The ONE Offer You Can’t Refuse This Year

asking for helpThey were sitting in front of me, ready to help me.

Offering.

I barely knew them, but there they were last night — staring at me over delicate slices of gluten- and dairy-free chocolate cake that made me contemplate snorting the cake instead of eating it. Surely, something this delicious couldn’t be legal and I should probably look for it to disappear along with a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions should Romney become our next President. But I digress.

Do you know what it feels like to have people in your life who are ready and willing to help?

Wait — shit. That’s the wrong question.

Do you know how to and the value in asking for help?

It’s not some pansy-ass move that says you’re not smart enough, good enough, wrong, or weak. It’s actually pretty fucking sexy. It’s learning to being interdependent (not its creepy cousin, Co-dependent, who sits in the corner at family reunions and masturbates in the potato salad). It’s finding the inherent strength in declaring, “Hey – I have no fucking idea what’s next or how to do this. Would you be willing to help me?”

And the damnedest thing happens: when you ask (and you’re humble), the universe brings people along willing to help.

So that’s what’s happening here today.

Last week, I gave away a copy of Jason Womack’s book and we chatted briefly about how to WOW the winner. Go above and beyond her expectations. So, Deb Lamb — yeah, you’ve got her to thank for this. Because Jason recorded the video below (and if you’re reading this in your email, CLICK HERE TO VIEW ONLINE) with an offer you can’t refuse.

And all you have to do in order to take advantage of it is be honest. And ask for help. Oh — and ya gotta do it by Friday, November 2. Mkay? Have a watch:

So there it is: Jason and I are here to help you with what needs helping with in your business. All you have to do is ask.

Reply in the comments on this blog and tell us — as specifically as you can — WHAT you need help with and why by this Friday, November 2, and Jason and I will bang heads together in order to find you the help you need.

The one caveat: you cannot ask for help for another person. The ask must be for yourself.

So there you go — it’s the one offer this year you can’t afford to refuse. There are no strings attached and everyone who asks will receive a response from Jason, myself, or both. And if you ask, you really do need a valid Disqus profile, as without one, it’s going to be pretty much impossible for us to get ahold of you with how we can help. So do us a solid – login in a way where we can reach you instead of throwing an ask up into the void where our offers to assist echo like the void that is Ann Coulter’s soul.

Oh — and that wasn’t disrespectful or name-calling. It’s just a simile.

Have at it…and let us know how we can help. The floor is yours.

 

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194 replies
  1. Rachel Sanchez
    Rachel Sanchez says:

    Wow, this is crazy exciting. I need so much help I don’t even know where to begin. With that said, I will try to be concise and specific… right after I create a Disqus profile 😉

    Reply
  2. MightyCasey
    MightyCasey says:

    HTF can I dig my way outta the worst case of Cobbler’s Kid Syndrome in history? I’m great at helping others tighten up their message and get more attention. Totally suck at building a pipeline for MY business. HELP?!?!

    Reply
  3. Pat
    Pat says:

    Hi!!!

    I love this 😉 I am already gearing up for 2013.. I guess as entrepreneurs we are always excited with what’s coming next… What I need help with is figuring out what to do next.. to get on the right foot for 2013

    Reply
  4. JesSunny
    JesSunny says:

    I would like your brilliant heads to bang away thinking about how I can get my little biz off the ground. I mean REALLY OFF THE GROUND. I’ve been volunteering my time and networking as much as I can. I need to be even more awesomer than your average awesome. And for super, duper cheap. If you DM me on the Twitters I can give you deets. XxOo

    Reply
  5. Kelleykakes
    Kelleykakes says:

    Oh yes! Yes! I own a small wedding and specialty cake company, and I need help getting it to the next level. I seem to be stuck in “average”, and I don’t want to be here. I need advice on how to get up the next ladder rung….or six. I’ve been doing this for over a decade, and feel like I missed a step somewhere, and have gotten behind.
    I’m not sure what else to say; help:)

    Reply
  6. Dava Stewart
    Dava Stewart says:

    What a kind offer. I need help making more money. Deciding where to put the most effort. Choosing where/how to spend marketing energy. But mostly, making more money.

    All right, that’s probably not specific enough. I’m a writer, or a content-provider, whichever you choose to call me. My specialty is writing newsletters for small businesses. One of my clients (I’d call him ideal) is an acupuncturist. We chat by phone once or twice a month. I designed a newsletter template for him in his MailChimp account, and each month we choose a topic that will be of interest to his patients. I research it, write a short article, and format it. There is also an acupuncture news “round up” section and a section about anything special or any announcements he needs to make. Then I send it and he can check his own stats and whatnot.

    I want 30 clients like him. I have four. The problem is having time to find them, but also time to write their newsletters. And to avoid taking on clients who won’t return calls or pay invoices – I’ve had enough of those.

    This is probably still not specific enough. Please, ask questions. And also, thank you for offering to help.

    Reply
  7. Kristen
    Kristen says:

    This offer is so generous. I feel like my life is floundering a bit… I have a successful blog / freelance business, 4 young kids, a husband, an incredibly full calendar, a home and friends. I’m really having a hard time lately with the b word… balance. I’ve been looking to hire an organizational / life coach that isn’t crazy expensive but who can help me get my life in order. Focus, organization and priorities… I need help getting those three things in order. So, what I need help with is finding an organizational coach. I’ve looked at different websites and have asked people, but I’m not sure even where to start or if what I’m looking for is actually called an organizational coach.

    Reply
    • IrreverentSalesGirl
      IrreverentSalesGirl says:

      Hi Kristen, I don’t know what you consider crazy-expensive, but I HIGHLY recommend James Baird (www.luvenmylife.com). Doesn’t even require a long-time commitment. Perhaps you just need a few sessions to get re-set! I have been working with him on-and-off for years. He is reliable to make the difference.

      Reply
    • Dan Waldschmidt
      Dan Waldschmidt says:

      This whole idea of balance drives me batty. Balance is ridiculous. An impossibility if you ever plan on doing anything that is amazing.

      It is the ups and downs in our lives that make the journey so rewarding. Your quest for balance can be a huge distraction from achieving the amazing things that you really want for you.

      A better concept is “harmony.” Like a teeter-totter in a playground, the fun comes from pushing up and then falling down and then pushing up again.

      A few things come to mind:

      1. Be comfortable in your own skin
      2. Do a little bit each day than brings you close to achieving your goal
      3. Be candid with those around you about what “really matters” to you

      You can achieve almost anything with the right conversation. You just have to be vulnerable enough to share what really matters to you.

      Balance is for the birds. Choose “awesomeness” instead.

      Dan

      Reply
  8. Erin Feldman
    Erin Feldman says:

    Okay, here goes. I’m a writing coach for businesses; at least, that’s what I want to do full-time – work with businesses and speak at events about writing right and embracing creativity. I’ve been trying to find ways to grow my business by submitting session ideas to a few places, by teaching some free classes (just started that, so more testing is required before I have any results), and by publishing consistently at my blog and other people’s blogs. What else should I be doing? I can’t attend most networking functions because of my day job, and I haven’t found those to have the best return. Do I just need to keep up the good fight?

    Reply
  9. Lindsay Goldner
    Lindsay Goldner says:

    Well I emailed you personally, but… fuck it, I’m posting it here too. After rebranding/relaunching/refocusing, and raising my prices, I’ve now got a new demographic for my brand design & strategy biz, llydesigns.com . Except… I don’t know where to find them. It’s like this elusive demographic outside of the “mommy blogger” bubble I’ve been working with primarily the last year- and I definitely want to move out of that demographic! So where/how the hell do I find creative SMB’s/entrepreneurs who have the budget AND both want/need my services?

    Also…can we give free tips to other commenters if we think of things? Like a “pay it forward” thing?

    Reply
    • James Taylor
      James Taylor says:

      Lindsay, My thoughts as I read your post and looked at your site, are that you need to send packages to your local ad firms and set up coffee sessions where you pitch your offerings. Most mommy bloggers that see success are really DIY junkies, and the ones that I see out there have great design ideas of their own and sometimes get out of the box and bring in others. Expand your niche and find some other folks you can collaborate on things with. Reputation seems to bring business in the design world, so go rock some folks with awesome contract work, and keep fishing for the demographic closer to your heart! There are also folks out there who know how good you are, ask them to ask a friend to give you some business…

      Reply
      • Lindsay Goldner
        Lindsay Goldner says:

        Hi James-
        What do you mean packages? Like leave-behinds with my portfolio? Or like super creative packages that people come up with that you see on places like behance and such? My concern with going to ad agencies is that, don’t they usually have people in-house that focus on branding? I feel like I’d be invading on their turf, but maybe that’s an unfounded fear.

        And yeah, it’s been all word of mouth up to this point, so I’m busting my butt trying to get referrals- it just seems to be the challenge to FIND the businesses that are in my target demographic who also need/want the branding and have the cash to spend on it (aka aren’t early stage startups!)

        Reply
        • James Taylor
          James Taylor says:

          LIndsay,
          My experience is that most agencies are dealing every day with contract workers as it lowers their overhead. They would welcome getting information about your style and your capabilities. As far as package goes, it would be kind of like an introduction to you. Asa designer, you don’t really need a resume, just something that shows folks what you do and how cool it looks. Think of it like designing a promo brochure for a client (which happens to be you. A cover letter talking about how you are drawn to the projects you have seen them do (look on their website), and how your stuff would either work with them, or would be a cool alternative. In the end, you are asking for coffe to see if they could use another perspctive and more talent. Go For it, this is what agencies are all about…. They just add your cost to their bill in the end!

          Reply
    • Dan Waldschmidt
      Dan Waldschmidt says:

      Lindsay,

      Why don’t you focus on the “mommy market”? It’s a very large market by itself. There are so many branding companies in the marketplace right now that having a focus could really help you in turning “window shoppers” into paying customers.

      Why not brand yourself “Made by moms. For moms.”…

      Dan

      p.s. If you did this, then you could leverage your experience and all the relationships that you have right now to launch your new company.

      Reply
      • Lindsay Goldner
        Lindsay Goldner says:

        Hey Dan!
        Oh, how I tried the last year. The challenge I ran into is that so many mom bloggers are used to, in essence, getting things for free from big brands that I couldn’t convince them to pay -me- enough so that I could work for more than minimum wage. There are only so many times you can get counter-offered to redo a blog for $75 or $100 because that’s what it costs on etsy, you know? That was actually part of the motivator of the rebrand/refocus, in that, I knew that as a target demographic it just wasn’t profitable overall. I do still work with some on smaller projects, but those are a select few who treat their blogs as true businesses. Also, I’m not a mom, so I can’t brand myself that way either 😉 I think it’s more leveraging my work with mom bloggers as a starting point into working with small/medium businesses, rather than sticking with what wasn’t working before (unfortunately, because there are a lot of mom bloggers!)

        I really appreciate the perspective though!

        Reply
        • Dan Waldschmidt
          Dan Waldschmidt says:

          Awesome. Good for you for getting out there and trying this already. I have to give you a lot of credit. Perhaps there is another way to look at this.

          Maybe you offer a marketing service for “Mommies Who Want To Make Money.” Your niche could be that top 1% of mommy business owners who already have revenue but are looking to grow that revenue exponentially. In essence, they need a “rebrand.”

          Perhaps another business opportunity is to work with the big companies that would like to see a return-on-investment from their free offerings to mom bloggers. In essence you could create a branding brokerage that connects the right big business with the right mom. By being in the middle you create value for both sides — making yourself valuable to twice as many businesses as right now.

