Leaving Work Behind

How to Increase Your Revenue by Outsourcing to Freelancers

Written by Guest Author on December 13, 2016. 4 Comments

A world map, with pegs and elastic bands.Tom: The following is a guest post by David Attard of DART Creations. David has been fascinated by, and has actively used, the internet since the days of 28k modems. With an extensive background in software and web development (and still very much interested in anything web related), David manages new SaaS products (such as BeeWits!) for Switch Digital after previously managing a web filtering product for an international software company. He frequently writes on several influential web design sites.

Are you one of those freelancers leaving thousands of dollars on the table because of one simple thing? As you read through this post, you might think it’s blindingly obvious. There’s one simple reason for that: it is!

Most freelancers seem to be happy to leave money on the table each month, simply because they’re not willing to go the extra mile by upselling their services, and outsourcing the additional work to other freelancers.

In this post, I’ll take a look at how to increase your revenue by upselling, then move onto five steps for finding quality freelancers. However, firstly, let’s look at the type of client you’ll want to target.

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3 Ways I Encourage Freelance Jobs to Land in My Lap

Written by Anne Dorko on May 24, 2016. 8 Comments

Figures on a board, connected by lines.Becoming a freelancer is intimidating – for a start, how do you know whether you’ll find enough work?

As with everything in life, freelancing doesn’t have guarantees; however, you can still swing Lady Luck in your favor by incorporating some methods to help you find jobs when you need them. In fact, by following the advice outlined below, I have generally found most of my work as it fell into my lap! (Or at least, it always feels that way.)

Does that sound like something you’d like to start happening in your life? Pull up a chair, and I’ll divulge what I’ve found to help the most. Who knows? Perhaps those freelance gigs will start falling into your lap as well.
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4 Ways Strategic Online Relationships Made My Business

Written by Gina Horkey on February 23, 2016. 23 Comments

togetherWant to know my secret to success?

Learn from others further along the path than you.

It’s that simple.

I wouldn’t have gotten half as far without the help and support from others, like Tom, who have given me advice and guidance along the way.

I now have a whole slew of internet peers that help me and vice versa. It’s very much give and take and in some sense, it’s always been.

Today I want to share with you four ways that building strategic relationships helped to make my business successful and why you should be networking your little heart out. In a nutshell, you’ll get much further with people then you will on your own! Let’s dive in.

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How to Start a Mastermind Group (and Why You Should)

Written by Tom Ewer on March 7, 2013. 51 Comments

A lightbulb.Running an online business is tough.

You are the master of your own destiny, which is both a blessing and a curse. As much as it is wonderful to be your own boss, you also have the burden of providing all of the necessary motivation, drive and innovation to create something of tangible worth.

With the above in mind, I will explore any opportunity that can help to motivate me and point me in the right direction in terms of making better business decisions. That brings me directly to mastermind groups, which can deliver on both fronts.

In this post I am going to introduce you to the concept of a mastermind group and also explain my own unique perspective on how one should be run so that the participants get the most out of it. Whether you’ve never heard of a mastermind group before or are already in one (or more), please read on.

What is a Master Mind?

The term “master mind” was coined by Napoleon Hill in his infamous book, Think and Grow Rich. If you have ten minutes to spare then you can hear all about it from the man himself:

Hill defines a master mind as follows:

…two or more people who work in perfect harmony for the attainment of a definite purpose.

In the context of online business owners, mastermind groups are meetings of groups of two or more people who help each other to succeed through their advice and assistance. These meetings can be in person, by telephone, on Skype or any other medium of instant communication. While Hill had his own opinions as to how how mastermind groups should be administered, there are no set-in-stone rules.

What Are the Benefits of a Master Mind?

In my opinion there are four key benefits that anyone can experience as a result of joining a mastermind group:

  1. You can seek opinions on potential courses of action relating to your business
  2. Your master mind partner(s) can suggest courses of action that you might not otherwise think of
  3. You can use the master mind as a recurring milestone for the progress of your business
  4. You can use the master mind as a strong enforcer of accountability

Not only do you get the benefit of tapping into other minds, you can also essentially run your business around your mastermind. The meetings can be used to plan the tasks that you will complete in time for the next meeting and you can be held accountable by your mastermind partners to complete those tasks. There’s nothing quite like making a promise to someone that you will do something to galvanize you into actually doing it.

I’ve lost count of the amount of times that I’ve completely changed my approach to something based upon the advice I have received during a mastermind meeting. One can pretend to be a know-it-all and have the shortsightedness to never seek advice but it is almost always beneficial to seek the opinion of others.

To be honest, I cannot sufficiently describe the benefits of joining a mastermind group. The true reward of operating within a well-run group is impossible to fully convey and only truly appreciated when you experience it.

My Mastermind Model

There are plenty of posts out there that talk about masterminds and they all have a similar approach. However, I want to offer something a little different by talking about the mastermind group I am in and how it is run. Let’s run through the key features.

Once Per Week

Personally I like to hold a meeting once per week. This might be too much for some, but I would be alarmed if I had nothing to talk about after a week of working on my business.

