Lady Luck and the Incredible Marching Men

We often bemoan the hooey balooey that comes with working toward our dreams; the inevitable red tape, the metaphorical report writing/-giving associated with being in the driver’s seat of our professional and/or personal dreams.

But the administrative obstacles that lead us in the direction of our goals, or those frameworks set in place in any and every industry that make us want to pull our teeth out…those are also our signposts. Signposts of success that mark our progression on an ever-upward ‘sky’s the limit’. Because for every metre of moving ahead, you pass fellow participants in the Race of Life. Some of them are weary but endearing. Some have all but given up. Now and then lies the remains of but a corpse, as dreams and aspirations returned to the dust from whence it came.

Others, though, are moving forward; next to us, right behind us, and up in front, are hustling little (and large!) marching wo/men propelling themselves toward their own individual Big Things. These are not athletes endowed with superpowers or an extra helping of luck, but merely those who have steadily been checking off-road markings one by one.

A stop street, in the eyes of this breed, isn’t as seen as the dead end of an idea, but real-time proof that the destination is still up ahead.

At the beginning of a sporting event, an alarm is sound to beckon the start of the race. Those who will be crowned winners are the ones who were urged on, most urgently and fervently, to answer its call. No matter the obstacles underway.

To follow a (seemingly impossible) dream, we can rest assured that the responsibility of finding an A-Z solution for its every fulfilment lies not with us. Its unfolding is due to a force far more well-connected than ourselves, which we’ll leave to the philosophers, religious leaders, and scientists to name and explain. No the onus on us is to take the first step out the door…and then just keep on walking.

If all roads lead to Rome, sooner or later you’re bound to walk right into it.

Want to know something even more astounding? Dreams are made of bouncing balls. It doesn’t matter how many times you bump it away from you due to fear, a feeling of undeservingness or lack of [fill in excuse], or an inability to act on what appears to be the icky stuff (but which leads to the incredible). The minute you pay it but a single energetic moment of attention – “I’d still like to…” “I wonder if I could…” “Imagine I…” – off it goes in search of opportunities to stare you in the face. Daring you to pick up your walking boots again.

Are you answering? Or are you sitting still, stationary in partnering with the open doors where before there appeared to be only walls?

Leap, they say (those who know). Leap, and the net will appear.

If the Universe Is Expanding, Shouldn’t We Be Investing?

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” – Anaïs Nin

Be thankful, brethren, that you possess not the power of giants…Because if we left homo sapiens in charge of an expanding universe, life on either side of everywhere would rapidly cease to resemble a functional, and what appears to be well-thought-out, system.

Now plants, they would be fit to rule. A plant knows what it needs to grow, and grow is the one thing it’s bent on doing. An almost total absence of soil? Severe drought? Atop a snowy mountain? No problem! They’ll adopt and live to thrive another day. Some, like South Africa’s very own national flower the Protea, will consume itself in flames if that means the Phoenix will level up, double points-style, when it rises once more. A memo that clearly didn’t reach the washed-up Hollywood-stars whole generations spend their productive hours reading about.

Physics prized us with the laws of thermodynamics. Should you need a more simplified version of expansion and contraction than the likes of Stephen Hawking provides, ask your local personal trainer or Weigh Less group leader. They witness its workings every day 🙂

As humans, we find ourselves in a unique position. Contrary to the nature of any other living organism on this planet, we have a choice in the size of our selves. The unseen bit is what I’m getting at. To look good on the beach, eat your greens and go for walks at sunset and you should be just fine.

We’re born, as much as our socio-economical backgrounds and familial, cultural and/or religious dramas will allow, with as much a clean slate as we’ll ever have. From our earliest start under those stark industrial lights, Uncle Doctor’s palm hitting our unsuspecting tiny bottoms, the arrows are drawn and it’s a fight-for-your-life carnival. The question on the lips of every hourglass reads, “Will you expand, in spite of…or contract, because of…?”

American poet Louise Bogan exclaimed, perhaps when confronted with just such morbidity, that she couldn’t believe the inscrutable universe turned on an axis of suffering; that surely the strange beauty of the world must somehow rest on pure joy.

