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StrongStart.fm : Design, Automate, and Outsource the Technology of Your Online Business
13 minutes | Apr 20, 2018
A New and Exciting Direction | StrongStart.fm – 033
My mission is to help you build an expert business around your unique talents and abilities. A business you love to lead, that makes you wealthy, and creates a positive lasting impact on the world. As experts, we help our customers solve their major business or life challenges and together we help make the world a better place! Ok so let's stop right there. That's a different mission statement than you've heard in the previous 32 episodes. What's up with that? In this episode you'll learn: Why I've changed my mission and direction to better serve my target audience Whether its possible for many of us to be successful in online business Why you don't know about all the successful people there are Why most of the programs and guidance we all sink tons of money into make no sense Why so many of us fail (and what to do about it) My new mission and the one question that I think will change this industry Action plan: Think deep about what your true expertise is (or what you want it to be) How can you change lives with that expertise? How would you feel if you got to do that every day AND made more money than you ever have doing it? Links and resources mentioned in this episode: https://strongstart.fm/call Transcript Download Download a PDF of the Transcript Transcript Hey everybody, Dave Ziembicki here, welcome to StrongStart.FM. My mission is to help you build an expert business around your unique talents and abilities. A business you love to lead that makes you wealthy and creates positive, lasting impact on the world. As experts, we help our customers solve their major life or business challenges and together we make the world a better place. Okay, let’s stop right there. That’s a different mission statement than you’ve heard in the previous 32 episodes. What’s up with that? For the past couple of months, I’ve been going deep on finding the right topics, audience and niche for my business moving forward. This was driven by the great experience I had attending the Youpreneur Summit that I discussed in episode 32. As you may know from previous episodes, I’ve continued to have a very successful career in high technology consulting and it has made me a lot of money over the last 20 years. I’m laying the groundwork for the second act of my career by building an online business. I’ve been down the road, a lot of us have, of exploring all kinds of different models like ebooks, courses, memberships and so on and taking all kinds of different courses related to blogging, podcasting, webinars and more. For a while I struggled trying to define the audience or tribe that I wanted to serve. Everyone talks about either niching down or building a new niche and focusing on a really narrow topic area. Clearly there are millions of “Make money online” people. You know, with all kinds of topics and for a while, I was going in that direction just because of my own goals of eventually leaving the corporate world. Over the course of two years spending all of my spare time on these topics, I finally landed on a combination of knowledge, topic and purpose that I feel really energized about and that will help people that I’ll enjoy working with. Originally, my focus is being the “How to” guy in the online business space. Then I narrowed that up to be the “How to use technology” guy, which was going to bring my experience from the corporate world to this smaller, solo entrepreneur. Those evolutions were getting me closer to my calling but what I found was I was not quite all the way there, it just didn’t feel exactly right yet. As I studied many successful online entrepreneurs, invested a lot of time and money in the different programs to see what kind of advice, guidance and assistance was out there, I discovered four really important things. First, we’re all familiar with the big success stories like Chris Tucker, Pat Flynn, John Lee Dumas and so on. As I’ve interviewed many of those folks and joined their various communities, I’m seeing that there are a lot of other successful folks just below the radar screen. Successful but not widely known folks. What that showed me was that success online is not something that only a few rare unicorns achieve, it is achievable by a much larger and broader group of people. Second, below the top people in the next tier of successful people, there are a huge amount of people with potential. They have some unique talent, knowledge or expertise which is plain desire that can fuel a successful online business, but they don’t know how to build a business around their expertise, or what I call an expert business. They don’t know how to build products, build sales funnels, build their platforms, automate or scale an expert business. Third, after buying many of the major programs out there related to online business, I found that none of them really take you from the starting line to the finish line of a successfully operating business. Some focus only on the narrow topic like how to start a blog or a podcast, you know, which are the easiest things to do but least likely to produce a solid business. Others cover more topics or provide some kind of system. But their course is only with minimal true implementation guidance or assistance. Now, there’s several reasons for this. To offer that level of support would require covering and teaching a wide range of topics. It’s far more lucrative to provide guidance only and then only with part of the answer. What I mean by that is that support and implementation help is more costly to provide. With courses or guidance only, you create the course once then you sit back and collect revenue for as long as the course is relevant. It would take a larger team and a lower profit margin to actually provide great support or assistance. It’s very enticing just to put the knowledge out there, as it’s one of the highest profit margin business models in existence if you do it right. Especially for the bigger names that are out there that already have large audiences and brands, it’s just really not in their particular interest to provide really high levels of support and implementation assistance because it’s more costly and lower profit margin. In most cases, they just don’t do that. The fourth thing that I discovered is a bit darker and it’s at the business of online business is really driven by large waves of people with very low odds of success being pulled into it by a small number of wildly successful online entrepreneurs. You see these in forums all the time with post like you know, “How can I create $500 of passive income the fastest?” You know, it’s only because they can’t pay their rent or the bills that they have. Other posts you see are ones like, “I hate my job,” or “How can I replace my income through blogging?” That pain or desire by folks is ripe for marketers to take advantage of and those waves of people run right into all of the courses, programs and gurus that make it look like creating wealth and financial freedom are just a few blog posts away. Desperation leads folks in many cases, to the worst possible solutions. Partial courses or programs that only teach them part of the puzzle, if that, and then those that tee them up for selling the next part but never really helping them reach a successful outcome. Stepping back and reviewing those four observations – that it’s possible for there to be many successful online entrepreneurs, that many people have the expertise, knowledge or talents to do so, that most of the programs and solutions out there don’t actually help and that most of the current market in this space is being taken advantage of. A new opportunity emerged in my mind. The new opportunity has three core elements. Number one. There are large numbers of people out there like you with unique talents that if unleashed can both help the world and generate wealth at the same time. Number two, unleashing those talents and building an expert business around them requires knowledge, skills, teams and technology that you probably don’t have. Number three. Helping you fill those gaps is a triple win scenario. Win, win, win. You build an expert business that sets you free, my business is successful by helping you build yours and together, we make the world a better place by focusing on truly helping our customers with their major business or life challenges. Now, that is a huge opportunity for both you and I. Refining it a bit is the draft of my new mission statement which is, to help you build an expert business around your unique talents and abilities, a business you love to lead that makes you wealthy and creates a positive lasting impact on the world. As experts, we help our customers solve their major business or life challenges and together, we help make the world a better place. You may be thinking to yourself, “Yeah, that sounds like another passive income pitch,” which you’ve heard a dozen times before. Here’s the critical difference, my plan is to really turn this industry on its head by focusing 100% on the successful outcomes of my customers. Instead of thinking about the least that I can do to make the most money from you, I have a sign in my office that says, “What else can I do to guarantee my customer’s success?” My mindset is shifted from, how can I make enough money to guaranty my own wealth and financial freedom, to if I help my customers reach that goal then my own success is predetermined. That simple question, “What else can I do to guarantee my customer’s success?” has absolutely huge implications. Just teaching you part of what you need to know, like how to create a product or how to build a sales funnel, is not nearly enough to guarantee your success. To guarantee your success, the key is unleashing your expertise and removing every other single thing from your plate. Other than improving and productizing that expertise. This solves the expert business builder’s greatest challenge: spending time that you don’t have on task that you shouldn’t be doing. For me, this means an entirely different business model instead of solutions. Instead of just courses or information products which obviously are a lot easier to build, to guarantee your success, I need to build end to end solutions and support systems to help you. What do I mean by end to end solutions and support systems? Well, think about a lot of the different things that you need for online business. Let’s say you’re going to build a website and you’re going to try and create a couple of different products that you’re going to sell to your customers, maybe implement a course or some kind of high end coaching program. There’s obviously a lot of different moving parts to even a simple business like that. You need your website, you need email service provider, you need to figure out advertising, you need to figure out how to generate leads, how to service those leads, how to provide support for your programs and so on and so forth. 98% of all the tasks that you have to do have nothing to do with your actual expertise. You know, if you’re a trainer or a business coach or you help people with various parts of improving their life or health, or improving their business, those are your unique talents and expertise. All that other stuff around websites and support and so on and so forth, those don’t really have anything to do with your expertise but they’re necessary elements of an expert business. Imagine if there was a set of programs and support solutions that actually helped you build all of that other stuff, a solution that takes you out of or away from having to learn WordPress, having to learn Facebook advertising or bots, or all the other different things that I mentioned. If there was a way for you to just focus on productizing your knowledge and expertise, that would let you put the maximum amount of your time into those areas that you are the most qualified to work on. Another key challenge that folks have when they’re trying to build an expert business is that they try and do way too many things at the same time. I’ve fallen into those traps myself thinking that I have to have every element of what I just talked about in place before I’m able to launch a product or start generating some revenue. What I found over the last two years of doing that and spending a huge amount of money doing all of this research and setup and so on, is that I’ve basically did things almost completely backwards. I did tons of prep work and research and building and developing and all of these different activities, which cost a lot of time and money before I was ready to launch a product. When in reality, you should do the inverse which is basically start with your sales funnels then build your products, then build all the other systems around this. Really, the key that I found to being able to help people in this space is to help them with the right order of things that they have to do and then again, taking everything off of their plate except for the things that they’re expert at or that they have unique talents in. Why doesn’t a program like that exist out there in the world? Well, like I said, it’s really because it’s very difficult and a lower profit margin to do that kind of scenario. To provide direct one on one support, high touch, you know, everything that you need done for you. Those types of services are very expensive, they do exist but they really only exist today in the agency model and what that means is you’re spending 10, 15, $20,000 a month at a minimum, to have an agency do all of these things for you in a completely custom way. Obviously, I do not want to create an agency type of business but what I’ve really been zooming in on is a business model that sits in between this course or large coaching type of scenario and the agency model that sits at the higher end. I think I’ve found a really unique position in the market that’s going to provide a huge amount of help to people. And like I said, really unleash their expertise and help them build that expert business. I’m pretty excited about that. As I move in this new direction, you’ll see some pretty big changes around here, a new brand, new solutions, coverage of all the key elements required to build an expert business and a lot more. I’m fired up to get this new direction going and hope you build your own expert business. In coming episodes, we’ll start talking about defining what an expert business is, the blueprint or roadmap that covers all the different steps that you need to build one, and then we’ll start deep diving into each of those topic areas. Stay tuned for the next episode where we’ll start diving into those topics. If the idea of building an expert business around your unique talents or abilities has got your attention, and if those talents help people solve a major life or business challenge then I’d like to invite you to book a free 45-minute strategy session with me. In this call, we’ll dive deep on your goals and what’s preventing you from achieving them. Determine your new direction or expert business to focus on and outline the specific recommendations for how to begin building your own expert business. To book your free strategy session, head over to strongstart.fm/call. Thanks and we’ll see you on the next episode. [FINAL MESSAGE] [0:12:44.0] ANNOUNCER: Thank you for listening to StrongStart.fm. Be sure to subscribe to receive future episodes. Then head over to StrongStart.fm/podcast for the action plan and links to all the resources mentions in this episode. Join us again next time on StrongStart.fm. [END] The post A New and Exciting Direction | StrongStart.fm – 033 appeared first on StrongStart.fm.
22 minutes | Dec 13, 2017
7 Things I Learned at the Youpreneur Summit | StrongStart.fm – 032
Late last year I traveled to London to attend the first annual Youpreneur summit put on by Chris Ducker and his Youpreneur team. I've been to many large technical conferences in my career and spoken at some of them but this was my first conference experience in the online business space. The Youpreneur Summit was fantastic. The summit was a two-day event plus I opted in for a platinum ticket which included a third day, with a much smaller group for masterminding and more direct access to Chris. In this episode you'll learn: Don't compare somebody else's 10,000th step to your 100th! The power of visualization How to build a brand ecosystem How to make sales with live webinars The benefits of recurring revenue The power of in-person masterminds How online business owners can really help people Action plan: Check out next year's Youpreneur summit See if any of the seven things I learned at the summit can help you! Links and resources mentioned in this episode: Youpreneur Summit 2018 Chris's new book Transcript Download Download a PDF of the Transcript Transcript Hey everybody, Dave Ziembicki here. Welcome to StrongStart.fm. My mission is to help you systemize, automate and outsource all aspects of your online business so you can focus on strategic money making activities and the work you enjoy. Last week I travelled to London to attend the first annual, Youpreneur Summit put on by Chris Ducker and his Youpreneur team. If you’re not familiar with Chris or Youpreneur, it’s basically his online business and membership community. They’re all about helping you build a business around your personal brand, whether you’re a consultant, coach, blogger, podcaster, anybody in the content creation space. I’m a big fan of Chris and the Youpreneur community. I’ve been a member of it for about two years or so. Pretty much, you know, from right from when he launched it and it’s really grown in to a really interesting set of resources and a lot of really great people. You know, that was one of the fun parts about the conference was meeting a lot of these folks that I have interacted with in the communities and on some other online events. But meeting everybody in person and, you know, brainstorming on different ideas about our businesses was a lot of fun and a great learning experience. I mean, I have been to many large technical conferences in my career and spoken at some of them. But, this was my first conference in the online business space and to put it simply the Youpreneur Summit was fantastic. The summit was a two-day event plus I also opted to go for what they call a “platinum ticket”, which was including a third day with a much smaller group where the focus was masterminding and more direct interaction with Chris. The event kicked off with a John Lee Dumas keynote and then ended with a very emotional and inspiring closing keynote by Pat Flynn. In between were other amazing speakers. Now, mixed in with the speaker sessions were time slots from masterminding with other attendees. So, if you’re not familiar with the masterminding concept, what it was all about was we basically sat in tables of eight people or so. And then, both days each person got a 15 minute time slot for what they call a hot seat, which is where the person would describe their business and a particular challenge that they were having or question that they want an advice on and then the table would help them brainstorm solutions and different options. So, it was really cool because it was a mix of, you know, traditional presentations by speakers but then also this group collaboration, which I’ll talk a little bit more about more further in to the episode. So in the three days I learned far more than I expected and what I wanted to do was go through a couple of those lessons learned on this episode. So, what we’ll talk about are the seven things that I learned at the Youpreneur Summit. First up, is a lesson from Chris, which is, don’t compare somebody else’s ten thousandth step to your 100th step. So, when you see speakers at conferences like these where they got six, seven, and in some cases eight figure businesses, you can fall into the trap of thinking that you need the large teams, the expensive tools, or the big financial resources that those folks have in order to be successful. Or, you can fall into the trap of thinking that, “Wow, yeah, there success was, you know, immediate, sort of, they’re an overnight success,” or something like that. But, we all need to remember is that it, you know, typically takes between three and ten years to be a truly successful in building a sustainable online business. You know, Pat Flynn talked about nearly giving up on Smart Passive Income in 2012 when he hit a plateau. The key is realizing where you are, the resources you have, and then prioritizing what you can do now to move your business forward. The next lesson came from Carrie Green the Founder of the Female Entrepreneur Association, who spoke about the power of visualizing your goals. The visualization is a technique that many professional athletes and others at the top of their profession use in order to improve their performance and results. Carrie used the personal example of visualizing what it would be like to win a prestigious entrepreneurship award that she was going after a couple of years ago. So, the award required, you know, an application process, interviews, a bunch of different things, and the winner of the award, you know, obviously won some notoriety and some press and things like that. There is also a helicopter ride with the, you know, the founder of that award presenting body and a bunch of other things that were going to be contingent on, or provided to whoever won that award. So, in order to go after it, which, you know, she admitted at that time she was very unlikely to win, she did a variety of visualization exercises to help her prepare for competing for the award, and then, what would it be like to win it. So, what she was doing was preparing her mind for that case where she would win that award. Now, visualization might sound a little bit fluffy but there are scientific studies that backup the power that this technique can have. So, another thing that she talked about in her presentation was an experiment where they took a group of basketball players and they split them into three groups. The first group they said, “For a week, do nothing, related to basketball other than whatever your normal routine is.” The second group they said, “Okay you’re going to go practice free throw shooting for the entire week. You know, a couple of hours a day, more practice shooting free throws than you would do in your normal routine.” Then, the third group they said, “You’re going to spend the same amount of time but instead of being in the gym practicing the free throws you’re going to visualize practicing and shooting free throws,” and the results were really interesting. Because at the end of the experiment at the end of that week two groups, the groups that actually practiced and the groups that visualized, improved their performance dramatically. And, the really important take away was that there was only a one percent difference in the improvement between those who actually practiced and those who visualized. So, just the act of visualizing had an actual tangible effect in the real world. They became better at it even though they didn’t actually physically practiced it. So I thought that was really interesting data on visualization, I am a believer in that back from my days of doing some racing, car racing, in school – in high school and college and the few other things and I also used this myself to this day. So, what I’m doing is pairing the first lesson with this one on visualization. So I what mean by that is, you know, when I went to these conferences, I saw those really successful business owners. So, instead of getting into that trap of thinking that I have to match them, I’m using it to drive my visualization goals. So, what I mean by that is I am now visualizing actually being a speaker at next to Youpreneur Summit. So, I want to drive enough result in my business and growth this year to be a case study for Chris and some of the things that he is teaching and the benefits of that coaching experience. So, that’s one thing I’m visualizing is being up on stage and being a speaker, and this is something that I’ve done before especially in my career at Microsoft. So, you know, 12 years ago when I started at Microsoft I was a complete unknown. You know, I would go to our conferences there as one out of 10,000 attendees. You know, just another person walking down the hallway. But, I visualized what it would be like to be a speaker at those conferences, a leader, you know, someone else that other people we’re coming up to at the networking events and the parties afterwards asking them for their advice, and after a couple of years and a lot of work, you know, I earned all of those through that hard work and definitely through that visualization. The next lesson was the power of building what Chris Ducker calls a Brand Ecosystem. So, Chris spent some time talking about this concept of Brand Ecosystem, which is the totality of all your channels, platforms, content, products, and services. All of the speakers that were there that have been successful have created ecosystems around their brands, which include all of the above items, organized into funnels that lead their audiences through a sales and development progression. Many of them start out with great free content then they move into, you know, webinars or entry-level products and services then on into whatever their core offering is, and then finally most of them also have some kind of higher end coaching, consulting, or masterminding type of program that they offer as well. It was all about building up that ecosystem of services and this is exactly the progression that I’m setting up in the next couple of months in my online business. So it was interesting to see it, you know, modeled out in a way that Chris talked about and he showed the diagram basically of what his whole ecosystem looks like and how the podcast and the blog and the free content lead into the Youpreneur community, and then once you’re inside the Youpreneur community, there are other things like the summit or like some higher end mastermind programs that he has that you can graduate into as well. The next lesson was from John Lee Dumas from, Entrepreneur On Fire, and he kicked off the summit with his keynote on the importance of sales funnels, and within his sales funnels, the element driving the majority of his financial success has been live webinars and in fact, he has a saying which is, “Sales happen on live webinars.” So with his extremely popular podcast, John has thousands of people that want to learn how to podcast. So, his funnel takes them from his free podcast into a live webinar training about podcasting and then eventually in to his Podcaster’s Paradise paid membership program. I think he said he has delivered that webinar over a hundred times. So, he is a big proponent of live with occasional automation thrown into it and at this point he said he is running that live training webinar two times every month as one of the main elements of his sales funnel. So, this solidified, in my mind, my own plan for using training webinars as the transition point in my funnels from my free content like this podcast and then into my paid programs like, The StrongStart Accelerate Program. So that live training, that live webinar aspect of it is going to be a key element of my sales funnels. So, that was one big takeaway there that’s going to change my approach a little bit. The next lesson was the benefit of recurring revenue from my friend, Mike Morrison of The Membership Guys and The Member Site Academy. Mike talked about the power of recurring revenue in online business models. Now, while he is obviously a guru of membership sites, he didn’t just talked about memberships, but he talked about subscriptions, SaaS services, productize services, licensing, agreements, and more. Basically, he covered all of the different types of models for earning recurring revenue in your business. Now, the Recurring revenue model could either be your primary revenue generator like in my case, you know, where I’m setting up to launch a membership site. Or it can help you smooth out a more typical, you know, launch-based business where you only may launch a course or a program a couple of times throughout the year. The benefit of that recurring revenue is that it generally is consistent over time. So, instead of launching and, you know, making $50,000 and then making zero for the next three months until you launch again, if you can build in the recurring revenue models where, maybe, do those launch scenarios you make $50K but then every month you make $10K from, you know, other recurring revenue models. It really helps even out the flow of your revenue and your cash flow and can make growing your business a lot easier than in some cases where, you know, if you happen to have a failed launch, you just lost a huge percentage of your income for that year. So, it was interesting because, you know, Mike talked about the recurring revenue models and, you know, still a lot of people come back to thinking about membership sites and one thing that I definitely detected from some of the people that I talked to there was some fatigue around the quantity of membership sites and the pitches that people are getting on membership sites across the board in the online business space. So, that was concerning to me, obviously, because that is what I’ve been, you know, preparing to launch here for the last couple of months and building a lot of content around. So, we’ll talk about that a little bit later in this episode because it was a huge, huge, benefit of going to this conference. Getting exposure to 300 people that are basically in my target audience, you know, personal brand entrepreneurs, Youpreneurs, solo entrepreneurs, whatever you want to call it, folks building a business around their expertise or their content is the target market for the products and services that I’ve been building. So, on the first day when I was hearing some of that feedback about membership models, it was definitely concerning. But then over the course of the next couple of the days the people that I talked too really helped me shape and shift my ideas into something that’s going to resonate a lot more than, you know, what I was talking about going into the conference. So, huge benefit there that we’ll talk a little bit more at the end of this episode. So that leads in to the next benefit which is the power of in person masterminding and this was really the biggest lesson that I learned at the summit. You know, we hear people talk all the time about masterminding and I knew that it would helpful but, wow, as I just started to mention it was really helpful. You know, and then as I said especially because the entire set of the attendees is exactly the market that I’m developing solutions for, it was good to be able to talk through all the stuff that I’m thinking about and get ideas and get that direct feedback. So, through the course of the three days, I had almost two hours of time with groups of eight people where I was in the hot seat, you know, basically talking about my business, my plans, and getting their direct feedback. The thing that I learned, which was at the response to my ideas varied widely depending on where people were in the development of their online business. So the absolute beginners weren’t really going to be ready for my offerings and the folks that were already at, you know, six or seven figures had already built teams and systems so might not need the things that I’m currently working on. So, initially I was a little bit depressed at that because I thought, “Oh, I’ve got this huge market space of everybody building an online business around their expertise.” But, in the end it actually is really helping me niche down to content creators and businesses that are basically in that one to three year business range where they’ve been building their content for a little while, they’re trying to get ready to monetize it, but they’re at this point where they need to grow their team from just being one person to maybe a virtual assistant or bringing in a VA and a designer or bringing in a VA and editor something like that. So, when I was talking to folks that were in that business stage, they were basically ready to take out their wallets and join my services right away. Because like, “Wow, this is exactly what I need to be able to scale from an individual up to being able to get more accomplished.” Really valuable experience in helping me niche down a little bit more, you know, which is obviously always the advice that you hear people give and then also in the end help motivate me. So, to be honest, at the end of day one I was like, “Oh, yeah,” I was a little bit disappointed as maybe I have to rethink more things than I thought. But by the end of the third day having progressed through literally changing my messaging and positioning on the fly each time I got in the hot seat it really helped me narrow up the focus and it was just again a huge, huge, benefit and the perfect timing for where I am in the development of my solutions. Then, the final lesson from the Youpreneur Summit is what I’m calling, that this stuff really helps people and what I mean by that is, you know, sometimes we get maybe two engrossed in ourselves in terms of building businesses and hitting six figures, and financial freedom and all of these internal goals that sometimes we forget about, you know, the whole purpose for doing this, which is to build businesses that help other people and, you know, there’s no better example of that than Pat Flynn. You know, obviously he spent the years and years and years providing free, valuable content to his audience and he was the closing keynote at the Youpreneur Summit and he got a massive standing ovation after his keynote. Because, he talked about how he almost gave up on Smart Passive Income in 2012 and he was within days of pulling the plug when he got a note from one of his listeners that his listener had been seriously injured 18 months ago and that during his entire recovery he had been inspired by Pat to persevere, recover, and build his own online business. So Pat was within days of pulling the plug on this, he got this note from this listener that and he had no idea that this had been going on for the last year and a half. That person hadn’t reached out to him, he didn’t know who he was, it just happened to be one person in his audience. At the very end of the keynote Pat pointed to a person in the live audience there with us and said that it was the guy and that this was the first time he had met him in person was at that event. So, there were tears all around and it just really hit home that this stuff of online business, coaching and mentoring all can be truly impactful in peoples’ lives and in a very positive way. So, in the end that person who had been seriously injured he, you know, recovered physically through a ton of, you know, therapy and so forth. He did launch his own online business, he is now successful, you know, having been inspired too and trained by Pat and all the materials that he put out. So it just really was this awesome end-to-end story of, you know, mere giving up, you know, by somebody that most people in this realm look up to Pat Flynn. So it’s like even the, you know, the great Pat was, you know, close to giving up at some stage in his development. But then, showing the power that we have in these online businesses and with podcasts and blogs and things like that to change peoples’ lives. In the end that’s the number one reason why I’m moving in to this space. You know, I’ve done consulting and I’ve helped companies and government agencies and like this huge entities improve over, you know, the 20 years that I’ve been in professional life. But one of the reason I’m moving in to online business is I want to help individuals succeed and build their own businesses and, you know, get to the levels of success that some of us have been able to enjoy when we have a great career. So, you know, again there is the logical side of the summit benefits and learning a bunch of strategies and tactics and techniques and there is also the emotional and inspirational side of seeing the success and the happiness that a lot of these speakers have and then especially the impact that their having on the audience and helping people. So, in the end a huge set of benefits from the conference, the value of going in to the event was far higher than I expected. And then, it was capped off by the third day. So, again, I talked about the platinum ticket, you know, costed extra — I forget? You know, it was a thousand dollars or something like that more so, you know, a decent investment. But the third day was a smaller group of attendees where the entire day was just that masterminding that I was talking about. So, on the third day I think it was, I’d say — let’s see. About 60 of us instead of the full 300 at the full conference. So, again tables of eight people, in these cases we got 30 minute time slots to talk about our businesses and our challenges and since it was a smaller group, Chris Ducker was able to also be at each of the tables periodically throughout the day. So, we got, you know, more direct access to him during the coaching sessions and then afterwards there was nice events like cruise along the River Thames in London for some sightseeing and then a final closing dinner with Chris. I drew the lucky straw, I actually got to sit right next to Chris. So I had the chance to chat with him a little bit more one-on-one and get to know him a little bit better as a person. So, that third day was well worth the benefits. Like I said the first two were a little bit rough for my concept, but again through continually evolving that message on the third day with that extra focus time I was able to, you know, get that messaging and positioning down to a point where everybody at the table was like, “Yes, if you’re doing it that way these are services we be interested in, we think that’s really going to be a successful idea,” and a lot of, you know, tips and tactics for for getting that stuff setup. So, all in all a great event and I’m definitely looking forward to going again next year and again I’m already visualizing trying to earn a speaker slot or a success story slot in that summit as one of my goals and motivators for next year. So, with that I want to thank you for joining me today, if you’ve been enjoying the content here on StrongStart.fm it would help us out greatly if you can give us a quick positive review over in iTunes. My goal is to help as many people as possible reach their goals so we need to spread the word and also like to encourage you to join my StrongStart Accelerate Program. With StrongStart Accelerate you can access to a treasure trove of resources to help you systemize, automate, and outsource, all aspects of your online business so you can focus on strategic money making activities and the work you enjoy. Accelerate helps you align content processes and tools into systems that help you and your team create higher quality content, courses, and services in far less time. Systems include project management, blogging, podcasting, video, content marketing, and many more. These are basically systems in a box with all the supporting documentation, checklists, and automation scripts ready for you to download and use. Accelerate includes multiple systems, dozens of documented processes, hundreds of automation scripts, and more coming every month. These are augmented by online courses, a private collaboration community, and more to help you and your team get better at these key topics and to enable instant productivity for anybody that you hire onto your team. I want to help you do less work overall and more strategic work, so Accelerate is designed to empower your entire team not just you. To join us head over at StronStart.fm/accelerate. Thanks and we will see you on the next episode of StrongStart.fm. The post 7 Things I Learned at the Youpreneur Summit | StrongStart.fm – 032 appeared first on StrongStart.fm.
