I do a LOT of free consulting with people. I have all kinds of different people who contact me about needing help. Some are people who want to start a Web business. Some are people who already have businesses, online and offline, who want to take it to the next level. Some people just have no idea what to do!
I get it. I’ve been there. This is why I do so many calls where I give away my time for free. So I can help people find success.
But one thing bothers me the most when I talk to people, and that is that they want something for nothing. Look, it’s a great time to build a business online. In fact, I’ve always said there’s never been a greater time in the history of the world to do this without having to spend a ton of money to do it. And yes, building a business is cheaper than ever. The technology and costs of things like domain names and web hosting are so low now that you really don’t have much of an excuse to try them.
My point is: If you want to make money, you have to spend money. Even if it’s just a little.
I’ve had several potential client calls this week where I proceeded to completely give away my ideas and specific strategy for what each business needed to do to be successful. All they had to do was take notes, and then go do what I said. Now, if they want me to do it for them, which is what I do, then I have to charge. I’ll give away information ALL DAY LONG for free. But when I have to get my hands dirty there is naturally time involved, which is costs for me and my team. They get that. Business 101.
The problem comes when I hear them say that they know I’m right, and they know they have to do it, but they just can’t spend the money right now. Again, I get it. If you don’t have the money, you don’t have it. I would never take a job if I didn’t think I could help the person. Never. So that’s not what this is about.
This is about investing in your success. Sure, I could fix my own shower, but you know what? I am not a professional plumber and it would take a 20 times as long to fix it, and I’d probably screw it up. I realize that I have to pay the professional to do it for me.
Running a successful business is about knowing what you know and helping your customers with that skillset or knowledge. At some point you need to realize that you won’t be able to grow your business to the next level until you get a professional to do it for you.
For almost four years now I’ve been doing private coaching and consulting under the name of TheBizWebCoach.com. Today I’m announcing that I’m retiring that brand and moving my focus to a more strategically branded agency approach.
Sproutar is a full-service content development and Web marketing agency. We specialize in helping businesses and brands grow their new or existing ideas or projects online. Read more about our services here.
I’ll talk more about the firm below, but for now, I wanted to explain why I made the switch.
When I started The Biz Web Coach I was doing a lot of private one-on-one consulting and coaching with individuals and businesses. So naturally, having a brand that focused on that audience made a lot of sense. Over those years I have successfully consulted with hundreds of people who wanted to learn how to start a Web-based business. I also worked directly with some big name brands who needed to learn how to monetize their current business models.
But over the past year or so, my focus and target-market shifted. Since the launch of my books I have been bombarded with contacts from businesses that are looking for more than just a coach. These brands have been coming to me looking for more of an agency type service that can handle all of their Internet marketing needs; not just coaching.
I also realized that the vast majority of my clients were coming to me asking for ways to grow their businesses online, across all channels. So it just made natural sense to come up with a new name and list of services to fit those requests.
That’s where Sproutar comes from. Sproutar’s mission is to help businesses and brands grow powerful online communities and brands. The company focuses on several main service offerings.
Web Development (Blogs, Websites, Membership Sites, Communities, Landing Pages)
We specialize in creating powerful WordPress powered websites and communities. Need a blog or website design and built for you with all the latest bells and whistles? How about a fully-functional membership-based community where you can charge a monthly rate for your information?
Content Marketing (Strategy & Creation)
The new way to market is to create content. Instead of advertising, it’s much cheaper and much better to create high-quality, amazing content that draws your customers to you. We will help you create a custom content marketing strategy and also help you create the content if needed.
Business Building & Monetization (Creating A New Online Business For Profit)
If you’re going to build a business on the Web, you should probably do it right from the very beginning. How will it be built? Will it scale long-term? What are the most affordable tools to put it all together? Will the business be able to make money? Lots of important questions to answer before you get started. Let us help you answer those questions so you save a ton of money, and a big pile of sweat and tears.
