6 Ways to Get Rid of The Useless Advice That is Hurting Your Blog or Business
There is so much amazing advice on the Internet for starting and running an online business, so many companies and bloggers getting on the content creation bandwagon to create super awesome useful advice for you information enthusiasts (I love it too!).
The only problem with this is how do you know which of it is super awesome useful for you??
I mean, there's lots of great social media advice but, unless you've got a social media team working for you, a lot of it will make you feel totally overwhelmed and like you're not doing it properly. You need to to find social media advice for the Business Mum who's got to fit it in with her kids.
You need excellent advice that's excellent for You!
Why you need targeted advice for your business
It will help you form useful strategies for your business that will actually work and that you will have the time and skills to carry out.
Advice that is tailored to small online business and to someone with your knowledge won't confuse you or make you feel stressed and inadequate.
You will be able to set realistic goals for your business. For example, if you are setting up a blog, income reports are really useful to give you an idea of what to aim for in the long term.
So what do you need to do to find advice targeted to your situation?
Define what advice you need
Ask yourself some questions to define your own business advice needs.
What size is your business?
Is it just you? You and your partner? You and a virtual assistant? Are you planning on hiring help in the future?
What are your goals for your business?
A full time income? Just enough for treats for you and the kids? To be the next Amazon?
What type of business do you have?
Is it a Blog? Are you selling your handmade crafts? Providing a service to other businesses?
What resources and skills do you have?
Do you have a creative background? A business education? Lots of life experience in your particular business niche?
Do you have a start up budget?
Do you have no budget? Are you a whizz at tech stuff? Or a complete newb?
The answers to these questions will get you thinking about what you need help with to start your business and how you are going to use that help. For example, if you're not techy it'sgoing to take a lot of your time to teach yourself Photoshop to create your graphics. But you can learn how to add pre-made graphics to your website instead.
What makes excellent advice outstanding
Can you understand it?
Somebody somewhere once said, 'in order to simplify something you need to understand it' (or something like that anyway!). In other words to explain something in simple terms so that anyone can understand it, you really need to understand the fundamentals. Look for an expert in the area you are researching that can explain in depth information in a way you can understand.
If you are an Obsessive Compulsive Business Information Hoarder, this Free 'Business Advice Checklist' worksheet is for you! Download it and ruthlessly check all the 'information' you've saved over time for actual real usefulness! (<< Click the link to download, or the image below)
Is it thorough with plenty of detail?
I don't know about you but I've read blog posts that read like an interesting intro and I've got to the bottom and gone, 'is that it?' Look for people that don't only share what you should be doing, but why and how.
Do you trust the author?
Early on in your information quest you won't necessarily know who is worth listening to but you will quickly find some great resources. Sign up to email lists, read blogs and when you've found your favourites, see who they showcase or collaborate with. Start with the social accounts of magazines you read, authors of books you've read, your favourite Etsy shops and see who they follow and share.
Does it just 'make sense'?
Yeah I know that's a bit airy fairy but sometimes you'll just read stuff that resonates with you. You'll have moments of 'wow, I'd not thought of that but it makes soooo much sense'. (wonderful 'a-ha! moments'!) The blogs / websites that spark those reactions are the ones who's email lists you need to sign up to!
Two things that might negatively affect otherwise good advice
How up to date is it?
This is more important with some things than others. For example, social media sites change their algorithms so regularly you need to be sure you're reading social media advice that's up to date. E-commerce platforms like Etsy are regularly updated with new features and rules. Once upon a time wordpress.org was the only platform for serious bloggers, now it seems Squarespace is muscling in. Check the date on the information you're reading and if you can't see a date (some people advise removing dates from blog posts to keep content 'evergreen') then treat it with caution.
Is the author being paid for their opinion?
Is it a sponsored post or does it contain lots of affiliate links (where the author gets paid a commission if you buy or click on the product)? Affiliate links are not necessarily bad (I think everybody that monetises their blog uses affiliate links). It would be nice to think people would only recommend things that they genuinely believe are useful to their readers but not everyone is that genuine!
