, you can get to work on the rest of your goals.

Well, there you have it my friends – five ways to stay focused throughout your day. I hope you managed to make it to the end without getting too distracted. If you didn’t, then maybe hit the hay a little earlier tonight. Give it a go. You can thank me in the morning – but not before you check a few things off your list!

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How to Care for Yourself While Running a Startup

how to care for yourself while running a startup

As business owners, it’s easy to put the needs of others above our own. There is always somebody essential that wants or needs something – whether employees, clients, or even the dozens of emails waiting in your inbox. However, just because you have a demanding schedule, you don’t have to neglect self-care.

If you don’t make time for activities away from work, your mental and physical health will suffer – and so will your business. The healthier you feel inside and out, the more effectively you will be able to handle work responsibilities. Here are six ways to care for yourself while running a startup.

1. Schedule Me Time

The only way to stay consistent with self-care is to purposefully incorporate it into your daily schedule. Make it a priority to schedule some me time every day, even if it’s just fifteen minutes before you start work. Use this time to do anything that will make you happy and relaxed, whether that be journaling, doing yoga, practicing meditation, or just enjoying a good book. Keep this up every day, and you’ll spend more of your waking hours in a state of calm, as opposed to stressed and anxious.

2. Get Regular Exercise

Exercise is known to be one of the best stress relievers – helping to ease tension, improve your sleep quality, and boost your mood. But you don’t need to spend hours on the treadmill or tons of money at the gym to reap the benefits of exercise. Doing small chunks of physical activity throughout the week is enough. During the work day, use your breaks to get moving outside, even it’s just to take the dog for a walk. Commit to a fun outdoor activity that you love on the weekends – this will give you the balance you need between work life and your personal time.

3. Plan Your Meals

The foods you consume impact your cognitive thinking. A busy schedule, however, can make maintaining a healthy diet a challenge – sometimes it’s easier to just grab fast-food or order takeout. To avoid making poor food choices, prioritize planning your meals ahead of time. Having healthy meals prepared for the week will save you time during your busy workday.

4. Take a Break from Technology

We are all guilty of spending too much time with technology. Startup business owners find it especially hard to get away from technology when you have constant emails, demands, requests, and messages coming in. This is why it’s so important to set boundaries around the times when you will respond.

When you’re taking a break, the best thing to do is put your phone and computer out of sight so that you aren’t tempted to look at work messages. This will make it less tempting to think about your business 24/7 and give you a much-needed break from technology screens.

how to care for yourself while running a startup

5. Spend Time in Nature

Nature has a calming effect on the mind. The beauty and serenity of the outdoor world create a sense of peace you obviously don’t get in a working environment. Just getting outside during the week will rejuvenate your mind and help to relieve stress and mental fatigue. For additional benefit, try going barefoot – this has been shown to build muscle strength and reduce feelings of anxiety.

6. Plan a Weekend Getaway

Running a startup can be physically and mentally exhausting. If you can manage, make plans for a weekend getaway. Taking a few days to away in a new place will do wonders for your mindset and overall health. If you feel hesitant to take time off – keep in mind that it will be better for your business in the long run.

So, there you have them; six ways to care for yourself while running a startup.  Do you practice any other methods for your own self-care?  If so, please share them in the comment section below.

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11 Powerful Podcasts for You; the Businesswoman Over 40

businesswoman over 40

As I have said many times before, I love podcasts.  I listen to all sorts too. Whether it’s a show dedicated to solving real crime mysteries or one intended to expand my knowledge on an exciting topic, I’m an avid listener.  But my favorite shows are about creating and growing successful businesses.  So, in my quest to add quality shows to my audio library, I thought I’d make a list of the most potent podcasts for you; the businesswoman over 40.

#1 About That with Marga Ortigas – This show is about professional and personal transitions at midlife and beyond. Guests discuss how they have successfully navigated life’s changes.

Favorite episode: Breaking Ground with mental health professional, Darby Latshaw

 

#2 Your Next Avenue with Richard Eisenberg – This inspiring new podcast focuses on the work and careers of people fifty and over.  The show is hosted by the Senior Web Editor of Next Avenue, one of my favorite media websites.

Favorite episode: Finding Meaningful Work with author Shawn Askinosie

 

#3 AgeWYZ with Jana Panarites – This weekly broadcast deals with the emotional topic of caregiving and provides resources to those struggling to balance work life and the duties of caring for an aging family member.  It’s perfect for the businesswoman over 40 who is tending to the needs of elderly parents.

Favorite episode: The Legacy with caretaker Maggie McClane

 

#4 The Second Act with Benita Adams – This one isn’t actually a podcast.  You can listen to Benita’s radio show or watch her on TV or catch episodes on YouTube.  Either way, you’ll be entertained by her stories and interviews with reinvention experts.  Check out Benita’s show in this video: What Would I Tell My Younger Self?

