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7 Tips to Stop Procrastination

Woman in computer room with feet up thinking

It’s funny how procrastination works. It feeds upon insecurities, negativity and frustration. Procrastination quite literally makes mountains of molehills. Would you believe I found myself procrastinating writing this very article? Sometimes writing comes easy to me, other times I am distracted by something as small as dust floating by.

I don’t think there is one person who hasn’t experienced procrastination at some point in their life. This inspired me to share a few tips I often use to stop procrastination and to start getting things done. Here they are!

Be realistic with your time

One of the biggest reasons why people procrastinate is because they underestimate the time it will take to complete a task. They lead themselves to believe it will only take an hour or two, when realistically it’s an all-day assignment. In return, this causes you to become overwhelmed by and frustrated with the task at hand. Be realistic with the time it will really take. Maybe it is a 3-day project, but knowing that will allow you to properly manage expectations and to get in the zone to get it done.

Choose a smart work environment

Another good piece of advice to stop procrastination is to pick the right work environment. This will depend upon your personality, so think about the setting where you tend to get the most, uninterrupted work done. For me, this is a calm and completely silent setting. There’s no background noise, the lights are dim and there are no other people. Did I mention I’m an introvert? This isn’t ideal for everyone. I know a lot of people who can’t work when it’s silent. They actually need background noise, bright lights and other people to drive their energy. To each their own! Learn what works for you and replicate that work environment the best you can when you need to get in the zone.

Put it on your calendar

Next, pick a specific day and time that you plan to tackle the seemingly insurmountable project and put it on your calendar. Block out time that you can dedicate solely to this task and make it a commitment. If you can treat a project like a meeting or conference call, meaning you don’t schedule something else during this time and you show up on time, you will have a far better shot at knocking it out in one fail swoop.

Start your day with the hardest task

I’ve written about “eating a frog” for breakfast, and by that I mean taking your least favorite task of the day and getting it done first. Why? First, it ensures it gets done even if nothing else does. Second, once you tackle the thing you’re looking forward to least, everything else seems easy. By starting your day with the hardest task, you’ll go on to conquer the world!

Shut out distractions

When it’s really crunch time and you need to get something done, don’t allow any distractions to interfere. For some people, this may mean burying your phone under a heap of laundry and turning off your computer’s wifi. You may even need to leave the office and head outside or to a library just to avoid phone calls and small talk. Procrastination will make everything in the world, but the task at hand, a welcome distraction, unless you make an effort to shut it out. Don’t rely on your own self-control; do what you can to eliminate even the potential for distraction.

Set mini deadlines

If you’re task is exceptionally large, you may need to set mini deadlines to make it less daunting. Section it out so that you create smaller tasks that build upon each other to get you to the finish line. This also gives you obvious breaking points so that you can step away, refresh your mind and come back with a renewed focus.

Get excited about it

Finally, change your frame of mind about the task. You’re likely procrastinating because you’re intimidated by the task or you just really don’t want to do it. Dig deep and put a positive spin on it, even if the only positive is that it will be off your shoulders. Convince yourself that you’re going to knock it out of the park. Get excited for the finished product and the sense of accomplishment you will soon feel. A little positive self-talk will go a long way toward breaking through that procrastination!

Have you fallen victim to procrastination? Share the tips you’ve used to overcome it!

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Posted by on July 17, 2017 in Business & Success, Life

 

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Low Cost and No Cost Business Tools Every Entrepreneur Should Use

When I first began my Public Relations Consulting Business, now nearly six years ago, I had to find every possible low cost or no cost tool to grow my business with minimal overhead. Still to this day, I find myself continuing to use many of these same tools not just because they are cost-effective, but because they work. Take a look at the top 10 tools I recommend for every entrepreneur.

keyboard.

Email Management

gmail

Gmail – I’ve been with Gmail from the inception of my business. Though my email is @bennisinc.com, I can login just as I would for an @gmail.com account. It’s familiar, it’s user-friendly and it’s free – or about $2 per month, depending upon your plan. Through some of my clients, I’ve had the experience of using Outlook and have found no added benefit that Gmail doesn’t match and then blow out of the water. Need I say more about Gmail’s awesomeness?

Email Marketing

mail chimp

Mail Chimp – Mail Chimp has won my heart for several reasons. First, I appreciate that it keeps things simple and user friendly. If I want to send out a quick press release for a client, I can easily brand a template and have this sent within minutes. I have also seen unique and intricate templates created by my fellow designers that make a Mail Chimp email look just like some of those more “expensive guys’.”

