The one piece of advice that is common when coming from successful people is to read more. They dedicate their knowledge about their specific fields to reading.
“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”
– Frederick Douglas
If you want to learn about anything, read.
If you want to grow, read.
If you want to polish your skills, read.
If you want to sharpen your mind, read.
Reading isn’t limited to only books. With the internet comes a ton of reading material to choose from. You don’t even have to go out to get a newspaper or magazine; everything is online. Why not make the most of it. Reading – books, newspapers, magazines, poems, stories, blogs, articles – anything counts.
With so much to read, one question that I usually come across is how to find time to read. Now, this is one of the questions that you can answer the best because you know your schedule better than anyone else. Like everything else you do, you need to find time to read.
How to find time for reading
“If you are going to get anywhere in life you have to read a lot of books.”
– Roald Dahl
Look at your schedule, find the time that you spend watching TV, shows, YouTube videos, Netflix. Reserve half of that time for reading. Calculate the time it takes to commute (if you use public transport) and reserve it for reading. Find the days you have appointments that have a little waiting time, take a book along.
The point here is to read in the little time gaps you get. If you can’t find out a few hours space to dedicate to reading, sprinkle it in between your commitments.
Better yet, you have to make reading your priority, you need to find time for it. If you really want to do something, saying you don’t have time means you don’t really want to do it. Because when you really want to, you find the time.
Why should you base reading goals on your reading speed?
If you want to set a routine then being realistic about it is the best way to go. Just because Warren Buffett reads 500 pages a day, doesn’t mean you have to. Take inspiration from things and tweak it according to your situation, following others down to the T can actually ruin the whole thing for you.
Find out how many pages you can read on an average, or how many words per minute. Staples (the popular office supply chain) has a test you can take to find out how fast you read. They collected reading speed data as part of their advertising campaign for selling e-readers. The speed reading tool used for the campaign is available online to try.
Use the speed reading tool, take the test, and see how fast you can read.
The test also asks questions based on the passage you read to see if you actually comprehend what you read. Just reading fast means nothing if you can’t actually retain the information.
According to the data on how fast other demographics read against yours, which can be seen after you answer the question, the average adult reads 300 words per minute.
Here are the demographics shown on the Staples graph-
- Third-grade students – 150 words per minute
- Eight grade students – 250 words per minute
- Average college student – 450 words per minute
- Average “high-level executives” – 575 words per minute
- Average college professor – 675 words per minute
- Speed readers – 1,500 words per minute
- World speed reading champion – 4,700 words per minute
If you are not a regular reader, chances are you will fall between eight grade students and average college student, that is, 250 to 450. People who never read, easily fall under the eight grade students mark.
This isn’t to judge your reading speed as slow or anything. You just need to know this so that you can make a realistic timetable for your reading.
What kind of reading is best for you?
“Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life.”
– Mortimer J. Adler
There are four types of reading that are used by most of us.
1. Scanning – Scanning means looking for only specific information while reading, like using keywords.
Examples of this are: searching for a name in a phonebook, searching for your favorite soup on the menu.
2. Skimming – Skimming is the opposite of scanning, here you gather the main idea of the text, then you look for information or lines to back up the general idea of the text. This is used to read more in less time.
Examples of this are: reading other people’s reviews while buying products, reviewing your notes before an examination.
3. Intensive Reading – This is one of the most time-consuming reading techniques because it is used to retain information for the long term, so you read every word carefully.
Examples of this are: reading legal documents, reading business proposals, non-fiction works.
4. Extensive Reading – Extensive reading is the technique used when you read for pleasure. You choose your material, your pace, and the way you comprehend. This helps you read for fun while helping you improve your writing, better your vocabulary, and increase your comprehension power.
Examples of this are: Fiction, poetry, fun articles.
Now that you know the main kinds of reading we do depending on different material and different situations, you need to figure out what are you aiming for. If you are looking to read more, then you surely are aiming for intensive or extensive reading.
Intensive Reading works best for non-fiction because you want to actually use the information in real life, make lifestyle changes based on what you read, and apply your knowledge obtained from reading. For this, you need to remember what you read and grasp the concepts entirely.
To get the most out of a book, what you can do is make notes as you go. Use highlighters to highlight the paragraphs that you find important, use sticky notes to write your thoughts, scribble in the margins, use tons of page markers. Writing a review of the book, once you are done, also helps. When you come back to the book in the future, you will be able to recall information based on your takeaways from the book.
Extensive reading works best for fiction is because you aren’t reading to retain information. You are reading for entertainment, for fun, to just enjoy. This is one of the most popular hobbies and the reason why fiction sells.
