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My friend, Erin, is an artist.
We met through twitter and developed a relationship in which Erin would edit all of my writing and I would tell her how to run her business.

Most of our interactions went something this:

Erin would come to me with a big idea about how she could use her art to help people save the world.
I would tell her that she was targeting a demographic of people who were notorious for not spending money. That wasn’t the demographic she wanted to target, because if nobody buys into your project, nobody will use it to save the world, and it will die.

She would drop some ideas and persist with others. You can tell how much an artist believes in her work by how hard they will fight to make it a reality.
Erin fought the hardest when her ideas ran deep.

Eventually, we would meet in the middle. I would come up with a way for her to save the world with her art, but tweak the idea just enough so that she wouldn’t becoming the epitome of a starving artist.
When I started planning Maker Mentors, it made perfect sense to partner with Erin. Just like you can’t have successful art without a business plan, you can’t have a successful business without the soulfulness of art.

Tomorrow night you will have the opportunity to brainstorm with me about your business.  On Instagram. Live.

The Indie Business Network hosts #MakerBizChat every Wednesday on Instagram. They have invited me to be their guest, so I will be there tomorow night sharing some of my best ideas for growing new revenue streams.

You can get all of the details below. See you there!

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This is my friend Karen. She is great at everything she does. And she does a lot of stuff.

I have spent most of my career helping brands figure out how to work with bloggers. This means I have spent approximately a gazillion hours digging through blogs in search of new interesting talent. Karen was the result of a late night research project in which I was trying to find the coolest hidden lifestyle influencers ever.

Her blog, The Art of Doing Stuff is absolutely amazing. Its a combination of personal stories, ideas for your home, tutorials and the occasional swear word.

Karen spent the majority of her career working as a TV personality. She was the host of pretty much every major home decor show in Canada, and got to interview celebrities like Tom Cruise. And then she quit.

Her career in television wasn’t giving her the life she really wanted. She wanted more freedom over what projects she took on, and how she did them and the way that she taught other people to do them. She wanted to do everything she was doing on TV, but in her very own special Karen way.

And now she makes a full time income doing just that.

Karen posted five days a week for the first five years of blogging. She tackled her own projects, took her own pictures and built a community from scratch. She decided what kind of career she wanted to build, and then went out and built it.

She built her own chicken coop, designed a cob oven for her backyard and renovated her kitchen all by herself. And she tells the stories on her blog. And its way better than being on TV because she can pick all of her projects and decide what days she wants to wear pants and she can mutter swear words under her breath without getting fired. And isn’t that exactly the type of career we all dream of having?

What is really special about Karen is that she knows who she is & she’s great at forging a path that is true to herself. Karen had THE dream career and she gave it all up to do what she wanted to do in the way she wanted to do it.

Building a career that is true to who you are involves taking huge risks. It requires you to bet on yourself in a way no one else in the world could ever possibly do.  And it requires follow through. And these are things that Karen has done in an incredibly successful way.

Why I am telling you all of this?
You have a chance to hang out with her night, listen to her story and ask her your own questions about finding the path that’s right for you. The free live webinar is happening tonight at 7pm PST. You can register here. Don’t worry if you aren’t able to make the webinar live, because we will be sending a recorded version around after the event.

Sign up now.

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I spent my early twenties traveling around the country to blogging conferences. I have been to almost every blogging conference that is known to man. I have scanned all of the expos and sat in the sessions and danced on the liquor soaked dance floors. Some college students go to Cancun on spring break. Me? I went to Blissdom.

The first conference I ever attended was BlogHer ’09.  I had only been blogging for six months, and I just landed my first online marketing job.  Alli Worthington was building an online empire from the ground up. This means she was working from home while raising her five boys and building an online magazine on a shoestring budget.

Alli hired me to figure out the best way to monetize the site. That’s what I was supposed to do at BlogHer ’09. My goal was to land sponsorships.

I had no money so I emailed the founders of BlogHer and asked for a student discount. They sold me a pass for $75. I split a hotel room with two women I met on twitter, spent $30 on a train ticket and filled my suitcases with dresses from Forever 21 and black cardigans. The black cardigans were my way of making the dresses look more professional.

I showed up to the conference with a printed out schedule organized in a binder with tabs. I had every party and expo spot scheduled, and planned to use this event as the launching point for my next big move.

For three days, I gallivanted around Chicago drinking free wine and networking with people I never imagined meeting. I stayed up late and went to parties on rooftops and packed my bags with free samples. I talked about writing and business and online marketing. I connected with people who cared about all of the geeky weird things I loved, and I felt community.

I did not land a single sponsorship. (This was the year mom bloggers were threatening PR managers for free Crocs. and the other 1500 women attending the conference had the same agenda as me.) But it didn’t matter. I came away with something even more valuable. That weekend connected me with dozens of women who collectively changed the course of not only my career, but my life.