Finding Customers & Traffic (Lead Generation Strategy, Search, Social Media)
The key to growing a strong, long-term business is finding ways to generate a massive amount of leads, over and over and over again. The Internet makes it easier than ever to target new potential customers in just about any niche or industry. We can help you create a strategy to reach those new customers.
Please take a moment and stop over and have a look around, and feel free to contact us for a quote or to tell us about your big, exciting new idea so we can tell you how we can help you make it a reality.
Thank you to all of my former clients who supported TheBizWebCoach brand over the past few years. Congratulations for all of your success, and I hope you will continue to support the new brand moving forward.
Blogworld has graciously allowed me to replay back the audio (hit play below) of my session entitled “Traditional vs. Self-Publishing”, from New York in June 2012. Moderated by Jay Baer. In the audio you will hear me and Scott Stratten, author of UnMarketing, argue (sometimes heated) about the industry as it stands today and in the future.
The bottom line for you is that YOU need to decide which option is better for you. As you will hear I’m a big proponent of self-publishing. My firm, Digital Book Launch, helps businesses and brands find ways to create and market their books for sales, leads and publicity. Contact us if you have a question about publishing your own book, print or digital.
The audio below is only one of over 100 recorded sessions from BlogWorld & New Media Expo New York 2012. You can get all of the videos — plus bonus interviews and other bonus content — by picking up the entire Virtual Ticket here.
Seth Godin is making big news today by announcing the crowdfunding campaign for his latest book. So far it’s working too. He’s asked for $40,000 and at the time of this writing he’s at $105,000 plus change with 28-days to go. He will surely raise much more.
Crowdfunding for authors is indeed a viable option for new and successful authors. My success story was featured in a report by famous blogger Copyblogger (Brian Clark) in his Entreproducer blog series entitled “Three Ways to Fund Your Online Startup Without Investors”.
You don’t need an agent or a publisher to make your new book a success. You can use the power of the crowd to pre-fund your book and create your own virtual signing bonus. That’s what I did. I raised over $35k in 30-days for my new book series. Want to know how to do it? That’s what this book is all about.
I know what struggles you have as an aspiring author. One of the biggest ones is book marketing, and selling books. I’ve written this book to help give you an easy way to solve those problems. In this book I take you step-by-step through how I did it myself, and show you how you can do it as well.
Who is this book for?
* Anyone who has ever thought of writing a book or had the idea for a book, on any topic, in any niche
* Anyone who doesn’t want to deal with the agents and big publishers and wants to have control to do it themselves
* Anyone who wants to make money selling books before they even put pen to paper
You know there’s a better way to publish books. This is it. Take this simple, easy-to-follow strategy and make it a reality.
What’s in the book?
* Step-by-step instructions on how to create your own crowdfunding or “pre-funding” campaign
* Including details on how to set up your funding campaign and landing page
* Advice on how to build your own platform you can use to drive awareness for your book
* Tools and resources you can use to create your pre-funding campaign
It’s all here. I’ve taken my entire experience of pre-funding my own books to the tune of over $35k and put it into this book for you to read and follow and do yourself! The best part is, anyone can do this.
If you would like to interview me about my crowdfunding experiences please contact me.
It totally amazes me how many people focus only on Facebook and Twitter for their marketing. You know what? There’s a social media network that I use that gives me a 1000 times better results than those. You know what the network is; you just don’t realize what it can do for you.
Duh… It’s LinkedIn. I’m not kidding.
I’ve been using LinkedIn forever to generate leads for my businesses (watch the video to find out how). And frankly, I’ve gotten way more ROI from it than the other social networks. Why? Because I know how to use it. In fact, I’ve been teaching my tricks on using it to my students at The University of San Francisco for years now. It works.
Let me tell you this story about how I learned about the power of LinkedIn.
So years ago I met this guy named Lewis Howes. Lewis contacted me out of the blue one day, I had never heard of him, and he asked me to come to his networking event he put together in Cleveland. He informed me that he put the entire event together by utilizing the power of LinkedIn. He offered me a sponsor table at the event for free to get me there, and promised there would be at least 150 people there. Since it was close to my office and I was curious, I went.
