15 Tips for Building a Better Blog

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The A Dot Blog celebrated its two year birthday last month! In just two years, our blog has hit a couple of milestones:

  • We’ve had 5 main bloggers (& 10 guest bloggers) contribute a combined total of over 370 posts
  • Our posts have received over 850,000 views!
  • We have readers from Canada, USA, United Kingdom, Germany, Finland, France, Australia, Italy & 63 other countries!
  • More than 100 individuals are subscribed to receive our posts directly in their inbox daily (you should be, too!)

We’re thrilled to have found such success with a blog that no one had really ever imagined would have a global footprint. We’re proud that our little blog which started in Azilda, Ontario (a.k.a the original A Dot) is so well-received from our community and beyond.

Today on The A Dot, I decided to share with our readers a 15 tips for building a better blog.

  1. Brainstorm ideas. When we first started The A Dot Blog, we sat down to discuss who would write what. Whatever you choose to write about, own it!
  2. Think of a great blog title. This is sometimes difficult for many bloggers. Sometimes it is easier to write your piece first before dreaming up a catchy title. Make an effort to use a title that explains the post—“How to…”, “3 Tips”, “5 Ways”…etc. as these posts typically have more views. For tips to help you create hard-hitting headlines, click here.
  3. Add photos. Insert a stock photo at the beginning of your blog that visually describes your article or place images throughout your blog to describe each concept. Choose attention-grabbing images to entice readers to check out your post.
  4. Choose an appropriate length for your post. Typically, our blogs are 500 – 1500 words in length, depending on the topic. Many readers do not like to spend more than 3-5 minutes reading a post.
  5. Find your voice. Don’t make your posts so formal that it bores readers. Add your own style to everything you publish. If you’re witty IRL (in real life), then be witty in your blogs! If you’re blunt IRL, be blunt. Readers want to feel like they know the real you!
  6. Always have a call-to-action. Sometimes it is difficult to wrap up your blog. An easy way to do so is to add a call-to-action at the end of each post. Some examples include:
  • “What’s your favourite tip presented in my post? Comment below.”
  • “Do you have any additional advice for our readers? Add your thoughts below!”
  • “Know someone who may benefit from our services? Share this post with your network!”
  • “To learn more about our product, visit our website at:”
  1. Add links and resources. Reference back to your past posts, or link to other blogs. If you’re lucky, the owner of the blog you just mentioned may reciprocate which could lead to more readership on your own blog.
  2. Invite guest bloggers to write on your blog. If you know someone who is also a blogger, consider asking them to write a post to feature on your blog and vice versa.
  3. Conduct research. If you’ve brainstormed a few blog topic ideas, consider conducting research to learn more about the topic as a whole to ensure you’re providing your readers with the most accurate/interesting information as possible…and remember: always put your own spin on it!
  4. Add keywords to each post. Insert as many keywords/tags that you can think of that relate to your post. This will help your blog posts become discoverable.
  5. Add widgets and menu bars. It helps to use a website that specializes in blogs, such as WordPress or Blogger. Choose a simple layout and add widgets and menu bars to make your content as easy to discover as possible. Things to consider: create an archive menu for your readers to quickly access past posts, and perhaps add an additional menu bar to divide your content into certain topics/categories. Also include a widget for your readers to subscribe to your blog as quickly as possible.
  6. Align your blog with your brand. Consider the overall theme, logo, colours, etc. Your blog should be an extension of your business’ brand.
  7. Get a great domain. Purchase a .com domain instead of a generic .wordpress.com, or .me, or .info, etc. It will make it easier for your readers to remember!
  8. Develop your “About” section. People want to get to know you! Be personal. Let readers know your backstory. Keep it relevant and update it as necessary.
  9. Be unique! Don’t focus on what everyone else is doing. Use your own voice, knowledge, expertise, and niche to draw readers to what you’re doing and writing about.

There you have it – 15 tips for building a better blog! Stay tuned for more tips in the near future. What is one piece of advice you have for new bloggers? Feel free to comment below!

