11 Expert Tips on How to Successfully Grow and Scale Your Business

Business growth is always exciting. Seeing your revenue, client base, workforce and market share expand is proof that your hard work and tireless efforts are paying off. Best of all, this is something that you can control, as long as you are putting in the necessary time, work, and effort.

While you may be eager to move your startup onward and upward, you shouldn’t forget about the potential negative impacts of scaling up. Expanding too quickly can mean biting off more than you can chew, and it’s easy for a business to collapse on itself if it cannot handle rapid growth.

Here’s what you need to keep in mind as you scale up if you want to avoid toppling your business, according to 11 members of Young Entrepreneur Council.

1. Do What You’re Best at and Outsource the Rest

As you scale your business, your highest priority is to identify what you do best in the company and then find someone who is even better than you to do that task. This will free up your time to focus on growing your company and not just working for it. For example, my strength is ranking websites so I hired someone I trust to implement my system and it’s saving me 80 hours per month.

Bryan Kesler, CPA Exam Guide

2. Invest in Talent Management Early

Too many startups hire for the present when they should be hiring people with the skills for 18 months into the future. Design roles for capable people to grow into. While a jack-of-all-trades talent seems valuable at the earliest stages, hiring experienced functional leaders is important during a startup’s growth phase. Lastly, turnover is inevitable so be prepared for this necessary reality.

Eddie Lou, Shiftgig

3. Implement Top-Notch Project Management Systems

As you scale and hire people, there will be more to manage and more minutiae will be created to account for the increase in projects and personnel. Having a project management system that can account for tracking projects at the macro level, as well as the minutiae of each project, is essential as you grow. Find a project management solution that is flexible, customizable and scalable.

Marcela De Vivo, Mulligan Funding

4. Make Sure Your Technology Can Grow With You

Make sure that your technology has the capability to scale with your business. For example, many e-commerce businesses find themselves needing to migrate from their current platform to a more robust solution in order to handle higher user and order volume. This is a complex process that can stunt a company’s current growth rate. To avoid this, select a platform built for scalability.

Duran Inci, Optimum7

5. Constantly Monitor Cash Flow

As you grow your business, you will be acquiring new obligations and spending more money. Make sure to constantly monitor your cash flow and P&L. New expenses are not directly proportional to the contracts you are getting. Contracts have different arrangements and payment schedules. I have seen a lot of companies grow really fast and end up failing for this reason.

Felipe Cornejo, Devsu LLC

6. Invest in Continuous Education

When I first launched AFS, we were a small company with an idea. As we expanded to a national player, we maintained the way we did things as a small company, and we didn’t adapt well. Once we instituted a continuous training and education program, we built teams that could adapt to growth and I found myself better equipped for the new challenges we faced as a larger organization.

Rahim Charania, American Fueling Systems

7. Build Your Internal Processes to Handle Scaling

Scaling a business is not necessarily about getting more sales or hiring more employees. If your internal processes aren’t built to handle more business, then you could be wasting money overstaffing due to repetitive tasks that can bottleneck the workflow — an error that could cost you in potential sales and revenue.

Codie Sanchez, Www.CodieSanchez.com

8. Have An Exit Strategy

When times are good, it can be deliriously satisfying to expand your business exponentially. However, it’s important to have a plan for when the money stops flowing in. Markets are unpredictable and can turn sour at any time. A bit of foresight and careful planning can ensure that your business survives a recession.

Bryce Welker, CPA Exam Guy

9. Improve Your Customer Service

Too many complaints can bring your business to a crashing halt. You can’t stop every complaint, but you can reduce them greatly by beefing up your customer service. Train staff to resolve complaints. Stay engaged on your social media pages where customers love to take out their frustrations. Reply and make them feel like they are a priority. Just replying can make a huge difference to customers.

Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker

10. Prioritize Employee Career Development

To sustain high growth, a company needs to retain and attract the right people. One necessary tactic to employee retention and attraction is designing career growth within a company. Employees need to see themselves progressing as fast as your company — and there needs to be buy-in from both employer and employee on what that career development looks like so you can both grow together.

Brett Farmiloe, Markitors Website Development

11. Take a Slow and Steady Approach to Growth

It can be easy to get caught up in growing quickly, but I’ve seen a ton of businesses do that and then have to downsize immediately. It puts people out and isn’t a great way to build a solid reputation for your company. It’s important to take a step back, move slowly and really think about the next steps you’re taking to grow your business so you don’t get ahead of yourself.

John Hall, Influence & Co.

Grow Your Business, By Growing Your Personal Brand

Of the many different ways to grow your online business and brand, don’t forget about the importance of growing your personal brand in the process. This is especially true if you are the face of the brand. Through the power of social media, it’s extremely easy and effective to not only reach new audiences but to also rank higher in Google for personal names and brand names in the process. Be sure to try out this method, along with each of the recommended tips above for growing your brand or online business in 2018.

If you enjoyed this expert roundup, I recommend you also take a look at our previous ones on expert SEO tips and best tips for making money online.

12 Design Tips to Convert More Customers on Your Homepage

Your homepage is easily the most important element of your brand’s website. It’s the first thing visitors see when they click on your URL, and you don’t have very long to make an impression: Users typically leave a webpage within 10 to 20 seconds unless they see something worth sticking around for.

A well-designed homepage that quickly and clearly presents your brand’s most important information, value proposition and call to action can encourage higher conversion rates. We asked 12 members of Young Entrepreneurs Council to share some smart design elements that will turn online prospects into paying customers.

1. A Question and Answer Section

Most people are lazy. Ninety-nine percent of your customers won’t email, chat or call to ask you their deal-breaking question. If they have a question in their head that’s unanswered by your page, they’ll simply go elsewhere. Which questions should you answer? To make a list of questions, look through your past conversations with customers and use AnswerThePublic.com with your brand name.

Kevin Tao, NeuEve

2. Multifunction Live Chat

An interesting live chat module holds the key to conversions. Live chats are inexpensive to maintain and are excellent data mining sources. The utility of the live chat goes beyond converting paying customers as it assists in tracking feedback to improve upon existing products and create new products or services. You gain clients with customer service.

Matthew Capala, Alphametic

3. An Exit Intent Pop-Up

Nothing is more frustrating than watching thousands of readers come to your website and not take a single action on it. With exit-intent technology, you’re able to capture a reader’s attention right before they leave your site. As soon as the mouse starts to glide over to the back arrow, a pop-up will appear asking the visitor for their email address.

Syed Balkhi, OptinMonster

4. A Large Call to Action

Each page of your site should have a clear, large call-to-action button. This may seem obvious, but often business owners get bogged down adding so much language or information that they lose sight of the end goal, which is for a customer to click and make a purchase.

Rachel Beider, Massage Greenpoint, Massage Williamsburg

5. A/B Test Versions

We’ve learned some of our greatest insights about our homepage conversion by A/B testing particular elements on our homepage, such as the image, header copy and even the text in the call-to-action button. These tests have been instrumental in helping us to test our hypotheses and make changes using a data-driven approach.

Mark Krassner, Expectful

6. Good Testimonials and Case Studies

Customers want to feel like they’re making the right decision when buying something from you. Make your testimonials look amazing and invest in building the right case studies. If a customer can’t find someone who feels good about their experience with you, they won’t feel good about their own.

Francois de Lame, Policygenius Inc.

7. Striking Images

A lot of websites are beginning to follow Apple’s lead: striking imagery and minimalist design. With easy pathways to navigate toward important product pages and a clear CTA, you don’t need all of the flashy design and interactive elements of a good site. Don’t rely on stock photos; use that new iPhone camera to take powerful images related to your business for the homepage.

Kristopher Jones, LSEO.com

8. A Promotion Button

Put a promotion button on the homepage that takes them to a great deal and allows them to immediately close the deal and pay for it. The faster you get it in front of them and the easier you make it, the more you will convert.

John Rampton, Calendar

9. A Free Downloadable Form

By offering a free downloadable form, you are prompting visitors to enter their contact information in exchange for helpful information that’s related to your line of work. This is a great way to grow your mailing list.

Derek Broman, Discount Enterprises LLC

10. A Simplistic Layout That Draws the User’s Eye

The best way to convert more online prospects into paying customers is to remove the noise. Make sure your homepage clearly defines where the user’s eye should go and what the call to action is. Keep it simple and make sure you are focusing on the main goal when designing and not getting lost in the little things.

Jayna Cooke, EVENTup

11. A Featured Video

Adding a featured video on the homepage of your website can encourage visitors to stay longer. You’ll see your bounce rates decrease, an increase in conversions, and it will also make your website more trustworthy and distinctive. Highlighting your product or service benefits is key. It’s a great way to communicate a message and turn it into a concise, coherent format for users.

Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

12. Your Phone Number

It sounds simple, and yet many businesses don’t do it. The benefit of adding this number is twofold. First, it gives your customers a fast way to contact you, which is great for closing time-sensitive deals. The other benefit is in building trust. Knowing there is a number they can call if something doesn’t go as expected removes a barrier for many people.

Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure

Create an Amazing Home Page to Instantly Gain the Attention of Your Audience

The home page of your site is going to be extremely important and not something you should just go live with an hope to develop over time. In short, this is your chance to make a great first impression to your audience and customers around the world — so don’t blow it! If you are using WordPress to power your site, then you will likely find it quite easy to customize the look and feel of your site. If you still find there are some customizations that need to be made, simply hire a designer and it can make the world of a different for your site and brand.

If you enjoyed this expert roundup, I highly recommend you check out another one which asks 83 online marketing experts the question “How Do I Start a Successful Blog?“. If you don’t already have a website or blog of your own, follow my guide to get started with one tod

The Five Best Free Web Hosting Providers Revealed

In recent years, web hosting has become a commodity in the same way that access to the internet has become a human right. In the earliest days of the internet, if you wanted to launch a website then you had to purchase or rent a server and have the technical expertise that’s required to actually manage it.

But the relentless march of technology has helped to democratise web hosting and related fields, which is why you can sign up for a Dropbox account and pick up free cloud storage space within a couple of minutes. The business model that Dropbox uses is similar to the business models of many free web hosting providers.

It’s also similar to how many smartphone games make money. They rely on a freemium model in which a certain amount of access is given for free but which also allows people to pay for more. In smartphone games, this typically means some form of in-game currency that allows paying players to get a boost on their competition. For free web hosting providers, it usually means offering up a decent amount of resources for free and then giving people the option to upgrade once their websites take off and they need more resources.

Still, not all free hosting providers are equal, with some offering more space than others and some bundling in extra features like website builders and free email addresses. That’s why we’ve pulled this list together. Let’s get into our list of the five best free web hosting providers.

Wix.com

Wix is probably most well-known for its easy-to-use drag-and-drop website building tool, which is why it’s one of the providers of choice for small businesses and simple portfolio sites for freelancers and creatives. The only problem with it is that it’s more restricted when it comes to installing a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress or customising it with additional features such as eCommerce functionality.

Still, Wix is a decent enough choice if you can work within its constraints, and it also offers up to 500 MB of storage and bandwidth. They’ll even throw in a free Wix.com subdomain. And, like most free hosting providers, you can also upgrade to paid plans for more resources and functionality.

Weebly.com

Weebly is pretty much just Wix but with better customer support and some stunning templates that can give your free website a professional look and feel. If you go for one of their free plans, you’ll have 500 MB of storage and a Weebly.com subdomain, but unlike Wix you’ll get unlimited bandwidth and so your site won’t go down if it suddenly becomes super popular.

On the downside, Weebly’s free hosting plans mean that they’ll add their branding to your website’s footer, but at least they don’t serve up intrusive ads which could scare your visitors away altogether. You can even go in and edit the code for their free templates if you’re a more advanced user who wants something a little more bespoke.

AwardSpace

AwardSpace is one of the more established free hosting providers with over ten years of experience when it comes to powering free websites, and they follow a similar model to others by powering their free hosting using paid addons.

With AwardSpace, you’ll be given 1 GB of storage and 5 GB of bandwidth, as well as a free email account and the ability to set up three subdomains. On the downside, they don’t offer a free website builder like Wix and Weebly, but they do offer up Joomla and WordPress installers so that you can get a website up and running with as little fuss as possible.

5GBFree.com

The clue is in the name here. 5GBFree will give you 5 GB of free storage, as well as 20 GB of bandwidth and one-click installers for various ecommerce tools such as Joomla, PHPShop and ZenCart. It’s one of the few free hosting providers that offers this ecommerce support, which means you can get your store up and running for free and then upgrade to a more powerful host once the store is able to pay for it.

5GBFree also spends a lot of time and resources on securing their setup, and they even use a world-class quality data centre. On the downside, their customer service isn’t great, but they do have a product forum that can connect you with other customers who might be able to help.

000webhost.com

000webhost.com is one of the most popular free web hosting providers on the market, and there’s a reason for that. They have literally millions of happy users and they’ve been in the business of offering free hosting since 2007. And unlike most other free hosting providers, they have virtually no limits when it comes to storage space and bandwidth.

This host is also different to others because they’ll provide not just one but five free email accounts, and they also give users access to heavy-duty analytics tools, auto-installers, website building tools and more. You can even scoop up a free SSL certificate. You’d be hard pressed to find another free host with as powerful an offering as this.

Conclusion

By now, you should have a good idea of what the landscape is like for free web hosting providers and you might even have an idea of which one you want to go for. Before you go ahead and sign up for one, though, be sure to check some user reviews to get a feel for what people think of them.

You’ll also want to put some thought into the types of features that you’ll need and what resource levels you’re looking for. The last thing you want to do is to find a free host, sign up to it and find yourself migrating to another one a couple of weeks afterwards because you made the wrong call.

The good news is that there’s plenty of choice when it comes to free web hosting providers and this list only covers the tip of the iceberg. If you have specialist needs (if you want a host in a particular geographical area, for example) then you’re sure to find a free host to suit your needs if you spend enough time searching.

Web hosting doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, it doesn’t have to cost you a penny. So why not save your money for something else?

Ten Expert Tips for Creating a Viral Article in 2018

Creating an article that goes viral is often the dream of business owners and content marketers everywhere. With just a single piece of content, a viral article is often able to generate more traffic than months or even years of publishing other content.

However, the internet is a fickle beast, and there’s simply no predicting what content will achieve virality. With that said, there are a few things you can do to drastically improve the odds of your content going viral.

If you would like to have your next article shared on social media platforms everywhere, consider following these tips.

Tip #1: Invoke an Emotional Response

People are much more likely to share an article that invokes some sort of emotional response as opposed to one that only presents them with the facts. Think about the articles you see frequently shared. Chances are a large majority of them are either humorous, worrying, or touching in some way. To illustrate this point, consider the fact that the most shared article on the New Yorker’s website in 2015 was one titled “Scientists: Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans”. It might not be breaking news, but it is humorous, and humorous gets shared.

Tip #2: Lists are More Likely to go Viral

No matter the topic, people love lists. Perhaps it’s the fact that the list format breaks up an article into manageable chunks, or perhaps it taps into our love for structure, organization, and rankings. Whatever the reason, you’ll stand a lot better chance of creating a viral article if you structure it as a list and give it a title that lets people know it’s a list.

One of the more popular articles on this blog, is this one focused on 20 list building tips. People just tend to live articles that are written in an easy to follow list style.

Tip #3: Strive for Originality

With so many content creators continuously churning out new content, it can be difficult to come up with something that is truly original. Nevertheless, if you hope to create an article that will go viral, you need to strive for something that people haven’t already seen a hundred times. One way to do this is to try and stay on top of recent trends and news. If you can be one of the first people covering a new topic or at least approaching it from a new angle, it’ll increase the odds that people find your content interesting enough to share.

At the same time, no matter how original your content might be — you still need to tap into an existing audience. One of the best ways to accomplish this is through the use of #hashtags on social media. To see some of the top hashtags trending right now, be sure to check out this resource.

Tip #4: Create Well-Written Content

No matter what topic you are covering, your content must be well-written in order for people to deem it worthy of sharing. Your prose doesn’t have to sing like Shakespeare’s, but it does need to be engaging and enjoyable to read. If you’re not comfortable in your own ability to write in a way that is a pleasure to read, you may wish to hire a talented freelance writer to craft your article for you.

If this is an option you would like to explore further, you can head over to freelancemyway.com to find a talented freelance writer for hire. Some of the most popular and most-read blogs and content sites in the world today are run by teams, yet most of the content is actually outsourced to different writers around the world.

Tip #5: Don’t Shy Away from Controversy

Controversy scares many content creators. However, keep in mind that there is some truth to the old adage that says “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”. The truth is that people love controversial topics. Just be careful not to fly too close to the flame; covering a controversial topic is one thing, but angering your audience for the mere purpose of creating controversy isn’t likely to achieve the results you were hoping for.

Tip #6: Spice Up Your Content With Visuals

Just because you are creating an article doesn’t mean that written words are the only medium you have to work with – studies show that articles which incorporate visual content such as images, infographics, and imbedded video are more likely to go viral than articles that are comprised of nothing but text.

Everyone knows visuals are preferred heavily over text these days. Just take a look at the massive drop in desktop and search usage. Now it’s all about video and grabbing the interest of your audience as soon as possible. If you want to spice of your content and improve the chances of going viral, be sure to include images and video wherever possible.

Tip #7: Consider Influencer Marketing

Many times, what causes an article to go viral isn’t how interesting the article is but how interesting the person who shares it is. A single share from an influencer who has a multitude of followers is often the shot of rocket fuel that boosts an article into virality. Of course, getting influencers to share your article is often easier said than done unless you have the right connections. However, many influencers are now selling their article-sharing services.

