Posted in COACHING

Vantage Directory Theme (Update)

I promised myself I wouldn’t write about directories, or authority sites today. Really. I did. Not because there isn’t a ton more to say about the authority site business model, it’s just that I’d prefer it wasn’t me who said it.

I’m finding it’s much more interesting to actually BUILD a new community, than it is to continuously write about how to do it, which grows a bit stale after 10 or 12 or 15 posts in a series. (plus I feel like I’m losing the real audience I’m much more interested in talking to through this blog – which are folks much more interested in learning how to write more inspiring, and entertaining content of their own)

That aside, lots of people have been asking me about my thoughts on the right directory theme to pick. Should I go with Listify or Listable? Templatic, or Vantage? Considering I’ve bought and used them all, I’ve generally been recommending folks stick with Listify for a whole hodge podge of reasons I’ve outlined in the directory marketing series.

The caveat to my most recent advice, has been this:

Wait until Vantage 4.0 comes out in January, before you invest in a new directory framework. Why? Because Vantage, by appthemes, has historically been the absolute easiest and uniform wordpress directory framework – no need to juggle many disparate parts, from many disparate plugin makers, to make sure all plays well together.

The problem with Vantage by appthemes? (note – there is ANOTHER “Vantage” theme that is not a directory, that many folks have confused with this one) The appearance of the theme has been very dated, for a very long time, and as the Kardashians have taught us over the last decade, looks DO matter online.

For pure aesthetics, there is no comparison (before) between Listify, and a theme like Vantage. Simply stated, Listify, Listable, the Templatic suite of themes, etc – have all been much, much more attractive than Vantage, even when you buy a child theme. (which I have, and can upgrade the looks considerably)

So….after all of that ramble, Vantage 4.0 is finally showing off what it’s going to look like, a week or two prior to it’s release.

Check out the Vantage demo here.

What do YOU think? I’m probably a bit in the minority here, by dint of the comments on the Vantage theme release comment section, but I’m not really all that impressed with the new look.

It’s looks Listify with a really mediocre hair day. Not it’s best. Not terrible either. But just…….meh?

In fairness, I don’t think this is the final version, as David from appthemes says they are iterating and improving the theme everyday.

(I’ve always wanted to use iterating in a blog post – it’s been on my bucketlist since 2012, i’m not sure i used it right, but boy does it feel good)

I’ll definitely buy the theme, just because I so desperately want to upgrade a few older versions of Vantage I have running now, but I’m a tad less enthused then I was a few weeks ago, when I expected it would be slicker, more modern and just “pop” a bit more on mobile, especially.

If we’re going to be totally honest, I think the blind date I had on Match.com last night probably felt the same way about me.

The good news is, I’m iterating a bit everyday too. So don’t give up on me, Mary. And I won’t give up on Vantage.

I think that’s fair.


SEO Ranking Factors (2017)

Q:  What SEO factors are going to be most important for making sure your blog, brand or website ranks well in 2017?

A:  I still get a lot of questions about SEO related things, and the truth is, I spend so little time understanding what has changed since I last was super active in this area (dating back to probably in 2013 I would say) – that I have very little to offer in terms of solid advice, outside of what I still think is the best SEO advice there is:

Create good stuff that people like to read – entertain, inspire, engage, poke, prod and try to be intensely authentic, even when it reveals things about yourself you’d prefer people didn’t know.

And avoid “contrived” SEO advice whenever you get it.

That to me, is the best content marketing advice I have to offer, although of course, there are lots of different little industry updates that are well worth checking out if you put food on your table with organic, natural traffic from Google, or otherwise.

This article seems to be a pretty good list of the best on (and off) site SEO practices, many of which I found interesting to explore.


When Facebook Rejects Your Brilliant Ad


There is nothing worse than discovering your exciting new Facebook advertising campaign has been rejected.

Okay, there are probably many, many things that are worse. For example, I woke up this morning with a strange zit on my lip that didn’t come off while shaving. That feels like it’s probably worse.

It’s still pretty deflating. I was sort of kind of excited about running my new “Get Lit, it’s Hanukah” ad campaign for a new Tee shirt, until that ignominious notice from FB that you’ve violates one (or more) of their advertising TOS.

