Tag Archives: Success

Writing With Steve: How to Make Lots of Money During a Recession

Money MoneyIn his blog post “How to Make Lots of Money During a Recession,” Steve Pavlina gives the upside of a down-turned economy. All in all, I agree with Steve’s sentiments.

Here’s the truth, folks. You can make money whether the economy sucks or everyone’s riding high on a great wave of money. And if you don’t know that you can make lots of money no matter what’s going on in the world around you, it’s time to re-educate yourself about how money works.

When the economy’s heading south, the best thing you can do is sit still. If you’re employed, hang in there. Don’t offer to leave in lieu of a nice severance package, don’t start a business that no one wants, and don’t listen to the media.

The worst thing you can do is make hasty decisions based on what others are doing. Truth is, the crowd usually gets it wrong.

Ways to Not Freak Out or Be a Freak During a Recession:

  1. Turn off the television.
  2. Ignore negativity from family, friends, acquaintances, and anyone else who spews bad vibes.
  3. Stay balanced and peaceful.
  4. Create your own reality.

Steve says, “We can live without…gas-guzzling SUVs for a while. Those non-essentials can be put off.” Obviously Steve Pavlina’s never been to Texas. Bigger is better here, whether you’re rich or poor! (Not that I disagree with Steve – SUVs and pick-em-up trucks on Texas roads do nothing but guzzle what little gas we have left on this planet. Just try taking those big, ugly toys away from the Texans that own ’em. Them’s fightin’ words!)

I’ve heard, first hand, from middle class folks who lost their jobs in 2007 and 2008. These were good people, working in the high-tech industry in Austin, with families, mortgages, car payments, and credit card debt. Add to that no income, no severance pay to speak of, and no more health insurance. The result was a group of ashamed, bewildered people who were down on their game. Things like losing your job wasn’t supposed to happen to them. After all, Austin’s a happening place with plenty of money, right?

It’s very true. Central Texas continues to attract businesses, and people from around the nation are flocking to Texas. Doesn’t mean there won’t be some companies that have to pull back and tighten their belts due to over-expansion.

I hope that by now the people I met back in 2007 to mid-2008 have started their own businesses and are doing fine.

I know the recession happened. I’ve heard how hard it’s been for plenty of folks over the past five to six years. I still don’t see it, however. Maybe it’s the area where I live, maybe I see what I want to see, or maybe the reality I’ve created is bomb-proof. Not sure where the insulation comes from, but I truly believe that if you don’t buy into it, it’s not going to happen. Or at the very least, you’ll be minimally affected.

What to do During a Recession:

  1. Fill the void and provide what people need and want.
  2. Remember that no matter how bad times are, some people still have money and are spending it.
  3. Be creative and think from a higher place.

There are holes everywhere that need to be filled. There’s always a way to make money, and it makes me sad to see people thrashing about and agonizing over not having money. I don’t know, call me overly ambitious I suppose, but if I wanted money, it’s never been a problem. If I told myself there was a cap on my income, then I had problems with money. When I felt unworthy and undeserving of having money and nice things, guess what? I had no money and I didn’t have nice things. And those little opportunities to make money in different ways were non-existent.

When I’ve looked for ways to make extra money or start a new job, the path was always wide open. All I had to do was make up my mind that things would be a certain way and so it was.

Manifesting Money and Providing Value

Steve isn’t shy about the fact that he’s against manifesting money. Course, it’s easy to say this when you’ve got plenty of money. I disagree on this point, too, simply because manifesting money and financial abundance doesn’t mean your focus is only upon separating cash from people’s wallets. I think that you can focus on manifesting financial abundance and money AND deliver quality, value, and good will.

It depends on your personality and what you’re about.

Steve is absolutely right when he suggests businesses that don’t offer value for their customers will find themselves without any customers.

I think having money goals, and very clear ones at that, are the foundation of creating money. For me, knowing how much money I need in order to create a better lifestyle or simply pay the bills is imperative.

Focusing on money to the extent that you mistreat others through manipulation or lies or tricks is wrong, however.

Being at Peace No Matter Your Financial Situation

Steve speaks from the heart when he says, “If I could learn and apply this lesson while going bankrupt and having less than $100 in the bank, surely you can apply it today.”

Since I walked away from my healthcare position and into the world of self-employment, I’ve had the mindset that being self-employed would work for me. No. Matter. What. In spite of some speed bumps, self-employment has worked for me, and is infinitely better than being someone’s employee.

And I think this is what’s carried me through the past six years. Guts, determination, and a clear vision of where I was going and what I wanted to do.

How can you find peace when everything around you is falling apart? Sit still! Like I told you in the first few paragraphs of this post, sometimes doing nothing is the only way to go. It’s especially the best way to go when you’re tempted to do things you’ll regret. Or engage in non-productive activities that lead you away from your goal instead of moving you towards it.

