Tuesday, 22 January 2019

How To Live Stream Pre Recorded Videos To Facebook Page For Free

How To Live Stream Pre Recorded Videos To Facebook Page For Free

Live Stream Recorded Videos To Facebook page

There is no denying the fact that videos have taken the digital world by storm!

And as a digital entrepreneur, your job is to ensure your social media subscribers receive a decent number of engaging content on a regular basis. And surveys suggest that the most engaging content is video.

Creating new video content is not usually as simple as text content. Videos typically take more time and resources.

But, I have a solution for you. A trick of sorts.

Curious?

Well, in this article, you will learn how you can LIVE stream your existing videos to a Facebook page.

Because live videos get more visibility than regular videos, you will make your existing content reach more people.

Just follow the steps below to live stream any of your existing videos from your desktop to your Facebook page.

How To Stream Live On Facebook Page From Desktop Using Pre-Recorded Videos:

The first thing you need is the “Stream Key” from your Facebook page. This is a unique key that every page has. It enables us to use the streaming software we need.

Here is how you can get it:

  • Go to your Facebook page and click on Publishing Tools > Video Library > +Live.

Facebook-stream-Key

You will see a pop-up. Copy the “Stream Key”.

Stream-Key-for-Facebook-live

As per Facebook: Keep the Stream Key a secret. Anyone can use them to stream videos to your post. This stream key is valid for seven days. Once you preview the video, you have up to 5 hours to go live. If you need more time, create a new stream key.

  • Click on Next. You will see the “Create Live Video” screen as shown below.

Create-live-video-Facebook

Do not close this window. After we configure the streaming software, we will use the screen above to go LIVE.

Configuring Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) For Streaming Pre-Recorded Videos As ‘Live’ Video On Facebook:

  • Download and install Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) for your computer’s OS (download link).
  • Open the OBS application.
  • Click on Settings > Stream and then paste the stream key in the Stream key field.
  • Click on OK.

Configuring-Open-Broadcast-software-

Now, click on the + icon in the Sources field and select VLC Video Source.

Add-video-file-

Now, we need to create a playlist. This playlist could consist of one video or more. It depends entirely on your goal. For this tutorial, I’m streaming only one video.

  • Give a name to the playlist and click OK.

Create-new-playlist

On the next screen, you should configure how you want the stream to happen. For example, live streaming should work only when the software is running in the foreground, or you can set it to stream even when the software is minimized.

In my case, I’m letting it stream even after the video is minimized by using the option “Always play even when not visible”.

You can add as many videos as you like by clicking the “+” icon.

Add-videos-to-stream

  • Click on OK to add this video to your streaming list.
  • Mute the Mic/Aux.
  • Click on Start Streaming.

Start-streaming

  • Now, go back to the Facebook window and click on GO LIVE.

Go-live

If you have followed all the steps mentioned above, you will see a screen like this:

Facebook-Live-video-metricsYou should test this first as a trial video to get the hang of how OBS and this whole “pre-recorded live streaming” thing works.

However, there are a couple of issues that you may face:

  • You need to end the live stream manually. If not, the stream will continue in a loop.
  • Streaming video from the 0.00-second mark on Facebook: You can overcome this by configuring the streaming delay in OBS Settings > Advanced.

Live-stream-video-delay

OBS is indeed one of the best free solutions for live streaming pre-recorded videos. There are also many other solutions that offer advanced features which could be better for any digital marketing companies acting on behalf of a client.

Here are some popular (paid) solutions:

For a blogger or startup who is looking for a free solution, OBS is the best bet.

Go ahead and stream some of your existing videos on your Facebook page. It may take 2-3 times before you get the whole process right, but if you follow these instructions, you should have no problem.

After you try, come back and let me know how it goes. I look forward to hearing about your experience!

Also, read:

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How To Live Stream Pre Recorded Videos To Facebook Page For Free is a post from ShoutMeLoud - Shouters Who Inspires



Wednesday, 16 January 2019

11 Killer Ways To Promote YouTube Videos For More Views

11 Killer Ways To Promote YouTube Videos For More Views

Promote YouTube Videos

Do you have a YouTube channel & publish videos regularly?

Wondering how you can increase videos views on YouTube?