17 minutes | Nov 18, 2017
Home Studio – Camera Angles and Set Design | StrongStart.fm – 030
In this episode, we're continuing a series on building a home studio for video and podcast production. We're going to talk about camera angles and set design for your home studio so that your videos look professional and highlight your brand. Deciding on the different camera angles and shot types you want your studio to support is an important decision. You may select furniture, backgrounds, lighting and support equipment based on these choices. It may be difficult or costly to change them later so you want to get them right the first time. For me, I have gone through a few iterations and now that I am moving back into my home after having had to evacuate due to a forest fire, I have the chance to refine my studio layout once more. What I'll talk about in this episode applies whether you are going with a simple webcam connected to your computer all the way up to an elite level studio like I have with multiple cameras and high-end equipment. The principles are the same. Let's cover camera angles first, then set design. In this episode you'll learn: Determining the content and shot types you need Figuring out how many cameras and angles you want Diagramming your studio layout Determining how many sets you want Designing your sets (furniture, backgrounds, props) Testing your shot types and sets Action plan: Document your planned content types Decide what camera angles you need to have for each content type Consolidate down to the fewest camera angles that support all your content types Determine if you can get by with just one set Design and setup your set Test your camera angles and set design Links and resources mentioned in this episode: Building a Standing Desk Fotodiox Triple Roller Paper Drive Set with Wall Mount Support for Mounting 3 Paper Background Rolls 107″ x 12yds Background Paper (#46 Tech Green) Transcript Download Download a PDF of the Transcript Home Studio Design: Camera Angles and Set Design As you work through designing your home studio, make a simple diagram of your studio layout, especially where the cameras will be and where they’ll be pointing and recording. Here's how to get started. Camera angles The camera angles that you need to support are determined by the different content types you want to record in your studio. Those determine where your cameras will be located and what set or scene they’ll record. To make the decisions for your studio layout, a simple three-step process can help. First is to determine your content types. Step 1: Define your content types Thinking about the content types you want to record is critical. Think about your immediate needs, such as the one format you’ll be focusing on initially, but also think about what you might want to grow into over the next year or so. Don’t worry about anything beyond that as it will get complicated and slow you down, but you do want to think past the first couple of weeks. What you want to capture is how many camera angles you want for each shot, where you want to be positioned in your studio (sitting, standing, multiple positions), and what you might want your set (background, furniture, props) to look like. Remember that each camera you add basically doubles the amount of complexity that you have to deal with both during recording and then especially in editing where you cut back and forth between the different angles. If you’re just starting out it’s going to be a lot simpler to just go with one camera angle and then add more in the future as you get comfortable with being onscreen and with the tools that you’re using. Here is what my content type list looks like: 1. Weekly live streaming show Cameras: 2 Position: Sitting behind desk & computer Background: Home office 2. YouTube videos & online courses Cameras: 2 Position: Standing Background: Various In both of those content types, I also want to be able to vary the background. In some cases I want to be in front of a solid color background, and in other cases, like the live show, I want my home office in the scene behind me because it’s basically an interesting background and adds a little bit of flavor and variety to the shot. 3. Ad hoc webcast: Cameras: 1 (screencast ability) Position: Sitting behind my desk in my home office Background: Various Again I want to have that option of having either the real office background or a green screen background for this content. 4. Remote video: Cameras: 1 (portable) Position: Various Location: Can be anywhere in my home or office or even outside for different types of shots 5. Podcast: Cameras: None Position: Sitting behind my desk in my home office. Pro-microphone and access to my mixer, processor and computer My studio requirements are fairly complex because of those two main content types and the supporting ones that I just outlined. It’s a pretty large number of different setups, especially when you want to do two camera angles in most of them, so the questions is, “Why bother with that? Why add all that extra complexity?” For me, the answer is that videos are getting increasingly competitive and maintaining your audience’s attention is more difficult than ever. It requires great content, but also great presentation. Many of the techniques used in movies and television to keep our attention such as changing camera angles frequently, adding motion to scenes, interesting backgrounds and so on make a big difference. Luckily for us, many of these techniques are available to solo entrepreneurs and online business owners at a relatively low cost. The complex requirements that I outlined above could easily be met by just two inexpensive webcams, a USB microphone and a budget background set that you can get right off of Amazon. At the higher-end, these could be dedicated DSLR studio cameras with high-end microphones, mixers and switchers. Start just with what you need and then grow from there. Step 2: Determine your studio layout The next step is to look at your list of content types and number of cameras, then determine how to arrange them in your studio. If you just have one content type, or if you have a couple of content types that can be supported by a single camera and set, then the layout will be quite easy. If you are doing multiple camera angles or multiple sets, you'll need to figure out how to fit all of that into your studio. If you’re going with multiple cameras, see if you can arrange your cameras so that the same camera or cameras can be used for multiple shots. In the diagram of my studio set up you can see that my two main cameras support both of the main content types that we talked about. My studio is arranged basically in an L shape, where each of the elements of the L is one of my desks or tables. In one case, the cameras will be facing towards one table and then in the other shot all I have to do is rotate my cameras so that they point at the other desk. In both cases one camera is the primary face to camera shot, and then the other is a side angle shot where I can either use a wide view for an establishing shot, or zoom in to whatever I have on my desk. So two cameras support two entirely different sets, two angles each, and I don’t even have to move them. It’s really just about putting them in a particular spot where you can rotate them to switch between shots. Once you've decided on the camera angles and layout for your studio, capture them in a diagram. Set design Once you’ve experimented and you have an idea of where you’ll be recording and the camera angles you’ll be using, the next step is to design your sets. The set is everything that will be recorded in addition to your subject; this includes your background, any furniture, decorations or props that are going to appear. It’s not necessary to go overboard here. Many people film their videos just straight in their living room, home office, or bedroom without any changes. But since we’re trying to design a dedicated home studio space here, investing in a set that represents you or your brand is recommended. Again, this is something that will separate you, and your content, from your competitors. The first thing to think about is whether you’ll be sitting or standing behind the desk. You thought of that a little bit earlier when we talked about the content types. Then you can start choosing and locating your desk. We covered this a bit in episode 28 when we talked about how to build an adjustable standing desk, so that you have the option to both sit and stand with the same piece of furniture. Backgrounds The next thing you want to think about is backgrounds. You can have any background you want these days thanks to how cheap it has become to print at large-scale on vinyl material. If you go on Amazon and search for portrait or photography backgrounds, you’re going to see thousands of different options, ranging from just solid colors to basically any scene you can think of. It can be anything you want at an affordable price. Caveat: At this point, one thing I will warn you against is the fake brick background. You see this in a lot of online videos today because some early influencers used that as the design for their sets. The brick is cool because it adds a lot of texture and an interesting look to your videos, but so many people are using it that it’s basically become cliché at this point. That’s one that I would probably stay away from. Green Screens Another option is what’s called a green screen or chroma key background. This is basically where the subjects and the scene that’s being recorded are all shot in front of a giant green background. Then later in the editing process, that background can be replaced with anything you want. If you’ve ever watch the evening news where they’ve got the weatherman standing in front of a large map, that’s the way it’s done. They’re standing in front of a green screen, and then in post-production, the background is replaced with whatever they want. Now this may sound complicated, but it’s actually pretty easy to do. Some new webcams are coming out with this capability built into them, and certainly the higher-end recording software like Wirecast make this very easy to do. Green screen background kits can be found for very reasonable prices. Real world objects Your final option is for your background to be made up of real-world objects. It could be just your wall, or a furniture, or anything else that you might be filming in front of. In my case, I set up a large storage system behind my desk, which has a lot of different cubbyholes and things like that. Basically, what that lets me do is put any kind of props, branding elements or other items of interest in there. If you watch any of my videos on Facebook or YouTube, you can see that in some cases I’ve got some Star Wars stuff, I’ve got different scotches, bottles and things like that that I like, just something to add a little bit of personality. Sometimes I move these objects around, put new ones in there or different ones, just something to add a little bit of extra curiosity to my videos. Multiple choice backgrounds Now if you remember back to my requirements for these different shot types, in some of them I said I wanted to have a green screen background, or I wanted to have a solid color background. How can I do that without having to revamp my studio every time I want a change? Well, basically what I’ve done is hung large paper background rollers above both walls behind each of those shots. These are basically large rollers that you can fix right onto your wall or ceiling. Each fits 6-foot to 10-foot wide paper rolls. For the paper, you can get photography background paper which will fit onto those mounts. Behind the standing setup that I have, I have three rollers that I can roll down. One is a green background for green screen, then I have both solid gray and blue background colors. You can get any color you want so it’s an easy solution if you want a simple color background. I did the same thing behind my sitting set up, although there I just have a green screen roll. When I’m done using it and I want to go back to my normal background, I can just roll the paper up. That transition only takes about a minute or two to do in my studio in either of those angles. To do all that cost me less than $200, but it tripled or quadrupled the number of shot types that I can film. Studio Props and Final Testing The final step in your set design is to think about any other items that you’re going to include in your camera shot, such as your computer screen, objects sitting on your desk or in the background or anything like that. Once you’ve done all these steps, it’s time to test your set design. Arrange all of your set elements as if you’re planning to record, place your camera in the location that you defined earlier, hit record and then go sit or stand as you would be while delivering content. Move around a bit as you would during recording. Don’t worry about lighting at this point, we’ll cover that in the next episode. Once you’ve done the test, review the recording and then make sure you’re in frame and in the right part of the camera shot (centered or off to the side) depending on the style you’re looking for. You’ll also want to look at your background and everything else that’s visible. Make sure there’s nothing there that you don’t want seen and check for distractions. Obviously you want to make sure you remove anything that might be distracting to your viewers. If you’re going with multiple sets or camera angles, repeat the process to verify all of the different angles. The reason for doing this now is that it locks in the environment and the camera angles of your studio. These are the elements that you’re going to design your lighting around. You want to make sure you’re set up is polished and final because once you’ve placed your lights it gets complicated to change things. If you’re happy with your results at this point, update your layout diagram with the final set up. Final Thoughts At this point in our series, you’ve purchased or built your desk, you’ve soundproofed your studio location, and you’ve designed the sets and camera angles that you’ll be using. Next up will be the all-important topic of lighting your studio without breaking your budget. The post Home Studio – Camera Angles and Set Design | StrongStart.fm – 030 appeared first on StrongStart.fm.
20 minutes | Nov 5, 2017
Home Studio: How to Soundproof a Room | StrongStart.fm – 029
In this episode we're continuing a series on building a home studio for video and podcast production. We're going to talk about selecting a location for your studio and soundproofing it so that you have a low noise environment for recording your content. In this episode you'll learn: Whether soundproofing is even possible The difference between noise reduction and noise absorption Choosing a location for your studio Steps to take outside of your studio for soundproofing Steps to take inside of your studio for soundproofing Audio post-processing Soundproofing materials and resources Action plan: Download the How to Soundproof a Room Checklist Determine a location for your home studio, if even just a corner of a room Run through the checklist and start building a better environment for audio and video Check out my home studio build Links and resources mentioned in this episode: http://soundproofing101.com Acoustic Panels https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BJMX5P0 https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0032BXMMM Audio post-processing https://www.wikihow.com/Remove-Background-Noise-in-Audacity http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Noise_Reductionhttps://helpx.adobe.com/audition/using/noise-reduction-restoration-effects.html Transcript Download Download a PDF of the Transcript How to soundproof a room We’re going to talk about selecting a location for your home studio and soundproofing it so that you have a low noise environment for recording your content. There are number of different steps in this process so I’ll cover them here but be sure to grab the detailed, downloadable checklist above. I'll answer question like “will acoustic foam soundproof a room?” and “which soundproof material is the best?” Soundproofing fundamentals Most people think that sound proofing means you could set off fireworks just outside of your studio and never hear a thing on the inside. While that would be nice, that level of sound proofing requires specialized techniques and materials that are way beyond anything that those of us building home studios can afford. What we’re really talking about in this episode is creating a space inside a normal residential home or traditional office that’s as quiet as possible for better audio recording. The key to getting close to a sound proofed space is understanding the difference between noise reduction and noise absorption. Noise reduction means literally reducing or eliminating the sources of noise. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper to just ask someone not to set off fireworks outside of your studio than it is to sound proof it to the point that you don’t hear them. The less noise there is both inside and outside of your studio, the less sound proofing work and the fewer materials you’ll have to purchase. Noise absorption is for all the noise that you can’t eliminate at the source. You can design your space to absorb it before it gets to your microphone and recording devices. The key to soundproofing on a budget is to reduce or eliminate as much noise as possible before having to resort to noise absorption. Noise reduction Noise reduction is critical to the overall process so let's cover that first. Step 1: Choosing your home studio location First up is choosing a location for your studio. For most of us available space is limited so the location will likely be dictated by necessity. If you do have several options there are a few factors to consider when deciding where to locate your studio: Distance from noise sources Existing sound absorbing features Size of the space Ease of installing equipment (lighting, power, sound absorbing materials etc) If you’re constructing a studio in a space where you spend a lot of time be aware that your brain filters out most consistent sources of noise from your conscious thinking. A prime example of this is your heating or air conditioning systems, you likely don’t notice them but your microphone will. Generally you want to pick the location that is furthest away from all sources of noise but sometimes considering the other factors can reveal a better option. For example one room may be far away from noise sources but contains a lot of windows meaning it would be difficult to modify to absorb sound. In this case an alternate location like a garage with more existing sound absorbing features would be a better choice even though it’s closer to the noise. Step 2: Identifying the Background Noise Once you’ve selected your location, the next step is to do what I call a noise audit. Sit in the room for 10 minute periods of time throughout the day, especially during time when you would be expecting to record, and write down every single noise you hear. After several sessions you’ll likely have a pretty big list. By far, the most effective and inexpensive step you can take in sound proofing your studio is looking at every single item on that list and creating a checklist to make sure that they are turned off or reduced while you're recording. In my case, I have a prerecording checklist that I run every time I’m about to record a podcast or a video. It includes things like turning off the heater, air conditioner, setting phones to silent mode. You know, letting my family know I’m recording so that they can try and keep quiet. It’s basically putting your home into quiet mode as best as you can. At it some point in the future it would be great if you could do some of these via home automation to help you save time. In my case it takes about five or 10 minute to go through my checklist every time I’m about to record something; that time adds up. Step 3: Establish concentric lines of defense Think about this soundproofing challenge like putting up lines of defense. You want to start absorbing noise as far away from your microphone as possible. Defend that microphone, do not let noise get to it! Outside the studio defenses The next thing you can do is taking steps outside of your studio to eliminate or reduce noise before it even meets the walls. Think about all the other rooms and locations that are surrounding your studio. Think about what’s located above, below and next to it. In those rooms there are actions you can take to reduce noise transmission. Examples: Plentiful upholstered furniture Wall hangings Thick carpets The more of your walls that is covered with some sort of fabric like a quilt or a tapestry the more noise is going to be absorbed there before it even gets to your studio walls. When building up concentric lines of defense you want to start absorbing the noise as far away from your microphone as possible. Inside the studio defenses Now, the steps you take inside your studio are similar, you want to identify all the sources of noise from your noise audit and then you want to try to eliminate or reduce them. Equipment Most sounds will come directly from your equipment so ideally, you want to locate as much of it as you can outside of the studio. This is why TV and radio studios always have a control room and equipment rooms that are separate from where the on-air talent sits. For a lot of us this separation isn’t possible so we need a compromise. This can be done by locating equipment as far away from your microphone as you can and especially behind it. Most microphones that you’re using are designed to only pickup audio that’s coming directly into the front or the side depending on the type. So by putting any noise sources like equipment behind your microphone you reduce the amount of noise that will make it into your recording. You can also put equipment in racks and cabinets that absorb noise. Most of my audio gear is inside of a rack mount cabinet and it has a wood enclosure and a fabric covering so it absorbs things like noise from fans and power supplies. Once your studio is a quiet environment you’ll notice that your computer becomes very loud. Other than building a custom silent PC (covered in another episode) this problem isn’t easily solved. However, locating your computer as far away and behind your microphone as possible will help. Keyboard and mice are also something to consider, choose options that have silent or quiet clicks and that don’t make any noise while you're moving. You want to do whatever you can do reduce these noise sources because they are very close to your microphone and very likely to be picked up. Furniture Squeaky chairs or desks are another annoying source of noise. This is one of the reasons that I built the 300 pound standing desk that we talked about in episode 28. It’s very solid and very silent. Chairs though are a different story. Even the 900 holler, Herman Miller Era chair that I have squeaks a bit. The easiest way to reduce this is by standing and using the standing desk during recording. Yours Truly Finally, the last source of noise in your studio is you. Now that you have a very quiet environment, try speaking loudly or clapping loudly in the room and especially from the location you’re going to be recording to check the level of echo and reverberation. In most residential and office construction, you’ll hear a lot. Inside your studio the more carpet, soft furniture and soft materials on things like desks chairs, etc. the better. Noise absorption It’s only at this point, way into the process, that we start talking about sound absorbing panels, foam or blankets. These are your last line of defense before unwanted sound or noise reaches your microphone and their purpose is to reduce echo and reverb inside of your studio. The cheapest soundproofing solution One of the cheapest and most effective options is hanging moving blankets in your studio. These are fairly high density blue or black blankets that moving companies use to protect furniture. They actually have pretty good sound absorbing qualities. You can get a pack of twelve of these 6 or 7ft blankets from Amazon for only $60. For the temporary studio that I am in right now, this is what I used. As you might have recalled from a previous episode, I am in a rental house right now because we had to evacuate our main house and my main studio because it was in the path of a forest fire. So, the room that I am recording in is small and horribly echo-y. So on Amazon, I got 4 studio backdrop supports which are basically like extra tall light stands that you can extend with a crossbar between them. So basically, I’ve got four poles; one in each corner of my room. With the crossbars, I have a horizontal metal bar that extends around all four walls close to the ceiling and from those, I hung the moving blankets so they surround the entire studio. They’re hung a couple of inches away from the wall and they massively reduce the amount of echo in the room. For a cost of less than $250 total and without having to drill holes or make other changes to the room I was able to set up a pretty adequate recording space. So, very inexpensive option and it’s basically accessible to anybody because it doesn’t require any structural changes to the space. A better and nicer looking solution for soundproofing Moving up from there is what I have done in my permanent studio at home which is hanging much nicer looking sound absorbing panels. I spend 10 to 12 hours a day in that office and I like to have my office and my studio looking very nice and clean. So the next option is what are called acoustic insulating panels which means panels that absorb sound. There are two options here: pre-made and DIY. Inside my studio I use nice pre-made panels that are one to four inches thick and covered in a nice fabric like suede where you get a lot of different color options. These are usually about $50 per panel and the panels are usually 2 ft by 4 ft. Now covering the entire room with these can get pretty expensive but you actually don’t need to cover the walls completely to get the benefit. Just a row of these panels all the way around your studio at the height of your microphone will significantly reduce the echo and reverb in the room. So what I recommend and what I’ve done is basically just created a sound absorbing strip all the way around the walls of the studio at the level of my microphone. The middle ground solution The next option is basically the same thing but it’s more DIY where you buy the acoustic material in bulk and then you wrap and frame the panels yourself. You can get a 12 pack of the same two foot by four foot acoustic panel material for about $90 then you can wrap it in fabric and basically get the same number of panels as the first option but at a much lower cost. They just won’t look as good. Finally, soundproofing foam (ugly, but does it work?) Now the last option here and in my opinion, at least based on the reading that I’ve done, the least effective option is the black or colored acoustic foam square panels that you see. I see a ton of people on YouTube gluing this foam everywhere in their studios walls and ceilings and so forth. From what I’ve read this foam isn’t really all that effective because the vast majority of the suppliers are using really cheap foam with minimal sound absorbing properties. It’s better than nothing but personally I don’t like the look of it and it’s not all that effective so if you have the budget it’s worth exploring the other options. Audio post-processing for noise reduction So at this point have we done all we can do to get great recorded audio? No! There is one more very important step. At this point we have eliminated or reduced noise both outside and inside our studio. We’ve also put sound absorbing furniture and materials inside so that we reduce any echo or reverb from the actual audio that we are creating. Our microphone is well defended but some noise may still be getting to it. So what do we do now? We are going to leverage our last line of defense which is audio post processing. This gets advanced pretty quickly but luckily today’s gear and tools make the basics pretty easy. We’ll cover this in depth in a future episode but for now, realize that if you use a mixer or an audio processor while recording, you can leverage features like low and high past filters and noise gates which can prevent recording a lot of the sources of noise that might be coming through our other lines of defense. High & low pass filters This technology will filter out all sound that is either above or below a certain frequency. A prime example here is low frequency noise like the rumble from a heater or an air conditioner. With these filters you can prevent that from even being recorded. Noise gates Another tool is called a noise gate and it’s a function on either your hardware audio mixer/ processor or software like Audacity/Adobe Audition. The idea with this is that while your microphone maybe very sensitive and able to pick up even the sound of a pin dropping, there’s really no need to record those things, you just really want your voice. So what a noise gate does is not let any sound through the device until it reaches a certain volume. Now even this could get pretty complicated because there are a number of different settings on a noise gate. Usually these programs and mixers have some defaults that are pretty easy to set up and then that’s something that you want to test over time. There’s too much to cover here but I will cover that in some detail in a future episode. For now just realize that even if some noise does get to your microphone, you still have options to eliminate it. When all else fails… Finally, if there was a significant noise event like fireworks during your recording, you may be able to reduce that during post processing. Audacity and Audition all have some advanced options here that can help you salvage a recording if there was some loud source of noise right in the middle of it. Next steps As you can see here there is a lot to this topic but the nice thing is you can make huge improvements to your studio and audio quality without a large investment. We covered a lot of ground and I didn’t even get into all the detail items that I have at each step. So, I’ve put those into a downloadable checklist that you can download below: The post Home Studio: How to Soundproof a Room | StrongStart.fm – 029 appeared first on StrongStart.fm.
