One Simple Action to Better Marketing Results: Cover Your Essential Basics

A little girl in pig tails stares at the camera with a puzzled expression.

Feeling a little overwhelmed? Not sure what to do next with your marketing? Make certain your basics are covered.

You’ve got a problem. You want to reach your target audience, but you want to avoid wasting your time and your money. Good.

You don’t want to make my mistakes. Believe me, they are expensive mistakes.

I owned a retail store once. It started strong, landing in the top 45% in gross sales in it’s industry the first year. Unfortunately, that first year coincided with the massive shift to online sales and marketing, and while I knew I should be making the move to reaching customers outside my physical area — and I’d already had some of those loyal customers — I was too lost in the daily operation of the business to heed my alarm bells. In the end, which wasn’t that long in coming, I ended up a $100,000 in debt and a rather bitter, cynical attitude towards humanity. It took over 4 years to clear up the debt and most of the cynicism.

That’s why I started teaching online marketing classes and workshops. I wanted to help others take full advantage of the opportunities, and requirements, of reaching their potential audience today. I quickly discovered many small business owners and nonprofit executives felt overwhelmed by all the technology and conflicting, changing information. Where to begin? What’s really important? What are the basics to get results?

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Check Out 50 Reasons to #LovetheWorld

Hobbes, the Great Blue Heron, posing in the University of Texas Marine Science Wetlands Center pond.

Not certain which is more wonderful: Hobbes, the Great Blue Heron posing, or the fact that Hobbes was rehabilitated by the Animal Rehabilitation Keep of Port Aransas, Texas after losing a foot.

BBC’s Travel  Section has collect a set of 50 amazing photographs and quotes from travelers explaining why they Love the World. It’s a great pick-me up for those days when the snow or the  rain or traffic or mowing the lawn starts getting you down (Hint: you can always get rid of the lawn and do everyone a favor). There’s also a fun quiz to determine what kind of traveler you are.

The only downside to this site is the Editorial Warning:

Editor’s note: aspects of the feature aren’t supported in IE9 and earlier, or on iPads using Safari.

(See, Apple? This is why I’m no longer an avid evangelist. Please return to focusing on optimizing the user-experience, not counting the pennies in your vault like Scrooge McDuck. Greed kills.)

How and When to Use Email Forwarders or Aliases

The following question recently came in from a former student:

Also, do you have anything on aliases on your website?  You mentioned that in class, but I did not know I wanted to follow up with you then!!

So here’s a quick tutorial on email addresses, aliases, and forwarders.

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One Simple Action: Get Traction!

Young woman lying on floor with feet on sofa and book over face in resignation

When we are overwhelmed by our choices, we need to take some small action – even the conscious choice to do nothing – to start moving ahead again.

Ever find yourself unable to decide what to do? I don’t mean the oh-my-gosh-is-that-guy-having-a-heart-attack situation, but the I-have-so-much-to-do-and-should-really-be-doing-something-right-now-but-I-can’t-decide-what situation. Where you have things that you need to do, should do, want to do, but just can’t seem to pick something and get going? Where you are paralyzed with indecision — and so you get “nothing” done?

Of course, you have; we all have at one time or another. (Some of us find ourselves in that situation more often then we like, but we shall remain nameless, wont’ we, Carolyn.)

While I’m a huge fan of focus and prioritizing (which we will get to soon enough), when we are suffering from Newton’s First Law of Motion —  a body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it — it’s better to take some action, than no action. The action might be simply to write down the what you want to do. Or it may be something mundane like cleaning the litter box or starting a load of laundry. But the key is to do something — even if it’s to make a conscious decision to do nothing.

Taking One Small Action Is Necessary to Move Towards Anything

Cognitive therapists find surprisingly simple actions can create traction towards lasting change and success recovery in patients. Alan Loy McGinnis, in his book The Power of Optimism, recounts how changing a flat tire sparked a transformative change in a patient who went from seeing life as hopeless to a sense of some control in what he experienced. The sense that things are “out of control” is what paralyzes us; the evidence that  we have some control in our lives is Newton’s “outside force” that puts us in motion.

When I had to drive back and forth from Houston to Los Angeles for the better part of a year, I listened to The Power of Optimism on tape (yes, tape; it was the 90’s). This led me to Martin Seligman, who pioneered the research into “learned optimism” and “authentic happiness,” has written quite a lot about our “plasticity” and ability to change. In all his research, success, that is optimism and authentic happiness, begin with some small action — like learning more. (Very Big Grin)

For more about the critical power of optimism in building our resilience to life and moving towards success, you might want to read this story in The Atlantic Monthly. And you can also check out Martin Seligman’s work:


One Simple Action: Keep Moving

A young man peddles on a bike locked into a long row of rental bikes as he walks to a friend.

Getting creative on ways to meet the recommended 150-minutes a week of aerobic exercise, these guys use the Barclay rental bikes in London as free stationary cycles. The important thing is to keep moving!

There’s one action we can take that can produce more intellectual, psychological, health, and career benefits than any other — exercise! WAIT! STOP! Don’t run away. It can be simpler than you think.

Red graphic with crown and the words Keep Calm and Read OnAccording to the Mayo Clinic, and other medical sources, healthy adults should do an average of 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking or mowing the lawn, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous activity such as running or cycling. This comes out to roughly 30-minutes a day. (To lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may have to do more, possibly quite a bit more…) Along with the aerobic activity, we should do a bit of strength training twice a week to keep our muscles and bones — including our backs — in good shape.

Fortunately, we don’t have to do the 30-minutes of daily aerobic exercise all at once. We can break our exercise up into things like three 10-minute walks. Or to make it even easier, consider ways to add more exercise into your daily routine, such as: Continue reading

How to Make Changes to or Modify Your WordPress Theme

Image of the WordPress Admin Appearance screen.

