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I’ll miss this blog. But there are so many great things coming!

Remember I told you I was pivoting in my consulting business? Well, it’s progressing and one thing that’s clear is that I need a new site: One that really reflects who I am and what I do.

But don’t worry, I won’t stop blogging. God no!

I love blogging. It sustains me. But it’s become painfully obvious that WordPress wasn’t made for me. It was made for someone with steel nerves and too much attention to detail.

So I’m ready to try Squarespace. After hours of comparisons, how-to guides, and discussions, I’ve decided to dive in… but it’s gonna have to wait because – I’M GOING TO THE BEACH TOMORROW.

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So I’ll keep this post short, just letting you know that August won’t see much more blogging, especially since I want to really work on my new site, so… how about we do this instead:

If you like my writing – yes, you – I’ll promise to send you a weekly newsletter starting from the week of August 9 and hopefully keep doing it until… well, until it no longer brings me joy. In this newsletter you can expect only the COOLEST THINGS I have discovered during the previous week. Trust me, I keep everything, and some things are not to be missed.

Like this video or this wall of dreams or this tweet.😀

If you want to get my newsletter, smartly called Violeta’s newsletter, you can fill this super-short survey. Do it.

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(Oops, sorry, wrong gif. Phoebe looks slightly deranged here.)

The other great thing that’s coming is another newsletter (that I co-author) targeted towards people who want to stay on top of digital marketing. It’s a bi-monthly deal, curated by me, Nichole Elizabeth DeMere, and Kiki Schirr, and it launches on Tuesday, August 4.

If you’re not aware of their work, look at Nikki’s twitter stream (where does she find all this stuff?!) and Kiki’s hilarious tech doodles. It’s an honor to be involved in a project with them. Now all we need is YOU.

So yeah, fill the survey and tweet ya next week! From the beach.

What? Did you really think I’d drop twitter?

yeah right

OK, bye! And before you go-

Thank you for being a part of my journey. It means a lot.🙂

P.S. Hands up if you’re disappointed I didn’t include any Ross, Monica or Chandler gifs. Yeah, me too. Maybe next time. (And let’s not think of the moment when they all leave their keys and exit the apartment, or I’ll start crying.)

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How to Pivot Like a Pro (Or Like Me Anyway)

We’ve all had to pivot once or twice in our lives and careers. But what’s that about? Why didn’t the original plan work? Why couldn’t you make it work? Well, some of it happens because you jumped in too quick, some because you got lost along the way, and some because people just didn’t buy it.

And trying to “make it work” when it is clearly not is always a mistake.

So here I am, at a crossroads again, or rather building my plane:

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Truth is, I have always wanted my own business. I have never aspired to work for anyone or with anyone for that matter. I just always wanted to be my own boss, and that’s that. You can probably relate.

And since I started my consultancy practice (a few months go), it has been clear that something’s not right. You just know it when you see it: You’re not saying the right things. People inquire but don’t stick around. Your clients think you do one thing while you are clearly better at other things.

Oy vey. It’s a big hot mess, and now I’m cleaning it!

Adaptability is so important that pivoting has become a must. So we either better make the best of it or give up.

And because I’m not a quitter, I devised a plan:

1. Admit it’s not working.

Denial is my favorite thing in the world. Really.

It’s so soft and comfortable, like a bosom to a baby. But once you’ve been at the bosom for a while and you’re not making any real progress, you have to acknowledge that something’s gone amiss.

In my experience if you don’t acknowledge it, something happens that forces you to acknowledge it. It’s one of those things you can’t ignore forever. And once you acknowledge it, you enter a whirlpool of emotions, decisions, and just everything that feels the opposite of comfortable.

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If you’re there with me, don’t worry, the struggle doesn’t last forever. But it is vital to stick with a direction because pivoting is a ship, and a ship cannot get anywhere without a compass.

Examples of a good compass: A tool, a business framework, a competent friend’s advice. Your childhood diary.

Thus we arrive at my next point.

2. Seek the help of people and tools.

I used to say “everyone is a consultant these days” and laugh about it. Now I’m eating my words because I realize why consultants are vital in today’s business climate.