17 minutes | Sep 26, 2017
Home Studio: Building a Standing Desk | StrongStart.fm – 028
In this episode, we're starting a new series on building a home video and podcasting studio. I needed to get my home office up and running after an unexpected evacuation of my home due to a forest fire. The first step was to build a standing desk. As you may know from previous episodes, I am a fan of adjustable standing desks. I'm also an amateur woodworker and would normally make my own nice solid wood desktop. In this case with my shop inaccessible due to the fire, I had to go commercial but found an awesome source I'll tell you about. In this episode you'll learn: Why a standing desk (and how much do I really stand) Standing desk options How to build a desk like mine (and one critical accessory you will need) Action plan: Consider the health benefits of a standing desk Decide if a standing desk will work for you Plan and build your own standing desk Download my standing desk blueprint and parts list Links and resources mentioned in this episode: http://annals.org/aim/article/2653704/patterns-sedentary-behavior-mortality-u-s-middle-aged-older-adults http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/news/20170911/take-a-stand-against-sitting-too-much#2 http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/five-health-benefits-standing-desks-180950259/ http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-benefits-of-a-standing-desk https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/standing-up-at-your-desk-may-energize-you-but-it-also-may-be-tough-on-your-legs/2013/11/22/4d166d9a-0f46-11e3-8cdd-bcdc09410972_story.html?utm_term=.d8ff9528e181 Transcript Download Download a PDF of the Transcript How to Build an Adjustable Standing Desk I'm starting a new series on building a new home video and podcasting studio. Before we get into that, there is the obvious question: why am I building a new studio when I already have an elite level studio in my home office? You may have noticed a bit of a gap in my publication schedule. About a month ago a lightning strike near our home started a wildfire that has since grown to over 35,000 acres. Having been a volunteer firefighter for a couple years and living in the mountains of the Pacific northwest, I know not to tempt fate so we began preparing immediately and within a couple days decided to evacuate from our home. A couple days after evacuation became mandatory. In the time we had, which fortunately was a lot, I did a ton of preparation ranging from clearing all trees/brush within 50 feet of the house, designing and building an Internet controlled 10 sprinkler system for the roof and perimeter, and protecting all exposed areas with flame resistant tarps. We also moved all our valuables, including all of the home studio that I had only recently gotten all set up into storage, and now into a rental house. It was a lot of work and needless to say interrupted all of my work on my virtual summit and membership site. Fortunately, a very large team of firefighters was able to hold the fire just outside (meaning 500 yards) of the community we live in and no lives or structures were lost. It will still be about a month before we move back due to smoke and other issues. So what's the upside of all of this? Well you will see me build a new temporary studio now, and then you will see me rebuild my full studio when we move back. So there will be tons of great content! Once I got the family settled and our rental home was set up for normal living, my focus turned to my office. I have a massively complex and demanding day job at Microsoft as well as building StrongStart.fm so I needed to get my home office up and running. The first step was a desk. As you may know from previous episodes, I am a fan of adjustable standing desks. I'm also an amateur woodworker and would normally make my own nice solid wood desktop. In this case with my shop inaccessible due to the fire, I had to go commercial but found an awesome source I'll tell you about shortly. So, for this episode we will cover three points and one critical accessory you will need: Why a standing desk (and how much do I really stand) Standing desk options How to build a desk like mine Why a standing desk (and how much do I really stand) I got into standing desks a couple years ago when I was trying to improve my fitness. You burn more calories standing up than sitting down and given I'm at my desk 10 – 12 hours a day at least, it seemed like a great way to kill two birds with one stone. Also, there are many studies that show that sitting for prolonged period of time can be very damaging to your health. In fact, the week I recorded this episode, a new study was released in the Annals of Internal Medicine. In summarizing the study, WebMD reported that: “Spending more time sitting for longer periods increased the risk for an early death, regardless of age, gender, race, weight or how much one exercised, the researchers found.” and “Those who had the lowest risk of dying were those who didn't sit longer than 30 minutes at a stretch, the findings showed.” Smithsonian magazine has listed five health benefits of standing desks: Reduced risk of obesity Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease Reduced risk of cancer Lower long-term mortality risk Bottom line, they help you stay healthier longer. Once you've decided to try a standing desk there are a few tips and one critical accessory I'd recommend. First, transition slowly. If you sit for 8 hours a day now, don't immediately stand for 8 hours a day. You will be surprised how tired you are and run the risk of giving up on the concept too early. I'd recommend starting with 30 minutes and doing 30 minutes more each day until you are standing most of the time. The reason I always go for an adjustable standing desk is so that I can change things up at any time. The key to most of the health benefits is movement, so even when you are standing, don't stand rigid in one place the whole time. The critical accessory that I recommend is a high quality gel mat to stand on. Even in my home office with very thick carpets, standing for long periods of time, especially in the first month or two until you are adjusted can become painful to your feet. If you’re not familiar with those, those are basically like an inch to an inch and a half thick floor mats made out of gel. They’re used by chefs and factory workers and people that wind up standing in the same spot for a long period of time. Yes, you’ll be standing behind your desk, but if you don't have something that relieves the strain on your feet and knees and so forth, especially in the early transition to a standing desk, then it can cause fatigue and you might decide, “Hey, this isn't for me, because I’m having some knee or foot pain”. A high-quality gel mat changes that picture dramatically. Gel mats are different than foam or some of the other things you might stand on, because basically they don't deform and they don't compress and they don't basically lose their padding over time as long as you just move around a little bit, that gels going to even out and it will be good as new assuming you move around a little bit as you’re standing throughout the day. A gel mat relieved much of that stress and increased the comfort level significantly. The reason for gel as opposed to other choices is that it never develops flat spots or becomes uneven. So let's talk about some of the options for standing desks. Standing Desk Options I break adjustable standing desks up into three categories: An adjustable height surface that sits on top of a normal desk (Varidesk) Manually adjustable standing desks Motorized adjustable standing desks Permanent standing desks Adjustable Surface on top of a normal desk Imagine a 3-foot by x 1-foot type of metal platform that sit on top of your normal desk. The idea there is you’re basically just putting your monitor and your keyboard and mouse onto that surface and then that surface can raise up 1 to 2 feet so that it’s bringing your monitor and your keyboard and all that to a higher height if you're standing in front of your desk. It’s basically a way to retrofit the standing capability to the desk that you have currently. You just clear off enough space, plot that thing on there, put your monitor and keyboard on it and then you're ready to go. The leader in this category is Varidesk. As you can see from the image below, the Varidesk can be placed on top of any normal desk. Manually adjustable standing desks The second option is a manually adjusting standing desk, and that’s normally what I use. With a manually adjustable standing desk, you raise or lower the desk using a crank or handle. It takes about 15 seconds in most cases to raise from sitting height to standing height. These options tend to be several hundred dollars cheaper than motorized desks. Motorized Adjustable Standing Desks These options raise standing desks to a new level (yep, I said that…) Instead of a handle or crank, these include a small motor to automatically raise or lower the desk. Some have specific height settings so it goes to the same level every time. There are many different options but one I've heard good things about is UpDesk. The arrow in the picture below shows the push button controls for raising or lowering the desk. Having built three adjustable standing desks now, I recommend going with the manually adjusting options. They are less expensive and give you a bit finer adjustment capability than the motorized options. For me that is important because I have two desks arranged in an L shape and I want them at the exact same height. That is hard to do with the motorized options but the manual crank options can be adjusted by the slighted amounts. Permanent Standing Desks The fourth category is basically a permanent standing desk, where it’s just designed for fixed height and it's always at the standing height all the time. I’m not a fan of that, because you maybe this doesn't work out and you don't like it, or maybe you want to stand most of the day and sit other times of the day. That’s why I generally go with an adjustable desk. I am able to stand for most of the work that I do. If I’m on conference calls or I’m doing emails or lightweight writing and stuff like that, then standing is fine. What I have found though is if I really need to focus and concentrate, like if I’m writing code or a script or something like that, or doing something really technical, in those cases sometimes I do want to adjust it back down to a sitting desk. Again, I like to have the option to be able to do both. How to build a standing desk like mine If you’re going to build a standing desk, there’s two different parts to consider. There's the desk surface itself and then there is the adjustable leg system. If you go on Amazon or any other supplier, sometimes you can easily find combinations where those things are sold as one unit. I prefer splitting the two as it really lets me select the exact desktop surface that I like. For some of you that may not be a big deal, for me, I'm a believer and you really have to love the workspace that you're in. If you’re doing a full-time job, if you’re doing a side hustle at the same time, you’re going to be working a lot and you really need to love your workspace, how it looks, how it's designed. You want that desk surface to be exactly the type of thing that’s going to make you feel good in your environment. I’m a fan of wood furniture. I’m an amateur woodworker when I do have some time for hobbies. For the standing desk I have in my main studio, I built the wood surface out of bamboo plywood. In this case, even though it's a temporary studio, I was going to make a very solid and permanent desk that I’ll bring back to my main studio when I’m done. Obviously, there are many choices out there. There’s all kind of synthetic materials. Some people like what's called whiteboard desk, which is a desk surface that you can actually write on dry erase pens. The main things you want to think about there is what type of material that you're interested in and then also the dimensions or the size of the desk. Choosing the desk surface dimensions I like a pretty big surface, so in my case I went with a 72 inch by x 27 inch surface. That's a pretty wide desk, because basically a lot of times I’ll run multiple monitors, I’ll have keyboards on there. I want to have my laptop on there. There’s a number of different reasons, in my case, for getting a large surface. Depending on your space, you may want to go with a smaller surface or something that’s going to fit your exact scenario. You can also just buy surfaces as well. If you like the idea of a wood surface or a bamboo surface or something like that, IKEA actually makes a really nice surface. It’s a little smaller in size. It's 55 inches by 25 inches, but you get it made out of solid bamboo plywood and that's available for only $80. That's a very inexpensive option that looks great. Now, in my case, I was looking for something a little bit different, because I already have some bamboo surfaces, so I wanted to go for a nice hardwood. I did some searching online and when I went to Amazon, surprisingly, the options were pretty thin. There wasn’t a ton of choices on there. I was searching for things like wood tabletop or wood bench top. Luckily, after a while, what started popping up in my Amazon searches was wooden kitchen counter top surfaces and butcher block boards. That was really interesting, because I never really searched for those before and I found on Amazon a really incredible supplier named John Boos makes really nice blended walnut island counter and butcher tops. You can see that it’s a solid inch and a half thick walnut surface. It's really a beast. It weighs about 80 pounds or 90 pounds, so it's really heavy and thick. A great looking surface. Now, it’s very expensive. It was about $550 for that particular desk surface, but I like building these things. I like having a nice workspace. Choosing an adjustable leg system Choosing such a heavy top and knowing that I'll be putting a lot of weight on it in terms of a couple of monitors and things like that, weight becomes a consideration. When choosing the adjustable leg system, that's where you have to be careful and think about the total weight that you're putting on top of those legs. Does the weight rating include whatever the desk surface weighs plus whatever you're putting on top of that? There's dozens of leg options. I've used one by MultiTable in the past that I was really happy with, but in this case I went with a heavier duty options that I found on Amazon from a company called FlexiSpot. Basically, what these things are is it’s an adjustable leg system. The width of the legs are adjustable so that you can fit them to any different dimension surface that you might use for your desk. Then obviously their height is adjustable, since that's the purpose of the whole exercise here, to go from a sitting height all the way to a standing height. In this case these heavier duty ones from FlexiSpot have 170 pound capacity. With the 80 or 90 pound desk surface that I have on there, plus a couple of monitors, I’ll be well under 170 pounds total capacity. I decided to go with those. Wow! When these components showed up, the desk surface, those heavy-duty legs, they are some heavy components. Once you put it all together, the desk weights probably about 140, 150 pounds. The thing is just absolutely a beast, and I'm super happy with it. It’s very heavy-duty and stable. These legs are all steel construction. Like I said, they’re adjustable up and down, adjustable by width so it could fit any surface. You can’t really tell from the pictures how heavy-duty they are, but man, they are really a tank, so I’m very happy with FlexiSpot legs. Assembling the standing desk The last thing we’ll about is the assembly process. In this case, it's really simple, the assembly process takes less than an hour. Basically you put the desk surface down on the floor upside down then you unpack the adjustable leg system. There’s six or seven different parts that you have to put together. That takes about 20 or 30 minutesr. Most of the tools and all of the hardware are included. The only tool you need in this scenario is a screwdriver. You assemble the legs according to the instructions. Then you flip them upside down on to the desk surface and make sure everything is square and aligned and the legs are where you want them to be under the desk. I like to make the legs almost as wide as the desk for maximum stability. Then you attach the legs to the desk surface with screws. IMPORTANT: Make sure the screws you use will NOT push through the top of the surface. Make sure the screws are no more than 3/4 of the thickness of the surface. Once you’ve done that, you flip it over and then your standing desk is ready to go. It's really a simple process. Order the parts on Amazon, they’re there a day or two later, an hour to assemble it, and then your standing desk is completed. Your future self will thank you for increasing your lifespan! The beginning of the new, temporary studio For me, building the desk that was the key to getting the new studio set up. It gave me a place I could start my normal work. A place I could start thinking about how I was going to do the rest of the studio. At that point as I was talking to my wife and my young son came screaming into the room, I realized the my temporary office/studio is a horribly echoey room that I will have to fix to turn it into a recording studio for my podcast and videos. In the next post, we’ll talk about that process. The post Home Studio: Building a Standing Desk | StrongStart.fm – 028 appeared first on StrongStart.fm.
25 minutes | Aug 26, 2017
How to Launch a Membership Site | StrongStart.fm – 027
In this episode, we're going to conclude a 3 part series on membership sites. I'm in the middle of building a membership site for launch in a few months and I wanted to give you a behind the scenes look at what it takes to plan, build, and launch a membership site. In the previous two episodes, we talked about planning and building, in this episode, we'll talk about launching a membership site. In this episode you'll learn: Deciding when to launch and what to launch with in terms of content and features Marketing and promoting your launch Managing the launch process and the first month of running your site Action plan: Be sure to check out the Plan and Build episodes of this series Start by making sure your foundation is solid using my WordPress Blog Blue Print and Planner: Links and resources mentioned in this episode: https://strongstart.fm/joinfree https://www.themembershipguys.com/ https://strongstart.fm/getMemberSiteAcademy Transcript Download Download a PDF of the Transcript Transcript Hey everybody, Dave Ziembicki here. Welcome to StrongStart.fm. My mission is to help you design, automate and outsource the technology of your online business. In this episode we’re going to conclude a three part series on membership sites. I’m in the middle of building a membership site for launch in a few months and I wanted to give you a behind the scenes look at what it takes to plan and build and launch a membership site. In the previous two episodes, we talked about the planning and building and then in this episode, we’re going to conclude by talking about launching your membership site. I’m going to break the launch process down into three parts. Deciding when to launch and what to launch with, in terms of content in the futures. Marketing and promoting your launch. And then managing launch process in the first month of running your membership site. Now, as I mentioned, I’m in the middle of planning and building my membership so on this launch topics, I’m basically giving you a behind the scenes look at my planning. Once I do launch and get through that first month, I’ll come back and do an episode on the lessons learned, what worked, what didn’t work and so forth. The first element of launch planning is deciding when to launch your site. Now, the decision is a balance between how much content and features you need to have on day one, how much extra content you’ll have already created for the next month or two after you launch. Whether you have a pre-launch or a beta period for a small set of members and some other similar considerations. In working with Mike Morrison and Callie Willows over at the Member Site Academy, one of the things that they really highlight is that you don’t need a massive amount of content ready at launch. The thing that you’re always balancing with a membership site is, how much content to have and how much value to provide? Versus overwhelming your members with too many things and causing a lot of confusion of “Where do I start.” There’s a hundred courses in here I’ll never be able to manage all of that content. So you know, what you’re looking for is a balance between one course or minimal content – somebody coming in and saying, “Why did I just sign up for $50 a month for this membership site when there’s nothing in here? Versus the other end of the spectrum – waiting a year or two or longer to launch. Because you think that you need this gigantic content library in order to launch your site. The balance is really in the middle. Really, what they recommend and what I recommend and what I’m doing, is having a core set of content at launch that is super focused on the main topic of your membership site. If you think about whatever your target market or your target niche is, and you’ve done some surveying or you’ve done some research and you know what the top three issues are of people in that particular niche or topic area – then that’s really, it should form the core of your content. You want to maybe have one or two things related to each of those core challenges that your users have. So that when somebody opts in and buy into your membership site, that first experience of what they see, even if it is only a little bit of content is going to be, “This is stuff that really directly addresses my needs.” That’s really the feeling that you want your launch content to engender in people is, “Yeah, this is definitely the place that I want to be because I already see that there’s some things that are going to address some of my core issues here.” For me, as you know, my tag line is helping people design, automate and outsource the technology of their online business. My launch content will be at least one course in each of those topics. I’m also targeting people that are both new to online entrepreneurs as well as those that have existing businesses that they want to scale. There’ll also be some content in there that’s targeted to each of those groups because obviously, the challenges that – of those two segments are going to be quite different. You know, the person just starting out in online business, they may be struggling with WordPress and podcasting and some of the basics of getting their platform setup. Whereas somebody else that already has a business going, their struggles might be around. How do I do email automation or how do I scale my team virtually? Because I’m out of time as my business is growing. There’s a number of different things there that through the research and survey process that I’m doing where I’ll have good data backing up the key challenges of each of this different dimensions that I’m segmenting my audience by. That’s how I’m going to tune my launch content to make sure I have something that addresses each of those segments. Eventually, my strategy is the content library approach. I’ll eventually have dozens of courses and hundreds of resources but for launch, I only need that smaller set. That might wind up being three to five courses at launch. Another thing that Mike and Callie stressed is being careful not to over focus on courses. Those tend to be the highest cost and the highest amount of time to produce of all your different content types and they also take the most amount of time to complete for your audience. If you’re going to have a hundred courses and each of those courses takes a week or two to work through, again, that’s going to be overwhelming to people. The thing to remember is that courses aren’t the only way to have value inside of a membership site. There’s other things you can add in there like checklist, resource guides, shorter form tutorials, discounts from software partners and more. There’s a lot of things that you can build in to the value of your site and not all of those are going to require hundreds of hours on your part to produce. You know, one of the examples that Mike talks about a lot is you know, if you’re in any space that has software or has associated equipment or gear or products that are required. You can do some hustle and work with those vendors and see if you can get some special discounts for your members and say, basically, well maybe I’ll give up an affiliate commission in returns for giving me some kind of discount code that I can offer up to my members. You know, you’re making revenue off it by getting people into your membership site so you can give them that discount on that product and that’s something that maybe only takes you an email or two to get that discount from the vendor and then that becomes a piece of value that you can have inside of your membership site. Again, not all of it has to be these multi day courses that take weeks and weeks to plan and build, there’s a lot of different content types that you can add into your membership that add value but that may have a little bit of a better ROI on your time. The key obviously is finding the right mix of content types and quantities to deliver the value to support your pricing strategy. If you’re going to have a high-end price, like $100 to $200 a month for a membership site, you’re definitely going to need to have a lot of stuff in there a huge amount of value to justify that type of recurring cost to your members. Now, if you're going to start out and say, you know, with a $30 a month type of membership and then maybe with a plan to go to $50 a month in your first year – then you can start with less content and build it up over the year and raise your prices accordingly. Finally, once you decide what content to have on day one of your site launch, you should also have, at the ready, the content you plan to release over the next two to three months. There’s two reasons for this. First, during the initial weeks after launch, you want to be engaging with in supporting your members and given them a great experience that they remain in your membership and hopefully share it with their network of friends and colleagues. You don’t want to have to be worrying about creating new content during that period of time, that first month after launch, you really want to be focused on your members and supporting them. Second, as soon as you have any members, you need to be thinking about retention. The key to the membership model is retaining your members as long as you can. One way to retain those early members is by telling them about the content that you’ll be releasing in the second and third month. What that means is as they’re consuming your launch content – what you want to be making sure of is doing things like saying, “Hey, next month, we’re going to be releasing this next course” or “In the second month we think we’re going to be having some additional discounts coming in from some of our partners.” Or any other pieces of content that you might already have done that you can say, “Look, there is additional stuff coming in month two and month three.” What you’re doing there is letting them know, yeah, there’s more coming to this membership than just this launch content because again, that might be a relatively small number of resources. So, people might be on the fence of, “Well, should I continue paying the 30, 50, $100 a month, not knowing what might be coming next?” By putting that plan out there, and especially in cases where it’s the content you already have created then you’re going to be able to deliver on that promise that you’re making to those folks. If you create some grandiose content schedule and you start falling behind, and you promise that to your users, that’s where you can get yourself into some trouble there. Again, the guidance is to have two to three months’ worth of content created by launch. But in that first month of launch, only put a certain amount of that content into the site. The last part about deciding when to launch comes down to the time of year. Obviously, you want to avoid holiday periods in most cases unless your membership site has something to do with a particular holiday. Another thing that I found is that you probably want to avoid the time periods when any of the other big names in online business are in the middle of their launch periods. Now, this is obviously only a concern if you’re doing something related to online business. So in my case, you know, since it is about design, outsourcing technology and so forth, this is something I have to watch out for. If your niche is fitness or exercise or other things, you know, then this might not matter as much or you might need to tune it to your particular topic area. The idea is, try not to have your launch and your promotion stuff happening in the middle of some of the big name launches that are happening out there. In online business, you know, when somebody like Jeff Walker or Marie Forlio or some of the other really big names in online business tend to launch something, they just overwhelm people’s inboxes both with their direct messages and with the army of affiliates that they employ for your launches. During their couple of week launch periods, you just cannot get away from whatever it is that they’re launching. If you're just new to the space, like I am, your messages and your promotions are really going to get lost in sort of the deluge of things that are coming from those types of folks. The thing is a lot of those folks market on a predictable schedule. You can look back through your emails and say, well, Jeff always does his things these times of the year, Marie always does hers around these times of the year and you can look to work around those to the extent possible. Once you have that launch date set, the next step is to work on marketing and promoting your launch. For me, I’m finding this part, the marketing and promoting of the membership site a big challenge. There’s just so many different strategies and tactics for launches and promotions, yeah, the topic alone can be multiple episodes, books or course. The hard part is drawing a boundary and trying to cram in every possible strategy. It’s easy to sit there and think, “Well, you know, contests are good and ads are good and all these different things so I’m going to try and do all of them.” But if you’re trying to do all of them, you’re not going to really do any of that well. Here’s just a short list of some of the things you could be thinking about. There’s content marketing, there’s all the different forms of advertising, you can do contest, virtual summits, you can do a live video strategy or recorded video strategy, you could do email courses, webinars, courier discount and trials, the list goes on and on. There’s just many more strategies and tactics that you can use and each of those alone have entire courses on how to use those strategies. My main recommendation is to pick one of those and really go deep on perfecting it. Once you’ve done that, you can add a few additional strategies that magnify that core strategy. Just as an example, if you’re going to use a Jeff Walker style, three-part video series, then make sure you perfect that and really learn everything about that strategy and doing it well. Then once you have tested that, you can magnify it with Facebook ads or some of the other things that we’re talking about here. In my case, as you know, from previous episodes, my core promotion strategy is the virtual summit that I’m putting together. Now, I covered that in depth in episode 24 and you can find that at StrongStart.fm/024. I chose the virtual summit approach for three reasons. First, I needed a significant list building event at launch to build up more of a warm audience for my follow-on promotions of the membership site. I hope to gain an additional 2,000 to 5,000 email subscribers through the summit. That’s a big jump in the email subscribers that I’m hoping to get and that will basically bring me to about a 5,000-person email list at the conclusion of the summit. At that point, that’s a big enough list to start promoting some higher ticket products to the membership site. The second reason is that a summit provides a huge amount of content to include inside the membership site. I’ll have 30 hours of video content with experts in my topic areas, each of those is going to turn into hundreds of pieces of additional content through repurposing. Even though it’s one of the marketing strategies that has the highest amount of effort required. Virtual summit takes months to plan and execute and deliver. At the end of it though, you basically get a year’s worth of content that you can use inside both your free and paid content channels. And the third reason is the summit really helps you build relationships with other influencers in your topic area and gets their content in front of your audiences. For the most part most of the speakers at your summit are at least going to do a little bit of promotion of your summit to their audience. So don’t say things like, “Hey I participated in this virtual summit, why don’t you check it out?” And then as they come into it, they’re obviously getting exposure to you and your other content because you would be the host of that summit. So there in is basically a win-win scenario. In my case, I am building up some relationships with these influencers and I’m also going to be able to get some exposure in front of their audience. So it is basically a great way for somebody who is new to a target market, like I am in this part of online business. It’s a great way to build authority by association with those other influencers. So overall my marketing and promotion plan is the following: I am going to promote the virtual summit via social media, affiliate programs with the speakers and Facebook ads. I’m going to execute the virtual summit and build my email list and at the end of that summit week, I am going up early access to my membership site and I am basically going to do that via a closing webinar in the virtual summit. So the key here is the alignment of all of my free content, the content inside the virtual summit and then the membership site. So what I mean by that is this podcast episodes and my blog posts they are all related to my core topic: Design, automate and the technology of your online business and what the summit is about, is same thing. I’ll be interviewing experts in online business and how they do those things. How do they do their technology and their content, how do they do and leverage automation, what parts do they outsource and how do they do that and to whom? So the virtual summit is going to be all about my core topic areas and at the end of the summit what I’m going to be able to say is: “Hey, if you want to learn now to execute on these strategies and these things that all these experts have just told you, here’s my membership site. There is going to be courses, there’s going to be checklists.” There’s going to be all kinds of things in there that are again, directly related to that topic area. So I think that alignment of the free content. The virtual summit which is also free with a small paid component and then the membership site which is my main paid product, the alignment of all of those things is really the key to these strategies and why I chose this particular combination of them. So again, at the end of the summit, they’ll be that close in webinar where I announce the launch of the membership and I go through some demonstrations and show the value and the benefits of all the content that is in there. The other thing that is making this take a little while is that I am building in a bunch of automation and some other strategies to this. But basically after that first round of promotion, then summit, then membership launch webinar –I’m going to turn that entire flow into an evergreen funnel where either monthly or quarterly, I’ll be able to rerun the exact same process. I’ll turn on the ads again, I’ll rerun the summit to new parts of the audience and then I will do that membership webinar at the end of it to promote my membership site. So that is basically going to turn into an evergreen funnel that will be able to run basically automated. And whenever I want to, I can turn that webinar back into a live webinar and come in and do that and I may well do that and just say, “Okay, well everything else by that last webinar will be pre-recorded and automated and then maybe monthly or quarterly, I’ll come in and do that live webinar”. One of the people that I interviewed for the virtual summit is John Lee Dumas and he is a huge believer in the weekly or monthly live webinar type of funnel – where getting people into his paid membership programs and other products. That’s something that I will be able to try there. The nice thing is at that point with all that stuff created in the can, able to be automated and at that point, the whole funnel will just be an exercise in tuning. To see what works, to try different things, split test different things but by having that core funnel in place, I will be able to tweak and tune that overtime and try to get the best results out of it. And hopefully, as you are listening to this episode, you are putting two and two together there a little bit and then you are seeing what the other benefit of having that funnel be automated is. Which is going to provide me the time to actually focus on content and my members in the membership site. So if I don’t have to worry as much about promoting daily, weekly, monthly. Because I have these automated funnels going behind the scenes, what my hope is there is that it lets me focus on building in a new core piece of content whether it’s a course or a set of resources or something like that on a new topic. Hopefully every month into the membership site. So month after month I am just adding to that content library. Adding additional value in there and being able to provide a bunch of support to the members that are paying me. So that brings us to the final element of the launch process which is ensuring the smooth operation and support of your members in that first month after launch. So Mike and Callie over at the Member Site Academy stress this a lot in their program. The key to retention is supporting your members and helping them achieve their goals. Being available to them through whatever means you have land already such as forums or coaching calls and so forth, you obviously need to execute on what you committed to them in your sales and promotions materials. But especially in that first month or two, it makes sense to go beyond whatever you define in your sales offer. So what I mean by that is if you – let’s say as part of the membership fee, they are only members only access to you as via forum but let’s say that during that first month some of your early members say, “Yeah it would really help if I could jump on a live call for a few minutes, or have some other direct interaction with you.” Be sure to do that. Obviously during that initial period, you want to try and deliver as many results as possible for your members that you can generate some great case studies, help them out and have that back up for future launches. To somewhere also in that early members, you’re hopefully going to generate some super fans or what some people call “Lifers.” Those members that really resonate with you and your content and then you are going to support and be with you for years to come. You know usually in that first batch of users, there’s going to be a handful of those folks and you really want to cultivate that as soon as you can for all the reasons that we have already mentioned. The other thing you need to be prepared for is any technical challenges that might arise as people start actually using your site. No matter how much time you spend testing before you launch, a membership site has a lot of moving parts. We have talked about WordPress, we’ve talked about plugins, we’ve talked about forums, third party services. All these different things that need to work together to provide whatever user experience that you’ve designed. Inevitably in that first month or two, you are probably going to run into some issues. So as you might recall from some of my previous episodes about WordPress, I recommend having some form of paid WordPress support available to you. Minimally, during those first few months and then probably on an ongoing basis. Now there’s a number of companies out there that provide WordPress support for a monthly fee and I’ll list a couple of those over in the show notes at StrongStart.fm/027. So I like the idea of having them under contract, having already run a few tickets to them. So you know they have access to your site if they need to fix something and understanding their system for putting in requests and whether you can escalate request if they are urgent, these types of things. Because you know the worst case scenario is let’s say, you open up access to your site, you’ve got some paying members. They are doing all this promotion, they have people joining and then the key elements of the site is broken. You obviously don’t want to have to be messing around with fixing that yourself. You want to be able to have a support staff there ready to support you in doing that. These are most likely going to be things that are outside of your expertise to fix anyway. So again, check out some of those companies that I will list in the show notes and again, even if you just have them there for the first couple of months, that is going to be a good safety blanket or plan B in case you run into some issues that you can’t fix yourself. I also recommend training up your virtual assistant to be able to handle administrative issues. Like people that forget their passwords or need to change their billing information or have basic questions on how to navigate the site. You know, if you need to be the one providing that support that’s okay but again, that’s not really going to require any of your expertise to do. That’s something pretty simple, you could document up, have a virtual assistant do that. That way you can focus on more deeper support that you can offer to your members like if they have questions specific to your content, or whatever your topic area is. Then finally, there is also a number of what are called “Onsite Chat Options” that you can add to your membership site. So these are service providers like Drift or Intercom which basically enable that little chat bubble that you see in a lot of sites now, on the lower right of your site. Users can click on that and then they can send you a message in real time if you are online. Or it will direct them to email if you are offline. So what that means is that if you enable this on your site, that little chat bubble will be there and you can just have a generic message in there like, “Hey if you have any questions or issues that you need some support with, just click the chat bubble and then we’ll get back to you either in real time or as soon as we can.” That adds I think a significant feeling to your members of, “Hey, this is great! I can get support when I need it.” And it’s a good feeling to basically provide to your members so that is something else that you might want to look at for your site. Again, they key in that first month after launch is delivering a great experience to your members so that you retain them into month two and month three and beyond. So with that, it brings us to the conclusion of both our launch content and this three part series on planning, building and launching your membership site. I can tell you that being in the thick of it right now, this is a lot of work especially in my case since I am doing a virtual summit. As a key element of the promotion in addition to the membership, the summit alone is months of work alongside all the membership stuff and alongside a full-time job. Now with that said, it is possible. I am inexorably making my way towards launch in a couple of months and from start to finish, once I really committed to this plan, it will be a six month process working as many hours as humanly possible to bring this off and hopefully launch that. But I have high hopes that this is going to deliver the most amount of value to the most amount of people. And that is the reason why I am choosing this approach as opposed to some of the other ones which might monetize a little faster, or might provide more limited value and all of these kinds of things. But I am really going for providing the maximum amount of value that I can to the memberships that I hope to earn their trust and their purchase of my products. So with that, we’ll bring this episode to a conclusion. For links to all the resources mentioned in this episode, head over to the show notes at StrongStart.fm/027 and I want to thank you for joining me today. If you’ve been enjoying the content here on StrongStart.fm, it would help us out greatly if you could give us a quick positive review over on iTunes. My goal is to help as many people as possible reach their goals so we need to spread the word. I’d also like to encourage you to join my free membership academy. The beginnings of the membership site that we have been talking about in this series of episodes. In addition to easy access to every download and free resource that I have created in the last two years, you also get additional exclusive member content and access to my private Facebook group. You will also gain access to the free period of the virtual summit that I have discussed in this episode as well. To join us, head over to StrongStart.fm/joinfree. Thanks and we’ll see you in the next episode of StrongStart.fm. The post How to Launch a Membership Site | StrongStart.fm – 027 appeared first on StrongStart.fm.
