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How to write a book, win friends & influence people

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They say the most important book in your life is the one you write yourself.

Writing a book is still one of the most powerful ways to up your game as an entrepreneur, visible expert or business owner.

And talking about this today is particularly apt because just yesterday, for example, I was on invited onto the Chris Evans breakfast show on Radio 2 to talk blogging. Apparently Chris’ wife wants to start a blog and so they were looking for an expert. And a good old Google & social media search unveiled me and my book!

Obviously, it’s great to go on such a high profile programme regardless of what happens next BUT within minutes my book had become an Amazon bestseller (the 48th top selling book in the entire of Amazon), and, ahem, it actually SOLD OUT! Well, Amazon ran out of stock so there were frantic emails to my publishers who were immediately loading up a van to take more over to Amazon….. #drama

Meanwhile, I tweeted Chris saying the book had sold out and he’s retweeted me this morning instantly adding HUNDREDS of followers.

And speaking generally, ​since my book, The Million Dollar Blog, came out, it’s become so much easier for me to do all the things we are all trying to do, such as build my email list, get publicity, raise my profile, secure new opportunities…..

Anyway!

I know that many of the people I work with want to put writing a book at heart of their strategy.

My advice is to DO IT. There’s no better way to raise your profile, establish yourself as an expert and charge a premium for your services.

I can’t think of a better example of this than my good friend (and mentor) Shaa Wasmund MBE.

Shaa’s now written three #1 bestsellers, sold over 100,000 books and just last month reached Sunday Times Bestseller status with her most recent release.

Her first book ‘Stop Talking, Start Doing’ knocked Sir Richard Branson off top spot and went on to hold it for a record 14 consecutive months in WH Smiths.

Her book and its follow up ‘Do Less, Get More’, has opened up so many doors for Shaa.

Not only has she launched three successful businesses in the last two years and built a seriously impressive personal brand; she’s been awarded an MBE for Services to Entrepreneurship and been named one of the Top 20 Most Influential Entrepreneurs by The Sunday Times.

And Shaa, being Shaa, has been even more strategic about this than I was with my book!

She didn’t just set out to write any old book. She very deliberately plotted to create a #1 bestseller.

She invested heavily in herself to learn from the best, including spending £10k and travelling to America to learn from Tim Ferriss’, author of global bestseller The 4-Hour Work Week. She studied how and why people buy books; figured out what the top publishers expect to take and promote your book; and worked out what else she needed to do to guarantee her book was a bestseller.

Now – for one day only – she’s going to show you how to do the same. And I’m going to be on stage with Shaa talking about how I secured a deal for The Million Dollar Blog and the direct impact it’s had on my personal brand and business.

If you’ve ever thought of writing a book or are looking to raise your profile or take your business to the next level, please come and join us next Friday.

Shaa Wasmund MBE Business Bootcamp

How To Write A Book, Make Friends And Influence People

Friday 17th March 2017

The Cavendish Conference Centre, Central London

EARLY BIRD PRICE: £29

SECURE YOUR EARLY BIRD TICKET NOW

You’ll get to hear direct from Shaa how she plans, writes and markets her bestselling books. You’ll also be able to ask her questions, including whether or not your book is likely to sell, or how to change it to make it work.

And you can ask me any questions you like too!

Shaa’s Bootcamps always totally sell out so book now before this one does.

And please (as someone on my email list) make sure you seek me out and come and say hello!

SECURE YOUR EARLY BIRD TICKET NOW

What is it about visibility when you’re building a personal brand?

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Over in my new Facebook Group #GetVisible this week, we’ve been talking about visibility.

And specifically, what is it about visibility that, when you’re an expert, professional or authority figure (ie when YOU are your business) is the struggle. 

I ran a quick poll and actually thought the top answer would be about the technology. I thought the issue would be that we have all these mediums to create content and get visible at our disposal but how can one ‘normal’ person learn to do them all properly and efficiently.

Well, I was wrong.

It turns out the the top struggle over visibility for many expert types trying to build personal brands is self confidence and limiting beliefs.

In theory, if you’re building your personal brand or a business around yourself, you know you need to build your profile.

But inside you there’s a little voice saying ‘Who are you to think you can do this‘ – or whatever YOUR little voice says!

(At this point, I’d love to say that I have never experienced this and offer you loads of practical tips on what to do!)

But that would be a shameless lie!

I’m not a confidence expert (although I did study psychology at university) so here is my thruppence on this one.

I know I ‘appear’ confident (sometimes) but that is not strictly true! And all the people who are on my mailing list or who read my blog including

  • My mum
  • My partner Ally
  • My school friends
  • My clients
  • (and anyone else who knows me in the ‘real world’ especially my friend Marianne)

Will know this! 

Like anyone else I have what is commonly known as ‘Imposter syndrome’ and occasional (ahem) thoughts of ‘Erm, did they actually meant to commission me to write that book/give that talk/ get that accreditation/do that thing or did they mix me up with someone else?!’ 

My best piece of advice – and this is what I said inside the Facebook group – is to take next steps regardless of these feelings. 

