Solopreneur Struggles: Sharing & Support Require Honesty

Solopreneur Struggles: Sharing & Support Require Honesty

I don’t care what the passion and positivity princesses are pandering! Running a business is hard. And it’s about time we admitted it openly and honestly.

When we sugarcoat and try to simplify the running of a business (how many marketing and entrepreneurial articles have you seen this week stating that something is easy, simple, quick, painless?) we do a disservice to those budding entrepreneurs and new business owners looking for real and valuable advice.

I applaud the savvy solopreneur who is willing to share the hardships that go with the hustle. Who isn’t looking through rose-colored entrepreneurial glasses. Who’s willing to admit some things are a struggle.

It’s not easy. It’s not simple. It’s certainly not always fun. And it’s time we admit that.

I’m Often Tired

I have never been a great sleeper. I am one of those people who honestly can’t nap. I feel physically ill unless I can sleep soundly for hours. And sleeping soundly for hours during the day would mean even less sleep at night.

Whether your struggling or succeeding as a solopreneur, sometimes we just can’t sleep. We could be working on a tight deadline, getting up earlier and staying up later in order to meet project and client needs.

When you’re juggling a lot of projects it’s hard to shut down at “end of day.” With smart phones permanently attached to our hands, it’s too easy to check Twitter mentions or email one last time. The very connectivity that can propel our business also ramps up our brains to the point that we can’t shut down. Even when we do power down our computers, tablets and phone, our minds keep whirring.

There are differing opinions on whether or not you can catch up on sleep. Whether you can catch up or not, is largely irrelevant in the now. I think we can all agree that when we’re feeling fatigued, we find it harder to do our best work. Especially, at least for me, when working in a creative field.

My Social Is Sapped By The End Of The Day

I spend all day creating, building, and maintaining relationships. With peers, influencers, prospects and clients.

When it comes time to step away from the work I’m decidedly disinclined to do anything social. I find myself wanting to curl up under a blanket on the couch watching mindless TV re-runs so that I don’t have to think about anything.

Needless to say, this can put a strain on your relationship with your spouse (or other type of significant other), friends, family and even you peers who are more inclined to shake off the day with a social activity.

Delegating Isn’t Always A Slam Dunk

We’re often told that we can make our solopreneur success a given by smartly delegating the tasks we don’t want to do or aren’t capable of doing. Sounds easy-peezy-lemon-squeezy, right?

It’s NOT!

First of all, you can’t just dump work on a new delegate. You’ve got to train him/her on the process, the procedure, the best practices. Depending on what you’re delegating this can be a pretty colossal undertaking. In fact, the early stages of delegating don’t save you time, instead it eats up time in huge gulps.

AND, if you’re delegating client work to a VA or intern, you’ve got to educate your client on the arrangement. You can’t just pass them off to a newbie with no notice. Not if you want to keep them!

The Free Fallacy

We’ve all fallen prey to the allure of the freebie that can do the job without impacting our bank account. We decide that our bottom line depends on never letting loose with a dollar. And that sets many of us up to fail.

It’s imperative to wisely invest in your business. Expenses matter. You’ve got to carefully control them in order to keep your business running in the black.

It’s important to remember though, the free solutions might save dollars, but they often cause solopreneurs to spend more time. For many of us, time is money. So, shelling out smart dough to save time often saves more money than the freebie.

Systems Don’t Set-Up Themselves

Smartly set-up systems, protocols and procedures can absolutely save you time and speed you toward success … in the long run. Notice that ellipse. I placed it there purposefully for the pause. Systems set-up helps you in the long-run, but the set-up takes time, tweaking and testing. Which adds to your already full plate.

Consider one relatively simple system, setting up your email to auto-sort and occasionally auto-respond. The key word her is set-up. You have to set up this seemingly simple system. And the system has to work for you.

Setting up folders for client emails only works if you actually notice that there’s a NEW message. If it’s not going to your inbox, you’ve got to set up a schedule and train yourself to check more than your inbox.

Don’t get me wrong. Systems can seriously save a solopreneur. But they don’t come out of a pretty package ready to go, customized for your clients and your projects. They require set-up. Then the set-up has to be tested. And often tweaked.

