Christmas was approaching. I was eight years old, and carrying a responsibility heavier than I could bear. I was Luke, the doctor, in a Christmas pageant. I had a single line—one sentence to speak in front of a few of my friends and family. I wanted to hide. I wanted to escape. But there was … Continue reading What If I’m a Fraud? Beating Impostor Syndrome
It’s quite easy to start something. First, define what you want to do. Next, define some steps that will move you towards your goal. Then, face your fear and begin to walk. But what happens when, after a few steps, you fall down? Times of downheartedness are inevitable. I experience a regular rhythm of optimistic … Continue reading How To Keep Going When You’re Down
I am still young, but I’m old enough to remember a time when my future stretched out in front of me like a vast wilderness. I was sure I would find great treasures there, and I couldn’t wait to arrive. Now, my future is coming so fast that it sometimes passes me before I notice … Continue reading Now. How Will I Invest It?
My most read blog posts in 2014 were an eclectic mix. Walk with me down memory lane as we learn to see our circumstances the way God sees them. Consider the amazing low-cost WordPress hosting offered by BlueHost. Discover how waking up early has made a difference in my life and how you can begin to get up earlier. Realize … Continue reading My Top 5 Posts in 2014
Quieting my mind enough to reflect on what is important is not easy this time of year. The Christmas season is filled with distractions. Christmas plays, Christmas parties, and Christmas shopping demand attention. But what is this season really about? Recently, I spent a few minutes in a friend’s hospital room where he is recovering … Continue reading Christmas: Pain and Comfort
Family roots us. Each of us has an identity based on our place of origin, the choices of our ancestors, and the reputation of our parents and siblings. As Christmas brings us together, let’s be thankful for our heritage. Let’s celebrate our unique place in this world. But there is a family that transcends biology … Continue reading The Christmas Family
You have an audacious dream—everyone does. It catches in your throat when you try to talk about it. You hardly dare to put it into words. It seems bigger than you. Impossible. But it’s not. Even big dreams are achievable one step at a time. To reach your dream, you need goals. What small, measurable steps will … Continue reading Dreaming and Doing
What you measure reveals your values. What numbers consume your thoughts? The gross sales of your business, the size of your paycheck, or the number of daily visitors to your website? There are days when I watch the number of people who read a blog post instead of writing a new one. Analytics are addictive. … Continue reading Measure What Is Meaningful
I have always loved to write. When I was about 4-years-old, I first discovered this love. I spent hours typing gibberish on a manual typewriter. It was effortless free expression. What I wrote was unintelligible but profound, and it would change the world. I was sure of it. Then I grew up. Writing became more mechanical. Cerebral. … Continue reading Effortless
In this life, bumps, bruises, and bandages are inevitable. Some wounds are more serious than others. In childish playful abandon, we scrape our knees and bruise our elbows. But other deeper wounds always come. Some wounds are so deep they never completely mend. We mask the pain by building protective barriers. Each of us, no … Continue reading Ouch, That Hurts!
“If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.” — G. K. Chesterton I am usually a good student. So when I didn’t do as well as I thought I would on my exams recently, I was disappointed. “Why stay in school if I can’t do a good job?” I wondered. My belief … Continue reading A Few Bad Grades
On Saturday, I left the Bellevue Singing Christmas Tree performance skipping along the sidewalk like a child—not like a responsible, restrained adult. As I leapt along the sidewalk with my 9-year-old daughter, I felt self-conscious for just a moment. “I’m too big for this,” I thought. “Isn’t it strange for a six-foot-five-inch man to skip … Continue reading Skipping in Public
What version of me will I be today? Will I be hopeful or pessimistic? Will I be generous or stingy — afraid, or confident? We think a lot. Some say we think as many as 70,000 thoughts a day, but it’s likely that the number is more like 20,000. We get to choose those thoughts. … Continue reading Who Will I Be Today?
Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. — Proverbs 3:5 Life is complex, dangerous, and unpredictable. As we get older, change accelerates. Constant adaptation and reorientation taps our dwindling energy supply. We get a grip. We set ourselves up for success. We are overtaken by sudden reversals. … Continue reading It’s Time for This
I want my blog to help meet your needs and speak to your interests. To do that, I need to know more about you! As a result, I have created my 2014 Reader Survey. Will you help me by taking a few minutes to take the survey? If you do, you will ultimately be helping yourself. Why? … Continue reading Take My 2014 Reader Survey
If you are reading this, you most likely live in one of the most wealthy societies on earth. You probably have enough food to eat, a cozy home that protects you from winter’s chill, friends who enjoy your company, and a family that will love you no matter what life brings. If you have enough … Continue reading The Most Fragile of Attitudes
Nobody wants a knockoff for Christmas. Well, perhaps some of us wouldn’t mind a counterfeit product, but we wouldn’t want to be told it was the real thing. The biblical Letter of James reminds us that our natural bent is to accept what is counterfeit as genuine. We do things that we think are good, but they … Continue reading We Prefer Counterfeits
If you have trusted in Jesus Christ as your savior, you are fighting in a cosmic battle. Because of your daily struggles, you may think this battle is over financial provision for your family, your sexual purity, your depression and loneliness, or the safety of your children. This is not true. Your personal struggles are … Continue reading Christian, Your Personal Struggles Are Only a Sideshow
I am a night owl by preference. I love to stay up late dreaming dreams that I will probably never realize and building a sleep deficit. It feels as though I’m taking on the world and getting more done by staying up late. But recently, I realized that my sense of productivity at night far outstripped the … Continue reading How To Be More Productive by Waking Up Early
If you are an entrepreneur, you have more business ideas than you will ever be able to execute. How can you choose ideas that will help you succeed? There is no guarantee that your best efforts to start a business or create a product will reach thousands, or that you’ll make millions. Yet there are … Continue reading 3 Rules for Choosing a Business Idea You’ll Love
This summer I wrote an ebook about learning the basics of SEO keyword research. I’ve learned some lessons, and I will do some things differently next time. Don’t Do These 4 Things Writing Your Ebook 1. Short-Term Thinking Writing a book, even a short ebook, is not easy. It takes energy, mental and emotional, to … Continue reading 4 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Your Ebook
You’ve spent many sleepless nights growing your business from a seed of an idea in your mind. Now you have a real business that benefits your customers. If your business is online, you may be especially worried. Though it takes work to create a website, it takes less work to rip off someone’s business idea online than it does to clone … Continue reading How Safe Is Your Business from Copycats?
In Web developer circles, SEO practitioners are often mentioned in the same breath as used car salesmen. Neither of these professionals have a positive reputation. We assume they have a self-serving and dishonest agenda. Some of this criticism is deserved, at least for SEO professionals. For every honest SEO consultant, there seem to be a dozen companies using black-hat … Continue reading SEO: Get More Website Traffic with Smart Linking
I recently read 2 Kings 6:8-23. The story of Elisha and his servant trapped by the Syrian army at Dothan reminded me that sometimes seeing makes all the difference. Though Elisha was surrounded on all sides by the hostile Aramean army and trapped in the city of Dothan, he remained calm. He was seeing the … Continue reading Eyes of Faith: Seeing Differently
The number of links from external sites to any of your website’s pages is one of the primary ways Google determines the importance of your content. Google prefers important content in its search engine results pages (SERPs). So if you believe your content is important and valuable to your readers, you will do well to … Continue reading SEO: 7 Link Building Tips
In 2003, I started a web design and development practice in Canton, NY. The local Chamber of Commerce provided a low-rent office and exposure to the business community in St. Lawrence County, and before long I was doing some work for local clients. Over the next 7 years, I was privileged to work with clients in Northern … Continue reading A Lesson from Failure
This post promotes BlueHost, a high-quality web hosting company with which I have an affiliate agreement. I will receive a commission for purchases made after visiting BlueHost from links in this post. It has never been easier to make a website that is both affordable and professional. With affordable web hosts like BlueHost and powerful, … Continue reading How To Make a Website with WordPress
Reputation matters when doing business face-to-face, and it matters a great deal for your website. Potential customers will judge your business website by its appearance, by the well-written content that educates them, and by the helpful links to high-quality, professional resources that you share. Perhaps you’re thinking, “I have worked hard to get people to … Continue reading SEO: Outbound links can help your website’s reputation
Search engine optimization (SEO) is not as difficult as you think. While there are enough advanced techniques to make your head spin, at its simplest level SEO is all about content. If your website ignores the words a customer uses to find your business on Google, you will be invisible. That customer will choose another … Continue reading SEO: If It’s Not in Your Content Google Won’t Find It
Small business owners are often tempted to abdicate their online marketing tasks when they should delegate them. Most business owners are great at doing the work of their business but lack confidence when it comes to “all that marketing stuff.” Is this true of you? You can know you’ve abdicated your marketing role if your website and … Continue reading Avoid a Website Hostage Situation
Our God fights for us. As we read in Exodus, just before Moses and the Israelites crossed the Red Sea they were in a terrible place—hemmed in by the Red Sea on the front, mountains on each side, and a massive Egyptian army behind that was intent on taking them captive. In the middle of … Continue reading Facing Struggles? God Will Fight for You.