It’s not just you

There is even a brilliant quote by Kate Winslet where she says something like how she felt like a fraud as just a girl from Reading (which is where I’m from too #glamour)

One thing I have learned from writing my book and working with loads of fabulous (and famous) people who really seem to have the world at their feet is so many people feel this way and limiting beliefs must just be some default caveman-esque brain setting that once had a point for survival but isn’t really relevant anymore. 

My friend, the super star blogger Honest Mum Vicki Psarias has a brilliant saying which is about just cracking on regardless (I love that phrase, crack on)

So all of us in #GetVisible are agreeing to adopt the mentality of doing things regardless of self confidence and belief.

We are trying to understand/accept that occasional lack of it is just a ‘thing’ a bit like other things such as rainy days and traffic jams on the M25. You can’t necessarily change it but you can get through it. Join us in #GetVisible for the journey

 

 

Introducing Facebook’s #shemeansbusiness campaign

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Today, I attended the launch of Facebook’s #shemeansbusiness campaign. The whole idea behind it is that when women succeed, we all win.

And the campaign, which is partnering with Enterprise Nation, aims to train 10,000 women in Facebook For Business skills in 2017.

And there’s an extra special reason this was exciting

I’ve been invited by Facebook to become one of the very first eight people in the UK to become official accredited ‘Facebook for Business’ trainers.

On Wednesday, I’m flying to Dublin to go to Facebook HQ, where I’ll spend two days learning from the people who actually know exactly how Facebook works, and then I’ll be helping deliver this training to 10,000 women this year.

I’m not massively in to thinking about gender divides when it comes to small business.

I tend to think that you are either into entrepreneurship or not, but the figures presented by Facebook this morning are pretty compelling.

There are 5.4 million small businesses in the UK, and only ⅕ of them are set up by women.

In the US, one third of businesses are set up by women. America still lags behind in terms of the gender diversity of their population, but we are lagging even further behind.

Last year, Facebook surveyed thousands of women and asked them why they weren’t setting up their own businesses.

And the answers were that 3 out of 4 women said they wouldn’t set up a business for a number of clear reasons, the first being lack of confidence, fearing a lack of credibility (listen, I heard today that even Nicola Mendleson, the VP of EMAE at Facebook in the UK experiences imposter syndrome and if she does, then it’s not so bad if the rest of us do right?!) and finally not knowing how they will balance the business with their family.

The other presiding reason that women don’t set up businesses is that they feel they lack the skills, particularly online skills, that they need for that business to be successful.

Over half of the women identified online marketing and tech skills as areas they knew they needed to improve, but they didn’t know how or where to turn.

Now I’m an official Facebook trainer, I am going to casually wear this pen on my ear…..

 

So it’s Facebook to the rescue with their #SheMeansBusiness campaign which will empower 10,000 women across the UK with the skills they need to use Facebook and online marketing to build their businesses

Today, one of the women there asked me how I’ve done it – as in set up a business, make it work, sell a business, have two children and set up the business I have now. I always feel slightly uncomfortable when people ask me that as I am not entirely sure of the answer and I also think I could have/should have done so much more!

I definitely have not been naturally or genetically fuelled by the things that the women Facebook surveyed identified as feeling without, such tons of confidence. I am not sure I have done an amazing job of the ‘juggle’ of work and family and just try and do the best I can like every other working mum. I sometimes feel like imposter but I am fairly philosophical about that and recognise its something a lot of people feel so I carry on regardless.

But the one thing I have forced myself to conquer that has made a difference is tech skills, both fear of not understanding and genuinely not understanding! 

I strongly believe that out of all the things that hold us back, tech can be learned. If someone had said to me even a few years ago that I would be building and launching websites, I would have laughed. Yes, I was running an online business that was entirely SEO dependent then so I knew something about websites, but building them, no way. I would have thought it beyond me. 

But I took myself down to the local college and learned how to build them alongside a bunch of 21 year olds. Same with video production and editing, and graphics. I just learned how to do it. It wasn’t easy but it wasn’t impossible either.

Just this week I needed to use the sound editing software Audacity.

I thought to myself ‘It will be like iMovie, it will be easy’ (note to self, two years ago I never would have described any video editing software as ‘easy’).

Anyway, I downloaded Audacity. I opened it. And arrgh. It wasn’t like iMovie. I couldn’t work it straight away. I hated it. It’s layout looked stupid. There was nothing intuitive about it. It made me cross, really cross. I started Googling other sound editing alternatives and was just about to delete Audacity from my laptop.

Then I thought, ‘Hang on there are tons of people who use Audacity and they are not all brain surgeons. I must be able to understand it.’ I went to Youtube to watch videos. Literally 15 minutes later I edited my first audio track, cutting out problems, adding in music and even fading the music in and out! It was learnable. 

Don’t let fear of technology hold you back

I see technology and not understanding how to do things from update a website to resize an image to editing a video holding so many of my clients back. I’m passionate about showing that it is all learnable but you can’t learn it without effort and discomfort, and huge amounts of irritation as I went through with Audacity. 

Yes, there is new vocabulary, and lots of buttons, and data overload and moments when everything crashes and nothing makes sense. But none of it is life threatening, it’s all fixable and it’s all learnable. 

That’s why I’m so excited to be a part of Facebook’s journey as they move into strategically demystifying how to use the platform for business. I’ll keep you posted on how the trip goes.