Solopreneurs Struggle

We all have talents upon which we are trying to capitalize. We’ve started our business in order to do something we love, something that adds value, something that sustains both us and our clients.

But the solopreneur gig just ain’t all that glamorous all the time! It’s often exhausting and stressful. It’s often a struggle. It brings with it the ups and downs, the joys and woes of any complicated endeavor.

I hope that in sharing our struggles we can bolster our solopreneur brethren, giving them the boost we’ve often needed when the day to day becomes daunting.

Please share some of your solopreneur struggles. Through honest sharing and support we can build a community of successful, well-sorted and seriously kick ass solo biz owners!

Your Boobs Have No Place In Your Brand Or Bio!

Your Boobs Have No Place In Your Brand Or Bio!

I’ve published articles touching on this topic before. More than once. Three times even! But, it appears it’s time for a fourth foray. Perhaps this will be the time I push it that one step too far. One can only hope!

So, here’s the deal. When I’m intent upon seeking out new connections there are many things I look for in a social media or website bio.

  • Valuable and consistent content publishing
  • Careful management and monitoring of mentions
  • Willingness to converse
  • Appreciation and attribution
  • Consistent and targeted brand and message
  • and much, much more …

Let me tell you what I’m not looking for. Copious cleavage.

I’m Not Tempted By Your Ta-Tas!

If you’re intent upon marketing to other female entrepreneurs, as is my main intent and purpose, I dare say that your mammaries aren’t adding to your marketing mojo.

Shockingly, your boobs don’t bolster you, your brand, or your digital marketing expertise, in any way that impresses me.

Skip the skimpy, strappy sundresses while you’re standing against a brick (or other urban building material) wall with your shoulders thrust back in what can only be described as porno posture.

Age Before Boobies!

I want to make something very clear. This is not a rant rearing its ugly head in the direction of younger, newer, more nubile marketers. Oh no. I’ve seen far too many well-established and well known marketers flashing a little too much titillating flesh in selfies posted to Instagram, Facebook and even Google+.

And, sadly, it’s not just selfies. Professional head shots snapped for “professional” use also fall prey to a little too much cleavage clearance. They’re called head shots for a reason, party peeps. They’re supposed to focus on your face and head, not the girls!

I don’t care if they’re pert and perky or stretched-out and saggy – I don’t want to see ’em.

Level The Playing Field With Your Smarts & Savvy

I don’t believe the esteemed ladies (girls, gals, whatever term you prefer) that launched the women’s movement would be impressed with the need to equate sexy with social media smarts, savvy or success.

Bras weren’t burned so that you could go without in order to wear a plunging neckline or barely there halter.

I’ve got a five-year-old niece, and I’m horrified by some of the costumes she’s made to wear in dance recitals, as well as some of the modern “dance moves” she’s expected pull off during a given number.

Must we be sexy in order to be seen as smart, successful, savvy? Does your brand depend on baring your boobs? I don’t think so! Do you?

Separate Sexy & Success!

There’s a time and a place for sexy, sultry and boob baring. That place is not on your professional bio. Boobs shouldn’t be part of your brand unless you’re a plastic or reconstructive surgeon, a lactation specialist, or you’re trying to wipe out breast cancer.

You CAN be attractive and look your best when you’re doing business. But your boobs aren’t a necessary part of that professional package.

Stop Worrying About Peers Who Appear To Be “Everywhere” Online!

Stop Worrying About Peers Who Appear To Be "Everywhere" Online!

 

The digital marketing industry is a fascinating place to work. It’s fast paced, teeming with ideas and new technologies and it opens so many doors for new collaborations and connections.

But it also breeds insecurity, one-upmanship and petty jealousies.

Many a digital marketer finds him or herself battling the peer pressure to be online ALL THE TIME. To build and maintain a strong presence on every new social platform under the sun. We must tweet, pin, share, like, comment, blab, live stream, etc.

Bullshit!

