image SEO

Image credits and SEO

As content creators we all understand the power of strong images to support our written content.

I believe that creators should be paid, credited and be a part of the content team. But I got scammed recently – here’s the detail so you don’t get caught by the same trick.

I was concerned when I got the message – and so I went to check my source code for the article. The images below show what I found on their website and on mine for the article they referenced.

You can do a reverse image lookup search – this way you can find out where the image has also been used. [I did this recently for a beautiful rowing picture of a crew with a whale below them – but needless to say people are still sharing it saying it’s not photoshopped!]

Image Scam Message

My name is Casey and I represent Writix company.
Due to our records, you had used one of our pictures in your article https://creativeagencysecrets.com/anatomy-of-effective-cold-direct-mail/
Here is a link to our article with this picture https://writix.co.uk/blog/plan-an-assignment
I understand that probably you have found it on a web, but it would be great if you give a credit to https://writix.co.uk

Thank you in advance.

Regards,
Casey

OhNoYoudon’t

Casey

Lovely to hear from you but the image you refer to is from Unsplash. When used with appropriate credits (which I do) they have nothing to do with Writix as you did not originate the photo image.
And so I’d refer back to your employers quickly before the Unsplash creator sues them for not crediting use of the image correctly.

Upwork logo, marketplace, hire marketing talent

Confident Briefing on Upwork

I teach a lot of my clients how to use freelance platform marketplaces as a way to find good marketing support contractors.

Upwork is a popular platform. But getting the best out of it depends on one very important skill – briefing.

How to brief a marketing job

A well-briefed job produces the desired output on time and on budget. But many marketers will tell you that this is not what they’ve personally experienced – whether with an agency, with freelancers or sub-contractors.  Let’s set about understanding the skill and the process of making a robust brief and project managing a job to a successful outcome.

The brief parameters

Start by writing down what you want the job to achieve, a goal if you like.

  • We need a new design for….
  • Troubleshoot this issue….
  • Copywrite using these keywords….
  • Sell this product….

You get the idea.

Next go to the platform of your choice, I’ll use Upwork for now, and find out what the template briefing pages ask you to provide.

Write on a document each of the questions they ask. Use these to understand how the platform will use your information to brief the applicants. If they ask you to set an hourly rate or budget this means it will exclude experts who don’t fit your parameters.  Which skills are you listing as necessary? If you ask for questions to be answers, what do you want to learn from those questions – are you using them to screen in or screen out applicants?

You need to set guidance for what success looks like for your project.

The key to a successful Upwork hire

Get the expert to step slowly though the early stages of your selection.

What do I mean by that? Instead of diving into the job and assuming that the work track record examples are sufficient proof of expertise, create a carefully thought-through path whereby you gauge their skill, their communications, their responsiveness and align that with your personal project and its needs.

Here’s an example. I have a website UX redesign project – what are the stages or milestones? How can I find out who has deep expertise compared to shallow experience?  The key is to ask good questions.

These are actual questions set for an SEO brief

  • Have you drastically increased traffic for a website?
  • Can you briefly explain how will you help us achieve the expected outcome?

I recommended changing these to

  • How good or bad is our website SEO?
  • How will you research key words?

They are very simple questions – and the key is that you should know the answers already… In this way you can see if the responder is trying to bamboozle you or gives actual detail of their work process. You want the latter.

The answers will allow you to quickly find out

  1. is their English (written) good enough?
  2. do they sound confident they can do our job?

Creative briefing stage 2

After you have shortlisted, then you need to message the applicants. This is when you actually speak individually to your contractors. Beware of agencies applying where the salesperson replies and you don’t know who will be doing your work. Insist on speaking to them direct.

I usually ask these questions

  1. What are the stages and key milestones in this project?
  2. Can you estimate the number of hours you need for each stage?

And again assess their response, use of English and speed to reply.

Then I call the top 3 and have a 5 minute chat to run through their answers (stages and hours estimate).

After this, I make my hire decision…..