I kept going to these conference because each time I would walk away with new mentors and new opportunities and new ideas about what I should do with my life.

I created Maker Mentors because I want everyone to have the chance to connect. And some people can’t travel across the country, or find three strangers to share a hotel room with. But anyone with a computer can bring a rich online community right into their home.

You can register for Maker Mentors here. The early bird rate is $175, but you can get $50 off when you enter the discount code “IAMAMAKER”

If you don’t have money for a conference right now, you can sign up for our free community and get access to tons of resources for your business. See you there!

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Everyone I have ever worked with will tell you that I am amazing at coming up with ideas.

It doesn’t matter if we are trying to figure out a strategy for your business or making a plan to end hunger in Nigeria. I can come up with an amazing idea on the spot and leave you overwhelmed with all of the possible things you could do with your life.

The only problem is that I never finish anything.

The internet is littered with my half-finished projects. I always always always forget to move the laundry from the washer to the dryer. If my kids relied on me to pick out their clothes, they would be going to school half-dressed.

The only way to get me to finish something is to stay on top of me until it’s done, which is why everyone hates working with me and gives up before the plan is done. The bane of my existence is that I have all of these amazing ideas and none of them get implemented.

I am the queen of getting mentors. My ideas are the way that I get mentors. I have had everyone from hugely successful executives to coveted career coaches as mentors.

People love to mentor me because it inevitably ends with me giving them a billion ideas for whatever problem they are trying to solve.  I am a big thinker with an endless pile of random knowledge, which makes for interesting conversations. And people only want to mentor people who are fun to talk to.

Every single one of my mentors loses patience with me at some point. They tell me I need to focus. They tell me I am lazy and that I don’t finish anything and sometimes that they tell me I am acting like a total brat.

And they are right.

I don’t like to finish projects. It’s not fun. I don’t want to focus. I would rather think about how to solve a hundred different big problems than take the time to solve one.

I would have never realized that my inability to focus was holding me back if it weren’t for the mentors I have in my life. They helped me see my blind spots and find ways to work around them.

The only way to move forward is to push myself out of my comfort zone. That is a scary thing to do. I might be wrong or I might fail or I might let everyone I love down. However, there is something about having people invested in my success that pushed me to figure out what I can do to be more successful.

A good mentor is someone who has been down the path you are going now. Someone who can see the obstacles that are holding you back, and push you to move past them.

Imagine the impact we could make on the world if we all had one mentor who was invested in you for no other reason but that they cared about your success.

I have spent the past few months building something that would give everyone in the world that very opportunity.

And I finished my first project ever.

It’s called Maker Mentors and it’s a platform for helping creative people take their businesses to the next level. Together with Erin Wetzel, we built a conference, a forum for bringing a community of people together and a series of free webinars.

You can learn more about Maker Mentors here.

I want everyone to have that feeling, over and over again, of finishing a big project you’re proud of. And I want that myself over and over again, as well.

But for now, I am taking a day to celebrate that i did it one time. And it feels great.

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I got my first sales job the same summer I turned ten-years old.

I saw an ad on the back of my TigerBeat magazine that was recruiting tweens to sell products to their friends.

One phone call later, and I was shilling wrapping paper & holiday themed window clings to everyone in my immediate family.

Of course as an ENTP child, I found the process of placing the orders far too complicated.

My business ended with a huge list of sales and no product.

I didn’t care. I had learned so much. It was this small experiment in business taught me the art of selling, and gave me the confidence to pitch myself to potential customers.

Understanding how to pitch & sell a product is a skill I have been able to use in every position I have ever held. Companies run on sales & revenue. Understanding how to sell & increase revenue is the key to making more money.

Here are three steps to start selling that thing you are trying to sell:

  1. Find the right buyer

The hardest part of doing sales is figuring out who wants to buy your product. Most new businesses think this is the easy part.

The conversation goes something like this, “Who would buy our product? Advertising agencies! Rich people! Moms!”

The reality is that you will be selling your product to PEOPLE not industries.

Who is the person the exact person that will have both the money & the motivation to purchase what you are selling?

Finding that person takes time, and usually means pitching a hundred of the wrong people before finding the right one. Create a list of potential customers. Find contacts that align with your potential customer targets. Pitch & learn. This is the only way to find the right buyer.

  1. Become a problem solver

People HATE salespeople.

This is a fact. Telemarketers, car salesman and skeevy insurance reps have forever ruined the reputation of salespeople.

The hardest part of being a salesperson is that you have to constantly convince the people you are talking to that you are not just trying to sell them something.

Good sales people are problem solvers. Find a way to get yourself in front of your buyer that shows them you can solve their exact problem. A perfect product/market can make the most amateur of sales people look like total rockstars.

  1. Make potential customers love you

People want to buy things from people they like, so your job is to make sure people love you.