[clickToTweet tweet=”You can’t be online ALL THE TIME and actively and effectively manage client work.” quote=”You can’t be online ALL THE TIME and actively and effectively manage client work.” theme=”style4″]

Clients Are Kind Of Important!

Remember this when you’re freaking out about one of your peers and their “always on” 24-7-365 presence on each and every social platform …

They’re not serving clients!

If they can spend all day, EVERY day, crafting the coolest infographics, the most tempting tweets, the smartest social shares and live streaming walks with their dog, it means something. They’ve got no client work. No paying gig that takes precedence.

Now, now, now, before you start flipping out, YES, there are many marketers who manage to balance a productive and consistent online presence and a full client list. But, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll see that these marketers have carefully chosen their social networks and have crafted a plan that focuses on the few, not the many.

The savvy social marketer focuses on the platforms that make sense for his or her audience and business. Sure, they like to test and try new things, but they don’t feel the need to hop on every new “shiny object” and proclaim it the next greatest thing.

Successful marketers and designers aren’t on tweetchats all day, every day, because they’re doing the client work that pays the bills and keeps them in good standing with those clients. Completing client work in a timely fashion is a HUGE part of running a successful business.

You Are Running A Business, Aren’t You?

Running a business means you’ll spend plenty of time trying to cultivate and keep business. Because it’s those clients relying on your expertise that pay the bills.

Sure, you ABSOLUTELY can – and should – cultivate and keep business via strategic online channels.

But you’ve also got to make time for the actual work, be it web design, coaching, writing, consulting, what have you. You’ve got to deliver the promised goods or the paychecks won’t materialize.

And let’s not forget all of the behind the scenes fun that goes along with a business. Invoicing. Proposals. Lead generation and nurturing. Preparation for taxes. None of them all that glamorous, none of them helping you be popular online, but ALL of them vitally important to your business success!

The Business Of Building A Following?

But what if your end goal is to be an influencer, a big name in the social arena, a go-to guy or gal for all things always online? First of all, more power to you, as it’s not an easy task to become an online celebrity or thought leader (man, do I ever still hate that phrase).

If your goal is to be the keynote speaker at every big industry event going forward, then your time might be well spent trying to be seen everywhere. Again, though, I have to wonder how you’ll pay the bills before you’re hired by all and sundry to share the epic nature of your online presence.

And I gotta tell you, there are some big time public speakers, thought leaders and influencers in my peer group. And, guess what? They didn’t end up in their roles overnight. They put in the time online and off to learn their craft, gain the right following and honed their expertise by actually completing client projects in a timely and professional fashion.

Online, All The Time Is Bullshit!

If you’re planning to pay the bills rather than prizing the breadth of your online presence, you’re going to realize there’s no such thing as a strong online presence EVERYWHERE. You’ll pick your platforms, like you pick your prospects and you’ll put in the proper effort, time and invest the right amount of dollars to make it work best for you, your client base and your bottom line!

Perseverance Is Powerful Until You Push Too Far!

Perseverance Is Powerful Until You Push Too Far!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to do business with a pushover.

While I am the client, and I want my own opinions to be heard, I also want to know that the “expert” providing me with a product or service is actually able to back themselves up as an expert in their field.

Persevere With Purpose!

As a designer, as well as a marketer, I have pretty strong ideas about all things design and marketing. I believe there are right and wrong ways to go about building a brand and marketing a business online.

I do, however, have to factor in that my clients and prospects have strong ideas about their brand and the best ways to market their business. I can’t ignore their wants and needs. Certainly not if I want to continue to work with them in the future.

It’s important to balance your beliefs with those of your client. Certainly, there will be times when you have to take a strong stand. No matter what a client wants, it’s never okay to engage in spamming. That’s just one example. But you must carefully choose your battles.

Is it worth losing a potential repeat client because you differ in opinion on the best shade of blue? Perhaps. That’s really up to you. But compromise is key when you work in the design and marketing fields. Because there are no one-size-fits-all solutions, no single “right” way to proceed, it’s important to be patient and understand the perceptions of your client before you persevere. Compromise and perseverance in balance make for better business.

Back Your Beliefs Without Being A Butthead!

