Managing Your Biz

  • What are you doing November 25 – 29?

    The title of this post may seem strange – but what are you doing November 25 – 29? These are the dates of Thanksgiving Weekend in the US, and you should be having a sale!

    The day after Thanksgiving is known as “Black Friday” – this is the day that shoppers start lining up at 3am to grab super deals when the stores open early at around 5am. The sales continue through the weekend.

    For most people, Monday is the first day back to work after their long weekend, but online, it’s known as “Cyber Monday.” This is the online retail version of “Black Friday.”

    To boost your holiday sales, I recommend holding a sale from Thanksgiving day, all the way through Cyber Monday. You can offer a different deal each day or offer a 5 day sale on one item.

    To be effective, you need to start setting the gears in motion NOW! Start hinting about your awesome holiday sale, get your graphics and email newsletter ready, and even schedule some tweets using HootSuite!

    Want more tips like this? Sign up for the October Publicity Special! You will receive daily email tips, access to weekly web chats with me to get direct feedback on your business, and more! All for only $29. To learn more and register, click here.

  • Crafty Biz Owners: Start Looking For Shows NOW!

    In case you haven’t noticed, it is September. To be more exact, it is mid-September, and this means that the fall and holiday craft show season is happening now, and will only get busier in the coming weeks.

    If you haven’t booked any tables at shows, the time to be lazy is over. It’s time to make it happen. And with a quickness!

    You can find shows by talking to other local crafters at local events, going online to forums and asking if anyone knows of any shows in your local area (Etsy has some very busy forums!), and don’t forget about the power of social media! Ask around on Twitter, Facebook, etc.

    Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. There was a women’s expo in my town this past weekend, and it drew a crowd of about 7,000 people. The tables for a craft business were priced at $200 – but, if you got your business in front of 7,000 new people, that price isn’t that bad.

    And if all else fails, you can always hold your own show! Get together with a couple of other local crafters and hold a show in one of your homes. Everyone should invite their friends and family. This is how my friends at Handmade Detroit got started holding shows, and now Detroit Urban Craft Fair is one of the biggest annual craft shows in the Midwest!

  • Mozy Review

    Windows crashed on my computer a couple of weeks ago. To get my computer working again, I had to set it back to factory settings. That meant erasing everything and starting over. All of my programs, documents, pictures, music, etc.

    That is a hardship for anyone – but for me, someone who makes their living with their blog, it is a total devastation! All of those documents! All of the stuff I wrote. The ideas I had written down for future posts, ebooks, etc. Everything was gone.

    But I did not freak out, cry, or throw a fit. And no, it is not because I took a lot of xanax.

    I was calm and comfortable throughout this process because of Mozy!

    Mozy is an online back-up service for your computer. You simply install it on your computer and it works ‘behind the scenes’ so to speak. It backs up all of your files, whether it’s a picture, a song, or something you wrote.

    You don’t have to remember to back up your work. Mozy will do it for you. Anytime you create a new file or change an existing one, a back up is made.

    If something horrible happens – as in your computer crashes, gets dropped out of a 10 story window, gets run over by a truck, etc, you can log in to Mozy online and request to restore your files. Mozy will create your back-up and post the download links in your account. You then download them onto a new computer.

    In fact, you can request a restore at any time. Your current computer doesn’t have to die. You can simply buy a new one and download your files to it.

    In my opinion, Mozy is a fantastic product. It saved me from worry, stress, and panic. Retrieving my files was super easy!

    This wasn’t the first time I have had a computer crash on me. It happened in January of 2009 and I was manually backing up my files onto an external hard drive. While that does work – it is something you have to remember to do. And when my computer crashed, I hadn’t backed up in about 3 weeks, so I lost those 3 weeks of work.

    But this time was much different! Mozy totally saved the day.

    The best part? You can start using Mozy for free! They give you 2gb of storage space for free! If you need more space than that, their service starts out at just $4.95 per month.

    Let me tell you – I pay the $4.95 per month fee, and knowing that my files are safe is totally worth it!

    Click Here To Try Mozy Out For Yourself!

  • What You Can Learn From Watching Mad Men

    A lot of people will tell you that watching TV is bad or that it rots your brain. Luckily for you, I am not a lot of people.

    I recently wrote a post on how watching QVC can help you with your sales. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when I tell you that I think watching Mad Men can help you with your copywriting and  marketing.

    Not only is the show entertaining, it’s practically a lesson in business. You get to see people thinking up slogans and commercials. Some of them are awesome, and some of them miss the mark.

    You get to see them trying to woo clients and get frustrated by trying to meet their client’s demands.