It doesn’t matter how much time you put into creating your videos; if you are not marketing & promoting your videos, your work will never be seen by the majority of your target audience.

But YouTube video promotion is an art which anyone can learn… with a little discipline.

In this guide, I have shared strategies and techniques that you can follow to market & promote your YouTube videos.

These tips are tested, proven, and work for videos from almost every niche. Think of this post as a checklist that you need to follow once you are done producing your videos.

Best ways to promote your YouTube videos:

  1. Video Title (Optimize it for more clicks)
  2. Video Tags – Utilize the 500 characters limit
  3. Use a good thumbnail
  4. Use Intro and outro video for Branding
  5. Promote videos on Social media channels
  6. Start a blog for YouTube channel
  7. Use YouTube Playlist
  8. Use Call to action
  9. Interview Influencers In Your Niche
  10. YouTube’s Creator Academy
  11. Share your latest video with your YouTube community

So without further delay, let’s learn the art of YouTube video promotion!

Also see: YouTube SEO Tips (Opens in a new tab)

How To Promote A YouTube Video & Get More Views

I have covered all major promotion techniques in the sub-topics below.

Note: In upcoming posts in our YouTube promotion series, I will explain these sub-topics in detail. If you are a professional YouTuber or are planning to become one, you should subscribe to our blog updates or download our iOS/Android app to stay updated.

1. Video Title (Optimize it for more clicks)

The titles of your videos are a major deciding factor between them being widely seen & shared across the internet, or only getting a small number of views.

It’s a good idea to do proper YouTube keyword research to find what people are searching for and then crafting a great title around that.

Youtube Video Title

Here are some tips for writing great video titles on YouTube:

  • Keep them short and to the point.
  • Add the current year if you can (Ex: Best Tips for 2018).
  • Make it attention-grabbing.
  • Include keywords at the beginning of the title (where possible).
  • Use “Power Words” (Ex: Best, Awesome, Incredible).
  • Use emotional triggers words (Ex: Sensual, Lonely, Passionate, Censored).
  • Capitalize your headline title. Use this tool to help you.

2. Video Tags – Utilize the 500 characters limit

One of the biggest mistakes that hinder the growth of your YouTube video’s organic promotion is incorrect tag usage.

Tagging in YouTube works differently than it does in a blog post. If you’ve never paid attention to YouTube tags, now’s a good time to start. You can even go back and edit all of your old tags.

Here are some rules for using YouTube video tags:

  • Use a unique branded tag so that your videos are shown in related videos. Ex: Use your brand name in all videos. (See below screenshot.)
  • Use your main keywords as the video tag.
  • Use a variation of your keyword as a tag (take help of the YouTube auto-suggest feature).
  • Find the tags used by high ranking videos & use those in your video. You can use the TubeBuddy Chrome extension to help you find tags used by others.

Video Tags

Do remember, YouTube video tags are an important factor for the organic ranking of videos.

3. Use A Custom Thumbnail

Verified YouTube accounts can take advantage of the custom thumbnail feature. A good video thumbnail helps you stand out in the related video and suggested video section.

Here are some tips for thumbnails:

  • Have a resolution of 1280 x 720 (with a minimum width of 640 pixels).
  • Upload in either .JPG, .GIF, .BMP, or .PNG.
  • Keep it under 2MB.
  • Try to use a 16:9 aspect ratio as it’s the most used in YouTube players and previews.

I don’t want to confuse you with these technicalities, but it’s important for you to know this so that you can craft a thumbnail that works well on desktops as well as mobile devices.

Use A Custom Thumbnail

You can use Canva or YouZign to design a thumbnail for YouTube videos in minutes.

Watch this video to learn more about creating clickable thumbnails:

4. Use Intro and outro video for Branding

There are a few branding things that you should do from now on which will ensure every video stands out. One of those things is using a branded intro and outro.

  • YouTube intro: A 3-5 second clip that runs at the beginning to showcase your brand.
  • YouTube outro: This runs at the end and can be as simple as showing related videos for your channel or asking users to like & subscribe to videos.

Getting a YouTube intro & outro video is easy, and you can create them yourself using Camtasia or you can hire someone from Fiverr.