I don’t agree with ALL of the advice shared by my peers. And I don’t expect my peers to agree with every bit of advice I share.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat. Or design a website. Or put together a social media marketing campaign.

As an expert, it’s expected that you’ll push to do things your way. Your clients are paying for your expertise and experience. They want to know that you have a clear plan for moving forward.

But no project moves forward without a misstep or two, an occasional detour. It’s how you handle those missteps, those differences of opinion, that create the balance the builds a brand, that designs a killer website, that launches a successful social media campaign.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Working with a client won’t work if you adopt a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude.” quote=”Working with a client won’t work if you adopt a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude.”]

When you continue arguing well past the point where you should be agreeing to disagree, simply because you want to push the buttons of those whose views differ from your own, you’re taking perseverance a step too far.

When you’ve built up a grudge against an individual with whom you just can’t agree and you decide to stick it to anyone, even people you’ve never before connected with, who happens to agree with or side with that individual, you’re taking perseverance a step too far.

Working With Clients Should Be Win-Win!

If you look at compromising with clients as a loss for your business, you’re probably not going to be in business very long. Clients expect you to work with them, rather than against them! Same goes for your social media connections. They want conversation, not shouting matches and pouting when you don’t get your way.

While I certainly exercise my right to tell a client when I think something they want isn’t a good fit, I never go into a project thinking it’s all going to go my way. That’s not how collaborative efforts work.

Family First, Followed By Clients, Then My Social Presence

Family First, Followed By Clients, Then My Social Presence

You may have noticed it was quite quiet across my social media accounts last week. And the week prior. While the week of August 10-16th was a vacation of sorts, I called it a staycation, and I worked only on my own business initiatives during those seven days, the past week was unplanned and quite difficult.

I spent Monday, August 17th playing catch-up. The usual bustle surrounding hustle as I caught up after a week “off.”

Tuesday, August 18th was busy, with appointments throughout the day, finishing off the hustle with a birthday party for my niece, turning five that day. The day started at 5 AM and by the time Derek and I got stuck in rainy weather traffic on the way to the restaurant I was fighting exhaustion and a headache. The traffic turned out the be the least of my worries.

When we arrived at the restaurant I noticed my sister’s smeared mascara and forced smile as she took me aside to let me know my dad had suffered an episode and was on his way to the hospital. The initial diagnosis was a mini-stroke. We did our best to keep things happy and festive as we waited for news.

My dad started undergoing tests Tuesday night as my sister and I waited for news so that we could sort out our schedules for the rest of the week.

On Wednesday, August 19th we were informed that it was not a mini-stroke, it was likely a seizure caused by a one inch brain tumor scans had found. Specialists were called to consult and my sister and I began the shuffle to clear all items off our calendars in order to spend time with our father.

And this is where the title and focus of this article come in. My dad, absolutely, came first, as well as my sister, my stepmother, my niece and nephew, and to a lesser extent my husband and brother-in-law, as well as all the friends chiming in with prayers and good thoughts.

But, I also have signed contracts with clients for social media management and monitoring. I didn’t leave them in the lurch. I contacted them all, shared a brief summary of what was going on and let them know I would be watching their accounts, but would be providing the minimal end of our contracted spectrum of services over the remainder of the week.

Not a single client raised an eyebrow or voiced a concern. Their accounts were populated with content and watched for mentions while my sister and I visited with my father and awaited more news. This ties in with working with only great clients.

What suffered while life was in limbo last week? My own digital presence. Tweets were few, updates far between. No new articles were published. Only the most pressing emails were answered. Inbox zero was not on my radar.

We got the best news possible, bearing in mind that it is a brain tumor, on Friday. The weekend was spent trying to get some rest, as sleep eluded me during the fraught week, and catching up on my volunteer duties as a committee member and attendee of a charity pro-am event this weekend.

Today I’m getting my clients back on track with more than their minimum contractual needs, and going a little beyond to show my appreciation for their understanding. I sent out a proposal to a prospect and I’ll be catching up on both client and prospect tasks, as well as my volunteer duties this week.

