9 Steps to Publish a Kindle Ebook

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Use this guide as a slightly more than a checklist for your Kindle publishing project. Going through all the steps will help you plan it and fit it into our schedule.

It will also alert you in advance to steps you may find especially time consuming or just not up your alley, allowing you to plan for, find and hire the correct outsourcing contractors to complete these particular modules.

 

Step 1.  Write Your Book

Lots of people talk endlessly about writing a Kindle ebook:  Not so many do it.  If you are writing non-fiction, you need to come up with a hot topic.  Checking out magazine stands, best seller lists and the Amazon marketplace itself will help you get an idea of what people are looking for nowadays.

Discount books written by celebrities.  Those will be heavily promoted and subsidized, and won’t give you a true picture of what’s currently in demand, topic-wise.

Narrow your topic down to specific Kindle book categories.  Come up with a dynamic Title if you can.  (Don’t get too hung up on that, however:  You can change it later.  It just helps you get a feel for the character of your book, if you come up with a strong title at this stage.)

Write an outline.  It will help you stay on topic and produce a much tighter, more focused book that feels professional and reads clearly.

Then sit down and start writing.

The Secret to Writing – and Finishing – Any Book

Schedule it.  Don’t wait for inspiration. Ruthlessly put aside your feelings.  Just give yourself a minimum word count per day that you have to write:  Then stick to that minimum.

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That’s the magic formula that published authors the world over have discovered.

(The real secret?  If you make yourself do this every day, and turn off your Inner Critic, it soon becomes a habit.  And that’s when you suddenly catch the wave and learn to surf!

And what a high it is, when you can’t wait to sit down at your computer in the morning (or evening, if that works better for you) and get started.

That’s how books are made.

 

Step 2.  Proofing and Editing

Writing your book is a huge accomplishment for many, but it’s just the raw bones of your finished product.  Put the book aside for at least a week if you can, and then come back to it and begin the process of proofing and editing.

Spell-check first, then proof it again for readability.  Then proof it again for consistency.  Then proof it again for flow.  And run the spell checker a final time.

If you’re new to writing and have the budget, hiring an editor at this stage can free you up to continue with other projects and get the book ready for print a lot faster.

 

Step 3.  Create your Ecover Image/Have it Created

Your ebook’s cover image is one of the most important components to getting your book approved by Amazon, being taken seriously as an author – and inspiring people to buy.

If you do not have solid art skills, don’t waste time or cut corners here:  Hire an artist experienced in creating Kindle ecovers to produce a polished, vibrant product.

If you do have artistic experience, you still need to be totally familiar with ecover formatting for Kindle.  Here are the requirements:

  • Your cover image has to be in .JPG or .TIFF format
  • Resolution:  72 D.P.I.
  • Minimum size:  500 pixels wide X 1,000 pixels
  • Maximum size:  1,250 X 2,000 pixels
  • Maximum file size (interior photographs):  127k

Don’t use black and white photography for your Cover unless it is an essential part of your cover photo’s statement and enhances the book’s mood and premise.  Your interior photographs will display in black and white on older Kindle versions, but your cover will always be competing with other richly-colored covers on Amazon’s Kindle book site.

Your cover photo should be 100% original. If you hire an artist to produce the artwork only (as opposed to producing the entire ecover) make sure she signs a “work-for-hire” clause, ceding all rights to you. Do this also if you hire a photographer to produce a photograph.

If you outsource through Fiverr, perform due diligence to make sure the artist is not using improperly licensed stock photos.  This is the sort of risk you take when you outsource through abnormally low-priced sites – but it can also help you unearth great talent.

If you purchase an image from a stock photo company, make sure you also purchase the correct commercial license.  But original is always preferable.

 

Step 4.  Do Your Own Formatting for Kindle/Have it Formatted for Kindle

So your book is ready to upload.  Your ecover is also ready.  You have a variety of options available as far as formatting tools go, but since you most likely created your ebook in MS Word, let’s take the easiest route – publishing it with KDP Select. Before we even begin to worry about the actual formatting process, however, you have to make sure your manuscript is Kindle format-ready.

If you don’t already know how to format for Kindle and you don’t want to outsource, download Kindle’s own Building Your Book for Kindle guide.

And before you upload your book, make sure you have created and thoroughly tweaked:

  • Your Cover photo for the book
  • Your Description

Research and know your keywords too, as well as the categories you’d like associated with your book.  Finally, decide on a price for your book.

 

Step 5. Sign Up or Log Into KDP Select

You may see a message like the one below in the upper, right-hand corner. Click on the anchor text: “Update Now”.

3-update-notice You will be taken to your account screen. Fill in any missing information.  Put your real name. You will be able to choose a pen name later, if you’re planning to write for different niches or genres under different pen names.

Step 6.  Upload Your Book

  1. If you don’t see the “Update Now” message, simply click on “Add New Title”.

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Don’t be intimidated about uploading your first Kindle ebook.  You will be able to “Save it as Draft”, and no one will see it until you are ready to publish.

When you click on “Add new title”, you’ll be taken to section # 1, “Your Book”.  Beside it, you’ll see # 2, “Rights and Pricing”.

You will also see a window for the KDP Select program.  Decide whether or not you want to be enrolled, and either check or uncheck the box accordingly.  And if you need to find out more about it before making a decision, click on any of the anchor text links or visit KDP Select FAQs.  (You can always enroll later, if you prefer.)

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Next, start entering your book details…

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As you can see, this phase is extremely easy and self-explanatory.  Clicking on the little “What’s this?” anchor text brings up simple pop-ups explaining each step.

If this is a new book, enter “1” for edition number and if you don’t have your own publishing company (something you should definitely explore once you’re comfortable with the Kindle publishing process) enter your own name as Publisher.

Don’t skip clicking on each anchor link:  None will take you away from your page.

Don’t enter an ISBN number or Publication date for now.

Notice that Amazon also offers you the option of setting up a series. (And in this screen shot, you can see how the pop-ups work.)

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  1. Verify that you have the right to publish your content. If it is in the public domain, you cannot include it in the KDP Select program, and you must disclose its status here.

Otherwise, go ahead and select “This is not a public domain work…”

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  1. Next, enter up to 7 keywords (single words or phrases); then click on the “Categories” button to choose the 2 main categories in which you want your work to be located.

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  1. When you click on the Categories, a pop-up will open up.

If you can’t find the exact categories you want, you can either enter “NON-CLASSIFIABLE” and contact support while your book is being reviewed, letting them know the exact categories you’d like the book placed within… or pick a similar two categories for now.  (You can always change it later.)

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  1. Next, upload your book cover.  It should be “camera-ready” – meaning all text should be in place, rather than just uploading the photograph alone.

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Select “Browse for image” if your cover is ready and waiting on your hard drive.

An alternative is to use Kindle’s brand new Cover creator:  However, since your cover is one of the most important selling tools for your book, careful pre-design is recommended.

  1. Once your image is selected and you see your filename in the pop-up, press the “Upload” button.

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  1. Next, upload your book.  If it contains images, upload it as a zip file.

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  1. IMPORTANT:  While your book is being uploaded, you will see message asking you to click “Save and Continue”.  Resist the urge to click “Save and Continue”, and instead select “Save as Draft”.  (This enables you to thoroughly review your book before publishing it.)

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  1. After your book is saved, you will see a green “successful” notification, just as you did with your book cover.

You may also see a notice alerting you to possible spelling errors.

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Step 7.  Preview The Formatted Version

Next, you will be offered the chance to preview your book.  If you have prepared it in MS Word, go ahead and preview it online.  If you have used formatting tools or prepared it in HTML, you may prefer the second option:  To preview it by downloading one of the suggested tools. Once again, pop-ups are there to help you choose the right one.