          Dan

          Reply
          • Lindsay Goldner
            Lindsay Goldner says:

            Hmm. I think I see where you’re going- though I do less on the marketing side than the brand-creation itself. And thank you- it’s been a wild ride so far, as I think The Redhead (who I emailed last week, achem.) can attest to. Part of the problem is that I think most of me wants to run (screaming) from the “mommy blogger” niche. I’m not totally sure where it’s headed in the next couple of years, but as the preponderance of them grows, the business bit of my brain is telling me that it’s going to be REALLY hard for any blogger to make money in the “standard” ways, much less a mommy blogger. And to be honest, it was just a demographic that I fell into by chance (I happened to go to a BlogHer conference), NOT one that I really felt like was my true demo. But just from the last year, even with trying to work with the top few mom bloggers — most of whom are already repped by agencies, by the way– I don’t know that I could really make a profit just starting out now. Either I’m too late to the game getting to those particular bloggers or the market is just too saturated.

            That’s why, when I rebranded/basically rebuilt my business recently, I spent a LOT of time thinking about who I really wanted to work with and came to the conclusion that creative entrepreneurs, or businesses with creative-leaning products would be a better match. Maybe that’s a target that I need to narrow down a lot more, but it just feels so much better of a long-term fit, if I can just figure out *who* those businesses really are and where to find them, if that makes sense.

            I don’t want to sound like I’m ignoring your advice completely. I’ve just been knee-deep in mommy blogger diaper land the last year… so maybe it’s burnout, but I just don’t think it’s *right* or a sustainable market for me, especially when it’s a single-income business. Maybe if it was just a hobby or a totally business model, but I JUST figured out a model that I think has the potential to work well… I don’t know.

          • Erin Feldman
            Erin Feldman says:

            Perhaps we should chat? I want to work with creative entrepreneurs, but I, too, probably need to narrow my focus. I help businesses with communications/writing, which could pair nicely with your focus on branding.

          • Dan Waldschmidt
            Dan Waldschmidt says:

            I GET IT, GIRL… 🙂

            You are taking a step back and thinking through your options. ‘Tis smart.

            Maybe it’s time to burn the ships. I love doing that. I think you’ll enjoy it too — “No more moms…” BUT, you should be prepared to know where you want to aim your cannons.

            ANY niche is going to be cluttered with unreasonable people who don’t want to pay you for your amazing talents. While the EDGY part of me tells you to “move on”, I think you might have something special already in the works that you could repackage for the “Moms’ Who Matter”…

            Dan

            p.s. Feel free to email me offline at dan@edgy.bz if you want to brainstorm this further. Don’t worry, I won’t sell you anything.

  10. Lori Anderson
    Lori Anderson says:

    I’m a freelance content curator/digital content editor, online community manager, writer and marketer. A single mom, I need to stay independent or at least flexibly employed but haven’t figured out how to productize my services and attract new clients.

    Reply
    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      Can I ask: what pain point do you solve for your clients? THAT’S what attracts new clients. I think you might be approaching it from a “here’s what I can do for you” as opposed to “here’s how you feel when you work with me” perspective — try turning it inside out. Ask some current clients for feedback as to how you made them feel. And then…share THAT message!

      Reply
  11. Helene Kwong
    Helene Kwong says:

    Hello Erika and Jason,

    My startup, TAOpivot, needs more exposure to U.S. employers, especially mid-size to large companies. We’re about to launch a job board within the next couple weeks that will cater to foreign job seekers in the U.S. We need companies that have the capability of sponsoring H-1B work visas to send their open job postings to us. Employers post FREE on the job board.

    And, I need help making more money. August – October have been dry in terms of revenue.

    Thanks so much! I miss you Erika.

    – Helene

    Reply
  12. Rebecca T Dickson
    Rebecca T Dickson says:

    Hi kids –
    I’m a blogger turned author who recently launched a second book (a novella, fiction). I have a loyal following of roughly 3500, including facebook, twitter and tumblr combined. I need advice on how to improve my platform and really get my book out there.
    After four years of blogging at ThinkingTooHard13, I recently moved to my real name, RebeccaTDickson.com. I have upcoming guest posts on popular blogs, as well. This week, I launched what I hope will become a regular writing challenge, to help other authors.

    My schtick (if you will) has always been that I write raw. With that in mind, I’ve considered holding one-on-one writing classes for those who want to learn how to put their guts on the page.
    I have a lot of ideas, but I am uncertain where to begin or which will be most effective in my quest for a wider audience. Any and all advice appreciated.
    Much love. xo

    Reply
  13. heatherlyone
    heatherlyone says:

    Eeek! Love this – you guys are the best. Ok so what I need is to be able to reach a wider audience of unconventional entrepreneurs. I’ve been building my business for just over a year now and i have a wee mailing list that’s growing steadily but not fast enough for what i’m offering. I also have a reasonable and engaged Twitter following and a wee but engaged FB following, but I am creating these BEAUTIFUL big bold projects that need a wider audience to thrive. I’m a full-tilt kind of girl who goes all in and you can see what I’ve got coming up here: http://www.heatherthorkelson.com/retreats/peru-2013 We’ve had a good number of applications but I want nothing but *the right* people on this trip. So how do I reach more of the right people? I’ve posted about this in some huge Facebook groups (like the World Dominations Summit) and done a free call….talked with tons of people about it, asked friends and family to share…all the usual stuff. How do I go bigger guys?? Please help! I pour my heart and soul into my Adventure Retreats. xo

    Reply
  14. Bryce Katz
    Bryce Katz says:

    Wow. What an amazing offer from two @*&$^! amazeballs people!

    My stumbling point is growth. Not so much how to make it happen; that seems to be going pretty well as I narrow down my target audience. No, my problem – where I would like to ask for help – is in managing that growth.

    I’m a one-man technology consultant that has been handling clients of all stripes – from individuals to small business networks (of up to 100 computers) – with services ranging from break/fix to corporate network administration to graphic work and web design. Yeah … I fell into the “diversification is what you need to do” trap pretty early on. I’m in the process of phasing in the service products that make me want to get out of bed, and trying to phase out the services and clients that make me hate life. I’ve more work pulling me in more directions than ever, and I know I need some help. Hiring a W2 employee is out of the question. My Lady Wife is willing to come aboard to help with administrative issues (billing, scheduling, accounts payable, etc), which is a HUGE load off my shoulders.

    At this point I’d like some help with outsourcing or subcontracting some of my projects (like web design) and some of the services that don’t offer a lot of profit per hour (like the break/fix services for home users). Early attempts at this have been dismal failures, with a lot of money going out and unhappy customers. Advice on identifying the right projects to outsource, how to find the right contract help, what contract language to use in those situations would be a godsend.

    Reply
    • Stephen Denny
      Stephen Denny says:

      Bryce: sounds familiar! I’m in a similar boat myself. The big question I had to answer for myself was, “am I a consultant?” or “am I an agency?” I picked the former. It’s lighter and faster and I didn’t want the overhead anyway. I interviewed a CEO the other day – now the world’s largest real estate holder – who told me his vision of the future, namely that companies would be collections of smaller companies. Finding the right people to partner with in a ‘virtual entity’ is smart. Use them and they’ll use you, too. I chose to have them set up as separate vendors with my clients so I wouldn’t get the tax hit (and the administrative headache) from the pass-through. But I do charge clients very visibly for my work managing these other vendors on their behalf. And everyone is happy.

      So, my thought is a simple one really – make the decision re what and who you want to be. Structure follows that decision. If things progress to the point where you need to clone yourself, then you’ve probably got the excuse to hire a w2 or sub-contract with a mark-up. Good luck!

      SD

      Reply
  15. mtwrighter
    mtwrighter says:

    My day job is nonprofit development executive. For a while now, I have been daydreaming, brainstorming and idea-bombing friends, family, and anyone unlucky enough to stand next to me, anywhere, about the next big fundraising thing. People are sick of GALAS. I am sick of them, too. Too much work and waste, with too little return for the nonprofit. If it were only about money, maybe; or only about stakeholder investment/support, indiegogo; but there has to be something that gives people an engaging and rewarding experience (for which they are willing to pay) AND provides nonprofits an opportunity to SHINE, CONNECT, and CAPTURE hearts, hands, and dollars. What’s revenue and relationship-raising REPLACEMENT event/experience for the tired and trite gala?

    Reply
    • Rochelle
      Rochelle says:

      From one Dev. person to another – please go to GivingFirst.org to find a great example how 100’s of Colorado non-profits have gotten together to make one day a kick-ass “ask” day! A day with no guilt, no galas and no bullshit. We go through an extensive vetting process and then collaborate within our own community (mine in the Northern region) to promote each other, our organizations and how to give. The “next big thing” is here – it is COLLABORATION!!!

      Reply
      • mtwrighter
        mtwrighter says:

        Thanks, Rochelle! Hate to say it, but where I live, I don’t think this will EVER take off. In fact, I have to say I suspect it is culturally impossible. Fantastic that it works for you!!! Wish it would work here, but too divided here on the Texas-Mexico border in DEEP South Texas by language, age, background, interest, immigration status, “class”, ethnicity, etc. for a Big Give. The Catholic Church is the only winner here, and they have a corner on the market. No one welcomes or collaborates, in fact, United Way struggles, and other organizations like Red Cross and MDA have retreated NORTH to San Antonio, leaving not even an outpost here. Really do need a distinct solution.

        Reply
    • Mazarine
      Mazarine says:

      Ah…. this is a good question. I just moved away from TX and I know some of the fundraising environment you’re coming from. There’s a book I’d recommend for you, called “The Experience Economy.” I’ve recommended it to other people and it’s helped them create those engaging and rewarding experiences for donors. It has for-profit examples but it’s still very relevant.

      When people need a chance to connect with your mission, they need to have a visceral experience of it. This is why volunteers give 10x as much as non-volunteers. This is also why so many nonprofits do walk-run-bike events, because there’s the team element, the exercise endorphin element, and the tribe element, the feeling of all being there together for the same purpose.

      Another thing we did with great success was a fall friendraiser luncheon for a small domestic violence nonprofit I used to work for. It was free, we asked loyal donors to bring 2 of their friends, had an inspirational program with people we helped, gave people goodie bags, and then had our pens and remit envelopes there on the table if people wanted to give. We also were lucky in connecting with a local bank that wanted to show how they were giving back, and we got $20,000 from them alone at the event. It was way less stress than our big gala, and a lot more fun for everyone involved.

      Finally, I’m not sure if this would be approprirate for your mission or situation, but sometime nonprofits ask donors to take a week to go volunteer somewhere, and they raise the money for their trip as well as a set amount to donate to the nonprofit, like $2,000 or so. Building your fundraising army this way can make people value the experience more, they come back not just having had a vacation, but feeling like they made some difference where they went. Giving their lives more meaning. That is powerful, and something they will share with others.

      Was this helpful at all?

      Reply
      • mtwrighter
        mtwrighter says:

        This is absolutely spot on (and I often use for-profit examples and experiences to power my current position). The issue is my tribe: Primarily aged, hippie, tree-hugger. VERY well-educated, but Boomer and Beyond; so the run-walk-ride thing won’t work except on walkers and wheelchairs. LOL I am focusing on building the volunteer core, where none existed prior to my arrival, b/c this group is hyper-connected. In some cases they are over-the-top “passionate”, like the animal rights and antiabortion fringe. I need them to GIVE MORE, and I need to reach out, usher in, and engage the REST of the community, so they become interested in giving, too. Galas have always made a splash and given the passionate a reason to invite and interact with the Others. Short of that, much of my tribe doesn’t want anyone else involved. They would prefer to remain a secret society, insulated and elite–but that’s not going to keep the lights on. I am currently writing two or more grants a month; but if a handful of them come it, the workload will be equivalent to GALA. Ugh. Where is the MONEY FOR NOTHING & CHECK FOR FREE?! 😉

        Reply
  16. tomRmalcolm
    tomRmalcolm says:

    Hi guys, (Erika, this is the guy late to lunch) As I work toward getting my entrepreneurial venture airborne I find myself struggling with…no…crippled by the daily details, like I’m drowning and can’t seem to organize enough to get ANY fucking thing done on a daily basis. It’s asinine. I know what I need to do, intellectually I get it, but it’s like I keep looking for (and finding) “just one more thing” I should FIRST, THEN I’ll get the other stuff going. It’s like having that one more piece of whatever, then afterwards you go, “Fuck, why did I eat that…?”
    I’ve made lists, read all kind of shit trying to find that one piece of magical wisdom that will “fix” it all. I don’t know, maybe that’s the problem. Stop looking for the simple way out and start doing the goddamn work. …….sigh…….