I’m publishing this article, but it might be another slow week for my own digital presence and publishing efforts. Because I have to set priorities and have to focus my time and energies the best way I can. Family first, clients and prospects second. My own tweeting, posting and publishing will have to remain on the back burner until I’m caught up and things normalize again.

And I won’t feel guilty about it.

Summer Streamline: Clearing Out Download Clutter!

Summer Streamline: Clearing Out Download Clutter!

Worksheets. eBooks. Wallpapers. Icon sets. Fonts.

There’s an awful of of free stuff for the taking as you traverse the many roads and routes available for social media travel.

A download here or there doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but eventually you’ll be forced to face the overwhelm that can come with too much stuff.

Yes, you can ACTUALLY have too much digital stuff!

Stop The Free Font FOMO!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of fonts (all right, all right … I know they’re typefaces. Stand down. I’m going for a little alliteration here and it’s not easy to do so with “typeface”).

But, how many of those fontastic freebies have you actually managed to use in a paying project or prototype?

Probably not that many.

Free fonts seem like a good deal … until you find yourself scrolling through a seemingly endless list, looking for the type that will transform your next branding effort.

Ever been so jazzed about a groovy script that you immediately download it and then never manage to use it? If your hand isn’t up in the air you’re either a liar or you don’t work in design and visual marketing.

Clear out some of those tempting, but sadly unused, typeface files. Many of them just aren’t designed well for actual use. If they fail their intended purpose, why do you hang on to them?

Work That Sheet Or Walk Away!

Free worksheets. They’re everywhere! Checklists and to-dos and how-tos, oh my.

But how many of these worksheets are actually adding any wonderful to your workday?

Admit it! You downloaded it as a reference for a future worksheet of your own. Nothing wrong with that. As long as it’s really just for reference and you aren’t going to get a little too grabby with concepts, ideas and design and copy it a little too closely.

If you’ve never taken the time to actually fill out the worksheet, not even once, it’s just more clutter.  Delete it or pass it along to someone who will use it.

You cull clothing and footwear you never wear from your closet, right? Do the same with those worksheets. If it’s not working for you, it’s just taking up space!

[clickToTweet tweet=”Do SOMETHING with those downloads … or clear out the clutter!” quote=”Do SOMETHING with those downloads … or clear out the clutter!”]

 

Read Or Release!

Much like worksheets, you’ll never have to look too far before you find a free eBook just waiting for your click.

How many of them have you actually read?

I’m an avid and voracious reader, and even I can admit I’ve got scores of easy download eBooks that I’ve never read. Taking up space and taunting me every time I peruse my file folders.

If it was free, trash it. If you paid for it, move it to the cloud or pass it along to someone who might actually read it and benefit from it.

NOTE: I’m not saying you should share digital books with the masses when the author means for it to be purchased. That’s unethical. However, if you bought it and never read it and never will read it, I see nothing wrong with passing it along, ONCE, to someone who might benefit. It’s like a gift. 

But, I Might Need It Later!

If you’re not 100% sure you won’t ever use that typeface, worksheet, icon set, etc., you can clear your clutter in a two-step process.

Move the maybe files from your active files (on our computer or device) and keep them in cold storage on the cloud for a bit.

If, after six months or so, you’ve still not accessed or used the downloaded file for its intended purpose, consider a final delete!

Download With Intent & Purpose …

You don’t have to download every free file that presents itself.

Carefully consider each download. Is it something that truly interests you? Is it a file, font or image you can see yourself actually using in the future.

Don’t get sucked into downloading simply for acquisition’s sake. It’s a drain on your computer resources and space, and it can become a time suck when you need to make a decision in the future.

Do you really want to wade through countless downloaded files when you’re seeking the best solution for your business or that of one of your clients?

I’m clearing out unused files as I continue my summer streamline process. How about you?

 

Summer Streamline: Deleting The Deadwood

Summer Streamline: Deleting The Deadwood

dead·wood
ˈdedwo͝od/

noun

  1. people or things that are no longer useful or productive
  2. useless personnel or material
  3. (in writing) unnecessary words, phrases, or exposition; expendable verbiage.

These definitions were pulled from a variety of sources, after this Google search.