Fiction has important lessons to teach too, but those are mostly life lessons hidden away in the story. Although this is done for fun, you actually improve your reading, writing, vocabulary, and comprehension skills, which is why you are always suggested to pick up reading as a hobby.
Why do you want to read more?
“In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.”
– Mortimer J. Adler
People thinking about reading more boils down to two things: reading faster, and reading lots. A combination of both is every book lover’s dream. When both are incorporated simultaneously, it can boost your reading routine to another level. Both of the things, when done alone on their own, have their benefits too.
Reading more can mean different things for different people:
- Having more time to read
- Reading faster/ Speed reading
- Reading more books
- Finishing all the books started but never finished
- And so on
Tips for reading more
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
– Dr. Seuss
I would suggest taking a speed reading class to pick up some things, but apart from that, here are some techniques you can use.
- Listen to audiobooks – People who have difficulty reading can start by listening to audiobooks. Listening to audiobooks means you do not have to take time out of your routine apart to do it, you can listen to it while doing other things. Many people have started realizing how beneficial it is.
You can listen to audiobooks while cleaning your home, doing laundry, cooking, commuting, taking a walk, going to the gym, etc. Even by incorporating it in your daily routine you actually get to listen to a lot more than having to take time out to read.
- Adopt a new way – If you really have no time to read, say you work two jobs and are thinking of starting your own business. You would obviously want to learn all you can. There’s where you have to think outside the box.
You can listen to reviews by people who have read a particular book you want to read and get the summary. Most of the time, people give their opinion with the review so it sort of takes away the privilege of forming your own opinion. So if that doesn’t bother you then go for it. Listen to 3-4 people whose opinions you value.
If you are really short on time, then use a service like Blinkist, which has summaries of almost all the popular non-fiction books and are adding more daily. I have a premium subscription of Blinkist and make it a point to read at least one summary each day. And this is apart from the reading I do on a daily basis. Blinkist basically helps me decide which books I want to read by reading a 15-minute summary of that book. The best part is that these summaries are available in text as well as audio format. This changes the way we consume books.
- Take up reading challenges – Reading challenges motivate everyone, if you would like accountability for your challenges, then join reading groups. Goodreads and Facebook have reading groups that support each other to reach their reading goals. There are various reading challenges that run on YouTube and Instagram that you can participate in. There are also yearly challenges you can participate in, keeping track of the books you read based on the genre, publication, author, and so on. You can find my yearly challenge on Goodreads here.
- Use a pen as a pointer – Remember how we were always told to read with our fingers pointing at the words when we were kids, it’s the same thing. This technique makes sure to keep your eyes directed at the sentence you are reading and also doesn’t let you lose your place in the paragraph.
- Buy an e-reader – An e-reader like Kindle means you don’t have to carry a bulky book any place you go. If you are not into the book you are reading, you can quickly change the book. There are tons of free books. You can get any book you want, no matter where you are. The books cost you less in terms of money as well as the time required to get a physical book. This gives you no other reason not to read. For the record, I use a Kindle Paperwhite.
- Make time to read – Saying I don’t have time just won’t do if you really want to incorporate reading into your routine. You have to give up some other hobby to fit reading in, or you just would have to find time to do both.
Reading more depends as much on your decision as it does on a mixture of all of these tips. If you decide that no matter what, you are going to find time for reading, then you have half the battle won already.
“Luckily, I always travel with a book, just in case I have to wait on line for Santa, or some such inconvenience.”
– David Levithan
Some classes you can take to learn how to speed read and comprehend what you are reading-
Tools to Find and Work With Influencers to Market Your Business
For any business to grow, marketing its products and services to the right audience is necessary. One marketing channel that many businesses seem to avoid due to ignorance is influencer marketing.
“Influencer marketing is the modern word of mouth & is eating the lunch of traditional digital media in many ways.”
In simple words, with influencer marketing, you will be using popular people with a large following on social media and blogosphere to promote your product. The outcome can be tremendously positive. Today I will help you explore how you can find influencers in your business niche and how to negotiate with them.
“Influence marketing is an art and science. The art is the crafting and creating of content that adds value to people’s lives, personally or for their business. The science is the tactics and tools of building tribes and followers on the big social networks”
The first step for using influencer marketing is finding the top influencers in your business niche. For this, you can use any of the following tools –
This is a freemium application in that you can use certain features for free but will have to pay to use its full set of features. Even with its free mode, Buzzsumo is extremely useful for marketers to identify and categorize influencers into various types, like bloggers, reviewers, trainers, beauty experts, and so on.
