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Archive for the ‘Writing as a Small Business’ Category

Working With Social Media

January 24, 2009 Leave a comment

The Internet has given rise to a new marketing twist. Born as a direct result of online chatting is the concept of Inbound Marketing. To define Inbound Marketing, maybe we should start with the definition of Outbound Marketing, which is a concept we are most familiar.

Outbound marketing is when you —the vendor, the purveyor of goods or services — reaches out to the public for business.

In contrast, Inbound Marketing refers to you, the vendor, attracting people of like interests or needs by just existing. Inbound marketing is based on you putting yourself out there and people deciding that they are interested in your ideas, your humor, or your knowledge.

Here’s an example: An Outbound Marketing activity might be placing an ad in the newspaper or launching a direct mail campaign. We are waving our product or services in people’s faces to see if they are interested.

In Inbound Marketing, the perspective is the opposite. It is more like going to a cocktail party. You aren’t selling anything in particular. You are sharing information and ideas. People gravitate to you because of who you are. You are building a relationship online, which might someday lead to a business transaction.

The fluid nature of the Internet made this possible. It brings you in contact with people in all corners of the globe. There are social media sites in every industry and every avocation.

What is amazing is that these sites are not just for the very young or the tech savvy. http://www.linkedin.com boasts that the average person in their membership is between 32-45, earning about $79,000 per year and owns a business. These sites are generally free. All you have to do is sign up for a membership.

The most popular social media sites are http://www.facebook.com and http://www.myspace.com. Other business oriented sites are http://www.linkedin.com, http://www.brownbook.net, and http://www.jigsaw.com.

http://www.twitter.com has gained tremendous popularity in a short time. It is best characterized as a mini-blog because contributions cannot exceed 140 characters. As you blog you attract people with similar interests. Common interests creates an immediate connection, even if it is only tenuous.

There are several social media sites for writers, which I will post next time.

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Every Writer Should Have a Website

October 17, 2008 Leave a comment

 

If writing is the way you pay for food and keep a roof over your head, then you should have a website.  Think of your website as a virtual business card.  This “card,” however, differs in that so much more of your personality, your bio, your writing is out there for public scrutiny.   Smart writers understand that publishing their writing is only half a story.  Through a website is a pivotal beginning for marketing — the half of the publishing game.

 

Here are several good reasons how  a website can increase your exposure:


1.  You are reaching
1,463,632,361 potential viewers.  That’s about one-fifth of the world’s population.
2.   You can superficially bond with your audience by sharing with your viewers something of your life and interests.
3.  You can communicate with your virtual fans through your blog or forum. 
4.   You can request your viewers to subscribe to your site, which is a built in audience for selling your books.

5.   You will enjoy the creative process.
6.    You can add all sorts of sections to your website.  You can keep it strictly about writing?  Or if you have a passion for a topic,  you may use this website as your personal virtual library.  Add all sorts of interesting tidbits about music, literature, articles to show the full scope of your interests and writing skills.

www.wix.com

September 14, 2008 Leave a comment

Have you been wanting to create a website that doesn’t look like an amateur put it together?  Are you hesitant about designing a website because you think that learning the software is a bit overwhelming?

Well, last week I stumbled onto one of the easiest and sharpest looking web design sites.  www.wix.com is  user friendly.  It has great illustrations, which by the way, you can use these illustrations  as a template and insert your own copy.  It offers the flexibility of flash and hosts it to its server.  You can embed it into your facebook or myspace page or any other vehicle for that matter…or you can create your own freestanding webpage.

I give this site a double thumbs up!!! Let me know what you think. Oh and I think you’ll like this.  The site is free.

 

LinkedIn.com: Social Networking in a New Box

September 1, 2008 Leave a comment

LinkedIn.com is a fast growing professional social networking site that allows members to create business contacts, search for jobs, and find potential clients.   Members can create a profile that can be viewed by others within their network.  LinkedIn is a free business social networking site that allows users who register to create a professional profile visible to others. 

With over 24 million linkedin users, it is an incredibly effective way to develop an extensive list of contacts rather quickly.  Your network consists of your own connections, your connections’ connections (2nd degree) and your 2nd degree connections’ connections (3rd degree).   From these contacts, you learn of job and business opportunities.  The LinkedIn Answers allows people to post business-related questions.  Responses come from LinkedIn members.

Like anything else, you will have to put some time into developing the information for your profile and inviting contacts to join your network.  I’m not sure how many people really work the network to its full potential, but it is always nice to know that in case your memory starts to slip (too many faces and names over time), you just have to browse your contacts to jog your memory.

LinkedIn also provides you with an instant way of connecting with everyone when you have an important announcement to make such as your fourth father-in-law’s brother is Lee Iacocca.

Be aware that competitors also view these profiles.  Headhunters can snatch up your best employees.  I have noticed that people feel obligated to respond to invitations and asking for recommendations might be akin to begging.  This can be a bit off putting to some.

For writers, start your network on www.linkedin.com and be in position to do viral marketing when your first book is published.

 

 

 

Discovering Yourself as a Writer (4)

April 30, 2008 Leave a comment

This is the fourth and final segment of SWOT  — threats. 

Threats can stem from anywhere.  Threats materialize from environmental conditions, competitors, friends and family, and self. If you can identify threats upfront, most times you will be able to develop strategies to mitigate the threat or turn it around to your advantage.  However, even being proactive, sometimes you cannot see the threat until it is upon you. 

In part I I identified my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and below is the content I considered threats to my writing efforts.

