Archives for April 2010

Know Yourself to Brand Yourself

While I’m still getting to know the readers here at Small Business Branding I have a good hunch that most of you do run small businesses from home.

The internet makes it amazingly easy to run a business as a solopreneur. With an internet you can have all the tools you need to rival a real ‘brick and mortar business’ with a tiny fraction of the cost.

Tools like:

– A Storefront (Website)

– Merchant Processing (Paypal)

– Shopping Carts

– Products (Virtual or Physical)

– Staff (Virtual Assistants)

All the tools in the world won’t make you a successful business if you don’t know WHO YOU ARE and WHAT YOU WANT.

I like to write about what I know, so this topic is very familiar to me. You see I spent many years being a ‘people pleaser’. I made life decisions based on who others told me who I should be and not based on the person I was. Bad, bad move.

What does this have to do with business, especially small business? E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G!

Knowing who you are and what you really want allows you to do everything better in business. It also allows you to be truly unique since you are the only person that ever was and ever will be uniquely you.

Knowing Yourself Allows You to Brand Yourself

When you create a brand that fits you it becomes so much easier to:

  • Write from the heart
  • Make long term decisions
  • Surround yourself with people who get you
  • Attract customers and clients who are a perfect fit

It’s all well and good for me to tell you to ‘know yourself’ but how do you do that? How do you say to yourself “So, who are you?”. Sometimes it’s hard to face but I tell you from experience once you do your business will get easier and you’ll love it more every day.

I really believe the state of ones current business is 100% a reflection of their personal development. If you need to do more work then you’re business will show it in many ways.

Maybe you’re struggling to make it work at all and getting cash flow positive. Maybe you’re working with all the wrong clients and wondering how you attract them like a magnet. Or maybe you jump from one business to another without ever making anything really work.

I’ve been there!

How To Work on Personal Development For Business

There are many ways you can get reacquainted with you. Choose what works for you. Here are some ideas:

– Take Courses.

– Read Books.

– Do Yoga.

– Meditate.

– Meet People, Have Fun!

– Take Tests.

– Ask Others.

– Read Market From The Heart. (I wrote this 😉 )

Whatever you do know this: A successful business is not just for the priviledged. Never give up, know your goals, know yourself, create your brand and go for it like never before.

Virtual Event Help: Case Study Review

I’ve been thinking a lot lately of hosting my very own virtual event so when I saw that Angela Wills had a product on how to do this, I defintitely wanted to check it out.

I love easy to read reports and this was one of those that I read from start to finish.  She describes in full detail what she did to host her event, how she got the speakers to participate and promote the event, how she set it up, what tools she used to set up her affiliate program plus more…. and a summary of each step (which makes it nice and easy to refer back to).  Nice!

Here’s What It’s About:

How to host your own virtual event and grow your income by building your expert status. Included is a case study of her own event and an action plan for you to print out and check off for your own event.

This report is for you if you are ready to get going with your own virtual event easily without spending loads of time setting up, Angela said she only took 3 weeks to get it done and ready to go.

Just 2 small Drawbacks:

As I was going through the report Angela was sharing basically step by step what she did to host her event.

1. Templates

Templates would have been super cool to have…

I was thinking to myself that it would be handy to have the template emails she sent out to event speakers, emails for her subscribers, and a sales page template.

2. How She Plans to Double of even Triple Her Success

She also mentioned that with this first event under her belt that her plan was to double or triple that success… I would have loved to know WHAT she was doing now to achieve this.

I love the “ordered checklist” Angela included which shows you at a glance exactly what you need to do to create your own virtual event.  It’s literally every single step she took to get the event ready.

She then went onto explain what to do for the following:

  • Prior to the event
  • The day of the event
  • Shortly after the event

These points above are all listed as checklists so you can see exactly what to do.

In the end she built great relationships with the speakers, made some cool cash and had a really great info product at the end of it that she could sell.

Personally I enjoyed this report and would love to see if Angela increases the product by adding those handy templates that I could just copy and paste for my own events.  If not, it was still worthwhile and made me feel like it was easier than I was thinking.