If it's just a couple of links dropped into an otherwise helpful and engaging blog post then the affiliate links are pretty irrelevant. Sometimes though you'll come across a blog post that sounds great at first glance but reads like an attempt to mention a random product as many times as possible while discussing something not really relevant to the post title.
I am (maybe unjustifiably) suspicious of sponsored posts. I can't help thinking it's unlikely the blogger is going to mention the bad bits when they're getting paid for their opinion! On the other hand, they may have only applied to collaborate with the brand on that particular product because they totally 100% adored it!
Use your own judgement - if it looks spammy ignore it!
Some 'advice' is just crap! Unfortunately by the time you've found out that it was a load of shite, it's generally because you've been following it and not been getting the desired results! There's not really any way round this other than to do thorough research and not believe everything you read!
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Ok, so now you know what your own advice needs are, why you need targeted information, what you're looking for in your information searches and what to avoid!
How do you find relevant small business information?
Use online search like a pro
Google it! Obvious huh? But use your search terms carefully. Be specific about what you ask google to look for. Rather than search for 'business accounting' search for 'small business accounting for beginners' or 'small business tax return' or whatever specific accounting thing you're looking for.
Use the lingo
Use professional terminology when searching in depth. Yes I know I said useful advice is jargon free but sometimes it does really help to know what the professionals call it! If you discover a new term or industry terminology when researching you will find more detailed, specific information by using that terminology during further searches
Use Help pages
On all the social media websites, e-commerce sites, blogging platforms, newsletter providers and even Google, you will find help pages. They often have specific business help pages too. These help pages are actually a really useful port of call if you are stuck with that website! You will often find people quoting wrong 'information' they've found from a random source online (this happens a lot on Facebook and it seriously does my head in!) when the correct information is in the help pages of the actual website (who'd have thought it!) PS: Here's the Facebook for business page
Not all advice is written
Listen to podcasts and watch videos. I've recently watched some great webinars from bloggers who's email lists I'm on. You can watch a webinar live or watch a recording at a later date. Look out for free online courses (such as Free Blog School from my favourite blogger ever, Regina at ByRegina.com)
Follow other people's recommendations
From people you know in real life as well as online. As I said earlier, follow the people your favourite magazines or bloggers are following on Twitter or who's pins they're re-pinning. Use the web-yness (yes, I may now be making up words!) of the World Wide Web to your advantage.
Get social on social media!
Join a Facebook group (or nine - Erika at Olyvia.co recommends nine of her favourite Facebook groups for entrepreneurs, bloggers and freelancers), a Twitter chat (join #Hustlechat at 9pm GMT on Thursdays) or Google + communities. Ask questions of your peers. And be helpful when you can. Be authentic and you'll make great connections in your business niche as well as learning loads.
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Pinterest is your friend!
Pinterest is absolutely full of small business information for Business Mums. When you find a blog post or website article that you like, track down it's original source and follow them. Follow who they follow. Follow group boards they collaborate on then check out other collaborators. Pinterest is great because you can be very specific about where the information in your feed comes from.
The most important thing to remember with any advice though, that it's not set in stone, the World won't end if you do things your own way! Follow the advice that makes sense to you, ignore what seems spammy or too good to be true. Don't ignore advice for big companies, just scale it down to your size or use a small part of it. Look to the future. Plan for the business you're going to have, not what you have now. And real innovators don't do what everyone else has done, so if you have an idea of how to do it better then go for it!
Use Pinterest to organise your useful gathered information
Use secret boards
Organise your research by subject, by priority for getting done, by where the advice has come from, whatever works for you. Depending on how much information you pin, you might want to keep the super special extra awesome advice on a board of its own for easy reference.
'Like' pins for checking out later
Everything I pin on my boards I've read and I only pin what is interesting, useful and links to the correct source. So I use the like button a lot to save things that I like the look of but need to read and check out. This is really useful when you've not got a lot of time and means you don't lose things if you don't re-pin them right away.
Time to Take Action! Use your Free Business Information Checklist to decide which of all the business 'information' you've hoarded is actually useful! Use the checklist in the future to tame your Obsessive Compulsive Business Information Hoarding!
Not quite ready to face the 'useful information' folder? Pin this post and save it for later!