Take a look at this video and see the outro I got created for me from someone on Fiverr: (Browse to 3.53 seconds for video outro)

If you don’t have a channel logo yet, do get that designed, too.

Check out: How To Build A Personal Brand (and why you need one)

5. Share Videos On Social Media Channels

If you are a video blogger, you should have some social media properties for your YouTube channel. This gives you an opportunity to create a community outside of YouTube & direct traffic from other popular social media/social networking channels.

Here are some of the social media properties that you must create:

  • Facebook page
  • Twitter profile
  • YouTube Stories
  • Instagram profile
  • Pinterest profile

You can use a tool like SocialPilot to schedule videos to be shared on your social media channels.

One important tip here:

  • Always share your video after a regular interval.

I typically share each video at least 10-15 times within eight months after publishing. Also, use hashtags when sharing so that others can easily discover them.

6. Start A Blog For Your YouTube Channel

If you are a full-time YouTuber, you shouldn’t miss out on creating a blog for your YouTube videos. These days, it’s pretty easy to embed YouTube videos onto a blog & you can start a blog.

I recommend you to create a blog using WordPress & use a video-specific WordPress theme. If you are already making money from Youube, It’s better for you to use Managed WordPress Hosting so that you don’t have to worry about blog maintenance.

Bonus Tip: You can also buy a domain name & redirect it to your YouTube channel. This way when someone asks you “How can I find you on YouTube?”, simply share the domain name. Use this coupon from GoDaddy to buy a domain name for $2.

7. Utilize YouTube Playlist Or Add Video To An Existing Playlist

A YouTube playlist is a great way to get more views on your existing videos. When you are done uploading a new video, add it to a playlist (either one you create or an existing one).

If you are creating a new playlist, follow these steps:

  1. Give a meaningful name to the playlist & have a keyword in the title of that playlist.
  2. Add a detailed description of the playlist and put your keyword(s) in there.
  3. Group similar videos into one playlist.
  4. A single video can be listed in more than one playlist.

YouTube playlists also appear in search results. By doing this, further discovery of your videos is increased.

Create Playlist

Watch this below video to learn about creating a Playlist on YouTube:

8. Use Calls To Action

People on social media sites need to be told about the actions you want them to take.

At the end of the video, or even somewhere in middle, ask viewers to like & subscribe to your channel. At the same time, you can ask them to share the video with others who might benefit from it.

Most of the prominent YouTube stars use this technique to take advantage of their existing viewership. If you have never done this before, start doing it from your next video onward. You will be amazed to discover that by simply asking, the number of shares increases by a great extent.

9. Interview Influencers In Your Niche

This one is not a direct YouTube video promotion technique that will boost your channel, and it fits perfectly in the overall strategy of your channel promotion.

Interviewing an influencer gives you an opportunity to get access to an already thriving community in your niche. Not only you will grab the attention of others who follow that particular influencer,  you will also get noticed by the industry as a whole.

You can find the top influencers in your niche & you can interview them using Google Hangouts, Zoom or Skype. For Skype, you can use a tool like Ecamm call recorder. The free version of Zoom allows video recording of up to 45 minutes, which is what I use these days.

10. YouTube’s Creator Academy

Learning at Youtube Creator Academy

One mistake most of the growing YouTube marketers make is they just focus on publishing more videos & stop learning.

YouTube is one of the fastest changing platforms, and it’s important for you to learn about all of the existing and emerging tips and tricks.

Youtube Creator Academy

You can use Creator Academy by YouTube to learn some pro tips for making the most out of your YouTube videos (and your channel as a whole). When I started learning here, I was surprised to learn so many growth hacks & tricks which I would have otherwise missed.

11. Post to your YouTube community (Bonus)

YouTube is silently building a social network and you can promote a video on YouTube by using the post to community feature. Simply click on the + icon on YouTube web or mobile app, and click  “Create post“.

Now, type the message and link to the video that you want to promote. You can add .gif or images or even run a poll to make it more engaging. Your community can like and also comment on your post which is a great signal for higher engagement. This is yet, one of the untapped free video promotion technique.

Now, your turn…

Promote Your YouTube Videos And Get More Views

Well, these are some simple promotion strategies & techniques that you can use from today onward for your YouTube videos.

