14Apr
Setting yourself up to succeed
When you read the following sentence: "I was framed," what do you imagine?


Something criminal going on, right? There's this poor guy going about his business, when all of a sudden, he's taken in by the authorities because all the evidence points to him as the perpetrator of a crime. Exciting to watch on TV, but nothing you'd want to go through in real life...


Or would you, if it means success?


We're not advocating criminal acts here. We're just asking you to think of frames differently.
  • Picture frames showcase and pull attention to the picture they hold.
  • A framework makes the support for something, a structure, an outline.
  • To re-frame something means to present it from a different perspective.


So setting yourself up --to win, to accomplish things, to get done what you want to get done, mind you-- shouldn't be that hard to wrap your brain around, right?
  • You act and provide reliable evidence to prove that you were responsible for getting something done.
  • Do that repeatedly, you establish a pattern.
  • Build reliable patterns, you have a framework of positive habits that support you on your way to your goals.
  • Build the strong internal structure to support you in you choices. Make the external changes to manifest your will. Frame yourself to succeed. It sounds a little clunky, but can you dig it?
07Apr
Okay, here are some reasons why you built and run your own business:
  • You found that you're really not suited to the confines of corporate culture. You needed money to live, yeah, and so you kept at it, but you also hustled on the side, and your side-line became your biggest source of income.
  • You saw someone close to you succeed at it (maybe a family member), or saw somebody make something out of himself (maybe they got featured on TV or something) and you were inspired to go after your own dreams.
  • You had an idea and believed in it so much you threw all of yourself into making it work, and it did.
  • You prefer to control your own time and live life on your own terms, even if you have to work harder than anyone else 'with a regular job' to make that possible.


You saw an opportunity that many overlooked and you ran with it. You started out with the seed of an idea, carefully nurtured it to life and you grew something real: a viable, working business. And with the experience of doing this comes the fear of something bad happening to all your work.


On-line business is hard work because the lines of communication are so varied, and are open 24/7/365. Automated responses are very helpful in handling mass emails, of course. And there are also other ways you connect and keep connected to your market, your clientèle and the public. Social media platforms, a website and a blog...that's a lot of data you'd be sitting on.


In surveys asking on-line entrepreneurs about their biggest business concerns, one wide-spread concern is losing data. And the best way to combat fear is swatting it flat with facts. In connection with data loss, what then is the best thing to go about protecting it?
30Mar
Edit - from the Latin edo, editus - "bring forth; bring about.”


When we say the word 'edit', the meaning is taken to suggest "taking away' or 'whittling down', and that's true when it comes to writing. Editing in a blogging contexts means taking out the parts that don't quite scan, refining the whole, and preparing the article so it will present a coherent, cohesive message.


But, adding the original meaning of 'bringing (something) forth" , a slightly different angle reveals itself. Refining means removing the extraneous parts to reveal the essential structure beneath. For instance, paring down an article to remove filler, awkward sentences and unrelated ideas helps make the core message clearer by bringing it out from under all that obscuring material.


Editing, in nearly all contexts, makes it easier to get a bead on things. Clutter --mental or physical --doesn't get in the way of vision, and you can focus better on fewer items. When life today seems to be on a perpetual treadmill chasing after just-this-one-more-thing-to-do-right-NOW, rendering things to their cleanest, simplest forms can help you find a sense of balance, control and even gratitude in your life.


Editing and blogging
Blogging is textual sharing, and as can happen with any kind of sharing, things can get in the way: irrelevant details, awkward sentence construction or run-on sentences, etc. Editing is refining the message so you end with the best presentation you can have: the message exactly as you want to say it. You present knowledge into linked concepts-- specially crafted passages that act like bullets aimed right at eliminating problems, or resolving issues, or stating a particular call to action. Editing as a practice leads to precision sniping, and leading away from a scatter-shot approach, helps get the message delivered every time.
23Mar
If you have an online business, you have a website. Most likely, you also have a blog, a mailing list, and a shop (with an associated shopping cart and payment processors) of some sort to showcase and sell your products and services. Your website data is hosted somewhere, you most likely have social media accounts, and an e-mail hosting and auto-responder service for your mailing list management needs.

  • What happens with one of those services if you violate your terms of service unwittingly? Or of you were reported for doing so?
  • What happens if the service suspect you of violating the Terms of Service because of "suspicious activity"?
  • How much trouble would you have if a part of your business, a part dependent on an outside provider, is suspended, terminated or locked?


"Terms of Service" don't mean the text heavy pop-up you click on to get to the installation-proper, or finish the sign-up. TOS mean the fine print that sets the rules for you signing up to use a service or a program.
16Mar

What events can cripple your business?


Money problems can do it.
Escalating production costs can take a big chunk out of of earnings until you move to control the outcome. A dwindling subscriber or customer base can affect your income stream, too. A competing product comes out with the latest bells and whistles, and then you watch a relentless down-tick in sales...that could do it. Financial mismanagement coming from unrealistic expectations and poorly monitored spending can drive you to the brink of bankruptcy...and push you over.


Catastrophic data loss can do it. A series of unfortunate events can contribute to losing vital data like customer's financial information, or the company's financial data. You can lose your blog, you website, your work if you don't back-up regularly and check your back-ups for data integrity.


A social media gaffe can damage your brand. In the social era, a public relations flub can make you or break you, depending on how bad it is and how you spin it. Check out the stories in Blogging Your Way To Your Market's Attention to see how good companies can make bad choices.
09Mar
You know, what with the running theme we had these few weeks about content -- making it, spreading it around and marketing it (and marketing with it) -- we may have looked past some things that are so simple we take them for granted.
  • Content is messages. You got something to say, and you share it. People can listen or read, and respond.
  • Content calls for engagement, response and reaction.
  • Content is giving form to your thoughts, or voice to your words, and sharing that. Content calls for sharable media in a public forum.
  • Online content is intent captured in ink and pixels: to share, to sell, to uplift, to inform, to teach, to show.
  • Content differs with each creator, but all content-creators want to feel their voice being heard, and to have registered with their audience.
  • Content needs an audience to resonate with.