#5 Feisty Side of Fifty with Mary Eileen Williams – Mary dedicates her show to boomers and gen Xers who embrace positive change in all aspects of life and look forward to the years ahead.  It’s a real ‘life is just beginning’ type of podcast.

Favorite episode: Interview with Betsy Werley of Encore.org.  This show is especially poignant for the businesswoman over 40.

 

#6 Women in the Middle with Suzy Rosenstein – The host, Suzy, is a Master Certified Life and Weight Coach who’s areas of expertise are midlife and transitions.  Her podcast encourages “frustrated women to get excited about their lives again.”

Favorite Episode: Why You’re Miserable at Work and How to Change It

 

#7 Second Act Stories with Andy Levine – In each new show, (offered every other week) inspiring people recount their experiences of making a significant career change in pursuit of a rewarding professional life.

Favorite episode: Ready for Some Expert Advice? with author Marci Aloboher

 

#8 Forever Fierce with Catherine Grace O’Connell – Each week Catherine is joined by a co-host to discuss a wide range of topics that midlife women find quite interesting. The show can be heard live Tuesdays at 2 PM EST on LA Talk Radio or downloaded from iTunes or Stitcher.

Favorite episode: Interview with the woman who stood up to Tony Robbins on the #metoo issue: Nanine McCool

 

#9 Experience 50 with Mary Rogers – Mary is on the same mission as me; helping midlife women succeed in business.  So, I naturally gravitated toward her show.  If that’s the type of help you need, have a listen.

Favorite episode: Rebranding Midlife Women with Juju Hook

Related Reading: 25+ Terrific Gen Xer, Midlifer, and Boomer Blog to Love

#10 Advice to My Younger Me with Sara Holtz – I love the concept of this ‘pay it forward’ show. Older, wiser, more experienced guests discuss strategies to help younger women achieve career success.  This podcast is all about the things you wish you had known as a professional in your 20s and 30s.

Favorite episode: How to Have a Good Day with Caroline Webb

 

#11 Women Killing It with Sally Hubbard –  Sally is an investigative journalist who has created an inspirational broadcast that celebrates and features rockstar businesswomen.  They share what has worked in their careers and what pitfalls to avoid to thrive in any job.

Favorite episode: How to be Confident with Regina Huber

I hope I piqued your interest with a few of these podcasts for the businesswoman over 40.  Let them motivate you to reach for the stars in your quest for success.  If you have any suggestions for new podcasts we should listen to, please leave a comment below.  And, as I always say…

Life is better when we lift each other up.

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Top 5 Reasons to Sell Your Online Business Now

Sell Your Online Business

Running an online business can be wonderfully rewarding. It gives you the freedom to work when and where you want and, hopefully, the financial stability to meet your current needs and also plan a little for the future.

However, there will come a time when you desire change. But it’s always hard to know if now is the right moment to make a life-altering decision. It’s difficult to tell the difference between true stagnation and simple frustration or anxiety.

Consider these top five reasons for selling your business now to help you figure out if the moment has arrived for you to cash out and move on.

You No Longer Enjoy Running It

This one should go without saying, but so many people don’t consider this reason to be as important as it really is. Without being too morbid, we can never forget our time on Earth is limited, and that it can be taken from us at any moment.

There will always be things we enjoy doing more than others, but it’s our responsibility to weed out those things we don’t like and replace them with what we love. Your work is no different.

Ask yourself if you really enjoy running your online business. Do you still feel that same challenge pushing you forward? Or do you feel overcome with dread and anger every time you sit down at your computer? If you identify more with option two, then it’s time to move on. Simple as that.

“But what about the money?” a lot of people will say.

No amount of money is worth your happiness and well-being, so if you can’t approach your business with joy and gratitude, then cash out and begin looking for something else.

You’ve Got Other Projects To Work On

Hopefully, you’ve figured out by now that one of the great secrets of success is focusing on one thing at a time (and if you haven’t, well, you’re welcome). This isn’t to say that you can only do one thing, but it does mean you need to be realistic about what you can and can’t do at this current moment.

There’s a good chance your online business was once a side hustle, and there’s an even better chance that it didn’t become something more until you decided to treat it as your top priority.

So if you’ve found other projects you enjoy working on but don’t get the attention they deserve because of your online business, then it’s time to move on. And since you don’t want to ignore your company and wait for it to die, you can sell it and use the money to get you going on your next venture.

It’s Taking You Away From What Matters

Family needs to come first. To be happy and well, you need to make sure you’re spending enough time with those who mean the most to you. If your online business is preventing this from happening, you need to make a change.

It’s true that there’s never enough time. But work shouldn’t ever be the top priority. Even when you’re making good money, if you find yourself reaching the end of the day wishing you’d spent more time with your kids, partner or friends, there’s a good chance you’re working too hard.

sell your online business now

It’s Worth A Lot Of Money

Switching over to more practical, professional arguments, it could be time to sell your online business because your company is worth more now than ever. Get it evaluated, and if it’s worth enough, and you’ve got other things going on, then sell out while you can and invest the money in something else.

