I’m not going to sugar coat it, sell you rainbows and unicorns or tell you that becoming an entrepreneur will make you instantly rich. And I’m definitely not going to tell you that it’s easy. Starting your own business is HARD. The biggest component to success is a high-risk tolerance.
I have repeatedly struggled to find my footing, pay bills and get everything set up before finally finding a workable formula.
The business itself is easy to create. I’ve written about how to quickly set up an online money-maker for yourself. I’ve even put together some ideas and specific examples for you to help you come up with an idea.
It’s the cultivation of the business that takes time and energy. No matter how great your idea is, it will not flower by itself. You have to nurture it.
And that’s the problem. Nurturing takes TIME. Lot’s and lot’s of time, attention, care and energy.
My goal is to help you harness the digital power to make yourself money with as little effort as possible. We all know the major themes: create products, share value with people, make income. But it’s not exactly a linear process, is it?
So how do you make a relatively smooth transition from corporate employee to automated/digitized entrepreneur without going destitute?
You have to start with the middle road: freelancing.
The bottom line is this – you need time to set up your business. Most corporate jobs have schedules that don’t really allow for the type of time you need to build content, products, relationships and skills.
What I did: In the transition period between quitting my job at Longhorn Steakhouse in Atlanta, making $2 an hour, to creating my digital empire out of my office in gorgeous Santa Monica, I worked as a contracted online freelancer. I got to create my own schedule, meet a bunch of interesting people, and do something that I loved (or at least liked a lot).
And the biggest perk of all? I could charge a LOT more money.
Most corporate jobs are salaried – so they’re going to max you out and overwork you for the same pay.
Hourly jobs can be low-paying by their very nature. The more money you make per hour, the less the company wants you to work. It’s a catch-22. But as a freelancer, none of this applies to you. You set your own schedule and you set your own rates.
Inevitably, this is where the objections start to crop up:
“I have no idea what I would do. I’m not good at coming up with ideas.”
“I don’t have any valuable skills. I just have my job-specific skills.”
“My market is already saturated. There are better people doing what I do.”
“Nobody will pay for what I know when they can just teach themselves.”
(These are exact copy and pastes from fans and readers who follow my work.)
What are your skills?
There are literally HUNDREDS of things you can do that are enjoyable and that other people will PAY you for. Start thinking about where you could mine your talent for freelance skill:
What do people consistently ask you for help or advice in?
Do you have any unique skills, talents, hobbies or abilities?
What areas of life have you excelled to an “advanced” or even “intermediate” level?
What skills ideas interest you enough to learn, and then teach to others?
Could you work independently doing what you do now at your current job?
Do you have any friends with talents that compliment yours? Maybe you could team up.
Best to learn by example, I think. Here’s how I did it.
When I first started freelancing, I was working at Longhorn Steakhouse (I’m basically a steak aficionado now). I was also working for Kaplan Test Prep.
My steak skills weren’t worth much. But my Kaplan skills were. I realized that people were paying $100+ per hour for me to tutor their student one-on-one. You won’t believe how much I was making…$18/hour!
And the worst part was…I THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD WAGE!!
Our perceptions are skewed because minimum wage is $7.25. So we think that anything significantly higher than that is good money. The reality is, $7.25 isn’t even livable. You probably need a minimum of $20/hour to make it out here.
But when I really sat down to think about it…I just got INFURIATED.
Here I was, doing all the teaching, grading, talking, communicating with parents, driving from school to school while Kaplan just sat back remotely and took 82% of my money.
Since I as the one with the skill, I needed to be the one making the money. I knew I could make this work on my own and cut out the middle man.
So I bided my time. I looked around, I made some calls.
I found a partner who was also interested in getting a freelance education business going. He was the consulting side, I was the teaching side. Together we knocked down doors, created classes and started making money. A lot more of it.
First, I quit Kaplan. Didn’t want any conflict of interest. Then, as soon as the restaurant started to get in the way of my new endeavor, I quit that as well.
When I quit both jobs, I wasn’t making quite as much with the new business…but the projections were giving me a solid indication that things would pick up quickly. So I just took the leap.
Want to Be More Influential? Improve Your Social Skills.
Improving your Social skills is no longer a choice! It is a must if you want to be in marketing. Dale Carnegie got it right when he said that to win more friends and influence more people you need to improve your interpersonal skills. Twenty years of research on power and influence shows that people with superior social skills are substantially more influential than people with average social skills. These findings make sense when you realize that influence is not something you have; it’s something other people give you. In other words, you can’t be influential with people unless they allow you to be influential with them. So influence is in large part a function of your relationship with other people, and the rule of thumb on influence is that you are likely to be more successful if the people you want to influence know you, like you, respect you, and trust you.
It is significantly easier to influence people you know than people you don’t. So go out of your way to make yourself known. If you’re in an organization, this means increasing your visibility throughout the organization. Introduce yourself to people. As you get to know them, let them know who you are. My research shows that people are who highly skilled at being friendly and sociable with strangers and building close relationships are more than twice as influential as people who are less skilled at sociability and relationship building. People around the world instinctively understand this, which is why socializing is one of the most frequently used influence techniques globally. If you aren’t naturally good at socializing, then this is a key skill to build. Extraverts are often naturally good at socializing, but being an introvert is not necessarily a liability. You may just have to try harder to do something that does not come naturally to you.