THREATS
Lack of focus. 
Energies too dispersed.
Self confidence
 

Obviously, my threats are my own habits.  Did you wonder where I was the last three days?  As much as I hate to admit it, II suffered from a lack of focus.  My energies were too dispersed.  I did, however, start my short story, but stalled out  because of a minor self-confidence issue. 

I could itinerate my excuses. They haven’t changed in 20 years. I decided not to pontificate about my excuses because they are just plain boring.  You, no doubt, know what I am referring to…the millions of little interruptions that steal away our time and skew our attention from the work we know we should be doing.  So, I wrote what I did during the day and asked the question: How does this task get me one step closer to achieving my goal?  Sadly, very little that I accomplished that day got me any closer to my goal. 

Okay, bottom line is that I am a self saboteur.  I should know better.  I’m on auto pilot. I just did it without thinking. I have to work on changing these behaviors, if I am ever going to write. 

And I look at next week’s busy calendar.  I see one writing activity compared to 10 other must do tasks.  This is a beginning, but I know that I have to step up my game, if I am going to move forward.

 

Discovering Who You Are as a Writer (3)

April 26, 2008 Leave a comment

In case you are just joining us, I’m in the midst of of a four part series in discovering who you are as a writer.  We are using SWOT to identify our strengths, weaknesses,opportunities, and threats.  While this exercise is ridiculously simple, it can be challenging because it forces you to look at yourself honestly.  After we compile all this information, it will help develp a game plan for any writing project.  Today we are discussing opportunities. I have been using my life to fill in the blanks, because I am transitioning into a writing career. 

I love opportunities…but one has to realize that most times opportunities don’t just come to you.  While it may seem like you are doing nothing to attract opportunities, you actually are.  However, when you want opportunities to show up in a particular area of your life — such as writing, you need to figure out how you are going to make it happen.

Most often, people can draw something from past experience, friends or skills to create writing opportunities.  A friend’s family runs a local magazine that features book and movie reviews.  While this isn’t directly in the ball park of novel writing, it may provide a stepping stone when the editor asks for clips.  You will also get a glimpse of the writing world.   Writing a couple of articles gives you credibility.  It looks good in the proposal.  It looks as if you are serious about writing…and of course, you are.

In my SWOT analysis, here’s what’s in the Opportunity box.

OPPORTUNITIES
Opportunity to meet many people where I work
Member of a Writing Group
Contacts at colleges where I attended
Understanding how to use the Internet and viral marketing as a tool

What I need to do is keep up with the email lists, stay active and make sure I connect with people that I may share things in common. I also need to work on other avenues to develop activities because this is not going to be enough to establish a good contact base for marketing endeavors (meaning the novels yet to be written).

My immediate action plan? I need to get folders set up for each of these areas of opportunity. When I have an idea to expand and broaden the area, I make notes to remind me what stage I am on the development. Always put down what you did and what you are going to do with a date. When your life becomes overwhelming and/or old age besets your memory, this will help you not squander time looking for stuff or redoing tasks already done.

One last note: If you stay at your computer and write without mingling and establishing relationships, you are closing your door to potential opportunities. It sounds regimented, but if you are the passionate type that prefers to stick your nose to the grindstone until the project is over, you will probably need more balance to keep your sanity. It will also keep the low and high peaks of any career at a minimum. To do that means to change your behaviors slightly. If you do a daily calendar, you can map out when you should write, do admin work, network, and relax. You need to nourish your whole self, not just the creative part.

My plan for tomorrow is to not blog my threats (last segment of the series) until I start my short story.

Discovering Who You Are as a Writer (1)

April 22, 2008 Leave a comment

In my last post, I invited everyone to join me as I begin the journey of crafting my writing talent into a business.  I discussed the definition of SWOT in fleshing out my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  We are going to take this information now and see how this information is useful.

STRENGTHS:  Strengths are always easy to work with because they are what we do best.  It is easy to be enthused, proud of your talents.  When you list your strengths in regard to your writing, you will see the talent you have that you have not tapped into yet.  Use those abilities to augment your chances of achievement.  For example: For years I have known that these were my strengths, but I never looked at them as a whole and think…hmmm…if I were counseling someone, what do all these strengths add up to?  What career am I going to be successful based on the list below?

In my case, I see it as a slam dunk.  These traits scream some kind of technical or business writer.  And what does my blog gravitate toward?  The business, more formal side of writing.  

Yet my goal is fiction —to write a novel.  180 degrees opposite of my skill set.  In further analyzing this information, it is obvious that the technical, more formal writing is my sweet spot.  Like the comedian who wants to be a dramatic actor, or the basketball player who wants to play football, human beings want to be what they are not naturally.  I think it is the thrill of the challenge and the adrenalin rush of achievement that drives us. 

And so, tomorrow I will examine my weaknesses and figure out how I can take action to be more efficient and take back some of those squandered hours and write.

Please feel free to share or comment.  Or jump in with a question.

STRENGTHS
Writing ability
Good foundation in research
Computer literate
Good imagination
Marketing skills
Small business management knowledge
Analytical
WEAKNESSES
Need more fiction writing time
Easily distracted by family and responsibilities
Too eager to help others
To-Do List is overwhelming 
OPPORTUNITIES
Opportunity to meet many people where I work
Member of a Writing Group
Contacts at colleges where I attended
Understanding how to use the Internet and viral marketing as a tool
 
THREATS
Lack of focus. 
Energies too dispersed.
Self confidence