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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Planning a Business Retreat: One Step Back for Two Steps Forward

businessman meditatingIt’s been a crazy couple of weeks.

Or months.

Or years.

You’re doing your time, responding to your emails and blog comments, reaching out and building new relationships, and always creating content, thinking about the future and planning what you’ll need to get there.

It can be exhausting, and no matter how much you love what you do, how passionate you are, or how much it all matters, you can’t keep this up forever without driving yourself straight into the ground.

That won’t work for anyone. People need rest. People need breaks. People need to get out of their environments to be able to look clearly at where they’re coming from and where they want to go.

In short, sometimes people need retreats.

We certainly do.

In February of this year, right after the The Epic $294,865 in 25 Days Launch, right after we had taken on and made promises to 450 new students, Danny took the Firepole Marketing team away for a week of retreat.

The timing sucked, and a lot of people were annoyed, but it was the only acceptable option. The previous 4 weeks had been more grueling and more intense than any I had ever experienced, and I wasn’t the only one. We had worked too hard for too long to think straight, and we needed some breathing room if Danny was going to have a team at all come March.

You may be familiar with that feeling.

The team was smaller then – just Danny, Robyn, Amanda and myself – and although the timing ended up being bad, it had been planned carefully and well in advance. After the rush of an exciting new launch, it was a time to regroup, debrief and plan for all of the exciting things we wanted to do in the coming months.

We’re doing it again.

This time before the launch. ;-)

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Project ABC: Tiptoeing Towards a Business

abcHello Again!

Well – it feels like it’s been ages since I’ve written one of these!

I’ve enjoyed reading the posts, updates and lessons from our wonderful ABM students – and I’m happy to be back with some news and progress to share with you as well.

Summer is, if not technically, pretty much over. It’s been fun, and it’s been busy, and some of it has even been relaxing – but the leaves are starting to turn, folks are going back to school, and the feeling of productivity is in the air again.

Things have been moving along with Paying for Life – little by little, at what I’ve found a pretty comfortable pace. I haven’t made huge strides, but I’ve kept at it, and had enough time to see some friends and family over the warm season – so everyone is happy. ;-)

Balance, it turns out, is something that needs to be worked at – but is really worthwhile, even if it means dreams of blogs are worked towards at something of a snail’s pace.

I do have some updates for you, of course – some of which I consider quite exciting! [Read more...]

Lessons Learned from Our Biggest-Ever Business Education Experiment

bootcamp-debriefEveryone has a reason that they get up in the morning.

For some people, it’s family and friends. For some it’s faith. For some it’s art. For some, it’s a passion, or obsession.

For many of us at Firepole Marketing – it’s about business and education.

So when Danny shared his idea to take a giant, scary, expensive risk in the name of business education – we were apprehensive – but it felt right. Giving small business owners and others solid information about strategy, marketing and all of the things that go into running a business is why we’re here – so the risk, really – seemed quite reasonable.

(If you need a refresher on how this all came about, check out the posts here, here, and here!)

The Business Ignition Bootcamp was born – and did it ever come out screaming. ;-)

What we wanted to do was deliver a level of education that we hadn’t approached before – a deep understanding of how the elements of business work together, and how to generate ideals, and validate them as efficiently as possible. No mean feat for a six week training – but it’s what we felt we needed to do…

Offering it for free was important for two reasons – we wanted to give something back to the community who has helped us grow so much, and we wanted to be able to take small business risks, try new things and see what we could learn as we taught.

I’d like to share with you now, some of our expectations, our errors, our successes – and how we feel now that it’s over and done…
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Ask the Readers: What’s Wrong with Webinars?

questions-cardIf you’re active online, then dollars to donuts, you’ve attended a webinar of one kind or another.

Some of them are sleazy pitches, and some of them are valuable learning opportunities.

If you’re running a business online – maybe you’ve run them too – they have a tendency to work really well in terms of getting tons of new subscribers interested in what you’re doing. We believe strongly in the webinar as an engagement, and as a sales technique.

However – there is a problem with webinars. And it’s a big one.

We’ve got pretty good numbers for the webinars we run. On average…

  • 50-60% of people who visit the landing page will register.
  • 20-30% of those people will attend live.
  • 5-10% more will watch a live replay over the weekend.
  • 20% of live attendees will buy something from us.

Now, these numbers may be above average for the industry, but something seems… off.

What gets to us is that 60-75% of people don’t watch the webinar they registered for!

(And in case you’re thinking it’s because we don’t release recordings, you’re wrong; we stopped releasing recordings when we found that most people don’t watch them, and having a one-time live replay over the weekend actually works for a lot more people, by the numbers of people who actually watch it.)

This sucks for a number of reasons. They don’t have the chance to get to know us, or we them. We don’t get the opportunity to see if there’s a fit for the product we offer, and we don’t get the chance to give them any of the value we offer! [Read more...]