There wasn’t 150 people there. There was 250+. Yeah, I was wowed. Then he did the event again in six months when he released he first book on LinkedIn, and there was 350+ people there. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get 350+ people in one location without giving away free drinks? He did it.
So Lewis impressed me on day one, and he continues to do so today. He’s now known as THE LinkedIn expert having written two books on the topic, and now has a cool training product on it, watch the video. (Check out BONUS offer below).
Look, the guy is the real deal. A friend too. I have watched him grow his business and career from that first day in Cleveland, all the way to now where he’s keynoting events all over the world and making millions. You know why? Because he only puts out high quality information and training and he’s totally authentic.
Funny fact. I have boxes of Lewis’s books in my office that he signed for me. I take them to speaking gigs and hand them out as prizes. People love it.
So here’s the deal. Spend $97 on Lewis’s new LinkedIn course today. You will not regret it. The stuff you’ll learn will amaze you and you can begin using it tomorrow to generate leads for your business, or help you boost your career.
Oh, wait, you have enough leads and your business is so busy you don’t need it? That’s great. For the rest of us, well, we can never have enough leads. LinkedIn is going to help you 1000 times more than Facebook or Twitter, which in my opinion are time sucks that don’t really do much in terms of actually helping me get business. Honestly, they don’t work that great, compared to LinkedIn.
I’ve been using a virtual assistant for about a year now, and I can honestly tell you that it was one of the best things I’ve ever done for my business. My VA’s name is RJ and he’s an amazing graphic designer and WordPress/website builder. He has helped me take my services, and my own personal projects to a new level.
How? Because before RJ, I was simply unable to get as much done as I wanted to. When you hire the right virtual assistant, it allows you to free up your time to do other things. For example, I used to spend countless hours creating blogs and landing pages and artwork. Now I just send it off to RJ and he does it for me while I’m out there selling or marketing or creating content.
If you’re interested in finding an assistant, just contact me and I can point you in the right direction.
I asked RJ to write up what it’s like to be a virtual assistant as I was curious about how he felt about his job. I also thought it would be interesting for all of us to hear what his job is like. Below is his unedited reply.
This is my first time working as a virtual assistant to a client. With my last previous work, we had a project manager that gives us tasks that he knows we can do in a certain amount of time, but this time I am the designer, developer and the project manager. So this job has a huge multi-tasking part to manage and to do the project the clients sends me.
In my first few days of work, it was really hard to adjust because after speaking with my client, I will move on to do my tasks then submit finished tasks then move on to another tasks. As time goes by, I got used to it so I can manage and do my tasks without pressure. Of course I have my to-do lists every day so I can manage what tasks to be done on that day.
I start my day managing my tasks. Reading all project requirements and planning what will be done first. Almost all of the time, I do graphic design projects first because it’s more fun to do that coding and developing websites. I can think out-of-the-box to create more appealing designs and gives me time to search similar designs the client wants.
Creating graphic designs, website headers, book covers and other website banners are challenging because I must make it stand out among those design references I looked into. The design process is much more like innovating new design ideas that other people rarely see or just look good in the eyes of the client. There are times that clients want more simpler designs than the colorful ones, so I make it simpler but more attractive, more like modern but simple design. Bringing PSD designs to life or web development is challenging too, but it can be easier by using website tools like WordPress and other website developing tools.
When a project is done, it was labeled as pending before the client considered it as approved. For design project, all PSD files must be kept, all versions of the design, so it can be edited if there are revisions. However, html files must be kept but I do save them by date so if there’s any errors coding the latest html file, I can still have the copy of the old file.
There are times that I would spend my time gathering all possible resources that I can use in other website development and design projects. There are websites that provide PSD files, icons or anything that I can use in design and development. I bookmark all the helpful links like tutorials, linked lists or just a blog posts that will help me on the project.
If you’re in need of any high-quality graphic work, or website/blog builds or anything web related. Contact me and we’ll get to work on your project today, at a cost you won’t find anywhere else. RJ is waiting.
