Solopreneur Smarts: Collaboration & Partnership Require Care!

Facebook Groups And The Freebie Fallacy …

Facebook Groups And The Freebie Fallacy ...

Once again I find myself ruefully shaking my head at the antics and atrocities perpetuated by many a member of numerous Facebook groups to which I currently belong.

It’s bad enough that many a member fails to understand that self-promotion is generally a no-no, or scheduled for specific days of the week/month. But when members begin to believe that the group is their free online university and business resource refuge, it’s really time for admins to step up and shout out STOP IT!

Brain Pickers Best Back Off!

Facebook groups aren’t a “gimme” zone. They weren’t designed as a means for you to get your grubby hands on extreme expertise and carefully crafted documents we’ve put hours of energy and sweat equity into.

What does that mean? Don’t ask group members to provide their carefully crafted contracts and client on-boarding documents to you as a “template.” More than likely we’ve spent time and money to create documents strategically suited to our brand and prospect base. Why would you think we’d provide that to you for free?

Investing in your business and brand involves a hell of a lot more than you asking others to give you the goods as a gimme!

When I see this happening in Facebook groups I’m reminded of the coffee or lunch date, which is a thinly veiled disguise for brain picking. You want my expertise? Pony up and pay for it!

Sort Out Your Own Settings

As a creative entrepreneur, I’m in many a group populated with a plethora of photographers, brand strategists, stylists (more on that sad term in a future publish), graphic artists and more. Many of these folks use some pretty sophisticated software and equipment in order to create their awesome products and services.

It’s absolutely okay to ask group members what software and tools they recommend. It’s stepping over the line when you ask group member to share the specific settings they have developed over time and trial and error. Those aren’t yours for the asking, they’re yours for the testing.

Paid for that fancy new camera and lens because you want to be a wedding photographer? I suggest you head out to a venue on an off day with some stand-ins and sort out your settings yourself. That’s expertise. You shouldn’t expect expertise to be handed to you on a platter.

The same goes for code, site scripts, graphic design settings, etc. Someone put a lot of time and effort into the creation of that custom work. Why would you think they’d just give it away?

Advice Is A-OK, But Group Audits? You’re Pushing It?

As a web designer and developer, I often weigh in when the WordPress vs. Squarespace discussions comes up. And it comes up ALL THE TIME, LOL. I’m happy to talk up WordPress and why I think it makes the web wonderful.

What I’m not willing to do? Engage in endless site design and redesign audits as a favor. Why not? Because that’s an expert service that I provide, for a fee. It’s not a freebie I give away in Facebook group grab bag fashion.

I’m not a member of Facebook groups because I like to do individuals I barely know a favor. I’m there to engage in expert discussion, and sometimes to offer a bit of support when I can do so without giving away the store, so to speak.

If you want to eventually collaborate with others, you need to bring your own expertise to the table, not continually ask for the expertise to be given to you as a freebie.

[clickToTweet tweet=”There are no free rides when it comes to running your own business.” quote=”There are no free rides when it comes to running your own business.”]

You get what you put into it, what you invest in it, what you work to build, bolster, create and brand!

Facebook Groups Are NOT A Freebie Zone!

I don’t take part in Facebook groups in order to give away my hard earned knowledge and expertise. I’m happy to occasionally share my .02 cents on a learning topic, but I’m not your teacher, your coach, your mentor. That’s a relationship that stretches the boundaries of the online group experience.

If you’re there hoping to gain knowledge and expertise without having to invest dollars, time and sweat equity you just might find yourself disappointed.

Consider this. The group members willing to give it all away for free are generally group members just starting out and hoping to get the good for free, too. It’s not the in-the-trenches entrepreneurs who’ve put in the hard time, tested the tools, tweaked the algorithms and sorted out the best settings.

[clickToTweet tweet=”You get what you pay for. Free advice and group audits will only take you so far.” quote=”You get what you pay for, party peeps. Free advice, fast advice and group audits will only take you so far.”]

Those in the know, those who are truly experts only give away the smallest helping of their smarts and savvy. If you want the whole shebang, you’ll have to loosen the purse strings and shell out a little dough.

Ever Feel Like You’re Giving It All Away In A Facebook Group?

Why are you doing so? What are you expecting to get in return? When you’re giving it away for free, there’s little chance you’re going to land a paying client, is there?

Multi-Platform Brand Marketing CAN Maintain Focus And Energy!

