What’s your hustle?

Before I start work everyday, I sit down and write a blog post.

It’s based on whatever I’m thinking about that day, and whatever future goal I have in mind. I don’t always publish (I’m working on that) but I write something down.

How did you get here?

Living in the midwest -Winter -Building your brand
How did I get here?

I love finding out people’s stories. How they got to where they are now. I came from Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, to a small town on the shore of one of the great lakes in a city that freezing half the year. People always like to ask me that, in short, it’s a long story.

Here’s what I do: I’m a content strategist for an internet marketing agency called PureDriven in northern Minnesota.

I work in a virtual climate, which is great but hard sometimes and I got my job a few months after graduating college.

When I see people looking for jobs, I harken back to last summer when I was sitting on my bedroom bed, sub-letting my friend’s apartment with no idea where my life was headed and facing job application after application.

It wasn’t like I hadn’t tried, I had three internships under my belt by the time I graduated. Where did that lead me? The afore-mentioned apartment, bed, application scenario.

I tried my hardest to pour my heart out to a computer in hopes that the select word I had picked from the job description would put me at the top of the list.

I hated it.

I hate online applications.

Hate. Hate. Hate.

There is nothing personal or real about them, if you manage to get a phone interview you are crossing fingers and saying whatever it takes to get an in-person interview.

And if you get an in-person interview even if it’s a “boring” industry or a “boring” job, you will say whatever it takes to get the job.

And after two years of working in a career center in college I knew exactly what to say.

It was depressing. Faced with the prospect of spending a depressing summer I decided that I was just going to start a blog and write about stuff that actually interested me, while I applied for jobs that well, didn’t.

I decided to set myself up as a consultant for small business because I figured hey, there are people out there who know a lot less than I do and if I can set it up to do small projects for them it just might work.

Heck, I thought, why not?

It sort of worked, and it kept me motivated.

I even crafted sales letters that I sent to local businesses I found through the local chamber pages.

When I wasn’t applying I was working on my hustle or hanging out with friends.

I don’t know what to do with downtime after about a day or two.

It didn’t really work out, I wasted the little money  I had sending out mail, and hours in the computer lab printing stuff. I didn’t really hear back from any of those businesses, I got one or two projects from people who knew me, but in the overall sense my business was a fail.

Honestly though, it saved me.

Here’s why: It helped me get a job I actually wanted without any need for an application, or bullshitting whatsoever.

Building Your Brand 101

“Follow the dots, and trust that they will somehow connect”

If you want to do something you enjoy but have no idea how to get an in, in the industry work for free.

The blog I was running and my fledgling business –haha- got me the attention of a former fellow intern on LinkedIn and she connected me to a local marketing expert who kindly took me under his wing and let me work while learning the ropes. He hustled to get me hired at his company, all because I had shown genuine interest and initiative he later said.

Those job applications I did, well after about a month of those I got a few phone interviews. And one even got me two interviews at a legit job I might have taken. A few weeks into my new job, those boring applications got me 2nd interviews, but by that time, I was already saved from the hum-drum life; a life where I would have to fight to get to do what I do everyday now as a part of my job.

That’s pretty sweet.

If you want to get somewhere you’ve got to write it down. Then take steps towards it. Small steps. I’m all for the jump out and catch your dream but you probably have a couple of bills, and you will probably need some cushion for a little while.

But don’t be afraid to stick your neck out there and start somewhere, even if it’s a small blog moonlighting as a marketing consultant while you’re still learning 😉

What your hustle? What’s your dream? What do you want to wake up and do every day 5 years from now?

It’s not going to happen instantly, but if you take those small steps, it’ll happen.

“Follow the dots and trust that they will somehow connect.” -Steve Jobs

Best. Quote. Ever.

I’m fired by something else now, helping myself and others learn how to build a brand for themselves online.

I’m just doing it because I love marketing, and that field caught my interest. A quick Keyword research told me it has others curious too so I decided heck, why not?

What gets you fired up?

Figure it out, and go get ’em!

Building a brand called you – A new direction for the blog

Winding country road
Photo by Daisy Quaker

I’d like to take you on a hypothetical country road, quite similar to one I’ve been taking these past few weeks while hanging out at a campground in the northwoods of  Wisconsin.

it’s a slow drive, we have nothing to do, and nowhere to be, just enjoying the sounds of the birds calling back and forth in the trees, and the bursts of sunlight through the trees.

Our minds are wandering as we enjoy the sights, and I turn to you and ask, “Do yo ever Google yourself?”

“Huh,” you say, jarred from the lovely scenery with my odd question.

You should know that I have a tendency of asking random odd questions, when I happen to think out loud.

Ok, so that’s doesn’t exactly fit the scenery but I love winding country roads covered in trees. Truthfully, I was driving and snapping pictures of trees and thinking about life, goals, and where I wanted to be in life. Summer is when I make plans for myself.