 

She let go – a lesson to welcome in 2017

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I’m not a mad fan of poems BUT this one landed on my Facebook feed a few days ago, and I thought it was perfect for welcoming a new year. Whether you’re a she or a he, it’s all about dumping all the baggage and nonsense that holds us back from our grand plans!
 
She Let Go
 
She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of fear. She let go of the judgments. 
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on how to let go… She didn’t search the scriptures. She just let go.
She let go of all of the memories that held her back. 
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward. 
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.
She didn’t promise to let go. 
She didn’t journal about it. 
She didn’t write the projected date in her day-timer.
She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. 
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope. 
She just let go.
 
She didn’t analyse whether she should let go. 
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter. 
She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. 
She didn’t call the prayer line. 
She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.
 
No one was around when it happened. 
There was no applause or congratulations. 
No one thanked her or praised her. 
No one noticed a thing. 
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
 
There was no effort. There was no struggle. 
It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. 
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be. 
 
A small smile came over her face. 
A light breeze blew through her.
And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

 

Written by Rev. Safire Rose.

You have it within you to achieve your goals

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‘You have it within you to achieve your goals.

But so many of us are stuck: in patterns, in careers, in ruts.

And we stay stuck, hoping, waiting and praying for someone or something else to make the changes that we need to make.

I want to share with you how I found the courage to stepping up, and to stop waiting to be picked. To stepping out from beneath the fickle finger of fate.’

That’s the opening words of my recent TedX talk – which is now online! 

In the talk, I share how a segment in the Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway called ‘The Fickle Finger Of Fate’ seemed to sum up perfectly (to me) how so many of us (myself included at times!) live our lives.

And how action, stopping waiting for others to anoint you with opportunity, constant learning and striving towards self improvement, and taking the next step, are the things that have moved me forwards from there, to where I want to go in life (and I’m not there yet!).

I hope you enjoy my talk, and if you like it then please share it, comment and let’s all step out from beneath the fickle finger of fate.

3 Things I Learned Doing My First TedX Talk

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I’m writing this on the train on my way home from Ted X Royal Tunbridge Wells, where I just gave my first ever Tedx Talk, called ‘It’s About Time To Step Out From Beneath The Fickle Finger Of Fate’. 

It wasn’t so long ago (erm, 6 weeks ago to be precise!) that I was watching Ted and TedX talks online and thinking 

‘Who are these people?’

and

‘How did they get to this?’

And now I understand a whole lot more about the TedX world having spent two days at a TedX event AND I’ve just given my first (and hopefully not my last!) TedX talk.

I’ll have the video to share with you soon, but right now, I want to share with you the things I’ve learned doing a Tedx Talk.

  1. The things you once would have thought impossible are not that always as difficult as they appear.

Since I found out I was going to give a TedX Talk, a lot of people have said to me ‘How did you get your TedX talk?’

The answer?

I applied.

I heard about a TedX event that was looking for speakers and I applied to it.

Ok so applying alone isn’t guaranteed success of getting a talk, and I learned today there were around 45 applicants and only 12 speakers.

But look at those odds. They’re not too bad! People happily pin all their hopes on winning the lottery and the odds of speaking at a TedX event are about a billion times higher than that. So if you want to do one, apply to do one!

2) That it’s a brilliant idea to get help when it is needed!

When you see the video of my talk, you will (hopefully) think it’s good! In my mind, it HAD to be good. This wasn’t an event that could be left to chance. So I worked on my speech with my wonderful friend Sarah Cartwright.

My speech would not have been what it was without her help.

We practiced everything from coming onto stage, opening, moving on stage. She got rid of habits I didn’t even know I had such as swaying from side to side, and locking my knees. As well as things such as the way I delivered the talk, the pauses in it and the storyline of the talk. 

It might be the case that the best speakers just waltz out on stage and give these incredible talks because they just are capable of doing that. Or it might be the case that they learned how to do it by working with an expert like Sarah! 

3) I was more nervous than I thought – but power posing works!

My most memorable ever Ted Talk is Amy Cuddy’s on Power Posing.

And it was this action which literally saved me on the day.

I don’t really think of myself as someone who gets that nervous.

But I was the last speaker of the day and by the time it came to my turn, my stomach was churning. 

So myself and Caroline Hart (aka Kent Life Coach on Twitter who was comparing the day) did powerposing as well as half jumping around.

img_3742

One thing is for sure: I do not ‘do’ generally do stuff like random jumping around!! But out of desperation, I was willing to try anything that stopped my nerves and put me in the right frame of mind.

They worked, and I realised I must do more power posing and jumping around.

So I’m happy to report the talk went really well. I’ll share the video as soon as I have it!

img_3741

On not knowing all the answers in advance

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This week, I gave a talk at Stylist Live called ‘From Blog To Business’.

During the Q&A, one lady’s question really stood out.

She was talking about how she writes a blog post, and then procrastinates over it for hours, emailing it to several people to review, making all their changes (of course, if you ask them, people are going to make some suggestions!), reading it and re-reading it, and eventually then deciding to publish it next week before going through the entire process all over again.

The result is her posts never get published.

Her question was:

Do I need to take on an assistant to help me?