These tricks and tips will surely help you get a lot more traffic, and ultimately, more YouTube subscribers.

Now it’s your turn to share how you are promoting videos on YouTube after you hit the ‘publish’ button. Let me hear about your promotion strategies! I’ll keep updating this post with all of the best suggestions from the comments section.

If you find any of the listed tips useful, share them with your YouTuber friends! And don’t forget to join me on YouTube!

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11 Killer Ways To Promote YouTube Videos For More Views is a post from ShoutMeLoud - Shouters Who Inspires



Monday, 14 January 2019

How To Prevent Image Hotlinking In WordPress (3 Working Methods)

How To Prevent Image Hotlinking In WordPress (3 Working Methods)

Disable Image Hotlinking in WordPress

Most people know that stealing is wrong. But when it comes to stealing your web server’s resources and bandwidth, a lot of people either don’t care or simply don’t realize that their actions can have an adverse effect.

Of course, I’m talking about image hotlinking, not breaking into your host’s data center.

Hotlinking is where another site embeds the images hosted on your server. For example, randomblog.com might use images that are hosted on ShoutMeLoud.com.

There are a few negatives from this approach, which is why you might want to disable image hotlinking in WordPress.

In this post, I will share three different methods that you can use to turn off hotlinking on your WordPress site. While these methods will help you turn it off in general, you’ll still be able to let specific sites hotlink your images if desired.

Why You Should Consider Disabling Image Hotlinking In WordPress

When other sites hotlink your images, they drain your server’s resources and might even cost you money (if you have to pay for bandwidth). Especially if you are using a managed WordPress hosting, chances are high that you have limited bandwidth.

Even though the image is appearing on someone else’s site, your web server still needs to process that request and deliver the image to that site. If that site gets a lot of traffic, that’s going to be a lot of requests for your server to process, which might slow down your site.

Beyond that, many hosts charge based on the amount of bandwidth that you use. Hotlinking images use your bandwidth as well, so you might end up paying more so that someone else can use your images!

Some sites don’t mind – for example, some webcomics actually encourage people to hotlink images.

But unless you get some benefit from letting people hotlink your images, you’ll probably want to disable hotlinking on your WordPress site.

How To Tell If People Are Already Hotlinking Your Images

Want to see if people are already hotlinking your images? All you need to do is search for this in Google Images:

inurl:yoursite.com -site:yoursite.com

Make sure to replace “yoursite.com” with your actual domain name:

example of hotlinked images

You’ll get some false positives – but it will also find locations where people have hotlinked your images.

How To Disable Image Hotlinking In WordPress With .htaccess

If you feel comfortable editing your WordPress site’s .htaccess file, it’s rather simple to disable hotlinking without the need for a plugin. This is the method that I recommend for most bloggers, though I will also cover some other ways in the forthcoming sections.

To follow this method, you’ll need to be able to either:

  • Connect to your site via FTP
  • Access cPanel File Manager

I will show you how it works using FTP and the free FileZilla FTP program, but the same principles apply no matter how you access your server.

Step 1: Connect To Your Server Via FTP

To get started, use FileZilla to connect to your server via FTP. If you’re not sure how to do this, your host’s support staff should be able to help. For example, here’s SiteGround’s article on FTP.

When you’re connected, browse to the folder for your WordPress site:

access ftp to disable image hotlinking in wordpresss

Step 2: Generate .htaccess Code Snippet

Next, use the free hotlink protection tool to generate the code snippet that you will need for the next step.

This tool lets you exclude specific sites from being blocked. You should definitely add your domain there. Beyond that, I recommend adding the popular search engines and social networks to ensure they’ll have no issues working with your images.

You can leave the rest of the fields as the defaults:

Generate .htaccess Code Snippet

Once you’re done, click the Generate .htaccess file button at the bottom to generate the relevant code snippet. It should look something like this:

hotlink htaccess

Keep this window open because you will need this code snippet in the next step.

Step 3: Edit .htaccess File And Add Code Snippet

Once you’ve successfully connected to your site, right-click on the .htaccess file in your site’s root folder and edit it. Your root folder is the same folder that contains the wp-admin folder and wp-config.php file:

edit .htaccess

Add the code snippet from the previous step to your site’s .htaccess file:

code snippet

Then, make sure to save your .htaccess file and, if necessary, re-upload it to your server.