As I drove past trees, and rounded corners I thought more and more about becoming indispensible and how that is tied to building a reputation around something you are known for. It became more and more clear to me that to get from A to B on my goals, I need to master ways that can help me build a reputation or personal brand.

Google yourself

A quick search on Google will tell anyone what the online world has to say about you.

If the first source on information about you is well you, the second source are family and friends, then the third and seemingly unbiased source is Google right? In some cases it might be the first source people visit.

If the information we have available online is so important how are you proactively trying to show the world your skills and talents?

Do you own your personal brand?

How are you building your brand?

There are so many tools, books and tactics to creating and building a brand. Grabbing and capitalizing on these tools can help improve your life, forgetting a job you wanted, to meeting a personal goal. I’d like to help you meet that by providing tips, resources and sharing what I learn about managing your personal brand.

Think of it as the business of selling you, to the world. The business of making everyone realize how incredibly talented you are and getting your foot in whatever door that is currently shut.

I’m taking the blog on a new adventure

Kudos if you figured that out already!

When I started blogging, I was more interested in trying to find ways to help small business get the online thing, at least a little more. So naturally I explored topics like blogging, social media, and how to market your business.

Building a personal brand encompasses all those things just on a more personal note. Focusing on ways we can build our personal brand online will simply be about learning to market yourself.Whether it’s to impress a potential boss, meet a personal goal or build your own brand as a business.

If you follow this blog I’d love for you to stay on board as I venture into this new niche territory.

Looking forward to the journey, friends!

-Daisy

Yes you can blog, here’s 7 tips to get started

Yes you can start a blog.

How to get started bloggingA post a day keeps the therapist away.

You should write. Whatever it is, you want to write. You are probably an expert in something, even if it is on observing austral relations from your backyard, trust me, I follow a guy who does just that.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Every man I meet is my superior in some way.”

If we met you’d probably be my superior in mechanics of taking care of a car, staying healthy and active, handling difficult conversations, reading, managing finances to name a few.

There are plenty of blogs out there and maybe you are thinking you’d like to start one too. Great! Here are some tips I’ve picked up from others.

7 Tips to get you started in blogging

1. Think small (as in niche)

Few and far in between are blogs about everything under the sun. Focus on 3 small things that will make you more motivated to write, and to keep writing. If it’s a topic you are not confident in but are keenly studying then write some posts on it, I guarantee that there are people a lot less knowledgeable as you, and besides you are a fascinating creature with such keen and interesting insights dah-ling!

2. Figure out how much writing you can handle

I’d love to spin-off a post every hour but there are other things I’ve got to focus on. And that’s ok. Getting a good grip on how much you can write and communicating that is awesome because you are not over-promising your readers if you have any (and while we are on that, it’s ok to not have as many for a while you need to build a structure that they can wander through first).

3. Don’t look to blogging to make money

Because you’ll be disappointed. Look to blogging as a way to build an audience, but not as a way to build income, at least not immediately. It could happen, it’s not impossible, but making money usually comes with having tons of readers who either want to click on your affiliate links or actually buy something from you. Getting to that point is a slow process, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

4. Don’t get caught up in all the wrong things

I am into marketing like a lot. One of my favorite thought leaders is Seth Godin, seriously I will read or listen to anything by him. In one podcast he talks about how people want to start a business and focus on all the wrong things like getting the right logo, how many features to pack into their website, getting their paperwork for setting up a business through, figuring out the logistics of how to ship and track things and how all these things keep them from what they actually should be doing –building an audience of people actually interested their product or service. At the end of the day, it’s not really the trademark or legal paperwork that will bring in the money. Those are all problems you can solve with time, resourcefulness or money. But marketing your idea and building an audience that takes guts, time and a bit of sticking your neck out there.

When it comes to blogging, I think, don’t focus on how awesome and amazing your blog should look how many features it should have, and whether you will have a mailing list to go along side it.

Just start writing, because honestly if it’s good, with time people will pay attention. All those other thing you can tack on as time goes on. But if you wait until everything is perfect, then you’re just delaying the real work/fun.

5. Listen and respond to your audience

Be open to wherever this blogging thing will take you. Write posts that your readers show they enjoy, and write in a human way. Connecting with people in real life is awesome; if you can create that kind of spark online with your readers then you’ve got something special.

6. Be original

How are you different from other blogs?

This is hard. But really look at it as a way of setting yourself apart, what’s your thing?

Are you going to sprout off data about stuff in a field where everyone is just sprouting opinions? Are you going to have your own spin by creating colorful illustrations about your life and fashion? Are you going to run an “Ask me anything” type blog loaded with pictures and short posts on health and beauty? You don’t have to figure it out from the first post, but with time refine until you are comfortable with it. I’m still soul-searching for mine.