    You see the characters pull all nighters, celebrate when they get something right and deal with disappointment when they don’t get it right.

    The next time you are feeling overwhelmed with your advertising and marketing or feel like you just ‘can’t do it,’  take a step back and think these magic words “What Would Don Draper Do?”

    Now, to be honest, Don Draper would probably light up a cigarette,  get drunk and have sex (all while at work) and the solution would pop into his head while taking a shower. That might work for you. It might not. I mean, you might have to leave your smoking, drinking, and sexing until after you get out of work, what with all the cubicles and stuff now-a-days…

    But in all seriousness, here are some things that Don Draper would do:

    Be Creative – Don’t be afraid to dream a little and be creative. If you feel like you are stuck, find something to distract you. This is probably where all of Don’s drinking and sex comes into play. But you can find any activity to occupy your mind. When you stop thinking about the problem, the solution will come to you.

    Take A Risk – Don is no stranger to risk. At the end of last season, we saw him take a huge risk by starting up Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and on the premiere of Season 4, we saw him try to sell Jantzen on a somewhat racy ad, and when they didn’t like the idea, he kicked them out of his office. Pretty risky for the owner of a start-up ad agency.

    Sell The Feeling – This is what Don does best. He doesn’t sell products. He sells feelings. And this is exactly what you should be doing. For example, if you are trying to sell me a coffee maker, I really don’t care if it makes 10 cups or 12 cups. I don’t care if it has programmable this or auto that. All of that is mumbo jumbo.

    Instead, tell me something like this: “This coffee maker will make your morning so much easier. It only takes a couple of seconds to set everything up at night and program it to automatically start brewing your coffee when you want to get up. In fact, set it to start 5 or 10 minutes before you get up. You’ll wake up to the smell of that coffee brewing. Is there anything better than that? The warmer will keep your coffee hot for you, and don’t worry if the pot hasn’t finished brewing. It comes with an automatic pause function so you can go ahead and pour yourself that first delicious cup, and it will start brewing against once you place the carafe back. How awesome is that?”

    Okay – Don probably wouldn’t say “awesome” — but you get the idea. Sell me the feeling of that hot, delicious cup of coffee. Sell me the feeling of how easy and convenient it will be to wake up to that coffee every morning.

    Work With Smart People – As fantastic as Don is, he doesn’t work alone. He has people like Roger Sterling and Pete Campbell to woo clients. He has Peggy Olsen to help think of clever and unique copywriting. He has an art department to turn his words into a visual medium. The dude has a whole crew, and you should, too.

    If you can afford to outsource, start handing off some of the work that you might not be so hot at. That will allow you more time to work on the stuff you are good at. If that isn’t something you can do right now, that’s okay. Find some people to bounce ideas off. This can be your Twitter tweeps or it can be a group of business friends that are local to you.

    Look At Your Life – Don is no stranger to looking at his own life for examples of how to sell a product. You may remember in season 2 when the Drapers hold a dinner party and Betty serves them “a trip around the world” menu, including Heineken? Earlier in the office when discussing how to market Heineken, Don said that affluent housewives were the exact demographic to market the imported beer to.

    When his co-workers told him he was right, in front of Betty, she got mad and told Don he embarrassed her. He then told her that he used their life all the time in his work. Remember that. Think about yourself, your family, and friends. What would make them buy a product or service? Use those reasons to guide your marketing.

    To lay it on the line for you, Don Draper doesn’t give up. And neither should you. Marketing isn’t torture. It’s creative and fun. So don’t feel overwhelmed. Use the tips above to help you and don’t give up.

    Side note: The image I am using in this post came from MadMenYourself, just in case you wanna get a snazzy picture, too. I am supposed to be the one holding the Bloody Mary. If you ever see me in a bar in real life, I’ll be the the blonde,  wearing the glasses, and, of course, holding the Bloody Mary. For real. It’s my signature drink.

  • WahmCart Review

    Wahmcart, ecommerce solutions for momsI get asked a lot about the various products and tools that I use in my business. One item that I  recommend is WahmCart.

    This one product contains several tools – a shopping cart, autoresponder, affiliate management system, and an ad tracker. Here is my WahmCart review– with some info on how each one can help your business:

    Shopping Cart: Obviously, you need one of these to effectively sell your products and services. It’s true that you can create some ‘buy now’ buttons in Paypal and just stick those on your site, but that isn’t necessarily the best option.

    When you use WahmCart, the shopping cart will literally do all the work for you. You enter in the product description, price, etc into WahmCart and then you’ll get a bit of HTML code that you can link the product to.

