Web.Search.Social Marketing Podcast
WSS #0157: Superhero Sarah The Rebel On Writing For Marvel's Comic Universe. Plus: Legs, Poop And A Tank Top

Today Is All Geek (And Rebel) All The Time

You may recall a couple of episodes ago we called upon the Army of Fred to tweet a few people who we wanted to have as guests on the show. Well, one of those was Sarah the Rebel and thanks to YOUR efforts she's here!

Sarah is an author, podcaster, gamer and all around geek.

But what makes her a rebel? Well, you'll have to listen for the back story but she confesses to not following the "rules" of social media or doing any of the conventional things that your average marketer might tell someone to do. Fits right in with our mantra to challenge the status quo.

The Entrepreneurial Journey Starts With A Bang

We asked Sarah how her journey began and she told us she's been mentally writing a book since she was ten years old and has always wanted to write. But she didn't actually write much for a long time. Instead she moved out to Los Angeles and started working for a video game company, managing writers for a gaming website where ultimately she wanted to write for video games.

And that worked out well for a while until one day she got a call from Marvel to write a book. If you think we're skipping a few steps… we're not. It was just that sudden. According to Sarah there was no gradual buildup toward her dream. One day she was working and the next day she was asked to author Marvel's Agent Carter: Season One Declassified.

What does she attribute her good fortune to? Well, following her passions, for one. Instead of staying on the east coast dreaming about doing something, she saved a little money, packed her bags and took off. For another, she networked the heck out of L.A. She went to events and meetups and connected with people however and wherever she could. Passion plus drive equals fortune.

True story: when Sarah got the call from Marvel, she had a moment to think, "Me? You must be looking for another Sarah."

Sarah Disses Game Of Thrones

We take a brief detour to discuss a comment Sarah made about how she no longer likes Game of Thrones. I think she's lost her mind so I challenge her to explain. And she has a point… she says that it's one thing to read about the craziness and use your imagination, and another to see it in vivid color images on the screen. As a self-described feminist, she doesn't appreciate the violence against women.

When it comes to the last season, I tend to agree. It seems more like a writer sitting in a room asking, "What would George R.R. Martin do?" as opposed to what George R.R. Martin would actually do. Sarah agrees, so we're friends again.

She also says that the book doesn't translate the same way onto the screen so that begs the age-old question: which is better? The book or the show?

After The Shock Settled

Once Sarah came to terms with her imminent fame, she jumped right in. Except what she learned was that when it came to starting such a project, a lot of it involved long stretches of sitting around waiting. She had a list of 80 people (yikes!) to interview and they were typically busy on the set of Agent Carter. Unable to do much but wait, she did. By the time she'd managed to interview everyone on the show, her three month project had dwindled to one, which was all the time she had left to write the actual book.

How did she manage? Well, for a two week period she worked during the day, got home at 8PM and then wrote from then until 10AM when she went back to work all over again. Sleep? Sarah laughed at sleep! Or maybe that was just the hysteria of being awake for two weeks.

Sarah And Marvel Get In A Fist Fight

With a BAM and a POW! Ok, it wasn't as dramatic as all that but she's a superhero, right?

As Sarah reminds us, Agent (Peggy) Carter is a story with a feminist slant. It's a story revolving around sexism in the workplace but the editors of the book didn't want Sarah to say the words sexism or feminism in the book. Ever. And it turned into a problem at some point when Sarah's principles clashed with the editorial staff's requirements. There were things she refused to change and that turned into a bit of a ruckus. No fist fights, though.

In the end, Sarah refused to make the change but the editors made it for her. She assumes they won't be asking her to write again.

But the experience reminded her that she could write and led her to more writing gigs, including writing for video games. As a result she achieved her two big life goals: write a book and write for a video game.

Remember, passion plus drive equals fortune.

Superheroes (And Rebels) Win The Day

Sarah is currently working on her next big thing: a book called Avarice Touched that she's co-authoring with her geek-minded cousin. As of this recording, they're 300 pages in and "not near the end." We anxiously await the publication!

Of course, if this all sounds rather idyllic, Sarah assures us that it wasn't all rainbows and unicorns. She had lot of really tough times, too, from numerous brushes with homelessness to losing friends to becoming very ill. But if her story proves anything, it's that in spite of all the down times, being a creative entrepreneur can be tons of fun.

Your Action Item

Start. Don't feel like you have to hurry up and achieve your goals NOW, especially when things aren't going well and you start to think you're a failure. But as long as you believe in what you're doing, the universe will make sure you get what you're supposed to get out of it. The hardest thing about doing something is... well, doing it. But once you get started it becomes a whole lot easier. So get past that and DO IT. Start. Start now, wherever you are personally and professionally. Take your destiny in your hands and make it happen.

