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Finding Stability In Constant Change

The first Monday of each month, I dust off a favorite post from the Bennis Inc Blog archives and give you another chance to enjoy the wit and wisdom that’s been shared. Enjoy this month’s treasure – and if it inspires you – be sure to share it with family and friends!


Finding Stability In Constant ChangeAsk a business owner, entrepreneur or self-employed person to describe the qualities of their chosen career path and I would be shocked to hear them use the word “stable.” Stability is a very desirable perk for any job that simply isn’t in the description of entrepreneurship. This should come as no surprise to those of us who have willingly ventured down this path. We know what we signed up for – and we also know the benefits that offset the lack of stability. But is it possible for the chaos-embracing entrepreneur to find stability amidst this constant change? Can change be turned into a constant?

I think so.

Each day is wildly different. There is little rhythm to the type of projects I work on day to day and month to month. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because so much of my work is hard to plan for or anticipate, I’ve found stability in creating a schedule for the work I do complete on a weekly or monthly basis. For example, each morning my to-do list always begins with logging on to WordPress and commenting on five other blogs. Every Friday I write my Bennis Inc blog post for the following week. Then of course there is the client work that is regular and reoccurring such as scheduling social media updates or blog writing that gain a place in my work “schedule.” By having a set time carved out in my schedule for this anticipated work, I can then dedicate my remaining time to the unanticipated – and sometimes urgent – projects that always come up. Not only is this good time management, but it gives me a feeling of stability and regularity amidst the ever-changing variety and quantity of my work.

Another way in which I’ve learned to feel stable in a career field that most certainly is not is that I’ve changed the way in which I view contracted work. Each month my work may change, but what won’t change is my ability to seek out new work as I need it. With the skill to hunt you’ll never go hungry. Even as clients come and go, I never run the same risk of having my income go to zero in one day’s time. It would be a slow and gradual process for which I could react and prepare. In other words, I don’t carry the same fear as someone who could be laid off. So while there is stability in a regular income and a bi-weekly paycheck, there is always the risk that it could all come to a halt almost instantly. As a traditional employee, the process of being interviewed, hired and placed on payroll is much longer than signing a new client. And due to contracts, I will always have at least one month’s notice of losing a client rather than only receiving a pink slip and the rest of the day to clear my desk. Realizing this unique benefit of entrepreneurship, I now know stability can be found in the confidence I have to always be able to seek out new clients and more work.

The career path of the self-emplyed is in no way predictable or certain, but if you look in the right places you will find that stability does exist. It may not make for the biggest lifeboat, but it can still help to keep you afloat until you can again find calm waters.

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Bennis Inc Has a New Website…And There’s Something In It For You!

Have you ever found that the service your company provides is sometimes the very service it personally lacks? It’s the same theory of “the cobbler’s children have no shoes.” As professionals, we often pour all of our talents and energy into serving our clients, that we forget to reserve a little to take care of ourselves.

I was a living example of this.

My website was three years old. It wasn’t broken, but it wasn’t a showpiece for the level of public relations and branding services I provide my clients. I needed to break out of my complacency, make the investment and update my website to something I want to show everyone I meet. And the New Year was a perfect jump start to make me reach out to a talented web design company that also happens to be a friend of Bennis Inc. David, owner of Nicely Done Sites, and I have shared clients in the past and I knew his team would understand my vision and come up with something even better than what I could have described.

The collaboration was invigorating! Our first kickoff meeting was on January 15 and the site pushed live less than one month later. We both acknowledged that this was an unusually fast turnaround time, but when it’s what you do for clients everyday, it’s to be expected that we were efficient with our respective roles in this project.

By now, some of you may have already jumped over to the Bennis Inc website to explore our new look. If you’re still waiting for an official invitation, join me by visiting http://www.bennisinc.com (I, too, now gaze at its beauty several times per day).

And here are some highlights of what you will find…

The homepage has just two slider images that communicate our most important messages. The images are high resolution, modern, elegant and timeless - all words I wanted my new website to embody.

The homepage has just two slider images that communicate our most important messages. The images are high quality, modern, elegant and timeless – all words I wanted my new website to embody.

Here's just one fun feature my website showcases - scrolling numbers below icons that highlight some of my most notable accomplishments. Necessary? No. Awesome? Absolutely.