Ready for your own event? Click here to grab your own copy.

Blog Mastermind Review: Plus 10 Blog Traffic Tips


Here we are at dinner in Vancouver, BC

After finding Yaro Starak on the internet I quickly came to realize that he was providing some pretty awesome materials on his website — then he launched Blog Mastermind.

Yaro Starak put together this program for bloggers to help them take a blog from start to profit, which I joined back in 2007 and knew right away that this would definitely help me. Yaro makes his full income online so why wouldn’t I learn from that?

(You can download Yaro’s Blog Profits Blueprint here for free)

Here is an Outline Of The Program

Lesson 1 – Let’s Get Blogging!
Lesson 2 – Blog Foundations
Lesson 3 – RSS, Social Proof and Plug-ins
Lesson 4 – Finalizing Your Blog Structure
Lesson 5 – Set Up Key Content Pages
Lesson 6 –  Content Focus and Structure
Lesson 7 – Authentic Content
Lesson 8 – Personal Branding and Sourcing Content
Lesson 9 – Hiring Bloggers
Lesson 10 – Copywriting For Blogs
Lesson 11 – Marketing Through Conversations
Lesson 12 – Leveraging Content For Traffic Part 1 – Forums
Lesson 13 – Leveraging Content For Traffic Part 2 – Article Marketing & Blog Carnivals
Lesson 14 – Leveraging Content For Traffic Part 3 – Guest Writing
Lesson 15 – Search Engine Optimization For Blogs
Lesson 16 – Impact Marketing
Lesson 17 – Podcasting
Lesson 18 – Publicity
Lesson 19 – The Traffic Secret Every Blogger Knows
Lesson 20 -The Monetization Process
Lesson 21 – Contextual Advertising
Lesson 22 – Affiliate Marketing
Lesson 23 – Direct Advertisers
Lesson 24 – Five Powerful Ways To Make Money With Your Blog
Lesson 25  – Email List Profits
Lesson 26 – Buying and Selling Blogs
Lesson 27 – Blogging As A Business

Sadly right when I decided I wanted to review and apply everything inside the program I was dealing with going back and forth to the hospital on top of running my online business.  I did manage to put together a checklist one night at the hospital and did manage to implement things here on my blog but not enough to have me feel that I did everything I could to put this program to the true test.

When I say I didn’t do everything, well I’m pretty picky with myself and probably go overboard on all programs I review but I always want to make sure I applied everything possible. So, I’ve probably done a lot more than most for that reason.

Just One Little Problem

This program is so massive that it can be a little overwhelming — that’s why I will outsource the entire process and focus on the checklist that I created at the same time, I totally plan to update my checklist too. 🙂

How I Personally Learned The Program

Inside the program it is very easy to follow – you can listen to the program which is what I did because I got a bonus from Yaro — it was an IRiver that was loaded with every lesson. Plus I absolutely prefer to learn this way.  But if you prefer to print out the lessons and read everything that’s easy to do as well.

What I loved too is that Yaro put out a lot of free tutorials, videos & proof so that if you couldn’t afford the membership price tag you could still learn and apply lots to your own blog.  One video in particular that I enjoyed was the conversion blogging video.

Yaro talks in the beginning on how internet marketers and bloggers are somewhat separate. He says that he wanted to show bloggers how to use internet marketing to their advantage and work on converting people who come to your blog.

He also stresses the importance of creating a real business and not just a blog – there’s really no point to having tons of traffic either if you are not converting it into income. The best part is that Yaro is teaching from experience and I respect that far more than someone who has just learned the techniques.  He actually applied everything himself and could even travel the world (from my memory I think he was on the road for a year or so) while he made money from his blog. I even got to meet him during his travels here to Vancouver, BC Canada.

I personally increased my income at this blog so quickly that there was a serious problem — it was far too fast! I even had to slow down the growth because I was falling into doing things and working on projects that I wasn’t enjoying. I guess you could say it’s a nicer problem to have than being stuck in a 9-5 job or business like I was.