Indeed. Joy enters when we scale the walls we built to keep the Nasties out: Fear. Doubt. Shame. Anger. Criticism. Jealousy. In shielding ourselves from the risk of being stung by these adders, we might unknowingly close off our valves to our inner selves – and our lives – as well. Then, seemingly uncontrollably, we’re plants gone rogue, suicidal species hell-bent on crushing every good happenstance, every caring, well-meaning person, and every life-giving drop of water sent our way.

To break free, you need to risk standing bare-chested on the battlefield, plate of armour cast aside. Shrinking makes everything smaller; not just the target area [trust the wisdom of the Weigh Less consultant]. Be bold. Go big. And take it from Lao-Tzu: “Be really whole. And all things will come to you.

I’m a Good Person … Please Send Bad Things

Disclaimer: These are controversial words. If today’s hours need to be spent safely inside your comfort zone, steer well away.

It hits you right in the jugular. Those phone calls of doom; email clients harbingers of ‘Anything but this’; registered mail whispering “Yep, the storm’s started.” Sometimes it disguises itself as a visit from the last person you’d ever care to see. Occasionally it’s that dreaded The Talk.

Let’s face it: Life can be a peach, but intermittently it serves up worms. And, much like one’s fellow picnic goers lets rip a silent sigh of relief that their serving of fruit was intact from nature’s less cutesy side (this time), so too do we have in our personal inventories those war stories we live – and love – to forget.

Here’s where it gets uncomfortable. Are you still reading? Prepare to enter the Twilight Zone. But first, be a sport and think of the worst thing that’s ever happened to you. No, don’t soldier on intellectually without really thinking this through. What’s the biggest mishap that’s ever befallen you? The thing you’d turn around time for?

Got it? Good. Let’s ride. That [fill in worst thing ever] is a GIFT. Say thank you, please! You’ve been selected, Hunger Games-style! It’s a gift because you who transcend the abyss are the ones who guide out those still stuck down in it in a way that ‘outsiders’ never could.

We see our downfalls, breakdowns, and a bad deck of cards dealt as a curse.”Why me?” Because you’ve been chosen. “What did I do to deserve this?” Perhaps nothing. Perhaps it was mere luck of the draw. Still, here you are and lucky you be. So you’d better start feeling grateful for being so special and start doing something about it, lest you become your particular infliction’s official Those Who Didn’t Make It mascot.

We continually and excessively cling to the absurdity that a life must (emphasis on this one!) be spent in happy and successful perfection. Now that’s a fallacy of thought if ever there was one! Where the heck did you get supporting evidence from for that one?! Life is an experience. And experiences, per definition, are filled with ups and downs, breaking necks and collecting crowns. Or so says Oxford. Perhaps your dictionary is a different imprint. An “experience” means it’s all there, packed into a neat little box labelled, ‘From the cradle to the grave.’

And when Life chooses us for the A-team, we party a mile a minute. But how often do you hear someone expressing their appreciation at being able to experience a life-threatening disease? The death of a child? Being raped and tortured? How would (or did) you react? Care to reflect on the emotional unfolding of that Terrible Thing of the Past we revived in your mind earlier?

I know what you’re thinking. But you’re wrong. It’s NOT natural that it’d flatline you. Not for life, anyway. Because this isn’t a fairy tale and bad things are bound to happen from time to time To other people (thank god! we think) and, sometimes, to you and those you love. Let’s do the math. Setbacks aren’t variables (meaning you know they will show up at some stage), so why would we “naturally” be so crushed by it that it would alter the flow of our beings and our lives?

It’s like buying a new brand-new car, then suing the manufacturers when you (one day whenever) get a flat (or an engine cease). That, or drowning it in the river, yourself in tow, because why did this have to happen to you, and you did not need this in your life right now.

Now, I’m not saying that keeling over when hit in the gut is not allowed. If that were the case, I’d be writing instead about how you should stop repressing emotion (which, coincidentally, you should). No! Have your sorrows and your woes, do dangerous things and sad things and things you’ll later come to regret; or don’t do anything at all and just stay on the couch for 3 years. Whatever it takes: To run away from the pain, to confront it, to identify with it, deny it, or become one with it…all up to you. There’s no prepaid script, after all. This is impromptu theatre at its most raw.

