Themedy https://themedy.com The Cure for the Common Theme Wed, 27 Sep 2017 23:27:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.2 Your 2017 Guide to Better Blogging through WordPress Plugins https://themedy.com/2017-guide-better-blogging-wordpress-plugins/ Sun, 01 Jan 2017 08:31:50 +0000 https://themedy.com/?p=8215 It doesn’t matter who you are. The self-employed freelancer. The small business owner. The entrepreneur. If you want to build a website for your business, it’s never been easier to do it on your own than it is today. And that’s, in part, thanks to WordPress. The open source platform is easy to use and […]

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It doesn’t matter who you are. The self-employed freelancer. The small business owner. The entrepreneur. If you want to build a website for your business, it’s never been easier to do it on your own than it is today. And that’s, in part, thanks to WordPress.

The open source platform is easy to use and comes chock-full of tools that empower novice to expert WordPress users to build a high-performing website. One of those such tools is the WordPress theme. The other critical piece is the plugin. With these tools on your side, it’s no longer necessary to know how to code or design if you want to create a website.

If you’ve been in business long enough, you know that it’s not enough anymore to just have a website. Logically, it makes sense. Your website is the digital face of your company. But no matter how pretty that face is to look at, people won’t find any value in it if there is no voice. This is why you can’t just play the role of business owner and web developer these days. You also need to be a blogger.

Here are just some of the reasons you should seriously consider writing blog content for your website:

  • It’s a relatively cheap way to market your business.
  • It’s an excellent way to increase your website’s search rankings (since search engines love to see websites constantly in growth mode).
  • It’s effective in generating more leads—estimates put that number at around 67% more leads than if you weren’t to blog.
  • It’s an easy way to demonstrate expertise and knowledge in your line of work and, in so doing, build trust with your audience.
  • It gives your audience more reason to engage with you.
  • It creates a new way for you to expand your reach and get the word out about your brand (if your content is rave- and share-worthy).

Luckily for us, there are a plethora of WordPress plugins to take the work out of enhancing your blog so you can focus on creating relevant and useful content for your audience.

11 WordPress Plugins for Better Blogging

One of the mistakes I commonly see first-time WordPress users make is spending too much time shopping around for the “perfect” WordPress theme: the one that looks cool, that jives with your business’s message, and that works well on any device. Those are all important factors to consider, of course, but it’s equally as important to consider plugin compatibility. After all, plugins allow you to extend the power of your website.

Now, when it comes to blogging plugins, you’re in luck. WordPress developers have created more than enough plugins to help users cover most of their blogging needs. While they can’t actually write content for you, they can do pretty much everything else. So while you’re focused on writing an interesting think-piece, you can let those plugins do the rest of the work for you.

Here are my picks for the best 11 WordPress plugins to help you become a better blogger. (As an added bonus, they all happen to work with Themedy’s Genesis themes and Thesis skins.)

Plugin #1: Advanced Excerpt

Have you ever looked through someone’s blog roll (including your own) and been frustrated by a confusing or incomplete post excerpt? While the snippet previews of a blog post may seem like an insignificant detail, they’re actually quite important to the user experience. After all, it’s that introduction to the post that helps people determine whether they want to read it or not. This plugin will help you finesse those excerpts.

More Information

Plugin #2: Category Order and Taxonomy Terms Order

As a best practice, it’s generally recommended that blogs contain no more than 10 to 15 categories into which they divide their content. Why? Because these categories should be reflective of the higher level topics (and topic types) you cover. That being said, it’s not a bad idea to create a taxonomy for your categories if those topics are related. If you need more control over the hierarchy of your terms, you can do that with this plugin.

 

More Information

Plugin #3: Custom Post Types

For some WordPress users, blog posts are not the only type of content they create. White papers, glossaries, FAQs, product promotions, and other types of special “content” need a home on your website, too. Rather than build out separate pages for each one, you can create all of them as “Posts”, and then use this plugin to better categorize them based on post type. This plugin is also helpful if you want to create separate RSS feeds for the different types of topics on your site.

More Information

Plugin #4: Genesis Simple Edits

If you’re currently using a Genesis theme (or one of our child themes), consider downloading this plugin. Typically, blog posts come with whatever sort of data the theme automatically wants to associate with it (like the author’s username, date of publication, comments, incomplete search metadata, and so on). This plugin will help you make custom changes to those fields.