Each week should represent a step forward in developing my business — if I have nothing to talk about then I need to take a closer look at what I am actually achieving.

A Two Person Team

My mastermind group is made up of just two people: myself and Steve Scott. I suppose you could call it more of a mastermind “partnership” but I’m not going to get hung up on semantics. We’ve known each other for well over a year and were actually previously in a failed mastermind group of five people (which taught me a great about how not to run a mastermind group).

I advocate mastermind groups of just two people because it allows each weekly meeting to focus entirely on those two people. Mastermind groups of three or more generally require some kind of “rotation” policy in which just one or two people have the opportunity to discuss their business per meeting. Either that or each person only gets a limited amount of time to discuss their business. This makes sense in terms of making the best of the available time, but in terms of consistency and usefulness I want to be able to discuss and review my progress week by week.

The downside to having a two-man mastermind is you only have two minds to discuss matters. The upside is that you have far more time to dedicate to each other’s businesses and you don’t have the potential hassle of multiple people trying to get their point across at the same time. You also avoid the potential issues of leadership — i.e. who should be in charge and how they should govern the meetings.

Mutual Goals

It is of vital importance that your mastermind partner is on a similar track to you. They don’t have to be doing exactly the same thing (it’s probably ideal that they’re not) but you should be on a similar wave length.

My first mastermind group was doomed from the start as it featured a bunch of people who were doing different things and had different motivations. Not only do you need someone who is operating on a similar wavelength, you need to ensure that they are as motivated and driven as you to succeed. You do not want to be in a mastermind group where the other person isn’t really committed.

Preparation

In my opinion you should spend nearly as much time preparing for a mastermind meeting as you should on the meeting itself. As with most things in life, it is the preparation that determines the effectiveness of whatever you had planned.

I prepare for my mastermind meetings in three parts:

  1. Review my accountability items from last week. (How did I get on? Did I get everything done?)
  2. Make a list of the items I want to talk about in the meeting.
  3. Create a provisional list of tasks to complete in the coming week for accountability.

When you have planned appropriately you will find that you get a great deal more out of the meeting. While it is possible to fly by the seat of your pants, you’ll probably forget to ask key questions and keep your partner updated about important goings-on and you’re far more likely to create arbitrary and contrived accountability tasks.

The Meeting Itself

Mine and Scott’s meetings tend to last from 30 to 60 minutes. The format goes something like this:

  1. Hellos and chit chat
  2. General discussion about any important events in the previous week
  3. One of us will discuss how we got on with our accountability tasks and follow up with accountability tasks for the following week
  4. The other will follow suit
  5. We’ll conclude by discussing any final items that spring to mind

When the meeting is over I will know exactly what I plan to do in the coming week and why. I won’t be working for the sake of working — I will be doing work that is designed to take my business further. Better yet, I have had the concurrence of my mastermind partner in terms of the viability of my plans.

How to Find a Mastermind Partner

Finding a good mastermind partner can be pretty tough. As I said previously, you need someone who is on a similar wavelength to you and also as motivated for the group to succeed. I would not recommend that you reach out to a stranger to form a mastermind group — far better to suggest it to someone that you already know. If you’re brand new to blogging then this will be a great excuse for you start talking to other bloggers in your niche.

I’d also recommend forums as a great place to find potential mastermind partners. Establish yourself in a forum in your niche and get to know the regular posters. After a while it will become obvious which person or people might be right to form a mastermind group with.

Finally, offline seminars and conferences are a great way to meet new people and also discover if you are on the same kind of wavelength. There’s nothing quite like a face-to-face chat to get an idea of how well you might get on with someone.

Getting Started

I believe that you should adopt a “softly softly” approach to starting a mastermind group.

Begin with a couple of no pressure sessions in which you simply get an idea as to whether the dynamic between you works then begin to introduce a bit of structure when it seems appropriate to do so. Far better to build something that works organically for the two of you then try to force a structure from the get-go.

You’re likely to find that the shape of your mastermind group will change over time — adapting to suit what the participants aim to get out of it. As I said earlier, there are no set-in-stone rules as to how a mastermind group should be run, so do as you see fit.

What Are Your Thoughts on Mastermind Groups?

Are you currently in a mastermind group or not? I’d love to hear from you — especially if you have a strong opinion on the topic or feel that you have something to add to my post. Fire away in the comments section!

Photo Credit: “Caveman Chuck” Coker

Grow Your Business With 5 Minutes A Day

Written by Tom Ewer on October 10, 2011. 8 Comments

Grow Your Business With 5 Minutes A DayI am going to provoke one of three reactions out of you with this article: enthusiastic agreement, disagreement, or indifference.

Enthusiastic agreement is great – you guys and girls are going to take care of yourself. You will read the rest of the article happily, because you can’t get enough of the topic I will be talking about.

Disagreement works pretty well for me too – I hope you find yourself compelled to read the article. Maybe I will be able to change your mind. If not, let me know why you think I am wrong in the comments section below.