But eventually (and this is all this article is covertly begging of you), decide that you’re done suffering (bottom line, though you’ll have to be an old hand at dark hole-duty to know what I say is true, is that it is just. that. easy.). Then mine for the gold nuggets it left behind, that demon of desperate, despondent, despair. (It tends, actually, to be a generous one.) Find the gift you’ve been bestowed with. Heal the healer. Then be that healer unto the world.

I’d much rather entrust my money to a stocks-and-bonds man who’s lost millions but found himself in the process and so picked himself up again than a trust fund-kid who spends his Saturdays in the trophy room polishing his Golden Spoons…

Give me an ex-crackhead who’s come out clean on the other side of the addiction and himself when going through drug withdrawal. The gifted and well-meaning therapists and doctors might have seen it all, but they sure haven’t felt it all.

In my own life, I’ve been gifted with many things. Some have taken me years to embrace. Some I’m still playing hide ‘n seek with. Recently, I was gifted with a dyslexia-diagnosis for my already ADHD-labelled son. “Oh,” Life seemed to say, “You feel that strongly that education in its entirety needs to change to empower the learner as opposed to the teacher? Well here you go, darling, here’s a beautiful little boy who won’t for more than a few minutes indulging in learning that isn’t self-directed. I’ve even thrown in a severe aversion to independently wanting to comprehend the written word, so you get to properly test out (r)evolutionising education and learning….and don’t mention it – it’s on me.”

Thanks, Life. I sure owe you 🙂

Which area – or, if you’re lucky enough – areas in your life is a gift horse you can stop staring in the teeth now? What pain and suffering can you transmute to become a wounded healer, doctor, business person, parent, life partner? As for [fill in worst thing ever], what’s your status?


Small Business? 10 Reasons to Draw Open the Curtain and See the Light…Today

“My business is too small to make it worth the cost,” is your usual answer when asked why on earth you’re still just on earth and not also online.

This might have been fair-enough reasoning five years ago. (The danger of putting down a date-sensitive figure is that we’ll all cringe when next we read it … like, say a week from now. ‘Cos that’s how fast business rolls on the digital side of things.) Of course, when your money is made and spent in the “real” world, you can easily go on saying it for the next ten.

Yeah.

Except that all you need to do is look up from where you are right this minute (if you’re hiding out in a dungeon, you might have to venture up to the surface first) and do some quick mental math. How many people do you see? And how many of them are focusing the intensity of their next breath based on the performance of the technological device they happen to be hooked up to? If that doesn’t convince you (you might be at the Annual Amish Aloha, after all), then think about the last time you were at a restaurant. Have you seen how people can sit around the same table yet spend an entire meal on their phones? I bet you’re not entirely blameless on that front, either…

So your business isn’t big enough to warrant a Fortune 100 citation. That’s not whom the internet was exclusively made for, by the way. Wherever you happen to be on your business journey, there is almost never (ever) any reason whatsoever to not be online in one form or another. A business directory listing is a step up from seeing the good ol’ Yellow Pages (hard copy, of course) as your best friend. But let’s get real. A business needs a website like its physical premises needs a door.

Before you chase the next well-meant suggestion to grab hold of your own domain name and create a website under a professional web hosting service out the door with a pitchfork, listen up. Not doing these very things can cost you immeasurable losses you may not even realise.

Let’s us take a look at 10 compelling reasons why today should go down in history as the day you finally got why a well-positioned web presence in this, the digital age, is the very next step your business should take.

1. The world – the ENTIRE world – can become your market.

In fact, whatever audience you’re catering to right now would fall pale in comparison to the global market that the internet can open up for you. Imagine taking potential orders from people, unbounded by geographic borders and restrictive economic systems. The Internet makes laissez-faire look like child’s play!

2. Your products can be exposed to over 3 billion people.

Studies show that there are more than 3 billion people who are active users of the internet. All of these people are, theoretically, your potential customers, and all of them can possibly get to know about your products. Well, except if you’re selling snow-wear bikinis or strawberry-scented adult diapers. Those are more of a niche market. All 3 billion might not all clamour to break down your web server in excitement, then. And you’re more likely than not to never get even close to near to .1% of that figure (which is still 3 million strong). But who knows how many of Google’s 1.2 trillion searches a year will see your business in the search results? Not an awful lot, if you’re not online and thus not searchable!

