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An entrepreneur’s last attempt at regaining productivity: Ditching social media in 2021

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Do I consume social media or is it slowly consuming me? This blurred line has garnered increased attention due to recent documentaries like The Social Dilemma, which popularized deeply unsettling questions about the impact of social media on our mental health, politics, even free will.

Yet many of us have our reasons for staying in the game. I’m sure there are some prolific entrepreneurs and writers who have no problem managing their social media usage, but that’s not my experience. I find these platforms consistently distract from my most important work. It’s a huge cost that I just can’t ignore anymore.

I’ve attempted on several occasions to rise above the addiction, placing heavy restrictions on my daily usage. Good intentions only got me so far. Somehow I’ve always been pulled back into social media’s gravity, using it the way it demands to be used (i.e. obsessively).

That is, until a few weeks ago. I have finally decided that social media steals too much of my time and attention to warrant continued investment. For 2021, I’ve chosen a more clear-cut approach to handling social media: network-cutting.

The opportunity cost of social media

On a sunny day in the late 2000s, Mom snapped my photo and uploaded it to her computer. There I was, a freshman, grinning and backlit in front of her blinds. Not candid or stylish — just a grainy placeholder photo to help me complete my Myspace profile. Months later, I adopted Facebook as well, and within a couple of years, I had signed up for Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Unlike most hobbies and habits I picked up in high school, this one stuck. The longer I was on social media, the more weekly time I invested in each platform. I recorded photos from backpacking trips, learned about important causes, shared my own articles and short stories, and networked to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars for my copywriting business — all thanks to social media.

But the benefits did not come without their costs.

The most obvious cost was my time. According to Statista, the average daily social media usage was 144 minutes in 2019. Assuming I’m fairly average — a safe assumption — that means I spent almost 900 hours browsing social media websites in one calendar year. Since high school, that adds up to several months of my life in accumulated scrolling, liking, posting, friend requesting, and meme sharing.

But on its own, sunk time doesn’t directly equate to a lack of value. What I gained for all that time on social media — and whether I could have gotten greater value for my time elsewhere — is harder to quantify.

I think the most apt analogy I’ve heard is that social media is like cognitive junk food. These sites emphasize headlines and hot takes rather than depth and nuance.

Like fast food, social media plays on my weaknesses by maintaining a close enough appearance to substance — so much so that sometimes I can ignore the difference.

The problem is, I don’t want a mere passable substitute for tackling big ideas, understanding the news, and connecting with friends. Just give me the real thing. Give me depth, substance, and real connection.

And what about creators who only use social media to spread and publish ideas? Instant publishing offers many clear benefits — but it also offers a dangerous shortcut for anyone who desires to produce work that lasts.

Author and economist Tim Harford put the opportunity cost of his social media usage in exact numbers: “My Twitter habit is more of a problem. I have 145,000 followers, gently persuaded over 10 years and 40,000 tweets to follow me — that’s about 10 books’ worth, or 20 years of weekly columns. This alone was a reminder of just what an effort Twitter could be.”

How I got here

I’ve never taken more than a single month off social media since my freshman year of high school. And even those few breaks wouldn’t have happened without first discovering the work of Cal Newport, author and professor of computer science at Georgetown.

Newport writes at the intersection of professional development and technology. From late 2018 through 2019, I read three of his books in rapid succession, with one idea rising above the rest: deep work. Here’s a definition from his website:

The Deep Work Hypothesis: The ability to concentrate without distraction on a demanding task (what I call ‘deep work’) is becoming more rare at the same time that it’s becoming more valuable in the knowledge sector. As a result, those individuals and organizations who put in the hard work to cultivate this skill will thrive.

Newport’s Deep Work Hypothesis caused me to reconsider how I organize my day, what I value in work and leisure, and my relationship to social media.

As a copywriter, deep work is how I make my living. Unbroken, focused attention is what pays the bills and moves my business forward. The more time I dedicate to the craft and business of writing, the better I become and the more work I produce. When something gets in the way of writing, it interferes directly with my earning and career potential.

And nothing pulls me away from writing faster than Twitter, Facebook, or even LinkedIn. What began as an innocent high school hobby now steals so much of my time and attention. I knowingly bleed productivity every week.

*wakes up and looks at phone*

ah let’s see what fresh horrors await me on the fresh horrors device

— Miss O’Kistic (@missokistic) November 11, 2016

The alternative

Maintaining a social media presence — especially for writers and entrepreneurs — often feels non-negotiable. The choice isn’t whether you use social media, but how.

In the opening page of Invested, Charles Schwab writes, “The world of business, like the rest of life, is full of wonderful temptations, and making a choice about where you are going to devote your energy is often as much about dismissing things as it is about choosing something. A singular sense of purpose gives you focus and clarity.”

Cutting social networks from my life for the next year is my attempt to achieve a new level of focus — perhaps one that becomes an advantage. What will a return to focus mean for me this year? Maybe I’ll publish more articles in more reputable magazines than any year before — or earn a book contract. Maybe I’ll finish work early every day and have more time to read, exercise, or call up a friend.