Some people find peace through mundane activities like doing dishes or cleaning the house. Others find meditation or deep breathing to be relaxing and balancing. However you get to a place of peace, do it and stay there. Balance is how you move forward and make good decisions for your future.

When you’re broke and bill collectors are nipping at your heels, the urge to hide and panic is real. Hiding isn’t going to solve your money problems, but work will. Panicking doesn’t help you work efficiently, so forget about being a freak. Go about your business as usual and make money. This economy offers a multitude of solutions. The money may come quickly or it may come slowly, but I promise there’s a variety of new ways to create cash flow into your life.

Where Steve and I Disagree

Steve says recessions are necessary and that they weed out businesses that aren’t needed. Steve also says it’s better for thousands of people to be out of work than to continue to work for businesses that are antiquated. I disagree with this – it’s never better for people to be looking for work when they could be productive. This latest recession is living proof of what happens when people get laid off or fired – we have millions of people who’ve existed solely because of unemployment benefits and state programs like Medicaid, food stamps, and WIC. While I agree that some companies are dinosaurs that need to get with the times, people out of work isn’t good for our country, and it’s not good for the economy.

As I see it, people who are out of work are looking at employment the wrong way. Just the other day, there was a woman who was discouraged about finding a job. I hear this complaint again and again. Thing is, this woman, like so many others, has marketable skills. She has a good education. She knows and understands people and this woman knows her way around the online world. Why not start a company using the skills she has? That’s exactly what I told her, and I hope she takes my comments to heart. There’s no reason why she shouldn’t be able to start a viable, money-making business.

People want to be employees. It’s a sickness in the American culture. What blows me away is that people still crave being an employee – people who are perfectly able to freelance or start companies. I, too, used to think this way, but I moved with the times out of necessity.

You must move with the times if you want to succeed. Being an employee is dangerous in today’s world where nothing is permanent. Starting your own business or freelancing is the only way to fly, as I see it.

And folks, that’s how you make lots of money during a recession.

  • Figure out what you want to do.
  • Determine if there’s a market for it.
  • Create a product/service that delivers high value to your market.
  • Rinse and repeat.
  • Move with the times. If the market changes, change your business model.

What have you done to make money during the recession?

 

If you want to read Steve’s post, you can find it here.

 

Manage Your Online Reputation: My Company Got A Bad Review

Manage your online reputation: Reading bad online reviews.
Reading bad online reviews is shocking.

Your company’s rockin’ along and enjoying success. Sales are up. The feedback has been great. Your customers seem to be loving everything that you do. And then it happens: Your company gets a bad review. How do you manage your online reputation?

First and foremost: Don’t panic. It’s a review, not a death sentence.

How you respond to the review makes or breaks the moment.

There are three ways you can respond to a bad online review:

  1. Ignore it and move on.
  2. Have a knee-jerk response and scream that the bad review needs to be taken down. NOW!
  3. Plan a strong defense and work it, baby.

We advise clients to set up a campaign that will negate poor reviews.

It’s easy to do, but it takes manpower and time. That’s why reputation management firms are literally cleaning up these days. It’s popular to have a company take care of those pesky, bad reviews. When you hire professionals to do this job, you’re sending out a special army to ferret and weed out the negativity.

Most companies don’t have time to chase down all that’s said, the damage that’s been done, and fix it properly.

When you set up a campaign to avenge your company and rid it of poor reviews, look at the strategies you’ll implement.

Where did the bad review come from? Twitter? Facebook? Your blog? An online review site? Somewhere else?

How will you respond to the bad review? Will you write a response? Ignore the bad review? Have your happy customers write positive reviews?

How will you keep your finger on the pulse of future reviews? Your company should be aware of everything that’s said about your brand as it happens.

Manage your online reputation: Upset about online reviews.
It’s easy to be upset about online reviews.

Your strategy will be based around where the reviews are coming from, and why they are happening. For example, if you’re producing a product that sucks, you’ll want to fix that immediately. Maybe these negative reviews are a sign that you’re not the bees knees after all.

If you’ve got a hot-headed customer who’s fond of complaining, it’s time to listen to what she’s saying, even if you think she’s wrong. And it may be time to give her something. Sometimes the squeaky wheel needs a bit of grease. Many customers who openly complain can be satisfied. All they want is to be heard.

When the entire crowd, or a significant percentage, is writing bad reviews, it’s time to look at your business model. One or two complaints is a given in any industry. More than that, and on a regular basis? Time for you to head back to the drawing board to determine what you’re doing wrong.

