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Showing posts from March, 2009

If They know who I am... Part II

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photo by Erica Marshall of www.muddyboots.org
...Will they still like me?

Here we go with the second installment of this topic.
We may laugh about the topic, but really it rings true. Who are we when we post to our blog? What side of ourselves are we showing? For consistency sake, thinking about this before you start a business blog is a very good idea.
How often to post?The general rule of thumb on this one is around 3-5 times a week. I think you should post as much as you possibly can. If you are promoting your posts, you don't always have to promote the most recent one. If you have them well organized in your archive, you can pull out blog posts to send to people if they have questions about a particular point or product. Even though this is a moving log of information, it can also serve as a FAQ that you and your readers turn to for information in the future.
Sparking conversationAsk questions! You don't need to have the answer, but you can gauge what you readers are thinking a…

If They Know Who I Really Am... Part I

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...Will They Still Like Me?
Photo by Scott Beale Laughing Squid
People, this is about blogging for business.

I just got off the phone for an interview about the use of blogs in business, and these are some of the topics we covered:
Can a blog take the place of a website?Yes, if you're not selling product. If you are selling product, you can link to that place, but a blog is a journal. When you post something new, the last post moves down below it. Looking at a blog is looking at a snapshot in time, unless you look at past posts. This is the up-side of blogs: They show you moving and shaking! It proves that you are doing things on a daily basis to move forward with your business and that creates trust from the consumer.

There is a way to have some elements of your blog remain stable as your posts drift on by. So, you would want a profile that is always there that talks about who you and what you do. You would also want to have your contact information there as well.
What kind of persona…

If You Start it Will They Come?

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photo by Erica Marshall of muddyboots.org

The short answer is: Only if they know you exist!

Isn't that the truth. Such noise out there!
Do you shout above the rest?Do you find only the people who you think you want to talk to?Do you take the attitude that the right people will "somehow" find you?
In as much as Social Media is restating the questions, I think the answers are coming up surprisingly the same. Finding your target market and keeping them engaged it the only way to make a business successful.

How to get someone's attention may be the flavor of the day, and human behavior as experienced on the internet may be a moving target, but there are some things you can count on:
People are always buying more than a product.If the product you have isn't selling, don't assume the product is wrong.If the product you have is selling and then NOT, don't assume it's your marketing.
We live in a very "reactive" culture. One minute you're up, next mi…

Be a Smarter Computer User

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Photo by Erica Marhshall- Muddyboots.org
Today, we have Guest Blogger Sam Kleinman giving us the in's and out's of how to do better what we do on computers. Something we can all use a little help with!

Desktop computing, and (relatively) economical technology (not to mention high speed Internet connections) are ubiquitous in the world today. But if computers themselves are a given, how we use them is less of a given. In this post, I hope to go through a few (hopefully non-obvious) things you can do to be a more efficient and effective computer user.

Learn short-cut keys if you don't already know them
While we've been using pointing devices (mice) with our computers for 25 years, the truth is that, keyboard based interfaces are more efficient and ergonomic, and most programs provide a host of key bindings that you can learn as you work, so that you don't have to reach for the mouse. Control-C and (command-c on OS X) control-v (command-v) to paste. Alt-Tab (command-tab …

Not Lost in Translation

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I've been doing this "thing" for years and years and it has been through a couple of conversations that I realized I needed to define "it" for my audience here.

The "thing" I do in my business consulting/mentoring for creative professionals is this:
I translate Business-Speak into Art-Speak.

I bridge the gap between these two worlds to help creative people figure out how the heck to navigate the business world. This gal was born lucky with both the right and left sides of her brain pretty equally developed. It took me a while to see this in myself, but I can take a creative person and "spoon feed" them the business information they need to make their dream happen.

Now for the back story:
When I was in my twenties, I was a custom clothing designer and I realized soon enough that my language for form and color did not necessarily match the language of my clients. Did an accountant know how to tell me what they wanted to wear? No. Mostly not.

I star…

Is it a New Business or The Old Business in New Clothes?

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And why does that matter?
Old, new, revamped, re-branded.
How do I know when I have a new business?

For a change, I'm going to answer that one first from an accounting perspective:
Does it have it's own expenses?Does it use different staff?Does it have a different client base?
So let's say that you answered "yes" to the questions above. Next comes:
Do I have enough time for another business?Am I already doing this but not considering it another business?Will it be more complex if I pull this thing out into another business?Can it wear "training wheels" for a while longer so I can figure all the other questions out?In most ways I could say yes and no to the above questions. All of them will depend on what else you have going on. I've seen folks add another business that was as high-powered as the one they started with and it was always a fight for attention. I've seen folks that have that split in a really comfortable way. I've also seen the first …

Let's Do it

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Photo by Erica Marshall www.MuddyBoots.org

I've just spent four posts talking about why you need a mentor.
Now I'm going to go back and tell you again, (or more) HOW I do what I do.
Give away the store?? Not really.
You're doing the work. What do I do?
Conduct an overview of where you are right nowDetermine the true cost/benefit of what you're doing now
Decide with you where you want to goCreate a plan for a certain amount of time, say 6 months to get it all doneWalk you through the steps, weekly to get it doneThis post is short for a reason. I wax on and on about the details of lots of stuff, but really, this is what it all comes down to: You need to try this process and then commit to it to see results. If you really want to do "this", it can be done and I am committing to doing it with you.
Let's make some cool things happen.