This will later allow you to use them appropriately for business promotion activities. In addition, Buzzzsumo is also a great tool to know what types of content is trending for a particular day or week.
If you wish to focus largely on twitter influencers, then Tweetdeck is the perfect tool for the job. While you can certainly use this tool to identify influencers that have a large number of followers, its true usefulness lies in the fact that you can also see how many Twitter lists these influencers are on.
This will allow you to accurately gauge the popularity and impact of the influencer enabling you to avoid those who have the least impact and hire influencers with the biggest reach.
This is another great tool that will help you judge the quality of an influencer. The tool will use various metrics like replies, follows, mentions, etc. of the influencer to see how impactful they are. Finally, Kred will provide a rating based on the criteria that will make it much easier for you to find top quality influencers. If you are just starting out with influencer marketing, then Kred is the tool for you.
If you do not wish to waste time on research and finding influencers, then you should try the influencer marketing software – Group High. They maintain a centralized data of some of the biggest influencers on the internet. Plus, the influencers are categorized based on different niches like sports, travel, beauty, tech, and so on. This will make influencer marketing an extremely simple process.
Working With Influencers
Once you have found the important influencers in your niche, you can start approaching and negotiating with them. For this, the following tips will be useful:
The first option is to ask the influencer to review your offering. You can allow them to use the product or service for a few days and ask them to post their honest reviews about it on their social media page. Customers always conduct in-depth research about a product they are interested in.
“95% of people trust recommendations from others over branded content, even if they don’t know them personally.”
As such, if they come across a review from an influencer they are following, then an extremely positive review may push them to choose your product. Now, it is also possible that the reviewer may not like your product. As such, you can ask them not to post a bad review but do not ask them to post a false review. It is unethical and will eventually turn against you.
If you don’t want influencers to review your product, you can negotiate with them to publish a sponsored post. Though a sponsored post might seem like a review, there is a big difference. In a review, the influencer is free to say negative things about your product. But, in a sponsored post, you will be paying them to publish a post about your brand.
“People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.”
This will ensure that there is nothing excessively negative published about your product or service. However, you have to understand that some bloggers will likely state in the post that it is a ‘sponsored post’ if they are a strict follower of the FTC guidelines. But, do not let it stop you because the exposure gained through a post by an influencer marketer is well worth the money spent.
Another way to use an influencer is through giveaways. This can be a great strategy since a giveaway allows the influencer to hold a contest for their followers with your product or service as the prize. As a result, they are very likely to agree to such arrangements.
Plus, they will also be neutral when talking about the giveaway and only mention its benefits. So, as far as you are concerned, a giveaway is the perfect tactic to get a positive mention of your product from an influencer to their numerous followers. This is essentially a win-win for both parties.
Make sure to work with the influencer to come up with a great contest for the giveaway. It should be exciting for all participants. And remember, the objective of the giveaway is to ensure that many people participate in it. So, don’t complicate the contest. Keep it simple and you are guaranteed to see a fantastic response and exposure.
Many influencers will be contributors to big media outlets that will have a reach to millions of readers. And this is an opportunity you must fully explore. In addition to posting favorable posts on social media and personal blogs, you can ask the influencers whether they are willing to publish a post about your product or service on the website in which they are a contributor. Or you can ask them to let you write a guest post on their blog.
Now, do not have any expectations of how much exposure you will receive in such posts. After all, they are publishing to a third party website and will usually have to contribute a useful piece of content. The best they can possibly do is mention your product or service briefly. But, considering the exposure the article will provide your brand, this is a good marketing strategy that you must definitely try out.
In today’s times, social media is a life-changing tool for small businesses. The plethora of platforms available at our disposal to use – to benefit us and our businesses in ways that didn’t seem possible before – offers a huge opportunity to engage with a community of prospects at a fraction of the cost.
“Influencer marketing is something to pay attention to. We’re used to influencers being people like the Kardashians, but we all have our Kardashians at our events. These people are called micro-influencers and they can have a large impact when used strategically.”
Influencer marketing lets you tap in on a community of people who can be potential customers. The right influencer can allow you to gain many prospects. It is important to learn what works for the current times, and influencer marketing doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon so you might as well use the opportunity to the fullest.
Ways to Improve Marketing Results Using Data from Social Channels
Marketing is aimed at making a product or service look as desirable as possible so that people feel a need to buy and use it. While there are many tactics that can be used to boost marketing and increase sales, ‘social proof’ is one of the most underused tactics by many marketers.
And honestly, this is quite unfortunate since social proof can be used to create a huge positive impact on how the public perceives your product and service. Here are some simple methods of using social proof to improve the results of your marketing campaign.