Here’s just one fun feature my website showcases – scrolling numbers below icons that highlight some of my most notable accomplishments. Necessary? No. Awesome? Absolutely.

While I custom create my package of services for each client, I wanted to clearly and concisely give people an understanding of my specialties. This section of the website accomplishes just that.

While I custom create my package of services for each client, I wanted to clearly and concisely give people an understanding of my specialties. This section of the website accomplishes just that.

“That looks great, Stephanie, but you said there is something in it for me?” You’re right…there is!

My own journey of re-branding my business by updating my website reminded me just how powerful change (both big and small) is for any business. This is something I want to continue to spread to as many other professionals as possible! One of the most effective ways I’ve been able to do this for others is by helping them create or update their Linkedin profile content. Personal branding is one of my favorite aspects of public relations and Linkedin is a great way to accomplish this.

For this special “Rebranding” promotion I am offering a full Linkedin profile update for just $95!

Services include:

  • 1-hour initial phone consultation to discuss your current profile and goals for your new profile
  • New content for every section of your Linkedin profile
  • Up to 2 rounds of revisions based upon your feedback
  • Manually updating the content within your profile (or you may choose to do this yourself, if you prefer)
  • Suggestions and “industry best practices” for how you can continue to optimize your profile and take advantage of every opportunity available to you on Linkedin!

That’s more than $50 of savings from my regular pricing! This special price is limited to the first 10 clients who contact me on my new website contact form and setup our initial phone consultation. What are you waiting for?

If you are not 100% confident that your Linkedin profile is showcasing your talents and abilities in the best light possible, let me lend my expertise to help set you apart from other professionals in your industry! All you have to do is contact me on my new website contact form and setup an initial phone consultation.

And if you want even more inspiration for rebranding your own business, stick around for my 5-part series on “How to Rebrand Your Business” running each Monday from February 16 through March 16!

Topics include:

  • Do I need to rebrand?
  • Who are my customers?
  • What is my mission?
  • What is my unique story?
  • What is my action plan for rebranding?

Have a question about rebranding your business or want to share a personal rebranding success story? Comment below!

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2015 in Business & Success

 

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7 Ways to Better Promote Your Blog on Linkedin

linkedin logo cartoon

Linkedin has become a powerful tool for promoting your blog and other articles you have written. I’ve personally seen how Linkedin pushes new visitors to my blog every day – more so than any other type of social media I use, even more than my website.

But how exactly do you go about effectively marketing your content on Linkedin? It can be overwhelming to research and analyze what each of your connections is doing in an effort to “keep up with the Joneses” So I thought I’d make it simple for you. Here is a list of seven ways to promote your blog on Linkedin – at no cost and with a very small time commitment.

  1. Use the long-form post feature

In August, Linkedin made the announcement that all members would be allowed to utilize their long-form post feature, not just influencers. What this means to the mass majority of us is that we are now able to format an article or blog post (with title, photo, hyperlinks, everything) and post it as you would a status update. Additionally, this content becomes part of you professional profile, is shared with your connections, allows people to subscribe to follow your posts and shows up in search engines (on and off Linkedin).

Yeah, this is a pretty obvious and essential tool to take advantage of if you’re looking to promote your blog on Linkedin. One extra tactic I always include is that at the end of every blog post, I insert hyperlinked text that will take readers to the original article on my blog. You’d be surprised how many people click on that link and read through other posts on your blog.

  1. Make it a status update

Why make your blog just a long-form post? You can also share the link directly to your blog as a status update. Ideally, you should wait a few days to do this after posting your long-form post to maximize and prolong the impact. You can also share your link multiple times with a different question or comment to spark discussion.

The benefit of sharing the link to your blog as a status update several times over the coming days and weeks after publishing is that you will hit a different audience with each update. Depending upon what contacts are checking their Linkedin newsfeed at any particular moment, your multiple status updates will increase your reach and broaden your audience.

  1. Share it in relevant group discussions

Don’t overlook the power of all those groups you joined. You can join in meaningful conversation with fellow group members by sharing your blog. I’m a member of various groups; some are targeted at connecting with potential clients, some are targeted at connecting with fellow industry professionals and some are geographically relevant to my business.