We help businesses overcome poor reviews by attacking the problem. Rallying your customer base with surveys is a great way to start. Implementing a strong plan to respond directly to angry and dissatisfied customers is a given. Changing what’s wrong is imperative.

One more thing about less-than-stellar reviews. Your customers are your company’s most precious resource. Remember that. It’s not your product, it’s who buys it.

Repeat that one more time. It’s a big one.

Your customers are your company’s most precious resource.

If your customers aren’t digging what you’re doing, it’s a wake up call. Instead of seeing the feedback as negative and something to erase (and forget once it’s gone), listen to what’s said. Your brand is not so special that it’s been singled out. Every brand on the planet’s received feedback that asked for change.

Maybe that dirty shop you work in needs to be cleaned up. Why would you assume your customers enjoy standing around in filth? Get a duster, mop, and cleaning supplies. Throw in a few rags get busy. It’s not your customers fault that you kept a nasty environment. Change it!

Perhaps your product does suck. If it doesn’t work, breaks, or isn’t what the customer ordered, fix it. Do it with a smile and a sincere apology. Thank your customer for giving you valuable feedback. Start delivering a product that works.

Feedback is good. No one wants to hear scathing, profane responses, and I’ll be the first to say that’s a bit over the top. But if someone is telling you that your business needs to be fine-tuned, bless your lucky stars that someone had the balls to tell you how your brand appears to the world.

‘Nuff said. Happy holidays!

 

Does your brand need a quick fix? While we can’t promise an overnight change (beware those that do), we guarantee we’ll clean up a bad rep. Hire us!

 

Images courtesy of HubSpot.

Free Download: Seth Godin’s The Bootstrapper’s Bible

Seth Godin 2009
By Joi Ito (Seth Godin) via Wikimedia Commons

This cool book is a must-read if you are serious about being an entrepreneur. Seth Godin’s The Bootstrapper’s Bible is a manifesto based on his book by the same name.

It’s funny how timely this little book is. Godin packed quite a bit of wisdom and practical advice in a mere 103 pages. I like that Godin doesn’t help you find the ultimate business to run (how could anyone do that?), but he does tell you what not to do.

I think we’re all looking for a magic bullet when we read other entrepreneur’s books. If you’re looking for advice and a well-worn path, you’ll appreciate this free download. If you’re looking for someone to hold your hand, then you’ll be highly disappointed. Thing is, you gotta have balls to be successful. It takes a whole lot of courage and a big heart to start a business and to keep it going. Self-employment is not for the weak.

Being an entrepreneur is highly personal. Being an entrepreneur is about risk. It’s also about making quick decisions and knowing what the market wants. I think I’ve been living on another planet for the past ten years because last night was the first time I’d seen “The Bootstrapper’s Bible”. I’m thrilled that it remains a free download, too. I haven’t always liked what Godin wrote (Poke the Box) and I find his blog…a bit unusual. But “The Bootstrapper’s Bible” hits some points on the head that every entrepreneur should know.

I’ve included a few of Godin’s books below that you might find interesting.

Enjoy, ya’ll. Hope you’re doing well after Thanksgiving!

 

Why Your Small Business Needs A Website: Updated

OK
Image courtesy of Idea Go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

In 2011, I wrote why your small business needs a website.

Back then I circled the topic in a broad manner that any business owner, savvy or not, could understand. Almost three years later, if you’re not savvy about how to do business online, you’re pretty much out of the game.

However, there are some businesses that don’t need to be online. Some might challenge me on this but I can vouch for businesses in my area that get plenty of traffic without a website, social media, or even using email. Or worse yet, they’ve got email but never answer messages. Ugh!

These companies have a strong customer base that doesn’t look for them on the web.

If you’re one of these businesses, you’re doing a great job with offline marketing. For now, this system works.

 

Where the Future Is

In the future, I think it’s fair to say that without an online presence, these companies won’t stand a chance against strong brands that grew up online or were smart enough to make the switch along the way.

With mobile marketing and everyone glued to their smartphones, each day your company doesn’t carve its place on the web, you’re losing time.

Would I recommend that your company have a website and/or blog? Heck, yeah! What are you waiting for?

 

Where Reality Is

Just because your current customers aren’t looking for your online presence doesn’t mean that prospects aren’t and new customers won’t. When Big Grey Horse Media travels, we live by our smartphones’ browsers and Google Maps. How else can you find where you’re going? More so, if I’m looking for you and can locate your business:

  • It’s great to see reviews (positive and negative) that your customers left on various review sites. Because of the high prevalence of companies paying for favorable reviews, I learn more from mixed, neutral, and negative reviews than positive ones. Writers are paid to write those coveted, 5-star reviews. Think I’ve never been approached to do one? And no, I don’t do them.
  • I want to visit your website. Don’t have one? I’m passing you by. How do I “get” your message if you have nothing to say?
  • If you’re plugged into social media, it’s easy for me to send a tweet or post on your Facebook page if I need immediate attention.

