Category Archives: Business

7 Indisputable Reasons to Interact at IZEAFest

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of IZEAFest. All opinions are 100% mine.

One of the more common questions I’m asked when it comes to driving any kind of online community engagement is: where are you engaging your intended audience? For years, a tell-tale sign of a healthy blog was a healthy amount of comments per post. With the influx of blogs proliferating the Internet, finding key relationships has become more of a challenge for any blogger (new or weathered). There’s a relatively straightforward way to correct the issues surfaced by these attention-starved realities – and that’s to meet with people face-to-face instead of interfacing with them over a series of digital communications. No matter your goals with your blog (or social accounts), getting yourself to an event that’s focused on you as an independent content creator is paramount – an event like IZEAFest.

  1. Events help you solidify relationships that could last a lifetime – both personal and professional. I’m telling you this from over 20 years in the content publishing industry, as both an event coordinator and an average event attendee.
  2. If you’re expecting that advertising revenue and traffic alone are going to carry your endeavor into the next year, you’re not watching publishing industry trends carefully enough. Now’s the time to establish connections with brands who are keen on having you help them carry their campaigns forward.
  3. It’s possible to have fun and to build your career simultaneously, and as much as the average event is designed to drain your energy – IZEAFest is designed to help accelerate your plans as a producer. If that doesn’t exciting to you, then you’re probably not cut out to be a content creator. Plus, you get a chance to see and hear experienced speakers!
  4. Emails and tweets get lost in the shuffle, but shared interpersonal moments make a deeper impact on either side. Instead of being just a username and/or a logo, why not choose to solidify your place in memory with an actual handshake?
  5. You never know what’s going to happen at an industry event. Let serendipity be your guide, even if you have no idea what you’ll get from going – and even if you haven’t reviewed the schedule. On a related note…
  6. I’ve always said: what you get out of something is frequently contingent on how much you put into it. If you don’t make an effort, don’t be surprised by a lack of results. Just because it’s Internet publishing doesn’t mean the world is going to beat a path to your site (at least, not anymore).
  7. It’s happening at Walt Disney World® Resort. Seriously. Who doesn’t want to spend any amount of time there?


I may not be able to attend this IZEAFest, but only because I’m knee-deep in producing my own event (and have been producing large-scale events for well over a decade). They even have a discount hotel room rate Trust me: I understand the value of an event – especially when its tenet is central to your cause.


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How to Achieve Success with Your Online Business

Creating and maintaining an online business can be a long and tedious process. There are countless obstacles that will stand between you and the accomplishment of your goals, but hang in there! Here are just some of the ways you can achieve success with your online business…

[$5+ patrons can read the rest of How to Achieve Success with Your Online Business here. Not a patron? Consider the benefits here!]

How Do You Search for Information?

Riquochet is a newer Patron who is curious about my search habits. You, too, can become a Patron and receive priority answers to your questions!

When you search the Internet for information, would you rather whip out your wallet and get your hands on what you’re looking for quickly, or spend time searching around for a ‘free’ answer? After all Time = Money.

If I want it, need it, and know it fits the bill… I’ll pay the bill.

I think it’s asinine to hear people whine about how they got their computer infected with malware because they downloaded a movie through less-than-proper channels.

That’s hilarious, really. People spend more by trying to avoid spending money.

Free doesn’t always mean totally free.

An hour of my time is worth more than minimum wage.

How Do You Search for Information?

Is Affiliate Marketing Worth It?

Patron Zamira is curious about affiliate marketing and whether it’s worth the time and effort. You, too, can become a Patron and receive priority answers to your questions!

How do you feel about affiliate marketing? Is this a good area to get into? Why or why not? Have you had any good successes being an affiliate? Likewise, do you have any horror stories (without naming company names, I know)?

I believe I’ve actually written about this before, and my thoughts haven’t changed much on the matter.

I am not a fan of affiliate marketing for many reasons.