36 minutes | Aug 14, 2017
How to Build a Membership Site | StrongStart.fm – 026
In this episode we're going to continue a 3-part series on membership sites. I'm in the middle of building a membership site for launch in a few months and I wanted to give you a behind the scenes look at what it takes to plan, build, and launch a membership site. In the previous episode we talked about how to plan a membership site. In this episode we'll talk about building a membership site. Because this can be a little complicated to visualize, here is a diagram showing the anatomy of my membership site: In this episode you'll learn: How your content types drive your technical requirements What your website foundation needs to support The features or plugins you will need How to put the pieces together Action plan: Start by making sure your foundation is solid using my WordPress Blog Blueprint and Planner (download below) If you are thinking about building your own membership site, start thinking about the content types you might offer and how they would drive your technical requirements Join my free membership site: StrongStart Academy Foundation Links and resources mentioned in this episode: StrongStart Academy Foundation Membership Guys Membersite Academy LearnDash Member Mouse Facet WP Advanced Custom Fields Transcript Download Download a PDF of the Transcript Transcript Hey everybody, Dave Ziembicki here. Welcome to StrongStart.fm. My mission is to help you design, automate and outsource the technology of your online business. In this episode we’re going to continue a three part series on membership sites. I’m in the middle of building a membership site for launching a few months and I wanted to give you a behind the scenes view of what I’m doing to plan and build my membership site. In the previous episode we talked about how to plan a membership site, and then in this episode we’re going to talk about building a membership site. All of the different technical components you need to think about. There’s a couple of key topics that we’ll dive into. The first is how your content drives your technical requirements. What your website foundation needs to be able to support to run a membership site, the features or plug-ins that you’re going to need, and how to put all the pieces together. Because this can be a little bit complicated to visualize, I’m going to include a diagram showing the anatomy of a great membership site over in the show notes at StrongStart.fm/026. As we discussed in the planning episode, memberships can span a wide range of content types and offerings. Some are purely coaching with little or no content, like courses, others are built around a single piece of content, like a flagship course or program. Some memberships might be more community or forum-based and others might be a combination of all of these things. The membership content you're planning to have really drives the technical choices and the build of your site. We mentioned during the planning episode that there are a few general paths that you can take for the build. First there are some all in one sort of hosted platforms out there that attempt to meet all of your needs such as having sales funnels and membership sections, the ability to host courses and so on. Then there’s more of a DIY approach where you build your site on WordPress and you choose the different plug-ins and services for the membership and the other features that you want to be able to support. The trade-off there is pretty much just like anything else in technology. The hosted solutions save you a lot of time on set up. Obviously, most of the architecture and the configuration and all that kind of stuff, most of the choices are already made by whatever that provider is and what their features and functions they decided to offer, so it'll will save you a lot of time potentially getting up and running, but at the same time, unless that hosting company meets all of your requirements, you run the risk of either missing some critical features that you're going to need or basically being locked in to an ecosystem and making it more difficult if you determine, “Whoops! Maybe this is the wrong provider and I need to change to something else. We covered that in some depth in the planning episodes. We’re not to rehash that here. Generally, my recommendation is that if your membership site is going to be the core of your business such as it’s going to be for me, it’s going to be my primary product and, for the most part, my only product, is I’m going to be putting pretty much everything into that. If you're planning a membership site that supports multiple content types, like courses, and forums and so on, then I think going the WordPress route makes the most sense. It’s going to give you the most amount of flexibility. It's going to give you the ability to sort of change things as you go. Once your site grows maybe you need to get into slightly more complicated scenarios. It’s just going to give you a lot more of that flexibility. With that comes a lot more technical requirements that either you’re going to have to do yourself or find a developer or a company that you can outsource these tasks to, and we’ll talk about that a bit as we go through the episode. The key point here is that the content types that you chose during the planning phase, like; do I want to do courses? Do I want to do a forum, and so forth, they really drives the typical requirements for your membership site. In my case there's five content types that I’m going to offer in my site and that are driving my technical requirements. The first is I am going to have many intermediate and advanced level online courses that I'm creating. As you know, if you’ve listened to other episodes of this podcast I always include some kind of checklist or worksheet or something like that along with all my blog post and all my podcast episodes. My membership site is going to have a library of checklists and worksheets. Some of them will be available on the free side and a lot of them that are more detailed and advanced are going to be part of the paid membership. I also do automation guides and samples, so that's just a different type of document and download. I’m going to have a robust membership forum, and then if you also listen to episode 24 you know that I'm also creating a virtual summit, which is where I want to have a collection of 20 or 30 speakers doing sessions and recording video interviews with me and that's going to be a core bundle of content that's going to be available as part of the membership site as well. Those five things sound relatively simple at first, but, yeah, expect to eventually have dozens of courses, hundreds of checklists, hundreds of these automation recipes and more. It turns into a really large amount of content. Once you have a large amount of content like that, it brings additional requirements like; are people going to find these things and filter them? How am I going to create roadmaps for members based on their needs in order to be able to navigate through all of that different content? It gets a little bit complicated when you think about, “Okay, what is your number two going to look like in this membership site when there's a ton of content in there like that?” That brings a few challenges and technical requirements of its own. Let’s take these five content types plus our underlying WordPress foundation and then basically break down how to build the membership site. Having decided on WordPress as the foundation of the membership site, before you do anything else you want to make sure your site is on solid footing. In episode 6, 7, 8 of this podcast we talked in depth about building a foundational WordPress site for your business and online platform. Also, in the show notes for this episode, I'll include a link to my definitive guide to WordPress for online entrepreneurs as well as my WordPress blog blueprint and planner. These resources detail how to put in place a solid WordPress foundation, things like choosing your hosting types, choosing the base installation of WordPress. Some of the initial plug-ins related to security and backup and things like that. If you don't have all of those basics in place, you don't want to really start down the path of this membership site yet because it basically takes a dependency on having that solid WordPress foundation. When you start thinking about going beyond that foundation and turning your WordPress site into a membership site, there's a couple of other additional factors that come into play. First, you want to consider your hosting. If you’re on a basic shared hosting plan with something like Bluehost, you’re going to want to consider strongly moving to higher-end hosting. If your site has a lot of traffic already, when you add the membership content and the additional plug-ins that we’re talking about here, it’s going to increase the load on your site and you’re going to want some higher performance hosting. That can mean moving to what's called a virtual private server where you get a little bit more dedicated capacity and you’re not on a shared server along with other sites or it could be moving to even higher-end solutions like a managed hosting type of scenario or even dedicated servers. It really depends on what you think your traffic and load is going to be on your server once your membership site launches. Second, before doing anything else to your site, you also want to make sure you take a backup of the entire site and server and then remember to try restoring that backup to a staging server and making sure that you are actually getting a solid backup that you can recover from. You want to have that in place because one of the things as we all know when we deal with WordPress and lots of different plug-ins and things like that is every once in a while there's a conflict or something like that that has the potential to break your site. When we’re talking about building a membership site there’s going to be a handful plug-ins that we’re going to talk about in this episode that you’re going to be installing lots of different configurations going on. You want to make sure at each step of the way you’re taking a solid backup of your site in case you run into some issues and you need to recover to a previous state. The third thing you want to do is capture what I call a performance baseline of your site using something like Pingdom or GTMetrix before you move the site to new hosting and after you move the site to new hosting and then each time you add a major component to your site. What those sites let you do is basically type in your homepage or any other page on your site that you want to test the performance of. Hit enter and then what they’re going to do is go try and load that page. As they load the page, they do a capture of every single thing that's going on behind the scenes. How many images are being downloaded? What do all the file types look like, and a whole bunch of different tasks. You’ve probably seen this before. We’ve talked about it in some of the previous podcast episodes. At the end of it you’ll get a report that says, “This page took 3.2 seconds to load, and then here's the entire list of everything that was loaded as that page was pulled up and how long each part took to load. In cases where, let’s say, you have a performance problem and for some reason your page is taking seven seconds to load, you can look at that list of things in order and see where all the big gaps were. It’s like, “Whoa! This image took four seconds to download. Why is that?” Well, it accidentally was uploaded as a 10 MB image or something like that. The idea here is you capture these baselines at each step of the way and that way, if suddenly, or even over time you realize, “Wow! My site got slow. As I’ve been doing all these, last week the homepage loaded in 2.3 seconds and now it’s up to four. What’s going on there?” You’re going to have the data you need to sort of step back in time and see what the issue was. It’s like, “Oh! It was when I turned on that plug-in. That's the problem. Let me go dive in to that.” My approach at all my content is around helping you quickly learn how to do all these type of stuff yourself, then once you understand the topics, helping you decide when and how to outsource them. In this particular case I do think it makes sense to go through this process yourself and go through that learning process mainly because this is the core of your business. If you're committing to a membership site, you’re going to need to know how some of these different components work and how they work together and some of the features and benefits. Once the basic installation type of stuff is done and the initial set up that you really need to control is in place, then indefinitely after that you can outsource the maintenance and any kind of changes that you might need to make to your site so that you don't have to spend time worrying about those or planning just the ongoing maintenance of the site. Once your WordPress foundation is solid, next up you need to choose the plug-ins that you’re going to use for the major components and content types of your site. As we all know, WordPress is a powerhouse and over 30% of the web runs on WordPress. The reason is the base platform plus the huge ecosystem of plug-ins that let you make WordPress into almost anything that you can think of. Again, as we mentioned, the content types and the other requirements that you’ve captured in the planning phase are really going to determine the different types of plug-ins that you need in order to extend WordPress to do what you want it to do in terms of your membership. The key to success is not getting too bogged down in this phase. You can spend months researching, reviewing and testing plug-ins. The thing to remember is it's the content and community that is going to make or break your membership, not at all the technical bells and whistles. As I mentioned in the planning phase for the planning and building of your membership site, I highly recommend checking out the Member Site Academy, and that's over it membersiteacademy.com. Like Morrison and Kelly Willows over there at Member Site Academy, are experts in planning and building membership sites and that paid academy has a of courses and content in their all about this phase of how to plan membership sites and especially how to build. For most of the plug-ins and technical stuff that we’ll talk about in the rest of this episode, they have courses and instructions and things like that for help getting you up and running faster. I’ve been working with them over the last couple of months directly as part of the academy and one of their coaching programs and it’s really saved me a ton of time on the topics that we’re talking about here. Rather than the going and reviewing, let's say, 20 different plug-ins, I’m already zoomed in to sort of the top two or three in each of those areas and then deciding among them which ones I’m going to utilize for my site. The first type of plug that we’re going to talk about is, since we’re building a membership site, is going to be on membership plug-in. What membership plug-ins do is they let you lock down and control access to part of your site so that only your members have access. The remainder of your site like your blog or podcast can remain open to everyone as they would normally be, but if you’re going to have courses or other types of content that you want only to provide access to to your paid members, you’re going to need something that’s going to let you protect those pages and that's not something that WordPress allows very easily by default. All of the major membership plug-ins that are out there let you create different tiers or levels of access. You could have a free tier where people need to sign up and be members, but they don't have to pay for anything. In my case I do have a free tier of my membership site set up where I take all my free downloads and I put them into a resource library so that you don't have to keep re-opting in every time you might want one of my checklist or guides or something like that. Once you've opted in and you’ve joined my membership site or on the free tier, you have access to that library page and any of the free resources that I put inside of that library. Later this year, once I launched the paid side of my membership site, there’s going to be other content, like the more detailed guides, the step-by-step, the online courses and stuff like that that are all going to be protected content that only the paid members will be able to have access to. Membership plug-ins usually have a lot of different bells and whistles too. They’re going to have things like credit card integration, the ability to have registration and login pages, things like that to basically give you an end-to-end solution for setting up your membership. Now, depending on your exact flow and your sales funnels and all these types of things, you may be able to do all of that e-commerce and management of paid members right inside your membership plug-in or you may need to get into some more advanced scenarios where you have a dedicated shopping cart, like SamCart or ThriveCart and some other technical bells and whistles to make the end-to-end process, whatever it is that you want. For the sake of this episode we’ll keep it relatively simple and we’ll assume that when we’re choosing the membership plug-in we’re going to basically be using the built-in e-commerce functionality of that plug-in to manage our paid members. These plug-ins can be pretty complicated to set up. Again, that's one reason why I'm a fan of joining a program or getting some coaching on that because, like I said, you could really bog down trying to figure all these stuff out yourself. It's worth getting into either the Member Site Academy or something similar or the period of time where you’re doing this planning and build process at a minimum. The main factors on deciding which plug-in to choose really come down to the future requirements that you have. Just as an example, somebody's membership plug-ins really only let you define access tiers and then everything on your site has to be fit into one of those access tiers. Why would that be good? Why would that be bad? It’d be good because it keeps things simple. You could say, “I just have a free tier and a paid tier and everything is going to fall into one of those two categories,” and that's relatively simple to set up and keep track of. The flip side though is let's say you create 10 or 15 online courses and you include those in your paid membership, but you decide you want to offer each of those individual courses for sale at its own price. Maybe your membership is going to be $500 a year and you have 15 courses and you say, “Well, I want to offer those course a la carte at $50 a piece.” Not all the membership plug-ins are going to let you establish each individual course as its own product that you can purchase. That’s something that some of the plug-ins support and the other one don’t and that's just one example of something that might be unique to what you're trying to do that’s going to help you determine which of these plug-ins to actually utilize. Other factors that are going to help you choose between them is the other parts of your platform that the membership plug-in needs to integrate with. A prime example of that is your email service provider. Let's say you're using ConvertKit and you want to make sure that all of the plug-ins and choices that you're selecting for your membership site have need of integration with ConvertKit. That's going to also help you narrow up the list as well of which ones to use. As I mentioned, one of the key ways to sort of save some time here is to just start with the top three solutions in each of these different categories and try and choose from one of the top three. It’s only if you have some edge cases or some really unique scenarios that you may have to branch out to the wider ecosystem of the different plug-ins. Some of the top three for this particular category are MemberPress, MemberMouse, Paid Memberships Pro, and there’s a bunch of other ones, but those I think are the three of the most popular ones. There are many more though. In the space in particular there's — If you just do a Google search for WordPress membership plug-in, you’re to get back 30, 40, 50 different results of different plug-ins that are out there, but I would try those top couple. They’re popular for a reason. They have the features. They have the support that most people are looking for. In my particular case I chose MemberMouse. That one is a little bit newer than some of the other ones, but it's very robust. It has all the base membership features that I need, but it also had some interesting features around protecting, not just entire pages of content, but portions of content within a page on your site. As an example, let's say a podcast show notes episode page, there's cases where I want to show an opt-in for the free resource that I'm giving away. I want that to show up in certain cases, but if you're already a member then I don't want you to have to click an opt-in box and type in all your information again. I want you to be able to go right over at the resource library because you already get free access to all of that stuff if you’ve joined my free membership tier. With MemberMouse, they give you some short codes that you can put around different parts of the content on that page and it'll help you dynamically control what is going to be shown to each visitor depending on whether they’re a member or not and what level of membership access they have. That was a pretty interesting scenario that I wanted to do that not all of the different plug-ins supported. At the end of the day, while most of them were equal on all the other features, MemberMouse had that one, so that was one of the reasons why I chose to go with it. Once your membership plug-in is selected, then the next thing you want to think about is your online course or learning management plug-in. Learning management systems, or LMS's, are basically plug-ins that let you create courses which are effectively a structured set of content, like course modules and then lessons within those modules. The difference between using this type of plug-in and just creating posts or pages on a WordPress site is these items, like courses, modules and lessons, are linked together. The plug-in basically creates a hierarchical structure that most people want to have inside of their courses to make it easier for people to navigate the content and to be able to show progression through a course. A lot of these plug-ins have other features, like quizzes, assignments, certificates and so on and some of them also enable content protection and functionality that’s similar to the membership plug-ins. There can potentially be some overlap in functionality. If your membership content is going to be primarily or exclusively online courses, then you might actually be able to skip having a membership plug-in and just use one of the more advanced LMS plug-ins to control your access. Again, yeah, I keep saying it, but it comes back to the content types that you’ve decided on for your membership site are what’s going to determine these technical requirements. For me, courses are a key element of my membership site, but they're not the only element. I am going to use both a membership plug-in, MemberMouse, like we just talked about as well as a learning management plug-in. This category is the same as memberships in terms of — There’s dozens of good LMS plug-ins out there. Choosing is, again, a function of the specific features that you need. For me I wanted a very solid core structure capability. I did want the ability to track and report on progression through the courses. I needed integration with drip, which is the email service provider in CRM that I utilize. Also, I wanted there to be really good navigation and course outline widgets and things like that just to make building the pages of the courses easier and to give a good experience to my users. I’ve taken tons of online courses, so I have a pretty specific view of what I want the pages to look like and where the navigation elements are and things like that. Initially, I chose one plug-in called the WP Courseware which is one of the more popular ones for learning management systems. I went through and build a course, but as I went through that process I realized I didn't really like the user interface elements, such as the course topic list, the lesson list, the buttons to navigate from one to another. Customizing them would have required a fair amount of design work that I didn't really want to do. During the course of that time, some of the other options out there went through some major upgrades, and in my opinion started to sort of pull ahead in functionality. I decided to change and now I’m in the middle of implementing LearnDash, which is one of the leading LMS plug-ins for WordPress. I’m still going to have to do some custom design template work mainly to integrate with Beaver Builder and some of the other stuff that I’m using on my site, but those are generally not things that you would have to do on your particular sites that you might be creating minus for a couple of things that are just very specific to the direction that I'm taking my membership site. Some of the other top choices are — I mentioned LearnDash. There’s also LifterLMS. LearnPress, WP Courseware is obviously still good choice for most people, and then there’s just dozens and dozens after that, but those are some of the top ones that integrate well with some of the different plug-ins that we’re talking about in this episode. Once you have your course plug-in shows, and the next requirement might be a little bit more specific to my needs, but for me it's going to be this file and resource library. Building a content library can be fairly complicated as there’s a lot of questions on how do you host the files, how do you control access and so on. You want to do that in a way that's not going to really bog down your membership site. You don't generally want to host the download files on your WordPress server. You want to put them somewhere else, like Amazon S3 storage or Dropbox or something like that. In my case, the content library is a key part of my membership site. As I mentioned, I’m going to have hundreds of different checklists and automation downloads, where each of those I’m building a dedicated page that has a description of the item and the download link and things like that. In the end I’m going to have a collection of hundreds of pages where each is a checklist or an automation recipe, a PDF or some other type of resource. Ass mentioned, I wanted to also have the ability for my members to search and filter those resources by a number of different dimensions, like categories and topics and just different items that would help you find the exact thing you're looking for. Basically, what I'm doing is I'm storing all the files on Amazon S3 storage and then I use a plug-in called the S3 Media Maestro plug-in to help me basically generate the access and download links that I can embed in these pages with short codes. This just makes it a lot easier than sort of dealing with having to make custom URLs to access the stuff on S3 storage. The reason for putting it there is a gets it off your site and it puts some security requirements around it where you can’t just do a direct download link to that site. You have to provide an access key and a bunch of other technical stuff. Instead of having to do that every time for every single time I want a link to a download, I just use the Media Maestro plug-in and that lets me basically just have a short code where you do type the URL and the plug-in takes care of have that Amazon format being able to do the download. Now, for the basic library page that I have today on the free tier of my membership, I really just use a gallery view widget that comes with my Beaver Builder page builder plug-in and I generate a page that shows all of the pages that I've defined in the category of downloads, and it has a little bit of filtering. You can just use WordPress categories and tags to help people filter that view a little bit. I really want a more advanced functionality. Right now I'm moving towards having two additional plug-ins. One is called Advanced Custom Fields and the other is called the WP Facet. Advanced Custom Fields basically let you add additional fields to your WordPress posts. Let's say I’m creating a download, a new resource for somebody, I want have a field that maybe has a couple of different categories to it, like is this a checklist, or is this an automation recipe. When I put Advanced Custom Fields on there I can define that as a field, then every one of my posts will have that as an option for me to populate. The reason you want to put it as maybe an additional field is that, later on, when we talk about WP Facet, that integrates with Advanced Custom Fields and basically lets you have a view where, let’s say, in the middle is a gallery view of all these resources, then on the left hand side there’ll be a bunch of different filters. This is a lot like if you go to like a used car site or something like that or even on Amazon when you're looking for products that have some kind of configurability to it, I’m looking for products that are in a price range of $100 to $200. I’m looking for the size dimensions of 3 feet by 4 feet. You have those different options on the left-hand side. As you populate those it filters down the search results. That’s really what we’re talking about here in this content library. The combination of those two plug-ins give you the ability to have all those different filtering dimensions that you can take advantage of. Obviously, that is a relatively complicated set of stuff to set up. You may not require that right away if you’re not going to launch with lots of different content and downloads in your site. If are, that’s potentially something to take a look at. The last major item to consider is the user forum. One of the benefits of a membership model is the ability to provide support for your audience over a longer period of time. Now, forms are great for this and they also let your community help each other, which takes some of the burden off of you and just basically lets you build up back that collaboration and build an online community around whatever the topic area that you’ve chosen. Now, the first forum sound pretty simple, but when you dig in to it there are a lot of options just like everything else that we’ve talked about so far. The big choice really comes down to; do you use Facebook groups, or anything else that you might choose? With 2 billion people and counting, Facebook obviously should be considered. Facebook groups meet some of the needs of a membership site by providing controlled access and a place for members to collaborate. The ability to hold group events, and then recently the ability to do live streams just to people that are part of your private Facebook group. Initially, that sounds great. So why would we consider anything else? There are a number of potential reasons. First, any time and for any reason Facebook could decide to change groups to make them be something completely different. They could suddenly say, “We’re not doing them at all anymore,” or you we’re only going to allow them for people that have a thousand members or more. There’re also been suggestions that Facebook is going allow advertisers to run ads inside of groups whether you want them to or not. You may have this sort of ads for any number of different weird things popping up inside of a Facebook group that you manage. It’s just like anything else with Facebook. The downside is you don't have any control over the platform. They could change direction, decide to emphasize or deemphasize things and that could have a significant impact on your community. Some of the reasons that I'm a member of tons of Facebook groups, I do like them, but search and threaded conversations are really all that great in Facebook groups either. The thing is users generally prefer Facebook groups because they're already in Facebook all the time and they just need to click over to groups. They don't need to go to a different site and log in and remember username and password and so on. There are a lot of trade-offs here. It's not a clear-cut decision. What I've seen and heard from other membership site owners is also that the quality of conversation is relatively low in Facebook groups. More people participate, but half the comments are just things like, “Hey, nice post,” or two word reactions and just not really an in-depth dialogue. Then what are some of the other choices? On the flipside you can do a forum that's either built into your WordPress site or you can use dedicated forum services or software that would run alongside of your site. These generally bring a lot more functionality, threaded conversations, permission to specific topics and categories within the forum, the ability to upload and share files and a bunch of other features that can make for a better user experience. Now, the downside to your own custom forum is that your members have to login to your site to access them. Many don't you have a good mobile interface, so you probably get — Actually, I know from talking to some other membership sites, you do get a pretty big drop off in participation rate if you move away from something like Facebook groups and into your own private communities, but the quality of conversation tends to be higher. What many are doing right now is basically a hybrid approach, where you have a free Facebook group for anyone that opts into your email list or any of your free resources, and then a private forum on your WordPress site for the paying members. Basically, that's what I’m going to do for my site. I have a free Facebook group now and then I’m also in the middle of implementing a robust forum capability. As for the forum choice, there's a lot of different plug-ins out there that I’ll directly integrate with WordPress, things like bbPress and BuddyPress. There’s also forum services that you can subscribe to, such as Discourse. Finally, there is dedicated forum software such as Invision Power, IP Board. In the end my choice is going to be IP Board because of all the feature set that it has. The fact that it can be installed side-by-side on my WordPress server and then with some configuration it actually allows single sign on. Once somebody is a member of my site, they’ll be able to move back and forth between my site and the forum without having to log in again or remember a different username or password or anything like that. The choice was fairly easy for me because some of my favorite membership sites, like the Member Site Academy, like Youpreneur Academy and others, use and recommend IP Board. I’ve had a lot of time inside of the software as a user. Yes, I can directly compare the experience there versus in a Facebook group or some of the other platforms out there. I definitely like it, but it is a fairly heavyweight forum. It has a ton of the bells and whistles that you may not initially need, so you may want to look at some of the easier and more simplified plug-ins, like bbPress and BuddyPress that integrate directly with WordPress as the first step, and then only later once you're making a big commitment to forums, potentially take a look at something that's more complex, like IP Board. If you do go the route of IP Board or something similar, one of the hiccups that I ran into was with my WordPress hosting. The way IP Board work works is it's a separate application. It a PHP application that you have to load on to your server, it has to have a separate database as well for all the content and not all hosting providers give you that type of access to your server to be able to install anything that you want. In my case, yeah, I host over at Liquid Web. I’m a big fan of them, but the particular category of hosting that I was on really didn’t allow me to add an additional application of my own. What I'm having to do actually as we record this is I'm moving my site over to a different hosting skew that they have that does allow me to do that. It’s just something to think about. It's specific IP Board because that’s a separate application. Again, if you're going that route, take a deeper look at your hosting and ask them and make sure that you’re going to be able to install that side-by-side or whether you need to move to a different offering. With the forum choices made now, we have our membership, our LMS, our library and our forum plug-ins all decided on, now it’s time to put these pieces together. That's the phase where some of these can get challenging. 