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If you preview online, you will be able to move back and forth between pages.  If there are image errors, you will see them.

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Since you have saved it as Draft (and even if you didn’t) you can simply go back, correct the errors in MS Word, update your TOC if you need to an re-save as “Web page, filtered”.  (Remember to right-click on this file and “Send to” a zip file format after doing so.)

Once you close your Online previewer, press “Back to the Bookshelf”.

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You will be taken back to where you started.  You will see it displayed as your first Title, along with the status and the option to enroll it in KDP Select.

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This gives you plenty of time to troubleshoot any glitches that showed up in the previewer or explore KDP Select further.

 

Step 8. Rights and Pricing

Once you’ve corrected your uploaded book and are ready to “Save and Continue”, do so.  You will then be directed to continue on to the next page, # 2 Rights and Pricing.

Here you will be able to set your preferences for:

  • Publishing Territories
  • Price
  • Royalty Rates

Here’s what Amazon offers you…

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In other words, if you’re charging up to $2.98, you are locked into a 35% rate.

If you are charging $2.99 or more, you can choose a 70% royalty rate.

If you have decided to go with KDP Select, check their terms also.  You may need to charge a different rate.

 

Step 9. Get Approved

16-checkOnce you have made your pricing decisions and published your book, you will have 24-72 hours to wait for Amazon to review it and approve it.  (Your actual book will appear for sale after 12 hours – but wait before promoting, because other approvals may not yet be in place.)

Use that time to implement your marketing and promo plan – and be ready to roll when you get the green light!

10 Common Google+ Branding Mistakes

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One of the most surprising facts about Google+ branding mistakes is the number of people who still make them!

Here are ten of the most common – and most often repeated…

 

Posting sporadically

It doesn’t matter if you made twelve posts last week:  If this week you’re so busy that you forgot to update your company Google+ page completely you’re going to come off as unreliable. Worse, people who had been enjoying “the conversation” will feel suddenly let down.

Keep them waiting too long – or repeat “feast or famine” posting too many times – and you will actually lose followers.  And hurt your brand.

 

Not paying attention to search engine results

search-resultsIf you stop and run searches for your keywords and competitors, you may be surprised to realize how many top spots are held by those with Google+ Profiles and Pages – and how these show up. Besides, if you don’t take advantage of Google+ branding opportunities yourself, you are ignoring the power of graphics and photos in boosting credibility and capturing interest.

 

Posting empty links

What’s an empty link post? It’s one that does not include a comment and the title seems irrelevant to your followers. Provide your readers a reason why the link you are sharing is important or at least the topic of the article or the title of video.

 

Forgetting to include calls to action

targetThis is something you see time and time again – it’s not unique to Google+, but to all social media channels.  Nevertheless, it’s included here because so many companies seem to make this really inexplicable mistake.

Include calls to action:

  • In your Google+ Page posts
  • On your website and blog
  • With your Google+ badges and icons
  • In your Google+ ‘About’ section

Forgetting to install Google+ badges

This one is really inexcusable.  If you don’t make it easy for your followers, they won’t bother to share and engage – it’s as simple as that. Only slightly less understandable is installing a Google+ badge on your website – and not including a G+1 button so people can endorse your posts.

 

Copying your competitors

It’s great to analyze what works for them on Google+. Just make sure you put equal time into figuring out why. If you take those extra steps to get to the bottom of what seems to be obvious, it will be easier for you to apply critical thinking to your own brand strategies on Google+.  You’ll grow surprisingly good at knowing what you are doing, what your audience is craving – and why your strategies are going to work.  (And that’s most likely what your successful Google+ competitor actually did.)

 

Forgetting to test and track

Most people don’t actually forget this. The real excuse is usually ‘I’m just too busy!’ If you genuinely are – or you have trouble applying and understanding metrics – it’s worth outsourcing this to a social media expert. Just make sure you have regular meetings while they explain your results – and make recommendations that reap good results when later implemented.

 

Not having a clear Google+ strategy

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You will get much stronger and better-branded results if you put preparation and study into what your strategies are going to be.  (Also give yourself a time frame in which to implement them.) Pick one area in Google+ and make it your central platform (but don’t neglect the others). For example, become known for your company’s amazing Hangouts; or brilliantly unique blog posts; or gorgeous, sumptuous original photographs that prompt spontaneous sharing.

Just make sure that whatever you decide to become known for, it is relevant to your business, your products or services, your company’s areas of service or expertise – and, above all, your followers.

 

Not making use of branding keywords or Google+ hashtags

You’d think people wouldn’t forget these two very basic essentials.  But apparently they do – all the time.

Hashtags (unlike comments) definitely increase your searchability and rank.  And keywords provide the foundation.  (Another big no-no:  Forgetting to use actual keywords in your hashtags!)

 

Forgetting to acknowledge, thank or just plain talk with your followers

commentsYes, this happens on other social networks too – but it’s never excusable.  And it’s a sure-fire way to ensure that people quickly stop trusting you.  They’ll simply lose interest.

Finally, remember that everything you do online affects your company brand.  If you are focused on your audience, know your business mission and goals, use the unique and exciting tools provided on Google+ and – most of all – have made a strong commitment to build your brand through excellent service – and content – you will be well on your way to Google+ branding success.

How to Use Facebook as a Business Research Tool

FacebookNowadays, you can – and should – be using Facebook for business-related research.  Not only can you research your audience and your competitors, but you can also monitor your own business interaction, perception and feedback by using Facebook activity.

You can find posts and photos you or your business are tagged in, search for local competitors or audiences, find posts or Pages containing specific keywords – and now Facebook is working hard to refine its new Hashtag functionality so that it aligns more with Twitter functionality.

Let’s start by seeing what you can do with Facebook’s new Hashtag feature…

Step 1.  Facebook Hashtags 101

Facebook hashtags started out as far from Twitter hashtags as you can get.  They are evolving all the time, so right now your best bet is to put Twitter out of your mind and concentrate on what they can do for your business research.

  1. Using Hashtags

You can now create hashtags for Facebook and use as tools for tracking your own posts containing them.

You can also use them to track posts that others make, using:

  • Your specific hashtags
  • Hashtags you are following, tracking or researching

hashtags

Right now, according to Edgerank Checker, hashtags haven’t caught on firmly enough to positively affect your viral potential or Facebook rank.

But they can be extremely useful in quickly tracking down random Facebook conversations containing them, via your Facebook Graph Search function.

  1. Searching hashtags

You can search for Facebook hashtags that already exist – and for those that don’t exist.

For example, say you wanted to create the hashtag #facebookcontests:  Type it into your Facebook search bar.

  • If it already exists and is in use, it will appear like this:

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  • If the hashtag you type in doesn’t exist, you will see this (and possibly other search results):

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If you click on the yellow icon under a non-existent hashtag search result, you will be taken to a page like this, where you will be prompted to create your first post around that hashtag:

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How to Find Existing Facebook Hashtags:

Note that you will not see similar hashtag suggestions in search results:  You will only see Pages and People suggested, if appropriate.

However, you can use existing Twitter hashtags for purposes of monitoring and research.  You can find the best of these at Hashtags.org.

 

Step 2.  Using Graph Search

Running Facebook searches is the other half of the “using-Facebook-hashtag” process.  But you can search this social network for business research purposes without necessarily concentrating on hashtag-finding alone.

Facebook has already rolled out graph search. If you have it, you will have already been invited to “Take a Tour”.  If you don’t, expect any day now to see the popup inviting you to check it out.

