17 Lessons I Learned From Publishing An e-Book

Do You Learn Lessons Executing Simple Tasks?

I released my first e-Book last week, my #40in240 Intrepid mini-MBA project [you can download here]. And as I always do with executing on a project, I learned a series of lessons from the experience. Here they are:

1. It will take longer than you plan to publish the book. Just count on that.

2. It will drive meaningful traffic to your website. So if that’s your main goal, it is worth it. But it is so much more than that…

3. If you go with guest contributors, you get to work with people of your choice. If there is someone you want to get to know, reach out to them. Great way to connect.

4. You will also get solicited by people you don’t know who want to contribute, which expands your network. This is a great way to meet new people.

5. You will agonize over the look and feel of the product. Don’t. It is about shipping the content. As you see from the book cover above, I am a skilled designer [insert eye roll here].

6. This builds a tight knit community around the idea/cause that you are championing. This is how some people start movements.

7. Publishing/editing an e-book will help position you as a thought leader in your chosen space/subject matter of the book. I am NO expert on inspiring young people. But I am better positioned in that space now than before…

8. Want to find a way to build a tribe? Here is one way. Sounds hokey, but I have a kind of bond now with these 40 writers…

9. You will learn so much about the people who contribute, what they think, what moves them.

10. You also learn who is a lot of talk…

11. Publishing an e-book is a great way to build lists. You can require a name and email address to receive the product. I didn’t do it that way, but if you are sharing the right kind of content, it is a good way to get names. Now granted, you won’t get as many sign-ups and downloads, but those that subscribe are meaningful.

12. Your contributors will help share the work. See Willie Jackson here. See James Ball here. See Stephanie Lloyd here. See Kevin Metzger here. See Erik Wolf here. It can be a great way to expand your reach on the internet.

13. I don’t mind saying, but it is cool when people now refer to you as a publisher. Some have called me an author, but I am not going there yet.

14. Publishing the e-book has, in fact, drawn new people to my blog. Both RSS feed and e-newsletter subscriptions jumped after publishing.

15. Offering an e-book as a free download from your business is a really cool marketing tactic. More on this soon!

16. You feel extreme joy when you ship the product at the end of the day.

17. There is no greater feeling of satisfaction than when someone in the target audience comments that the product helped them. Makes it all worth it. I promise.

So that’s what I learned from this way cool project. Please share some things you’ve learned when you published content (whatever shape that takes for you).

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j j j

Lessons Learned From Completing A Half-Marathon

I recently completed my second half-marathon. Here are some lessons I’ve learned from my experience…

1. Starting something feels really good. Finishing something feels OUT OF THIS WORLD.

2. There is a lot of pain in finishing. But you realize you can deal with it. Use it to make you stronger. It won’t be as painful next time.

3. I used to think that all the other runners were superior athletes, and I was the amateur. But I realized most of the runners were dealing with the same demons I was. This builds camaraderie. And gives you strength.

4. Starting is good, finishing is better, but finishing is only possible with the work in the middle. Half-ass your way through the middle, you either won’t finish, or you won’t finish strong (which is much better).

5. Keep your eyes and ears open. There are lessons to be learned each time you are battling through. Listen, and learn. You will finish stronger next time.

6. The body can endure a lot. Don’t be afraid to push it.

7. Your body needs fuel and energy to succeed. This doesn’t just apply to marathon running. You need to feed your body (and mind) fuel, energy, and learning. Never stop.

8. I am proud of what I have achieved in my running. But there is someone always doing something bigger (like the wheelchair racers or ex-soldiers running with missing limbs). Celebrate this. Support this. Cheer these people on. It enriches your experience too.

9. Fight the battle with friends. There is something to be said in achieving these things on your own. But it is so much better to achieve these things with your comrades-in-arms. Joe and Stephanie, case in point…

10. Completing something great TODAY is cool. But time to start working on the next big adventure TOMORROW. Tomorrow, today will be old news…

You can follow my running journal here…
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j j j

Go The Other Direction

Chattahoochee River Trail

Went running with friend Stephanie Lloyd today. The course we often run is along the Chattahoochee River, and there is a specific direction you take to follow the mileage markers.

But today, Stephanie said “let’s go the other direction. The view is different going the other way.”

