You Need to Find Your Niche (And How Mine Found Me Standing On My Head)

find nicheToday is a day unlike any others.

You’ve decided to lasso your dreams. You’re taking what you love to do. You’re going to make an income out of it. You’re charging forward to change the world. You’ll garner throngs of believers in your corner.

You even have a plan of action, such as Firepole Marketing’s Audience Business Masterclass.

But when you come to that watch-word, that catch-phrase, What Is Your Niche?, you freeze. You sort of know your niche. You identify it, label it, research it.

But something just doesn’t feel right about it.

You narrow it, then you try to widen it. It could be this or it could be that – it’s not for lack of ideas – but finding the one that you stand up for, the one you put body/mind/soul and the next hundred years of your time behind.

You hesitate, dangerously hedging towards Merriam-Webster’s definition, “lazy“. You do know the Industry’s unspoken secret, “there exists no lazy entrepreneur in the history of business.”

Your trail is about to end. Tweet it! If you can’t settle on your niche, you won’t build an audience, you’ll never get your product sold, or book out to an agent, you won’t even create the right incentive.

Feet stuck in the sand. You start glancing over at the want-ads for a “job” as your heart sinks behind the setting sun.

This is exactly what happened to me, and yet, I did find my niche.

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The Anti-Strategy For How To Grow Your Business Online

When you start a business, putting yourself out there can be kind of extremely scary.

You look around at what everyone else is doing, and you wonder how the hell they were able to get so much exposure!  You feel like a really little fish in a big pond, and it can be overwhelming even knowing where to start.

So your logical first step is to start to immerse yourself in the best online marketing and business growth strategies out there. You do a few Google searches, find some great courses, and start to build a strategy for getting the word out about your new business.

You read the blogs, and follow the gurus, but at some point, you have so many business building strategies that you have no idea which ones to do or where to start. According to them, you should be guest posting, and creating a freebie for your opt-in, and getting interviewed, and doing free talks, and commenting on other people’s blogs, and being on Twitter and LinkedIn and Facebook and Pinterest and the list goes on.

You get lost in the business of business-building, and it all becomes about the latest strategy or trend… to the point that you start to forget WHY you started your business in the first place – to help people.

There are 3 main problems with most of the common strategies for how to grow your business online:

  1. They don’t take our differences (as human beings, and as businesses) into consideration
  2. They place the focus on business building, rather than being of service
  3. They turn basic human values into “strategies” and “systems”

If you have been struggling with your marketing and business building because all the tricks and tools just don’t quite seem to “fit” for you, it’s time that you kick “strategies” to the curb and take on the anti-strategy in your marketing.

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Project ABC: Goodness Gracious, It’s Actually Happening…

abcI’m really excited.

Okay – I’m usually really excited – but today more so than others.

Today, I’m excited to tell you about the last year at Paying for Life, which has gone from an idea to a blog with about 650 people paying attention to it.

This is small potatoes in the blogosphere – but it feels HUGE to me.

Note from Danny: This *is* huge. Megan has grown almost as much in her first year as we did in the first year of Firepole Marketing. And Firepole Marketing was a full-time gig with two partners and an assistant, whereas Megan is doing Paying for Life very much on the side. So way to go!

Looking back as I’ve been working alongside (and let’s be honest – very often behind!) our students in the Audience Business Masterclass, I can see a number of things I’ve done well over the last year, and some things I haven’t.

On the positive side: my list has grown, and I’ve started building some relationships – and even friendships – with other bloggers in my space. I’ve also started blogging more frequently and *very* recently started pitching guest posts more aggressively. I have also made a plan for a couple of bigger campaigns for the next few months – I’ll explain more about all of this below.

On the more negative side, I spent most of the year laboring under the impression that I needed to become an authority in the personal finance space online – and that’s not as true as I thought it was. It won’t hurt – but it’s not the Niche Superhero I really want to be.

The other major thing I’ve done wrong is that I have yet to really prioritize my work for my own business. I care about it, it matters to me – but I also have this incredible day job…

So I’m trying to find a balance right now that lets me do the work I want to be doing AND the work I want to be doing. (What a problem, right?)

Okay, let’s go over some of this in more detail. Hopefully you can learn a little from my mistakes. ;-)

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The Real Cost of Marketing Your Business (That Marketing Experts Don’t Want You to Know)

The Real Cost in Time & Money of Marketing Your BusinessAs small business owners, we’re bombarded with marketing advice all the time:

If you want tons of traffic you should guest post! If you want more clients you should master the art of the follow up! If you want more new business you should post infographics on Facebook and offer free advice in LinkedIn Groups!

And most marketers are really excited to tell you about how all of these tactics are ABSOLUTELY FREE.

Sorry, but nothing’s really free. If there’s one big lesson for you to learn about marketing (and business in general), it’s that if you want to save money, you have to spend time. And if you want things to take less time, you have to spend some money.

Most marketing experts will leave that part for you to figure out on your own.

But let’s face it: most of us with service-based or online businesses are bootstrappers. We don’t like to spend a lot of money on marketing. We prefer to attract new leads by commenting or posting on other people’s sites, attending networking events, or participating in Facebook or LinkedIn groups. All of these methods can be extremely effective. But have you ever thought about how much time they take? [Read more...]

