01. February 2017 · Comments Off on White Hats, Pink Hats, Black Hats… and the White House · Categories: Blogging, Digital Marketing, Mountain Woods Media, SEO, Social Media Consulting · Tags: , , , , , ,

White Hats, Pink Hats, Black Hats and the White House

Many of us in tech tend to be introverts.  We are passionately engaged with our clients. We feel  and experience deeply but you would never know it as we are reticent to speak up, or cause controversy in order to avoid a drop in web traffic, fewer consulting gigs, or trolls from high school taking issue with a mildly progressive meme involving the color pink.  When Googlers this week finally started “marching” in support of immigrant colleagues, this made me smile and also remembering fondly an SEO conference from several years ago.  The SES event we attended involved a meet and greet icebreaker  which involved identifying your firm as to whether it was “white hat” or “black hat”.   “White hat” meant you used technical skills that were above board, slightly less aggressive in order to earn higher rankings but none which would trouble the search giants such as Google, Bing, Duck Duck Go or Facebook.  “Black hat” meant you were not above being scrappy and slightly nefarious by using keywords hidden in white fonts, misdirected pages, buying followers, or other questionable tech tactics.  We were provided real cowboy hats during the event and instructed to both wear them and mingle.  Surprisingly, it was a 50/50 color spectrum.

But when you have always leaned “white hat” and have turned down more gigs than you have accepted due to questionable client ethics, there comes a point when you need to actually wear your sheriff’s badge and come clean.

In the early 90’s I both interviewed and processed grants for disaster victims, for women at risk who had been violated and burned with cigarettes in the trafficking industry, human rights activists in foreign jails housed in horrendous conditions,  and health professionals who had their hospitals and lifesaving equipment bombed by political factions.  Later, as a case manager and small business developer, I went on to help refugees impacted by similar events try to build small family microbusinesses in order to escape tough working conditions from jobs they had to accept once they had been admitted to the US.  Many of these tiny businesses made it.  Some did not.  I was new to understanding the impact of PTSD on many of my clients and looking back wondered if stronger mental health support would have allowed more of these families to thrive.   One client had been chased by gangs with knives through the jungles of Togo.  He was heartbroken to be separated from his wife.  A large man with a broad smile, he came to my office and cried when he was placed in a job with a meat packing plant.  Idealistic, but inexperienced, it took me several years to understand that the knives in the meat packing plant were probably not helping him recover from his experience of being hunted in the jungles of Togo.

So…as I saw people unjustly detained and then finally “making it” through the gauntlet at so many airports in these United States this weekend to cheering crowds, I was haunted by the man with the broad smile.  He never had a crowd to greet him, just me.  And this is how we continue to work.  If we can cheer for your success (and the standards are high) then you qualify for a sheriff’s badge with our “white hat” team.

For someone who has yet to make our “white hat” list, it was indeed surprising that instead of doing a breaking news event on regular television networks, 45 opted last night to switch to Facebook Live.  Maybe he was hoping for a sea of pink hearts rather than angry smiley faces in order to give him his needed mandate.  We are hoping that he received what he needed.   So many do not.

Mountain Woods Media, LLC is both a white hat and progressive firm and will forever remain so.  Pick your hat, giddy up, get out there, design a cool sign, and in the face of injustice, do say something.

~  Leigh M. Drake, President, Mountain Woods Media, LLC

14. October 2016 · Comments Off on Avoiding the Unprofitable Time Suck in Your Business · Categories: Blogging, Digital Marketing, Mountain Woods Media, Social Media Consulting · Tags: , , ,

Does it always seem like there’s never enough time to get everything finished in your business day? Where does the time go?

Sometimes, for business owners and operators, there always seems to be a “fire” that needs to be put out. An upset customer or client; some employee drama or your regular six-month check-up at the dentist, etc. and just like that your day is gone.

What happened?

Actually, you probably accomplished quite a bit during your busy day, but if you feel like you are burning the midnight oil; working weekends, etc., and still falling behind on getting work accomplished, perhaps there are some things you can do – and other things you should cut out – to help make your day more productive.

For instance:

  • Stay off Facebook and other social media platforms. This is such a huge time suck. A post here; a picture there and before you know it you’re comparing bushy squirrel tails to Donald Trump’s hair.
  • Constantly checking e-mail. Again, this is also a time-wasting task. Checking e-mails and immediately responding to them gets you off-track. It also lets the receiver of your email know you’re available for a back-and-forth e-mail conversation. Try to get into a habit of checking your e-mail once in the morning (when you get to the office); once at lunch and then at the end of the day.
  • Get organized. If you can, plan tomorrow’s tasks and “to do” list at the end of the day. Then, when you start your work day, you have a plan. Follow the plan.
  • Try to avoid other distractions. This includes checking sports scores; playing online games; scanning the news websites; watching YouTube videos, etc.
  • If you schedule and conduct meetings, sales calls, etc., schedule them for less than one hour. If you’re hosting a meeting, get to the point and move on quickly. Your clients will appreciate it, too!
  • When possible, conduct meetings via mobile phone or through an online meeting software platform. This will save a ton of unproductive travel time.
  • Take your lunch. Not only is this a budget-minded issue, but going to a restaurant; ordering a meal; waiting for your meal, etc., also burns 45 minutes or more per day.