We are a story-telling race. We tell stories to make sense of the world, to explain things, to teach. We use stories to call attention, incite, and educate. From the first cave-drawing to the little flash-ads scrolling on your screen, people want to get their message across. It's in our nature.


Now the internet has given us a multitude of platforms on which to stand, and a very big bullhorn with which to reach our audiences. Content is words, and art, and sound, and video. Contents lets you tell a story and helps you connect. What else is the internet but an virtual net connecting everyone through posted messages, and reactions sent back and forth? There are great watering holes where we gather to drink our fill of the information we want and need. As long as they don't run dry, we'll keep coming back.


What kind of content do we go for anyway?
28Feb
If you want to have a good blog, you need to have good writers.
Good writers have to create valuable, useful and distinctive content.
  • Valuable - The content shared adds to the reader's store of knowledge: by showing old issues in a new light, or giving a new perspective to addressing a common issue or a persistent problem -- all in the ultimate aim of helping the reader help himself.
  • Useful - The advice or methods shared in the article are immediately applicable, and will give positive results when put into practice.
  • Distinctive - This can refer to the writer's style -- a distinctive voice which can't be mistaken for anyone else. Check out James Altucher's articles on Altucher Confidential, or the recipes shared on Thug Kitchen. 'Distinctive' is also generally taken to mean no cookie-cutter re-branded articles, or thinly disguised SEO optimization, or click-bait (articles presented in such a way as to get clicks from interested viewers, but don't deliver on their implied promises.)


Now, creating quality content takes time, dedication and serious brain-power. The brain power might not be in the same field as, say, calculating deep math or (insert science here) analysis, but it still is involved in problem solving. That's what good content points to -- how people can help themselves. That's how you get content built around certain ideas, like:
  • We know you have these common issues, doing this can help.
  • How can you improve X with Y.
  • Here are X ways you can address Y.
  • Here are Z classic ways to make X work harder for you.
For any targeted online business there is a niche market, and for every niche market there are a sets of easily identifiable issues for which you, marketer and business owner, have tailored your business to addressing. Think of it as a higher level of FAQs, where you provide the answers to your market's most pressing questions: How can I do THIS? How can I solve this? How can YOU help me do both?
21Feb
Social media's power lies in numbers, in networks, and in its immediacy. One of the most popular social media platforms is the blog, and having one for your business can help you in many ways. You probably have your own favorite bloggers to follow (and blogs to visit) as there are a lot of them that have risen to the top of their niches in terms of popularity and reach, in no smart part due to the trustworthiness, value and reliability built with each post, and how bloggers engaging with their followers and subscribers.


The speedy evolution injected by the internet into our communication media exploded the ways we used to talk to each other. Snail mail was superseded by email, the numbers of long-distance calls fell once Skype was stable and running, and anyone could make their own free website -- remember Geocities?


Blogging is no longer a recent phenomenon -- not when you think in internet time. But it addresses the same ancient longing to make a connection, only now we can use Wi-Fi to do so. Whatever medium we use --social media, blogging platforms, networking apps and websites, we use it to connect, find information, share it, and motivate people to act on it for our benefit or on behalf of others.
14Feb
Let's start with the facts:
YouTube is the third most visited site in the word, right after Google and Facebook. The site gets over a billion unique users visiting on a monthly basis, and their viewership base is helped along by the sheer number of videos they offer, with more coming in: a 100 hour's worth every minute, according to them. If you're a US based business, Nielsen ratings identify YouTube as reaching more US adults (18-34) than any US cable network, and you can also reach a world-wide audience easily, what with 80% of the traffic coming from outside the country. When it comes to accessibility and global reach, YouTube "is localized in 61 countries and across 61 languages."


With millions of subscribers, it's virtually impossible not to have a significant population of your target market included in the YouTube tribe. When you include videos in your marketing strategy, you'll be adding an enormously powerful tool and YouTube's brand to work in your corner. In conjunction with Google ad platforms (Google bought the company in 2006), there are thousands of channels making money for their content-creators. You won't be limited to laptops and desktop users, since the videos are also available on mobile device platforms.


Another good thing is that you'll have a form of copyright protection built in with YouTube's Content ID system, which filters identical files uploaded by other members and checks them for matches.


What can you do with YouTube?
Inform, educate, respond. You can teach your customers how to get the most out of your products.
07Feb

The presence of the internet broke down all the old rules, regulations and expectations when it came to controlling information, and now it's a free-for-all when in comes to publishing, ie. the "production and delivery of content." No gate-keeper can stand against the transmission speed of the internet, and the sheer numbers of people who want to share their messages on it.


Of course, on-line you can still find the big publishing houses like HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, and Random House. You got the film companies' Warner Bros., Paramount, and 20th Century Fox websites. You've got production companies, music artists, and all sorts of creative minds sharing their labors and their work on-line. You also have millions of smaller content-creators on blogs, channels, websites, and various other media-sharing hubs (for example, DeviantArt and ConceptArt.org).

What are the new rules to thriving in this world-wide network? How do you navigate the possibilities and get noticed in your field, market or niche?


If you want to be recognized at what you do, there are certain elements you should have.
  • You need content that gets attention and turns casual visitors and lurkers into customers, followers, fans and supporters.
  • You need to present your content in such as way that it helps you connect to your target audience, and keep you connected.


Yes, the most used words for this are optimization, leverage, and maximizing, and if they've put you off because they've been used so much, here's a more relatable scenario:
 

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