How to Spend Your Time Marketing Your Business on the Web

“You ever realize that you’re wasting time and have to give yourself a little lecture? Then you twitter about it… and waste more time.” Cory Glauner (@gothunts)

Focusing on the Most Important Tasks

image credit: 96dpi

One of the things I struggle with frequently is focusing on what’s important to reaching my goals in life. It seems like I get into situations where I’m spending way too much time on tasks that aren’t as important as others.

For example, just before I sat down to write this post I was working on some changes for the Hunting Business Marketing site. Most of these changes were functional and somewhat visual. After struggling for awhile to figure them out I realized that I was wasting valuable time that I had meant to use for writing.

I’ve always been inquisitive and while I find that characteristic to be a positive quality it also has the tendency to get me in trouble once and awhile concerning time management.

Life seems to be balancing act of tasks we need and want to perform and since we’ve all only got a limited amount of time available it seems imperative that we figure out the tasks that are truly most important in achieving our goals, aspirations, and happiness.

So how do we decide what is most important?

Let’s take a deeper look…

Understanding Your Business Goals

Prioritizing your time to ensure your happiness most likely includes family, friends, and becoming successful, but for this article I’ll just focus on the success of your hunting business and your business goals. I’m guessing there is a chance that the success of your business is one of your main goals for your life anyway so I hope you understand the focus on the article. Maybe I can address the personal side of priorities and life in another post.

Anyway, back to your business.

Let’s take a look at a couple questions to consider…

1| What are your business goals?

It’s important to understand what your business goals are in order to better prioritize your tasks.

I’ll just use myself as an example and hopefully you can mold it to match your own.

Today when I was working on the site I realized the things I was working on (functional changes) weren’t as important as the core things (creating valuable content) I should have been working on.

So I immediately switched over to writing this post and next I’ll focus on adding content to the Hunting Business Marketing Book and creating other content for Hunting Business Marketing.

You see, I realized that what is valued most here is the written content.

While functionality is important and definitely needs my attention, I realized I needed to create content and get caught up to the point where I felt good enough to stop creating content and focus on other, less important, priorities.

So today I had a moment when I realized what my business goals were:

1| Create content that helps hunting business owners better market their business and serve hunters

2| Create a voice for Hunting Business Marketing that is personal and attentive to the needs of hunting business owners

3| Create a simple and functional Web site that makes it easy for hunting business owners to access the content

4| Create revenue opportunities that allow Hunting Business Marketing to be profitable and successful in respect to #1

These go more into detail, but you get the point.

After realizing that these were my goals for Hunting Business Marketing I knew that it was time to stop tinkering and get back to focusing on the content.

2| What do you do best?

While I don’t claim to be a masterful or influential writer, I do understand that I love writing blog posts and other content that helps hunting business owners with their marketing strategies and goals.

I enjoy analyzing statistics, occurrences, and trends while providing my thoughts on how the activities around us affect the hunting industry and individual hunting businesses.

And while I may not be the best at creating content, it is what I’m best at (or at least what I enjoy doing most).

So my time (right now) is best spent focusing on creating valuable content.

Now, I also realize the importance of presenting the content in ways that make it easy for your to use and understand.

This is where the other priorities for my business goals come in…

Continue Learning

Creating valuable content is my number one goal, but I know that it’s important to continue to learn new techniques and strategies that make my goals mentioned above more efficient and effective.

Recently I’ve been doing a lot of reading, researching, and other time consuming activities while I’ve been working on a new Website.

With encouragement from Sarah Hicks, I’ve been trying to learn how to do things myself instead of hiring out tasks.

I’ve spent a lot of frustrating hours working on the new site and it’s felt like a lot of wasted time more than once.

But as time goes on I’m realizing all of the valuable things I’m learning through the process that will help me in the future for making my goal of providing valuable content to hunting business owners more efficient.

So the final point is that while it’s important to focus on what you do best, it’s just as important to continue learning so you can not only achieve your business goals, but make the process of delivering them more efficient and effective.

Summary

It’s important from time to time to take a step back and analyze the daily tasks we do throughout our day.