Can I help you learn how to brief?

Get in touch. Briefing is a skill and a process. You can learn how to do it well.  There are some nuances which are specific to types of job and not appropriate for a public post like this. Happy to help.

 

Resources

Marketplaces

 

 

 

solopreneur, business at home, work from home, marketing home business

Moving from word of mouth to digital marketing

A reader sent me this question

I am about to “Go Live” with my website and Facebook pages. I am a sole trader, working with teams to challenge the way they operate / lead. In the past, my business was gained by reputation and word of mouth. Now that I am on my own, I believe it is time to have more of an online presence as some of my market will be completing online courses. What is your recommendation for the frequency of writing blogs and posting to Facebook or LinkedIn? Also, should that be to market or to educate my followers?

Word of Mouth marketing

There are many, many businesses whose main marketing activity is recommendation and referral.

This is done with no prompting from the business – it’s passive and costs nothing (expect having a good reputation).

But this is a really limiting marketing method. Any WOM marketing should be proactive and driven by the business – the unprompted referral is the “cherry” on top – an added bonus not a core tactic for a marketer. It’s a vulnerable marketing tool because it’s not within the control of the business.

Digital marketing 101

Starting to move to online marketing is challenging and the questioner is on the right lines with a website and some social media presence. BUT that is not sufficient to ensure success.

Key to digital marketing success requires you first to think carefully about strategy with regard to your audience.

  • How can you serve them?
  • What will they buy from you (now and in the future)
  • How can you create a personal, scalable business that doesn’t just trade hours for dollars?

A couple of specific bits of advice while you plan your content strategy.

  1. Understand the needs of your customer
  2. Don’t give everything away for free
  3. Productise your services so they can be sold en masse [build up to this over time]
  4. Add on support products / services which serve the industry and underpin your area of expertise

This may sound complex – but it’s important to have a long term strategy of where you want to go with your freelance business before you get down into the detail of what to publish on Facebook this week.

Understand solopreneur marketing

I recommend you sign up to Unemployable.

Their podcast is called 7 Figure Small. This podcast and advisory course (paid) is built for people like you. Solo entrepreneurs who want to build a profitable business while remaining a small enterprise sold mainly online.

This episode published recently, “The Rise of the Personal Enterprise”.

It defines what a personal enterprise is, outlines the forces converging to make now the right time to get started, and describes what your revenue and audience building mindsets should be to get you started off in a way that can you support you now and scale later.

 

Digital light speed

What’s different in digital marketing 2021?

Digital strategy and your website in 2021 is the title of a seminar I’m giving tomorrow (sign up here). And I’ve been revising and updating my slide deck for the event. This is a training session  have been doing since 2014 with no change in the title and quite a lot of change in the content.

What has changed in 2021?

I have done a lot of thinking – what really is different this year compared to last year and 2019? And I have come to two conclusions

  1. Nothing
  2. Everything

Why so trite an answer?

Digital strategy remains the same – how we I use digital channels to reach a target audience and the website remains the centre of that strategy for most businesses.

But the business world is transformed, we are open to new ways of working, we are up-skilled massively by the lockdowns and forced business adaptation caused by the lack of international travel and trade; our customers are similarly changed in skill and attitude.

Customers are very, very different from the past.

Here in New Zealand new organisations are springing up to help businesses transition into digital – Manaaki is one – birthed from a need for emergency business advice during Covid-19 and now transformed into an educational service funded by Government. Its Digital Academy got 190 applications for just 30 spots. And it’s shortly to launch another work stream, a Digital Doers Academy. Both are backed by real advisors who teach and also coach users in how to apply the learning.

Similarly, NZTE had a lockdown programme, Digital Beachhead, which has now morphed into an additional coaching service to help firms implement and adjust their internal working processes to deliver the digital recommendations.

Digital speed is your challenge

For my slides, I find that much of the advice remains the same – there’ve been no huge algorithm changes, the toolkit is little changed and maybe voice social media is the only big “new, new” thing.  And that’s still nascent and definitely not mainstream, nor commercial, nor particularly useful for most firms.

