I just had to reblog this post. I love the personality and wit of the writer.
I remember the day after I passed my comprehensive exams – of course, I was absolutely elated that I had moved forward on another step of the journey toward the elusive doctorate, but the second I received my “PASS” letter, I started to worry about my dissertation. Chances are, you know what I’m talking about if you are on that doctoral journey.
The thoughts wouldn’t stop sounding in my head:
- What was I going to write about in my dissertation?
- What if I couldn’t think of a good topic?
- How would I find that mysterious “gap” in the scholarship?
- What if the dissertation committee didn’t like my proposal?
What if…What if…. What if.
But stop there. Let’s talk about taking action and alleviating these doubts. I know from experience that if you allow the negativity to permeate your thoughts, then soon you’ll start to believe that inner voice.
And I am here to say: DON’T LISTEN TO THE VOICE OF DOUBT.
You’ve gotten this far. You’re almost done. You owe it to yourself to write that dissertation.
The first step in the process of deciding upon your topic is to understand from the core of your being that this process is HARD. You thought college was hard? You thought getting your first job was hard, or even giving birth? Well yes – giving birth hurts like Hell…but if you go about writing your dissertation with a plan (keep reading for my ideas on that) your process will not feel as painful as childbirth. I promise. It will take longer though, so if you are setting some ridiculous timeframe for completion that not even God himself could complete, let it go (I mean, God has to run the universe, and it’s obvious that he probably wouldn’t be able to bust out a 200-page book in 6 weeks. So, don’t put that pressure on yourself, okay?).
What you need now is a plan.
If you find yourself in a state of panic or despair, please do not fret: you are not alone! One of the most difficult decisions you will make in your academic career is the topic of your dissertation. That’s a fact. Everyone with that Ph.D. can relate, and we all look back on those days of the unknown and are thankful that it’s done.
One day, you’ll wake up and your dissertation will be finished and you will be walking across that stage, hood on, diploma in hand. It will happen.
So, what do we need to do now? Read on.
First, breathe. Relax. And then, take yourself through this reflective activity. I promise that it will help clear your head and make room for new ideas.
Step 1: Close your eyes and allow yourself to feel happy about your accomplishments. I’m being serious here. And this is not a blog post that offers affirmations without solutions (that’s NOT what we’re in this here for, after all) but there’s got to be positivity before we can move on. It’s a fact. So, close those eyes and be happy about all you’ve done!
Go through the acceptance letter you received when you were just about to embark on your Ph.D. studies. Didn’t that feel great?
Think about all those papers and presentations you ACED. You know you did better than everyone else. 😊
Consider the times you pushed yourself to get up early or stay up late so you could finish one more assignment, one more presentation, one more paper. YOU did that!
If you persevered over the last several years despite the colds, the kids, the money, the headaches, the commute, the time— you can write a dissertation in one year or less. You can.
Step 2: Think back over your coursework. Which classes interested you the most, inspired you to research – made you excited to learn? Why did you enjoy those classes? Take a few moments to jot down a list of reasons. You might use the following as a guide:
- Course title
- Primary concepts learned
- Papers/presentations completed
Now take that list one step further and examine the papers and presentations that you completed. Chances are that there exists a portion of a paper that you can use for your dissertation. And, there are probably several pieces, pages, paragraphs, etc. that can morph into entire chapters! All it takes is a little time to go back and revisit the work you have already done.
Smart academics know that it is okay to build on their existing work, so they choose paper topics VERY carefully.
Think about when you were a kid, digging in the sand for the perfect shell. Right now, dig through your past hard work and find that diamond that you can use as a foundation for a piece of your dissertation.
Step 3: If you have examined all your past coursework, chances are that you’ve discovered a handful of potential ideas. But there’s still work to be done.
Make a Metacognitive chart: What do you know about the current research in each of the topics that you enjoyed in your previous classes? What articles and essays have you read recently on that topic? This is important because when you write your prospectus for the dissertation, you will need to prove that there is a gap in the scholarship that needs to be filled (by your original research, of course).