This one really aligns with the other reasons; you shouldn’t sell out only because there’s lots of money to be made. But if the business has matured and is making you money, and you find your interest and attention elsewhere, it might be time to cash in on your hard work and move on. Another thing to look out for is industry risk. If you’re worried about the direction of the company, selling out now could be a way to get maximum value before it’s too late.

Generally speaking, businesses are worth 2.5 times their yearly revenue, so use this as a jumping off point. But consider getting a professional valuation so that you can see what your business is really worth.

Growth Has Plateaued

This one is a bit tricky since businesses that are growing are traditionally worth more. But if your company has leveled out a bit regarding growth, and you don’t think you have the time or resources to jump-start it, then you might want to consider selling.

Overall, it’s much better to sell at this moment rather than when sales start going down. As revenues shrink, so does value, making it much harder to attract serious offers. If things have slowed, and you can’t or don’t want to speed them back up, consider selling and starting something new.

If you’re on the fence about selling your business, consider these top reasons why you should. If they apply to you, then it’s time to make a change. If not, stick it out and keep working. But be aware of when situations change so you can sell and move on before it’s too late.

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3 Signs You Are Marketing to the Wrong Audience

marketing to the wrong audience

Digital marketing is an expensive and risky venture for all businesses. Results take time and services do not come free. Due to the heavy upfront costs, many companies are quite hesitant to employ this to their means. Securing referrals and proving your worth in the business can be done. But these strategies take effort. Especially when competition is tough and you are new to the game.

Marketing, both actual and digital, play major roles in the profit drive of any company. Successful marketing campaigns drive greater returns and profits that their upfront costs.

In Singapore, more people are becoming active online, with growing interactions on social media sites. In 2017, more than 95% of internet users had at least one social media account and spent an average of 2.5 hours per day on their accounts. Half of the said users watched online videos daily. Product research and comparison are done online by 42% of Singaporeans before actually making final purchase decisions. These statistics show the huge digital penetration and usage in Singapore.

With the emergence and support of new technologies in online marketing, not all businesses get the same successful outcomes. Many still go through problems that hinder them from getting ideal results. One obstacle to success is marketing to the wrong audience. And this problem takes place almost everywhere.

Knowing your target audience is so important since it helps you implement and direct your marketing plans. For example, a company selling customized cigars had a mistargeted online strategy when they first launched their business. Their ads were directed at cigar users. They eventually found out their customers are composed mainly of the friends and family of cigar users.

How would you know if the effort, time, and money you are spending on marketing are directed at the wrong audience? Here are three signs to watch for to avoid burning your resources.

marketing

#1 Low Visit to Lead Conversion Rates

In online marketing, lead conversion rates are gold. The number of visits to your site is just a number and does not quantify anything if the visits do not convert to sales. Your visitors should become customers when your plan is working. If not, this is a hint that you may be barking up the wrong tree. To correct this, you may want to check how you are marketing your products. Do the customers really get what you are advertising? Or are there hidden details in your ads that confuse or deceive them?

Take, for example, if you advertise free shipping on all orders. Potential customers visit your site only to discover they have to order a minimum amount to get free shipping. This misleading ad can cause bounce rates instead of conversions. Pay attention to your marketing message and make sure your audience really understands what you are telling them.

#2 Low Engagement Rates

Likes, shares, and comments are measures of customer engagement. They provide useful indications of whether your content has successfully reached your audience. If your engagement rates are low, there is a chance that your content is not reaching your target audience. Either they cannot completely relate to your content or your content is totally irrelevant to them.

Related Reading: 8 Essential Social Media Podcasts for Women Who Love Business

 #3 Unsubscriptions Are As High As Subscriptions

After subscribing to your email list, many people may unsubscribe after a day or two. Another bad sign is when they download a free ebook or PDF file from you and then unsubscribe. If you are seeing this trend you may be attracting the wrong audience or not engaging them properly. You can try adding a step-by-step eCourse they can subscribe to and build a relationship with your customers. That way, you have a vantage point in interacting with them.

Success in online marketing does not merely depend on strategies alone; you have to be keen on the ongoings of your site as well. You may not be getting what you are supposed to for the amount you are spending on marketing. Always remember to pay attention to the details of your sales conversions.

 

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How to Write a Shareable Blog Post Quickly

blog post

Whether you own a business with a blog, you’re a freelance writer or a traditional blogger, learning to write a shareable blog post quickly is an essential skill that can be quite lucrative.  Even if you’ve never written a post before, knowing how to do so can break down barriers and provide opportunities to guest blog on other sites and grow your business.