And that’s it! People will no longer be able to hotlink your images.

If desired, you can use the tool from Step 2 to automatically display a placeholder image whenever someone tries to hotlink your images. If you want to do this, I would recommend hosting that image on Dropbox or Google Drive so that you don’t waste your own server’s resources:

Blocked Image URL

How To Disable Image Hotlinking In WordPress With Plugins

If you don’t want to use the .htaccess method above, some WordPress security plugins include built-in functionality to help you block hotlinking.

Again, I think the .htaccess method above is your best option, but the free All In One WP Security & Firewall plugin can also help you do it.

Once you install and activate the plugin, go to WP Security → Firewall. Then, choose the Prevent Hotlinks tab and check the box to Prevent Image Hotlinking:

Prevent Image Hotlinking

How To Disable Image Hotlinking using Cloudflare

If you’re using the popular Cloudflare service as a content delivery network, it includes a built-in dashboard setting that lets you disable hotlinking. It’s called Hotlink Protection.

To enable hotlink protection in Cloudflare, go to your Cloudflare dashboard and navigate to the ScrapeShield tab:

Cloudflare ScrapeShield

Then, scroll down to the Hotlink Protection setting and turn it on:

Cloudflare hotlink protection

If you want to allow hotlinking for certain images, you can create a separate “hotlink-ok” folder and add images that can be hotlinked there (this help article explains it). One common use of this functionality would be to let people hotlink your logo or other marketing assets.

Consider Disabling Image Hotlinking In WordPress Today

While there are some situations where you might want to let people hotlink your images, most blogs don’t get any benefit, and there are real negatives because you’re wasting your server resources powering the images for someone else’s site.

Thankfully, it’s easy to disable image hotlinking in WordPress.

For most WordPress sites, I recommend using the .htaccess method because it’s simple and it lets you allow hotlinking for certain sites (like search engines and social networks).

Otherwise, you can use a WordPress plugin, or take advantage of the built-in hotlink protection from services like Cloudflare.

Do you have any other questions about how to disable hotlinks in WordPress? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

Here are a few hand-picked WordPress guides that you should check out next:

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How To Prevent Image Hotlinking In WordPress (3 Working Methods) is a post from ShoutMeLoud - Shouters Who Inspires



Friday, 4 January 2019

Revisiting 2018 – Do What Your Heart Feels is Right

Revisiting 2018 – Do What Your Heart Feels is Right

Last day of the year is always special. It’s the last time I sat down to write in 2018. It is also an excellent time to reflect upon things that happened this year and make plans for the year to come.

It’s been a while since I composed a yearly review, but here I am, documenting some of the moments of 2018 that I would like to remember forever. In the first week of December 17, We redesigned ShoutMeLoud and got a new logo and did some great work there. Sharat inked himself with ShoutMeLoud logo which is remarkable:

I started 2018 just after one of the most amazing trips to Antarctica, and for the first time, Delhi winter didn’t feel as freezing as it usually does. Now, unlike other years, 2018 was different.

It was a lot of introspection and self-learning for me. I had to fight a lot of my inner demons which I knew existed for years but never dared to face them.

It was more like trash piling up in one corner of the room that I knew was there, but I never took action.

The first half of the year unearthed many of them, and I realized that I  had to accept them before I could fight them.

When I look back, I feel I could have done better in the first half of the year. The only thing I could do was to surrender myself to the whole experience and acknowledge my achievements, realize my mistakes and use the learnings to make better decisions in the future.

2018 was the year when I made the most mistakes, which also makes it the year of great learnings.

I will try to put down my experience below so that you can learn from my mistakes and have a better year ahead.

Also, when I grow old, it would be nice to look back at this phase and smile.

Ok then, here we go:

January and February 2018

Last few months of 2017 were super exciting. I achieved things I never thought I would on personal as well as the financial front.

I kept thinking of early retirement as it felt like I had achieved most of my goals.

I stopped growing for a bit and my perspective changed from being a student of life to someone who thought he knew it all.