I will continue to work on all aspects of the Blog Mastermind Program but I do plan to outsource 100% of the work, there is just so much to do for it. This will be my second round covering the program but I will be more diligent to grab screen shots and provide a true case study for you.

I would like to leave you with an article written by Yaro so you can start applying the program to your blog even if you don’t purchase it — I challenge you to dedicate yourself completely to all of these top 10 tips. Just get it done and see what kind of results it can bring.

(You can download Yaro’s Blog Profits Blueprint here for free)

Here is Yaro’s Article …

10 Blog Traffic Tips

In every bloggers life comes a special day – the day they first launch a new blog. Now unless you went out and purchased someone else’s blog chances are your blog launched with only one very loyal reader – you. Maybe a few days later you received a few hits when you told your sister, father, girlfriend and best friend about your new blog but that’s about as far you went when it comes to finding readers.

Here are the top 10 techniques new bloggers can use to find readers. These are tips specifically for new bloggers, those people who have next-to-no audience at the moment and want to get the ball rolling.

It helps if you work on this list from top to bottom as each technique builds on the previous step to help you create momentum. Eventually once you establish enough momentum you gain what is called “traction”, which is a large enough audience base (about 500 readers a day is good) that you no longer have to work too hard on finding new readers. Instead your current loyal readers do the work for you through word of mouth.

Top 10 Tips

10. Write at least five major “pillar” articles. A pillar article is a tutorial style article aimed to teach your audience something. Generally they are longer than 500 words and have lots of very practical tips or advice. This article you are currently reading could be considered a pillar article since it is very practical and a good “how-to” lesson. This style of article has long term appeal, stays current (it isn’t news or time dependent) and offers real value and insight. The more pillars you have on your blog the better.

9. Write one new blog post per day minimum. Not every post has to be a pillar, but you should work on getting those five pillars done at the same time as you keep your blog fresh with a daily news or short article style post. The important thing here is to demonstrate to first time visitors that your blog is updated all the time so they feel that if they come back tomorrow they will likely find something new. This causes them to bookmark your site or subscribe to your blog feed.

You don’t have to produce one post per day all the time but it is important you do when your blog is brand new. Once you get traction you still need to keep the fresh content coming but your loyal audience will be more forgiving if you slow down to a few per week instead. The first few months are critical so the more content you can produce at this time the better.

8. Use a proper domain name. If you are serious about blogging be serious about what you call your blog. In order for people to easily spread the word about your blog you need a easily rememberable domain name. People often talk about blogs they like when they are speaking to friends in the real world (that’s the offline world, you remember that place right?) so you need to make it easy for them to spread the word and pass on your URL. Try and get a .com if you can and focus on small easy to remember domains rather than worry about having the correct keywords (of course if you can get great keywords and easy to remember then you’ve done a good job!).

7. Start commenting on other blogs. Once you have your pillar articles and your daily fresh smaller articles your blog is ready to be exposed to the world. One of the best ways to find the right type of reader for your blog is to comment on other people’s blogs. You should aim to comment on blogs focused on a similar niche topic to yours since the readers there will be more likely to be interested in your blog.

Most blog commenting systems allow you to have your name/title linked to your blog when you leave a comment. This is how people find your blog. If you are a prolific commentor and always have something valuable to say then people will be interested to read more of your work and hence click through to visit your blog.

6. Trackback and link to other blogs in your blog posts. A trackback is sort of like a blog conversation. When you write a new article to your blog and it links or references another blogger’s article you can do a trackback to their entry. What this does is leave a truncated summary of your blog post on their blog entry – it’s sort of like your blog telling someone else’s blog that you wrote an article mentioning them. Trackbacks often appear like comments.

This is a good technique because like leaving comments a trackback leaves a link from another blog back to yours for readers to follow, but it also does something very important – it gets the attention of another blogger. The other blogger will likely come and read your post eager to see what you wrote about them. They may then become a loyal reader of yours or at least monitor you and if you are lucky some time down the road they may do a post linking to your blog bringing in more new readers.