Ask yourself a couple questions:

1| What are your business goals?

2| What do you do best?

There are other related questions more specific to your unique situation, but the important thing to realize is that your life is short and if you want to be happy and satisfied you need to focus on what’s most important for your life’s goals.

Do the things that make you happy and that lead to success.

If you’re not happy and successful…what’s the point?

Bonus

Cory is one of my favorite people to follow on Twitter.

Follow him at twitter.com/gothunts if you are not doing so already.

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How to Do It All – The Time Management Question

“I figure there are 24 hours in a day: 8 for family, 8 for sleep, and 8 for work,” Clint Black.

Clint Black in Concert

image credit: jvh33

When I look at problems or frustrations people (including myself) are having I try to look for the common sense or simple solution.

Too often we search for solutions to our problems by looking for complex answers.

Cory from Outdoors International asked about the problem of Time Management [from the post What are your Questions?].

Time management is something all of us can relate to. It doesn’t matter if you’re a full time parent, a kid in school, or a hunting business owner – everybody is busy doing something and managing time is a struggle as we all work to fit everything we want to accomplish or experience into our short days, weeks, years, and ultimately years.

So for a possible solution I’d like to take a common sense approach to my thinking regarding Time Management.

Priorities

The fact that we all need to prioritize our daily activities has been beaten to death into our brains our entire lives. To say the very least…prioritizing has become cliché.

But as is usually true with clichés – they’re usually true and simple fact.

Do you have a mental picture of what is most important in your life?

Does your priority list begin with your significant other, your kids, your parents, yourself, your work, or anything else?

There is no right answer for everyone, but there is a right answer for you. The trick is that only you can correctly answer the question for yourself.

Create your own priority list. It doesn’t have to be long. Try to create the list so that each of the lower priorities builds value for the priorities above it.

For example, if family is your number one priority, you are your second and work is your third, your work should provide value to you and your family. Everything you do when you work should add value to your own life and happiness, which should add value for your family.

It’s a simple concept and once you have you have an understanding of what really makes you happy it will be easier to make decisions only as they affect your top priorities.

Complete Understanding of Tasks

I’d like to go back to the Clint Black quote about time management:

“I figure there are 24 hours in a day: 8 for family, 8 for sleep, and 8 for work.”

His philosophy seems fairly simple and I think managing your time can be this simple. You just need to have an understanding of what makes for a valuable task. What I mean by “valuable task” is that you should understand how everything you do throughout the day affects your priority list and where it fits in your day and whether each task is truly valuable or not.

Side Note: Clint Black’s 8/8/8 rule is not universal. Your life may include similar priorities or completely different priorities. Your life may also require a different ratio. The point is to understand your own ratio and make sure you understand how your daily tasks affect your life and happiness.

8 Hours for Family

One memory I have from my childhood is sitting in the living room and looking out the window waiting for my Dad to come home. He was a commercial airline pilot and he often left for a trip on Sunday night and would come home later in the week – usually later on in the week.

As soon as he would come through the door I’d give him a big hug and then (as most young sons do) I’d beg him to play catch or shoot baskets or play an inside game of some kind.

I’m not sure where he got the energy, but he was always willing to put his things down, kiss my Mom hello and then spend an hour or two with me and my younger brother before we would fall asleep.

This story is a reflection of my Dad’s priority list. When I was growing up, his family was on the top of his list (it’s important to remember that priority lists will change throughout your life).

His days didn’t fit the perfect 8/8/8 ratio. However, throughout the weeks and months he would spend just as much time with his family (and sleeping) as he did with his job.

His tasks that related to my family may have included things like tossing a football around with me and my brother, cleaning up around the house, mowing the lawn, having a nice dinner with my Mom and his two boys.

The tasks for family may seem ordinary and sometimes wasteful, but I hope you understand the importance of tossing a football to your son or daughter. It’s something valuable for their lives (and hopefully yours as well).

Understand the tasks that truly add value to your family’s lives and focus on making the most of the time you have with them.