More Information

Plugin #5: Icegram

One of the super-hot marketing strategies right now is what’s known as “exit-intent technology”. If you’ve ever received a pop-up right before hitting the back arrow or before exiting a website, that’s what this technology does. It reacts to your mouse’s movement, predicting your departure, and makes one last-ditch effort. This particular plugin is useful in that respect since it gives you the opportunity to get visitors to sign up for blog reminders before they leave.

More Information

Plugin #6: ImageInject

Did you know that blog posts with images tend to get more views than those without? According to one study, the difference is, on average, 94% more views. The only problem with this is the fact that you not only have to spend time writing, uploading, and optimizing your content, but now you have to find an image, too. This plugin helps you find Creative Commons photos (those that are free to license) right within WordPress.

 

More Information

Plugin #7: Latest Tweets

Your blog should have a symbiotic relationship with your social media. You create content that’s share-worthy on social media, and then you generate enough interest in your brand on social that drives people back to your blog. For extra social exposure built into your blog, consider adding your Twitter feed into the sidebar. If you’re active enough on there, it’ll keep people interested in what you have to say both on and off your website.

More Information

Plugin #8: Related Posts for WP

The whole point in creating content is to engage with your visitors—not only to get them to trust you more, but to also give them information that’s valuable and helpful. Once you’ve done that though, don’t let them lose interest and move on to someone else’s blog. Use this plugin to give them helpful suggestions for related topics on your own blog.

More Information

Plugin #9: TW Recent Posts Widget

If you’re going to make use of a sidebar on your blog, social media icons and your Twitter feed are only two of the pieces you should be including there. Use this plugin to insert a widget displaying some of your most recent posts (which ones you want to show and how many is up to you).

More Information

Plugin #10: Ultimate Category Excluder

There may come a time when you don’t want to display a certain type of post from your blog (or other blog post-displaying widget). Perhaps the content is restricted only to logged-in users or maybe it’s bonus content you only want to share with those you’ve given the link to. Regardless of the reason, you need a better way of creating special blog post content and keeping it hidden from the general public. You can do that with this plugin.

More Information

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there is a lot more to blogging than just coming up with a killer topic to wow your audience. Thankfully, there are more than enough plugins to take most of the work out of that process.

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WordPress Black Friday Deals 2016 https://themedy.com/wordpress-black-friday-deals-2016/ https://themedy.com/wordpress-black-friday-deals-2016/#comments Fri, 11 Nov 2016 17:22:02 +0000 https://themedy.com/?p=7849 We’re hunting down as many Black Friday 2016 WordPress & other digital deals as we can for you guys. See a missing deal please let us and everyone else know about it in the comments below! This post will be updated as we find new deals, make sure to check back again later! WordPress Plugins […]

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WordPress Black Friday 2015 SalesWe’re hunting down as many Black Friday 2016 WordPress & other digital deals as we can for you guys. See a missing deal please let us and everyone else know about it in the comments below!

This post will be updated as we find new deals, make sure to check back again later!

WordPress Plugins

Ultimate Beaver

Description: Addons for the WordPress Beaver Builder plugin.
Discount: 30%
Valid: 25th November 2016 EST 12:01 AM to 28th November 2016 EST 11:59 PM
Coupon Code: None Needed
Link: Ultimate Beaver

Event Espresso

Description: Event Registration & Ticketing Management Plugin for WordPress
Discount: Up to 50% Off
Valid: Until November 28, 2016
Coupon Code: None Needed
Link: Event Espresso

Post Promoter Pro

Description: WordPress social media post promoter plugin.
Discount: 25%
Valid: November 25th – November 28th, 2016
Coupon Code: BFCM2016
Link: Post Promoter Pro

Admin Columns Pro

Description: Customize admin columns in WordPress and edit them inline!
Discount: 30%
Valid: November 24th – November 28th, 2016
Coupon Code: None Needed
Link: Admin Columns Pro

Easy Digital Downloads

Description: Creators of the Easy Digital Downloads plugin.
Discount: 30%
Valid: November 25th – November 28th, 2016
Coupon Code: BFCM2016
Link: Easy Digital Downloads

Never5 Plugins

Description: Creators of the Download Monitor, Related Posts for WordPress and Post Connector plugins.
Discount: 30%
Valid: November 27th – November 30th, 2016

