Turning off notifications

We all know about the effect notifications have on us.

We hear the beep or chime or buzz and get this feeling of urgency that there is something we need to attend to.

No matter where you are, if you hear or see that notification you immediately want to see what it is.

It’s kind of fun not knowing what it is, is it an email or a text? Who is it from? I wonder if it’s important?

All of a sudden, you were working on something or talking to someone but now your brain is thinking about that notification and what it could be.

It’s as if you’re sitting at a dinner table and someone drops a present off and places it in front of you.

You were just having a nice chat over dinner but all you want to do now is open that present and find out what it is.

I fell victim to this way too many times. At first I tried to dim my reaction and sense of urgency by placing the phone on vibrate. But now when I feel that little buzz I instinctively reach my hand in my pocket to see what it is.

Over the past month, I’ve turned the phone on silent and flip it over so I can’t see any blinking lights.

Emails, texts, phone calls come through and I can’t see any of it and my brain just keeps working.

It’s a relief.

I like the feeling of not being tethered to my phone or a slave to it.

I check it when I have time for it. If I’m working hard on something, I don’t want to stop in the middle of it because Pizza Hut decided to email me about their new special.

I feel much more productive when I am not having to check my phone due to constant notifications.

I know this is something that not everyone can do. There are people with kids who feel the need to have notifications on for that “just in case” moment.

Try turning off the emails, tweets, and other app notifications. Leave just the phone and text notifications on.

For someone who works remote, you turn into a slave to Slack and email. You see 10 unread messages and already feel a sense of dread about more work that is getting piled onto your already huge load.

I admit, I do check my work email a lot. Because I get emails were someone wants something done in 30 minutes (no idea why it’s so last minute they almost never say). But when I get emails asking for something vague, or if it’s a question, or something that can wait, I mark it as unread and get to it later.

If you keep stopping what you’re doing to put out one fire and another and another, you forget about the fire you were just tackling and it becomes a huge mess.

It’s stressful to constantly be plugged in. Your boss feels like they can email you at 9pm asking about something or your coworker can ask for help proofreading something they worked on over the weekend. I won’t respond to work emails after 5pm and not on the weekends.

It’s not that I won’t work on the weekends, it’s that I spend all week being tied to my email for 8 hours a day that I need a chance to cool off and not be bothered with it.

During the week, usually around 12 or 1pm, I head to the gym to clear my head after working all morning. Then I come back to working and feel ready to go. That little break where my head is able to clear out and I can listen to a podcast or read a book is really helpful. Even if you can’t work out during the day, try taking a walk during lunch to get outside. Just spend a little time not thinking about working.

I’m just about to write another blog on separating work from home, especially working remotely. Check it out in a bit!

How I’m helping launch an ebook

How i'm helping launch an ebook

A few months ago I finished creating a pretty big ebook project. This was on a topic I really had no prior knowledge about, but it was a fun process learning about everything and putting it all together, working with the designer to get it all finished.

It’s now live and has it’s own dedicated landing page where people can sign up to receive it.

I’m playing around with promotion ideas which I’ll cover below.

I spent a while collecting Facebook groups around the topic and share it there, which resulted in well over 100 sign ups the first day. I’m continuing to find more groups to share the book in as we speak.

Next, I sent out an email announcing the ebook release to the company’s current customers. So far this has resulted in another 100 or so sign ups.

Still good, but there’s more work to be done.

I would love to create a blog around the ebook. There would be articles digging deep on each topic and chapter, interviewing people in the industry, finding cool customer stories. But I need client approval first :/

Next, I want to reach out to some big publications and sites in the industry. Maybe work on a partnership or just have them share the ebook on their social media or in their next newsletter. I want to work on a good pitch for that so it doesn’t just sound like “Share this ebook please”.

Another strategy is to get in touch with some influencers in the space, see if they’d be willing to share the ebook. Again I need a good pitch.

Once we get a decent number of sign ups, I want to send them all an email asking them to fill out a survey to see what they liked (or didn’t like) about it, what we can improve, and any testimonials. I’ll add the testimonials to the landing page for some good social proof.

I have a press release written up that I’ll distribute to a few industry-related PR sites.

Then I’m going to try some guest blogging. I hope by writing some great content on one of the topics covered in the ebook, we can gain some exposure on a larger site.

