Tag Archives: Blogging

Why not just do it now?

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This May I hired an assistant.  Business had been improving and I knew that one of my biggest weaknesses was my Attention Deficit Disordered self.  Being easily distractible is fantastic when you’re in the creative space, where I spend probably half my day, but when it comes time to returning e-mails, remembering appointments and getting things done, the mind of an ADD child suffers dramatically.

So I now have an assistant, and her name is Sarah, and she completes me in no understated way.  Sarah is detail oriented, organized and difficult to distract.  She is often my nemesis, and I’ll do my part to derail her plans to keep me on task.  I once contemplated giving her Pink Eye so her absent self would be unable to remind me that I should be doing work.  I mean, contemplated, really, I wouldn’t honestly infect one of my employees with a contagious disease.  Honest!

So today Sarah and I were working on Excel and updating the budget for the company, and for myself.  We discussed various aspects of the business, who we needed to contact, who to update, who to assign this or that to, etc.  Sarah pointed at my Twitter client and said, “Why not just Direct Message her now?”  We needed to write some checks, for both personal and business things, “Why not just write the checks now?”

So we did.  Both.  Right then.

We got to talking about a book I had been given called “The Power of Now” and it’s a book I always thought I should read but never did, so you’ll have to tell me if it correlates at all to what I’m talking about here, but essentially, those things “I should really do” are much more easily done if you just… you know, do them.  RIGHT NOW.

I needed to e-mail a client.  Do it now.  I needed to update my spreadsheets.  Just do it!  I was behind on my blog.  Now is as good a time as any right?

Now is truly a powerful thing, and when we sat down, and we identified tasks and as soon as we gave it a name, gave it a purpose, we just accomplished it.  Didn’t create an action item, a calendar entry, or a separate spreadsheet, nope.  We just opened whatever it was, completed the thing, and just like that it’s done!

What are you putting off?  What are you planning to do that planning for, making a list for, or thinking about doing, is taking more time than it’d take to just freaking do it!?  Join me in a culture of now!  You’ll be glad you did!

Hire for the Person, not the Job

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In another lifetime I was an online journalist, a blogger before being a blogger was called blogging and we’d just post in whatever Content Management piece we could cobble together.  On one convention trip I was fortunate enough to meet Richard Taylor, the Academy Award winning Supervisor of the WETA Workshop responsible for Lord of the Rings and others.

The New Image Freedom Team

During our conversations Richard shared with me how WETA puts together their teams.  He told me that they hire for the people first, and teach them the skills second.  Of course it helps to hire a creative in a creative space and an analytical in any kind of analytics space but the wrong person is always going to be the wrong person.

I don’t believe that there is a school out there that fully prepares anyone to work in the social media space or the search space.  So much of what we do is finesse, it’s the right person having the right kind of eye for this work.  The right customer service ethic, the right outgoing personality, etc.

Recently I’ve grown, as has the business, and you along with me as readers and as you know we recently hired two full time staff members, our new Projects and Operations Managers.  I had planned to stop there, but as growth continues I’m once again looking at adding a fourth and possibly a fifth person to the office to accommodate some of our recent contracts.

The challenge then is to find the right people, who not only have an eye for search and social media, but who are also the right fit for our culture and the right fit for me as the business owner.  Richard Taylor had the right idea, and while I was probably 17 when he shared that wisdom with me it is something that really stuck.

Find the right people, and the rest will follow.

I’m a Bad Gamer

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Everyone has their thing, they collect butterflies, they skateboard or surf, or in my case I play video games.  Well, I used to play video games until I decided to be an Entrepreneur.  Stupid stupid Matthew.  The whole point, I thought, was you start a business and then you have all this free time to do the things you want to do, like in my case, play video games.

Again.  Stupid stupid Matthew.

I’ve been stupid busy lately.  I mean, that’s the point right?  I’ve been the starving artist, as they say, and I’ve been doing really well but lately I can honestly say I’ve quadrupled really well and I barely know how to keep up with it all.  I’m on a high, but a lot of the Matthew activities have had to go by the wayside while the spice flows and the work gets done.

And the spice MUST flow.

I’ve got a meeting with Michelle Poteet from Reclaim Order on Wednesday.  We have a lot to cover.  Michelle is the professional organizer that I turned to after graduating Sanera Camp.  Besides being a great friend Michelle can take my ADD self and teach me some organizational habits that really keep me from going off the deep end.

