4 Tax Deductible Devices That Everyone Should Have

tech-deductions

Every year deductions are really important to any business, but I think sometimes newer small businesses and consultants don’t realize there are so many deductions available for them. If you are new to running your own business and you are in the SEO / Internet marketing industry here are some devices you can and should invest in.

Computers – 100% Deductible

New computers are, for geeks, more exciting than Christmas morning, right? Imagine getting to open a new, amazing computer and also getting to deduct 100% of the cost! With Section 179 small business owners “can get their entire depreciation deduction in one year, rather than taking it a little at a time over the term of an asset’s useful life.” (Nolo.com).

So, now you don’t need to feel guilty about getting the most up-to-date computers, and honestly you really need to stay up to date in this industry with your electronics. Don’t feel bad about investing in computers that will make your life easier.

Cameras – You Really Need A Good One!

You don’t have to have the best camera available, but you do need a really good camera if you are in the Internet marketing realm. Some examples:

  • WritersCameraYou can buy tons of images for articles or take your own and not worry about image credits. You could even gain some additional personal branding coverage with great images, and image credits. In the end you save money with a camera.
  • Web designers – You too can buy tons of images for the sites you create or you can charge your clients to get more custom images of their business, staff, products and offices.
  • Social Media Managers – Just imagine how many images you could take yourselves for marketing purposes, and memes. Even if you work for someone else the camera can help you be better at your job and it is a deduction.
  • Editors – You know how you can always think of this one image you would like to have for an article, but can’t find it on image buying sites? Well now you can take them yourselves.

If you are in the Internet marketing world you know how important images are. A nice camera is a deduction and an investment because it can help you brand your company and/or yourself.

Tablets  – You HAVE to Have One!

Again, whether you are a designer, developer, writer, social media manager or have any other role in a tech field, this is a needed item and a deduction. It is CRITICAL that you know how things – websites, articles, images, social apps, emails, etc. – display and/or work on a tablet (really all tablets). You need to be aware of problems that arise for readers/users for quality control purposes.

Examples: If you are a writer you need to know that your articles are displaying well on mobile devices. Many writers guest blog on multiple sites and they need to be aware of how their articles are seen by others. Believe it or not readers often blame the author, not the site when things don’t display well.

Social media managers need to know how things appear to their community members on tablets and designers already know how important it is to check mobile devices for design issues.

Bottom line, you need a tablet and it is a deduction (and it falls under the computer category).

Backup Chargers

If you are involved in any of the jobs I mentioned above you have to be ready to work from anywhere at anytime. It is always great to have backup chargers for your computers and tablets, but it is even more important to have them for your mobile phones. If you don’t have access to wi-fi for your computers you can use a phone as backup.

Community managers, writers, editors and marketers can run almost every tool from their phones while also checking the web, email and social accounts at the same time. Obviously this quickly drains a battery, but sometimes emergencies happen and a mobile device is a lifesaver. However, it isn’t always possible to find a place to charge a phone, so a backup charger is a must have.

Yes, There are Many Devices You Could Buy and Deduct…

…but these are 4 items I cannot live without for many of the reasons I listed above. I have a camera that allows me to take high quality shots for work and also personal branding. I can’t live without a tablet and my backup charger keeps those who pay me happy. If you work in the same field I do it is really important that you can work from anywhere so do your research and invest in well-reviewed backup chargers. Please tell me what devices you can’t live without in the comments below.

7 Ways to Grow Your Blog Audience

increase blog audience

Ok, so you’ve decided to start a company blog. Or maybe, you’ve been plugging away for some time, but have yet to see the results that you’d hoped for. If you’re putting in the effort to create high quality content, the next step will be finding a bigger audience to read, share and engage with that content. Here are six ways you can increase your blog audience (without spending money on paid placements).

1. Syndicate your content to third party publications

socialmediatoday

Syndicating your content to a third party site is one of the easiest and quickest ways to increase the audience and exposure of your content. These sites are frequently cited by a wide variety of people, and your content posted there will likely get many more social shares. These sites can also expose your name, links, company and thought leadership to a much larger audience, and can in turn steer more people back to your own site.

There are a ton of sites that aggregate user-submitted pieces and post them. Your best bet is to find one (or several) that have high traffic and social sharing numbers, and whose subject matter is most closely tied with your brand and content strategy. In some cases, these might be trade publications as well.