I had, unknowingly, started surrounding myself with people who were nice to me, rather than those who were honest in my face. Instead of taking actions, my impulse to seek recognition started increasing.

For me, it was a tough one to digest as I never thought I could be such a person. But it was happening!

The first two months of the year were the toughest and also the slowest for me.

Day-dreaming and running away from accountability, I was making my future difficult.

Sometimes it gets hard to see things when you are in the middle of it all. Don’t you agree?

I was almost in the midst of a mid-life crisis, figuring out what to do next.

It was not productive but the questions I was going through paved the way for time to come.

Me and Sharat did a road trip to Chandigarh to meet Chatty who is a smart young chap and was working on a few projects with us.

March 2018

March started with great pace, and the first significant thing that I did was a trip to Hong Kong with my team.

It was a conference that we attended it as an official media partner.

We also tested a lot of new stuff like:

  • Podcasts
  • Twitter chat

Podcasts and videos are going to one of the prime targets for 2019.

I also met Gary Illyes, Abhishek, Honey Singh and Fernando at different venues and events in the month of March:

April and May 2018

These two months were pretty busy with managing my finances and restructuring the company.

By the end of April, I moved away from managing the finances of my company which turned out to be a great decision. I also moved my whole blogging business to the newly formed company rather than managing under my name, something that paved the way for better structuring in the times to come.

This is the time when I shared my intention with my team of stepping down from the role of CEO of ShoutDreams and bringing someone knowledgeable to run the company so that I could focus on things that I like.

I could feel the pressure of increasing demand for growing the company and keeping up with writing content.

Honestly, running day-to-day operations was becoming a challenge. I had never felt so much pressure. Even though I knew the right thing to do, I was not sure what to do.

I could feel it in my heart that I was not enjoying what I was doing and that my business and life required some major changes.

The question I kept asking myself repeatedly were:

  • Do I really need to do this? 
  • Do I really need to build the company?
  • What’s next for ShoutMeLoud?

On the one hand, I knew it was an important thing to do considering the way we do business online was shifting. On the other hand, I felt I was getting too business-oriented and was losing my freedom.

I could feel the requirement of having more key players on my team. Maybe a content guy, a video editor, a graphics guy, maybe an app developer. However, I was not enjoying the part where I had to spend time hiring and letting go of people.

The pressure of running the company was taking a toll on my overall performance. Moreover, I was not sure what I wanted from my life anymore. I had not yet confronted my inner demons and was trying to ignore them as much as I could.

To add to my troubles, Shallu (my wife) met with an accident and hurt her back in April 2018. She was bed-ridden for 3 whole months. When this happened, for the first time in many, many, years, I was really scared. Seeing someone you love in pain is heart-wrenching. I’m sure you can resonate with that.

I was struggling with everything. It was not the best place to be, but I can’t deny the importance of that phase in my career.

I realized I should be spending more time working. Honestly, I was starting to enjoy work again, and I knew it was time to make some changes. I rented a space in co-working office called Regus and worked from there for a month.

It was a boring place to be, but I was still happy as I was breaking out of procrastination and getting work done.

I worked from this space for almost a month. I discontinued with it later because it was becoming too corporate – more like a 9-5 job!

One highlight of April was addressing the audience at MindmineSummit.

June 2018

June is usually an action-packed month for me. In June 2018, I traveled to Helsinki to attend the SummerJam by SEMRUSH. SummerJam is a private event by SEMRUSH where they invite some of the best minds from the SEO and marketing industry.

It was great connecting with like-minded people in Helsinki. Here are some pictures from the event.

I also met Victoria, former affiliate manager of SEMRUSH, who currently works with Supermetrics.

If you don’t remember her, here is the video we did together last year about affiliate marketing for businesses.

Another highilght was this “Blogging birthday cake” sent by my friend, which made my day:

July 2018 – Half cooked Europe trip

After the Summer Jam, I planned to travel to Europe for a month with my family. It was one of our dream trips. From Helsinki, we went to Amsterdam and Prague. The plan was to travel to more places.

However, on the 9th day when I was in Prague, one of my key team member shared his intention of saying goodbye. I already felt I wasn’t doing justice to my role and this news couldn’t have come at a worse time.