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With graph search, you can:

  • Search for friends by name (“or anything else”)
  • A simple phrase (e.g. “Friends who live in Wyoming”)
  • Any information contained in your friends’ Facebook accounts (e.g. Photos, businesses, places, movies, music)
  • Any information contained in Public accounts or in your Friends’ Public categories

For example, if you want to search for “Coffee”,  you will see results such as coffee shops, coffee brands, Pages about coffee (all Pages being Public) and similar results.

In short, anything you have ever posted to Facebook is now searchable.  So before you start searching for friends, phrases or information, you’re going to want to quickly adjust your privacy settings to segregate anything that doesn’t fit with your business branding.

To see what is searchable on your Facebook account, click the little padlock icon:

 7-what-is-searchable

It will display who can:

  • See your present, past and future posts
  • See posts and photos you are tagged in
  • Send you friend requests
  • Send you Facebook messages

You can also limit past posts and decide whether or not you want your Facebook account to be searchable by other search engines.

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Your Profile – To control who sees your profile information, use your “About” tab.  If you are still using a personal feed, click on your Name in your top, horizontal menu bar to the left of the padlock icon.  You can then choose to edit your Profile and its privacy settings by performing one or both of the following functions:

  • Click on your About tab, under your Cover Photo

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  • Click on the Activity Log tab that will appear within your Cover Photo.  If you are exploring Graph Search for the first time, you will receive prompts.

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Use your Activity Log to review posts with location or other tags; or review tagged Photos

To make sure the right people find only the most appropriate information about you or your business:

Assign one of the following three categories to each type of contact:

  • Only Me – Information you want to use for personal and/or business research or reference
  • Friends – Information you want personal friends and family to see.  (That would also include any networking peer or friend you’ve “Friended” on Facebook.)
  • Public – Ideally, anyone at all, including your target audience, business peers, networking contacts, clients or customers.

A good rule of thumb is to never post anything that (a) clashes with your branding (b) you wouldn’t be comfortable with strangers or your grandmother seeing.

And here’s the best tip of all about Privacy settings:  If you want a narrow, specific, target audience to see a particular type of post:

a)      Create a List containing that specific group of people (e.g. “Clients”)

b)     Use the Custom setting for posts you only want – for example – “clients” to see, specifying the particular list you have placed them within:

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Finally, remember that Facebook Pages are always Public.

Part of business researching always involves controlling what others can research about you and your company – business researching being a two-way street!  Do this intelligently, and it will have a positive effect on your monitoring.

How to Research Effectively with Graph Search

Just as others can research you, you can research competitors, business peers, industry influencers and your potential audience – keeping in mind that you too may only be seeing what they choose to share.

Just click in the Search bar to see what categories you can search in.

When you search, do keep in mind that you can enter any keyword or phrase with or without selecting a category – or even just “Take the Tour” again.

11-what-you-can-search

Of the categories suggested, “Pages I might Like” can be exceptionally useful – if you have optimized your Profile to your audience and adjusted your privacy settings effectively.

For example, if you have populated your profile with things irrelevant to your business – for example, favorite movies – you will most likely get suggestions for pages with no business worth whatsoever.

These pages will be presented based on:

  • Related personalities, business entities and other things in that same category that you have “Liked”
  • How many of your friends share those exact preferences too.

If, on the other hand, you have optimized your Profile for business, your “Pages I might like” results will be more likely to contain useful suggestions.

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Finally, make sure you’ve also optimized Notification settings for your Pages.

(Note:  If your Graph Search suggestions don’t contain a particular category, simply enter the best keyword you can think of.)

You can use Graph Search to:

    • Search keywords for your own or a competitor’s Page
    • Geo-target (using hashtags or keywords) for a local business
    • Find industry influencers and potential followers – using keywords16-page-management
    • Generally making your Facebook business presence more searchable, if you optimize your profile in a focused manner

 

  • Useful Links:
  • https://www.facebook.com/about/graphsearch — If you don’t yet have Graph Search and you are operating from an English-speaking country, click on this link, scroll down the page until you come to “Try Graph Search”.  Press the button.

This also works if you are not sure if you have Graph Search yet.  When you mouse-over the “Try Graph Search” button, a pop-over will tell you whether or not it is installed on your account:

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Conclusion:

Facebook is evolving and changing almost as much as mobile use and technology in general are evolving and changing.

What seems clear is that Facebook is actively doing its best to please both business and personal users – with the edge shifting towards business users (potential advertisers).

Follow Facebook’s official blog, AllFacebook.com, to keep on top of changes in functionality and find new ways to boost your business research.

How LinkedIn Groups Work

linkedIn

One of your most valuable assets on LinkedIn will be Groups.  This is where you can really grow your influence, connect around a shared passion, build relationships and establish your expert status. This is where you can really make LinkedIn work for you.

This is where you can shine.

1-golden-hugBelonging to a dynamic, active Group can help you:

  • Connect with niche or industry leaders – and build a relationship
  • By giving you added credibility
  • Position yourself in your niche or industry
  • Boost your reputation

 

 

You have two radically different directions to go, when it comes to making use of LinkedIn Groups:

  • Join a strong Group that is already in full swing
  • Start your own Group, if no one else has and there is a need for your particular slant and topic

And, of course, you can help yourself to both options:  Joining Groups and starting one yourself.  (Just make sure you can commit time to monitoring it daily, if you choose the latter option.)

Step 1.  Finding Valuable, Active LinkedIn Groups to Further Your Goals

But it’s not all roses and sunshine. With well over 1.2 million LinkedIn Groups (and a good proportion inactive), finding the right one is crucial.

LinkedIn will suggest Groups to you – but do realize they are basing what they serve you solely on the keywords you provided when setting up your account and profile. If you didn’t target your keywords with razor-sharp precision, these Group suggestions may not be the best choice you can find.

It’s not just about Profile keywords, however:  Says Brad Mauney of the official LinkedIn Blog, it’s all about “how well your search matches the conversations taking place”.

The improved Group Search:

  • Shows your connections
  • Allows customized filtering

There are two ways to find relevant Groups:

  1. Look through “Groups You May Like
  2. Use Advanced Search

Start with Groups You May Like.  Even without any filters, it will take its cue first from the job Title and Description you created for yourself and filter out 90-something-percent of irrelevant groups.

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So notice that in our search results for our test Profile (Minnee Mouse, Virtual Project Manager), LinkedIn instantly weeded out the majority of those 1.2 million groups, giving 48 results focusing on groups for Virtual Assistants and Project Managers – with the option to further refine the results by selecting Advanced Search criteria in the left-hand, vertical Group Search sidebar.

Let’s say we refine this same search further by asking for only “Open” Groups (which do not require administrator approval, allowing you to join instantly)…

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Immediately we narrow the search down even further to 24 results instead of 48.

Out of those possibilities, there are three conditions to immediately check:

  • The Activity level
  • The number of discussions under way
  • The total number of members

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Here, you can see the status is given as “Very Active”, and there have been 80 discussions within the current month.  There are 13,097 members.

If you “View” this Group and it doesn’t feel quite right, you can also choose to click on “Similar” to find – you guessed it – similar groups.

How active should a group be?

This varies for every industry, profession, interest, niche or topic.  The above example is one of the safest variances in criteria to go with:

  • 20-100 discussions per month
  • No more than 15,000 members
  • Active to Very Active

Notice that the size of the Group will also have impact on the value of the activity.  For example, you may find a perfect group that only consists of twenty-nine people.  As a result of this comparatively miniscule number, the number of monthly discussions in a “Very Active” Group of this size may be no more than 10-20… but if the group is 100% targeted to your exact preferences and populated with quality members whose input and friendship have priceless assets as far as you are concerned, it is your perfect, valuable Group.

