I won an award

Today my boss was notified that marketing materials I created for my company were chosen for an award. The large organization operating in the United States chose my marketing materials as the best submission of more than 600 entries.

I’m extremely proud.

I am brand new to the industry that I work in presently. I started in May and prior to starting, I’d never had any involvement with anything relating to any company, organization or subject matter surrounding the industry which I presently work. This is a big deal for me. This is also the second award that my work has won in two months.

To me, this is an acknowledgement that marketing is absolutely integral to the way business is done. If you have better marketing, you’re going to have more success with your operations. Heck, if you have better marketing, your company is going to be acknowledged on an international scale when awards are distributed.

While I know that we work as a team and we win as team, we all play different roles within the organization. This win is a direct reflection of the role that I’ve taken on over the past few months and the improvements I have made for their company. I know I said it before but I’m really proud.

Back in the interview process for this job, they asked me ‘Why should we hire you over other qualified candidates?’ The response that I gave them was something along the lines of ‘They may be qualified but they’re not as qualified as I am’ and that they wouldn’t ever regret making a decision to hire me. My boss brought up those comments today when I was informed of the win.

Pretty cool.

Quadruple the COVID

COVID cases around here have quadrupled in the past seven days.

Quadrupled.

Thanksgiving was just too important to skip. It was just too important that people couldn’t stay home. They had to get together. They had to celebrate together.

Well, I hope it was worth it. Quadruple the cases and snow on the ground, below freezing temperatures making it hard for people to be outside… I can do the math here and it’s not looking good for us. I hope that everyone who just had to get together for Thanksgiving enjoyed themselves because from the looks of things, Christmas is going to fucking suck because of it.

And, if anyone is following trends, we quadrupled cases in seven days thanks in large part due to Thanksgiving dinner gatherings. There’s no ‘Black Friday’ in Canada. Canadians don’t cram into shopping malls just hours after eating to buy everything in eyesight. I don’t want to sound like a downer, but if I’m being realistic, I highly doubt every retail outlet, store and shopping mall in the United States would have to close and stay closed on Black Friday. November is likely going to be a very dark and sucky month.

Okay, rant over.

SEO for WordPress bloggers

Photo by Stephen Phillips – Hostreviews.co.uk on Unsplash

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is such a loaded subject. If you’re new to SEO it can be extremely overwhelming to subject to try and comprehend. Heck, even if you’re a seasoned vet with SEO it can be an extremely overwhelming subject to try and comprehend.

I’m no expert when it comes to SEO. But, I have learned a thing or two over the past decade. So, included in this post are some of my basic, easiest to understand suggestions to help you improve SEO for your blog. Whether you use the free WordPress plan or the Business WordPress Plan take some small steps and watch how your stats change.

SEO TIPS

If you have the WordPress business plan, use the Yoast plugin. This won’t be applicable unless you have the business plan. But, if you have the business plan, Yoast gives you what is essentially a step-by-step guide of how to take a post from a basic post to an SEO superstar.

Pick a valuable keyword for your content. Keywords are are words or phrases that describe the content on your page or post the best. Essentially, a keyword is what you think people will search on Google to find the post that you’re writing. It’s important to pick a keyword that speaks to what you’re sharing, and that it also be something people will search. Keep in mind that if you pick too generic, you might not get indexed. And, if you pick too specific and people might not actually search it often… if at all.

Utilize keywords throughout your content. It’s important to ensure that selected keywords (subject matter) for your posts are woven throughout your content. This means trying to include your keyword within the title, any headings and subheadings used, DEFINITELY within your introductory sentence, and the concluding paragraph. Do not put your keyword in places where it is not applicable.

Optimize any images shared. If you’re uploading a photo to your blog, include keywords in the file name. If you have a business account, use a keyword rich description in the ATF. If you do not have a business account, use a keyword applicable caption.

Reference both internal and external links within your posts. With respect to your content, you should think of your blog as a sort of… digital spider web.