It got me thinking how so many of us want to know all the answers in advance, and won’t take action until we know the precise outcome.

She didn’t need an assistant, she needed to stop procrastinating, stop worrying and hit the publish button!

The reality is, no-one can know all the answers in advance, and none of us can control the future.

But if we take action and start taking steps in the right direction, and keep taking steps, slowly and steadily, things become clearer.

Often, content creation is one of the key actions that can move us (or our businesses) to a new place. Yes, content does equal online visibility with each blog post or social post bringing eyes to us and increasing our chances of being found online.

But it also equals us moving our own internal compass towards our goals or at the very least, towards making ourselves think more deeply about what our goals might be and how we can reach them.

There are two people I spoke to for my book, The Million Dollar Blog (ha! Yes I mentioned it again!) whose experiences demonstrate this so clearly.

The first is the world famous marketer and author Seth Godin, who said to me:

‘If you are disciplined enough to write down a prediction, a way of thinking, a promise, every single day, you can’t help but improve yourself. That hasn’t changed.’

But the next is fitness vlogger & blogger, Carly Rowena.

She only launched in 2014, but has 360,000 subscribers on Youtube, and over 800,000 views per month on her blog and a waiting list for clients.

Yet when Carly started, she wasn’t a fitness instructor and had no idea she even wanted to be one! She worked in marketing for a car manufacturer.

She created content hit publish time and time again without knowing what her true purpose was, and by doing so, over time, found her calling.

As she said to me:

‘I used to cry because I had no idea what my job was meant to be. My mum was a scientist and my dad was an architect, but I didn’t have a passion or talent. I so badly wanted to love a job and feel like it was mine. If I had never gone on YouTube, I never would have become a personal trainer. I was really nervous and had very little confidence when I started. My first video was terrible, and I didn’t expect it to become anything, I just looked at it as something that would help me realise what I enjoyed. I realised I could do certain things that I didn’t even know about. It made me realise that dreams can come true.’

So no, you don’t need an assistant, and you don’t need to know all the answers. If you want online success in any form, you just need to hit publish, hit it again, and hit it again.

Blogstar profile: Andy Weir, creator of ‘The Martian’

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Over the following weeks, I’m going to be showcasing the blog stars and experts featured in my book, The Million Dollar Blog. Today, let’s hear from bestselling author, Andy Weir

Meet Andy

Andy Weir is a former computer programmer who blogged about space and science. He started writing a story on his blog about a manned mission to Mars, which steadily gathered thousands of fans. He turned his blog into an ebook, which was picked up by a publisher and then Hollywood came calling. Yes, you’ve guessed it, Andy’s blog was turned into the Hollywood film The Martian (for which Andy was reportedly paid a mid six figure sum for the film rights).

What to learn from Andy

If nothing else, starting a blog can be the first step in an adventure, taking you to extraordinary and completely unexpected places in your life.

Words of wisdom

Be passionate about what you write about.

I’ve always been a space dork. Mars has fascinated me since I was a little kid. Honestly, I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t into Mars.

Follow Andy

Andy’s website

Andy on Facebook

Andy on Twitter

Buy the book

You can hear more from Andy in my new book, The Million Dollar Blog, available to pre-order on Amazon now

The Million Dollar Blog

Blogstar profile: Emma & Elsie Chapman from A Beautiful Mess

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Over the following weeks, I’m going to be showcasing the blog stars and experts featured in my book, The Million Dollar Blog. First up, it’s Elsie & Emma Chapman from A Beautiful Mess. 

Meet Emma & Elsie

Gorgeous sisters Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman from Missouri are the owners of A Beautiful Mess, a DIY crafts and food blog with an income over $1.5million per year.

Elsie and Emma were in debt when they launched in 2010, but now employ 5 staff and several freelancers. Their blog has around 1.5 million visitors per month.

For income, they leverage the blog to sell advertising and have worked with brands including Canon, Adobe, H&M and Valspar.

They also sell online courses such as scrapbooking and sewing to their craft audience as well as classes on blogging, photoshop and Instagram strategy.

Plus they have a range of their own stationery, books, planners, scrapbooking supplies, iPhone covers, cards, art prints and apps – their popular photo editing app has been downloaded more than 1 million times.

What to learn from Emma & Elsie

A lot of bloggers struggle to monetise their blogs, and that is because put passion over business, and often have no clear strategy. Emma and Elsie are true entrepreneurs, and strategically add a revenue stream to their blog each year. They are incredible successful, but not by accident.

They also accept that not every revenue stream comes to fruition, so they might test a few before deciding on one.

Words of wisdom 

Everyone knows you can make income from advertising, but there is so much more. The branding opportunities, design opportunities, book deals, TV shows, product lines, etc. are endless. If you can dream it, it’s probably possible.

Follow Emma & Elsie

Buy the book

You can hear more from Emma & Elsie in my new book, available for preorder on Amazon now

The Million Dollar Blog

Within our changing media landscape lies huge opportunity

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Last night, I went to the ‘Blogosphere’ magazine launch party, featuring Victoria from In The Frow (pictured) on it’s cover. It was attended by a load of bloggers, and at the end, we were all given incredible goody bags.