I grew up in Independence, Ohio, a suburb about 10-miles directly south of Cleveland. It was, and still is, a small town, with a small town feel. As a child of the 70’s, I would be free to ride my bike all over town. To the pool, or to the pond to fish, or to the local convenient store for candy or a drink or ice cream. It truly was a different time back then. A time of innocence. Anyway, I digress…
Today I live one town over from the town I grew up in. So it’s the same small town feel, just a different address. But the same feeling. It’s that small town feel that always gets me because I remember back to when I was a kid and how awesome it was to feel summer coming, and to go to the local parade and get $.25 hot dogs and get candy thrown down from the people in the floats in the parade.
And to just feel… free. A feeling you can only really experience.
Memorial Day weekend to me reminds me how amazingly lucky I am to have been born in the United States. To have the freedom to start my own business and see it grow or fail, and raise my children they way I want to and have opportunity that I couldn’t get in other parts of the world. And a million other things.
I never did serve in the military. My father did (not during wartime). He told me when I was a kid that I shouldn’t join the Army because I didn’t like to take orders. He was right, I don’t, which is why I am an entrepreneur and run my own businesses. But I sometimes wish I would have had that experience of serving my country and feeling that pride that must come with it.
I’m not super patriotic guy. I mean, I do love my country, but I’ve got some issues with it as well. But I will admit I still get teared up every single time I hear the Star Spangled Banner before a sporting event. Every single time. Because it’s another reminder of how amazing my life is because I get to live in this country.
But just because I haven’t served in the military, does not mean that I don’t value what the people who have have done so that I can run my barbeque this weekend. So thank you to all who served and continue to serve.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that Memorial Day weekend is a reminder to me about how freaking good I’ve got it. How freaking good we all have it here in the USA. Sure, we have our problems, and we’re not perfect, but overall, we are still the best and I for one am supremely grateful for what I have.
I will wander through the events I have planned with my family this weekend with these thoughts in the back of mind as a reminder of it all. And I will continue to thank God that I have what I have and the opportunities that I have.
Here’s to you and your family this holiday weekend. Please be safe and have a wonderful time.
Change is in the air. You can just feel it, can’t you? It’s inevitable really. Everything changes. Life, the environment, our bodies, love/hate, and even business. As a student of “Internet Marketing” as an industry, I have noticed many changes over the past few years, many of which are causing dramatic shifts in how business online works, and how consumers spend money and how “gurus” make it.
I think it’s pretty obvious to say that a changing and depressed economy, combined with the fact that consumers have become more educated than ever, has resulted in a huge shift in how Internet “gurus”, and the rest of us without such famed guru status, do business online. Case in point, there’s a lot of disgust and anger in the air these days online. Same as in the real world in this soon to be very vitriolic Presidential election year here in the US. That’s just the world we live in now.
There has always been industry insider gossip and finger pointing, but now those same thoughts are starting to bleed out into the fringes; Into the “real world” where regular, non-Internet geek people are getting a glimpse on how this all works. In this piece at The Verge, the author focuses on calling out unscrupulous “gurus” about their boiler room practices of ripping off Grandma’s social security checks through “Internet Marketing” scammery. The title of the piece is, “Scamworld: ‘Get rich quick’ schemes mutate into an online monster – A network of pitchmen have used the internet and fear of a failing economy to play the ultimate long con.” The video is fascinating, but mostly just entertaining.
I believe this is a hacky piece to say the least. It focuses on a few really bad apples and lumps in some quality people who don’t practice tactics that are unethical. Sure, sure, ALL of these people sell the dream. The dream of getting rich. The dream of independence. The dream of australian casinos living the life you want. But if you’re going to condemn people for selling the opportunity to live a better life, you better send me off to jail right now as well. Because I’m guilty too.
Yeah, I have a series of books called Business Around a Lifestyle, but no, not anywhere in those books do I say that you get get rich overnight without work. Nowhere in any of my marketing materials that I’ve ever put out do I claim that it’s super easy to make money overnight in your underwear from your den. Nowhere, anywhere at any time have I ever told someone that I guarantee they’ll be successful or have I ever taken someone’s money for a job that I knew could not afford it.