One of the easiest ways to use social proof in marketing is to use statistics that display the standing of your business, product, or service.
For example, if you manufacture baby talcum powder, find out how many people buy them, its market share, how many people prefer it over other brands, and so on. You can then publish such statistics which will act as social proof that the product or service you offer is indeed of high-quality and in good demand.
When people see statistics like “2 in 3 mothers use our talcum powder for their kids” or “60% of first-time buyers prefer to buy our brand for the next time,” they tend to have a positive impression about the business. This makes the customers feel more comfortable because it sways them to think that they are making an informed decision.
Another simple tactic you can use to boost sales through social proof is by publishing testimonials. A testimonial is simply a statement from the users of your product or service on how they benefited from it, how the product or service produced much better results compared to those of other similar brands, and so on.
The effect such testimonials have on people is tremendous. People generally end up developing a favorable view of something that is viewed positively by numerous other people. And this will make them try out that specific product or service. This is also why influencers are becoming far more valuable to marketing.
Visual proof is one of the most potent tactics out there. Visuals can be such a strong social proof that the audience may even go out and buy the product being promoted solely on the basis of these pictures and videos.
For example, imagine that you conduct a weight loss workshop that guarantees a person will lose almost 20 kilos in just about 3 months. Now, you can publish a detailed text on how the regimen works, what results to expect, etc., but they will have far less impact than a few pictures that show the participants of the program before and after joining it. When the audience sees the visuals of people having lost belly fat, it will act as a strong reconfirmation in their minds that the program is worthy of their investment.
Visual cues are easier for people to remember and act upon. It makes sense to make the launch or advert of your product as visually appealing as possible so that people actually take time out to look at it.
There are also companies that use expert opinions in order to boost sales. This is also the use of social proof, which in this case are the opinions of a few respectable intellectuals from a particular field.
A business that sells anti-virus software can use the expert opinion of tech experts and professionals from the field of safety and security. Positive reviews about your software will let the audience know that what you offer is a completely secure anti-virus software that has been approved for purchase by some of the best people in the industry. This will obviously boost the sales figures for your product.
While expert opinions are good social proof, a much stronger source of social proof is consumer reviews. Expert opinions are about people who just test your product for a few days and state their observations. In contrast, consumer reviews are created by people who have already bought your product because of their interest it, used it and then stating their observations about it.
People generally tend to trust consumer reviews a lot more than expert opinions. This is mostly because of the understanding that such reviews are written by people who are just like them.
So, ensure that you get as many positive reviews about your product or service and publish them on websites and social media to show potential customers that you have a strong existing consumer base.
Yet another form of social proof is a survey. You can conduct surveys on subjects relating to your product or service and publish the positive results online.
For example, if you manufacture shampoo that guarantees to reduce hair fall and strengthening the strands of hair, you can set up an online poll on social media asking your followers as to how many of them experienced an improvement in their hair quality after using the product for three weeks.
Once the survey is finished and the results come out positive, you can publish it and let them know that a good majority of users have benefitted immensely from the hair shampoo.
The positive results from the live survey will surely influence the people who have not used your product to at least consider buying and trying it out.
In the social media space, there are people who are known as ‘influencers.’ These are basically people who have a large following and are therefore in a position to influence how their followers feel about something.
You can use such influencer marketing tactics to create a positive image of your business by enticing the influencers to post a few lines that say good things about you and your products. Using multiple influencers in multiple time periods is the best way to ensure that a constant stream of social proof about your product keeps appearing in social media.
Keep in mind, the influencers you choose to represent your product must have a strong base of followers that come within your ideal target consumer group.
This is one of the most expensive social proof tactics on the list. But this can also be the most impactful.
Big businesses always use celebrities to promote products and services. The status and positive image of the celebrity makes the product look trustworthy in the eyes of the audience. Your business can try out the simple tactic by hiring a popular celebrity if you can afford one.
Although, the influencer market is getting so big in the current space that you won’t be missing out on much if you can’t afford celebrity endorsement.
Social media has given businesses a valuable tool to understand their customer base and to tap into their target audience market. Approaching potential customers was never easier. To quote myself from when I wrote an article about making the most of social channels –
We have so many amazing channels available to us to reach out to the customers and making the best use of these channels to cultivate a loyal customer base directly correlates to the success of the business moving forward.
Understanding your customer base and attracting the right customer base is important to start a business and keep it running. Social media provides valuable feedback from real users and also helps you lead your target audience back to your products. It helps your business make a one-on-one connection that has a huge impact on the overall standing a brand has in the market.