Coupon Code: {not yet available}
Link: Download Monitor

Coupon Code: Click the link below
Link: Related Posts for WordPress

Coupon Code: {not yet available}
Link: Post Connector plugins

Deliciousbrains Plugins

Description: Creators of the WP Migrate DB Pro and WP Offload S3 plugins for WordPress.
Discount: 20%
Valid: November 25th – November 28h, 2016
Coupon Code: No coupon needed
Link: Deliciousbrains

Soliloquy Slider

Description: Soliloquy is a responsive WordPress slider plugin.
Discount: 35% (available for new customers)
Valid: November 22th – November 30th, 2016
Coupon Code: BF2016
Link: Soliloquy

OptinMonster

Description: OptinMonster is a popup/lead capture form service.
Discount: 35% (available for new customers)
Valid: November 22th – November 30th, 2016
Coupon Code: BF2016
Link: OptinMonster

Envira Gallery

Description: Envira Gallery is a WordPress Gallery plugin.
Discount: 35% (available for new customers)
Valid: November 22th – November 30th, 2016
Coupon Code: BF2016
Link: Envira Gallery

WPForms

Description: WPForms is a WordPress Form Builder plugin.
Discount: 35% (available for new customers)
Valid: November 22th – November 30th, 2016
Coupon Code: BF2016
Link: WPForms

ThirstyAffiliates

Description: ThirstyAffiliates is a WordPress affiliate link management plugin.
Discount: 30%
Valid: Until December 4th
Coupon Code: None Needed
Link: ThirstyAffiliates

Beaver Builder

Description: Beaver Builder is a drag and drop WordPress Page Builder plugin.
Discount: 25%
Valid: November 25th – November 28th 2016
Coupon Code: None Needed
Link: Beaver Builder

Hosting

Web Hosting

WP Engine

Description: WP Engine is a premium hosting provider specializing in WordPress managed hosting.
Discount: 30% off the first payment on shared plans
Valid: November 24th – November 28th, 2016
Link: WP Engine
Coupon Codes: cyberwknd

HeyFlywheel

Description: Get 25% off new annual plans during HeyFlywheel’s Black Flyday sale.
Discount: 25% off annual plans
Valid: November 27th – November 30th, 2016
Link: HeyFlywheel
Coupon Codes: None needed.

CloudWays

Description: 25% OFF for 3 Months
Discount: 25% OFF for 3 Months
Valid: Until November 30th, 2016
Link: CloudWays
Coupon Codes: HOLIDAY25

Other

AppSumo

Description:
Discount:
Valid: November 30th
Link: AppSumo

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Finding Free to Use Stock Photos https://themedy.com/finding-free-to-use-stock-photos/ https://themedy.com/finding-free-to-use-stock-photos/#comments Fri, 06 Mar 2015 13:32:22 +0000 https://themedy.com/?p=7306 After writing an awesome blog post you realize that there is just one element missing – an image. We all know the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.” So, you go searching the web for that perfect image to complement your article. While searching on Google, you see one that looks just right. […]

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kid-carAfter writing an awesome blog post you realize that there is just one element missing – an image. We all know the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.” So, you go searching the web for that perfect image to complement your article.

While searching on Google, you see one that looks just right. Without a second thought, you simply right click and hit save as. You breathe a sigh of relief, thankful that your hunt for the perfect image has come to an end. What you didn’t consider is that one click, could land you in loads of trouble.

That image might be protected by a copyright. It’s important for all those who operate in the virtual space to have an understanding of the laws that govern the use of images. Because what you don’t know can hurt you, or in this case, “cost you.”

While, I don’t want to bore you too much with the legalities of a “copyright.” You should have a basic understanding of what it is.

According to Article I, Section 8, clause 8, of the United States Constitution, the purpose of copyright laws is to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” In essence it protects original works of an author, whether that’s written, musical, art, photography, etc. It prevents someone else from using that author’s work without permission.

What about Fair Use? Well, while this does give some wiggle room there are some specific criteria that need to be met. The Fair Use clause allows for a reasonable and limited usage as long as it doesn’t infringe on the owners’ rights or ability to work.

In order to be considered Fair Use, the item under question must be used for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research; or the image or work must be transformed in such a way that it creates a new work. Now for the most part when we add images to blog posts, it’s not for any of those purposes. It’s generally to enhance the aesthetics of the blog. If that were the case, using an image protected by copyright on your blog would not meet the Fair Use standards.