This is just one perspective from a company that travels. Take it for what it’s worth – and realize there are thousands of other people out there wanting, needing, and craving your online presence. Those thousands, perhaps millions, of people have their perspectives, too.

To expand this, my mindset is that the world travels with me. I’ve had the pleasure of writing for and consulting with individuals and businesses from around the world. That’s the beauty of online business – it is available 24/7, 365 days a year.

 

The Down & Dirty

My prior post said that setting up a website was inexpensive and not too time-consuming. Bottom line, you can get a free website (not recommended – EVER) and start writing immediately. DO NOT DO THIS. I got Big Grey Horse Media set up and running for around $100 (domain and one year’s hosting). That’s extremely cheap in the world of online business. Course, I knew WordPress from using the back end of clients’ sites. Grabbing a free theme was easy, too. So in this respect, if you know basic HTML or WordPress and have $100, you, too, can get your business up and running in a few hours.

But you have to know how to write. That’s a trick most people can’t do. That’s how people like me get hired 24/7, 365 days a year.

And you have to know the basics of keeping your site’s back end running through your host and the regular administrative tasks that keep your site healthy. Some people can’t do this, either, whether it’s due to not having the time or the expertise.

I got tired of my simple, free WordPress theme and changed it as quickly as I could buy a professional theme. Again, you’re playing with the world and major brands, so free hosting and cheap websites never make a good impression. I had my eye on StudioPress’ Pro Plus Package, and that’s what we’ve been using ever since. I bought the entire package so I could have access to all the themes, and it’s been a super investment.

When you purchase themes, you’ll get a fair price but it’s never cheap. I don’t consider paying several hundred dollars for a theme package to be expensive considering all the perks that come with it.

Beware the “bottom dollar” marketer when you’re building a website for your small business. If it sounds too good to be true, RUN. Remember that building a site, especially an ecommerce site, should cost tens of thousands of dollars to be designed, built, and properly maintained.

You always get exactly what you pay for. If you pay next to nothing but expect the world, don’t cry when your site doesn’t work or you feel ripped off.

 

In a Nutshell

My time online has taught me two things. The web is the place to 1) build your brand and 2) make money. You can do one or the other or both. In the end, whether we like it or not, the world’s living in the unreal yet real world of the ‘net. You could say more people are becoming enchanted and trapped by that net every minute.

So if you’ve got the money, time, and courage to make your online business work, I say go for it.

If you don’t have the money, time, or courage, find another way to make money. It takes bawls to the walls 24/7, 365 days a year to be smart about teh wayz of teh interwebz.

It’s not easy to serve clients and serve your site. I’ve run into that problem many, many times and it’s not pretty. If you’re a good businessperson, you’ll find your way. Online business isn’t that different from the offline world. There are tricks of the trade and a vastly different, unique, and very cool culture in the online world, but most people can learn to adapt.

The best thing about being online is the wealth of information. Whatever you need answered, you’ll find. 24/7, 365 days a year. And if you can’t find it yourself, there’s plenty of people to assist if you hire them.

 

We offer several products, but one of our favs is content marketing. Ask me how Big Grey Horse Media can build content for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Building a Successful Business: A Rotten Economy? I Think Not! Part 2

This is the fifth installment of our Building a Successful Business series. We explore the second part of this rotten economy we’re in.

It’s been tough for a lot of people and businesses in recent years. But there’s change happening and that’s where I have to keep with the times and not close my mind to new technologies and new ways of doing business.

What I see happening, and it’s been going once since around 2005, is a new way of working. It’s the equivalent of people giving up horses to drive around in cars. Times are changing and like or not, traditional jobs have been flushed down the toilet.

If I want to go outside for a B&M job, I’d be looking at HEB cashier (at best) or bagger (more likely) for minimum wage, part time hours, and no benefits. If I couldn’t snag an HEB job (which is highly likely), I’d have to do fast food. Which makes me cringe. Don’t get me wrong, if that’s what it took to make things work, I’d be grateful for the opportunity.

But I’d lose my horses and all that goes with being an equestrian. And I doubt I could pay my bills…it would be a very sad life living – barely – hand to mouth.

That’s my scenario – and that’s why I keep my business going. I REFUSE to listen to what’s happening around me that’s negative. My area has not been hit hard like other areas of the country and there is plenty of money to go around. I tap into that. There are still people spending the bucks to play and entertain themselves.

Course, that’s going on everywhere. And back to my point about jobs.

Those who do not make this new economy work are gonna hurt. And hurt badly. Especially if they were accustomed to a better way of life.

