Web.Search.Social Marketing Podcast (business)
WSS #0179: Ian Anderson Gray On The Business And Personal Sides Of Conference Speaking

The Inside Scoop On Speaking Gigs

Today we’re joined (again!) by our second favorite Brit and Chief Executive Research Dude Ian Anderson Gray because he recently spoke at a conference called Social Media Summit Ireland and we want to hear all about it.

Paid Or Unpaid?

We talk a lot about not doing stuff for free, and that can include refusing to speak at an event if you’re not paid to do it. But there are some pretty big events that don’t pay speakers, and yet they seem to get great speakers every time. How is that possible?

The thing for Ian is not so much what the literal dollar amount is, but the long-term benefits of participating in the events.

Ian says, “It’s all about connecting with other people. You never know what’s going to happen.” Ian has built relationships, engaged in masterminds with people he has met and developed a referral network that has contributed tremendously to the growth of his business.

So even though he didn’t get paid for the event, he did profit from it – not just financially in the long term, but personally, professionally and emotionally. He got a lot of value out of sharing ideas and learning from other people. And, as Ian admits, it was fun!

Fun Is Underrated

Ian says something we agree with wholeheartedly, and that’s that sometimes we all take ourselves too seriously. We do our jobs seriously and take our competition seriously and sometimes lose ourselves in things like process and progress and productivity.

But going to an industry conference can be a great opportunity to meet new people – especially those you may only know online – and have some fun. Sometimes it’s what happens in between the sessions and after hours that makes the biggest impact.

And since we mentioned competition… we also agree that people who work with the competition are far more successful than those who merely compete. In our business, we’ve gotten referrals from people who would be considered competitors, and we’ve referred business to them. Because not every client is right for every person and not every job is right for us – or you.

So even if you’re not attending a conference, it’s a good idea to think about how you can tap into that power to grow your own business, whether through networking, masterminding or just being a good human.

Travel Takes A Personal Toll

This all sounds amazing but it makes us wonder how Ian balances his international speaking with work and family. It’s true that all that travel can be tough. Ian misses Helen (our first favorite Brit) and his kids. He doesn’t want to miss time with them growing up.

It’s also time consuming. All those days and hours he’s travelling are days and hours he isn’t doing any client work.

So Ian has decided to limit his speaking to a certain number per year so that he can do what he loves – teaching and speaking – and still be with those he loves – his family.

We knew that guy was smart!

Why Are You Speaking?

Ian says that you have to be honest with yourself about why you’re speaking. And whether it’s even right for you. But you may not know that unless you actually do it. The day before his first speaking engagement, Ian says he was a nervous wreck. He had no idea why he had agreed to speak in the first place.

But once he got in a groove on stage, he realized that he loved it. He loved making people laugh, communicating and educating. He still gets nervous but he says that if you’re not nervous – if it’s too easy – you probably don’t care anymore and should reconsider why you’re doing it. Being nervous can actually help keep you on your game.

Links & Resources

WSS #0177: The Creative Process Is Not All Rainbows And Unicorns

A Repeat Performance From A Fan Fave

Today we welcome back Christopher Leone who made an appearance on our podcast almost exactly a year ago to talk about his film (or is it TV series?) Parallels. If you haven’t caught it on Netflix, you’re missing some sci-fi fun.

Funny story… we had just been thinking about Chris, whether there would be another Parallels release and what he was up to these days when like a karmic explosion we got an email from him saying that he was working on a book and would love to talk to us.

Likewise! And thus this conversation was born.

A Creative Maniac

Chris has created a LOT. Parallels, which brought us to him, a TV show called the Lost Room, other short films, a comic book, and now he’s working on a young adult fiction novel about a mysterious black orb… but let’s not do any spoilers.

He does so much that we can’t help but wonder how he does it. He’s got a pretty smart answer, which is that he tries to work on only one thing at a time and keep going until it’s done before he takes on another project. For creatives who can easily find themselves starting and starting and starting… the idea to “finish what you started” is pretty good advice!

Getting started on the creative process is fun. So many ideas! So much potential! It’s easy to fall off and look for the new shiny thing as things start to feel like “work”. But more on that in a minute.

Chris The Storyteller

Chris defines himself as a filmmaker. We define him as a storyteller. Sure, he makes films. But he always tells a story. Sometimes that’s through words, sometimes it’s through visuals and sometimes it’s even through sound. Especially when you’re working in a medium like film, your story really does hinge on all these pieces.

Ultimately, whether you’re telling a brand story or composing a film, you can tell it in different ways through different senses.

We want to know: why is he writing a book, especially a young adult novel, considering his filmmaker identity?

Turns out he’s writing a book for the same reason he made a film – because he has a story to tell! But more importantly, it’s a story he wishes someone had written for him when he was a young adult and craving a good sci-fi read.

And don’t let the genre fool you – it’s easy for grown ups to fall in love with young adult fiction, too. Just think Harry Potter and Hunger Games. That’s exactly the kind of story Chris wants to write and we’re confident that he can (and will!)

And Then There’s Marketing

Right now Chris is using Inkshare, a site where authors can work to get their book project funded through fan pre-orders. Once a book gets a certain number of orders, then it will be able to get published through Inkshare. So that helps mitigate the risk of doing the writing, the editing, the cover design, the printing… and then falling flat on orders.

He’s also participating in a contest hosted by The Nerdist and if he wins his book gets automatically funded. (And if you have a moment, be sure to give him some SuperFred love and up his chances of winning by ordering a copy for your favorite kid – or yourself! Just look for the book called Champions of the Third Planet.)

But it still begs the question: how is he getting the word out?

For starters, he already has a fan base so he’s been able to tap into that. He’s also done a lot of social media promotion. Chris says he isn’t doing anything “the traditional way” and that means he doesn’t have a 10-step plan and a 6-month forecast and secret to success. He tries something… and watches to see what works. And then he does that thing.

Ultimately it’s also about the relationships he’s been building along the way. People he’s reached out to, like us, who he can reconnect with and who are happy to host him. Fans he’s engaged with. If you listen to our podcast often enough, this should all sound very familiar by now!

The Creative Process

For Chris, he doesn’t start with a story in his mind. He usually gets a visual that sparks an idea. “A girl is coming out of the woods.” Not a three-act plot but it’s enough that he starts asking questions. Who is she? Why is she there? What’s she doing?

Chris says something fascinating about his own creative process. He says most of the time, it’s not creative.


Well, it turns out that doing creative work is still work. Sure, it can be fun. Having a great idea is fun. Getting started is fun. But after that? It’s all about sitting down and grinding through, getting it done. Putting the words on a page. Editing, fixing, checking your inconsistencies, editing some more.

There’s this myth about creative people that all this stuff just flows. You hang out in your pajamas, on the beach, fulfilling your deepest passions and living the dream! Artists, musicians, authors… they all just hang out sipping sherry or something and everyone wishes for that life.

But doing creative work is not all rainbows and unicorns. Sometimes it’s not fun at all. Sometimes it’s frustrating and head-pounding and boring. Sometimes you hate it and wish you were selling insurance or changing a car tire.

Like most creatives, Chris is a tad perfectionist. We’re often told, “Just write, don’t edit, let it flow then go back later…” Pft. As anyone who has sat down to write knows, you can get hung up on fixing that one weird adjective for… well, a really long time. Chris likes to “get it right” before moving on and sometimes that means getting stuck. But he also says that you have to be aware of when you’re doing something that’s improving your writing and when you’re just changing for the sake of change.

Being creative is tough work!

Everyone Needs An Avatar

Funny enough, Chris has an avatar for his ideal reader, the same way that we talk about having an avatar for your ideal customer. Remember how we said it’s a story he wishes he could have read when he was a kid? Well, his book is a story he’s writing for his ten-year-old self.


Your Action Item

From Chris: Call your parents. Right now. When you’re done, start your creative project. Life is going by. And unless you start now you might still be standing there in a day or month or five years and you will never have reached out for what you want. So whatever that creative thing is, start it.

Links & Resources

Direct download: 0177-the-creative-process-is-not-all-rainbows-and-unicorns.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 12:00am EST

WSS #0176: Time Sucks, A Yucky Interface And Other Business Conundrums

Please Welcome Our Favorite Brit!

No, it’s not Ian Anderson Gray though he comes in at a close second. It’s Helen Gray, the other half of the amazing Gray team and she joins the Web.Search.Social family as the official voice of our intro.

She’ll now be reading the episode number and has already recorded a bunch for us so we can record and shuffle the release dates without worrying that the episode number is stuck in the live recording.

She’ll also be introducing the Seriously Social Moment and has given us a couple of hilarious bonuses that we’ll throw in somewhere unexpectedly.

Thanks, Helen!