    Thanks for the offer. Just for the record, I am more committed to fixing this than can be measured. Success is imminent. I mean it.

    Tom

    Reply
    • Amanda Lawhon
      Amanda Lawhon says:

      It is called analysis paralysis my friend. Poison! The only antidote is action, even just a tiny step. Just do something, even if it’s not perfect. It will NEVER be perfect. Then come back and tell me what an idiot I am for not taking my own advice.

      Reply
      • Erin Feldman
        Erin Feldman says:

        One of my photographer friends uses the exact same phrasing as you: analysis paralysis. Coincidence? I think not. If I’ve learned anything over the past year, it’s that you have to take action. Ideas remain ideas until they’re outside your head, no matter how ugly and deformed they first are. Ugly things at least can be molded or tossed aside in favor of something better.

        Reply
    • Dan Waldschmidt
      Dan Waldschmidt says:

      FUCKING DO SOMETHING! Seriously, if you have time to cry about not getting things done then you have enough time to start making big things happen.

      Forget about lists and just do the stuff that you already know you should be doing. And don’t stop working until it’s all done. Stop making excuses. Stop whining.

      BTW, there is nothing to fix. You “fix” things that you’re working on. GO WORK ON SOMETHING then we’ll worry about fixing it later.

      Love you (sorry to shout…)

      Dan

      Reply
    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      Do one thing. Do it. TODAY. Tomorrow, do another thing.

      The best advice of my life came from my friend Xavier, with whom I used to rock climb when I lived in Vegas. I was a VERY green climber and I’d get stuck. I’d get frustrated. Actually, I’d get downright bitchy. He said to me one day, “Princess, can you move ONE FUCKING INCH in ANY direction?” My reply? “Of course I can move a fucking inch, you asshole!”

      He just said, “Well, then…MOVE!”

      So I did. One. Fucking. Inch. Then he asked, “What do you see now?”

      I told him to shut the fuck up and watch the belay because I was climbing.

      If you can move an inch, it’s amazing how quickly the landscape in front of you changes. Amazing.

      Reply
  17. niccahill
    niccahill says:

    Hi Erika and Jason,
    I am an Associate of Bio-Ken Snake Farm and manage our web development and digital media. Bio-Ken is an organisation that assists victims of snakebite in Kenya through donating anti-venom and expert advice to those who otherwise could not afford it, as well as running a number of conservation and education efforts.
    We have our bi-annual Bio-Ken Snakebite Seminar on the 10th November this year. Our key speaker is Professor Warrell of the University of Oxford, an authority on tropical disease and medicine.
    I’d like to be able to reach a wider audience, and allow the seminar and it’s message to have a larger impact than just those who are able to attend in person, and ultimately increase donations in kind or financial. I could really do with some suggestions and or assistance in how I can give this event the exposure it deserves and to raise the profile of Bio-Ken, and to maybe make an Oxford University professor raise his eyebrows in approval of a new initiative.
    Thanks for your consideration, and for such a thoughtful offer.

    Reply
  18. Rochelle
    Rochelle says:

    #gratitude
    Please help me convince people on my staff that getting from here to “fuck-yeah” is worthy and where they wanna go. Several folks that I have just not inspired enough to jump on the bus to where this non-profit needs to go.

    BTW-I must have supreme confidence in myself because I ask for help DAILY!!!

    Reply
    • Cindi
      Cindi says:

      Hi Rochelle, that’s huge because you may be in the chasm of expectations (fantasy of what the outcome should be) vs standards (your set of parameters to get to a goal).

      Where I’m headed with that is that your team may either need time to catch up to your standard (maybe they are waiting to see if it’s consistent and going to be long term) OR there may be staff that don’t hold the value for the standard and may not come along…of course I’m assuming a lot having no idea about your team dynamic. Just my 2 cents.

      Reply
  19. Guest
    Guest says:

    Thank you for the offer. I write my blog at garylkelley.com I tweet it. Mention it. Chat it up. I know some clients read it as they reference it. And instead of having thousands of people reading it I have tens of people reading it. So while I love the tens, I start to wonder if it is worth the overall effort. My question is how do I attract more readers.

    Reply
    • Dan Waldschmidt
      Dan Waldschmidt says:

      I think you might be asking the wrong question: WHY DO YOU DESERVE MORE READERS?

      Shit attracts flies. Vice attracts addicts. Money attracts pretty women.

      There are a lot of ways to “attract” what you want to where you are, but it’s important to ask yourself why you want more readers. What value are you providing them?

      In the meanwhile, try to:

      1. Write about things that people want to read about
      2. Share exclusive information people don’t have access to

      Dan

      Reply
  20. Tracey
    Tracey says:

    Thank you for this well timed offer! Help me get focused!
    Am I on the right track with this idea? I am transitioning from being a
    private practice psychotherapist to creating an online community to help people
    have more confidence and fun in their lives. The new website will be: LiveLikeaJerseyGirl.com -tell-it-like-it-is advice for life. I plan to offer helpful articles, Inspiration for bad hair days, coaching, and coaching scholarships.
    The marketing for counseling has been tricky. I don’t want to end up with
    yet another hard to market business. I have struggled for a while trying to figure out what my niche is supposed to be. How do I find the people who are tired of
    being a doormat, want to kick fear’s ugly ass, and need to learn to laugh at
    themselves?

    Reply
    • Dan Waldschmidt
      Dan Waldschmidt says:

      As a “head case” myself, I enjoy the subject area. Congrats on your big plans (and your email nudging me to get off my ass and respond)…

      You are asking a bunch of different questions so let me just start where you ended — where do you find people “who are tired of being a doormat, want to kick fear’s ugly ass, and need to learn to laugh at themselves?”

      uhhhhh… PRETTY MUCH EVERY DAMN PLACE YOU LOOK!

      [true story]

      We want to solve the pain in our lives. That’s pretty much the driving the obsession of each of daily grind. (Read Erika’s story….) But healing is a hard process.

      When you are in pain the idea of laughing at yourself is a pretty unbelievable concept. You aren’t even sure you are going to make it — let alone be happy. Progress comes in inches.

      All that to say I think you need to combine your offline practice and your online practice. Use the online community as a “feeder” (horrible wording…..) to attract the right customers to your private “in person” practice.

      BTW, don’t call it “counseling.” Call it “help” or “healing” or “recovery”.

      Together, the online community and the offline practice will compliment what you do and help you “market” what you do.

      Last — starting a blog/community/website takes all of 4.5 minutes. Forget about the niche right now and start “healing people”.

      Dan

      Reply
  21. Amanda Johnson
    Amanda Johnson says:

    Sweet! I have taken nearly three years away from the work world to find a direction that I can commit myself to 100%. It isn’t that I didn’t have it good before, a writer/editor since 1992, I’ve been lucky to work with many great clients. It is simply that I wanted to feel that whatever I do is something I am sure holds a space open for me to be a creative writer and artist. Had brain surgery this year, and low and behold it occurred to me – what space could be more open than healing from this? How about I be a creative writer and artist? Period. Har. I’m already commissioned to draw some portraits, and have much interest in my work, but I want to go about this very slowly and organically so that it is sustainable. So, how to ground that dream in a viable and visceral life is what I always need help with…

    Reply
  22. Mazarine
    Mazarine says:

    Hi Erika! I have read your blog for over a year, and I’ve commented a couple of times, but I just couldn’t resist your offer today! I’d love to have your help. I just published a new book, The Wild Woman’s Guide to Social Media, and I have a blog based around my 2010 book, The Wild Woman’s Guide to Fundraising. I’ve built up a successful blog but now I want to create more of a community.

    I’m looking to rebrand my business, get a focus + tagline, and make it into a membership site (where I offer webinars, an online resource library, interviews, and more). I’ve done the market research with my readers and people want it. I already have a graphic designer for the site, and I have the back end programming promised as well. I just need that focus, the rebrand clarity that ties it all together. Interested?

    Reply
  23. ASwirlGirl
    ASwirlGirl says:

    I need help with self-hosting so that I can start monetizing my WordPress blog. I currently blog on WordPress.com and learned today that I need to move over to WordPress.org in order to get the plugins I need. I’ve started the process with Google AdSense and am now at the point of inserting the AdSense code – and cannot do so because converting over, etc., is so. not. my. area. of. expertise. HELP!!!

    Reply
  24. Deb Lamb
    Deb Lamb says:

    Hi, Erika! What do I need help with? Wow. Now that’s a loaded question. However, I do believe I need help with increasing my business. I just don’t know who to go after, how to drill down my target market, and how to take my business to the next level. I’m just not making the kind of money I wan’t to make, and I know I can if I have the proper direction, things would be much better business-wise. What I’d love to do is write inspirational articles. I’ve been through being homeless with two small kids in-tow, abused, brother paralyzed in an accident, then he died, and so on and so on. Everyone has a story, right? But what I really would like to do, is take everything I’ve been through and either turn it into something funny, or track where I was back then and where I am now, or just offer solid direction and advice for those going through some of the things I’ve been through. How do I do that and make money with it? That is the question. So if you can offer any direction, advice, a good kick in the ass, then I’m down for it!
    By the way, I can’t wait to get the book I won! Sweet! Thank you again for that!
    You guys rock!!
    Deb 🙂

    Reply
  25. Jewel Trotman Fryer
    Jewel Trotman Fryer says:

    What a generous offer. I would like to find that one kick ass client. I’m a community manager but I live in a small town in northern Ca. My clients are really great but my focus has been on small local business. I love what I do and I’v become really good at creating distinct personalities for great customer service for each of my clients. The only problem is their are small ‘mom and pop’ local business owners who can’t afford to pay me very much. I’ve gained a lot of experience doing this work by managing their presence and in the meantime I’ve created a niche for myself and I continue to learn everyday. I’m now ready to take a step up. I want to find a fun client to work with that has the potential to broaden my horizons as I work to broaden theirs. Someone who has a budget that can pay me what it’s worth for the long hours I put in and the dedication I bring.Someone who can work with me remotely considering where I live. I have the resources to do whatever I need to do online but I don’t live close enough to most metropolitan areas that hire people like me. Someone who has an edge and isn’t afraid to grab the internet by the nuts and go for it. Someone with a sense of humor. Any ideas for who and how I can find my dream client?

    Reply
    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      You want ONE dream client? Oh honey, you need a FEW. All of your eggs in one basket ain’t the way to go when you’ve got your own shingle. Never give one client the power to blow up your business!

      How active are you on LinkedIn? There are some fabulous groups there where you can weigh in and help others with your expertise on social and community management. Quora is great for opportunities like that as well. Seek to grow your business by offer no-string solutions using resources like these might prove to be a powerful tool for growing your business with clients who can pay! It’s been invaluable for my practice.

      Reply
    • Stephen Denny
      Stephen Denny says:

      Jewel: start with one, agreed. How? Start with the friends you have right now – not with a list of clients you want. Clients are functions of people who say “yes” rather than doors you knock on. You may need to think 2 or 3 moves down the board and cultivate that “loose connection” that’s going to get you into that client.

      Make it easy for them to say “yes.” Even if that means doing a project that isn’t your dream project. Get in their system, become an “approved vendor” set up in their system. Then go meet a dozen other people in the company who matter. Location doesn’t matter. We live in an age where geography is irrelevant.

      This works – good luck!

      SD

      Reply
  26. Karen
    Karen says:

    What a generous offer. 2012 was the transition year for me: ripping myself away from the old, safebutshitty work like a waterproof bandaid (yeah, feeling the pain of all the hair pulled off with it) and 2013 is the launch year of the New Stuff. Gah.