Same path. Same course. But she was right. Going the other direction looked entirely different.

And this, of course, got me thinking. We should look for ways to “go the other direction” as often as we can. This can apply to life, business, relationships, marketing, etc…

This idea, this concept, is not new. We talk about it all the time. We suggest in our writings that we should go our own way, take the road less traveled, be different, etc…

But we so rarely do so. Very few do, and those are the ones we seem to follow, and pay homage to. And then, of course, once we all start going in that direction, we are all going in the same direction.

So, we have to consciously choose to go the other direction. But that’s not the hard part. The hard part is looking for the ways where you can actually make that choice. And therein lies the difference maker. Most people aren’t really looking.

Sure, we can all run the other direction on a popular running trail. And it is even invigorating to go that way every so often.

Life becomes interesting when you find a truly unique new direction to go, one that others haven’t found yet. That’s where life becomes worth adventuring, and worth living…

What direction are you going?

j j j

14 Simple Ways To Start Conversations On Twitter

cartoon by @gapingvoid

cartoon by @gapingvoid

OK, so reading this blog, you’ve heard me say time and again that success on the social web is all about starting the conversation. To engage. To dialog. Blah, blah, blah…

And yet many of my readers, and some of my clients, still don’t get it.

I was talking to a gentleman the other day about using twitter to initiate conversations – which could lead to new relationships – where they might end up as new prospects – or at least refer others to him – and I swear I heard crickets chirping on the other end of the phone.

So, I thought I would prepare a cheat sheet of no-brainer ideas to help you identify “tweets” that can be YOUR conversation-starting triggers.

Simple. Enjoy.

1. ORIGINAL TWEET: “Just had coffee with Julie Smith. What a smart and vibrant lady!”

YOU: Isn’t she great? She’s a wonderful person to have in your network. Do you read her blog?”

2. ORIGINAL TWEET: “Heading to Birmingham AL for business. Any good ideas for a dinner spot?”

YOU: “You are a fool NOT to check out Dreamland BBQ. I trust you like BBQ?”

3. ORIGINAL TWEET: “Heading out to buy a new video camera. Any ideas?”

YOU: “Lots of good products on the market, but I can’t live without my Flip Cam! What do you need a camera for exactly?”

4. ORIGINAL TWEET: “What is the best collaborative tool to use to work with someone in a different time zone? #smallbizchat”

YOU: “I’ve had a lot of success with Google Wave. It has been great for our team. How many people working on the project? #smallbizchat”

5. ORIGINAL TWEET: “Having a lousy day. Struggling with [insert business problem here]. Can’t wait til 5 o’clock!

YOU: “Sorry to hear that. I’ve had a lot of success with [insert potential solution here]. Have you tried that before?”

6. ORIGINAL TWEET: “RT @zen_habits: on mnmlist: empower people to create http://bit.ly/9jOetk.”

YOU: “Hey, I loved that post. Really spoke to me. Have you been reading Leo for a while?”

7. ORIGINAL TWEET: “Just sat down, and looking forward to hearing Chris Brogan speak!”

YOU: “Oh, I saw him at New Media Atlanta. You’ll learn a lot. Did you read Trust Agents?”

8. ORIGINAL TWEET: “Holy smokes, you cannot believe the line to get into this #SXSW panel…”

YOU: “Oh, let me know how that goes. What has been your favorite panel so far?”

9. ORIGINAL TWEET: “http://twitpic.com/10j5js – On a cold and rainy day, the crappiest job in marketing.”

YOU: “I hear that. But I dunno, doesn’t seeing those people make you notice the biz they’re promoting?”

10. ORIGINAL TWEET: “I’m at FuegoMundo (5590 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs) http://4sq.com.”

YOU: “Oh man, I love that place. Have you had their sangria?”

11. ORIGINAL TWEET: “You are a fool to not follow @StephanieALloyd + @Keppie_Careers if you want the best job search and job hunting advice! #followfriday”

YOU: “Wow, thanks. Got a friend looking for a job and I will put him in touch with these two! How did you get to know them?”

12. ORIGINAL TWEET: “Listening to my Metallica Pandora channel!”

YOU: “I dig those guys too. They free my mind after a long day. What’s your favorite album?”