It made me think how 15 years ago, brands were clamouring to give goody bags to magazine journalists. I suppose they still are, but they also really really want the bloggers to have their products.

It got me thinking about two recent articles by Press Gazette, which have been packed with staggering detail about how the media landscape is changing as a result of ‘online disruption’, including

  • How the new industry will lose up to £500 million in revenue to online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Apple news.
  • How 41 per cent of UK millennials now rely on social media or shared content for their news, rather than established news brands.
  • How the founder of online news site Vice is describing the current changes as ‘scary, fast and ugly’ and says that news companies have to change to cater to younger generations who consume media on multiple screens.

No wonder many journalists feel like the end is nigh.

While I can’t imagine our major media brands disappearing, they’re definitely all cutting costs which means journalism no longer has the potential to be the lucrative career it once was (and for those who thought all journalists are poverty stricken, trust me when I say there are plenty of journalists – of which I was once one – earning large sums for their work).

But if you’re in business, then wow. What a gift this change really is. What an opportunity is opening up.

Let me explain.

It only feels like yesterday that age 25, I rocked up to the Daily Mail (wearing a pair of Birkenstocks, I hadn’t yet got the memo that the editor prefers nude court shoes…..), filled with excitement about becoming a part of such a huge media brand.

I duly sat down on the features desk, started typing and didn’t stop for another 3 years….. (ok so not quite but you get the picture).

Then, I used to go to tons of events and get plied with goodies, just like the bloggers were being last night.

Yet when I think back to how we worked then and the technology we didn’t have – for example, if we were out of office and needed to file content, we had to queue for phone boxes to read our copy outloud over the phone to ‘copytakers’ – well, it feels well and truly like the olden days.

If anyone outside of our world who wanted to promote themselves or their business, they had no choice but to pin one of us down and do, say or wear whatever we needed in order to get coverage.

Us staff on major media outlets were the gatekeepers to reaching audiences and promotion.

How things are different today

I’m never going to say coverage in major media outlets and on tv isn’t important. It’s what I do, it brings huge credibility and it can transform the fortunes of businesses and profiles of individuals – and that will continue to be the case even in the future when all journalists are under 25 and willing to accept extremely lower salaries.

I have seen for instance this week the power of this coverage, when my book, The Million Dollar Blog, was featured in the Metro, and immediately it’s sales rank on Amazon improved fourfold!

But it’s not the only way

Nobody in today’s world, with a laptop and an internet connection, is powerless unless a journalist says ‘yes’ to featuring them. Noone has to wait and wait and wait for lady luck to make it their turn to go into a magazine or on radio.

Everyone can type, write, create, publish and start building their own audience.

In one of the articles in Press Gazette, Toby Chapman, associate partner at OC&C Strategy Consultants who carried out some of this research, said: “It’s already a familiar story in other industries such as music, and now the news industry looks next in line for platform disruption’.

He proposes as “collaborative, industry-wide response” to the growth of online platforms in order to “retain control” of the market.

But stop

It’s like the taxi drivers rallying against Uber. Yes it’s annoying/upsetting/devastating when you’re a black cabbie used to earning £100k per year and have been through the Knowledge to see all your hard work and income destroyed by Satnav and an app.

But that doesn’t mean you can change it. Because ultimately, it is what it is. It’s evolution, it’s life, it’s the way the cookie crumbles. Things move and develop forwards, not backwards. We all like things to stay as they are, especially when they earn us money, but as some other bright spark said (definitely not me) the one thing that is constant in life is change.   

Every cloud has a silver lining

And for many, this particular one is very bright. The release of the stranglehold on communication by powerful media outlets and journalists now means that everyone has a voice, which is increasingly easy to get heard thanks to the very same platforms that are causing the traditional media such pain.

It’s just a question of standing up and using it.

 

Is a website launch the end, or the beginning?

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Every time a new site goes live, everyone involved in its development thinks ‘Phew!’

Most websites are bigger project than you imagine, both for the person/team building it, and nearly always for the person who wants it built.

So once that effort is complete and the site is live, it’s only normal to want to put your feet up and wait for the money to roll in!

But that is not usually how it works!

You see, what I’ve come to realise is that actually, the launch of a site, while marking the end of one particular milestone, is actually just the beginning of the next.

And the next milestone, usually that of building a business or personal brand off the back of the new site, is a far bigger and ongoing one than that of the site launch itself, although you can’t do that job properly unless you have the right website.

So what normally happens is this.

A site goes live (normally fairly quietly) and it is the tested and tested. Over the following weeks, final fixes and tweaks are done, and any glitches ironed out. Then the site owner starts feeling ready to start shouting a bit louder about their site and easing it more purposefully towards their customers.

Most new websites get a flurry of attention in the beginning, as friends, family and existing clients visit them. Then traffic start to die down and without effort, may never go up again.

Your website is your shop front, your window to the world.

But without a promotion strategy and usually an ongoing, never ending one that comprises content marketing, SEO, social media, mainstream media and often paid advertising too, noone (or not enough people) will know about it as they will be too busy visiting the sites and engaging with those brands and people who are working on promotion.

Sometimes I wonder about the world we live in!

Google and the giant social media platforms have transformed our lives so that we all have to be all over ‘stuff’ such as content creation (on websites and in social media) and interacting all the time!