    I would love being hooked up with design help: not just a logo and website graphics (but that too), but JesusChrist save me from having to make decisions about every fucking plugin and widget and ohsweetJesus the WordPressmenusCSS clusterfuckshootingoffense. But here’s the thing: I can’t find designers who are up front about telling you how to work with them, and what’s reasonable $ for what I’m asking, and how can I make intelligent choices about what I can do myself vs what makes sense to pay them to do. And if what I have is a super-premium idea (how would I even KNOW?), help me rework it into a ok-for-now idea (what can I skimp on, or leave for later when this is all a bit more proven).

    And THEN I want to hang out and have drinks with most of the people on this page, because these really sound like my kinda people and my kinda problems (some of which I’ve fought through, some of which I’ll fight next).

    Reply
    • Lindsay Goldner
      Lindsay Goldner says:

      At the risk of being self-promotional (am I allowed to do that?), let’s chat- I’m a designer, and as Erika — I hope– will attest to, I’m a pretty no-bullshit kinda person. Check out my site at LLYDesigns.com and then shoot me an email at hello@llydesigns.com. And if you don’t like me but want references, I have a few other no-bullshit designers I can totally refer you to as well. And good on you for getting ready to launch new stuff! I just launched my new site and it is/was scary as fuuuuck!

      Reply
  27. Tara Scherner de la Fuente
    Tara Scherner de la Fuente says:

    Well, since you asked… I need two things: 1) I need a competent person in Thesis 2.0 (just released this month and with very little documentation available), I’m making steady progress, but I need someone to whom I can ask questions. Like right now, I’m trying to build a box and have social media buttons, and gah! 2) I have a combination problem of doing too much preparing and not enough doing coupled with a not-quite-clear vision of what I want to do, which is to say that I don’t really want to have a niche, but I keep hearing I need one, but I could do so much! I probably need to reign it in a bit. Maybe I’m having trouble believing that the things I want to do will be wanted, so I want to do ALL THE THINGS in the event that someone wants them. So, there’s that multi-layered thing. But honestly, having someone I could ask regarding #1 would be good enough.

    Reply
    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      Tara – would you consider switching to Genesis? The skins and support available are extensive and brought to you by Brian Clark & Copyblogger — Brian was one of the original founders of Thesis. I’ve heard fantastic things. This might be something I can facilitate with a few inquiries, but let me know. Let me know.

      Reply
      • Tara Scherner de la Fuente
        Tara Scherner de la Fuente says:

        I’ve heard great things about Genesis, and it was between Genesis and Thesis when I signed up, but Thesis 2.0 has so much SEO built in without all kinds of slow-down plugins, and that really appealed to me. I’ve also now got almost $200 invested in Thesis with a developer’s license (plus there’s the time I’ve already spent learning enough to get my header and nav menu up there), so while I don’t mind (horribly) investing another $60 for a different theme, I really like/respect how the latest upgrade to Thesis 2.0 really reinvents the website-building business on WordPress, plus all of the websites that I really like and admire are built in Thesis (though admittedly, the earlier version).

        In fact, I could go back to Thesis 1.8.5 for free and have plenty of support/tutorials, and maybe I should, but I really respect what this Thesis 2.0 upgrade does for websites, and how it isn’t PHP-based or so reliant on code. On the other hand, I can do a bit in Dreamweaver, so it’s not like code is a foreign idea to me. Mostly? I want to make Thesis 2.0 my bitch. But I want to do it because I really respect the design that has gone into it. I’m drinking its Kool-Aid. But a helping hand with the occasional question would be a serious bonus.

        I really did consider Genesis seriously, and I appreciate the suggestion (and how quick it was)!

        Reply
        • Lindsay Goldner
          Lindsay Goldner says:

          Tara- from the rumors I hear, tutorials and videos should be coming out REALLY soon for thesis 2. I’d been considering investing in it as a framework from my design clients (though its whole “totally other language thing” was a bit offputting to me- I admire your attitude!). I think if you can hold out a little bit– like a couple weeks– you’ll start seeing a LOT more support coming out from the thesis community as other people start making thesis 2 THEIR bitch(es).

          As for focusing, I just did that with my own business, at least on the surface. I still do other stuff on the side, but it’s really nice to be able to say (ok this is corny but it works for me) “I’m a multi-faceted branding designer and business consultant for creative entrepreneurs.” Have you considered doing personal or professional branding exercises that might help you narrow down your focus and help you find that “fuck yes!” (as Erika would say) moment/passion?

          Reply
  28. Holly
    Holly says:

    Amazing offer! I would like help fundraising for Blue Tide Foundation. Large groups of people can give $5-10/ each and have an amazing impact. That’s what I would like your help with.

    Reply
  29. Nichole
    Nichole says:

    I want to know how to scale a copywriting business so I can spend 6 months out of the year on an island somewhere. How do you go from one writer doing it all to having multiple divisions with offerings and services you can outsource to someone else?

    Reply
    • Lindsay Goldner
      Lindsay Goldner says:

      have you ever heard of the middle finger project? Ash is AMAZING and has a lot of great posts about how she’s scaled her business. Not necessarily about how she’s scaled THAT far, but definitely about how she’s scaled a LOT.

      Reply
    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      In addition to pointing you towards Ash Ambirge at http://www.themiddlefingerproject.org, You have to price your services accordingly. If you build your copywriting business based on price and volume, you’ll be stuck in the never-enough rut with money and way-too-much rut with business volume. Hone your offerings. Up your rates. Take projects that excite you so you’re eager to get them done and don’t let them sit. And ask yourself: do you want to outsource? Many copywriters think they do, but here’s why you might not:

      You have. To touch. Everything. If you think that you can have contractors producing work for your clients without your eyes reviewing those projects, think again. It takes time. You’ll have to edit. You’ll have to fire people. And that sucks.

      Scaling can suck if you’re not in for the wild ride.

      Reply
  30. Killian
    Killian says:

    Your generosity blows me away.

    I read your blog post in which you discussed writing a nonfiction book. But I’m still really confused. I have a solid idea, the book topic definitely fills a societal need, and I’m a good writer. I’ve taken your advice and quit making excuses for “not having time” to write. But while I’m getting it all down on paper, what do I do now? How does one go about having a nonfiction book published? I realize that, on the surface, that may seem like a question for which your answer would be, “Gee, Killian, let me Google that for you!” But it truly isn’t. I can look up the basic procedure, but I’m looking for advice from someone who knows what they’re doing; someone who can help with the finer details, and the methodology of how to actually be a success at it as opposed to just another writer in the sea of others.

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      The one book that was more useful to me than anything in the nonfiction book proposal/pitching/writing process was “Putting Your Passion Into Print.” It’s excellent at differentiation, showing you how to stand out, and the art of the query letter. Can’t recommend it enough. This is the authors’ most recent book: http://www.amazon.com/Essential-Guide-Getting-Your-Published/dp/076116085X/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1351644332&sr=1-2&keywords=putting+your+passion+into+print

      Reply
    • Dan Waldschmidt
      Dan Waldschmidt says:

      You need to gather around you a group of awesome people whom you can lean on delicately.

      Buy the book that Erika recommended in her comment below. It is amazing. As you are learning and reading consider the following:

      1. Join a few LinkedIn groups for aspiring authors and make some friends (and get some help)
      2.Go to AgentQuery and do some research. This will help you learn what time of help you can hire.
      3.Subscribe to the PublishersWeekly newsletter.

      ABSORB it all. Take it in. Build relationships. Listen to people’s opinions. Some will be stupid. Other’s will be golden. You’ll know when you hear them. 🙂

      Dan

      p.s. You should also look at Jonathan Field’s TribalAuthor program. It does cost money, but he is good at helping authors build a community of interested book buyers…

      p.s.s. You sound like you are ready to do something awesome. Let me know when you finish that book.

      Reply
  31. Bo Mackison
    Bo Mackison says:

    I just returned from my first ever weekend of portfolio reviews for my photography. I am filled with ideas, and I am moving forward, but realized during the first review that I am expected to have a “leave-behind” for all reviewers — in case they want to get in touch with me. Of course!! I talked to a workshop instructor who emphasized “consistent design in all your marketing.” So I am an artist, I am a photographer, but I am not a designer. I need help. To create the real thing. For a themed approach. Business cards, postcards, leave-behinds. Even my website? Oh dear! Makes my head feel kind of dizzy, just thinking about all those design possibilities…

    Reply
    • Lindsay Goldner
      Lindsay Goldner says:

      Branding branding branding! Try searching behance.net for “leave-behinds”- it might give you some good ideas of what you like that you can than present to a designer. Look for one who specializes in branding, if you can, so they’ll really give you a consistent look across all of your packaging, from your client-facing packaging to your leave-behinds 🙂 And good luck! Feel free to email me if you have any other branding questions (it’s my full time small biz, actually!) – hello@llydesigns.com

      Reply
  32. Amanda Lawhon
    Amanda Lawhon says:

    I am in desperate need of help, and I love you to pieces for asking! I am the proud mother of a wonderful little boy. Since he was born, I’ve dreamed of quitting my job (with its long commute) and working from home to spend more time with him. I have done tons of research and have some ideas, but now find myself locked in analysis paralysis. I know it takes time for blogs and even niche sites to take off, but I’m terrified of spending years on something that goes nowhere and only steals more time that I could spend with my son. I’m not afraid of working my ass off, just of doing it for nothing.

    I think what I need is for someone to take a look at my idea and tell me whether it seems worthwhile (aka profitable). I know there are no guarantees, but I need an experienced opinion, a nudge in the right direction, and then a solid kick in the pants. Please give me a kick in the pants.

    Reply
    • Dan Waldschmidt
      Dan Waldschmidt says:

      No one needs to take a look at your idea but you. Why do you think you need anybody else’s support in order to be successful?

      Just start creating something. It’s going to be slow at first. And small. But small is how big things start.

      Keep your job right now. That’s my advice. Work for a boss from 9 to 5. From 5:01 until 10 PM start working to turn your idea into success.

      The five hours you work each night for yourself will be 20 times more powerful than the eight hour day you put in for your boss.

      By the way, you’re not working your ass off for “nothing”. If you have a dream, that is enough.

      Dan

      Reply
  33. Amelia Hipps
    Amelia Hipps says:

    How ironic, Erika, that I find this in my mail box after our “textversation” earlier. My other request still stands firm, though, if that is the best way to proceed.

    My problem is this: I have my passion for my next career, but I don’t know who to turn into a full-fledge operation that will pay the bills between election cycles. Here’s what’s happened.

    I was asked in May to manage a local candidate’s campaign for a city council seat. He’s an old friend, and I was thrilled to help out. By way of him, I happened to be at a dinner with a gentleman I did not know before that night, who was running for our city’s mayor. By the end of the dinner, he asked if we could talk about his campaign.

    Looooong story short, I submitted a proposal and ended up being hired as his media consultant and political strategist. With the election now 7 days away, he has gone from being a literally unknown candidate to having the incumbent sweating bullets. Everyone in town, including the incumbent, has acknowledged it will be a very tight race next Tuesday. The same goes for my friend’s city council race, although my work on the mayoral candidate’s campaign has been much more intense and involved.

    What I have learned about myself from this experience is: I LOVE THIS!!!!!

    This job has given me the opportunity to develop an overall political strategy and approach for a candidate, write press releases, design and layout ads, do media placement, coordinate volunteer activities, write radio ads (with the help of my retired, 30-year broadcast journalist husband), engage in debate prep – in other words, completely manage and direct a political campaign.

    I desperately want to continue doing this – as well as possibly expand to offering consulting services to mayors and/or city council members – on how to effectively sell a message or a project to their citizens. I ADORE the strategy part of this type of work, and then turning that strategy into reality.

    I really, really, really do not want to return to working for someone else. I want to remain independent, and I’m not opposed to the idea of traveling to provide this service to candidates or elected officials in other areas. But I really don’t know where to begin when it comes to marketing myself in this area.