But what has changed is speed and frequency.

The increasing localisation of search, the rapidity of digital updates, ecommerce product launches and impatience of customers means that we have to do things and re-do them or re-check them much more than in the past. Some are sending ever more EDM content; others update social media with growing frequency and when I check the regularity of search engines spidering my websites, it is also growing.

My frequent advice is to set task reminders on a more frequent but less onerous basis. Having time set aside for little-and-often type maintenance on your digital properties is essential. It has been very effective for my clients – try it yourself.

Overall, keep to the basics, supply information to search engines in a way that humans and machines can understand and do your updates continually. We no longer have to persuade customers that digital works – we just need to be present for them when they are looking for us. Go do it.

 

[Disclosure – both Manaaki and NZTE are clients.]

Rebecca Caroe career

Linear Careers aren’t normal

Helping others get a career ‘step up’ is important work.

I’ve been working with OneUpOneDown and their inspirational founder Natalie Robinson to help my own transition towards governance work.

She asked me to share my career story – and so I did. It’s an article on their Career Stories blog.

Learn from others

What I found illuminating is that when you ask, few people have a totally linear career path.

I found it easy to presume that everyone was doing something that I was not doing in my job choices.

Sharing my story may help others work out their best next move.
How can you help? Sign up to either mentor or be a mentee at OneUpOneDown.

Squiggly Line Credit

This goes to Claudia Batten – whose video is worth watching. She also has a fine weekly newsletter about Squiggly careers from her website Squiggly Life.

 

Clubhouse room

Is voice the new marketing medium?

Voice – the oldest marketing and sales medium in the world and said to be “the second oldest profession” has now become the newest most exciting social media.

This week I have been doing a telephone survey and the freshness of insight I gained from speaking to real people whose job depends on having a good working relationship with my client was pure gold. I found them a chance to win back a big lapsed client; we understood their ethical leadership position in the industry; I was able to differentiate two core customer groups and develop golden questions to identify these tendencies in others.

As a marketing campaign it has delivered huge ROI already – and that was just the pilot.

Clubhouse rolls out

The launch of a digital chat room where you can speak (but not write or emoji) to other people who are gathering because they want to discuss the same topic as you has become the latest “wow” of the online social media world.

I see this as the digital opposite of my phone survey.

The excitement from pundits is real. Somehow having an app which allows users to schedule events with catchy titles like

  • 10x List Building Secrets
  • Shark Tank winners: how to be a founder and keep your sanity!
  • Beauty industry DISRUPTION [yes, their capitalisation, not mine]
  • How to talk to racists

is making marketing and tech folk around the world go mad with enthusiasm. [See screenshots at the bottom of the page.]

Some of these topics are frankly of no interest to me at all. And others have been nice chats with smart, well-meaning people. There’s a good UK marketing room which does “breakfast” every morning – they theme each weekday and sustainability was Wednesday and Tuesday was packaging. Both were well moderated and the topics included examples and case studies as well as discussion about challenges (Hello Fresh’s high plastic use; How to enable kids to unpack their toys and reuse cardboard as a play resource).

And copycats are already coming along – Fireside is a rival service already being talked about.

Same old same old?

Is Clubhouse just a symptom of the pandemic or has a truly new marketing medium launched?

The nicest part of a voice only platform has been the civility. Attendees don’t seem ready to yell and abuse each other and there hasn’t yet been a “Jackie Weaver” incident made public. A kinder version of the internet would certainly be welcomed.

I was also introduced to Frames this week – a virtual reality version of Zoom which is in private Alpha. It looks like any VR room but allows you to speak to other avatars; to live stream; put “pictures” and video onto the walls of rooms and design the virtual environment. The best part is a little blue line across the floor where your conversation can only be heard by others inside the line.

Yet is this really worthwhile?