Speaking of, I have experience using Constant Contact, Emma, MadMimi and more. I find these platforms to be far more fussy and expensive. If your contact list is less than 2,000 people and you send less than 12,000 emails per month, Mail Chimp is completely free!

Scheduling

doodle

Doodle – If you can relate to the scenario of countless “reply-all” emails with dates and times being thrown about trying to schedule a group conference call, then you need to get acquainted with Doodle. I have to schedule anywhere from 4 to 10 conference calls per month, often with ten or more people each. Doodle has been a huge time saver. I simply select a variety of dates and times that (foremost) suit my schedule, then all participants select the dates and times that also work for them. Doodle shows you what option works for the most people, so making a decision is easy!

Business Phone

google voice

Google VoiceI have never paid a dime for a dedicated business phone number and voicemail – it’s Google Voice makes this possible. My cell phone is an 814 area code, but I now operate in the 717 area code. In an effort to accurately portray my business as local, I selected a 717 business phone number via Google Voice and linked it directly to my cell phone. This means when someone calls my business line, I see “Google Voice” appear on my phone and know to answer it as a business call. My favorite feature is that I can record an alternate voice mail that people hear when they call this line, so they aren’t greeted with my personal voice mail. You can even record a specific voice mail for one specific person, if you really want to give a personal touch!

Conference Calls

free conference call

FreeConferenceCall.com – The name sounds a little shady, but this service has never done me wrong. You simply create a free account and they assign you a unique conference number to use again and again and again. If you want to pay a little more, you can add on any number of features, but for me, all I wanted was a dedicated, reliable conference line for free.

Invoicing

quickbooks

Intuit QuickBooks’ Invoicing Software – I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I managed my growing PR consulting business completely with invoices I created in Word for the first five years. Starting in 2017, I was finally introduced to Intuit QuickBooks thanks to a client. From my first use, I was hooked.

This year alone, I am currently managing 22 active client accounts, and growing. Without QuickBooks, invoicing would be a nightmare. I can see who owes what, what’s overdue and easily compile a report to see any imaginable metric of my business finances. I’m trying not to kick myself too hard for not implementing QuickBooks sooner, but really it’s a shame how unnecessarily painful I made compiling tax information for my business. Lesson learned.

Productivity

boomerang

Boomerang (for Gmail) – Boomerang is my spirit animal. It allows you to draft and schedule email messages to go out at a specific date and time in the future. This allows me to schedule meeting reminders, follow-up emails or send out a proposal several days from now when it would hit my client at a better time. I can take care of the task while it’s on my mind and not have it sit in my draft box. Boomerang is like my personal assistant that takes care of the rest! This service is free for up to 10 messages per month, which suits me just fine. For a little more money you can unlock their entire suite of features. If you feel like you’re always forgetting to send out or follow-up on emails, definitely check this one out!

Social Media Management

hoot suite

Hootsuite – I’ve explored several different types of social media management platforms and my loyalty remains with Hootsuite. I pay just about $10 per month and I’m able to accommodate the management of all of my clients’ social media accounts. The feature that sold me is the ability to schedule social media posts in advance. I still get real-time notifications if anyone likes, comments or shares a post so I can immediately react, but the day-to-day logging into each account and posting is eliminated. This gives me back at least an hour of my day, every day!

File Storage and Organization

dropbox

DropBox – I might have one or two physical file folders with paperwork, everything else is in my DropBox – and that’s 6 years’ worth of storage! DropBox makes it easy for me to share entire folders with a client, graphic designer or anyone else who may need access to these items. I also gain peace of mind knowing I can access these same files from my phone or any other computer via DropBox.com. So should anything tragic happen to my laptop, I still have all of my client files at my fingertips.

Collaboration

g suite

G Suite – We started by talking about Google as a no cost or low cost resource to entrepreneurs, so let’s end by talking about it some more. G Suite, specifically Google Docs and Google Sheets, is a great tool for collaboration. Multiple people can edit a document in real-time, eliminating the back and forth with multiple versions of the same document and not knowing which is the most up to date. In short, G Suite is a simple and free collaboration tool that most everyone is comfortable using – a huge selling point especially when working with clients who aren’t tech-savvy.

What are some of your favorite low cost or no cost business tools? Share the technologies that have helped you to grow!

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2017 in Business & Success

 

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3 Qualities of a Great Photograph

Photography, just like any other form of art, is subjective. Individually, we each have our own preferences which can be seen in the type of photographs we take as well as the art we choose to hang on the walls in our homes.

So how can you select an image to represent your business or brand that will appeal to the majority of your target audience?