Do take part in much larger Groups and their discussions, however:  You may never get acknowledged – but even if nobody else notices you in that Group, LinkedIn will take note of your exact “conversations” (your unanswered comments, as well as answered ones) and serve up even more targeted search results in every area of your LinkedIn Life.

How many Groups should you join?

A safe minimum is three – and if that includes…

  • One highly targeted, exclusive, small group
  • One medium-level Group (such as the one in our previous screenshot)
  • One mega-Group, hugely popular

…so much the better!  (Don’t get too hung up on formulae, however:  Go with what your gut tells you are perfect Groups for you.)

Most experts recommend belonging to no more than 5-10 Groups.

Your biggest criteria?  How many active, regular interactions can you fit into your daily life:  And how important is that interaction to furthering your LinkedIn networking goals?

Other ways to search:

Don’t rush to join more than three Groups until you have also searched using the following methods:

  1. 1.    Hover your mouse over the “Interests” tab in the top, horizontal menu on your Home Page and select “Groups”.

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  1. 2.    Ask your network.  Share a post saying “I am looking to join a Group that…” Then lay out your criteria right in the post.

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Finish with a call to action:  “Is there a particular Group you would recommend?”

 

Note that once you have searched for a particular type of Group, LinkedIn will continue to make suggestions based on those searches.  So do get into the habit of checking your right-hand, vertical sidebar column on your Home page for Group recommendations.

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  1. 3.    Check out your old alumni to see what groups they belong to.  If you haven’t added any institution connections, do so now by hovering your mouse over “Interests” in your Home menu bar and selecting “Alumni”.

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Step 2.  Check Out Each Group

It’s one thing to “View” a Group:  It’s another to know what to look for and how what you’re viewing should affect your choice.

Here are questions you should ask yourself, when deciding whether or not a particular Group is for you:

  • Is the Group administrator a good leader?  Does she take part in or guide discussions – or is she invisible?
  • Are many questions asked by members?  Answered?
  • Are there guidelines and rules for the Group?
  • Is it open or closed?
  • What’s the overall tone and feel to this Group?
  • Do people really listen to each other – and answer or is it all self-promotion?
  • How much of a top influencer is the Group administrator (or administrators)
  • What is their reputation?

You want to choose a group whose administrators are active, whose rules are clear and whose focus is positive. There should be a culture of listening, respect and participation.

Don’t waste your time on any Group that offers less than the best.

A well-managed Group will always be a useful and valuable Group.

Viewing Group metrics and statistics:

You can also view Group stats.  You can do this from within LinkedIn using its native functions, or use external metrics apps such as Oktopost, which boasts that it offers “LinkedIn on steroids”.

Oktopost is expensive (currently $79.00 per month at time of writing) but there is a free trial so you can accurately assess its value to you.

Step 3. Creating a Group from Scratch

Can’t find the right Group or don’t like the slants of current ones?

LinkedIn not only provides a thorough tutorial, but also videos too.

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But starting your own group is easy.  The real key lies in understanding you have to…

  • Be active in your Group daily – without exception
  • Create clear rules and guidelines aimed at maintaining top quality
  • Steer and direction discussions if they start to veer off topic
  • Offer high value to Group members – a reason for (a) joining (b) participating

All this will ultimately be on your shoulders, even though other wonderful members may move in to take the load off you.  (And you can even add them as fellow Group managers, if you wish.)

Step 4.  Improving the Value of Group Contributions

But it doesn’t matter whether or not you are the Group owner or merely a member of someone else’s Group:  One of your main goals should be improving the value of the Group by donating your time and resources to the group.

Remember you can add to Group posts:

  • URLs to off-LinkedIn, external website or blog landing pages and sign up pages
  • Infographics
  • SlideShare presentations or URLs
  • Documents (reports, templates, checklists, questionnaires)
  • Surveys and polls

9-survey-monkey

And just about any resource you think would help your Group members.

Should your group be open or closed?

It depends on your preferences and whether or not you think either would be of more benefit to the group.

  • If you want to closely screen members and ensure they are top-quality contributors, make your Group “closed”.
  • If you are more interested in building your own visibility or the visibility of your topic, make it “open” (as easy as possible for anyone to join).

Step 5.  Evaluating Your Group Choices

Once you have been a member of a Group for several weeks, do sit back and evaluate:

  • What you have been getting out of the Group
  • What you have been able to contribute

Don’t be afraid to withdraw from any Group that is draining your energy and time.  (You can leave a Group by hovering your mouse over “Interest” in your Home menu bar; then selecting [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Your Group name]>More>Your Settings>Leave Group.  

To close a Group completely, follow LinkedIn’s instructions.

10-closing a group

Step 6. Enhancing Group Identity

One of the most little-talked-about aspects of Group dynamics is creating a strong Group identity.

Just as you were most likely drawn to those groups with the most cohesive mission and strongest identity, so should you strive to create a strong identity for your Group.

One way to do this is by creating a professional, clear Group Logo that gets your message and purpose across visually.  Then upload your Group logo so it appears to the left of your Group description.

Remember – these logos will be tiny (60 X 30 pixels, 100kb maximum file size) – so keep the design as simple, clean and clear as possible.

11-green-project-managers-logo

Decide on your Group identity, purpose, focus and tone before creating it – and keep any changes to a minimum.  Note that you can only make a maximum of 5 group identity changes, under LinkedIn’s own rules.  (They rightly point out that multiple changes “affect member confidence”.)  Note also that Group Badges are temporarily “on hold”.

Take care of your Group members.  Nurture them.  Help them achieve their goals.  Put the Group first.  And that holds true whether or not the Group you’re interacting with is your own or managed by someone else.

There is no foolproof, rigid formula for anything in life – but these Group-finding tips should help you make an informed choice right off the starting gate.

[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

How to Set Up your LinkedIn Profile

how to

LinkedIn has changed over the last five years to adapt to a wildly metamorphosing online and offline business culture, as well as trends. LinkedIn Profiles have likewise changed.

This guide will show you how to set up a strong, basic Profile.

And if you’ve already created a LinkedIn Profile, it may be time to revamp it – especially since LinkedIn has radically changed the look and functionality of Profiles recently to keep up with its biggest competitors – Facebook, Google Plus and YouTube.

Step 1.  Getting Ready

You’ll create a much more seamless and cohesive profile if you line up your content and graphic ahead of time.  Put thought and time into creating content that is fine-tuned to your target demographic.  Preparing as many elements as possible in advance rather than scrambling to create as you set up your profile will increase your chances of presenting a cohesive image.

  1. Invest in a Professional Headshot

1-HeadshotOne major change LinkedIn made to Profiles is the size allotted to Profile photos – 500 X 500 pixels.  This will display at 200 X 200 pixels in your profile, so if you are using the old style of Profile photo, your old one will now be too small and your Profile viewers may see a lot of ugly white space round it.  So change your headshot, if you haven’t done so in the last several months.

Make sure you do use a head-and-hint-of-shoulders shot – it is now a LinkedIn rule that you cannot use any other type than a full headshot.  Pictures of blossoms, babies, dogs, cute hedgehogs and spectacular skies may actually get your Profile photo deleted.

And if your photo is deleted three times, LinkedIn warns that you may not be allowed to upload more photos in future.

 

7 Tips for Professional-Quality Profile Photos:

  • Remember that your photo will be relatively small.  Make the most of it and eliminate background distractions.  Your image should fill at least three-quarters of the space.
  • Remember that your feed icon will be even smaller (60 px X 60 px).
  • Make sure the background is not too “busy”. Even if there are no other distractions, a highly-textured background will only detract from the force and energy of your Profile photo – and you want it to feel active and dynamic.
  • Don’t blend in with the background.  Go for contrast:  If your hair is light, try a neutral dark background:  If your hair is light, the background should be dark.
  • A three-quarters view is better than a full-on view (more flattering).  Lean towards the camera slightly if you want to minimize a double chin.
  • Avoid extremes of light. Strong lighting conditions will throw distracting shadows.
  • Avoid photos that are too dark or too over-exposed

That first glance at your Profile Photo will automatically create judgment in people’s minds.  Make sure that all judgments are in your favor!