  • An internal link is one that links from your post to another page or post on your site. This is really quite simple, actually. If you make a post, link other similar posts. If you frequently talking about anxiety, link other posts you’ve made about anxiety. If you talk about parenting frequently, link some similar posts where you speak about parenting. Doing this creates a digital spiderweb within your own site, which tells search engines you’ve been around for a while.
  • An external link is one that goes elsewhere on the web. You can link to posts made by other bloggers. You can link to the site that possibly motivated you to write your post. When you are linking externally, make sure the site you’re sharing a link to is one relevant to your article. Don’t just link to link. Quality links are a valuable piece to any site looking to rank higher on search engine pages and the digital spider web you’re trying to weave should speak to your blog and it’s content/value

Use social media to broaden your reach and share your blog posts. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are all great resources for sharing your posts and garnering more views. You can make new friends and acquaintances on these sites, grow your audience and your blog’s reach. And, in sharing links to your posts on social media, you’re both adding to the digital spider-web of your blog, and creating valuable back-links to your website.

Have a user friendly website. If your website is difficult to navigate, search engines are not going to rank it highly in indexes. If your menu is difficult to find, search engines are not going to rank it highly in indexes. If your text is a neon green colour that can be difficult to read, search engines are not going to rank it highly in indexes. The sites which rank the highest within search engines are the ones that are most user-friendly to the masses. It makes sense if you think about it – why would google recommend a website to you that’s going to give you a headache trying to navigate? If your website is confusing, maybe it’s time to make some upgrades.

Fix broken links. Broken links can do a lot of harm to you when you’re trying to get your site indexed for search engines. If you do everything you can to have your content indexed but you do have broken links within your site, those broken links are going to ‘delegitimize’ your site/blog to search engine crawlers responsible for indexing. Think of broken links like people who try to clean by shoving everything in the closet and shutting the door. The mess is still there, you’ve just hidden it. Even if you’re taking every other step possible to be indexed, if you’ve got broken links within your site, your mess is still there, it’s just hidden.

Fix your blank pages. If you have a menu item on your site that goes nowhere at all, that’s going to harm your ability to be indexed. Even if it has nothing to do with your post content. If there’s a blank page somewhere on your site, search engine crawlers could possibly believe your site is incomplete and deem it not worthy of being indexed.

Make your posts content easy to read and understand. Use short sentences. Use headings. Use subheadings. Use bolded sentences when you’re trying to accentuate a point. Break up the content into small chunks so that, even if someone is an idiot, or if they have a short attention span, they can make it through your post. When you’re sharing your content you should be dumbing it down so that the stupidest person on earth could read it and understand it. The reason for this is, search engines want to rank pages highest that are easiest for everyone to read. One long run-on paragraph is going to be harder for people to get through. Content that is rich in technical language is going to be harder for people to get through. If something is difficult for people to consume, search engines are not going to rank it as reader friendly.

TO CONCLUDE

As with every suggestion, tip or trick I offer on this blog, please take all information provided with a grain of salt. Use what works for you and leave what you don’t want

SEO is such a convoluted subject that there’s a lot of advice floating around the interwebs. Quite honestly, you could probably take any number of the first two hundred suggestions that come up from a quick google search and see some improvements in your site rankings. To be successful with SEO, it’s all about doing including the small details and taking those extra little steps to make you content user/reader friendly.

If you have made it through all of this and have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to answer whatever I can.

The Discord Dummy catches COVID

One of the reasons that I was very anxious about how sick I was this past week was because one of my coworkers recently let us know that he tested positive for COVID.

Firstly, I wasn’t surprised when he told us. I’ve written about him on this blog before, here and here. Basically, he’s been exceptionally careless about the ongoing pandemic. He’s been going on dates and hooking up with females like it’s nobody’s business, and, detailing his exploits on the company discord. The fact that he has COVID was a little bit of karma finally catching up with him.

“Practice safe sex” really takes on a whole new meaning when there’s a deadly pandemic sweeping the globe. I can’t imagine the frustration of the health care workers trying to do contact tracing and having to follow ‘Girl I had sex with from Tinder’ as a lead.

While I haven’t been physically present within six feet of him, we were in the same office together for several days. We walked the same halls, opened the same doors, you know… we shared the same vicinity. So, the fact that I was really sick had me extremely worried that it was COVID and that I had caught it from him.’

Anyways, apparently he’s felt like absolute shit. He went so far as to say this is the sickest he’s ever been in his entire life. Do we think he’s going to learn anything from this experience? Doubtful.

The good news is, I didn’t have COVID. I had the flu. I’m feeling much better now, which I am grateful for. I think I was feeling extra whiney when I was sick because I had the added anxiety of waiting for test results. Thankfully I was able to avoid people for several days so I know for certain that no one else got sick because of me.

Grocery delivery is quickly becoming one of my favourite conveniences.