Think about when was the last time you texted someone, “How are you?” Without the crutch of feeling like I know friends from updates from social media, I’ll have to be more proactive. I’ll have to ask. For now, I have many aspirations and I’m optimistic about what a year without social media could mean personally and professionally.

Of course, there’s a possibility that things go counter to my plan. Maybe a year without social media will change the way I see it. Maybe the benefits will become clearer to me and I’ll re-log on to each platform with enthusiasm at the start of 2022.

If I’m honest, I doubt that’ll be the case. I believe the internet is a better place to learn, write, and grow a business when I’m not competing for trivial achievements like a fresh new badge about a single retweet or like.

I have a hunch that I’ll never choose to go back to social media. Or maybe it’s a prayer. Either way, I’m out.

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12 Proven Methods to Make Money Blogging in 2024

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Make money blogging

 

Make money bloggingThis is a contributed article.

The world of blogging continues to thrive in 2024, offering a compelling avenue for creative minds to share their knowledge, build an audience, and even turn their passion into profit. Whether you’re a seasoned blogger or just starting, there are numerous effective strategies to monetize your blog and achieve financial success. Here, we delve into 12 proven methods to make money blogging in 2024:

1. Embrace Niche Expertise:

Standing out in the vast blogosphere requires focus. Carving a niche allows you to cater to a specific audience with targeted content. This not only builds a loyal following but also positions you as an authority in your chosen field. Whether it’s gardening techniques, travel hacking tips, or the intricacies of cryptocurrency, delve deep into a subject you’re passionate and knowledgeable about. Targeted audiences are more receptive to monetization efforts, making them ideal for success.

2. Content is King (and Queen):

High-quality content remains the cornerstone of any successful blog. In 2024, readers crave informative, engaging, and well-written content that solves their problems, answers their questions, or entertains them. Invest time in crafting valuable blog posts, articles, or videos that resonate with your target audience.

  • Focus on evergreen content: Create content that remains relevant for a long time, attracting consistent traffic and boosting your earning potential.
  • Incorporate multimedia: Spice up your content with captivating images, infographics, or even videos to enhance reader engagement and improve SEO.
  • Maintain consistency: Develop a regular publishing schedule to build anticipation and keep your audience coming back for more.

3. The Power of SEO:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ensures your blog ranks high in search engine results for relevant keywords. This increases organic traffic, the lifeblood of any monetization strategy.

  • Keyword research: Use keyword research tools to identify terms your target audience searches for. Strategically incorporate these keywords into your content naturally.
  • Technical SEO: Optimize your blog’s loading speed, mobile responsiveness, and overall technical aspects to improve search engine ranking.
  • Backlink building: Encourage other websites to link back to your content, boosting your blog’s authority in the eyes of search engines.

4. Monetization Magic: Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing allows you to earn commissions by promoting other companies’ products or services. When a reader clicks on your affiliate link and makes a purchase, you get a commission.

  • Choose relevant affiliates: Promote products or services that align with your niche and resonate with your audience.
  • Transparency is key: Disclose your affiliate relationships clearly to your readers and build trust.
  • Integrate strategically: Don’t just bombard readers with links. Weave affiliate promotions naturally into your content, highlighting the value proposition.

5. Display Advertising: A Classic Approach

Display advertising involves placing banner ads, text ads, or other visual elements on your blog. When a reader clicks on an ad, you earn revenue.

  • Choose reputable ad networks: Partner with established ad networks that offer competitive rates and relevant ads for your audience.
  • Strategic ad placement: Place ads thoughtfully, avoiding an overwhelming experience for readers.
  • Track your performance: Monitor ad clicks and conversions to measure the effectiveness of your ad placements and optimize for better results.

6. Offer Premium Content:

Providing exclusive, in-depth content behind a paywall can generate additional income. This could be premium blog posts, ebooks, online courses, or webinars.

  • Deliver exceptional value: Ensure your premium content offers significant value that justifies the price tag.
  • Multiple pricing options: Consider offering tiered subscription plans to cater to different audience needs and budgets.
  • Promote effectively: Highlight the benefits of your premium content and encourage readers to subscribe.

7. Coaching and Consulting:

Leverage your expertise by offering coaching or consulting services related to your niche. Readers who find your content valuable may be interested in personalized guidance.

  • Position yourself as an expert: Showcase your qualifications, experience, and client testimonials to build trust and establish your credibility.
  • Offer free consultations: Provide a limited free consultation to potential clients, allowing them to experience your expertise firsthand.
  • Develop clear packages: Outline different coaching or consulting packages with varying time commitments and pricing structures.

8. The Power of Community: Online Events and Webinars

Host online events or webinars related to your niche. These events offer valuable content while also providing an opportunity to promote other monetization avenues.

  • Interactive and engaging: Structure your online events to be interactive with polls, Q&A sessions, or live chats. Click here to learn more about image marketing with Q&A sessions and live chats.

9. Embrace the Power of Email Marketing:

Building an email list allows you to foster stronger relationships with your audience and promote your content and offerings directly.

  • Offer valuable incentives: Encourage readers to subscribe by offering exclusive content, discounts, or early access to new products.
  • Segmentation is key: Segment your email list based on reader interests to send targeted campaigns that resonate more effectively.
  • Regular communication: Maintain consistent communication with your subscribers through engaging newsletters or updates.