Sometimes, you know the person you want to influence but aren’t as influential as you’d like with him or her because of bad chemistry. Many years ago when I was younger and single a friend introduced me to a young woman, and she and I dated for a while. She was a nice, attractive person, and we tried to be a couple but it just didn’t work. Somehow, we got on each other’s nerves and whatever either of us said or did was somehow wrong. There was no chemistry between us, and it wasn’t her fault or mine. We just weren’t a good match for each other. So it goes. In my three decades in business I’ve had similar situations with some colleagues and clients. Despite everyone’s good intentions, the plain fact is that there’s something about the other person each of you just doesn’t like.
I wrote in The Elements of Power(Amacom Books, 2011) that attraction can be a significant source of power, and it’s based partly on the psychological principle of liking. We are more inclined to say yes to people we like than to people we don’t, which is why friends are more likely to do favors for each other than they are for people they don’t know. So to be more influential, do what you can to be more likeable to the people you want to influence. Of course, we each have whatever physical gifts (or challenges) we were born with, but you should do the best you can with what you have. Good grooming, posture, dress, and manners go a long way toward making you more attractive to others. In business, as well as many other walks of life, these things matter. The same is true with interpersonal behaviors that people like:friendliness, generosity, warmth, caring, and acceptance. When we act with these qualities, people are more inclined to like us. Conversely, if we are pushy, arrogant, boastful, self-centered, rude, disrespectful, or otherwise annoying, people will be inclined to dislike us. Personality is a key component of likeability.
Being Respected and Trusted
Trust and respect are largely about character, credibility, and confidence. You build character through courage, integrity, reliability, and similar character traits; you build credibility through your knowledge, access to information, role, and reputation (of which work ethic, results, and contributions are a significant factor); and you build confidence by behaving self-confidently, achieving consistently superior results, making good decisions, and exercising sound judgment. If you are a member of a business or professional organization, people will also trust and respect you more if you are actively involved, engaged, and comitted to the enterprise. To become highly influential, it helps to be well-liked, well-regarded, and indispensable.
Fortunately, none of us is born with a fixed amount of power and influence. No matter who you are, you can become more powerful and more influential, and one of the keys is improving your interpersonal and social skills. For more tips on how to do this, see Elements of Influence: The Art of Getting Others to Follow Your Lead(Amacom Books, 2011) or my earlier book, What People Want (Davies-Black, 2006). Also see Dale Carnegie’s classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People, which he first published in 1936 but is still relevant today.
Nothing can be more difficult for a prison inmate than walking into the penitentiary for the first time. I know, I was once an inmate in a Texas state prison. New prison offenders often experience extreme confusion, fear and anxiety. The cold sound of slamming bars and hollering echoes as correctional officers are escorting you to your cell. As a reformed ex-convict and son of a loving and concerned family who stood by me through out my 13 year sentence, I am inspired to share my knowledge of how to survive prison. I know there are thousands of mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters who are in desperate need of advice because they have a loved-one currently doing time in prison. You may consider printing out this article and mailing it to your incarcerated loved-one so that he or she is able to survive prison as I did.
Prison is what you make of it. It can serve as a beneficial learning experience or it can be a living hell. That's right; every inmate who walks into prison has a choice. An inmate can survive prison by simply following prison administration rules and respecting both officers and fellow prisoners. What every prison offender needs to understand is that you committed a crime. You offended another human being so in the eyes of society you are an offender and will be referred to as such by prison staff and officers. Nobody likes to be referred to as an "offender" but there's absolutely nothing you can do or say to change that fact, unless of coarse you are released from prison. Inmates who get angry of the way officers treat them need to realize that prison is designed to punish criminals, not pamper them. Ask yourself this question. If the life of your own brother was robbed by the hands of a killer, would you want correctional officers to baby the offender? Inmates who are blind to that reality and who expect royal treatment behind bars are either cold-blooded sociopaths or just too stupid to live. Not only do offenders like these (and there are many) make life harder on themselves by refusing to follow the direct orders of officers, but they make life a living hell for their loved-ones who worry about them. Inmates who whine, cry and complain over their situation are not ready to be released back into society. Society can not afford the risk of releasing back into the streets an adolescence-minded adult-criminal who may very well offend again. Prison officials have a place specifically for all problem offenders. Unruly offenders are housed in special maximum security pods reserved for dangerous high risk inmates. It is there where officers become the least of a stubborn inmates problems and it is there where one must now deal with dangerous adult gang members with rascal mentalities. So yes, you do have a choice!
TELL ME WHO YOUR FRIENDS ARE AND I'LL TELL YOU WHO YOU ARE
New inmates often feel the need to fit in. They seek friendship from just about anyone in prison. Choose your friends wisely. The least, the better. Mature minded convicts who mind their own business and follow administration rules are probably a new inmates best bet. Hang around convicts who keep out of trouble, who have productive hobbies or who go to religious services. Stay independent. You were born with two legs, not four or eight so theres no need to help fight your friends battles. A good friend is solid-minded enough to fight his or her own fight so if you come across an instigator who asks you to assist them in their conflict, avoid them.