MeganSignature

 

10 Things You Should Do Every Day

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With September right around the corner, I thought it would be an ideal time to share a list of things that I feel everyone should do every day to better your life and improve your mindset as the end of the year approaches and things naturally get busier.

  1. Get a good night’s rest. Lack of sleep will eventually take its toll on you. Personally, I used to get about six hours of sleep per night. This year, I made it a resolution to squeeze a few more hours in each night and it’s been absolutely game-changing; I’m more alert, more productive and happier overall.
  2. Read, write or listen to music. Take a break from the screen for awhile. Get lost in something other than your day-to-day.
  3. Learn something new. Expand your horizons and keep your mind sharp by studying a new language, picking up a hobby, learning a new skill, etc. Keep striving to be the best possible version of yourself.
  4. Treat yourself. This doesn’t always need to involve spending money; read a book, have a bubble bath, watch a movie, etc. We generally spend the majority of our day being busy and serving others, so be sure to spoil yourself, too!
  5. Create a positive environment. Your atmosphere can definitely impact your overall mood and wellbeing. Keep your workspace neat and tidy to help relieve stress and maintain a clear head. Create a living space that you actually look forward to going to after a long day of work.  Lastly, don’t forget to surround yourself with people who are optimistic to keep you in a positive frame of mind.
  6. Spend time alone…it’s good for you! There has been many times where I will drive to or from work without listening to music to really help clear my head. Take time for yourself and learn to enjoy it!
  7. Create something. This one’s easy for me since a large portion of my day is usually spent doing something creative thanks to my job. Whether it’s a blog post, a meal, a document, snapping and editing a photo, etc., strive to do something creative each day; doing so allows you to think differently and step outside of your comfort zone!
  8. Touch base with someone you care about. Let your loved ones know you’re thinking about them. Go out of your way to make them smile. Life is too short not to let people know how you feel about them.
  9. Go outside. Enjoy nature! Go for a walk. Get some exercise. Spending time outdoors and getting a breath of fresh air can help with your mood, relieve stress and restore your energy!
  10. Spend time on self-reflection. Take a few minutes at the end of each day reflecting on your day as a whole, making mental notes of what you need to do the next day, and see how your goals and resolutions are progressing. Doing so will help keep you on track for whatever you are trying to accomplish!

MeganSignature

There’s NEVER a Bad Time to Sell

Summer.jpgI hope you’re enjoying your summer so far!

The thing is, in sales… there’s never a bad time or an excuse not to sell. This has never been more obvious to me than with our product, StaffStat!

I’ve heard over and over that “end of day is a bad time to sell”, “start of day is a bad time to sell”, “Mondays are bad for decision-makers”, “Fridays are bad for decision-makers” and more often than not I’ve heard “summer is bad for business”.

I’m here to tell you that as a sales person, there is never a bad time to try to sell your product or your solution. Of course there are ups and downs in the sales cycle but if persistence is the key then obviously you need to push yourself during those down times with prospecting, making the most of your contacts, taking advantage of timelines and fostering your relationships. Here’s how:

  1. Prospecting: You never know who might be sitting at their desk, needing exactly what it is that you’re selling. Sure, summer can be seen as a season where everyone is on vacation but on the flip-side, I prefer to think of it as a season where every company is trying to operate with a skeleton crew. This often highlights holes or problems within their systems, their procedures, and their overall inefficiencies. If the person who is struggling with a pain point for which you have a solution happens to open your email or answer your call during that time, the stars have aligned.
  2. Making the most of your contacts: This is the time where you can connect with your current contacts and customers and ask them for testimonials on your service and your product. You can also use this time to market a referral program. While others are resting and taking their summer vacations, you’ll be making the most of the contacts you already have, leading to inevitable future sales.
  3. Taking advantage of timelines: I’ve mentioned a few times throughout my blogging that September is often seen as the “Business New Year”. When you’re trying to do business in the summer always keep in mind that a lot of decision-makers want a fresh start effective September 1st. Let them know, early on in the summer, that you will work throughout the ‘quiet season’ to get them running and operating by that deadline. Encourage them to see that starting fresh in September is a wonderful opportunity that you would like to seize and they will definitely benefit from being ready to go, effective the Business New Year.
  4. Fostering your relationships: We’ve managed to sign corporations during the summer and that’s because we have persisted throughout the year and built those relationships. Of course, some decisions are put off because some of the key people are on vacation! Your goal during this time is to build cheerleaders for your solution. You need to prove during this quiet time that you have what they need. When those decision-makers come back from vacation, all they’re going to hear about is how wonderful your product is and how much their organization needs it.