Speaking from a public relations and marketing perspective, there are three common qualities that make up a great photograph that you should keep in mind when selecting the images you use to grow your brand. Take a look!

Lighting Quality

Lighting is critical to taking a great photograph. When possible, opt for natural lighting to create a soft ambiance. Flash photography can also produce some stand out images when used correctly. After all, photography literally means “painting with light,” so learning to master your lighting is key to producing a great photograph.

For this photo, lighting is part of the object itself, making for a unique shot!

For this photo, lighting is part of the object itself, making for a unique shot!

Composition and Attention to Detail

The best photographs have an element of visual balance. Guidelines like “the rule of thirds” are helpful for knowing how to spot an image with great visual balance. Why does composition matter so much? Because it helps to create an image that is stimulating and captivating. When seeing such an image, your audience will spend more time looking at it which means a greater opportunity for them to connect with your brand. Once you know “the rules,” you can also choose to strategically break them to capture an photo that is different from what we’re used to seeing, thus making it more memorable.

This photo follows the "rules of thirds" which results in a great visual balance.

This photo follows the “rules of thirds” which results in a great visual balance.

Your Subject Makes a Statement

Finally, a great photograph does more than just capturing the image of an object or scene; it makes a statement. Some of the simplest photographs, when shot creatively, tell a story far more fascinating than a lesser-quality photograph of something far flashier. It’s really not so much what you’re photographing as it is how you photograph it. Dare to look at something from a new angle, position it in a unique way and make it something someone wants to know more about!

An image like this is great for sparking interest and getting readers to want to know more about what it represents.

An image like this is great for sparking interest and getting readers to want to know more about what it represents.

Are you a beginner to intermediate photographer? Did you find these tips helpful? Please let us know by adding a comment below!

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2016 in Photography

 

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Why a Basic Knowledge of Photography Will Improve Your Public Relations

Why a Basic Knowledge of Photography Will Improve Your Public Relations

Photography is a powerful tool that can help you convey a message or establish a brand. Specifically in the Public Relations industry, one great image can be the difference between having your press release picked up or not. Although photography won’t make up for poorly crafted content, visuals can go a long way toward making quality content that much better.

So what are the basics of what PR professionals should know about photography? Here are for instances when photography can help to improve your business’s PR strategy.

No Image No Story

Without an image, your story feels incomplete. People want to see something in addition to reading something (even if the visual is the title of the article, like we often do here). It captures a reader’s attention and stands out more than just all words. It also makes it easy for a reader to get a sense of what the story is about before reading it.

Depending upon your resources and how large a PR company you have, you can often outsource or hire a professional photographer to work on projects. There are times, however, when there is no budget to outsource or you have multiple projects and not enough employees to cover all your events. In either situation, this is when having a basic knowledge of photography skills will be a huge asset. You can dive right in and capture some great images yourself!

Even a simple, stock image can help your article to look more interesting and polished.

Even a simple, stock image can help your article to look more interesting and polished.

Stock Image Gallery

As we mentioned in the previous point, sometimes you can afford to outsource your work to a professional photographer for certain projects. And creating a stock image gallery for your PR Firm is one of the most valuable ways to utilize professional photography again and again. Quality stock images can be used on your website, social media, marketing materials, blogs, newsletters and much more. Most importantly, they are exclusively yours. No one else will have them and you won’t have to worry about copyright issues.

This stock image was shot by our own photography, Danielle. There are countless ways we can use this for future promotions and best of all, it's uniquely ours!

This stock image was shot by our own photography, Danielle. There are countless ways we can use this for future promotions and best of all, it’s uniquely ours!

Clients and Events

Often in the PR field, you will be asked to photograph important clients or events, meaning you need to have a basic understanding of photography to capture these moments with quality shots. During events, people won’t often pose for multiple photographs (or pose at all), so it’s important to capture usable images on the first try – you won’t get a second chance. It’s highly disappointing to both you and your client if you host an incredible event without a single good photo to promote your work.

This image was captured at a client's charitable volunteer event. An action shot really helps to tell a story more so than a posed shot.

This image was captured at a client’s charitable volunteer event. An action shot really helps to tell a story more so than a posed shot.

Blogging

We know that blogging is a powerful marketing and branding tool that is valuable to your business is so many ways (we’ve written about it a lot). When it comes to a great blog, you need at least one image to draw readers in and help them connect with your message. Especially when your blog is shared on social media, this visual will create a much more aesthetically pleasing post that stands out in newsfeeds. Even the most catchy title and creative description will get lost in the noise without a photo to complement the words.

Do you work in PR or use PR strategies to grow your business? If so, let us know if this was helpful by commenting below!