The problem is that most salespeople are managing a huge pipeline of relationships, which makes it almost impossible to build meaningful connections with their clients.

90% of your revenue will come from 10% of your customers. Identify the people on your list who are most likely to buy from you. Focus your relationship building efforts on that group.

What is most important to these potential customers? What is holding them back from closing the deal? What value can you offer that they don’t already have? How can you make them totally love you?

 

Penelope Trunk and I are hosting a 4-day live online course where you will learn the exact system I use to land new clients. The course will be Mon. Dec. 15 through Thurs. Dec. 18 at 8pm EST. It’s $195. But if you sign up before Nov. 21, you get a $50 discount. You can get the full details here.

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“How do you get important people to email you back when you are not important?” 

I saw this question on Twitter and stopped everything I was doing to sit down a write this post.

(A tiny glimpse into my always-shifting attention span)

I built my entire career on my ability to get important people to email me back. I’m not kidding.

Do you know how I got my first agency job? By connecting with people far more important than me. Do you know why they hired me? Because I was amazing at getting big influencers to work with me. Do you know how I got these influencers to work with me? By sending great emails.

I am not telling you this to prove that I am the queen of email. The methods I use could be repeated by anyone in the world. All you need to have is an understanding of how to connect with people & a smart plan.

What can you do to get really important people to email you back?

First of all, Get over the fact that you are not important. No one cares who you are or what you are doing.People are not ignoring your email because you don’t have a fancy title. People are ignoring your email, because your email sucks.

Reasons I ignore emails:

  • It looked like a blanket spam letter
  • I have no idea what they want from me
  • Required too long of a response

Telling yourself that people are not responding because you are not important only distracts you from learning how to write great emails. No one cares what your title is or how many awards you have. They care about the value you have to offer & how they can use that value to meet their goals.

Stop focusing on the fact that you are not important, and start focusing on how you can make your emails better. 

Important people are busy. And they get a ton of email. Most Executives have mastered the art of managing a full inbox. This means they are able to filter through emails really fast, identify the emails that require a response and have become masters at answering any question in three sentences or less.

Ask yourself these questions before you hit “send” on that email–Is your email short & to the point? Do you explain who you are & why they should care about you? Do you ask a clear question? Can your email be answered in less than 3 sentences?

There are a million rules for writing great emails. Learn them. 

The last thing you need to learn its that timing is EVERYTHING. Important people check their email first thing in the morning and at the end of the day.

In between times, they are mostly emailing directly from their phones. If your email is too long, or they don’t know what to do with it or it takes a huge long reply—it will probably get deleted. This is why it is so important to learn how to write great emails.

The good news is that mastering the art of writing emails will give you complete control over your ability to get responses. The bad new is that writing great emails is something that can take years to master.

I am hosting a 5-day live online course totally focused on how to write great emails & find the people who can help you reach your goals. The course will take place Mon. December 15th- Thurs. December 19th. It’s $195 but if you sign up before November 21st, you get a $50 discount.  The course includes four days of live video sessions, live chat and email-based course materials. If  you miss the live sessions you can view them on demand.  You can get the full details here. 

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Every startup in the world hopes to get press for their company, but most startups don’t have a huge budget to hire a PR agency.

I have spent the past five years working in PR, and always wondered if media outreach was a smart investment for new startups. (who, in my mind, should be totally focused on revenue generating activities)

Last week, I came across a series on Both Sides of the Table that totally changed my view on why startups need a PR strategy.

See: The Silent Benefits of PR & How to Do PR on a Budget

The more media attention you can get around your new company, the more legit you look to the outside world.

PR can help you find customers, investors, talent and gives you a sense of legitimacy that you cannot get any other way.

The problem? PR can be EXPENSIVE. There are huge costs involved in hiring an agency, or experience PR consulting. This is why more and more startup founders are focused on getting their own media coverage.

I have created a five step plan that you can use to get your startup media coverage. (even if you don’t have a never ending marketing budget)

STEP ONE: BECOME A MASTER STORYTELLER 

Most startups think that getting media coverage involves fancy press releases promoted across huge networks of editors. We are past the days when you hired publicists based on how thick their rolodex is.

The key to getting media coverage is becoming a master at telling the story behind your company.

What does your company do? Why do people care? What expertise do the people on your team have to offer for media interviews? What is interesting about your background? Why did you start your company? What have you done that is totally game changing?

Find the interesting parts of your company & craft a story that people will want to hear.

STEP TWO: SET CLEAR GOALS 

Different kinds of media coverage will garner totally diffenret kinds of results.

Did you know that mid-size bloggers can generally drive more traffic than an online national media spot? However, a national media spot will always look more impressive than a million blog placements.

The key to creating a great PR plan is having a clear understanding of what you are trying to achieve & the types of coverage that will directly support your goals.