To protect yourself, you should assume that images found on the web are copyright and shouldn’t make free use of them without permission.

You might be panicking and hyperventilating now. Chances are that you’re not going to go out and take original photos to use in your blog posts. I have two words – calm down. All is not lost. There are many sites that you can get stock photos from and some are even free. Yes, that’s right, I said FREE. In addition, there are creative common license and public domain sites.

A great place to see a visual representation of when you can or cannot use a photo is by checking out the infographic in this post “Can I Use that Picture? The Terms, Laws, and Ethics for Using Copyrighted Images”

Now the moment you have been waiting for. Below are some sites that you can grab photos from for free, without looking over your shoulder for the photo police.

If you have any other sites that are not on this list, please comment below!

No Attribution Required Photos

(you DON’T need to say where the image came from when you use it)

Attribution requirements may change in the future, please review the site to be sure.

Attribution Required

(you DO need to say where the image came from when you use it)

Attribution requirements may change in the future, please review the site to be sure.

Photo Search Engines

Since these services search various sources, attribution may or may not be required on some images – review the details on the photo.

Update: Need even more resources, check out this great blog post.

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Be Present https://themedy.com/be-present/ Mon, 02 Mar 2015 18:15:05 +0000 https://themedy.com/?p=6965 We know that the world of business can feel like a never ending script – simulated scenarios of what to do, how to do it and when. I mean here we are, adding to the already sagging resource- bag of “best practices” with another five “how-to’s” of our own! While these tools help guide and […]

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We know that the world of business can feel like a never ending script – simulated scenarios of what to do, how to do it and when. I mean here we are, adding to the already sagging resource- bag of “best practices” with another five “how-to’s” of our own!

While these tools help guide and even spurn additional ideas on what ultimately works for us and our style of business, let’s not forget that it’s equally important to be in the moment and be able to adapt and respond to the situation as it unfolds. Being present, guided by the situation at hand rather than an abstract memory of “The 5 Keys to … uhm… what-was-number-four-again?, is perhaps the best way to show your worth.

When you can prove that when thrown a curve ball, as life will dependably do, you won’t get hit squarely in the face as you look down to fiddle with your catch-all tool bag, you’ll show that you can rise above the occasional unscripted challenges and lead the way. It’s important to manage both schools of thought in your plan – the one that calls for tried and true solutions with a predictable outcome and the one that says new challenges call for new and creative solutions.

Clients want to know that they can count on your ability to draw up a different game plan, when the original didn’t quite work as expected.

While we want this to serve as a reminder that in any business relationship, there’ll be areas for improvement; we want to be clear that this isn’t an “anything goes” popularity contest marked by you flinging yourself at your client.

Always do what’s practical and sustainable for your business. Besides, when adding value to your client relationships, it starts with believing in that value yourself.

This ends our “Beyond the First Pitch: Keys to Building Lasting Value for Your Client” series, if you missed some posts make sure to go back and check them out. I hope you got some value from these posts, love it or hate it, let us know below!

See part 1 of this series here.

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Build Unbreakable Bonds https://themedy.com/build-unbreakable-bonds/ Mon, 02 Mar 2015 18:10:49 +0000 https://themedy.com/?p=6954 These are the kinds of bonds that can’t be bought, or luckily, sold. You’ll need to put some time into cultivating a special relationship with your clients. Do this for all of your clients – not just the largest account or so-called “problem client” or the high-profile one on the list. You’ll find that when […]

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These are the kinds of bonds that can’t be bought, or luckily, sold. You’ll need to put some time into cultivating a special relationship with your clients. Do this for all of your clients – not just the largest account or so-called “problem client” or the high-profile one on the list. You’ll find that when you set this precedent, it will make your actions more consistent and therefore more genuine.

Who wouldn’t appreciate a high-level of service regardless of the value of his or her account? Break out that trusty chisel yet again and carve out time for “client relations” in your process. This reduces the possibility of something this crucial being left to chance or a whim. Step outside the realm of your project or business relationship and really find ways to humanize the experience. You should note as part of each client’s profile what’s acceptable and what’s not when you’re trying to push past the business mold.