3. Increase your sales.

Since you’ll be catering to more prospects, the chances of bagging a sale or a deal will skyrocket. It’s a number’s game, and you’ll be turning things into your favour. Like Fortuna, except that your lucky deity’s name is WWW.

4. Market your goods or services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Your website can become your digital store that’ll operate on auto-pilot. You could log off the internet, and your website will still promote your products and/or services, process payments, instantly deliver items, and even take care of some post-sales concerns. No need to hire human assistants whom you have to pay overtime and night-shift differential salaries. This is the closest you’ll get to being master over a worker race of robot minions. Savour it.

5. Add to the professional reputation of your business.

Establishing a web presence, especially with a sleek, easily navigable, and professional-looking website, would greatly help build your brand and increase customer confidence. And as any bride would tell ya, the wedding’s only as good as how the wedding photos come out afterwards!

6. Delivery is no longer a problem.

The advent of the internet has totally revolutionised the way mail delivery services conduct their business. Nowadays, they can deliver items to the farthest corners of the earth. They can even do it by drone. You won’t have to worry about the location of your customers. Anything, and I do mean anything, can now be delivered right in front of their doorsteps. Ok, if you have an overactive imagination like I do, scrap the ‘anything’.

7. Convenient payment processing options.

You don’t have to settle for checks or money orders that take time to mature, though they can always remain as options in your physical business. There are a lot of merchant accounts available that allows you to process credit card payments instantly. Presently, PayPal and Stripe are the two biggest companies in the world, and the funds you’ll receive can be transferred to your bank account. In South Africa, PayFast is the most popular payment gateway available to businesses.

8. Security is no longer a major concern.

With SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encoding, you could protect your transaction pages against unwanted intrusions. And you don’t need to kidnap a coder. Your hosting company could set it up for you at the drop of a hat. Internationally, Arvixe is my go-to hosting provider, while in South Africa, HostKing has no better equivalent.

9. A lot of marketing tactics can be bootstrapped online.

Strategies like viral marketing, article marketing, content marketing, forum marketing, membership marketing and the likes often require no financial investment, or at the very least, a minimal amount to get you started. The results they promise, however, are quite amazing. Digital marketing offers the best ROI at the lowest possible investment – and then some.

10. Correspondence with your prospects as well as your existing customers can be ridiculously easy.

Digital delivery of messages is instantaneous, you’ll receive them the moment that they are sent! We might not be able to time travel (yet), but our communication channels can…and that’s what I call awesome.

Sometimes change, like some holidays, can bring about a lot of uncertainties and be downright scary. But don’t let naivety or a lack of knowledge or understanding about supplementing your business presence digitally make you dismiss what is fast becoming THE future of doing business. Establishing a web presence, regardless of the size of your business, can only offer a world of benefits for your business, your industry, and heck, the economy as a whole.

Bring that homepage on!


Part I: 10 Death Sentences in Digital Newsletter Publishing

A guideline for all seasoned digital publishers and those in the making

Because it’s easier to promise you a rose garden than the time needed to read a lengthy article, this is a 5-part series.

Introduction

Digital publishing has become a lucrative business. In the early days, no one would have predicted the E-Force with which badly designed newsletters and spammy e-zines would explode into what it is today: The very foundation of content marketing.

The ability to create an electronic product from scratch and release it to (don’t we wish) millions of people have made more and more people jump on the runaway train that is digital publishing. Anyone can write an ebook and link it to a splash page with a sexy conversion rate, or get an autoresponder and compile their own newsletters and e-courses to their subscribers at the cost of pennies. LinkedIn itself has joined forces with the world of digital publishing by purchasing SlideShare, the largest document sharing site on the net.

However, as with any moon-walkin’ endeavour, mistakes made by newbies are rife. These include unsolicited e-mailing (eek!) and not focusing on their core business. If you’ve been wanting to start a newsletter – or transform your existing one – and have bigger plans for your profits than swim-coaching them down the drain, read on.