All I can say is that the results of playing that game are clear. If you master it, you’re visible, your site gets traffic, your business has an opportunity to grow at least in terms of using the internet to bring in new clients.

If you don’t, well, things are a lot harder and you don’t have the benefit of using the internet to drive leads and opportunity.

So, think of your website strategy like walking from Lands End to John O’Groats.

And see if you can guess at which town, the website launches?

I’d put it at Exeter. It takes effort to walk from Lands End to Exeter right. That is not without effort and stress! But you’re not at John O’Groats just because you walked to Exeter.

So the launch of a site takes you from Lands End to Exeter. The promotion sees you reach John O’Groats.

 

 

First look at my new book: The Million Dollar Blog

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Last week, I had one of those days that if you want to write a book, you dream about happening.

The doorbell rings, and a man is standing there is a big box, and you think ‘What the h*ck is this?’ and you open it to discover it contains the real, finished, printed, final, actual, real copies of book that you have written!

In my case, that book is called The Million Dollar Blog and obviously, I wanted to share this moment. So here it is, the book I wrote earlier throughout April and May (meaning I had to stop taking on new clients and any existing clients knew I was slightly stressed) is now complete, finito and actually coming out, in the shops and online, at the end of the this month.

Preorder The Million Dollar Blog now

So what’s it all about?

Well, it’s about content creation and visibility, and how anyone can build a blog that will increases their profile, creates new opportunities, earns money and changes their life. The specific questions I address are about in today’s world, where everyone wants to blog and blog posts are ubiquitous, how do you stand out?

How do you, as an individual, blog your way from nobody to somebody? How do you, as a business owner, use content to build your brand and drive your success?

Blogging has become the ‘it’ career of the modern world and every business knows that blogging should be an integral part of their marketing and success, but it’s actually never been tougher to be shine in the digital storytelling landscape.

So what are the secrets of success in terms of making blogging fit into to a wider digital promotion and personal brand strategy?

No matter who are you – a mum at home, a budding fashion blogger or a small business owner – The Million Dollar Blog is your ultimate guide to starting a successful blog or taking your existing blog to the next level.

Personal, practical and expert experience 

Although of course, I’m speaking from personal experience, having used content creation to build my online business, Talk to the Press, from 2008 (I sold this business in 2014) and now for building my own personal brand.

For Talk to the Press, blogging bought us SO many benefits, from putting us top of search engines, making ourselves unbeatable in the search engine results rankings, positioning us as experts and most importantly building our trust and excellent reputation at a time when people naturally viewed the media with suspicion. I could talk ALL day about why our business blogging strategy left all our competitors in the shade!!! 

In terms of myself now as a ‘person’ (!), I saw the benefits of blogging for authority on the topics (digital marketing, online business, publicity, media and content) I know about WITHIN MONTHS.

Not only has the content on my blog been the reason I’ve been booked for things such as speaking events and radio, BUT the content on my blog was also the reason I was able to secure a book deal in the first place.

But the book is not just about me.

In fact, The Million Dollar Blog mostly NOT about me. It is instead through a combination of practical advice and interviews with some of the world’s most famous and successful bloggers, vloggers and content strategists, including Seth Godin, Lily Pebbles, Grant Cardone and Madeleine Shaw, that I show the secrets of a Million Dollar Blog and the million dollar bloggers behind it.

The book is out on September 27th. If you’d like to pre-order it, then the link is here.

Preorder The Million Dollar Blog

The importance of a captive audience when it comes to PR

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Whenever I’m doing publicity, I’m always thinking about the audience, and whether they are prisoners or not!

You see, most of the time, we go through our lives highly distracted. We’re listening to the radio, but we’re also writing blog posts (just as I am right now) and reading emails. We’re reading the news, on our phones, while flipping between all our social aps and cooking the dinner.

So I always think about the mix and balance, both in terms of the type of publication I’m getting my clients into, and also what the audience are likely to be doing when they are reading that publication. How able are they to multi task and be distracted!?

Enter stage left: The Metro!!! Or any other publication on the London underground. You see people on the underground are kind of prisoners. There isn’t that much to look at, their phones don’t work, there’s noone to talk to, nothing to listen to.

You can see when you’re on the tube that people are PROPERLY reading the publications available there, such as the Evening Standard and Metro! And, you can generally extrapolate to say the population of London have money in their pockets and like to be ‘cool’ and try new things.

I just got my clients Cerys Matthews and The Good Life Experience festival the above page of coverage in Metro and as far as I’m concerned, it ticks all the boxes.

And for a celebrity, the ‘60 Seconds With’ page is one of the best to be on for the following reasons.

  1. Great friendly page which doesn’t twist people’s words.
  2. Written in an amusing way so it keeps people engaged.
  3. Uses a nice big picture so it captures attention.
  4. Is put in the hands of a wealthy, adventurous target audience who are trapped with nothing to do for the duration of their journey.

A win all round!

Why you’re never too old to find your calling

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This is Maureen Forrest, the founder of The Hope Foundation, a charity that works with street children in India.

I’m currently helping The Hope Foundation with their publicity, and I wanted to share Maureen’s story here as she is such an inspiration to all of us.