IT'S ALL ABOUT RESPECT
Sometimes conflicts are inevitable, after all you are housed in an environment of convicted criminals of every kind. If you come across a situation where an other offender is giving you a hard time, try talking to him or her. Be respectful. There is absolutely nothing you need to prove so don't feed into their hostility. You are not a coward for avoiding a fight. You are in fact brave if you are able to approach the offender alone. Yes, make sure the offender is alone and calmly and respectfully explain to him or her that you have nothing against them and that you would like to apologize for anything that may have offended them. Trouble-making convicts are often egotistical so that may neutralize his or her aggression towards you. It is rare that this respectful tactic will not work. If it does not work and the offender persists, calmly walk away and avoid any eye contact with him or her. Ignore any insults and resist the urge to respond. It takes more will-power to resist a fight than it does to actually throw a punch. Walk away knowing that you are strong. You will one day be a free person after you serve your time.
HEAR NO EVIL, SEE NO EVIL AND SPEAK NO EVIL
Most, if not all prison fights start over gossip. Prison is boring so many offenders find that gossip is the next best thing to do. Avoid these offenders and their friends. Refraining from gossip may just save your life.
A STRONG BODY EQUALS A STRONG MIND
Exercise will not only keep your mind healthy, but it will make your body strong. Penitentiary bully's like to pick on the weak. You have nothing but time so release your inner frustrations with a lot of exercise. Avoid being a couch potato and avoid junk food. Eat the beans and greens on your food tray. Feed your mind, body and soul.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
Read, read and read. Reading informative newspapers, magazines and books will empower your mind. Not only will it take your mind out of prison but it will make your brain stronger. A strong brain knows how to deal with tough situations. A strong mind can see further and the further you see, the easier it is to avoid problems in prison. A well read mind knows that one day YOU will be free just like me, a man who did 13 years in prison. So let the gossiping prison gangsters and offender bully's keep the penetentiary they so desperatly want to control. They can have it! You will be free one day and no longer will you be referred to as an "offender". Life will be good. Trust me.
If you’re in the MLM industry, by now you’ve undoubtedly heard of the $200 million fine the FTC just slapped on ‘once mighty’ Herbalife. I’m saying, ‘once mighty’ because this fine was very possibly the beginning of the end for Herbalife and also a wak- up call for the vast majority of the rest of the MLM and Direct Selling industry that has abused the public’s trust for so many years.
What have they done that is so naughty, you ask?
It's simple. Basically, they just got greedy. If you want more detail…here it is:
A faulty and misrepresented opportunity
A lack of technical innovation that has resulted in a system that doesn’t meet the needs of today's consumers or home-based entrepreneurs.
The FTC, in effect, said that Herbalife was a pyramid operation, even though they refrained from using those exact words. This was probably because they didn’t want to rock too severely an already fragile US economy but it’s clear that ‘pyramid’ was exactly what they were describing.
So, what’s the fallout going to be?
Here at Markethive, we think that Herbalife is probably ‘toast, dead meat, Big Casino, swimming with the fishes’ for all intents and purposes. Their brand will linger for a while longer but probably will never fully recover.
The sad fact is that Herbalife, and the countless other companies which operate in a similar manner, are too entrenched in the ‘old school’ MLM methodology to make the necessary changes in time to move into the new age of the home-based entrepreneur. And a lot of distributors who needed the opportunity these companies promised are going to be left with nothing but an I.O.U. for the time and money they spent.
>More and more of the public is too savvy now to fall for the ‘hopes and dreams’ MLM pitch now. That’s why the vast majority of MLM companies are losing approximately 50% of their distributors every year. In fact, MLM companies have little if any political or social ‘capital’ left to spend not only with the public but also with regulators.
Up until now, the MLM industry has always had it’s detractors and its promoters but MLM companies, leaders, and so-called interest groups like the Direct Selling Association have been able to maintain a charade of propriety by various means. Obviously there was rot ‘below the decks’ that was never properly addressed.
But, with this latest FTC decision, the cat is officially out of the bag now and the MLM industry traditionalists need some new thinking.
In trying to learn from the past (and especially these recent events) and move into the future, the present question is: Where does the MLM and Direct Selling Industry go now and where can aspiring home-based entrepreneurs find the opportunity they seek in today’s promising but uncertain digital age?
In Markethive, we think we’ve got some answers. Here are our 9 Survival Essentials For The MLM Industry:
Companies must have superlative products or services. In fact, truly next-generation MLM must be characterized by superlative products and services that have no competition in their respective market. That market supremacy will not rely strictly on price but rather on superior value. And… companies will not expect everybody to want to be ‘in the business’ but rather will have a clear retail-only distribution channel for people who have no interest in their business opportunity. Indeed, these customers might not even be aware of an opportunity. This will give stability to those who do choose the business-builder route within their respective MLM company. Example: Just because I want to drive a Chevy truck doesn’t mean I want to be pitched on buying a dealership.
Question – How can you tell if an MLM company’s products are competitively priced?
Answer – If their products won’t sell in the public marketplace, e.g. on eBay, for more than you, the Distributor, pays the company for them, then they are not good products and you are being ripped off. And you’re ripping off your friends who buy those products.
Companies must have virtual warehouses for their distributors in order to relieve them of the burden of stockpiling inventory in their homes or garages as has often been the traditional MLM model. In fact many MLM companies still load their distributors with inventory that will never be sold. Amazon has proven that the ‘virtual warehouse’ concept works. MLM companies need to adopt the same idea. This one innovation alone will likely at least double product sales, increase distributor retention, and finally make home based MLM and Direct Selling businesses competitive with local retailers.
