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The Art of Completing Internet Marketing Projects

by Steve Scott | Join Him On Facebook

Completing projects is a major challenge for Internet marketers.  If you’re like most people, your “to-do list” is way longer than your to-done list.

I used to have a lot of trouble with finishing my online business projects.  What finally worked was a combination of ideas I learned from the Getting Things Done book and a few pointers from my dad.

Today I’d like to give a quick and dirty way to tackle all those Internet marketing projects you’ve been meaning to complete.  This is a system I’ve successfully used for a few years. Perhaps it’ll help you as well!

Step 1 – Define your Outcome

You can’t work on a project till there’s a clear outcome.  This is goal setting 101 – Create a measurable goal and a date that it will be achieved.

So obviously a terrible goal would be “Have an awesome Facebook fan page.”

On the other hand, a quality goal would be something like “Own a Facebook page for my blog that has 5000 fans by July 1st 2011.”

See the difference between the two?

Step 2 – Define your Tasks

Many projects aren’t completed because it’s hard to know where to start.  I suggest a simple solution.  Get out a piece of paper.  Write down the goal at the top.  Then list each task that needs to be completed in order to achieve this goal.

You probably won’t be able to identify every task.  But this process helps clarify those actionable items that push one step closer to your outcome.

As an example, the Facebook goal I mentioned before is one of my current projects.  Yesterday, I wrote down a series of tasks like these:

  • Set up fan page for Steve Scott Site
  • Add photos and fill out profile
  • Get 25 fans and then create a unique URL for my fan page
  • Write a free report to give away to fans
  • Outsource the graphic design for this free report
  • Find 10 successful landing pages and study their elements
  • Outsource (or design) a Facebook landing page using what I learned
  • Contact an outsource worker to “add people” to my Facebook fan page

Some of these tasks need to be further clarified.  The important thing is to have a specific document that’s used to monitor the completion of a project.

Step 3 – Block Time for this Project

This is an area where many Internet marketers stumble.  Most are great at writing blog posts, commenting daily, and handling the day-to-day stuff.  But it’s hard to tackle a long-term project because it’s not urgent.

I suggest scheduling time blocks on your to-do list.  These will be periods of time that are dedicated to working on an individual project.  It really doesn’t matter when you work on these tasks.  Just as long as they’re getting done!

Step 4 – Adopt a “What’s Next” Mentality

Here’s where the rubber meets the road…

Take a look at your list of task and work on “what’s next.”  People often give up on a project because they simply don’t know what to do.  By creating a series of action items, it’s easy to know what task needs to be completed.

Furthermore, there are certain items on this list must be done before another task.  Using the Facebook example from before, I can’t set up a landing page till I have a free report to give away.  That’s why it’s important for me to get this done before worrying about anything else.

Step 5 – Keep Working Till You’re Done!

This should go without saying.  Keep working on this project till it’s completed.  Don’t get sidetracked by any obstacles.  When you encounter one, sit down and brainstorm a solution.  Then do it!  If that doesn’t work, go back to the drawing board and try something else.

It’s important to be a little single-minded with your projects.   There’s a reason you start one.  In all likelihood, it’s something that will help grow your online business.  The trick is to develop a plan for taking a random idea and turning it into something that helps you earn Internet income.

Well…Duh!

I know this might seem like an overly simplistic solution to project management.  You might be thinking, “Duh Steve, everyone knows this.”

In my opinion, the simplest solutions are often the best ones.  What this ALL comes down to is detailing the tasks needed to complete a project and then actually doing them!

What do you think?

Take Action. Get Results.



{ 27 comments }

Matthew Needham

Hi Steve, you mention a couple of points that rank very true here. I allow myself 2 hours every Friday afternoon to figure out what my priorities and tasks are for each of my projects. Making time is vital for being successful.

Secondly, visualising the outcome i.e. sitting in front of your computer on July 1st, logged on to Facebook with 5000 fans and messages from all over the blogosphere is a good one.

The reverse task engineering is extremely effective and I use it all the time on my projects to work out what I need to do. (it’s actual name is Program Evaluation and Review Technique – PERT For short),

It essentailly requires to imagine sitting in front of your computer seeing and interacting with these Fans and then figuring out what task you need to do immediately before that? Then keep repeating. Until you’ve reached the very first task.

Agree, David Allen’s book is great. It really boosted my productivity enormously.