7. Promote

Hey it’s your content so it’s worth promoting so that other people actually you know, see it? Promote from day one. Get in the habit, build your audience slowly, and when you hit say a 100 posts go back and promote posts that your readers loved. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different ways of promoting content really it’s all fun don’t take it too seriously.

Try these to get started:

  • Tweet your posts out to your audience or to people/companies you profile
  • Mention it in groups or social networks
  • Write guest posts

While we are on it, I love checking out other blogs in my spare time, so what do you write about?

Facebook charges people to send messages now, apparently

The problem with switching customers from free to paid

 

I’m curious has this tactic ever worked successfully for online businesses?

Let’s backtrack. Earlier today I wanted to send a Facebook message to someone on Facebook without jumping through the hoop of adding them on Facebook. (I try to limit my contacts list to people I know or have met at least once)

And here’s what came up:

Facebook -Sending Messages -Charges Users

Did I pay? No.

I ended finding a different way to get the message to them outside of Facebook but it still made me think. Has it ever worked to charge people for an online service that was free before?

The problem here is without any notice, Facebook suddenly decides to charge for something that was previously free. It might have been communicated to everyone, I wouldn’t know I rarely use the e-mail I used to register for the service almost 5+ years ago but suddenly they want me to pay for something that is free.

Here’s what I think is the problem with that:

  1. It’s not just a price change it’s a paradigm shift. Honestly, if something is free and a user is used to it being free then adding a price to it (no matter how low) will make you look bad. And worse, you will probably meet resistance with that
  2. It looks sleazy. Unless you have communicated clearly why you need to do this, and when this change will take in effect your customers, upping something from $0 to $1 might not look like a big deal to you but to the user who suddenly has to use their credit card it just feels a little icky.
  3. Is it really that essential? In other words is your service all that valuable? This change might have happened eons ago and I’m just finding out because I rarely message people outside of my friend list as is, but to me sending messages to strangers on Facebook is one of those things I have always been able to do, but never really used. So if the goal is to stop people from sending messages to people outside their friend list THANK YOU, the less creepy “friendly” messages from strangers in one’s inbox the better. But if the point is to actually make money off this thing then Good luck with that.
  4. is what you are charging for irreplaceable? the behemoth of social media, Facebook, is unique, but is what they are charging for all that special? Can there be other ways to get in touch? My argument is if there is no alternative then users may grumble and complain but if they have no choice, then they have no choice. Of course, they might hate you for it, but they will grumble and make the switch or stop using the service. But with the option of sending an e-mail, a direct message on Twitter, connecting on LinkedIn there are other options online that I don’t have to pay for, so sorry.

Online or Off-line Communication is Key

Facebook has a history of not really communicating some of it’s shady low-key changes like when it created e-mail accounts for everyone, or its gift system. So really if your users don’t know it’s there would they really like your shiny new idea? Whether it’s a crisis or a new product or what you would consider a small change, communicating clearly with customers BEFORE putting something into effect can make the difference between a hit or miss. And it’s ways of communicating can be improved. Outside of people who are really into tech and social media I don’t think that many people out there that have heard of it’s latest News feed makeover. One would think with the number of increasingly intrusive advertising there would be something that pops up on the news feed of every user about major changes.

Buzz can only do so much if it’s industry specific for a product that everyone uses.

In my humble opinion

Personally, I don’t think Facebook was ever meant to be that big of a money-making machine, its essential -yes, but a big money-maker? I don’t think so. It’s like being charged for G-mail or Hotmail (or Outlook.com as they are desperately trying to re-brand themselves) you could make some money off the advertising and the business that are willing to pay to reach people but the user experience should be left alone. Maybe I’m wrong but the harder they try to make the ordinary user pay the more it feels forced.

By the way, for an example of a company that did manage to make the switch well, look at Hulu. Leave the people who are happy with the service as is alone, and make others who really want to pay for the extra perk of an unlimited experience pay (which for Facebook that’s businesses) It still keeps your core feel-good value of providing your product for free but allows bug fans to upgrade. But as Pandora would tell you, it’s really a hit or miss.

It reminds me of that TED talk Amanda Palmer gave that everyone raved about, let people choose how they want to pay or support you.

Have an opinion? Share it below!

10 Blogging Lessons from Street Performers

Blogging Lessons from Street Performers

Blogging is an art that can be learned and perfected. Street performing or “busking” is also an art, you either entertain or amuse passers-by or you don’t make money.  In both situations people are busy with their everyday lives and probably on the way to one thing or another and there you are trying to catch their attention. One is tougher than the other but I will let you decide.

It’s not that hard to get started in busking because, after all, anybody can hit the streets and put on a show. It’s not that hard to start a blog neither. What separates the successful buskers and bloggers from everyone else s they perfect their craft.