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WSS #0156: You Asked, We Answer: Business, Freebies And Guest Blogging Conundrums

Get Your Graphics On

The Visual Social Media Conference is coming up on November 4 and 5 - it's online and it's live and you won't find a better roster of presenters, including our very own Alisa Meredith, the manly Jeff Sieh, the wonderful Katherine Kotaw, Peg Fitzpatrick, Donna Moritz, Rebekah Radice and more. They've each got a tip, trick or tool (or maybe all three!) to help you market using great visuals.

BONUSRegister with the code WSS and get 15% off the ticket price.

Entrepreneurial Fail

Yesterday was not such a hot day in the realm of our entrepreneurial journey. We were supposed to demo progress on our new software product to our business partners and Ralph worked all weekend to make magic happen.

Instead of magic, Monday happened… and instead of installing the software, Ralph basically blew up the data.

To make matters worse, he says he made a stupid mistake that he never should have made. And in his efforts to fix it, things just kept getting worse.

There was no partner demo. The partners were not happy. And Ralph stewed in a cloud of failure.

Goes to show that no matter where you are in your entrepreneurial journey or how experienced you are, you're going to make mistakes. You're going to have bad days. Sometimes really bad things will happen and you'll get mad at yourself and maybe other people will get mad at you too, but you have to keep on going.

And even though Ralph called himself a failure today, I don't believe in calling yourself or anyone else a failure. I've deemed it a "failure event" but insist that Ralph is not at all a failure.

Also, we learned that pie can help ease the pain. As long as it's served with a side of Oreos.

Giving Stuff Away For Free

Today we take on two questions that listeners asked as a result of our recent "Death to Free" episode.

The first comes from Nadia Bracken and goes something like this:

I don't want to charge for my program but it is expensive to administer. I'm burning through a lot of cash and paying a VA every month. I want to hire someone to help me with social media and content production. You said to tell you when I wanted something to be free. I want it all to be free. What should I do? I am not running a business. Do I have to?

Well, Nadia, there are two key points here.

One is burning through cash.

While giving stuff away is noble and wonderful, it won't pay the bills. If you can fund your freebie and you love giving things away, do it! By no means are we suggesting that giving things away is a bad thing. But if it's costing you more than you're earning one way or another, then something has to give.

If you've got the money, great. You can fund your passion project. If not, you need to earn the money to pay for it or perhaps ask for donations or even crowd fund it.

The second key point is not running a business.

And that is, of course, the context we're referring to. Free stuff is great and we want it, too! But when you're running a business then you need to earn money to support yourself and your business, to pay your staff and bills and to allow you to continue to uphold your obligation to service your paying clients. So no, you don't have to run a business and you can give away your time and products to your heart's content. But if you are running a business then free is not your best friend.

A Seriously Social Moment

Today Ian Anderson Gray wants you to stop saying "thank you" on social media. Funny, coming from a British guy who is confoundingly polite. He is so polite that it took him several years before he enlightened us to the fact that he is Scottish and not Bristish. But who's splitting hairs?

But he has a point. It's become rather rote for us to spit out a "thank you" when someone comments on our post, shares it, tweets it… so rote that it seems to have lost its meaning.

Ian says that instead of an automated thank you, how about a genuine question or a show of support? How about introducing someone to someone else or sharing another idea?

While being polite is important and being grateful is, too, Ian want you to be mindful of being a person. And you can't automate gratitude.

No Return On Guest Blogging

Another listener asked a question related to the same episode about free stuff. We got so much feedback on that episode we're going to revisit it soon.

But for today, Stephanie Parker asked this:

I agreed to be a guest blogger on another blog and it has turned in to me providing way too much free content with little to no traffic back to my site. Any tips on breaking it off without burning my bridges?

Ralph says that people tend to be more afraid of burning bridges than they need to be. If you're doing something for free or doing someone a favor, there's an unspoken understanding that it's not permanent and that if you have other obligations to attend, you may need to stop doing that free thing.

We call this "negotiating with yourself". This is where you have an imaginary conversation in your head about what is going to happen if you say or do something and usually it doesn't bear resemblance to reality.

We both agree that you can extricate yourself by being direct and tactful. Thank the person for the opportunity and let them know that you have other obligations to attend, which includes clients and paid work. Everybody we've ever dealt with like this has been agreeable. And if that person is not agreeable? They've burned the bridge, not you.

A Guest Post Tangent

Stephanie's question led me to wonder, if she's investing so much time in guest posting, why isn't it turning into traffic? Before calling it quits, I suggest there may be a way to capitalize on guest blogging. Of course, it's important to know whether the site you're posting on gets decent traffic. If not, then you probably won't get any either.

But there are other things you can do to improve traffic. One, make sure your name, website and social links and bio are all prominent on the post. Some bloggers put the post under their name then write an introduction to your post, but that doesn't necessarily highlight you. Nor does it highlight your website or information.