We abandoned the rest of the trip and returned to India. I realized how important it was for me to resolve the burning question of the future of the company – putting up the system in place, ensuring everyone gets proper growth and credit for their work. I wish I could have done this more pro-actively a few years back, but as I said, I was no one to complain about how my life was unfolding. More on this later.

August

Half of the year was gone, and I could feel the pressure of not doing anything significant.

It doesn’t matter how well one is doing financially or growing if the ❤ is not in sync with the mind. It’s struggle.

👆🏻was my state of mind, and the first thing I did was change my office space. I found a nice place near my home called Instaoffice where I rented a spot.

It was a dream office and I enjoyed being there from day one.

Instead of planning, I started getting things done.

But I had accumulated a lot of questions in the past few months, and the answers were nowhere to be found. The worst decision one can take is not taking any decision, and I was doing exactly that.

As it is, I was not feeling super pumped up about much I was doing.  Existential crisis along with mid-life crisis, it was a pretty awkward place to be in.

In the past 12 months, I lost two key players from my team, and I was failing to put up system and process. I was facing a new issue every day.

At the stage I was, it was not easy for me to open up to anyone and tell them what I was going through. I was feeling lonely, but I didn’t let anything affect my day-to-day activities. It felt like depression but I’m glad it wasn’t.

I was losing the whole perspective of my journey. I was unsure of what would happen next.

But life always has something to offer.

One gets help when he/she least expects, and this is what happened in August.

I opened up to a few close people and told them what I was going through.

“Are you enjoying what you are doing?”

A friend asked me this simple question, and straight away I knew the answer – No!

I was doing a lot of things that I wasn’t enjoying.

For example, working 9-6 thinking that working more was a solution.

Waiting for weekends to live life!

I was trying to live a perfect life which was not me. I was living someone else’s life.

I was not able to write regularly, because my heart was not in sync and nothing makes me better than journaling.

We discussed things, and after a lot of questions and introspection over the new few days, I realized I was doing the exact opposite of what my heart said.

Working 9-6 was not me, and there I was, forcing myself to work more thinking that was the solution.

Rather than looking at my problems with the lens of solving it, I was harsh on myself.

I was being cornered by my ego. I was not ready to accept my shortcomings.

Instead of keeping my blogging journey fun, being thankful for whatever I have, I was focused more on the things that I wasn’t able to accomplish.

Throughout, I knew I don’t enjoy doing some of those things and rather than asking “How” to solve it, I was looking at “Why” I couldn’t do it.

This is where I started following the mantra“Do what, heart says”.

I accepted the situation, and started to take it easy from there.

I started accepting that I’m good with some things and not so good at other things.

Believe it or not, this mere acceptance changed everything for me.

Working more was not a solution and sometimes taking a step back or slowing down is the best thing to do.

I needed a change. A significant shift in my mindset, and I needed to be at a new place.

What do I really want to do?

From here on, I started making every decision based on the question above.

That one simple thing (“Do what your heart says”) changed the course for the rest of my year and probably my life.

It drastically changed everything!

September – The African Safari and Brighton SEO

I had planned my trip to Kenya a long time ago and even though I had to move major mountains in my business, I didn’t cancel this 9-day trip.

Why?

Because I badly needed a change and deep down I always wanted to experience the Great African Safari.

On the 1st of September, I flew to Nairobi, Kenya, and something was waiting for me.

A new beginning!

Kenya reminded me of India 20 years back. Everything was so raw, natural and pure.

The next few days were full of African adventures.

“The Game Drive”, as they call it, had us travel in the jungle on a safari.

Being in the arms of nature was such an enchanting experience. It reminded me of this famous quote which was part of my social media bio for years:

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle: when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.

For days, I completely forgot who I’m. Something was happening to me. I don’t have words to explain those changes. After months of self-loathing, I was truly free!

This is the same time I started practicing Yoga, and I made a commitment to wake up before sunrise. This was another landmark decision of 2018 for me as it positively impacted my health and overall awareness. I would take this moment to thank Rohit for being my Yoga guru.

At the end of the month, I attended the BrightonSEO. It was the 2nd event for me of the year, and I realized how much I enjoyed attending such events.

Apart from learnings, such events are the best place to meet people who walk the same path as me.