So here are 10 Lessons Bloggers can learn from the hardest job in showbiz –street performing:

1. Put together a great act

In busking this happens even before you get out on the streets to perform you figure out your act and practice, practice, practice. In blogging these goes on before you have the material on your blog by figuring out what to write, what is already out there on your topic of interest and what people are really interested in. It ranges from doing Google searches, listening in on forums or even the most popular blog posts on successful blogs or websites. What do the people want? And how can you deliver in a way that is unique?

2. Find a place to perform

The ideal busking spot (or pitch) is a fairly quiet place with plenty of foot traffic, for bloggers it is your means of spreading out your content. What spot has the most foot traffic than the internet after all? Will you focus on growing an audience through a blog, or e-mailing list? How will you get yourself on social media sites, what will your purpose be? Think carefully about where you place your content from your blog name, to its look and feel. Street performers need to find a pitch that suits their act, bloggers need to find a medium that can help them scale and grow their audience.

3. Gather a crowd

Just like in blogging, in street performing, “the art of getting people to notice you – the build—is fine art in itself” The basics to attracting attention might be promoting your blog on social media, and content. But consider off the beaten track methods like commenting on forums frequented by your target audience, or reaching out and doing guest posts for different websites or publications, all with the intent of drawing them back to your blog, and once there, encouraging them to sign up for mailing lists or subscribing to your blog.

4. Keep your crowd interested

Ideally you will find a niche, street performers usually figure out whether they will do music, dance or magic early on. The goal here is once you focus on one thing, you can improve with each post. Find creative ways to share your story. Street performers try to make each new tricks more amazing than the last, so build a content plan that starts off with relatively simple posts and gets into progressively harder posts as your audience grows. These can be your cornerstone subjects; if your blog is about Arts and Crafts what basics do people need to learn before you get into otherwise difficult projects? E.g. setting up a craft space, where to get supplies, safety concerns, DIY Hacks, quick fixes to common DIY problems. Think of it as creating a beginners class, so that even after hundreds of posts, people can still come back to the basics on how to get started, or your cornerstone categories.

5. Interact with your audience

In the beginning comments may be few and far in between, get in the habit of replying to every comment. Go out of your way to interact with your audience whether on your blog or other channels. If you send out e-mails encourage feedback or replies and respond in turn, it will go a long way to creating that connection with your content.

6. Build audience participation into your act

In busking audience participation makes the crowd happy. You may not have cute kids help with your blogging content, but encouraging guest posts, or even feedback in the comments or minimal effort feedback like reader polls can add the feeling of others paying attention to your content.

7. Sell merchandise

Blogging Lessons From Street Performers
Maybe you are blogging as hobby, or as just a way to let out steam, but consider ways that can help your audience and earn something from your blog –even if it’s just pocket change. Take a step back and look at your blog as more than just an outlet for your thoughts. Once you have built an audience figure out what you want to sell. Seth Godin advocates that bloggers or content marketers should build an audience before they start selling products. Look to make your reader’s lives easier, they will reward you with their loyalty.

8. Keep track of your results

How many site views a day, do you get more traffic on certain days than others? Or what about certain topics? How do people arrive at your site, where are they coming from, what do they click on? Start early by keeping a record of all the blog posts you’ve written it can even be in something simple like an excel spreadsheet. The better you can track your results, the better you can get at fine-tuning your performance.

9. Learn everyday with every post

It’s not enough to learn from which posts do not receive any feedback. Sign up for creative and related email lists and read what others are writing about. Inspiration comes from many sources. This post for example was inspired by an old post on the PureDriven blog (an internet marketing company I work for). Pay attention to what works, but also what inspires. If after several attempts you are audience is not buying into your ideas, then change it up.

10. Keep at it

Street performers do not expect overnight success, neither should your blog. If you plan on generating some money from it then take it seriously and put your efforts into building your audience. Don’t think of selling to them right away, but establishing a connection and trust. Join other support groups to motivate you, print and keep this PDF poster somewhere visible. The rewards may not be immediate, but whatever you do keep writing.

All the great bloggers started out in the same place,, by writing and building their audience one reader at a time. Anybody can start a blog and build a big audience, but if you have a great show you could join the ranks of successful bloggers who turn their passion of writing into a career or side business. If you can entertain, inform or educate people on a continuous basis you can gain exposure and build your brand or business.

So after reading through all these tips and seeing the parallels which act is harder busking? Or blogging?

Credits:
Reference: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Money-Busking-(Street-Performing)

Image Credit: Flickr-Bondidwhat and Rrrrobie

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About the writerDaisy Quaker is an Internet marketing consultant. She loves helping small businesses grow through marketing and by telling their unique stories online. She writes about various Internet marketing tactics and strategies. Connect with her on TwitterGoogle+ or LinkedIn.