If you can afford the price tag and have crafted an article that is worth investing in, you may want to consider paying an influencer in your field to share it on their social media profiles. For anyone that doesn’t have a budget for this type of advertising, be sure to consider your options with expert roundups. These take a decent amount of time, but definitely are still one of the best ways to create content that gets massive shares and attention.

Tip #8: Publish Your Content on Tuesday

There isn’t much underlying logic as to why an article that is published on Tuesday is more likely to go viral, but studies show that more content is shared on Tuesday than any other day of the week. In fact, according to one study, articles published on Tuesday received over twice as many shares as articles published on Saturday or Sunday.

While other days of the week such as Monday and Thursday were closer in terms of shares, articles published on any other day besides Tuesday still see considerably fewer total shares.

Tip #9: Craft Engaging Headlines

Your headlines are the bait that lures readers in. If that bait isn’t enticing, they’ll likely pass by your article without so much as a glance. In fact, many people will share an article based only on its headline without even taking the time to fully read the article for themselves. When creating your headlines, your goals should be to inspire curiosity, promise value, and clearly communicate the content of the article itself.

If you can make people feel as if they are missing out on something by not clicking on your article, they’ll be a lot more likely to give it a look. Also, be sure to take advantage of current events and already trending topics. For a list of even more ideas, but sure to check out this infographic on creating engaging titles.

Tip #10: Create Opinionated Content

Think about the reason why people post things on their social media accounts. Most of the time, their goal is to communicate something about themselves to their friends and followers. That could be an update about what they’ve been doing, their feelings about a specific topic, or anything in-between. This concept not only applies to the posts that people write themselves, but also the content that they share. Sharing an opinionated article allows people to demonstrate how they feel about a certain topic. For example, a person will be more likely to share an opinion piece about net neutrality to show where they stand on the issue than they are to share an article that simply defines and describes what net neutrality is.

If you can craft content that gives people the opportunity to use that content as a platform to demonstrate how they believe and feel, it’ll be more likely to be shared.

How to Improve Your Content Creation and Marketing Efforts

There is no exact science to creating a viral article. Sometimes, the most random articles are shared across the internet while those that were meticulously crafted to encourage shares disappear into obscurity. With that said, if you follow a few simple tips, you’ll be a lot more likely to achieve a viral article and all of the value that it brings with it. The next time you sit down to craft a new piece of content for you blog, keep these tips in mind and your article may just be the internet’s next big thing.

Is Wix the World’s Best Drag and Drop Site Builder?

Lets take a look at the well-known Wix website builder. You may have seen the ad for Wix either on TV or online, advertising how easy it is to build a website quickly and easily on Wix’s platform. In this post, we’ll take a deep dive into just what makes Wix so great, and look at some of the outstanding features so you can decide for yourself whether it is the best platform for your needs.

Why Drag-and-Drop?

You may wonder why having a drag-and-drop format is the best way to build a website. The best way to think of this is to consider the alternative. If you do not have a drag-and-drop platform, you have to create the content another way. Rather than dragging content to the area on your editor that you want it on, you must designate an area within the template another way or use raw code.

While using raw code is tempting, due to its complete sense of creative design freedom, it becomes more complicated to create a site this way because you have to know how to manipulate the code to do what you want it to. There are also more programming languages than there used to be. So this means that you will have to spend some time learning this before you can create your site from scratch.

Wix makes it easy to customize your website using their drag-and-drop feature, and it does not require that you know any coding language to do it.

Drag-and-drop is the best way to manipulate and edit your pages that takes the least time to do it.

Wix’s Best Features

Wix has some great features that you can check out while on their site. Some of the best ones are listed below. But be sure to check out Wix’s features yourself so you can see what they offer.

  • Contact Form
  • Google Maps
  • SEO Tools
  • Stock images
  • Custom Domain Name
  • Easy drag-and-drop interface

You will want to make use of the contact form and other tools as they can help you to create a better website and help you to market your brand to the world.

How to Build a Page on Wix

If you plan to use Wix using their convenient drag-and-drop editor, here is a quick step-by-step checklist to follow to create a site using the Wix editor.

1. Choose a template

The first thing to do after signing up for the free 14-day trial is to choose a template that you can use for your site. Wix has hundreds of different looks crossing over into all of the major industries. So take your time and choose the one that will work best for you.

2. Customize your template

Once you have chosen a model, you should work on customizing it to meet your needs. Think about the purpose of your site and what you want to achieve with your website.

3. Tweak your look

It’s important to remember that, no matter how good a template is, you will want to tweak it to make it yours. The way to customize your website is to consider the way the template works with your brand and experiment by rearranging items until it suits your needs. Templates allow you to have a premade look for your website while still being able to change some of the details to fit your concept. Check this out on their site and see what options are available.

4. Fine-tune your navigation

Navigation is essential to the success of a website. This goes to the issue of UX (user experience), so you want to make sure your navigation is the best for your customers. Making things easily accessible is the primary goal, but you will also want your navigation to help lead the customer through your sales funnel. Using a minimalist design with continuous scrolling or another similar style is one way to accomplish this.

5. Focus on content organization

One of the most important aspects of your website is to focus on your content. But this means more than just having strong and interesting content. You also want to have content that is well-organized. This is easier to do with Wix’s organizational tools that are built right into the editor. The easy drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to arrange, rearrange, and make changes quickly.

6. Decide on your “call to action.”

Your “call to action” is one of the most important things to include on your website. This is where you are leading your customer, so you want to make sure that you help guide them to where you want them to go in your sales funnel. If you have created the other parts of the customer journey correctly, it should be easy to make your call to action the final step of your sales funnel. By using Wix’s easily customizable website builder, you should be able to lead your customers through your sales funnel efficiently.

7. Create a footer

Don’t forget your footer as you are editing your page on Wix. This is a tagline or a statement about your brand that leaves a final impression on your visitors. It could include your logo or your company slogan if you like.

8. Make it search-engine friendly

Making sure your site is ready for the searches is another important aspect of website building. Wix makes this easy because of the onboard SEO tool and other options.

9. Add media and add-ons

Using multimedia will increase the impact of your site many times over. People respond to audio, video, and infographics much better than with text alone. Wix has built a platform that is media-friendly and allows you plenty of space to grow with your brand.

10. Make it mobile-friendly

Google (and your visitors) want your site to be mobile-friendly. Make sure you optimize your site to be mobile-friendly for mobile customers. They will soon be the majority of your viewers.

Keeping visitors engaged

Once you have your site up and running, don’t forget to come back and maintain it by making subtle changes where needed and keeping your visitors engaged. Do this by adding features once in a while, running a content, or just offering fresh content. By always keeping your site up-to-date, you’ll be able to capture your target audience and keep their interest for the future, as well. Wix makes this super easy to do!

Did we answer the question?

In trying to evaluate whether Wix is the world’s best drag-and-drop site builder, you may want to take it for a test drive to see what it can do for you. They have a free Wix trial that you can use to try it out before buying so that you can try the features for yourself before deciding. Just create an account after browsing the many beautiful professional designs and get started on your site today.

Millions of people would agree that it is the world’s best online web creator because of its ease of use and professional templates that make it look like you hire professional designers to do the job.

The only way to find out if to try it yourself. Once you have used Wix’s super easy editor, you may decide too that it is the best one in the world or at least the best one for your needs. If you get stuck or don’t know what to do, there’s plenty of free help via their 24/7 customer support page.

Check out Wix today and see why there’s no need to learn code or spend countless hours building a website. Many people are doing it in less than a day with Wix’s easy drag-and-drop interface. You can, too!

By the way, it’s also fun!

29 FinCon Financial Bloggers and Entrepreneurs You Need to Follow

Attending conferences and events in your area is one of the best ways to get ahead. Heck, even if they aren’t in your area, they are well worth the trip or flight to get there! With so many different events taking place at different locations and times across the world, this is now easier than ever. That’s exactly what is going to be taking place this week at FinCon 17 in Dallas Texas.

FinCon is the world’s largest Financial Content Expo – helping hundreds reach millions with a positive money message. The event takes place this week (October 25th-28th, 2017) at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel. This year I will be speaking at FinCon on the subject of being an authority brand expert within your space — specifically on how I went from being an affiliate marketer to a well-respected and authority brand in a highly competitive space.

The great news is that this business model is replicable no matter what niche you are in, and I want to personally show you how it’s done. If you can make it to FinCon this year, I would love to see you in my session and connect with you at the event!

Even if you can’t make it to the event, there are still plenty of opportunities for you to benefit from home. With social media and email making it easy to connect with virtually anyone, now is the best time to start following some of the top names at FinCon17 through Twitter, while also building some new networking relationships in the process.

