More on Productivity
Niharikaa Kaur Sodhi
1 year ago
The Only Paid Resources I Turn to as a Solopreneur
4 Pricey Tools That Are Valuable
I pay based on ROI (return on investment).
If a $20/month tool or $500 online course doubles my return, I'm in.
Investing helps me build wealth.
I initially refused to pay.
My course content needed updating a few months ago. My Google Docs text looked cleaner and more professional in Canva.
I've used it to:
product cover pages
Product page infographics
See my Google Sheets vs. Canva product page graph.
Google Sheets vs Canva
Yesterday, I used it to make a LinkedIn video thumbnail. It took less than 5 minutes and improved my video.
In 30 hours, the video had 39,000 views.
It builds my brand as I sleep. What else?
Because I'm traveling this weekend, I planned tweets for 10 days. It took me 80 minutes.
So while I travel or am absent, my content mill keeps producing.
Also I like:
I can reach hundreds of people thanks to auto-DMs. I utilize it to advertise freebies; for instance, leave an emoji remark to receive my checklist. And they automatically receive a message in their DM.
Scheduled Retweets: By appearing in a different time zone, they give my tweet a second chance.
It helps me save time and expand my following, so that's my favorite part.
It’s also super neat:
My course involves weekly and monthly calls for alumni.
Google Meet isn't great for group calls. The interface isn't great.
Zoom Pro is expensive, and the monthly payments suck, but it's necessary.
It gives my students a smooth experience.
Previously, we'd do 40-minute meetings and then reconvene.
Zoom's free edition limits group calls to 40 minutes.
This wouldn't be a good online course if I paid hundreds of dollars.
So I felt obligated to help.
My laptop has an ad blocker.
I bought an iPad recently.
When you're self-employed and work from home, the line between the two blurs. My bed is only 5 steps away!
When I read or watched videos on my laptop, I'd slide into work mode. Only option was to view on phone, which is awkward.
YouTube premium handles it. No more advertisements and I can listen on the move.
3 Expensive Tools That Aren't Valuable
Marketing strategies are sometimes aimed to make you feel you need 38474 cool features when you don’t.
Certain tools are useless.
I found it useless.
Depending on your needs. As a writer and creator, I get no return.
They could for other jobs.
It tracks LinkedIn stats, like:
trend chart for impressions
Engagement, views, and comment stats for posts
and much more.
Middle-tier creator costs $12/month.
I got a 25% off coupon but canceled my free trial before writing this. It's not worth the discount.
LinkedIn provides free analytics. See:
Not thorough and won't show top posts.
I don't need to see my top posts because I love experimenting with writing.
Slack was my classroom. Slack provided me a premium trial during the prior cohort.
I skipped it.
Sure, voice notes are better than a big paragraph. I didn't require pro features.
Marketing methods sometimes make you think you need 38474 amazing features. Don’t fall for it.
This may be worth it if you get many calls.
I avoid calls. During my 9-5, I had too many pointless calls.
I don't need:
ability to schedule calls for 15, 30, or 60 minutes: I just distribute each link separately.
I have a Gumroad consultation page with a payment option.
follow-up emails: I hardly ever make calls, so
I just use one calendar, therefore I link to various calendars.
I'll admit, the integrations are cool. Not for me.
If you're a coach or consultant, the features may be helpful. Or book meetings.
Investing is spending to make money.
Use my technique — put money in tools that help you make money. This separates it from being an investment instead of an expense.
Try free versions of these tools before buying them since everyone else is.
1 year ago
Do You Have Focus Issues? Use These 5 Simple Habits
Many can't concentrate. The first 20% of the day isn't optimized.
Elon Musk, Tony Robbins, and Bill Gates share something:
A repeatable morning ritual saves time.
Time for hobbies.
I'll discuss 5 easy morning routines you can use.
1. Stop pressing snooze
Waking up starts the day. You disrupt your routine by hitting snooze.
One sleep becomes three. Your morning routine gets derailed.
Hide your phone. This disables snooze and wakes you up.
Once awake, staying awake is 10x easier. Simple trick, big results.
2. Drink water
Chronic dehydration is common. Mostly urban, air-conditioned workers/residents.
2% cerebral dehydration causes short-term memory loss.
Dehydration shrinks brain cells.
Drink 3-4 liters of water daily to avoid this.
3. Improve your focus
How to focus better?
Improve your mood
Enhance your memory
increase mental clarity
Reduce blood pressure and stress
Headspace helps with the habit.
Here's a meditation guide.
Shut your eyes.
Concentrate on your breathing
Breathe in through your nose
Breathe out your mouth.
5 in, 5 out.