Death Sentence #1: Sending newsletters (or anything else) from your Gmail or Yahoo! account

Part of the temptation for newbies is to collect a group of e-mails and start mailing out from their own personal e-mails. Resist it. Then resist it some more.

At first, this may seem quite harmless when you have less than 20 people in your list, but once your subscriber count exceeds 50 people, you’re going to have a very big problem on your hands.

Firstly, you’ll have to handle people who newly sign up for your list manually. Then, unsubscribers will need to be manually removed as well – causing you massive administration problems. And if you can’t even read a 10-point LinkedIn post in one sitting, why bite off more than what’s needed for the stew, email list-wise?

The worst thing is most Internet service providers refuse to let you send bulk e-mails to many people at once. Of course, this is – for any of us with an email account – a very wonderfully fantastic thing: It prevents spammers from preying on the unsuspecting through their networks. Chances are, if you’re bulk-sending from your ISP email account, your email will be on the road to SpamBox as quick as you can press ‘Send’.

Make sure you get a good and reliable autoresponder to handle all the work for you. Be smart like that.

Death Sentence #2: Signing people up without getting them to opt-in

One of the biggest newbie mistakes when it comes to newsletters is signing people up on (other) mailing lists without their permission. You might think just because

a) you have someone’s email address, or

b) they’re on another of your email lists,

it automatically gives you permission to sign them up. Prepare to be slaughtered, if that’s how you’re going to go about things.

A certain percentage of LinkedIn users are notorious for doing this. The fact that you’ve connected has given them the green light to endlessly update you on their latest and greatest business propaganda. If you’re tempted, go take a cold shower, instead.

Take it from a digital marketer who’s been on the ‘Can I kill you already?’ side of things too many times herself: Unsolicited signups is a big no-no on the Net, and will get you in deep trouble! Worst-cast scenario, you’ll be accused of spamming and you’ll get your IP blacklisted on the ISPs. Not to mention what it’ll do to the business brand you’re trying to build.

You must do things the proper way. Like flushing the loo during an evening of good curry at a friends’ house so you won’t be defriended on Facebook in the morning, so too do you need to make sure you do things the right way when building your email list. Direct potential subscribers to a landing page or opt-in form, and when they manually opt-in, then you’ll have their permission. Short of that golden pot of, “Yes, please send me…” at the end of the newsletter rainbow, you’re just two big canine teeth away from being a big, bad spamwolf. It’s your job to ‘convince’ them – ethically – why they should opt-in to your list. Never ever take any shortcuts. That only leads to being cut.

If you already have a list and have procured their signups through anything less than white-hat methods (i.e. letting them know what they’re getting themselves into before they’re into it, and actually giving them a say in the matter), now’s the time to rectify your oversight. Send out an email directing them to an opt-in form, and state explicitly that should they fail to do that, they’ll be removed from your list. Then, shocker, do it. Of course, sending a few reminders help. But ultimately, if they’re not clicking, it means they don’t want to be there. Get over the rejection and move on. They were clearly never fans, anyway.

Want the rest of the low-down on what to avoid?


Part II: 10 Death Sentences in Digital Newsletter Publishing

A guideline for all seasoned digital publishers and those in the making

Because it’s easier to promise you a rose garden than the time needed to read a lengthy article, this is a 5-part series.

Death Sentence #3: Not giving good or useful content

Some publishers are so obsessed with getting traffic and making a profit that all they ever do in their newsletters is sell products or services and talk about themselves. They use their newsletters to boast about how great they are and how good their business is doing, to the point that they bore their subscribers to death. We all know people like that in our daily lives. And we all find them utterly obnoxious and to be avoided at all cost. Don’t be that person in expanding your business online. It’s defeatist, to say the least.

Another common mistake is loading a newsletter with so many ads or affiliate links that it disrupts readers’ reading pleasure. You have a very small time scope within which to keep them interested. Do you really want to annoy them into oblivion?

If you were to buy the latest computer gadget or fashion magazine, only to have to dig through a haystack just to find the content pages – would you buy the next issue? Recommend it to a friend? Have anything good to say about it?

Thought so.

Content is king. Never diverge from that. But even more important than said industry mantra – relevant content for your subscribers should be the main deal. That’s the only reason they’re there.

