How to Maximize Your Quality Time

I was in a client meeting the other day and was asked to talk about myself. So I gave him the usual spiel.

My wife and I blended our families about 4 years ago. Her contributions to the mix were two daughters and a dog that likes to bark incessantly any time someone knocks on the front door. I also brought two daughters to the party, but mine are twins. As of this writing, their ages are 16, 13, 12 and 12.

And they are busy.

Theatre. Band. Orchestra x2. Soccer x3. Not to mention another set of parents and families to schedule around, plus social calendars that would put a New York socialite to shame. Add to this complicated juggling act two full-time jobs and you can imagine our level of exhaustion at the end of an average day. I’m sure many of you can relate.

When I told my client this, he asked how I manage to do all this and still have time to freelance. I told him, my wife and I do things a certain way to ensure that not only do I have time to work, but we also have quality time as both a couple and as a family. Since that meeting, I’ve thought about this and realized that there are really seven things my wife and I have done to maximize our quality time.

Do you think this guy wasted a bunch of time watching television?

Cut the Cord

It might sound sacrilegious but we didn’t watch the Super Bowl this year. Also not watched were the Olympics, the World Series and every single episode of Game of Thrones and This Is Us. Other than Netflix, we don’t have a TV service provider, nor do we want one. This frees up an enormous amount of time that would normally be sucked away by reruns of The Big Bang Theory.

Have Family Dinners

Every chance we get, we sit down to dinner as a family. We’ve banned smartphones, tablets, TV and music while we eat so we can concentrate on conversation, updates and lots of laughter. And there’s bonus points when the kids help cook.

Point Out the Beautiful and the Amazing in the World

From richly-hued sunrises and shooting stars to joyful children and flowers encased in ice, we make it a point to share the beautiful and amazing things we see in this world with our daughters. You know you’ve made an impact when they start pointing these things out to you.

Limit Social Media Exposure

Believe it or not but I don’t have Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat or Instagram, although I do have Facebook and LinkedIn. My daughters each have the ‘Gram and Music.ly but we monitor them and limit their exposure if they’re getting too consumed by it. Being tied to every social media app in the digital ether keeps your attention glued to that little screen in your hand and ignorant to what’s going on around you. So limit your time, be present in the real world and teach your kids the same thing.

Live a Day Without Electronics

A couple of times a month, we ditch our electronics for the day and live like its 1985. We go on hikes, go to a museum or play a board game. Heck, if you really want to be daring and adventurous, find the closest lake, pond or river and go fishing. You’ll enjoy it even if you don’t get a single bite.

Make Your Errands an Adventure

Every other weekend, we go grocery shopping. And my daughters love going with me despite the fact that we go to three different stores. The secret? We make it fun by challenging them to find the items on the shopping list. This gives them the confidence of problem solving plus exploring the store. And of course we sample every food we can lay our hands on.

Turn Extra-Curricular into Extra Time

When one of our daughters has an extra-curricular event, whether it’s a soccer game, theatre performance or orchestra/band concert, everyone goes. No exceptions unless there’s a scheduling conflict. Not only does it show unified family support for each other but gives you extra time to spend with your kids.

We’re not the most perfect family. Not by a long shot. But we try to make every moment have the potential for something better. To quote the great fictional philosopher Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

What is SEO?

What is SEO?

How was the universe formed?

Where exactly is Timbuktu?

I only have time to answer one of these questions today so I’ll choose the one that is the most relevant to this blog and you, my target audience.

Quit looking. I found it.

The city of Timbuktu is on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert. Established in the 12th century as a seasonal settlement, it is located in the landlocked Republic of Mali in Western Africa.

And that went much quicker than I anticipated, so let’s talk about SEO.

SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of making your online content more enticing to the great and powerful search engines called Google and Bing and therefore moving up the search rankings and showing up sooner. This is critically important because people don’t typically like to click past page one of the search results. In fact, 95% of web traffic goes to the sites on the page one results and the number one result gets 33% of overall search traffic.