    And it may help to see whether my candidates actually win next Tuesday. 😉

    Thanks for reading my post and any advise you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    • Karen
      Karen says:

      (I realize that you didn’t post this to hear from me, exactly, but this is my take:) what doesn’t rest “in between elections” are issues & interest groups, particularly those who have pieces of legislation pending. All of those new muscles you’re exercising (strategy development, approach, ads, managing the debate) can apply. And it keeps you immersed in that culture/population.

      My fervent hope is that any reader of Erika’s is elevating and advancing “good governance” whatever your political bent is, and tackling issues in a way that make us all collectively smarter, not dumber, and so this is a culture that needs you!

      Reply
    • Dan Waldschmidt
      Dan Waldschmidt says:

      I would start local and grow out from that.

      1. Start putting together a list of all the candidates that seemed to be a good fit for your type of services.
      2. Share our story of “Zero-to-Hero”.
      3. Build a relationship (without asking anything of them).
      4. When you know them better, offer sincere and valuable ways to help them.

      You’ll never be out of business… 🙂

      Dan

      p.s. Depending on where you’re located, you could spend some time in DC visiting with the lobbyists who often support candidates in their race for office. They are always looking for new, up-and-coming strategists.

      Sounds like “you”!

      Reply
  34. Shirley Braden
    Shirley Braden says:

    Wow, what an offer! I see my concerns echoed in others comments here. I have so many ideas and my hands in so many pies and while others praise me and tell me I’m amazing for all I achieve, I often feel like I am drowning. I am trying to narrow my focus and stick to my mission (teaching people to live gluten free easilygfe) while helping folks in a big way, making some income, and keeping myself sane. I think I’m the classic case of someone being so bent on helping others that I am losing sight of my own needs and why I went down this path to begin with. I “re-group” from time to time and get back on course, but then in fairly short order find myself veering off again. I guess I need help coming up with my true business plan/approach plus philanthropic plan (there’s big overlap) and sticking to it. Thank you so much for being willing to help! I am a big fan of yours, Erika, and just learning about Jason and his work.
    Shirley

    Reply
    • Dan Waldschmidt
      Dan Waldschmidt says:

      Throwing ourselves into the solution for other people’s problems can often be an indication of danger in our own lives. I find myself doing this all too often. Instead of fixing the scary problems that limits my ability, I often just try to help other people. Somehow I imagine that by working on other people’s issues, I’ll fix my own.

      Really, I am just prolonging the inevitable. The best “me” is a “me” that understands my own weaknesses and fallibility. It’s a “me” that attacks my own problems, except responsibility for my own actions, and works proactively to improve myself every day.

      Dig deep, Shirley. You can turn GFE into a blog or a business or just a conversation that helps people. You need to take some time for you. As you heal your business plan will blossom.

      Dan

      p.s. BTW, you can start creating your business right now by sharing your perspectives and blogs and articles about what you learned about a gluten-free lifestyle.

      Reply
      • glutenfreeeasily
        glutenfreeeasily says:

        Dan–Thanks so much for the in-depth and heartfelt reply. Since leaving this comment I did dig deeper, did some soul searching so to speak, and I’ve made a bunch of changes already (removing myself from situations that were not a match for my mission; passing on offers to speak/write that I might have accepted in the past even if they weren’t the best fit; etc.). Some of what I discovered when I dug deeper was that when I started helping others I stopped taking care of myself (on several levels), which, of course, is something I teach folks NOT to do. Helping others does give one a type of “rush” (for lack of a better word)—even when one is doing it out of great sincerity and is thrilled for the other person’s success—and deflect from personal issues/concerns. So I started seeing this issue (finally acknowledging this issue?) before I read your reply along the same lines. I don’t follow your last comment though. That is exactly what I’ve done to build my blog and online readership. I am always sharing what I’ve learned on my blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Such posts are some of my most popular ones on my blog. Do you mean in another forum? Another way?

        Reply
        • Erika Napoletano
          Erika Napoletano says:

          Here’s what I’ll offer on top of Dan’s suggestions.

          Today, make a list of 5 things you’d like to see your website (BUSINESS) evolve into by this time next year. Make them concrete (none of that “feely” stuff right now). Complete sentences using the present tense.

          Now, take that list and think of 3 people in your world who can help you achieve each of those. Maybe not directly, but think of people whom you can ask for help on those goals.

          Next, ASK. Make your asks short and sweet, offer thanks, and…here’s the kicker:

          Don’t wait for them to reply. Get started TODAY on something YOU can do to further each of those goals. Then, when and if replies come in, you have more help than you could ever dream of having!

          Reply
    • Karen
      Karen says:

      Shirley, I just went to your website – and your header & tag-line are absolutely brilliant! Very, very cool. Did you work with someone to come up with that (& who?!) or did you do it yourself? Love the idea.

      Reply
      • glutenfreeeasily
        glutenfreeeasily says:

        Karen, thanks so much! I found inspiration in another source (t-shirt with alphabet going the correct direction with “gf” in place of “fg” and the letters highlighted), but the idea to show the alphabet backwards and emphasize that my gfe approach is not the typical one is all mine. Then a friend did the graphics part for me. Some folks do a double take and/or say things like “why do you have all these scrambled letters in your header?” (LOL) but most get it. 🙂

        Reply
  35. Lynn Sullivan
    Lynn Sullivan says:

    Dear Erika, I love you! And Jason, I love you too!
    Thank you so much to both of you for this opportunity! My problem is… B O R I N G! At least that’s how I feel about my writing. I can write, I can design, I have a lot of media skills, but how do I go from yawn to WOW! I read everything, good stuff (or so I think) and I write everyday! But I feel my writing is lacking. I am in a position where I’m constantly trying to convey value to people that have the attention span of a gnat (which is most of us these days) and are very cranky because the bad economy is going on year 6 and they aren’t making money. I’ve read so many articles on writing, social media, marketing, content strategy, website strategy, seo strategy, because today in November 2012, it all matters. I do it, but many times the result feels so lackluster. Many times I’ve taken courses and I can’t quite get that real help, something is always missing. Like, ” if you take our next class you’ll learn” this or that! I am so hungry for some real TOOLS. Real TOOLS that can help me with my writing, my SEO, my social media, and blog. I tried to start a blog last year, and I bought a template from WordPress because I wanted it to be good, and of course I couldn’t get the damn template to look like what it was displayed (sold) as. And really, I’m no tech slouch, but I’m not a true programmer either. Anyway, I am hoping, at the very least, can you refer me to some REAL tools that will help me with: copywriting and blogging, setting up a blog, seoing, and social media. And maybe a few words of encouragement. It’s not always easy putting ones self out there day after day. I love it, but the consumer is so demanding. How do we effectively communicate in words and pictures to today’s culture. Ugh, I know I’ve said way too much, but I am open and I’m REALLY searching for something that can help me become better. Because this is what I do and I do love it! Would love to go freelance, but am corporate right now. Will you please share some tips, tricks and tools with me. I want to be among the best! Thank you so very much, I am so excited and thankful for you and your time!
    Lynn Sullivan

    Reply
    • Dan Waldschmidt
      Dan Waldschmidt says:

      Lynn,

      Better tools and courses and research and strategies and tips and tricks aren’t your problem. They are just escape mechanisms for you not to have to deal with the real issue.

      There is nothing you can do to create “WOW”. If you want to do amazing things, you have to be an amazing person first.

      Write about your fear of not being a better writer. Write about your frustration in not being able to hold people’s attention. Write about what scares you. Write about what you’re afraid of. Write about the pain and suffering in your life and why at times you feel like you might never figure it out.

      Filling your day with more education isn’t the answer. Fill your life with more wonder. Step out boldly from behind your fears. Write about that experience. We’ll read it, shed a tear with you, and come back again to read more.

      BTW, for design check out: http://www.copyblogger.com/. They have people, tools, skills….

      Dan

      Reply
    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      Lynn – I feel ya. I’ve been there. The following advice has no hugging in it (because hugging isn’t what got me out of my Analysis Paralysis years ago).

      Right now: stop it. Stop this crap of “trying to convey value.” YOU have value in what you know, who you are, and how you share it. So BAM! Value? CHECK.

      Next, not having a WordPress blog is an excuse. I want you to contact Liz Pund of Blue Canary Works (liz@bluecanaryworks.com). She’s a flippin’ WordPress genius. I want to you tell her in the email that:

      1) you have a doman registered.
      2) you have hosting
      3) you have a theme

      Ask her what she’d charge to get you squared-away. She’ll get it done, and fast, and on a budget. She’s damn good — and paying to have this hassle sorted IS WORTH EVERY CENT. Tell frustration to go eff itself.

      Then, there’s one tool that’s going to make your writing shine. Hell, it’s not even mine — it’s yours. It’s the comment you wrote above. I’m betting this just poured out of you. You wrote that you’re waiting for that “next great piece of advice” when the best advice is what you’re already doing: WRITE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. Write even when you can’t write. And stop TRYING to convey value. All I can tell you is that there is no course or person who can give you the silver bullet of writing advice.

      We grow through our own words. We also grow through the words of others. When you’re stuck, READ and comment on other people’s blogs. When you need inspiration, pick up the phone and call someone you love talking to. When you’re stuck, grab a bag of Doritos (**tactic doesn’t work for everyone) and close the laptop. Clear your brain.

      Methinks you’re stuck in a rut of trying too hard. And when that happens, everything shuts down. So, go UNstick yourself from the sticky place you’re in. Breathe, have someone else deal, and then write your little heart out…from the heart. Value comes from others *feeling* what you wrote, not from a decision you made prior to sitting down to write it. 🙂

      Reply
      • Lynn Sullivan
        Lynn Sullivan says:

        Dear Erika,

        Thank you so much for reaching out and taking the time to read and to actually respond to my wah, wah, wah : )
        Everything you say I know is true and already knew, thanking you for reminding me I can do it when I just DO IT!
        I am soooo happy and thankful to have found you along my journey! Because even though I don’t always agree with every little thing in your blog, I can always see an appreciate your point, because it’s your truth! And you make me laugh, and I love that. It has actually been one of my goals in my writing to make people laugh, because it is the best medicine!

        Thank you so much again for reaching out, here’s to growing and doing!!! You are awesome and I love you!

        Lynn Sullivan

        Reply
    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      Erica – You have such a fantastic social following (I know this because we’ve been connected online FOREVER!). Why not expand beyond the lesbian and comic resources? Go see what the erotica scene looks like. Lesbians aren’t the only one who read lesbian erotica and graphic novels. It’s a HUGE niche. And I’m betting you could find some significant traction in the PUA (pickup artist) community.

      Reply
      • Erica Friedman
        Erica Friedman says:

        Hi Erika – You know…I have. For one thing our books are not erotica, and lesbians as a market kinda suck too, so that doesn’t work. Apparently stories of not broken, abused or manipulated people do not sell well. ^_^

        Reply
  36. Hannah Dee
    Hannah Dee says:

    Well I sure as shit won’t be the one to turn down this opportunity! I am a color consultant and interior decorator who is in the 3rd year of my second career. Prior I was a print buyer (a what, you say???) for large and evil empires-pharma and healthcare. Having escaped from corporate life with my sanity intact, I followed my passion and hung up a shingle. What’s irking me is my business persona-it is BANAL. My profile page sounds like this-blah, blah, blah, blah…just like every other interior designer out there. I need to find my singular voice, I’m such an interesting mix of polish and quirk, feminine and masculine, funny and smart, weird, with better taste than most people, cultivated and cultured, but I don’t take myself too seriously. My goal is to empower my clients to make their own decisions, with my guidance and support, not be dictatorial. Unless they want me to be… I tend to decorate in a cleaner, more masculine way and think there may be a market for specifically helping guys in transition-whether getting their first real apartment, transitioning out of a relationship, or into a new one-“Chick-worthy Bachelor Pad Design” is my tentative name. But I also can design very elegant and feminine spaces too. And I certainly don’t want to do only man caves and media rooms-gross. Help me please to find my voice, and hone my marketing message!