CEI 023: The Eventual Millionaire with Jaime Tardy

For today’s episode, Danny met up with Jaime Tardy, a.k.a. the Eventual Millionaire.

An Eventual Millionaire is not only what you assume – someone who is eventually going to be a millionaire. It’s someone who will have a million dollars but who wants to do it on their own terms, while having a life that they fully enjoy.

Jaime believes that we all have to be millionaires eventually, in order to retire happily. It’s kind of sad to think about, but it may be true in order to retire okay for you and your family! But Jamie wants to show you how to bump it up – make it earlier and better.

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The Anatomy Of High-Converting Blog Page Layout [with Infographic]

This post is a finalist in our Ultimate Guides Contest. Show your support for this, or any of the finalists by commenting, sharing and joining the conversation!

How efficient is your blog?

You spend countless hours writing amazing articles. And then you go out and work even harder to promote them.

“Get more visitors” – that’s the goal that pushes you forward. The more visitors you have, the bigger the authority you are and the more money you make.

What bloggers quite often neglect is how to funnel all these visitors in the most efficient way.

For example, one day you might discover that your friend, who has just as many visitors on his blog as you do, makes twice as much money with it.

It’s as if you had to fill two identical bottles with water, but yours would have a few holes in it.

Those holes need to be fixed.

So in this guide, I’m presenting my vision of a perfectly efficient and high-converting blog page layout.

And I’ve created a neat infographic to illustrate my points. But before I show it to you, I want to talk about your blogging goals.

The truth is, there’s no way to determine if your blog is efficient or not, unless you know what your blogging goals are. [Read more...]

99 Ways to Edit and Revise Anything You Write

the penThis post is a finalist in our Ultimate Guides Contest. Show your support for this, or any of the finalists by commenting, sharing and joining the conversation!

Whether you’re dashing off a blog post or slaving over your first novel, you know your finished work has to be perfect, right?

Ah, baloney.

If you’re going to wait for perfection, you’ll never publish much of anything.

We’ve all been there: agonizing over our headlines, rewriting our opening sentence or paragraph to create the perfect hook, or searching the thesaurus for exactly the right word. It’s maddening.

Here’s the cure:

Confidence beats perfection every time.

When you write, revise, edit, and proofread with speed and assurance, you’ll be able to press Publish sooner and more often.

Ready?

Hang on!  Let’s race through these tips and checklists for making your writing awesome, not “perfect!” [Read more...]

3 Signs That Your Business (or Blog) Idea Won’t Work

stopYour spouse, family, and close friends have faith that your business (or blog) can become a success story. Or at least, they’re trying to keep their doubts to themselves.

But you have suspicions.

You thought you would’ve seen good results by now. And that’s making you question your business idea and maybe even your ability to succeed.

So, did you make a huge mistake that took months or years (and possibly thousands of dollars) from you?

All of these three signs are bad—even on their own. But if you see all of them, it might be time to change the idea, start fresh, or pack your bags completely.

On the other hand, if these signs are nowhere to be seen, your idea is likely to be very good.

If that’s the case, now is the time to figure out what’s holding you back and turn your business or blog around. [Read more...]

The Ultimate Guide to Business Productivity for Couch Warriors

Portrait of a businesswoman when working. Shot in studio.This post is a finalist in our Ultimate Guides Contest. Show your support for this, or any of the finalists by commenting, sharing and joining the conversation!

As a solo myself – web developer, writer, and aspiring novelist – I’m fascinated by the nexus of the solopreneur (I call us “Couch Warriors”) experience and the question of increasing productivity.

How we get our stuff done, why we don’t get our stuff done, how we make our choices about what gets done and when, why sometimes it seems so perfectly impossible to get it all done when others seemingly breeze through even busier and more jam-packed-with-stuff-to-do days … these are topics that endlessly intrigue me.

That fascination led to my creation of the Pajama Productivity site a few years back. It dawned on me that the Couch Warrior experience, by its very nature, creates an intensified set of obstacles to getting our crap done. Simply put: we’ve got it harder than your average cubicle dweller.

However, Tweet it! we also have some unique tools and assets that your average cubicle dweller lacks.

The stakes could not be higher. [Read more...]

CEI 021: The Entrepreneur’s Wife and CFO

Today’s podcast is a touch more personal than usual – our interviewee is one of our own employees at Firepole Marketing – and she also happens to be married to Danny!

This week we are happy to introduce to our podcast series, for the first time, Bhoomi Pathak. Bhoomi comes from a dynamic past mostly as a business consultant in the corporate world. She plays a unique role at Firepole Marketing for this reason, and she brings her particular expertise to our crew as our Finance Lead.

Bhoomi’s corporate past, and her marriage to Firepole’s CEO – Danny, make this interview particularly great. While Bhoomi can make comparisons between the corporate business world and the world of entrepreneurship drawn from her personal experience, Bhoomi and Danny together offer some great perspective on how to manage the ups and downs of running a business and a relationship!

Tune in this week for an insightful interview that is jam packed! We’re sure this will be interesting and relevant for everyone who runs their own business and is in a committed relationship.

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