  1. Determine your Keywords

These now play a major part in helping your Profile be found organically on LinkedIn, so make sure you choose up to half a dozen strong keywords.

  1. Write Your Summary

Do this in advance and have it ready to upload.  Use your keywords; both in the Title and in the body of the Summary.  You have 2,000 characters to play with and you can now include anchor text – so make the most of this.

Write about only those details your ideal client would be most interested in.

  1. Make Sure all Landing Pages are Tested, Optimized and Ready

A small point; but broken links do happen, so test.

  1. Decide on your Job Title Headline and Description

Don’t be too clever – while it might be fun to describe your job title as “Head Biggy” on Pheed.com, keep it professional on LinkedIn.

2-head-biggy

On the other side of the coin, avoid overused and emotionally meaningless job titles like “CEO” and instead use your keywords (e.g. “Owner, Blog Setup Service”).

And don’t worry if LinkedIn won’t let you insert your custom Job Title and Description during initial Profile set up:  You’ll be able to do so later.

Step 2. Accessing Your LinkedIn Profile

Another way to access your Profile:  Simply click on the “Profile” tab in your top, horizontal LinkedIn menu.

If you don’t yet use a LinkedIn account, go to LinkedIn and sign up.  You’ll be prompted to add contacts and create a Profile.  Stop when you get to that part, and refer to this guide.

If you already have a Profile, but need to update it to the new Profile format, go to LinkedIn’s Profile sample.  Before you click on “View Your Profile”, however, hover your mouse over each of this sample Profile’s sections, to get a better idea of the changes.

 3-Meet Profile

If you have an existing account, click on “View Your Profile” to access and edit your Profile immediately.

Step 3. Go for Profile Strength

The sample Profile (pictured above) shows you a nearly-full circle representing “Profile Strength”.  This is what you want to aim for, and it’s easy enough to accomplish:  Simply fill in every section as completely as possible.

4-basic-profileEvery time you log into your Profile, you will see a blue box at the top, suggesting Profile sections to fill in.  (This will happen whether your Profile is new or updated, as long LinkedIn feels sections are incomplete.)

These blue boxes are nothing more than friendly reminders, and if have sections not yet completed, you will continue to see them until your profile is close to 100% strength. So go ahead and skip any blue box for now if you wish – or fill each one in, if you prefer.

 

 

 

As you fill in (or skip) sections, you’ll see them greyed-out to the right-hand side of the browser page. The current active section will be contrasted in white and blue.

5-upload-image

Step 4. Filling in the Blanks

Your Profile content should be as dynamic and as aligned to your target connection as possible.

  1. Upload Your Profile Photo

Click the grey “Choose file” button and select your file.  (If you are updating your Profile rather than creating, click the little camera icon that will appear as you hover over your existing photo).  Click the yellow “Upload” button and you will be given a chance to drag or resize your new photo, if you need to.

6-position-photo

Once you are happy with your re-positioning, click “Add to profile”.

  1. The next section, “Skills and Expertise”, replaces the old “Specialties” section.

7-skills-and-expertise

Start typing your most relevant skills.  Notice that as you begin to type, a drop-down menu will appear with helpful suggestions.  Type in or select a skill or specialty; then click on “Add”.

8-add-skills

Once you have entered all the skill and specialties you want, hit “Save”.  Repeat with the next skill.

  1. At this point, even if you skipped a couple of sections, LinkedIn decides you have finished initial set up.  It invites you to share your Profile via Facebook and Twitter. DO NOT share your Profile until you have viewed it and decided you are satisfied.

9-share

If you do choose to share it, change the generic wording.

 

Step 4. Growing Your Network

Once you have reached the point of being asked to share your profile, click on the “X” within the “Share your profile” blue box to close it.

You will be immediately taken to the next section of building your Profile.

10-next-step

Complete this in much the same manner as the previous section, by filling in information on the left-hand side of your browser page and seeing it “ticked off” (or greyed out) in the right-hand list.

11-follow

Once you have completed these four sections, click on “Take me to my full homepage” to view your results.

BE SELECTIVE, when adding people and companies to follow.  It’s not like Facebook:  On LinkedIn, relevance and quality beats quantity, hands down.  Your reputation can rise and fall on your connections.  But for now, just add the minimum contacts that LinkedIn directs you to add.

 

Step 5. View Your New Home Page

Your “Home Page” is not your Profile.  It is the equivalent of your Facebook Timeline feed.  View it, but don’t bother adding more contacts or creating a post right now.  You want to do that when your Profile is as fully optimized as you can make it.  (We haven’t finished yet!)

12-home-page

Instead of posting, click on “Profile” to automatically open your Profile again.

13-edit-profile

You will see all the sections laid out when your Profile opens – along with your Profile strength:

 14-profile-strength

Now you can complete any sections you skipped, to bring Profile strength up to its maximum.

15-improve-profile

Once you click on “Improve your profile”, you’ll be taken right back to any “blue box” sections you missed, and you can easily complete them.

16-add-skipped-sections

This time through, you’ll see new “blue box” sections appear

17-more-sections

…Including the option to add your Summary.  (Simply paste in your pre-prepared summary.)

18-your-summary

Step 6.  Beefing Up Your Profile

Keep rinsing and repeating this process (clicking on “blue boxes” and looking to see your profile strength; plus view new sections you can add).

Make sure you close out these sections, when finally done with them, by clicking the links to the right of “Save” and “Skip” (or “Next”).

19-added-all

Only then will you see the next round of sections to add.

(If you are updating a Profile rather than filling in one for the first time, extra sections will automatically appear in the right-hand column.)

If you reach this blue box…

20-done

 

…But your profile strength still isn’t at max and clicking “Done” doesn’t offer any more suggestions…

21-new-profile-strength

…Do not panic.  Simply click:

  1. “Home” in your top horizontal menu
  2. Your post picture icon
  3. The grey “Edit Profile” button, once the new page opens

22-edit-profile

Click the grey button and you will now see your Profile exactly as do those who are simply updating an existing Profile – with all optional extra sections listed in the right-hand column.

23-final-summary

You can now:

  • Change your profile photo by clicking on the camera icon
  • Click on any pencil icon to edit sections, Titles or Headlines

24-changing-titles

  • Add extra sections
  • Move sections around by dragging and dropping

25-drag-and-drop

Follow these steps, and your Profile will now display close to full strength!

 

How to Install Thesis WordPress Theme

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Thesis Options

The Thesis theme is one of the most easily customizable themes in WordPress. Other themes often require in-depth HTML and PHP knowledge to customize. Thesis on the other hand takes the most common customization options and places them all into the options tab.

Using options, you can customize how your Thesis theme looks, how the search engines view the site, options for software and scripts and a lot more.

Here’s how to customize your Thesis theme.

Step 1: Access Thesis Options

Log into your WordPress admin panel. Scroll down and click Thesis Options on the left hand side.

1-Click-Thesis-Options

You’ll be presented with a wide array of options. Let’s go through them one by one.

Step 2: Change Your Document Head

The document head is what goes between the <head> and </head> tags. In non-tech speak, this is basically overview information about the page that web browsers and search engines need to know.

To expand any of the options, just click the plus symbol next to an option.

2-Expand-Document-Head

For example, this is what the Title tag looks like when expanded:

3-Expanded-Title-Tag

Here’s an explanation of what these four different options for the <head> tag do.

