“The central, final, inescapable fact is that inspired words create life in us because they are themselves alive.” — Cecile Maurice
I know I posted this sometime in the past. But it bears repeating. (and remembering)
I remember years ago I was working with some SEO guy who made WordPress plugins. I actually forget his name, but we did a few interviews on my blog (here) – and he was selling some sort of content aggregation tool that worked really well.
We talked about doing this whole big project together, and putting together a series of sites to sell affiliate products.
He was a nice guy. Hopefully he still is.
But I will always remember that he wanted to build our new business around canned food keywords. Because canned food, in his world, was apparently a really profitable niche.
Peaches. Greenbeans. Beets. Or whatever. I’m not a fan of canned food. (I do love sardines, however – but I think they come in a tin. Although maybe that’s a distinction without a difference 🙂
I just remember feeling this sense of – how will i get stoked in the morning to write about canned anything. No matter how many millions of keywords there were – and how much ADSENSE earnings were on offer, (as that’s what he did – and did well) – and even if I wasn’t really going to be “writing” about canned food, more managing a content network around it – there was simply no way I could do it with joy, juice, passion or purpose.
There is a lot of talk about following your passion – or the folly of following your passion.
Life is short. If you want to touch people in this line of work – passion reigns supreme.
Inspired writing isn’t something that you can manufacture, or fabricate, or contrive. If you try (and lord knows I’ve tried) – it comes off as corny, contrived and totally transparent. I can spot it a mile away in others – and if I’m being honest with myself, pretty quickly when I do it as well.
But there is something magical that happens when you are truly inspired, and genuinely and authentically trying to share that sense of inspiration with others. When you TRULY want to make people better – not in the service of ego or income, but in the spirit of service – all of us can move mountains.
I love this article which touches on why this works. If you haven’t read it yet – I recommend you do.
How to: Talking head videos, product reviews, screenshares, tutorials and user onboarding video with Opentest.co
A few weeks ago, I mentioned Opentest.co on a few recorded calls as a great (FREE) way to create product videos, or “talking head” videos that do an amazing job selling your stuff (or yourself) to a new audience.
I actually stumbled across Opentest via a producthunt a bunch of months ago, and knew right away I wished I had discovered it a day or two earlier. (because I had just purchased a program that does roughly the same thing – for $97 or something – that is harder to use, licensed on a per system basis – and not browser based)
Opentest is FREE. Which is awesome. Just like you.
And while I have absolutely no inside information to suggest otherwise – I would imagine at some point, as they get more (well deserved) exposure, they will have to charge something – at some point down the road.
If you think you’d like to teach, or have a product launch coming up, or want to help your clients or customers get acclimated to, or understand a feature, or want to do a FAQ with screenshares and examples, or just want to see what you look like sitting on the floor with a bad hat on (hint – not great, which is why the kill camera feature is awesome 🙂 – opentest is well worth checking out.
Note: Here is an example video I did for a Tumblr based marketing course – using Opentest – so you can see how effortless it is.
My grandmother used to tell me that when I was 8. I’m still not 100% sure what Yutz means, but I know one when I see one.
That was a long time ago. It’s advice I’ve rarely followed, but never forgotten.
One of my favorite things about starting a fun, goofy online Tee shirt business has been writing the product descriptions. I’m trying to dedicate 20 minutes a day to designing one new T, and one funny/entertaining message to post on FB, and on the T shirt shop to make the world a better place.
I think i’m failing miserably. The world is pretty fucked up as i’m pretty sure you’ve noticed.
I want to share my foray into the Tee Shirt brand building business with everyone.
The idea to do this went something like this:
Step 1: Talked to guy back in early October who needs copyrighting/marketing help with his online Apparel company
Step 2: Try not to choke when aforesaid guy casually tells me how much bank he’s making selling T shirts (and I don’t choke easy)
Step 3: Hang up phone and wonder aloud why I’m working 18 hours a day when I could be sipping Mai Tai’s and selling Tee shirts.
Step 4: Spend the next 2 days writing down every funny t-shirt slogan I can think of
Step 5: Pick the slogan that the people around me liked the most. (in this case – “the My Bubbie is the Bomb” concept – and whereas, the people around me being my 7 year old niece, and her 70 year old “bubbie” who doubles as my mom. Bubbie – for those who haven’t heard the word – is a “Yiddish” term of endearment for Grandmother – very commonly used in Jewish families)
Step 6: Sign up for a Shopify Trial (guy in Step 1 is selling only on other platforms like Teespring/Viralstyle/Etsy – something I wouldn’t do in his shoes – control what you create – and build something that has value to YOU)
Step 6a: Find a cheap designer to start creating some Tee shirts
Step 7: Rinse and repeat with new drunken ideas, new slogans, new stories to add to the Tees – rekindle an old Facebook page from 2009 and dive in and have some fun 🙂
The bad news?
