Archives for August 2012

What I Believe

What I believe

Just a little message from me to you, my creative friends, on this simply gor-ge-ous Friday afternoon as we head into the Labor Day weekend.

Have fun, be safe, and make something beautiful!

Inspiring Business Reads: The $100 Startup, by Chris Guillebeau

$100 Startup Book

Want to launch a business, be happy, and live life on your own terms?

Then I have the book for you.

The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future, by Chris Guillebeau, is a guide to building and launching a successful microbusiness based on your skills and interests, and yes, if it’s something people will pay for, your passion.

I’ve read this book twice – the first time in a single weekend, then later, over the space of couple of weeks. Inspiring stuff here.

Collecting data from over 1500 individuals who have built businesses earning $50,000 or more per year from a small investment (in many cases less than $100, hence the book’s title), Guillebeau chose 50 of the most inspiring stories to focus on in the book.

The book is more than a series of case studies – it’s actually a blueprint for launching a small business around something you love that others care about.

It covers how to test your market, how to write a one-page business plan, how to create a killer offer, and how to launch, among other things. Checklists and templates are included; I loved the 39 step product launch checklist, for example – very handy.

Case studies include everything from a small business transcriptionist to a day-care marketer and a maker of ketubot (custom designed Jewish wedding contracts) to an event planner who puts on art workshops.

If you think what you do – or want to do – can’t be turned into business that supports you and brings you joy, then I encourage you to read this book.

However.

For my money, the most important distinction he makes is that a successful business exists at the intersection of something you love that you can get paid for, something Guillebeau calls convergence.

That second part is very important – that you can get paid for.

I’m all about following your passion, but the truth is, not every passion can be turned into a business, nor should it be. I’m passionate about watching what my favorite Bravo-lebrities are up to on my “shows” each week, but I’ve yet to figure out a way to make money from that. (Andy Cohen, if you are reading this post, please hit me up on Twitter and let’s chat.)

In fact, as Guillebeau mentions, “you usually don’t get paid for your hobby itself; you get paid for helping other people pursue the hobby or for something indirectly related to it.”

There are several case studies in the book that illustrate this point, like the story of Benny Lewis, a world traveler who loves to immerse himself in other cultures and learn their languages, which he’s figured out how to do in a very short time. Benny says he gets paid to learn other languages, but what he actually gets paid to do is help others learn languages using methods he’s perfected as a result of his own travels over the years.

At the end of the day it’s passion plus a skill that provides a solution to a problem that produces a successful business.

Here’s the formula, according to Guillebeau:

(Passion + skill) –> (problem + marketplace) = opportunity

Once you’ve got that nailed, you can use the exercises in this book to help turn your idea, skills and passion into a business.

And if you’re just starting out and don’t have your big idea mapped out just yet, this book will help you see what’s possible.

Fun, freedom and fulfillment, here we come.

Learn more about the book and get inspired at The $100 Startup.

And check out Chris’s site here, including his blog, The Art of Non-Conformity: Unconventional Strategies for Life, Work, and Travel.

[Hey there, gorgeous. Did you know you can get my FREE weekly newsletter, with actionable tips, techniques, and how-to’s for marketing your business online, delivered straight to your email inbox each Tuesday? You betcha! Go ahead and enter your name and email address at the top right hand side of the blog now, and let’s get you glowing online.]

End Your LinkedIn Shame: Optimize Your Profile by Placing Keywords in These 5 Key Areas

Optimizing Linkedin Profile

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I was very late to the game when it came to LinkedIn. Sure, I put up a profile a few years ago, then promptly forgot about it, letting it grow old and stale, never checking in and never using the platform to market my business.

But LinkedIn offers some pretty powerful networking and marketing opportunities, so I decided to get in the game, recently gutting my profile entirely and starting over fresh, changing almost everything.

There is still work to do, but now I can use LinkedIn to market and network, because I’m no longer ashamed of my outdated, poorly optimized profile.

And yes, you can use LinkedIn if you’re a solopreneur or small business owner – its’ not just for job seekers.

Here are just 5 reasons you may want to optimize your profile if you haven’t already:

1. Your LinkedIn profile will often be one of the first results to pop up when someone Googles your name.

2. LinkedIn is a powerful platform for getting leads because it’s business-oriented. You’re not signing in to watch funny cat videos or check out what your friends are up to – and neither is anyone else. People are there to network and build professional relationships.

3. You can link out to your other online profiles and properties from within your LinkedIn profile, giving you SEO benefits.

4. You can tap into the LinkedIn Answers feature to use your expertise to benefit others – another way to build mutually beneficial professional relationships.

5. You can join LinkedIn groups in your industry, where you can get and give advice. Very useful, this.

There are plenty of LinkedIn experts (I suggest one at the end of this article) and free resources online that go into the 5 reasons above in much greater detail which will teach you how to create a holistic LinkedIn marketing strategy, but what I want to focus on here are the 5 key areas on your profile you can optimize today using your keywords, in half an hour or less.

These are:

1. Your Headline. The headline is next to your image. This is the most important place to put your keywords. See mine here.

Linkedin Headline copy

2. Current Work Experience. This is the first section under the “Summary” section.

Linkedin Work Experience

3. Past Work Experience. This is just below current work experience.

4. Summary. The summary section is the first section under the actual profile (that box containing all your info at a glance).

LinkedIn Summary

5. Number 5 used to be the good old Specialties Section, but you may not have a “Specialties” section anymore – I don’t. I’m told that as of this writing, LinkedIn has done away with the Specialties section, so I would suggest making the number 5 destination for your keywords the “Skills and Experience” section, where you can choose up to 50 skills from the built-in competencies LinkedIn offers there. Here’s what mine looks like.