Awesome Engagement Strategies Contest Winners

winnerThis has been an amazing month for Firepole Marketing, and it’s largely because of how well our finalists and community have done at making the Awesome Engagement Strategies contest such a gigantic success.

I am floored, blown away, honored and thrilled that everyone worked so hard, and did so well.

Not only have we gotten a taste of a huge variety of amazing engagement strategies, but I feel like we’ve really gotten to know many members of this community in whole new ways.

That, for me, is the best prize of all – but I imagine that our long-waiting finalists and their amazing commenters are anxious to hear the final results.

Quickly, let’s review what’s at stake… [Read more...]

An Introduction to Monetizing Your Blog

MonetizingToday, in Fireside Chats with Danny Iny, we’re going to be talking about something that everyone thinks about, most people want, and few people would say they have enough of…

Money. ;-)

Specifically, we’re going to be talking about monetization, and turning the audience you’re working so hard to build, into an income that you can live on and more.

This is one of the things that we get asked about the most by new business owners – and fairly! They know that having a blog can lead to making money – but there is a whole lot of conflicting information as to how that actually happens.

So let’s talk about making money…

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Ask the Readers: Can You Automate Engagement?

It’s Ask the Readers time, and we’ve got a great one today.

We’re right smack dab in the middle of the Awesome Engagement Strategies Contest, and we’ve been getting tons of amazing tips, tricks and vice and tactics that we can use to increase our audience engagement.

Engagement is a hands-on business, and no matter how seriously you take it – keeping it up as your business grows is a challenge.

So it begs the question – can you automate engagement? [Read more...]

Real Customer Relationships with Ten Thousand People?

ten-thousandIt will come as no surprise to most of you reading that over here at Firepole Marketing, we’re HUGE on engagement.

We answer every email we get as quickly as possible, and, so far as we are able, we help our readers and community through their marketing and business issues without charging them a penny until they’re ready to become clients or students.

I’m sure you can imagine that’s a lot of work. Worthwhile, of course, but a sometimes staggering commitment. So that’s what this podcast is all about: how to have a real relationship with ten thousand subscribers.

Many of the principles regarding engagement that we follow were built into the very foundations of Firepole Marketing, and we grew with and adjusted to them over time. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t make engagement an important part of your marketing at any stage – you’re never too big or too small for it.

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Kicking Off the New Year With a Bang – Project ABC Update

Happy New Year everyone!

I guess it’s almost cliche to talk about how crazy the holidays are, so I won’t get too into that – but I will say here and now that I will, if at all possible, never move houses in the week between Christmas and New Year’s directly before a product launch and while trying to start a business ever again.

I will just say no.

Suffice it to say, I spent slightly less time working on my business in December than I had initially planned for.  That means January is going to be full-steam ahead, with extra hours and lofty goals.

And that’s something I’d like to talk about for a few moments – goals.

This time of year, the blogosphere is full of talk about New Year’s resolutions – are they good? Are they bad? Do they work? Are you making any? Will you keep them?

I don’t know the answer to any of those questions. But I am making, if not a New Year’s Resolution, a list of things I want to accomplish in 2013, since the world didn’t end, and all. One of them is relevant here:

I’m going to get Project ABC to a point where it’s earning an income, and set to become a long-term, sustainable, audience based business.

And I don’t think for a single second that I’m going to be doing this alone.

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Awesome Engagement Strategies Contest Finalists

contest-startHappy New Year! :-D

I hope that you’ve had a wonderful, relaxing break, and are coming back refreshed, and ready to take on the world!

To kick off the new year with a bang, I’m excited to announce the finalists for the Awesome Engagement Strategies Contest. There were *tons* of great submissions, and choosing finalists wasn’t easy – but did it, and now I’m very happy to present all fifteen bloggers who are going to teach and inspire you this month.

They all worked very hard to write amazing posts about innovative ideas that you can use to create, nurture and enhance audience engagement – something that you know we take very seriously around here!

So read on to learn what’s coming for you this month, and how you can cash in on some of the prize money, too! ;-)

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A Product Launch that Generates the Big Bucks? They’re Easier Than You Think!

Product launches – it’s a topic that means a lot to just about everyone who’s running a business.

And you know what? There is a *ton* of mis-information out there about product launches – and there’s a pretty good reason for that:

When people are teaching about it they’re usually in the middle of one themselves!

Product launches can seem much, much more complex than they really are, and we’d like to set the record straight. Let it be said, once and for all, that crafting a product launch does not have to be that difficult. In fact, they can be pretty simple once you have understand how to look at them.

So that’s what you’ll find in this podcast; step-by-step instructions on how to plan and execute a product launch for anything you’d want to sell…

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