7 Helpful Resources for Bloggers

As we’ve mentioned previously, blogging is one of the best ways to increase follower engagement while improving SEO.  If you took our advice to heart and started your own blog, you’ll enjoy the following links.  Below we share some of the most helpful blogging resources we’ve come across:

  1. CoSchedule Headline Analyzer.  Just enter your headline and this nifty tool will evaluate its length, emotional appeal, structure, and keywords.  Consider this one a great resource for increasing clicks.

  2. HubSpot Blog Topic Generator.  If you’re struggling to come up with topics to write about, you’ll really appreciate this tool.  Simply enter a few nouns and HubSpot will do the rest, offering you multiple potential blog topics.

  3. Freeimages.  Sometimes hunting down images to accompany your blog posts can be difficult.  With over 388,000 free photos and illustrations, Freeimages makes it easy.

  4. Grammarly.  Want to check if your grammar is correct?  You’ll love Grammarly.  This Chrome extension performs checks for spelling, sentence structure, style, punctuation, and more.

  5. Keyword Planner.  To increase the readership of your blog posts, consider Google’s Keyword Planner.  Not only does this tool allow you to enter keywords to see how popular they are, but it also provides related keywords that you may want to include in your blog.

  6. MailChimp.  There are few things worse to a blogger than writing a post that nobody reads.  With MailChimp, you can easily email your contacts to notify them about your new post.  This convenient resource is free if you have less than 2,000 contacts.

  7. Hashtagify.me.  Need help finding the best hashtags to reach your audience?  Hashtagify.me has analyzed over 4 million tweets to make the job easier for you.  This tool offers hashtag tracking, influence measuring, and information about a hashtag’s top influencers.

Going on Vacation? 5 Things to Do Before You Leave the Office

Have you ever taken a vacation, returned to work, and felt like you never left at all?  Unfortunately, that isn’t an uncommon occurrence.  However, that feeling can be prevented if you handle your work responsibilities in an organized way prior to your departure.  Check out our 5 suggestions for things you should do at the office before your next vacation:

  1. Plan for Your Return.  It may be tempting to schedule lots of meetings for the day you return but rather than doing that, plan to ease your way back into work.  Avoid making your schedule on the 1st day too heavy and instead, spend the majority of your time getting caught up on emails and voice mails.

  2. Let People Know You’ll Be Away.  To cut down on the aforementioned emails and voice mails, let your colleagues and clients know a week or two in advance that you’ll be out of the office.  Then, provide them with the name of a point person to contact in your absence.

  3. Clean Your Desk.  There are few things worse than returning from vacation to a desk overflowing with papers.  Before you leave, make sure that your desk is clean, papers are filed, and that you’ve left yourself a comfortable work environment to return to.

  4. Prioritize.  In the month prior to your vacation, you should assess your work priorities and determine which tasks are most important to tackle before you leave.  Handling high-priority items in advance of your departure will make it easier for you to relax while you’re away.

  5. Handle Administrative Tasks.  Change your voice mail message and set up an email notification letting contacts know that you’re out of the office.  Don’t forget to include the date that you’ll be back, as well as the name of a point person to be contacted in case of emergencies.

Struggle with Decision Making? 3 Things Research Tells Us About Decisiveness

If it’s hard for you to make a decision, you’re not alone.  A study of 2,000 people indicates that over half of them characterize themselves as being indecisive.  Why is this?  Why do some people come to conclusions quickly while others struggle to determine which direction to go in?  How are decisive people different from others?  To answer those questions, we delved into the research to determine what science has to say:

  1. Decisive People Focus on 1 Important Factor.  If you’ve ever stared too long at a restaurant menu debating your options, perhaps it’s because you’re considering a number of factors like taste, nutrition, cost, novelty, etc.  Instead, according to a Wesleyan University study, you’re more likely to come to a quick conclusion if instead, you focus on just 1 priority—taste, for example.  The university’s findings suggest that indecision is related to considering the pros and cons of a number of factors, rather than just focusing on the most important factor.