13. ORIGINAL TWEET: “My Gosh, why do the Red Sox always give me such heartburn?”

YOU: “No kidding. These guys have haunted me for years. How long have you been a fan?”

14. ORIGINAL TWEET: “Just sitting down to watch Celebrity Apprentice!”

YOU: Oh come on, how can you stand to listen to that blowhard Trump for more than five minutes?”

KEYS TO SUCCESS:
1. You can do this with people you don’t know.
2. In fact, this is how you get to know people.
2.5. At least, I’ve read that somewhere…
3. How are you going to get to know people if you don’t ask them questions?
4. I mean seriously, do you go to face-to-face networking meetings – stand on a chair – and just broadcast details of your latest products?
5. And when these good folks respond to your questions? Answer them back. This is called a “conversation!”
6. It really works!
7. I promise!
8. It is actually easy. You just gotta decide to do it.

What do you think? Any other ideas?

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j j j

Making Marketing Fun (And Effective) With Video

OK, so I made a complete fool of myself yesterday…

I was meeting with a client who is launching a blog very soon. He remodels homes. He is a sharp looking fellow. He is a master craftsman. He is the perfect candidate to do a lot of fun – and effective – video demonstrating home improvement ideas for his blog (amongst many other ideas).

So here’s Todd, walking around Starbucks with his flip, demonstrating a style and attitude that I think will work great on this guy’s blog. At one point, I am on my knees pretending to talk about how to repair Starbucks floorboards…

And yeah, patrons in Starbucks were looking at me strangely. But who cares. In fact, it is even fun demonstrating using video in your marketing… ;-)

That said, utilizing video in a creative way to help add some pop to your marketing is an increasingly popular way to go-to-market. Buying high quality, high definition, video cameras that are SIMPLE to use, is as easy nowadays as buying a calculator in the check-out line. I use a Flip UltraHD camera

Here are a few examples of some folks doing it right:

How Chris Jordan can even make insurance fun:
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixczt2r8Opc]

Stephanie Frost simply talking about an example of poor customer service. This video got picked up and was featured on the Huffington Post and on Diane Sawyer:
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvRjt0j2p-Y]

My model for successful vlogging, Chris Brogan. Demonstrating what “overnight success” looks like:
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raNlx0nZc5A]

Stephanie Lloyd and I have fun talking about marketing and social media on He Said, She Said:
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBKeFMfD1iQ]

So here are a few things to keep in mind to make marketing with video fun – and effective:

  1. Be yourself.
  2. Make it memorable.
  3. Keep it short. These things don’t have to longer that 90 seconds to have an impact.
  4. You don’t have to be funny, but humor helps make it memorable.
  5. Be helpful. Serve. Try to impart information that really helps people.
  6. Remember that you don’t have to produce Oscar-caliber quality or editing for your videos to be effective.
  7. Be sure that when you upload them to a video site, such as YouTube, that you tag them properly with the right keywords to make them more searchable.
  8. Be real. If you are fake, you will lessen the impact. Considerably.
  9. Don’t rely ONLY on video. Integrate it into a broader marketing program.
  10. Remember, video isn’t for everyone. Find the medium that works best for you. And use it!

 

So, good luck. And if you can, leave some links in the comments with OTHER examples of people doing marketing right with video. Thanks!

j j j

Three Keys You Need to Know About Personal Branding, But Probably Aren't Doing

cartoon by @gapingvoid

cartoon by @gapingvoid

There is an awful lot of conversation about personal branding these days – books, blogs, social media, webinars, conferences, etc. And a lot of what they all say is important.

I was talking with my friend Stephanie A. Lloyd about her 2010 plans the other day, and she was telling me some of her thinking about personal branding.

She helped boil down my thinking on personal branding to a mere three critical steps. And they aren’t complicated, despite so many people making this process harder than it has to be. They are:

1. The need for FOCUS and CLARITY on your specialty. You cannot be all things to all people. You must be clear about the one thing you can do to serve and help people. You can’t be known as a master of ten different things. A lot of people can’t really tell you the one thing they do well, because they don’t want to miss an opportunity by being too narrowly defined. Get over that fear. It will kill you.