Case in point? If I ever recommended a product that you bought on Amazon (based on my recommendation) without going through my designated link, I don’t get the credit. Yikes. People who don’t deal with my type of business don’t understand just how outlandish – and unsustainable – that is for someone in my position.

That’s about as horrific as it gets.

I believe that the only true winners with affiliate programs are the people who operate them. To that end, I’ve longed to figure out a unique product I could sell and find affiliates to sign on as resellers.

Is Affiliate Marketing Worth It?

What Keeps You Going to Work?

Shelley asked me:

What makes you do the things you do every day? Why do you push yourself? What is it that makes you want to keep going every day – even when the going is tough?

The short answer is: YOU. All of you – the community – is what keeps me pushing myself day in and day out.

I’ve said a million times that building a good community is everything. It’s why I do the things I do. That’s the reason I get up in the mornings and head into my office. Y’all make me strive to change things for the better, find new ways to engage and keep making sure everyone is able to easily communicate with each other.

Is it always easy? Of course not! People’s needs and interests change. Google changes the way we find websites. Facebook changes the things you do and do not see on your feed. Haters hate. Whiners whine. Some days I do what everyone does at some point – question if what I’m doing is worth it.

You know what, though? The answer to that is always a resounding YES!

Why do YOU do what you do? What drives you each and every day?

What Keeps You Going to Work?

What is Microblogging?

Michael asked:

What is microblogging and is it important? Is this something I should be doing for my new small business?

Microblogging, quite simply, are short posts made on mediums such as Twitter and even Reddit. Instead of writing a full-on blog post, as I’m doing here, you’re posting a sentence or two to sum something up that you need to say – often including a link for more information. Many people also classify forum posts in this category, but I don’t.

Is microblogging important to your small business? Likely. Having a presence on Twitter, Pinterest and even Reddit (depending on your intended audience) can be crucial to your success. You’ll need to (obviously) know your target audience, know what they’re looking for and then talk to them. Don’t ever just throw out links or messages you think will go viral. Your customers don’t care about that crap. They want you to talk to them – interact with them – ask them questions and give them answers. They want to know you’re THERE… accessible to their needs. This builds brand loyalty and word-of-mouth (by consumers who trust you and your product or service) is invaluable.

How many different microblogging sites do all of YOU belong to, and how do you use them?

What is Microblogging?

How Important is Social Media to a Business?

HyderPotter asked:

Should social media be at the top of the list for companies who sell things?

I don’t know about “top of the list” for any type of company. But… social media definitely needs to be a priority.

Companies obviously need a great product or service and amazing customer service. Those things have to be the main focus. Once they’re in place, you have to buckle down on marketing. Any good marketing plan these days involve social media.

Don’t do what too many businesses do: throw links at your customers. Yes, they want to see products and sales. They want to know what you’re up to. But more than that, they want you to TALK TO THEM. Seriously. Interact with your customers and it will build into an actual community based around your business. Don’t talk AT them… talk WITH them. Answer questions. Pose questions. Share a funny story or video. Interact with fun comments. Like things they’ve said and ReTweet when you can. Don’t just paste a bunch of crap and then ignore the streams until the next day.

Don’t panic over Facebook’s algorithms, either. You’ll never get it right. It’s hard work. Just focus on the things I mentioned, and your social presence will grow.

What about everyone else? What tips do you have?

How Important is Social Media to a Business?

What Should You Look for in a Web Host?

Matthew asked:

What are some good features to look for when selecting a new web hosting service?

There are a lot of different things that people find important. Some only care about cost. Others feel that uptime is crucial. There are a few things that you should look at, though:

  • Uptime – Does the company have sites that crash often? Also, how quickly do they resolve issues?
  • Addons – Many companies offer freebies when you “subscribe” to a hosting plan. What are these addons? Are they even useful to you?
  • Customer Service – Do your questions regarding pricing get answered quickly? How good are the reps at finding the answers you need – no matter the question? Do they answer professionally, or do they treat people rudely?
  • Technical Service – Even more importantly, do issues get fixed quickly and properly – even little things? Are issues explained to you? Are glitches brought to your attention?