Matthew

Steve Scott

Matthew ,

PERT sounds like an great system. Visualizing your goals and then mapping out the steps to get there makes a lot of sense.

The important thing is that some goals and plans are made otherwise people will be flopping wround in the dark without an idea of where to go and what to do.

Jan Bear

One thing I’ve found helpful is to make a very short list, 3-5 items, of things to get done today. It will include recurring things, like regular blog posts and my weekly article commitments, as well as something from whatever non-repeating project I’m working on.

This addresses two problems: 1) I would get going on the non-repeating project and not post to my website or vice versa; 2) I would get overwhelmed with all the stuff there is to do and not do any of it.

Internet marketing tasks are fun, but man! there are a lot of them.

Steve Scott

Jan

Any sort of list of non repeating projects is great. They are the easy ones to put off and/or forget, for all the reasons you stated.

Thanks for a solid idea for people to follow.

Shane Ryans

Steve,

You are correct. We sometimes need to think in simple term. You can’t get anything done if you are not aware of actually what you need to do in the task list.

Brenton Russell

Hi Steve,

In line with what you and I have commented on other posts recently, visual cues can be a very powerful way to stay focussed and motivated on your projects.

Your steps above are an excellent way to define and plan your project. After this project planning stage, having a vision board where you can include visual cues of your projects is very effective in maintaining your project focus.

Fran Aslam

Hi Steve:

Yes this is a great post. As many people need it. I have suddenly, smartened up too. Though things will be better after the first. There is so much going on, on the Internet, in the offline market place, and then these Christmas parties, all take time.

I do look back at my weekly work too. But not with a hunter. Your post is awesome and the book you mentioned, I will have to read. I might get better.

Thanks for all the information

fran A

Paul Roberson

“To-done list” …love it…I wish I had one of those!

You I think we all struggle with these to do list because its a list that is meant for 2 or 3 people. We are trying to do them all by allselves but the reality is that blogs and internet marketing is a business that really deserves a group working on them.

Love your list to help get things done because it helps to be reminded how to plan out your task.

To add one more to that list:

A big time saver is to get off Facebook as a hobby!

Love your post!

Steve Scott

I certainly prefer my lists in the “to-done” stage 😉

I certainly agree with the getting off facebook (and twitter and TV and web surfing and excessive video games). These can be the reason that a lot of people “have no time” to get what they want done.

My problem is the opposite with Twitter/facebook, though. I avoid them a little too much because I do not want to make them a time sink and I usually only spend about 15 mins a dy…and that is not enough to “connect” for business purposes.

Dan Lew @ Make Money Online

Hey Steve,

Great post and I can clearly understand where you are coming from, the thing is we are always in a constant juggle with keeping organized and getting things done. If you can identify the most important tasks and get those done first it will surely help!

Have a great day!

Dan

Steve Scott

Thanks Dan! Glad you liked it.

Have a wonderful weekend!

JimiJones@PersonalDevelopment

You’ve explained the process very well and I agree 100 %. There is just too much going on in most people’s lives to get anything accomplished without using this or a similar technique. This is a proven method, as long as we take continual action.

As you’ve pointed out, this sound simplistic, but this stuff works big-time.

Steve Scott

Jimi,

Sometimes I hate explaining “simple” things or things that are “overly” talked about like “content is king”

The fact of the matter is, though, that they truly ARE talked about so much ecause they are really important.

Thanks for the comment! Have a great weekend!

Patricia@lavenderuses

Hi steve

Some very practical advice here. I find if I write my goals down I do get more down. Also if I brainstorm my ideas. Gets the creative juices going and inspires me to get on and do it.

Sharing my plans also get me motivated. Accountability for me is a good thing. Some people just get on and do it. I do with some tasks, but others I sometimes need a gentle reminder 😉

Love all the suggestions here and whenever I read posts like this it does remind me of why I am blogging. Thanks Steve. Another quality post with very practical application.

Patricia Perth Australia

Steve Scott

Thanks Patricia,

Glad you liked it.

I like reading things about productivity for some of the same reasons… even if you know it it gives a gentle kick in the butt.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Justin Popovic

Hey Steve,

Great advice. Online marketing can be a blessing and curse because it is SO easy and cheap to start new projects. The blessing is the ease and low cost, the curse is the tendency to give up easily on things because you did not invest anything up front.