October: DMSS Bali and Lasik eye surgery

After returning from the Brighton SEO, I went straight to Bali to attend DMSS. I was particularly excited about the mastermind which was one of its kind and my first ever. DMSS Bali turned out to be more than a digital marketing event. I have written a detailed experience here.

I met so many amazing people and discovered a lot of stuff about running and managing a remote company.  I realized how silly I was by trying to fix things which were not even broken. Another key learning is to surround ourselves with people who are on a similar boat.

Andrea also took me for my first ever surfing experience, and I absolutely loved it.

Lasik Eye surgery 

Another highlight of the year was letting go of my eye-glasses. It’s been more 20 years that I have been wearing glasses, and finally, I got the lasik eye surgery done.

so happy that the surgery was successful and now I’m writing this without having anything between my screen and eyes. A huge thanks to Dr. Dariel Mathur.

November: The Change

By November, I was in the doer mode. I was making quick decisions, and my year-long procrastination attitude was long gone.

To make better decisions in life, we need information. If you don’t have the right information, you will end up trying too many times before giving up or keep trying. DMSS Bali has given me the information which I needed to make better decisions, and I realized it was time for me to step up the game.

My experiment with “surrender to the life” had begun again and from the “why is it happening” mode, I was completely into “how do I solve it” mode. Instead of being in a hurry to reach somewhere, I started living knowing that “I had arrived”.

A bit of planning and more of actions started putting things into perspective.

At the end of the month, I traveled to Milan to address my second international conference. I wish I could tell you how free I was while giving that speech.

All my fears, insecurities were gone, and I was back to my best.

December: ShoutMeLoud’s 10th anniversary & more challenges

On 1st December, ShoutMeLoud celebrated the 10th anniversary, and it was unlike any other year. No blog post, no big announcement but just a simple video showcasing the 10th year of blogging life.

We had plans to throw a party to celebrate our 10th anniversary but it didn’t work out, and I was ok with it. After all, months of being too harsh on myself had taught me a lot. It was ok to let go of some plans. It was ok to slow down and appreciate what we have rather than complaining of what we could have done.

By December, our blog traffic was down by 30% and so was the revenue.

I was back to the time when Google Panda hit us hard. Only, this time it was Keyword Cannibalization and a few other factors.

I knew time had come to change, to re-invent. The months to come is going to be fun, solving these new challenges. After all, we pick our own battles.

Here are the last few days of 2018 in pictures:

How can I not be thankful when I’m so blessed to be alive and enjoy such serene views of nature.

I’m pretty excited about 2019. I can see myself doing more of what my heart says. I’m sure it would be a year of the complete union of my mind, body, and soul. A year of clarity and action.

Books that I read in 2018

In 2018, I started listening to books via Audible. I have not made the complete shift and depending on the books, I still rely on the mixture of Kindle and the audible version.

Here are a few of the books that I read in 2018. I would recommend you the same.

  • Hit Refresh by Satya Nadella
  • The Law Of Attraction by Esther and Jerry Hicks
  • Mini Habits by Stephan Guise
  • Meditation And Its Methods by Swami Vivekananda
  • The CEO’s Mindset by Vinnie Fisher
  • Cryptocurrencies by Dr. Jullian Hop
  • If Truth Be Told by Om Swami

Audible books:

  • Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink
  • The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck by Mark Manson
  • Exactly What To Say by Phil M. Jones

How could I have made 2018 better?

Here are a few things that I could have done better:

  • Spending more time reflecting on thoughts and actions. Having the complete clarity of what I want. This is something I would be doing on a regular basis in 2019.
  • Being consistent with writing and producing content.
  • Becoming a student for life.
  • Of all the new things that I started, should have looked at data to make a better decision on carrying it or closing it down.
  • Actions over quick validation.
  • Creation over curation.
  • Acceptance and complete ownership of my present.
  • Daily gratitude.

For now, I wish love and happiness to you and your family. I wish that you fulfill all that you wish for and always do “What your heart truly wants”.

Do let me know how was 2018 for you? Share your learnings and experience in the comment section below.

Happy New Year!

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Revisiting 2018 – Do What Your Heart Feels is Right is a post from ShoutMeLoud - Shouters Who Inspires