Provide useful content for roughly 80% of your newsletter and leave the rest for business news and/or ads. It is a healthy balance.

Death Sentence #4: Not focusing on your business

On the other side of the coin, there are many publishers who talk about everything under the sun by serving up powerful and useful content for their readers but they forget about the most important thing – making MONEY.

Ultimately, publishing a business newsletter is about making money. You can hardly do it without promoting yourself or your business. It’d likely be a great big waste of time, energy and resources unless there ends up being an R.O.I. in the long run somehow. In any business, branding is key, and a newsletter is all about creating that awareness while at the same time providing value-added content that establishes you as the go-to in your particular industry or niche.

Learn to use strategically placed sales links so that your prospects don’t feel as though they are being ‘sold to’. Talk about the problem first, then introduce solution(s) to that problem, before finally addressing YOUR solution. End everything with a call-to-action. That way, you won’t be wasting traffic from your subscribers. Make ‘em click! But make ‘em want to click. That’s the secret, whether it be digital publishing or parenting or social relationships of any kind.

Want the rest of the low-down on what to avoid?


Part III: 10 Death Sentences in Digital Newsletter Publishing

A guideline for all seasoned digital publishers and those in the making

Because it’s easier to promise you a rose garden than the time needed to read a lengthy article, this is a 5-part series.

Death Sentence #5: Publishing whenever you feel like it

Did you know that you should keep in touch with your subscribers as regularly as possible?

There are more people on the Internet than you could ever imagine. Many (i.e. hundreds of millions) of them are signing up for digital communications with online and offline businesses alike. And the number of businesses offering these digital publications are climbing steadily every single day. If you don’t keep in touch with your subscribers, they’ll most likely forget all about you and your newsletter – and your existence as a whole. Don’t ever let this happen to your business! It’s far easier to keep an existing customer or subscriber compared to getting a brand-new one. The fact that they’ve signed up is, statistically speaking, a dot on the i short of a miracle. If they open your email, to boot…consider yourself fortunate indeed. That’s no mean feat. Don’t abuse it and don’t underutilise it. Use it.

Publishing regularly suggests to your readers that you are organised and on the ball, and you’re able to meet deadlines and commitments. Not to mention committed. Sounds like the kinda person to do business with, right?

You must learn to set aside some time for your publishing schedule. (I have a sneaky suspicion most good things in life can be traced back directly to good time management.) Take 20 minutes – you can do that while waiting in line at the bank or supermarket – and brainstorm topics to include in your newsletter. Remember that attention spans are short. Short and straight to the point is the name of the game. Think ’10 ways to…’, ‘5 kinds of…’, ‘3 times when…’ Writing a novel is not the objective. Being helpful (content marketing) and regular (communication 101) is.

To add value to your communications, take a few hours and construct an e-course on a topic your audience would find useful or that they struggle with. That’s a good way of drawing in new subscribers, too.

Even if you don’t have any special content for your subscribers, try to stay in touch with them as regularly as possible. Even a simple “Hi” followed by a link to an industry breakthrough that could impact them will do the job just fine!

Death Sentence #6: Neglecting the older archived issues

Part and parcel of the process of newsletter publishing involve moving from one issue to another. As you progress, you’ll have many back issues at your disposal, something most businesses tend to neglect. Past issues are seen as outdated or useless. Anything but!

Unless your information is completely obsolete, there’s a whole list of things you can do with a back issue. One example is to repackage previously issued newsletter content as an incentive to get prospective subscribers to sign up for your list. A quick shuffle here and there, and voila! An ebook at the ready that took little more than cut and paste.

Note: See why it’s important to offer quality content in your newsletter? It takes ya places!

You can also make your archived newsletters available on your website or blog. People do read older issues, especially if it contains information that benefits them. You’ll be able to get more of your visitors that are on the “fence” to join your newsletter, giving you a bigger list to market your products or services to.

Plus, it comes up in search results. Even if the word SEO brings up no other meaning than some boy band your teenager probably listens to, know that a newsletter is, by its very nature, full of the rich long-tail keywords search engines love. You’re already sitting on a goldmine.

Want the rest of the low-down on what to avoid?