The Delightful Beatrix Potter Tea

We’re featuring a brand new Simpson & Vail tea this month! It’s safe to say we’ve become somewhat of tea snobs. No more bagged junk for us. And we’ve certainly had our pick of the good stuff thanks to our friends over at Simpson & Vail.

This month it’s the Beatrix Potter blend which is an amazing herbal blend of rooibos, chamomile, rosehips, spearmint and lemongrass. Want to guess why we’re featuring this tea? Other than the obvious (it’s delicious).

Because Easter is coming up! And Beatrix Potter, famous for her children’s stories, wrote The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Bunnies… Easter… just seemed to fit.

This is a refreshing treat so try a tin from svtea.com.

PS: Their tins are beautiful. We’ve got a bunch of samples in bags and we’re slowly replacing them with SV tins because the only thing better than tea is beautiful tea!

Your Time Is Being Wasted For You

Today we piggyback a bit on our conversation from two weeks ago about automated emails, but not from the standpoint of how to get them right or wrong. We’re looking at them (and other things) as time-sucks.

The problem isn’t the automated email. It’s the automated email and the automated email and the automated email… and the follow up automated email. It’s the unsolicited email. And the spam email.

And even the spam comments and phone calls and things that force you to pay attention to something other than running your business and making money.

When you get an email, even if it’s spam or unsolicited, you have to do something with it. Even if it’s a few seconds to open, determine it’s useless and delete it, that can add up to a whole lot of seconds in a day.

Ralph got – yet another! – unsolicited email from a company, this one asking him to recommend developers who are looking for a job to their staffing agency. Ralph had a pretty good interpretation of this email: “Stop what you’re doing and do this thing for me for free instead.”

Basically, that guy (or girl? Nobody knows, it wasn’t signed.) asked Ralph to do his (or her) homework.

We suspect that email was spam but spam or not, it still required Ralph to stop what he was doing, process the contents of that email and then choose what to do with it.

Our friend Cyndi Harron of Simpson & Vail fame forwarded a couple of emails she received to help prove the point. Someone essentially sent her a “buy my stuff” email – unsolicited of course – and then followed that up with a “did you read my email?” email followed by a “can you connect me with someone else who will answer my email?” email followed by a “are you still interested in my product?” email.

STILL interested? How about NEVER interested!

It amused us but think about it – that was four or five emails that she had to stop for. Process. Act on. All for nothing.

How many of those do YOU get in a day?

Mike Brooks Gets Homework

We figure that people send these emails out because they have some success rate. We have no idea what that could possibly be when everyone we’ve ever spoken to is wildly annoyed by this type of solicitation. But if persistent, aggressive emails didn’t work, people would stop sending them, right?

So we get Mike Brooks on the case, who is a fan of automated emails (the good kind) and tell him to find out what those stats are. We also want to know if this kind of thing has a negative impact on a brand.

Get busy, Mike!

Your Seriously Social Moment

What do you think about Snapchat? Ian wants to know! At first he thought it was just for teens, or just the new shiny thing. But then he tried it and fell in love with it. He says for him, it’s about sharing ideas and thoughts, telling a quick story and doing it without being a perfectionist.

On the down side, he says it’s not intuitive and the interface is “kind of yuck.” But if you’d like to give it a shot, it could be fun! You can even connect with Ian with his username iagdotme.

Time Is A Slippery Beast

Even when you’re not dealing with nagging emails and minutia, your day can get derailed by bigger issues.

Recently we had just such an issue. Turns out that a number of recurring credit card transactions that we have set up in Quickbooks decided to stop processing. But we never got an error, never got a “card declined” message, never knew anything at all until one day I realized that some of our clients hadn’t been billed for their services. Some for a few months!

And I like to get paid for the work I do, so I contacted Quickbooks support. And they tried to help me, to no avail, so sent me over to merchant services. And they tried to help me, to no avail, finally deciding there was a technical problem that their team needed to look into.

Two days and many, many hours of support later, the issue remains unresolved and I’ll have to check back with their tech team.

Stuff like this happens, and you can’t plan for it. By Murphy’s Law it always happens when you can least afford to spend time dealing with it, but that’s another story.

Sometimes stuff that derails you is even more unpleasant. A death. A health crisis. Our cat was very sick one day recently and we needed to rush him to the vet. Goodbye deadlines.

The question is: now what?

Dealing With Time Sucks

Start by taking stock of the severity of the situation. Are you in red alert mode? Is it something you need to deal with now and fast? Is it something that requires you personally to fix it?

Depending on your answer to that question you can decide what to do next. With our cat, we had to act immediately. And nobody else could do it for us. With the Quickbooks situation, I could meet my deadline then call customer service afterwards.

In other cases, like when I may be having an issue with a vendor, I may ask Ralph to do it. If you’re tied up but someone else has flexibility in their day, don’t be afraid to delegate.

Keep in mind that when it comes to the big stuff, people understand. Be honest about a crisis and let people know what you need, like more time for a deadline, to reschedule a meeting or something else.

And no, you can’t plan for this stuff, but just knowing that things will happen that you can’t plan for is enough. And when they do, cut yourself some slack. Don’t try to do it all or meet impossible obligations and deadlines. Don't stay up all night to make it up. That will catch up with you and can make things worse.

And yes, yes, we do it! Sometimes you really have to pull an all nighter. But do your best not to because a fresh mind and a fresh start will help you think a lot more clearly, especially in a crisis situation.

Big crises are no fun but it’s those insidious little daily distractions that can really eat away at your time. All those spammy, unsolicited emails you have to process in a day, all the crap blog comments, all the selly-sell phone calls.

One way or another they’re in your way and even just hitting the delete button costs you. So be mindful of that stuff. Be aware of the tiny paper cuts that can kill your productivity. Make a plan for how you’ll deal with that stuff, like maybe only check your email twice a day and quickly manage anything that lingers. Perhaps instead of deleting, hit the “spam” button so future similar messages won’t cross your path.

Whatever you do, be aware of these monsters so you can keep them from messing with your day.

Links & Resources

Direct download: 0176-time-sucks-a-yucky-interface-and-other-business-conundrums.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 12:00am EST

WSS #0175: Warfare Plugins: Saving The World One Share At A Time. A Chat With Dustin Stout And Nick Cardot

Almost Saint Patrick’s Day!

And that means we’ve got the perfect tea for you to try. It’s Simpson & Vail’s Irish Blend – a combination of Indian teas with a dash of Earl Grey and a hint of floral notes. It’s the perfect accompaniment to… well, anything, really. It’s delicious, so visit svtea.com and treat yourself to a tin.

It’s Time For Social Warfare

Our guests today include Dustin Stout, Nicholas Cardot and the Jason Wiser-bot who are the fabulous trio behind Social Warfare Plugins.

Wait… did you ask, “What’s the Social Warfare plugin?” If you did, then you should know that it’s THE social sharing plugin to dominate all social sharing plugins. In fact, for us (and our clients) it’s the ONLY social sharing plugin. It’s beautiful. It works on mobile. It lets you perfectly customize your text and images for different social networks. And it comes with a “frame buster” option, which if you heard our episode on Snip.ly is a thing unto itself.

This isn’t actually a commercial or a pitch. We just love the plugin and have been dying to talk to the guys behind it. We’ve known them online for a while and are glad to finally have them on the show to talk about their entrepreneurial journey.

In The Beginning…

We want to know: how do three guys decide to build a social sharing plugin?

Interestingly enough, they met on Google Plus (win for social media) and hit it off. Dustin shared his frustrations with Nick about how terrible the available social sharing plugins were at the time then mocked up a drawing of what he wanted a social sharing plugin to look like on his site. He brought that drawing to Nick and asked if it could be developed.

At the same time this was happening, Jason asked Nick about a similar problem he was having with social sharing plugins on his own site. Jason shared a few ideas for a better plugin with Nick, who took both Dustin’s and Jason’s ideas and combined them into one – dare we say it – perfect plugin.

Business Roles And Responsibilities

So far this sounds fun. A couple of guys. A social network. A bunch of great ideas and a need in the marketplace. Time to start developing!

Except the thing about starting a business is that sometimes it’s just about the business. You know, that boring sort of business-y stuff that few people like (and those who do are beloved by the rest of us) like shareholder agreements, equity distribution and responsibilities.

Nick says that the shareholder agreement has always been a work in progress and is constantly being revised to fit their needs. For that, you need things like attorneys. And capital. At some point everyone has to contribute to the expense fund, whether it’s for attorneys fees, developers (in their case, Nick was the developer so they didn’t have to hire another), accountants and other costs. There has to be a bank account. There has to be bookkeeping.

Then there’s the matter of “who’s going to do what?”

Unless that’s clearly defined, you could get yourself into some sticky business situations. These boys were smart and made it clear who was responsible for what, right in their shareholder agreement.

Their First Fight

After a while, listening to these guys talk about their great ideas and smart business decisions makes us want to poke the hornet’s nest a little (because you know that’s how we roll.)