90% of the tests are pretty simple and all the pieces have instructions and all the ones that I've chosen as I mentioned have courses associated with them in the Member Site Academy that I can refer to. The last 10% of each is where you can get bogged down a bit. Basically, the build process entails installing all these plug-ins that we’ve talked about here and doing some initial configuration. For your membership plug-in this is going to include setting things up like the membership levels, the protected pages, the products and payment integration and your registration and login pages. You’ll also likely want some kind of member dashboard page that will have links to everything that they have access to for whatever membership tier that they bought into, and that can take a little while to set up. Then you need to thoroughly test all of these stuff especially those different access levels. You’re going to need to have different users inside a WordPress that you create, representing the different membership levels, and you want to login as those users and make sure that they can only see the content that you want them to see at each particular level. For your LMS plug-in, you’re going to need to set up at least one online course and go through that whole process. However, you may want to launch your site with more, and we'll talk about that in the next episode. Figuring out how much content you need to have for launch. For courses, getting one set up entails setting up the course and module and lesson structure. Customizing the design and look and feel of each of those types of pages and then actually putting in the content, embedding the videos and the texts and the downloads, like transcripts and things like that or whatever else you want to have be part of each of your online courses. That's the step I’m on as I record this. I’m going through that for the first time with my new choice, LearnDash, and getting all those type of things configured. As I mentioned, I have a few requirements that are very particular to me in the direction I'm going, so I’ve hired a developer for a couple of days to implement some of that stuff in LearnDah that I don't have the time to do myself, because I'm trying to keep on this aggressive schedule I have of launching my summit and membership site here in a couple months. For most of you, that’s not going to be necessary, but if you do have some advance requirements, again, you may need to think about hiring some help. The resource library plug-ins that I mentioned, Advanced Custom Fields and WP Facet, I’ve got those installed and I'll be configuring those this week. Right now, I have about 40 different PDF downloads and checklists and it’s likely going to be 100 or more by the time I launch. Like I said, I want to make sure that I have a pretty robust library capability there with all the filtering that we mentioned. I’ll be working on that this weekend and we'll talk about that in a future episode. Finally, for the forum, as I mentioned, I will be moving my site to a different location. That's happening sort of as I record this, and as soon as that’s done I'll be going through the installation process and configuration of IP Board to get the initial forum set up. Once those items are done, pretty much the whole technical platform and stack for my membership site will be in place and at that time it's just going to be full on content mode of getting everything in there, getting it all configured and tested and getting that ready for launch in a couple of months. That's basically the topic that we’re going to cover in the next episode, which is launching a membership site. We’ll talk about what types of content you need to have, do you have to have tons of content or can you launch with less. Do you allow like a beta period for some members or a trial period? We’ll cover all of those different options in week's episode on how to launch a membership site. For links to all the resources that I mentioned in this episode, head over to the show notes over at StrongStart.fm/026. Again, because a lot of this is a little bit may be complicated to visualize, I’ll have a free download over there which is a diagram of the anatomy of a membership site. I’ll also have links to all these plug-ins and services that we’ve mentioned in this episode. With that, I want to thank you for joining me today. If you've been enjoying the content here of StrongStart.fm it would greatly help us out if you could give us a quick positive review over on iTunes. My goal is to help as many people as possible reach their goals, so we need to spread the word. I’d also like to encourage you to join my free membership academy, the beginnings of the membership site that we’ve talked about in this episode. In addition to easy access to every downloaded free resource that I've created over the last two years, you also get additional exclusive member content and access to my private Facebook group. You’ll also gain access to the free period of the virtual summit that we’ve discussed over in episode 24. To join us, head over to StrongStart.fm/joinfree. Thanks, and we’ll see you on the next episode of StrongStart.fm. [FINAL MESSAGE] [0:36:46.0] ANNOUNCER: Thank you for listening to StrongStart.fm. Be sure to subscribe to receive future episodes. Then head over to StrongStart.fm/podcast for the action plan and links to all the resources mentions in this episode. Join us again next time on StronStart.fm. [END] The post How to Build a Membership Site | StrongStart.fm – 026 appeared first on StrongStart.fm.
30 minutes | Aug 5, 2017
How to Plan a Membership Site | StrongStart.fm – 025
In this episode we're going to talk about membership sites. I'm in the middle of building a membership site for launch in a few months and I wanted to give you a behind the scenes look at what it takes to plan and build a membership site. Over the next three episodes we're going to talk about three key topics: Planning a membership site Building a membership site Launching a membership site In this episode, we'll cover all of the things you need to think about to decide if a membership site might make sense for you to build and all of the planning elements you need to think about. In this episode you'll learn: Why to choose a membership model in the first place What the topic of your membership site will be What content types will your membership include The technical requirements your choices result in Options for implementing your membership site Building your site Launching your site Planning your membership site is critical. Membership sites are one of the more complicated business and types of sites you can build because they often have a lot of moving parts to them. Action plan: Think about whether a membership site is something you want to consider adding to your online business. Make sure your blog and WordPress site is properly set up and configured (even if you don't plan to have a membership site) Join my free membership site (https://strongstart.fm/joinfree) Links and resources mentioned in this episode: https://strongstart.fm/joinfree https://strongstart.fm/getMemberSiteAcademy https://www.themembershipguys.com/ Definitive Guide to WordPress for Online Entrepreneurs WordPress for Online Entrepreneurs: Planning, Hosting, Installing | StrongStart.fm – 006 WordPress for Online Entrepreneurs: Mandatory Plugins and Configuration | StrongStart.fm – 007 WordPress for Online Entrepreneurs: Content, Testing, and Launch | StrongStart.fm – 008 Transcript Download Download a PDF of the Transcript Transcript Hey everybody, Dave Ziembicki here. Welcome to StrongStart.fm. My mission is to help you design, automate and outsource the technology of your online business. In this episode, we’re going to talk about membership sites. I’m in the middle of building a membership site for launching in a few months and I wanted to give you a behind the scenes look at what it takes to plan and build a membership site. Over the next three episodes, we’re going to talk about three key topics related to membership sites. Planning your site, building your site and launching a site. Before we dive in, I want to highlight a fantastic resource on this topic that I’ve been using and that’s the Membership Guys. Mike Morison and Callie Willows run the membershipguys.com and membersiteacademy.com. They’re experts on membership sites and I’ve been working with them as part of their academy and accelerator mastermind program. If you want to see a great example of a membership site and an in-depth guidance and all the topics that we’ll be covering in this episode. Head over to the show notes at StrongStart.fm/025, there are links to some of their resources and some of the things that I’ve been using to help plan and build my site. Now, let’s dive into planning a membership site. Now, there are a couple of key elements to planning a site. The first is why to choose a membership model in the first place, second is what the topic of your membership site will be. Third is what content types your membership site will include. Fourth is the technical requirements your choices result in. Fifth is options for implementing your membership site, the tools and technology and different approaches you could use there. Then we have building your site and launching your site. So we’re going to cover all those topics in this episode and then in the two follow up episodes, we’ll go into even more depth on building the site and launching it. Planning phase for a membership site is critical. Membership sites are really one of the more complicated businesses and types of sites that you can build because they pretty often have a lot of moving parts to them. Before you run sort of head long into thinking that you’re going to do a membership site, one of the things you really have to consider is why choose a membership model in the first place? Now there’s two aspects that draw entrepreneurs into building membership sites. Recurring revenue and then helping their audience with a deeper and more on going type of format. Now there’s two aspects that usually draw entrepreneurs into thinking about membership sites. The first is the dream of recurring revenue and then the second is the ability to help their audience in a deeper and more ongoing type of format. What you want to beware of is starting down the path of a membership site if you’re just focused on recurring revenue. This lure pulls in a lot of people that are either unaware of or not interested in but again all the ongoing effort that’s going to be required month after month, year after year, to build and maintain a thriving membership site. The reason it’s a lure though is when you consider the differences between primarily an online course type of business model or a membership site business model. With an online course, you put a lot of effort into building a great course and then you launch it several times a year. You can get pretty big revenue during the launches but then in between them, there’s not much revenue at all. If you come up with a great ever green course topic, you may be able to monetize that for several years and build a pretty good business. All you have to do between launches is keep that course up to date and continue some background levels of you know, marketing and engagement. The downside of the course model though is that the revenue is lumpy. There’s periods of very high revenue then there’s periods of low or no revenue and there’s always the chance that someone builds a better course than you on your particular topic and then you see a really sudden drop off in your business. With the membership site, you’re building a set of resources in the community around those resources and your chosen topic. The business model is typically more of a recurring monthly payment model from your members and then in some cases, there’s also annual plans as well. Now, assuming at least a modestly successful site, you see more consistent revenue through the year and you’re focus at that point, is on growing and maintaining your members. Now, in the membership model as I said, the effort level required is also a lot higher and needs to be more consistent. You need to be cultivating your site, adding new content, helping your existing members, trying to gain new members and being active in your forums or any groups that are associated with your membership. By no means is a membership site, any form of hands off type of model. This is not “passive income”, there is basically a lot of effort required in order to gain some of the benefits that we talked about, you know, deeper help to your audience and then the recurring and more consistent revenue. Now, because of that higher level of effort, the most important part of planning a membership site is carefully choosing your topic or niche. Now, all the usual things you might think of like market research and surveying your audience, determining their challenges and burning desires, all that stuff is very important and you should definitely do that. But the most important thing is finding a topic that has a market but that you're also extremely passionate about. Meaning the thought of spending the next five years blogging, podcasting, teaching and talking about that topic energizes and excites you as supposed to generating feelings of dread. If you’re not excited and really passionate about the topic that you choose for your membership site, it’s likely to fail and in the intermediate or long term because you just won’t be able to bring the type of energy to that topic month after month, year after year, that’s required to keep your community really engaged. I’ve joined a lot of sites over the years where you can tell the founder was really excited about it initially and maybe it’s successful for a year or two but then after that, you don’t see him in the forums anymore, you don’t see new content coming out. You can tell they lost interest in the topic and moved on to something else and they’re really just relying on their existing members to support each other and to keep that community going. In those cases, you’re just going to see a decline over time that eventually, those members will leave and the revenue will go down from that site. Again, it’s really important to both find a market but also find a market that you’re really passionate about that topic. Those are the first two elements of planning the membership site. Picking a topic and then deciding if a membership model and the effort required are something that you're excited about. In my case, the model matches exactly what I want to do. Basically spend the next 10 years of my career helping people with the topics that I really enjoy, productivity, technology, design, automation and outsourcing. Things this podcast is about and things that all my other content is about. I’ve had a 20 year career you know, in consulting around these topic areas so it’s obviously something I’m still interested in. The main thing I’m doing with shifting over to a membership site and online business is eventually moving from helping big corporate customers, you know, the Fortune 500 and the government agency types and really into helping the online entrepreneur, the solo entrepreneur, really get the best out of technology. That’s something I wake up every day at four AM, excited about writing about and recording about and so forth. That’s one of the reasons why I’m picking that topic as the core of my membership site. Once you’ve got your topic, the next thing you want to think about is what content types will your membership site include? There’s an infinite number of things you can do with a membership, but generally, most of them have some or all of the following elements: online courses, tutorials, resources like workbooks and checklist and other assets, forums for discussion and collaboration, coaching calls, tool discounts and bonuses, things like that. What you have to remember is that for each element that you choose, it requires active ongoing management. What I mean by that is if you said, well yeah, I’d love to have courses and tutorials and checklists and all these types of things, that’s great but you just have to remember, each of those is going to require that those things get built. That you have some tool or platform that lets you present those out to your members and that you have to maintain those things over time. One of the benefits and challenges of the topic areas that I’m interested in related to technology is, that changes all the time. Going in, I know that yeah, I mean, if I create, let’s say 20 online courses that are going to be part of my membership, every year, it’s pretty likely that I’m going to have to be updating most of those courses because the technology, the tools and all the stuff underlying that topic area, changes all the time. That’s one of the reasons why a membership model makes sense for my kind of topic areas because the things change and it’s hard for people to keep up to date and that’s a service I can provide. But at the same times, we have to realize that the effort level of doing that is pretty high. It’s not going to be one of these, “Hey, I make a great course and then I can milk that course for three or four years where it doesn’t require very many changes.” Now, the thing about the content types is, you don’t need all of them to start. Some people launch their membership with a single course, some people launch their membership without any courses or content. Let’s say maybe they’ve negotiated deals and discounts with vendors for tools in their particular niche and they’ve got some courses planned but not built yet. You can launch without all of these things being done. It really depends on what type of price point you’re going for at launch. You know, if you’re going to go for a premium price point like 50 to $100 a month, then yeah, you’re going to have to have a pretty substantial amount of valuable content and resources in your membership site. But if you’re going to start out at 10, 15, $20 a month then you know, maybe that list at launch can be a little bit smaller. For me, I’ll be launching with most of those elements, courses, tutorials, the forum, you know, coaching calls and things like that. But the difference is that I’m organizing all of my content around key topics and then each month after launch, I’ll add topics into those areas. What I mean by that is you know, if you’ve listened to my podcast, my stuff is all about building your platform, your blog, your podcast, your online video and so forth. Building your business and being more productive. What I’ll do is have a couple of key topics like let’s say productivity, blogging and podcasting. It’s likely those are three of the topics that I’ll launch with. Those will be covered in depth. They’ll have courses, they’ll have probably 50 to 60 different checklists and tutorials and things like that. So I’ll launch with let’s say two to three topics worth of content and have that content in all of those different formats that I mentioned. Then in my content calendar, what I’ll plan on is every month or two after that, I’ll release an additional topic into the membership site. At launch, I’ll have two to three topics covered in depth and then afterwards, those additional ones will roll out. Now, my price point will start at the low end of that premium range, let’s say, maybe $50 a month. Then it will move up towards the end of the first year once I have say six to eight to 10 of those really big topic areas covered in depth. Now one thing that you really need to be aware of when you think about your topic and those content types is the technical requirements that your choices result in. As you build the list of your membership site elements, each of those are going to come with a large number of technical requirements. If you just think about online courses, you know, they require a platform for building and managing them. A membership site by definition requires some form of access controls that you can make sure that only paying members have access to the member area. If you decide you want to have a forum or a group discussion for your membership, that’s going to require some kind of platform or service to implement as well. Every one of those things where you say “Yeah, I’d love to have forums or I’d love to have online courses” and this and that and the other thing – those all come with a set of technical requirements that you’re going to have to think about as well. Again, early on, you have to be careful not to maybe over commit yourself and say, “Well, I’ve got to have these 15 different features on my membership site at launch” because what that’s going to do is one, it’s going to defer your launch date, it’s going to take longer to build that stuff and you also run the risk of spending so much time doing that that you might lose touch with our audience. You might be implementing all of these different features and then your audience tells you, “Hey, we’re just really not interested in a forum” or you know, “Online courses are great but you just created 200 hours of content and my problem is productivity and not having enough time in the day.” How would I ever consume all of that content? That’s just something you have to be careful of when you’re planning out your membership site and not to get too grandiose with it. In the end, this is a scenario where a lot of people bog down in their planning. But this is also an area where the membership guys that I mentioned earlier and their member site academy cover in a great amount of depth. Again, links to those resources will be over in the show notes at StrongStart.fm/025. What I’m talking about there is they have a free membership site roadmap and a couple of other things and help you organize your thinking around these topics that we’re talking about here. Once you’ve decided on your topic, the different content types that you want to have and you’re starting to see some of the technical requirements that you're going to have because of those choices. The next topic is you know, the options for actually implementing or building your membership site. Now, this topic can get complicated pretty quickly and it really does present a fork in the road. When you talk about your technical platform, just like in most other areas of online business, one choice is to try and find one of the all in one type of services that provide the full platform and all the bells and whistles that you're looking at. Then the other choice is to build the platform yourself with WordPress and plugins and additional add on services and things like that. The first choice, the all in one, I generally call “hosted platforms”, some examples of hosted platforms are the things like Teachable or Thinkafic, those are primarily course platforms but that also have some aspects of membership and access control built in. There’s also things like Click Funnels and Rain Maker and some other hosted platforms that also let you create membership sites. Now, whether they have all of the features and options that we talked about before – like courses and forums and all the other things – really depends on which product you choose and its feature list and its road map and so forth. The positives of going with a host to platform though is that it removes a pretty large portion of the technical burden from you. You know, most of the technology stack is built and managed by the provider, they will be responsible for keeping it up to date. You know, anything that you’re paying for will have some form of support that you can reach out to for assistance if you run into challenges and so forth. There’s some positives to that all in one platform especially if you're not the most technically savvy person in the world. There’s several downsides though. First, the hosted platforms don’t let you add capabilities, meaning that you know, if your hosted platform doesn’t have a particular feature that you want then you’re stuck waiting for it and potentially indefinitely. You don’t have an option to go get a plugin that fills that gap or something like that. You know, those are basically closed systems, they decide what the road map is, they decide the features and when they’re going to get implemented. The second downside is that very quickly, you get locked in to these platforms so what I mean by that is that every course, resource of piece of content that you create and put in to, one of these sort of hosted systems, it becomes that much harder to migrate to a different platform in the future if you need to. Imagine you spend let’s say two years – you built up a membership site, you got a couple of hundred paying subscribers, maybe you’ve got like 50 courses in there and you know, all kinds of downloads and forums and all these types of things and then suddenly that provider quadruples their price or decides to go out of business or something like that. You’ve now got a very substantial migration process that has to happen over to some other platform that may not even be compatible. The downside of some of those closed systems is that you know, there is sort of this lock in aspect that’s happening. Then third and very related is, that platform provider basically controls your destiny. They go out of business or change direction, you just really don’t have much recourse other than migrating or moving to another provider. If a membership site is going to be the core of your online business, I would be pretty weary of going with a hosted platform. So what’s the alternative? Well, the alternative is a membership site that’s built on top of a self-hosted WordPress installation. In episode six, seven and eight of this podcast, we talked in depth about building a foundational WordPress site for your business and online platform. By foundational, I meant, you know, how to choose hosting, how to choose some of the basic plugins like security and you know, SEO and things like that. Basically, enough of a foundational WordPress platform that you could build your blog and your podcast on top of that. We didn’t really get into any depth at all on membership sites and so that’s something that we’re going to talk a little bit about in this episode and then we’ll go in depth in the next episode where we talk about building a membership site on top of WordPress. As you, I’m sure, know by now, WordPress is by far the most popular and extensible platform for building an online business. For each of the elements for a membership site that we’ve talked about like access, courses forums and so on, there’s dozens of WordPress plugins that you can use for each of those particular elements. In this model, you basically get to control exactly how your site looks and the functionality that it provides. Now the downside is that with that control comes a lot more technical knowledge that’s required and effort that you will either have to put in or hire someone to put in for you. A fully featured membership site has a lot of moving parts. Plugins and all that stuff are great but they can have conflicts and not all of them will integrate with each other and so on. So which of these models should you choose? Well again, if a membership site is going to be the core of your online business like it will be for me, then I definitely will lean toward the self-hosted WordPress approach. I mean I am going to go with that approach as you might imagine and as of this recording I have finalized all of my choices for features, plugins and services that I am going to use in my membership site. We’ll cover all of that in the next episode that goes in depth about building your membership site. The thing that I wanted to cover here though in the planning phase is that when you are planning your build, you’re going to need to reserve