Part IV: 10 Death Sentences in Digital Newsletter Publishing

A guideline for all seasoned digital publishers and those in the making

Because it’s easier to promise you a rose garden than the time needed to read this, this is a 5-part series.

Death Sentence #7: Forgetting to publish your newsletter in RSS

RSS is one of the many ways people use to access your content without having to visit your website or blog directly. Most of the time, newsletter publishers want their subscribers to subscribe directly through their e-mails or autoresponders because they can keep track of the size of their list.

However, neglecting RSS is silly. Would you rather have four imperfect eggs for a scrambled egg breakfast and leave the table with a full tummy, or one perfect specimen, only to fantasise about lunch for the next few hours? Although you can’t cater to every single subscriber’s needs, enabling RSS is a way to reach your readership across many different platforms. There are people who would rather read everything through their feeds. Try your best to meet their needs.

Another advantage of publishing on RSS is that you’ll increase your readership and sales through bypassing all the email filters. If your e-mail for your newsletter contains a trigger word that alerts the SPAM filters, you can be sure that word would be captured and thrown into the SPAM or Bulk folder as fast as you can say the word ‘spam magnet’! Of course, best is to not use those trigger words at all.

 Death Sentence #8: Neglecting the ‘subscriber only’ privilege

Businesses have the tendency to treat a subscriber just like any other person on their database.

However, newsletter subscribers are some of the most important people in your arsenal, especially for your marketing strategy. They are people who are genuinely interested in your work and spend time reading it. You should pamper them and treat them with care because that is probably where the money is!

Since they usually follow you from the beginning to the end, you should give them a reward. For example, if you are a promoting a product or service, consider giving your loyal subscribers a discount. Not only will it get you more sales, but they’ll appreciate it and will gladly refer others to subscribe to your list or even start promoting as your affiliate (if you open up that avenue) because they’ve been given the special treatment. Ultimately, loyalty is as loyalty does. Your newsletter is a fast track to making you get lots of it.

Want the rest of the low-down on what to avoid?


Part V: 10 Death Sentences in Digital Newsletter Publishing

A guideline for all seasoned digital publishers and those in the making

Because it’s easier to promise you a rose garden than the time needed to read a lengthy article, this is a 5-part series.

Death Sentence #9: Neglecting the personal touch

One of the problems of bulk mailing to many people at once is that we forget to be human. People aren’t stupid, and we all receive enough emails on a daily basis to be considered mini mail-experts. As much as you can tell when someone’s written you an email personally versus the generic email everyone gets and, usually, ignores, one glance at your e-mail is all your list needs to tell whether it is from you personally, and whether you’re sending it out to a large group.

If you don’t know how to add the personal touch to your e-mail headlines, you’re missing out on a lot of engagement with your newsletters. And that’s the whole point of mailing your list in the first place.

Always talk in a personal tone rather than selling to your subscribers all the time. Otherwise, they will think you are just trying to grab their money (and you’re not, are you?) Be their ally; be someone they want to open emails from. That’s the kind of thing that gets you the leads and the business and the loyalty.

Death sentence #10: Never offering any bonuses

Sometimes, businesses forget to offer bonuses to their subscribers. They forget that, once in a while, they should offer free gifts to entice them to stay on. You can also use bonuses to entice people to join as new subscribers and in so doing grow your email list.

Try writing a free report about the latest developments in your industry, and offer this as a bonus. Tell them how much the report would be worth if you were to charge for it. This increases the value your visitors place on your bonus. (Just ensure that the report really is of top quality and worth the monetary value you place on its head!)

For example:

“We’d normally charge $27 for this special report, but we’re giving it away for free to our loyal subscribers…”

You’ll increase the perceived value of your bonus, as well as make your subscribers feel pampered and appreciated.

Never neglect this powerful method!

Conclusion

There are many mistakes committed by newbies, but the worst mistake you could ever make is to repeat your mistakes over and over again. This is where the dramatic title of this post series truly comes in. If you keep committing small but crucial mistakes like the ones listed, you’ll end up losing credibility in the eyes of your subscribers (even if you are a seasoned digital newsletter publisher).

Always be vigilant and keep an eye out for blind spots you might’ve missed. Keep on refining your work – digital marketing changes its spots on a daily basis. Stay current and updated. Consider outsourcing to a freelance digital marketerto make sure that what is delivered to your audience is on par with the most up-to-date best practices.