5. Encourage comments on your own blog. One of the most powerful ways to convince someone to become a loyal reader is to show there are other loyal readers already following your work. If they see people commenting on your blog then they infer that your content must be good since you have readers so they should stick around and see what all the fuss is about. To encourage comments you can simply pose a question in a blog post. Be sure to always respond to comments as well so you can keep the conversation going.

4. Submit your latest pillar article to a blog carnival. A blog carnival is a post in a blog that summarizes a collection of articles from many different blogs on a specific topic. The idea is to collect some of the best content on a topic in a given week. Often many other blogs link back to a carnival host and as such the people that have articles featured in the carnival often enjoy a spike in new readers.

To find the right blog carnival for your blog, do a search at blogcarnival.com.

3. Submit your blog to blogtopsites.com. To be honest this tip is not going to bring in a flood of new readers but it’s so easy to do and only takes five minutes so it’s worth the effort. Go to Blog Top Sites, find the appropriate category for your blog and submit it. You have to copy and paste a couple of lines of code on to your blog so you can rank and then sit back and watch the traffic come in. You will probably only get 1-10 incoming readers per day with this technique but over time it can build up as you climb the rankings. It all helps!

2. Submit your articles to EzineArticles.com. This is another tip that doesn’t bring in hundreds of new visitors immediately (although it can if you keep doing it) but it’s worthwhile because you simply leverage what you already have – your pillar articles. Once a week or so take one of your pillar articles and submit it to Ezine Articles. Your article then becomes available to other people who can republish your article on their website or in their newsletter.

How you benefit is through what is called your “Resource Box”. You create your own resource box which is like a signature file where you include one to two sentences and link back to your website (or blog in this case). Anyone who publishes your article has to include your resource box so you get incoming links. If someone with a large newsletter publishes your article you can get a lot of new readers at once.

1. Write more pillar articles. Everything you do above will help you to find blog readers however all of the techniques I’ve listed only work when you have strong pillars in place. Without them if you do everything above you may bring in readers but they won’t stay or bother to come back. Aim for one solid pillar article per week and by the end of the year you will have a database of over 50 fantastic feature articles that will work hard for you to bring in more and more readers.

I hope you enjoyed my list of traffic tips. Everything listed above are techniques I’ve put into place myself for my blogs and have worked for me, however it’s certainly not a comprehensive list. There are many more things you can do. Finding readers is all about testing to see what works best for you and your audience and I have no doubt if you put your mind to it you will find a balance that works for you.

This article was by Yaro Starak, a professional blogger and my blog mentor. He is the leader of the Blog Mastermind mentoring program designed to teach bloggers how to earn a full time income blogging part time.

To get more information about Blog Mastermind click this link:
www.BlogMastermind.com

Don’t forget — You can download Yaro’s Blog Profits Blueprint here for free

Small Business – Why Not BIG Business?

When it comes to competition, there are definitely a few tricks and tactics a small business can employ to look big. Why would you want to do that?  Size tends to instill confidence in consumers; if you’re big then you must be successful, right?  Well we won’t delve into that argument but what we can show you is how to make a small business look big online.

Change your sole proprietorship to an LLC

This is a minor change that can make a big difference. Your company name shows up in your online signature, your communications, and on your website and people notice. LLC stands for Limited Liability Corporation.

Get a good logo designed for your business

Branding and company identity are important to the success of any business and this singularly simple tool will help you create an image.

Make sure your website is clean and polished

A well designed website radiates professionalism. There are a lot of messy and unprofessional websites out there and then there are amazing websites that are clean, easy to navigate and jam packed with valuable content and resources.

Content!

Create a presence online with content. Be an active participant in content marketing. Make sure you have a wealth of up to date and valuable content on your website and network with other complimentary websites to provide content for them. Comment on notable industry blogs and offer value. When your company is all over the web, contributing to your industry, you look successful.