You know how content was king for a while, until it all became too much, and suddenly curation is queen? Well, same thing for consulting. For a while we’ve had access to so much info and frameworks and business tools that we eventually hit the information black hole: We’re not sure what to use, what works, what works for us, and what’s good long-term.

For example, I believed that Traction was the end-all be-all of startup marketing, and then I saw my mistake. John Bonini talks about it in this blog post. It’s just not a sustainable practice.

This is why even consultants need consultants nowadays.

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The tool that’s helping me pivot right now is Beth Grant’s Archetype Alignment Grid (not affiliated).

Again, it’s not the end-all be-all tool, and it certainly won’t appeal to everybody, but it’s what works for me right now, and I’m happy I accepted the help when it presented itself.🙂

So perhaps even more important than seeking help is accepting it.

3. Really work on your core message.

Look at your marketing. No really, look at it closely. Does it come off as a little bit scattered? Or does it seem perfectly in sync? If it’s the latter, congratulations; if it’s the former, welcome to my boat.

Talking to Beth (see above) made me realize I didn’t have that central theme in my consultancy, the one that everything revolves around. If I’m a galaxy, this message is my sun, and nothing works without the sun in the center.

Think of it as the Unique Value Proposition of your business.

More than that, it’s your personal Unique Value, your personal Unfair Advantage, not those of your business. I’m talking about what you love, what you’re best at, and what people will pay you for.

Your core message comes from your personal super powers; from your beliefs, your personality, your… fill in the blank.

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For example, I’ve been drifting along and trying all the best practices and new trends, but I didn’t really commit to anything. Expert advice became my lifeboat and I drifted away from my message. Without it, my marketing sounded scattered, and as a result I attracted scattered traffic and scattered clients. Needless to say, I’ve been struggling.

But now that I’m getting closer to my core message, I love it!

4. Ignore the voice of fear.

“OMG, what if I lose all of my current clients?”

“What if nobody connects to my new message?”

“What if an asteroid hits us and I die single?!”

What if… what if… what if…

This is a futile game your mind plays when you have no guarantees, but that’s why they said “no risk, no reward” in the first place.

I know why you’d be scared in this situation, I’m scared too. But if we let this stop us from reaching our full potential, then we are robbing ourselves of a stellar future! If you ask any successful person, they’ll probably tell you they did not listen to that annoying voice of doubt and fear. They’ll say they followed their heart/dream/liver, and now they’re reaping the rewards.

It’s a cliche, but it’s a cliche for a reason:

There are two wolves who are always fighting. One is darkness and despair. The other is light and hope. The question is… which wolf wins?

Answer: The one you feed.

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Why am I pivoting?

If you made it this far, I can tell you why I’m actually pivoting.

Maybe you’ve noticed that I subtly changed my twitter bio, which now says I’m an “organic marketer”. At the same time my last blog post was a curation of growth hacking resources. A bit of a discrepancy there.

Short story, I get a lot of client inquiries (I’ll write about that, too), but something’s not really clicking between me and those people. And I think it’s my lack of focus in my messaging and the fact that I’ve been answering the title “growth hacker” when I really shouldn’t have.

buttondoPicture Deedee squealing “ooh, what does this button do” and then pressing a ton of shiny buttons for no reason. That’s me for the past 7 months.

In the coming days/weeks, you’ll understand what I mean. I’d love it if you stuck around for my journey of self-(re)discovery.

Don’t worry, I won’t change everything. I’ll just sound more like myself.

Thank you for reading all this and WISH ME LUCK.

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P.S. Do you have a pivoting story? I’m collecting those.😀

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A Meta-Curation of the Best Growth Hacking Curations (Say Whaa?)

Ever since growth hacking started trending, people have been competing to create the ultimate curation of growth hacking resources. I don’t know about you, but all I’ve wanted to do is put all those curations in one place.

Well, I did, and I’m depositing them here.

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Truth is, I’ve always been obsessed with collecting collections. I know it sounds crazy, but in terms of exploring a subject thoroughly, a great collection can be better than a MOOC! And like my friend Ariel here, I’m a secret/now outed hoarder.

