I’d be lost without my to-do lists! I use them regularly throughout the day to keep on track. I know what happens when I rely solely on my memory. Things don’t get done. I started using Asana to organize blogging and my personal life. Today, I want to share how to create a to-do list in Asana so you can start using this powerful project management software, too. Did I mention it was FREE?
HOW TO CREATE A TO-DO LIST IN ASANA
This post contains affiliate links for things we use and love.
Your to-do list can be for whatever you want. I have separate to-do lists for my blog, other businesses and personal life. I love that they all lump together under My Tasks so I can quickly see what’s on the agenda for today.
I think the best way to learn is by example so I’ll show you exactly what you need to do to get started.
1. Create a Project. On the left hand sidebar, you’ll see Projects and a little plus sign. Click to create a project. I have projects called Personal Life, Simply Stacie Blog, Click Start Club, Simply Stacie SEO and a few more.
2. Create Headings. Click Add Task. To create headings for your to-do list, just put a colon after whatever you type.
3. Add Tasks under your headings. This is the spot where you add the actual things you need to do.
4. Assign the task. You’ll need to assign the task to yourself in order to see it under My Tasks. On the right side of each task, you’ll be able to click the little head button to assign the task.
5. Select a due date. Click on due date and pick a date that you want the task to be accomplished.
6. Repeat or no? Is this a task you need to do daily, weekly, yearly? Click set to repeat and select how often you want this task to repeat.
7. Add subtasks. If there are multiple steps to a task you can add subtasks under each task on the right hand side. You can even add due dates to the subtasks if you like.
8. View My Tasks. To view all your tasks from various projects, click on My Tasks at the top of the screen. Then sort by due date so that they are in order.
As you complete tasks, simply check them off and they will disappear! It feels great to tackle that to-do list.
Check out this course to learn how to use Asana for Blogging. I took it and it helped me a ton!
The summer slump is real, but don’t let it get you down. It happens every year. Now is the perfect time to work on getting your blog ready for quarter 4 when all the magic happens. Traffic goes up, ad revenue goes up and there tends to be more sponsored opportunities.
During this down time, work on your blog! I’ve been a busy bee working on mine. The to-do list never ends, but that’s ok. I know once Q4 hits, I’ll be busier and I want to be ready.
HOW TO GET YOUR BLOG READY FOR Q4
This post contains affiliate links.
1. Write Gift Guides. People are looking for gift guides in Q4 for holiday gift ideas. I took a Gift Guide course recently and have been churning them out like crazy….filled with affiliate links, of course. Gotta make the $$$.
2. Update popular posts with affiliate links. Add Amazon Native Ads or other Amazon affiliate links to posts that are relevant.
3. Lengthen your top 10 posts. If you’re with Mediavine, they suggest making posts longer to make more money. Make sure you keep the paragraphs short and add new photos.
4. Make new pins for top 10 posts. I’ve been making the 2:3 collage posts for all my new posts, but I want to go back and make them for my top 10 posts as well. Pinterest has said they love fresh pins.
5. Install a pop-up for emails. Capture those emails. It’s amazing how well email pop-ups work.
6. Move recipe cards to the bottom of your posts. Another tip I learned from Mediavine: put your recipe cards at the bottom of your posts so people have to scroll through the post (and your ads) to see them. I’m almost done moving mine. I made a Google spreadsheet to keep track.
7. Interlink posts. I interlink my new posts and my low hanging fruit posts, but it’s also good to go into your top 10 posts and make sure you’ve added related links in there too. The goal is to keep people on your site as long as possible.
8. Plan content for Q4. Now is the time to think about Pumpkin Spice! Look at what content you want to write for Q4 and start writing the posts now! Get them scheduled so you have less to do later.
9. Join holiday tribes on Tailwind. I love Tailwind Tribes and use them daily to promote my pins. Do a search now for holiday tribes and join a bunch.
What else are you doing to get your blog ready for Q4?