Then try to include links within your content that go back to your website. As long as you're not adding affiliate links, ads or other spammy types of links, bloggers are typically amenable to letting you put links in your content to other relevant content. Make it easier for people to get to your site and see what happens.

It should go without saying that your content has to be great. Make it something that someone really wants to read and they're more likely to want more.

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WSS #0155: Know When To Fold 'Em: Recognizing The End Of The Road For Your Business

Geoff Livingston Does A LOT

We met Geoff several years ago at a talk he gave and have been fans ever since. But it's hard to introduce him because he is so multitalented. He ran a PR blog, a branding and marketing agency, is a professional photographer, wrote a business book and two novels (with another in the works to round out his trilogy) and currently has plans to do undisclosed things that he has yet to reveal.

Today we talk to him about two topics: the first is his experience publishing (and his transition from business to fiction, traditional publishing to self publishing) and the second is the sunsetting of his marketing agency (in contrast to pivoting, which we discussed with Chris Curran last week.)

Geoff Can't "Not" Create

If Geoff's experiences sound diverse, he has a pretty simple explanation. "I can't not create," he told us. Whether it's a book or a photo (or undisclosed things… argh!) he sort of gives new meaning to the word creativity.

He talks about his first book stemming from a manuscript he started over 20 years ago (persistence pays off, kids!) and the process he went through to complete it. Part of that included distributing advance reading copies to a few people (I had the pleasure of being one of them) and getting their feedback.

One of the critiques I passed along was that the colloquialisms, meant for a medieval timeframe, sounded a little too modern. Other readers called his writing "too literary." Geoff had to parse through all that and take the good with the bad, incorporate the changes that made sense and keep going.

Much like most of us, he occasionally got stuck in perfectionism. All of us who create know what it feels like to constantly want to tweak and fix and perfect. But Geoff got that book done and a second one, too. He confesses that reading his first novel isn't much fun – he looks back and doesn't like it. But he's learned and grown along the way and is proud of what he accomplished in the second.

It just goes to prove that you may not be perfect but you're always going to improve. So don't get stuck – just create!

Geoff's Advice To Aspiring Authors

We asked Geoff what he took away from his experience that he can share with authors who are thinking about publishing. And he says definitively that it's important to make sure your characters resonate with the audience. You need to make an emotional connection with readers who are so often pulled in a million content directions with plenty of options for entertainment. So you'd better make sure your story and people resonate.

Turns out it's not always the brilliance of the writing, the poetry of the language or even the spelling and grammar. If your story resonates, readers will stick around.

Pivot Or Sunset?

Last week we talked about the necessity of making major changes in your business in order to survive. But Geoff took another path, and that was closing his business down entirely.

Recently we learned that he was shutting down his marketing agency Tenacity5. Through a series of unfortunate events they lost some significant contracts that put a serious dent in their revenue. To make matters worse, it happened while Geoff was in Africa on a photojournalism shoot with limited access to internet. By the time he got home, he knew it was over. Without enough business in their pipeline and their major contracts gone, Geoff no longer had the heart to try to turn the business around.

But there was more to it than financials. The work had not been as fulfilling as he wanted it to be. He called it "tactical" and it wasn't interesting or challenging enough. So without the revenue, and without the emotional investment, Geoff quietly closed the doors.

If that sounds a bit sad, don't worry. Geoff has tenacity! He is already making money through his photography and has more plans (that he wont' tell us!)

We asked Geoff how it affected him personally, especially when he learned the news from abroad. "It sucked. It just sucked," he said. And that about sums it up.

Your Action Item

From Geoff: Read a book by Steve McClatchy called Decide. It's about time management but moreover it's about spending time on the tasks that will bring you results. If you want to create a positive outcome in your world, you've got to make selective use of your time and put the irons in the fire that will make those things happen. Nobody else is going to make them happen for you!

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Direct download: know-when-to-fold-em-recognizing-the-end-of-the-road-for-your-business.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 12:00am EST

WSS #0154: Death To Free: How To Get Paid For What You Do

First, A Word From Our Sponsor

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Things That Are Not Funny

Last week we had a few days of things that were not fun or funny. At the same time that one of our business partners was in Nashville demoing our new software, we were here in New Jersey making sure everything went smoothly. Except right in the middle of it all I got sick and with no doctors in sight, ended up having to go to the emergency room.

And even though that wasn't fun OR funny, the even less funny part is that while I was there, someone stole our license plates.

That necessitated a police report, a couple of trips to the DMV, a bunch of paperwork and things that were not fun in general.

But there is a bright side. Amidst all the stress, the people we dealt with from the medical personnel to the police officers to the DMV and everyone in between were extremely nice and helpful. So if something bad had to happen, at least it came with great customer service. And in the end having people on our side made a huge difference in our outcomes.