As part of my summer streamline initiative, I’m determined to clear the clutter. I’m also determined to delete some of the deadwood that’s clogging up my creative flow.

Ditching Deadwood Clients

This, for many, is the scariest part of a business audit, summer streamline or deletion of deadwood in your business. Many of us still work for what I call legacy clients. Those clients we took on when we were first starting out.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying all legacy clients are deadwood in need of deletion. I still have one or two clients who’ve been with me since the beginning. But, from time to time we find ourselves clinging to a client who no longer fits our brand, our business, our core message.

Often these clients still expect the same low, sometimes too low, rates that you put in place when you first started your business. Sometimes these clients fail to appreciate that your business has grown, as has your expertise, necessitating a rate increase. Sometimes these clients no longer fit in with the niche direction your brand and business have taken as it continues to evolve.

And sometimes, sadly, clients simply don’t appreciate you. Period.

In any of these instances, it’s okay to clear out when the contract is completed. No contract? Give proper notice, just like you would with a 9-5 job.

Your brand and business can’t shine if you’re still hanging on to clients that hold you back. Think I’m crazy? I’m not the only marketer/designer/freelancer with this topic at top of mind!

Deleting The Fluff And Fairweather From Your Feeds

We all have a few folks in our feeds that never interact, never engage, never acknowledge, never appreciate it if you share their fair to middling content.

My question to you, and myself, why are they filling a valuable spot in our feeds?

Clear ’em out and make room for some new ideas, reads and potential for sharing.

I’ve pretty much stopped sharing from the “by rote” generic sites. You know the ones, they regurgitate the same content they’ve been spewing for years and, even though the content’s not fresh, they’re a “big name” so they get thousands of shares.

You know what, if it works for them – and it obviously does, good for them. But, it doesn’t work for me, nor for my audience. So, I don’t follow those sites, I don’t fill my feeds with content that can only be deemed feed fodder, and I don’t add my single share to their thousands.

The same goes for the fairweather “friends” (and the quotation marks are used advisedly) in my feed.

There is, of course, a reciprocal nature to social sharing. But reciprocity, like anything else in business, has to maintain a balance. Sharing that one article that made me take notice of you, that prompted a connection, isn’t enough. When you go silent and pull a runner shortly after a connection, you’re of little value to me.

I’m looking for the reciprocity of shared ideas, conversation, discussion, even a little discriminating dissent.

When I hear nothing but crickets? Time for a connection to cease.

Do Something With Deadwood Content! But, Don’t Delete It.

We all hope that our content, so carefully crafted, will stand the test of time.

But let’s face it. Evergreen isn’t a description we can attach to everything we write. Some content simply becomes clutter. Or worse, if we continue to share stories that are not longer relevant.

It’s time to undertake a content audit, especially if you use a plug-in like Tweet Old Post. Stop automating the sharing of sucky and sadly outdated information!

Repurpose what you can. Consider retooling reads for use on Medium or Linkedin. Archive or even remove (with the proper set-up of a redirect) anything that no longer adds value or, worse, might do a client harm.

Sharing outdated information isn’t just lazy or vain. It’s dangerous. What if a prospect or a client follows your outdated advice and it works against them? You’ve lost a lead or a client. And you can bet your sweet bippy someone else, down the line, will find out and pass judgment about your value as a business and brand.

Yes, content audits are time consuming. But they’re necessary when you need your entire site, home page to contact page, to provide value.

Wondering If I Practice What I Preach?

I’ve fired three clients over the past two months. I’ve been clearing out my feeds, both content and connections, for the last week. Heck, I’m writing a whole series about the process!

I’m intent upon seriously streamlining by business in order to better represent my brand. It’s not easy. Letting go never is. Especially when it comes to dollars in the bank. But sometimes you must sacrifice in order to set yourself on the path for future success.

I’m willing to do so. How about you?

 

The Choice Is Mine: HAVE TO Is For Hustlers And Henchmen!

The Choice Is Mine: HAVE TO Is For Hustlers And Henchmen!

I don’t HAVE TO do anything!