Stolen pins have been running rampant on Pinterest, it’s a given when content does well. So if you find your image stolen, what do you do? File a DMCA to Pinterest. So here’s how to report stolen Pins.
How to Report Stolen Pins to Pinterest
First of all: what’s a stolen pin?
A stolen pin is when someone takes your pin image and description and changes the URL from your blog post/website to theirs.
They’re piggybacking on your content’s popularity and diverting eyes to their skimmed site or whatever they are trying say/sell.
This does not include accidentally stolen pins (right now there is a glitch where roundups are pulling an image from one of the links and links back to the roundup with the wrong image). I know that sounds confusing, but it’s something that is being worked on right now (from what I have read).
Here’s how to find potentially stolen pins and how to file a DMCA to Pinterest:
So what are you waiting for? Get searching and take back your content that you worked so hard on!
Don’t have time? This may be the perfect job to outsource to a VA.
I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that recipe videos are everywhere: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube. Don’t worry, we’re working on on an amazing course to help you with that. For now, here are some recipe video equipment must haves.
There are times where your own photography doesn’t fit what you’re writing about, or maybe you don’t have time to shoot certain shots, that’s where stock images come in. Here’s where to find stock images for blog posts.
Where to find stock images?
This post contains affiliate links.
These are all examples of where to find stock images for your blog posts in which you pay for. I prefer to pay for my images because I find that the images are a better quality. You can find some great prices out there and I compiled this list of stock photo libraries. If you’re looking for where you can find free royalty free stock images, well that’s a post for another day.
If I can’t find an option for on Deposit Photos, there will be an option on Canva. What’s really cool about Canva is you can design a title right then and there after you select a stock image. Photos are $1.
I recently found Stencil when I was searching for Canva alternatives. There is a free account and a paid account with Stencil, the free account gives you 10 royalty free images a month so this may be a great option to start out with.
I don’t stock images for recipe posts, I post my own photos for that. However, I find stock images are useful for topics like house cleaning tips, lists of various tips, health posts, etc.
A good tip to remember is to think about it as a reader: if you were a reader would you expect the topic that you’re reading to have an original picture? A good example would be My Workout Results from Doing XYZ Program. That would not be a good post to
That would not be a good post to post a ripped body from a stock image library, your readers would expect a photo of you.
Use your common knowledge and you can make stock images work well for your blog. They’re a great tool to utilize!
Want to learn more about blogging? Check out Click Start Club’s blogging tips.
Enroll in Click Start Club’s Editing in Photoshop & Lightroom bundle! Improve your own photos! We have options for everyone: you can purchase the courses individually or all of them and save $20!
I’m taking it a step further and going to clean cold subscribers from my email list in ConvertKit. These are people who haven’t clicked or opened an email in 90 days. I’d rather them go then continue to pay for them because frankly, having an email list is expensive.
Ready to clean cold subscribers in ConvertKit? Let’s do this together!
How to Clean Cold Subscribers in ConvertKit?
1. Select your cold subscribers. ConvertKit segments them out for you! They define a cold subscriber as someone who hasn’t opened or clicked an email in the last 90 days and has been subscribed for at least 30 days.
2. Tag all your cold subscribers. Create a tag in ConvertKit that says “Cold subscribers”. You don’t want to delete them right now for two reasons. One, you want to give them a chance to stay on your list and two, they may be falsely tagged.
3. Create an automation rule. First things first, create a page on your site for people to click if they want to stay. It can just say something simple like “Thanks for staying subscribed”. It doesn’t need to be fancy.
Then, go into Rules and add a link trigger so that when people click that link it removes the Cold Subscriber tag. This way you won’t delete that subscriber.
4. Email your cold subscribers. Send them a break-up email that asks them if they want to stay subscribed. Make sure to use that link you created in the previous step in the email and set up it up as a link trigger so that if they click, they’ll be deleted from the cold subscriber tag.