I’d love to get in and A/B test the landing page elements, but it’s not possible unfortunately :/ Once the design is set, this client doesn’t like fine-tuning it or touching it.

Kind of all over the place with the strategies but I really want to try out everything I can. Things that work (like consistent sharing in Facebook groups) will stick, and things that don’t work or provide weak results will end.

It’s an experiment because neither I nor this company has ever done something like this. I’m glad I’m steering the ship and get control over distribution so I can really see what works and what doesn’t.

What to look for when hiring a social media marketing service

What to look for in social media marketing services

I just had a conversation on Reddit with someone running an ecommerce store. They were looking to hire someone to do their social media marketing. Everyone was quoting them between $1000-$2600/month.

I get it agencies. You have lots of hungry mouths to feed and want to charge more for your services.

But at the agency I worked, the amount of time they give to social media is so low it’s laughable. They don’t care.

I hate seeing agencies quoting prices like this, especially for small companies. If you plan to dedicate one person to work on this account for 60 hours per month, then maybe it’s a good deal. But the agency I know of, you’d be lucky if you get 10 hours of work. 10 hours of work for $1000/month is $100 an hour!

For that price you might as well hire someone part time at $25/hr to do your social media and you’ll likely get better results.

In my agency experience, they want to spend as little time as possible on your account. They don’t want hours stacking up and eating away at their profit. So they task an intern to write daily posts that are generic and dull. They tell them to pull photos online without sourcing the creator. I despise what social media marketing has become. It’s such a low barrier that everyone thinks they can do it, and businesses need help so they’ll hire anyone who says they can do it.

How can I ensure I hire a great social media manager?

If you’re out to hire a social media manager, ask about their previous track record. What have they done? Who have they worked with? What were the results?

Social media is not great at producing immediate ROI. It’s more about community building and strengthening your brand with your audience. It’s also about customer service.

If that’s what you’re looking for your social media to do, then great!

But if you want social media to be getting you sales and becoming your main driver for business growth, good luck.

It takes tons of time and effort and hiring an agency that can’t prove it’s worth is no good.

I have a horror story from another agency that my mom hired (without telling me). They really took advantage of someone they knew was not business-savvy. They produced zero results and charged way too much each month, I don’t even want to say how much.

As you can see, I have a bit of a grudge against marketing agencies. It stems from lots of experience with them and seeing how they treat business owners (my mom included).

Don’t let them speak their sweet marketing jargon at you. Ask for results, ask for data, ask for case studies.

They don’t have it? There are hundreds of other agencies awaiting your call or email.

Why do businesses love social media marketing anyway?

If you’re just starting out, like I told this person on Reddit, focus more on additional strategies not just social media. Small businesses and side project creators love starting with social because it’s easy and free.

Other strategies like email marketing (which I highly recommend) and content marketing (creating valuable articles, videos, etc. not just throwing up a few articles here and there about your company), take a lot of time and effort and usually a bit of money.

There’s a learning curve to other strategies.

With social media, everyone thinks that since they’re on Facebook and Instagram they know how to market to people on the platforms.

They see brands getting huge and posts going viral and want the same. They do contests to get likes on their Facebook page (which is actually against Facebook’s terms of service) and try to follow tons of people on Instagram to build their follower count.

But if you’re not creating something worth viewing, you’re wasting your time.

I would tell someone, is the content you’re creating something you would like to spend time viewing if you didn’t own this business?

If you’re an ecommerce store selling rings and you just post about your rings, people aren’t going to be interested in that, unless maybe they’re your friends or family.

Instead, people will come to your social media page and follow you if they learn about you and your story, why you created the business, your process for making each ring (if you make them yourself). A video of you creating the ring or finding inspiration for a new design is a great piece of content.

It’s all about entertaining and keeping the attention of your audience.

Sure, social media is easy and free to get started. Anyone can create a Facebook page or Twitter handle and just start posting. And that’s the reason why social media is also so hard. It’s difficult to gain followers and grab attention when you’re competing with millions of other profiles.

Social media is a good marketing strategy when used the right way, and when time is invested into it.

People get discouraged too easily when they don’t see results or engagement. But those who keep it up eventually get something out of it if they’re using the platform the right way.

So that’s it, that’s my rant on social media marketing services. I’m highly biased because I’ve worked in the industry and most of my points are based on my own experiences.

I’d love to hear about small businesses that have hired an agency or service to run their social media and had a great experience.