Monthly Archives: September 2018

Blogging with Passion and Discipline

Do You Blog With Passion or Discipline?

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A common question I see from new or newer bloggers is “What should I write about?” or “What niche should I choose?”, and they always seem to get the same answer. “Write about something you are passionate about.” I believe that is an incomplete answer. I feel that follow your passion is over distributed advice that is easier to give than the whole truth. It should really be, “follow your passion with discipline and hard work.”

Passion

Passion is an emotion. It waxes and wanes over time. It can be incredibly deceiving. Is it a genuine lifelong passion, or something you just discovered that you really like? It can be interrupted by old passions coming home to roost, or new found passions you never knew existed. I was just reading an article about someone who started a blog solely on a topic they were passionate about. They talked about how wildly successful this blog was, but further into the article, they also state that they haven’t touched this blog for almost a year now because they started another one and they were spending their time on the new one. Their passion only garnered them a few months of work before they got a new idea. Most blogs are abandoned within their first year due to a declining interest. Passion alone is not enough to carry you through to success. You also need self-discipline.

OptinMonster

Discipline

If passion is the driver of your success, than discipline is the fuel it runs on. Discipline is stability, and direction. It is the foundation that good habits are built from. It is all too often that social media makes life look so easy. The world is full of successful bloggers and writers making thousands a month on their products. The truth is, if they are making anywhere near as much as they say they are, it’s not easy. They have had to work for everything they have. I recently saw a pole question asked of bloggers. It was “How much money do you make from your blog, and how much work do you have to put into to it to sustain that amount?” If all of the answers were honest, then anyone who makes $1000/month or more put 5 hours a day or more into their blog every day. That is a minimum of 35 hours a week. That’s a full-time job.

How many of you are still passionate about your full-time job? Probably very few, but you still get up every day at the same time and manage to make it in. You have to treat your blog as what it is. It is a small business start-up. If you had opened a storefront you would go to work every day until it was successful enough that you felt comfortable handing the management duties off to someone else. You wouldn’t just go to work on the weekends. You wouldn’t work only in the evenings while watching T.V. with your family.

SEMrush

Your self-discipline is what carries you through the periods of dwindling interest. In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explains that habitual behaviors come from the basal ganglia, the part of the brain that controls memories, emotions and patterns, while decisions are made in the prefrontal cortex. If you decide to work on your blog every day at 9a.m. for 4 hours, then it will become a habit. You have to first make the decision to build the self-discipline required to run a successful business. Then you have to decide every day that whether or not it is still what you want to do. Running a business is not easy, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Remember, follow your passion with discipline and hard work.

 

Bits of Yourself

Bits of Yourself

This year I ran from fear and stepped from the shadows to display my work in ways I would have never dreamed. I started this blog, which is a horror show in its own right, and I’ve began submitting stories to contests. Both of these are horribly wondrous opportunities to be struck down, or worse, ignored.

When you write you leave little bits of yourself on the page. Try as hard as you might, but this can’t be stopped. If somehow you manage to keep yourself all to yourself, then the writing turns out to be flat and listless. Because the page is covered with these bits, letting someone read your work is akin to flaying your dreams and displaying your void. Taking a strangers hand and leading them through your soul is heart stopping, yet exhilarating. The highs when praised or congratulated for a tale well weaved are like no drugs I’ve ever done. They are quite as addicting, but they can’t just be found on any street corner. They must be paid for with struggle and tear, and you will always be left wanting.

I have a friend who once said many years ago, “If I ask out 100 women eventually one of them will say yes”. We had very different views on some things.  I would spend the night buying drinks for and talking to one girl, while he ran the bar talking to the rest of them. I won’t get into specifics but I’m sure you can guess who had the better success rate. Writing is sadly similar to my dating life in my early 20’s. I have only one wildly popular post on my site. I have submitted a few stories to contests just this year, and only one so far has placed. It’s hard to accept such shitty results with all of those bits of yourself under such scrutiny but, like dating not everyone is going to like what you have to offer. You just have to keep trying.

It can very well take over a year for even the best blog to pick up steam and really get rolling. It can take much longer than that to get published. Whether you write in the digital world or print you just have to keep laying bare the ragged edges of your soul for the world to see. Like dating, eventually you will find your perfect audience, and they will fall in love.

Finding your market and selling to it.

Finding Your Market, and Selling to It

This post contains affiliate links, which mean if you use these links to purchase an item or service I receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Visit my Affiliate Disclaimer page here.