Companies must engage in cooperative advertising and marketing with their distributors, wherein companies match advertising funds from distributors and also run ads which drive prospects and/or customers to a distributor’s 800 phone number or to the top of some other type of sales funnel. Other industries have been doing this for years. One MLM company did this in the past and was extremely successful as a result however they ceased this practice and reverted to the old-fashioned ‘hopes and dreams’ model… a move which they probably regret now as their business continues to decline. However, MLM companies which do this correctly will enable distributors to build very successful businesses.
Companies must enable their distributors to E-retail. Once the virtual warehouse function is set up a distributor, companies must give them an online interface whereby they can log into their ‘business center’ and perform any desired marketing or business management function, i.e. send samples, fill and ship product orders, and reorder inventory…all while simultaneously carrying on a live text or voice conversation with a customer or prospect. This contributes tremendously towards removing the unprofitable burden of back-office paper pushing from the distributor and enables him/her to focus on bonding with the client or prospect.
Companies must provide a robust 800 phone number telemarketing platform. This is an affordable and very effective marketing tool which starts with distributor getting an ID# from the company. The ID# resides on company servers and is used for all manner of tracking. The operator talking to the customer or prospect may or may not be the distributor but the operator interface displays the source of the call. The stimulus for the call could be any type of media ad, event, or call to action. Operators receive and handle the calls and have the ability to make notes on the account, forward the call, or 3-way the call as appropriate.
Companies must use API’s (Application Programming Interface) to enable their distributors to establish a smooth presence on online stores. This is where they can ´meet’ the customer when they shop on eBay, Amazon, Alibaba, or any of the large number of ecommerce sites that are popping up today. In the past, MLM companies have ignored the advice of qualified experts and have resisted authorization of API use by their distributors, claiming they (the companies) would lose control of prices and selling policy. In fact, properly constructed API’s do allow the company the control they are unnecessarily worried about.
Companies must develop, allow, and encourage a robust retail presence, in the form of retail-only websites for distributors. One of the FTC’s specific complaints concerning Herbalife was that Herbalife did not actively encourage retail sales by their distributors. Thus contributing to the fact that Herbalife had almost no retail sales. Instead, Herbalife and other MLM companies have insisted on cramming ‘Hopes and Dreams’ propaganda about their worthless opportunities onto distributor sites. And they wonder why they don’t have many retail sales. This is a huge ‘turn-off’ to many retail customers. To reiterate, legitimate business retail product irrespective of ‘ownership’ (or pseudo-ownership) opportunities. And they don’t distract buyers with money in their hands with ‘a great opportunity’.
NB: here is it also noteworthy that no current MLM company encourages their distributors to build their own database of customers… which any smart distributor should do. Some companies even expressly prohibit it.
MLM companies need to provide the marketing systems for their distributors to win in today’s modern digital marketplace. This includes such items as autoresponders, social broadcasters, social media tools, conference rooms, blogs and other publishing platforms, brandable and replicable PDF’s, video marketing platforms and tools, co-op advertising support and software, and (of course) high-quality training. No MLM company, other than the emerging joint venture between Valentus and Markethive, have even attempted to do this.
Because business is competitive and technology is rapidly evolving, MLM’s need to provide constant, quality, live and archived video training. A few MLM companies have attempted to do this but the overwhelming majority of that training has been mostly motivational ‘hopes and dreams BS’ rather than information which actually enables a distributor to win in the marketplace.
Final Thoughts and Summary
A look across the MLM and Direct Sales landscape today reveals a dismal scene of the majority of companies hooked, like an addict, into Old School methodology and philosophy which did work briefly in the early days of the industry but in fact no longer does. It’s clear that the reputation of the MLM industry has gotten worse and not better.
Even worse, the landscape is littered with battered and broken dreams and self-images…interspersed with the crafty, grinning, minority who have made huge fortunes in MLM at the expense of not just the aforementioned X-distributors but also millions of consumers who did not get the product and/or service they deserved.
There are two companies, Valentus and Markethive, who believe this situation needs to change and are doing something about it. Valentus has a great tasting, weight-loss coffee that’s very reasonably priced, a strong retail reorder rate of 80%, and an excellent compensation program. Matter of fact, experts agree that Valentus is currently entering momentum.
The other half of this unique equation is Markethive, an innovative inbound marketing platform, free for all. Markethive is supported by advertising…similar to Facebook or YouTube and is actually better than similar platforms from better known and longer established companies like Hubspot and Pardot which start at $200 and rapidly escalate into thousands of dollars per month.
Markethive’s platform is rapidly becoming the new ‘Platinum Standard’ automated marketing system of choice for home-based entrepreneurs and is perfect for almost any business.
Just coincidentally, (some would say, ‘by fate’) the principals of these two companies (Dave Jordan, CEO of Valentus and Tom Prendergast, CEO of Markethive), share a common vision for a New Age of The Entrepreneur and the contribution that their respective companies can bring to the MLM industry.
For more information on anything discussed in this article, or to get involved in the discussion yourself, you are encouraged to register for a free Markethive membership, here. If you are an aspiring or disgruntled home-based entrepreneur looking for a great opportunity, click here. Or….if you just love great coffee and/or want to lose some weight, click here.
I've recently seen two news items which relate to each other. One concerned Facebook and the other concerned the online course called Transcribe Anywhere. Here's how they relate and what it might mean for anybody aspiring to make money online.
The article relating to Facebook pointed out some recently discovered facts about how much money (it's a LOT!) Facebook is paying outside contractors to create content for them. This quote is just a part of it:
"A story about paying video creators quoted an anonymous source as saying that the social network was paying media partners “around $250,000 for 20 posts per month over a three-month period,”
And that's just the chump-change part of the deal. There are much bigger amounts of cash going to some other entities.
