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Category Archives for Team Management

Your email signature sucks and how to fix it

People seem to obsess over them, making theirs unique, eco friendly, oversized, undersized, made of metal, made of plants, yoga mats etc 

via GIPHY

But… it doesn’t seem like the same focus has been placed on email signatures. For many of us who send a lot of email (50+/day) and hand out 1 business card rarely any focus on business cards vs your email signature is misplaced.  

Today I am going to share a little test we ran at adbank with our email signatures that had some interesting results and how you can efficiently benefit from upgrading your email signature as well. 

The Idea:

We wanted to have an email signature that communicated the unique value proposition of BLADE and made people pause so they took the 2 seconds needed to understand it. 

The value proposition of blade is install our ad blocker and replacer and receive free crypto while you browse like you normally would!

It takes 60 seconds to do and once done you are setup forever with the ability to use referral links and share with others. 

Checkout BLADE here

Execution:

Tyler the adbank UX/UI designer came up with the following design and instructions…

Step 1 – Concept – What simple single GIF animation communicates your unique value proposition for your business?

Step 2 – Creative

Working with an in house designer is handy but UpWork or Fiverr could also be options for getting what you needed done. 

Here was the creation Tyler came up with on round 1…

(enter normal email signature stuff underneath)

Step 3 – Implementation

Implementation is not as straightforward as you would think. Here are the step by instructions for getting everything setup…

EMAIL SIGNATURE INSTRUCTIONS:

Step 1: Download your signature from the google drive folder

Step 2: Go to your own GSuite accounts google drive and create a new folder titled “email signature”. NOTE: this needs to be its own folder at the top level of your drive. 

Step 3: Upload your email signature to your new “email signature” folder.

Step 4: Turn on link sharing and then “sharing settings”

Step 5: in the sharings settings, click advanced in the bottom right corner.

Step 6: In the advanced sharing settings, under the “who has access” title, click the blue “change” button.

Step 7: Turn the settings radio button to “on – public on the web” and press “save”. 

Step 8: Now go to your email and click the settings icon and select settings from the menu.

Step 9: Scroll down to the email signature text box and click the image icon. NOTE: make sure the checkbox that says “insert this signature before quoted text” is checked.

Step 10: In the image selector, navigate to the google drive tab

Step 11: Navigate to your signature gif and select it by pressing “select”.

Step 12: Scroll to the bottom of the settings page and click “save”

Step 13: Your email signature should now automatically be embedded every time you compose an email!

Results:

We didn’t have all the tracking we could have had setup (should have used link tracking) but the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming. In the first week several people shared with me…

  • “Saw your signature and finally signed up”
  • “That was the coolest email signature I have ever seen”
  • “I thought what you guys were doing was complicated but that email signature explained a lot of it” 

As a result we are going to be implementing a similar approach across other businesses and setup better tracking to see what works and what doesn’t work.

If you have ever had a clever strategy with your email signature I would be interested in hearing about it!

Business Partnerships – Top 5 Mistakes Often Made and 3 Structures That Work

Over the years I have had a lot of partnerships, some have worked out extremely well building friendships and achieving success for everyone… others have ended in failure and disappointment. 

Many people say they like to avoid partnerships because they are always messy! This would be much less fulfilling for me since much of the satisfaction I get from the companies we run is winning together. 

It is true partnerships are often messy, but here are some of the lessons that I have learned and structures that have seemed to work for me and some of my business partnerships. Hopefully if you’re putting a partnership together or adjusting one you already have- this might help you avoid these mistakes. 

Most Importantly – There is no ONE system that is best for everyone. The key is to understand the motivations of people involved and find a solution that has everyone’s incentives aligned. 

I have had my share of painful discussions, but fortunately- I haven’t had any disagreements that I haven’t been able to solve with people. 

In the news in just the past 2 weeks and just in Canada there have been a couple examples of partnerships going off the rails publicly impacting in some cases thousands of people!