Do you know how to create a shareable blog post quickly?  Your answer obviously depends on what I mean by ‘quickly.  After all, the word is a bit vague. Some people can crank out a post or two every day.  For others, like me, it’s a slower process affected by time constraints, professional obligations, and family commitments.  So, my definition of the word may be substantially different from yours.

Nonetheless, I would argue most writers would love to increase their output and improve the quality of their posts.  That is where the word ‘shareable’ comes into play.  Will your articles get the love, attention, and engagement they deserve? Will readers clamor to share your content on social media?  If you’re uncertain, consider what you can do to compose more shareable content and increase your writing speed.

Ramp Up Your Productivity

Personally, when I need to produce an article quickly, I use a time management method called the Pomodoro Technique.  I avoid ALL distractions and work on my post for twenty-five minutes.  Then, I take a five-minute break to perform other tasks.  I can answer an email, start a load of laundry, etc.  After my break, the process begins again.  After completing four rounds, I allow myself a more extended break of thirty minutes to relax, eat a meal or exercise.

This technique is amazingly effective, and I suggest using it throughout the entire process of creating your content.

Perhaps you’re saying, “I’ll just write shorter posts.  Then I can produce more in less time.”  Well, you can do that.  However, your site will not please Google if it’s packed with mini posts.  Google will respond by pushing you down the rankings.  Better to publish articles of at least 600 words.  And audiences share longer articles more often anyway.

Create a Catchy Title

I can’t tell you how many times I have read a strange, unclear, or incredibly long post title and ask, “What was this writer thinking?”  Of course, I don’t click on the link because I don’t want to waste my time.  That may sound harsh, but it’s hard to take bloggers seriously when they don’t understand or adhere to basic rules.

  1. The title should be a clear statement or question

  2. It should be relatively short – six to ten words is usually plenty

  3. Powerful and emotional words like ‘you’ or ‘free’ or ‘easy’ should be incorporated

  4. Numbered posts and how-to articles typically generate more interest

Chose a Relevant Yet Interesting Image

Another important aspect of a shareable blog post is the image your readers see.  You don’t have to break the bank to obtain eye-catching pictures for your content.  Plenty of free-to-use sites offer professional photos for you to upload to your blog.  Here are a few:

  1. Pexels

  2. Skitterphoto

  3. Gratisography

  4. Pixabay – now offers pictures and short videos

For example, this video was free for me to use in this post.

Use Images, Graphs, or Videos Within Your Post

Readers will likely find your content more appealing if it contains a little visual stimulation.  Include a relevant photo from the sites I mentioned above or embed an emotional Tweet or instructional video for impact.  People share posts that entertain and provide value.

Make the Words Stand Out (In a Good Way)

Most professional bloggers keep their paragraphs short.  They would likely tell you to vary the length of your sentences too.  Readers have become accustomed to this style of writing because they’re skimmers.  They simply love subheaders and bullet points.  So use them.

This brings me to another point.  I know it sounds boring, but use a large, standard looking font when you blog.  People can’t read tiny words on a mobile device and won’t stay on your post, let alone share it.  And if at all possible, use black lettering on white background.  You might think this is ho-hum, but you’ll look like a pro.  And that will result in social media shares.

Include a Call-to-Action At the End

If a reader makes it all the way through your post, you have kept their interest and provided valuable information.  It’s the perfect time to ask them to:

1. Leave a comment about your post

2. Join your email list or Facebook group

3. Follow you on social media

4. Share your post

Don’t ask your audience to complete more than one action.  Their time is important, and you’ll likely irritate them if you request too much.

Triple Check for Spelling and Grammar Errors

The following paragraphs contain affiliate links.  If you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you.

Before you publish your content, edit it.  Then do it two more times.  Go through each paragraph line by line.  Does it make the grade?  Nothing will ruin the quality of a post like a series of typos.  You won’t look professional and neither will your work.

When I began my journey as a blogger, I wanted to hire a proofreader.  However, I could not afford one.  So, I purchased Grammarly.  It is an inexpensive program that edits my posts, Microsoft Word documents, and my emails.  I still rely on it to correct my work daily.  If you just can’t swing it at this time, ask a trusted friend or family member to review your article.

For Goodness Sake, Include Share Buttons

How can anyone pass along your epic post without share buttons?  Don’t make it difficult for your fans to sing your praises.  No share buttons translate into little attention or exposure to potential readers or clients.  Perish the thought!

Several plugins give writers the ability to place share buttons on their site.  After much research, I opted for Social Warfare.  This tool has helped my business grow with professional looking buttons that look great on desktop and mobile.

Related Reading: 7 Expert Strategies for Using Share Buttons

So, there you have it; my suggestions on how to write a shareable blog post quickly.  I hope you found them valuable.  If you follow these steps, you’ll be cranking out crazy good content in no time!

And please consider sharing this post. (There’s that call-to-action – ha!)

Remember, life is better when we lift each other up.

