08Sep
Maybe as an average internet surfer you can claim to have seen just about everything on the internet, and then some. You have Google, YouTube, Instructables and Wikipedia. You have your RSS feeds, your podcast subscriptions and your favorite live-stream sources for the latest news. Why fork out money when you can get all the information you need for free?


The scenario above is from the vantage point of a consumer. Yes, there is good, solid information freely available on the internet on just about any topic you can care to name, so why pay?


Flip the view and look at it from the point of view of the content creators who make it to the top of their niche. Content marketing isn't always or only about money, despite the 'marketing' part. There are things other than money you can accrue with good content.


Here, put the spotlight back on you: Why do you patronize the sites you do, or follow the bloggers, vloggers, podcasters and creators that you do? What do you do with the content?


You like the content provided. You trust that the content creators know their stuff , and trust the stuff they put out there. You follow them, 'like' them, recommend them, rely on them.


What do they get in return?
  • Followers. People who like their work and support it, and them.
  • The knowledge that people in their market -- the audience they're creating their work for-- trust them and rely on their content.
  • The knowledge that their work is appreciated and helps make a difference.
  • A reputation for interesting, good work. For being an authority in their niche.
The list goes on.

Now do a little flip again, and put yourself into the role of the content provider. What do you get in return for the result of your determination, imagination and hard work?
29Aug
Well, we haven't done this in quite some time now, what with being so busy with multiple projects, and it's nice to take advantage of slow moments and check in with one another --- or at the very least, sit a spell and check in with ourselves. So....how have you been doing lately?


And please, don't go with the generic, "Oh, fine. Well, so-so, same as everyone else. Could be worse."
Or the "Woow, superbusy, doing everything, really, you know?"
Or the "Maaan, I'd love to chat, but I don't have the time to share everything, gotta go."
How are you doing, really?


Try to recall what happened just in the last 30 days. 2014 hasn't been going well for many of us, if the news in anything to go by. Even if you try to avoid the broadcasts just to keep some sort of peaceful, low-key mental zone to rest in, there's always the internet,with its breaking news, social media and minute-by-minute updates to tell us all about the bad things happening in the world.


Check the article trends in the headlines of your favorite portal sites. You may remember seeing topics like: top 10 mistakes in picking a college major, or how to make enough money to retire, or tips on being able to work long enough to do so. Go on to the news sites, there are wars, natural disasters, epidemics, graft and corruption, protests, riots....it's a wonder we can sleep restfully at all with all the madness happening around the world.


Then there's your own internal strife. Business is going down, what are you going to do about it? There's not enough time to do all the things you need, what do you do about that? There's not enough of you to go around, if you could only clone yourself...Your worries chase themselves in your head, like rats in a maze. Things are moving faster than any one person can understand or can handle, and the world feels like it's breaking down. The pressure is insane. How do you elbow out some breathing room in all of that?
22Aug
Have you ever stopped to consider that working on your own soft skills can help you work better with other people?


As common as it is to feel to stressed at work --at your worst times you can feel like you're carrying the weight of the world (and then some) on your shoulders -- it helps to re-balance your perspective by stepping out from under the cloud of doom over your head, and looking at the whole context of the situations that are pulling you down.
  • Do you feel that there are people at work are gunning for you?
  • Are you having problems communicating clearly with your partners and co-workers?
  • What about your customers? What are the common threads in the kind of feedback you're getting from them?


The cult of the self.
Let's be honest, what with the on-going trend of personal marketing and personal branding, it's very easy to be lead onto the fast-lane of self-promotion, where you show the right image and display the right credentials and so on, but step back from the frantic construction effort and think. Personal branding, presenting the right image-- this is all right and good in an online market where image accounts for a lot, but in interpersonal relationships --in dealing with people -- how are you up close and personal?
15Aug
"Don't put off for tomorrow what you can do today!
"First things first."
"If you don't have the time, make the time."


What does time-pressure, GTD and prioritization have to do with house-cleaning? Stay with me.


Unless you've been raised completely unaware of one of the most basic of household chores, to get a really clean floor, you need to sweep before you mop. In this metaphorical scenario, sweeping is preparation, mopping is action, the clean floor is the finished, desired goal. Get it? Not yet?


Okay, say you want really clean floors. Maybe your in-laws are coming to your new home, or you're planning an open house to show it off to prospective buyers , whatever. You just want a really nice, clean floor.
08Aug

The "World Wide Web" is a very big place --so big that it that makes for a smaller world.
  • Even with filters, firewalls, deliberate blocks, denial-of-service attacks and the frequent outages, the always-connected nature of the internet makes for a really small neighborhood when it comes to publicity, reputation and public image.
  • You don't know something, you google it. You want to find out about someone, you look them up on Facebook, on LinkedIn, or search for their blog or website.
  • Human nature being what it is, you take the first few results from the searches and go on from the information you get from these sources, rarely checking to see if these sources are truly reliable or not.

And when it comes to your business reputation, this is the part where public relations comes in.
28Jul
Framed in the simplest terms, a business is an enterprise that provides a service or a product to customers, in exchange for money. Without customers, businesses would fail. And as an entrepreneur and owner of an on-line business, aside from a viable pool of customers, you also need to have a considerable repertoire of hard and soft skills to see your business through good times and bad.


What else do you need?


You need to know the core mission of your business. You can earn money doing a lot of things: sell digital art, buy and fix thrift-store furniture and resell it, run a food-truck, etc. but you need to know: what is your business here for?


Times change, and the factors that sparked the seed of life for your business can change with them. Think of Kodak -- once the world leader in photographic film, it went bankrupt when it wasn't able to adapt quickly enough to take full advantage of the rise of digital imaging technology. The company re-imagined itself and announced that it offered "packaging, functional printing, graphic communications and professional services for businesses around the world," upon coming up from the ashes of its former success.