For example, if I client has strong opinions about not wanting his or hers birthday celebrated…then don’t commission a singing telegram or other over the top gesture that will be viewed as obnoxious, not endearing. Any gesture that you work into the relationship-building plan must respect the boundaries of your unique relationship. So tread cautiously!

Have you gone above and beyond for a client or has someone done something special for you, share your stories in the comments below!

See part 1 of this series here. Or checkout part 5 here.

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Managing Client Expectations https://themedy.com/managing-client-expectations/ https://themedy.com/managing-client-expectations/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 18:06:33 +0000 https://themedy.com/?p=6950 The first step in managing clients is managing their expectations. In any relationship, especially in business, people want to be levelled with – told right up front what they’re getting…and when. Put this value at the center of your credence. By this we mean, chisel this into the rock of your business process. You want […]

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The first step in managing clients is managing their expectations. In any relationship, especially in business, people want to be levelled with – told right up front what they’re getting…and when. Put this value at the center of your credence. By this we mean, chisel this into the rock of your business process. You want to make this a multidimensional approach to understanding what the client expects. This should include your own offline fact-gathering about the client and his or her company or industry (this should be part of your client prospecting process anyway).

Take notes drawn from direct conversations with the client and other pivotal stakeholders in the process, where you should be asking very pointed questions that would help guide you through the project. Formulate expectations with dates that can actually be found on a calendar. This means, every reference to “ASAP” or “as soon as possible” must be replaced with a reference that can be circled on a calendar. Consistency here is key.

Not only must you deliver a formal plan of action with clear definitions of what will be delivered and when, you must also reiterate these plans along the way through targeted milestones, or “touch points” with scheduled meetings, phone calls or email updates where each party can monitor progress.

Have a story to tell about your own experience with managing client expectations (good or bad) let us know in the comments below!

See part 1 of this series here. Or checkout part 4 here.

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WP Rocket Review – Caching Plugin for WordPress https://themedy.com/wp-rocket-review/ https://themedy.com/wp-rocket-review/#comments Mon, 02 Feb 2015 19:08:22 +0000 https://themedy.com/?p=7235 A few months ago we switched our WordPress caching plugin to WP Rocket, and haven’t looked back since. What is a Caching Plugin? Simply put, these plugins use various techniques to attempt to speed up your sites load time and reduce the amount of resources needed on your server to run your site. One of […]

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Themedy customers can receive a 20% discount to WP Rocket in the support forums!

wprocketA few months ago we switched our WordPress caching plugin to WP Rocket, and haven’t looked back since.

What is a Caching Plugin?

Simply put, these plugins use various techniques to attempt to speed up your sites load time and reduce the amount of resources needed on your server to run your site.

One of the methods they use is something called “page caching”. Without page caching every time someone visits your WordPress site your page is loaded by reading and loading various files on your server (HTML, JavaScript, images etc) and making database calls (page content, widgets etc). Without page caching this process is repeated on every page, for every visitor, each time they load a page of your site.

If you have many visitors visiting various pages on your website at the same time, your hosting account may start to strain and eventually buckle. That’s because you have been allocated a certain amount of resources (power) to run your site. Trying to push out all this information at once could start to use all those resources. At that point your server will start to load the pages for new visitors slower, while it’s trying to catch up on all the people that loaded your page first.

So how does page caching work?

Page caching loads the pages of your site first and stores a copy of that page in a format that your server can load much faster and more efficiently. That copy is a “cached” version – and one of the main benefits of a cached page is your database calls will be reduced or eliminated all together. Since database calls can be taxing on your server, you will be able to handle many more simultaneous site visitors through the use of page caching alone.

Does everyone need a cache plugin?

Not necessarily, if you are on a low traffic site and with a relatively decent hosting provider your gains might not be that noticeable (however even then there can be some good gains in loading time). However, if your hosting is on the cheaper side or you receive a lot of daily traffic a caching plugin will bring you considerable gains in site load time.

Enter WP Rocket

There are a lot of various options for caching in the WordPress space, some free, free with paid addons & straight paid plugins. I’ve experimented with most of them over the years but currently I’m in love with WP Rocket.

Why? One word… simplicity. WP Rocket is extremely straight forward to get running with noticeable benefits from just hitting “activate” on your plugins screen. Many of the other plugins I’ve used have taken multiple steps to get up and running the way I’ve wanted them to.