Multi-Platform Brand Marketing CAN Maintain Focus And Energy!

There’s been a lot of discussion across my peer group, of late, about what it takes to build and bolster a bangin’ brand. There’s a lot of advice being shared, some good, some bad, some stellar, some scandalous and some that’s just downright confusing.

There’s a movement to “own one platform” that  seems to be on the top of the galpreneur tip list. The basic premise goes a little something like this:

If you’re trying to market your business across multiple platforms you’re, in essence, spreading yourself too thin, and you won’t be able to make a significant impact with your brand and business sharing.

While I ABSOLUTELY agree you don’t have to be everywhere online, I do think you can balance a multi-platform brand building campaign without brain drain and fatigue.

Multi-Platform Marketing Needn’t Be Multi-Headache Marketing!

A failure to plan is a plan to fail. We’ve all heard that one, right?

While I’m not generally a fan of cliches or blanket statements, this is a truth I stand firmly behind.

[clickToTweet tweet=”With a sound plan, multi-platform #marketing need not be migraine-inducing marketing! #SMMsmarts” quote=”With a sound plan, multi-platform marketing need not be migraine-inducing marketing!”]

A plan doesn’t have to be iron-clad, nor does it have to take hours to complete. A plan can be as simple as necessary in order to remain effective. I’ll be sharing how I plan my various platform campaigns and strategies in future reads.

No, You Can’t Market Everywhere …

A brand stretched too far is rarely able to showcase its expertise.

You cannot possibly manage the day-to-day running of your business, keep your clients happy AND maintain a strong and consistent presence on EVERY SINGLE social media platform. It’s just not possible.

That being said, you can and probably should maintain a presence on more than one social media platform.

WHY?

Because even though you’ve dialed in your target audience and your prime prospect, they’re human beings, with nuance, ever changing interests and they’re often restless.

Yes, you’ve done your research and realized that a significant and sizable number of your prime audience spend A LOT of time on Instagram. But just like you can’t spend your entire day on Instagram, neither can they.

And let’s be honest, most of us have target audiences, plural.

Your target audiences have their own target audiences, and that means considering that they spend some of their social media time on platforms that might not be your number one.

No, You Can’t Be Online ALL The Time …

And this is why successful multi-platform marketers have plans that include scheduling.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Smart #scheduling is the savior of multi-platform marketing! #socialmedia” quote=”Smart scheduling is the savior of multi-platform marketing!”]

So, What’s Smart Scheduling?

You can and should schedule the sharing of your own content and the content you’ve curated with your audience and top prospects in mind.

And when I say you can schedule your own content, I don’t just mean your published articles. This includes graphics and images, as well as any ideas that come to your mind.

I actually schedule what might appear to be my random musings. Why schedule them? They’re still my musings, even if I schedule them. Unless the musing or bit of snark is especially time sensitive, there’s no need for me to post it in real time.

What you absolutely CANNOT schedule, though, is interaction and the conversation you hope to cultivate with your carefully crafted and curated shares. Your real time brand marketing focuses on these conversations, when you reply and advance your scheduled thoughts.

Scheduling those shares opens up the time for you to interact and engage in conversations in real time, on more than one channel!

Your Brand Can’t Bang In A Vacuum!

If you narrow your field and focus too much you force your brand into a vacuum of sorts.

This is not to say that you should set up social media accounts for multi-channel brand marketing in a willy-nilly fashion. That’s not smart or savvy.

Balance, Intent & Purpose Make Multi-Platform Brand Marketing Possible & Powerful!

I’ve used those three words a gazillion times and I expect they’ll be parceled out in future blog posts at least a squijillion times more!

[clickToTweet tweet=”Balance, intent and purpose make up the backbone of many a multi-platform marketer’s success.” quote=”No matter how often they’re used – balance, intent and purpose make up the backbone of many a multi-platform marketer’s success.”]

You must balance frequency of posts so that you don’t feel overwhelmed and stretched thin.

The articles, images and ideas you choose to share must be chosen with the proper intent. Will they provide value or entertainment to your prospects, peers and clients?

There must be a purpose to every single ding-danged item you share, no matter the platform. Sharing simply for the sake of sharing, in an attempt to keep a feed full, provides no value to your brand or your audience.

A smart combination of the three is imperative to keeping the interest in your brand alive, no matter your chosen social media marketing platform.

Your Turn!

Can a brand effective balance presence across multiple social media marketing platforms? If so, how best to do so? If not, why not?