As for Axel, haven’t heard from him in a couple of days. Hopefully he’s recovering well. Even if he did have this coming, I still hope he’s not suffering too badly.

Back when we first started hearing about this virus in late January on the news, one of the first things my brother said about it was “You really can’t vouch for the healthiness of anyone but yourself”. Which is so, so, so true. If anyone who reads this is dating during this pandemic, just be careful. You really can’t vouch for the health of the other person… even if they say they’re perfectly healthy. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Well… shit

Yesterday, in this province, we broke the record for positive cases in a single day since the start of the pandemic. Today we broke yesterday’s record.

I would like it stated, for the record, that I am NOT for this ‘well if we all catch it then we’ll be good’ mentality. As someone who lives with an autoimmune condition, I really would prefer to not ‘risk it’ and hope for the best. Maybe that’s just me, though…

Healthy people need to realize that they’re harming everyone if they have a nonchalant attitude about this. Cancer patients are being told they can’t have their treatments because it’s too much of a risk. Surgeries, necessary surgeries are being postponed because it’s not safe. People who need to rely on the health care system are being told that they can’t because selfish people need to throw wedding receptions and retirement parties.

Enough, I say. Enough.

This is unimportant, but

I bought Halloween candy back in August when I was feeling hopeful on the future and hopeful that Halloween might actually be able to be a thing this year. The Halloween candy has remained, in my cupboard, unopened, since then.

I even bought the Halloween candy that I like, and can eat, so that I could steal some of it. Which, looking back was either a smart or a stupid thing for me to do. With each passing day it’s looking less and less like Halloween is happening this year. I might be eating all of it.

I’m just proud of the fact that I’ve had candy in my cupboard since August and it’s still unopened. That is my definition of will-power.

So much snow

It just won’t stop snowing.

It’s been snowing for days.

The roads are a mess.

Naively, I thought there were at least a couple, if not a few, more weeks until winter really began. I was a fool. A dang fool, I tell you.

I’m not feeling much better from where I was at on the weekend. But, the good news is, I’ve been staying away from people so, at the very least, I know I’ve not gotten anyone else sick.

COVID has spiked in this city. It’s basically doubled in the past couple of days. I did write about it yesterday but I took the post down because I felt I was a little too aggressive. Regardless, you know… you really don’t know if someone’s healthy or not. The only person you can vouch for is yourself.

I’m counting my lucky stars that I have this beautiful home to hide out in. It’s a shelter from the weather, from the virus, and from stupid people. And as long as I can get food delivered, I’m staying here for the forseeable future.

Let’s talk about Sales

Disclaimer: If you disagree with anything I’ve written in this post, please feel free to share your opinions with me in the comments section. My only ask is that you would be kind about it. Sales is a subject matter that is not one-size-fits-all, so if you read this and think something is a good idea, please make sure you adapt it to properly fit your good or service being offered. If anything doesn’t make sense, or you have questions, ask me in the comments below and I’ll try to clarify.

The past few months I’ve noticed a lot more people using their platforms (blog, social media, podcasts, etc…) to make sales. Whether it books, clothing, consulting services… whatever it is, there’s been a huge influx in people selling.

While I deeply admire those who are exhibiting the entrepreneurial spirit in the best way possible, showcasing their goods and creativity, I have noticed a lot of people could be being smarter about the way they’re selling.

Now, that’s not to say that anyone is doing it wrong. If you’re doing it, that’s one hell of a great first step. But, I think it’s important to keep in mind that, very much like life, you should always be looking to improve.

How many sales have you made this week? This month? This year? Are you satisfied with the sales you’ve made? Are you looking to make more? How do you make more sales?

WHO IS YOUR AUDIENCE?

Are you selling your products to a business? Are you selling your products to individuals? Are you selling to men, women or both? Perhaps you’re selling to Gen Z, or even Gen X. Whoever you’re trying to sell your products or services to matters greatly with respect to how you sell. Knowing your audience is so important.

WHAT IS THE STATE OF THE MARKET?

You know, I don’t want to be a debby downer here, but COVID has brought a lot of the world to a screeching hault. There are two things people don’t want right now… ‘nice to haves’ and commitments.

Unless you’re selling an essential good or service, you’re likely going to see some suffering in your ability to make sales. If people don’t need what you’re selling then a lot are likely going to skip purchasing it. This nothing against your product or service, this is a reflection of uncertain times and a desire to keep the money they do have for the things they need, or ‘just in case’ scenarios that could come up.