 

This post started as something else completely. It was never meant to be the article that it turned into. It was started as research on selling products traditionally marketed towards women to men. My girlfriend is a doTERRA health advocate. Which in plain speak means that she educates people about and sells essential oils, among the many other things she does. I know about half of you tuned out as soon as I said essential oils, but stick with me. It’s because so many eye rolled at essential oils that this post is needed. What are you selling? Are you marketing your own “Make Millions Blogging” or “Quadruple Your Website Traffic in 3 Days” course? I know I roll my eyes every time I see someone offer a class like this. But why? Maybe because it wasn’t marketed for me. Or maybe because it wasn’t sold to me. How do you stop eye rolls at your product or service?

 

Differences in Marketing and Selling

It’s all too often that marketing and sales are lumped together, and while they depend on each other, they are quite different. Marketing turns cold leads into warm leads, and selling converts those leads into sales.

Marketing

Marketing is a multilayered strategy designed to build trust in your brand, and promote products. It also creates prospects and drives them to your website or into your store. Some examples of marketing strategies would be television advertising, social media campaigns, brand marketing, and public relations campaigns. The one thing that truly sets marketing and selling apart is the relationship with customers. Marketing is one-on-many, targeting the general public.


 

That is the most basic definition of marketing. We are going a little more into depth about selling, since that is where my research started in the first place. We just can’t cover both too deeply in one post. There are entire books on both subjects, and one article will not do either justice, so we will be concentrating on a few key areas.

Selling

The basic definition of a sale is exchanging goods or services for currency. It has a one-on-one or one-on-small group relationship with the customer.

 

That’s it. Now anyone who has ever professionally sold things knows there is way more to it than that. Realtors, car salespeople, telemarketers, and the age old door-to-door salespeople all know that there are strategies and psychology involved in closing sales. There was a study published in “Psychology and Marketing” in 2014 that found the color red in your wardrobe makes you appear more persuasive and your statements more accurate. Selling is the art of turning a rebuttal, and is far more than exchanging goods for currency. But how do you translate that into a digital business? How do you “sell” to someone you cannot see, hear, or talk to? First you have to understand a little about the people you are selling to.

Age

For example, in the U.S. 54.4% of people have made purchases from Amazon Prime. That market is mostly made up of the 30-39 age range with 65% of people within that demographic shopping on Amazon. Almost 6% more than the next closest age group which is 18-29. So if your main source of income is the Amazon Associate program you want to target the under 40 crowd for best results. The 30-39 demographic is also more likely to purchase items online then pick them up at the store, while the 18-29 age group is the opposite. They are more likely to examine an item in the store, then order it online to be delivered. If you advertise your product on social media 31.7% of your customers are likely to be 18-29, while only 11.4 % over 60. When it comes to digital shopping habits in the U.S. the largest participating age group is 18-29 with the numbers declining as the age range increases, except for examples cited above. Occasionally there is only a slight change in the 18-29 and 30-39 age groups, for example there is only a .6% difference when it comes to purchasing travel services/products digitally. All above statistics were found in various places on statista.com.

 

I know. What does this mean to you? How does this help you? All of this information is just a piece of the puzzle. Different groups of people will react to your content differently. Doing the research and finding out how will determine how you sell your services or products. Using trendy words from the times period and pop-culture references is one way to help connect with particular age groups.

 

Hello fellow kids

Men/Women

Women are more emotional shoppers whereas men tend to be more mission or goal oriented shoppers. If a man needs to buy a pair of jeans, he will typically enter the store, go straight to the jeans, pick out his size, and ring out. The whole process usually takes about 30 minutes. A woman on the other hand realizes that what she actually needs is a pair of pants, not necessarily jeans, and will shop until she finds something comfortable that will suit her needs. Which from start to finish takes much more than 30 minutes. Selling to men and women is much the same.

Men

Men want all the pertinent details upfront, then some time for quiet contemplation. Once they make a decision, men often remain fiercely loyal to “their brand”. Whether it’s the razors they shave with, beer they drink, kind of car they drive, or bbq sauce they use when cooking on the grill. Men pick a brand then stick with it. Changing their mind can take an act of God, or the opinion of someone they deeply respect. However, if a man chooses your brand, he will do his best to get his buddies to do the same.

 

If your site markets “male” oriented products, then you want to be very straightforward and upfront about the benefits of using your products or services. No beating around the bush. If your product is better simply state how and why it’s better. If there is some science behind what makes it better, state that too. In general men don’t have to completely understand the science behind everything, or how everything works, but it is very important that they know you understand what you’re talking about. Show them the value in your product. How does it solve their problem? How often will it need to be replaced? Why should they choose yours over other similar products? What do past purchasers have to say about it?