The other side of the story concerns how there is a lot more opportunity in being a transcriptionist than most people realize. In case you aren't sure what a transcriptionist does, it is someone who turns spoken words into written words…. usually just by listening and typing what they hear. A lot of that kind of work revolves around legal proceedings but there are other niches for transcriptionists too.
But there's another side of it that particular skill which is much bigger. Do you realize how many internet marketers want to have their words transcribed and uploaded to the net?
It's a lot. I mean, Think about how many online webinars and courses offer PDF transcrpits.
…but why would they want to have such a thing done?
The reason is because they realize that Google doesn't index the spoken word. Only the written word. So…. they know that they need their audio content transcribed into words that can be uploaded to and properly optimized so they can rank on Google.
To me, I see the outline of a VERY big opportunity. And if you have a strong understanding of a particular niche's jargon, that positions you even better to approach somebody in that industry offer your services.
So, if you're one of the many people who dream about a digital, mobile lifestyle but you don't think you have any marketable skills to make money with…I can promise you that it's not that hard to learn to type fast. And if you can learn how to generate written content, this article (above) proves that big companies pay a lot of money for content (it's got to be good of course!).
Plus, you can work 'downstream' in the content business, i.e. lot on people doing business online need their audio or video content transcribed too so it can be uploaded to and properly optimized on Google (i.e. to help their Google ranking).
It probably helps to have a pretty good vocabulary so you can follow along with what you're proofing and/or listening to. But the typing part is easy. There's lots of course and practice programs online and many of them are even free.
Yes, there is digital speech-to-text software. But it's not perfected yet and its finished product still needs to be proofread by a human.
So….I think that if Facebook is paying this kind of money for various types of content, that tells me there's some big opportunity in there somewhere. I know that I'm really enjoying the proofreading course that I'm taking right now. I can already type fast.
If you're a business which either has or is considering getting a stronger presence on Google Maps … or even if you've just heard of Google Maps but you don't know much about it, here's a good reason you need to be visible there and a suggestion on the smartest and possibly easiest way to do so.
Here's the advantage: Did you know that anytime somebody finds your business on Google Maps and clicks that little button which says, 'Get Directions', the information of where they're coming from becomes information that's available to you if you're on Google My Business.
Wouldn't you like to know where your customers are coming from?
Think of how information like that could help you spot geographic areas where you've got more potential business than you're servicing locally. What if your competitors find out that that's a 'hot' market area and puts a store or outlet into that area before you do? Suddenly a lot of that business stops coming to you, right?
Point is, Google Maps and Google My Business can be a great way to see where (and when) your customers are keying up your site or doing searches that bring up your Google listing….assuming you have all the assets you need to be competitive, i.e. a properly completed Google My Business verified listing, a proper website…. and maybe a few other details.
But one thing is for sure.
More and more searches are being done on smartphones and other smart devices and research proves that those searches result in a lot of business for most business (all other things being equal).
Point is, don't for about Google My Business and how it includes a very prominently displayed 'visual' of where your business in on…. Google Maps.
Profile Pages: “Online Branding and Building Authority”
What is the difference between online branding and building authority? Some would consider it the same thing, but in reality it can be two completely different processes. Online branding is a way to get more exposure for your brand on all levels of online marketing, especially search and social.
Building authority takes online branding to the next level by making each online presence for a brand authoritative. It goes beyond just about creating a blog or social media account. The following are ways you can build your online brand as well as your authority.
Blogs are beneficial for brands for three reasons. First of all, blogs help you rank well in search engines – Google loves fresh, unique content on websites that are constantly updated. If you’re looking to meet this goal, be sure to use Markethive’s blog platform and build a blog team in a Markethive group to assist in greater content and curation.
RE: WordPress Markethive’s technology super charges WordPress campaigns.
Next, blogs provide for great content to share on social media networks. It’s hard to get traction if your just sharing product and sales pages. But if you’re sharing informative blog posts about your industry, you’re likely to get a lot of traffic and social shares.
Markethive provides plugins and widgets and tech that allows visitors to subscribe to your blog from their Social Networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, thereby allowing your new Markethive posts to publish to their news feed automatically.
Finally, great blogs can help your brand build authority in your niche. This is where you go above and beyond cookie cutter posts that talk about your product to creating awesome content in the form of:
Awesome content will show fans of your industry that you know your stuff and therefore are the brand to go with for their business needs. A great example of this is the blog you are reading right now – Markethive has Inbound Marketing technologies, the go to Social Network and infographics that have been tweeted and liked over 10,000 times and posts that have been viewed on Facebook, LinkedIn and Stumbleupon over 100,000 times.
There are two great fears that brands have when it comes to blogging. One is that they won’t have anything to blog about, and this is a complete myth. Everyone can find something to blog about. You just have to expand your definition of the target audience. Imagine you had a body shop. You probably won’t get a lot of attention if you’re writing about paint booths and sanding tools all the time, but you will if you think about broader topics that would interest the people likely to visit an auto body shop. You can blog about the latest coolest Hot Rods at the coming Hot Rod Nationals show or the latest NASCAR winner to grab fans of those programs. Or you can blog about environmental issues and the Prious to grab environmentalists. Just think bigger!