29 Must Follow Speakers and Experts at FinCon 17

In addition to my session, there are over 100 other professionals and experts speaking at FinCon as well. While there will be well over 1,000+ attendees at the event, there are still plenty of opportunities to learn from these experts before, after and during FinCon through the use of social media. To make the process of connecting with these featured experts easier for everyone, I’ve listed 29 of the top FinCon keynote and breakout session speakers below, along with their Twitter link for easy following.

#FinCon17 Keynote Speakers

Quintessential blogger, author, podcaster, Darren Rowse will be in Dallas this Fall to deliver an inspirational and educational keynote address to the FinCon community.

That’s right! THE ProBlogger will be at FinCon!

Darren is the co-author of ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income, a practical guide to creating and marketing a profitable blog. He is also the founder of Problogger.com and Digital-Photography-School.com which are read by close to 5 million visitors per month.

With over 8,000 articles, tips, tutorials, podcast episodes and case studies, Darren’s ProBlogger site has become a pivotal resource site for all things blogging.

We’re honored to have Darren involved in the event and we can’t wait to hear what he has to share with us.

David Bach has helped millions of people around the world take action to live and finish rich.

He is one of the most prolific and bestselling financial authors of our time with 9 consecutive New York Times bestsellers, with more than seven million books in print, translated into over nineteen languages. His runaway bestseller The Automatic Millionaire (completely revised and updated- 2017) spent thirty-one weeks on the New York Times bestseller and was simultaneously #1 on the New York Times, USA Today, Business Week and The Wall Street Journal lists.

He is also the author of the New York Times bestsellers Smart Women Finish RichSmart Couples Finish RichStart Late, Finish RichFight for Your Money; Go Green, Live Rich, Start Over Finish Rich; and The Automatic Homeowner and Debt Free For Life.

Bach regularly appears as a financial expert in the media on television, radio and in print. He has been a regular contributor to NBC’s Today Show, having appeared over one hundred times and has appeared a half dozen times on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

He has been featured in over three thousand media appearances including columns and articles on New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Huffington Post, Business Insider, AOL, Yahoo Finance, Smart Money Magazine, and Redbook and more.

The founder and chairman of FinishRich Media, a company dedicated to revolutionizing the way people learn about money. Bach is the creator of The FinishRich Seminars that over one million people have attended. Prior to founding FinishRich Media, he was a Senior Vice President of Morgan Stanley and a partner of The Bach Group, which during his tenure managed more than half a billion dollars for individual investors.

Today Bach is the Co-Founder of AE Wealth Management and the Director of Investor Education. AE Wealth Management is one of the fastest growing RIA’s in the country having grown to over $2 billion in assets under management, with 215 offices & 345 advisors in less than two years. Bach lives with his family in New York City.

We’re excited to make our final #FinCon17 Keynote Speaker announcement! Nicole Walters, founder of The Monetized Life, will be delivering our closing keynote on Saturday, October 28, 2017 at the Sheraton Dallas.

By age 28, Nicole Walters had executive stints with companies like T.Rowe Price and Wells Fargo Mortgage Backed Securities under her belt- and was a highly-paid executive at a Fortune 500 company, managing multibillion dollar accounts. But something wasn’t right. “My job was feeding my family, but not my soul,” she says.

Nicole quit her corporate job to focus open her own private business and product development consulting firm, The Monetized Life. As her audience ramped up, so did her revenue—she made $11,000 in the first three weeks of working with small business clients full time.

Now, when she’s not hanging out with her husband and their three foster kids, she shares her secrets to earning passive income with other entrepreneurs through her wildly popular online course, 1K1Day.

“I teach people how to add commas to their bank accounts,” says Nicole. “They learn that they don’t have to trade time for money.”

#FinCon17 Breakout Session Speakers

Bobbi Rebell is the author of the best-selling self-help/personal finance book “ “How to Be a Financial Grownup: Proven Advice from High Achievers on How to Live Your Dreams and Have Financial Freedom,”. It combines unique personal financial stories from inspirational leaders with targeted specific actionable advice to help readers take charge of their money. Role Models include Tony Robbins, Kevin O’Leary, Cynthia Rowley, Jim Cramer, Drew Barrymore and Sallie Krawcheck. “Financial Grownup” has been featured in AARP Magazine, Well + Good, Oprah.com, The NYPost, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Redbook, Refinery 29, the Tony Robbins blog, Business Insider, Yahoo Finance, HerMoney with Jean Chatzky, and countless other media outlets. Her documentary, “The Financial Grownup Project” is currently in production. She is also an award-winning TV anchor and personal finance columnist most recently at Thomson Reuters, the largest news organization in the world. Her business videos have been seen on hundreds of broadcast and online channels around the world, and her Reuters column on personal finance was syndicated to newspapers and websites worldwide. She was also previously a reporter at PBS (Nightly Business Report) and held various producer positions at CNN and CNBC. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and has a Certificate in Financial Planning from New York University. She lives in NYC with her husband, 3 kids and her morkie Waffles.

The co-founders of popular women’s finance site The Financial Diet, Chelsea and Lauren are a writer and designer, respectively. They live in New York City.

Chris’s passion is sharing ideas and creating products for people who are looking for a better way to handle their money. He loves showing everyday-normal people how to go from living paycheck-to-paycheck, to getting completely out of debt and creating hope for their future. Chris created a Powerful Budgeting Tool that has helped over 10,000 families create their own personal budget and manage their money the right way. He helps families with one-on-one financial coaching to create a budget, get on a proven plan to pay off their debt, and create a path not just for them, but for their future and their children’s future.

Erin Lowry is a millennial personal finance expert and the founder of BrokeMillennial.com. She’s also the author of “BROKE MILLENNIAL: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together.” Lowry and her work have been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, CNBC, Fox & Friends, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan and NBC News. Lowry lives in New York City with her spunky rescue dog Mosby.

James M. Dahle, MD is a practicing emergency physician who got sick of feeling ripped off by financial professionals and decided to do something about it. He underwent a lengthy self-education process in which he became an expert about personal finance and investing as it applies to those in the upper tax brackets. Jim then applied those principles in his own life and became a millionaire just seven years out of residency training. He realized that no one was teaching these critical financial principles to otherwise intelligent professionals during their training and so founded The White Coat Investor website to help them get a “fair shake” on Wall Street. His first book, begun immediately after attending FinCon in 2013, has remained a best seller on Amazon for over three years. He now criss-crosses the country helping physicians, dentists, and others stop doing dumb stuff with their money.

Jason Vitug is bestselling author of You Only Live Once, keynote speaker, and founder of financial media and education startup, Phroogal. Jason successfully raised $78,501 through crowdfunding supported by 541 donors. In 2013, he founded Phroogal as a personal finance blog and has evolved into a community of over 65,000 people. In 2015, Jason created the Plutus Awards winning project, The Road to Financial Wellness, a grassroots and social campaign to break the social taboo about money and empower a generation through financial knowledge. Jason continues to engage with local organizations, nonprofits and government agencies to promote financial wellness.

An accidental personal-finance expert, J.D. has been blogging for since before “blog” was even a word — over twenty years! He’s the founder of Get Rich Slowly and Money Boss, and the author of Your Money: The Missing Manual.

Jesus & family lover, financial planner, Iraqi Combat Veteran, Author of Soldier of Finance, Forbes, CNBC, Business Insider contributor, In-N-Out Burger addict, Crossfitter

Joe Saul-Sehy is the creator and co-host of the Stacking Benjamins podcast. Formerly a media spokesperson for a Fortune 100 financial company, he’s worked extensively in television, radio, print media, and now podcasting.

Joshua J Sheats, MSFS is the world’s leading authority on integrating lifestyle goals and money goals without conflict. He teaches normal people how to seamlessly connect the science of financial planning with the joy of goal achievement. Joshua is dedicated to helping normal people achieve financial freedom by merging the creative (and crazy) ideas from the world of personal finance with the academic integrity of formal financial planning. He simplifies the complex topics of money and makes the boring financial mumbo-jumbo less boring. Joshua is an expert financial planner with a lifelong focus on advanced education.

Liz is a NerdWallet Columnist and Certified Financial Planner® whose goal is to help you get smarter about money so you can get on with your life. She’s the author of five books including the best-selling “Your Credit Score” and has appeared on a bunch of TV shows, including CNBC’s Power Lunch, Mornings with Maria on Fox Business, NBC Nightly News, the Today Show—and Dr. Phil, where she advised a would-be ghost hunter to get real about his finances. She lives with her husband, daughter and co-dependent golden retriever in Los Angeles.

Born in Toledo Ohio, and a current resident of San Diego (via Philly, Boulder, Denver, and Brussels), Michael O’Neal’s report cards always said “Talks too much”. This feedback would eventually come in handy, as he is now the host of the popular business and entertainment podcast, The Solopreneur Hour. The show focuses on people that have found themselves “Profitably Unemployable”, and what they’ve done to become successful. A 5 year journey, starting with the loss of his parents and just $14 remaining in his bank account has taken him on a circuitous path to success. Professional drummer, car racer, competitive racquetball player, BMX’er, and former expert mountain bike racer with a penchant for stand up comedy, Michael likes to get out in San Diego and live the solopreneur life of time, location, and financial freedom.