Today, at 69, when many of her friends and acquaintances are going for lunch and playing bridge, Maureen has pink streaks in her hair, and spends four months a year in India, on the ground, working with street children in a number of homes and projects that she has founded (her foundation runs over 60 projects and employs over 500 local West Bengal people).

Over the years, her charity has helped hundreds of children.

When Maureen is back here at home, she’s in her office by 7 am organising fund raising events – and that is alongside helping out with her SIX grandchildren.

I loved talking to Maureen about what she does, especially when she told me that it took her until she was almost 50 to find her calling.

She says she constantly took courses in everything from management to farming in a bid to find out what it was she really wanted to do, and she always had a feeling she would be brilliant at something, she just didn’t know what.

But she discovered her passion for helping others when her sister went to Ethiopia with a charity and Maureen helped her fundraise. Maureen then became a volunteer and visited Africa and India. Maureen was particularly moved in India, and not ignore what she saw, little children alone on the streets, suffering abuse, neglect, violence and hunger.

She felt compelled into action and decided to start The Hope Foundation to fund the set-up of a protection home for abused girls. One of their recent success stories was saving the life of a ‘bright as a button’ disabled child who had been left in a carrier bag on a train.

Maureen says if you don’t have a purpose in your life, you drift and end up lost and depressed. When people say to her ‘You’re getting too old to keep going to India’ she says ‘Look at Hilary Clinton’.

So, if you’re still searching for your calling, don’t worry about how old you are, or whether it’s too late. We all think we have to get everything done by the time we’re 30, but as Maureen’s story proves, you can do incredible things and change the world at any age.

Click here to read more about The Hope Foundation.

How to change career at 30

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Ah, our 20s. Some of the most fun and carefree times of our lives.

And a natural result of total distraction with social and love lives is waking up somewhere close to 30 and finding yourself thinking ‘Erm, can someone remind me why I am even a doctor/teacher/lawyer/insertyourprofession here after all’.

So what happens if you chose your career when a teenager before you even knew yourself, or drifted into it aimlessly after university never considering that it might actually end up what you do for the rest of your life?  

How do you change career at 30, just as the serious – and costly – stuff (think marriage/kids/ mortgage) is on the horizon? (That’s me in the photo, in Shanghai for Glamour magazine, heading towards 30, just before launching my own business)

And what should you do about the little voice in your head that tells you you’ve left it too late, that you can’t afford change, that you’ve made your bed and now you’d better just lie in it.

  1. Actually, you’re normal!

Recent research found 91 per cent of millennials expect to say in a job for less than three years, meaning over a lifetime they might have 15 – 20 different jobs. Psychologist and author Dr Marcia Reynolds also stated how it’s normal for women to reflect on their career and life choices as each new decade approaches, with the dawning of our 30s often resulting in a drive to focus on long term happiness over short term gain.

Personally, I know person I was at 19 was completely different to the one I woke up to at 29, as evidenced by the fact my 19 year old self was dead set on a career in the police force, while my 29 year old self had just left an 8 year career in journalism to launch an online business. And at 39, I’m a different person again.

Recognise that you don’t have to hold yourself hostage to a path you took, or decision you made years earlier.

  1. Plan your finances

That said, as 30 approaches, you may well have proper financial commitments, not least the rent.

Try saving three months salary in advance and if you’re thinking about getting a mortgage, then get it now, while you’re still in regular employment and go for a 5 year deal so that you have time to gain traction before having to prove your income again (a mortgage company will generally ask for 3 years account for self employed applicants).

Or follow the route of blogger Kat Williams, who now has a six figure income thanks to her hugely popular blog and print magazine ‘Rock N Roll bride’. Kat had fallen out with her old job as producer on a TV shopping channel, but decided she couldn’t quit her old job until she was making a similar amount of money from her new one.

That gave her plenty of motivation, and she made the switch gradually, going part time on her job until she was able to quit fully and focus her attention on her now extremely successful venture.

  1. If you’re starting your own business, do your research

There’s a school of thought in the Western World right now that all you have to do when starting a business is follow your passions and you can somehow turn whatever it is you love into a business. Well, I’d like to inject a lone voice of caution into the wind here.

Of course, it’s very tempting to base a business purely on what you love, but I very much doubt the likes of Branson make decisions purely on a feeling inside their heart – they weigh up risks and opportunity at the same time.

Yes, you want to love what you do but you also need to look across all your passions and interests (most people have more than one!) and take a calculated and well thought out decision based on where opportunity truly lies.

  1. Don’t underestimate the power of networking

A lot of people feel their heart sinking when they think about networking. Instead, see it as a way of spreading the word that either you’re looking for new opportunities or you have a new venture you’d like to tell people about.

A case in point is that of Carrie Green, founder of the Female Entrepreneur Association, a learning platform and online hub for women in business which supports thousands of women around the globe.

This was borne out of a vision Carrie had in 2011, and started as a simple website. At the time, she was running a different business, unlocking mobile phones, which she had fallen out of love with.

When talking about the success of the FEA and how she got her idea off the ground, she says: ‘I networked like a crazy person and built momentum by taking massive action. I googled networking events to go to, found a list of them and started going along to them. I soon started to build up group of people who knew me and supported me.’