Well, I take that back. I do HAVE to do a few things, like:

  • breathe
  • drink
  • eat
  • sleep
  • poop

But I absolutely, positively, no freaking way, HAVE TO market my business exactly how someone else markets their business.

And neither do you!

Opinions Are Like …

You know the saying, opinions are like a**holes, we all have one? It makes a point, albeit in a crude way (which I, of course, rather appreciate). But when someone tries to push their opinion on you as fact, as the ONLY way to act or move forward, that’s when things get rather sinister.

Belligerent blanket statement utterances don’t make you better than anyone else. They don’t make you a better marketer, designer, businessman/woman or human being.

Quite the opposite actually. Blanket statements can make you appear rigid, out of sync, behind the times, even downright clueless.

The one thing REALLY good marketers know …

is that there’s no single right way to go about achieving your aims and attaining your goals, especially via digital marketing measures.

Hustlers & Henchmen?

While I do live to alliterate, there’s more to my title than word flow.

My way or the highway tactics leave me cold for a variety of reasons, but never more so than when these tactics are touted as “good as gold” go-to gems for digital marketing and design success.

Remember all the old school SEO companies promising page one search ranks back in the day? OK, a few of the really less than legit are still doing so today, but I digress. Shysters all. And it took a lot of time, effort and writing article after article for the legit SEO companies and individuals to drive this point home.

I hate seeing great people get hustled

These great people have great ideas, products, services and more. They have so much to offer. Then they fall prey to a “Have To” huckster and, sadly, they lose a little of the light that made them shine so bright.

[clickToTweet tweet=”You don’t HAVE TO do anything … halt the hustlers and hucksters!” quote=”You don’t HAVE TO do anything … halt the hustlers and hucksters!” theme=”style4″]

 

It’s been said many times, by MANY a savvy social media marketer … there’s no ONE-SIZE fits all solution that will reap you immediate reward and everlasting fame and fortune.

There are NO marketing gods. Every marketer out there has a few failures notched on their bedpost. Dig a little deeper into these hustlers tactics and you’ll often find they fail to walk what they’re talking.

Let’s Halt The HAVE TO Hustle!

There’s really no room for song and dance shenanigans in social media and digital marketing. That whole trust, honesty, transparency trifecta should have put the kibosh on these klutzy maneuvers. Yet, they still abide, and, in some instances, abound.

Each business has its own personality, its own story, its own voice. It stands to reason, then, that each business should have its own marketing and design style.

Of course there are best practices that we all must consider implementing. But even best practices can bend a bit, be flexible. When you design and market your business and brand with the best intent and purpose, you’re on the right path, even if you break a few “rules” and dance to the beat of your own drum.

Collaborate With Care: Dial In The Details With A Contract!

Collaborate With Care: Dial In The Details With A Contract!

It might surprise some of my readers to know that, as a child, I was very trusting, actually downright gullible. My older brother could get me to do anything, because I loved and trusted him. This love and trust often had me eating dog food or screaming and running in terror as firecrackers exploded inside pantyhose egg shells. Many a birthday party was marred by cries when he’d pop balloons with a fork. Luckily, I had such curly hair that my mother kept it short (I cried when she tried to get a brush through it) and didn’t suffer my little sister’s torment. He used to suck the ribbons out her hair with the vacuum cleaner.

Despite those childhood pranks and antics, I’m still someone who wants to see the good in others. Don’t let my snarky writing style fool you. I go into each collaborative effort believing that all parties involved are going to give it their all, are going to play by the rules and are going to pay on time.

Sometimes I’m disappointed. But it’s my fault if I don’t put into place the plan, the deal, the contract that outlines how the collaboration will tackle its task.

All Collaborations Require Contracts

This was, far too late into my career, a huge lesson learned. In fact, I’m still learning my lesson.

Even if no money is changing hands, even if the collaboration is based on a hobby, a contract between participating parties must be agreed upon and enforced.

This ABSOLUTELY holds true when you’re working with friends and family. Creating a contract can keep the project on target and keep all parties on task which can help keep any hurt feelings from damaging the relationship.