As of today, i’ve sold zero shirts in my first week. But, I can fix that with a better site design (i’m currently using a sort of shitty looking Shopify theme, which I’m going to upgrade to a premium when I get the time) – more serious marketing (while keeping the concepts fun and light) and in general, taking the project itself a bit more seriously.
The GOOD news
People are DEFINITELY responding favorably! There have been a bunch of shares, likes, private emails on the FB page – some unique “add to cart” actions, (which weren’t completed) – meaning that people were THINKING about buying (especially the “I love my bubbie” shirts for kids, which intuitively are the types of shirt concepts I’m fairly sure will sell well if I push this) and I’m getting a lot of likes/shares/adn referral traffic to the site already – in just about a week. (while not promoting this to my own friends/family at all to keep the results a bit pure – these are all people I don’t know who are liking/sharing and emailing others to check out)
Also – last night I started to play with CANVA.com for designing my own slogans/concepts which is awesome and fun.
This way I don’t have to keep paying $10-$20 to have someone slap some text together that I upload to the store/shirt and wait a few days for every idea to go live.
Not that that’s not a great price and deal – but I’m fairly sure that 80%-90% of the concepts I think are going to sell and be popular WON’T actually resonate at this point – so trying to identify and isolate that 10%-20% that may is going to be the challenge – and I’m not sure I want to spend $100 every few days on every silly idea that crosses my mind after a bottle of wine at 2am, so now I can do my own slogans/concepts all night long for free 🙂
Also, what’s really interesting about this process is it’s like a deep dive exercise in understanding a niche, EVEN if you have absolutely no desire for selling Tee shirts at all. (a camp I’ve firmly been planted in for the first 4 + decades of my life)
It touches all the important ideas about finding your tribe, connecting with a community, knowing the language, being inspiring or otherwise entertaining, and attracting an audience of evangelists who will help spread the word – and build buzz for your brand, blog, site, store and business….while you stick to creating cool things you think they’ll love.
It’s truly like a crash course in developing the fierce focus to really hone in on ONE overarching idea and going DEEP (not wide) to serve that space. (something I learned already in the last day with my BIGLY Trump design – I thought it was funny – but it digressed so far from the “funny jewish” concept – that no one liked/shared/or visited the shirt even after I spent some money promoting it on social media, thinking it would make folks laugh.
(if they did laugh – it wasn’t on the outside 🙂
Anyway, I’ll be updating this for those of you who want to watch a side project with no real income oriented aims evolve.
I’m confident that running carefully calibrated, hyper targeted FB ad campaigns like the ones below, where the CPC are relentlessly whittled down, will start to pay big brand building (and shirt selling!) dividends as well.
But it’s a ton of fun -and I now know and have had some interesting conversations with folks making BIGLY bucks doing exactly the above – just in a more structured and systematic way – so there is no question, one can really turn this idea into a cash generation machine with just a little bit more effort than I can expend right now – but maybe YOU can.
ALSO! My next book is coming out on Amazon right around the 15th of Nov ( titled “Don’t Pull the String”) and will also be released as a course on our new mindfulness/meditation learning platform launching shortly thereafter – MINDFULLY.TV – if you want an advance review copy – let me know and I’ll send it your way!
One of the things I’m doing for our new community is building a few new authority sites in the “mindfulness” niche – this includes a brand new community of content and courses, (using the “Teachable” platform) a coupon style site (using a WP based theme + framework) and a social app community. (Bodhisattva – running on the very cool Mightybell network)
One of the interesting benefits of doing this (yet again 🙂 is the amazing amount of entrepreneurial interest there is in how to actually do this process for other niches, markets or industries.
Many readers, or even people we are inviting, are asking some variation of the question “hey….how hard is it to launch one of these communities in MY niche or marketplace?”