So we ask: when did they have their first big fight?

Dustin gives us a nice answer about how they avoid fights by making sure that whenever there is a disagreement or “tie vote” on something, they always defer to the person who has the authority and responsibility in the area they’re discussing.

Still sounds pretty smart to us, and not like much of a fight. So we rephrase the question: what was your most challenging moment?

Dustin comes up with something they disagreed about early on and it turns out to be both relatable and hilariously minor.

As they were building their website and coming up with the benefit points, Dustin wanted to list them as “beautifully responsive” and “lightning fast”… etc.

But Jason and Nick wanted to list them as “lightning fast” and “beautifully responsive.”

The debate over which of the two was more important and should be listed first on the website turned into a heated discussion, followed by market research, followed by a poll on Google Plus, followed by more heated discussion. All over the order of two bullet points.

And yes, we can relate. Sometimes it’s the littlest things that make you dig your heels in on a point.

You Are Not Your Product

One of the challenges we all face is dealing with people who don’t like us, don’t like our product, or experience a problem with our product or service and take it out on us in loud, raging fashion.

The guys have gotten support requests that come across as angry or insulting and they remind themselves that people are not insulting them personally even though it may feel like it. They also take an empathetic approach and understand that the person submitting the support request is, in fact, a person. So they make sure to treat people well – even the angry and insulting ones.

We add that “being a person” goes both ways. Whether you’re submitting a support request or answering one, you’re still talking to a human being on the other end. The internet can make us feel detached but it pays to remind ourselves that the internet is still people.

The Domain Name Challenge

In our last episode we talked about some of the challenges of naming our podcast product, including the fact that even when we came up with a good name, the domain was already taken. So we ask the guys if they had a similar experience because their domain is warfareplugins.com but their plugin is called Social Warfare.

The answer is yes – domains they wanted were taken – but they had an ingenious solution. They named the site and overall company Warfare Plugins (hence, the domain) and plan to use that as the umbrella for the Social Warfare plugin and other, future plugins they have planned. This way they can use one site as their content and marketing hub.

Brilliant! And we can’t wait to see what they’ve got coming next.

A Side Note: We Hate Popups

But they work. Yes, you’ve heard it before but we ask Dustin about the one he uses on his site and what results he’s had. Turns out he hates popups. And don’t we all say that? But apparently we love to hate them because Dustin says his signup rate went up and there was no negative impact on the open rate of his emails. We found similar results when we tried a popup years ago, but we got rid of it because generally speaking people always say they hate them.

Time to rethink that?

Your Action Item

From Nick: learn something new every day. Something REAL that adds to your skillset. Keep improving yourself so you can get better at what you do.

From Dustin: engage your audience with visuals. Don’t worry about not being “creative.” Just go out and create something. Even if it sucks. You’ll get better at it!

Links & Resources

Direct download: 0175-warfare-plugins-saving-the-world-one-share-at-a-time.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 12:00am EST

WSS #0174: The Challenges Of Naming A New Product Or Business


Naming A Product IS HARD.

We’ve been hinting recently about a podcast tool that we’re developing and one of the first things we set out to do was name it. Four of the partners got together – Mike Brooks, Michael Campasano, Carol Lynn and me – and started brainstorming.

Four months later, here we still are, and our product is still nameless. It’s been a challenging process for lots of reasons and that’s what we’re talking about today because if you’re starting a business or launching a product, you’re going to go through the same thing. We hope our experience can help you.

Different Perspectives

One of the challenges we faced was having four partners involved in the naming, each with a unique perspective. Mike, who is in charge of sales and marketing, wants something with a hook that he can speak from a stage or throw out at a trade show and have it be instantly memorable. Something you can type into a browser and find online even without being told how.

Michael, who is in charge of branding and visual identity, is coming at the naming from a completely different perspective. He sees things in color and imagery and can see how certain words and combinations of words can create compelling visuals.

Carol Lynn wants a good story, something she can tell in the marketing copy, on social media, in interviews and on blogs. Much like Carol Lynn, I want something with a good story behind it, something that is uniquely meaningful.

Somehow we have to get everyone on the same page, and while we’re definitely in the same book, even in the same chapter, we still haven’t agreed on a direction for the name. So in one sense, it’s been challenging. In another, it’s been nice to have the differing perspectives. We have no doubt that when we hit on something, we’re all going to love it.

A Working Title Leads To A Host Of Other Challenges

Early on as we were talking about what the tool would do, Mike compared it to a showrunner. So for a while, that was our working title – Showrunner. It was a fairly literal interpretation, easy to say, easy to remember. But nobody was really convinced.

We also toyed with the idea of naming it after Fred (our audience) and decided that might be too much of an “inside joke.” At first Mike didn’t like that idea. Then he did. At first we loved the idea. Then we didn’t.

On the less literal side, we came up with the name Epodsodic – a play on the word Episode and Podcast. Michael, Carol Lynn and I loved it. We practically had the marketing and logo designed in our heads. Mike brought us back to reality by reminding us of how difficult the spelling would be to explain, and how people were more likely to go to episodic.com, which would clearly not be us.

Remember the part about this being hard?

At the moment we’re still tinkering with the idea of incorporating Fred into the name. We also still like the idea of Showrunner but then the worst challenge of all cropped up…

Domain Squatters Must Die

We definitely haven’t been short on ideas. In fact, we’ve had some pretty great ideas. But where we inevitably hit a brick wall is in finding a matching domain name. We all agree on one thing: we want a domain that matches the product name. And that was one reason we ended up dismissing Showrunner. We thought about DigitalShowrunner.com or ShowrunnerApp.com but ultimately neither of those pleased us.

The problem isn’t that products or businesses already exist under most of these domain names, the problem is domain squatters. These are people who buy up combinations of words and then sit there and wait for people like us who want the domain and are willing to cough up thousands and thousands, or tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Mike calls them a pestilence and even though there’s nothing wrong or illegal about buying as many domain names as you want, there is definitely something that feels unethical about buying a domain you have no intention of using and then waiting for someone who does want to start a business to pay a ton of money for it.

In any case, we (much like most startups) don’t have a ton of money and we’re not going to cough up any thousands of dollars for a domain, so we’ve been back to the drawing board many times just because someone is squatting on the domain.

Your Seriously Social Moment

Ian Anderson Gray says that some automation on social media is good, but you still need to display your humanity. Today he’s got some homework for you, so get busy!

Over the next week, every single day, he wants you to do the following on whatever social network you choose:

  • Ask a question
  • Answer someone else’s question
  • Share one fact about you personally
  • Share what you like doing for fun

You may be surprised by the results!

How To Name A Product (Advice From Non-Experts)

We’re not naming experts but we’re engrossed in the process and we used a few tricks to help us get clarity and come up with ideas. Here are a couple of things we tried.

First, brainstorm! We’re lucky to have five people involved but even if you’re solo, you can still have a great brainstorming session. Invite a friend! Then get a piece of paper and divide it into 3 columns. In the last column, write down what you do. For example, when Mike was naming his company he wrote down “marketing” in the last column.

Then in the first two columns, write words that describe what you do – adjectives, nouns, verbs – whatever says something about that last word. In Mike’s case, he eventually came up with “deliciously explosive” which ultimately became “Nuclear Chowder” – a little bit of ridiculous plus a little bit of interest and a whole lot of visual.

Mike also gave us a homework exercise which was essentially a “fill in the blank” worksheet that required us to write down what our product does – not its features, but its benefits. We had to think about who it is for, what it does and what problem it solves. He calls this our “hook.”

We’ve started the process and we’re currently working on refining that hook. Turns out this naming thing really is hard. And the elevator pitch isn’t any easier! But we’ve been having fun (and mojitos) and we know we’ll end up with something that works.

Introducing… The Podcast Tool

In the absence of a name, we haven’t been able to market our product. We haven’t been talking much about it or building excitement. We haven’t been inviting beta testers or building an email list.

We don’t want to name in haste, nor do we want to miss opportunities to talk about the tool, so we came up with an interim solution. For now, we’re calling it… drumroll… The Podcast Tool. Perhaps most shocking of all, the domain thepodcasttool.com was available! So we snatched that up and now if you want to be a beta tester, you can go there and sign up.

And if you have any ideas, we’d love to hear them. Just don’t squat on the domain!


Direct download: 0174-the-challenges-of-naming-a-new-product-or-business.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 12:00am EST

WSS #0173: How Do You Make A Niche Business Succeed?


How Can A Niche Business Survive?

That’s the question we tackle with Kate Ahl today, a Pinterest expert who has built a business around working with bloggers on their Pinterest strategy.

And while we enjoy Kate and find her to be a smart and savvy business person, we can’t help but ask, “Does the world really need another Pinterest expert??”

More on that in a minute.