Those who make this new economy work for them will prosper. And from those who prosper, some will rise to the top of the pile and do fabulously. (It’s all relative when it comes to money and happiness, ya know?)

In my lifetime, pensions and the company man and outstanding benefits and insurance WERE TAKEN AWAY.

In my lifetime, people now know they will have many jobs and possibly several careers. And that’s okay! (When I started in the early 80s, it wasn’t.)

But back then, you could still graduate high school, get a sales job in the tech industry – which was incredibly hot – and earn $50,000 your first year. All this without a college degree – if you could make it in sales.

Remember when $50K actually meant something? Ha!

We can make this economy work. We know the rules, the structure, and the organization. We understand the culture. Heck, if you told me, 20 years ago, that I’d be doing the majority of my business transactions virtually, I would have laughed. And probably not believed you.

Believe it now, folks. Make this economy WORK for you. There is PLENTY of money to be made. We are pioneers. Those of you who’ve been doing this for over 10 years are fully ingrained into the new culture and posses a deep understanding of how vibrant and fluid the web is.

Those of us who jumped on board in the last five to seven years are getting it, too. Things are changing FAST.

There’s tons of money to be made. Clients are STARVING for content. And websites. And mobile apps. And social media managers. And…and…and…

Your old way of making money may not work anymore. But there are plenty of opportunities for you to make money NOW. You have to find those ways, carve out your niche, and GO FOR IT.

Since this is such a fluid technology with rapid changes, you also have to be just as fluid with your business.

And speaking of business…because that’s why we’re here…good business means taking action. Good business means you’re going to fail and make some mistakes. Not every project will hit the ground running and make you millions. Unless you take action, however, and are willing to test and experiment and put your work/projects out there, you’ll never make a dime.

And that is good business no matter the economy, no matter the decade, the century, or the technology.

Direct your marketing questions to me – I can help you. And if you’ve realized that your site is starving for content that you don’t have time to write, we offer packages to suit your needs.

I look forward to hearing the responses to this post, and I hope to meet you soon!

Building a Successful Business: A Rotten Economy? I Think Not!

This is the fourth post in the Building a Successful Business series. Today we’re talking about the rotten economy we’re in. The awful, retched, wickedly insane, terrible economy everyone in the U.S. faces. Or could it be this economy is a blessing? While it’s no lie this new economy’s been tough for millions of people, millions of others are prospering, succeeding, and doing better than ever. Is this a rotten economy? I think not!

A recurring theme I’m finding is how the economy’s downturn circa 2008 changed everyone’s lives.

No kidding. I had a great job but faced ageism in the workplace. No one wants to hire an “old” woman. If you think it won’t happen to you, wait until you turn 40. Seton Healthcare Network never did it directly to me, but I saw other women and one man treated horribly. And yes, all were over the age of 50. Regardless, I was tired of the rat race. My youngest was entering high school and I wanted to be there for her. It was down to the two of us with my other children grown and gone.

Time to come home and make money through new income streams. While my choice to start a business was planned and deliberate, others didn’t have that luxury.

Whatever the reasons we’ve chosen to work from home, or even had to work from home, we are here.

Do We Have a Rotten Economy?

But do we truly have a rotten economy? I think not. I beg to differ when people say there’s not enough money, only low ball clients who gripe about prices, or something along those lines.

Trust me, I know areas of the U.S. have been hit HARD. I get that. But, there’s still plenty of money floating around, and people are spending it. Texas was never hit as hard as some parts of America. We’re fortunate. And I live in an area that has a bit of money to throw around. We’re extremely fortunate. In spite of that, Texas did see businesses falter, a decrease in revenues, and high tech layoffs. There are also people who lost significant chunks of their 401(k) accounts (as I did). But the expensive boats carrying families on the lakes remain, as do people renting luxury homes for weeks at a time. New homes continue to be built right here in Sunrise Beach and other homes are undergoing extreme remodeling projects. We’ve got people in the stores and people eating out. People drive around in SUVs and pick up trucks in spite of rising gas prices.

And people are buying writing, marketing, and social media services every. single. day.

My point? Maybe I’m seeing what I want to. Or maybe people are spending money in spite of tighter times.

What I see is a new economy in full bloom and a new way of working and doing business with the world. The people who are making money and doing well are the ones who are adapting.

If you’re creative, can think on your feet, and possess leadership abilities, why not spearhead your own company? Freelancers and entrepreneurs who see the benefit of helping individuals and companies are the people who are thriving. And the big brands who earn billions in our new economy? They are the ones who understand the power of connecting with their customers. Social media and all its glory aside, if you can help your customers solve problems, you will make money.

Final Thoughts About the Brilliant Economy We’re In

My conclusion? I do NOT think this is a rotten economy. Why not build an empire out of the new economy? Why not be positive about the changes that have occurred? Moving through time and space shouldn’t be that hard. Like it or not, times have changed.