You need a long-term vision: where do you want to go with the business, and where do you want it to take you?


What you also need for your business are good relationships. Good businesses work to maintain long-term relationships with old customers, while inviting new people to join the group, and taking care of the ones who keep coming back. Solid relationships with your peers, partners and associates in your business community are also vital. No-one ever really gets anywhere worth going to all by themselves. Help people up, build friendships, and your reward would be a supportive community, a deep sense of belonging, and the privilege of being able to give back.
21Jul
Advertising falls under the broader umbrella of marketing. If marketing is getting people to buy your products, advertising is what you do to inform a targeted audience that your products exist, and that they provide the perfect answer to your audience's specific needs.


When you're drawing up the strategies you will use to advertise, you have to have specific goals in mind to help you focus your efforts, time and energy through out the advertising cycle. The most basic goals for on-line advertising campaigns are:
  • To build and grow brand awareness.
  • To get more visitors to your website.
  • To generate more sales of your products and get more leads.


With these goals in mind, the next logical step would be to pick what type of advertising to use, and where you will apply them. The Internet has dozens and dozens of styles of advertising, with some suited to particular styles or products, and others tailored to specific content types.
  • For example, visual content is the mainstay of websites that sell clothes, shoes and accessories. Nobody wants to buy clothes based solely on a description. Customers would want to see for themselves how exactly the items look like, and pictures help set expectations as well as sell the product. On websites like these, picture ads and banners predominate over links and text ads.
  • In other situations, like promoting though content articles, or advertising in an internet forum, for example, picture ads would be thought of as spam and can result in banning. Text ads and links can be more discreet.


Whatever advertising method you choose should align with your goals .
14Jul
One of the biggest obstacles to starting your own internet venture is the inability to get started. You very likely have a clear financial target in mind: You want to make money with this business, and to a secondary extent, you don't want to lose all the money you currently have trying to get it up and running.


What can really gum up the works are all the possible solutions you can come up with as to how, what, where and why the business will succeed. The choices are endless, and their possible combinations, near-infinite. You can't quite settle on just one or two choices to consider, you keep rating and ranking and comparing choices ---right into paralysis. Why?


Because it's easy to dream big. Dreaming is free. Joint ventures. Teleseminars. Blogging, maybe, hopefully towards an eventual book deal. Money, fame, authority. The images are so seductive, so shiny, that we can spend hours immersed it what-will-happen-when-I-get-rich. In the blink of an eye, we're at the grand finish. We have a thriving, successful e-business.

And without any solid, real plans to explain how we got it.



Dreaming is free, and the problem is when you come up against the reality of the things you need to do to actually start. Faced with too many choices, we can fall into the trap of endless comparisons, cost-to-benefits ratios, etc. and never really start.


So here's a simple plan to start an on-line business:
07Jul

Let's talk about low-energy days. You know what happens. They're dips in energy, anywhere from feeling a little blah or under the weather, to actual mental fuzziness and blanking out on important stuff. Often it manifests as the flickering attention or fractured focus we get in the afternoon -- usually after we tried to get by on caffeine-drips and convenience food eaten desk-side earlier in the day, just so we could cram in all the stuff on our to-do lists.


Low energy manifests in many ways.

Physically, when it comes to posture we can revert to a certain 'slackness': slumping or slouching. There's a sense of fatigue, listlessness and generally feeling "off."


Mentally, low energy affects how you think: like experiencing the inability to focus, or to hold a coherent and cohesive working idea for a sustained period. You skip from idea to idea without settling on what's important. Thoughts slip out of focus. The more you try the harder it gets, like trying to hold on to water --or nailing jello to the wall. You can't concentrate for all the 'static' going on in your head.


Low energy can result in slowed reaction times and less comprehension. It isn't a coincidence that accidents happen a lot more when people are tired, and that we make more mistakes as well.


These dips and slumps in our energy levels can come up like a sudden squall, leaving you feeling like a puppet whose strings have just been slashed. They can slowly creep in and envelop you without you noticing until it's too late, you're already foggy and can't decide what to do first, or next, or at all.


For example: You made plans last night, prepping for today. The list is right there in front of you, but your energy level is somewhere around your knees, your mind feels like sludge, and somehow your give-a-damn's malfunctioned while you slept and right now, sitting at your desk and looking at what you need to do today, you just can't care.
30Jun

Imagine a 3-question pop-quiz:
  • (Daily) What are your responsibilities as a business owner: Hah. Many.
  • (Longer-term) What is your responsibility as a business owner: To ensure the success of the business.
  • (Lifetime)What is your main focus as someone living in this time, in this era, in your culture, doing the things you do?


These questions may seem kind of unconnected, first asking about the business then becoming sort of metaphysical, but in light of all that we've seen happen when the internet (and the new communication technologies that followed) revolutionized the ways we can talk and share with each other.
We're always connected, and yet feel disconnected at times.
We share a lot of our lives online, but feel like nobody really knows who we are.
And sometimes we feel there is more for us to do 'out there', yet we feel aimless, detached and unmotivated 'in here' (points to self).


The cost of doing something with intent is becoming lost in it. As paradoxical as it may sound, we often look for Big Things for ourselves: a cause to devote yourself to, something bigger then you. A vocation, a calling, a reason for being. We want to lose ourselves in a grand undertaking--and in doing so find our reason for being here.


We are also afraid of getting lost -- which is why we do so much stuff, to prove to ourselves and others that we got things going on. Important things, you know? We're not aimless drifters. We get stuff done.
We also burn out, or get bogged down.
 

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