Depending upon the topic of the blog I’m promoting, I carefully select the right groups. I don’t just blast out the link to every group out there, otherwise I risk looking “spammy” and turning off the audience I’ve cultivated.

  1. Include a compelling intro/question

Whether you’re sharing your blog as a status update or in a group, it’s most important to remember to craft a compelling introduction or pose a question to accompany the link to your blog. It’s absolutely worth the few extra minutes it will take you.

Think about what makes your blog relevant to each audience. Why should they care enough to read it? Don’t just say “Hey, look at my latest blog post!” Give them something of value or ask for their input. Once you begin implementing this tactic, you will be amazed by the increased number of views, likes and comments you receive!

  1. Comment on other people’s posts

You get what you give. This means if you want to increase your number of subscribers or comments, you must also become a subscriber and commenter. Make it a goal to subscribe to one new interesting Linkedin publisher a day and comment on three other people’s latest post. If that’s too ambitious, bump it back to every week.

No matter the frequency at which you engage with other people, it’s most important that you make an effort and do so consistently. Becoming a valuable member of the Linkedin publisher community is not only about sharing quality content, it’s about contributing to the conversation which includes engaging with the content produced by other members as well.

  1. Add it to your profile’s portfolio

As I mentioned above, Linkedin’s long-form post feature will automatically place your posts under the “posts” section of your profile. That’s great for promoting each individual post on Linkedin, but what about promoting your blog as a whole? You can and should utilize the “portfolio “section of your Linkedin profile by adding the link to your (wordpress, blogger, etc) blog. You can include a graphic with this to really capture viewers’ attention and bring your blog to life.

  1. Add it to your profile as a publication

Finally, be sure and add your blog as a “publication” on your Linkedin profile. This allows you to display your blog’s name, link, when you started it and a short description to give readers a feel for the type of topics you feature. This is a very professional-looking way to promote your entire blog while ensuring that it is always easily accessible to connections who visit your profile.

What other ways have you found to effectively promote your blog on Linkedin? Share your tips and tricks by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2014 in Social Media, Technology

 

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How Blogging Has Built My Business

building blocksWhen I first began blogging in June of 2011, it was an experiment. Publishing my first post didn’t feel much different than writing in a Word doc. I had zero subscribers and only a measly three or four people randomly stumbled on my blog each day. I wanted to learn how to be an effective blogger for my clients. To do so, I first had to become an effective blogger for myself. The blogging experiment far exceeded my expectations and I’m officially hooked. I write passionately for my readership of more than 700 subscribers every Monday morning.

The Bennis Inc blog began as nothing but a blank page, just as most things in life do. But it grew – and so did my business. Sure, time alone can cause growth, but I venture to say that it took more than just time. It took regular upkeep, vision and a willingness to put my thoughts out there for all the world to see. As awkward as that felt in the beginning, almost 150 blog posts later and it couldn’t feel more natural.

The best side effect of this blogging experiment was how it built my business and defined my personal brand. I’m still amazed to talk to a new acquaintance who mentions a recent post they read or to look at the stats and see the various search terms that led people to my blog. Whether you’re a fellow blogger (novice or expert) or an intrigued reader, here are the key ways in which blogging has built my business – and has the power to build yours as well.

It’s an icebreaker

My blog provides a great reason to start a conversation. Whether it’s in a business meeting or a quick run-in at the coffee shop, telling me, “Oh by the way, I read your blog,” has replaced the obligatory conversation about the weather. It has also given people a reason to reach out to me with a professional question or to explore the services I offer. If I was just a name on a web site, people may not feel this same connection or be motivated to start a conversation. This is a pleasant reminder that the time I spend putting my thoughts into words is worth something.  It’s cultivating an audience, opening doors and inspiring people enough to want to tell me about it.

It reaches further than you might imagine

My blog has opened up an avenue for communication with people from all across the world. When looking at the stats, it’s exciting to see how many different countries are lit up on the map. Even more fulfilling than just numbers and statistics is the meaningful interactions with people via comments and emails. The reach of my blog has helped to grow my business on a more local level as well. Within my local network, I’m impressed by how many people I know (and look up to) read it on the regular. I would never have imagined they had the interest or free time, but they do. This has helped to build my credibility as a writer and entrepreneur.