8 Hours for Sleep

There is not much to say for this period of time. We all need to sleep – some of us more than others. Lately I’ve been doing well and feeling healthy with about 6 hours a night. I’m sure this will change with time and I’ll get back to the normal 8 hours.

Spend your days getting things accomplished as they relate to your priority list and you’ll rest easy with a feeling of ease and success each night.

8 Hours for Work

For most of us work is something we do to earn a living so we can enjoy live ourselves and provide for our family. For most it is really nothing more than this. And this is fine. It might not be fulfilling as some see, but the fruits of working hard at a job so you can spend quality time away from work can be very beneficial and lead to happiness.

For some of the luckier (or more motivated) ones, a job or work is simply an extension of our passions in life. These people find fulfillment in accomplishing great things through their work and passion.

I consider myself one of the lucky ones.

I enjoy many things in life and a few of those include marketing, the Web, hunting, and writing.

With the job at Mason and this blog I am able to enjoy these passions. While I do consider both to be work, I also consider them to be part of the legacy I’m building for myself. I work to continuously build my knowledge of the world around me and my work encourages and challenges me to continually learn and innovate with new ideas.

Each day I look at the tasks I want to accomplish as they relate to my work and I try to make sure each is something that is adding to my (hopefully) expanding knowledge base.

Most Important First

After you have your overall Life Priority List setup, you’ll also have your daily to-do list. It doesn’t have to be written down (although it can be – I use lots of sticky notes). Mental lists work just as well.

The simple thing to remember is to always start your day with your most important tasks.

It doesn’t matter if these tasks are simply or difficult. Determine what is most important for you to accomplish today as it relates to your live priority list and focus on finishing them completely and competently.

There really is nothing more to say about it. Work on your most important tasks until they are complete each day. Clear out all distractions and you’ll find yourself getting more things done. More importantly, when you accomplish the big things on your task list, you’ll sleep better knowing you had a successful day.

For more on this concept, see Purpose to your Day: Most Important Task (MIT).

Bonus Time

Now, if you go through the process of developing a priority list of what is most important to you in your overall life as well as creating daily task lists, you will find yourself with some bonus time.

As a quick example, in high school I had a job at a local country club. I started by working in the bag room, cleaning the golf members’ clubs and eventually moved to the pro shop. A few of the club members would comment to my boss, the club pro, that I always seemed to be standing around looking for something to do. It’s a simple observation and as most of the club members were successful professionals they had a right to question my idleness. The thing was (and my boss even told this to a few of the members) was that I always tried to get daily tasks done during times when the pro shop was busy (usually early morning after the regulars teed off). I did the most important tasks thoroughly and efficiently when everyone else was busy as well. This way I had time to converse with the members and tend to their needs when they came back from their rounds.

Now, the trick I’ve tried to learn over the years is how to fill the “Bonus Time” that comes with efficient use of early day time.

When you truly get through your tasks for the day as they relate to one of the priorities on your list, you can simply move on to something that makes you happy and adds value to the aspect of another one of your priorities.

Did you get your daily work tasks done earlier in the morning than you thought? Why not surprise your kids and take them out of school for an early brunch. Or why not surprise your wife by taking her flowers.

When you finish your tasks (and you will) take some time to focus on the things that make you happy. Don’t waste it with meaningless things. Do things that truly impact your life and more importantly, the lives of your friends, family and those around you.

Understand Waste and Eliminate

Our lives sometimes seem like we’re moving from one task to the next without any time to sit and think about if what we’re doing is getting us closer to accomplishing our goals for life.

The truth is that our lives are usually full of wasted moments.

It’s sometimes tricky to understand which moments are important and which are wasteful because it’s unique for each individual including you.

A simple example from my own life was TV. I canceled my TV when I caught myself watching TV shows for no reason at all. Sure they seemingly fulfilled the entertainment aspect of my life, but now that I have canceled cable I find myself focusing on tasks more appropriate for my priorities.

Do you have waste you can eliminate?

Summary

Time management is an issue for many professionals. It’s difficult focusing on what is truly important at work as well as what is important in ourselves as well as for our families.