Dial In The Details

In order for the collaborative effort to make the most of its opportunities, some details must be nailed down from the get go.

You have to sort out who’s in charge. You can’t all be the boss. Someone has to be the taskmaster when tasks go off on a tangent. Whoever you put in charge has to have the authority to cease activities that could damage the collaborative effort.

Who’s shelling out the money? Invariably, there are costs attached to any collaborative project, even those that aren’t intended to make any return on investment. The collaborator who shells out the money should be compensated in some way. Only a contract can keep this on track and keep feelings from being bruised.

Deadlines are daunting in any project. They can derail a collaboration completely if they aren’t adhered to properly. One missed deadline often sets off a domino effect putting future deadlines, and the project in general, in jeopardy.

Moving On To Money Matters

Even projects where money changes hands are collaborative efforts.

These projects still require the set-up of timelines, deadlines, task lists, etc. The exchange of dollars is, of course the end goal for the one receiving those dollars, while the end goal of the other party is a stellar design or other product or service.

Without a document that details the to-dos, the due dates and the expectations, any project can derail and cause missed launch dates, increased costs and lack of customer satisfaction. No one likes to hand over money after a less than positive experience!

At the same time, money can cause issues when you’re dealing with friends or family. A contract keeps all parties safe. Someone gets paid and no one gets their feelings hurt, making it difficult to hang out around the dinner table!

Contracts Help Keep It Cool!

Contracts, when you get down to it, provide a roadmap for a project. They effectively lay out expectations, deadlines, to-dos and anything else pertinent to project completion.

They also help keep all parties involved in your collaboration happy and keep the collaboration healthy!

Ewwwwww! Let The Spam Stop With You!

Ewwwwww! Let The Spam Stop With You!

Reply All and Spam …
NOT a match made in heaven!

We all deal with spam. Probably on a daily basis. It comes in many shapes and sizes. It’s delivered by so many different means.

But, a few of you are adding to the time suck and rolling eyes. Maybe without even knowing it.

Don’t Feed The Animals, Especially Not Spam!

C’mon people. Use a little common sense and stop spreading the spamsanity. Yes, that’s one of my made up words, but I think it’s quite fitting. It perfectly describes what I can only hope is the mindless and hysterical spreading of spam through silly clicks and response tactics.

None of us want spam. Anywhere. It infiltrates our in-boxes. It taunts us in Twitter DMs. It makes us listless about Linkedin. I could go on and on.

Spam wastes our time and it negatively impacts our productivity. We have to monitor it on our websites, in the comments and via our contact forms. We have to clear it out of our inboxes. Even if we have systems in place to catch it, the final delete is something we have to deploy.

So, it’s all the more annoying when the spam cycle is continued with a ridiculous reply-all response.

Stop Aiding & Abetting

When you reply-all to a spam send, you’re adding to the trash. That’s one more email, one more message, one more notification I have to address.

Whether your response is positive or negative, when you regularly reply-all, you show me you don’t value my time any more than the initial spammer.

It’s bad enough when you have my email for a reason. It’s absolutely heinous when you use a social media platform (I’m calling you out Linkedin) to deliver spammy service offerings to the unsuspecting and uninterested. When you hit reply-all to an obviously spammy send, I’m going to inform Linkedin that your response is spam, too.

Sound harsh? Too bad. No one wants to see a single spam send turn into a spam thread.

Respond To Spam The Right Way! One-on-One!

If you’ve ever taken part in any formal, regimented networking you know that have a rule, which I’m paraphrasing here:

… positive in public, negative where no one else is listening.

When it comes to spam, especially spam sent out to multiple parties (I’m looking at you again, Linkedin), all responses should be private.

While the spam send might be the exact silly service your business needs, you don’t need to let the rest of us know! We don’t care! We don’t know Y-O-U!

As for letting the spammer know it’s not super-duper? I give them one chance. I reply, privately, that what they’re doing doesn’t work for me (and plenty of others). If they repeat spam? Report!

Spam Sucks!

Together we can stop the spamsanity. Really! If we stop reply-all ridiculosity we’re already adding to the calm, rather than creating a cacophony that clearly benefits NO ONE!