The lesson in this blog is that no time is a bad time to sell. You can lean on summer as an excuse or you can use summer as a great way to move forward with prospects, contacts, connections and relationships. 

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Due Date.

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August 16th – the day that I’ve been waiting for since December 13, 2016. Today is the day that I get to meet the person that I’ve thought about every moment of every single day for the past nine months. Today… is my due date!

For those of you who don’t already know, I’m pregnant and due any day now with who I know is going to be the most perfect little boy. Since I’m writing this post on July 6th, it’s quite possible that I’ve already met him. Maybe I’m at the hospital right now… who knows! What I do know, though, is that right now I’m more anxious and nervous and excited than I’ve ever been, all while being the happiest I’ve ever been.

Everyone has a bucket list, right? I have some of the typical items on my list like sky diving, travelling, getting married, buying a house, getting to the point of being debt-free, learning to play guitar etc., but my number one has always been to be a mom. Being a mom to me is the ultimate dream. The idea of doing laundry all hours of the day, having my normal day-to-day outfit be jogging pants with an oversized t-shirt and a messy bun, not sleeping for more than two hours through the night, taking 30 minutes to grab a bag of milk from the corner store as opposed to the 5 minutes it takes now… all of these things are, in my mind, what make up the perfect life.

I know I sound crazy. I’ve been told multiple times in the past few months. It doesn’t make any sense to some people that I’m ready to completely dedicate my life at the age of 24 to caring for and unconditionally loving this tiny piece of me and my other half for the next eighteen+ years. I’m also more than ready to give up the “me, myself and I” life that I’ve been living over the past year. Until recently I lived alone, I slept alone, I went shopping alone, and I LOVED being alone. But as soon as I found out I was pregnant, I knew that I was ready to give it all up and start this new chapter of my life. Sure I was scared at first. Who wouldn’t be? I had a million and one thoughts running through my head when I first saw the little ‘+ 2-3 weeks’ sign on the test stick:

How am I going to do this? What will my friends and family think when I tell them? How am I going to tell them? What about work? Who will take care of my customers? Will there be an opportunity for me to return when my maternity leave is up?

There were SO MANY QUESTIONS that I was asking myself in the beginning that now seem so silly because in the end, those aren’t the things that matter. What matters is I’m healthy, the baby is healthy, my relationship with my boyfriend is healthy, and we are happy and ready to embrace this change and grow and learn and make mistakes together.

As I’m sure you’ve already figured out, this will be my last blog post for a while. Instead of drafting emails, making cold calls and attending conferences, my new focus is going to be changing diapers, keeping a clean house, catching up on sleep whenever I’m able to, and doing the best that I can to make my relationship with my boyfriend a priority even when it seems impossible. With that being said, I’d like to give a huge THANK YOU to everyone who’s taken the time to read my posts over the past two years!

In closing, I’d like to share a quote that I came across on Facebook a few days after I found out I was expecting. It struck a chord with me and has since become one of my favourites. It helped me realize that despite what anyone says about us being ‘too young’ or not being prepared or not realizing the shock that we’re in for, everything will be okay and turn out the way that it was always meant to:

“Being a young parent means we met a little early, but it also means I get to love you a little longer. Some people said their lives ended when they had children, but I know my life is just beginning. You didn’t take away my future; you gave me a new one.”