I always have 20-30 ideas in the pipeline but only the bandwidth to manage 2 or 3 at a time. When I find something with good traction I pretty much drop EVERYTHING until I have that project up and running (and earning income of course :D). The down side of this is that my blog, for example, might get ignored for a couple of weeks until I am done.

I think there is a fine balance in there somewhere… just have to keep working towards it!

Steve Scott

Justin,

I am not a fan of dropping blog content to finish a project (though I understand it)

OUtside of that though, I do the same a lot. That is: Make a little headway on a few projects then push one until it is done. It is not a bad system, since it makes it less likely for a project to die halfway done.

Thanks for the comment and have an awesome weekend!

Adam Paudyal

Right on Steve. Awesome pointers here.

Visualizing the outcome is the tactic I have started to use recently, especially when doing the videos..and it certainly helps a lot in getting them done. When I see the end product in my mind, it gives me the steps to follow; so to speak.

The simplest solution are often the best ones. I really have to keep that at heart Steve because I feel like I always trying to make things complicated….I dunno why?

Thanks for the insightful post man.

Later..

Steve Scott

K.i.s.s

That is always a great principle to live by. People will naturally want to heap on things making projects more and more complicated. Almost always without need.

Things are naturally simple, if you can make projects simple they can really be at their most elegant.

Of course that is all easier said than done.

Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach

Focusing on what really works – it’s critical.

I’ve learned some pretty nifty things during 2010 that I’ll be apply to 2011…one of them being, communities make business far more enjoyable than single-shot interactions. Getting that to fruition however….lots of thought going into that….

Steve Scott

That is a great lesson to take from 2010.

Now that you say that, and I think about it, I think I have learned a lot of the same lesson in 2010. I think a large degree of whatever success I have had on this blog is due to connections with other users. Far more so than I ever would have though when I started this blog in early 2010

Kerry

Great tips Steve. I think the most important two steps are the first two you listed here. Without a definite goal and daily tasks to reach that goal in a certain time you most certainly will end up doing things that don’t really count towards where you are trying to go, which equals to a lot of wasted efforts.

When you know your goal and what you need to do each day to reach it, everything becomes a lot easier and your confidence that you’re going to reach your goals will be high. I also agree you should be a little single-minded with your projects so you can get everything done without distractions.

Steve Scott

Kerry,

You are absolutely right, with out specificity all anyone gets is really one heck of a lot of wasted effort.

ANY goal is better than none, but a specific goal with actionable steps leading directly to a specific and exact goal is really the best desired result.

Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

Alex@Jocuri

Not defining a boundary to your goals can be a very time consuming mistake, or rising your goals once you reached them (and although this is good it might prevent you from reaching other goals you have set).

Also, I really like and approve the idea of breaking bigger tasks into smaller chores, this way you wont be overwhelmed by the amount of work needed to lets say, make a Facebook page with 5000 fans. And when you take it step by step it seems more easy and faster. Not to mention it helps you identify tasks that can be outsourced.

lesley

Scheduling time is the biggest problem for people who work for themselves. One thing I;ve learned about myself in 2010 is that I prefer to work on something solidly, rather than flit from task to task. I’ve spent years fighting that, but now I’ve decided to go with the flow and try to schedule my time in a different way, so rather than spending part of the day on a writing project, some on planning some on marketing, I’ll be spending whole days on each one. I certainly break big tasks into small ones, but I’m going to avoid doing lots of different types of tasks in one day if I can. Will it work? I’ve no idea. But since it seems to be my natural inclination, I’m going to give it a try. I can always go back to the old way if it doesn’t.

Timo Kiander

Steve,

This is very effective way of handling your own projects. It is very easy to see what to do next and which tasks have to be done before you can complete your project.

I have been using this technique in my blog launch.

project planning online

Steve,

This is a great example of how to get things done.
I like using a combination of a big whiteboard, and the pomodoro technique to timebox what I do, which means that the tasks don’t drag on forever.
Writing things down definitely causes action, and also stops you forgetting them. Writing down means that the overwhelming sensation is made much less, especially as you tick things off of the board, and see what you have achieved.
Personally I don’t think that these sorts of situations require anything deeply involving in terms of project management, they will still be very simple even if you wanted to know when your completion date would be, knowing the relationships between your tasks, and the people that you outsource to.
What breaking things down to that level would do, however is show you the true value of your outsourcing efforts, in terms of the tasks you can do in parallel whilst your outsourced workers are doing something else.

Keep up the good work, I will be back!

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