The Myth Of The Internet

Today we want to talk about getting paid and how to do it. But it seems like we're running uphill because there is a myth perpetrated by internet culture that before you can expect to get paid for anything you first have to give away a lot of stuff for free.

This doesn't seem to be a problem in the real world. When a contractor comes to our house he never offers to paint the bedroom for free and then if we like it he'll think about charging us to paint the living room.

So why is this so prevalent on the internet? Well, we're not entirely sure except to speculate that it worked for someone. And that person then told everyone else to do it, and like the echo chamber that the internet can be, everyone just… did.

The thing is, giving stuff away for free did work for a lot of people. We'll call them "the early adopters" because they were giving stuff away long before anyone else thought to do it. And there was a lot less stuff out there and a lot less competition.

Now that content, and especially free content, is so ubiquitous, we're all in a race to the bottom to out-free each other.

A Dangerous Mindset

The more you give away, the more people expect you to give stuff away. So when you finally do politely ask for money, people are outraged! And then we start to feel somehow wrong for asking for it.

People who are the heavy hitters in your industry, I bet they don't run around giving everything away for free. That isn't to say they don't have a freebie, a perk, an offer – but they more often sell.

Giving stuff away also encourages tire kickers. They're just out trolling for free stuff and will probably never pay you. Why should they, when most of anything they could need is free – if not through you, then somewhere else?

Perpetrating a constant stream of free stuff just devalues what you do.

So what can you do?

A Seriously Social Intermission

Today Ian Anderson Gary brings us a question with a perfect tie-in. He asks: when was the last time you checked your vanity metrics? Your Klout score, number of Twitter followers, number of Facebook fans. Admit it, you love those numbers! And we do too, but they are not an end goal.

Would you rather have fans or customers?

Would you rather have an impressive Klout score or customers?

Would you rather have a huge email list or customers?

You're seeing a pattern, I bet.

Keep the end in mind, and if you're running a business, that’s to make money.

Money Is Not A Bad Word

If you're afraid to ask for money then you probably shouldn't be in business. Wanting to make money is not wrong or bad or immoral. You're providing value in exchange for money. It's a fair trade and it's how business works.

The first thing you need to do is accept that or you may want to consider running a charity instead.

Raise Your Prices

We touched on this with Chris Curran last week and it sounds completely counter intuitive, but raising your prices can result in more – and better – business.

Of course we're not talking about arbitrarily raising your prices. We're talking about assigning a price tag that equals the value you provide.

Is that easy to do? Heck, no. We've spent years working on that formula. But start thinking about what you're worth instead of what the other guy is charging.

How good are you at what you do? How much experience and knowledge do you bring? And yes, how much time do you invest?

We're not fans of hourly pricing but there is a practical reality to the time you spend on your work. That could include not just working time but thinking time. There is actually tremendous value in your brain!

And we're talking about selling services because if you're selling a widget there is only so much you can do about price if half the world is selling that widget, too.

But when you're selling a service, YOU are the product and that means your collective years of knowledge and experience and talent. That's worth something. And you have to value it before you can expect someone else to.

Find The Intersection Of What Makes You Money And What You Love To Do

There may be parts of your job that you love but that don't have any real monetary value in the marketplace. And there may be things you hate to do but that make you money. The trick is in finding that place where money and liking your work meet.

Get rid of the rest.

If you try to sell everything you're not going to enjoy yourself and you won't really ever be a master at any of them. It may sound counterintuitive but instead of broadening your services, narrow them down. Focus on the things you're great at.

Sometimes there is a practical reality to business where you need to do things you don't love because you need the money.

But if you don't find that intersection of things you love and things that make you money, eventually your business is just going to be a financial and emotional burden on you.

Follow "Free" With "Buy Me"

We don't want you to give stuff away. But there is merit in the idea of giving away a freebie as an incentive for people to join your email list or follow you. But if you're planning on giving something away or making a free offer, make sure you always have a process and system in place to move people from free to paid.

If you put on a free webinar, be ready to sell something during or after. If you offer a free download for joining your email list, then email those people with your paid offer.

Don't follow up your free offer with another free offer. Choose your freebie carefully and make sure it's only the tip of the sales iceberg.

Build Your Reputation

If you're working in a saturated space (and who isn't these days?) one of the ways you can compete without pouring a ton of time into free thing after free thing is to work hard on your reputation and authority.

And one of the ways you can do that is to get yourself a guest appearance on a podcast. Nay, many guest appearances! Yes, you can guest blog, but there is something very powerful about getting your voice and personality out there in a way that doesn't come across in writing.

Find podcasts in your niche and pitch the producers with your idea. We're always happy to hear from people who have relevant ideas and lots of podcasters are glad to fill their guest rosters.