What We Don’t Talk About Today: Pinterest

We’ve done that and so have a billion people before. How to pin, when to pin, why to pin. Promoted pins, boards, repins, graphics. Snooze!

You can swing a rubber chicken and hit Pinterest advice. But what you can’t do is get the inside scoop on starting a business from nothing, taking it from two clients to 45 in less than a year and doing it all without knowing anything about the business you’re about to be in.

That’s Kate’s story and it’s fascinating, with a lot of insight along the way.

It Started With A Frugal Blog

Kate’s husband was out of work. Her three kids were little and needed things like “shoes” and “lunch.” Kate’s family of five was surviving on a thousand bucks a month. Their unemployment benefits had just run out, they were on food stamps and there didn’t seem to be anywhere to turn.

At the time, Kate was helping a friend with her frugal blog (a blog designed around couponing, deals and living on a super tight budget), doing posts and some Facebook promotion. Unfortunately, her friend didn’t have the budget to pay Kate more, but she did make a suggestion that would turn Kate into a business woman…

From Frugal Blog To Brilliant Niche

Just as things were looking pretty dire, Kate recognized a growing trend. Facebook reach had been steadily dropping and bloggers were becoming frustrated with their ability to reach their audiences.

Her friend Angela of the frugal blog suggested working with these frustrated bloggers to help them find alternative ways to promote themselves, specifically by using Pinterest.

Kate thought the idea was crazy. She wasn’t convinced that Pinterest could be used for business. In fact, she didn’t particularly like or understand Pinterest!

But she was in "do or die" mode so she dove in and threw herself wholeheartedly into learning everything she could about how to use Pinterest to drive traffic. At first she was skeptical, but she kept learning and she asked a few people to come along for the ride so she could practice and learn some more.

She started with two clients, who were so happy with the results that they’re still Kate’s clients today.

Even A New Business Needs To Make Money

One of the mistakes we so commonly hear is when new business owners work for free because they’re “building a portfolio” or because they don’t have the confidence in themselves to charge for their services.

The good news is that Kate didn’t fall into that trap. She charged for her services right out of the gate, even while she was still learning. She was completely up front with her first clients about what she could do and how much she needed to be paid for it. And while she wasn’t charging as much as she can now that she’s a real pro, she was smart enough to figure out ahead of time how long certain tasks would take and what kind of money she needed to make so the endeavor would be worth her time.

Oh, and she was also smart enough to track her time to be sure that she was spending a proportionate amount of time for the money she was making. Go Kate!

So How DO You Make A Niche Business Succeed?

Know your audience. It’s just that simple. Kate understood the bloggers’ world. She knew their frustrations. She knew their challenges and problems. She could relate to them and what they wanted to do and she was able to offer them something that made their lives easier and gave them exactly what they needed.

And then she did it very well. So well, in fact, that even though she was still learning, she was starting to get inquiries from other bloggers asking if she would work with them, too. And she was starting to get referrals from happy clients who were telling other people how well Kate understood and helped them.

Kate didn’t invent a product and try to sell it. She didn’t decide on a path and then look for a niche for her services. She crafted everything she did around a niche that already existed, with a service that solved their precise problem.

That’s about as close to a magic formula as you can get.

And then? She raised her rates!

Recognize Your Own Pro Status

Even though we all continue learning and honing our craft, no matter our industry, there comes a point when we’re no longer apprentices and are pretty darn good at what we do. Sadly, we’ve witnessed far too many people undervalue themselves and charge too little for what their time and effort are worth. It’s tough to go from “I’m new at this” to “Pay me lots of money because I’m good at this.”

But if you want to succeed in business then that’s exactly what you have to do at some point. After the learning curve, once the referrals started coming in, Kate had that “ah-ha” moment where everything seemed to click into place. And though it was still a nerve wracking experience, she raised her rates.

And she also said something very interesting. She said, “I wanted to move from being a VA to being an expert. I knew that the amount I charged was going to change how people saw me.”

To that we say… exactly!

Hindsight Is 20/20

Considering how thoughtful Kate was about starting and running her business, we couldn’t help but ask whether she made any mistakes or had a moment of “wishing she knew then what she knows now.”

One of the things she says that she didn’t have was a good system for onboarding and managing clients. Without a good system, she was actually making more work for herself and doing a lot of the same tasks over and over.

Sounds familiar. We’re no strangers to starting a business by the seat of our pants and learning some things the harder way. Kate was smart enough (again!) to recognize her limitations and hire a business coach to help her. It just goes to underscore the fact that you don’t have to go it alone. And sometimes you can’t. Sometimes, even when the money isn’t exactly rolling in, it would still be worth your while to get professional help.

But Does The World Really Need ANOTHER Pinterest Expert?

It’s not like Kate is the only Pinterest person on the planet, expert or otherwise. Heck, we’ve had at least three on this show alone, including Alisa Meredith (who was kind enough to introduce us to Kate in the first place!) Jeff Sieh and Cynthia Sanchez.

And Pinterest is pretty niche. So really, when it boils down to it, why would we need another Pinterest person, and how did Kate manage to build a loyal following in a space that already has plenty of experts?

For starters, Kate says, it goes back to understanding the bloggers’ world. She isn’t just “a Pinterest expert.” She’s “a Pinterest expert for bloggers.” That’s pretty niche.

Being that person, the one who understands bloggers, the one who knows how to get results for bloggers, has helped her build a loyal customer base.

She is also the voice of reason in their world. She doesn’t make crazy big promises about making six figure incomes or doubling their traffic in a month. She’s realistic. She guides them individually in a way that helps them grow their businesses and doesn’t sell them formulas. She communicates clearly and prides herself on helping people succeed.

We finally conclude that the world does not, in fact, need another Pinterest person.

But the world does need Kate Ahl.

Your Action Item

From Kate: In your Pinterest profile, make sure you include a link to your opt-in or freebie. It’s one extra way that you can get people to join your email list. While you’re at it, add that link to you Facebook and Twitter profile, too!

Links & Resources

Direct download: 0173-how-do-you-make-a-niche-business-succeed.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 11:10pm EST

WSS #0171: Your Brand Is More Than Your Logo: On Messaging, Consistency And Your “Why”


A Content Tease

Our guest today is Craig McBreen and the first thing we want to know is: why do we have to wait a week after signing up for his email list before we get our first branding lesson??

He says it’s all about the anticipation but we’re just not buying it because we can’t wait!

Branding: More Than Just Your Logo

Our conversation today wraps around branding – what it is, why you need it and how to think about doing it for your business. Most people typically think of their logo when they think of branding.

Some people just want a really nice website design.

But branding starts long before anything visual happens. So what is branding, exactly?

Craig says that branding is the intersection of passion and knowledge. You take what you love, and what you know, and you create your message and content around that. It’s thinking about who you serve and how you do that. It’s about the language you use and the personality you bring.

Sometimes you talk to other people (like clients, business partners and colleagues) about what your company is and what you do.

Knowing the “what” and the “why” are key to effective branding.

Personal Vs. Business Branding

We pose this challenge to Craig: is personal branding a thing? Isn’t a brand just a brand? “Personal branding” seems to be a buzzword that marketers use to sell just another service to people.

Craig says that while you do have a personal brand, it’s still part of your big-picture brand and you’re not a separate entity. But people often know and use the term so he also uses it to help engage and guide someone through the branding process. But ultimately, it’s about your message, your what and your why.

Good Brand Vs. Bad Brand

Just because you know the why and what doesn’t mean you have built a good brand. You can know all that and still get it wrong. So we want to know what differentiates the good from the bad.

Craig says a good brand has a direct and consistent message that speaks to your core audience. Your language, personality, message and even graphics and colors are consistent across all your content, from your Twitter cover image to your website to your emails and business cards and everything between.

Conversely, a “bad” brand is the opposite. Your message doesn’t speak to your prospective customers. It’s all you, all the time – what you do, your awards, how great you are, instead of about the people you serve. Your Twitter page and Facebook page and website don’t quite mesh or look consistent. You use different language in different places and it’s likely confusing to people.

Bad Branding? Start Here.

If your branding is inconsistent, off-target or non-existent, get help! Find a professional, collect some clients and colleagues, just get people who can help you tell your story properly. Ask them what’s great – and not so great – about working with you. Ask people what they think you do and match that against what you actually do. Notice the language people use, the consistencies and the misconceptions.

Make copious notes. You’ll need to refer to them to help craft a cohesive, consistent and clear message – one that speaks to the right people.

Then from your message, your graphics, logo and other visuals will follow.

Free Consulting!

As long as we’ve got him, we decide to extract some free consulting out of Craig for our own business.

We have a lot going on. A number of different businesses, with different partners and different branding for each. So we want to know how someone like us manages these different entities and avoids a branding nightmare.

The bottom line is that we (and people in our boat) need a concise message that speaks to the ideal client for each brand. Then we need to be sure to design consistently across the board, from colors to words.