Are you guilty of any of the aforementioned time sucks? Trim it back. Get things done. Be more productive and more profitable.

Are You an ExpertAre you an expert?

Recently, we attended a two-day e-commerce conference in Ohio covering a variety of topics from pricing strategies to selling and beyond.

However, in one particular workshop session, the speaker told the nearly 100-person audience that they needed to convince themselves they are the “expert.” She even went to the extreme to ask everyone to repeat (out loud) over and over again “I am the expert.”

Seriously?

This is so wrong on many levels:

  • You are NOT the expert if you need to convince yourself that you are the expert.
  • You are NOT the expert if you need a self-proclaimed marketing expert to tell you that you are an expert.
  • Repeating the phrase “I am the expert” doesn’t make you an expert in anything.
  • Chances are good if anyone claims to be an “expert” that they are only trying to either convince themselves or the prospective customer, client, etc.

Can you tell how much we can’t stand the word “expert?”

Here’s how you can really become an expert, guru, ninja, etc. in your field:

  • Walk the walk and talk the talk. Your actions; knowledge of the subject matter and helpful advice will eventually make you the “go to” person in your industry.
  • Listen, study, and learn. Stay up to date on new topics, trends and information.
  • The more you share information and other tips to help your customers and clients, the more you’ll be recognized as an actual expert.
  • Write a blog. Write articles. Consistently create and publish YouTube videos, etc. These are the kinds of things that eventually make you the expert.

Claiming, shouting and repeating that “I am an expert” in such-and-such (insert topic here) is amateurish and unprofessional. It many cases, it turns off your prospective customers.

Instead, let your posse; your customers; your clients; your Facebook Fans; your Twitter followers make you the expert. Make yourself THE person they want to seek out to help them solve a problem or find the right product or service for their business.

Conference organizers – and conference speakers – please, no more “I am the expert” lectures. OK?

 

05. October 2015 · Comments Off on Creating A Blog For Your Business · Categories: Blogging, SEO, Training Courses · Tags: , , ,

Creating a blog for your business is more than starting a blog, it’s about maintaining it for the long haul.

Creating a blog for your business isn’t enough to make a difference in attracting more customers to your website; gaining more sales and obtaining higher rankings in Google and other search engines.

creating a blog for your businessNow comes the part where most blogs fail as they lack content and new posts on a regular basis.

Unfortunately, we see many blogs start strong with daily blog posts featuring great local content; stories and profiles. However, the spark starts to fade and the content dries up. The blog is left alone with posts that are getting older and increasingly stale every day.

Don’t let this happen to your blog.

Instead:

  • Plan an editorial schedule for your blog. This helps you write in advance, especially when the creative juices are flowing.
  • If you have a staff, assign them to write one blog post per week or two per month, etc.
  • Consider hiring a local high school student; freelance writer or an intern to write blog posts. Many local writers are happy with a small stipend and a byline as they want to gain more writing experience and build their online portfolio.
  • Allow guest blog posts in order to fill in the gaps and boost content. In most cases, a guest blogger will contribute for no charge, but seeks one or two links within the blog pointing back to their website.
  • Use videos as blog posts. If you’re creating and publishing simple videos for YouTube (and you should), you can also use them as a blog post. If you have enough videos, consider publishing a new video to your blog every Friday, etc.

Many blogs fail due to a lack of time; lack of interest or lack of content. None of these should be an excuse. By utilizing other resources mentioned above, you’ll solve the time and content issue. The more you publish, the better your blog will be in more traffic and higher rankings

In addition, use your blog posts to create more interest in social media. Each published blog should be announced to your fans, followers and connections in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and in other social networks.

For more information on local search engine optimization (SEO), check out our course “Earn More Sales By Increasing Local Traffic To Your Website” at https://www.udemy.com/earn-more-sales-by-increasing-local-traffic-to-your-website

 

21. September 2015 · Comments Off on Many Positive Reasons For Being A Sports Writer · Categories: Blogging, Training Courses · Tags: , , , ,
Many Positive Reasons for Being a Sportswriter

Look for these type of teasers to find freelance sportswriter gigs” “We’re Looking for Freelance Writers to Help Us Cover LSU Football & More ”  Photo via 1130thetiger.com in 2013

If you’re looking for a new writing opportunity – either freelance, part-time or full-time – there are many positive reasons why being a sports writer might be the right ticket for you.

First, however, you’ll need to meet one, or both, of the following requirements:

  • You have writing skills.
  • You like sports.