Which is why I have such a stellar reputation in the industry. But it’s also why I’m not sitting on a beach retired in Cabo San Lucas. Because I won’t become unethical just to make money. There’s lots of people just like me out there who have the same “problem”. David Risley, Chris Garrett, Johnny B. Truant, David Siteman Garland, Sonia Simone and Derek Halpern come to mind. There are many more, and I’m sorry to leave you off. I’m writing fast.
The industry is changing to the needs/wants of the consumer. You’re no longer seeing the same “$2k product pitches” that you saw so prevalent over the past 2-3 years. Why? Because nobody is buying them anymore. First off, in this crappy economy, who’s got $2k to spend anymore, and secondly, most people have been burned multiple times and are now gun shy, and using the power of the Web to talk about their unhappiness and dissatisfied experiences.
Over the last few days, I’ve told you that I am making some changes to my company. I’m not yet going to divulge every detail of that, but I AM going to tell you why I’m doing it.
It is because the “make money blogging” space that I’m in is inherently BROKEN.
… and the “gurus” of this space have failed.
And the result of this is plain as day. Most bloggers are:
Confused on what to do.
Concentrating on the wrong things… if they even have a real focus at all.
Not making any money.
Not seeing much (if any) web traffic.
Now, you tell me…. with ALL these people (yes, myself included) teaching people how to make money blogging – and ALL these people reading our sites, don’t you think we’d have a little better success rate?
I mean, something is inherently wrong with the SYSTEM if all these people are out there consuming this stuff – and yet most aren’t making it.
It isn’t a surprise that this niche is becoming full of freebie seekers and skepticism. All these people are selling stuff and yet people still can’t connect the dots. It is only NATURAL to start getting skeptical.
Makes sense to me. David’s right. The entire model is broken, and it’s in flux. You can put “some” of the blame on the consumer for not taking action. But you can also put some of the blame on the person selling them the information and not supporting them all the way through. Which is I believe, David’s point. The problem with supporting someone from beginning to end is that it’s hard work, and requires time and effort. It’s far much easier, and profitable to just sell an information product in a box and walk away and say “hey, I gave you all the info, you just didn’t follow through”.
But to David’s and my point, it can’t continue that way. Consumers want more, and frankly, should expect more. I’ve always thought of myself as a teacher. My mother taught English to 7th graders for over 30-years. For the past 4-years or so I’ve taught Internet Marketing to students at the University of San Francisco’s Internet Marketing Certificate Program. I love teaching. It’s extremely satisfying to help students work through business models and learn the industry step-by-step. They feel progress along the way and I feel like I’m invested in their success. Everyone wins.
But it’s hard work, and it doesn’t make you rich overnight. The alternative is to just drop all my knowledge and skill into a 22-disc DVD set and send it out to customers and say “Hey, learn this and make millions”. Meanwhile, I’m sitting on a beach someplace. Unfortunately for me, I can’t bring myself to do that. Because to REALLY help people succeed, you need to give more than just a DVD set. You need to dig in and walk them through and invest in their future.
More Factors In The Shift…
The “gurus” felt the heat from the government and lawsuits and have backed off a bit over the past few years. What’s happening now is they’re all trying to figure out the next way to get back in business. Some are “going legit” by creating agencies and brands that help other people do what they did. Others are just sitting on their big piles of cash and waiting for things to calm down. But they’ll be back.
You can tell things are changing because you’re seeing more discounted offers than ever before. Half-offs, free even. You can’t sell the same old crap that you used to sell. It’s not that easy anymore. Even with fancy sales copy. Consumers have gotten smarter. They can smell bullshit from 100-miles away now, and they’re becoming immune to “special offers” as they existed before.
This not to say that tactics like scarcity and exclusivity and bonuses and long page sales letters don’t work anymore. They still do. In fact, they still work pretty darn good. They just don’t work “as good” as they used to. Which makes it harder for those that used those tactics to keep the gravy train full of cash running as fast and heavy as it used to.