Title Tag: This changes what’s displayed in the title bar of a browser. It’s also one of the most important clues search engines use to determine what a specific page is about. You should carefully craft a good title that includes your main keywords to help you get ranked in search engines.

Add Noindex to Archived Pages: This tells search engines not to index certain pages on your website. Many pages generated by WordPress are either duplicate or just plain “fluff.” For example, category pages, tag pages, daily monthly and yearly pages, etc all often have the same content. By removing these pages from search engine rankings, you increase the ranking power of the rest of your pages.

Canonical URLs: Search engines view http://www.example.com, www.example.com and example.com as different websites. It can confuse search engines if you’re switching between different URL formats throughout your blog. Canonical URLs just creates a standard way of linking within your blog so the search engines have an easier time.

Thesis Version: Puts the version of Thesis in your head tag. There’s no real benefit to doing this and it can be a security risk. If a security exploit for a specific version of Thesis is discovered, a hacker could easily search the web for WordPress blogs with specific versions of Thesis installed to target. By turning off this option, you remove that risk. Unless you have a good reason to include your Thesis version in the head, it’s best to just switch it off.

Step 3: Set Your Feed URL

If you’re using an outside feed service, input the URL here. This enables people with RSS readers to just type in your blog’s URL and subscribe to your RSS feed, without having to find the RSS link on your blog manually.

4-Feed-URL

Step 4: Set Headers & Footer Scripts (Optional)

If you have scripts that need to go in the header or the footer, just copy and paste them in here. Common scripts include tracking scripts, redirect scripts, cookie scripts and split testing scripts.

If you have no scripts, then just skip this step.

5-Add-Header-and-Footer-Scripts

Step 5: Set Home Page Options

There are two options you can set for your home page: Your meta tags and the number of posts to show.

6-Home-Page

Here’s what each of them does.

Home Page Meta – Here you set your meta keywords and description. While meta keywords aren’t nearly as important as they were the past, your meta description is still crucial. For the keywords, input all the keywords you can think of that someone might use to find your site. If you have trouble coming up with keywords, try looking at what your competitors are using.

For the description, type in a short description of your site. This is what people will see as the description for your listing in the search engines. A great description can get you a lot more clicks, even without getting higher rankings.

Home Page Display – Choose how many posts you want displayed on the front page. By default it’s 10.

Step 6: Set Display Options

Display options gives you the flexibility to change the look and feel of your site. Here are the various options and how to use them.

7-Display-Options

Header – Choose whether or not you want your site’s name and tagline in the header.

Bylines – Choose whether you want the author’s name and date showed on the bylines of your posts and pages.

Posts – First, choose whether the posts on your front page are full content posts or just excerpts. Then decide what text people will click on to see a full post. By default it’s “Click to continue …”

Archives – Choose how you want Thesis to store your archives. By default it just stores the title, though you can store them as teasers, excerpts or replicas of your home page.

Tagging – Choose if you want tags shown on single entry pages. Choose if you want tags to appear on archive pages and on index pages. Finally, choose whether or not you want search engines to follow tag links. By default they’re not followed.

Comments – Choose whether or not the number of comments is shown. Also choose if you want Thesis to tell your users what HTML they can use. Finally, choose whether or not readers can comment on pages.

Sidebars – Do you want to show sidebars widgets?

Administration – Set how you personally see your blog when you’re logged in as admin. Do you want edit buttons next to posts and comments? Do you want an admin link in the footer?

Step 7: Navigation Menu Options

Thesis’ navigation menu settings make it easy for you to choose exactly how people will navigate your site. You can choose example which pages, categories or links will be in your nav menu. You can even automatically use dropdown menus in your links!

8-Navigation-Menu

Here are the various options for Thesis’ nav menu.

Select pages to include: Check which pages you want to include in the nav menu. Drag them around to change the order. You can also change the display text by clicking on the text. Nested pages or categories will automatically turn into dropdown menus.

Include category pages: If you want a category page to be in the menu, just check one or more of the category boxes here.

Add more links: Add more links by hand.

Home link: Do you want a link back to your home page on your nav bar?

Feed link: Do you want a link to your feed in your nav bar?

Step 8: Post Image and Thumbnail Settings

By default, Thesis will display the full version of an image when you’re reading a blog post. In teasers and excerpts however, thumbnails will be used. If you don’t specify a thumbnail file, Thesis will automatically crop them and create a thumbnail.

Here are the various options you can set for your images and thumbnails.

9-Post-Image-and-Thumbnails

Default Post Image Settings – First set how you want text to wrap around images. By default the image is on the left and text doesn’t wrap around. Then, set whether you want images below or above the headline. You can also set the image to appear before the post itself.

Then choose if you want a border around your images. Finally, choose whether you want images to show in archive pages and single entry pages.

Default Thumbnail Settings – Again, choose how you want text to wrap around thumbnails. By default the thumbnail is on the left with text wrapping around it on the right.

Then choose whether the thumbnail appears before or after the headline. By default, the thumbnail appears before the actual post.

Then choose if you want thumbnails to be framed.

Finally, choose the default size for thumbnails. This is the size Thesis will resize images to if you don’t provide your own thumbnail file.

Step 9: Click the Save Button

By default, Thesis has a rather humorous save button. You can change the text, of course.

(Though they don’t recommend it.)

10-Click-Save

Those are the various options for the Thesis theme. We’ve gone over how to set your document head, your feed URL, your meta and title tags, your display options, your navigation menu, your image options and quite a bit more. This should give you all the flexibility you need to really finetune your blog.

 

Change Number and Order of Columns

Thesis allows you to quickly and easily customize the number of columns and order of the columns in your blog.

Want a single column blog with just content in the main area? You can do that easily. Want a 3 column design with a navigation menu on both the left and right side? You can do that too.

Here’s how to customize your columns in Thesis.

Step 1: Go to Design Options

Click on the little arrow to the right of Thesis Options. Click on Design Options.

1-Design-Options

Step 2: Expand Columns and Column Order

Under Site Layout, expand both the Columns tab and the Column Order tab.

2-Expand-Columns-and-Column-Order

Step 3: Select Number of Columns

In the expanded Columns tab, choose the number of columns you want for your blog.

3-Number-of-Columns

Step 4: Select Column Sizes

Enter a width in pixels for each column in your blog.

4-Column-Sizes

Step 5: Select Column Order

Click one of the checkboxes in the expanded Column Order tab to select the order of your columns.

5-Select-Column-Order

Step 6: Save

Click the save button to change your settings.

6-Save

That’s all there is to it! In just a couple minutes you can easily change the number of columns and order of columns in your Thesis blog.

 

 

Customizing the Multimedia Box

The multimedia box in the Thesis theme is a true design powerhouse. You can use it to automatically rotate through different images every time someone refreshes the page. Or, you can use it to host a video. You can place an ad in there if you chose. You could even use it to host your newsletter signup box.

Here’s how to customize your multimedia box.

Step 1: Go to Design Options

Click on the drop down arrow next to Thesis Options, all the way on the bottom of the admin panel. Click on Design Options.

1-Design-Options

Step 2: Expand the Multimedia Box

Click on the + symbol next to Multimedia Box.

2-Expand-Multimedia-Box

Step 3: Choose the Type of Box

Select from the four main types of multimedia boxes.

Type 1 is basically no box. Type 2 rotates through images. Type 3 embeds a video. Type 4 is for everything else.

3-Choose-Box-Type

Step 4: Rotating Images

To use rotating images, you’ll first need to upload a few photos to the rotator folder.

First, click the link to the rotator folder.

4-Click-Rotator-Folder

Then copy the URL from the URL bar.

