From bread to blogs to Hawaii. A picture of staying committed to a dream.

(Today is a guest post from Kimanzi Constable! I loved hearing this story and I think you will too.)

Are You Committed To Your Dream?

There are over 900 million websites, 250 million blogs and 170,000 being added everyday. Some of these websites and blogs won’t make it past the first two months.

At first there will be the excitement of something new and the content will flow freely. As time goes by and there isn’t a ton of fame or income the excitement fades. Reality sets in that this is hard work.

That point is the make it or break it point where websites die. You go back to visit three months later and the last post was the last time you read it. I remember clearly being at that point.

I started a blog on blogger and was blogging away five days a week. When I hit the two-month mark I looked at my stats and saw I was averaging ten people a day.

I was frustrated. I poured my heart, sweat, and tears into the blog and no one even knew it was there. I even got my wife to admit that she wasn’t reading it anymore. That was adding insult to injury.

I had a decision to make at that point. Was it worth it spending time with this “hobby?” I mean I had a bread business that generated over six-figures a year. Yes it sucked waking up at midnight but this blogging stuff seemed hopeless!

I know many reading this can relate. It sucks to work so hard and not have anyone reading or sharing. It’s even worse when you want to be supported by your online endeavors.

You too will have a decision to make. Is this just a hobby or do you want to make this something more? If you want to make this something more you can. If you want to create a business online that supports your family you can.

To get here you have to decide you’re committed and that no matter how many times you fall you’re going to get back up. In the end persistence wins, hustle wins, thick skin wins. Here are the three commitment moments I faced:

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Today, I took a picture of my worst critic.


Critic

Today, I took a picture of my worst critic.

Though it’s fun to rail on haters, the truth is, they have nothing on the critic I see in the mirror each morning.

Each day, he lobs insults when I least expect it.

He’s convinced what I write is not good enough to be shared.

He’s pretty sure other people have already done what I am trying to do.

He’s positive they are all going to laugh at me.

He doubts. He belittles. He cuts me at the knees.

And he’s good at it, because he’s got an entire 38 year history to pull from. He can go deep in the archives of my life and pull out a mistake I made in college as evidence that I will fail tomorrow. He knows my secret hopes and my unspoken dreams and will leave no stone unturned when it comes stirring up anxiety.

You might have a critic like that too. You might have heard the same voice of fear from inside when what you needed most was bravery.

The funny thing is, if someone talked to you like you talk to you, you’d never get coffee with that person.

You’d never spend time with them for their rhetoric would be too mean. You’d call them out on their nonsense.

But when the fear is in our own voice, we tend to listen.

Not anymore.

Today I took a picture of my worst critic. I caught him when he least expected it. I did it to let him know “I see you! I know what you’re about! I know that you’re not angry, you’re just afraid. I forgive you, but I can’t listen any longer. The world is too bright, too fun, too unexplored to worry about the mirror.”

Maybe you need to have the same conversation with your mirror today.

I dare you to take a photo of your worst critic.

Hashtag it with #MyWorstCritic and share it for all the world to see. Fear hates the light of day. Critics can’t stand community.

They had their run, but life is waiting.

It’s time to stop listening.

No one remembers boring.

(This is a post from the ever talented, ever awesome Casey Lewis!)

Bank

Most people choose a bank based on proximity to home and work and the ATM locations in between.

Let’s face it, outside of using the camera on your phone to make a checking deposit, there’s not a ton of innovation happening in the personal banking world.

There are checking accounts, savings accounts, CD’s & money market accounts. And every bank, on every street corner in America provides pretty much these exact same products.

So how is a bank to stand out from the crowd? What’s the differentiating factor?

Service.

The primary way banks can show why they’re better is through taking exceptional care of their customers.

But it’s one thing to say you provide great service, but a completely different thing to educate people on how awesome you really are.

You could spend $500,000 in an ad campaign telling people how amazing the service at your bank is and probably not land many new customers, or you could do something awesome like TD Bank did.

Choose Delight.

For more great insights from Casey Lewis, read his blog!

Comfort doesn’t create great art.

Art

I don’t know what you are trying to create right now.

A business?

An album?

A book?

A brand?

There are a million possibilities, but I do know one thing about the creation process. I have never heard someone say, “My life finally got so comfortable and easy that I was able to create my greatest art.”

Does comfort and safety create some good things? Definitely. They both have value and importance, but every great artist I’ve known, every business owner who has changed the world and every dreamer who has climbed the peaks told me the same thing.

It was hard. It was not easy. It was up for grabs. It was terrifying at times. It was not comfortable.

I’m writing a new book right now. It is hard. I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written but it difficult. I’m terrified of jumping back on that laptop every morning because what if I don’t have what it takes? What if I’m not really creative? What if the process is not easy?

It’s not. The process is challenging. That’s OK. The struggle is not failure, the struggle is art.

Today, instead of trying to make your life more comfortable, make your art more honest.