To speak about commitments… from a psychological perspective, very few people are signing up for something that requires a commitment because of the fact that no one knows where we’re going to be or what the situation will be in a week, two weeks, five weeks or more. If they can’t see that far ahead, the don’t want to sign themselves up for something that commits them to that far into the future.

WHAT IS YOUR VALUE VERSUS MARKET VALUE?

This is a controversial topic because a lot of people believe that if they lower the price of their goods or service they’re lowering the value they provide. When, in reality, it’s likely that your product is only valued at that lower cost anyway.

Take a house, for example. Your house might be appraised at $500,000 (hypothetical numbers). The housing market, while it hasn’t drowned in a COVID world, has taken a bit of a hit. The market value of the home might only be $400,000 right now. That’s not a reflection of the home itself, that’s a reflection of the market. The house is still the same. It’s not as though there’s less of it, or it’s damaged. It’s just a reflection of the market.

Pre-pandemic, people might have spent $50 for what you’re selling because they had the $50 to spend. During pandemic pricing can’t be a reflection of pre-pandemic life. People don’t have that extra $50 to spend right now. They might only have $10. You, selling your product or service at $10 does not devalue the product itself, it shows that you understand market fluctuations. Just let people who purchase know that you reserve the right to raise the price again in the future when the world becomes more stable.

Besides, selling 5 at $10 is better than selling 0 at $50. Maybe, for those 5 people who you’re selling at $10, work out a deal that they also provide you with an online review. Reviews are HUGE for making sales.

Selling a house for $450,000 is a lot better than not selling at all because you’re so damn stubborn. Sure, the housing market could bounce back… eventually. How long are you able to hang onto the house for before you go bankrupt? Sometimes you just have to accept the time the world is in.

ARE YOU PROVIDING CONSUMERS ENOUGH TIME?

This one is very important. In my corporate job, one of the things I’ve been teaching my team is that it takes time for a company to decide upon purchasing our product. It’s an investment. They need to think about it, discuss it, work it into their budget. This isn’t just the case with companies purchasing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of software, this is the case across all industries, platforms and audiences. See, unless your clientele is strictly people with the wealth of Bill Gates, they need to think about the purchases before they make them.

If you’re saying ‘Buy this, it’s such a great deal and it’s only on sale until Monday’… well, whether it’s Tuesday and people have six days or Sunday and people have one day, that’s not enough time.

If someone is very interested in your product or service, at the very least, they need time to budget for it.

When is a typical pay day? Are you factoring in that as a consideration? The first of the month is when rent is due and typically around the time a lot of mortgage payments are due. (Not everyone, just a lot) Often times the start of the month people have less money to play with in their budget then in the middle of the month. If you’re offering a ‘steal of a deal’ that’s only good until the 5th of the month, are you doing yourself any favours? Are you doing your potential customers/clients any favours? No, not really.

Whether your product or service is $10 or $10,000 dollars, you need to provide people adequate time to determine whether or not they can, want to, or should purchase.

DON’T OFFER PAYMENT PLANS

This is an entirely personal opinion, but just don’t do it. Not unless you’re selling a car or house. You’re not a debt collector and you don’t want to be seen as such.

Payment plans are in place for people who require a good or service now, but cannot afford the full price at this moment in time. Thigns like ‘Quad-Pay’ drive me crazy. Payment plans are meant for essential goods, not a purse or a lego set. If someone can get by without what you’re offering, then you’re doing them a disservice by putting them on a payment plan and adding another bill to their long list of bills each month.

If you’re not offering an essential good or service, but you’re offering a payment plan, you’re taking advantage of people by selling them something they cannot afford.

WHAT ADDED VALUE ARE YOU PROVIDING?

This is something we talk a lot about with my day-to-day job. People aren’t purchasing your product to purchase your product, they’re purchasing your product to purchase you. I truly mean that.

How’s your small talk?

How’s your real talk?

Do you care about the people you’re speaking with?

My work sells software. Everyone on earth sells software. If you’re reading this post, you’ve bought software and are using it right this very instant. What makes people buy from us? Not the software, that’s for certain. People purchase from us because of the customer service we provide. People buy from us because of the team of extremely intelligent people with masters and doctorates who line our support staff and are at their beck and call whenever needed. People choose our software because they know they’re not getting software, they’re getting the company too.