Tessa-NEW

Making the Switch 

It’s been a few months now, but I recently shifted gears in my career. In April 2017, I decided to leave my job of four years. It might not seem like a massive deal to most, but this had been my first taste of working full-time after university. In 2013, I began my career as a Communications Specialist FedNor intern at NORCAT. I was an eager university graduate who thought I could take on the world. I quickly jumped into a newly created role, and started molding the job. Not only was I an intern, I was in a brand new role; at first this seemed daunting, but only afterwards I realized how rewarding this would be. I was twenty-one, had just moved back in with my parents, and had to start putting my pricey paper to work. That first year had taught me more than anything I had learned in university.

Fast forward a few years… During my time at NORCAT, I had always felt a sense of pride in my work. I had successfully implemented several inaugural programs, had grown social presence, and had organized more events than I can remember. However, a mentor once told me that “all progress takes place outside the comfort zone”.  Sure, I absolutely loved my job… over the course of four years, I had built invaluable relationships, lasting friendships, and hit personal milestones, but as my mentors told me, “Don’t be too comfortable. You’re only 25”, I knew it was time.

For a few months it had truly been bittersweet. I had been a summer student, an intern, and full-time employee with NORCAT. I had friendships, clients, and projects that were very close to me, but I knew that if I was going to make a change, it had to be now. During my time at NORCAT, I had been exposed to so many entrepreneurs making that same decision, which I realize now, only motivated me to follow suit. Of course it’s a major decision; it’s hard to leave something you’re so familiar / comfortable with, but opportunities to expand your career don’t present themselves every day. I’m thankful for my time at NORCAT; the experience truly shaped my career, and gave me opportunities I probably wouldn’t have elsewhere. Although, my new journey is still getting started, I’m still that eager university student at heart.

HAILEY-1
Hailey Short, Marketing and Communications Coordinator – Greater Sudbury Airport

Husband of a She-E-Oh

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First of all, I don’t exactly have the ability of writing wonderful blogs like my wife and her colleagues do on a regular basis, so please bear with me on this one. Second, this is my first ever blog post and I have to say, it’s not exactly an ideal way to spend my long weekend. But okay, seriously, I’ve never religiously followed blog postings by anyone other than my wife. I have read a couple of the other blog postings that were very nicely written by her co-workers at Plan A and StaffStat, and I must say I do enjoy some of the topics they discuss week to week. These women really know how to get their ideas across to the reader and I applaud that. Great work ladies.

Now getting back on topic… Now that I’ve humbled myself and promised to write a wonderful blog about being the husband of a she-e-oh, here’s my story.

There are times where I think that what makes someone so committed to their work or so committed to what they’re doing is that they’ve had to put certain things on hold. They might be on hold just for a moment or maybe for a while, just to make sure that they are on the right path or to make sure everything is how it’s supposed to be. It’s only one in a million… okay maybe that’s a tad exaggerated. One in a thousand… ok that’s too little… Once in a while you get a person who is so dedicated to their job because they actually love what they do.

Every morning and every afternoon I try and stay in tune with what Mel is going through at that moment. After being with her so long, I get these “hunches” and I can tell how she might be feeling. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the day starts with a “looking forward to the day” kind of feeling. We talk about regular stuff, give each other a hug and a kiss and be on our way. This usually takes place after the excruciating task of getting our teenage boys up and making sure they don’t miss the bus. Somedays this is an absolute nightmare, as we are also tired and don’t really feel like dealing with it at the moment. The other one percent are the days where she worries about things; things about the company and what the next steps are. This is where I become “Curtis the Criticizer”. I’ll purposely ask the tough questions to try and get her going. Good thing this woman loves me because if I were a stranger I think she would boot me out the door. But this usually becomes an understanding, a “mutual respect” type of thing, where she has very legitimate answers for my unnecessary questions. Her knowledge and ability to answer my unnecessary questions never ceases to impress me.

The afternoons or after-work periods are not necessarily times to relax or unwind. As most of you know, she also has this band thing happening and she does photography with her sister too, both of which she excels at. In saying that, I truly believe that whatever she puts her mind to, she pours everything she can into it to make it the best it can be.