The other fear is that they will be giving away “trade secrets” and lose their business. This one is especially common within industries like SEO, where a brand might feel like giving out ten steps to link building will give their customers the info they need to just do it themselves. But this just isn’t true. I have found that most of the time, if you give a complex, in-depth tutorial, a potential customer will see that your brand has the knowledge to do the service, but they won’t have the time or resources to do it for themselves. Hence, they’ll go with you because they feel confident that your brand has the expertise demonstrated in the content provided on the blog.
The key with your brand’s blog is to make sure that it is apparent who is behind the content. Whether you have your blog on your domain (yourbrand.com/blog), as a subdomain (blog.yourbrand.com), or as a separate site (yourbrandblog.com), be sure that it is matched to your brand. Check out Markethive’s site, blog, and subscribers profile pages, logged in dashboard and display variances on hand held devices. All are unique yet all are well branded and follow a conventional identity protocol (all on separate domains and different devices) as an example of great branding.
Guest Blog for Others (This is a major component in Markethive)
When it comes to blogging, you don’t want to keep the good stuff all to yourself. Guest blogging (join a Markethive Group to share content is that easy) is a great way to build your online brand presence and authority. The basic goal is to find a (GROUP) blog whose audience will be interested in your brand, and create a great piece of content for that blog.
Notice I said great piece of content. I would go so far as to say that the content you create for another (GROUP) site’s blog should be even better than the content you create for your own site. You want the content you create for another blog (GROUP) to rock. You want that content to generate additional social shares, comments, and traffic for the blog owner.
As you create GROUP posts for others, be sure to save the links to those guest posts for future reference. As you approach new GROUPs that you would like to guest post upon, you will want to include those links as examples of your successful guest posts in other Markethive GROUPS. If you can convince the GROUP owner that your post will be a perfect fit for their audience and will drive significant traffic and response, the GROUP blog owner will have a hard time resisting.
My main tips for GROUP blogging for your brand include:
1. Find the best GROUPs to guest post on.
When it comes to blogs you want to get a guest post on, your goal is to find those whose audience would be interested in your brand. The blog should get a significant amount of traffic and social shares as well – there’s no reason to post on a blog that has no visitors just because it has high PageRank or any other criteria – you want to get some brand exposure out of this! Use the Markethive GROUPs directory to start your search for blogs in your niche or industry.
2. Find the GROUPs blogging policy.
If you see that a GROUP allows guest bloggers or outside contributors, the GROUP should have some page or post posted that describes their post policy. If they do have a policy page or post, then be sure to note any and all criteria.
3. Start building a relationship with the GROUP owner first. (Markethive Groups is excellent for this)
Now that you’ve found the blog you want to pitch an idea to, don’t just jump in and pitch them yet. Start by getting to know the GROUP owner first by following their Markethive blog posts, their Twitter and their Facebook fan page. Comment on some of their latest posts – make those comments valuable to enhance discussion and demonstrate your writing skills and expertise in the industry. CoPromote their posts using Broadcasting tools and widgets. Do this for at least a week or two before pitching content to them.
4. Research and pitch great topic ideas. (Join others in our live Markethive Work Shops)
Don’t create the content first and then try to find it a home. Once you’ve found the right blogs and started engaging with the blogs themselves, you’ll get a feel for the type of content they publish.
To get an even better idea of what content is successful for each blog, subscribe to them in your Markethive back office blog platform. Then you will be able to see the site’s latest traffic scores. The higher score, the more comments, tweets, Facebook likes, and other social shares the post received. Use these high-scoring posts as an indicator as to what content does well on each blog.
Now you can message via the Markethive message system or request to join their group saying that you have recently enjoyed reading their blog (as evidenced by your commenting & social sharing) and would like to contribute to their site as a GROUP member. After reading their guidelines, you would like to see if they would be interested in the following topics. Then add three to four great post ideas that you believe will fit their audience to choose from. And of course, if you’ve done guest posts elsewhere, include some of your best links. If not, just include some great links from your own brand’s blog.
5. Create Awesome Content.
Once you get approval from a GROUP, your next job is to create an awesome piece of content. Make sure it fits the theme of that blogging GROUP and that it has the overall feel / tone of the GROUP blog you are submitting to. Also be sure to add in relevant links throughout your blog post – not to your own properties, but internal links to the blog itself. This shows the blog owner you’re really giving it 100% for them and their audience and not just trying to promote yourself.
The self-promotion piece should come at the end with your guest bio. Check out other author bios on the blogs and create yours to match. This is where you can say you are John Smith, an industry enthusiast from ABC Company.
Again, be sure to consider the blog’s guidelines and previous guest author bios when deciding to add one or more links back to your brand. The blog owner ultimately reserves the right to edit it as they feel is necessary.
6. Support your GROUP post once it goes live.
It’s not over yet. After that guest post goes live, you should give it your unconditional love in the form of social sharing with your brand’s audience on Twitter, Facebook, etc. as well as coming by to respond to comments. That kind of response on your guest post will further boost your brand’s reputation as a great guest blogger as well as a confident authority in your niche.
Don’t Forget Blog Commenting
Blog commenting is a great branding and authority building exercise you can do on any blog in your niche. I would suggest subscribing to the top blogs in your industry in Google Reader, and each time there is a new post, be sure to read it thoroughly and add a valuable comment. Remember this isn’t about link building – this is about building your brand’s presence online as an authority in your industry.
Get a Disqus account as well as it is a sort of social network of people that comment.