a fair amount of time for that. I mean it can take anywhere from one to three months to get all of these technology set up, configured and tested across all the different things that you are going to offer. Now again, you’ll need to decide how much of this you want to do yourself. In my case since my membership site will be all about these topics and all the technology stuff behind online business, I’m doing most of this work myself and documenting it as I go because that is going to be some of the core content for my membership site. So that is one of the benefits of the model that I’m doing here is A, I like the topic. B, the topic is what I am going to be helping people with and C, everything that I do to set up and build my online business is what I’m going to be helping teach other people to do. So there’s a lot of congruence there with both what I’m interested in, what I need to do for myself in my business and what I’m going to help everybody else with. Now for most of you though that are considering a membership – unless your topic is on all the technology stuff behind building memberships and sites and so forth – this is something you’ll likely want to outsource. You should control the requirements and you should always have at least a passing understanding of all the technical components and that’s what I’ll obviously help you with, with all of my content but someone else can likely do the technical implementation better than you can. Your time will be more valuably spent creating content that’s specific to your particular audience. So obviously this is the intersection of my content and what I am trying to help my audience with is all of these technical planning, technical implementation, automation types of exercises. So again, unless that’s going to be your core content, what you want to be thinking out there is automation and outsourcing and again, that’s really going to be the key topic of my membership site once it launches a little bit later this year. That brings us to the final phase of membership site planning which is launching your site and planning that launch. The first thing you’re going to need to do is to determine how much and what type of content that you’re going to have for launch. As I mentioned earlier, my plan is to organize all of my content by topics and then have two or three key topics covered in depth at launch. Several more topics already done and in the can and ready to be rolled out in the months after the launch. Now this strategy helps reduce the upfront burden in terms of how much content needs to be done by a launch and it also provides a reason for your initial members to stick around and to stay in your membership. You can talk all about the content that you’re going to be releasing in the coming months. So where that comes into play is let’s say you do a one month trial offer or if you do a discount for the first month of membership or something like that at launch, you want to have enough content in there where people show up and they say, “Wow this is pretty cool. This membership site just launched and it’s got great content that’s going to be useful to me”. But at the same time, you want to be able to say, “Well hey, there’s a reason to stick around past the free trial” or “There’s a reason to stay a paying member for months two, three and four and that’s because there’s all these additional content and resources that are going to come out in the subsequent months.” Now again, this is a key insight that I got out of the coaching that I’ve done with Mike and Callie of the Membership Guys. Once you’ve planned what you’ll have at launch and then the months later, the actual launch itself needs to be planned and we’ll cover this in depth in the third episode of this series but for now, let’s consider the high level points. If you have been around the online business space at all, you’ll know that there is numerous launch strategies out there like the product launch formula or webinars and many others. Most of them revolve around building up awareness and anticipation of your launch by providing free content like videos or webinars or podcasts or blog posts. Most of them also include some aspect of building a waiting list. And then finally at launch, there’s trials, discounts, bonuses, etcetera all built around the core offer to gain the most customers as possible during that launch window. Now again, we’ll cover this in more detail but I just want you to realize at this point that the launch itself requires a lot of planning. One of the key decisions is whether you’re only going to launch once and allow open access to your members throughout the year. Or whether you are only going to open access to your membership a few times a year and do launch events around each of those different dates. Now that’s a complicated topic where each choice has a lot of advantages and disadvantages. There’s definitely a scarcity benefit to having closed access and then only having a few launches and open access periods during the year. But launches require a lot of work and if your goal is to truly help your audience, why make them wait for access to your great content? Personally for me, I’m going to be doing open access where people can join anytime but I’m going to be designing my launch and marketing strategies to have specific times of the year where I’ll push harder and build up to an event style launch. Now there is a lot of different ways that you can do that. Instead of having your course be closed throughout the year and only opening for a launch a couple of times throughout the year, you could have it be open all year round but at periodic times where you’re going to do more of an event style launch, you could have a set of bonuses that are only available during that time. Or other forms of bonuses and resources and scarcity that are going to generate interest at those periods of the year and maybe not just people that are on the fence a little bit into taking action and joining at your membership site. So there’s a lot of ways to get that scarcity benefit and entice people into joining your membership without having to have it be closed down for large parts of the year. Now in the previous episode, StrongStart.fm/024, I talked about virtual summits. Now for me, my virtual summit is really my key launch event for the membership site. Now the reason for that is because my summit is going to cover the core topics that my membership site is going to be all about. So if you haven’t listened to that episode, the quick summary of a virtual summit. It is basically gathering up 20 or 30 experts in your niche and then interviewing them about key topics in that particular niche. So I am going to have 20 to 30 experts talking all about productivity, content creation, automation, outsourcing, things like that. So I am gathering up some really fantastic speakers and they are going to provide a ton of insight on those particular topics. And with that virtual summit, I’m hoping to draw at least a few thousand people into my email list and also into paid to access to that summit. So the way my funnel is going to look like is the virtual summit is going to be the top of the funnel event. So what that means is all people need to do to get access to that content at least for the week that the summit is live is opt into my email list. Then during the summit, the entry level offer that I’ll be providing is a lifetime access pass to all of the virtual summit content. So it will be recordings of all the interviews, a bunch of different bonuses, discounts on tools and a few other surprise bonuses that I’m going to throw in there for a relatively low price that people will be able to purchase. Then at the end of the summit, that’s going to be the launch event for my membership site. So the bottom of the funnel will be taking some of these people that were interested in creating great content and building content based businesses. They learned a lot of tools and tips from the experts but then the actual implementation. Learning how to do these things, the courses, the checklist, the automation examples that I am going to provide, all of that stuff is going to be the core of my membership site. So what my launch is going to look like is virtual summit leads to an entry level offer, leads to people joining the membership site. Then after that, as opposed to closing down access and opening at a couple of times a year. Instead what I am going to do is I am going to keep that entire funnel on Evergreen and so what that means is that throughout the whole year, people will be able to sign up individually for the summit and go through that same progression of the marketing funnel for my membership site but at periodic times during the year, I’ll do more of a push around those events. So let’s say maybe three months after a launch, I will recycle the whole launch process again, run my Facebook ad campaigns, re-run my affiliate program with partners to promote the membership site and the summit and then I’ll build up a little bit more event style marketing around those pushes a couple of times a year. So again, it will be open access because I don’t want to block anybody from getting to my valuable content but again, to get the scarcity benefit and the excitement of event style launches, I’ll basically do a hybrid approach there. So again, we’ll talk about that in more depth when we get to the third episode in the series which will be all about launching the membership site. I will go into all the details of the different forms of promotion and things that I am doing to get ready for the launch. Now if everything that we talked about in this episode sounds complicated – it is. but here’s the payoff: First, the membership model really provides the most amount of help and support to your audience at scale of any form of online business. So what I mean by that is that sure, if I decided to do one on one consulting, I can have a huge impact on my clients, right? I have done consulting for 20 years. I know that in depth and inside now and for sure, if I said, “Hey I am going to pick 10 people this year and all I am going to do is one on one consulting with them, you know I could easily charge 20, 30, $40,000 per person. And make a business out of that but at the end of it, I’ve only really helped 10 people. So if the goal is to really help people at scale, the other end of the spectrum is you could just do a course. Do a great course, charge $2,000 for that course. Hopefully you get a 1,000 people to join that or more and you’ve got a very substantial business built around that as well. But of course in general, only really provides information to people. It usually doesn’t involve in depth help from the courses found there and their expertise and so forth. So the reason I am really drawn to the membership site is as I mentioned a couple of different reasons. One, ongoing help over a long period of time. More in depth help than just a course. There’ll be course, there’ll be forums, there’ll be all kinds of ways to provide more detailed support and then again because of the topic area of technology changing, it’s an area that people generally need a lot of help in. Because most people want to be focused on their core content in their business not trying to keep up with technology. That’s where I come in and where I can help. And then the second benefit that we talked about is the reoccurring revenue. So now imagine that you get to a thousand paying members at $50 a month. That’s $600,000 a year in revenue. Now if you assume that you’re costs are 50% of that which is actually pretty high at the end, you’d still be taking home $300,000 either as a paycheck or as profit that you can roll back into your business to invest in growth. Now it’s by no means easy getting to a thousand members paying $50 a month. For me, I am planning that this will take about three years to achieve once I launch a little bit later this fall. So that’s a long time, you know three year build up to get to that amount of revenue but at that point, you’ve got a substantial business there if you are bringing in $600,000 a year and obviously, there’s no cap at a thousand. [0:27:43.2] You can certainly go above that once you have achieve that level. But again, to be realistic, this isn’t something where “Hey I am going to build a membership site in a couple of weeks and then I am going to open the doors and then three months later I’m going to have a thousand members paying me $50 a month.” You are going to see people online promising you that they can teach you to do that. That’s a total BS obviously. It is one of the things that I really like the Membership Guys, Mike and Callie that I’m working with. They are very straight forward and upfront about what’s required of a successful membership site. It’s definitely not a quick buck “passive income” type of strategy. It is something that you really have to be committed to because you value your audience and the topic that you are talking about. But also has all the benefits that we talked about here of being able to build a really substantial business around. So that brings us to the end of the planning phase of our membership site topic. In the next episode, we’ll dive into the details of building a membership site and I’ll go in all the tools and plugins and services that I am using to build this state of the art site that I am going to launch later this year. Now the foundation of my site is WordPress and if you want to get started building a solid platform that you could build your own membership site on, check out my free definitive guide to WordPress for online entrepreneurs and you can download my free WordPress blog blueprint and planner. Both of those resources will be linked to over in the show notes at StrongStart.fm/025. So I want to thank you for joining me today. If you’ve been enjoying the content here on StrongStart.fm, it would greatly help us out if you could give us a quick positive review over on iTunes. My goal is to help as many people as possible reach their goals so we need to spread the word. I also would like to encourage you to join my free membership academy. The beginnings of the membership site that we discussed in this episode. In addition to easy access to every download that I’ve created in the last two years, you also get additional exclusive member content and access to my private Facebook group. You also gain access to the free period of the virtual summit that we talked about in this episode and in this episode. So to join us head over to StrongStart.fm/joinfree. Thanks and we’ll see you on the next episode of StrongStart.fm. The post How to Plan a Membership Site | StrongStart.fm – 025 appeared first on StrongStart.fm.
44 minutes | Jul 28, 2017
What are Virtual Summits? | StrongStart.fm – 024
In this episode, we're going to talk about virtual summits. I'm in the middle of planning a virtual summit and wanted to give you a behind the scenes view of all the different activities that need to be done. If you’re not familiar with what a virtual summit is, it’s basically an online event where you gather up a group of experts in your field or niche and you either interview each of those experts or you have them present a particular topic that’s related to your niche and you basically create a collection of anywhere between 10 and 40 or 50 different speakers on different topics related to your niche. In this episode you'll learn: What is a virtual summit and why are they valuable? The program I am following to ensure a successful virtual summit The major steps in planning and delivery a summit Outreach and recruiting speakers Recording the summit content Building your summit platform and site Promoting and launching your summit Behind the scenes of my summit planning Action plan: Sign up for my free membership tier and access to the virtual summit Watch out for info on the summit launch date and the all-start list of speakers I'm working with Links and resources mentioned in this episode: Listbuildingschool.com Transcript Download Download a PDF of the Transcript Transcript Hey everybody, Dave Ziembicki here. Welcome to StrongStart.fm. My mission is to help you design, automate and outsource the technology of your online business. In this episode, we’re going to talk about virtual summits. I’m in the middle of planning a big virtual summit and I wanted to give you a behind the scenes view of all the different activities that need to be done to create a successful virtual summit. Some of the topics we’ll cover include what a virtual summit is and why they’re valuable, a specific program that I’m following to ensure that I have a successful virtual summit and major steps in planning and delivering a summit, how to reach out to speakers and recruit them to be part of your virtual summit, recording your summit content, building your summit platform in site, promoting and launching your summit and then a behind the scenes view of how I’m planning my virtual summit and where I am in that process right now. If you’re not familiar with what a virtual summit is, it’s basically an online event where you gather up a group of experts in your field or niche and you either interview each of those experts or you have them present a particular topic that’s related to your niche and you basically create a collection of anywhere between 10 and 40 or 50 different speakers on different topics related to your niche. Most of you have probably seen these over the years, there are some examples out there like a list building school where basically the topic is building your email list and you’ll get 20 or 30 experts on that topic talking about different tips and techniques and systems that they use. Another one is you know, the self-publishing success summit from a couple of years ago where you know, a number of different speakers were invited, they were all in the area of eBooks or writing books and promoting books and things like that and so you would have a virtual summit related to how to create and publish your first book. The idea there is you get this collection of experts, you get them to cover different elements of a particular topic and then you package that up as a collection of interviews that you offer up to your particular audience. Why they’re valuable is because, they basically are a list building tool that also comes with a potential financial benefit to the way that summits work is basically, once you have the 20 or 30 speakers recruited and you’ve got your content all set, there’s what’s called a free access period and then a paid access period to the virtual summit. Most of them follow the same format where basically for the first week or so, after you launched the summit, the content is free to anyone that opts in and gives you their email address and basically joins the summit. That first step there, because you’re offering huge value, I mean, think of 30 hours’ worth of interviews with a collection of experts and all you have to do is you know, give an email to get access to that information. That is a huge amount more value than say just creating a PDF download or a lead magnet that you might give somebody in return for their email address. The opt in rates for summits are going to be substantially higher than almost anything else you’re going to do because you’re basically almost giving them an entire online course with experts from your topic area for free and since it’s concentrated around a particular time and you launch it like it is, its own event. It’s something where you can gain a couple of thousand, all the way up to 10 or even 20,000 new email subscribers in a very short period of time. Out of all the things that are out there in terms of building your list, this is potentially one of the most valuable because you can get that huge chunk of new subscribers in a short period of time. Now, the difference is, just creating a PDF, yeah, that might take you half an hour and then you might get some email subscribers out of that if you offer it as a lead magnet. A virtual summit as you’ll see as we go through the rest of this episode, takes a significant amount of time to plan and deliver and does take some investment and so forth. This is not something you’ll necessarily be able to do if you have zero budget but if you do have a little budget and you’re looking at the difference between spending the next year writing a lot of blog post and you know, doing a whole bunch of lead magnets and hoping to grow your list by a few thousand versus something like a virtual summit where it is going to take a couple of months of planning but you might get that huge subscriber growth in a shorter period of time, it’s definitely something worth taking a look at. Now, the key reason in addition to everything that I just mentioned for why I’m thinking about a virtual summit is because most summits also have a paid product component to them. What that means is that while the first week or so of the summit, everybody has access to the videos for free. What most summits do is also offer something called like an all access pass or a lifetime access pass or something like that. Where basically you sell access to the videos for either a time period or for a lifetime access to people that pay to purchase that product. The idea there is that you know, a person may not be able to consume all the videos in the free time period, they want to keep them for reference later. Basically, most summits also have a paid product which is lifetime access to all of the recordings plus any number of different bonuses in return for that person paying for the access pass. Generally, most virtual summits charge anywhere from $97 to $297 for that lifetime access pass. Again, that just gives you access to all of the materials and any other bonuses that you might setup when you create your summit. The reason why that’s interesting is again, even at $97, that’s a very low price point for access to over 30 hours of video in most cases. From experts on a particular topic. Not to mention whatever bonuses the person creating the summit throws in. When you think about it, for $97, you get all of that access. Now, from the creator point of view or the creator of the summit, the nice thing about that is you have a way to monetize this list building activity that you’re doing. Depending on how the math works out, you know, if you have a decent opt in rate for that lifetime access pass and as long as you keep your promotional cost in check, you actually might be able to get subscribers to your email list at a cost of zero right? If you get enough buyers of the all access pass for $97 or whatever you decide to charge for it, you work through the numbers there depending on how much it’s costing to promote and deliver the summit and you may well be adding people to your list for free. It may even be making a little bit of a profit off of the people that you add to your list. The average case with a summit is that you might get those email opt ins for $0. Now, if you have other products that you’re trying to sell, that’s where the summit really starts to shine because basically, at the end of the virtual summit, you could do a webinar, you can do a pitch for whatever your product or courses that you’re trying to sell and at that point, if you’ve gotten all your email subscribers for zero. Any opt ins to your paid product are basically the cost of acquisition was basically free. Anybody that’s going to be a buyer of your other core products at the end of the summit, all of that should go straight to profit because all your promotional costs were taken care off by the price they paid for their all access pass. For me, you know, given that I’m about a year into my business and I’m just getting ready to launch my paid membership program later this fall, the combination of a virtual summit plus the launching of my paid product is really the key business strategy that I’m doing throughout the course of the summer of 2017 and fall of 2017. Moving in to that launch phase there. For me, my goals with the summit are to grow my email list by at least 2,500 more subscribers and hopefully closer to 5,000 and then right at the end of the summit, launch my main paid product. And by positioning those things together, I think that’s going to be the biggest ROI on both my time and the promotional budget at I’m setting aside for both the summit and the membership site launch. That’s a quick description of what virtual summits are and why they can be valuable to you both as an audience member of a summit or also as somebody who might be thinking about creating and building their own summit. Now, for me, this is the first time that I’m doing the summit and so as I usually do with anything that new that I’m doing, I go out and I look for some of the best online courses or programs that are out there related to that particular topic. In this case, the program that I’m following for designing and planning and running my summit is called virtual summit mastery and that’s a program offered by Navid Moazzez who is one of the leading authorities on creating and delivering virtual summits. Out of all of the online courses that I’ve bought in to and researched and invested in over the last year or two, VSM, virtual summit mastery is one of the best. The reason is that the normal stuff you would expect is in there, detailed videos, sort of step by step tutorials, a really great PDF planning guide that has a couple of hundred different steps to outline that you need to do for everything to create and build a summit, I’ll give a little bit of an overview of that in this episode but the other thing that’s included is a ton of templates and free resources that really make it a lot easier to build the sites and the pages and all the technical stuff that you need for your summit. As well as lots of examples of entire email campaigns and swipe files and things like that for all the different communications you need to do during a summit. If you think about it, you know, this is a major online event that you’re building, it’s not going to be just one or two emails that you send out or a short follow up sequence, there is the whole sort of sales funnel side of the summit that you need to do, there’s all the communications and coordination of your speakers. If you do an affiliate program which we’ll talk about, there’s a whole set of communications for that and basically, inside a VSM, there’s a lot of examples of each of these different elements. After taking a look at it, you know, it was sort of a no brainer once I decided to do a summit that that was going to be the course to enroll in and the system to follow. Now, right now, Navid is in the middle of planning an upgrade to that whole program and so later in the fall of 2017, he’s going to be launching the version three of his virtual summit mastery program. Right now, it’s at version two, that’s what I’m utilizing and a number of different improvements and tweaks and modifications are happening there. Once we get closer to that time period, you’ll hear more about that from me because I’m a big fan of that program, I’ll most likely be an affiliate of the program and so forth. But for now, I’m going to try basically the steps that I’m going through and some of the main components of planning your virtual summit. When it comes to building your virtual summit, there’s really four steps or phases that I would break it down in to. The first is planning, in the beginning, you need to think about your niche, about the topic for your virtual summit, what the name of the summit is going to be and so on. I mentioned a couple of examples like the list building school or self-publishing success summit. If you do a search on Google for virtual summits, you’ll come back with a list of many different ones that are out there. You can get an idea for some of the topic areas in the titles. Generally, the more niche you can make your summit just like anything else in online business, the easier it’s going to be to do targeting and the more relevant the audience you’re going to get. What you generally want to be thinking about for your topic is a couple of things, one is, does it relate to whatever your core business is right? In my case, you know, helping people design, automate and outsource the technology of their online business, productivity, content creation, these are the types of things that my business and my brand focus on. If I was going to do a virtual summit on the best fitness program experts that are out there, it just wouldn’t make sense. That’s not really a topic area that I cover. The first thing you want to do is think about something that’s related to your space. The second thing to think about in terms of your topic area is the topic or niche that you want to be an expert in. The interesting thing about virtual summits is that while you are primarily recruiting other experts and larger names in your niche to be part of the summit, you also basically get expertise by association. That’s one of the reasons why it’s really interesting for folks in the earlier stages of their online business and developing their audience. If you imagine, you know, you’re interviewing let’s say the third most popular blogger or podcaster that’s out there in your particular niche, some of that expertise is going to basically associate to you, the audience is going to say, these two are talking to each other, one’s interviewing the other, they’re having some back and forth. This host of the summit must also be an interesting person or an expert in that particular niche as well. That’s one of the other areas that’s why virtual summit can be valuable. Then the third, this is probably the most important one is that during the course of recruiting the speakers, doing some initial logistics and prep calls and then doing the actual interview itself and then the follow up afterwards, you’re building a little bit of a relationship with those speakers. The people that you’re inviting to the summit. There’s nothing better than having sort of one on one video chats with somebody to build a relationship and that’s something that’s going to happen as a side effect of that virtual summit. Especially if it’s successful, you know, after the fact of you need to ask that influencer something or there’s some value that you can provide to them, that’s something that you’re going to be able to do much more easily than if you’re just randomly emailing a person out of the blue and you don’t have that relationship there. You know, the planning phase is obviously quite important for a virtual summit, picking the need, picking the topic area, thinking about your approach for how you’re going to go after the speakers, which speakers you want to go recruit and so forth. Really, you want to be thinking long term here. In my case, obviously I have goals, I want to have that subscriber growth and you know, I’m hoping to have that email subscriber list come in at a relatively low or zero cost because of the paid components to it. At the end of the day, the thing I’m most interested in is A, getting a lot of value to my audience, you know, getting these experts in front of them. Picking their brains for some of the most interesting tips or tactics that they utilized and then second, it’s really building up that relationship with those influencers. The subscriber list and even the financial stuff for our secondary, if you take the long-term perspective there. Once that planning phase is done, the next phase on a summit is your outreach and recruiting of your speakers. Now, this part is actually fairly challenging. It’s something that a lot of people are nervous about because basically, unless you already have relationships with the people that you want to invite, you’re going to have to think strategically about how to go after these folks. If they don’t know who you are, if they’ve never heard from you before, if you’re just sending them a random email out of the blue and they don’t know your name or your brand. Then your success rate there is going to be fairly low. Now, at the same time, what I found is even though I am having to do cold outreach in some cases, my success rate isn’t high but it’s been at least you know, 25% so far and sometimes up to 30 or 50%. What that means is sending out an email to