Now, examine the topic that most interests you. If you are unsure about the existence of a hole in the research, consider reading a few seminal texts on your topic and look at their references. Then, read more. The more you read, the more you will start to see trends in the scholarship. As you read, start to think about how your study will add to the existing conversation. Now, you have the potential to fill that elusive gap.
Step 4: Now that you have researched potential topics and started reading again, consider immersing yourself in this field of study for a long time (could be 9 months, could be 19—it’s all up to you). Is the topic interesting enough to keep you writing for that long? Also, and even more forward thinking – can you see yourself building your future academic publishing career on your dissertation topic? If you answered YES, then I’d say you have your topic!
Source: Content Envisioning
Identify Your Internet Marketing Status.
Everyone knows that running a business can be arduous, especially in the beginning stages. But it’s important to remember that the way you present yourself online can impact your business just as much as your storefront. Likewise, established companies may find themselves with varied versions of old and new marketing collateral that no longer reflect the current corporate vision.
One way to streamline the process of realigning your vision with your content is to identify your marketing materials and take a detailed inventory of every ad, newsletter, and word that travels from your business to a prospective customer.
Sometimes it can be difficult to slow down and reflect; but believe it or not, your competition is doing just that:
32% of B2B marketers say they have a documented content marketing strategy. (Content Marketing Institute, 2015) (Source: Hubspot)
The above statistic is from 2015, but today, there are many more companies that are embracing online marketing. As you consider your own strategies and goals, there are a few key analytical questions that can serve to guide you in your next steps.
- Review Your Past Marketing Campaigns: Examine the designs of the brochures, the information in the website, blog, the logo — everything! As you study your past work, what do you think about it? If you were to create a new branding persona or update your current one, would you use the same materials today?
- Make a Win/Lose Graph: There are an infinite number of categories that you can track when analyzing past marketing performance. Whichever you choose, the important thing is the reflection. Businesses that reflect tend to learn from past successes and failures.
- I have created a simple template for a marketing reflection (see picture above); however, for a fantastic list of training resources for your business analytics, see Hubspot’s article on analytical resources.
- Move Forward With Content Solutions: Once you have evaluted your existing marketing strategies, you will feel much better about moving forward with an Internet marketing plan. Email us at email@example.com for help!
Why Every Business Should Consider an Online Branding Strategy
If you have come to this site, chances are you probably already have an established business brand. Many entrepreneurs shy away from online business branding strategies because they have worked for years to build their reputation, and they rightfully believe that a “rebranding” is unnecessary.
But “Branding” today means something different than it did 5, 10, 15, years ago. When I talk about Branding, I am referring to the online persona that a company hopes to project to prospective customers.
When I meet with a customer for the first time, I like to ask the following questions:
- How would you define your current online presence?
- If you were to visit your own website, would it look exactly as you envision your business?
- How many of your customers visit your website?
- Is your company website or blog indexed by Google?
- What is the purpose of your website?
When we refer to Internet branding, we mean the overall image that your company projects online. And since about 80% of shoppers like to do their research online first (see my article about web statistics), businesses must be just as diligent in their Internet efforts as they are in their physical store or office. Consider the following brands in the pictures below. Are they the same online?
You bet that the online persona matches the physical one! Check out Apple’s site and you’ll get that same “vibe” that you get when you walk into an Apple store. Check out Gucci online and you’ll feel like you’re visiting a contemporary heaven…much like you’d see in a real store. Everything that Apple and Gucci delivers, from websites, blogs, storefronts, ads, and products, fits together into a cohesive theme. And that theme is what consumers expect.
Is your online persona commensurate with your in-person vision?
If you need help defining your online identity and restructuring your Internet marketing efforts, we would love to help. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for a FREE consultation. We specialize in initial ideation to realize online branding, and we’d be happy to help.
If you ever wonder about the purpose of blog posts, read this fascinating article written by a guest blogger.
Is the goal to accumulate lots of Likes and Followers, regardless of connection with other bloggers?
Source: New Bloggers, Blogging and Life
If you do not currently have a blog for your company business, please consider making one. Your customers will appreciate you that much more, and you’ll probably find yourself with more business than you ever dreamed possible.