    Reply
    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      Ahem…well, in your words, “I’m such an interesting mix of polish and quirk, feminine and masculine, funny and smart, weird, with better taste than most people, cultivated and cultured, but I don’t take myself too seriously.”

      There ya go. Everything you say and do should reflect this.

      Start first with who you never want to work with (and make sure your voice would send those folks running, screaming).

      Next, BE YOU. I’m betting that how you talk about your business on your site and marketing collateral sounds nothing like you in conversation with your friends. Get YOU back into the mix. STAT.

      Reply
      • Hannah Dee
        Hannah Dee says:

        Thanks Erika! You nailed that shit. My marketing collateral doesn’t sound like me at all! I’m thinking I need to stop worrying about what everyone else is doing, and just create from the weirdness that is in my head.

        Reply
    • Stephen Denny
      Stephen Denny says:

      Hannah, you’re visual. Show, don’t tell. When you speak, use your voice. It isn’t generic, from what I gather above in your question. And focus on the transformation, the shift from one state to another, not just the end state. Find your point of view, not just your “brand.” Then let your clients sell you.

      Good luck!

      SD

      Reply
      • Hannah Dee
        Hannah Dee says:

        Hey Stephen. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer, but I’m really having a hard time understanding what you mean by “focus on the transformation, the shift from one state to another”. Can you clarify at all? Thanks again!

        Reply
        • Stephen Denny
          Stephen Denny says:

          Hannah: sorry to leave you hanging like this – the thought is that so much branding work today focuses on a static state, a snapshot of who (you think) you and your brand are. I’ve found both through research and practice that you can often get more profound insights when you focus on how your product or service change the lives of your customers.

          This tension/resolution or before/after lies at the heart of what we’d call the “Controlling Idea” in screenwriting – that single sentence that describes how and why life undergoes change from one condition to another. While this matters a lot in story development, it’s a very interesting slant on brand development as well.

          Hope this helps! Good luck –
          SD

          Reply
  37. Holly
    Holly says:

    Erika and Jason – Whoever you guys pick, will you post about the process you went through with them? I loved reading everyone’s post and loved others stepped in to give another some advice.

    Reply
  38. Cindi
    Cindi says:

    Hey Erika and Jason – THANK you for throwing this out to all of us!

    I’m that kid who bloomed (really) late. My ask:

    What techniques can I use to tighten up my brand’s voice? Idea diarrhea and the mountain of crumpled scribbled on wadded up papers keeps me in a loop that is pissing me off and I get frustrated that my message is not as clear as it is in my head. I want: Clear, focused voice that my audience will eat up. THANK you!

    Reply
    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      To tighten your brand’s voice, tighten your audience. Have a clear vision with every post, service offering, and product of whom you’re talking to and HOW they can benefit from your words, actions, and services. If you can’t state in 15 seconds who you are, what you do, why you’re different, and why anyone should care, you’ll never see that come through in your voice. Do that exercise — answer those for questions. There’s even a whole chapter in my book on audience identification — which lends LOADS to voice — and it all starts with knowing with whom you NEVER want to do business. If you can first figure out whom you’ll never be speaking to, figuring out what to say to the right people becomes much easier in my experience 🙂

      Reply
    • Stephen Denny
      Stephen Denny says:

      Cindi: one thing I’ve learned and learned very well is that people are willing to be led by someone with a point of view. That’s different than “someone with a brand,” isn’t it? McKee tells us in his Story screenwriting book and seminar that, “… character is defined by the choices we make under pressure.” Don’t think about what your brand should be – think about what your point of view is, how life changes from one emotionally charged state to another after interacting with your work, and how to articulate that.

      Then, go read what Erika just said below.

      Good luck!

      SD

      Reply
  39. Lindsay Goldner
    Lindsay Goldner says:

    I need a (different) kind of help… I think your spam filter (or the interwebs) are eating any comments I post with links on them. Or just putting them in a very long moderation queue. If it’s the later…er, I owe you lots of booze next time you’re out here. If it’s the former, well, shit.

    Reply
    • Laurie Lamoureux
      Laurie Lamoureux says:

      Hi Zero Dean, I saw your post because it appears directly after mine (maybe–awaiting moderation). Anyway, I read a few of your blog posts and enjoyed them. Signed up for the email version. Hey, it’s a start…!
      I don’t know if this will help you, but I read http://catseyewriter.com/ for blogging tips. Perhaps Judy has something that will work for you.
      Best wishes!

      Reply
    • Dan Waldschmidt
      Dan Waldschmidt says:

      50 people sounds like a great place to start, Dean. It only took 300 Spartans to hold off millions of Persian fighters. They pretty much set the standard on what it’s like to live as a badass.

      Let me try to help you with a simple observation. I just went to your site and looked around. I was looking for ways to get to know you better and to see how you might be able to help me. Frankly — that was pretty hard to do.

      Check out Copyblogger for some basics on ways to write that engages people and helps to build an audience. Problogger is another great resource for you. So is HubSpot and Sprout Insights.

      I also might like to hear the story of you and your car. Talk about the emotions that you’re feeling and why you feel like you need to have a big audience. Until you speak from the soul, it will be hard to build a community…

      Dan

      p.s. Go BE Awesome.

      Reply
        • Dan Waldschmidt
          Dan Waldschmidt says:

          “Easy Tiger….” I’m not here to fight you, dude. Just trying to offer my “first impression” from quickly browsing through your website as any very busy person likely would.

          I won’t read too much into your reply to me, but I always find it ironic when people say they “want to help” and then push back against other people’s opinions. That might be why you’re finding it hard to build a larger audience.

          I came to this blog at the request of my two close friends, Erika and Jason, to offer some feedback to amazing people looking for help. I read your comment here. I went to your site. I skimmed through the tabs, read posts about ZDXP, and sent you my thoughts — which you didn’t like.

          If you want to be more “visible”, tell the stories of other people. If you want to create an online diary that other people read, do that too. Remember, if you want me to care about you, you have to care about me first. Not you.

          Dan

          p.s. Seriously though, dude, you said you want a bigger audience. If that’s all you want then go read Copyblogger, Problogger, and Hubspot. That’s what they do — teach you how to build an audience.

          p.s.s. Anyone coming to your blog for the first time will be giving you a very casual glance (a.k.a. 2-3 minutes). I’m not the exception. I’m the norm. Capture my attention and focus. (And lose the silly “slide down” thing”. It covered your content)

          p.s.s.s. You can disagree with me. That’s OK. But you should **probably** rethink your strategy of insulting people who offer you answers to questions that you are asking. No one wants to help a guy like that.

          Reply
          • Dan Waldschmidt
            Dan Waldschmidt says:

            Let me simplify: If you want a bigger audience (as you asked) then you need to absorb what you read on Copyblogger, Problogger, and HubSpot.

            If you want something else, let’s talk about that…

            The truth is that to one here can help you build your audience. And there is nothing **new** that you can can do to build your audience

            It’s the same formula that has worked for me or Erika or Jason:

            1. Find people in pain and help them OR
            2. Provide inspiration to those looking for answers OR
            3. Deliver “inside information” about an information niche OR
            4. All of the above…

            Dan

            p.s. I take everything I do personally. Or I don’t do it. If I spend my time helping someone that’s personal to me.

    • Amanda Johnson
      Amanda Johnson says:

      This is going to sound strange, I’m sure, but it has been my own mantra through dark times…honor the fallow field. If a creative person keeps hammering out production from an over-tilled and nurture-poor field nothing much is going to grow. I spent a year studying the fallow fields to grasp what might happen if I just stopped pushing myself, Dean. It turned into three. The fallow field is necessary to the organic processes of an artist in my opinion and lands through shock or through choice. Weeds actually feed the soil, our waste feeds the soil, worms return after a while and start mixing things up. Minimal disturbance guarantees that those nutrients will sink deeply, and that when you’re ready you can start clearing the stones and pulling the weeds and preparing for the first planting. Now, when you’re living on fumes this sounds like a terrible idea, but really what you have to do is stop moving, IMO, and get the very smallest rye planting kind of a job ever, and live on basic needs while you are honoring that field. Eventually a dream seed floats in, and you will be prepared. Talent does absolutely nothing for us, in my experience. Persistence is the great pay off. It doesn’t mean starving for goodness sake, but when you’ve gotten yourself to starving by planting the same crop over and over then you have to honor the fallow field while you build up a practice of self-respect and willingness to begin at the beginning. You spend your time watching the rye field grow and hop on a hawk’s back for perspective and you see that the sun keeps rising on your field and it is particularly angled to grow – an orchard, a crop of wheat, a community…whatever fits your willingness to persist.

      Reply
  40. Guest
    Guest says:

    I posted something lengthy. It was queued. Then approved.

    Then it disappeared.

    And now, 30 minutes later, it’s back. So if that happens to you, don’t be surprised.

    [This comment used to say something like — “Hey, I posted something, it was approved, and then it disappeared!” — But now it says something helpful — because that’s how I roll.]

    But really, I can’t delete this? Disqus, you craaaay.

    Reply
  41. Karen Hemmerle
    Karen Hemmerle says:

    What a great offer. I’ll happily take you up on it. As you know, I’m currently writing a non-fiction book, a series of essays, called Goodbye to the Fat Girl. I have a Facebook group (growing nicely), a blog (with a couple posts), and a Twitter account (not in use yet). So far, so good, considering it was all set up about two weeks ago. But I need help growing my audience, so that when the book is ready, there’s a ready market for it. Sadly, at the moment, I have exactly zero dollars to spend on promotion.

    My other need is related to those zero dollars. I haven’t had a paycheck for three years and my nest egg is gone. I need to find writing jobs to pay my bills. I’ll blog for people, copy write, edit, write anything that will pay. I’m a screenwriter, and have experience writing and producing commercials and PSAs, so that’s an option too. Surely someone needs a writer!

    Thanks for any help you can give me!
    Karen Hemmerle

    Reply
  42. wcdiva
    wcdiva says:

    My name is Heather Urick and I’m a bitch on wheels. I have spent the last 25 years of my life
    advocating, studying, and volunteering for people with disabilities. I am now “retired” and want to offer my
    personal experiences and knowledge, which are vast, to the public. My domain name is TheWheelChairDiva.com. How do I attract the people who need my help
    and have them find my website (after I publish it) so that I can get them out of their
    houses on the right track? Help!!
    Thank you for any advice you can give me.

    Reply
    • James Taylor
      James Taylor says:

      Heather, as someone who works in the disabilities field, I say bravo, and hope you have all of the success you deserve. Look me up when you start really taking off, I’ll send it to my circle!

      Reply
    • Dan Waldschmidt
      Dan Waldschmidt says:

      1. Speak from the soul
      2. Share valuable insights
      3. Love what you do
      4. Be different
      5. Do what’s scary
      6. Work harder than you should
      7. Ask for help when you need it…..

      Rinse. Repeat.

      Chances are you’ll be crushing it all too soon…

      Dan

      Reply
    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      On top of Dan’s advice below, here’s one tip I’ll offer: get a landing page setup for your book where, in exchange for their email address, people can get a download of the book’s first chapter. Then you can set up a drip email campaign to touch base with them later on. A free chapter lets people know you’re happy to give a sneak peek of what they’ll be getting when they spend the cash. Always a great goodwill gesture!

      Reply
  43. Michelle Nickolaisen
    Michelle Nickolaisen says:

    Hi Erika! This is my first comment so I feel a lil weird asking for help in it…but I’ve been following you for a while now & love what you’re doing.