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”—Psalm 53:1 God is free with his criticism of those who deny his existence. But does God also look askance at those who are not certain enough to affirm his existence? On one hand, I sympathize with an agnostic point of view in that it refuses … Continue reading Two Kinds of Agnosticism, and Faith in God
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are … Continue reading Can Christians Expect Suffering?
It seems that nothing worthwhile is ever really finished. Repetitive tasks are a significant part of our work. A young mother feeds her baby. In a short while, she will feed him again. A gardener removes all the weeds from a flowerbed so that flowers have room to bloom. Next week, he will do it … Continue reading Why Repetitive Tasks Are Often Important
We looked out over the pounding surf of the Atlantic Ocean from New Jersey’s southernmost shore. Cape May Point’s white sand beach was beautiful, and despite the cool breeze my two youngest children removed their shoes and socks to feel the sand between their toes. We looked around for a few minutes, picking up some … Continue reading Fishing for new customers? Enthusiasm hooks them.
I recently spoke with a small business owner who was reeling from a discouraging interaction with a customer. This customer stole merchandise worth several hundred dollars and refused to pay for it or to acknowledge any wrong-doing. When something like this happens to a small business owner, it is hard to open the doors the next day, … Continue reading Theft Is No Reason to Close Your Small Business
I can accept failure but I can’t accept not trying. — Michael Jordan We want life to be perfect. And easy. If we can’t have perfect, then we’ll settle for the path of least resistance. This path seems most inviting when we are discouraged, weary, spent. There is an alternative to “easy.” It requires perseverance. … Continue reading No more waiting for perfect
If you do creative work that requires prolonged periods of concentration, it can help to have background noise that blocks out the distractions. Today, through some conversations with friends, I found three different services that you might find helpful: Coffitivity plays coffee shop background noise to help kickstart your creativity. Personally, I think it works … Continue reading Background noise for creativity
The zany 2003 movie Elf featured Will Ferrill as Buddy, a befuddled human-who-thinks-he’s-an-elf. Buddy’s friend Jovie is afraid to sing in front of others even though she has a beautiful voice. Buddy advises her, “The best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.” Regardless of the season, it seems to … Continue reading Singing loud for all to hear
…and in return, get something much more valuable. Our world is continually more connected physically and electronically. Yet that isn’t all we need; we also crave an authentic human connection. On Friday, I listened to a thought provoking Pat Flynn podcast about the Entrepreneurial Mindset, and I am reading Seth Godin’s book, The Icarus Deception. … Continue reading Give Away Your Best Ideas
If you own a business but do not yet have a Web site, there has never been a better time to get a cheap yet professional Web site. Until recently, the only way to create a professional Web site was to hire a Web developer to create a custom design for your business. This was … Continue reading How to Get a Cheap yet Professional Website
The primary aim of your business is to transact with customers. The only way transact on the Web is to build trust. Trust is a delicate thing, and it does not survive misinformation or manipulation. Avoid trying to engineer results. Focus instead on providing value and meeting real needs.
In music, call-and-response is a dialog in which one musician initiates a musical phrase and others respond with their variation on that phrase. Similarly, in business, a call to action is the entry-point to a what marketers call a response mechanism. A call to action invites a potential customer to take action in response to … Continue reading Call-and-response in marketing
Have you ever wrestled with competing priorities? For anyone determined to live a life that counts, this is probably inevitable. Suppose you want to learn a new programming language, and you also feel a need to develop a daily running habit. In order to find time to acquire your programming language, you stay up late … Continue reading Focus: prioritizing good alternatives
Despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, many still sell the idea that the Web is a money-making machine. Thousands of websites promise simple techniques that will allow us to become wealthy with little effort – after helping us part with a large sum of money.