Michelle is the founder of Making Sense of Cents and enjoys helping her readers earn more, save more, and most importantly – live more. She travels full-time with her husband and two dogs.

Natalie Sisson is on a mission to help entrepreneurs create freedom in business and simplicity in life. A self-proclaimed Freedomist, she shows you how to work less, earn more and be free. Natalie shares tips, strategies and effective hacks via her blog, videos and podcasts on how to use technology, tools, outsourcing and automation to free up more of your time so you can focus on living your ideal lifestyle and embracing every moment, while your business runs seamlessly (and even without you)!

Nathan is the founder and CEO of ConvertKit. An email marketing company for professional bloggers. He loves soccer, woodworking, and designing software.

Nick Loper helps people earn money outside of their day job. He’s an author, online entrepreneur, and host of the “Best Business Podcast”-nominated Side Hustle Show, which features new part-time business ideas each week. As Chief Side Hustler at SideHustleNation.com, he loves deconstructing the tactics and strategies behind building extra income streams.

Pat Flynn is an American entrepreneur, blogger, and podcaster known for his website Smart Passive Income, where he conducts income experiments and shares the results. The Smart Passive Income podcast is consistently ranked in the top 10 podcasts in iTunes’s Business category Pat is on the board of the non-profit Pencils of Promise and is an advisor to tech startups LeadPages and ConvertKit.

Philip Olson spent several years after college as a ‘starving artist’ – waiting tables, parking cars, making lattes while trying to act and direct. Eventually he became a theater instructor, where he fell in love with teaching and coaching his students.Eventually, he left the professional artistic world and was inspired to make a difference in a notoriously un-caring industry. In 2015 he went on to pass the Certified Financial Planner™ Board Exam. After that his wife Julia (also an artist) left the mortgage industry and started their own planning firm, The Art of Finance. They adore combining their artistic and financial powers in order to make finance approachable and empowering to creative people.

I write the Your Money column for The New York Times and am the author of “The Opposite of Spoiled,” a book about how, when and why to talk to kids about money and what to say when you do. Current obsession: How families can figure out what to pay for college, which is just the latest six-figure twist on an age old question: How Much is Enough?

Stefanie O’Connell is a millennial money author, speaker and blogger at stefanieoconnell.com. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes and SUCCESS magazine.

Steve & Annette Economides are NY Times Best Selling Authors, parents of five grown children and Family Finance Experts. They are passionate about living the frugal debt-free lifestyle and sharing the fun, laughter and freedom they’ve experienced. This has led them to write three books: “America’s Cheapest Family gets You Right on the Money;” “Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half;” and “The MoneySmart Family System – Teaching Financial Independence to Children of Every Age.” They also are publishers of MoneySmartFamily.com and the MoneySmart Free Media e-course.

Tabitha Philen hosts over 10,000 bloggers in her thriving Facebook community, Inspired Bloggers Network. Founded in 2012, Inspired Bloggers is dedicated to providing bloggers with education and encouragement in a no-pressure environment. Tabitha devotes herself to mentoring and empowering bloggers with her visionary ideas and entrepreneurial spirit through LIVE video and interactive courses at Inspired Bloggers University. Considered a well-rounded expert on blogging for profit and social media, Tabitha shares comprehensive tutorials through live video weekly using Facebook Live.

Talaat and Tai McNeely “America’s #1 Money Couple”, are Financial Educators that are on a mission to get individuals and couples on the same page financially, and to experience the joys of financial freedom. They are co-authors of Money Talks: The Ultimate Couple’s Guide To Communicating About Money. They are also the hosts of the top rated podcast, “The His and Her Money Show”. Talaat and Tai McNeely (His and Her Money) have been featured in numerous publications such as T.D. Jakes Show, FoxNews.com, Black Entreprise, MSN.com, Essence, and Business Insider.

Winnie Sun is the Managing Director and Founding Partner of Sun Group Wealth Partners, a trusted award- winning financial consulting firm providing financial planning services to small business owners, senior executives, celebrities, tech elite, and established families throughout the West Coast.

Last… but not least — Philip Taylor, PT Money (FinCon Founder)

philip-taylorPhilip Taylor, aka “PT”, is a CPA, husband and father of three. He created PT Money back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money and to meet others passionate about managing their finances. He got rid of debt, learned to live lean, saved a bunch of money, and eventually was able to leave his unsatisfying corporate career and pursue his entrepreneurial ventures full-time. Philip’s advice: fix your finances so that they aren’t a burden in your life, and then build the life you want: whether it’s traveling more, early retirement, staying at home with your kids, or building a business like he did. Philip is also the founder of FinCon, the annual conference for the financial media community.

See you at FinCon17!

Be sure to follow everyone on the list above, and don’t forget to connect with me at FinCon17 and to attend my “Six Figure Mastery: How to Become an Authority in Any Niche Market” session on Thursday 10/26 at 09:30 AM to 10:15 AM in room Dallas A2.

Also stay active with all FinCon trending events and social updates by following #FinCon17 on Twitter and Facebook.

I have Ulcerative Colitis. This is My Story.

I have Ulcerative Colitis (also commonly referred to, or confused with Crohn’s). There is a big difference between the two, but they are commonly discussed in the same conversations. Today I will be sharing my personal and private story with you and the rest of the world, and how it’s affected both my personal and business life.

Before doing so, I must first say thank you to everyone close to me that has made living with this condition possible. Especially my wife Reena, my immediate family and the IBD team at Mount Sinai. Outside of them, not many people even knew I had the condition.

In addition to thanking those who have helped me along the way, I hope by sharing my story, I can help others find some information, resources or hope for their UC/Crohn’s (IBD) issues as well, as this is a silent disease that isn’t seen on the outside and not commonly openly discussed by those who live with it. This can be attributed to the shame and stigma that may come along with having an IBD diagnosis.

Before we jump into my own experience with Colitis, I recommend you watch the short video (yet detailed) video below that explains what it is, how it affects the body and the current options for remission and surgery in the world today.

My Story and the Stigma of Ulcerative Colitis

For the most part, UC is a horrible auto-immune disease and one that people usually do not talk about. You’ve likely also seen commercials for UC medications on television, pushing drugs like Humira and Entyvio. I’ve had the pleasure of being on both; Humira worked for a while, but I had no positive effects from Entyvio after 9 months at all. Even while being on these medications, I was still taking probiotics and various amounts of prescribed Prednisone daily, between 20-40mg. Yes, I’ve also tried the holistic route and clean organic eating, with little to no success. I’ve tried them all… and will go into detail on all of that in this post today.

I’ve personally been diagnosed with UC for over 17 years now, and there is no cure (except surgery to remove the lower portion of the colon) — there is only the hope to go into remission. While there is ‘no cure’, there are several medications on the market to try and control the disease. The option is also there to get an intensive surgery to remove the lower portion of the colon and rectum (thus, removing all of the inflammation being caused by colitis), but this is usually the last resort and not one that I (or my doctors) feel I am at yet. This is not also simple surgery with a quick recovery, you will need multiple surgeries which takes place over a 9-to-12 month time period.

It’s also a tricky disease, as it’s one not really seen on the outside of the body, but is continually attacking the colon and digestion system of anyone who has it. In my own scenario, I’ve constantly been bleeding and getting sicker and sicker for the past 12+ months and my body feels as though it is attacking itself, leaving me constantly in pain. With little improvement in sight and lots of recommended remedies/medications continually failing, it’s been quite a strenuous and debilitating process.

Living with UC is a complete nightmare in itself, as it’s not just a matter of constant internal bleeding, it’s also an extremely weakened immune system while also taking a ton of medications in the process. For myself, it’s been somewhat tolerable, as I have the luxury of working from home, but I can’t imagine what it would be like for anyone with a 9-5 job or not having easy access to a bathroom at any given time. If this wasn’t the case, I would likely have already done the colectomy surgery to remove a portion of the colon.

Not only is UC something that controls how you live, eat and think, it actually controls every single aspect of your life. You need to prepare and know where you are going, how long you will be there, what type of bathroom access you might have and what type of food will be available. Even when in remission, a flare up can happen at any time — without any cause or reason (though it’s often associated with stress and eating habits).

One of the most common and upsetting things for people with UC or Crohns is how other people see (or don’t see it). Without having or understanding the disease, it’s easy to think it’s simply an ‘eating’ or ‘life choices’ issue, but it’s actually not. Yes, everyone has ‘stomach issues’, but UC and Crohn’s are a completely different story, and it’s tough to relate to anyone that has it if you haven’t experienced it firsthand.