It’s a living portfolio

I’ve often referred to a blog as a living portfolio of your work. When a client asks to see examples of my writing, I can simply send them to my blog where they can choose from a variety of topics to really get a feel for my style. This is much easier and more genuine than putting together a dull document of writing samples. They can also see the interactions with my readers which demonstrates my ability to grow an audience. My blog has become a valuable asset to my proposal process and I believe has helped to win me some work as well.

It strengthens your SEO and your personal brand

The final and most powerful way I feel my blog has helped to build my business is by strengthening my SEO and personal brand. Adding fresh and high quality content to your blog and appropriately tagging each post is one the best ways to increase your search engine optimization. I choose to host my blog on WordPress (as oppose to my web site) because of its added SEO power. Many readers have found my blog by browsing WordPress’s categories.

My blog has also strengthened my personal brand by showcasing the “human element” of Bennis Inc – me! While my business is all about Public Relations, I choose to make my blog much more personal with many articles on the struggle of entrepreneurship, life balance and unconventional wisdom. My blog shines a spotlight on the “Twenty-Something Entrepreneur” that I’ve become.

There you have it – all the compelling reasons you could need to be inspired to create or grow your own blog! The most important thing to remember is that once you start, don’t stop. Keep writing and posting regular content. Think of your blog as a hungry little monster. It needs food to keep it growing and that’s what your posts will be, food for your blog and fuel for search engines to pull new readers to your site.

Finally, here are some tips for successful blogging to get you start. Go forth and blog!

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2013 in Business & Success, Social Media

 

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Blogging For Broke: The Value of Blogging Outside of Income

empty-pocketsI first began the Bennis Inc blog in July of 2011 and since then I’m proud (and amazed) to say it has earned over 37,000 hits, 1,000 comments, 614 loyal subscribers and many, many more readers and supporters. Thank you! Even if this is your first time stopping by, you’re contributing to something that has grown into my passion among other things. I often get questions from fellow bloggers, entrepreneurs and friends who want to know the best way to monetize a blog. I usually stare at them blankly and respond with, “I never thought of that.” Well, that’s not completely true – I have wished that I could find the magic bullet to turn my blog into a big money maker where all I have to do is write and rake in the dough. However, I know enough to realize that this is not even close to the common scenario for so many blogs out there, and it’s not really my goal for blogging to begin with. Instead, I choose to feed the hungry Bennis Inc blog with weekly ramblings about the unpaved road of entrepreneurship for reasons that are not directly fueled by money. That’s right, I’m blogging for broke and I’m perfectly OK with that. The benefits I do receive from blogging are ones that I couldn’t buy if I tried. And so I find it important to share with you – and all fellow bloggers or aspiring bloggers out there– that blogging brings great value completely separate from the monetary kind.

Complete Control

As a business owner you may be the boss inside your own world, but as soon as you offer a service to a client or customer they become your “boss” to an extent. They have the ultimate say over deadlines, scope of the project and final edits. Frankly, there are some days when I just need that feeling of being in control again! My blog is the place I know I can always turn to satisfy this need. I am the boss here. I have the first and final say in what I write about. I tag, categorize and schedule posts exactly as I see fit and there’s no one there to second guess accuracy or style. I imagine this to be similar to the enjoyment an artist gets out of painting for himself every so often rather than for a specific client. The final masterpiece is all your own and whether you display it to the world or keep it all to yourself – that’s your decision to make.

A Means For Progress – When All Else Stands Still

I can’t be alone when I say that I enjoy progress. I hate hold-ups and stand-stills. In fact, this was one of the main motivating factors as to why I left my former job and ventured out on my own to begin with. While my projects progress at a much quicker rate than they did before I owned Bennis, Inc, I am still at the mercy of my clients if I’m waiting on feedback or critical information to move forward. There are some days when I have a million balls in the air, yet my hands are oddly idle because of clogs in progress. I refer to this state as the calm before the storm or being stuck in the eye of the hurricane. At any moment I could have an inbox full of emails come in fill my day up instantly. So what do I do when I’m waiting on a stand-still? I turn to my blog. It allows me to feel accomplished and to get the immediate gratification of taking something from conception to completion. It’s literally how I keep my hands busy whenever I need something to do.