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7 Expert Strategies for Using Share Buttons

share buttons

Do you ever get frustrated trying to locate social media share buttons in an article or on a web page that you enjoy?  I know I do.  Then, of course, I quickly give up the search and move on with my day.  Honestly, it’s too bad.  That business or publisher lost out on some free exposure all because there were no readily visible icons on their content.

Believe it or not, though, there is some debate amongst experts as to whether sites should even bother with share buttons.  Some argue that readers rarely use them on desktop and even less frequently on mobile.  It all depends on what type of product or content you produce and whether or not you know how to use share buttons properly.

As a blogger, I can’t imagine marketing my posts without them.  However, we all should learn to utilize sharing icons effectively.  But what are the best practices?  After much research, I discovered 7 expert strategies for using share buttons.

  1. According to Coschedule, the upper left-hand corner of your page is the optimum location for placement.  This is because people scan pages in a pattern starting in the upper left area.  Buttons should appear ‘above the fold’ when someone clicks on your page or post.  Let me explain that; they should be visible immediately without a reader scrolling down first.

  2. As reported in research conducted by Nielsen Norman Group, low numbers offer users negative social proof.  Meaning nominal sharing counts may suggest to readers your content is poor quality or weak.  Some social sharing tools can hide the number of times a post has been shared until a minimum number is reached.  I set my site so the counts aren’t displayed until my posts have been shared at least ten times.

  3. Don’t clutter the screen with too many buttons and overwhelm your viewers.  Many big-name blogs and online magazine like Huffington Post, Business Insider, and Social Media Examiner, for example, offer four to six buttons at most.  And I’m guessing they’ve done their research on this topic!

  4. Share This recommends you display buttons in order of importance to your target audience.  What social channels do your customers prefer?  Do they like Twitter more than LinkedIn?  If so, put them in that order.  And it doesn’t matter if you have an active presence on a particular platform or not.  If your clients like it, give them the opportunity to share your content where they want to!

  5. Use standard buttons instead of custom buttons that match the colors and fonts of your website’s theme.  This can be difficult for some entrepreneurs to accept because they put a great deal of money and time into branding their business.  Then, naturally, they want everything on their site to match.  But if buttons blend in with page design, they will become invisible, and readers won’t see or click them.  As marketing expert Jeff Bullas states, “Use standard buttons that work.”

  6. Consider adding call-to-action text to your icons.  Some social sharing tools allow you to add words to your buttons.  Wordstream suggests you merely ask for what you want.  Saying, “Pin This” or “Share on Twitter” might be a great way of increasing social metrics.  You can try this method and test which strategy works best for your site.

  7. Using a floating share bar makes it easy for readers to click on their favorite icon at any time.  Floating buttons scroll with you down the page while you read.  The folks at Sprout Social believe this is why floating bars have become so popular.  I use them on the left-hand side on desktop and at the bottom of the page on mobile devices.

Related Reading: How to Use Hashtracking & Other Hashtag Lookup Tools

There is an abundance of choices for entrepreneurs regarding the use and placement of social share buttons on their web pages and blog posts.  Hopefully, you will implement a few of the expert tips offered here and grow your business as a result.  What do you think?  Should your share buttons stand out or blend in with your design?  Feel free to comment below.

Life is better when we lift each other up.

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How to Identify Premium Guest Blogging Opportunities

how to identify premium guest blogging opportunities

I think you’ll agree that guest posting for business is one of the most challenging marketing strategies for entrepreneurs to master.  If you’re considering entering the world of guest blogging, you probably have trepidations and questions.

How do I start?  Is it worth the effort?  How can I identify the best guest blogging opportunities?

These are all excellent questions.  Smart and successful business professionals are constantly touting the benefits of writing for other quality companies to boost online exposure.  But choosing the sites to submit content to can be tricky.

In this post, I’ll give you the low-down on what guest blogging is and how you give yourself a leg up from the start.  Guest blogging is, essentially, the process of writing a post for someone else in exchange for publicity and a link (backlink) to your website.

Backlinks have, in the past, been a great method of building an online presence.  However, Google no longer likes guest posts whose sole purpose is to rack up links.  Guest articles need to be relevant and not stuffed with links to the same site over and over.  If your posts get too spammy, your site AND the site hosting your article could be penalized and appear further down the list of a Google search.  Not good!  So, the moral of the story is to keep it relevant.

Know Who You’re Trying to Reach

First and foremost, understand your target audience.  Who do you want to reach?  What are the demographics of your ideal client?  Once you have identified your niche, only write for sites with the readers in that specific group.  You can often find a site’s audience and customer demographics in their media kit.

At this point, it’s time to brainstorm and do a Google search.  Think of all the companies, blogs, and online magazines that have a similar target market to that of your business.  Ask friends and family to think up a few names as well.  You can also search the terms ‘guest post’ or ‘write for us’ or ‘submit your content’ and similar phrases.