Here are a few of the better known sites from a variety of industries where you can syndicate your content:

Social Media and Marketing

  • Social Media Today – A site that covers social media including: Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Instagram, strategy, search, ROI, policy, metrics, marketing, influence, and more.
  • Social Media Explorer – A site dedicated to sales and marketing, which covers social selling, sales process, sales, online community, marketing, lead generation, customer service, CRM, and branding.

Data and Marketing

  • SmartData Collective – A site dedicated to business intelligence and data analytics covering warehousing, visualization, marketing automation, market research, governance, data mining, cloud, analytics, and more.

Business/HR/Finance

  • Sustainable Business Forum – The future of healthy enterprise covering workplace safety, environmental stewardship, culture & leadership, corporate social responsibility, and more.
  • MyVenturePad – A source focusing on venture funding and growth; covers women entrepreneurs, technology, startups, leadership, business transformation, and more. Governing People – The world’s best thinkers on e-government and open democracy.

Healthcare

  • HealthWorks Collective – A site focused on healthcare, social media, public health, medical technology, medical ethics, policy, business, global healthcare, and more.

Energy/Development/Environment

  • The Energy Collective – A source on energy and climate with topics that include wind, transportation, smartgrid, oil, nuclear, climate, clean tech, and more.
  • Sustainable Cities Collective – A site that spans topics on transportation, sustainability, health and food, design & architecture, community planning, bicycling, and more.

2. Use forums – and provide useful information.

quora

Forums like Quora can be a really effective way to drive targeted and relevant traffic to your blog. This became an incredibly effective strategy I employed while running the content marketing at my last job. I would search for questions and topics related to various posts I had written, and answer the question with relevant and thoughtful information – and then add a link back to the appropriate blog post.

Similarly, Linkedin groups can also be an effective method for finding and expanding the right audience for your blog and content.

Not only does this get links out to your blog in places where people are looking for the information you have to offer, it can also help establish you and your blog as a trustworthy and useful source of information for future questions or problems someone may have.

3. Guest Blog

Another way to get your name, point of view and/or company in front of a broader and different audience can be through guest blogging. Find a list of relevant blogs that you think might have the best crossover with the audience you’d like to connect with. Then start reaching out to the bloggers or editors who run those sites with inquiries for guest blogging opportunities. Most blogs are more than willing to accept high quality, free content and are more than happy to put your content on the site.

There are a few strategies that will help ensure success. If it’s a larger blog with high traffic, you’ll want to pitch specific blog topic ideas in the very first inquiry email. Send a possible headline and brief synopsis of what you’d write about. It is often a lot easier to get a yes to guest blogging possibility when the editor knows what to expect from you – and knows it’ll be high quality content. In this vein, it can also be smart to send over examples of other work you’ve done. Send links to a few of your favorite/best posts you’ve written. Lastly, make sure you write all original content for any guest posting you do.

Accepting guest submissions, or asking other writers you know and admire to guest blog, can also be a great way to drive their audience to your site. If another writer/blogger has a substantial following, a post by them on your site could help establish your credibility, expose you to a larger audience and gain new readers.

4. Think About SEO

keyword plannerSearch engines are a massive opportunity for traffic, and a great reason to invest in content marketing – yet many bloggers ignore this channel as a great way to grow your audience.

By improving the search rankings of your blog, many will find everything from inbound leads to inquiries for advertising, to guest posting opportunities, to press and discovery by major media entities all come from search.

SEO for blogs can be a lot easier and less intimidating than you may think. When you begin you don’t have to start with hours of keyword research or technical set up. Simply brainstorming a list of keywords that you’d like your blog to appear for, doing a little research on those terms, and then finding clever ways to infuse your blog topics and writing with those words is a good start.

There are tons of resources out there for improving the SEO of your blog. Here are a couple great places to start:

5. Add Images to Your Posts

better blog traffic

Not only will adding images to your posts make them more readable, more shareable and improve engagement on your blog, but adding images and tagging them correctly can also help your blog show up in image search results.

6. Reference and Link to Your Own Posts and Those of Others

Readers appreciate links, as do other bloggers, site owners and even search engines. When you reference your own material in-context, in a way that’s not manipulative (don’t overdo it), you potentially draw visitors to your other content AND give search engines a nice signal about those previous posts.

Also valuable is referencing the content of others – especially those with high quality sites and great content. The site owners will often receive an alert or see that you have linked to their content, and will sometimes return the favor later on down the road – or possible share your content on their own social channels.