5-Rotator-URL-Displayed

Find this folder in your HTML editor. If you don’t have an HTML editor, you can also upload files by logging into your cPanel and using their file upload interface.

Upload any photos that you want to rotate through to the rotator folder. The multimedia box will now automatically scroll through all the different images randomly.

Step 5: Embed a Video

To embed a video, first get a piece of embed code from an online video player like YouTube or Vimeo.

Select “Embed a Video” in the multimedia box and paste the code in. Once you hit save, the video will automatically display in all the multimedia boxes.

6-Embed-a-Video

Step 6: Custom Code

Want to place an ad, a newsletter signup box or something completely different in the multimedia box? You can, with the custom code option.

Again, just select “custom code” and copy and paste the code in. Alternatively, you can edit the custom_functions.php for more advanced functionality. For most users, just copying and pasting the code into the multimedia box options will work just fine.

7-Custom-Code

Step 7: Change Your Multimedia Box Design

Finally, you have the option of customizing the fonts, the font sizes and the colors of the multimedia box.

Just press the + button next to “Multimedia Box” under “Fonts, Colors, and More!” to access these options.

8-Change-Fonts-and-Colors

Congratulations! You’ve now learned how to customize both what goes in the multimedia box and how the box itself appears.

 

 

Customizing the Fonts and Colors

Thesis gives you a lot of options on how your site can look. You can create an overall font and color scheme for your whole site, or you can have different fonts and colors in different areas of your site.

Before we jump into customizing the colors and fonts, let’s quickly go over what inheritance is.

What Does it Mean to “Inherit” a Font?

Inheritance makes it easy for you to change one setting and change your whole site. For example, if you wanted to change your fonts from Arial to Courier, rather than having to change every setting individually, you just need to change one.

Most of your font settings are by default set to “Inherit from Body” or “Inherit from Header/Sidebar/etc.” It’s best to leave inheritance on unless you want to specific a specific font.

With that explained, let’s go over how to setup your fonts and colors.

Step 1: Go to Design Options

Go to the bottom of the admin panel on the right. Click the drop down button and click Design Options.

1-Design-Options

Step 2: Expand the Body & Content Area

These settings are the most important settings, because many of your other fonts will inherit from the body’s setting.

2-Expand-the-Body-and-Content

Step 3: Change Your Body Settings

Change your body’s settings, then save your changes and preview how it looks. Don’t edit the rest until you get the body settings right.

3-Body-Settings

Step 4: Set Your Content Area Font

How big should the font in your main content area be? Expand and change these settings.

4-Content-Area

Step 5: Nav Menu Settings

Change the look and feel of your nav menu by changing the nav menu settings.

5-Nav-Menu

Step 6: Header & Headlines

The header and headlines both inherit their fonts from the body. The tagline inherits it’s font from the header and the sub-heads inherit their fonts from the header.

 6-Header-and-Headline

The inheritance makes it easy to change your header or headline and have the taglines and subheads follow suit.

Step 7: Sidebars, Bylines and Footer

Finally, change the settings for your sidebars, bylines and footers.

 7-Sidebars-Bylines-Footer

These settings combined give you a lot of flexibility in changing your website. You can make any section of your website look just about any way you want. It’s easy!

 

 

 

Top 10 Pay Per Click Mistakes

PPC

Pay Per Click (PPC) is one of the fastest ways to gear up internet traffic. While SEO, social media, brand building and other types of traffic often take months to scale, PPC can go from zero to tens of thousands of visitors in just a matter of weeks or even days.

Of course, the flip side to this kind of scalability is that you can lose a lot of money just as easily. If you’re not careful and you end up buying traffic at a loss, you can easily end up hundreds or thousands of dollars in the hole.

If you ask business people about PPC, they’ll often tell you: “I’ve tried it – It didn’t work.” This experience is so common among business people because very few people truly understand how to make PPC profitable. They often make mistakes that trip them up, reduce their profitability and ultimately sabotage their campaigns.

These are 10 of the most common mistakes people make when they first foray into PPC. Avoid these mistakes and you’ll be way ahead of most of your competitors.

Mistake #1: Not Split Testing Enough

This mistake comes in two forms.

First are the people who don’t split test right from the beginning. Some people simply want to set up an ad to see how it performs. Others are just lazy, or figure that they’re not spending enough money to get data anyway.

That’s a mistake. Any time you’re buying PPC traffic, you should be split testing. You should be split testing the ad and the landing page. You should always be gathering data, trying to improve your conversions and your ROI.

The second group of people are people who test for a period of time, then stop testing. For example, they might start off with an ad that’s getting a CTR of 0.7%. They get the CTR up to 1.5%, then they stop split testing. They figure they’ve already done a good job.

What they don’t realize is that if they kept testing ad after ad, they could get their CTR up to 2.5%, 3% or even higher. If you’re sending traffic and not split testing, you’re wasting money and missing out on valuable lessons.

 1-Split-Testing

Mistake #2: Too Many Keywords Per AdGroup

In Google AdWords and Microsoft AdCenter (which manages Bing and Yahoo! Search,) keywords are separated into AdGroups. You write a different ad for AdGroup.

If you put 100 keywords in one AdGroup, that means that whenever any of those keywords is triggered, your one ad will show. The same is true if you put just three keywords in an AdGroup. Whenever one of the three keywords is entered, your ad will show.

Most people make the mistake of putting far too many keywords in one AdGroup. It’s very difficult to write an ad that’ll truly hit home if you’re trying to write for 100 keywords at once. People who stuff too many keywords in one AdGroup invariably end up with ads that are far too generic.

To optimize your CTR and improve your keyword relevance, try to keep your keywords per AdGroup as low as possible. Group only very tightly related keywords together in the same AdGroup.

Mistake #3: Targeting Only Mainstream Keywords

keywordsIf you’re targeting only mainstream keywords, you’re in for a tough fight. The only companies that can really profit from mainstream keywords are those that have extremely streamlined conversion funnels and very high earnings per customer. If you’re a newcomer on the scene, you probably won’t be able to compete.

Even if you could get it profitable, you’re usually looking at razor thin margins. Since most payment processing companies will hold your cash for a few days to a few weeks, most small to mid sized marketers will have a hard time funding a campaign with such a low ROI. In other words, if you have a 5% positive ROI, that means that to make a $500 profit you need to tie up $10,000 for as long as it takes for the money to circulate back into your account.

The best approach for most marketers is instead to use deeper keywords, more targeted keyword and more unusual keywords. Look for keywords that other people aren’t pursuing and optimize your campaigns around them.

Mistake #4: Ignoring Brands and Product Names

People often mistakenly think that it’s against the rules to bid on brand names or product names. For example, if you run an insurance company, is it illegal to bid on the name “Geico” or “Allstate?”

The answer is “no.” Though brand names are trademarked and copyrighted, bidding on the name does not violate their intellectual property in any way. You just can’t use their name in your advertisement. As long as you don’t use their name, you can still bid on their name so ads appear when someone types it in. The same is true for product names.

Product names and the brand names of your competitors will often be your highest converting keywords. Don’t make the mistake of leaving these out.

Mistake #5: Only Going to the Home Page

onsite_optimizationYour PPC campaigns should take people to the most relevant page. If you sell food online and someone types in “noodles,” they should be directed to your noodles page, not to your home page.

Also, it often pays to create custom web pages just for your PPC visitors. If you’re bidding on a high amount of traffic for specific keywords, build a custom landing page for them.

Perhaps the worst place you could send PPC traffic is your home page. Your home page is untargeted, it doesn’t speak directly to the people who just landed on your site and will generally not convert very well.

Mistake #6: Not Understanding Broad, Phrase and Exact Match Types

These three match types are very different. You should never bid on all three at the same time with the same bids without tracking the response of each on a separate basis.