In Craig’s case, he has two companies – one that caters to larger clients and one that caters to smaller clients and solopreneurs. His message is specific to each but he’s done a great job creating some overlap so that when people find him they aren’t confused.

Branding Needs To Be Maintained

Your copy is written. Your logo is designed. You’re officially branded! And now you’re done.

But hold your horses – there’s more to it.

If you’ve done branding right in the first place, you’ve got a bunch of notes from all those conversations you had with colleagues, partners and clients and you have a strong message. But over time, your business evolves. And as you add or remove a service, add a new social network, change a bit of your website, it’s very easy for things to get out of synch. A tiny change in tone here, a different color there, and next thing you know you’re looking at branding death by a thousand cuts.

So over time, check back in with your brand, from the language and message to the colors and graphics, and make the tiny tweaks that will keep it sharp instead of sliding into disaster.

More Free Consulting!

We’ve been considering doing a bit of rebranding ourselves. Our focus has shifted a bit and we feel like maybe it’s time for a change. But every time we present the idea to our listeners and fans, there’s a little bit of freaking out. People don’t want us to change, even though we think it might be time.

So we ask Craig: how do you make that change without pissing people off? Just think of the fit people had when Gap changed their logo, the utter outrage. People get very attached to their brands. Is change worth it?

Craig says that he doesn’t think we’ve shifted so much that we need to start from scratch. With a little tweak, maybe a different tagline or adjustment to our messaging, we could bring our brand in alignment without a scary overhaul.

He suggests maintaining our existing branding elements, like colors and even music, but just being mindful of the messaging. And since we’re still us, our language and personality will still be the same.

Who Is Craig McBreen?

We talked a lot about branding, but Craig is still a guy who runs a business and has a family. So how does he make it all happen?

Craig is right in our wheelhouse when it comes to work and life. He’s learned to work on a consistent schedule (even though like many of us he was used to working until all hours of the night), he meditates each day, he focuses on the tasks that need to be done during the day and then he quits and makes sure he has time to live his life, take time for his family and get in some much-needed down time.

He also has a trick up his sleeve, and that’s planning out his daily tasks the night before. That way he doesn’t have to spend time figuring them out first thing each day. He already knows and can get right to them and get them done.

One Last Question. (Or Two.)

All of the branding talk has been fun, but there’s another issue at hand, which is that a brand is nice, but it does you no good unless you get it out into the world. It hardly matters how great your message is unless you get it heard. How does that happen? Especially when there are so many ways to get your message out? Sometimes having so many options, from web to search to social to email and even snail mail, is paralyzing.

Craig says that you don’t, in fact, need to be everywhere. You only need to be where it works for you. If you’re making connections on Facebook, then don’t worry that you’re not on Twitter. If Facebook isn’t happening, then skip it and try LinkedIn. Don’t worry about where you’re not – just focus on where you are and what’s working.

Ok, but what about all the new social networks and marketing channels that keep popping up? Periscope. Blab. Snapchat. Do you sometimes feel compelled to jump on the latest trend before you miss out?

Craig says that he doesn’t have time to jump on every new thing. For him, LinkedIn works. He’s too busy making those connections and running his business to worry about the new shiny object. Take this advice to heart: you don’t need to be trendy either. If you’ve got time and want to try something, or expand into a new market, go ahead. But don’t feel guilty if you ignore the next live streaming service or opt out of the hottest new social network.

Stay focused and you’ll reap the rewards of your efforts.

Your Action Item

From Craig: Stop reading business books. When you quit work for the evening, don’t pick up the latest business book, don’t browse blog posts or inspirational books. The problem is that your brain will start spinning with ideas and you won’t actually relax or sleep well. Your brain needs time to stop. So use your down time to leave work behind and you’ll do wonders for your health and creativity.

Links & Resources

WSS #0170: Website Costs And Dangerous Video Trends


Welcome To The Web.Search.Social Episodic Content Show!

More on that in a minute.

But first…

How Much Should A Website Cost?

We’ve written about this a couple of times and just recently someone wrote to us who had read one of the articles we wrote a few years ago and asked us how those prices compare to today.

The person who wrote in had gotten a quote for $15,000, which she said included a logo, branding, collateral and website. The cost, she said, was twice what she expected so she asked us for our opinion.

Unfortunately we can’t make any kind of educated assessment based on that information because there’s no telling what is included – or not included – in the project.

But we can say that a LOT of things can affect pricing. For example, will someone be doing the copywriting for you, or are you expected to bring your own? What about photography? What type of functionality will you require? A basic contact form? A photo gallery? A membership portal? There are a lot of options and quite a lot of services that can go into building a website.

The job of the person who asked us the question – and yours, if you’re evaluating a proposal from someone to build your website – is to ask a lot of questions so you understand what you’re getting, from the content to the search optimization to the extent of the design services.

Get all the details but be careful not to get TOO many details. Sometimes a proposal can be too specific and box you into a corner. For example, knowing someone will build you a contact form is sufficient. You don’t want someone to specify that it will be a contact form with three fields, because what if you realize you need four?

What’s The Minimum Threshold?

Building a website requires a lot of time and understanding how all the pieces work together. A website is more than a WordPress installation, which just about anyone can do at the click of a button.

You can get a website for $500 if all you want is someone to click the button. But that doesn’t make it a good business website. At a minimum, you’ll be investing several thousand dollars for someone to sit with you to discuss your business needs and goals and to put in the time, strategy and planning required to create a good marketing tool that will help you generate leads and sales.

It’s not really the building that’s as important as all the stuff that comes before. A college student can build a website. It doesn’t take much to put together HTML or install a WordPress theme and a couple of plugins. But it does take quite a lot of expertise and time to figure out how a website will help you reach your business goals, how it will fit into the bigger marketing picture, how it will reach your target customers, help you lead people through your sales process and ultimately serve as the marketing engine it should be.

We go to far as to say that building a website is the easy part.

How Do You Know If You’re Getting A Fair Deal?

First of all, know what you’re getting. Ask a lot of questions so that you understand what’s included in the cost. Make sure it’s in writing!

Secondly, understand how the process works. Will your developer expect you to show up with everything you need, including directives, so he can build what you tell him to? Or will he be the one asking the questions and guiding the process?

Finally, make sure the services you’re getting are services you need. Paying $5 for a service you don’t need is too expensive. Paying $15,000 for services you do – perfectly reasonable!

And if you’re still not sure, we’ll make it really easy on you. If you have a proposal that you're considering, send it to us and we'll let you know whether it sounds fair or gives you enough information to make a good decision. You can email it to us at cl@websearchsocial.com or ralph@websearchsocial.com.

Your Seriously Social Moment

Do you schedule your social media posts? Lots of people don’t like to schedule because they don’t think their content should be going out without them. They want to “be there” to send it. But Ian Anderson Gray has five reasons why scheduling is a good idea.

  1. Scheduling lets you find and share better content. Finding good stuff takes time so if you schedule your posts you’ll have more time to spend finding or creating better content.
  2. Scheduling lets you spend more time working on your business. You may want to spend all day on Facebook but that’s probably not the best use of your time.
  3. Scheduling lets you spend more time offline with the people that matter in your life. You can batch schedule so you don’t have to spend all your time hanging out online waiting for that perfect time to post.
  4. Scheduling frees up your time to have more down time. Go for a walk or do something that recharges your creativity.
  5. Scheduling lets you reach people when they’re actually on social media. You can have content going out nights, weekends or any time when you’re not online.

Remember, scheduling is not engagement. It will save you time and help you be more effective, just remember not to be a robot. Take time to engage, too.

Video Is Powerful. True Or False?

Yep! It can be. It can also be dangerous, maybe even lethal. There are a couple of popular video genres that have sprung up, including prank videos, reaction videos and response videos.

The problem is that people can take them too far. In one series of prank videos, some men walk up to strangers on the street and pick a fight. Then when the person on the street reacts, the pranksters strips down to a thong.

In one of these videos, the person being pranked pulled a gun out, thinking rightfully that they were being threatened and harassed. While we’re not fans of “blame the victim” mentality, we think maybe these guys are asking for trouble and if something bad happens it’s going to be their own fault.

It’s a bit like screaming, “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater.

Let this be a caution to anyone with kids or teenagers. These videos seem to be rather popular and they’re being emulated in many ways.

Licensing Fees For "Reacting?"

In reaction videos, someone shows a video to another person and then records that person's reaction to the video. While this is all on the up-and-up, an interesting thing happened recently. A company called Fine Brothers Entertainment told other would-be videographers that they’d license the “reaction format” for a fee. So anyone who creates one of these types of videos owes the Fine Brothers a licensing fee.

Predictably enough, the internet was outraged. We wonder how someone can insist on a licensing fee for something they didn’t invent and that anyone can do.