(and considering the incredible popularity of directory themes/frameworks like Listify, Listable and other similar marketplace style WP themes, it should be no surprise that so many people are attracted to this approach)
So I decided, as one of the courses we are going to teach on this new project, will be how to build, develop, grow and monetize a web directory. This does feel a bit weird to me – as I’ll be actually sharing the exact thinking and process that went into INVITING many of the people who will be looking at the course, which feels a bit like too much of a peek behind the curtain…..buy hey, who am I to argue with what the people want 🙂
So here is a blog post I’m adding to our community on how to use a directory as a way to monetize your own online agency style offers. I still, in 2016, can’t think of a better way to grow a business than this one – especially if you have passion for a given industry, and want to connect with other people/professionals in a way that offers REAL value, and gives you the appearance of expertise from jump….especially after a month or two of following the general steps below. (when you have a few hundred members on your site – even if you add them by hand – it’s hard for folks to NOT want to participate, especially if it’s a local niche and your site is getting good organic traffic as well)
Enjoy – if this is the sort of business you enjoy – and if you want to build your own authority site or web directory, OR, you simply want to launch your own agency, check out the new course I’m offering below.
How to Start a Web Directory From Scratch
I’m going to share with you the absolute EASIEST way to earn an amazing income online, without gurus, gimmicks or gadgets. You can launch this whole business model in about a weekend, and be making REAL money within 7-10 days. The benefit of this approach is that you will not only be building an asset that has real value and can be sold later, you’ll also be generating credibility for your brand,blog, and business as you grow.
Now, understand this before we dive too deep.
There is only so much of this strategy I can capture or describe in one short article. There are many unique permutations to this process you can use to grow your own business, in your own way, around your own niche, market, industry, interests or professional passion. I’m just going to lay out the steps i happen to use and love for beginners, so you can get the flavor for how easy this is.
Step 1: Pick a niche that has a lot of high value professionals. These can be real estate agents, authors, life coaches, lawyers, chiropractors, or even something simple like local restaurants. Pick a niche that you have some interest in as well, as this will make the process more fun.
2: Register a domain name, install WordPress and put a directory theme/framework on your site. There are many of these you can buy for $75 dollars or less, and your whole out of pocket expense will be under $100.
3: Pre-populate your directory with some well known people in this niche. For example? If you are doing lawyers in a specific state, go out and add 20 lawyers that are already fairly well known in your state to the directory, by yourself. Add their picture, contact information, social media profiles, a short description, etc. What I like to do is embed some of their social media directly into their bio/profile area, like their most recent twitter updates, or FB page updates, or Instagram photos, etc. This makes their profile look very personalized, and current.
Step 4: Write and send an email invitation to other people in the industry to sign up for your directory. Obviously you will include a link (or several!) in the email, and a good percentage of recipients will click on that link to see the site. They will arrive at the site, and see the existing list of profiles you added in step 3, many of whom they will know by name already. (as these folks were hand selected to add some instant credibility, and gravitas to your directory)
Step 4a: You can make this invitation FREE, or charge a fee, or some variation of a free trial, where they can add their profile for free for a month or two, before being charged. This works really, really well….and many people, after seeing the well known folks already there, will assume that this is what THEY did, and opt for the same thing.
Step 5: Offer a full suite of marketing services to everyone who signs up during step 4a. Here is what converts REALLY, really well. A “featured interview” for new members, to go with a featured profile, or a prominently positioned profile that’s placed strategically on the site. In addition, you can offer web design consulting, email marketing services, content marketing, SEO, or simple marketing consulting to your new members for a monthly fee of a few hundred dollars, or a flat fee for the year.
You literally need only 100 people to pay you $100 a month to earn well north of 100K a year on the most BASIC permutation of this process. You can give people incredible value for $100 a month, and as your directory starts to attract people in the public who are actually LOOKING for reviews and ratings on the professionals in this industry, you are going to find many people coming to YOU for both a listing, and your professionals services thereafter.
This is just the very beginning as well. You can scale this strategy across many different niches, markets or industries, and improve the ideas above to include coupon style sites rather than standard directories, and add all sorts of REALLY high (5k a year and above) agency offers that can really amp up your profits, while doing work that you love, for people who truly appreciate your expertise. (no gimmicks, no gadgets and no more “gurus” required, I promise!)
I am an author, artist and entrepreneur. My 2 passions are writing about, and teaching Marketing and Meditation. I like to think I'm a lot like Eckhart Tolle, if only he was taller, and a much better tennis player. (it turns out in person, he's super short, has a terrible backhand and wears this weird scottish hat thingy that makes it really difficult to concentrate while serving) Plus he refuses to keep score and says " it's always NOW" when you ask who is up. Enough about me. We barely know each other. Stop staring. You're making me nervous.