No huge intro needed for this post. Here are 10 actionable items that you can do right now to improve your online business or blog.
1. Re-Evaluate Your Goals
On a piece of paper (yes – paper), write down where you want your business or blog to be a year from now. Think about the following when doing so:
- Number specific items, such as:
- subscribers / followers
- Non-number specific items, such as:
So often, we get stuck in the routine of just doing things, that we forget exactly why we’re do what we’re doing. Re-evaluating your goals will give you that boost of energy you need to get things done, and possibly even help you realize that you need to do things a little differently to get to where you want to go.
2. Visit Your Homepage for the “First Time”
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – first impressions are HUGELY important, especially online. You’ve got less than 10 seconds to make a new visitor decide to stick around, or else they’re going to leave.
So, what can we do?
Pretend to be a brand new visitor to your site. Go to your homepage and run through the following questionnaire in your head:
- What do I notice first?
- Can I understand exactly what the site is about without scrolling or clicking anything?
- Have I seen other sites like this before?
- How easy is the website to navigate?
- What seems to be missing?
By quickly answering those 5 questions, you can easily see what kinds of things need to happen to improve your website. Maybe it’s just as easy as making some fonts larger, or taking away some annoying advertisements or popups.
If you find that any of these changes will take less than 5 minutes to, do them right now. If it will take you more than 5 minutes to do something, make sure to write it down or put it on a to-do list so you can catch it later.
3. Check and Correct Crawl Errors
Using Google’s Webmaster Tools, you can see if there are any errors on your website that you can fix right now.
Step 1: Visit Google’s Webmaster Tools.
Step 2: If you haven’t already, setup a Google Account (if you have gmail, you’re good), and verify your website address. To verify, you’ll have to “add new site”, and either use a meta or html page on your server to verify your website. (They walk you though how to do this).
Step 3: After you’re all setup, click on your verified website and on the right hand side, you’ll see a section called “Crawl Errors”. What happens is Google’s bots that crawl through your website keep track of any errors that they find along the way for you, which may include broken/dead links, or links that people should have access to, but for some reason don’t. You can click on each individual error and find out exactly where it’s happening, and correct the problem right away.
4. Grade Your Website
An even more thorough way to check the health of your website is to get it graded by a site such as Website Grader. It’s free (and you don’t even have to enter your email address like they ask you to), and it spits out a nice, lengthy but easy to understand report about your website and the things you can do immediately to make it better.
For example, if your meta data or website descriptions are too long, it will tell you (and by how much). It also checks your RSS feed, social media, your image tags, and a whole bunch of other things you should have optimized on your website.
Try it out, it’s free!
5. Ask Someone a Question
No matter what level you’re at with blogging or online business, you’re always going to have questions that you’d like to have answers to. I have questions all of the time, and I’m not shy about going to someone more experienced than me for an answer. More often than not, I will hear back from them.
It’s easy, and you can do it right now. Don’t be shy. When you think about it, what’s the worst that can really happen? You won’t get a response back?
6. Shoot a Video
That’s right. Turn on that camera that’s connected to your computer and shoot a video of yourself right now.
What are you going to talk about?
Anything related to your blog.
Spend 5 minutes shooting an unedited video, and upload it to YouTube. After it’s uploaded, make sure you have relevant keywords in the title and in the tags section, and make sure to write out your entire URL in the first line of the video description. Blast it to all of your social media buddies without a thought.
In Tim Ferriss’ The Four Hour Workweek, he likes to give us exercises that we can do that help us step out of our comfort zones. This needs to happen every so often in order to make real progress and take bold actions.
For example, one of his exercises is just to lay down, flat on the ground in a public place, and look straight into the air. It might sound weird, but if you can do that, just imagine what you can do in front of a crowd when you’re talking about something you love and are passionate about.
Shooting a video on a whim like this will help you learn how to step out of your comfort zone, and it’s good practice for public speaking.
7. Spend 5 Minutes to Thank 5 Of Your Customers, Subscribers or Readers
Going the extra mile to just say thanks to someone for no particular reason can make someone’s day. Not only will those 5 people remember who you are just a little bit more, but you’ll never know, one of them may come back and repay you somehow later in the future, just for being extra nice.
Like in happy, successful relationships, it’s the small little, unplanned gestures that make the relationships really special.
(cheesy, I know…)
8. Test Something
You should always be testing something on your website or blog.
Using Google Optimizer, split test something important on your page and wait to see the results. Even if you’re not selling anything, you can still test conversion rates for subscribership, email opt-ins, and even click-through rates for various links on your site.
If you don’t know about Google Optimizer or exactly how to use it, you can read more about it here at How to Run Free Split Tests Using Google Optimizer (this was a blog post I wrote in 2008, but it’s still good!).
9. Turn Off the Distractions
Distractions are all around us (especially those of us who blog and work from home), trying to stop us from progressing and getting things done.
First, understand what those distractions are. Secondly, conciously make an effort to turn them off, and only turn them back on once you accomplish something and reach a particular goal or finish something that you meant to finish.
For me, I specially have to turn off my Twitter client, as well as my Mail program, so I don’t get notified of a message in the middle of doing something. Also, I put my phone on silent, and sometimes work in full screen so I’m not tempted to click on certain icons.
In the same sense, I consciously think about what’s helping me progress, and what is not. Sometimes, what I think is helping me isn’t doing much for me at all. I take the 80/20 rule, figure out what that 20% is that’s making a difference in my business, and I work on that.
As a great internet marketer once said, “You gotta starve the horses, and feed the stallions.”
10. Follow Up With Your Audience
Whether you have an online business selling some kind of product, or just a regular ol’ blog, you can always benefit by asking your customers or readers what they would like to see improved.
Seriously, if you ask, they will tell you.
Send an email to your previous customers (you’re keeping track of their email addresses, right?), or your email list (you have an email list, right?), or even write a blog post asking for suggestions on how to make their experience a little better. Remember, it’s all about your audience’s experience, not your own.
This is how I finally ended up with a website design for this blog that I love. I went through a previous redesign, asked what people thought, and I got great feedback from you, which is all that really matters.
With my LEED customers, I usually send an email every two months asking my existing customers how their studying was going, and if there was anything I could do to improve my study guide.
Not only will this help you figure out what you can do to improve your business or blog, but it will show everything that you care enough about them to ask.
So there you have it. 10 things you can do right now for your online business or blog. If you’d like to help me out, please feel free to leave a comment, or retweet this post on Twitter.
Thanks for your support, and wishing you all the best!
p.s. Here’s to my son’s 2 month old birthday!