It’s a bit like the patent trolls we talked about a while ago who want a licensing fee from anyone who delivers "episodic digital content". Theoretically, anyone who podcasts would be subject to this licensing fee. We'd have to pay up just to be able to put our content online. We wonder how Netflix or HBO or Hulu feel about paying Random Patent Troll for the "right" to post episodes of their content.

So we over here at Web.Search.Social decided that anyone who uses the word podcast owes us a fee. Makes perfect sense, no?

Content Is Getting Boring

The final video genre we touch on is the response video, where someone creates a video talking about someone else’s video.

The whole conversation is a bit baffling and we wonder if we’re entering a brave new world of content creation where there is really nothing much original, where everyone is just piggybacking and pilfering.

So yes, video can be powerful, but we think – especially when it comes to business – that people who create original content will be the ones who stand out.

Links & Resources

Direct download: 0170-website-costs-and-dangerous-video-trends.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 11:21am EST

WSS #0162: In Which We Solve Sexism With Disembodied Heads. Plus, Mike Allton Dies.

The Intro Before The Intro

Our friend Alisa Meredith of the Superheroes of Marketing podcast recently offered a critique of our podcast and said that she would like to know what we're going to talk about before we start.

So based on her feedback we decided to add a short intro before the music, basically a "table of contents" for the podcast so Freds everywhere will know what to expect.

Except for today, when our intro went on for a really long time until we actually remembered to roll in the music.

What do you think? Helpful to know what's coming up or just extra talking?

The Official Web.Search.Social Tea

After experimenting with more teas than we can talk about, we decided that Simpson and Vail wins. They have green and black and oolong and white and dessert teas, all of which add up to more than 350 kinds of deliciousness.

We're on a mission to try them all and in the meantime we've enjoyed the ones we've sampled quite a lot.

Mike Allton Geeks Out On Star Wars

Mike Allton of the Social Media Hat recently wrote a post called This Star Wars Trailer Will Blow Your Marketing Mind. It's full of great content, from Mike's take on what we can learn about marketing from the Star Wars trailers to videos of the actual trailers themselves. It's geek heaven, but I'm concerned that given the upcoming superhero movies that are coming out, along with the scheduled release of the next Star Wars movie, will Mike actually Survive? Or will all this geek goodness make him go supernova?

Alisa Joins Us To Talk Sexism

An article is circulating on social media titled The Thing All Women Do That You Don't Know About. The gist of the article is that women deal with sexism in every aspect of their lives, all the time. And the way they deal with it is to grin, laugh it off and acquiesce to men. The author talks about how as a woman, she is either afraid to anger men by standing up for herself, or in business she is afraid of being considered bitchy – or worse, fired.

Carol Lynn says that she's had many relationships with men throughout her life, from brothers and cousins to friends and colleagues, and never felt marginalized or afraid to speak up.

Alisa says she's had a different experience. Just recently, a guy at her gym was staring at her and she basically told him to stop being creepy. Carol Lynn makes the point that Alisa wasn't afraid to speak her mind. But Alisa says that her confidence has come with age and she probably wouldn't have done the same thing ten or twenty years ago.

Seems like there is a learning curve to dealing with creepy people and that's something we discuss later on.

Who Are These Sexist Men?

Turns out none of us know a lot of sexist men. They're definitely out there but are they the majority? Are they even the vast minority? Or does social media amplify "the squeaky wheel" so to speak?

I wonder what percentage of men treat women in some of the horrible ways Alisa says she's been treated. Alisa confirms that it's a small percentage so we can't help but wonder: is this type of behavior more prevalent on social media than in real life?

Road Rage And Bad Behavior

Alisa says that you might experience road rage toward someone while you're driving and curse them out, but if the same person were walking into the supermarket behind you, you'd probably hold the door for them and say hello.

The point is that when you're detached from people you tend to say and do things you wouldn't normally. Men and women both behave badly online.

Carol Lynn says that social media can magnify the worst of humanity. People will always find something hurtful to say, whatever the context, and they do that by separating people into "other" status. Then they apply a label – whether you talk about someone being a woman, or being gay, or conservative, or Jewish, they will use the label to disparage you. It's not so much a matter of sexism as bad behavior.

So we wonder next, are these isolated cases of humans behaving badly, or does it mean entire segments of the population are being victimized? Is this really the huge problem that it can seem like? Do some creepy people – you know the ones, nobody really likes them – represent the whole?

We don't know the answers. We only have our opinions and perspectives and experiences. But it all ties back to that learning curve that we get to at the end…

Losing Business Opportunities

I've witnessed many women – even young women who are students of my college level web development course – post sexualized photos of themselves online. The consequence is that I've seen women be denied jobs because of the way they represent themselves.

I believe that a company has every right to deny a job to someone who may pose a risk to the reputation of the company. For example, a PR company may not want to hire someone to represent clients online if that person can't even represent themselves well.

Creating Barriers Where We Don't Need Them

When you read and hear this kind of thing online, it's important to understand whether it's one person's experience or an actual widespread problem. I think it's important not to let our negative experiences with some people affect our positive relationships with others.

Teaching Kids To Be Social

Being afraid to speak your mind or being fearful of confrontation is learned behavior. Nobody is born knowing how to deal with all the awkward or unpleasant situations all the time. We learn by being taught, we learn by example. We don't need to teach kids about sexism but we do need to teach them how to be social. The youngest children can learn to speak up, to respect themselves, to be kind and be human.

Yes, figuring out how to treat people and how you want to be treated in return in a learning curve. You figure it out over time, through trial and error and you emulate those around you.

If we can be better examples then perhaps people will learn better social skills – online and offline.

Your Seriously Social Moment

Ian Anderson Gray is back with his series on roadblocks to creativity. Today he talks about how wanting to be liked is sometimes hard to deal with. Let's face it: we all want to be liked. And it can hurt when people don't like us.

But you can combat that and not only make your life better but make your business better.

First, you need to surround yourself with loyal, honest friends. They're the ones who will build you up and provide you with constructive criticism, not negativity or hate.

Second, respond to criticism positively. As a business, even if someone lashes out at you, always respond with respect and kindness. This has been shown to increase customer advocacy.

There's always going to be negativity. But you don't have to succumb to it. Find the support of good friends and implement positive reactions in your business.

Dreamweaver Vs. WordPress

In my college level class I teach students HTML and CSS using the web development tool Dreamweaver. But I was recently debating whether it would be more beneficial to teach them WordPress. As I agonized over the decision, someone posted a related thread on Facebook that really got me thinking. The thread basically expressed a woman's frustration that her daughter was learning Dreameaver.

But after thinking about it I decided to stick with Dreamweaver. WordPress is a platform that already has the fundamentals in place for you, and while it's great for blogs and content management, you don't need to be a web developer to use it. By teaching Dreamweaver I'm giving my students the fundamentals they'll need to build a website, to understand how websites work and even to be able to transition effectively into using WordPress if they need to.

What really cemented my decision was a letter from a former student who wrote that she had great success at her new job because she remembered the HTML she had learned in my class.

For businesses hiring – or students looking to get hired – it pays to understand how web development works, which involves a lot more than clicking "install theme" and configuring a few settings.

Links & Resources

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WSS #0160: Bah Humbug! Christmas, Outrage And Client Gift Dilemmas

Sexism And Tea

Well, they're not related but it sounded interesting, didn't it? Actually, they're both follow-ups to last week's podcasts.

First, we have Chris Curran of Fractal Recording on for a few minutes because as today's sponsor, he showed up live to announce the relaunch of the Social Media Unscrambled podcast. If you haven't listened to it, Chris Curran and David Deutsch talk social media with a sense of humor. It's one of our favorites and according to Chris, they're back, "This time with a point." (Humor, remember?)

While he was here, Chris blamed Ralph for a speeding ticket that he got. Apparently Chris was trying to call Ralph when he blasted by a cop doing 80 miles per hour. Which reminded me of last week's episode with Mojca Mars about sexism, and the fact that I've never gotten a speeding ticket, even though I've been pulled over for speeding more than once. I can't help but wonder if part of the reason I "got away with it" is because I was a cute girl. Men don't seem to be as lucky!

And speaking of last week's episodes, on our After Hours edition we spent some time talking about tea and the different types we planned to try.

Well, we tried a lot over the weekend. Some were from Teavana, and in spite of their delicious-sounding names, the two flavors we tried were 100% horribly undrinkable. So undrinkable that I packed up the box not an hour after I received the delivery and drove to the post office to return it.

We also tried Simpson & Vail tea with much more success. They have some amazing flavors, from Carrot Cake to Charles Dickens (yes, that's a tea flavor) and those were delicious. So far they've all been winners, and I think I developed an almost instant addiction to English Toffee.

Hey, Fred… Christmas is coming. Just saying.