This could break into a whole new story on its own, but I won’t go into it at this time.

On a Mission to Find Remission

It was well over a decade ago that I first started experiencing the symptoms of UC. I remember being on an Affiliate Marketing cruise and shockingly seeing blood in the toilet after going to the bathroom. Of course, when seeing something like this, you hope it quickly goes away and that’s that. However, that wasn’t the case, and it was only the beginning.

From here we would visit a wide range of doctors over the years. Some would put me on 12-18 pills of Asacol per day, while other holistic doctors would try their own remedies and infuse me with vitamins and medicines (which would only seem to provide temporary 24-48 hour solutions). For the most part, none of these would work. Then I came across an over the counter medicine called Digestive Advantage, which worked really well for a while, but was then discontinued. Even if it was still around, it would have only been a temporary solution.

This process went on for a while and it just seemed like I was dealing with the problems of UC, while occasionally going into remission and hoping for the best.

A few years ago I met with a new local GI (gastroenterologist) and they recommended putting me on a biological treatment, Humira, a self-injection I would have to take each month. This actually worked quite well for roughly 2-3 years, then ultimately my body became immune to it as well.  One of the risks of these biological treatments is that your body can build up antibodies at any time, which makes the medication stop working. After that, we recently tried Entyvio, which had to be taken through an hour-long infusion every 2, 4 or 8 weeks depending on how well it was working with one’s body. In my case, I was on Entyvio for roughly 9 months and never experienced any relief, thus leading me to feel sicker as each month went by.

It’s also important to mention here that it’s not just a matter of being in pain and constantly bleeding, the main concern is the increased risk of cancer as a result of the untreated inflammation brought on by Colitis.

Just a couple weeks ago I had a new issue arise. It was a severe case of hemorrhoids (or so I thought). It got so bad that I had to go to the local hospital and my GI doctor — both leaving me with little guidance on what the real underlying problem was. I was getting extremely bad fevers, horrible pains in my stomach and the effects of UC were still getting worse on top of all of this.

Since no one local had an answer, it was time to call my contact at Mount Sinai. After doing so, Dr. Ungaro (my doctor), contacted me immediately and said to come into the ER at Mount Sinai and have everything looked at by the IBD team.

The connection to Dr. Ungaro and the Mount Sinai team would prove to be of utmost importance. In addition to being an expert in IBD, everyone at Mount Sinai always went out of their way to answer any questions I had, and always spent more than enough time to make sure I was always confident in what they had to say.

Connections are Everything

Before jumping into the next phase of my progression and trying to find remission from UC, we must first cover how I ended up at Mount Sinai (the best IBD center in the world) and the importance of always having connections and making the right decisions to go with only the best when it comes to your health.

Just like in business, if you want to work with the best, you need to learn from the best. The same holds true for your health and getting to the right health physicians. Of course, there are always going to be great local doctors, but there are also going to be hotspots for the best doctors in the world. A good way to think of this is that your local doctor probably sees hundreds of cases that might be similar to yours, however, when you go to one of the best centers in the world, they likely see thousands or even millions of relatable cases. When it comes to IBD or anything relating to the digestive system, Mount Sinai in New York City is the place to be.

In addition to the outstanding expertise of Dr.Ungaro, Jean-Frederic Colombel, MD, director of the IBD Center and a world-renowned doctor with over 20 years of experience in IBD, would also be looking over my case and meeting with me while in the hospital.

How I gained a connection to a doctor at Mount Sinai was quite unique. My wife works as a drug and alcohol counselor and the psychiatrist she works with has a son-in-law in the IBD space, who knew a doctor at Mount Sinai. Roughly two months ago when I was having a really bad flare up, we had a call with him and he generously contacted the MS IBD team and set up an appointment. This is when I first met with Dr. Ungaro and the IBD team.

Among the many experts and doctors on the Mount Sinai IBD team, I also had the pleasure of meeting with Dr. Greenstein, who was very active in my case and time at the hospital as well. You can read an article on his expertise and studies in a recent NY Daily News article. (more on my visit to Mount Sinai to follow…)

Long story short, we were able to get a phone call and meeting together and that was the start of an extremely important connection and process.

My Latest Visit to Mount Sinai

With my current flare up already in a pretty bad state and several misdiagnoses on the hemorrhoids issue, it was time to visit Mount Sinai Emergency Room in New York. Timely enough, I also had a breakout of shingles that morning (which is another fun auto-immune disease that attacks the body when it’s usually in a weakened state).

We arrived around noon to MS and the first several hours were pretty rough, as this was just the general ER area. The one surprising thing was that an IBD doctor was sent over after we were admitted, as she was notified by Dr. Ungaro that morning that I would be coming. This type of super dedication and teamwork is key for the IBD team at Mount Sinai, which is why they are the best in the world at it. Several doctors would be examining over me in the ER, then I would later get a CT-SCAN.

It wasn’t until later that night I was moved to another room (private room because of the shingles diagnosis as well) and was told I would need to take prep for a colonoscopy tomorrow (if you’ve had one, you already know the horrible drink process to clean out your system). That night I ended up having a 102 fever, which I believe was as a result of the prep process on my body and also the medicine from the CT-Scan I also had to take.

The following morning, the colonoscopy took place and afterward I was in another isolation room with Reena and my Father while we waited for a room to open up. Dr. Ungaro happened to stop by and was able to discuss the results of the colonoscopy. He said the average inflammation of a person is around a 5, and mine was around 190. I knew my colitis was pretty bad and something I dealt with on a daily basis, but it was definitely good that I was in the best hospital in the world to take care of the current situation.

With the CT-Scan and colonoscopy now done, along with several discussions and diagnosis from the IBD team (literally 8+ of the world’s best doctors and surgeons), it was recommended to put me on Remicade (another alternative to Humira/Entyvio, but with a good history of success). However, they still had to take care of the shingles first and do some other testing in the process. I was then moved to my own isolation room, where the process would soon take place and Remicade would be given through an infusion over the next two days.

Quick side note… all of the nurses at Mount Sinai have also been amazing. Having stayed at the hospital for several days, you never know how quickly things can change with a new nurse switching every 12 hours. A good/bad nurse makes all the difference in the world, and I was fortunate enough to have some of the most amazing and attentive nurses while I was there. Special thanks to Elizabeth, Ora, Susan, Alex, Corie, Heidi, Arjay, Paula and Ralston to name a few — all on the IBD floor.

As I’m writing this now, I was just released from the hospital less than 24 hours ago. This was after being told my inflammation levels are down to around 40 (after being near 200), and I’m personally feeling a lot better in the process. The Remicade is now in my system and appears to be going well. I will be working closely with the IBD team at Mount Sinai to stay on top of the issue at all times. It’s definitely great to be back home again, while also knowing their team is there should things worsen again.

Life, Entrepreneurship, Colitis, and Family

So what… I have colitis. What does that mean? At the end of the day, it means I have a condition that I need to take care of and monitor it closely. This isn’t a sob story or a way to try and gain attention… instead, it’s an outlet to share my story with the rest of the world. At the same time, I’ve been given a powerful outlet through this blog and can reach thousands of people in the process. By sharing my own story, I hope to inspire others with Colitis and Crohn’s to let them know they are not alone and to not stay silent if they have these same struggles.

AND… when it does come to getting help, make sure to get as many diagnoses as possible and try to work with the best doctors in the world to find a solution. Never settle with a single diagnosis, as not all doctors are the same, nor is their experience or the knowledge of the teams working around them.

On the entrepreneurship side, as I mentioned earlier, I never would have been able to live with UC if I had a real 9-5 job or worked outside of the home. I’ve been fortunate enough to work from the comfort of my own home, which truly means so much more than just being your own boss or having different financial opportunities. Life simply wouldn’t be the same, nor how I would be dealing with the disease over the past several years.

At the end of the day, your health and family are really all that matters in the life. I know a lot of bloggers and marketers will show off their expensive cars and lifestyles, but that is something I’ve never really cared about — even less after everything we’ve been through after Superstorm Sandy. Family and friends are everything and they have all been here for me through this crazy process.

Having now shared my story with the world, feel free to contact me with any questions or comments you might have. I’ve always used this blog as a platform for not just my business, but also my life and it’s happenings. You never know who is ready, and hopefully, this provides some light not just for those with UC/Crohn’s, but for any horrible health conditions and problems that might be out there.

I’m definitely not cured of UC and it’s a long journey ahead. However, I’m extremely excited and happy to be in the place where I’m at right now while feeling better each day. In addition, being confident that I’m in the best hands and working with the most experienced and empathetic team of doctors in the world.

Thank you, everyone.

3 Ways to Improve How Your Personal Name or Brand Look Online

When someone wants to find information about anyone or anything, they head to Google. Without hesitation, whatever information Google provides the end user with, it’s usually trusted and accepted within a moments time. This is especially true when it comes to an individual’s or brand’s reputation. No matter what the real truth is about yourself or a brand, whatever the internet says about you can greatly influence the way others gain a first impression.