We can bitch and gripe about the rotten economy or we can look for opportunities to make money. I choose to see the boats with families jetting around the lakes, people eating out, and people with full shopping carts in line at HEB. And all those folks speeding down Highway 71 in their SUVs. Spending money and being part of the financial circle will keep our new economy healthy and thriving.

Course, my positivity is fueled by my bottom line: I have to make my business work. In my area, it would be a sad to ask for employment. My area’s rural and the competition for jobs is fierce.

I don’t see having to do that, however. I’ve carved a niche in my industry and am doing just fine.

Does the new way of working confuse you? Are you having a hard time wrapping your mind around new ideas such as fresh website content and social media campaigns? Stumped about online options and how that relates to making more money? If you’re stuck, contact me for a consultation. We will look at your business goals, marketing plans, and flesh out the next step. I love seeing businesses succeed. Because when you succeed, so do I! Contact me for more information.

Book Review: “Do It! Marketing” by David Newman

Do It! Marketing: 77 Instant-Action Ideas to Boost Sales, Maximize Profits, and Crush Your Competition by David Newman rocked my world. This book is a fun read – the action isn’t reserved for the steps you’ll take to become a better marketer. It’s way too easy to get sucked into the whirlwind of exercises David’s prepared. And I say this as the ultimate compliment. Unlike other business books I’ve studied, this one is actually enjoyable.

As one of my chosen summer reads, this book was supposed to help me get into the groove with my marketing. Like so many business owners, I’d run out of ideas in my marketing efforts. With Texas triple digits and lots of hot sunshine, I’m usually pooped by mid-summer. On top of it all, this typically is a slow quarter for my business.

Hence the reason for buying Do It! Marketing. A reason to get off my arse and DO something this summer.

The premise is simple. The book is broken into 77 action steps which are part of twelve chapters. Each step, and each chapter, takes you farther along in your marketing journey. Each step builds upon the other – you cannot cheat and start anywhere but at the beginning. Pretty simple, eh? I think so.

The book ends in a 21 day launch plan. And by the end of the book, you’re ready for this chapter. I felt a spiritually renewed in all of my marketing efforts by the time I got to page 228.

If you dig exercises and practical application, then Do It! Marketing is for you. There are small exercises scattered throughout the 77 steps. These are playful, fun ways to explore and dig deeper into your ideas.

I read quite a few books. Many don’t hold my attention for long or are hard to comprehend. Others are well-written but lack pizzazz. David Newman ROCKS. Throughout the book, I felt encouraged, invigorated, and ready to get busy.

You don’t get anywhere by sitting in a corner. You build a business through taking action. One step at a time. Many steps through time. In spite of failure. In spite of success. You. Keep. Going.

There are even more benefits to buying this book than gaining marketing savvy. You’ll receive freebies from David that include all kinds of marketing goodies (over 100 – who can beat that?). But don’t take my word for it – take action and DO IT!

 

 

Building a Successful Business: Tips to Help Other Businesses

The third part of our Building a Successful Business series offers tips to help other businesses. While I’ve focused on helping fellow writers, these tips can be used by any marketer who’s drumming up new business. If you’re hungry for new clients and want to develop relationships with prospects, you’ll enjoy these suggestions.

The Problem

A writer asks, “Other writers talk about having their own clients to write for, and I want to get inside that part of the industry. Problem is, I’m not sure where to start. Where do I find clients?”

My Solution

Here are some of my simple secrets for helping businesses:

1) Twitter

  • I watch what my followers are talking about.
  • I also do searches on particular terms I’m interested in to pull from outside the pool I swim in.
  • I watch what the folks I follow are talking about.

2) LinkedIn

  • I look at where my contacts have worked, who they’ve worked with, see what they are currently doing, and who their connections are. I work hard to connect on a local and regional level as opposed to national/worldwide. It’s easier for me that way.

3) Read the local weeklies

  • I see what’s happening, where it’s happening, when it’s happening. Local events, people coming to town, people doing special things.
  • I carefully monitor who advertises – they have some sort of marketing budget and understand the value of marketing/advertising.
  • I look for those who pull 1/2 and full page ads. They are very conscious of marketing and eager to find new business/customers.
  • I scan for who has a website. ‘Nuff said.

4) Talk to people

  • I can’t stress how important this is. I don’t care if it’s the cashier at HEB (these folks know everything because they see everyone), the guy down the street, or the people at my barn. Without conversations, nothing happens. When you listen, you will find all kinds of groovy information to work with.

So you’ve gleaned information about the people you want to work with. You know who’s in need of new customers and who has an advertising budget. You know who has a website. You know the events going on around your community and the businesses that are involved.