The Sniply Buster

Before we get to our main topic, we read an email from a listener who asked us about the Sniply Buster plugin that we referenced some time ago. If you're not familiar with Sniply, this podcast will bring you up to speed. I wouldn't say we were outraged… ok, we were kind of outraged… but we had a very civil conversation with the founder of the tool, during which we completely disagreed on pretty much everything.

Anyway, the Sniply Buster is part of the Social Warfare plugin so you can get the best social sharing plugin on the market AND a simple way to block people from using Sniply on your site. Go get it.

Bah Humbug!

Speaking of Christmas, that turns out to be the main topic of our conversation today. Well, Christmas and the holiday season in general.

And it all starts with outrage. The outrage begins with a Medium article I read about someone who was shopping and saw a lipstick color called "Underage Red." She then tweeted a photo and said, rather benignly, "How is this a lipstick color?"

She subsequently forgot completely about it. It's the kind of thing any of us would do when we see something curious. What she didn't expect was a series of big media outlets to pick up the tweet and start writing headlines about the "outrage" over this lipstick shade.

This resulted in a whole lot of Twitter flaming and the author's admonition to us to beware of the utterly manufactured outrage that seems to be so prevalent on the internet.

The thing is, nobody was outraged. Nobody cared. Then some media publications that wanted clicks printed some sensationalist headlines and that resulted in the outrage that never existed.

The author cautions us to check the source of the next "outrage" to see if it's a true violation of all things holy or just someone's sad reach for another page click.

Which leads us to Christmas…

Starbucks Is In Trouble Again. Or Not.

You may have heard the "outrage" over how Starbucks is removing Christmas from its stores. Because they changed their cups from "red cup with reindeer" to "red cup."

The endless Christmas products sold, the endless Christmas music played… that doesn't really matter because OMG THEY CHANGED THE CUP!

Now, you might read that and think (as we did)… (and as everyone else that we know and have talked to did)… Who are these crazy people who think a red cup means Starbucks is anti-Christmas? And you might be inclined, as I was, to have an emotional reaction. "That's crazy!" And then go on to list all the reasons why.

But then you might, as we did, come to the conclusion that nobody is actually outraged.

Oh sure, a guy is outraged. A guy is making the rounds on video and TV and talk shows and radio talking about how darn outrageous the whole thing is, how he is going to start a movement to "trick Starbucks into writing Merry Christmas on their cups." (Seriously, that's what he said. You can listen for the clip. He is also planning on carrying his gun into Starbucks from now on because reasons.)

Is he outraged? For real? Who knows. But it sure does get him a lot of attention to be! So it's in his best interest to be as outraged as possible and to appeal to whatever fringe of perpetually outraged people want to go along for the ride.

But we have another opinion. We don't care.

Ralph says it perfectly. He says that we've hit a tipping point where there has been so much of this nonsense that we're collectively starting to feel outrage fatigue. And when this stuff happens we may have that initial emotional reaction but after about four seconds our rational brains kick in and we think, "This is not a thing. Moving on."

A Lesson To Small Businesses

This is not just a conversation about being outraged over outrage. There is something to be learned here and it's this: be careful of the outrage bandwagons you decide to jump on. If you get on social media and start spewing out this kind of thing or taking sides on one side of the outrage fence or another, you could be losing credibility, turning people off and undermining your own marketing messages.

Especially as small businesses, where we as individuals are the faces of our businesses, everything we say is a reflection of our business. So if you want to be outraged, go ahead. Just be careful that you understand the source, that it's an actual issue that you feel strongly about and that you begin a reasonable discourse rather than simply yelling louder than the other guy.

Your Seriously Social Intermission

In part two of his miniseries about roadblocks to creativity, Ian Anderson Gray is back to talk about what's holding us back. We're often held back by a lot of issues – depression, anxiety, fear, doubt. But Ian says you can't let these feelings fester. You need friends, family and support.

And you need to stop being busy. So during this seriously social moment, Ian wants you to stop being so social… online… and start doing it offline. Add time to your calendar for going for a walk. Spend time with your friends or family. Plan time with yourself to contemplate what you're creating.

Put simply: unplug.

Now, Pass The Presents

With the holiday season upon us, it's that time of year when we start thinking about what we should be doing for our clients. Should we send a card? Gift? Expensive gift? Token gift? To whom?

Over the years we've run the gamut from completely ignoring the holidays to sending out really nice gifts.

So what's the "right" thing to do?

It's a tough question, because as much as we might like to send great gifts to every one of our clients, budget is a reality. And when you consider that your cute $20 gift is going to cost $40 once you add in shipping and handling, gifts aren't so practical anymore.

What's a small business to do!

Well, we have a couple of opinions and things to think about. First, what is the purpose of sending gifts to your clients? For us, it's about expressing our appreciation and gratitude. So sending those generic boxed cards with our company named printed in gold foil doesn't do the trick. Sure, we've done that plenty of times. But then we're just another boxed card in someone's very big box of boxed cards, some of which are probably exactly the same except for the company name on the inside.

If our goal is to let people know we appreciate them it doesn't take a lot to do that. You can do that with zero budget. Pick up the phone and call each of your clients to say happy holidays, to let them know you're thinking of them and that you appreciate the business you've done together. That simple personal conversation will cost zero dollars, a few minutes of your time and be much more meaningful than the boxed card and maybe even the expensive gift.

How about emailing your clients? How about offering to meet your client for a cup of coffee? Not to sell… just to be friendly. How about… wait for it… a handwritten note?

There's a lost art to writing notes but they are incredibly powerful because of their scarcity. If you can take time out of your day to personally hand write a note to someone, that means a lot.

We get a handwritten note of thanks from Tammie Rampley every time we order one of her Tramplee Designs bags. We have a collection of bags… and notes… that make those shipments much more memorable and fun.

Ultimately our opinion boils down to this: do something. It doesn't have to cost you a lot of money. It just has to be meaningful to the recipient.

We also suggest that you don't have to do the same thing for everyone. Send an email to some people, write a note to others, take some out for coffee. Send a nice gift to your best clients. And who are your best clients? They don't necessarily have to be your highest paying clients. Someone who is loyal, who you do repeated business with, who you have a great relationship with may be a lot more valuable to you than someone who pays you a ton of money.

Confetti And Streamers

One of my favorite gifts that we ever sent out was a chocolate bar inside a card stuffed with confetti and streamers. We bought our favorite chocolate – a super dark boutique blend – and put it into the card in a large-ish envelope so we could fill it with the confetti. When our clients opened it they were greeting with a big poof of celebration.

We got a whole lot of love back from that gift. People were really excited about it and called and emailed to tell us how much fun it had been to open. Now, that gift actually cost us a decent amount of money because we bought specialty chocolate, but you can take it down a notch with something simpler, or even just go with the card-and-confetti. It's a small thing but it's a lot more fun than a card without confetti! And it will make you stand out just a little bit from everyone else's boxed card.

Your Action Item

From Ralph: when you're writing content, don't quote other people and relate it to your topic. For example, don't quote Herman Melville and then talk about how it reminds you of SEO. Because it doesn't! Don't rely on that crutch to make your point. Give your opinion, say what you need to say but skip the hocus pocus and get to it.

From Carol Lynn: make a list of all the clients who you'd like to show your appreciation for. Depending on how many people make the list, you can begin to assess how to show it. Gifts? Phone calls? Emails? All of the above?

Bonus Item: Email us and let us know the best and worst gifts you've ever sent to clients… and the best and worst gifts you've ever received from clients.

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Direct download: 0160-bah-humbug-christmas-outrage-and-client-gift-dilemmas.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 12:00am EST

Let's Get This Controversy Started

Today's guest reached out to me a few weeks ago and asked to come on our podcast to talk about social media. But after browsing through some of her content I came across an article she wrote on Medium called Let’s talk about Femtrepreneurshit that caught my attention. I was so fascinated by the topic that I asked her to talk about it instead.

And what is "Femtrepreneurshit"? According to today's guest Mojca Mars (you'll just have to listen for the pronunciation!), femtrepreneurship is a movement of women entrepreneurs and femtrepreneurshit is the ugly consequence. So let's get started offending some people, shall we?

What Is An Entrepreneur?

That's a question we couldn't answer in a hundred podcasts. Seems like everyone has a different idea of what it means, from being a business mogul who buys and sells multimillion dollar businesses to a guy working in his sweats at home.

And maybe it's all that, but Mojca has a simple definition and so do we. For Mojca, it means that she is just a person running a business, getting her own clients, doing her own thing, maybe not with all the fancy business plans and "corporate" pieces in place, but working for herself nonetheless.

For us it means picking up the cat puke. Because as entrepreneurs we get to have the fancy client dinners and produce the shiny new websites but we also clean the toilets and yes, pick up the cat puke. Basically, whatever it takes.

So What's Up With Femtrepreneurs?