I’m sure I’m missing several points to consider. This is where all of you come in: what do you look for when choosing a web host?

Photo credit to Funny Pics

What Do You Look for in a Web Host?

How Do You Manage Your Time?

WickedZen asked:

I am a full time student, and aspiring writer, with a family. For some time now I have used Sunbird to keep track of my schedule, specifically my tasks (assignments, tests, projects, etc) as a student. I review and update this schedule dozens of times during a day. Recently my main laptop died, cause unknown and is on its way to be checked out. I had to switch to using my old, backup laptop. I was able to pull out my hard drive and get the data, including my schedule, onto my backup. If I had been unable to do so, I would have been in serious trouble rebuilding my schedule and keeping up with everything.

Any suggestions for task/schedule management software that I can sync between different computer(s) and a tablet, as well as online but with an offline feature if I ever cant access online?

Honestly? Google’s calendar may be your best option. Once you fill out your calendar, you can easily sync it to a number of different places, including to your computer. Having this easily available via your phone or other mobile device is great – along with the fact that you can have it open right on your desktop while working and set it to give you reminder notifications.

I do know some people that use their phone’s built-in task reminder/scheduler to handle things such as appointments for them, as well.

What about everyone out there? What would you suggest? What are you using to keep track of everything in your busy life?

How Do You Manage Your Time?

What Does It Mean to Be Sponsored?

SolidSafety asked:

What does being sponsored mean? I know that it can help you but don’t know how and what it does. I know that a lot of people are being sponsored on YouTube or their websites. What’s this all about?

Being sponsored means that a company believes in you and what you’re doing and wants to help. In some cases, it just means that you have something a company wants: lots of exposure.

Company X may have a product that best fits the audience you have on YouTube and your website(s). You have a fairly good-sized following, so they approach you and offer to sponsor you in exchange for promotion – a video, a link in an article or even a social media status. The benefit you receive could be money or product(s) – it depends on the company and your needs.

Company Y may see that you’re hosting a meetup or conference in the near future. The person there may completely believe in the message you’re trying to bring to your audience, and so the company decides to be a partner – they give money to the event in exchange for branding of some type during it. The company wants to be associated with whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish in this case.

What other questions do you have about sponsorship? If you feel you have a great audience, a new perspective or something unique to say, don’t hesitate to reach out to companies to inquire about potential sponsorships!

What Does it Mean to be Sponsored?

Do You Have Financial Advice?

Mark D asked:

What is your best financial advice to pass along to those of us just starting out?

Cover your costs.

No, seriously.

Cover. Your. Costs. When you’re just starting out, make sure you have enough in the bank to get you through the first few months. Think of things like office supplies, payroll, taxes, personal living expenses and on and on and on.

You also need to be sure you pay your bills on time. Vendors won’t work with you anymore if you aren’t paying them in a timely fashion. Never rob Peter to pay Paul. Dinner out can wait. That new pair of shoes can wait – even if you’re barefoot. Pay the invoices when they’re due or you’re going to be sunk before you get started.

What about all of you? What’s your best financial advice for those just starting out?

What's Your Best Financial Advice?

What Type of Hardware Would You Support via Crowdfunding?

Keegan Hall wondered:

What type of tech device/software would you support via crowdfund in a heartbeat if they had a working prototype?

I wouldn’t.

I’ll wait until it’s truly shipping.

I’ve been burned too many times.

Crowdfunded hardware / software / tech has produced more disappointments than it has successes in the eyes of the people who went the extra mile to fund an idea.

Most of my own crowdfunding efforts will more than likely remain in the realm of media-related support. You typically know what you’re getting there (and, sometimes, the impact is immediate).

Is Your Life on the Right Track?

Todd Donna asked:

Do you ever wish you made different decisions in the past from where you are today ? Or are you on the right track ?

Of course, I think we would all make different decisions if we were given a chance to do so.