A Living Portfolio

My blog is my journal and my canvas. It’s where I direct my extra creativity when it’s not fully exhausted on client projects. Every so often I enjoy looking back to some of my first posts, not just to see how far my writing has progressed, but to catch a glimpse into exactly what I was thinking months and years ago. I can remember the most pressing issues in my life at that time and briefly relive them through my writing. It’s a living portfolio not just of my work, but of my life. Better yet is when a client asks to see my writing samples, I can easily direct them to my blog where they have a full array of topics and styles to choose from to really immerse themselves in the level of writing I can produce.

People Really Get To Know You

The final and possibly greatest benefit to my blogging is how many people it reaches without my ever knowing. My day is instantly made when someone mentions a recent post in conversation and I had no idea they ever read my blog before. I have friends and family members also tell me about acquaintances who read my blog on the regular. Many of these are people I have yet to meet! From such experiences I’ve found that my blog allows people to get to know me for more than just my business, but as a person. It’s that “human element” I so often advocate for businesses to tap into. When someone feels like they have insight and understanding as to what makes you tick, they are more likely to trust you – and eventually hire you when your services align with their needs. Social media allows people from all over the world to feel like they really know each other even if they’ve never met or spoken in person. Blogging is a powerful means for creating such peripheral relationships.

If you’re stopping by as a reader, but have been curious about starting your own blog, I hope this gives you some inspiration to take that next step forward (here’s some information you might find helpful). Who knows what passion it could unlock within you? If you’re a fellow blogger, I hope you’ll take just a moment to comment with the benefits you receive from blogging and consider sharing this with your community as well.

 

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Finding Stability In Constant Change

Stability, work, business, entrepreneurAsk a business owner, entrepreneur or self-employed person to describe the qualities of their chosen career path and I would be shocked to hear them use the word “stable.” Stability is a very desirable perk for any job that simply isn’t in the description of entrepreneurship. This should come as no surprise to those of us who have willingly ventured down this path. We know what we signed up for – and we also know the benefits in which offset the lack of stability. But is it possible for the chaos-embracing entrepreneur to find stability amidst this constant change? Can change be turned into a constant?

I think so.

Each day is wildly different. There is little rhythm to the type of projects I work on day to day and month to month. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because so much of my work is hard to plan for or anticipate, I’ve found stability in creating a schedule for the work I do complete on a weekly or monthly basis. For example, each morning my to-do list always begins with logging on to WordPress and commenting on five other blogs. Every Friday I write my Bennis Inc blog post for the following week. Then of course there is the client work that is regular and reoccurring such as scheduling social media updates or blog writing that gain a place in my work “schedule.” By having a set time carved out in my schedule for this anticipated work, I can then dedicate my remaining time to the unanticipated – and sometimes urgent – projects that always come up. Not only is this good time management, but it gives me a feeling of stability and regularity amidst the ever-changing variety and quantity of my work.

Another way in which I’ve learned to feel stable in a career field that most certainly is not is that I’ve changed the way in which I view contracted work. Each month my work may change, but what won’t change is my ability to seek out new work as I need it. With the skill to hunt you’ll never go hungry. Even as clients come and go, I never run the same risk of having my income go to zero in one day’s time. It would be a slow and gradual process for which I could react and prepare. In other words, I don’t carry the same fear as someone who could be laid off. So while there is stability in a regular income and a bi-weekly paycheck, there is always the risk that it could all come to a halt almost instantly. As a traditional employee, the process of being interviewed, hired and placed on payroll is much longer than signing a new client. And due to contracts, I will always have at least one month’s notice of losing a client rather than only receiving a pink slip and the rest of the day to clear my desk. Realizing this unique benefit of entrepreneurship, I now know stability can be found in the confidence I have to always be able to seek out new clients and more work.

The career path of the self-emplyed is in no way predictable or certain, but if you look in the right places you will find that stability does exist. It may not make for the biggest lifeboat, but it can still help to keep you afloat until you can again find calm waters.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on September 17, 2012 in Business & Success, Entrepreneurship

 

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The Essentials for a Successful Blog

This is where I’m blogging from this week–a park on beautiful May day in Pennsylvania!