LinkedIn Skills & Experience

And there you have it. Go ahead and get your keywords in those 5 sections on LinkedIn today so you can start using this powerful platform to build relationships and market your business.

Resource Alert: If you want to know more about using LinkedIn to grow your business, check out what Lewis Howes is up to – he’s a well-respected LinkedIn marketing expert, and my go-to mentor for all things LinkedIn.

Check out this article on Lewis’s site for his top ten tips for LinkedIn marketing.

And visit Copyblogger for this article Lewis wrote called 7 Quick Ways to Turn Your LinkedIn Profile into a Social Media Marketing Workhorse.

[Hey there, gorgeous. Did you know you can get my FREE weekly newsletter, with actionable tips, techniques, and how-to’s for marketing your business online, delivered straight to your email inbox each Tuesday? You betcha! Go ahead and enter your name and email address at the top right hand side of the blog now, and let’s get you glowing online.]

Content Creation Case Study: Blog Topics for an Interior Design Business

This is the second in a series of Content Creation Case Studies, where we explore a few dozen blog topic and newsletter ideas for small business bloggers in the creative space.

(Marketing online with killer free content is one of the most effective ways to up your business visibility, increase your search engine traffic, and establish yourself as the go-to person in your niche. All of which, if done correctly, will result in more sales. To do that well, you need to add fresh new content to your blog at least weekly, if possible. And to do that, you need topic ideas. That’s why I’m adding these content creation case studies to the blog on a regular basis, to get you, my creative friend, to start creating your own killer content. Check back frequently for your creative biz type – I’m sure to be covering it in a case study sometime soon.)

Last case study I laid out my system for easily and consistently coming up with dozens of content ideas, and put a clothing and accessories boutique through a brainstorming session, generating 34 potential topics this business could blog about.

Today we’re going to apply the same brainstorming & content creation system to an interior design business.

(Check out the links at the end of this blog post for more information about the system I use. Also note, the topic ideas here are slightly generic; you would obviously trick these ideas up to gear them to your specific audience.)

Amazon is a great place to start the brainstorming, so let’s begin there. What you want to do is search for books in your topic area, then look at book chapter titles. Next take a look at magazines on Amazon in your topic area, and note article headlines.

From these two resources I noted 28 blog topic ideas someone in the interior design business could write about.

From Amazon Book Chapter Titles, these ideas surfaced:

How to Decorate Like a Pro, Even If You’re Design-Challenged

How to Define Your Interior Design Style

How to Set a Decorating Budget

3 Investment Pieces Everyone Should Own: Which Pieces to Spend the Big Bucks On

Design Basics: What You Need to Know Before You Get Started on Your Next Project

Guide to the Best Decorating Resources Online

How to Build a Room Around a Signature Piece

How to Tie a Room Together with Color

A series of Home Design 101 and How-To Shop posts would make a great category for a weekly blog post (again, using Amazon book chapter titles):

Using Color 101

Lighting 101

Rugs 101

Room Layout 101

How to Shop for Furniture Online

How to Shop: Dept. Stores

How to Shop: Vintage and Second-Hand and/or Consignment

How to Shop: Catalogues

How to Shop: Yard Sales and Flea Markets

Ideas Generated from Magazine Headlines:

How to Create the Perfect Beach House Décor on a Budget

How To Do Rustic

50 Best Kitchen Ideas

50 Best Bathroom Ideas

Little Changes for Big Impact

How to Perk Up Your Rooms with Color

How to Create the Perfect Outdoor Retreat

Transform Your Home with Details

10 Picture-Hanging Tips

How to Create Big Style in a Small Space

Best Buys for Every Budget

The 28 ideas above came from 20-30 minutes of brainstorming on Amazon, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg, as there were over 33,000 books listed in Amazon in the interior design category alone. **I don’t suggest using the headlines you find on Amazon verbatim; instead, use them as writing prompts — you’ll want to tweak them for your specific business and target audience.

After signing out of Amazon, I came up with a few ideas of my own:

* How to Hire an Interior Designer: 5 Must-Know Tips (other variations on this idea: When to Hire an Interior Designer, Why Hire an Interior Designer, etc.)

* Essential Design Principles Every DIY’er Needs to Know

* How This Home Got Style: A Before & After Story (turn this into a weekly or monthly series on your blog and use it to show off your kick-butt design skills)

* One Couple, Two Very Different Design Aesthetics: How to Combine Your Styles for Maximum Impact (and Happiness!)

* From Ho-Hum to W-O-W: How to Use Luxe Accessories to Spice Up a Boring Room

 

And there you have it – 33 blog topic ideas from 30 minutes of brainstorming.

Now it’s time for you to give this brainstorming technique a try and let your creative freak flag fly, baby!

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**The Amazon generated ideas are somewhat generic; if this were a real client of mine, I would suggest much more specific blog topics based on their particular brand personality and target audience.**

For blog content brainstorming and content creation, I use the process I outlined in “3 Content Creation Hacks That Work Every Time,” and “How to Generate Blog Post Ideas, Part 2.”

[Hey there, gorgeous. Did you know you can get my FREE weekly newsletter, with actionable tips, techniques, and how-to’s for marketing your business online, delivered straight to your email inbox each Tuesday? You betcha! Go ahead and enter your name and email address at the top right hand side of the blog now, and let’s get you glowing online.]