How to Build a Thriving Community on the World’s Largest Social Media Platform
Facebook is the world’s biggest social media platform. And if you have a community page on the site, then you have limitless potential to grow it into an active meeting place for people who are interested in the same things as you.
But even though starting an online community on Facebook is an easy process, attracting new members and keeping them interested in the community can be difficult since there will be many competing pages that cover interests similar to yours.
If you have just started a community and are unsure of the steps to take next, then the following tips will definitely help you in building a thriving community on the world’s biggest social media platform.
Always Publish Relevant, Informative Content
When publishing content to your Facebook community, you have to focus on two core areas – relevance and information.
Firstly, only publish posts that are completely relevant to the members of your community. For example, if you have started the community with a description which states that it will deal with superhero movies, then you must only publish content in that specific genre. You should also only encourage discussions within the topic.
Just because you saw a meme of a cat that got a million likes, it does not mean you share it with the members. Never do such a thing. Although you might benefit from such a move in the short term, you will dilute the focus of the community by sharing unrelated stuff.
And other members might stop being active in the community since they are not always getting what they expected – superhero updates.
“Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.”
Secondly, always make sure that most of the posts you share within your community have information which the members find valuable, unique and interesting. For example, if your community is focused on topics like home care, then you can share content that helps them rectify air filter problems in the air conditioning.
The tips that are immediately effective, while remaining unique and not shared a million times before, will be valued.
The methods you share should be workable enough that the member can implement the tips and correct air filter issues. If your methods do not produce desired results, then too, the members will start losing interest in the community.
So, as long as the material you share is both relevant and informative, your community is guaranteed to grow.
Use Facebook Live
If you have been avoiding using Facebook Live, then it is time you rethink your decision. Facebook Live is one of the fastest-growing aspects of the platform. And the reason for its growth lies in the fact that people like to see other people live on-screen rather than read their ideas through a post on the community page.
And in certain subject matters, having a regular Facebook Live session can bring about greater bonding among community members, while also attracting newer users.
For example, if you have a community page dedicated to the NBA, then you can use Facebook Live to stream your reaction and viewpoints about a game in real-time. And if you are really good at presenting fresh insights into the game in a way that interests the audience, then the members will definitely wait to watch your live reaction to the next game.
Share Member Questions and Suggestions
Try to let the members know that you care about them and value their opinions. A good way to do this will be to answer some of the member questions and discuss suggestions. You can do this through a regular text-based post, but a video post is ideal since your audience will see you and are more likely to connect with what you express.
For example, if you run a community that focuses on hair care, and someone raises a question as to how hair can be made shinier, then be sure to cover the topic in your next post while mentioning the name of the person who brought it up.
Similarly, if someone suggests an effective method of removing dandruff from hair, their solution should also be shared with the community. When the members see that their questions and suggestions are being valued, they are more likely to remain active in the community.
Another good way to build a thriving community is by conducting exclusive interviews. The interview need not be with a big shot. Instead, you can conduct a video interview with someone who has achieved some success in the particular field that you are interested in.
If the interviews are informative and useful to the members, they will continue to actively participate in the community.
For example, imagine that you have a Facebook community covering, ‘Counter-Strike Global Offensive.’ You can conduct weekly or bi-monthly interviews with people who have jumped in the rankings, inquiring how they did it and discussing tips and tricks that can help other players.
If your interview makes the members more knowledgeable about the game, then you will definitely succeed in keeping the community active and growing.
If your community page mostly consists of members who are concentrated in specific geographic areas, then you can consider setting up special meet-up events as well.
For example, if your community is focused on Photoshop Tips, and you are an expert when it comes to the software, then you can conduct special training seminars at a few cities for free or a nominal amount.
This will bring members together at a physical location and will likely increase their commitment to the community. And if you are solid on the business side, you can even conduct such events at zero cost and turn in a profit by soliciting sponsorship and selling Photoshop add-ons and relevant software as an affiliate.
In addition to the above, there is one more important thing that you have to remember – always treat your members with respect. Just because you own the community does not mean that you go about rejecting differing viewpoints of the members and behave negatively with them.
Work up your leadership skills when you manage a community. People need to know they can trust you and count on you. If you’re respected, what you say and do becomes more valuable.
Whatever suggestions they provide, accept them if right, and politely reject if not. If you remain fair with the members, then they will see you as a good administrator, which will ensure that the community remains active for a long time.
Facebook is a very powerful tool that comprises of a widespread audience. You should be dedicated to creating a community because you want to bond with people not because you want to push your business. If you keep pushing your business, chances are that people won’t stay around long. Build a relationship first, and it will automatically convert into business.
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