Notable example: My Planet of Useful Curations collection on Product Hunt.

I suggest picking one of the following mega-curations (the ones in the first half have more than just tools) to learn from and checking out the bonus mini-curations as well, as extra material at the end for some extra shots of knowledge.

And I sincerely hope you don’t get dizzy from this cluttered post.😛

Ready? Let’s start with the top 6…

The Guide for SaaS Startups

This *might* be my favorite one. The guide outlines a whole process – pre-launch and after launch, and every section explains everything you need to do, includes the right tools to use, and links to helpful resources. If you need a step-by-step kind of thing, this is your guide.

GrowthHackers.com

There’s a great collection of “growth studies” on the site, where popular companies get autopsied by growth hackers. Other than that, you have to search a lot and engage some, but I think it’s worth it. Just think of the knowledge you’ll gain after having followed some of the pro’s.

It can get overwhelming how something is trending today and the next day it’s something else, but if you’re serious about becoming a growth hacker, you should hang in there. Good luck!

TigerTiger’s Sourcebook

This sourcebook looks almost too intimidatingly cool.

I’ll let you decide whether you like the design or the contents better, because I have not finished reading all of it. But I admire these guys for putting so much effort into it (and making it into a guide).

Roy Povarchik’s Google Doc

It’s called The Ultimate List of Tools for Growth Hackers. Roy is a friend and a very intuitive growth person. (I never know what to call my colleagues seeing as many of us don’t take the title “growth hacker” seriously.) He started this public document so that everyone can add their stack. Including you!

The Marketing Stack

The Marketing Stack was on Product Hunt yesterday. It’s made by Ben Tossell, who is an excellent curator. It’s full of tools for every need (and I mean every need), and some articles thrown in. Worth a bookmark.

35 Tools for Non-Tech Founders

It sucks to be the one who can’t put two lines of code together, but when you have this curation of tools for people like me, you suddenly feel like you can do anything. Let’s face it: everything has got their own strengths, and we don’t really need marketers who can code, like we don’t need developers who can market. What we need is a symbiotic relationship.

And now a shameless plug.

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By Yours Truly

My own collection is a little bit messy right now, but it includes all the people, blogs, tools, and articles you should be checking out. And I update it compulsively, so if I see something really cool, I add and tweet it.

If you have any suggestions of resources to add, let me know.

Bonus Curations

(because there are plenty of things left to hack)

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Other Than Curations

Guides

Austen Allred’s Book

The full title of his book is “The Hacker’s Guide to User Acquisition“. So far it has three (very detailed and insightful) chapters about getting press, twitter, and instagram. I don’t know about you but I can’t wait for the rest! Austen is one of my favorite growth hackers (I mean, just look at what he did with Glasswire), even though he doesn’t like the term.

Quicksprout’s (Visual) Guide

Who doesn’t love Neil Patel’s guides?! Seriously.

This is one I’d recommend to complete newbies. It’s very detailed and visual, and it explains all the basics, from what growth hacking is and what the funnel looks like to specific growth tactics on every level. There are no outward links and not too much detail, so it’s mostly just a crash course.

The Developer’s Guide to App Marketing

I hunted this a while back because it’s the most useful and succinct guide for app marketing I have come across. It has simple hacks and links to resources, but it’s mostly for developers, as the title says.

Courses

One Month Growth Hacking

I haven’t taken this course, but I can imagine it’s as brilliant as every other course started by Mattan Griffel. He is the true master of optimizing the growth funnel, and if you take this quick course, you will be, too.

Ryan Holiday’s Growth Marketing Course

I have not taken this one myself, but I have read Ryan’s books, including the primer to growth hacker marketing, and even though I would mainly recommend it to beginners, I’m sure the course is worth the $39, especially seeing as it includes some bonus material. Check out his resources, too.

Blogs

Groove’s Blog

Among the obvious choices, Groove’s Blog is my favorite.

From “aha” to “oh shit”, we’re sharing everything on our journey to $500k in monthly revenue. We’re learning a lot and so will you.

What better way to learn than learning alongside someone who is also learning and documenting everything? Exactly.