It was actually pretty interesting to learn (3 days later) what triggered the rejection.

happy hanukah tee shirts

I guessed (and did write in) that it was the “marijuana” theme of the ad that was causing a problem.

I also thought that having “screw it” in the ad copy was problematic.

It turns out, I learned this morning….that having the word “bitches” on the Tee shirt, is what caused it to be flagged.

I know what you’re thinking:

“Clearly Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t like Paris Hilton.
But why should you be punished for that?”

You and I are on the same page on this, which is why we’re friends. If you have a blog, I will be equally as supportive, I promise.

Anyway, I’m having a ton of fun with this whole Shopify Tee shirt store idea. It’s making me zero dollars – but I’m getting some nice comments and emails and likes/shares and community business connections as a result, which is fun and potentially interesting as well. Plus my parents are finally happy I’m doing something to celebrate my Jewish heritage.

(although i’m not sure the “get lit for hanukah” is exactly what they had in mind)

🙂


Why Passion?

“The central, final, inescapable fact is that inspired words create life in us because they are themselves alive.” — Cecile Maurice

I know I posted this sometime in the past. But it bears repeating. (and remembering)

I remember years ago I was working with some SEO guy who made WordPress plugins. I actually forget his name, but we did a few interviews on my blog (here) – and he was selling some sort of content aggregation tool that worked really well.

We talked about doing this whole big project together, and putting together a series of sites to sell affiliate products.

He was a nice guy. Hopefully he still is.

But I will always remember that he wanted to build our new business around canned food keywords. Because canned food, in his world, was apparently a really profitable niche.

Peaches. Greenbeans. Beets. Or whatever. I’m not a fan of canned food. (I do love sardines, however – but I think they come in a tin. Although maybe that’s a distinction without a difference 🙂

I just remember feeling this sense of – how will i get stoked in the morning to write about canned anything. No matter how many millions of keywords there were – and how much ADSENSE earnings were on offer, (as that’s what he did – and did well) – and even if I wasn’t really going to be “writing” about canned food, more managing a content network around it – there was simply no way I could do it with joy, juice, passion or purpose.

There is a lot of talk about following your passion – or the folly of following your passion.

To me?

Life is short. If you want to touch people in this line of work – passion reigns supreme.

Inspired writing isn’t something that you can manufacture, or fabricate, or contrive. If you try (and lord knows I’ve tried) – it comes off as corny, contrived and totally transparent. I can spot it a mile away in others – and if I’m being honest with myself, pretty quickly when I do it as well.

But there is something magical that happens when you are truly inspired, and genuinely and authentically trying to share that sense of inspiration with others. When you TRULY want to make people better – not in the service of ego or income, but in the spirit of service – all of us can move mountains.

I love this article which touches on why this works. If you haven’t read it yet – I recommend you do.

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/is-inspiration-contagious/


Buddhists Don’t Talk Fast (And Other Mindfulness Myths)

“Buddhists don’t talk fast” he said disapprovingly.

I had just come back from my first mindfulness workshop and I couldn’t stop gushing about the guy who lead the group – a happy, cheerful monk who spoke so fast I could barely keep up.

But whatever I couldn’t understand of his words, I was convinced of his wisdom…and for the first time in more years than I could count, saw a life strategy that felt like it could work for me.

So when i got back to the host house where i was lodging for the weekend,  run by a self described  “real meditation pro” and was told in no uncertain terms that “real” Buddhists don’t talk fast, I felt like my new found mindfulness balloon had been popped.

That was the first of many encounters with mindfulness teachers, writers, authors and gurus who were annoying, off putting and just downright wrong.

So when i had a good friend come back from a similar weekend mindfulness “retreat” for CEO’s, and high achievers with a similar feeling about the mindful message, i couldn’t help but laugh.

There is a well known cartoon, i think it’s in the new Yorker or someplace similar, and features two girls talking over lunch.

One says to the other – “I’ve only been gluten free for a week, and I’m already annoying.”