In the past, I’ve argued against using any kind of automation for Twitter accounts. In my post, Connecting authentically on the Web, I said, “Keep connection attempts human to human; always be personal. You can’t automate human interactions and expect to build trust. Some things are important enough to remain high-touch in our overly efficient … Continue reading Simple etiquette for automating Twitter direct messages
If you are new to marketing on the Web, your website probably seems like one of the loneliest places in the world. You may be asking yourself why such amazing content or such an innovative product can go unnoticed. Don’t worry, your lack of visitors is not a reflection on your business, website, or your … Continue reading Your Website Needs Customers, Not Just Visitors.
When developing new ideas, software, content, or processes, refactoring often follows the nascence of a creative solution. Refactoring is immensely valuable, yet it has taken years as a professional Web developer for me to realize how important this task is to the long-term viability of my work. Even though the idea of refactoring is borrowed … Continue reading In Praise of Refactoring
Your business doesn’t have to be the world’s best to survive. You just have to be available and ready to improve. Bear with me a moment, and I’ll explain why. I just returned from spending a magical afternoon wandering the aisles of the Reading Terminal Market in downtown Philadelphia. I had visited the market about 20 … Continue reading Why You Don’t Have to Be the Best
Our childhood training from preschool onward teaches us to prize quick results. Our teachers grade tests and papers. They mark our mistakes in red; our successes get smiley faces. In sports, the all important statistic is the number of wins we’ve accrued. Our parents enroll us in music lessons and put our skills on display … Continue reading Celebrate Process. Grow Continually.
I am persistent, sometimes even tenacious. When I start something, I don’t like to quit. Persistence helps us overcome difficulty. It assists us as we attempt to make it through the dip that stops many others from completing difficult tasks. Persistence enabled Martin Luther King, Jr. to see past the injustice, opposition, and heartache to … Continue reading When Persistence Is Not Enough
I have a voice in my head that chatters at me incessantly. I’m sure you do as well. Sometimes this voice is a friend, but often it personifies all of our negative self-perceptions and amplifies them with its unstoppable yammering. Often this voice stops us from trying new things for fear of failure, or even … Continue reading City in a Desert
I am glad that I own a Belkin car charger for my iPhone. I discovered this today when my phone battery died at the office. Belkin’s charger has the standard cigarette lighter plug, but that plug has a removable USB cable that lets me charge my phone either in the car or in the office. … Continue reading Mediocrity and Excellence
On my way to work this morning, my car notified me that one of my tires was losing pressure. I didn’t know which one. Perhaps in our post-modern times it’s possible to make cars advanced enough to check the air pressure in all of their tires, but it’s still impossible to display which tire has an … Continue reading Why Customer Service Still Matters
It is sometimes overwhelming to make choices about how to market your business online. Information abounds about possible tactics and strategies for success. If you are like most small business owners, you often hear from Web developers, Search Engine Marketers, and SEO experts who claim to have the magic formula for online marketing success. This barrage … Continue reading Connecting Authentically on the Web
The mind is a fertile place, so let’s take care what we plant there. It is widely believed, by everyone from Dr. Phil to James Allen, that what we think about or meditate on will grow to produce fruit – either good or bad. In this post, I share some thoughts about this principle and some … Continue reading Leadership and the Garden of Your Mind
I don’t enjoy lawn work. During my seven years living in New York state, I owned a home with a very low maintenance yard. All I needed to do was mow it each week and edge the lawn once or twice each summer. Even so, I did not look forward to caring for my lawn. … Continue reading Small Business Marketing and Lawn Care
You might think that small businesses have nothing to learn from their grown-up corporate cousins, but you’d be sadly mistaken. With their focus on profit and growth and comparative financial freedom, corporations are able to focus and innovate in ways that small businesses do well to emulate, and these innovations will help small businesses avoid … Continue reading Big Business Lessons for Small Businesses