Linking out is a direct line to earning links, social mentions, and new relationships with those you reference.

7. Don’t Give Up

It can take a long time consistently hammering on a blog or content strategy before you will see any success. Unlike some paid techniques, earning page views, traffic and inbound leads from a blog can be a long and arduous process. It is not uncommon for bloggers or company blogs to take two years before tangible benefits come to fruition. However, those who stick to the program and continually focus on putting out great content on a consistent basis will often eventually find success. While many bloggers will throw in the towel after a year or less of working, those who stick it out will often be rewarded with improved SEO, loyal audiences, lots of social shares and plenty of brand equity.

101 Wednesday Recap: Basic Formatting in Google Spreadsheets

If you weren’t able to attend our last 101 Wednesday Hangout you missed an awesome t-shirt and me not being able to talk without moving my hands.

But don’t worry! We have the full video of the event below. You can pause, rewind and take in the skillz at your own pace. You can also follow along with with the tutorial by copying the Google Spreadsheet I used to your own Google Drive.

Tori Cushing 101 Wednesday

Here’s is what was covered in this week’s 101 Wednesday…

General formatting

  • Getting rid of gridlines
  • Conditional formatting
  • Edit color of the formatting rules

Pretty charts

  • Inset a bar graph
  • Change color of bars
  • Format for your branding
  • Add a combination chart
  • Plot data on a secondary axis
  • Add in data markers without a line

Cool tools

  • Filter tool
  • Inserting an image from url

View all this awesomeness right here:

Stay tuned for the next 101 Wednesday in two weeks! We’ll be covering all Conditional Formatting in Excel and check out our previous hangout “Creating Charts and Tables in Excel“.

Why Content Strategy Is Instrumental To The Success Of Your Business

Ronnie Coleman

Eight-time Mr. Olympia bodybuilder Ronnie Coleman is well-known for saying “Everybody wanna be a bodybuilder, but don’t nobody wanna lift no heavy-ass weight.” As a strength training and nutrition nut, I think of this bromide often, but not in regards to bodybuilding. I think of it in relation to anything in life that’s viewed as difficult but worthwhile.

We want it—whatever it is—but we don’t always want to put in the work required to attain it, even when the benefits are readily apparent.

This line of reasoning has been on my mind a lot of late, specifically as it relates to content strategy, two words that get thrown around so much it borders on abuse.

Everybody, it seems, wants to exhort the benefits of content strategy, but don’t nobody wanna do the heavy lifting required to make the discipline a success.

In fact, “content strategy” are two of the most batted around words in the field of content marketing, but there is in an inverse relationship between how often the words are spoken and how often the practice is truly employed.

Anything Worth Having Requires Significant Effort

Content marketers, the majority of whom have been slow to welcome the idea of employing content strategists or applying the principles of content strategy, can now be seen writing about the topics, which always makes me chuckle.

When I check these marketers’ websites or place a keen eye on their business model, I cannot for the life of me discern how content strategy is a viable part of what they do. It’s as though the discipline is used as a garnish to the main dishes of SEO, CRO and PPC.

Content strategy is anything but ornamental. It must form the very foundation of your business, if you desire long-term success.

The reasons are manifold:

  • It comprises the core of the experience prospects, vendors and existing customers have in encountering you brand.
  • It helps to guide all of your efforts, online and offline, from web design and information architecture to user experience, branding, PR, paid media and CRO.
  • It provides a veritable roadmap for how you should conduct business at the customer level.
  • It forces you to think about your product or service from the user’s perspective.
  • It helps you gain a holistic understanding of your business and the space it occupies in the mind’s of consumers.

The field is anything but a ‘nice-to-have’, an opinion continually shared by Kristina Halvorson, a pioneer in the field of content strategy and one of the discipline’s most vociferous champions.

“Content strategy, at the heart, is about asking smart questions about content from the start, and being persistent really early on about it…” says Halvorson, who heads Brain Traffic, the preeminent content strategy firm in the country.

Making A Commitment To Content Strategy is Making A Commitment to the Success of Your Business

Content strategy deserves a place in any and every businesses, so quit wondering if you need it. You do.

It’s not about a diagram or a set of guidelines. It’s about ensuring your business’s foundational elements are viable, meaningful, consistent and, maybe most important, in place.

In the video below, Halvorson shares some of her thoughts on content strategy and nicely sums up my thinking on how the adoption of content strategy principles creates a framework for how things should be done in business.