 
 

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How to Use Keywords to Drive Traffic to Your Website (Guest Blog by Ryan Stewart)

The following guest post comes to us from Ryan Stewart, a digital marketing expert and the owner of Webris, a Boston based digital marketing agency. Be sure to visit his author’s bio below to learn more and connect.

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How to Use Keywords to Drive Traffic to Your Website

As much as I hate marketing buzzwords, one rings true: “content is king.”

When crafting content for marketing purposes, you need to first begin with keyword research – otherwise, you’re creating content for the sake of creating content.

Understanding what makes strong and effective keywords and knowing what resources you have at your disposal to craft such keywords can make this process much simpler than you ever thought possible. It starts with having a basic understanding of what a good keyword actually is.

Too often we presume tons of traffic indicates solid keywords in their marketing approach – and too often do marketers find themselves confused when faced with tons of traffic but low conversion rates.

That’s why it’s important to dig out the intent behind the keyword as opposed to just pure search volume.

Brainstorming Keywords

Numerous tools are available that can help you come up with potential keywords for your content.

However, often the best starting point for keyword brainstorming is your own knowledge of your business and industry, as well as the metrics you already have at your disposal. Identifying the search terms that are already driving users to your content is a great starting point for optimization.

Use your own actions as a resource – if you were searching for this piece of content, what keywords would you use?

Some of the simplest and most effective ways of brainstorming keywords is by utilizing the autocorrect features on sites such as Google and YouTube to see what people are actually searching for.

using autocorrect to identify keywords

While this shouldn’t be the end all and be all of any marketer’s keyword brainstorming efforts, this can be a good way of coming up with ideas to get started.

Once you’ve got a basic idea, use Google Keyword Tool to find search volume. Combining your own intuition with Google’s data is a great way to build out your initial list of keywords.

google adwords keyword planner

Crafting Relevant Keywords

As you brainstorm and research, it may be tempting to fill your content with high-traffic keywords. Stop! Now consider – are those keywords really relevant to the content that you’re producing?

And above all else, are these keywords going to draw in the type of traffic that you want?

As you brainstorm potential keywords for your content, remember that those keywords must be relevant to what is actually on the page once visitors click those links.

Getting people to visit your content is only the first step in your keyword strategy – keeping them on your page and enticing them to view the rest of your content or to respond to your call to action are equally important goals.

Utilizing Long Tail Keywords

One of the simplest ways for marketers to boost the relevancy of their keywords is to incorporate more long tail keywords into their content. When people conduct searches, they are typically looking for specific information.

longtail keyword seo

A search for “cosmetic dentists” will drive in better quality traffic than a simple search for “dentists” – not only because the content will be more specific to what the user is searching, but also because these types of keywords typically catch site visitors later on in the buying cycle.

Local Search Practices

Businesses with physical locations or who do a large amount of business in specific areas are quickly discovering the importance of incorporating local search into their keyword strategy. Businesses that offer services locally should emphasize the importance of including local search terms into their keyword strategy.

This is a simple and effective way to drive in relevant traffic. Driving in users from Des Moines, Cheyenne, and Los Angeles is hardly going to do a business any good if their services are only offered in Atlanta.

A good starting point for many businesses that do offer local goods and services is to identify the local terms that are already driving in traffic and to expand upon them.

Calculating the Value of Keywords

Once you develop a good list of potential keywords, you can begin to perform the necessary research with resources such as Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool, Google Trends, Microsoft Bing Ads Intelligence and Wordtracker’s Free Basic Keyword Demand to determine the value of those keywords and their potential to drive in traffic.

Wordtracker's Free Basic Keyword Demand

One thing that is important to remember is that keyword optimization is something that should continue to evolve over time. Search engine algorithms – as well as the attitudes of online traffic – are always in flux.

Paying attention to metrics such as traffic and conversion rates allows marketers to continue to optimize their keywords and change their keywords as needed to ensure that they never miss out on new opportunities as they arise.

Additionally, focusing on the quality of traffic first and the quantity second, you can overcome some of the biggest hurdles and pitfalls associated with crafting relevant keywords for your content.

What other tips do you have for successfully researching and incorporating effective keywords into your content marketing strategy? Share your ideas by commenting below!

ryan stewartAbout the Author: Ryan Stewart is a digital marketing expert with over 10 years of experience working with clients like Best Buy, Accenture and the Department of Defense. Ryan holds a number of web certifications as well as a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA). Ryan currently owns Webris, a Boston based digital marketing agency. Follow Ryan on social media: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

 
 

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