10. Sell Your Own Products:

Take your expertise to the next level by creating and selling your own products. This could be physical merchandise, digital downloads, or even printables related to your niche.

  • Identify audience needs: Develop products that address the specific needs and desires of your target audience.
  • High-quality offerings: Invest in creating high-quality products that offer exceptional value and user experience.
  • Utilize multiple platforms: Sell your products through your blog, online marketplaces, or even social media platforms.

11. Sponsorships and Brand Collaborations:

Partner with brands or businesses relevant to your niche for sponsored content or collaborations. This can be a lucrative way to leverage your audience and generate income.

  • Maintain editorial control: While working with sponsors, ensure you retain editorial control to maintain your blog’s authenticity and audience trust.
  • Disclosures are essential: Clearly disclose sponsored content to readers, upholding transparency and ethical practices.
  • Align with your niche: Partner with brands that complement your content and resonate with your audience.

12. Freelancing and Paid Writing Opportunities:

Your blog can serve as a springboard for freelance writing opportunities. Showcase your writing skills and expertise through your blog content, attracting potential clients.

  • Target relevant publications: Identify online publications, websites, or magazines related to your niche and pitch your writing services.
  • High-quality samples: Include high-quality blog posts from your site as writing samples when pitching to potential clients.
  • Develop strong writing skills: Continuously hone your writing skills and stay updated on current trends in your niche to deliver exceptional work.

Conclusion:

Building a successful blog that generates income requires dedication, strategic planning, and high-quality content. In today’s digital age, there are numerous opportunities to make money online through blogging. By utilizing a combination of methods such as affiliate marketing, sponsored content, and selling digital products or services, you can leverage your blog’s potential and achieve financial success.

Remember, consistency in posting, engaging with your audience, and staying adaptable to trends are key to thriving in the ever-evolving blogosphere. Embrace new strategies, refine your approaches, and always keep your readers at the forefront of your content creation journey. With dedication and the right approach, your blog has the potential to become a valuable source of income and a platform for sharing your knowledge and passion with the world, making money online while doing what you love.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos



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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

In a recent announcement, Snapchat revealed a groundbreaking update that challenges its traditional design ethos. The platform is experimenting with an option that allows users to defy the 24-hour auto-delete rule, a feature synonymous with Snapchat’s ephemeral messaging model.

The proposed change aims to introduce a “Never delete” option in messaging retention settings, aligning Snapchat more closely with conventional messaging apps. While this move may blur Snapchat’s distinctive selling point, Snap appears convinced of its necessity.

According to Snap, the decision stems from user feedback and a commitment to innovation based on user needs. The company aims to provide greater flexibility and control over conversations, catering to the preferences of its community.

Currently undergoing trials in select markets, the new feature empowers users to adjust retention settings on a conversation-by-conversation basis. Flexibility remains paramount, with participants able to modify settings within chats and receive in-chat notifications to ensure transparency.

Snapchat underscores that the default auto-delete feature will persist, reinforcing its design philosophy centered on ephemerality. However, with the app gaining traction as a primary messaging platform, the option offers users a means to preserve longer chat histories.

The update marks a pivotal moment for Snapchat, renowned for its disappearing message premise, especially popular among younger demographics. Retaining this focus has been pivotal to Snapchat’s identity, but the shift suggests a broader strategy aimed at diversifying its user base.

This strategy may appeal particularly to older demographics, potentially extending Snapchat’s relevance as users age. By emulating features of conventional messaging platforms, Snapchat seeks to enhance its appeal and broaden its reach.

Yet, the introduction of message retention poses questions about Snapchat’s uniqueness. While addressing user demands, the risk of diluting Snapchat’s distinctiveness looms large.

As Snapchat ventures into uncharted territory, the outcome of this experiment remains uncertain. Will message retention propel Snapchat to new heights, or will it compromise the platform’s uniqueness?

Only time will tell.

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

While it is tempting to try to appeal to a broad audience, the founder of alcohol-free coaching service Just the Tonic, Sandra Parker, believes the best thing you can do for your business is focus on your niche. Here’s how she did just that.

When running a business, reaching out to as many clients as possible can be tempting. But it also risks making your marketing “too generic,” warns Sandra Parker, the founder of Just The Tonic Coaching.

“From the very start of my business, I knew exactly who I could help and who I couldn’t,” Parker told My Biggest Lessons.

Parker struggled with alcohol dependence as a young professional. Today, her business targets high-achieving individuals who face challenges similar to those she had early in her career.

“I understand their frustrations, I understand their fears, and I understand their coping mechanisms and the stories they’re telling themselves,” Parker said. “Because of that, I’m able to market very effectively, to speak in a language that they understand, and am able to reach them.” 

“I believe that it’s really important that you know exactly who your customer or your client is, and you target them, and you resist the temptation to make your marketing too generic to try and reach everyone,” she explained.

“If you speak specifically to your target clients, you will reach them, and I believe that’s the way that you’re going to be more successful.

Watch the video for more of Sandra Parker’s biggest lessons.

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