So how do you get your site higher in the rankings? Two options here. Option one… you can walk outside, turn around three times and spit in an easterly direction. Or you optimize your site your site for the spiders. Come to think of it, that first option might be to remove a baseball hitting slump hex so ignore it.

You see, search engines send bots called spiders out to scour the web for content. Spiders. The Web. Get it? That took some next-level marketing brain power to come up with that word association there.

When the spiders look at a website like this one, they’re looking for three main factors:

  • Relevant content – This is where those keywords factor in. Does your site cover topics related to your offered services and products or does it spend all its space discussing the city of Timbuktu?
  • Hyperlinks – Does your site share the love and add links to other relevant sites? Better still, do other sites link back? It’s kind of like a high school popularity contest.
  • New Content – Fresh and updated content is crucial to a website’s success in the world of the spiders. If they come by several times and everything is exactly the same each time, they’ll assume your site is dead and begin to drop it in the search rankings.

Now there’s something you need to keep in mind. Just because you say you want to go to Timbuktu doesn’t mean you get there instantly. You’ve got some planning and traveling to do. SEO campaigns are the same way. They take time. The spiders have to check out your content, compare it to other sites and then swing back by for a follow up visit. The whole process can take weeks or even months. So be patient and give it time. And update your site with relevant, updated content and hyperlinks.

On a side note… in a few weeks, this page might be the top ranked page when searching for an SEO expert in Timbuktu. I guess that means I need to start brushing up on my French. Au revoir!

Disclaimer: Just because I know this information about SEO and spiders doesn’t make me an expert. There are some really brilliant SEO folks out there like Malcom Chakery. But I like to read and I like to learn which makes me know just enough to be dangerous.

Copy vs Content

Do you know the difference between copy and content? If you don’t, it’s okay. You’re not alone. I asked a random guy on the street last week and he didn’t know either.

But don’t fret or worry. You can always look it up on Google. Or you can just keep reading, which is much easier.

In the world of advertising and marketing, there are two types of written message: copy and content.

Copy exists with a singular objective. It is created to convince or persuade you to commit some form of action. It can be as simple as asking you to follow this blog (Wink. Wink. Nudge. Nudge.). However, it’s usually written to get you to buy something like ice cream. Not that it takes a lot to convince us to buy ice cream.

Copy is typically seen in advertisements, marketing emails, direct mail outs and landing pages.

Hey. I like ice cream. Why didn’t anyone offer me any ice cream?

Content, on the other hand, is written to inform, entertain or generate curiosity by sharing relevant or interesting information. For example, did you know that once removed from their natural habitat, poison dart frogs lose their toxicity due to change in diet? And now I bet you want to click on that link, don’t you? Well, that’s what good content does for you.

Content is most commonly found in blogs, articles, infographics and podcasts.

So how do you know which type of message would best suit you and your business? That all depends on what you want to achieve.

Why You Should Hire a Good Copywriter

A selfie with this guy would be worth more than a thousand words.

Can a good copywriter help you scale the Himalayas so you can take a selfie with a yeti?

Can a good copywriter help you wrestle a grizzly bear for the right to catch salmon in the Yukon River with your teeth?

Can a good copywriter help you play a game of Marco Polo with great white sharks off the coast of South Africa?

The answer to all of the above is probably no. Unless, of course, your copywriter is part Indiana Jones and part Lara Croft.

But there are plenty of other reasons you should hire a copywriter.

They know when to use a comma, when not to and that most people don’t really care one way or another about the Oxford comma.

They know the difference between THERE, THEIR and THEY’RE. Although, admittedly, they still get tripped up occasionally by ITS and IT’S.

They know the difference between AFFECT and EFFECT.

They can improve your online visibility if you’re into that sort of thing.

But most important, they can help you communicate with your target audience clearly and effectively, generating leads, creating interest and providing trusted information.

In other words, they can help you succeed.