Check out your competition.  Do they have an ‘as featured in’ or ‘as seen in’ section?  If so, voila!  You can also perform a reverse image search on Google of each competitor’s profile picture.  To accomplish this, right click on their headshot.  A menu will appear with the option to search Google for this image.  Now you know who they have guest posted for and who you should pursue.  Sneaky, huh?

Know the Important Numbers

Most blogging experts recommend you only consider writing for sites with a domain authority (D/A) higher than yours.  Some pros, like Brandon Gaille, suggest you should not guest post for anyone with a D/A lower than thirty.  Domain authority refers to a search engine ranking score based on a site’s links, age, popularity, and more.  All URLs are ranked from one to one hundred; the higher the number, the better.  Popular websites like Huffington Post have a score of ninety-eight while new sites will have a score of one.

You should also steer clear of businesses with a spam score of five or greater.  Writing for blogs with a high spam score will likely hurt your site’s performance on Google.  Both these metrics can be found on Moz Open Site Explorer.  You can research up to three sites per day on Moz before you will be required to open a free or paid account with them.  Simply type in a company’s URL, and you will get their D/A.  Their spam score can be found directly under the D/A.

Know What You Will Get in Return

You should get something beneficial in return for your hard work.  After all, there is no monetary compensation for guest posting.  Most business owners like you are looking for publicity and exposure to the hosting site’s audience.  But, will you get it?

Just because a large or popular company wants you to write an article for them does NOT mean you should.  Do they offer you a link to your site?  Do they give you a bio before or after the post?  How many words do they allow in your bio?  Do they link to any of your social media accounts?  How many words do they require per post?

You don’t want to put the time and effort into a fabulous post only to hear crickets after it’s published by someone else.  And the fact is, you’re not going to get much love if readers don’t have access to your bio, headshot, and link.  This is the truth even when you guest blog for a large magazine.  Although, with a popular site like Huffington Post, you may get some credit for being able to say you are a ‘Huff Post Contributor.’

Track the Stats

If you’re serious about expanding your guest blogging opportunities, I suggest you make a spreadsheet of potential websites with the following information:

Name and web address – the name and URL of each site

Same target market (as you) – this can be found in their media kit

Contact name and email – usually found under ‘contact us’ or ‘write for us’ sections

Domain authority –  the number is provided by Moz Open Site Explorer

Spam Score – the number is provided by Moz Open Site Explorer

Offers byline/bio – the answer is no or the number of words allowed in your bio

Offers headshot – yes or no

Offers link – the number of backlinks you receive in your post or bio

Offers Social Media Links – the number of your social media accounts linked to your bio

Words per post – sites may provide this in their ‘write for us’ section

By filling out the columns, you will be able to narrow down your top candidates.  Some will stand out as the real front-runners.  Go after them first.  Putting in a little work up front could pay substantial dividends later and keep you from wasting hours every month on a flawed marketing campaign.

What I Decided to Offer

After completing my own research on guest blogging opportunities, I concluded there weren’t enough sites ‘compensating’ writers for their content in a meaningful way.  I was shocked at how many big blogs and magazines gave guests almost nothing in return for their work.  Further, I was more surprised at the number business owners who were willing to give their work away for almost nothing.

In response, I decided to accept relevant guest posts on my site here.  I have been asked to do this repeatedly in the past, but now I feel it’s the right time to open my blog to submissions.  I am offering writers a forum to showcase their expertise and help my readers, businesswomen over forty, create thriving companies that improve our world.

I hope you found this post informative and encouraging.  Do you have any advice for uncovering quality guest blogging opportunities?  If so, tell us about it in the comment section below.

Life is better when we lift each other up.

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How to Feel Gratitude After a Disastrous Year

How to Feel Gratitude

Enjoy this informative guest post by nationally recognized life strategist, Randi Levin.

The #1 secret to understanding and effectively living a grateful life is in your acceptance that gratitude is not a one-and-done fleeting thought fueled by Thanksgiving. Instead, it is an actual state of mind and a lifestyle habit that exists in your daily life, unrelated to whether you have had the best or the most disastrous year.

This may seem difficult, yet a mindfulness practice of gratitude is rich in rewards, costs you nothing to develop, and keeps fears and energy in check. The overall benefits to your physical and mental health are sound. Dr. Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at UC Davis, is the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude. He is the author of the book Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier. His findings are based on studies and research done around the globe revealing that happiness levels increase by approximately 25% when we practice gratitude!

We essentially train ourselves to reset to a thankful ‘set-point’ allowing ourselves to feel good even when things are not going our way. Dr. Emmons further points out that those who are appreciative tend to have stronger immune systems, are more creative, and may even have closer relationships. Listen to his point of view and amazing tips on how to feel gratitude in the video below or got go the link here.

Dr. Robert Emmons of UC Davis talks about Gratitude from Character Lab on Vimeo.