Don’t be mistaken by it’s simple setup – if you want to take it further you can dig into the simple options page for even more speed inducing tweaks.

Some Great Features of WP Rocket:

  • One click activation of it’s most important features like page caching.
  • Built in automatic support for WooCommerce, Easy Digital Download, Jigoshop, iThemes Exchange & WP-Shop. (you don’t want cart pages cached for example – this is handled for you)
  • A great minification tool to minimize your CSS, HTML and JavaScript * (a note on this below) files so they load faster.
  • Lazy loading images options which displays images on a page only when they are visible to the user.
  • Cache Preloading: Normally a page is first cached when someone loads it for the first time. If you use their preloader option the plugin will attempt to cache every page of your site instantly for maximum benefit.
  • Auto-updates option: They just introduced a feature that allows their plugin to auto update when there is a new feature (optional). There is even an option to roll back to a previous version easily if you are having problems.
  • Many more advanced features for developers like: Prefetch DNS requests, never cache certain pages option, CSS / JS excludes from minification process etc.

Final Thoughts

While there are various top notch caching solutions for WordPress, some even free – WP Rocket is a robust solution that has one of the easiest setups I’ve used. If you are like me and attach a great value to simplicity and time saving then the cost of WP Rocket is well worth the investment.

Have you used WP Rocket before or another solution, let us know all about it in the comments below!

We’ve talked to the guys at WP Rocket to get you a special Themedy coupon code! Themedy customers can receive a 20% discount to WP Rocket by using the coupon code in our support forums!

* I’ve never had the JavaScript minification tool of any caching plugin work out of the box and WP Rocket is no exception. However, WP Rocket has consistently shown the least amount of problems with only a few tweaks usually needed. The average user should be careful about enabling this option (or skip it all together), as it tends to break the features of some other plugins.

We receive no financial compensation if you purchase WP Rocket, we recommend it only because we like it and think you will too.

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Technical Skills Can Only Take You so Far! https://themedy.com/technical-skills-can-only-take-you-so-far/ Mon, 02 Feb 2015 17:41:15 +0000 https://themedy.com/?p=6959 True, your technical clout did help develop that website… but you’ll need a lot more to deliver it. Clients are opting for a more holistic approach to doing business and are expecting the same of their business partners. Consultants don’t get to live in solitary confinement anymore – insulated from the other areas of the […]

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True, your technical clout did help develop that website… but you’ll need a lot more to deliver it.

Clients are opting for a more holistic approach to doing business and are expecting the same of their business partners. Consultants don’t get to live in solitary confinement anymore – insulated from the other areas of the client’s business. More and more, they are expected to jump right into the fray of the client’s normal business operations and fully engage within collaborative efforts between internal and even external teams.

Technical expertise does lay the groundwork, but you’ll have to build on other key skills to achieve success and become esteemed in the client’s eyes. Other values like leadership, strong communication and interpersonal skills, project management and even conflict resolution will prove valuable in steering any project successfully.

“Having a way with people” more so than, knowing your way around a particular software, could make all the difference in motivating a worn-out or disillusioned project team to the finish line. It adds instant depth to your expertise and your client will value you for it!

Agree or disagree, discuss below!

See part 1 of this series here. Or checkout part 3 here.

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Beyond the First Pitch: Keys to Building Lasting Value for Your Client https://themedy.com/beyond-the-first-pitch-keys-to-building-lasting-value-for-your-client/ Thu, 15 Jan 2015 01:48:10 +0000 https://themedy.com/?p=6956 Delivering value to your client really boils down to perspective. Not so much yours, as it does theirs. Understanding your client, his or hers business needs, industry, market environment, stakeholders, successes, losses, will create more opportunities for engagement beyond the initial “pitch and close”. If you can truly listen and respond to your client indiscriminately, […]

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Delivering value to your client really boils down to perspective. Not so much yours, as it does theirs. Understanding your client, his or hers business needs, industry, market environment, stakeholders, successes, losses, will create more opportunities for engagement beyond the initial “pitch and close”. If you can truly listen and respond to your client indiscriminately, it will almost guarantee your place on the Indispensable Wall of Fame. Over the next few articles I’m going to discuss a few tips to help get you there.