You can use the blog’s previous comments as a guide as to how you should format yours. Some blogs require you to only use your real name, while others are a little more lenient in using your name – your company. I would suggest linking your comments to your blog as people are more willing to click through to a brand’s blog than their main website.
Your Online Branding & Authority Building Strategy Using Blogs
What is your brand’s strategy when it comes to building your brand’s authority using blogs? Be sure to share what you find brings your brand the best results in the comments!
Create a Consistent Brand Image for Each Profile
Have you ever visited a company’s social profile, and you were not sure that it belonged to the company? One of the most important parts of branding is keeping a consistent image across all of your online properties so that no matter what path a person takes from one property to the next, they will always know it is your brand. For example, someone might:
Find your fan page through a friend’s activity stream and then follow it to your blog, then website
See a tweet from someone they are following, visit your Twitter profile, and then continue onto your website.
Start at your website, then go to check out your social profiles to see if your company is engaging with fans. Engaging is fuel and grows awareness, authority and respect. Comment, recommend. Just drive by liking and endorsing does no one any good and makes you look like a tire kicking couch potato.
Just like you wouldn’t want pages on your website to be different themes, you will want your social profiles to do the same. Markethive also leads the way in doing it right as well:
Markethive probably does the best with branding between their website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube accounts as shown above. All five are branded with the honey comb logo, color theme and climbers ascending Mt. Everest in representation of the entrepreneurial social community of entrepreneurs helping each other achieve their agendas, so you can feel the consistency moving from one property to the next.
The above shows BMW’s branding between their website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube profiles. Each online property uses the same color scheme and is currently focused on automotive technology. The logos are all consistent, and the auto focused in the pages is different perspectives, the coloring and themes are consistent as well
Bolthouse’s (organic farm fresh juices) branding between their website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube profiles as shown above uses the same color scheme, logo, and focus on their primary product, carrots and selections of juices. Excellent example of branding and consistency!
Help People Find Your Profiles
I do a lot of competitive analysis in my line of work, and one of the most frustrating things I have to do is search for a brand’s social profiles. Don’t hide your social media presence – flaunt them! Be sure to:
Put Social Icons on Your Website – Let visitors to your website know that you are engaging with your audience on social media as well by adding social icons to your website design. The most common places to place them include the header / menu bar, sidebar, and footer. They don’t have to be large and in charge – BMW’s are none existent on their main page and Bolthouse are right up top left of center where they should be and get the job done..
Put Social Links in Your Communications – Do you send emails regularly? Add social links to your email signature. Do you send newsletters? Add social icons to them.
Make Your Profiles Search Friendly – If I Google your brand name + Twitter, I should get your Twitter handle in the search results. To make this happen, be sure that the name of your social profile (and the username if possible) matches your brand name. You might be tempted to keyword optimize your profiles instead of optimizing them for your brand name – this is something you need to resist. You can learn more about social media SEO on how to optimize for both effectively for search engines.
Another frustration is the direct sales industry.
Even though the size of this industry is huge by any comparison with a market measured in the trillions, even the top 100 fail miserable branding with social media. Do not be like them, rather show them a good example with your efforts. After several days of research I was able to find one such company that at least had the top 5 Social Medias registered with a similar array (not the same name) of usernames. The super majorities only have a token Facebook page, even less with Youtube and Twitter and nearly nonexistent with a Google+ and for that almost none of them are engaged.
Team Beach Body with a yearly market of 250 million, struggles with social media but has managed to set up the top 5 social medias, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Linkedin and Google+, albeit, the account usernames vary, and across the media branding is seriously lacking. It becomes painfully clear this industry needs Markethive or at least their distributors seriously do.
Get Engaged with Your Followers, Fans, and Subscribers
You probably know that it is important to maintain an active account by posting lots of updates, and that it is best to do something other than blasting advertisements non-stop about your brand. So the question is, what should you be doing to stay active in your social networks? Get engaged with your audience, of course. Here are the top networks to get socially engaged in for your brand.
If you’re goal is to build a strong presence on Twitter and demonstrate your brand’s authority in your industry, you need get involved with your following. Some ways to do so include:
Monitoring Brand Mentions – If you use Twitter itself, just do a search for your brand and save the search for future reference. If you use a Twitter management tool like HootSuite, create a keyword search column that will constantly update you with brand mentions. Anytime someone says something about your brand, whether it is good or bad, you should be responding to it if at all possible. This may mean adding some extra team members to your social media GROUP as a response staff. But over time, if people see that you are always on top of any discussion of your brand, you will gain trust and receive lots of great word of mouth marketing. People will tell their followers what a great response they’ve received from you and likely recommend you based on their satisfaction level.
Monitoring Industry Conversation – One of the best parts of Twitter is that you can jump into any conversation, anytime. So if you are a company providing Inbound Marketing services and technologies like Markethive, you can monitor anyone who talks about Inbound Marketing, SEO, linking, Entrepreneurial interests, and other related topics and just answer simple questions that anyone asks about those topics demonstrating your expertise.
Curate the Best Content – Even if you are the best content creator in your industry, people often like to see a second opinion. Find out who other authorities are in your industry and share their opinion on industry topics with your following. You will gain more relevant followers simply for sharing the best news.