This now brings me to the time we have together. It’s precious. It’s what I look forward to, week in and week out. As a shift worker my schedule doesn’t help the situation. It’s hard to get quality time together, but we find time, and the time we do have, just her and I, is wonderful. We have meaningful conversations, we prod into each other’s lives, and we want to know what’s been going on with one another. Still after all this time together, we’re getting to know each other and I’m good with that. Our lives have purpose and our lives mean something to one another. Our days always seems to end with a smile or a chuckle and that’s perfect to me.

I have composed a list of 5 tips for other husbands of busy wives and they go like this:

  1. Support her every move. I cannot stress this enough. It’s important to let her know you’ve got her back no matter what the situation is.
  2. If she loves what she is doing and spends a lot of her time doing it, you should love what she does too. This enhances what you’re doing in the tip #1, and it also keeps things positive and confirms for her that she is doing the right thing.
  3. Find time to have “dates”; date night, date day, date-whatevers. This is the necessary break you both need to unwind, take work off the table and have meaningful conversation. I personally always look forward to the next one.
  4. Do your part around the house – sometimes even take on extra. As a husband of a she-e-oh, I sometimes have to do more around the house because of her busy schedule. This doesn’t bother me, it is what it is. The last thing she has on her mind after a hectic day is to come home and do chores. As a shift worker I have days off during the week, so this is where I try and catch up on the extras.
  5. Enjoy life, period. Try not to let work rule the household conversation. When you walk in the door, close the books and pay attention to each other. Sometimes a humorous story will pop up in your head about something that happened at work and that’s fine, but keep it like that. Nobody wants to hear how “Bob” screwed up at work and made everyone angry. Who really cares about those things anyways? Keep conversation about work upbeat and funny and leave the negative stories in the dark.

Thank you for reading and enjoy the rest of your day. May your fellow employees treat you well and may your employment be meaningful. You have one life to live, so live it to its fullest! This world is beautiful and there are people in it that make it wonderful, and the main one for me is the one I married.

 

One Year Work-iversary


AHHH, time flies. Last week LinkedIn notified me with a congratulatory message that it was my one-year work anniversary with StaffStat. I thought “wow, it has been a year!?” This past year has flown by and I thought it was appropriate to reflect on the happenings of this past year.

A little over a year ago, I was asked to transition from our sister company, Plan A Long Term CAre Staffing & Recruitment, to StaffStat. The position I was asked to fill was in sales; I had no sales experience at all but one thing I knew for certain was the product. StaffStat was and still is the tool and the secret sauce at Plan A; the advantage that keeps this health care staffing agency ahead of the curve. Coming from my experience with Plan A, I knew and understood the pain-point and inefficiencies of calling down lists of staff when there is a shift to fill. I knew that other organizations HAD to lay their eyes on this product and that they would easily recognize the value and want the same ‘lean’ efficiency. Our main focus is delivering our solution to the health care industry and our sales efforts have been concentrated on long-term care homes, community service sector organizations and hospitals.   

Over the last year I have learned that sales is one of the most difficult tasks I have ever done. It takes a great deal of persistence and patience; which of the two, I really had to learn patience. I have a patient nature but have had to succumb to the realization that I am not my prospects’ or my customers’ number one priority—a tough pill to swallow as my daily work routine is 110% focussed on attracting new customers to our product. I have learned to celebrate even the most minute ‘win’, such that a ‘no’ from a customer may not be a solid ‘no’, instead it may be a ‘not now’, which really is permission to continue practicing patience and persistence.

What have I experienced? I have experienced yet another leap outside of my comfort zone.

I have experienced further growth with the BEST team I have ever worked with. I have experienced mentorship from professionals qualified and knowledgeable in the industry, yet my greatest learning experiences have come directly from my customers and prospects. Through them I have further enhanced my knowledge of their day to day, and the industry they work within. Some have become my “go-to” when I have a question.

What are my plans for the years to come? I plan to keep pushing even when obstacles, objections and rejections may weigh heavy. I plan to maintain my focus and keep my eye on the lofty goals our team diligently sets. I plan to continue to grow my customer base and contribute to the ongoing success of a start-up from the North. The progress we have made to date is quite impressive and I am eager to see what the next year brings for our team!

Cheers!