    When someone purchases the product, WahmCart will take care of processing the payment, sending the receipt, and if it’s a digital product, WahmCart will even send them to the download page!

    You will receive an email when the sale is made. If it’s a digital product, you won’t have to do anything, since WahmCart will take care of the delivery. If it’s a physical product, you will have to send it to your customer, of course.

    All in all, setting up products couldn’t be easier! You basically just fill out the form. And there are step by step instructions in case you need them. You can control how the product page will look by uploading your own logo and changing the background color to match your site.

    Autoresponder: Keeping in contact with your readers and customers is very important, and the WahmCart Autoresponder makes it very easy! You can create an unlimited amount of lists. You can have a general newsletter for your site, plus smaller lists for specific topics of interest.

    For example, let’s say that you are a virtual assistant. You can have a general newsletter plus you can have various lists that give out tips on specific subjects, such as copywriting or press releases. If you ever have a special on one of those services, you can email that list specifically, since you know they are interested in that subject.

    Another example would be to have a general newsletter and then a separate mailing list for people who are interested in advertising on your blog or website. You can send that list an email whenever you have open ad spots. That way, you can fill your ad spots quickly (and keep advertising dollars coming in).

    Since the tools in WahmCart are fully integrated, you can also add and remove customers from specific lists. For example, let’s say that you created an ebook. You can create a list of tips to help you promote the ebook. When people sign up for the tips, they are placed in that mailing list. When you set up the ebook as a product, you can tell WahmCart to remove them from the tips list once they purchase the ebook.

    That way, you can periodically send the people on the tips list emails to promote your ebook, and you won’t have to worry about  the customers who already bought the ebook receiving an email about an item they already own. As soon as they purchase the ebook, they’ll be removed from that list!

    Affiliate Management System: Having affiliates promoting and selling your products and services for you is like having your own sales force! It is awesome! An affiliate will market your product for you. They will advertise the product on their blog or website, talk about it in their newsletter, etc. When they make a sale, you reward them by sending them a commission. Keeping track of this by yourself would pretty much be impossible.

    But thanks to WahmCart, they will do the work for you. They will give each affiliate a unique URL to use for your product that will redirect to your main product page. WahmCart will keep track of each time the unique URL is clicked, as well as how many times a purchase is made from each affiliate’s links.

    You can easily upload graphic ads for your affiliates to use on their blogs, as well as crate text links for them to use. You will just need to log in to the affiliate area once a month to pay your affiliates. Super simple!

    Ad Tracker: Keeping tabs on your ads will definitely help your bottom line. This ad tracker will tell you how many clicks, how many orders came in, as well as your conversion rate from each ad. You can use this even if you are not paying for outside advertising. You can use it just to keep track of your own promotions through Twitter, Facebook, your blog, and your newsletter. You will see exactly where you get the most sales. This will help you decide where to spend your time promoting your items and help you see what method is a huge time waster.

    As you can tell from this WahmCart Review, I think this is a great product. And it has a GREAT price. When you subscribe, you will pay under $40 per month for all of these tools. Similar products are priced at more than $100 per month!

    I definitely encourage you to try WahmCart today!

    SPECIAL OFFER! Click Here to receive a two week trial to WahmCart for only $1

  • It Pays To Have Skills

    In this world, you need some skills! Believe it or not, you have some natural ones already inside you. Unfortunately, not all of them are worth a paycheck. I mean, when is the last time you saw someone get paid to pat their head and rub their belly at the same time?

    But there are some skills that can be LEARNED, and thankfully, once you learn them, they can put some food on your table.

    Here are a few skills that I recommend you master (especially if you like this online business kind of stuff and want to earn a living with it)

    WordPress: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I heart WordPress. It is what I build all of my websites in. First of all, it’s free. It’s easy to use, and you never have to worry about getting stuck because there are so many tutorials out there on the web. It’s also easy to customize. Trust me – I was a total WordPress newbie three years ago, but if I can learn it, you can, too! I cannot stress to you how much I recommend using it for your website.

    To help you get over the learning curve, check out the Hot Summer Seminar Series . This year, it is all about WordPress! There is a seminar in a web room each Wednesday at 9pm Eastern, with a different guest and topic each week. Some of the topics include:

    • Securing your WordPress installation
    • Choosing a great theme
    • Great Plugins
    • Things WordPress Can Do That You May Not Know About
    • Getting More Blog Subscribers
    • Keeping Your Content In Front Of Your Readers
    • And More!

    To learn more about these sessions and how to register, click here.