5. Delete everyone who doesn’t click. I recommend waiting a week to give them all time to see and open the email. Set a calendar reminder in Asana if you need to. Whoever is left on that Cold subscriber tag gets removed.
6. Email ConvertKit and tell them your new subscriber numbers. They won’t automatically adjust your account fees so you have to let them know.
It’s painful to delete cold subscribers because the numbers can be high. The first time I did it, there were over 10K on that tag. The second time, almost 5K. However, why do you want to pay for people who don’t engage? Get rid of them and keep your list healthy. These aren’t your people.
I recommend deleting cold subscribers every 3 months. You could also do it when you are about to hit your next payment tier on your email plan.
I’m a stat junkie, but I haven’t always been that way. If you find Google Analytics overwhelming, follow along with this tutorial on how to create a custom dashboard in Google Analytics to simplify your reports so you can learn from it and grow your blog.
Looking into your Google Analytics is one of those things that every blogger should be doing. I avoided it (aside from just peeking at my page views) for the longest time because I had no idea what I was doing. If you can relate to that, start with this tutorial. Start with looking at one page where you can see your important stats.
This post contains affiliate links.
How To Create a Custom Dashboard in Google Analytics
For a full explanation and tutorial make sure you watch the video that’s embedded at the beginning of this post.
Learn about Blogging and Google Analytics
Once you’re comfortable with this blogging dashboard, look into learning more about Google Analytics. I recommend the SKYROCKET Your Pageviews course from LTB Hangouts.
Pinterest Dashboard in Google Analytics
I also have a custom dashboard for Pinterest. I created it from Kate Ahl’s (from Simple Pin Media) instructions during a webinar. Want to learn how? Here’s how to create a Pinterest dashboard in Google Analytics.
If sponsorship disclosure confuses you, read this post on how to disclose sponsored posts in The United States.
How to Disclose Sponsored Posts in the United States?
Some guidelines to make sure your posts are Federal Trade Commission approved!
As I mentioned in the post about Canadian guidelines for sponsored posts, the bottom line with regards to disclosure is transparency. If the reader (or viewer of a vlog) is not clear that you were paid, remunerated or otherwise compensated for the post by either the company concerned or any other organization for that matter, you have not made an appropriate disclosure.
At issue is the credibility of influencers who help brands with their products or services in return for payment. If they were remunerated in ANY WAY for the review/post/vlog post or images, this needs to be disclosed so as to avoid any sense that the reader/viewer has been ‘hoodwinked’.
A good example is product reviews: an influencer with a large following is paid (whether in money or product) to ‘review’ said items on their blog. If that blogger doesn’t disclose that they were paid, readers might think that the review was organic and that the blogger does, in fact, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the product! That might ‘influence’ them to go out and buy it too.
Readers can’t guess that the influencer was paid for their positive review—and while some bloggers insist that they are reviewing items honestly, regardless of payment, their credibility is strained; the reader might lend less weight to that opinion when making their buying choices if they knew that there was a link between the influencer and the brand. It’s just basic common sense!
NOT disclosing that material tie to the brand is misleading, at best, and could be costly if a complaint is filed against you, via the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). They are empowered, via section 5 of the FTC Act, to initiate investigations and ultimately cases where deceptive advertising has been used, the consequences of which can include the blogger giving up the money received for those statements/posts/videos/images.
Disclosure for Sponsored Posts in the United States
Here’s a sampling of the FTC’s position on endorsements, in a variety of formats:
Basically, the FTC says the following: “If there’s a connection between an endorser and the marketer that consumers would not expect and it would affect how consumers evaluate the endorsement, that connection should be disclosed.”
So does that mean that if a famous tennis player is talking up a certain brand of tennis balls, that this is okay not to disclose because a consumer MIGHT expect that brand and that player to be connected? No. Assuming that a reader will understand the connection is a flawed argument. It’s best to assume that they aren’t aware of a connection and disclosure should be made.