I’m looking forward to some great discussion in the comments!

Ready to read up and take your brand to bang-a-langin’ levels?

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You’re A Business Owner AND A Human Being …

You're A Business Owner AND A Human Being ...

The last time I checked, running a business didn’t come with a certain tool allowing us to switch off every bit of human feeling and emotion.

While, on occasion, that might be a nice thing, it would make us robots. We’re told pretty often, by experts in marketing and customer experience fields, that consumers don’t want to do business with robots.

So, suffice to say, I think we have to allow ourselves to be human, along with all of our human failings, when we’re building, managing and maintaining our business.

You’re Going To Feel The Real!

Guess what? Real people feel real emotions. We don’t live on fluffy pink positivity clouds that allow us to ignore the fact that bad shizz happens to good business owners.

Bad shizz is relative, depending on the day and the state of your business. The bad juju can come from things big or small. But it’s ridiculous to pretend that we can ignore the fact that there are times when doing business just ain’t fun.

I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to ride the solopreneur unicorn when I’m dealing with:

  • late payments
  • scope creep
  • disappearing clients
  • plagiarism
  • the continued attempts at “democratization” of my skill set and expertise

Guess what party peeps? We’re all going to face one of these battles at some point during our career.

Guess what else? That means it’s absolutely A-OK hunky dory to exhibit some real and human emotion from time to time, even when you’re doing business.

It’s Okay To Exhibit Underwhelm

You do not to have jet out of your chair and do a jig every time you client comes up with another “super” idea. Chances are the idea isn’t all that super, has been tried by others to little success, and just won’t be worth the time and effort you’d have to put into launching it.

[clickToTweet tweet=”You do yourself and your client a disservice if you sugarcoat bad ideas …” quote=”You do yourself and your client a disservice if you sugarcoat bad ideas with, ‘that’s a great idea, but …'” theme=”style4″]

Because it’s NOT a great idea. You’re giving them false hope that they can get around the “but” in order to implement the idea you acknowledged as great with a small glitch.

You don’t have to get excited and pass out pink positivity parfaits every time your client opens his/her mouth. While you shouldn’t dismiss or disdain their ideas, thus making your clients feel small or insignificant, it’s absolutely allowed to exhibit a little underwhelm. Especially if you explain the why of that lack of whelm.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Expertise doesn’t mean you’re always ecstatic about client’s big ideas …” quote=”You were hired for your expertise. Expertise doesn’t mean you’re always ecstatic about the ‘big idea’ you’re asked to implement.” theme=”style4″]

It’s Okay To Feel Sad

There will come a time, especially if you’re a creative entrepreneur, when your client takes all that’s lovely about your creation and somehow manages to turn it into an absolute mess.

You’ve designed a glorious website. It’s got form and function in perfect balance. It’s as easy to navigate as it’s easy on the eye. You know that there’s no such thing as a fully completed website, but you’ve come pretty ding-danged close. You’re proud to have this site link back to your own.

And then it happens. The client decides you’re too expensive to maintain the site, which is fairly common. They decide they’ll hire someone cheaper or maintain it themselves. And you notice that the glorious is now looking pretty god-awful.

It’s okay to feel a sad, even to despair a bit, over the destruction of your good work. When your carefully crafted copy is edited to the point that carefully crafted becomes craptastic. When your lovely social media image template is savaged with a terrible typeface change. When your website wonderful becomes website woe is me.

Feel sad, disappointed, even a little dejected. Then immediately remove any links to/from that now craptastic creation so that no one thinks it’s your work!

It’s Okay To Get Angry And Engage In Stern Discussion

The other day there was a discussion about copy theft in a Facebook group to which I belong. The gist of the article generating the discussion was this: don’t get upset when someone steals your content, as it will mess with your mojo going forward.

What a pile of crap!!!

I’ve had my content stolen, on more than one occasion. I’ve had my graphics lifted, altered and re-posted without a single nod of acknowledgement and absolutely no permission. I’ve had clients decide I was too expensive to maintain their site, so they turned it over to another “designer,” who then promptly added their company name and site link to the footer taking credit for the design.

Guess what happened in each instance. I got mad. Not pinkly, prettily peeved. Flat out pissed off. And while I certainly tempered my anger a bit, I didn’t take it easy on the thieves.

I didn’t tell the thieving asshats that I was disappointed by their actions in a bid to “guilt them” gently into doing what was right. I flat out told them they’d better make it right, RIGHT NOW!