The next step is so easy, but few writers take it. ACTION!

  1. Contact the businesses that are sponsoring a local charity event. Congratulate them for the sponsorships and introduce yourself.
  2. Hand out a few business cards when you see your stylist, local grocer, realtor, etc. Tell people what you do.
  3. Telephone businesses that advertise in your local weekly (or daily) and introduce yourself.
  4. Send a letter of introduction when you connect with new people on LinkedIn. Ask for introductions to their connections, too.
  5. Re-tweet news that’s relevant to your Twitter followers. Let the person who tweeted know you’re interested in their news. Ask for an interview. Give them free exposure.

These are a few things that I do to help.

Notice that I said I do these things to help businesses, not close a sale. You gotta start warm and work your way up. I cannot stress how important it is to qualify a lead before pouncing on it.

Have questions? Need more help? Would you like a private consultation with Laura to discuss your marketing needs? Contact me and let’s get the ball rolling in the right direction. I’m here to get your business on track!

Building a Successful Business: Content Mills vs. Private Clients

This is the second part of Big Grey Horse Media’s Building a Successful Business series.  Today, we zoom in on the dilemma some writers have: content mills vs. private clients. Check out our Marketing Guide for Writers if you need help marketing your business and snagging the gigs.

One of my favorite forums had a lively discussion that turned into a small debate about content mills vs. private clients. It’s the same old argument, with writers on both sides, and each declaring why they work for the mills. Or not.

It was a highly agreeable discussion that was quite friendly, but it boiled down to a few specifics I find questionable.

Specifically, the idea that content mill writers hold is that marketing isn’t worth the time spent. Or it’s too much time spent on an unpaid activity, and they want money now. So why market when you can write a $3-$25 article? This logic makes sense, but my take is different.

What happens when you have to pay taxes?

Remember that those $3-$25 articles get chopped in half – fast. You’re not working for an employer, you’re a subcontractor/freelancer. You’ve got absolutely no benefits except that you are working from home (a big benefit, for sure, but that’s not a safe model to build a business upon).

What happens when the work runs out?

Content mills are businesses. There are no guarantees. This business model is not out to protect writers. The mills are a business like any other and the profits that are made line the pockets of the business’ owners.

More importantly, when the work is gone, you better have more content mills on the schedule or you’re screwed. You’d think freelance writers would operate from this premise and work regularly with several mills. While a few smart writers do spread their work out, the majority DO NOT.

Myth

Private Clients are hard to find and the time spent marketing to find private clients is unpaid.Why would I want to spend hours looking for work in a highly competitive market when I can crank out five $3 articles at XYZ content mill? My hourly rate is then secured at $15 an hour, which ain’t too bad.

The Truth

I’ve found that content mill work also has the unpaid time or downtime, too.

  • Time spent looking for articles in a queue.
  • Time spent refreshing a screen when there is nothing and you’re hoping something will appear.
  • Time spent finding those content mills.
  • Time spent filling out applications and turning in samples/clips.
  • Time spent on administrative tasks (which we ALL do, no matter who the client is or how they roll).
  • Time spent posting in forums, Facebook pages, etc. that the mills offer as their “writer water cooler”.
  • Time spent dealing with edits, rejections, appeals.

For me, working with higher paying clients is a dream come true. Content mill work can be easy because once you’re in, work is in a queue and “handed” to you, seemingly without struggle.

The problem with this model is the lack of personalization. It’s crowdsourcing. While that’s certainly one solid business model in our new way of working, it can bite many people in the arse if they’re not careful.

While the work is there, the light shines brightly upon everyone who’s working.

When the pickings are slim, well, mass panic and a huge exodus occurs.

I’m not slamming the mills or anyone who works with them. I’ve done it myself and from time to time, will pick up work to test the business model.

But it’s not worth it, for me, to do it long term or as my primary way of making money. Too unstable, the pay SUCKS, and everyone is treated the same.

Don’t be afraid to pick up a private client – or fill your list exclusively with private clients. You don’t have to travel to their locations, either. I’ve worked with clients from around the world and made it work.

I prefer the meetings and greetings and kissing babies and shaking hands simply because I’m my father’s daughter. He was a very successful entrepreneur and marketing/sales was his specialty. What he did to rise from a poor family to being worth millions by the time he was in his 40s are the same principles people talk about today.

Relationships. Taking care of your customers.

So when you’re looking for work, whether it’s a mill or something else, take care of your customer. The mill probably won’t have too many ways for you to be a shining star, but you can cut your teeth on the gig and learn. If you choose to work with this business model, there’s nothing wrong with that. It has excellent points and it has limitations. As long as you realize that crowdsourcing can run out, and as long as you have back up plans or more income to rely upon, then I say go for it.