 

Racked published a very interesting article a few years ago about selling Beauty products to men.

Women

Women want to build a relationship, and talk their way through a decision, usually by asking questions. They are rarely loyal to a brand, but are often loyal to an experience. If they are treated well, and their many questions answered patiently and informatively with respect, women will loyally shop at that store or with that particular salesperson. Women will often follow a salesperson that treated them well through multiple jobs. Like a car salesperson to another dealership, or a hair stylist to another salon. It is more about the relationship with that individual then it is about the product. Women will tell everyone about their experience in a particular store or with a particular salesperson.

 

What’s more important to women is who they buy from. If your site markets more towards women then you need more content that tells the story of the product or service. Something that helps form a genuine connection. In general women want to understand everything about the product or service and make an informed decision. The “why” behind a product is also very important to them. Women want to know why someone else may have bought your product /service and compare if the situation applies to them.

 

The statements above are generalities. The truth is everyone is different. You can’t boil people down to their basic category and expect the same results from all of them. We are the sum of our experiences, and we tend to remember bad ones much longer then the good. Because of this, as consumers we tend to be naturally suspicious.

 

“You cannot underestimate people’s ability to spot a soulless, bureaucratic tactic a million miles away. It’s a big reason why so many companies that have dipped a toe in social media waters have failed miserably.” -Gary Vaynerchuk

 

Whether you are an affiliate marketer or you are selling your own products you face the same hurdles and difficulties. In 1936 Dale Carnegie said “Dealing with people is probably the biggest problem you face”, and that statement is no less true today. Knowing what we discussed earlier it is more important than ever you treat people honestly and fairly. Not only is it more likely to result in a sale, but not doing so means greater consequences. Long gone are the days when the tale of a misogynistic salesman doesn’t make it any further then the immediate neighborhood. If you treat someone poorly, the world will be informed. If your site appears to be “talking down” to a particular group, Facebook and Twitter will hear about it. If it is unnecessarily difficult to return an item or correct a mistaken order, your reputation can be ruined in short order. And without the social cues of facial expression and body language you are far more likely to be misinterpreted than ever before.

 

The original book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is considered one of the best self-help books of all time. Carnegie believed that your greatest influence comes from genuinely wanting to help others, and that in all interactions you should leave the person you interacted with better then you found them. Now consider that today you have dozens if not tens of dozens interactions every day though the wonder of the internet. The adapted “How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age” discusses how to execute Carnegie’s principles through online exchanges. Some of which I’m sure you already practice unknowingly. “He [Carnegie] taught principles that flowed from an underlying delight in helping others succeed.” –NY Times. By publishing helpful and entertaining information on your blogs at no cost to your audience you are already producing interactions beneficial to your readers.

 

Where Carnegie discusses people in a manner that translates to sales, Robert Cialdini discusses sales in a manner that can also translate to human interactions. In “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” Cialdini lists the six principles of persuasion and teaches you how to wield them ethically in order to make sales. The first principle is Reciprocity used in sales to persuade someone to make a purchase by offering them something for free. Like BOGO deals or a free gift for “ordering now”. Because when someone gives us something we feel obliged to give them something in return. Which can be applied to personal dealing by the simple, treat others as we wish to be treated. If you hold honest dealings than you will receive honesty in return. The video below describes the principals in a way only a video can.

 

 

Through the research required for this post the most important and amazing piece of information I discovered is that the ideals and practices behind being a good salesperson, are the same ideals and practices behind being a good person. Being a good and responsible businessperson requires being a good and responsible human being. Help others succeed and thrive and they will reciprocate.

 

Get your copies of books mentioned above right here.

Guest Post

The Memoirs of a Freelance Writer

This post contains affiliate links, which mean if you use these links to purchase an item or service I receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Visit my Affiliate Disclaimer page here.

 

I believe I speak for a majority of writers when I say that freelancing is not the bed of roses it’s set out to be. I can only assume that those not in the majority are either just starting out or have some of the best working conditions there are. Do not mistake me for a pessimist just yet, though. I am of the opinion that only two types of people get into freelancing as pertains to writing. These are rebels (or the aptly labeled free-thinkers) and those who choose to settle for what is readily available. The two ‘ideologies’ eventually come together in a metaphorical rose thicket, wild roses to be exact. Why roses you ask? Because the symbolism, though considered “played out” or overused, is the most relevant one there is. It’s characteristic of a rose to be appealing to any eye; dark red petals reminiscent of the very substance that runs through our veins. The knee-jerk reaction is always to pick it, smell it, a euphoria that’s abruptly brought to an end by its prickly thorns.