STEP THREE: MAKE A PLAN 

Once you know the type of outlets you want to cover your company, you can focus on the type of coverage you are most likely to garner.

For example, The Today Show is only going to feature your company if you can find a way to relate it to a huge current event. But getting featured on Fast Company might  require having an interesting story about how you grew your company.

Look at the type of content the outlets you are targeting organically create. How does your companies story fit into that content? Where can you add value?

See: 4 Trends Affecting PR Departments 

 

STEP FOUR: CREATE A MEDIA LIST

Collect a list of editors, contributors and freelancers that currently write for the outlets you want to pitch. Only 10%-20% of your pitches will get a response (assuming you have a great pitch), so you need a big list of contacts.

You can find almost anyones contact information online. If their email is not listed publicly, you can connect them with Twitter.

Now you know exactly what you want to accomplish, the type of coverage you want to get, and a list of writers who are likely to cover your product.

See: What Every Startup Needs to Know About Media Outreach 

STEP FIVE: START PITCHING! 

Create a short & to the point email showing each writer why your company makes perfect sense for one of their upcoming pieces.

Follow the writers you pitch on Twiter, connect with them on linkedin. Start building a relationship.

They key to getting coverage is showing writes exactly how your companies narrative aligns perfectly with their content.

With the right mix of strategy & outreach you are bound to reach all of your goals. No budget required.

 

 

 

I have spent the past five years working in the online marketing space. In those five years, I have read thousands of blogs, attended hundreds of networking events and participated in dozens of professional networking organizations.

The marketing landscape is changing, and marketers today are left sifting through all of the information and opporutnities thrown at them.

That is why I am so excited to announce the launch of The Marketing Source.

The Marketing Source is a FREE membership based professional network that will give you access to online training events and endless resources that will make your job easier.

This is an idea I have been working on for a very long time, so I hope you will join me.

You can get all of the details here.

Everyone who registers this week will receive free access to my ebook, “The Ultimate Guide to Influencer Outreach,” and access to a career assessment test.

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Last year, you might remember that the Food Network dropped Paula Deen during the whole racism debacle. Paula Deen just announced that she bought all of her content back from the Food Network, and is launching a paid subscription online food channel.

AND I AM COMPLETELY OBSESSED WITH HOW MUCH MONEY SHE IS GOING TO MAKE.

This is so smart. And it means so much for the media world, but no one is talking about it and it is killing me.

Paula Deen buying all of her content from the Food Network is proof that the entire media/celebrity industry has been flipped on its head.

Personal brands hold all of the power. You don’t need a huge audience to make money; you just need the right audience. And advertisers are willing to pay for access to niche highly targeted groups of consumers.

It doesn’t matter that Paula Deen isn’t with the Food Network. She still has the credentials. She has the connections. She has the huge feature with Matt Lauer on the Today Show.

In the past–networks had power because they reached a huge mass audience and advertisers would pay big dollars. Most media companies earn $5-$10 per thousand views they send to the site.

Paula Deen is going to earn $8/month from every major she has. I might be wrong, but I am confident Paula will earn more from that content than the Food Network ever did.

I am really excited to see how this plays out. The value of content and the ability to monetize a niche audience will become a case study for influencers and brands everywhere.

Regardless of your feelings about Paula Deen, this is a fascinating business model.

 

PERSONALITY

I have mentioned before that I am completely obsessed with Myers Briggs. I have read so much about every single personality type that I am now the master of guessing anyones personality type.

Last week, a blogger friend of mine asked for help figuring out her child’s personality type. I jumped at the chance, and after fifteen minutes of reading her blog I pegged her daughter as an ISFP.

Understanding my kids personality type made parenting so much easier. It became totally clear on what I needed to do to meet all of my kids needs. I now had a map to understanding their values and motives and what make them happy.

Next week, I am hosting a free hour-long webinar to help you learn more about the kids in your life. Most people are a different personality type than their child, which is like seeing the world through two totally different pairs of glasses. You will learn how to figure out your kids personality type, and how to use that information to become a better parent.

A few fun facts: 

INTJ children practically raise themselves because they need almost no feedback to know they are on the right track.

ISFJ children (like my son) crave tons of structure and value rules more than anything else.

ENTPs (like me) spend their entire lives trying to figure out how to get out of following rules.

INFJ children love writing more than any type likes any other activity.

ESFP kids (like Quinton) are always living in the moment, making new friends more than anything in the world and are most likely to be misdiagnosed with ADD.

Do you see how understanding your kids personality type could be so incredibly valuable?

The webinar is live-video and totally free. The first half-hour will be focused on figuring out your kids’ personality type, and the second half will be focused on understanding the results. Aside from being really useful, this webinar should be totally fun.

If you would like to take part—Enter your name & email here. I will send more details out next week.

Register here!