I don’t have the luxury of relying upon anyone’s income but my own. While I have multiple income streams, I have to watch my money carefully and be aware because there’s no one else to look to if my money runs out.

Private clients rock because the opportunity exists to package a deal and make it work over the long run. And if you over-deliver and rock the gig, you get referrals.

Word-of-mouth marketing is powerful, folks. And you won’t get this from a mill.

When you get exclusive, private client work, it’s solely on YOUR terms. It’s YOUR work – the project isn’t going anywhere if you step away from the computer. You’ve set the parameters with your customer and as long as you deliver what you’ve promised in the time frame you’ve discussed, it’s your gig.

And please, please, please don’t take what the bottom-feeder, crab apple clients want as real work. Sure, it’s work, but it’s the most distasteful work around, and it’s abundant. This is not the pool that you want to cast your net into.

I want to show the bright side of stepping away from the mills – not because I think they are wrong or bad – because I fear some people get the wrong impression about private clients and how to work with them. It’s not the huge pain you think it might be, especially when all things are considered and the entire picture is in focus.

Dealing with private clients means you factor in the administrative, downtime, and marketing costs. It’s not like you throw away the time you are unable to bill.

You factor those costs into your overall pricing structure.

You can’t do that with a mill. The price is set and it’s up to you to make it work (taxes, admin time, downtime, vacations, holidays, savings, expenses, etc.).

If you have questions, need some guidance, or want to talk with me about a project, contact me. I’m here to help!

Building a Successful Business: A Marketing Guide for Writers

Do you want to build a successful business? If you’re a writer on the hunt for work, this marketing guide for writers is for you. Not a writer? The marketing principles I outline apply to anyone who is looking for new clients.

This is the first part of a series dedicated to people who want to grow their businesses.

How do new writers get a gig?

The question isn’t new. If you’ve spent any amount of time in the freelance writing world, you’ve heard this question. I, too, was once a writer looking for work and establishing Big Grey Horse Media. Five years down the road, I’ve got some answers for new freelance writers.

What I’m sharing isn’t a trade secret or coveted marketing and sales insider info. I’ve learned to get work by doing just that: looking for work. When you’re hustling a new business out of red ink and into profit, you will do just about anything to gain the gigs. So much of building a business is active work. You never learn (or accomplish) anything by sitting around and remaining passive.

If you want wealth, if you want success, you must be willing to make mistakes. If you want to build a successful business, read what successful business owners have written. (More on this as I review and recommend my fav business books in future posts.) Partner with a mentor who’s been there and done that. Listen to what the experts recommend.

A Writer’s Marketing Guide

Pitching is the soul of getting new business. If you want to improve your chances of closing the gig, however, you must target your market.

If you’re pitching publications (online or offline), find those that are part of your target market. In other words, publications you can easily write for or the ones you have experience with. If you are a fashion expert, are aware of trends, and up to date on the latest and greatest, pitch what you know to that particular segment of publications.

If you are versed in marketing/advertising/sales and know how to put an informative press release together, pitch companies that need your services.

What it all boils down to when you’re looking for work (gigs):

1) Find niches that you understand and know. It’s easier to start here than in areas you’re not familiar with. Although great writers are fantastic researchers and can write about topics they are not familiar with, this takes more research, potential interviews with experts, etc. Make it easy and keep it simple when you’re starting out. Take what you know and start there.

2) Find your target market. It’s a marriage of blending what you know and who is in that sector of business.

3) Write a query/LOI (letter of introduction)/pitch to your prospect. Introduce yourself and include a killer query about the subject and how you will approach the piece. Show how your background supports writing about the topic.

**If your LOI/pitch is to introduce yourself/your business in order to secure a gig, this will be in a warm email introduction, sales call, appointment, etc. You don’t have to respond to ads or calls for queries/writers…you can make your own gigs by approaching a warm market in need of your services.

4) Close the deal. Follow up on sales calls, appointments, email, etc. If you’ve put out feelers but have no bites, stay in touch with your contact. You won’t always get the nibble on the first go. Persistence and patience pay off in spades.

5) Keep the deal. Offer high value for your customers. Help your customers solve problems. Customers pay for your expertise. Partner with your clients and you will have plenty of work and a highly loyal client base. This step also plays into #3 and #4. If you want to close the deal, if you want to get the deal, you must know what your customer wants/needs and have the answer to their problems. Remember this when you are putting your pitches together and when you are closing the deals.

Writing is a hot field, it’s not going anywhere, and there are endless possibilities to help individuals and businesses achieve their goals and prosper. And when they prosper…so do you!

Refer to this marketing guide when you’re drumming up new business. If you have questions, want mentoring, or would like to request a marketing consultation, contact me. I’m here to help!