Write from the difficulty, dream from the challenge, hope from the wreckage.

Comfort doesn’t create great art.

5 Steps to Quit Your Job in the next 12 months

(This is a guest post from Bryan Harris. When I went out on my own full time, he was one of the first people I called. He’s a brilliant thinker and has really helped me get a handle on the ever changing world of technology. Enjoy!)

12 months ago I was sitting exactly where you are.

Cubicle.

Annoying boss.

Boring job.

Over the past year I’ve gone from my corporate gig to bootstrapping Videofruit to a six figure business and doing work that’s fun.

Jon invited me to share with you the strategy I used to make that happen.

Why? Because…well, it works and it’s the fastest way I know of to go from cubicle to freedom.

First off, I was a complete nobody (and still am). I had no connections, no blog and, no email list and no idea what I was doing.

I am just a random dude from Alabama.

If I was able to follow this plan and make it happen, you have ZERO excuse.

Are you ready to start?

I can’t hear you…

OK!

Let’s get started.

DISCLAIMER:

  • This requires an insane amount of work
  • Most people reading this are too lazy to implement it
  • Some people aren’t meant to start a business
  • Be self aware enough to know which of these apply to you. Then ignore them all.

Step 1: Identify the problem you are going to fix

First things first, what is the problem you are solving?

Every business must solve a problem. What is yours going to be?

Problem: Dirty houses
Solution: House cleaner

Problem: Out of shape people
Solution: CrossFit Gym Owner

Problem: Poorly performing marketing plans
Solution: Marketing Consultant

Get the idea?

Before you can start you have to identify the exact problem you are solving. Don’t feel like you are making a lifelong commitment to this occupation, that can cause you to hesitate and become noncommittal.

Pick a problem to solve.

Then, doggedly pursue it for the next 60-days and if it doesn’t work, bail on it and pick something else.

The key though, is committing.

So…pick your thing

Do that now. (I’ll wait)

Done?

OK! Move to the next step

Step 2: Re-engineer your solution into a service

The quickest and cheapest way that I have found to start a business is by offering your solution as a service.

You don’t need a website, business cards or a logo. The second you feel the urge to create any of those – stop. If you are going to be quitting your job in 12 months, you need to focus ONLY on actions that generate income. Cut out everything else.

So, in Step 1 you identified the problem you are solving. Now you need to clearly define a service that you will provide to fix that problem.

For example: Let’s say you want to solve the problem of people not having enough to read (LOL). You want to be a writer.

The route that most would take is this:

  • Start writing a book
  • Pray it get’s published

…and then mayybe you’ll make a little money from it.

PRO TIP: Don’t write a book if your goal is to make money.

No one will buy it. It’s a slow trodge to go from random writer to published author who makes enough money to quit their job. Do some people do it? Sure. Some people are astronauts too, that doesn’t mean you need to start suiting up for a trip to the moon any time soon. Eventually? Maybe. Just not yet.

Need more convincing to NOT write a book?

There are a lot of reasons to write a book, but making money and quitting your job in the next 12 months isn’t one.

The “Law of Rejection” states that the average author is rejected 48 times before their book is published .

Not only that but the average published author makes less than $1,000 a year.

Again, don’t write a book.

Instead, offer a service to solve established authors pain points.

How do you come up with a service to offer?

Look for things that authors are complaining about and offer to fix them.

Here are a few places to start looking.

Place #1: Quora

One of my favorite places to find problems is on the Q&A site Quora.

In this example I did a search for ‘need help writing’ and it returned a results for someone looking for help writing Google Ad Word copy.

Could you form an entire business around writing ad copy for businesses? Yes.

In fact, that is exactly what this company does.

Don’t know how to write ad copy? Go read this book and you’ll know more than 95% of companies that are currently running ads.

Place #2: Popular blogs comment sections

My favorite marketing blog is Quicksprout by Neil Patel.

Recently he wrote an article about how to use guest posting to grow your blog traffic.

If you are a writer, you know how hard it can be to put together in depth quality blog posts. A quick stroll through the comments section of this post shows that you are no the only one with this problem.

What’s the number one issue you see here? Time!

Could you offer a service that finds and pitches guest posting opportunities for busy authors like Jon, Jeff Goins and Michael Hyatt? Absolutely!

(Note: I’ve put together a bonus resource at the end of this post that will give you 10 more service ideas that you can copy)

I would pay for that. I would pay good money for it.

Before you move to Step 3, write down your exact service.

For example, lets pick something really obscure…let’s say the service you are offering is to optimize the pop-ups (those annoying email collecting things) for Christian bloggers.

Super specific right?

I’ll show you how I would sell that.

Step 3: Choose one person you want to work with

Now you have targeted service to sell (pop-up optimization for Christian bloggers), it’s time to pick out one person to focus on.

Ask yourself these three questions until you have found one prospect.

Question 1: Who do you know?