Create your own priority list. Develop mental or physical daily tasks starting with the most important first. Use your bonus time effectively.

You’ll find yourself sleeping better at night knowing you’ve had a fulfilling day when you are accomplishing things that meet your vision for life.

It’s a wonderful feeling when you can go to bed with a smile each night.

Side Note: I have to say that many of my recent thoughts on life and productivity come from the blog Zen Habits and Leo Babauta’s book The Power of Less.

Also: If you have a question you would like answered please use the comment section on What are Your Questions? I can’t wait to hear from you.

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Keep Your Hunting Website Relevant During the Summer Stagnation

Where did everybody go?

Sweet Summer by the Lake

image credit: Per Ola Wiberg

The summer months are coming around the US and in most hunting regions this means more time spent outdoors – it definitely means more golfing, boating, grilling, and general outdoor fun for me and my fellow Wisconsinites.

As is expected, as your Website viewers rush to spend their precious time outside, your Website or blog traffic may decrease.

The proof is in this chart from Google Insights:

Google Insights Hunting Cyclical Season

click for sharper image

Your customers are on the way down into the stagnant times of the year-long hunting season. For them, the hunting season (on the Web) won’t peak until late fall.

I’ve written before that The Hunting Off Season is the Best Time to Improve Your Hunting Business, but maintaining a connection with your readers online is important as well.

You should encourage them to get outside and enjoy the summer months, but even though they aren’t spending as much time online it doesn’t mean you can’t maintain steady traffic and interest.

Here are a few ideas to keep your Website relevant during the summer stagnation:

Mirror their schedule

You probably recognize the time of day your blog or Website gets the most traffic. This may or may not change when the summer months hit.

Think about your typical visitor for a second: hunter, nine to five worker, access to a computer at work (or only at home after work or in the morning prior), kids, no kids, married, not married, retired, etc.

If your typical visitor is me, I’m a hunter who spends time browsing the Web while at work (7am to 4pm Central Time – don’t forget time zones). I do visit a few sites to research and get ideas.

I also spend the mornings and evenings online. But once the summer hits I spend more time outside (on the lake, on the course, or in a backyard grilling and downing a few tasty Bud Lights). So my afternoon and evening Web browsing drops off significantly in the summer.

So the best time to catch me with blog updates, emails, RSS updates, and updated Websites is in the morning. I’m just getting up and during the week I still go through my daily routing of checking email and relevant sites before work.

Now, I’m guessing the same pattern is true for most of your site’s visitors. Afternoons and evenings are busy in the summer. Whether it’s taking kids to tee ball or taking in a volleyball game with friends, your visitors are going to be busy after twelve o’clock.

So the best time to update your blog or send out an email might be in the morning when they’re getting up. (If you send an e-newsletter out in the morning you might be seen at the top right away). If you’re conversing in forums or commenting on blogs, your posts will be seen first if you time them to be in the morning.

Lunch is also a popular time as people who work at desks and computers have some free time to browse their favorite sites. Sure, some of your visitors might take a lunch outside due to the nice weather, but some will take the time to pay bills, check sports standings, and check their favorite hunting sites.

Think about when your visitors are going to be spending time online and when they’ll be outside. Use their outside time to work on your site/blog and use their online time to participate and connect with them.

Staying relevant

If your blog is about discussing hunting strategy, during the summer you could discuss summertime strategies for scouting and brainstorming tactics for the upcoming season.

What are ways your readers can use their time this summer (outside in the woods) scouting and upping their chances of taking a trophy animal in the fall?

In the summer it’s difficult to think that hunting is relevant so as a writer or site editor you can provide a resource for information.

It might be summer, but your readers still crave information that adds value and benefit to their lives as hunters. Other hunting blogs may be taking a break or covering irrelevant material and just accepting the downturn in traffic, but make your blog relevant and you’ll see your hunters make time to read your blog or visit your site despite their time crunch.

If you’re a product manufacturer, create relevant emails and Website images for the summer months.

Highlight how your products are relevant now. Why do your customers need to get your products now? Or why will your customers have added value by visiting your site or buying your product/service now versus the fall hunting season?