Mojca defines femtrepreneurship less as a "women's power" type of movement and more of a spiritual movement and support group. It involves "female entrepreneur" conferences that spring up around – dare I say – "woo-woo" types of behavior (she gives an example of a daily routine that involves filling up a glass of water and making some affirmations while looking into it) and patting each other on the back for doing such a great job.

Ok, so what's wrong with a little woo-woo and back-patting? Mojca feels pretty strongly that these types of events not only exclude men (reverse sexism, hm?) but actual business conversation, too.

Instead of talking about strategy and ideas and money, it's one big female-power support group.

I have to admit, I agree with her point of view on these types of events. If I'm going to a business conference, I want it to be about business. And while there is nothing wrong with support groups, spirituality and even infusing these into your business, there is also actual business stuff that needs attention.

The problem arises when women isolate themselves by being "female entrepreneurs" and not simply "entrepreneurs." We don't need a qualifier. If we want to be considered as equal, as successful, as competent as men, then we need to stop imposing "other" status on ourselves.

Let the hate mail commence.

I Don't Need a Qualifier. Neither Do You.

We don't call men "male entrepreneurs" so why call ourselves "female entrepreneurs?" It's actually condescending. Here's what I hear when someone calls me (or you) a female entrepreneur: "Hey, you did a great job! For a woman."

(Also, if you tell me I didn't do a great job, I won't cry.)

Does sexism exist? Sure. But we women impose a lot of it on ourselves, by hosting "women only" (isolationist) events, by tacking adjectives onto our achievements and by behaving like something other than what we are – people.

Come on, I'm seriously ready for the hate mail.

"Men Are Great People."

That's what Mojca says, and come on, they are. Right?

I mean, some people are great people and some people are not so great people. Gender doesn't have to play a role.

The truth is that some men marginalize women. I have this problem repeatedly: I'll call a vendor and make a request to have something done.

Time goes by… nothing gets done.

I call again and ask for my thing to be done.

Time goes by… nothing gets done.

After a cycle of this I will eventually go to Ralph and say, "Please call this vendor and use the man voice so I can get this done."

And he does. And it does.

This isn't an exaggeration. This is "a thing." It's a really annoying thing.

But on the whole men are, actually, pretty great. I like them. I like their humor and conversations. I like the fact that I can talk about business and not my hair or whether my feelings were hurt by that mean tweet.

I don't want to go to an event that's segregated. I don't want to talk about "women things." I just want to talk about things, whatever they may be.

So my feeling is that if we put ourselves into the world the way we are, if we act like people engaging with people, we'll be a lot better off than being femtrepreneurs.

Why Does Femtrepreneurship Exist?

Well that would require an entire sociological study, but of course we have thoughts. Ralph thinks it may be a "rubber band" effect, a reaction to women being excluded and marginalized. What do you do when you're excluded? You start your own group where you can be included and appreciated. And that's necessary and useful because it can instigate change.

Mojca thinks it's a reaction to fear. Women are afraid to be criticized so they avoid situations where they might be criticized, even if it's constructive criticism. Instead, they retreat to women's support groups that don't address real issues in business.

I agree with both of them. There's no doubt that women have historically not had the same opportunities as men. And there's no doubt that everyone needs to silence the voice of the critic sometimes.

Somewhere beneath all the qualifiers, the reactions, over reactions and under reactions, is a balance of equality where we act and treat each other as people.

Do We Behave Like Women… Or Like We Think Women Should Behave?

Sometimes women temper their behavior because we think that's how we're "supposed" to act. We worry about how we'll be perceived by men. We want to be nice, we want to be liked, we want to be beautiful. So we put out these perfectly Photoshopped photos (no beer bellies for us!) and we sculpt our conversations to fit some perceived notion of what will make us likeable.

Of course, this is not an ailment reserved just for women. Men and women alike often find it challenging to "be themselves" online, hemmed in by their own ideas of what they think people expect of them. We conform to expectations of what a "professional" is or what a "woman/man" is or what a "social media expert" is.

In the end, aren't we just putting those limits on ourselves?

Mojca Will Punch You

Does Mojca try to be "nice?" Does she want to wrap everything in a nice bow for you? Oh hell no. She is not going to be nice just because she is a woman. She is just going to be herself.

If you start a conversation she is going to have it with you. If you say something opinionated she is going to have one right back. Get all up in her face and she will punch you.

She doesn't hold back from being herself. And she considers it one of the advantages of running her own business – she gets to be herself because nobody is tying her hands. She gets clients just the way she is.

Also, she wears a dinosaur onesie.

More Conversation, Please

The way to combat our problems with discrimination and sexism is not to create more problems for ourselves. Creating separate groups, bestowing special titles or statuses on ourselves is only creating a wider gap.

The solution is in talking about these issues and sharing our thoughts and fears. The solution will happen one person and one relationship at a time.

Your Action Item

From Mojca: Prepare five tweets that show your personality. A photo of you or something that reflects the real you – not the "you" that you think other people want to see. Then put them out there! (PS: this is your homework whether you're a man or a woman. Add the hash tag #wssup so we can applaud your you-ness!

And more! Mojca has prepared some goodies for you, including marketing worksheets, resources and a 50% discount on her new Facebook ads book. Link below!

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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 #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 #0150: How To Have Your Business And Enjoy It, Too: The One Year Podcast Anniversary Episode

Happy Anniversary!

To you, Fred. And to us on the one year mark since our first podcast episode aired. One year and 150 episodes later, we're both thrilled and exhausted.

A year ago we set out with this mission: to challenge the status quo of marketing and encourage you to think differently about what you see, hear and are told – seemingly ad nauseum – in blogs and podcasts and webinars everywhere.

And we think we've accomplished that mission.

Now as we look ahead to another year, we're shifting our mission ever so slightly toward business and entrepreneurship and challenging that status quo.

We want to talk more about how to start a business, sustain a business, manage a business, make money with a business – and yes, market a business – but with a focus on a holistic approach. And that means talking about all the things that go into running a healthy, successful business that you probably don't think about – like your passions, your health, your family and your life.

Business Is About Money

It sounds mercenary but the fact is that you need money. You have bills to pay. You probably want to do some fun things, whether it's putting puzzles together (we just finished our cupcake puzzle!) or traveling.

A lot of the "advice" you get is about tactics with no real end in mind. How many posts can you read about "list building"? Or any tactic? But there's no point to building a list if you don't know what to do with the people on it.

So we want to talk about the "what's next" of business and marketing so you can build, run and sustain a business that supports you, your family and your lifestyle.

And "money" isn't the goal. Money is the thing that can help you reach your goals – like spending quality time with your family and kids and not being chained to your desk.

Our "Unfair Advantage"

In entrepreneurial lingo, our unfair advantage is that we're in the interesting place of being 16 years into running a business but also at the very beginning of starting a new business – both at the same time.

So we have years of experience (and mistakes) behind us and we can speak from that. But we're also in a very real way starting over, and we want to share that journey with you as we grow and explore, make more mistakes and even more money!

How Do You Define Yourself?

There's a lot of lingo thrown around when it comes to talking about "business". There's the ever-present and overused "entrepreneur" that seems to mean "anyone with a computer and no job."

There are "freelancers", "business owners", "solopreneurs" and more.

What are you?

Don't answer so fast – this matters.

To a large extent, being successful is about mindset and if you don't take yourself seriously and don't speak about your business legitimately then nobody else will take you seriously, either.

Often the word freelancer is thrown around to mean "self employed". But it can also be associated with "job on the side."

If you walk into a prospecting meeting and introduce yourself as a freelancer, do you think that confers more or less legitimacy on you?

Think carefully about the vocabulary you use because how you define yourself is how others will define you.

Be serious about running your business.

What Is A Business?

If you're working day in, day out, chained to your desk, you're not really running a business. If the business would fall apart without you, you're not running a business. What you're doing is working a job – just one that you've given yourself.

If you want to run a business then you need systems and processes in place so that the business can keep running without you. It has to be profitable so you can pay yourself and your staff and have money left over to live your life. You have to be able to provide products and services that your audience needs without constantly chasing the next big thing.

We're not saying it's easy. But it can be done. And we'll be here along the way to talk about the ups and downs and to talk with guests about their ups and downs so you can learn and be inspired, too.


We're looking forward to another 150 episodes… and another… and another… and then maybe a vacation…

And we're glad you'll be there for the journey. We're excited to talk about the good, the bad, the ugly and the ants.

We also look forward to continuing to hear your stories, your successes, your failures, frustrations, joys and challenges. Onward!

Your (Marketing?) Action Item

Now that we've shifted our focus a bit, we're not sure that we should be calling this a "marketing" action item, but we aren't quite ready to give it up as a show segment.

So your action item today is to decide what we should call it instead! Plunk your thoughts in the comments or hit us up online.

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