somebody I really don’t have any preexisting relationship with or awareness of. I’m still getting people to respond and in some cases, commit to being a speaker for the summit. That part I was a little bit surprised by that that was as high as it was for this cold outreach. In my case, you know, maybe it’s luck, maybe it’s random, but from what I’m seeing in forums and inside the VSM program, it’s not unrealistic to think that you’re at least going to get a 20% type of success rate if you follow the program and if you use some of the outreach templates that are included. Now, if possible, you want to try and avoid having to resort to cold outreach, that’s sort of is the last resort there. What you want to be doing is basically building up some form of relationship even if it’s just via Twitter or comments on a blog or something like that, somewhere where the influencer that you’re going to outreach to will recognize your name at least and hopefully will have a positive association with your name. That’s Joe, yeah, I’ve seen him comment on a bunch of my blog posts and he’s been in my free Facebook group helping out the audience, things like that. You want them to hopefully recognize your name and then have that first association be relatively positive. In order to do that, obviously, you have to be planning well in advance of when you want to launch your summit and well in advance of when you are going to start your speaker outreach. In my particular case, it was very early in May 2017 when I decided, okay, I think a virtual summit is going to be the strategy I’m going to use for building out my email list. At that point, you know, I joined the virtual summit mastery pretty much right away and figured out okay, I’m going to make sure that I take about a month to try and build up some relationship with the influencers that I’m thinking about inviting to the summit. What that meant was I joined you know, all of their email list, I joined any of their free programs or communities and really started interacting with the people that were in those communities, trying to add as much value as I could which I just generally enjoy doing anyway. It wasn’t just a sort of a marketing tactic or anything like that. I love going into forums and you know, helping people where I can and so on and so forth, this just gave me a target list of places to go do that, that had the side benefit of building up some potential awareness with the speaker. The other thing I did and that I outlined in a blog post that I’ll link to over in the show notes at StrongStart.fm/024 is I also setup some automation where I took every one of the speakers that I was thinking of inviting and I found out whether they had a blog or a podcast and then I popped that blog or podcast feed into the application called if this, then that or IFTTT.com and with that automation platform, basically what happens is, anytime one of the speakers puts out a new blog post or a new podcast episode, it sends me a text message on my cellphone. Usually within two or three minutes of that speaker hitting the publish button, I know that they have new content out there. What that does is it gives me a quick time window where I can go in, read their content, make some comments on their blog post, add some free value, you know, tweet out a link to their article and so forth to give them some exposure to my audience and so on. It’s just a couple of very simple things there to be able to start building up that relationship with the speaker. In my case, it was actually pretty successful right away so one of the people I was inviting to the summit is Pat Flynn, a well-known podcaster and blogger and so forth. With that automation, you know, every time he posts, I go out and read the post add some comments to it and the very first time I did this, once I setup this automation. You know, I got some really nice feedback form him in the comments and so basically, A, he took the time to read the comment that I wrote and took a little bit more time to actually add a comment of his own there. You can be pretty sure that the next time he sees my name somewhere on the screen, it’s probably going to stick out a little bit and he might remember that as opposed to you know, somebody who he’s never interacted with before. Again, I set aside about a month’s worth of time to just try and build up that basic relationship with some of the speakers before I started the actual outreach process. You know, my strategy there was something that I am following from virtual summit mastery. What the recommendation there is when you’re thinking about all the speakers to invite, you want to have a mix of like the really, super popular people, the middle and then maybe some new and up and coming people that folks haven’t heard about. Sometimes the most popular people are called the A-listers, then you have B and C list types. It’s not anything to be sort of negative or pejorative against people with the smaller audience, it’s just that there’s people that are at different phases of their business and their growth and so on. Now, depending in on your niche, it might make sense to have some of each of those and it usually does. In my case, I am having about an equal distribution of those three types of speakers because you know, my audience is at various stages of growing their business. Some haven’t even started yet, some are in the solo entrepreneur phase where they’re doing everything themselves and some are already at the higher end where they’ve got a virtual team or even employees and things like that. They have a more complex and larger business to manage. In my case, I want examples of each of those types of three speaker types for the summit content that I’m doing because I wanted to be able to appeal to the broad swath of my audience. Now, the next thing that I did that I don’t think I saw mentioned in VSM is I set a target of three A list speakers that I wanted to recruit into the summit and my goal was to land at least one of them, right? The reason I did that and I focused on that as the first thing before doing outreach to all the other people on my list is that I figured, if I got at least one A-lister to commit early then that would open up the door for everyone else. Basically, if you’ve got a super popular person that’s committed already, it’s basically social proof for all the other speakers that you might outreach to. Well so and so already committed and that’s a big name, therefore yeah, I’m going to commit too because I know that person’s name alone is going to bring in a big audience. That was really my strategy was to say okay, well I’m going to target three people in my niche that I really want to get in to the summit. Assume that I’m going to get one of them and then focus my outreach effort early on, on building a relationship with them and then trying to land at least one of them. You know, again, because this is my first summit, I don’t know if it’s luck, random or if it was a brilliant strategy that I just outlined, but, I was lucky enough to land at first, one A-lister off of my list and then about a week or two later, A second A-lister as well. I wound up getting two out of three where my goal was to at least get one out of three. I was super excited about that and I do think it’s helped open the doors with a lot of the other speakers that I’m outreaching to and especially when I have to resort to cold outreach. Because it’s basically a little bit of instant credibility there when you can say, “Hey, you know one of the top five people in this niche has already committed to joining this particular virtual summit”. So, I mentioned a few other techniques for trying to land those A-listers, targeting them building up a relationship with them first by adding a lot of value to their audience. The other thing really comes down to some of the basics like just making sure your emails are very crisp, very clear, understanding that the person’s time is valuable. They are not going to read a 5,000-word email or anything like that. Also, you need to make sure that any materials that you create and send are either well-designed or professionally designed. So, one of these first steps in VSM is basically building a one page overview of your virtual summit and making sure that is a very nice-looking PDF, well-designed, easily readable, no grammatical mistakes or anything stupid like that. That’s something that you want to do right away because when you’re doing an outreach you may not yet have your site and your landing pages and all these stuff that we’ll talk about in a minute to build up for your virtual summit. So, at that point you still want to have something that you can give the speakers and so a one page overview that’s well designed shows them that yes, this person is going to put time into their brand and the materials related to the summit and it just gives them something a little bit more tangible than just an email when you do that outreach to them. The other thing at this point when you are doing the outreach, you’ll need to do is at least have an idea of how you are going to promote and position the summit. So again, the speakers that might be considering joining you they’re going to be thinking about what is this going to look like for my brand, right? So, if you wind up having a poor looking summit or making mistakes or it looks amateurish or anything like that, that’s going to be a negative to those speakers. So, what you need to be thinking about and making sure they know is, yes, I am going to invest I professional design or yes, I have an advertising budget or a marketing plan for how the summit is going to be positioned and who’s going to be targeted and so forth. So those are a couple of things that you want to have in the beginning for when you initially do that outreach. Now the part where summits get a little bit complicated is we’ve just talked about planning, we talked about the second phase which is outreach and recruiting and then the third phase is building your summit platform and your summit website. So, if you remember our description of a summit, there’s really two parts of it. There is the free site and there’s the paid site. And so, in a lot of cases that actually means you’re going to have either two different sites or two different parts of the same site. One that you are going to allow free access to during the week the summit is running and then the second is going to be for the all access pass buyers. Once the summit is done the free phase has moved into the paid phase, you’re going to need to be able to protect that content and require a user name and password and a purchase and all that kind of stuff to access. So, this is where it can get a little bit complicated and again, it’s the reason why a program like virtual summit mastery or something like that is going to be what you want to do here because there’s many step by step instructions in there and templates and things like that for building out both of these different types of sites. So, the thing is during the free part of the summit what you do basically is you unlock two to six videos every day and allow anyone that’s opted into the summit to view those videos for free. Those videos stay unlocked for 24 to 48 hours and then afterwards they go back to becoming protected content and only available to the all access pass paying members. The free side is usually a dedicated WordPress site and domain with its own sales page, a page for a list of sessions and then page is free to individual session with the video of the speaker interview and so forth embedded. The paid side is generally either a WordPress site with a membership plugin or some kind of online course service like Teachable or Thinkific. Something that basically lets you upload videos, create pages and then protect those pages and not allow access to them until somebody has purchased your all access pass product. So that paid site is a little bit more complicated because it needs to be able to accept credit card orders, it has to be able to protect pages and content and then it has to be able to manage user access and then in some scenarios also needs to have an affiliate program and tracking mechanisms and things like that built in. So that part can get relatively complicated if you are not technical. So again, VSM provides a lot of instructions and templates for doing that. You’ll have to decide whether to use an existing site that you have or to go off and create a brand-new site that’s specific to the summit. Generally, in the program Naveed recommends having an additional site that is specific to the summit for a variety of technical and marketing reasons. So that’s something that you’ll need to think about there but having it as a separate site especially if you are not all that technical, it’s probably going to be a lot easier for you than try to manage all of the integration of your regular site, the free part of the summit, the paid part of the summit and all of these moving parts. So again, this isn’t something to underestimate. This does take some time to set up. There’s different people and consultants and so forth out there that can help with that but it is something that you want to make sure you are aware of when you start building a summit is it’s not just a matter of recording and uploading the videos, there is a fairly decent technical component to it. So, the next phase of building your summit is actually recording the summit content. So, this can be intimidating at first. If you’ve not done interviews before, if you have not done recorded video chats with a guest or been a podcast interviewer or something like that, this is something that you might have to practice a little bit and prepare for in order to get ready. For me that was certainly the case. I mean I am on episode 24 or so of my podcast but all of my episodes are basically mini-trainings. I haven’t done interviews on my podcast yet. So, in my business most of my content has been me talking to a camera, to a microphone not necessarily interviewing another expert. So that’s something that takes a little bit of planning in terms of the technical set up and then also just getting better at creating questions and having the flow of questions go naturally and so on and that’s something that as I record this episode I’m just in the middle of beginning the interviews with my speakers and starting to work through that that learning process. Now some summits will have the speakers actually presenting content. Maybe they will run through a presentation or something that seems like a webinar but for people doing their first summit, one of the easiest ways to do it is to just have all of your videos be interviews with that particular speaker and that’s basically the model that I am doing. My summit will be about 30 experts in the topic area that I have chosen and most of the recordings are going to be video interviews with me asking those experts questions about the particular topic and their area of expertise. From a technology perspective, you know obviously this needs to be a recorded video. I wouldn’t just stick with audio. Go with a video chat, in Zoom, Skype, something like that. In my particular case, I chose Zoom. I’ve really been impressed with Zoom and that’s at the website zoom.us. Really been impressed with that over the last couple of months. I live in a very remote area where the internet access is pretty poor. I’ve had to actually use satellite internet to be able to get even reasonable upload and download speeds and even over a satellite connection which is fast but has a lot of latency, Zoom has really been performing quite well for me over those challenging conditions. So, in the first couple of interviews and then all the testing that’s been done, I’ve been really happy with that particular application. So, what I’ve been doing is just using Zoom that records the audio and video. You get a recording both that flips back and forth between who the active speaker is and you also get a recording that they call as gallery review with both you and the person you’re interviewing side by side and so recording that up to the cloud or recording it locally. That’s basically the way you create the initial part of your summit content. Then once you have the raw videos, the next step basically is you can edit those videos down if you need to take out any errors or gaps or anything like that and if you want to, you can get fancy like putting titles in there and putting people’s names and their brand and so forth or links underneath the videos and so on. You could also just keep it simple and just have it be the raw recording out of Zoom and have that uploaded to some place like Vimeo or Wistia or something like that because basically for each of the videos that you create for each of your summit speakers, what’s going to happen is they need to get embedded into your website. So obviously Wistia or Vimeo or something like that can be used to upload your videos to those services then they give you an embed code and then you just stick that inside each of the speaker pages on your summit websites both the free and the paid access site. Where it gets a little bit tricky is obviously you have to manage the access to those videos. So, one thing you can do with WordPress post is you can publish them then you can un-publish them. So, for the free side of the content what you can do is schedule the post to go live on the day that you want those videos to be available to your free people that opted into the summit and then after 24 or 48 hours, you can un-publish that post. So that people can’t access the videos anymore unless they opt into your all access pass and they pay the $97.00 or whatever you are charging for that. Then they become members of your site and then on the membership side, the access to those videos will be enabled. So again, a little bit of technical details there. When I get to that point with my site, I’ll record full tutorials and demos and all these types of things and then obviously inside of the VSM program there’s instructions for doing all of that stuff. So, when you think about it, each individual step isn’t all that complicated but when you think about it, if you are going to have 20 or 30 speakers or even more, this kind of gets to be pretty complicated because basically you have to manage the logistics of all of those interviews. So, what I did is I set up a Calendly account for myself and whenever I do outreach to the speakers. And one of the speakers says that they are interested, what I do is basically send them that Calendly link and then in there I set the boundaries of when I’m available in my hours and so forth and say, “Okay pick any time slot that is open in Calendly and schedule your interview” and when they do that, it automatically puts a Google calendar invite out to myself and that speaker. Inside of that invite is the Zoom link that they’ll click to join the video conference at that time and that side of it is relatively automated but in my case, right now I’ve got about almost half of my speakers lined up already and then I’ll have the other half here in the next week or two. There’s a lot of calendar invites out there, a lot of time slots open and so forth. So, you need to be paying attention to that to make sure that you’re ready and willing and able to do the interview and do the recording at that time but once you have that speaker list filled out and you’ve got whatever your target is 20, 30, 40 people to commit to being a part of your summit, it’s a big relief at that point. I’m not there yet but at the rates I’m seeing success in terms of getting the speakers, I know I’ll be there within a week or two and that’s a nice feeling especially once you get that first one or two and definitely once you get your first A-lister, after that it’s quite a relief because at that point you know that it is really just a numbers game. I mean even if I have to invite 200 people to get to the 30 that’s my target, that’s okay. That’s just some hustle that you need to do there to make sure that your summit is going to be successful. So, at this point, we’ve gone through planning the virtual summit, doing the outreach and recruiting of speakers, building your summit platform and your site. And then the final phase is really promoting and launching your summit. Now in the end this is the most part because if you fail at this part, you will spend all of that effort and record all these interviews and set up all this technology and then you won’t have too many people show up for your summit and then the thing can very quickly turn into a net loss for you. So, promoting is a really important part of the process and generally in VSM methodology, the promotion period is about three weeks prior to the launch of the live phase of the summit or the free access period. Now leading up to that promotional window there is a ton of work. So, what you have to think about is what your promotional strategy is going to be. One thing the VSM recommends is adding an affiliate program to your virtual summit and what that means is offering the speakers plus anyone else that you recruit to be an affiliate a percentage of the revenue from the all access passes that gets sold based on the people that they refer to that. So obviously on the online business space most of us are familiar with affiliate marketing and the scenario there is you give somebody a special link that is your affiliate and then when they market whatever your product is to their audience and the customer buys, they click that person’s affiliate link and then there’s tracking that gives you credit for each affiliate. How many people they’ve referred to your paid product and how much revenue they’ve helped generate. So, with the summit we’ve talked about having an all access or lifetime access pass and let’s say we’re selling that for $97.00 a person. What I will be doing and what most people do is they offer the affiliate program to all of their speakers and what you are trying to do there is entice the speaker to share the summit with their audience. That’s really one of the biggest benefits of the whole virtual summit concept is that you’re picking a topic that is in your niche. You are picking speakers that are experts in your niche that likely have a larger audience than you do and you are basically going to get a percentage of that speaker’s audience by marketing the summit to them. You know they are already interested in the speaker because they’re in that person’s audience so it’s not too much of a leap to expect a pretty decent percentage of them to also be interested in your summit because you are going to hear from at least one expert that they know, like and trust and likely many others that you’ve recruited. So, the trick is trying to entice the speakers to promoting your summit to their list. Now for the really big names, the A-listers, a lot of times they aren’t going to promote. The reason for that is they’re likely already promoting a lot of their own stuff to their audience or promoting things that are bigger affiliate payouts and so a lot of them don’t want to over promote to their list. So, going in your expectation should be hey if you land Gary Vaynerchuk or something like that, he’s not going to send a personalized email out to his list of millions of people saying, “Hey you should go to the summit” the A-list types are just not going to make sense for them to do that. The B and C list people though is where you’re really likely to see the most promotion and also the most conversion from their audience because they have a motive there too. They are still trying to grow their audiences, they are trying to add value and so forth and so the B and C list types are usually a lot more likely to promote and at that point you can get a couple of hundred or maybe even a thousand or two added to your email list just out of one B-lister who is really promoting your summit. So again, a way to entice this is to offer an affiliate program. So, what you do there is basically say, “Well hey, anybody that clicks through and buys the all access pass through your affiliate link” you will give them let’s say 30% of the revenue or 50%. So, in my case, I’m probably going to be doing 50% and then in a few rare cases, if a person really refers a huge number of people then I might up their level to like 75% or something like that. And that last tier there of offering a 75% commission if somebody refers let’s say more than two or 300 paying members is to maybe offer an enticement to the really large B-list or the A-list type people to say, “Okay this may be worth my while to promote this to my list because I am going to get a pretty large percentage of the revenue if I do that”. All the other things that you would do in a normal affiliate program contest and tracking and leaderboards and all that kind of stuff are also recommended if you have the ability and the time to do that. So, in my case, I’m going to offer an affiliate contest. There will be some prizes for the top affiliate who refers the most people that buy the lifetime access pass and so forth. So, there’s just a number of different things there within an affiliate program that you can do to try and entice the speakers to promote out to their list and in addition to that promoting your summit, it comes back to any other type of promotion that you would need to do. Like if you were launching a course or a program or something like that, all the other methods are viable. So, Facebook ads, contests, content marketing, I’m still in the middle of deciding how many of these I’m going to do. It really does take a lot of time obviously to do all of that marketing. I’m deciding where I am going to spend my budget so I have to set aside a certain budget of X thousand of dollars for promotion and what I’m still working through is how much of that am I going to do on Facebook ads. How much of that am I going to add to bonuses in my affiliate program, am I going to hire affiliate manager and things like that. For my first summit, I’m probably going to do most of these things myself. I may outsource the Facebook ads and a few other things but I do want to learn a lot of these techniques so if I have the time, I’m probably going to do most of them myself. But if I start running into crunch time, I’ll hire out a couple of those things just to make sure that my first summit is successful. So again, promoting is a key part of it and that’s something that you also need to plan for. So, the last thing that I wanted to cover is just exactly where I am in the process that I just outlined. So right now, like I said, I’m about a third of the way through recruiting my speakers. I’ve got about 15, well I have 15 that are committed of them two are A-list names and a handful are B-list and then a few are C-list types. I still have to do some more research and outreach to probably another 20 or 30 to net the final 15 that I need to do. So, at this point I got 10 or 15 emails out that are pending and so I expected a few out of that and then I’ll have to do 20 or 30 more to finally fill out my list there. So that part for me has taken longer than I thought but part of the reason is that I have been shifting a little bit as I go the type of people that I want at my summit. So initially I think I over focused on the A-list types and it is a lot more effort to do the relationship building and the outreach and so forth to get a full cast of A-list types in there. So, over the couple of weeks I’ve been doing this, I’ve been shifting a little bit more to B and C list types just because the success rate there is higher and then again, those folks are a little bit more likely to go the extra mile for you just because of the dynamics of their audience and yours. So, as I said, in terms of targets I am hoping to gain at least 2,500 email subscribers from my summit. I am targeting 5,000 and then my stretch goal is 7,500. So, in VSM there is a number of different case studies and things like that that you can see at the very high end of the spectrum. Some people have added 20 or 30,000 new email subscribers to their list during the summit period but I do see a lot of normal what I would call or “average” people in summits hitting that 2,500 to 3,000 mark. So, I feel pretty confident that that’s a good minimum bar that I am confident that I am going to get but I do want to do that target of 5,000 or stretch for even more than that. The other thing that I think people underestimate a lot that VSM says right up front that you should do is to allow at least four months of time to plan, recruit, build and promote your summit. And so luckily, I did follow that advice. I could say I started in May then did some initial planning and at first thought I was going to launch in the end of August but then after a couple of weeks, I’ve decided to push that out a little bit more just to make sure I had enough runway and so basically, I said, “Okay, well I’m planning in May and my summit launch and that free access period is going to be in the middle of September.” Okay so given other commitments and all the other stuff that I have going on, that seemed to be a reasonable timeframe but right now, I’m at about the halfway point and I would say a tiny bit behind schedule but I am definitely glad that I pushed that out and left myself at least that minimum of four months there to do it and I would say allocate that four months about evenly across the topics that we talked about. A month for planning, a month for the speaker outreach and recruiting, a month for all the tech stuff and then a month for the promotion. It certainly can be done faster. I mean if you are working full-time in your business and this is the only thing you are going to be doing for that time period then yeah, you could probably get a whole summit all set up in one to two months or something like that but for the vast majority of us, definitely plan on that four-month type of time window. And then the last thing I wanted to mention is obviously as you could tell from this episode, I’m a big fan of the virtual summit mastery program and there was recently a launch of that and the program is closed now and it’s basically going to re-launch in the fall with a version three, a big upgrade to the course. So, I am working with Naveed directly as part of his additional coaching programs and so it’s likely that I’ll be an affiliate for 3.0 when that comes out and by that time, I’ll have already launched my virtual summit. I’ll have the results of a full breakdown of everything that worked and did not work and so forth. So definitely be on the lookout for that later this year. If you are thinking about a virtual summit now after you have heard this episode or if you think that might be something that’s going to work out for your business. So, with that, I wanted to thank you for joining me today. If you’ve been enjoying the content here on StrongStart.fm, it would greatly help us out if you could give us a quick positive review over on iTunes. My goal is to help as many people as possible reach their goals so we need to spread the word. I also would like to encourage you to join my free membership academy. In addition to easy access to every download and free resource that I’ve created in the last two years, you also get exclusive additional member content and access to my private Facebook group. You also get access to the free period of the virtual summit that we talked about in this episode. So, what that means is that if you join my free membership, all of my free members since they are already opted in, they’re going to automatically be added to the list for the free access period for the virtual summit and during that week, you’ll have full access to all of the videos. So, if you want to join us there, head over to StrongStart.fm/joinfree. Thanks, and we’ll see you on the next episode of StrongStart.fm. [FINAL MESSAGE] [0:33:06.0] ANNOUNCER: Thank you for listening to StrongStart.fm. Be sure to subscribe to receive future episodes. Then head over to StrongStart.fm/podcast for the action plan and links to all the resources mentioned in this episode. Join us again next time on StrongStart.fm. [END] The post What are Virtual Summits? | StrongStart.fm – 024 appeared first on StrongStart.fm.