Other Noteworthy Blogs

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Phew, was that a lot of material we covered or what? If you know of any curations that should be included here, tell me sooner rather than later, and I might include them in my Medium article. Thank you!😀

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How to Choose a Blogging Platform, Simplified

Are you starting to blog? Well, this moment will determine all future blogging moments, so don’t make any decisions lightly.

And the most important decision is: Where to blog.

I’ve heard people ask about the differences between platforms and how to decide, and so on. This post is my answer.

Blogger

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Blogger is somewhere in the past.

I blogged there regularly years ago, but in time, it was obvious that it became outdated. Whether it was the design or the templates or the (lack of) widgets, it just sort of faded/keeled over.

Some people remained, of course, but the only thing I have to say to those people is: Move with the times. If you’re trying to talk to modern people, find out where they’ve gone. (If you have a blogger following already and they’re sticking, ignore my advice and keep writing.)

P.S. Something interesting I’ve noticed is that some industries have become stuck in the vacuum between how things were done and how things are done today. It behooves me to say that publishing is one of them, afraid of innovating.

WordPress

WordPress is the all-time favorite, and there’s always a reason why something is the popular choice. Even if you don’t want to be “cliche” and dislike “herd mentality”, you have to leave that kind of thinking behind if you want to build any sort of brand/business online.

Ideally, you’d own and customize your own WordPress site and opt for the self-hosted version, a.k.a. WordPress.org. I, however, am not very technically inept, which is why I’m on the hosted version, WordPress.com. One day I might regret this, but right now it works.

P.S. I have heard horror stories about WordPress taking down your blog. Are those urban legends or has it happened to someone you know?

Medium

First of all, Medium is not just a publishing platform, it’s more network-y, which means that you don’t start with zero followers, which is a relief. But even then being heard on Medium is hard because so many others are trying to do the same. (Here’s a great guide by Ali Mese that could help.)

Second, if you’re considering to “have a blog” on Medium, you need to set your priorities straight. For example: do you want to build a brand or just reach more people? Because brands do not grow on Medium. Brands grow on a blog which bears their name. And if you’re thinking that you’re going to create a collection on Medium and slap a domain on it, you can do that, but that’s not necessarily the best option for your brand.

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Imagine going to a brand’s blog. You see that the blog and site are consistent – they look and feel the same, the navigation between the two is seamless, and you feel like you’re somewhere worth staying. It’s like the brand’s signature is plastered all over.

Now imagine you go to a blog and you realize it’s on Medium. It’s very obvious. Then you look through the stories, and they’re great, but it doesn’t really give you the feeling of being anywhere other than Medium. Even if the domain doesn’t have “medium.com” in it, it’s still Medium.

Another question to ask: Do you want any space for announcements? If you choose Medium, you won’t have that space because readers on Medium just ignore self-promotional content. Not to say you couldn’t spin it into a great article and add your update in the post-script, but is it really worth the effort and does it have the same effect? Barely.

Finally, consider if the audience on Medium will appreciate your content. Even though it’s quite varied, there are certain topics that perform better than others – like anything tech-related and life stories.

What I do is blog on WordPress and publish on Medium when I think the audience there would appreciate a particular article. Or I cross-post. (If you’re afraid of cross-posting, just link the cross-post to the original post and remember, the best SEO is quality writing.)

P.S. I apply the same principle with startups, so the above comment is not just true for personal brands, it also works for professional ones. 

Tumblr

Let’s be honest. Tumblr is for funny gif’s and teenagers.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have your personal blog there – just see Ryan Hoover’s blog. He grew up in popularity there, but that’s mostly because he networked. As a result, he drew the people he talked with to his blog, which is a win for his personality, not the platform.

If you have a winning personality, people will follow you wherever.

(tweet it)

Disclaimer: That’s where brands can’t really go because brands don’t have a personality like a person does. They have qualities and particular behaviors and logos, but they don’t have a face and they’re consisted of many people, and worst of all, there is a stigma about brands.

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Did you read this article on The Next Web? It upset me a little because I always believe you can do great things with a brand – just look at buffer. Still, whatever you do, it will always remain a brand, and the stigma or bias or whatever’s in the way of breakthrough will always stick to it like gum on a shoe.