Facebook Fan Page Engagement
There are several different ways you can engage with your fans using your fan page that will keep your current fans active and bring new fans to your brand. These include:
Updating Your Fan Page on Facebook – It’s tempting to use HootSuite and other automated programs to update your fan page. But it’s becoming more and more obvious that if you want your updates to show up in fan’s news feeds that the updates must be organic, or originating from your fan page itself. So take the extra time to disable all of your autofeeds and start updating your fan page manually on Facebook. And when people start engaging with your posts or posting directly on your wall, be sure to respond to them. If they know they’re getting response, they’re more likely to return. No one likes a one-way broadcast.
Try Out Different Types of Updates – Don’t just post links or ask questions. Spice it up – add some video updates and photos. Different types of people like different types of content – be sure to try to cater to everyone by mixing your content up!
Thanks to the last major update to Facebook fan pages, you are able to use Facebook as your fan page. This means you can like pages as your fan page instead of your personal profile and then comment on them as your fan page. If you can find pages that are not direct competitors but whose audience will be interested in your brand, you will want to get active on them. For example, social media consultants should be living on Social Media Examiner’s fan page to connect with other individuals and businesses looking for social media help.
If your brand isn’t on LinkedIn, you are missing out. LinkedIn allows you to add a company page where you can post your products, services, job openings, and even send status updates to your company followers including your latest blog posts. But some of the best branding and authority building activities for this network lie in the activity of the professional profiles including:
Participating in Groups – There are lots of great, active groups on LinkedIn in a wide variety of industries. Find the groups that have your potential client base within them and start getting active in discussions and posting useful content. Just be sure not to do anything that the group moderator would consider as spamming!
Answering Questions – The next best area to build a great professional reputation and strong authority in your industry is in LinkedIn Answers. There are questions asked every day in topics ranging from administration to technology. The people who answer the most questions are also featured on the answers’ home page as the week’s top experts!
Gaining Recommendations – Last, but not least, is recommendations. You can get recommendations on both the company pages and the professional profiles of your employees. Imagine if someone is browsing your company’s page and sees that the top employees have a ton of recommendations. It will show that you have a lot of experts in the industry which will make potential clients even more confident in your brand!
There are hundreds of social networks out there. You can’t be everywhere and we all need to focus our efforts and time on the most effective social networking sites. Here are the social networks I would recommend most for entrepreneurs.
Looking for a job? Consider creating your own. There are a number of social resources to help you connect with other entrepreneurs and get your business ideas off the ground.
Here are the top 10 social networks for entrepreneurs. Each helps entrepreneurs succeed by providing them with the guidance, tools and resources they need to setup their company and gain exposure.
Nothing compares with the brute force horsepower Inbound Marketing engine that comes free with Markethive, but we need to build alliances among our peers and this list is the top 10 of other Entrepreneurial social nets we recommend you frequent as well.
I am putting Markethive as number one for many reasons, including a serious case of bias. I built it, aside from that. Markethive is a traditional easily navigated and profile oriented network similar to Facebook, oriented like LinkedIn but unique in that it's engine is a multimillion dollar Inbound Marketing platform. As entrepreneurs, we invest (spend) millions on autoresponder systems, capture page systems, blogging platforms, broadcasting technologies, known as Inbound Marketing today. Markethive's founder is the same man the developed Veretekk and invented Automated Marketing, auto responders, capture pages basically what has become today known as Inbound Marketing. There is no other Inbound Marketing solution on the Internet that comes close, has the level of integration found on the Internet at any price and the other systems cost upwards of $10,000 per month. Markethive's Inbound Marketing platform is free included and built into the social network.
Most social networks neglect the content aspect that makes StartupNation so useful. With articles, forums, blogs, on-demand seminars, and podcasts, entrepreneurs will be better prepared for their ventures and have the resources required to make better business decisions.
There are a wide range of topics being discussed on StartupNation right now, including business planning, marketing and web-based business. The site also offers a series of competitions, such as a dorm-based 20 contest and an elevator pitch competition. If you're an entrepreneur or hope to become one, this site is definitely one you can’t miss out on.
It’s difficult to leave LinkedIn off of any social networking list because it’s so useful for anyone who's either searching for a job, is trying to network with like-minded individuals, or building a company. LinkedIn offers many resources for entrepreneurs, such as groups, including the very popular “On Startups” group that has over 54,000 members.
Entrepreneurs on LinkedIn should brand themselves properly so they can attract the right kind of business opportunities, and perform searches to find service providers or partners. As an entrepreneur, you should also be looking to participate in LinkedIn Answers, events and applications to spruce up your profile and become a valuable member to your community.
4. Perfect Business
If you want to meet thousands of serious entrepreneurs, experts and investors from a variety of industries, then Perfect Business might be the perfect social network for you. The type of people you’ll find are potential business partners, potential clients and advisers. Additionally, the site has leading business partners like Entrepreneur and Virgin Money.
From business networking to a video center where you can learn from successful entrepreneurs, a business plan builder and even an investor center, you’ll have most of the resources you need to create or regenerate your business. There is a free basic membership and a gold membership that costs $29.99 per month.
5. The Funded
The Funded is an online community of entrepreneurs who research, rate and review funding sources. Entrepreneurs can view and share terms sheets to assist each other in finding good investors, as well as discuss the inner workings of operating a business. General benefits of this site include viewing facts, reviews and commentary on funding resources, and accessing RSS feeds of the most recent public comments by members.
By joining the site, you have access to detailed fund profiles with specialty, reference investments, and investment criteria, in addition to accessing partner vCards that have full contact information of all partners at venture funds. In order to get any value out of this social network, you pretty much have to become a member.