The value of the products given isn’t the issue. You could receive product worth only a few dollars and still be considered to have failed to disclose if you don’t mention this with your positive review. The question you always have to ask yourself is: would knowing that you had received the product for free or been paid even a token amount to review it alter how much a person sees your review as credible?
Example? Your site reviews local restaurants. Some of those restaurants offer you the meals for free. You need to disclose that as the weight of your review, in the eyes of others, could be affected by this fact.
Posting pictures of a product you like, from a company that you work with, even without expressly saying you like the product is still an endorsement that requires disclosure. The existing working relationship with the company in question is what makes this so. If you posted pictures of random products that you like where you had NO connection to the company? This wouldn’t be an endorsement that would require disclosure, as there is nothing to disclose.
Disclosure statements don’t need to be complicated! No need to hire an attorney to get it written up. They do, however, need to be ‘clear and conspicuous’. In other words, a clear statement placed in an obvious position that the reader isn’t likely to miss.
You need to use a disclosure statement every time you write about a product or service where you were compensated. It’s not good enough to put a general statement on a separate page labelled ‘disclosure’, as this doesn’t meet the definition of ‘clear and conspicuous’. If the reader doesn’t go to that page, they won’t necessarily read the statement.
Disclosures should be made in the language that the endorsement is made in. If you are tweeting about a product in Spanish, your disclosure should also be in Spanish, regardless of the fact that English speaking people may be reading it.
A few other points about endorsements, according to the FTC:
You can’t endorse a product you haven’t tried.
You can’t positively endorse a product or service that you actually didn’t like.
You can’t make claims that the advertiser cannot prove.
If you are a company and you solicit endorsements from customers with an incentive, you must disclose if there was a benefit to the customer (payment, being featured in advertising). IF they gave their opinions before an incentive was even mentioned, you don’t need to disclose.
Affiliate links/network marketing must also be ‘clear and conspicuous’ — a reader might not be aware that you receive commissions if they reader clicks on the link and buys if it’s not stated somewhere near the link (ie. NOT on a different page!) Affiliate links are not in and of themselves adequate disclosure because a reader may not understand what it is.
How to Disclose Sponsored Posts in Canada?
The post on Canadian disclosure provides details on how you can go about covering yourself on your blog/vlog or image posts. Take a look and make sure you’re disclosing where you should be! A good rule of thumb is that if you’re not sure whether or not you should disclose a relationship or remuneration, disclose. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
Are you confused about the rules about disclosure and blogs/influencers/social media? Here’s how to disclose sponsored posts in Canada
What’s sponsored and what’s not and what are your responsibilities?
As a blogger, the basic rule of thumb that you need to keep in mind is that you need to be transparent. It comes down to being 100% clear as to your motivation for the words that you’ve written (or video you’ve shot) because it is this motivation that makes the distinction between an advertisement and an organic blog post.
Were you paid to do write the post, make the statement or post the image, whether in product or in dollars and cents? Either way, your readers/followers have the right to know when a review or other post describing a product or service was sponsored or not. It all speaks to your credibility.
The argument has been made by many bloggers that despite the fact that they were paid for their writing or posts, their reviews were honest; that they wouldn’t endorse a product that they didn’t believe in, regardless of whether or not they were paid. And that might be true but the fact that they were paid makes it unclear if their review is truly without bias. This is where the distinction between honest reviews and paid statements becomes blurry.
Ultimately, we don’t live in other people’s heads and we can’t be sure what their motivations are for doing anything, but what is important is to remain transparent to your readers. In the age of social media, where influencers are being paid to talk up brands online, there’s no other way to be. NOT disclosing that material tie to the brand is misleading, at best, and could be costly if a complaint is filed against you.
The Advertising Standards Canada are clarifying the need for disclosure statements on blogs and in social media, so here’s a rundown of what you need to include and when:
A disclosure statement must be ‘clear and conspicuous’.