With all of this in mind, it’s extremely important to make sure you not only have some control over what appears in Google for your name or brand, but also that you are continually monitoring online mentions for your personal name and brand mentions as well. After all, it’s not just Google where people are finding information, it’s also through social media, web forums, rating websites and much more.

Today I’m going to provide you with three solutions for how you can not online monitor and track name mentions online, but also how you can gain more control over your online reputation in the process.

Monitor, Track and Respond to Online Mentions

Google, social media, online review sites and user forums… when it comes to tracking online mentions for your brand or personal name, it can be quite overwhelming. While there are free tools out there like Google Alerts that are great for providing you with updates on any new content that contain your name or brand in web content, it’s really only providing you with a fraction of the picture. As online reputation management and brand monitoring services continue to get more advanced, it’s quickly becoming easier to track and monitor mentions across a wide range of platforms, while only needing to use one solution.

One such provider that is making this process a whole lot easier is Brand24. Through their online monitoring platform, individuals and brands can see new mentions in real-time, while also tracking how to respond, engage or reply/remove such content. It’s one thing if someone makes a mention of your personal name or brand on social media, but it’s another when bad reviews or defamation comes into play. While social media is one of the largest areas of focus when it comes to brand mentions and monitoring, Brand24 was actually built with all different types of content monitoring in mind. Outside of social media monitoring, the platform also offers alerts for name or brand mentions across websites, blogs, photo sharing sites, forums, news outlets and more — all of which are delivered through email notifications and can be compiled into daily or weekly reports. These are just a few of the reasons why the online monitoring of name and brand mentions are so important.

You can see an example of the Brand24 backend monitoring system below. As you can see, not only is it a solution for providing updates in real time, it also allows for full tracking and monitoring of social media reach, positive and negative mentions, and also the ability to set up a collaborative work setting that allows for multiple users or team members to access such information.

Build Your Own Platform and Rank #1 in Google

With Google being the first resource for information in the world today, they are also going to be your first impression to millions of people around the world. With this in mind, it’s extremely important to make sure that your website, brand or content is ranking number one in Google for your name or brand. If you aren’t currently ranking number one, you simply aren’t in control over how you look online.

One of the best ways to accomplish this is to actually have a website or blog. This sounds easy enough, but in some cases, it might not be — especially if you share a name with a famous celebrity, artist or online marketer. In my case, I rank #1 in Google for “Zac Johnson” and pretty much own the whole main page for my name. However, there is also a famous golfer named “Zach Johnson” that ranks very well also. While the names are spelled differently, there are likely times when someone is searching for one or the other, then actually coming across the other person. This actually happens quite a bit whenever there is a big golf tournament going on. Since the names are so similar, Google will pre-populate “Zach Johnson’s” standings in the search results, then display my web site right below it. You can see a visual example of this below.

In short, if you want to rank at the top of Google for your name or brand, you need to have a powerful website (with a blog) that continually gains link juice and SEO power over time. This way, whenever someone searches for your name or brand online, they find your website first, and not another source of information that is potentially out of your control.

Use the Power of Social Media to Rank Multiple Times

With more than two billion users on Facebook and another few hundred million spread across the likes of Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and others, it’s important to think about the sheer power and reach of social media. We already covered the importance of monitoring name and brand mentions on social media, but if that’s where you are stopping, you are missing out big time.

A perfect example of this would be the ranking power that lies within each of your personal and brand social profiles. Google loves social networking site and with so much link juice, authority and power behind each of these sites, it’s quite easy to rank them versus a new site of your own. While I highly recommend creating a website or brand and having it be your number one ranking in Google for your name, I also recommend using social media profiles to fill out these rest of your main page listings.

If you were to search for any big name celebrity, you will likely see their main website ranking number one, then all of the social profiles proceeding. That is of course unless they had a big scandal or negative news posted about them and might have to compete with even bigger news and media sites like TMZ ranking for their name. To see an example of a celebrity who is not doing this correctly, just take a look at Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s search results in the screenshot below. Not only does his main website not rank #1 for his name, he also has Wikipedia, IMDB and gossip/news websites ranking before his social profile pages!

The important thing to remember here is that it’s quite easy to rank your social profiles in Google for your name. To help and speed up the process, be sure to continually link back to your social profiles using your personal or brand name. The more you do this, and associate the links coming from your own sites, the more likely you are to see such profiles start ranking higher in Google for your name. Continue this process until you rank your main web site number one in Google for your name, then listings 2 through 10 with your social profile pages.

Google and Social Media are Your First Impression

As you can see, there are many factors that come into play when trying to look your best online. If you aren’t actively monitoring when, where and how your personal and brand names are being mentioned online, you simply aren’t in control over how others may see your brand and getting that first impression.

Online reputation management and building a brand for yourself isn’t something that happens overnight. This is especially true for anyone just starting out. However, when done correctly, your efforts will continue to compound and grow stronger and stronger with each day.

Follow each of the recommended tips and solutions above to make sure your personal name or brand always look best at all times.

4 Ways to Use Persuasive Video to Increase Conversions

We all know the power of reach of online video, but are you still sitting on the sidelines when it comes to actually using it for your brand or business? Today I wanted to show you three difference examples of how you can be using online video within your business, not only to promote it and reach new audiences but to also increase conversions and revenue in the process.

While scanning through each of the video types below, also keep in mind how the internet has quickly changed over the past few years and is now serving online video more than anything else. This can be seen through the likes of social networks like Facebook, and also mobile usage in a massive uphill growth climb over that of traditional desktop computers and tablets. In short… online video is the best way to reach your audience, even if it’s a quick 30-second clip. Now let’s look through a few examples of how other brands are successfully accomplishing this.

Whiteboard Explainer Videos

Explainer videos have gained a lot of traction over the past few years. Not only are they interesting to watch, they are extremely addictive and make you want to keep sticking around for more. With the combination of a whiteboard style drawing design and a quality voice over, such videos make the concept of learning about something much easier and more engaging. This is why explainer videos are often used on landing pages and to sell higher ticket items, as the video relates with an audience in ways a traditional person-to-person video might not.

When it comes to creating a whiteboard video, you have a few different options. One is to hire a design team, which can add up in costs. The other is to use a drag and drop solution like mysimpleshow. Be sure to check out the whiteboard video below that was created by a student for their class project, which was also used to help further increase value and engagement within their latest blog post as well.

Customer Testimonials

Personal recommendations are priceless. When a friend or family member recommends something, you are going to take their word for it. At the same time, when someone looks online for a recommendation, rating or review, they also place the same value on such information — even if they don’t directly know the source. With that in mind, video testimonials can increase sales and trust for you a brand like nothing else — especially when it’s so easy to post video content right to your site, while also sharing it on social media or other outlets.

When it comes to testimonials and customer feedback, they are pretty much all over the place. Even when you turn on the TV, you are seeing paid ads, customer stories and testimonials all over the place. The same is true online. To give you an example of a popular blogger giving their endorsement for a product or service, check out the one below from Matthew Woodward for mythemeshop.

Video Infographics

Infographics are still one of the best ways to turn boring text content and data into real visual art that is easy to consume. However, infographics are usually static in design, along with often being a JPG or PNG format. With video in mind, it shouldn’t be tough to convert your best infographic data into an animated video that can reach millions of new users through YouTube, social media and even being embed into your site content.

You can see a perfect example of this in the animated video infographic below from Infographic Design Team. Watch the video below, then see the original infographic here and how they were able to bring it to live through animation.

Person to Person Videos

We all know text content and blog articles are great, but with video and mobile usage on the rise, you always need to step up your game. A great way to take advantage of all of these mediums is to mix things up whenever you can, while also combing the best of both worlds at the same time. I have an upcoming webinar next week, and in addition to writing a blog post to let everyone know about it I also did a short video intro as well. The video has done very well through Facebook and social media. Be sure to add these same content creation and video marketing methods to your own promotions.

How Can You Start Using Online Video?

As you can see, when it comes to online video you have plenty of options to choose. You also don’t need to focus on being salesy or always converting your audience into a lead at all times. Branding also comes into play with online video and the ability to have your content continually getting shared through social media is a huge plus.

Skim through each of the video methods above and see which might be a great solution for your brand or business.

5 Proven SEO Tactics to Boost Your Search Traffic In 2018

Search engine traffic is the lifeblood for any profitable website.

Without website traffic, you can’t drive more sales. It’s as simple as that.

Did you know that 90% of bloggers struggle to get more traffic to their sites? I know how frustrating it is to spending time on writing quality posts but not generating any website traffic.

So this post is a treat for you where you’ll find 5 proven methods to quickly increase your overall website traffic from search engines like Google.

Are you ready to find them out? Let’s get started.