Value over Volume

Every how-to guide ever written on improving client relationships seems to agree on the same strategy: communicate…and communicate often! Besides, the opposite approach, driven by some false notion that “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”, does not play out quite the same way in client relationships. In fact, in the client’s mind, the old adage reads more like, “Absence makes the heart…go yonder”…as in far away from your business and on to the next one that can be more responsive to their needs.

While we can agree that your client interactions should be frequent, and go beyond reaching out for re-ups and renewals, or to sell the latest product, we encourage you to choose value over volume, always! If your communications to your client read more like a twitter feed than coordinated, conscientious, appropriately-timed messages, then you’re probably setting yourself up for impending doom. Not only will you run the risk of stretching your bandwidth to dangerously high levels, but you can push your client into tuning out both you and your messages, completely.

Find that line between asset and annoyance and make sure you’re on the right side of it!

Watch out for my next article where I’ll talk about a common mistake among service providers, over relying on your technical skills.

Updated
– Part 2 in this series: Technical Skills can only Take you so Far
– Part 3 in this series Managing Client Expectations
– Part 4 in this series Build Unbreakable Bonds
– Part 5 in this series Be Present

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Avoid Falling Into the “Email Abyss” https://themedy.com/avoid-falling-into-the-email-abyss/ https://themedy.com/avoid-falling-into-the-email-abyss/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 01:50:40 +0000 https://themedy.com/?p=6945 We know that part of good customer service is measured not only by whether you’ll respond to client emails, but how quickly you do. There is no denying our inundation, yet fascination with all the media and devices now at our disposal – to send, receive and monitor messages, anywhere and at anytime… raising the […]

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Macbook on tableWe know that part of good customer service is measured not only by whether you’ll respond to client emails, but how quickly you do. There is no denying our inundation, yet fascination with all the media and devices now at our disposal – to send, receive and monitor messages, anywhere and at anytime… raising the bar on what already feels like surreal expectations of us and our business.

There is good news though in this inevitable wasteland of email overkill. Here are a few things to remember in your effort to keep your inbox under control.

Develop hard and fast rules on when you will check and respond to emails. This will be chiseled right alongside that process about managing expectations. A reasonable rule would be three times a day: morning, middle of the work-day, and before you wrap things up for the day. If you were to punctuate your day with every single email that pops into your inbox, there just won’t be a lot of time to get anything else done.

Productivity involves settling into a rhythm and constantly interrupting that process by flitting back and forth between emails from different clients on different subject matters, well, that’s just a recipe for disaster with a heaping side of burnout! Let your clients know upfront (remember the first rule) about your communication policy, it will help both you and your client resist the temptation to brand every issue as urgent, when all it might need is a little bit of time and space.

Read, Assess, Respond, Repeat. In one fell swoop, try to handle all emails from start to finish and avoid opening and shelving away in your drafts to be sent later. You’ve now doubled the amount of time you’ve spent on this email by having to go back, reread and re-familiarize yourself with the issues at stake before responding.

As much as possible, try to complete the cycle once the email’s been opened – even if it means having to respond by asking for additional time or by saying you need more information.

Sharpen your deflection-detection skills. You’ve seen it I’m sure. The email that sneakily tries to throw something on your side of the fence that doesn’t even belong in the same neighborhood! Politely and professionally handle all “deflection deviants” – they are out to get your time and you cannot afford to let that happen!

Needless time spent tracking down something that has nothing to do with you in the first place, whether by a “ball that’s been dropped” or sent along to the wrong department or simply someone that wants to create the illusion that something’s been handled, is time that’s better served on projects that are actually yours to manage.

Become a pro at sniffing these deflections out and flinging them back from whence they came! When you start to feel the guilt that comes from saying no (and you will probably have to do this quite often) remember your client – your paying client who needs you, and expects you to make good on the promise you made.

Avoid anything that tries to disrupt that delicate balance between organization and chaos.

Keep it short and simple. The most successful minds of our time have accepted this profound truth: shorter emails take less time to write! Many thought leaders in the industry have gone on to suggest that emails should be kept to six sentences or less.

Your inbox is hardly the place for launching into lengthy tirades or adding more links to the already infinite email chain. Sure, emails become a great “time-stamp” when you need to document a sequence of events in an evolving situation. But sometimes it’s just easier to pick up the phone or arrange a face-to-face to squash convoluted or urgent matters in record time.

Do you have any tips for avoiding the “Email Abyss”, let us know in the comments below!

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