A statement that is any way hidden and is therefore not necessarily read by the reader is not a proper disclosure. So for example, if you put up an Instagram of a product from a brand that is paying you and in amongst your fifteen hashtags, you bury one that says #ad, that’s not disclosure. The reader could easily miss it. The Code of Ad Standards clearly states: “No advertisement shall be presented in a format or style that conceals the fact that it is an advertisement.”
Other ways to ensure that your disclosure is ‘clear and conspicuous’:
It is located near the claims that it relates to;
It is in an easy to read font, with colors that stand out against the screen wallpaper/background.
That it is on screen—for videos—long and large enough to be read and understood;
That is read clearly and slowly for audio disclosures (podcasts, for example).
What NOT to do?
Hide the disclosures at the bottom of the page, in footnotes or behind hyperlinks.
Hide the disclosure in a white text at the top of the page.
Written in clear, simple language, not ‘legalese’. Also, use the same language as your post!
Disclosure statements cannot be site wide.
A reader might not visit the particular page that contains it—so it’s best for disclosures to be declared with every post, whether blog, vlog or on social media.
Example? YouTube uploads need more than a disclosure in the description, as not everyone reads the description or sees the feed on YouTube directly (for example, they might see it on their Facebook feed), so the statement must be part of the video itself.
A written post, or video/image post, MUST clearly indicate at the beginning of the post if the post is sponsored and in what form that sponsorship took place (money, product, etc.) Example Company XYZ gave me samples of this product to try.
Social media posts
The posts should begin and/or end with clear hashtags, separate from any others, including options like #ad or #sponsored. The reader needs to know RIGHT OFF that they are engaging with media that has been paid for, like an ad, rather than an organic statement.
Note: if you are doing a sponsored video and sharing it on Facebook, the ad message cannot be within the first three seconds of the video. You also cannot have the ad message longer than 3 seconds. See Facebook’s Branded Policies.
If you are being hosted at an event
Then #hosted should be sufficient on posts, as long as you clearly identify who is hosting you.
This is a copy of what the Code for Ad Standards states in their interpretation of disclosure for testimonials or endorsements:
“1. A testimonial, endorsement, review or other representation must disclose any “material connection” between the endorser, reviewer, influencer or person making the representation and the “entity” (as defined in the Code) that makes the product or service available to the endorser, reviewer, influencer or person making the representation, except when that material connection is one that consumers would reasonably expect to exist, such as when a celebrity publicly endorses a product or service.
2. If such a material connection exists, that fact and the nature of the material connection must be clearly and prominently disclosed in close proximity to the representation about the product or service.”
The Ad Standards Council doesn’t require bloggers to go back into their archive and mark older sponsored posts with a disclosure but does require them going forward, from early 2017. While at this time, the ability to fine bloggers or other online influencers for misleading their reader / followers is still in the development stage (compared to the American regulations), it’s coming and it makes good business sense, so be sure to remain transparent and you’ll be just fine!
Make sure your content gets seen. Here’s how to write emails that will pass a spam filter!
Write Emails That Will Pass a Spam Filter
You’ve done everything right, when it comes to email marketing. You’ve set up a database of emails that observe all the anti-spam laws, you’ve picked an email marketing tool (we highly recommend ConvertKit) and you’ve designed an elegant, well-branded email, filled with useful content.
Everyone on your email distribution list will hear a tiny plink, like a fairy laughing, when your email hits their inbox and they will rush to open it and devour what you have to say.
How can you ensure a maximum number of eyes get to see your email?
What are spam filters looking for?
Every email platform, from GMAIL to Microsoft’s LiveMail, has spam filtering capabilities. How each evaluates an email to determine whether it is spam or not varies. That said, most will look at the following:
Whether you appear to know the receiver. If you’re using a generic way to address them, instead of personalizing the email by merging their name to it, that’s a red flag.
If your domain is sketchy. In other words, emails sent from a Yahoo account are more likely to get flagged than ones sent from your own domain, such as email@example.com.
Your IP address makes a difference. If you’ve ever been flagged for spamming in the past, your IP address, from which you are sending your latest email, could be flagged again.