To modify your WordPress theme, you will use the customization options in your WP-Admin Appearance sidebar, or create a Child Theme.

There are basically two ways to change or modify our WordPress themes: use the built-in theme options or change the actual code, preferably using a Child Theme.

But actually before we begin worrying about making changes to our theme, we need to ask the big questions

  • Is this change really necessary?
  • Is this change necessary now?

If the change is simply because we prefer cherry red to apple red, then we can probably skip the wasted time and expense; no one ever said, “I’m not buying this from Amazon because I don’t like its link colors.” And usually when someone says “But I want it to look like a real website” what they mean is that they want the Front, or Home, screen to appear non-blog-style. That’s built-into WordPress already and is explained in another post here.

If, on the other hand, there is a good reason — with solid data to back it up — then keep reading. I’ll explain how to use the built-in options, how to modify just the CSS for things like colors, and what is needed to make structural changes like getting rid of the author or date, or adding an additional menu to the footer. Continue reading

One Simple Action: Pay Attention (aka Mindfulness)

Young woman of color peering at you with bright green eyes

Research has shown training our minds to focus in the moment, also known as mindfulness, has powerful effects on our well-being and our success. Even just 5-minutes can make a difference.

Numerous fields of research from behavioral economics to neurology have shown the advantages of training ourselves to focus on the present moment. But you don’t have to become a Buddhist monk to reap the benefits of what is called “mindfulness.” There are a number of simple actions we can turn into a “mindfulness habit” in our daily lives.

Train Your Brain: Take 5-minutes to calm your mind

We’ll talk more about the rewards of meditation to our well-being and lives in another post, however, just a simple 5-minute daily exercise has been effective in reducing stress, and in improving productivity and results. And you can do it anywhere, any time (though it’s a great way to start and end your day).

At least once a day, sit in a comfortable, relaxed position. Take a deep breath, close your eyes (if possible), and then focus on your breath as you slowly release it. Notice the rise and fall of your chest, how it feels, how you feel. Continue to do this for 5 minutes (or as long as you’d like). Note any tension in your body and try to relax it. Note any thoughts creeping in that take your attention away from your breath, and return your attention to your breath.

Don’t strain to maintain your focus on your breath, or berate yourself when your thoughts wander. One of my favorite guides to meditation tells me to correct my wandering thoughts as if I were training an enthusiastic puppy to stay, gently bring them back to where I want them to stay and begin again.

Regain control in the moment

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How to Set Up a WordPress Development Sandbox for Your Website

Beach towel, flip flops,starfish, sunglasses and the WordPress logo on a turquoise wooden deck

A WordPress “sandbox” lets you to fearlessly “play” with your website design and content.

Want to save yourself a lot of headache and potential grief? Test changes first in your “sandbox” before making them on your live website.

What’s a website “sandbox?”

A “sandbox” is just what I call a second installation of WordPress used for development, testing, and, in general, experimenting with new design, plugins, settings, and other changes to our websites. By testing things out in our sandbox first, we can avoid the stress of doing damage to our “live” website, the one our visitors are viewing right now.

How do I set up a website “sandbox?”

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One Simple Action: Track the Good

Close-up of a Mexican Hat flowerbed at the London Wildlife Centre.

We tend to focus on the negative and forget the good things in our lives and work. It takes 3 positive thoughts to break the “stickiness” of one negative. Track the good!

After years of delays I was finally in London. In July. During a heat wave. London was packed with tourists, there were heat stroke warning signs everywhere. I saw more than one EMT team wheeling unconscious passengers through a Tube station. Traveling through one of the jammed stations, I was jostled on the escalator by a short-tempered man in a hurry and unkind expletives were exchanged regarding London courtesy and “effing” tourists.

I was no longer thinking about how fantastic it was to be in London finally, or about the amazing experiences I was having each day. I was thinking about how hot and tired I was; about the angry, large man who’d shoved me on the escalator so he could get by; about how stupid it was that the Tubes weren’t air conditioned or at least properly ventilated. Then  I spotted a poster for the London Wetland Centre, and on impulse I opted to see otters and birds rather than stand in a long, sweaty line at Westminster Abbey. (Uhm, Simple Action, Carolyn? I’m almost there.)

Keep-calm-read-on-graphicI discovered that while the Tube trains were un-air conditioned and packed, the Overland train to the LWC was cool and nearly empty. And once there, though I could see the overcrowded press of London’s metropolis in the distance, I was in a well-groomed open space filled with trees, flowers, paths, ponds, birds, creatures, and fascinating exhibits. By the time I got to the otter feeding, I remembered how lucky and happy I was to be in London, heat wave and all.

I’d fallen victim to our hardwired tendency towards focusing on the negative, but when I  focused on all the good things around me at the LWC, my positive perspective returned.

How can we overcome negativity?

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One Simple Action: Daily Random Act of Kindness

Neurological and positive psychology show that an act of kindness releases a variety of endorphins in our brains making us happier, healthier, and more successful.

Neurological and positive psychology show that an act of kindness releases a variety of endorphins in our brains making us happier, healthier, and more successful.

Doing something kind for someone else, particularly when there is a positive response, even a simple smile, can combat depression, reduce stress, increase self-confidence, and in general make us a little bit happier. Neurological and behavioral science research shows performing simple acts of kindness release a host of endorphins including oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine.

It can take less than a minute to do a simple of act of kindness.

Dedicate 66-days to doing at least one Random Act of Kindness daily.

But really you should do more, because some are just good manners — like holding doors for the people coming behind you or who have their hands full; offering a seat to the elderly, pregnant or with infants, injured or handicapped; or saying “Thank you” when someone does something for you.

What counts as a Simple Random Act of Kindness?

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