Repeat for 1 to 20 minutes.
Here's a beginner's video:
focus and memory
15-60 minutes of fun:
Stretching and yoga
This helps you now and later.
5. Keep a journal
You have countless thoughts daily. Many quietly steal your focus.
Here’s how to clear these:
Write for 5-10 minutes.
You'll gain 2x more mental clarity.
5 morning practices for 5x more productivity:
Say no to snoozing
Improve your focus
One step starts a thousand-mile journey. Try these easy yet effective behaviors if you have trouble concentrating or have too many thoughts.
Start with one of these behaviors, then add the others. Its astonishing results are instant.
Jano le Roux
1 year ago
Never Heard Of: The Apple Of Email Marketing Tools
Unlimited everything for $19 monthly!?
Even with pretty words, no one wants to read an ugly email.
Not Gen Z
Not Gen X
I am a minimalist.
I like Mozart. I like avos. I love Apple.
When I hear seamlessly, effortlessly, or Apple's new adverb fluidly, my toes curl.
No email marketing tool gave me that feeling.
As a marketing consultant helping high-growth brands create marketing that doesn't feel like marketing, I've worked with every email marketing platform imaginable, including that naughty monkey and the expensive platform whose sales teams don't stop calling.
Most email marketing platforms are flawed.
They are overpriced.
They use dreadful templates.
They employ a poor visual designer.
The user experience there is awful.
Too many useless buttons are present. (Similar to the TV remote!)
I may have finally found the perfect email marketing tool. It creates strong flows. It helps me focus on storytelling.
It’s called Flodesk.
It’s effortless. It’s seamless. It’s fluid.
Here’s why it excites me.
Unlimited everything for $19 per month
Sends unlimited. Emails unlimited. Signups unlimited.
Most email platforms penalize success.
Pay for performance?
$87 for 10k contacts
$605 for 100K contacts
$1,300+ for 200K contacts
In the 1990s, this made sense, but not now. It reminds me of when ISPs capped internet usage at 5 GB per month.
Flodesk made unlimited email for a low price a reality. Affordable, attractive email marketing isn't just for big companies.
Flodesk doesn't penalize you for growing your list. Price stays the same as lists grow.
Flodesk plans cost $38 per month, but I'll give you a 30-day trial for $19.
Amazingly strong flows
Foster different people's flows.
Email marketing isn't one-size-fits-all.
Different times require different emails.
People don't open emails because they're irrelevant, in my experience. A colder audience needs a nurturing sequence.
Flodesk automates your email funnels so top-funnel prospects fall in love with your brand and values before mid- and bottom-funnel email flows nudge them to take action.
I wish I could save more custom audience fields to further customize the experience.
Flodesk's editor is Apple-like.
You understand how it works almost instantly.
Like many Apple products, it's intentionally limited. No distractions. You can focus on emotional email writing.
Flodesk's inability to add inline HTML to emails is my biggest issue with larger projects. I wish I could upload HTML emails.
Simple sign-up procedures
Dream up joining.
I like how easy it is to create conversion-focused landing pages. Linkly lets you easily create 5 landing pages and A/B test messaging.
I like that you can use signup forms to ask people what they're interested in so they get relevant emails instead of mindless mass emails nobody opens.
I love how easy it is to embed in-line on a website.
Wonderful designer templates
Beautiful, connecting emails.
Flodesk has calm email templates. My designer's eye felt at rest when I received plain text emails with big impacts.
As a typography nerd, I love Flodesk's handpicked designer fonts. It gives emails a designer feel that is hard to replicate on other platforms without coding and custom font licenses.
Small adjustments can have a big impact
Flodesk remembers your brand colors. Flodesk automatically adds your logo and social handles to emails after signup.
Flodesk uses Zapier. This lets you send emails based on a user's action.
A bad live chat can trigger a series of emails to win back a customer.
Flodesk isn't for everyone.
Flodesk is great for Apple users like me.
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1 year ago
Updates From Google For Content Producers What You Should Know Is This
Every Google upgrade causes website owners to panic.
Some have just recovered from previous algorithm tweaks and resumed content development.
If you follow Google's Webmaster rules, you shouldn't fear its adjustments.
Everyone has a view of them. Miscommunication and confusion result.
Now, for some (hopefully) exciting news.
Google tweeted on August 18, 2022 about a fresh content update.
This change is another Google effort to remove low-quality, repetitive, and AI-generated content.
The algorithm generates and analyzes search results, not humans.
Google spends a lot to teach its algorithm what searchers want. Intent isn't always clear.
Google's content update aims to:
“… ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.”
Isn't it a noble goal?
However, what does it mean for content creators and website owners?