Have you ever longed to have more balance in your life? You may have noticed that life does not play out in a straight line! There are curves everywhere! Some years are more abundant and joyful than others.

Cultivating an active gratitude practice is the link to balancing the good and the bad, the highlights and the low points, and is a great connector to the gaps in evaluating your own sense of purpose. When you are thankful, you make decisions from your heart and your mind, working together in life-balance and accountability.

Here are 3 essential benefits and action steps of thinking thankful:

  • You fear ‘less.’ Gratitude bypasses fear. When you focus on what you are appreciative of, it becomes difficult to let negative thoughts in. Think about gratitude as a lamp that is turned on in a dark room. When you flip the switch, you shine a light on that which was previously scary, allowing you to take a small step toward a larger goal.

    Try this now: Write yourself a permission slip to do something that previously intimidated you. Then write down all the things that stopped you from doing this one thing before. Say them aloud; dump them in front of the mirror. Now that your fears and limiting beliefs are aired, rewrite that list as if you successfully completed what previously held you back. Now say this new list out loud. See the shift? Great…now what part of this fear can you bypass today?

  • You take action in the NOW. A gratitude attitude grounds you in today and allows you to control not only the moment but also yourself within it. This opens up opportunities and choices that are closed to us when our focus is only on tomorrow’s goals or yesterday’s failures. When you are focused on today, your energy soars.

    Try this now: Create a success jar or a success wall to post your daily successes. Yes, DAILY successes. If you are reaching for resolutions, promises, or goals, what often happens is that in your quest for the finish line you miss the process that led you there. Keeping a jar, or accessible wall filled with small notes about even the tiniest things that went right in your day keeps you mindful of your own growth and success and along with that your gratitude. Review your notes weekly or monthly, when strung together they will begin to weave a tapestry of positive reinforcement and abundance.

  • Manifest into your life what you most desire: You attract what you want because you are focused on the possibilities in your life rather than on the limitations. It is common to feel small and limited when you have had a run of failed results. Yet this is the stuff that resiliency is made of. We need resiliency and flexibility as part of our stories. Sometimes figuring out what you don’t want supports you in understanding what you do.

    Try this now: Reclaim your bucket list! Your new abundant thoughts can help you to pivot toward the things you most want to achieve this year! What shifts if you simply change the vessel? Instead of a large, amorphous bucket, keep your list in a beautiful box or glass bowl. Bring it down to the items that you really want to welcome in. Now…here is where the fun begins! What can you do RIGHT NOW in regard to each and every item on this list?

    We don’t always hit our goals because they are too large and abstract. If you take the opportunity now to decide on your first action step for each one this list comes to life! Here is an example: Your bucket list says that you want to travel the world. Yet, you have little cash and time. What can you do? Where can you combine a business trip and a pleasure trip? Do you know anyone who lives in a city or at a beach that you have wanted to visit? See where this changes the action steps?

    Now, book that trip! Begin.

“Gratitude is the soul of balance, realigning all aspects of your life.” ~ Randi Levin

A Bonus Step To BEGIN TODAY:

Many people love to keep gratitude journals to record their thoughts and activities. While I support this idea, I don’t like how often our words just remain on the page and never make it into real life! What I love instead is a 365-day in-action approach to feel gratitude that you can begin today!

START THIS NOW: Every day, for a year mindfully reach out to one person, one business, one old friend, one ex-lover, your mom, somebody you have not spoken to in years, or one burned bridge and share your gratitude with them! In your email, phone call, or text you are going to express why you are thankful that they are, or were in your life. You are going to shed light on what they have brought into your life, why you support this business, or what you appreciate the most about the lessons you learned from an old friend or ex-lover!

When you share these thoughts, be present about how this makes you feel. Are you happy, angry, sad, or overjoyed? Is this freeing you to do more in your day, to take forward action, to reach for more? Are you more mindful of your current energy and are you using that energy to create a better you and a more stellar future?

Related Reading: How Delaying Gratification Results in Remarkable Success

Think about your conversations with those you have thanked. How have they responded?  How is this changing your every day, and shaping and reframing your perspectives? Are you manifesting new enriched opportunities and connections?

Now, take this one step further! Once a quarter, reach out in person. Write and read a letter of gratitude to someone in your life. Savor the moment. What are you feeling? How are they responding? How is your life enhanced or changed by this experience?

What can you do now?

What can you do next?

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How to Control Fear and Overwhelm in Business: An Expert Speaks

How to Control Fear and Overwhelm in Business: An Expert Speaks

Randi Levin has helped hundreds of fledgling entrepreneurs avoid fear and overwhelm in their business lives throughout the years.  She is a nationally recognized life strategist, author, keynote speaker, and reinvention expert.  As an advocate for professional women, she coaches them through successful and powerful life transitions.