And one final counterintuitive suggestion… find shows that may not seem like a good fit… and fit them.

Recently I was on a podcast called The Creative Yarn Entrepreneur podcast hosted by Marie Segares. It's a podcast dedicated to home based business owners who create patterns for knitting and crocheting or do crafts themselves.

I can barely thread a needle so why would I possibly have been on that podcast? Turns out Marie wanted me to help her home-based business audience learn more about creating their websites and promoting themselves online.

So while a podcast about yarn may not seem like a good fit on the surface, it turned out to be perfect. Your job is to do some homework and find opportunities, even when it seems like none exist.

A word of warning: don't pitch an insurance podcast on discussing cold fusion. It should go without saying that your topic should be interesting and relevant to that podcast's audience.

Your Action Item

If you feel compelled to give something away for free, email, call, message or smoke signal one of us and let us talk you out of it. More importantly, let us talk to you about what you can do instead.

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Direct download: 0154-death-to-free-how-to-get-paid-for-what-you-do.mp3
Category:marketing, business -- posted at: 12:00am EST

WSS #0153: Pivoting In Business: The Agony, The Ecstasy And The Oreos

An Infinitely Complex Pattern…

…that is self similar across different scales. Admittedly I have no idea what that means but apparently it's the definition of a fractal. As it so happens, we have Chris Curran making a guest appearance today, master podcasting genius behind the podcast production company Fractal Recording.

Chris was very kind to join us, considering we sprung it on him about a half hour before we started recording and didn’t bother to tell him the topic. He's a good sport! And he's the perfect guest for today's topic: pivoting.

To Change Or Not To Change?

Coincidentally (or is it karma?) Chris is going through a major shift in his business at the same time that we are. And much like us, he has gone through this before.

Today we talk about two kinds of pivoting: the voluntary kind where you know you have to change something because of financial reasons or because you're not exactly in love with what you're doing anymore and the involuntary kind where some s#%! goes down and you realize you have to change or die.

Both Chris and we have been through both kinds so we have plenty of notes to compare. Recently, Chris (in his own words) "got screwed over" and royally stabbed in the back by a business partner and that forced a pivot for him. Plus he knew he wasn't quite realizing his vision for his business so when things with his partner went south, he made a major shift.

Interestingly, Chris acknowledges that this pivot has made him profitable for the first time since he started the business.

Change or die, right?

Raise Your Prices, Close More Business?

Chris told us something both fascinating and counterintuitive: he raised his prices substantially and got more clients. Perhaps the most interesting thing is that coincidentally we did the same thing. And we got more business, too.

Yet the idea of raising prices is hair-raising for most small business owners. It was hair-raising for us! After all, when it comes to building websites and doing marketing, there's a developer and a social media ninja guru on every corner. And many of them charge a fraction of what we do.

But after a lengthy analysis we recognized that we were charging too little for the comparable time we invested and value we provided to our clients. We were in a race to the bottom with all the DIYers and "day trippers" (people who work at the supermarket by day and do social media marketing by night because they read a book about it). And we couldn't – shouldn't have even tried to – compete with that.

Chris's story shares the core of ours. We both wanted to attract a higher quality client, one who understands the value of our services and has the means to pay for it. Like Chris, we raised our prices to match our value. The result?

We lost a lot of leads. Lots of people walked out the door and many never even knocked.


We also closed more business with the right people. So, fewer clients but higher value clients. In the end we could invest the time and produce the quality work we wanted and get paid to do it.

And that's something for you to think about as you continue to grow your business. Are you pricing your services commensurate to the value you provide and the experience and knowledge you bring? Or are you undermining yourself by trying to charge the same – or less than – your perceived competition?

Chasing Down The Next Product

One of the key pivots Chris made early in his entrepreneurial life was to evolve from being a life success consultant to being an audio engineer. Now that's a serious shift!

But why?

At the time, he'd been developing products, including courses, webinars and even books. And one of the things he found was that when he released one of these courses or webinars it took off and he made some nice money. But over time fewer people showed up and fewer people bought. So he had to create a new course or a new webinar and when he released the next one, it took off and made money. But the cycle repeated itself and over time interest and attention dwindled.

Chris knew he couldn't sustain a business or a life by constantly trying to release new products as soon as the ones he already created started to wane. And we totally agree. It's exhausting and not entirely profitable to keep chasing down the next thing. A business has to be sustainable and if you spend your life in a constant state of anxiety over "the next thing" that's not only bad for business but for your well being.

Know When To Hold 'Em, Know When To Fold 'Em

All this talk of making changes in business (some of them rather significant) makes us wonder: where's the line between "I need to keep going and make this work" and "It's time to bail out before I sink"?