    Anyways, I’m getting ready to make a big transition in my business, from a mostly hourly-based freelancer model to a more agency-style setup. I have digital products available and occasionally do one-off classes & workshops, but in my ongoing work with clients it’s hourly & freelancer-style – they hire me as their project/business manager and I work within their existing team/setup. I want to change this for a few reasons – namely, I noticed so many of my clients either have kind of shitty VAs, or shitty systems/relationships with those VAs…so I want to set everything up so that it’s seamless and essentially, the biz-owner meets with me and tells me what they want to get done (and we work on making sure they’re on track for their longer term goals and that they’re being accountable and doing THEIR side of things) and then shit just gets done without them having to do anything else. The other part of my motivation behind this is that I want working with me to be a really “high-end” experience with client surprises & bonuses, and I literally, mathematically cannot do that while working on an hourly basis. So I’m thinking a 3-tiered monthly retainer set up, with my team consisting of 2-3 VAs who all have their own specialities so that we can cover almost any need.

    My help-needed areas:

    1. Any advice in general in switching from one business model to another with minimal fuckups? I know I need to check and double-check my numbers, because my first round of prices was based entirely off gut-instinct/numbers I was comfortable with & then when I did the math, it’s like, oh shit, I’d need to have 20-30 clients or more to actually make a living off of those prices, and I’d still be working ’round the clock & making like $10/hr. No bueno.

    2. Any advice in finding clients who really want that higher end experience & are willing to pay accordingly? I expect some of my existing clients will transfer over to the new business model (and I’m working on transition options for that), but I’m pretty nervous about this transition and worried that I’ll wind up with nothing but tumbleweeds for the first few months after I switch over. Do you just focus on giving the BEST experience possible and let your raving clients work as your recruitment force, or…?

    I hope this wasn’t TOO long and was specific enough to be doable! Thank you Erika and Jason for your generosity!!

    Reply
    • James Taylor
      James Taylor says:

      Michelle, One idea I had, was to throw a party! I’m assuming that you will be getting some kind of space to house your new business model. Invite current and prospective future clients to see your new world, and then hit them up with a short and casual pitch like “welcome to our new house, we will have to work hard to fill it up with success, please be a part of our success and help us as we take a big new step in the right direction!” Add, we buy lunches for business referrals as a sort of funny, sort of truthful ending…

      Reply
  44. Nomad Cigar Company
    Nomad Cigar Company says:

    Ok, I have a “simple” question for the two of you.

    I have no problem with ideas and projects. Some of my Projects have been killer money making home runs. Others, like my latest venture, are simply the process of turning my hobbies into a business. I don’t have a problem starting a project (no real “fear of failure” issues). But, my questions is…

    We all only have so much time. How do YOU decide which projects to pursue and which to simply cast away and not attempt?

    Reply
    • Dan Waldschmidt
      Dan Waldschmidt says:

      I ask myself: “What Are You Scared To Do?”…. And then I start doing that.

      BTW, the harder you work, the more time you have. Do it all. The only people complaining about time management and priorities are the people who are standing on the sideline complaining about the game you are playing.

      Dan

      p.s. And yes I do understand the basic laws of 7th Grade science class. I just think it’s stupid to stop anything you don’t want stop. And silly not to start anything you want to get started….

      Reply
      • Nomad Cigar Company
        Nomad Cigar Company says:

        Ummm, other than “Launch Jacking” the threads here (it is now the Erika, Jason, AND Dan party 🙂 – The more the merrier! Can’t get enough advice (not matter how successful one is).

        The fact of the matter is that there are so many hours in the day. “Do everything” is not a realistic option. If you feel that it is…than I respectfully suggest one needs more ideas.

        The methods of choosing what to run with vary. What makes you the happiest, the most money, gives back, etc, etc. Hour in the day are the one thing we all deal with.

        Thanks for the advice!

        Reply
        • Dan Waldschmidt
          Dan Waldschmidt says:

          You are right that time ultimately is a factor. I just find that busy people seem to be doing 10x as much as everyone else. They do what they love and so they just move around the nonsense that everyone else thinks is important — TV, etc….

          Dan

          Reply
    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      My answer to this is simple: my gut. My gut tells me every day what has to be sone with my business…and dammit if it’s never wrong. It’s kind of an arrogant fuck, my gut, but if something seems hard, can’t get traction, I’m floundering, or simply don’t have the motivation to start it…it’s out. Plain and simple.

      Reply
  45. Aimee Meester
    Aimee Meester says:

    Thanks for the offer!

    I am helping a boot-strapped start up conquer the Denver technology consulting market and am running out of creative, low-cost marketing ideas to fill the pipeline. We have an extremely talented group of people doing amazing, innovative tech projects and want to get the word out.

    Any ideas on how to reach Denver mid-sized businesses would be GREATLY appreciated!

    Reply
    • James Taylor
      James Taylor says:

      Aimee, One idea on how to get to the midsized folks would be to begin with hosting and event. Put on something which you know will show some how to knowledge and invite folks to get out and see what you are doing that differentiates. your company. Do it as a service to anyone with little or no cost (there is a school that believes that adding a cost will filter those who come for free ideas or food). Mid sized companies always have folks who are in charge of things like chamber of commerce expos and such. Go out and represent yourself as an authority and give some good advice, the bigs will come sniffing at some point, esp. if you get any media out of the event(s)…

      Reply
    • Stephen Denny
      Stephen Denny says:

      Aimee: a few thoughts for you, if I may. I find that “tech consulting” isn’t something bought casually while you’re waiting to pay for your beer and chips, is it? You need to do two things – both matter a lot in my experience. Here goes:

      1. Be an authority: find a way to get in front of them and speak. And EO or YPO chapter, or any other “filled room” will do. Offer up a case study (with permission) of one of your clients that they’d find helpful or whatever makes sense for them. Be the one standing on stage. As Mark Twain said, “An expert is a guy from another town.” To which I’d add, “… and who also has a book deal and gives a few keynotes to groups.” Amen.

      2. Be an insider: you need someone running interference, introducing you to people who know people and who is already an insider. Could be a relationship you need to cultivate, so think 2 to 3 moves down the board. Could be that EO or YPO chapter learning chair (or just a member). Could be a lawyer/accountant who does a lot of their work. You pick. But pick.

      Good luck!

      SD

      Reply
  46. Marie Angell
    Marie Angell says:

    I hate to ask for help (quit reading my mind!), but I will try. I’m working on an ebook, which I hope to use as the cornerstone of a website/blog/to the moon/whatever. Naturally, I have the scaredy cat wobblies since this will be the biggest thing I have ever done short of birthing children.

    BUT the more pressing issue is: I am deeply (truly madly) concerned my approach to the problem I’m trying to ease for my future readers is completely full of shit. I don’t have a tribe to ask, because I wanted to build a tribe using my ebook. I can’t build a tribe if I don’t have a starting point (why does that tail keep chasing me?!?).

    Of course, my family/friends think my approach just fine, but what do they know? I need somebody who doesn’t know me at all to tell me whether my angle is off base.

    Pretty please. With lots of sugar on it. Lots. (Or sugar substitute–totally up to you.) And thank you.

    Reply
    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      Chicken/egg…chicken/egg. We all had to start somewhere. Determine first who will NEVER benefit from your eBook. Then write it for the people who will. Then let people that you already know who know those kind of people that you have a new eBook. And chances are, those people who knows those people will share the everlovin’ shit our of your eBook 🙂

      Sound doable? So start writing that eBook.

      Reply
    • Stephen Denny
      Stephen Denny says:

      Marie – as a partner-in-the-Redhead’s-thought-crime-syndicate, I’d be happy to give you a bit of advice on this, and it’s a doozy (I’m biased, of course, but still). If you’re not sure you’ve got your approach nailed down tightly – and lack a tribe to run it past – do two things in short order.

      First, understand that you do have a tribe. It may be small, but that’s not important. Get opinions – particularly from those who are “loose connections” – not good, personal friends. Because they won’t care about offending you.

      Second – and this matters a lot – speak about it. Develop your own keynote presentation on your topic. And find a way to deliver it to any audience that will sit still for 45 minutes. Do this as many times as quickly as you can over the next 90 days. You will find (WILL FIND) that having to look lots of people in the eye and say it all out loud will dramatically focus your approach – and you will discover, very quickly, what gaps you missed the first go-’round.

      This second piece is important, so get to it. In my opinion. Good luck!

      SD

      Reply
      • Marie Angell
        Marie Angell says:

        Thank you, Redhead (if I may call you that) and Stephen–I appreciate your comments very much and have been mulling.

        Ms. Redhead, I’m trying to laser my focus with the hope of spillover. Frankly, when I first embarked on this journey, I was definitely taking too broad a swipe, but I’m now concerned that I’ve gone too narrow. Plus I’m rather worried that the way I’m approaching this is a ridiculous mix of information and strained humor that will baffle some people and offend others. I suppose I shouldn’t worry about that just yet.

        Stephen, I will definitely consider your way (speaking first), but I guess one of my hangups (such a long list!) is that most of the possibilities for groups to speak to in my area are Serious Business People whereas I’ve tried to take a more informal approach that they’re not necessarily used to. Pondering, pondering.

        Nevertheless, it’s true, I have some loose connections (so I’ve frequently been told, tra la). I guess I hesitate to prevail upon them for fearing of putting them in an awkward position. But I’m pretty confident at least some of my notions are on track, so they wouldn’t have to feel as though they were completely destroying my life.

        I’m very close to a decent first draft of the ebook, which provides me with the structure I need to consider the next move, whether it’s speaking first or whatever. Funny you insist on 90 days, because that’s my time frame too!

        Much obliged for your insight. You two: Rocking it.

        Reply
  47. flashmemoirs
    flashmemoirs says:

    Wow, what a fab offer! Can’t let that go by so here goes: I would like to take my cool little flash writing class on the road: http://flashmemoirs.com/workshops/. Any suggestions for how to best research venues and opportunities in the US, and particularly the West coast? Do I perhaps need speakers agent – and how to find them?? Thanks for any ideas you have!

    Reply
        • Erika Napoletano
          Erika Napoletano says:

          Ah, but you just said you don’t want to sell them stuff. So I don’t really understand what the goal is to “build the brand” by getting more traffic. I have to look at other cartoonists as my only plausible comparison. Gaping Void and The Oatmeal both use the traffic to parlay into books, posters, and other ventures. The Oatmeal even raised a crapload of money for the Tesla museum using his audience and that traffic.

          I’ll take a swing and hope it helps.

          Start with polls. Ask you audience what their favorite comics are and try a greatest hits approach, featuring and thanking the reader who mentioned the favorite. Bring your audience IN instead of keeping them out. Look for other distribution channels, like exploring what small levels of syndication look like and what sites might benefit from having your work featured on their site.

          Reply
          • Dust Bunny Mafia
            Dust Bunny Mafia says:

            Okay, maybe I should rephrase it…as of right now (and the coming months) I am not looking to sell anything first. The goal is to grow the audience and get people reading the comics then if they happen to want a comic on a mug, then we’d go from there.

            The idea is to get the comics into a bigger venue, down the road (many miles and states away) I want the dust bunnies to become the next Animaniacs or Looney Tunes type cartoon.

            I’ve been using the clever search part of Twitter recently and have been growing my followers list by responding as the dust bunnies would whenever people tweet mentioning “dust bunnies.”

  48. Sam R
    Sam R says:

    I have wanted to post a comment on this since the moment I saw the generous offer you made. Thank you for this. I have been trying to get my thoughts together on exactly what and how to ask. In the end though that time has not helped. I can tell you that I love photography and want to form a business where I am able to travel to take photographs and where I am able to teach photography to others (perhaps those with illnesses of some sort). I just do not know where to even begin. I am working on a website but am not sure once it is up and running how I will be able to get people’s attention. The other issue though is that I do not just want to take photographs for pleasure, and hopefully profit, rather I want to combine my interest in photography with a cause that is important to me. This cause is particular is education people about mental illness. I feel there is a very strong stigma attached to people who have been diagnosed and who are being treated for mental illness. People have serious misconceptions about the illness and those who live with it. This not only makes it difficult at times for people to seek the treatment they need but also makes recovery and maintenance difficult. I feel the main way I can help other people who deal with mental illness is to change the views the world has of us to better facilitate treatment and recovery. I want to find a way eventually to combine people’s stories with photographic imagery of some sort. I would prefer
    portraits, but I can see how that might make some subject uncomfortable. So, I
    guess my core issues is how to build a profitable business that will allow me
    to go in this direction with either a website or a book one day. I know this is a really broad question, but any advice or help you have would be great. Thank you again for this!