How does that relate to individuals, you ask? Well the same concept applies. If you’re an indie author, very few people in this world are just going to purchase your book solely for the reason that it exists. Very few people are going to purchase your book for the reason that it belongs to a genre they enjoy. People are going to purchase your book because of the connection it has to you, and because of the connection that you have to them.

LASTLY, IF YOU CAN, JUST GIVE IT AWAY

You can trial software for several weeks before determining whether or not you wish to purchase it. You can drive cars before determining whether or not you wish to purchase it. There are umpteen thousand things on earth that offer you the opportunity to try, test, read or view said good/service before purchasing.

Why? Because if your product/service is so superior, then providing a free sample of the product/service is going to hook people.

It’s not manipulative, it’s smart.

If you’re a graphic designer just starting out, offer the first design free to show someone what you can do. After that, charge them per design. Until you’re well established, this is going to be a good means for you to drum up business and increase awareness of your capabilities.

If you’re an author and you’re legally allowed, post the first chapter, or even just the first few pages, of your book. Get people excited about the content they wouldn’t otherwise be able to see.

If you’re a social media phenom, teach someone the strategy to one platform and they’ll come to you seeking the strategy to others.

I am in no, way, shape or form saying that you should give away everything that you do. I’m saying that you should give away a teaser. Give away a piece… something to excite people… something to get them talking. It incentivizes people.

TO CONCLUDE

Whatever you’re selling, however you’re selling it, just remember to put yourself in the mind of your ideal consumer. Think like they think. Do what they do. If you can truly understand the people you’re trying to make sales to, you’ll have a far easier time making connections and eventual sales.

Remember that sales is not a one-size-fits-all business plan. It differs from person-to-person, industry-to-industry. Do your research. Be flexible. Be confident. Lastly, but certainly not least, be proud. be proud of what you’re providing.

Why is bedding so ugly? (a rant)

Warning: the following post is my ranting about a problem that comes from a place of privilege. A ‘first world problem’ as the masses would call it. I know I’m a very lucky soul that these seemingly simple problems are problems of mine.

I just want a comforter. Just a warm comforter in a plain colour. Something that will keep me warm through the winter.

I don’t want a duvet because taking the cover off to wash is too annoying for me to tolerate, so I refuse to spend m money on it.

I don’t want a white comforter because I’m a human being and that comforter would not stay white very long.

I don’t want a thin blanket. I need a real comforter. It’s been snowing here for the past week and we’ve had a drop in average daily temperatures by probably 15 degrees. Thin blankets aren’t going to cut it.

I don’t need a ‘bed in a bag’. I’ve already got sheets. I’ve already got pillow cases. I’m a millennial so top sheets are completely lost on someone like me. I don’t want to spend 30 minutes making my bed every morning. These sets available aren’t worth it to me. I don’t need 5 or 9 piece sets… I need one piece. One comforter, that’s it.

I just want a basic, one coloured comforter that will keep me warm through the winter.

Is this too much to ask?

Apparently.

I’ve scoured Amazon, Wal Mart, Superstore, Bed Bath & Beyond, and even Wayfair (even though I have a strong dislike for Wayfair and do not wish to give them my money). I’ve found green and black plaid, red and white plaid, yellow with daisies, city skyline printed, navy with various shades of pink poppies scattered all over it. I found a pink and gold marble pattern, neon green strips, black and red checkers. What ever happened to just… simple?

Long story short, I can’t find a simple, plain comforter. I find stuff like this:

I mean no offense to anyone who finds these examples cute, or they are your style. To me they just look like they’d be a bit of an eye sore in my bedroom. And, for several hundred dollars, it should at least be something that fits my style.

If anyone has any suggestions of where to look for bedding please let me know. I’d prefer online at this point. I am quite sick and I don’t want to go out and about shopping.

Thanks for listening to me rant.

I don’t feel good.

My head feels like an anvil was dropped on it.

My throat is dry, sore and my pallet swelling.

I go between stages of being so cold that I’m violently shivering, and so hot that I want to take off all of my clothes and run out into the snow.

Sinus pressure is making it difficult for me to breathe.

I’m tired. So tired. I slept for twelve hours last night and then had a four hour nap today.

My vision is blurry.

My body feels so achy. I think I’ve aged thirty years in the past 24 hours. Touching any part of my body feels like I’m touching a bruise.

Aye yai yai.

I don’t feel good.

I know I’m whining. I just need to whine for a hot minute.