For each of us it's slightly different. For Chris, he was tired of chasing "the next thing" and wanted to make money. He was out of ideas for how to promote his products and services and essentially stuck where he was. He does say that if you have more ideas for improving then go ahead and try them! But if you're done then you're done and some of that is just instinctually knowing yourself, knowing your limitations and knowing what you want to do.

For us, we've been faced with the decision to bail or not to bail before, most significantly during the financial collapse of 2008. One of our largest clients, a financial service provider during a time when financial service providers were going under every day, went from providing us with a substantial amount of work to cutting the cord instantly.

Ralph and I seriously considered quitting the business and getting jobs. Why didn't we? Well, lots of tangled reasons, in part because we didn't want to (we enjoy running our business too much), in part because like Chris said, we still had ideas for pushing forward, and in part because we were willing to suck it up, tough it out, suffer through it and plan for the day we saw the other side.

For you, the line may be in a completely different place. There's no science behind knowing it's time to take a new path or tough out the one you're on. Just know that every business has to change at some point. And if you're a business owner and entrepreneur, part of your job is to keep your eyes open for the signs, to pay attention to your industry, your clients and your own needs and desires, and decide.

Pivoting: Piece Of Cake Or Pain In The @$$?

We're in our 40s now, so pivoting involves a lot more creaking these days. The hinges are getting rusty. We want to retire one day! So our business changes involve a whole lot more thinking about our end game than it did when we were 20-something.

We're a little more careful, thoughtful. But that doesn't mean we're stopping. We all agree that unless you are ready financially and emotionally to retire then you have to keep going. You have to keep trying. You can't quit! You just have to evolve.

But that doesn't make it easy. There are depressing moments. Frustrating and disappointing ones. You may want to quit. You may, like us, drown yourself in box after box of Oreos.

But as a true entrepreneur you've got something special. You have a certain creativity and an ability to adapt. You wouldn't be here otherwise. You would just be doing "a job", collecting a paycheck and going home.

So even though there are going to be miserable moments that may even make you doubt your own entrepreneurial cred, you'll come up with another idea. You'll set a goal that will spark that passion again. You may succeed this time, or you may fail. But you will keep going!

Your Action Item

From Chris: Look at your personal life, from spiritual to mental, wellness to diet, and see if there are any areas there where you need to pivot. You are a whole human being and your personal life affects your business life. Your interests and hobbies and relationships pivot, too. So see where your personal life may be impacting your business and make some positive changes there.

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WSS #0152: Curating (Your Own) Content And The Fictitious Line Between Business And Personal

Tea Snobs, Unite!

This episode of the Web.Search.Social Podcast begins with Ralph sharing a pet peeve: people who show up in restaurants with their own tea and ask the waiter for a cup of hot water.

Of course, he then confesses to being that person.

Thanks, Mike Brooks!

Mike is also responsible for turning us on to Simpson & Vail and Tea & Sympathy. He brought us a bunch of loose teas that were quite lovely except now we're in a state of "tea-mergency" because we're running rather low. Hint, hint.

There Is Actually Something Good About The Twilight Books

Ok, yes, that was slightly biased. I read the first book of the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer (because I had just finished reading the Harry Potter series and someone told me Twilight was just as great – pft!) and it made me want to kill myself so I wouldn't have to read another word.

Slight exaggeration, I'm still alive – but let's say I'm not a fan. However, Ralph brings up something positive that's not related to the story but to the content itself.

Turns out Stephenie Meyer has a new book called "Twilight Reimagined" which is the same story told with the genders reversed. Edward the vampire becomes Edythe, and Bella the.. the… the deadpan dishrag?... becomes Beau.

Sorry, sorry… I know this is not about the story!

So what Ralph says is that despite the book's detractors (hey, haters gonna hate) there is a hungry audience for this content and Stephenie Meyer does a brilliant job capitalizing on her own content by telling the story with a different spin.

So what does this mean for you, the business owner?

It means you don't have to reinvent the wheel with every piece of content you put out there. You don't have to come up with original content every time. You can repurpose and reimagine an old blog post, and old podcast, an old video.

Take the theme and topic and recreate the content with the same core but a new angle, or a new perspective.

It's Kind Of Like… Curating… Your Own Content!

If you don't already know how we feel about "content curation" then you may want to start hereOr here. Or here.

But this is a good kind of curation, because you've spent a lot of time creating your content. Why let it sit in an archive somewhere?

Bring it out. Freshen it up. Update it. Write like the more experienced person you are. Use the content you've already created and spin it into more and more content.

As an added bonus you can repurpose you own content for different platforms to take advantage of different opportunities. Pick a blog post and switch it up a bit from what's on your blog so you can take it to LinkedIn Publisher or Medium or Google Plus or anywhere.

Let's Get Seriously Social

We're adding a new weekly segment to our podcast called The Seriously Social Moment, a snippet of social goodness contributed by Ian Anderson Gray.