I recently interviewed Randi about the most common struggles women face when starting and managing a small business.  Topics ranged from fear and overwhelm to productivity and time management to self-worth.  I am confident you will be able to relate to this important discussion.

Life Wise Lady: When a woman wants to start a business or take an existing one to the next level, how can she get the ball rolling and skip feeling stuck?

Randi: We do tend to stop ourselves right at the door with a lot of excuses and reasons why not.  The first thing you should think of doing is getting your feet wet.  If you’re coming out of corporate and into private, that’s a very scary place.  Ask a lot of questions.  Is there someone you could shadow or a course you can take?  You have to be able to see yourself in that new business.

Life Wise Lady: Sometimes an entrepreneur is intimidated because of her lack of experience with technology, social media, or some other process.  How can she avoid getting caught up in anxiety and insecurity?

Randi:  My favorite quote is “Say yes now and figure it out afterward.”  We get in our own way.  Nothing is ever really perfect.  If we hang around waiting to launch the perfect product, business, or website, we are passing on developing ourselves and stepping into our business.  Step into the thing that scares you the most.  We all feel fear.  Go!  Trying things is so much more worth it than not.

“Step into the thing that scares you the most.”

Life Wise Lady: An overwhelmed businesswoman often experiences frustration and is tempted to multi-task.  What tips do you have to help her stay focused and calm?

Randi:  It goes back to that old issue of balance. It’s something I talk about all the time. The reality is we’re not balancing multiple things.  We are balancing one thing – ourselves.  What are we letting in our lives and what are we letting go of?  We need to shift our view of balance and ask ourselves if we are fulfilled.  We do have to pick and choose.  Are the things we are working on and surrounding ourselves with the things we love?  When you answer that truthfully, that’s when it all starts to fall into place.

Life Wise Lady:  What time of day do you think a professional woman should take on her most challenging tasks and why?

Randi:  I think it’s morning because we are refreshed.  If you’re talking about business tasks, always go after the ones that deal with money first.  If there is something that’s dealing with your service to a client, handle that task before the others.

Take a look at your to-do list.  We are all guilty of adding small tasks so we can cross them off quickly.  If you had three to five really key things to accomplish, you would have a better chance of actually doing them.  Put in front of you what is doable.

Life Wise Lady: What strategies do you recommend to a woman who is overwhelmed in her professional life?

Randi:  Give yourself some space.  If you feel as though things are going south for you or you’re stressed, allow yourself to pause.  And not necessarily for a moment.  Break away from the stressors and regroup.  We have so much coming at us.  Take a lunch.  Put the phone away.

The other piece is to stay connected.  We are so connected by social media and through texts and phones.  We have moved away from the in-person connections.  So, bringing those back into our day takes away stress and allows us to be human.

“Break away from the stressors and regroup.”

Life Wise Lady: What causes the fear of failure and how can women overcome it?

Randi:  People often won’t start something or won’t finish something unless it’s perfect.  A lot of New Year’s resolutions stop because they seem like too big a mountain to climb.  Reassess what you said.  Who is the one who said they were going to lose weight or get three new clients?  It was you.

I’m all about growth versus goals.  Have the goals and the destination in mind, but what is the process?   When you track your success it’s a little bit easier to get to the end result and failure seems a little less imminent.

Related: Chrometophobia; How the Fear of Spending is Hurting Your Business

Life Wise Lady: An entrepreneur might tend to feel like a fraud or have difficulty accepting praise or accolades.  How can she move past these insecurities?

Randi:  In business, people say, “Fake it until you make it.”  There are certain times when we have to take a leap of faith.  When we step into a relationship and get married, it’s all new.  How do we know how to be married?  We step into that and learn as we go.  When we allow ourselves to feel like imposters, we are not giving ourselves credit for living and for all the things we know and have accomplished.

Maybe you don’t have the ten years of experience someone else has, but you have other skills that they don’t.  There is something in your history that got you to do what you’re doing now.  If we own our story a little bit more, all of it, we can project why we are doing what we are doing.  Your experiences are to be celebrated and highlighted.  The minute you take yourself seriously, people are going to take note of that.

Life Wise Lady: When should a businesswoman seriously consider hiring a coach like yourself to solve a problem or achieve a higher level of success?

Randi: The first thing is to be aware and understand when you feel stuck.  Question yourself.  Should I get some help?  Is what I’m doing not working?

Sometimes, as women, we will go out with friends and unload our problems and our friends want to help us.  So, they tell us what to do.  If you do that, you’re probably going to wake up the next day and not take any of their advice.  Even if you do, it may not work.  The reason is that these solutions are not yours.  They are your friends’ solutions.

Coaching allows you to come up with your own answers and solutions to the things that are going on in your life.  We take actions on the stuff that is our own.  If you’re getting at the right things, in a few months your perspectives are going to shift and you’re going to be taking action in your life.  Having a coach is very rewarding.  It’s a gift that you give yourself.