The good news keeps coming in lately, and it feels like if I announce to the world “I want to do more of X” then opportunities pertaining to the illustrious X start to appear.  I don’t know if I sold my soul to the devil in my sleep or what, but I’ve been very blessed (or cursed) lately with things generally growing very steadily.

Well, the casualty is my gaming.  Video games have been put away in favor of progress reports and that third mockup for X Y Z site with all the cool new stock images plugged in.  I think a week or two ago I said to a friend “I am going to play Final Fantasy XIII tonight!” with much certainty.  Needless to say by the time 9pm rolled around I was just too tired to spit, let alone play an intensive RPG like Final Fantasy.

I hardly recognize myself, and that is definitely a good thing, BUT there are reluctant parts of myself clinging to dear life to the liberties I had when times were easier.  Oh crap, am I growing up?  But… I don’t want to grow up!

The Toys’R’Us Giraffe made me a deal, I don’t have to grow up, are you saying cartoon Giraffe’s can’t be trusted?

At least I still refuse to wear a tie (or learn how to tie one).

That’s something right?

What is RSS? Syndication made Simple

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Mike Flores (or @pplusd on Twitter) asked “What is RSS?”

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and has become one of the easiest ways to subscribe to content on the web.  If you’re like me you travel to hundreds of web pages a day and you can’t organize your bookmarks to save your life, and you really want to keep track of what certain people share.

Enter RSS, or better yet, enter a Subscription Service for Bloggers.

RSS is a way of subscribing to a site through a reader like Outlook or Mac's Mail.

RSS is a way of subscribing to a site through a reader like Outlook or Mac's Mail.

There are a lot of ways to subscribe to an RSS feed.  Most RSS feed’s pop up your default RSS viewer, which I have set to Mac’s Mail program and you PC users can also setup for Outlook as well.  Once you’ve subscribed to the RSS feed you’ll get a new message in that inbox every time that web site posts an update.  I use RSS to follow blogs, and stay on top of the SEO news across sites like Search Engine Land and SEOmoz.

To subscribe to an RSS feed, just find the little orange square that looks like a wifi symbol.  Click on that and it will add the URL for that sites’ RSS feed to your reader of choice.  There are a lot of RSS readers out there so experiment some and find the one that works for you.

Most blogging software packages include an RSS service.  I use and recommend WordPress because RSS is really easy to use.  You can even subscribe to the Image Freedom Blog via RSS by clicking on the little man who looks like he’s sitting on the toilet under my photo.  Yea, I really ought to replace that. =)

For more info than you’d ever want to know about RSS check out the Wikipedia Entry.

SEO for Dummies

I follow a lot of really cool blogs about Search Engine Optimization, I can’t say I read them all but I try to.  It’s my job to do that.  I don’t expect you to do the same.  My job is to know about SEO for when you have a question, or God willing need my help.  I’ve been in business in San Antonio for under a year, but I’ve been blessed by tapping into various communities who change me practically every day.

Today I was sitting down at Week 2 of a new Camp Sanera class.  @AliciaSanera asked me to come by and share how I’d grown personally, and I was happy to meet the new class.  Afterwards a few of us stayed behind and were talking about SEO, and how most people, including I’m sure some of you reading this, are completely clueless as to what SEO is, how it actually works and when it is necessary.

The problem is your average SEO is a crook.  Makes my life harder, because I’m always doing damage control for the lies spread by other SEOs.  I’m not perfect, sometimes I reach for goals that are unreasonable, but I’d like to think I’m very honest about what is possible, but also what I’d like to achieve.

My new buddy Mani Karthik wrote a blog titled “5 Ways to find out if an SEO is lying to you“.  He touched on some really sad realities within the Search Engine Optimization community.  So let’s talk about some of these things, do you really need SEO?  What is SEO going to provide you?

How does SEO Work?  What is it? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.  Different people will define it differently, but I’ll define it as being aware of trends and tactics to create web content that will place highly on search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.  SEO works by targeting the keywords people use to find content on Google.  One of my keywords for Image Freedom is “San Antonio SEO” so often on my site you’ll see images titled “San Antonio SEO” or that phrase placed in my content (like in this blog, shameless).