There are many examples for individual businesses, but the important thing to remember is to stay relevant to your reader’s or customer’s mindset for the summer months.

Add value (become necessary)

Adding value to your customers hunting life is important all year round, but when their attention is elsewhere it’s even more important because you have more competition for their attention.

You have to make yourself necessary to their hunting lives. I check LewRockwell.com and Michael Shedlock’s site everyday whether it’s snowing or 80 degrees and sunny outside. The sites are necessary to me personally. I need them as part of my personal development.

How do you make your site necessary?

Well, it takes quality content and a unique voice. You have to provide insight that relates to your reader’s worldview and adds value to their daily lives. What information and insight can you provide that is necessary to your reader’s daily lives and their busier lives during the summer months?

It’s not easy to provide valuable information, but if you can continuously provide valuable content you will be able to maintain your readers and traffic during the summer months.

Stay Clever

Another thing you can do during the summer doldrums is to build up your creativity and your ability to be clever. People love clever content.

Think for a second, about a piece of content that you found clever.

Perhaps it was a song?

For me an example is He Stopped Loving Her Today by George Jones. This is one of my favorite songs in part because it’s clever. The ending is clever, but not outrageous.

If you can create clever content you’ll create curiosity that will give your readers a reason to visit your site or blog when they’re busier. Cleverness makes people think long after they leave your site. This is a powerful characteristic of Websites and blogs.

If you can create clever content you will have a powerful pull for readers.

Summary

The summer months are coming. This is a downtime for the entire Web, but especially for hunters. Your readers likely spend a lot of time outside and away from their computers during this time of year. And this is a good thing. You have readers and visitors who love the outdoors and that’s what hunting and your blog is all about.

But even because traffic will go down overall this summer it doesn’t mean your site or bog has to become irrelevant.

Focus on updating when your visitors are going online and catch them when they’re online.

Stay relevant – make your content unique to what is going on now and how it can help your readers.

Continually add value (as you do all year) to your readers and customers. It’s even more important now as you fight for their precious attention.

And stay clever. Create a unique need for your blog.

Don’t be afraid of the summer months – embrace it as a challenge.

I know you’ll do great!

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Applying The Power of Less to Your Hunting Business

I recently finished The Power of Less by Leo Babauta.

It inspired me to think about how I want my life story to read…

The Life of a Swing

image credit: Irarerich

I highly recommend the book for simple ‘How-to’ advice how improving your life by simplifying and doing less.

The key lesson in the book is that by focusing on only what’s important you’ll be able to do less while doing more of what you love.

You can also visit Leo’s blog, Zen Habits.

I thought it would be interesting for you and for me if I shared some of what I learned in The Power of Less.

As you can probably tell from the title, the book’s main theme is about simplifying all aspects of your life and focusing on what are your real priorities and goals.

Let’s take a closer look…

Short List

Leo discusses the importance of a ‘Short List’ of essential commitments. Each thing on the list is what we consider essential and what we should focus our decisions on. For example, ‘Will this add value to my life?’ or ‘Will this get me further along the path toward my goal?’

Leo’s short list is:

1) Spending time with wife and kids

2) Writing

3) Running

4) Reading

It’s a simple list with focus and meaning.

I’ve thought about my life and came up with my list (as my priorities currently stand – reminder, when I’m at my day job it’s my #1 priority).

1) Growing Hunting Business Marketing

2) Writing

3) Staying healthy

4) Connecting (staying in touch) with family and friends

That’s it. It’s simple, focused and achievable. When I really thought about it, not much else really seemed important after I thought about the direction I wanted to take my life and what I feel will lead to happiness.

There are small goals and large goals for each. I create daily tasks this blog that I feel will truly grow both ventures.

If I feel something is not important for any of my four most important commitments I don’t include it with the first tasks I have each day.

New Routine

In the book, Leo shares a few of the things he’s been able to accomplish since he started using The Power of Less concept in his own life.

One of the things he mentioned was waking earlier.