    Reply
    • IrreverentSalesGirl
      IrreverentSalesGirl says:

      Sam R – you are interested in two different things.
      1) You want to earn a living traveling taking pictures and teaching photography.
      2) You want to dispel stigmas about mental illness
      I want you to think about this from a business perspective (since you said you want a profit from this)
      There are a number of ways to do this, but the one I think combines your interests is:
      Find the mentally challenged people you want to promote…show them how to operate the camera… have THEM take the pictures from THEIR perspecive.
      Find a mental care provider that will sponsor your efforts (check out the AdCounci and others – people CARE about this issue)
      BE the expert on you message…you probably already are.
      APPROACH SPONSORS…be unafraid. You have a message worth delivering…especially if it is delivered by those afflicted. They are out there. They want the “raw” stories. Get them those stories and the future is unlimited!
      Love ’em UP!

      Reply
      • Sam R
        Sam R says:

        Thank you so much! I am looking into which groups I can work with and trying to come up with a plan to present them with. Once again, Thank You so much for the advice and encouragement. It really means a lot to me.

        Reply
  49. Dona
    Dona says:

    I have been working over the part few years too build my business. However I am really struggling with how to target my customers as an artist. I am having a difficult time targeting the best venues booth physical and online. Basically I need someone to help me set the compass in the right direction and then kick make in the butt.

    Reply
    • Dan Waldschmidt
      Dan Waldschmidt says:

      Who buys your art? Ask them why they bought it and who they think would like to meet you. That will start the conversation.

      Here are a few other ideas to get you noticed:

      1. Ask your biggest buyer to host a dinner party where you can show off your artwork and introduce yourself to a bigger audience.
      2. Volunteer to teach classes at a local community college or high school.
      3. Create a booth at your local Farmer’s Market and “do it live”. Have an iPad available to capture names.

      I generally steer away from “what is” towards “what I want it to be”. Where do you want your artwork to be seen and bought?

      Answer that question. And then figure out how to get yourself in that position. We’re all here to help you as the pathway becomes more clear.

      Dan

      Reply
      • Dona
        Dona says:

        Thanks for the reply. I do have a fairly good feel for who my customers are and who I want them to be. However I do not live near them way out here in the middle of nowhere Montana… Most of my bigger customers are out of state. I do shows. I teach 15-20 classes a year but my students are not my buyers in general. I do the local farmers market when I am not out of town doing an art show. I know I need to be doing shows in larger, higher income areas but not really sure how to target those without breaking the bank on travel and such until I find the ones that are profitable. My experience is that the ones my customers have told me about often are not a good match for me. Galleries and stores are much the same. I do very well in the higher end tourist areas here in Montana but translating that to other statespecially has been much more difficult. So I am searching for that one little element that turns the light bulb on for me so I can get around the potholes.
        All the best…

        Reply
        • Dan Waldschmidt
          Dan Waldschmidt says:

          1. Maybe you turn on a web cam and do live streaming your artistic process
          2. Maybe you ask local resorts to let you do an art show there live and to hang your work (and offer for sale)
          3. Maybe you offer your art for rent through TurningArt or for sale through ArtSpace

          Try a bunch of these things. See what works. See what makes you happy.

          Dan

          Reply
  50. Mikele Burcaicea Ibrahim
    Mikele Burcaicea Ibrahim says:

    First, thank you so much for doing this. I run a pediatric dental office in a small community in Denver. The neighborhood is upper-middle class with many families where both parents have graduate degrees. Our practice is state-of-the-art and we have a great reputation, but we have had a hard time marketing to the local families. The parents in our neighborhood are very busy and many of them prefer taking their children to the family dentists in the area to consolidate appointments. We have great relationships with many of these dentists, who often refer to us when their pediatric patients need treatment. Many parents are surprised when they realize how much “better” our office is for their children and end up switching their children to our office (the referring dentists do not mind this). We would like to show neighborhood parents the value of bringing their kids to us without stepping on any toes or offending the other dentists in the area. We have tried Facebook with little success, offering everything from Sonicare toothbrush contests to free movie tickets just to “like” our page. Not many takers on the giveaways. In fact, we once had a mom read our sign at the front desk about a Sonicare giveaway contest for “liking” our page. She did not “like” us on Facebook, but instead *bought* two Sonicares! We do see traffic spikes when we do charity events or recently with a Halloween candy buyback program but we’ve found that the busy parents in our neighborhood are not motivated by Facebook. We have considered changing our giveaways to brands that our neighborhood loves like Boden and Nordstrom, but a $25 gift card to one of these businesses won’t go very far. Direct mailers worked in year one, but after a few rounds we saw diminishing returns (we’re in year four now). How can we market ourselves as the office parents “must” take their children to, without biting the hands that feed us? Thanks so much!

    Reply
    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      So — ask yourself: What problem do we solve for parents? Kids hate going to the dentist. Parents hate running them around. So what is it that you do that’s “so much better” once you finally get the parents in the door?

      Tell me what this is…and then I can tell you something else 🙂 Oh — and stop bribing people who have the means to fully pay for what you offer. You’re better than a daily deals schtick. 😉

      Reply
      • Mikele Burcaicea Ibrahim
        Mikele Burcaicea Ibrahim says:

        The surprising thing is that kids LOVE coming to our office. Parents comment on it all of the time. What we do differently is that we have a kid friendly office that is their size. We give kids goody bags, they get a token for our toy machine after each visit, we carefully analyze their insurance benefits so there are no billing surprises (which is huge these days, nobody does this), the dental work is very conservative we always do what is best for the child in every case. We have specially trained assistants that are amazing with kids. We also sponsor each school in the area and give prizes for their annual auctions, which I have wondered if this is helpful at all. I think that is about it. As far as the bribing….done. Thanks again!

        Reply
      • IrreverentSalesGirl
        IrreverentSalesGirl says:

        There are two approaches to your dilemma. The first is…those dentists that don’t mind making the referral…call on them. Have lunch. Make YOU the trusted resource that, when their clients talk with them say “I LOVE THAT YOU CONNECTED ME WITH Mikele, THANK YOU!”

        Another fun approach could be to market a seminar – at your beautiful offices – talking about the process of good dental care for your young clients. Invite them in to see how you work…experience your facilities. Serve food! Direct marketing will be best for this. Pay for the list. Invest.

        Reply
        • Mikele Burcaicea Ibrahim
          Mikele Burcaicea Ibrahim says:

          Thanks! We regularly schedule lunches and dinners with the docs around town. Their referrals have been what has kept us in business. We also have tried to have a free seminar for new parents at a popular local kids store and one family showed. Maybe we will offer food next time.

          Reply
  51. Ashley Festa
    Ashley Festa says:

    Thanks to both of you for doing this. Good karma is headed your way.

    I need help explaining my value to potential clients. The reason I can’t do that is because I have no idea how to go about determining my “ideal” client or determining my USP. I’ve read all sorts of things trying to help people figure that out (picture what they look like, how old they are, what they like for breakfast, etc.) but that has gotten me nowhere. I’m a writer without a niche, so what’s my USP? Just that I’m reliable? That won’t get me very far until I’ve already been hired and do the work.

    Confidence is also an issue. I’ve been writing for a long time, so I know I’m good at that. But I’ve been a business owner only a few years, so selling myself to clients is still scary. I have several regular clients and they’re all very happy with my work. In fact, I’ve had only one client that was unhappy with my work (and I’ve since figured out that he’s the exact opposite of whoever my my “ideal” client is!) but he’s still the one that sticks in my mind, rather than the many happy, repeat clients.

    I need some blunt, unpopular advice. Lay it on me! And thanks!

    Reply
    • Dan Waldschmidt
      Dan Waldschmidt says:

      Change how you’re thinking about this. Who do you want to read what you write? Everyone? Business owners? Moms? Puppies?

      [thinking…….]

      Write to that person. And do it every day.

      Your confidence will bet stronger the more vulnerable you allow yourself to become. Think about what scares you and then write about that. Think about the secrets no one knows about you and use that write from your soul.

      If you are looking for practical ideas on how to do that, try using S.C.A.M.P.E.R.

      The mnemonic is as follows:

      S = Substitute
      C = Combine
      A = Adapt
      M = Magnify = Modify
      P = Put to other uses
      E = Eliminate
      R = Rearrange = Reverse

      Take any topic and add any of the S.C.A.M.P.E.R. “focuses” to the discussion. That will help you be more creative and push your writing to the next level.

      Dan

      p.s. BTW, you should stop beating yourself up. Your unhappy customer did a good enough job for the both of you. It’s OK to strike-out. We all do it.

      Reply
      • Erika Napoletano
        Erika Napoletano says:

        You’re a writer without a niche? Bullshit. Every writer has a niche. And to add to what Dan’s said, maybe you’re trying too hard to niche yourself and not seeing it. Maybe you serve a wide range of industries with quirky copy that makes people laugh. Perhaps you’re the direct response gal who can close an email marketing campaign with ka-ching! Look at the whole of what you do and ask: HOW do I make my customers FEEL when they work with me? That’s your USP (a term I hate, BTWLOLOMG). Focus on WHY your customers hire you, then WHAT you deliver. The HOW? Hell, girl. You do it with words. 🙂

        Reply
        • Ashley Festa
          Ashley Festa says:

          Thank you both for your thoughtful replies. I’m going to mull these
          things a little bit, but what I hear you both saying is that I’m
          probably trying too hard, which is clouding my view of things. It’s always so much easier to write for customers than write for myself. But, practice practice practice, yes? 🙂

          Reply
  52. SL Clark
    SL Clark says:

    I’ve been eyeballs deep in a major kitchen remodel, thinking, how to ask.

    Our business launches April 2013, high end luxury goods we create – like custom heirloom bedspreads, hand made & expensive; Biltmore, Hearts Castle, generational.

    The question(s) Google type soft launch or attempt to be everywhere our customers are at all at once?

    If all at once is best, does anyone have any thoughts when it comes to efficient ways to make this happen. I don’t want “all at once” to take a year or more if that’s the direction we take.

    All thoughts will be appreciated,
    -Steve Clark

    Reply
    • Dan Waldschmidt
      Dan Waldschmidt says:

      I was just at the Biltmore Mansion yesterday. 🙂

      Go deep and stay narrow. Be outrageously amazing at one thing (or two or three) rather than “ok” at fifty.

      Since you are competing for eyeballs and wallet share, you can fight a better battle if you only have to fight on a few different fronts. By being everywhere you are really nowhere.

      Dan

      Reply
      • SL Clark
        SL Clark says:

        Thanks Dan & Erika! I’m happy with the slow build (Google Soft Launch) approach. We’ve got several A-List inspirations Sonia wants to personally thank. I’ve also been compiling our list of sector bloggers.

        The bedspread seems easiest, because it will be one of most expensive in the world, hand crafted and custom designed to our customer’s specific theme with visual examples like Opera, Wine, etc.

        The perfumes will be crafted for pleasure, not max ROI at wholesale like all celebrity du jour creations are today. The silks well, because we can and most women get immense pleasure from them. Cheers and THANK YOU!!!!

        Reply
    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      In addition to what Dan’s said, find a way to get your product into the hands of people who can love them and share them! People who have fantastic and plugged-in Facebook communities. Bloggers with audiences in the luxury goods sector. And be content, contrary to what your heart might desire, with the slow build. People love sharing great products, not hype. When hype fades (which is fast), great product will stay behind. Sounds like you have a great product. Those stick around for the long haul when you take the time to cultivate the right audience 🙂

      Reply

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