Is Internet Marketing Dead? No.
Of course it’s not dead. In ways it’s bigger and better than ever. But it’s changing. Authenticity is key. Your reputation means everything. I can tell you that many of the “gurus” that have made a fortune online over the past 10-years or so are really good people. But because of how they made their money, they are not thought of as fondly as they wish they were. In fact, many are hated, and I’m telling you right now, it bothers them, despite what they say. Unfair? Sure, but it’s part of the business. It’s unfortunate for them now that they have to deal with being lumped in with real criminals.
The truth is that most of these people are dying to be loved. They really do care. To them, they did nothing wrong except try to help people. They truly believed that if someone would take the information they have provided, they could be successful just as they were. And frankly, most of them are right about that.
So that leaves us with where to take it in the future. Grinders like me and David and the others mentioned already know what to do. Continue to provide high-quality, problem-solving support and training and information over and over and over to people who want/need it, for a fair price. The “gurus”? We’ll just have to wait and see what they come up with next. What do you think?
Here is an interview I did with Nina Amir, author of How To Blog a Book. This is a really smart way to write a book, believe me. Grab a copy of Nina’s book and get writing! Listen to this podcast first to get some more tips.
When I wrote my first book for a big name publishing house, I foolishly believed that the book would sell tons of copies and I’d see my book featured in bookstores all around the world. I also believed that my publisher would market my book for me and help me make it a best-seller. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that that’s not how the book business works for the majority of new authors.
More importantly, I learned the most valuable lesson that I never expected. You don’t write a business or industry book to sell millions of copies. You write it to drive sales and leads for your business.
The Real Reasons To Write A Book…
To instantly build credibility for your business or brand. The kind of credibility only the few top people in your industry get
To create a massive flow of sales and leads allowing you to never pay for advertising ever again
To change the way your business actively seeks out new customers. That’s right, they find you now
To see the look on your future customer’s face when you pull out a print copy of your book and hand it to them
To get invited to speak at premiere industry events where you can spread the word about your business and create powerful partnerships that can change your fortune overnight
How My Books Have Changed My Life & Business?
Right before I was about to launch my first book I sought advice from many best-selling authors in my industry. I wanted to gain their knowledge and experience. They all told me that I should have realistic expectations about selling copies of my book. But they also told me that I should immediately increase my consulting fees by three times what I was already charging. They were right.
The day my book came out I increased my consulting fees by 300%. Guess what happened? I got three times the business. All because of the power of the book and the credibility it had given me in my area of expertise.
So I thought to myself, “I should write more books.” Since then I’ve written seven books that I’ve self-published through Amazon. These books have now been downloaded over 10,000 times collectively in just a few months. Wow.
And here’s the best part. Every single one of those downloads is a potential new customer for my consulting and coaching and training businesses and products. Think about it. I’ve put a big business card that promotes who I am and what I do into the hands of over 10,000 potential customers! Because of this, I don’t have to pay for advertising anymore. Heck, I don’t even have to really work to get leads anymore. Why? Because they come to me!
People read my books and then follow the call to action messages and links back to my websites where they sign up for my email lists, download other books, and purchase my products and services.
So why can’t you do this? You can! If you know a lot about something, you can write a book, and you can do the exact same thing I’m doing right now.
Join Us: How To Write A Book Training Course (Starting May 17th, 8pm est)
The training is four-week program that will help you figure out what type of book to write and how to use it to meet your goals. It’s a combination of live training and group participation, and only requires about an hour of your time every week. At the end of this training you will walk away with a solid plan for your book, including:
Why should I write a book?
What kind of book should I write?
What should my book title be?
How to create an amazing book cover?
How am I going to publish & distribute my book?
How do I use the book for generating sales and leads for my business?
How to use my book to get a better job?
How to write a book fast?
How to convert my book for print and digital sales?
How do I launch & market my book?
How to turn my blog into a book?
How do I get reviews?
What resources can I tap into to help me promote my book?