When targeting a keyword, you want to be aware of two things.  #1) Is this a keyword people will ACTUALLY search for, and #2) can I place this keyword in a way that won’t look out of place or obstruct a users experience reading my content?  Number one, take the keyword you want to target and log over to The Google Keyword Tool which I talk about a lot.  Type in your keyword and you’ll get results like this.

I used the Keyword Tool to search for "San Antonio SEO"

I used the Keyword Tool to search for "San Antonio SEO"

The graphic here shows that there are 1,300 searches each month for “San Antonio SEO” which isn’t a whole lot but is enough that it’ll make the phone ring if I’m the one that comes up on Google when a company is interested in SEO.  For most businesses, you’ll want to go after keywords with more search volume, but sometimes the keyword you come up #1 for is easy to do because it only gets a few searches a month.  The more search volume a keyword gets, the most potential value that keyword has.

Does that make sense?  The more people who are interested in “San Antonio SEO”, in my case, the more potential visitors to my site are out there.  So if I can rank really high for a keyword with tens of thousands of monthly searches, my web site traffic is going to spike because so many people will be seeing my site.

Secondly, you want to place your keywords on your site in a way that doesn’t obstruct the user experience.  If I’ve learned anything from my six weeks in Camp Sanera it’s that user experience is everything.  This is where design comes in and your web site needs to be setup as easy as possible, so you don’t make the user work for what they want to find, and don’t pack each line with so many keywords that it becomes unreadable.

“San Antonio SEO, Search Engine Optimization, SEO San Antonio, Web Design, Internet Marketing, Experts”
OR
San Antonio’s SEO Marketing Solution. No hidden costs. No drama. Just the web design your business has always deserved.”

Which line speaks to you more?  Do you want a list of keywords, or do you want an honest statement?  See how my description still targeted my keyword, but did so in a content driven way?  I’m from the camp that you don’t insult your user by cramming so many keywords into a paragraph that it becomes unreadable.  That will cost me business, guaranteed, but I’m not going to do that for you, so why should I do it myself?

What are backlinks?  Why do links matter? Besides putting keywords on your site, and naming things with keywords in mind, you want to also build links to your web site.  Why does it matter if people link to you?  The way this works, is Google is asking other web sites if they’ve heard of any cool sites worth visiting, and most webmasters wouldn’t link to a site unless they liked the content, the design, or SOMETHING offered by that site.  So when Google visits and sees that you are linking to someone, they check that person out and you’re basically giving that other site your seal of approval.  You have just created a backlink.

The more backlinks you have the higher you typically rank on Google.  Sites like mine with hundreds of backlinks might have a PageRank of 3 or 4, where sites with 10,000 easily have a 5 or a 6 PageRank.  There is also a relevance factor to these links, you want to be linked to by sites that are related to your business or your blog.  So if you sell Tennis Balls, consider building relationships with a Tennis Racket or Tennis Shoe company because a link from those sites is going to be more valuable than a link from, say, a Tire Company.

I can’t afford an SEO consultant, what can I do? The cheapest way to build your SEO is to create awesome content.  Be authentic, be genuine, be yourself and share honestly with the world.  Marketing messages don’t work anymore, the second you tell me what to think, I’ve already tuned you out and am probably off playing Peggle on my iPhone.  If you build relationships with your web site you can reach a much higher potential than if you stick to “HOLY CRAP BUY THIS” methods of advertising.

Did you learn anything?  Awesome!  I’ve got some homework for you:

#1) Consider Blogging: If you had to write 5 blog articles about your business or your web site, what would you blog about?  Take those ideas and put them into The Google Keyword Tool and see if any of those topics get a lot of search traffic.

#2) Admire the Competition: If you have competing businesses that are getting the kind of sales you’d like to achieve, take a look at their web site.  Is it obvious what that site is about?  Is it easy to find a map, a phone number, a product?  Could your web site do this better?  How could you stand out next to their web site?

#3) Oodles of Backlinks: What web sites out there would link to you?  Are you a member of an organization that would link to your business?  Have you donated money to an organization that might spotlight your service?  How could you generate references of your business out on the web?

My goal is to make SEO accessible to everyone and hopefully by educating folks on what is out there, it’ll be a lot harder for you or your friends to be taken advantage of by shady SEO’s promising the stars.  Comments and questions appreciated!