Outsource

This is particularly useful if you outsource your virtual help and/or your bookkeeping and accounting help. You can give them names like “project manager” “customer service manager” “accounting department” and sound like you have a warehouse filled with cubicles and happy employees when in fact you have a few wonderful contractors who make you look good.

Upgrade your contact information

[email protected] doesn’t make you look like you’re from a big company. Most hosting package come with email addresses, use them. [email protected] looks much better. And the same goes for your telephone number. You can get a toll free number for a small fee each month – vanity numbers cost a little more but they can provide an image of size – 1-800-call-now!

Automate

Automate your phone service and your customer service with easy tools. Phones can be automated with a virtual assistant or by using a system like OneBox which screens, answers, and forwards calls automatically based on your preferences and settings. Autoresponder services, live chat and other automated assistance help customers and prospects get their questions answered quickly and it provides an image of size and responsibility.

There are many tactics you can use to make your small business appear like a fortune 500 company. However, remember to always take your customer in mind when making these decisions and taking these steps. If it enhances the user experience then great, if not, perhaps reconsider. It is, after all, all about your customer.

Outsourcing — Enough To Remove Yourself Completely

Today I interviewed Tyrone Shum from Mass Outsource — actually it was my first video interview and it was pretty cool. I know I’ll do more of these because it is nice to see who you are talking with.

(The video will be posted here at the blog shortly)

We discussed outsourcing and how he used it to push himself into a 6 figure income within 6 months.  I know — it sounds hard to believe, but I’ve come to realize that with the internet, anything is possible!

Tyrone outsources to the Phillipines and that caught my interest mainly because I own a business on the INTERNET so it really is worldwide.  So why not explore to other countries? Maybe you have thoughts on that yourself?

I’ll be able to post the interview here shortly along with a review of his program — for now I’ve put together some outsourcing tips for you.

Outsourcing can be a stressful process. You need help and you need to trust someone to take care of certain tasks, but you’re not sure how to find the right one. Relax, take a deep breath and know that outsourcing is all it’s cracked up to be. Outsourcing can be one of the best business decisions you ever make if you follow the golden rules of outsourcing.

Always trust your instincts

If you’re not connecting with a potential contractor or something just feels off, trust your instincts. If you feel that a non-disclosure and a work for hire agreement is a good idea, get one signed.

(Tyrone has this as a free download on his resources page)

If you think the contractor can handle everything you can throw at them and then some, hire them! Your instincts are one of your best assets; use them to help you outsource successfully.

Always test with a small project

One of the best ways to develop a solid relationship with an outsource provider is to start small. This accomplishes many things, all of them good. When you start with a small project, it takes the pressure off of the both of you to get it right the first time. It gives you both time to develop a relationship and it gives you time to learn a system. Communication is essential and sometimes it takes a small project to work out the kinks.

A smaller project helps you test the skills of your new provider too. It helps you make sure you’ve hired the right person to help you grow your business.

Always tell your provider exactly what you need them to do

Don’t make them assume or guess. Provide as much information as possible. One great way to accomplish this is to create a blueprint or a system so your new contractor knows exactly what to do and what is expected of them. Additionally, if your contractor is doing something for you that you don’t know how to do, then ask them to create a manual for you. This can make a huge difference if something happens to your contractor and you need someone to step in and pick up where they left off.

Check references

Always check references if you’re considering working with a new person and if they have samples or a portfolio, take a look at these too. You’re hiring someone; make sure they’re the right person for the job you need.

Understand that there’s a learning curve for both of you and allow time to grow together gradually

Depending on the tasks you’re outsourcing, there can be a significant learning curve for some of them. It’s important to go into a business relationship with the understanding that there is a learning curve for both of you. You’re learning how to work together and your contractor may be learning how you like to have things done. Be patient. If this is someone you’re going to potentially working with for a long time, it’s good to give you both some time to figure it all out.

Outsourcing is a good business decision if you take your time, trust your instincts and follow good hiring practices and procedures. Even in the 9-5 world, people new on the job are given a couple weeks to settle in and the same may hold true for your new contractor.