  2. Rich People Are More Decisive.  Interestingly enough, author Napoleon Hill concluded that one thing that sets the rich apart from others (besides their money) is their decisiveness.  Hill writes, “Analysis of several hundred people who had accumulated fortunes well beyond the million dollar mark disclosed the fact that every one of them had the habit of reaching decisions promptly.”

  3. Indecisive People Can Become More Decisive.  Incentives—like the thought of bettering our income—can make us more decisive.  For instance, in 2006 Agilent Technologies CEO Bill Sullivan decided that his managers’ decisions were not keeping pace with industry changes.  Yet within 3 years, the company managers went from the 50th percentile in decisiveness to the 82nd.  Sullivan accomplished this by asking employees to rate their managers on decisiveness.  This simple change was enough incentive to dramatically overhaul the managers’ approach to decision making.

And, speaking of incentives, if the knowledge that rich people are more decisive makes you want to improve this skill, click here to read our blog post, “How to Be More Decisive.”

5 Elements of a Successful Home Page

Would you like to have a website that sets you apart from your competitors?  Of course you would!  Read on to learn how to create a successful home page by incorporating these 5 elements:

  1. Use Mobile Responsive Design.  By this, we mean that your website should automatically change to fit the screen that an individual is viewing it on.  This will present your products and services in an aesthetically pleasing way, preventing users from leaving the site because it didn’t render well on their mobile device.  With nearly 50% of people using smartphones to visit sites, this should be your top design priority.

  2. Keep It Above the Fold.  The most important elements on your home page should remain above the fold, meaning that your site visitors should be able to view these items on your page without needing to scroll.

  3. Include Several CTAs.  A CTA is a call-to-action.  Essentially, it tells your site visitor to take a specific action (i.e. “Try us free for a month,” or “Sign up here for our newsletter.”).  By failing to include CTAs on your home page, you’re missing a huge opportunity to attract more blog readers, sign up people for your newsletter, have your demo downloaded, etc.

  4. Use a Bold Supporting Image.  The web is a highly visual medium.  Select an image that reflects your brand’s spirit and makes visitors want to learn more about your company.  For instance, Inbound Marketing Agents cites the Ralph Lauren website as a great example of this.  The site consistently wins awards for its visuals, because the company does such a great job of embodying the brand’s style and elegance.

  5. Write a Compelling Headline.  According to Hubspot, visitors will assess your website in a mere 3 seconds.  For this reason, you need to write a clear, simple headline that immediately conveys what your site has to offer.

5 Morning Rituals of Successful People

Does your morning begin with the snooze button and only seem to get worse from there?  If so, why not try to shake things up?  To inspire you, we’ve listed 5 morning rituals that many successful people have found helpful:

  1. Meditating.  Meditation isn’t just for yogis.  Many successful people do it in the AM to center themselves for the day ahead.  Twitter founder Jack Dorsey wakes up at 5AM before engaging in a 30-minute meditation practice.  He says, “I look to build a lot of consistent routine.  Same thing every day.  Allows a steady state that enables me to be more effective when I do have to react to something out of hand.”

  2. Exercising.  A morning workout is a popular pastime among successful entrepreneurs.  If you opt to get in some AM exercise, you’ll be in good company with the likes of AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, fashion designer Tory Burch, and founder of the Virgin Group, Richard Branson.

  3. Daily Planning.  Consider starting your day with a strategy.  Most successful people create to-do lists or envision what they hope to accomplish throughout the day.  For instance, Inc. reports that Donna David, president of Donna David Company, spends 15 minutes a day organizing the day ahead, as well as determining 3 things she wishes to accomplish like networking or improving her business plan.

  4. Reading the Newspaper.  Leaders need to be aware of what’s going on in the world.  GE CEO Jeff Immelt begins his morning by reading the paper and watching CNBC.  Virgin America CEO David Cush likes to read the papers while using a stationary bike.

  5. Putting On a Uniform.  Initially, this may seem silly.  However, when you consider the amount of time you spend hunting for the perfect pair of shoes in the AM, it suddenly makes sense.  According to Mashable.com, a number of successful people—including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg—have a daily uniform of sorts that they wear.  According to Zuckerberg, he doesn’t want to waste time choosing clothes.  He said, “I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community.”