 

#1. Spy on your competitor’s keywords

Want to quickly increase your search traffic? Start finding the keywords that your competitors are using.

If you want to grow your search traffic, make sure to focus on doing keyword research. Although there are a ton of keyword research tools out there, SEMrush tops the list.

One of the greatest offerings from SEMRush is competitor data. Competitive keyword research can be a very time-consuming process if you do not have an effective process in place. Manually analyzing a number of your competitors waste a lot of time.

SEMrush saves you time and effort that you can then use to increase the content and value on your own website. Here is how you can find your competitor’s keywords:

#1. Access Organic Keyword Data: Go to SEMrush, enter your competitor domain into the search field. Click on “Top Organic Keywords” section and it will give all your competitor’s organic keyword data.

Once you have identified your competitors top performing keywords, make sure to identify long tail keywords. These are long-tail keywords that have less search volume than foundational keywords.

These keywords often represent a customer’s interest in getting more information about a product or service to either help them make a purchase decision, validate an already made purchase or get other sorts of information about a product or service. Here are some tips to find strategic keywords:

  • Filter the “Keyword” column to only show keywords like what, when, where, why, how.
  • Filter the “Keyword” column to only show keywords with qualifier keywords such as: best, most, cheap, etc.

Once you have identified enough foundational and strategic keyword topics, prioritize by opportunity like search volume, competition and start using it in your content. Again, these are some of the most basics steps of SEO, but they are going to prove useful and act as the foundation for your link building and search ranking success.

#2. Start filtering the profitable keywords: Have a look at the “Top Organic Keywords” section. Click on “Main Organic Competitors” section. There, click on the “View Full Report” button to list all competitors. Once you clicked the button, you will be taken to a new page where you see a section like this.

#3. Identify seed keywords: Foundational keywords are the “head” terms that are typically targeted on category or service pages. It consists of one to three words and have higher search volume.

For example, SEO training, car insurance etc.. However, foundational keywords can also come in the form of long-tail keywords. You will typically find foundational keywords toward the top half of your worksheet. However, here are some tips to find foundational keywords that has less competition.

  • If you have eCommerce blog, then filter the “Keyword” column to only show keywords with eCommerce qualifier keywords, such as: sale, discount, free, online, shop, store, reviews, etc.
  • If your blog offer services, then filter the “Keyword” column to only show keywords with service qualifier keywords, such as services, professional, agency, company, case studies, testimonials, reviews, etc.

So, based on what kind of blog you have, filter the keyword column.

#2. Backlinks are golden

No SEO campaign successful without building links. Backlinks will remain a vital Google ranking factor. But, effective link building is now about trust and popularity. When you apply strategic link building technique to your site, your rankings will improve.

Backlinks not only help you get more traffic but also help to promote and earn more from your products.

You will even improve your conversion rate because you are working as the high authority on the topic to search engines. A “backlink” is created when an external website links to yours and this is also termed as “external backlinks”.

Have a look at the image below to their importance.

Before you start building a website link to your web page, make sure that you can answer to these questions.

  • Do I produce well-organized content?
  • Does my site provide useful information to the sites that will link to mine?

Google uses around 200 ranking factors to rank websites and out of those 200 ranking factors in Google’s ranking algorithm, here are the three most essential encompass links.

  1. The number of external links you receive is important.
  2. Links with SEO focused anchor text needs to be relevant to the target page.
  3. Your links need to be from a reputable news source.

Many SEO agencies focus on building relevant links to get first-page search results on Google. Building links have always been a valuable aspect of an SEOs strategy. Make sure you follow these 3 rules to get quality backlinks.

#1. Keep it relevant: Relevancy is king in link building. If you want to create the best response from Google, then the Linking to sites relevant to your niche and getting backlinks from them in return is essential. Trust is an extremely strong factor for Google. Backlinks from reliable sites in your niche show that your content is trustworthy and relevant on the given topic.

Google will start considering you as an authority on the subject once you gain enough backlinks from reputable sites in your niche. Getting links from strong sites that have no relevance for your business might help you initially, but will create problems down the road. So make sure to create amazing content that other people will naturally want to link to.

#2. Create authority with deep links: If you want to build an authoritative website in search engines, one which ranks high across multiple pages, then you need to create strong relationships among your pages.

#3. Use your anchor text carefully: Anchor text is the visible and clickable text in a link. An aggressive anchor text can land you a penalty. Building links is certainly an essential SEO practice. To see the best results, incorporate relevance and trustworthiness into your link building strategy.

#3. Improve your rankings with proper on-page SEO

Every blogger who ever starts his blogging career hears about on-page SEO. If you are looking for some strategies that will help in improving your traffic and rankings then make sure you follow these.

  • The title tag is the #1 on-page SEO factor. So, always start title tag with your primary keyword.
  • Use SEO-friendly URLs. Make sure your page URLs are short and keyword-rich. Avoid ugly URLs as it harms your site traffic.
  • Always wrap your title in <h1> tag and for subheading use <h2> tag. Include your target keyword in at least one subheading.
  • Your keyword should appear in the first 100 words of the article.
  • Images speak louder than plain text. Use images, infographics, videos, podcasts to increase user time on your site.
  • Site design is the new king. These days, everyone uses their smartphone more than laptops. If your site is not mobile-friendly Google will penalize your site. So, choose the theme for your site that works better in mobile too.
  • Optimize all the image files (not just crushing them into small files). You can do this by inserting target keyword in image Alt text.
  • Short content is dead. Google ranks those on its first page that which has longer content with typically over 2000 words.
  • Well, who doesn’t like if their content goes viral? For that, you need to provide the option to the users to share it on social media. So, add social sharing buttons and use appealing images.
  • Use LSI keywords in every post. These are the synonyms that Google uses to determine a page’s relevancy.
  • Add modifiers to your title like “best”, “review”, “guide” etc. This will help you to rank for long tail versions of your target keywords.

#4. Get access to the right SEO tools

To work smarter and faster with SEO, you need to have the right tools. From ranking higher on search engine results to maximizing advertising campaigns, SEO can help you to build your brand, and ultimately increase revenue.

Here are the 6 SEO tools that will help you to understand and improve SEO for your small business:

#1. Google Pagespeed Insights: With this tool, you can check the speed and usability of your site on multiple devices. Go to webpage and enter a URL. This tool will help you in testing the loading time and performance for desktop and for mobile.

It also identifies opportunities and areas where you can improve. The mobile results also come with a user experience score, grading areas like tap targets and font sizes.

#2. Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool: It is a website crawler that can quickly audit all of your webpages for SEO-friendliness. It aims to identify what’s working against your website’s SEO, such as broken links, server errors, duplicate content and URLs that are blocked by robots.

You can also analyze page titles and meta descriptions to see if any of your content is missing necessary elements. It also integrates with Google Analytics for additional data, as well as generate error reports and sitemaps for easy reference.

#3. Keywordtool.io: If you want to obtain a ton of keyword ideas, then this tool is for you.  Keywordtool.io is especially useful for long-tail keywords that won’t show up in the Google Keyword Planner, because of the low search volume. Just enter a keyword and this tool provides a huge handful of long-tail keyword opportunities, organized alphabetically.

#4. SERPs Rank Checker: With this tool, you can see where your site ranks for certain terms. Input your keyword and your website and see where you land, or leave the website field blank to view the top-to-bottom list of results for a keyword.

#5. Google Analytics: If you are serious about SEO, you need to use Google Analytics. Go to “Acquisition”, under that click on ”Search Console” and then “Landing Pages”. It will bring up the pages on your site that get the most impressions and clicks from Google

#6. Moz pro: Moz toolbar shows you SEO insights from within Google search results pages and at any particular website. It is a suite of user-friendly inbound marketing tools that it lets you track SEO, social efforts, links, brand awareness and content marketing using a single platform. Moz’s Keyword Explorer is one of the best keyword research tools on the market.

#5. Find your keyword positions on Google

What’s the point in writing new blog posts day in and day out without tracking your current rankings for certain keywords?

If you want to get more search traffic, start tracking your keywords. Without targeting any keywords and without knowing your keyword position in Google, even if you write and publish amazing content, it is of no use and you’re wasting a lot of time and money!

There are plenty of keyword research tools that will help you to find which keywords to use. So, if you are looking for a tool that can check the position of keywords in search engines, then SEMrush is for you.

Yes, SEMrush offers a complete solution for keyword checking. Just enter your website URL and it will show you which keywords you are currently ranking for. You can further click on any resulting keyword to check keyword competition and other details.

Or if you’re looking for free tools, you can use SERPs free keyword rank checker for tracking all your keyword rankings on Google.

Over to you

SEO is not a rocket science. If done right, it can bring a ton of website visitors and sales to your sites. The ONLY key to SEO success is to find and implement few strategies that work like a charm.

So what are your thoughts about this post? Did you find the SEO tactics mentioned here useful? Share your views in the comments below.