Almost one year ago, when I first started publishing ramblings about my ambitions, struggles, triumphs and personal philosophies around starting my own business, I had no real idea what I was doing. I wanted a platform to share my ideas, but to also keep me accountable for continuing my creative writing on a regular basis. And for me – this meant blogging. At that time, I had no real plan for where this would go, or if it would go anywhere at all. All I knew was that this was the first time I could really write for myself and not have the pressure to “perform.” This was a wildly new feeling which allowed me to access a whole new level of creativity and improve my own writing over the course of a single year by simply making me do it weekly.

While there is still much for me to learn from some of the Master Bloggers out there, I do feel like I’ve picked up on several tips that allowed me to enjoy the prestigious WordPress honor of being Freshly Pressed and to continue to steadily grow the Bennis Inc blog week after week, month after month. The following are what I consider the prime essentials for my blog’s success:

Consistency. Every Monday morning around 8am you can expect to be greeted by a Bennis Inc blog post in your inbox or blog feed. This takes planning, and sometimes pre-scheduling posts weeks in advance, but I’m a stickler for not leaving my readers hanging. For you, a different day of the week or a different frequency might make more sense, but whether you’re posting weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, loyal readership comes from consistent content.

Tags. Tags are what get your blog before the eyes of potential followers. In WordPress you’ll see that you can browse blogs by an endless number of topics. How do the blogs you see get placed on these topic pages? Tags. I familiarized myself with the most popular, overarching topics such as Life, Business, News, Photography and Writing (you can pick them out by the size of their font on the Topics page). I incorporate these powerhouse tags into my posts as much as relevant. That’s the other key to tags is to keep them relevant to your post. Overtagging is treated like spam to WordPress and that won’t get you any further ahead. Pick just the 10-15 most relevant tags for your content. Tags are also how a lot of search engines pick up on my blog. So when I use a Thomas Edison quote, for example, I’m sure to tag him because his name alone has brought many people to my blog because Google includes it in its search suggestions.

Quality Content. If you’re going to make the time commitment to start a blog, also make the commitment to write to the best of your ability. I can remember one busy week over the holidays when I just knew I couldn’t make my Monday blog deadline with a post to which I was proud to sign my name. Instead, I took just a few minutes and included a photo and a fun message to my readers about how even bloggers need a holiday. First, this kept me consistent with my weekly posts. Second, this allowed me the extra time I needed to come back the following week with quality content. I want to WOW my readers every week – and some weeks I do a better job of this than others – but I never want to take their readership for granted. So by offering you something worth reading I’m letting you know that I value your time!

Make it Genuine. So often blogs that are started by businesses fall into the trap that their posts should focus solely on promoting this business or its services. While a blog is a great opportunity to self-promote, it shouldn’t be a sales pitch. Just as I mentioned about quality content, give your audience something worth reading. Establish yourself as an expert in the field, but be sure to include personal stories, humor and even give people a look into some of your own struggles from time to time. My underlying point is – be human. We have enough social media being run by spammers and software. A successful blog gives readers a window into your life.

Make it visual. Adding a picture, graphic or embedding a video clip into your blog posts creates immediate interest for readers. When you browse through a topic on WordPress you’ll see an entire feed of new posts – too many to fully process. So what stands out? One of two things, an attention grabbing title or a picture to accompany your words. Both should accurately represent your blog with minimal thinking or reading. It’s the 0.5 seconds you have to pull a reader in, so don’t willingly give up this opportunity to grab their attention!

Become a part of the WordPress Community. WordPress is very much a social network; it’s a community of writers and readers made up of every demographic imaginable. But you can’t simply publish a blog, sit back and wait for people to swarm it with likes, comments and 5-star ratings. Most often, you have to actively pursue new readers. I personally comment on 5 other WordPress blog every day with something more meaningful than “Great post!” I show them that I took the time to read what they wrote and I share how it relates to me personally. WordPress is a very interactive community and 4 times out of 5 I get a reply for my comment. Most often, 2 out of 5 times I’ll get a new subscriber to MY blog. Multiple this by 5 days a week over the course of a year and it’s easy to consistently grow your blog. It just takes a few minutes of meaningful interaction every day.

So what are some of your successful blogging essentials? Have you discovered the tips I mentioned to be same as the ones you currently use? Since we are a community after all, share your blogging Do’s and Don’ts with me!

 
22 Comments

Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Business & Success

 

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