Guess what? They all made it right, RIGHT then!

Be Human!

If you don’t stand up for yourself as you engage in the running of your business, you’re eventually going to get stepped on. Standing strong and holding tight to our convictions is part of who we are as human beings.

Part of doing business is knowing when to allow your emotions to express themselves. You’re not a robot. Logic and programming aren’t going to see you through times good or bad. Emotions are part of what makes your brand unique. So, while you sometimes need to suppress those emotions, or let them simmer down a bit before your strike back, there’s no need to void them in their entirety from your business persona.

When Facebook Groups Become Job Boards

When Facebook Groups Become Job Boards

I recently decided to give Facebook groups another chance, signing up for several, regularly interacting and taking part in discussions and conversations. But I’m already itching to opt out of several, and there’s a very specific reason.

When the post population takes a turn toward the elevator pitch, rather than the sharing of relevant information and true Q&A, it’s time for me to bid the group adieu.

Silent Until They Smell The Sell

Like zombies in the relentless pursuit of brains, there are always members of online groups that seldom share or engage in discussion until they smell an opportunity to promote their product or service.

They come crawling out of obscurity every time anyone asks a question that might allow them to pony up their product or service. They’re solely social in the attempt to make a buck. Do a little research and you’ll soon see that these group members never take part in any discussion that doesn’t create an opportunity for them to get hired.

The Helpful Hustle!

If you’ve spent any time in a Facebook group, you know that there will be the occasional plea for help. An important aspect of these groups is the development of a community. A place where real relationships can build and evolve.

How do you keep the helpful response from turning into a sales tactic?

  1. Offer the solution. If it’s simple and you can knock out a helpful response in a matter of minutes, then do so. There’s no need to wax rhapsodic about how wonderful you are. Just answer the damn question.
  2. Consider linking out to a resource you didn’t create. You’re not the expert on everything. There are solutions all across the Interwebs that will help without you looking like a self-promotional putz. I too often see social sellers linking to irrelevant and unhelpful resources in a bid to be hired. That’s not the good kind of hustle party peeps.
  3. Take it private. I’ve often helped a hapless group member with an issue he/she couldn’t handle on his/her own. But I didn’t flaunt my Florence Nightingale moment for all to see, by hijacking the thread with a handful of my own handy and helpful resources. Instead I moved the conversation to email or PM to allow me to better assist. And, NO, there was no intent on my part to issue an invoice.

The Passive Player: Freebie Frolicking

Many a well managed Facebook group offers up opportunities for self-promotion and social selling. It’s generally frowned upon, though, to simply post your new offer. Yet, it happens EVERY flipping day.

Even more diabolical and devious are those group member that try to circumvent the system by offering up their latest freebie. Be it a worksheet, eBook or cutesy printable, it’s still self promotion and it’s still you trying to sell when you’re supposed to be sharing.

Self-promotion is sinister. It’s so easy to get caught up in the moment and decide that you’re being helpful and giving. Here’s a couple truly helpful tips to ensure you aren’t bitten by the bad bug to bolster your business:

  • If you require someone to sign-up for your mailing list in order to get your freebie, it’s not the selfless share you’re imagining it to be.
  • Keep the kudos posts to the days and times deemed fitting by the owner of the group.
    • When in doubt, don’t share without first asking the permission of the group owner or moderator. If you fear you’re crossing the line between smart sharing and self-promotional social selling, you probably are.

Better Group Management & Policing Is The Ticket

My branding and visual marketing buddy Dre Beltrami rules her group with an iron fist. Any brain sucking social media zombie posts are shot down swiftly and succinctly.

She doesn’t allow promotional posts to be shared willy-nilly, at the whim of the participant. She’s created a single day for self-promotional posts and she makes sure each member sticks to the schedule.

Groups can take on a life of their own, straying from the path of their original intent, if they aren’t well managed. Group owners, managers and moderators need to put a beatdown to any biz intent on bolstering brand and sales with shares that seek dollars rather than knowledge.

When Did Every Post Become An RFP?

I get it, I really do. We’re all in business to make money, no matter how much we try to play it down as the pursuit of our passion.

But for the love of all things good and right about branding and social business, stop seeing every post and share as an opportunity to sell your services.

When you constantly pitch you become a plague to the group, as it’s obvious you’re engaging in the Facebook group only in order to smell out opportunities to sell, rather than seeking the opportunity to become part of a sharing and caring community.