“The entire point is not jumping to tactics,” says Halvorson. “The entire point is to think about content as an entirety that involves both people and products.”

This is the first of a three-part series on content strategy. In the next post I’ll share several pitfalls associated with the half-hearted adoption of content strategy, and how your business can avoid them. In the third and final post I’ll break down how you can successfully and easily adopt a content strategy mindset.

See part 2.

Image Credit: Bigstock.com

Scheduled Reporting Now Available in AuthorityLabs

AuthorityLabs has always had several options for reporting and exports, such as quick exports, public URLs (example), public PDFs (example), no charge for additional/client logins, a rank tracking API, and our on-demand export tool. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been testing a new recurring export tool so that users can have reports automatically exported on a weekly or monthly basis.

AuthorityLabs Export Page

All you have to do to set up scheduled reports is head over to the exports page in the interface and select either “Recurring Weekly” or “Recurring Monthly” and we will run those reports and email a link to where you can download your reports. If you would like those reports to be placed into Amazon S3 for storage and access later, you can add access keys and a bucket to your account settings.

S3 Settings

If you have any questions on these new export features, contact us or use the support menu in the interface.

Please Don’t Share Suckiness, Quality Matters

failThe biggest problem I have with social sharing is the suckiness I see on a daily basis. Nothing irritates me more than clicking on a link and seeing something that is rehashed content and/or something that offers no value <- these two things equal ‘suckiness’.

If you are on social and your goal is get people to follow you because you are a resource, then a priority should be sharing outstanding information. In my opinion you can never be a resource unless you share information that is unique and educational/helpful to others.

So, below are my thoughts on what is required if you are hoping to share the best of the best information.

Be Ready, Time is Needed for Quality

Part of my job is to find articles that are relevant to followers and also to share articles that will be helpful in some way. I do this for my own branding and also for social accounts I am paid to run. A large amount of time is spent on this task because I have to be focused on each of the following:

Truth and Facts

Is the article accurate? If one thing is inaccurate in an article then the article cannot be shared. Why? It is a bad reflection on myself or the company I represent! If you are sharing an article you are essentially saying the facts/advice is good, so if this information is incorrect you could be contributing to the growth of an inaccurate belief.

To ensure that an article is accurate it requires that you read everything! You must read the entire article with a critical eye. If you are unsure about any aspect of the article you need to research or ask someone that knows a lot about the topic. Yes, this takes a lot of time, but it also makes you a credible resource.

Eliminating the Bad

If content is badly written or hard to read due to grammar or website design we are not sending our followers there. How can someone be a quality resource when they are sending followers to read something of bad quality? If something is hard for you to read then it will be hard for others. #Eliminate

Find the Unique

different / uniqueThere are so many articles out there today that essentially say the same thing. The headlines might be different, but the points given are the same. Who wants to read the same thing over and over again?

While there are many articles that have the same three or four bits of advice, you will only know this if you are an active reader. You can’t eliminate rehashed articles unless you read, a lot! If you just read titles and scan headlines you will never know if the meat of the article is rehashed/spun content.

Again, time is needed and being an active reader is required if you are hoping to share quality content via social. You need to read a lot to find quality articles that offer unique information and perspectives that are factual.

Helpful / Educational

There is no reason to share an article unless it has something truly helpful to offer the reader. Remember when I said I was looking for articles that were “relevant to followers”? The only way to know if an article is helpful to your followers is to know who your followers are and what they are looking for. Understanding these things is critical for research and conversational purposes.

Know your audiences and then find what can be helpful and educational to them.

As an example, let’s say I know my followers are focused on social media marketing. I could share “5 Ways to Be Great at Social” (I am sure they have heard those tips before) or I could share something truly unique, helpful and educational like “The Big List of IFTTT Recipes: 34 Hacks for Hardcore Social Media Productivity“. Which sounds more appealing? Which is more helpful? Even if some of the followers are still in the 101 stage the IFTTT article would be far more helpful and educational.

 Good Social Sharing Takes a Lot of Effort

If you want to get into the social sharing game you have to understand that a big time commitment is needed. It is not easy to find truly great content. Part of your job will be to read everything you can and explore blogs you have never heard of before. If you are sharing for a company please give this article to your boss so he/she can understand the time and effort required.

To be a great resource you have to find quality articles that are unique, factual, helpful and relevant to the audiences that you want to follow you.