How can you ensure you’re creating content that will be successful after the updates roll out?
Let's first define people-first content.
What does "people-first-content" mean?
If asked, I'd say information written to answer queries and solve problems.
Like others, I read it from the term.
Content creators and marketers disagree. They need more information to follow recommendations.
Google gives explicit instructions for creating people-first content.
According to Google, if you answer yes to the following questions, you have a people-first attitude.
Do you have customers who might find your content useful if they contacted you directly?
Does your content show the breadth of your knowledge?
Do you have a niche or a focus for your website?
After reading your content, will readers learn something new to aid them in achieving their goals?
Are readers happy after reading your content?
Have you been adhering to Google's fundamental updates and product reviews?
As an SEO writer, I'm not scared.
I’ve been following these rules consciously while creating content for my website. That’s why it’s been steadily growing despite me publishing just one or two stories a month.
If you avoid AI-generated text and redundant, shallow material, your website won't suffer.
If you use unscrupulous methods to boost your website's traffic, including link buying or keyword stuffing, stop. Google is getting smarter and will find and punish your site eventually.
For those who say, “SEO is no longer working,” I dedicated the whole paragraph below.
This does not imply that SEO is obsolete.
“People-first content creators focus on creating satisfying content, while also utilizing SEO best practices to bring searchers additional value.”
The official helpful content update page lists two people-first content components:
meeting user needs
best practices for SEO
Always read official guidelines, not unsolicited suggestions.
SEO will work till search engines die.
How to use the update
Google said the changes will arrive in August 2022.
They pledged to post updates on Google's search ranking updates page.
Google also tweets this info. If you haven't followed it already, I recommend it.
Ranking adjustments could take two weeks and will affect English searches internationally initially.
Google affirmed plans to extend to other languages.
If you own a website, monitor your rankings and traffic to see if it's affected.
1 year ago
How We Just Raised $6M At An $80M Valuation From 100+ Investors Using A Link (Without Pitching)
Lawtrades nearly failed three years ago.
We couldn't raise Series A or enthusiasm from VCs.
We raised $6M (at a $80M valuation) from 100 customers and investors using a link and no pitching.
We refocused our business first.
Lawtrades raised $3.7M while Atrium raised $75M. By comparison, we seemed unimportant.
We had to close the company or try something new.
As I've written previously, a pivot saved us. Our initial focus on SMBs attracted many unprofitable customers. SMBs needed one-off legal services, meaning low fees and high turnover.
Tech startups were different. Their General Councels (GCs) needed near-daily support, resulting in higher fees and lower churn than SMBs.
We stopped unprofitable customers and focused on power users. To avoid dilution, we borrowed against receivables. We scaled our revenue 10x, from $70k/mo to $700k/mo.
Then, we reconsidered fundraising (and do it differently)
This time was different. Lawtrades was cash flow positive for most of last year, so we could dictate our own terms. VCs were still wary of legaltech after Atrium's shutdown (though they were thinking about the space).
We neither wanted to rely on VCs nor dilute more than 10% equity. So we didn't compete for in-person pitch meetings.
AngelList Roll-Up Vehicle (RUV). Up to 250 accredited investors can invest in a single RUV. First, we emailed customers the RUV. Why? Because I wanted to help the platform's users.
Imagine if Uber or Airbnb let all drivers or Superhosts invest in an RUV. Humans make the platform, theirs and ours. Giving people a chance to invest increases their loyalty.
We expanded after initial interest.
We created a Journey link, containing everything that would normally go in an investor pitch:
- Trailer (from me)
- Product demo
We could also link to our AngelList RUV and send the pitch to an unlimited number of people. Instead of 1:1, we had 1:10,000 pitches-to-investors.
We posted Journey's link in RUV Alliance Discord. 600 accredited investors noticed it immediately. Within days, we raised $250,000 from customers-turned-investors.
Stonks, which live-streamed our pitch to thousands of viewers, was interested in our grassroots enthusiasm. We got $1.4M from people I've never met.
These updates on Pump generated more interest. Facebook, Uber, Netflix, and Robinhood executives all wanted to invest. Sahil Lavingia, who had rejected us, gave us $100k.
We closed the round with public support.
Without a single pitch meeting, we'd raised $2.3M. It was a result of natural enthusiasm: taking care of the people who made us who we are, letting them move first, and leveraging their enthusiasm with VCs, who were interested.
We used network effects to raise $3.7M from a founder-turned-VC, bringing the total to $6M at a $80M valuation (which, by the way, I set myself).