But what would that do? If we zigged instead of zagging, we may not be in the place(s) we are now – for better or for worse.

I could wish that I did something else, but would I know (truly) if that would have made a difference for the better (overall)? Nobody knows.

I don’t know if I’m on the “right” track, or if I ever would be even if I thought I could have made a better decision at some point in the past.

You have to keep in mind, as well: if you changed even one tiny thing about your past, you wouldn’t be who and where you are right now. Everything would be different. I’m pretty happy with who I am, who I’m with and where our life is at. I wouldn’t actually change a single thing.

What about you? Are you happy with all of the decisions you’ve made in life? Are you on the right track?

Is Your Life on the Right Track?

Has Content Monetization Gone Too Far?

Thady Senior is curious about my thoughts on monetization. Buckle up, buttercups. We may be here a while!

Do you think monetization of content has gone too far? It used to be that everything could be watched for free and advertising revenue covered it. Now it is the case that internet streaming services (Patreon, Netflix, etc.) and satellite / TV services are chargeable. Do you think YouTube will integrate a pay-for-content facility?

First, YouTube already has a PPV option. It’s rarely used because it’s rather inflexible for both would-be supporters and existing producers.

Second, I don’t think monetization can ever truly go “too far.” If someone’s getting a piece of content for free, they have to support (or, in some cases, “suffer through”) whatever needs to happen to make that free transaction worth doing for all parties involved.

“Too far” for one person is not “too far” for another.

I’ve gone into this topic in depth at various points in the past, but advertising has never been a stable form of support for valuable content – and you’re blind to assume otherwise.

Take, for example, the cancellation of one of your favorite TV shows. Why? Because a network decided that few people wanted to see it. Is that content still valuable to you? Hell yes. But you don’t matter. Seriously, you don’t matter in the game of advertising.

Sure, in aggregate, you matter – but I’m not talking about an aggregation of appreciation. I’m referring to your independent appreciation for one piece of content or another.

Why do you care how many other people like something? If you like it, that’s all that matters. You should want to give anything and everything to ensure that it would continue to be done. Right? If not, then you don’t value what you say you value.

Independent content producers will eventually realize that the better number is probably a smaller number. I’d rather have 800 people telling me that I’m worth $5 a month to them than 350,000 people who don’t care whether I live or die (and they treat the content produced in a similar fashion).

What do all of YOU think? Has content monetisation gone too far?

Has Content Monetization Gone Too Far?

How Do You Feel About a $15.00 Minimum Wage?

Patron Christopher Micallef is curious about a proposed huge hike in minimum wage. You, too, can become a Patron and receive priority answers to your questions!

How do you feel about the $15 minimum wage? Do price floors make you sad too?

I spoke about this briefly in a TLDR episode.

I feel that you should get paid a fair wage for fair work, but I’m also very well aware of costs that employers often assume on behalf of their employees.

Who wouldn’t want to be paid more for the work they’re doing?

But that’s not the problem.

Who is going to pay for those employees to get paid more? How are costs going to be offset now that they’ve increased across the board? What potential new hire isn’t going to get the opportunity to work? There aren’t definitive answers to these questions, either.

It’s like people who watch a “free video” on YouTube and assume that it came to them for free simply because they didn’t pay anything to see it.

A $15/hr minimum wage is outstanding for those who deserve it, but it also increases the chances of an employer burning through more revenue due to making a really bad hire (which happens all the time, trust me).

Despite what either side would have you believe, it’s not a black and white issue – and I do believe that, ultimately, employers will suffer more than those who are being employed. Think about it this way: as an employee, your only responsibility is to yourself. As an employer, you have to balance several “special interest groups” and the business-at-large.

There’s a metric buttload of hidden costs for any business, and most employees do not ever find themselves in the position to have to be concerned with them. Hell, most customers don’t know, either (and aren’t necessarily in the position to be aware of hidden costs at all).

When change happens, shit changes across the board. Period.

How Do You Feel About a 15 Minimum Wage?