If you dive deeply into the world of mindfulness, meditation, secular spirituality and new age transcendence, you are going to find lots of gluten gluttons who are equally as judgmental, aggravating and quick to lay waste your most interesting epiphany or A-ha insight.

Just ignore them. Take it from me. You’ll learn this lesson on your own, and it’s something i really wished I had learned on day 1.

The secret is – there is no secret.

There may be shortcuts on the path – but there is no single straight strategy for spiritual growth no matter what your taste, path or flavor may be.

That’s the beauty of it.

Talk fast or talk slow.

Believe in what makes You feel fearless and focused.

Then, just spit out the bones.

And as Daniel Day Lewis once said – there WILL be bones.

(or something close 😉

Just keep on keeping on.

Do You.

And if you’re like the rest of us, what matters most will eventually come into view.


Do This (But Don’t Do That)

File this one under trite, but true.

 

The only thing you really HAVE to do to launch your “side project” is build a list.  There is simply no other replacement strategy that works anywhere as well, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.

Not Twitter.  Not Facebook.  Not Tinder.  (although it’s a lot more fun on weekends)

I’ll give you a quick example:

A few days ago, I sent out an email to one of my “niche” communities, where the members (it’s a directory) are all “spiritual” service providers.   I asked them to share their biggest challenge when it came to building their brand, their audience, and their business overall.

Most said something akin to – “I have X amount of fans/followers on Y social network……but very few people buy my products or services when I promote them”

And when I followed up and asked…..very few of these people have an active newsletter email list.

It’s the ONLY thing that really separates those who are building fun, meaningful automated and PROFITABLE projects, from the vast majority who don’t.  (or won’t)

And it’s so damn easy to do these days…..it’s almost a crime not to start with a list.

The ironic thing, of course……when I look at my own business, the peaks and valleys, it’s almost always a straight line relationship to how often I mail my list….and how often I aggressively expand it.

A few years ago, I burned the boats.

Frustrated with my audience being mostly a “how to do I make money from home?” readership, and knowing in my blood and bones that this wasn’t the sort of community I had initially set out to the cultivate (even though……I was probably lying to myself, and was passively aggressively cultivating that sort of crowd anyway) – one day, I just nuked my list.

With the push of a button, I blew up my business.

And I don’t mean that in a Kim Jong Il sort of way.   There was no mushroom cloud of death and destruction.

Only the creepy sound of silence when I had a 3am stream of consciousness idea or inspiration to share.

I don’t regret this….as my own interests have always lied outside of the internet marketing guru building space, but it adversely affected my income in a serious and significant way.

But that’s not really what was challenging about NOT having a list of 15K + people to email everytime I had something to say or service to sell.

It was the sound of silence that was so scary.

The idea that no one cared, yet again.

And while I’ve built a whole new audience in some other areas over the last 12 months, and have built a new (smaller) list for my “entrepreneurial” audience as well, I still feel the pang of regret every time I publish something new here.

Because I know it ain’t gonna get read as often as it used to.

Which does offer up some freedom you lose when your audience is much bigger.

For example, there is less downside to admitting that I woke up at 11am this morning and am typing this wearing the same clothes i slept in.

I also had a dream about Ted Cruz, too.  

It was really weird, i can’t quite remember the whole thing but we were arguing about something and I remember hitting him with a shovel.

Then I woke up and started my day.

You can’t really say that when you have a list of 15K thousand people potentially reading  it.  Because statistically speaking, you are going to have a fair amount of readers who think hitting Ted Cruz with a shovel is a bad idea.

So there are benefits to not building your list, especially if you aren’t a fan of being visited by the Secret Service before 11am.

For the rest of you, start building a list.

Later today, I’ll share a few super simple ways to build a list using some super cool (and free) tools that very few people are talking about, and yet…..can totally transform your passion project from pitter patter to profitable in rapid fire turn around time.

(I also have a brand new ASK ME ANYTHING audio feature folks are using on some of our other projects – you can simply record a question directly from your screen and ask me anything you want, and I’ll record an answer for you 100% free.  I just need to modify it for my own blog – and will post that link tonight)

 

 

 


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