This week he goes all out with five reasons why scheduling (or in British, "sheduling") your social media posts is a good thing. I'll sum them up here and you can listen in for the full effect.

  1. You need to find quality content to share. Scheduling gives you time to find it.
  2. You can spend more time running your business.
  3. You can spend more time offline with the important people in your life so you're not obsessively on social media while you're having a good time with your family.
  4. You have more down time to revive and rejuvenate.
  5. You can reach people when they're on social media – even if you're not.

Ian reminds us that scheduling is a big advantage but that doesn't give us license to be a robot. You still need to take time to engage, but scheduling can save you a ton of time to do it!

It's Just Business

Have you heard this one before?

It's nothing personal. It's just business.

The idea has been bugging me for a while, this idea that someone will behave badly and then tell you it's just business.

First of all, this undermines business. It's just business. As if it's not real. It's not real life. So people think that gives them an excuse to do things they would not ordinarily do, presumably, if it weren't business.

Secondly, all it amounts to is an excuse for bad behavior, whether that's failing to pay you, cheating, lying, undermining you. Hey it's just business.

But there is no hard line between business and personal. If your business fails or is hurt, so are you. If you lose money, that affects you. Unless you can tell your mortgage company, "Hey, it's just business…" then what happens in your business affects you, financially at a minimum, and probably emotionally, too.

Unless you're independently wealthy and investing in businesses solely for the sake of making money, chances are that you are personally invested – not just financially invested – in your business.

So when a deal falls through, when a client gets angry, when someone fails to pay you, when a prospect walks away, you can't detach from that. Yes, we try. We all try to maintain that division so we "don't take it personally."

But what is a business, if not people? There is no ethereal "business entity." There are people. And when other people reject us or cheat us and do it in the name of business, it's personal.

Ralph Learns Young

Turns out Ralph had his first run in with bad behavior in the name of business when he was just a kid. He got a job with a friend delivering store circulars door to door to apartment buildings in the Bronx. They delivered hundreds of circulars and when they were finished, the boss said they had delivered to the wrong buildings and he wasn't going to pay them. But they were smart kids, and they looked up the written parameters of the job and pointed out that the buildings they had delivered to were, in fact, the ones they had been instructed to visit.

But that didn't seem to sway the boss, who never paid them and brushed it off by saying, "It's not personal, it's business. I like you guys…"

Well, of course he did. Who wouldn't like free labor?

Strangely, I never heard this story! Not sure I'm glad I did now, because this behavior is truly reprehensible. What "business" did he think he was dealing with that was separate from the kids doing the actual work?


My thought? If you can behave that way in business then that reflects on you. Personally.

The Line Between Business And Personal

In my opinion, there is no line. Your business overlaps with your personal life. It's all life. If you run a business then it's part of you. Chances are you love what you do, or at least like it, a little!

You probably invest a lot of energy and passion into what you do. So as part of you, the whole person, why do we feel so compelled to draw a line?

I've noticed that people tend to want to keep business "off limits" when they're doing personal things. At the dinner table, for example, have you ever been told to leave business aside because "it's family time now" or something similar?

But I like business. Mine and others. I like reading about it, hearing about it, learning about it, debating and imagining and talking about it. So to not be able to do that because it's "other" is just deleting something that is part of who I am.

So for me, I don't think business is 9 to 5 and everything else is "life." I think there is overlap that we can and should enjoy and appreciate.

Ryan Hanley Brings On The Audio

If you haven't read Content Warfare yet, what are you waiting for? If it's audio, well now you have no excuses. Ryan has begun to release chapters of the book as audio on his podcast and today we bring you the intro because it's such a great story.

He talks about his inspiration and why he got started as an entrepreneur. And I just made that sound super boring and ordinary but I promise you it's not.

It's actually a riveting read – or listen – so I highly recommend you enjoy it one way or another.

I don't blow smoke about this book, and even after reading the intro numerous times it still gives me happy chills.

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WSS #0151: After Hours: Apple Pie, The Martian, Game Of Thrones & Prostates

It's Web.Search.Social's First After Hours Episode!

We're changing up the podcast and hosting an "after hours" episode once a month where we don't talk business or marketing, but rather we talk about "stuff."


Because we – and you- are more than just the day to day of our jobs. We all have lives and interests and that's what makes us whole people. And the other stuff is also what makes us better at our businesses because we can't be all work all the time.

And It Starts With A Rage About The Mortgage Company

In a great example of how business and life bleed together, we recently had a kerfuffle with our mortgage company that forced us to spend time we otherwise could have been working on dealing with their… let's call it incompetence… instead.

Turns out that our mortgage company decided we don't have homeowner's insurance (we do) and to be incredibly helpful they were going to purchase it for us, at a cost four times any reasonable cost we would otherwise have paid, unless we could prove we had our own.