Here’s What I’ve Been Watching Over the Last Day or So

Tyrone covers a big range about outsourcing inside his videos, I think you’ll agree that there is a lot covered here.  I was happy to see that it’s easy to get started since it’s step by step.

Here are the Videos:

  1. Why You Should Outsource Your Work
  2. Hiring Contractors or Virtual Staff
  3. How to Get Full Time Help
  4. Finding Candidates from Onlinejobs.ph
  5. Contact Candidates
  6. Hiring People to Work Full Time
  7. How to Pay your Staff
  8. Paying Using Xoom
  9. What Work To Give Your Staff
  10. How To Manage Your Virtual Staff

Along with a bunch of compelling videos — If you’re wanting to get started right away, there are free documents Tyrone has readily available for you now.

  • Getting Started Guide
  • Sample Invoice
  • Employee Non-Disclosure Agreement
  • Independent Contractor Agreement

>> You can check out Tyrone’s program along with the free documents he has available that is you can download right away.  I’ve actually gone through his videos now and have some things to implement myself.

Oh.. and I almost forgot there’s a really good report that I actually read all the way through. I was surprised because I don’t usually like the free stuff but it was very good content.

I’d love to hear if you’ve started outsourcing yet and what your experience has been.

Facebook Fan Page – A Quick Before & After

Recently I created a Fan page (I wish it was called “connect” instead) and I shared an article here about it.

Well little did I know that Nola Cooper from Classic Creations Design awarded me with a brand new, shiny,  fun (can you tell I like it?) Facebook Fan Page.

It amazes me how much just one graphic can change the mood of your business. It went from kind of boring to something fun and professional.

Here’s the Before:

Here’s the After:

I think it’s obvious how much nicer the second one is.  I’ve already noticed that I enjoy visiting it to post more often myself because it just “feels” super nice.

This will show you how good Nola is and how much she “gets” me.  All I said was, “do something nice that you think looks good, just make sure my logo is in there and maybe a laptop picture.”  That was it! I was so happy and it amazes me how much of my own personality is inside the picture itself.  I love “professional” stuff because I like to be professional at all times too.

Won’t you join me over at the Fan page?

I’m trying to think of creative ways to get more interaction.

Any ideas?

Kelly McCausey Talks Openly About Mom Masterminds

Click Play to Listen To Interview

Kelly McCausey is one cool person!

She went from mega debt as a single mom, working full time outside the home to a wildly successful online business owner. Kelly is also one of THE people who helped me go from offline business owner (MISERABLE) to online success (SUPER HAPPY).

She’s down to earth and is happy to share her insights into the Work At Home Mom Community.

I first met Kelly when she launched Mom Masterminds with Alice Seba. That is the place that my life changed forever.

You can read my review of Mom Masterminds here.

——————–

In her own words…

I never had enough money.  I was always struggling to cover a utility bill and when I did get some sort of windfall it usually went to fix my old car or take care of a crisis.  It was two steps forward, three steps back.

I remember one year where I was really starting to get my head above water and a serious wind storm pushed three big trees over – enough to put my home in danger but not far enough to make them touch the house.  That meant they had to be taken down but my homeowners insurance wouldn’t pay.  It was awful to hand over a thousand dollars of my hard earned money to the tree service company.

At that point, I think I sunk into an attitude that nothing would ever change for me. I would always be in debt and never be able to do the things I wanted to. But that wasn’t true.

In 2002 I started to look for ways to make money at home.  I launched a desktop publishing business and created my own website to market it.  This opened a door that led to a whole new world for me and six years later, my life is completely changed.”

——————–

I will never forget all the help, time and support Kelly has given me. She has been a huge blessing in my life and I’m very proud to share her with you here.  I literally had 5 retail store locations and sold it all off for my internet business and my super happy new lifestyle.

If you are struggling spinning your wheels – you can grab a free 7 day trial to Mom Masterminds.

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