Good luck!

Missed the series? Here is a low-down on what else to avoid.


Why You Should Be Having an Affair With Your Secretary

So you’ve been married for ten years, thirty, a hundred, or three. If you’re lucky, the dating game was great. It was exciting. You made each other feel happy, sexy, and totally alive. And one or both of you probably spent disproportionately large amounts of time focused on your appearance in order to look good. Those were the days.

The days before familiarity, routine, and going with the motions. Before boredom set in. And, if you’re unlucky, the nagging feeling that your life could’ve amounted to more than “just this.”

Of course, enter said secretary and suddenly those feelings of invigoration and excitement for each new (work)day is a welcome replacement for the humdrum of daily just-get-on-with-things.

If having affairs with secretaries isn’t your thing (mine neither), then let’s focus on something that IS very important to your professional life, that you CAN relate to:

You’ve had your business for ten years, thirty, a hundred, or three. If you’re lucky, your early marketing strategies were great. It was exciting. It made your business sexy to consumers, your bank manager a happy camper, and it made you feel totally alive and on the ball. Those were the days. (If you ever did have them.)

The days before familiarity, routine, and going-with-the-motions in the marketing department. Before boredom set in and glass ceilings were reached. And, if you’re unlucky, the crippling fear that your business is never going to amount to more than “just this.”

Now, I don’t endorse affairs with secretaries, nor have I ever had one with mine. And not because I don’t have a secretary.

But I’ve watched enough late-night drama series during a misspent week of TV to be able to relate it to the problems in an industry I know well.

In marketing, employing an eight-to-fiver who’s guaranteed to get their paycheck at the end of the month whether they’re keeping the boss’s bottom line happy or not (bad pun, that)…it’s the stuff marketing divorces are – or should be – made of.

Have you ever met any divorce-inducing, affair-offering secretaries? The ones on TV count, too. They’re all the reference Ihave to go on.

Generally, they put their best (carefully manicured) feet forward in order to get the goods (be it love or diamonds). Until they wreck your marriage and destroy your business, which is two of many reasons why you shouldn’t actually be having an affair with your secretary.

Why Your Business Should Be Having an Affair with a Freelance Marketer

Articles tend to cite ‘loyalty to the company’ as a reason for hiring a full-time employee as opposed to hiring a freelancer. But marketing is not that kind of game. If you want your business to stand at the forefront of your industry – or even just to achieve an increased monthly sales figure – then ‘loyalty’ (i.e. ‘Will they be willing to work for me for the next 300 years?’) is not the top quality you should be looking for in a marketer.

Freelance marketers have three weapons in their self-employed arsenal:

1. Their professional reputation
2. The quality of their work
3. The return-on-investment they offer

This means that a freelancer is as loyal as can be to the work that they do and the services that they offer. Without it, they’d be joining the queue at Unemployment Benefits.

A freelance marketer knows that they’re only as good as their portfolio and the word-of-mouth that precedes them. Both of which are directly affected by the work they do for your business.

While an employee can get away with murder – and oftentimes will test that theory – a freelancer can’t afford to. Not professionally and not financially.

So to work with a freelance marketer, even if just to jumpstart your marketing affairs or to breathe new life into it, is like going on a first date all over again. Except that it’s not with your secretary, so you can tell even your grandma how good the food was. And when they’re handling your marketing, you can be sure that you’ll be getting your money’s worth. Because otherwise, there won’t be a next time. No second date.

And because you might even tell the whole world how they didn’t know which the fish knife was, freelance marketers are the very ones who keep abreast with the latest and greatest in marketing innovation and trends. Employees don’t often do that. Not unless they have an appraisal coming up, or they’re sent on a (usually expensive) course after your business has been lured by the marketing tactics of the company pocketing the profits to that expensive course.

There’s a whole new client base out there just waiting for your business to market to them – the smart way. Just get that freelance marketer in.

When not apologising to secretaries for bad analogies, Nadja can be found at the other end of your email screen or telephone line, identifying aha! ways in which your marketing can take your business to new heights. And she has the cooking skills to bake your cake and serve it, too.