5 business tasks you’ve been putting off that, yes, you need to do

These business tasks aren't super fun, but they're really important! Click through for social media tips, blog post ideas, and advice on improving your SEO.

Part of my job is telling people things they already know.

“Yup, you really do need a freebie to convince people to join your list. It doesn’t have to be a free ebook, but people don’t usually grant entrance to their inbox out of the goodness of their hearts.”

“Yes, you need to schedule a series of emails that goes out to new subscribers. I’m happy to look it over! But, yes, you do need to do it.”

“I understand that you think SEO doesn’t apply to you. But it does. Like, for real. Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean you can ignore it.” 

My clients are very clever, super successful people and a lot of the work I do is narrowing down and customizing online business advice. But sometimes? I’m just confirming the fact that, yes, you really do need to do that unglamorous business task. And, yes, it really will make a difference.

If you need a bit of that tough-ish love, read on.

5 business tasks you’ve been putting off that, yes, you need to do

1. Figure out where you traffic is coming from

One of the first questions I ask my clients is “Where does most of your traffic come from?” A surprising number reply “Ummmmm….”

Which is totally okay! I spent years growing my Twitter following and ignoring Facebook because I resent the way they use our data. Do you know how much traffic I get from Twitter? Four percent. And do you know how much traffic I get from Facebook? 47%.

When it comes to site traffic, it doesn’t really matter how we feel about the platforms that are sending it. Maybe you don’t like Reddit, but if it’s sending you traffic, you probably need to put on your Big Kid/Business Owner Pants and find a way to optimize it.

Figuring out where you traffic comes from is easy. 

  • Install Google analytics 
  • After it has gathered data for a few weeks, go in and see which social media platform sends you the most traffic
  • You find that info under Acquisition > Social > Overview

These business tasks aren't super fun, but they're really important! Click through for social media tips, blog post ideas, and advice on improving your SEO.

Now that you know where your traffic is coming from, you can make sure you’re doing your best work on that platform!

Related: 8 (relatively) easy Facebook tips that will help your business + Simple Facebook ads for the easily overwhelmed

2. Actually plan what you’re going to blog about

I know it feels more spontaneous and artistic to wait till inspiration strikes and then feverishly write something 20 minutes before your newsletter is supposed to go out. But we create better content that’s more likely to get shared and bring in clients when we actually, ya know, put thought into it.

3 questions that will help you come up with blog post ideas

What problems are my readers/potential clients struggling with?

They don’t know what to do with all that zucchini. They don’t understand how to optimize their blog posts. They don’t know how to pack light. They have trouble maintaining boundaries.

If they have a problem and you can provide a solution, forpetessake do so. Then they’ll know/like/trust you and want to read more of your stuff and maybe even hire you!

What can I write that relates to my products and services?

I have an ecourse about money and happiness (you can sign up for the free, 5-day bootcamp here). Thus, I write lots of posts about money and/or happiness. If you read those and think “Wow! Sarah sure knows what she’s talking about!” maybe you’ll buy my course.

If you’re selling an ebook about travel, write blog posts about packing. If you’re a photographer, write about your favorite shooting locations and share examples of your work. If you’re a nutritionist, write about healthy, easy meals.

It’s wildly obvious, but I see tons of otherwise savvy bloggers allowing their awesome products to languish on a shop page with zero posts linking to them.

What are my people thinking about this time of year?

They’re worried about filing their taxes. They’re planning a road trip. They’re heading back to school. They’re getting ready for Chinese New Year. You know your people, so you know what this time of year means for them. Write blog posts that help!

Bonus: when you write things that are timely or linked to current events, they’re more likely to be favored by social media algorithms.

These business tasks aren't super fun, but they're really important! Click through for social media tips, blog post ideas, and advice on improving your SEO.

3. Fill up the Buffer queue for your most popular social media platform

File this under “Be ye not so stupid as me.” After I realized that most of my traffic came from Facebook, I ‘cleverly’ scheduled tons of updates, directly through that Facebook platform.

Seems like a good idea, right? But if an update did really well and I wanted to re-post it I had to either pay to re-promote it or copy and paste the whole dang thing into a new update.

You know what’s a million times easier? Scheduling things through Buffer. It allows you to see which posts are most popular and – with the click of a button – tuck them back into your Buffer queue. SO MUCH EASIER. Buffer has a free option; I use the ‘Awesome Plan‘ which is $102 a year and absolutely worth it. Automated promotion! Get into it!

4. Clean out your email list

“But I spent years building my list, Sarah! Why would I dump hundreds of people!” Dude, I hear you. But you’re paying for hundreds of people who never open your newsletters. Whhhhhhhyyy?

These unengaged subscribers are costing you money, bringing down your open rate, and just generally making you feel unnecessarily bad about yourself! Clean that ish out. It’ll save you money and make you feel all clean and refreshed.

I have an ‘it’s okay to unsubscribe’ email I send out to ‘cold’ subscribers, every six months, telling them that I’m cleaning house and giving them the option to opt back in. Each time I clean out my list, I get about 100 people who re-engage and I save myself a few bucks each month till my numbers pop back up.

How to clean your list

Related: 5 ways to deal with trolls, unsubscribes, and unfollows

5. Fix (at least some of) your broken links

First, the bad news: broken links make you look unprofessional. They increase your site’s bounce rate. They throw off your SEO. The good news: it’s easy to find ’em and easy to fix ’em!

If you use WordPress there is, of course, a plugin for that. If you use a different blogging platform, just tuck your url into brokenlinkcheck.com and prepare to be horrified.

Once you identify those broken links, pour yourself a tall glass of something delicious, set a timer, and Pomodoro Method your way through a few dozen links. If you – like me – have thousands of posts in your archives, you probably can’t fix every broken link on your site. But you can certainly clean up your top posts and reduce the number of awkward 404 messages.

Bonus tip! Book yourself a DIY retreat and do all of this at once

If you’re feeling ambitious/productive, book yourself into a hotel or Airbnb and get down to business! While you’re at it, update some of your best, most-highly trafficked old posts.

But I want to hear from you! What business tasks have you been putting off you KNOW you should be doing? Tell us in the comments so we can (lovingly) hold you accountable.

P.S. Everything I use + recommend to run my business

photos by Annie Spratt // cc

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  1. Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    I read these tips again and again and true to your title, I still do keep putting the tasks off… I installed Google Analytics a while ago but never look like it because it confuses me SO MUCH. Argh!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  2. scarlett

    So many great tips! I’ve wanted to do a clean out of my email list (25% open rate) for a while now, because I shifted business focus and a lot of my list is somewhat stale.

    Thanks for all of the tips! Pinning this post.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Do it! It’ll feel so good!

  3. Lille Ulven

    Thank you for the hint toward the Broken Link plugin – though I went for another one as this one wasn’t updated within the last twelve months. So I decided to use this one instead: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-link-status/, and since I installed it I figured I should execute it as well…and fix the problems it found.

    Other tasks on my list: improve my English (grammar), which will be a long term project.

  4. Angela Kate Webster | Cosmic Kick

    I really need to study Analytics properly… I’ve been winging it for waaay longer than I care to admit. I’ve just found out that Facebook brings so much more traffic than Twitter, yet I spend hours on Twitter and literally minutes on my FB page. So much wasted time!

    Amazing advice as always 🙂

  5. Ali

    I’ve been saying for months now, I gotta figure out how to get rid of inactive newsletter subscribers. But I couldn’t figure out how to do it in Mailchimp, at least not within a few minutes of looking around, so I kept putting it off. But I’m nearing the next tier and it’s just silly! So thank you for that link, I will definitely be digging through their instructions.

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