    Copywriting: This is the “sales” writing — it’s the stuff that makes up your product descriptions, the blog posts and newsletter articles that promote your products and services… It’s the writing that makes people want to purchase your stuff. If your sales aren’t coming in as frequently as you’d like, definitely take a look at your copywriting.

    There really is a method to writing good copy! When you are trying to sell a product, it’s natural to feel as though you should describe the features of the product. But guess what? That is not what sells a product! It’s the benefits that make people want something!

    For example, if you were buying a new coffee maker, do you really site there and analyze each specification found in tiny print on the back of the packaging?

    Or do you look at the front and see the big letters that emphasize “Easy To Use,” “No Wait Time,” “Enjoy a hot, steaming perfect cup of coffee in just thirty seconds. Simply plug it in and let it do the work for you! Your home will be filled with the aroma of fresh coffee in no time. Sit back and enjoy coffee house style coffee in your pajamas every morning.”

    Seriously. What makes you want to buy that coffee maker more? The 12 cup carafe or the idea of fresh, hot coffee brewed to perfection?

    For more tips on how to improve your copy, check out this audio and training guide — for only $10! But the $10 price is only good through July 23, so act fast!

  • Hang Out With Naughty Secretary Club & Indie Biz Chicks Tonight (On Summer Biz Sessions!)

    I am so excited about our Summer Biz Sessions call tonight! Our guest will be Jennifer Perkins. Many of you already know her as the founder of Naughty Secretary Club.

    Jennifer has a very long and impressive crafty resume. You may have seen her hosting Craft Lab and Styleicious on HGTV / DIY Network or read her book The Naughty Secretary Club: The Working Girl’s Guide To Handmade Jewelry. You may also know her as a founding member of The Austin Craft Mafia, and if you ever need a dose of inspiration for a project, check out her blog. You won’t be sorry!

    Tonight, Jennifer and I will be talking about all kinds of stuff – from blogging to business stresses to business shortcuts and more!

    The call will be taking place at 9pm Eastern, and you can register here. If you can’t make the live call, don’t worry. I will be recording it and you can listen online or download the Mp3!

  • How NOT To Approach Someone……

    So, the other day I was on Twitter and I get an @ reply from a guy who says “Hey, you’re ranked #1 in Flint and I’m ranked #5. Let’s network.”

    To be honest, that statement right there made it pretty obvious that he didn’t have a clue what he was doing. The only reason he was contacting me was because I am supposedly ranked #1 in Flint. And who cares about that? Partnering up with someone on a project should be about creating something beneficial for each other’s readers. It’s not about your “rank” or how popular you are.

    I looked at this dude’s website and it wasn’t anything you, as my reader, would be into. First of all, the guy’s a dude. I have nothing against penises, but I take it that you are on this site because you enjoy hearing about marketing from a woman’s point of view.

    Plus, the guy’s site was all focused on his “secrets” of getting rich on the internet. PUKE. I know you are not interested in that. And if you are, you should click away because I will have none of that on my site. It is totally possible to make money online. But it doesn’t happen overnight. And there is no “secret” — the only way to make it happen is called WORKING YOUR ASS OFF.

    So back to the story. To humor this guy, I tweeted back with “what do you have in mind?” And he replies with a “I don’t know. I’m sure it will be mutually beneficial.”

    WRONG ANSWER.

    If you are going to be ballsy enough to approach someone, you better be smart enough to figure out what in the hell you want to partner up with them on before you make that approach.

    Do you want me to be your affiliate & promote your products? Do you want to trade blog posts? Do you want to create a product together?  Know the answer before you ask. It’s not up to other person to figure it out for you. Especially when the other person has a much more well developed web presence.

    So, I wrote the guy back and said that we didn’t reach the same target market. He said that as long as you were reaching people interested in online business, target markets did not matter.

    WTF?

    Yes, they do!

    Your target market matters more than anything! That is what defines your brand, your marketing, and your whole web presence.

    There are a lot of sites out there that talk about business, marketing, and publicity. But they are not doing it in the same way I am. I am targeting hip women in their 20s and 30s who are looking for advice on promoting their business – without spending a fortune. That’s a very specific target market. And it obviously matters!

    Now, don’t get me wrong. Partnering up with people can be AWESOME! But it has to be done properly and the two people have to have complimentary businesses. And the person making the approach has to be on their game and have their plan outlined before striking up a convo. And, honestly, email works best for that kind of stuff. Twitter is for developing relationships, not business deals.

    For more info on creating AWESOME partnerships, check out The Members Center! I uploaded a brand new guide last week on that topic! Click Here to grab it!