  • From a brand marketing point of view, not yet. Mass adoption hasn’t begun.
  • From a direct marketing point of view – not at all, there’s no way of finding and contacting people except by hoping they’ll show up to your next room event.
  • From a personal branding and ‘influencer’ content creation point of view – yes some people are punting their expertise – but are they finding the right followers? Who knows.

I do not like marketing that depends mainly on winning a personal popularity contest. It is not replicable or repeatable.

Marketing done well

The best marketing is done direct to people who have the possibility of becoming customers. Going niche not going broad involves finding the right audience not the largest audience, sharing resonant messages not undifferentiated spray-and-pray, where customers appreciate that helpful insights and advice gives a better return on investment.

For now, I’m not recommending you spend too much time on Clubhouse – but I do suggest getting on the blower – you never know what you’ll find out with some open questioning of your clients and prospects.

Clubhouse room

Get notified of the room going live & follow the moderators

 

As ever, marketers are early into the new gig and some set some pretty onerous conditions for joining. And the coders have set up some simple ‘gamification’ tools to enable the fame game of popularity to grow your group.

Clubhouse join a group screenshot Clubhouse room rules

The Clubhouse app is still in development – it’s not yet available for Android users (70% of all smartphones) and there are clear missing tools like the ability to search for a group or a user using key words or the ability to “produce” content, record or stream media into the group. It’s early days.

Ask me if you’d like an invitation… I’ve got six.

5 Things to Consider When Reaching Out to Bloggers

Bloggers are continuously being sought after because of the relationships they have with readers. When you are going to reach out to a blogger to make a connection, there are things that you should do and things that you should avoid. As you learn more about blogger outreach, you can work to improve your authority in the search engines.

You Need Bloggers to Boost Your SEO

You’re already ahead of the game if you know that you’re in need of SEO help. Search engine optimization isn’t just about doing some keyword research. You need the bloggers to help you with your visibility. When there are more backlinks from authoritative websites and blogs pointing to your own site, it can help you immensely.

Bloggers know that they can help you. However, it’s not their job. This means that you need to ensure that you don’t come across too needy. Before you reach out to bloggers, be sure that the rest of your SEO game is in check.

Not All Bloggers Have a Good Reputation

Bloggers are not always nice. They know they have a good blog. They’ll try to get you to bend over backward – and it may not be the best relationship to have.

Some bloggers inflate their audience numbers. Some bloggers will want to charge. Some bloggers may even refuse to communicate with you.

By doing a bit of digging, you can find out what kind of reputation a blogger has before you even try to reach out to them.

The Blog Audience Matters

It’s important to do some blog research. You need to make sure that the audience of the blog meshes with your business. If you have a similar target audience, it’s going to make it easier for you to show the blogger that there’s a connection. If you’re focusing solely on the number of readers of that blog, you’re bound to fall short.

Show What You Have to Offer

There are all sorts of things that you can offer to a blogger to show that you can help them.

Offer to write a blog to share in their blog. Run a contest for their readers. Provide something that they may not be able to get from just anywhere else. Make it unique.

You cannot simply ask for something without offering something in return. Bloggers aren’t looking for charity cases. If you want to get your link shared on blogs, you need to establish a partnership. Present your offer within your first effort to reach out to the blogger so that they know that you’re not looking for a handout.

Make Genuine Connections

Most bloggers already know their worth. They get contacted all the time for purposes of SEO. This means that you have to make genuine connections. Focus on following the blogs and the bloggers for a while. Connect with them on social media. Like a few of their blogs. Share a blog post on your own social media account.

After you’ve followed them for a while, make a connection. Reach out to them by email or even by tagging them in a post. Try to get a natural conversation started. Then, only after you feel as though you know the blogger, reach out to them. Talk to them more about who you are and why you think it would be great for the two of you to work together.

Ultimately, when you reach out to bloggers, make it personal. Think about what you’re going to say so that it’s not coming out as a cry for help. Remember, too, that if the idea of reaching out to bloggers makes you sick to your stomach, you can learn more by using a blogger outreach service.