Here are 5 of the most common mistakes I have either made myself or seen others in the online world make…

  • Mistake – Not separating capital and management. This is one I see often! Two people come together and say to each other Person 1 “I have an idea” Person 2 “I have money”… boom a business is born. Person 1 is going to run the business and person 2 is going to provide the capital they each get approximately 50% of the business. The result is if the business is successful Person 1 without a management agreement and compensation structure in place will struggle to justify why he will continue working on the business he only has a partial ownership of vs deploying his efforts and now his money into another project. The solution is the person “managing” should be compensated primarily based on results.
  • Mistake – Misalignment on goals – Most commonly this shows up as a cashflow vs growth discussion. If one partner has cashflow from another venture while another is relying on that cashflow to pay the bills this can create a lot of stress. Similarly if the goals for the exit of the business are not aligned it can cause problems. 
  • Mistake – Simple Structure Everyone Understands – Over-relying on lawyers to layout the plan and then no-one except the lawyers fully understands is too common. Rarely does it come down to the words on the agreement as often things get sorted out from everyone’s understanding. The best way I have found is the partners layout the partnership structure (typically in a spreadsheet) and then get the lawyers to make it official. 
  • Mistake – Not updating the agreement as the years move on. Things change in people’s lives and there is always a need to check in on some frequency and make sure the incentives are correctly aligned. 
  • Mistake – Communication and Stewardship Execution Not Disciplined – This is one that is easy to slip! There needs to be a consistent execution discipline to managing partnerships involving communication and stewardship. 

Below are 3 of the structures that have worked most consistently for me.

Structures That have Worked:

  1. Base Salary with Revenue Share & No Equity
    1. This one is the simplest and the one I have often started with. If there is a business idea that a manager/partner needs to run with this structure is clean. Typically a below market base salary followed by a solid % of revenue. The benefit is it is simple, has one number to focus on and the emphasis is on fast growth early on. The downside is that the long term enterprise value is not the priority due to neither profit or equity being tied into the compensation. 
  2. Profit Share + Vesting Equity
    1. This has been a fit when I want incentives to be aligned with a longer (ie 5yr+) time horizon and the business is already validated. Profit sharing without any understanding on the expected profit can be tough as people may end up disappointed so this has been a better fit for either acquired businesses or growing internal ones. The benefit is this optimizes for value creation, the downside is it adds significant complexity. 
  3. Base Salary below market to Validate Idea with Equity Attached to KPIs
    1. When there is no initial revenue and it will be a number of months to build the business before potential revenue shows up how do you align incentives with a partner? The solution that has seemed to work in a couple cases has been a below market salary building up a “sweat debt” to bring salary in line with market and then an equity kicker attached to KPIs that will be triggered once the business hits break even. The up side is it has incentives nicely aligned if the business hits its goals… the downsides are it is both complex and the $ risk is squarely on the capital partners shoulders. The decision to reinvest/continue etc can be a challenge. 

Stewardship / Structure

No matter how good the partnership is setup there is a need for ongoing stewardship and management. The way this has worked well for me is the following…

  • Weekly meeting with the manager/partner to review business KPIs
  • Monthly – PnL done monthly and reviewed in detail Monthly and then discussed at the weekly
  • Quarterly – review laying out the major tasks for the next 3 months
  • Annual strategic review 

This is a work in process and I try to follow the guidance from the book Traction.

Standardized Business Stack

Having some standardization across the different businesses when it comes to the business systems has been helpful 

  • Quickbooks Online 
  • Same bookkeeper, lawyer, accountant, bank/banker
  • Google Suite (gmail, google docs etc) 
  • Not 100% Consistent but Software – Jira, GitHub, Trello, Slack, MailShake, Grashopper, ActiveCampaign, WordPress, ThriveThemes Suite of tools, Zaxaa or Chargify, Stripe/PayPal

Summer Content Plan Failure and How to Fix!

Summertime is around the corner. For me this usually means long weekends at the cottage, outside activities with my wife and kids- like hiking, biking and boating and also just some general vacation time. I’ve always been an outdoorsy guy so the summer is a great time to recharge and reap the benefits of our area, especially since it doesn’t last too long here in Canada!

Although the down time is really nice, it unfortunately has come at the expense of some of my businesses- especially the ones that are relatively low maintenance and are easy to fall off my radar.  I’ve had a long history of taking my foot off the gas pedal during the summer when it has come to my content sites, which for some sites has lead to irreversible traffic declines and lost revenues!

Over the years I have noticed a consistent decline starting in or around June and July which coincides with the beginning of summer. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know I’m a guy who is pretty data oriented and systems focused- so this predictable decline is annoying to me. What’s more annoying is that it is entirely my fault. If I had just taken a little bit of time to get in front of my content strategy and systematized the content creation process then I could have saved myself (and my sites) the hit that we ended up taking.

Take a look as some of these screenshots- none of these sites have recovered fully from these declines!

So what are my takeaways for this year? I’m going to get in front of my content creation strategy and systematize the content creation and publishing on my money sites so that I don’t even have to think about it this summer while I’m taking some time off. I’ve leveraged my team at Content Refined come up with a great plan that they will execute over the next 5 months so that it’s completely hands free for me.