A combination of both creates an ideal situation. Sports enthusiasts envy sports writers. You’re close to the action; you get to interview coaches and athletes; your name is in print (or online or in other media outlets such as television, radio, etc.) and you can earn some extra income.

Sports writing on a freelance or part-time basis won’t take up too much of your time. In most cases, you’ll be asked to attend and cover a local football or basketball game during the week and report the results.

However, there are other opportunities in writing sports profiles or feature pieces.

Many times in my sports writing career, I could easily find other sports article ideas that I could pitch to newspapers and magazines (before the Internet, mind you). Some of these included articles about sports injuries; health and diet as it related to athletes; how to select the right sports equipment (golf clubs; racquetball and tennis racquets, etc.) and how to build your own basketball court; racquetball court, etc.

Now, with many online publication and blogs, there is even a greater need and opportunity to be a freelance sports writer. Blogs need content in order to earn higher rankings in search engines and increase readership. More readers equates into more blog advertisers as businesses are happy to pay for an ad that gets their business in front of more potential customers.

For more information on how to earn extra money by being a freelance, part-time or full-time sports writer, check out our Udemy course at https://udemy.com/sports-writer.

08. September 2015 · Comments Off on Mountain Woods Media, LLC Releases New Udemy Course on How to Earn Extra Income By Being A Sports Writer · Categories: Blogging, Mountain Woods Media, Training Courses · Tags: , , ,

sports writing courseMountain Woods Media, LLC, an Internet consulting and content development firm, has released a new sports writing course on Udemy.

The course “How To Earn Extra Income By Being A Sports Writer” is based upon the sports writing experiences by Mountain Woods Media, LLC Vice President Steve Phillips. Phillips has over 12 years of sports and news writing and reporting experience for various newspapers while living in Indiana. He also won the United Press International “Sports Writer of the Year” Award for small daily newspapers.

Throughout the course lectures, students will learn how they can take some basic writing skills – and their love for sports – and combine them into a new freelance, part-time or full-time career.

“I started writing for a high school newspaper and worked my way up to covering sporting events on the weekends while a junior in high school,” says Phillips. “Later, while a college student I earned a full-time sports writing opportunity at a larger daily newspaper.”

“How To Earn Extra Income By Being A Sports Writer” covers:

  • How to be a sports writer with little or no experience.
  • How a lack of a college degree shouldn’t prevent you from being a sports writer.
  • Why your age doesn’t matter.
  • How to gain sports writing experience and learn more about sports.
  • How and when is the right time to apply for a sports writing job.
  • How to get your sports writing articles published today.
  • How to write sports profiles; features; game previews and game coverage articles.
  • How to find other sports writing opportunities where you live.

Overall, the two-hour course features 20 lectures and quizzes. Students will be able to participate in online question-and-answer discussions with other students and with Phillips. Mountain Woods Media, LLC will announce “office hours” soon in which students will be able to connect live via Skype for more one-on-one training and instruction at no additional charge.

“How To Earn Extra Income By Being A Sports Writer” is currently available for $19 and can be purchased at: https://udemy.com/sports-writer.

 

10. February 2015 · Comments Off on Bitly is More Than a Link Shortening Tool · Categories: Blogging, Mountain Woods Media · Tags: , ,

bitly is more than a link shortening toolThere are plenty of tools we like to use when it comes to development and marketing our apps, but since Valentine’s Day is approaching we thought we’d highlight a particular service that we really “love.”

bitly.

In a nutshell, bitly (http://bitly.com) is a free link shortening service allowing users to take a long link (for an article, blog, app, etc.) and make it into a shorter one. This is a valuable tool for Twitter users, who are limited to 140 characters per Tweet. You can also use the same short link in other social media avenues such as Facebook, Google + etc., and be consistent in your link building and sharing efforts.

For example, let’s say we wanted to share a link to our game in Twitter, Facebook, etc. Here’s the long link to our game “The Trout Family Swim and Fish Adventure” located in iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/trout-family-swim-fish-adventure/id675169950?mt=8

However, with bitly, we can shorten the link to this:

http://bit.ly/1CqdOJ9

See the huge difference? We shortened the 81-character link to 21 characters.

Now, let’s take it one step further. When you sign up for a free bitly account, you can customize your bitly links. Therefore, our short link to our fishing game:

http://bit.ly/1CqdOJ9

…can be changed to this or to anything we’d like:

http://bit.ly/troutgame

How cool is that?

In addition, bitly saves all your shortened links and tracks clicks to your bitly links.

Tracking your clicks is extremely important in order to gauge what your fans and followers are clicking; what day; time of day, etc. Recently, we discovered our Sunday clicks aren’t that great, so we might change things up a bit on Sunday in order to earn better engagement. Also, bitly highly recommends A/B testing with your links http://bit.ly/1EVoW1H.

There are other bitly alternatives, such as:

* Google http://goo.gl/

* Tiny URL http://tinyurl.com/

* Ow.ly http://ow.ly/url/shorten-url (which is also available within Hootsuite).

Which link shortener do you use?