Content counts. Some filters will flag an email for the content, including images. The quality of your subject line and content, any links contained in the email, whether images are included and the ratio of text to image all matter. To what degree and in what ways varies but a very ‘sales-y’ subject line that sounds eerily similar to something you would receive from a spammer might get flagged, even if it’s completely legitimate.
A spam filter will track the receiver’s actions including whether they open the email or not, how they file it, whether they forward it and so on, all in the aim of being accurate in the future.
So with that in mind, how can you beat the spam filters?
Tips to create a good email to pass the spam filters:
Skip the wild formatting like neon colors, using ALL CAPS or a dozen exclamation points.
Skip the spammy phraseology. Even if you’re offering a “GET RICH QUICK” scheme that’s legit (ha), find another way to say it. This is important throughout the message but never more so than in the subject line.
Keep a good balance of text to links and text to images on your email. Too many links or images is a flag.
Do not forget to include an easy to find way to unsubscribe.
Personalize the email with merge/tag functions that place the subscriber’s name in the right place.
Use descriptive text as links, instead of a URL.
TIP: Spam often comes in the form of an offer on an image, with little to no text included in the email to go with it. Spammers tried this method because filters can’t read the content of the image. So an image on its own is in itself a flag.
Use a double opt-in system for signing up new subscribers:
A double opt-in is one where the reader subscribes to your newsletter and then receives an email requiring them to confirm that they want to receive the emails by clicking on a link. This system ensures that your subscribers are humans and not bots.
The other advantage of the double opt-in is that whatever platform you use to build the form, it will likely collect certain data on the subscriber, including IP address, browser, and a date-time stamp. This protects you in the event that they ever flag your email as spam, when in fact there is proof that they opted-in.
Invite people and businesses you know to subscribe, instead of assuming, to minimize your risk of being flagged as spam.
Just because someone does business with you doesn’t mean they want to receive your newsletter. Invite them to subscribe but don’t add them automatically. NEVER add subscribers automatically.
Same goes for the person who entered your contest by putting their business card in a box at the local trade fair. Even with a sign there saying that by entering the contest, they are signing up for the email newsletter, you are on thin ice.
It goes without saying that buying an email list is not a great way to build your subscriber base. It IS a good way to be flagged as a spammer, doing a lot of damage to your brand in the process. It’s unethical, and it’s freaking annoying.
Both Stacie and I highly recommend ConvertKit this makes email automation so much easier PLUS it has double opt in and all the features to help keep you legit!
Email marketing is a solid way to get your message to people who are interested in what you have to say, but there’s a right way to go about it. Take your time and find a platform that works for you and your business, build branded templates and off you go!
I recently did a broadcast in the Click Start Club Community Group and mentioned canned responses, little did I know I would have a few requests. So here is a quick and easy tutorial on how to set up canned responses in Gmail.
Set Up Canned Responses in Gmail
What’s a Canned Response?
A canned response is essentially a saved email template to save you time in common questions and the responses you give.
Canned Responses for Bloggers
Canned response ideas for bloggers would be:
Various pitches (travel, recipe creation, etc)
A response with your rates, policies, media kit, etc.
FAQ responses to emails you often receive (how to start a blog, if an image can be shared, etc)
Your response to guest post requests
Basically, anything you can systemize with one click!
How to Set Up Canned Responses
Setting up a canned response in Gmail is really easy, here’s how:
Step 1. Go to your settings by clicking on the cog on the right hand side of your Gmail and scrolling to Settings.
Step 2. In your settings menu, head on over to Labs. Look down and find Canned Responses, click Enable and Save Changes.
Step 3. Hit compose, write out the message you would like to save and then click the cog on the bottom right and hover over Canned responses > then click New Canned responses, title it and save.
Step 4. When it comes time to draft an email with your canned response, simply click the cog at the bottom right, hover over Canned responses and under Insert click the canned response you saved.