NZ Ministerial briefings

Marketing and politics

Anyone who is updating their marketing plan or business plan knows that there’s a section that includes strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. And within this section is the PEST acronym for political, economic, social and technology – all areas to consider where changes may come from that affect your business.

How to assess politics for marketing?

Unless you are super into politics, most of us are not aware of the plans of the civil service and the government of the day. Some things hit the news, but most of the work goes on without too much hitting our consciousness.

So you write the Political part based on general knowledge and guesswork. And it’s not good.

No more, here’s a great way to find out what is coming up that will affect your business planning.

Briefings to Incoming Ministers

The New Zealand civil service writes a briefing for all the new ministers after a general election. This document is later published so we, the electorate, can see what they are planning. The BIMs are now all published for the current Ardern government.

Take a read of the briefings most relevant to your area of business – from the Finance Minister, to Revenue, Small Business, Tourism, Callaghan and the Digital Economy Communications – I found these fascinating.

Not all the briefing is public – there are redacted parts which are sensitive (some relate to jobs, others to matters like likely tax changes).

Here’s the link to all the briefings – BIMS Finance and Economy

Happy reading!

What to Look for in an Online MBA Programs

Every year, a little over 135,000 prospective students apply for MBA programs across the United States. MBA programs are a popular option for those who desire to work in a variety of business fields. As the next group of applicants prepares to begin their journey, it is important to answer one question: which MBA program is right for me? The program you select shapes your professional influences and network. Luckily, since there are a vast number of options, applicants will find a program that best suits their personal and professional interests.

In the COVID-19 world, it is important to investigate strong online programs since you will unlikely be spending much time in the classroom. The following guide is a helpful tool to learn more about finding the best online MBA program. The contained information can help you determine whether the requirements of business school will help you achieve your academic and career goals.

Considerations for Choosing an MBA Program

Deciding to pursue an MBA is a major decision but applicants have additional aspects that must be considered before starting the application process. Before making a concrete decision, create a plan that suits your skills, career goals, and academic talents. The following considerations will help you craft this plan in more detail:

Alumni Network

The strength of alumni networks impacts the school’s perception and reputation, as well as the success of graduates. Questions to ask when reviewing the alumni network include:

  • Do alums participate in local events?
  • How engaged are the alumni?
  • What are the alumni doing now?
  • What is the size of the network?

Career Services

In addition to providing top educational opportunities and teaching students the skills to become the next business leaders, one of the most important services a school can offer is assisting graduates with jumpstarting their careers. Most MBA programs have a career services department to support all new graduates with career opportunities.

Concentrations

Most MBA’s have concentrations in marketing, finance, human resources, international business, etc. which can help you further tailor your career business interests.

Cost

Cost is probably the most important factor for those considering an MBA. You must find a balance between potential salary and cost when selecting a school. With MBA’s notoriously being a costly degree, you want to find a school you can afford. Average tuition costs for an online MBA can range from $11,000 for a public graduate school to $25,000 for a private graduate school per year. More reputable programs run even higher.

Curriculum

Most programs require students to complete between 55 and 65 credits with around one-third focusing on core topics. Core classes are consistent across all business schools and include a curriculum consisting of financial accounting, managerial statistics, operations, management, business analytics, and the global economic environment.

Location

When considering the location of prospective schools, students must determine whether they wish to work in the same city post-graduation. Networking is a critical aspect of the MBA experience and that hard work can be wasted if you move away.

Reputation

Paying attention to a program’s reputation is critical since those MBA’s with respected professors and renowned alumni will attract attention. Also, the business community knows which schools function as talent pipelines. Rankings give hiring panels and recruiters a sense of how the school prepares graduates for employment. 

In your search for the best online MBA program, still consider top schools but focus on any appealing school. Try to learn about the programs you have never heard of since your dream MBA could be at a location you never expected. Use the above considerations during your review to find the best options to meet your personal and career requirements.