Take a look at my spreadsheet for all of my money sites for the summer! I’ll quickly use one of my sites as an example to show you what I’ve done. And hey don’t steal my Keywords! 🙂 I’ll give you this sheet or free at the bottom of this article so that you can create your own plan!

Step 1:

Figure out how many articles you want published on a monthly basis. For this particular site, I have steady traffic already and am just looking to maintain. I figure 6 articles per month at 1000 words each will be sufficient in keeping the momentum I need around this size of site.

Current Traffic:

2. Conduct Keyword Research for your Niche.

The Team at Content Refined has engineered my site and separated it into the pillar topics. This is to make sure that every section of my site will get some content throughout the summer. They’ve picked the keywords and assigned the month of production to each

Step : 3 Make sure the metrics are understood and aligned with your goals!

Search Volume and competition are super important when it comes to picking keywords that will predictably rank on search engines. The gold standard that Content Refined uses is searches above 500 per month with a competition of under 30% are most likely to rank top 10!

We leverage other tools such as marketmuse to pull the average content score and the average word count that we should be targeting for each article. This way the writer assigned to each article knows how long it should be and what kind of content score we expect when we run it though marketmuse. If an article exceeds the average content score it is more likely to outrank the competition !!!

Step 4: Pick your plan!

I’ve opted to have the team at Content Refined deliver these on a monthly basis and update the spreadsheet accordingly. Alternatively I could have had these articles created all at once and then scheduled out on a weekly basis. The team is pretty flexible and can work with your budget and needs.

Now I’ve got my summer content plans ready to go and a system in place to make sure that my content creation strategy doesn’t fall off the priority list. I’m really stoked that I got in front of my content marketing goals for the summer and I think this will help avoid the trend. So what are you waiting for?

Download my spreadsheet for free: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1DjC0ir8UqigcXwa-nJrPTt2Mz2UPG_Vqk_Psy0PWz64/edit#gid=0

To have your summer content strategy taken care of, visit https://www.contentrefined.com/summer-special/ and have a chat with them on how they can do this for your sites!

3 Lessons after 2.5 Years into building ContentRefined.com

Today Content Refined turns 2.5 years old and Maddie has recently shared a BIG post about the journey!

Read about the entire journey here – Content Marketing Company

Plus they just had a video produced to help people learn more about Content Refined…

In this post I want to share 3 lessons I have learned from my position (idea identification, initial system architecture and assembling/stewarding the team).

Background:

In the summer of 2016 Maddie joined my team with the mandate of systematizing the content creation process for my portfolio of sites. She killed it!

From that effort we decided to launch Content Refined as a content marketing company.

I documented that launch when I announced it in this post – https://authoritywebsiteincome.com/content-marketing-strategy-launch-business/

It grew incredibly well, achieving 10% week over week growth for the first few months.

There have certainly been a fair number of challenges/opportunities and in this post I hope to share from my perspective what the 3 most significant lessons were.

Lesson 1: Systems Can’t Replace People!

For everyone that reads this site they know I LOVE systems. Systematized business processes and systematic solutions to problems are core values for the business.

However, despite the engineers desire in me to build a system that doesn’t require great people to run it never happens. Great systems allow great people to execute better.

As I significantly shifted my focus in 2017 to adbank my core businesses needed to be managed and any business where there was a manager responsible for running the business did well. However any business that was solely dependent on a system went off the rails.

Maddie grew the business, Laura managed it while Maddie was on mat leave and I have had limited ongoing involvement. No system could have been built to adapt to the changed and achieved what the team has achieved!

Lesson 2: Churn is a Moral Sapingl!

Content Refined has been a great business with significant initial success and very solid longer term performance. But as with any recurring revenue business that is non-essential, churn is the enemy!

Trying to keep growth moving while fighting churn is a never ending battle and can be very unmotivating.

Sometimes even solid months feel like this…

For anyone who ever wants to dig more into recurring revenue business models this is the best article on any subject ever and it focuses on metrics – https://www.forentrepreneurs.com/saas-metrics-2/

Lesson 3: Focus on your Strengths in a Congruent way!

Congruent has been my favourite business word for awhile. Ensuring the people, value proposition and systems are all aligned congruently is critically important.

Building that congruence around the set of strengths that makes you unique and focusing on it has been where our biggest successes have come from and also, when we drifted, where our biggest failures occurred.

For Content Refined, the effort around data analysis (to determine what tools/metrics give our content the best predictive ability to perform well in Google) has been very rewarding. Trying to broaden and sell other services where our set of strengths didn’t align didn’t get off the ground in a significant way (for example, an email marketing service to existing clients).