This is something I already have checked off my goal sheet. I’ve always been an early riser. It goes back to the days when my Mom would wake my brother and I up before 6am each morning and get us ready for school since she had a 40 minute drive herself.

Anyway, my regular routine involves waking each weekday morning at 4:30am. This gives me about 2 hours before I go to my day job at Mason Companies, Inc.

Side Note: I’ll only focus on my goals for my personal life and hunting business. Although I have made a few changes at work like de-cluttering my office (which has been great!) and prioritizing tasks.

So when I first get up in the morning grab a big glass of water to kind of jolt myself awake.

Now, I used to at this point sit down in front of my computer and check my email, check Website stats, etc.

No more!

Now I spend five minutes shaving and about a minute getting the coffee brewing. Then I go straight to a 20 minute workout.

I do some hundred or so jumping jacks to further jolt my system awake for the day. I do some stretching, pushups and some abdominal work.

After my short workout I grab some breakfast and coffee. This is when I allow myself to go through my email, stats and other Website analysis.

After finishing breakfast I allow myself about 30 minutes to read through my favorite blogs (like Zen Habits and the bloggers of OBS).

Then I spend about 15 minutes brainstorming and preparing for my next post on Hunting Business Marketing, which I usually write each evening. I’ll think of a topic, title and then create a basic layout.

Then it’s a quick shower and off to work.

Side Note: My routine at work has improved already as a result of reading this book.

When I get home in the evening I’ll grab some dinner. Then I’ll check in a few other blogs and news sites for about a half hour.

Then it’s time to sit down and focus on Hunting Business Marketing.

Either way, the evenings are my time to work on my top two commitments; focusing only on tasks that will allow them to reach my goals for growth.

I’ll work for a few hours writing posts, researching, and making connections on Twitter and the like.

As the evening goes on I move to reading a book, which settles me down until I fall asleep.

This is, of course, a rough run-through of my day. There are a few deviations each day such as keeping up with family and friends.

Weekends are spent with friends and family on the occasions I am able to visit or if they come to visit.

I also use the weekends to get caught up on writing posts and connecting on the Web.

That’s my routine in a rough nutshell.

Tightening the Focus

Since reading The Power of Less I have tightened up and focused more on what’s important.

I plan to continue focusing in on my commitments and improving each of my four priorities.

Summary

The Power of Less is a simple and easy way to focus your life on what’s really important. The lessons are easy to digest and easy to implement. The hard part is determining what is important to you and then applying it until focusing on your priorities becomes habit.

I’m sure my routine and priorities will change slightly over the next few months or years as I mature and age, but the understanding of applying the principles of The Power of Less will allow me to remain focused and driven toward my goal of a successful life and career in the hunting industry.

Bonus #1

Recently I’ve been able to reach the 70 post mark with Hunting Business Marketing (This is #70). That’s a pretty good accomplishment for someone who was never interested in writing until one day the urge struck in while sitting in a tree stand.

Bonus #2

This is my favorite part of Leo’s blog:

Open Source Blogging: Feel Free to Steal My Content

Now, I’m granting full permission to use any of my content on Zen Habits or in my e-book, Zen To Done, in any way you like.

I release my copyright on this content.

From now on, there is no need to email me for permission. Use it however you want! Email it, share it, reprint it with or without credit. Change it around, put in a bunch of swear words and attribute them to me. It’s OK.

Credit and payment
While you are under no obligation to do so, I would appreciate it if you give me credit for any work of mine that you use, and ideally, link back to the original. If you feel like spreading a copy of my e-book, I’d appreciate payment. I’d prefer people buy my e-book, but if they want to share with friends, they have every right to do so.

See the rest of Leo’s sharing principles…

It’s a pretty great concept; one that I share with all the content here on Hunting Business Marketing.

Feel free to share, distribute, and steal all of the content here on the blog. And if you get a chance just provide a link back. That’s all I ask.

Here’s another great story of how sharing works from Adam Singer.

What are some things you’d like to focus on in your life?

Are there any suggestions you have that could help others or me in building a hunting business that relate to the concepts in The Power of Less?

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