It’s indifference that I can’t abide. I used to be in this group. If you feel indifferent after reading the following paragraph, I want you to read the rest of the article, then get off the fence and pick a side. If you agree with me, great! But if you think the whole thing is a waste of time or is just plain pointless let’s chat about it.

So what am I talking about?

Networking

Yes – that old nugget. I am here today to talk to you about networking, which I believe, relatively speaking, is the most underestimated tool we have at our disposal when it comes to building a brand or business.

I refer to relativity for good reason. Despite there being many exponents of networking in circulation, I feel like its true power is still underestimated by many (if not most). That must mean that the evangelists of networking are not doing a good enough job.

As I mentioned previously, there will be those of you who feel either indifferent or negative about networking. If I do not convert you into the “enthusiastic agreement” camp, I will have failed to achieve my goal. That will be most disappointing for me, as I am desperate for you to (a) realize the power of networking, and (b) make it work for your own brand or business.

Methods Of Promotion

There are many widely recognized forms of promotion when it comes to any brand or business (I have omitted content marketing from this list, as I trust that you are all using that method already):

And we certainly shouldn’t forget networking. Quite the opposite in fact. If you could only choose one form of promotion, I would wholeheartedly recommend networking. I’ll tell you why later.

What Is Networking?

The word “networking” will arouse negative reactions from some of you. It is often considered a ‘corporate’ activity, reserved for those with tailored suits and expense accounts.

But if you are a blogger, internet marketer, or small business owner, you would do well to cast that presumption aside and understand what networking truly means, and what it can do for you.

I found the best definition of networking at dictionary.com:

A supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest

It’s like karma for the social and business world. If you are generous enough with your own knowledge and assets, you will in turn receive rewards, which are usually exponentially greater than the value of your input over time.

Sounds good, right?

The Benefits Of Networking

You can broadly explain the number of benefits that networking can produce with one word: limitless. Some pretty incredible things can be achieved through networking.

Here’s a hypothetical situation. You’ve designed a great clothing line. You befriend the owner of a local clothes shop, who is suitably impressed and agrees to put your range on display. The owner just happens to be friends with the husband of the head of a major fashion brand. Your clothing line is mentioned in casual conversation and contact details are exchanged. The next thing you know, you’ve got a contract in place for your designs to be put into mass-production.

It happens. It really does.

I’ve been working towards self-employment for a few months now, and have already received great benefits from my (extremely limited) networking efforts. I only feel like I fully came to terms with the power of networking recently, and yet I have already benefited from it.

For instance, take the joint venture that I am working on with Joseph Archibald. That only came about because I regularly kept up to date with Joseph’s blog and generally made myself known.

And how about my major change in direction in terms of my online efforts? They are down in part to my good friend, Robert Dempsey. We first spoke a few months ago, when I was just starting off, and have kept in touch since. We had a chat on Skype at the end of last week, and he lit a huge fire under my ass which has set me off on what I see as an extremely lucrative path. Because I regularly contributed to his blog (as I still do) and generally made myself known, he was happy in turn to give me an hour of his time and offer me a wealth of advice, which may well turn out to be absolutely invaluable.

Finally, I am going to be publishing an article this week that I think will be of enormous benefit to you. That article was only possible because of my growing network of contacts.

All of the above is just the tip of the iceberg. You cannot list all of the benefits that networking can bring, because they are limited only by your input.

Reciprocity Is Networking’s Best Friend

Networking is at is most effective when you have something to offer. It has to go both ways, and you should be extravagant with your generosity. Don’t worry – you don’t need to be an ‘expert’ in order to be of value to someone who is perhaps much further along in their journey than you.

It can be as simple as providing insightful comments on someone’s blog posts. Perhaps you notice a broken link and drop them a line to let them know. Or maybe you just send them an email, complimenting them on an article they recently wrote. In time, you will have more to offer, but there is nothing wrong with starting small. And in time, they will feel obliged to reciprocate.

Where Does 5 Minutes Come Into It?

Simple – that’s the initial amount of time I want you to spend, every day, on networking. Even if you are unconvinced by the idea of networking, all you have to lose is 5 minutes per day. You will not regret it.

So this is the deal – I want you to contact one new person, every single day. Someone who is in some way connected to your own brand or business. So if you are a graphic artist, you might choose to contact another graphic artist, or perhaps a web designer (as the disciplines are complementary).

I welcome you to start with me! Drop me a line and introduce yourself. If you think I can help you with anything, please ask. I would be happy to help.

Once you start getting replies from your new contacts, it will begin to take more than 5 minutes a day. But it doesn’t ever have to take too long. I only spend 10-20 minutes a day keeping in touch with my various contacts, and it is time very well spent. The point is, once it starts taking more than 5 minutes , you will already be sold on the concept, so it will be time that you are happy to spend.

Over To You

Let’s see if we can drum up some additional support for networking. Who of you out there have experienced positive outcomes from your networking efforts?

And I’m happy to flip the whole thing on its head too – who of you out there have tried networking, and consider it a waste of time?

Photo courtesy of Toban Black