What flipping the fundraising script allowed us to do:
We started with private investors instead of 2–3 VCs to show VCs what we were worth. This gave Lawtrades the ability to:
- Without meetings, share our vision. Many people saw our Journey link. I ended up taking meetings with people who planned to contribute $50k+, but still, the ratio of views-to-meetings was outrageously good for us.
- Leverage ourselves. Instead of us selling ourselves to VCs, they did. Some people with large checks or late arrivals were turned away.
- Maintain voting power. No board seats were lost.
- Utilize viral network effects. People-powered.
- Preemptively halt churn by turning our users into owners. People are more loyal and respectful to things they own. Our users make us who we are — no matter how good our tech is, we need human beings to use it. They deserve to be owners.
I don't blame founders for being hesitant about this approach. Pump and RUVs are new and scary. But it won’t be that way for long. Our approach redistributed some of the power that normally lies entirely with VCs, putting it into our hands and our network’s hands.
This is the future — another way power is shifting from centralized to decentralized.
1 year ago
Is TikTok slowly destroying a new generation?
It's kids' digital crack
TikTok is a destructive social media platform.
The interface shortens attention spans and dopamine receptors.
TikTok shares more data than other apps.
Seeing an endless stream of dancing teens on my glowing box makes me feel like a Blade Runner extra.
TikTok did in one year what MTV, Hollywood, and Warner Music tried to do in 20 years. TikTok has psychotized the two-thirds of society Aldous Huxley said were hypnotizable.
Millions of people, mostly kids, are addicted to learning a new dance, lip-sync, or prank, and those who best dramatize this collective improvisation get likes, comments, and shares.
TikTok is a great app. So what?
The Commercial Magnifying Glass TikTok made me realize my generation's time was up and the teenage Zoomers were the target.
I told my 14-year-old sister, "Enjoy your time under the commercial magnifying glass."
TikTok sells your every move, gesture, and thought. Data is the new oil. If you tell someone, they'll say, "Yeah, they collect data, but who cares? I have nothing to hide."
It's a George Orwell novel's beginning. Look up Big Brother Award winners to see if TikTok won.
TikTok shares your data more than any other social media app, and where it goes is unclear. TikTok uses third-party trackers to monitor your activity after you leave the app.
Consumers can't see what data is shared or how it will be used. — Genius URL
32.5 percent of Tiktok's users are 10 to 19 and 29.5% are 20 to 29.
TikTok is the greatest digital marketing opportunity in history, and they'll use it to sell you things, track you, and control your thoughts. Any of its users will tell you, "I don't care, I just want to be famous."
TikTok manufactures mental illness
TikTok's effect on dopamine and the brain is absurd. Dopamine controls the brain's pleasure and reward centers. It's like a switch that tells your brain "this feels good, repeat."
Dr. Julie Albright, a digital culture and communication sociologist, said TikTok users are "carried away by dopamine." It's hypnotic, you'll keep watching."
TikTok constantly releases dopamine. A guy on TikTok recently said he didn't like books because they were slow and boring.
The US didn't ban Tiktok.
Biden and Trump agree on bad things. Both agree that TikTok threatens national security and children's mental health.
The Chinese Communist Party owns and operates TikTok, but that's not its only problem.
There’s borderline child porn on TikTok
It's unsafe for children and violated COPPA.
It's also Chinese spyware. I'm not a Trump supporter, but I was glad he wanted TikTok regulated and disappointed when he failed.
Full-on internet censorship is rare outside of China, so banning it may be excessive. US should regulate TikTok more.
We must reject a low-quality present for a high-quality future.
TikTok vs YouTube
People got mad when I wrote about YouTube's death.
They didn't like when I said TikTok was YouTube's first real challenger.
Indeed. TikTok is the fastest-growing social network. In three years, the Chinese social media app TikTok has gained over 1 billion active users. In the first quarter of 2020, it had the most downloads of any app in a single quarter.
TikTok is the perfect social media app in many ways. It's brief and direct.
Can you believe they had a YouTube vs TikTok boxing match? We are doomed as a species.
YouTube hosts my favorite videos. That’s why I use it. That’s why you use it. New users expect more. They want something quicker, more addictive.
TikTok's impact on other social media platforms frustrates me. YouTube copied TikTok to compete.
It's all about short, addictive content.
I'll admit I'm probably wrong about TikTok. My friend says his feed is full of videos about food, cute animals, book recommendations, and hot lesbians.
TikTok makes us bad
TikTok is the opposite of what the Ancient Greeks believed about wisdom.
It encourages people to be fake. It's like a never-ending costume party where everyone competes.
It does not mean that Gen Z is doomed.
They could be the saviors of the world for all I know.
TikTok feels like a step towards Mike Judge's "Idiocracy," where the average person is a pleasure-seeking moron.