Broad match will give you the most traffic at the lowest cost, but your conversion rate will be much lower. Phrase match is slightly more expensive and converts a bit better. Exact match will give you the least traffic but the highest conversion rates (and the highest cost.)

Test each one. Make sure you know where each conversion you got came from. Eliminate the match types that aren’t profitable and keep the ones that are.

Mistake #7: Only Using One PPC Source

PPCThe 500 lbs gorilla in the PPC space is Google AdWords. But to focus only on one PPC source is a mistake. If you can’t get one to be profitable, there’s still a great chance you’ll be able to get another one to be profitable. If you can get one to be profitable, there’s no reason to think you can’t get another to be profitable and drastically increase your traffic.

The other two major networks are Facebook PPC and Bing. Facebook PPC is very, very different than AdWords and requires a very different mentality. Bing or Microsoft AdCenter is more or less the same as AdWords, with slightly more space for your ads.

Then you have a whole myriad of third tier PPC sources. Sometimes your biggest profits will come from third tier networks rather than first tier networks.

Mistake #8: Not Geographically Targeting

Another common mistake marketers make is lumping all English speaking countries into one campaign and blasting traffic at it. What many people realize is that Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Canada and the United States are not the same place and don’t convert the same. A campaign that takes off like a rocket ship in the UK might completely flop in the US.

If you’re targeting multiple countries, make sure you’re tracking each conversion geographically. Figure out which countries are converting for you and segment them out. Stop driving traffic to non-converting countries.

You can take this a step further and even break down your campaigns by state. You can also try targeting non-English speaking countries with translated pages.

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Mistake #9: Not Tracking Conversions Carefully Enough

It’s been said many times throughout this article, but it deserves to be said again: You need to be tracking everything. A lot of marketers believe they’re tracking, when they don’t have nearly enough detail to make the kinds of decisions they need to make to improve their ROI.

This is just some of the data you need to get:

  • Which specific keyword generated the conversion? You need to track your conversions back to specific keywords, not just broad campaigns.
  • What times of day convert? What times of day don’t convert?
  • Which days of the week convert?
  • What’s your total conversion rate after you account for your email follow up sequence?
  • What percentage of people will buy a second product?
  • What’s your average customer value?
  • What country converts best? Which countries don’t convert?
  • At what CPC point does each match type become profitable? For example, exact match might be profitable for you at $0.55, while a broad match click needs to come in at $0.25 to be profitable.

If you don’t have tracking software that can give you this kind of data, you need to seriously look into upgrading your tracking software.

Mistake #10: Having Weak Copy

contentmarketingMastering PPC is both an art and a science. Most of what we’ve discussed so far is the science. But if you want to succeed in PPC, you also need the “art” piece – The copy.

The copy is in many ways the most important component of the whole campaign. It’s what determines whether you catch people’s attention and whether you get them to click on your ads.

Learning to write great copy is tough. It can take months or years for you to truly master copywriting. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a world class copywriter to buy traffic profitably.

Start by learning the basics of copywriting. Learn AIDA and read a couple books on the subject. Then look at how other people in your industry are writing their ads and landing pages. Copy what’s working for them while adapting it to your own style and audience.

These are the 10 top PPC mistakes. Mastering PPC isn’t easy. It can take weeks or months before you hit your first profitable campaign. Once you do however, the traffic and the revenues can quickly come gushing in. Keep persevering, keep tracking and keep testing and you’ll eventually get to profitability.

Tracking Trends on Social Media Sites

Building a super successful ecommerce business really is something you can do from your Lazy Boy recliner! That doesn’t mean you should, of course, it just means that there are numerous tools in place to help you stay at the top of your gasocialme at all times. And at all times, the game is about keywords and relevance.

 

When running ad campaigns and attempting to drive more traffic to your site, keywords are of the utmost importance. Go too vague, and you loose consumers who are looking for something specific. Research is absolutely necessary before you begin any adword campaign, and also periodically throughout your marketing efforts. The following tools will help you gain valuable knowledge regarding keywords.

 

When searching the latest and greatest social media sites for buzz on keywords related to your business niche, it is important that you look at the words used in conjunction with your keywords, for oftentimes users are simply mentioning something and a particular keyword happens to be included. The goal is to find out if there is a buzz related to what you have to offer, and what that buzz is.

 

Lexicon is one tool that will help you get your hand on the pulse of the general public. This application is used with the popular social media site, Facebook. To utilize Lexicon on Facebook, you need to first have a Facebook account, for this application is used in conjunction with the site. Lexicon searches wall posts to obtain a general conversation held throughout the site; pretty fascinating, if you ask me.

 

Once logged on to Facebook, simply search “lexicon” (quotations not necessary) and the application will become available. You can use this application to search for specific keywords related to your business. For example, if you sell pizza, you will see that in December, relatively few people post about pizza. Perhaps this indicates that many are still recovering from their Thanksgiving day festivities. Try out Lexicon for your niche and see what sort of buzz you tune into.

 twist-twitter

And then there is Twitter, the new craze that has wings flapping and fingers strumming keyboards all across the globe. For searching Tweets, there is Twist. Twist was actually launched in 2008, but not everyone has caught on to the benefits of Twitter tools for business just yet. What Twist does is similar to Lexicon, but for the Twitter site only. Twist finds all mentions of your specified terms in messages and graphs them over time. Using Twist, you can even click on any specific term and go directly to recent Tweets for that phrase.

 

Using Twist, you can compare terms against one another. For instance, let’s take the pizza business again. Comparing pizza to burgers, you will find that pizza wins out every time as far as mentions go. From this data, you could draw the conclusion that the pizza business would fair better than a burger joint.

 

Now, you are most likely not selling pizza or burgers, I know; but examples are what they are. The main point of these applications is to help you see what the general public’s awareness is on any given topic. When your focus is to build your business, it is the voice of the general public that matters the most; and therefore utilizing social media sites and their tools will do the best job of telling you what you need to know.

Using Google Keywords Tool

gkeywords1

When making decisions about marketing campaigns, PPC campaigns and general business strategies, it is wise to utilize any and all tools available to you. The more the merrier definitely applies here. One of the best tools around is Google keyword tool. Using this free application, you can learn much about the direction your business can and should go for maximum growth.

Here are the steps to using Google’s keyword tool for research:

  • Choose the country or countries in which you make marketing efforts. You can also choose languages in this field as well. For those businesses that target more than one country or language, multiple options can be chosen by performing a “Control + Click”.

  • Enter Keywords in one of two ways: by choosing your own keywords, or by entering a specific URL from which to pull words. By using a URL, Google will pull keywords off of the site you input and generate a list of related keywords. When choosing your own keywords, you can import words from your Adwords campaign or use a list from a team brainstorming meeting.

Once your words are entered into the search field, click to use synonyms or not to use them. Sometimes using synonyms can return irrelevant keywords, but it is recommended to try it when looking for new keywords. Click “Get Keyword Ideas”.

googlekeywords

Using a URL to obtain keywords can result in new words you may not have thought of previously. Here’s how: perform a Google search for your general niche. For example, if you sell patio chairs, perform a search for “patio chairs” and use the top ranking search result as the URL for your keyword search. Using your competitors URLs for keyword research is a very wise move.

  • To get the most relevant results for your keyword search, use Exact Match keywords. Once your keywords are displayed, look through columns and remove any columns that do not contain relevant information. This will simplify your search process. Also, sort your results based on relevance to save time.

  • Once you have simplified your keyword list online, you can download the list into spreadsheet form so you can work with it offline. This is where you can remove keywords that are not completely relevant to your site.

If your site sells a variety of products, performing a search based on specific lines within your inventory will return the best keywords for you to use in marketing your business.