Many business owners wonder if they need a website with a blog, especially if they have successfully maintained their business without one. The millions of businesses in operation today all have one thing in common: they are catering to a new kind of audience – one that does its marketing research online. If executed thoughtfully, creating and maintaining an informational blog in conjunction with a company website will increase business. Let me share an SEO marketing statistic with you (source: HubSpot).
81% of shoppers conduct online research before making big purchases.
Think about how these statistics relate to your business. Let’s say you own a restaurant or a retail shop in a suburban area. Word of mouth, of course, is great. You see people at the grocery store and you tell them about your business. Likewise, customers visit your store or office and are satisfied with their purchase; therefore, you ask them to refer your products and services to their friends. But that’s not the end of the story, and it’s certainly not the beginning.
The “Choose First, Shop Later” Mentality
How many customers do you have in one day? Let’s pick a nice, even number. Let’s say you have 100 walk-in customers. If 81% of shoppers conduct online research before making a big purchase, that means that a whopping 81 people have already looked at your website before visiting your store! If you have a blog with information about your product offerings, then chances are your prospective customers have chosen what they want to buy before they walk through your front door. That’s powerful. Today, people like to know their options when considering a purchase, and once they are informed about their options (by your blog), they are over 50% more likely to buy your product.
The last time I bought a car I searched online for three things: a loan, a broker, and the actual car. Once I had qualified for the loan and found the broker who would work with the bank and help me find the car, I started my search. Now, I could have just let the broker search for me. Or, I certainly could have waited until visiting the car dealership before choosing my car.
But times have changed. I didn’t want to set foot in that dealership before I knew exactly what I wanted. You know why? As a long-time consumer, a mom, and a working woman, I have no time for the sales shtick. That “in-your-face” marketing turns me off and deters me from buying – even if I wanted the product. No, I wanted to have the power of making a choice privately and then buying the car on my own terms, without the stress of the “sales” dog-and-pony show.
I searched online, found some helpful blogs about searching for cars, located the exact car I wanted, texted a screenshot to my broker, and voilà! I was in the dealership the next day buying the car. It was their easiest sale ever: I just showed up, pointed to the car, and bought it. Done.
53% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority (HubSpot).
Wouldn’t it be great to have more sales like that? You’re darn right it would, and that’s the primary reason why every business needs a great website and a content-filled blog, one that helps customers make informed decisions before they ever see your storefront or home page. Everyone I know has told me horror stories about buying a new car, and when I hear them, I smile and say, “It doesn’t have to be that way!”
When You Give Useful Information, You Get More Leads
I love the Internet and all it has to offer, but sometimes the unfathomable amount of data online can get overwhelming, especially when I am using the Web to make an important decision or purchase. Because the number of Internet users and online data continues to grow at exponential rates, consumers are quickly becoming savvy internet researchers. It’s not enough to simply conduct a Google search and click on the first heading they see (although being on the first page of a Google Search is an excellent way to get more traffic); now, people want to find one reliable source of information for their needs, and when they do, they will return to that site. No more random searching. See the brief video below for ways to focus your online searches.
Here’s a little quiz. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you regularly frequent an online shopping site? Are you more likely to buy from that one again rather than conduct a brand-new search engine search for the product you want?
- When you want information, do you tend to search in sites you have previously visited?
- Are you more likely to buy products from a site that often gives you useful information? (Think reviews from Amazon…)
Chances are that you regularly shop at Amazon.com, that you search for specific information from company or government sites that specialize in that area and offer frequently updated articles about it, and that you return to the sites you trust.
Online consumers are people just like you and me, and when they want help with something, they appreciate concise and useful answers. What they do not want is an article filled with your product plugs, company ads, and other distracting material. The best blogs understand who their audience is, what they want, and then they provide that on a consistent basis. If you do the same, the traffic to your site will increase and you will start to get more business.
If you do not currently have a blog for your company business, please consider making one. Your customers will appreciate you that much more, and you’ll probably find yourself with more business than you ever dreamed possible. Click here for thoughts on effective content. Good Luck!