And to prove it, I had to upload our policy documents to their website. Done and done.

Except… not.

Because a month later I got the same letter ("last warning!"). So I called to ask WTF and the rep listened to my story and said, "Oh, we got your documents. We just couldn't read them."

So I tried to re-upload the documents only to get an error message from the website that since I had already uploaded a file, I could not upload another. And that my documents were being processed… and that they would let me know if there were any problems!

Unless they didn't.

Long, F-word-filled story short, the mortgage company contacted our insurance company to ask them to send the documents, but not before I wasted several hours and days dealing with their nonsense.

You may be wondering if it's now resolved. Well, I'll let you know in a week which is when I was instructed to call back to find out.

But There's An Up Side!

Apparently when I'm in a bad mood, I bake. So there is a bright side to days like this, which usually means something delicious.

In fact just this past weekend I baked an apple pie, made my own crust and all. That same day Ralph posted about it on Facebook and our Poet Laureate Melanie Kissell sent me a message with a chuckle saying something like, "I bet you'll bake a pie when pigs fly."

Just wondering if that means people really do think that all we do is work!

In fact, I quite enjoy cooking. It's fun, it's a great de-stressor and it pays off in something yummy.

So Ralph forgives my bad days when I show up after dinner with cake and pie.

Eight Weeks Of Healthy Eating Pays Off

Remember our "take care of yourself" episode? We talked about the importance of making time for your physical and emotional well being, why you need to eat right and even exercise in spite of all the busyness and the fact that exercise is probably not on anyone's bucket list.

Well, believe it or not that was eight weeks ago and since then we've been eating better and at least for me, I've been on the treadmill every day. One of our clients is a hunter/fisherman and he keeps us supplied with some amazing fresh food. I've personally cut out sugar, processed food and most bread and pasta because… well, calories!

So when I baked (and yes, ate!) the apple pie it was so rewarding. As an added bonus I fit into some clothes I haven't worn for… let's just say way too long!

The Seriously Social Moment

We're adding a new segment to our shows each week called The Seriously Social Moment which will be a short snippet contributed by our own Chief Executive Research Dude, Ian Anderson Gray.

This week he talks about a study that shows which social media tools are considered the best of 2015 by their users. So if you're wondering about a tool, looking for a tool, or just thinking you need a better tool, you'll want to check this out.

Stay tuned for more social goodness in the future!

An Awkward Moment

It starts out as we wish Ian a happy 40th birthday but then goes downhill from there. Ralph mentions that after 40, most doctors' visits for men end with a doctor's finger inserted into certain anatomical parts.

Then I go and up the awkwardness by complaining that women have it worse because we get poked and prodded in unmentionable places from the day we turn 15. And men don't have to get their boobs squeezed. TMI?

Books And Movies Up Next! Thank God.

Both Ralph and I love to read and we enjoy movies. We recently saw the movie The Martian and Ralph was elated, but I was meh.

Ralph enjoyed the movie tremendously and thought it complemented the book wonderfully. He enjoyed the interpretation and how they portrayed the characters.

I thought the move lacked the charm and depth of the book.

Ralph argues that it's not a matter of whether the book or the movie is better – they work together to enrich the experience. I beg to differ and say that if I had never watched the movie I wouldn't have missed anything. It was a faithful and interesting adaptation but the book was a much better experience.

We actually disagree wholeheartedly, which doesn't happen often!

Then Ralph brings up Game Of Thrones and how the book and the show are both fantastic and enrich the collective story because you get more out of both than you could out of one alone.

I haven't read any Game Of Thrones but I watch the show on HBO. In fact, I won't read the books until they are all written and published. I've been weird like that ever since I started reading Stephen King's Dark Tower series and there was a 20 year gap between the last two books.

Oh, and I hated the last book so much that I stopped reading Stephen King altogether!

But even though I haven't read Game Of Thrones, I can totally see how the book and the show and even all the supplemental materials would work together to make the story better. The difference is that the world and story is so vast, so complex and so diverse that it's almost impossible to get it all at once.

There's Actually A Business Lesson, Too

Ok, so we said no business, but it all ties together. Ralph says that we can take the lessons of movies and books and apply them to our own storytelling. In simple terms, if you post something on Facebook, for example, you can post something different on Google Plus or Pinterest or elsewhere. You don't have to repeat the same thing from one venue to another, but use each one to enrich your story, instead.

Finally, something we agree on.

Books As TV Shows

We're currently hooked on a show called Zoo, which is based on a novel by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge. It's a terrible, horrible, stupid show but we can't stop watching. We have not read the book but we wonder how it compares. We see glimpses of an interesting story (told badly) and think the book may hold some promise.

So if you've read it and/or seen the show, let us know!

And while you're at it, let us know what you're up to in your after hours. What do you like to do? What are your favorite books and movies? Fill us in!

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