Make a list of everyone you know that would be a prime candidate. Focus on existing relationships that you have.

  • Do you have any close friends or family members that blog regularly?
  • Do you know someone that ‘know’s someone’?
  • Did you go to school with someone that is an editor or writer?

Make a list of anyone that falls into this category. This is your lowest hanging fruit.

Question 2: Who do you follow closely?

Are there any bloggers that you follow closely? If you are reading this, then Jon would fall into that category.

Filter that list down by the ones you have had interaction with.

Have you talked them on Twitter, exchanged emails with them, chatted in the comments section of one of their posts?

If not, then go do that.

Question 3: Who would you want to work for?

If you’ve worked your way all the way to this step without having a single person in mind, then you really need to get out more.

Business is extremely hard when you don’t know anyone and make no efforts to do so.

However, there is still hope. Make a list of sites you think you would like to work with.

Two good places to start to assemble such a list are:

1. Google Search Results: Type in the search terms for the industry you think you want to focus on.

Then narrow down the results by the sites with active blogs

2. ITunes Podcast Charts: Find the category you want to focus on then look for non-cooperate podcast that are in the Top 25-50 range.

The more familiar you are with the brand the better. I’ve found its much harder to sell to someone you do not know anything about vs. A company you are at least marginally familiar with.

After going through this exercise, I concluded the best person to approach would be Jon.

Step 4: Create a proposal that matches your solution to your prospects problem

By this point you have identified a problem, created a service to fix that problem and identified a company that needs that problem solved.

Now it’s time to put together a proposal to send them.

I did this a few months ago by reaching out to popular marketing blog Hubspot, creating a quick sample of my work and sending it to them

This was the email I sent:

This proposal ended in a $2,500 contract and a full write up on the Hubspot marketing blog about the pitch itself.

Here are a few keys to your proposal:

Key #1: Keep the pitch short.

If you are using email to pitch your prospect, understand that they are busy. For every extra word you include the chances of them reading it and hiring you goes down.

Key #2: Include a link to the proposal

I very rarely put the details of the proposal in the email. I will normally link to the proposal which is usually in video form or Google doc. (Don’t use attachments, the spam filter will catch them)

Key #3: Give a very specific call to action at the end

This can be tricky and the specifics of how you word your call to action vary depending on the prospect and your relationship with them.

If I am completely cold contacting a prospect, I’ll use softer language like:

“I would love to get your feedback”

OR

“Do you think this is something that would be helpful for your customers.”

The stronger the relationship the more forward I can be. If in doubt, go softer.

Step 5: Give away your ‘must have’ experience for free

This can be hard to do, but it’s the key to the entire thing. If your service is house cleaning, clean your target customers house for free.

If your service is a CrossFit Gym trainer, give away the first session for free.

If you are helping writers by finding and pitching guest posting oppurtunitirs for them, do that.

Then…give it to them.

This removes the single biggest fear that your prospect has. That fear is that you suck at what you do and you’ll waste there time.

By SHOWING them the finished product upfront, before they pay, you completely remove that from the equation.

To continue our example, I designed and coded a popup for Jon’s site.

Then I sent it to him.

This is what it looked like:

Guess what? He hired me :)

Alright, lets do a quick recap

Step 1: Pick a problem to solve

Step 2: Turn your solution into a service

Step 3: Pick ONE person to target with your service

Step 4: Create a proposal for your target person

Step 5: SHOW them your work. Don’t tell them about it.

This works wonders. It blows me away how simple (not easy) this is and yet how few people have the balls to do it.

Just yesterday I targeted one of the top bloggers in the world (5 million uniques per month). I identified an area of weakness in his marketing, created the solution, emailed him (had never talked to him before) and in less than 24 hours had the job.

Need more help? Here are a few bonuses to guide you along

So, that’s it. That’s the plan I followed. I started Videofruit on April 30th, 2013 and quit my job on September, 8th of that year. And I did it by following this exact plan.

I want you to do the same thing.

So, I’m giving you several bonus resources to help.

• First, I’ve put together a list of 10 services that you can offer by using this method

• Second, I’ve included the exact email template I used to cold contact 10 different companies (and get their business)

• Third, one person reading this will get a one-on-one mentoring session with me. I’ll personally help you make implement this plan.

Sound good?

To get all the goodness, enter the bonus section by signing up here.

 

3 questions to ask blog advertisers, sponsors and guest post authors.

I have one sponsor of this blog right now, Infusionsoft and one additional voice writing consistently, Casey Lewis.

At some point, I might have more but for now, that feels like plenty.

Why?

Because a sponsor, advertiser or guest post author is not just someone filling space on your blog.

They are an extension of what you are doing. A partner. An accomplice in awesome. They’re not someone just borrowing pixels in exchange for money, services or content.

Knowing that, you can’t casually pick people you’ll share your blog with, regardless of the size. In order to find blog advertisers, sponsors and guest post authors, here are 3 questions I think you should ask:

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