 

Of Hard Truths and Fairytales

The allure of these ‘petals’ is existent all over the internet. Aggressive marketing ads telling fairy tales of young individuals living lavishly are enough to reel any undecided mind in. The accompanying photos leave nothing to the imagination, and all that is seen is a fellow human being who has worked down the freelance path to wealth and riches, all on his/ her own terms. To the rebels, the thought of being their boss and answering to no one does more than tickle their fancy, and to those who compromise, it is a simple, workable way out. Anyone who is a keen student of life would question the circumstances. “But what about the thorns?” Indeed, what about them? They do not compromise; they do not recognize any hierarchy or lack thereof. Anyone can, and will, get pricked.

 

I know, I know. I hope you are still holding off on the pessimist tag. I am a freelance writer. Views and opinions are free and open to all, and I am just penning mine. Nothing is that easy, simple or straightforward, and freelance is not the exception to the rule. I feel some responsibility to share my thoughts and experiences and hopefully provoke thought in someone, especially those considering coming into the fold. Do I have your attention?

Know Thyself

Passion is everything. You have to love what you do. You have got to fall in love with the process. Otherwise, you run the risk of burning out almost as fast as you came into freelancing. Establishing whether or not you are passionate about anything should come first, in everything. The next thing is to choose a niche. A specific path you consider yourself competent in and can produce quality content. Then comes choosing a platform. The internet has left freelancers spoilt for choice. I went with Fiverr as my platform of choice. Reasons for this choice range from a fantastic, well-rounded community of buyers and sellers, to a barrage of features that help sellers package their work in the best way possible to appeal to targeted clients. Done? Welcome to my world, welcome to freelancing.

The Good

There are well known positive aspects of freelance writing, the ‘petals’ so to speak. At the helm of that list is the flexibility in working hours. On one side of this double-edged sword, freelance allows some of the best working hours in any industry. The flexibility allows scheduling other engagements into my day. Be it a 9 to 5, voluntary work, babysitting; you name it. Freelance allows you to maintain other income streams.
As mentioned, Fiverr allows proper packaging tailored to a target client base. With such a setup, your freelance escapades are bound to receive a steady stream of orders from a variety of clients. Customer satisfaction for one order quickly translates into repeat customers and new orders because of the good reputation slowly being established.
Of course, it cannot be understated that freelancing is, in every sense of the word, a job. It is a source of income. The platform provides a working-learning environment with every order leaving you a little more knowledgeable than you were prior. The exposure to different works and topics may lead to creating other platforms for yourself to venture into other creative spaces, say, becoming a successful blogger.

 

Fiverr

The Bad

I believe the double-edged sword mentioned earlier is still in the environs of your mind. Here is the other side. The flexibility in working hours quickly morphs into irregular working hours. No good thing is preceded by the word irregular. Orders may be made at 3 a.m. for instance and maybe have a deliverable time in the same vicinity. Freelance quickly becomes a slippery slope. Should you not respond to (Accept or Turn Down) orders early enough, your reputation suffers. Should you turn down the order, you potentially lose a client. Should you miss the deadline, you lose a client and possibly receive no payment, even with very reasonable explanations. This quickly turns into sleepless nights in an attempt to appease everyone but yourself. Either way, you suffer. Personal priorities must, therefore, be stuck to in freelance.
With a growing client base comes an uptake in the number of orders and requests received, modifications to be made and misunderstandings to be settled. From there it does not take long before the feeling of being overwhelmed gets you into a chokehold you cannot get out of. Soon you are in no position to complete one order, leave alone several. Remember, inner peace and mental health are key. Again, priorities.

The Ugly

From too many orders to order droughts. Yes, there are periods of time where not a single order comes in. For a freelancer having that as his/her daily grind, it is enough to make you rethink a 9 to 5. The worst part, however, is either a difficult or an unsatisfied client, or a combination of both. This is hell for a freelancer. Pray you do not ever do business with such.

Bottom Line

So which are you? If you’re the rebel, you must have realized by now that instead of one boss, you have multiple in freelancing, each with a deadline for you. If you choose compromise, that will be the last time you have any room to do so. As rewarding as it is, freelancing is not for the faint of heart. Are you still willing to pick the rose?
I await your answer,

Sincerely,
Writing Yodah.