33 minutes | Jul 15, 2017
Building the Perfect Blog Post: SEO | StrongStart.fm – 023
In this episode we're going continue our series about building the perfect blog post and dive into the topic of search engine optimization for your blog posts. This is part of a series that started with episode 15 describing how to become great at every part of online business. That episode talked about taking a big topic, in this case building the perfect blog post, and breaking it down into component parts. In Episode 17 we talked about keyword research and how important it is for the overall ranking of your content in search engines. We also provided a detailed process for finding 5 – 10 related keywords to use in the blog post we are working on in this series. At this point, you should have a fully edited draft, nearly ready for publishing. The next step is to ensure the post is optimized for search engines. This is referred to as on-page SEO. The things you need to do for an individual post. In this episode you'll learn: How to optimize: Title tag Meta description URL/Permalink Headings/Subheadings Keyword density Images Readability Internal linking External linking Load speed Social sharing Action plan: Review the top 3 resources for learning about editing Download the SEO checklist Customize the checklist to suit your needs Links and resources mentioned in this episode: On-Page SEO: Anatomy of a Perfectly Optimized Page (2017 Update) http://backlinko.com/on-page-seo On Page SEO – Everything You Need to Know https://www.searchenginejournal.com/everything-need-know-page-seo/173577/ The definitive guide to higher rankings for WordPress sites https://yoast.com/wordpress-seo/ Transcript Download Download a PDF of the Transcript Transcript Hey everybody, Dave Ziembicki here from StrongStart.fm. My mission is to help you design, automate and outsource the technology of your online business. In today’s episode, we’re going to continue our series about building the perfect blogpost and dive in to the topic of search engine optimization for your blog posts. This is part of a series that started back in episode 15 describing how to become great at every part of online business. That episode talked about taking a big topic, in this case building the perfect blogpost and breaking it down into component parts. Back in episode 17, we talked about keyword research and how important it is for the overall ranking of your content and search engines and we also provided a detailed process for finding five to 10 keywords to use in the blog post that we’re working on in this series. The keyword research phase was all the way at the beginning because really, what you have to be thinking about is whatever the topic of your post is, whatever the target keywords that you want that post to rank for, you need to be thinking about those and having those in mind as you write your content. As we walk through the structure and copywriting section and when we talked about images and graphics and calls to action and everything that we’ve done in this series so far, we were putting in some of those keywords with an eye towards eventually doing optimization of the post for search engine rankings and for making sure it shows up higher in the results and so forth. At this point in the process, you should have a fully edited draft, nearly ready to publish. The next step that we’ll talk about here is to ensure that the post is optimized for the search engines. This is referred to as on-page SEO. The difference between that and regular SEO or site-wide SEO is we’re really talking about the things that are very specific to this individual post. Other things like the title of your blog and the design and all the other content pages and things like that, that’s more site-wide SEO where you’re starting to think about the entirety of your content and how that shows up in search engines. In this episode, we’re really focused down on to an individual blog post and that on-page SEO for that specific post. Now, what we’ve done in the series is for each of these topics I’ve provided you some detailed resources that you can go check out if you want to dive deeper on this topic and for the purposes of on-page SEO, there’s three articles that I’ll point you to and then I’ll include over in the show notes at StrongStart.fm/023. The first resource is called On-Page SEO: Anatomy of a Perfectly Optimized Page, updated in 2017 and that’s over on Backlinko.com. The second is On-Page SEO: Everything You Need to Know and that was published over on Search Engine Journal last year. The third one is The Definitive Guide to Higher Rankings for WordPress Sites and that’s over on Yoast.com. Then in the show notes I’ll also include a couple of other links to some additional resources that I used when putting together this process and the checklist that I’ll be including. Now, if you haven’t already, I do recommend installing the Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin. This is by far the leading plugin for SEO on WordPress and it makes the process of optimization that we’ll be talking about here a lot easier. The plugin’s been around forever, version five actually just came out at the time that this episode is being published and it’s a really powerful tool. It’s built right into WordPress, it’s right into your page post, page and post editor and basically as you write your content, you can scroll down to the Yoast section and what it does is it scores your content on a whole bunch of different dimensions related to SEO. It also gives you a number of different options for setting the specific things that we’re going to talk about in this episode. Things like your meta description and what your focus keyword is and what your post is going to look like if it’s shared on social media and so forth. All of these things are made much easier and done in one place if you install the Yoast plugin. Again, I’ll link to that over in the show notes at StrongStart.fm/023. In terms of the details, there is 11 areas that we’re going to cover in this episode. Now don’t worry, most of these are very simple but they’re important items that you need to do for every post. I’ll cover some of the reasons why for each of these times here and then for the how and the step-by-step optimization, that I’m going to include as I always do in a downloadable checklist that will be over in the show notes at StrongStart.fm/023. The first thing we’ll talk about is the title tag. This is usually whatever you set as the headline of your WordPress post and if you have an extremely custom theme or are using something other than WordPress, you need to double check that your headline is set as the H1 or title tag of your post. We covered how to write great headlines back in episode 18. But from an SEO perspective and also sort of what we described in that episode, if you can get your primary keyword into your headline and as close to the beginning as possible, that’s ideal but you don’t want to do anything sort of unnatural or that’s not going to read well or not going to draw interest like a headline should just to get your keyword stuffed into the beginning of it. That’s one of the reasons why we spent so much time on headlines is it sometimes can be a challenge to get that keyword in there, get it toward the front and also have it be an interest-generating headline, that’s one of the reasons why we included a bunch of formulas in that episode. So generally for this step, you want to make sure that your headline is wrapped inside of an H1 title tag in your post and once you’ve confirmed that for your theme and what you're doing with WordPress since again, it is the default for almost all cases, then you should be good to go for all of your post. But again if you’re using some kind of weird complicated theme or you're using something other than WordPress for a post in your content then you’re going to want to really do a double check of that. Because that is one of the things that Google is looking at first is what is the title of this piece of content? The next section that’s important is called the meta description and that’s the short snippet of text that shows under your title in search results. Now, that description is really important because if you think about it, when you go to Google or Bing or any of the search engines and you type in a query, you get back this list of results and for each result, generally, all that you see is the title of the page and, you know, maybe one sentence of content about that particular search results. If you imagine your blog post that you’re about to publish, showing up in search results, the only thing readers are going to have to judge your content by and determine whether they’re going to click through is basically that headline or that title and that first line or two of text, which is called the meta description. Now, absent of any other action, WordPress is just going to use the first – I forget how many characters it is but, you know, basically the first hundred and some characters of content. Your introductory sentence and paragraph may or may not be what you want to show up in search results. When we talked about the first sentence and the first paragraph back on episode 19, we recommended really short introductory sentences that were directly connected to the headline but were the goal was to really just get you to sentence number two and to get you through the first paragraph. Basically to get you into the flow of reading and continuing to read the article once you land on it. That obviously is after the point where the person decided to click to read the article so again you may want to have a different meta description for your search results than whatever is the first line of your blog post. The Yoast tool plugin makes that very easy to do. So when you scroll down to that section of the post editor in WordPress, you’re going to see the ability to change what your title looks like in search results and what your met description looks like and there will be some guidance in there on length and so forth. So definitely what you want to do is think about that and think about well what’s the best one line of text I could put here that’s going to generate enough interest along with the headline to get the user to click that search result? The next optimization is the URL or permalink that you set for the post and some people don’t know, this can be different than your entire headline. In fact, WordPress by default is going to try and shorten up your headline if – sorry. WordPress will try and shorten up the URL if your headline is really long. Where you see this is basically right under the headline section in your WordPress post editor. So there’s whatever you type in to the title of your content and then right under that is the permalink or what that URL is going to look like and in the editor, you’re able to edit the very last part of it. That’s the part that’s going to be all the way to the right, whatever the final part of the URL is for your content. Now the rest of that URL is basically set site-wide in WordPress and that’s called your permalink structure. What that does is that determines how WordPress is going to organize your content. So it used to be you could have – people recommended a structure like your domain, then your category and then maybe a month and then maybe the title of your content and then it basically showed within the URL structure that there is a hierarchy behind your site. These days, that’s pretty much irrelevant because WordPress maintains that hierarchy, the search engines generally don’t care about that hierarchy anymore, so it’s better to have more clean URLs where it’s really just your domain/whatever the title or the permalink of your content is going to be. Again, that can be different than your headline. So when you look at some of the really significant articles that are out there on SEO, a couple of the ones that I mentioned at the top of this, you look at Bryan Dean’s articles, he has very nice headlines for those articles but the URL’s are usually much shorter and really just the keyword or the keyword plus one or two other words. That’s something that you want to think about there, that’s something that I don’t do well right at this point. I wind up with this really long content series with titles so mine are overly long and probably not as optimized as they should be. But that is definitely something that you want to take a look at and really think about what your site-wide URL structure is and move that over to being the simplest one, which is domain/the title of your content and then within each of your posts, checking out that permalink and making sure that it’s got your keywords in there but maybe take out a lot of the extraneous text of your content’s actual headline. The next thing that you want to optimize is the headings and subheadings in your content and what you want to remember here is that the search engines are doing basically what you're trying to do what your readers are, quickly scanning the post and see if it’s worth reading or it’s worth ranking. So headings and subheadings help both the search engines and your readers understand your content better. Now, we covered these in some depth in episode 19. I mean, that whole episode was about the structure and copywriting of your post. From an SEO perspective here, this step is to make sure that the subheadings are actually proper H2 and H3 headings and not just you know, bold and font combinations in your text. If you’re primarily used to editing your post in the visual side of WordPress then, you know, you’re not seeing what that looks like in HTML and whether it’s a proper H1, or an H2, or an H3, or something like that. You want to make sure that you’re using the formatting drop down in the WordPress visual editor and for those items that are going to be your headings and sub headings, you want to make sure that they are set to the heading tags inside of WordPress. The next item that we’ll talk about is keyword density. Now, the Yoast plugin lets you enter a focused keyword for your post and then it goes through and analyzes all of the content for how well and how often that keyword is used. In this case, you know, when I write the show notes for this episode, one of the keywords is obviously going to be SEO because that’s what this episode is about. If I type that in as the focus keyword when I’m authoring the show notes and if I scroll down to the Yoast plugin section, it’s going to tell me how well that keyword is used. It’s going to say, “Well this post is 2,000 words long and you use the keyword 10 times in there,” and it basically comes up when it calls a keyword density rating for how often and how well that keyword is utilized. Now, at this point, because we’re basically toward the end of the whole content creation process, you probably don’t want to make too many changes to your post at this point but if Yoast is telling you that the keyword density is either really high or really low then you probably do want to make a few edits there. Now over time, you’ll get better at doing this and you know, you won’t have to make significant changes, you’ll know the proper amounts of time to use the keywords and so forth and really just the Yoast section will be a little bit of a double check of that but again if you get to the end of your content and it says hey, you’ve only used your focus keyword once in a 3,000 word post or something like that. Then you’re definitely going to want to get that improved or it just never going to rank for that keyword. The next topic is image optimization. Now, we covered image optimization in depth in episode 20 and if you adhere to the check list and the guidance in that episode, then you should be good to go with this post. Now, if not though, now is the time to work on your images, you don’t want to skip those steps. That episode covered things like looking at the size of your images and the speed of loading the images and how you can optimize that and especially setting a couple of other tags around each image like the alternative text that is used by the visually impaired and that is also used by search engine crawlers to understand what that image was about that you added into your post. Again, this is one of those steps that a lot of people really don’t’ take much time with, they just sort of pop an image into there and that’s it. But you’re losing out on some potential SEO benefits if you don’t go through the optimization steps that we talked about in episode 20. Next up is the general readability of your post and this is going to be something that Google and the other search engines are ranking for as well. If your post is just one gigantic, you know, 3,000 word paragraph with very long sentences and no headings or structure or anything like we’ve talked about so far. Then it’s just going to be – have a very low readability score, therefore the search engines are going to predict that users are not going to be very happy with that result and then that’s going to push it down in the rankings. Now, we already covered editing and proof reading for grammar and readability in episode 22 and we covered a couple of tools in there that help you do that. Another one is actually the Yoast plugin itself and this is something that I don’t think I included in the last episode. So I may go back and make an edit there and add that into the resources, but Yoast does include a general readability score and assessment for your content as well. That’s going to tell you things like whether your paragraphs are too long, your sentences are too long and a number of different other readability things that it’s going to go through and take a look at. Generally, at this point, hopefully you won’t have any if you followed in the process in episode 22 for editing and you used the tools that we talked about in there. But if Yoast is showing any kind of red or orange alerts or warnings on any of these categories of the content analysis then you do want to go through and take a look at that and maybe fix those up. The next area of optimization is internal linking. It’s generally a good practice to link to other content of yours inside of each of the blogposts that you write. There’s a lot of really technical stuff related to SEO and how the search engines look at your content that this internal linking can help. So it’s a little bit more than what I think we can cover in this episode but generally speaking, if you have a page that’s going to rank really well and you link to other pages in your content, the ranking of the primary page may pass through some of those other pages. An example is let’s say, like in my case, I wrote a post, it was called The Definitive Guide to WordPress for Online Entrepreneurs. That was an epic post, I think it was eight or 9,000 words, a ton of content, you know, something I expect to grow in rankings over time. Now, inside of that post, I linked to a bunch of my other content that was relevant, right? I had written previously about some productivity stuff and I’ve written previously about some particular things related to WordPress and blogs. So as my Definitive Guide starts to rank higher and higher, that some of that ranking is going to actually pass through to those links because when a high ranked page links to a lower ranked page, it passes through some of that emphasis or some of that emphasis or some of that ranking. Now, the reverse can also be true and so, let’s say you’re writing a post and it’s not going to rank well at first right? Maybe you don’t have a ton of traffic, maybe you’re not going to be able to market that post all that well. You still want to do this internal linking because it basically tells the search engines that for this particular topic, that post that you’re writing is not the only one that you’ve written about on that topic. If you link out to other things in your content that are related to that, that will tell the search engine, “Well, okay, this isn’t just a one time article, this is something that maybe this site focuses on as a key topic and it will then rank the content a little bit higher just because of the various other internal links. Yoast was recently updated to provide recommendations for internal linking based on the content of your post. What it’s doing is taking a look at all the different keywords and topics that you’re talking about and then it’s looking at all the other content you have in your blog archive and suggesting, “Hey, you might want to link out to these three articles or these four articles,” or something like that. That’s helpful if you’ve got a ton of content, maybe you forgotten about what you wrote about a year or two ago or what specific post it was in. Yoast is going to give you some of those suggestions. Basically the ideal case is that in the current post that you’re working on, if you’re using a word that you know was the focus of another post you’ve written previously, use that word as the anchor text of a hyper link to that other piece of content. So in my case here, obviously a couple of times I’ve mentioned episode 22, the one the proceeded this one that was about editing. When I go back through and I update the show notes and I start adding some links and so forth, every time I mentioned episode 22 and editing, I’m going to go highlight the word editing and then I’m going to make a hyper link back to that particular episode. That’s called an internal link because I’m linking to my own content, the anchor text is just the word editing because that’s what I’m going to highlight, right click and then say, “Make a hyper link.” Now, you do want to be careful not to do this too much or Google will penalize it, thinking that you're trying to actually manipulate this search engine results. Generally having two to four internal links per post is the ideal case. Closely related to internal linking is the next topic which Is external linking. Also here, generally linking to external content is a positive ranking signal for most of the search engines. I mean after all, this is how the web and Google works. If they weren’t hyperlinks then there wouldn’t much of a web and Google would have a very difficult time figuring out how popular a particular content is. So the idea here is not to stuff your content with hundreds of external links because that would actually take the ranking down. On the flip side, you don’t want to have none because it basically shows well this is just an opinion piece and did the person actually do any research because it didn’t link out to any references or site any sources or anything like that. So here, it’s not a problem if you have many outbound links, but you just want to make sure that they are relevant to whatever you are writing about and you definitely want to make sure that you’ve linked to any sources or content that you are siting or using inside of your particular blog post. Now related to external links, there is a few cases where you want to modify those links so that they are not basically used in terms of ranking or page and those are called no follow links and so what that means is, whenever the Google robots come to your site and they’re crawling your content they look at all your hyperlinks and then they’ll go off to each thing that you link to to see what that page is about. So there are certain times where you don’t want the search engine to go off to those other sites, especially in cases if you have affiliate links or some other scenarios where it just doesn’t make sense. You are including the link for a specific purpose but it doesn’t have anything to do with the content or the ranking of your page. So those types of links you can set to no follow and that basically tells the search engine crawlers, “Okay once you hit that link stop. You don’t need to go crawl the page that that was linked to.” The next optimization topic is the actual page loading speed. Google announced a while ago that they would be taking page load speed into account and search rankings and at the time that freaked a lot of people out because it made it sound like the highest speed of page on a given topic was going to get the highest ranking but in reality, basically what Google is doing is trying to establish a minimum bar for performance. What that means is, if pages are loading exceedingly slow or they don’t meet that minimum bar, then Google is going to push them further down in the rankings. But if your pages load in a reasonable amount of time then that ranking signal basically just gets turned off and everything else is going to be what your page is ranked on. So again I would look at it more like it’s just a minimum bar and as long as you can get your page load speed into the acceptable range, then that’s all you need to worry about at this point. Obviously the question then is, “What is acceptable?” and they don’t publish the exact details of that but they do give you a huge amount of tools and capability in some of the Google tools to figure out what’s slow on your site, what is slowing down your page load time. Now I did cover this a fair amount in the Definitive Guide to WordPress for Online Entrepreneurs, so I am not going to cover in depth of some of the things you can do about page loading time here. But I will talk about just a couple of things really quickly which is really the key factor is that control the speed of your site is, how good is your hosting? So if you are on really crappy shared WordPress hosting then a lot of times your site is going to be slow regardless of how much optimization you do because you might be on a shared server with a hundred other sites and you are seeing some load at that time and therefore, it is impacting the performance of your particular site. So the biggest bang for your buck, and it does cost bucks, is more premium WordPress hosting where it’s going to be on a higher speed platform. That is just going to benefit all of your content and then any optimizations you do upon that are just going to be even better. The next biggest factor is how complicated your WordPress installation is. So how many different plugins you have and just how much stuff is getting loaded on each of your pages. If you are on one of these themes where you’ve got sidebar then content then sidebar and each of your two sidebars has 55 different things that it’s trying to load. You may have these complicated plugins that are taking up a lot of time for your page loads, that is just going to impact your performance again across the board. So having a relatively simple WordPress installation with a relatively small set of plugins, you know, just the ones that you need and then optimizing those for performance that’s really the second most important factor in your page loading time. Then the third is the one that is relevant on the proposed basis and that is the images and the image optimization that you do. If you’re including dozens of high resolution images in each of your posts and you’re not optimizing them and compressing them and so forth, then that’s also going to really kill the loading time on your page. So again, we did talk about that in some depth in episode 20 about image optimization. So the bottom line here is that before you hit publish, you can do this with the preview copy of your page, it makes sense to go through and run it against some of the page speed analyzers that we’ve talked about in previous episodes. There’s Pingdom, there’s UT Metrics, there’s a couple of others like that that will basically let you enter any page on your site, it’s going to go overload that page and then it’s going to give you what’s called sort of a waterfall display of all the different things that load it and how long each part took and then an overall load time for your page and say, “Well this page took 1.7 seconds to load, or this page took 8 seconds to load.” Generally what we are looking for here is three to four seconds or better loading time. If it takes more than four seconds to load your page, A, it’s going to be ranked lower by Google and B, a lot of readers are just not going to hang around for that page to load. So again, this gets into a fairly complicated and technical area, but it’s pretty critical and once you’ve solved the performance issues for your WordPress site as a whole, then most of this proposed optimization is relatively straight forward and it doesn’t take a whole lot of time. The final optimization that we are going to talk about is social sharing. So one of the things that is nice about the Yoast plugin is that it provides a capability to preview what your post is going to look like if someone else shares it on Facebook or Twitter. What that means is that you can go a tab in Yoast and let’s say you click the Facebook tab and what you’re going to see there is, what is the default image that Facebook is going to pick up from your post? Sometimes it’s not the image that you’re expecting. You might have a featured image up on the top of your post but for some reason, what gets picked up is an image from somewhere further into your post. The other thing you can change is if you want, you can change the title in the description that is going to show up on Facebook. So it is a nice feature and that you are going to get that view of exactly what that is going to look like on Facebook and then you have the ability to change it. Same thing for Twitter. So if you need to and this is something that I usually do at the end in this optimization phase is I’ll go through and double check that. Is the image in there the one that I want it to be when I share it on Facebook? Is it what you want it to be when you share it on Twitter? Now the reason why this is important is because the dimensions of the image that you use in your blog post might be different than what the dimensions are in Facebook and Twitter and of course those two just differ amongst themselves. So what we are getting out here is if, let’s say you have a title image that you want to show up everywhere. You are setting it up as the featured image on your blog post, you would like it to show up on Facebook, and you’d like it to show up on Twitter. You’re probably going to need to create three different versions of that image because they’re going to be very likely three different resolutions between your blog, Twitter, and Facebook. So this section of Yoast makes it easy to upload the Facebook version of that image for Facebook and upload the Twitter one for Twitter, and then if anybody is going to share your post, it’s going to pick up the proper image for that particular social network. So again, that’s really sort of the moral of the story with this entire series is there’s a lot of these detail level stuff to make sure you do it correctly every time if you want to build these perfect blog posts that we’ve been talking about. So that is just a small but important example there. Now directly related to that is if you don’t already, you almost certainly want to put some form of social sharing plug in on your WordPress installation. So most of us have this, but if you are not familiar with it, when you go to some of these blogs that are out there and you see the whole list of all these social media icons, Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and so forth, those are usually generated by a social sharing plugin. So that is something you go install in your WordPress installation. You configure some options like what your Facebook page is and what your Twitter handle is and so forth, and then it automatically populates those sharing icons at different locations that you can figure on your site. So in my case, I like showing them right underneath of the featured image. I really don’t like these floating bars that have all those social icons in there. It may make for a few extra shares but I find none of them really work well on mobile, so I just don’t like installing them at all. The other thing you have to look out for with those plugins is some of them are really heavy weight and significantly slow down your site. So I will provide some recommendations in the show notes but just be careful with that and go with the lightest weight version that you can find that is going to give you those icons and enable that sharing. We just went through a bunch of these optimization items pretty quickly to step back a little bit and summarize, you know, the main process that’s outlined in this episode and I recommend is first installing the Yoast plugin. Review the getting started content for it. Then I want you to head over to the show notes to StrongStart.fm/023 and download my free checklist that outlines the full SEO process that we’ve been talking about here and goes into some more detail of each of the steps. What you want to do is use that every time you create a new post and use that as the final optimization step before you hit the publish button. So at this point I have to stay stop and congratulate yourself. If you have listened to every episode in this series and that’s all the way from episode 16 to this one in episode 23, you have gone through a ton of content on really deep-diving into how to create a blog post process and work flow for making sure that everyone of your post is perfect every time you publish it. We covered everything from initial research in episode 16 all the way through creating and editing the content, down to the final SEO optimization that we’ve talked about in this episode. So at this point, if you’ve been following along with one or more of your posts, you should have a fantastic blog post that’s ready to publish. Now of course, the purpose of this series was to show how to create a professional workflow for doing all of those steps in a consistent way every time. I hope the episodes in this series explains things well and I hope you have downloaded all the checklists and are using them in your process and in your tools right now. But here’s an incredibly important point: Your work on this blog post is not done yet. The next phase is you have to promote the post that you published. No matter how good your content is and no matter how well you’ve SEO optimized it, if you don’t promote the post and get it shared and get people linking to it, it is just not going to be read by anybody and it’s not going to be ranked by the search engines. For me, this is one of my biggest challenges. You know, I’m in this zone of trying to create a lot of content trying to add a lot of value to my audience and to you that are listening and the promotion phase of the content is something that I really have been trying to dig into a lot over the last month or so and started building up my processes there because to date they have been not all that great. Other than some basic posting of tweets and to my Facebook page and reposting those a few times, I don’t yet do a ton of influencer or outreach or having a back link, a strategy and going after those and so forth and that is one of the reasons why, in my case, the growth of my site and my traffic has been relatively slow compared to what I wanted it to be. So a lot of people that you talk to will say, “Well if you are spending 20 or 30% of your time creating content, you really need to then spend the remaining 70% promoting it.” So that’s something that I’m going to be making a big change in my whole workflow and that is going to be the root of the next couple of podcast episodes, is I go through everything that I am putting in place for promoting my content once I’ve created it. So that topic will be a new podcast episode series, and in there we’ll talk about social sharing, we’ll talk about influencer outreach, we’ll talk about amplifying your content, repurposing it, and then also how advertising can come into the mix to promote your content as well. So with that, I want to thank you for joining me today. If you have been enjoying the content here on StrongStart.fm it would greatly help us out if you could give us a quick positive review over on iTunes. My goal is to help as many people as possible reach their goals so we need to spread the word. I’d also like to encourage you to join my free membership academy. In addition to easy access to every download and free resource I’ve created in the last two years, you also get additional exclusive member content and access to my private Facebook group. To join us, head over to StrongStart.fm/joinfree. Thanks and we’ll see you again next time on StrongStart.fm The post Building the Perfect Blog Post: SEO | StrongStart.fm – 023 appeared first on StrongStart.fm.
28 minutes | Jul 1, 2017
Building the Perfect Blog Post: Editing | StrongStart.fm – 022
In this episode we're going continue our series about building the perfect blog post and dive into the topic of editing your blog posts. If you've been listening to the episodes in this series, it should be clear that we are treating each blog post as a strategic piece of content. We're not ... Read more The post Building the Perfect Blog Post: Editing | StrongStart.fm – 022 appeared first on StrongStart.fm.
21 minutes | Jun 23, 2017
Building the Perfect Blog Post: Calls to Action | StrongStart.fm – 021
In this episode we're going to concluding your blog posts with calls to action. We'll cover why you need calls to action, the different types of actions, and how to write call to action copy. If you've listened to the previous episodes in this series, you know that even when you break something ... Read more The post Building the Perfect Blog Post: Calls to Action | StrongStart.fm – 021 appeared first on StrongStart.fm.
33 minutes | Jun 17, 2017
Building the Perfect Blog Post: Images and Graphics | StrongStart.fm – 020
In this episode we're going to talk about blog post images and graphics. According to HubSpot, 40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text. Jeff Bullas has found that articles with images get 94% more total views. This is part of a series that started with episode 15 describing how ... Read more The post Building the Perfect Blog Post: Images and Graphics | StrongStart.fm – 020 appeared first on StrongStart.fm.
34 minutes | Jun 10, 2017
Building the Perfect Blog Post: Structure and Copywriting | StrongStart.fm – 019
In this episode we're going to talk about blog post structure and copywriting. The structure of your blog post is critical for a number of different reasons. The most important is keeping your reader engaged. This is part of a series we are doing that started with Episode 15 describing how to become great ... Read more The post Building the Perfect Blog Post: Structure and Copywriting | StrongStart.fm – 019 appeared first on StrongStart.fm.
25 minutes | May 27, 2017
Building the Perfect Blog Post: Headlines | StrongStart.fm – 018
In this episode we're going to talk about headlines for your content. Headlines are obviously important for capturing your audience's attention. According to CopyBlogger “On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.” Average means content with average headlines. Content with ... Read more The post Building the Perfect Blog Post: Headlines | StrongStart.fm – 018 appeared first on StrongStart.fm.
35 minutes | May 20, 2017
Building the Perfect Blog Post: Keyword Research | StrongStart.fm – 017
In today’s episode, we’re going to talk about keyword research and break it down into a quick process you can do for each type of content that you create. This is a part of a series we’re doing that started with episode 15 describing how to become great at every part of online ... Read more The post Building the Perfect Blog Post: Keyword Research | StrongStart.fm – 017 appeared first on StrongStart.fm.
34 minutes | May 13, 2017
Building the Perfect Blog Post – Research and Statistics | StrongStart.fm – 016
In this episode we're going to begin a series about building the perfect blog post. We'll cover the first component of a perfect blog post: research and statistics. In the previous episode we talked about how to become consistently great at any topic in online business. We discussed how to take a topic ... Read more The post Building the Perfect Blog Post – Research and Statistics | StrongStart.fm – 016 appeared first on StrongStart.fm.
34 minutes | May 5, 2017
How To Become Consistently Great At Every Part Of Online Business | StrongStart.fm – 015
In this episode we’re going to talk about how to take any topic in online business and become consistently great at it. One of the key activities I’m doing with my business is breaking down everything into topics, processes, tools, automation, and outsourcing by breaking in to this components I can take each ... Read more The post How To Become Consistently Great At Every Part Of Online Business | StrongStart.fm – 015 appeared first on StrongStart.fm.
30 minutes | Apr 28, 2017
Case Study: Getting Started with Influencer Outreach | StrongStart.fm – 014
In this episode, we're going to talk about influencer outreach and how to use automation to help kickstart your outreach process. Do the influencers in your niche know who you are? If they don't, how do you start building awareness and a relationship with them? One of the best ways to start ... Read more The post Case Study: Getting Started with Influencer Outreach | StrongStart.fm – 014 appeared first on StrongStart.fm.
27 minutes | Apr 21, 2017
Facebook Live: What to do After Your Live Broadcast | StrongStart.fm – 013
In the previous episode we discussed all of the things you need to think about and do during your broadcast. In this episode we’re going to talk about what to do immediately after you finish broadcasting. This is part of a free content series called the Definitive Guide to Facebook Live. To finish our ... Read more The post Facebook Live: What to do After Your Live Broadcast | StrongStart.fm – 013 appeared first on StrongStart.fm.
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