Being accountable for results and not just words, as a content marketing company that uses data (and the thousands of articles we’ve already published) to continually refine what is working now, is what has Content Refined clients loving the service.

content refined business management

Summary

I hope my view on the 3 key lessons while stewarding the growth of Content Refined has been useful.

If you have any content marketing needs be sure to book a free call with Maddie or Laura… they often share some pretty incredible and specific to your site insights on those calls! You can book here if there is availability.

Rewarding You For Seeing Ads – BLADE.Software Ad Block Extension

It has been a very busy 1.5 years in my business with the majority of my personal focus being on the blockchain ad tech project adbank.network. Today we have launched something new and I wanted to share the story behind it on the first day it launches (despite the ironic timing this is not an April fools joke).

 

You can see the result of the last year of work here – BLADE ad block & reward extension (just went live)

Download Chrome Extension HERE

(note please use referral code – c0903255-a8b2-32f6-3466-7d96fce1b64f)

The total amount people will earn for browsing the web with BLADE installed is estimated to grow to ±$15/month – enough to cover a streaming services cost!

 

The rest of my businesses have mostly continued to run well (especially the ones where a great manager/team was in place – Kelley, Maddie, Laura etc). However, some of the projects have suffered… my personal portfolio has had some struggles with limited oversight on management (more on that in another post).

Today I want to share some of the exciting work that is being done by adbank and how we think it will change the landscape of digital advertising…plus how it can directly benefit you!

 

The Big Question We Have Been Wrestling With…

If digital advertising is the monster industry it is and you the end user/audience are a significant part of the value created why don’t you have any control over the process?

  • Why don’t you directly get rewarded for the ads you see?
  • Why aren’t you in control of the tracking done to you while browsing?
  • Why aren’t your incentives aligned with the other actors in the digital advertising transactions you participate in daily?

Seems like we should have more control over the process.

If you want to learn more about what BLADE is you can check it out here but here is the simple explanation…

 

Be In Control & Get Paid!

The simple story is once you install the browser extension (BLADE) you will start getting rewarded for seeing ads in Cryptocurrency.

 

 

Download Chrome Extension HERE

(note please use referral code – c0903255-a8b2-32f6-3466-7d96fce1b64f)

Free to download and use + earn crypto (ADB) for browsing the web like you normally do!

 

Incentive Alignment – BLADE (Blockchain Advertising Ecosystem) built on adbank

I often talk about incentive alignment when working on any business and really like what Charlie Munger says…

Within the BLADE ecosystem here is how each of the actors are incentivizes…

 

How Users / Audience (anyone who installs and uses BLADE) Benefit:

  • Browse the internet like you normally do and get paid in Cryptocurrency for the ads you see
  • Turn on/off ad block functionality
  • Experience a faster internet with the most obnoxious ads blocked

 

How Advertisers Benefit:

  • Pay a smaller fee to middlemen
  • Real users view your ads (not bots and reduced ad fraud) due to KYC required for users

 

How Publishers Benefit:

  • Currently publishers receive no direct benefit if a visitor to their website has an adblock extension installed. Some of these adblock extensions have over 500 million installs! With BLADE we record what sites a visitor was on when they earned ADB and keep track to reward the publisher as well.

 

For such a simple concept… ad block extension that rewards you for viewing ads… a lot has gone in to make it happen.

For those interested here are a few of the challenges the team overcame.

 

Some of the Innovations to allow BLADE to happen.

To give you a little behind the scenes on what we have built to make all of this work there are

  1. AdBlock Extension That Places an Ad in Your Browser – Not just a standard adblock extension was needed but also one that identified the size/location and could place a relevant ad on your browser without impacting the user experience.
  2. Ad Server Connected to the Ethereum Blockchain – To ensure transparency and allow the rewards to flow through to all parties the ads are served on an ad server (adbank.network) that is connected to the Ethereum Blockchain.
  3. Cryptocurrency Efficiently Sending Rewards – Sending micro-payments to over 100 countries and thousands of users on a monthly basis is a financial system nightmare. However, with BLADE integrating a unique solution with a couple smart contracts makes this process automatically happen with minimal transaction costs!
  4. Patent Pending AI to monitor blockchain transactions for ad fraud – I won’t get into the details here but you can read about it here. Bottom line is as digital advertising moves onto a blockchain solution there will be a need to monitor those transactions for fraud and applying AI/machine learning to monitor will prove to be very valuable!

Checkout BLADE on the first day it is live HERE!

(note please use referal code – c0903255-a8b2-32f6-3466-7d96fce1b64f)

 

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