2. The ability to clearly articulate what that is. You’ve heard people say that you should be able to describe your story in one sentence. As in, “FDR got us out of the Depression and helped win WWII.” If you cannot clearly articulate what your specialty or skill is, your personal brand will be muddled and confusing. You have to make it clear. You have to make it easy to understand. And if you have to explain in detail what you do, you’ve already lost.

3. Consistency delivering this well-articulated message both online and offline. Most people’s problem? They aren’t consistent in telling their story over and over. Or they say one thing on Twitter, and another thing at a Chamber mixer. Or explaining what you do in different ways, to different people. Or changing what you do again and again and again. I tell my political clients to stay on message. Same thing applies here.

The three concepts above aren’t rocket science. So what’s the hard part? Being disciplined enough to execute on these three points over time. If you can do that, you will be on the right path…and your personal brand will be one that resonates and helps you go-to-market with strength and clarity.

So ask yourself, “Am I really following these three key steps?” Be honest, and good luck. Got any other thoughts?

j j j

Todd Schnick Sings The Hits | 2009

cartoon by @gapingvoid

cartoon by @gapingvoid

Wow, the end of my first full year of blogging. Went by fast. So here is a quick accounting of my favorite posts from 2009:

Obey The Rules, Miss The Fun – I love this post, because I strongly believe in having fun with your marketing. Because if you aren’t, what’s the point?

14 Intrepid Ways To Improve The Customer Experience – I can never write enough or think enough about ways to improve your customer’s experience.

A Day In The Creative Life – This is my favorite post of 2009. My homage to Hugh MacLeod.

Just A Few Steps A Day – This is my second most popular post for the year, sort of a day in the life of how I go to market…

25 Steps To Fortify Your Customer’s Brand Relationship With You – You don’t just create your brand. You earn your brand.

Loving What You Do Is Good Marketing – This is my most popular blog post of the year. The name says it all.

A Hands On Example of Caring For Your Customer – This was the most personal post I wrote all year. It followed the death of my dog of 15 years…

He Said, She Said, Round 8 – Interruption Marketing – Couldn’t help but include an episode from our popular He Said, She Said series, featuring Chris Brogan

Does Anyone Care About Customer Service? – This is a favorite post from the latter part of the year, and had the honor of a comment from David Meerman Scott himself…

Don’t Be A Part Of This Marketing Conversation – This was the most fun post I wrote in 2009. And it asks some tough questions too…

Thanks for reading this past year, and for all your support in 2009. See you next year!

j j j

A TweetUp Like No Other…

I had the pleasure of co-hosting a TweetUp last night at FuegoMundo, the PunkRock Champagne Holiday TweetUp. It was a thrill to host along with Stephanie A. Lloyd and Laurie Ruettimann. I thought you would enjoy seeing a quick video of the anarchy!
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHMXoh0cNt4]
Let me just tell you from experience: putting on an event like this is a lot of work. But connecting people, and seeing things happen when people meet, is priceless. Make it an intrepid goal in 2010 to be a better connector of people. It will grow your business and enrich your life…

j j j

Todd Schnick + Stone Payton On Dream Job Radio!

Todd + Stone

Todd + Stone

Yesterday, Stone Payton and myself had the pleasure to be guests on Dream Job Radio! The show, hosted by Stephanie A. Lloyd, explores HR issues and workplace issues. It features job candidates and business leaders…

On the show, we talk about our dream job, and how we help others build their dream job. We spent time talking about all the exciting ventures going on at the High Velocity organization. Topics included social media, blogging, building community, marathon running, among many others…

LISTEN TO THE SHOW HERE!

j j j

He Said, She Said – Round 10 – Using Social Media to Promote Events

Today we filmed Round 10 of He Said, She Said. What a momentous occasion! We made it to 10. Not that we didn’t think we would…but still, kind of cool!

It was Stephanie’s turn to ask the question, and she asked, “What do you think is the the greatest advantage of promoting an event via social media?” Watch the videos below to discover our thoughts, and feel free to add to the conversation via the comments section!
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8l6P3T-m32M]
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pl26hNaftDE]

Join us for the PunkRock Champagne Holiday Social + TweetUp on December 16th! Hope to see you at FuegoMundo Wood-Fire Grill!

j j j