Why Do I Need a Mentor? Part IV

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Photo by Erica Marshall /MuddyBoots.org

You may have issues with prioritizing your time and don't know how to start over to fix it.

I don't think you need to start over to fix it. What you do need to do is call a time-out.
That time-out could be an afternoon with the cellphone turned off, out of the office with a mentor or it could mean pulling your "group" together in a mini retreat with a mentor.

That brings us back to why you're going to need help with this, and really, it's the most common reason people hire me: You're working as hard as you can and everything is not getting done and you fear your head may explode.

If you're at this point, there is no way YOUR customers are not feeling it. If that's not incentive, I don't know what is. If there are people who you are not getting back to in a timely fashion, if things as slipping through the cracks, it's time to take a serious look at what's going on.

Even if you've gotten all your du…

Top Ten Things You Should Know About Your Business Website

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photo by Erica Marshall/Muddyboots.org

The following post was written by a very smart woman (not me) and although it's long, I beg you to read it, bookmark it and pass it along. It will save you and your company lots of money and your sanity. With that, I give you Sadelle Wiltshire:

People usually end up in my office because of word of mouth, and because it's well known we're reliable. responsible web people who explain things in plain language. Often times folks come to us with a broken site... or they've lost access to their site and don't know what to do. I can't tell you how many times we've gotten a new client who came to us because their web developer/designer "disappeared" and left them with a either a broken or un-updated website. Melissa brought up the topic of the web-developer-gone-missing on Twitter recently so I thought I'd write up some words of advice for business people, hard-learned from helping out clients who were abandone…

Why Do I Need a Mentor? Part III

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photo by www.Imageabstraction.com
You may not have "branded" your business in a way that gives you enough exposure to the right clients.

You may have lived with your professional identity for a long time. Time does not equal effectiveness and accuracy of statement. You could really be missing out on a lot of business because folks can't find you or just aren't drawn to you. This makes me think of people naming their babies and how it affects that child's life forever. It's no wonder a lot of people change their names at some point to greater reflect who they are. That's actually a lot harder to do as a person than as a business.

Even if your business identity isn't something you actively think about, it still needs reevaluation. It's another "forest for the trees" situation. I find that folks can act pretty defensive on this one by mistaking their identity with their product's identity. Yes, they can be very linked. I can definitely thi…

Why Do I Need a Mentor? II

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Photo by Erica Marshall

There may be big issues with the way your system works that is making things WAY harder for you than they should.

Does this look like your desk?

This is not going to be fixed with another cup of coffee. But, go ahead and have one if you want. The thing is, Just like anything, we can't see the details as clearly when we're standing too close. That's why editors exist. That's actually a really great metaphor for what a Mentor does in this particular situation. They "edit" your systems by looking at every letter, every sentence, every page to see that it all works as a book. That's the point too, you can't edit your own book. So many times folks don't ask for help because they feel "guilt"around what's become of their business organization. A writer has no "guilt" about having their books edited. Some fear perhaps but they know it's something that someone else has to do. They cannot possibly see clearl…

Why do I Need a Mentor?

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Photo by ImageAbstraction.com
Here's the part where I tell you all the fabulous reasons why you should not only read this blog but also hire someone (like me) to help you.

I could have a picture of two hands meeting in a handshake, or two business people sitting down to chat. Oh no. I've chosen something a little "edgier." Broken glass. 'Cause ya know, that's just what you may be feeling like you're walking on. (Hmmm...a song coming on?).

People generally come to me when they are starting a new business, contemplating change, in the middle of change or in a crisis.

We're going to take some points here:
There may be big issues with the way your system works that is making things WAY harder for you than they shouldYou may not have "branded" your business in a way that gives you enough exposure to the right clientsYou may have issues with prioritizing your time and don't know how to start over to fix it.You feel like you need to clone yourself (…

Working At Home Part IV

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photo by Erica Marshall of Muddyboots.org
I'm not a Doctor, I just play one on my blog.

Yes, this whole topic makes me feel like a shrink, and if you'd ask my clients, they'd say that's pretty much right on. A lot of business issues have an emotional component, but the way our relationships revolve around our work lives is especially touchy. It comes up nearly every day for folks. I, personally have been on both sides of this one. For now, I'm going to keep out the third element which would be kids.

I'm going to take this from two sides of this equation:
The issues of the person working at home:
I get interrupted all the time by my Partner (Significant other).I experience most noise as a distraction.I need more flexibility to attend to so many tasks.I need a room of my own.And now we have the Partner's issues:
NO time is a good time for questions.I don't know when they're working or "playing" on the computer.When we are due to be somewhere, I fe…