  1. Sometimes the answer lies in change itself

Burning desires for change are difficult to ignore, even when you don’t know exactly what you want to do. But sometimes you just have to take the plunge.

Carly Rowena is one of the UK’s leading health and fitness vloggers: she’s managed by Gleam Futures (who also manage the likes of Zoella thank you very much!), and has worked with brands like Nike, Adidas, Sweaty Betty, Sainsbury’s and Urban Outfitter.

Carly has definitely found her calling, but all she knew at the time she quit her job in marketing for a car brand was that she didn’t want to do that for the rest of her life. She started making Youtube videos filming her workouts and thoughts just for fun.

Now, she not only does she have a huge monetised audience of hundreds of thousands, but is a fully qualified personal trainer serving clients around the globe.

  1. Remember, success doesn’t happen overnight

There is a brilliant saying about motherhood ‘The days are long but the time is short’ which is acutely relevant here.

Look at it this way. If I say to you yes, you can make the change and in 2 years time, you will be leading a very different life, your initial thoughts might be ‘TWO YEARS? THAT’S WAY TOO LONG, I CAN’T RISK IT.’

But time goes by in a blip.

When, in 2 years time, you’re gazing over your new life, you’ll look back and think ‘Well, everything is completely different now and it only took 2 years. I don’t know what I was worrying about.’

 

Unravelling the secrets of a styled Instagram feed

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It’s cool, fun and judging by its 500 million active followers, immensely popular, largely because of the power of pictures to communicate better than words, especially for visually lead or female facing brands, businesses and personalities.

But how do you go from just any-old-filter-and-picture-filled Instagram account to one of those beautifully styled, themed and crafted feeds that makes everyone think ‘Wow’ and becomes a real asset and lead generator for your business. 

I’ve become obsessed with beautifully styled, curated and on message Instagram feeds such as this one pictured here.

image1

And I have been determined to work out exactly how they are done so that I can do the same for my client, Zita West, founder of the Zita West IVF Clinic.

Transforming a feed

I’ve already taken her feed from often random images that were not quite on message to the work the clinic does, to an ‘on message’ feed which is all about pregnancy, IVF and fertility.

We’re now better able to attract an audience who might need our services and we’ve increased our following by over 300 per cent.  

But my next question was ‘How do I take this to the next level of styled Instagram – in which not only is every post beautiful and ‘on-message’ individually, but also fits together to create a pattern-like feed overall that tells the whole story of the business?

How do I make it look as cohesive and together as this feed for instance?

image2

Or, even as this feed?

image3

So not only is each individual post and image relevant and on message, but in it’s entirety the feed has a pattern and tells a single and complete story of the business. 

I want a WOW feed!

It actually wasn’t a simple question, and one I only found the answer to when I started playing around with the clinics Instagram account and mocking it up online.

My aim

To create a sequence for the Zita West Fertility Clinic feed to further add consistency, professionalism and establish the overall message of the business from the feed as a whole – as well as each single post.

The first step

To do this, I first needed to decide what content would both look most attractive and best represent the business and what it offers. 

After assessing what types posts proved popular for Zita and other similar accounts, I concluded that ideal feed would be made up of inspirational quotes, photos of Zita herself, photos of her recipes, images of her products, photos of newborn babies through her clinic and images related to her blog posts. 

Working out the sequence

Then came the tricky part: formatting her feed through a sequence. Using Canva, (a simple but brilliant graphic design tool), I mocked this up and was able to create a 12 square sequence of image categories (ie photos of Zita, photos of products, photos of babies, photos of latest blog posts) that will repeat indefinitely.

And it looks like this!

zita instagram

The end result is that

  • No posts are vertically or horizontally next to each other at the same but there is still a pattern to the feed as a whole.
  • No posts on the same line are similar.
  • The mix of content which promotes all our offers will always be at the top of the feed.
  • Anyone landing on our feed will always see the things that perform well for us: Inspirational quotes, babies and Zita herself.

You’ve got to be strategic 

Like with all forms of social media, you’ve got to be strategic if you want to be seen. But what I discovered about Instagram is that it really is all about quality and not quantity.

Rather than think about what photos will draw in the most likes, focus on how to produce and present those photos in the best way possible.

That is what will turn people viewing your account to people following your feed.

So what have I learnt from all of this?

  1. Think of your Instagram as a whole feed AS WELL as separate images. But in particular look at the 1st and 3rd images each time you post as these will always line up either next to each other or on top of each other. If the 3rd image is dark, then don’t add a dark image, because your 3rd image and your new image will end up on top of each other making a dark block in the middle of your feed. So if your 3rd image is dark, add a light image for your next image.  
  2. Source and produce good quality images and be really brutal about your image selection. Go through your account and delete images that don’t fit. If you put up an image, and later realise it’s a blip in the entire feed, then delete it. 
  3. Stick to a colour palette and use the same filter on each image.
  4. Create a sequence that tells your story and covers all your offers every 12 images or 15 images. 
  5. Be consistent and do not allow yourself to go off message EVEN ONCE. Unless it’s part of your overall plan and look, drunken selfies are absolutely banned.

Follow these steps and you’ll be the next victim of my Instagram envy!