The best thing you can do to boost your brand is to infuse it with your personality, especially if you’re the sole founder.

New Platforms

There have been new platforms out there, the most notable being Ghost. I don’t really have an opinion about those because they are so new, but I’m guessing if you choose to go with that one, you’d have to really care about a “modern feel” and know that not everybody will be comfortable with the transition. Also, new things break and introduce awkward updates (like Medium sometimes does), and so you’d have to be really flexible.

In the end, I chose WordPress because it’s familiar and the new templates are modern-looking enough.🙂

Conclusion.

I babbled a bit in this article, so here are the main takeaways:

  • match the platform to your personality (gotta be comfortable)
  • set your priorities straight before you choose – do you want to invest in brand awareness or reach?
  • always consider the audience (if you’re active on LinkedIn and professionals are your target audience, you can try Pulse, but only if you care about reach more than having your own hub)
  • see what other people do or just ask them.

P.S. And don’t be scared to start completely fresh instead of trying to migrate your previous content to a new platform. Sometimes starting fresh has major advantages like focusing on new topics and building yourself a new brand.

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Hope this was helpful! Hit the like button if it was and please add your own insights in the comments.

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Ideally, on Product Hunt

A lot of startups “launch” on Product Hunt these days, but what they don’t do is their homework. I mean, yeah, maybe you’ll be lucky and people will love your idea, regardless of your blunders, but…

…there are some best practices you should consider.

Before the Launch

osprey-67786_640First of all, you need a hunter. And if you think you’ll just pick someone at random, find their email, and send them an annoyingly long cold email, you’ve got the wrong crowd. Actually, no crowd tolerates that.

Ideally, you would search for similar products to yours on Product Hunt and see who hunted them. If you go to their profile and they’ve hunted a lot of products with many upvotes (like Chris Messina or Ria Blagburn), then you’re in luck. All you have to do now is reach out. But first read this article by Bram Kanstein on how not to pitch your product.

Ideally, you’ll ask nicely and be brief. Every hunter has their own preference, but I’d say that tweeting or DM’ing someone would be sufficient. Only disclaimer: be human and respectful. 

P.S. I’ve seen a lot of people ask to be “invited”, but invitations are only given so you can comment on PH, and yes, you can hunt, but it won’t go to homepage. So better find one of those hunters who have special posting rights.

Get Ready

Do you have all the details in the hands of your hunter? (Those are: name, link, a funny/memorable tagline, and the twitter handles of the makers.)

Do you have some kind of thoughtful greeting to Product Hunters on your product page? (Not a must-have, but nice.)

Does the top of your page look good enough to be attached to a tweet?

Have you warned your team not to ask for upvotes?

If you answered yes to all, you’re ready.

On the Day

Do not ask for upvotes. Anywhere.

Introduce your product. Don’t advertise. Ask the community for feedback.

Answer everyone’s comments. This is vital.

Monitor social media and press mentions. Use TweetDeck & Google Alerts.

Just be engaging and human. And have fun.😀

Something Went Wrong?

So your product is in the cemetery. Sorry, I mean the “upcoming” tab. Nobody’s really coming to your site, and when you are ready to launch, you can’t hunt the same thing twice. What do you do?

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Ideally, you talk to your hunter, ask nicely if they can nudge a moderator, because mods have super powers: like pushing something to homepage.

Approaching a mod directly is not ideal because they get too many requests on a daily basis. But they’re really nice, and if you can make friends with one, you’ll be happy you did. Because, let’s face it, they are the product gate-keepers.

Follow Up

If anyone influential liked your product, wouldn’t you want to know? Then use Product Friends to find out. (Is that an investor?!)

Ideally, you would have followed up with everyone who mentioned your product on the day of being featured, so tweets, shares, press, etc., all need some kind of acknowledgement and gratitude.

And make sure to thank the hunter who put you on Product Hunt. It’s a little thing, but it makes all the difference.🙂

P.S. Kiki Schirr’s Product Hunt Manual could also help direct your efforts.

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Anything else? What are your Product Hunt best practices?