Are distractions blocking you?

distractions

Stop distracting yourself

Are you any closer to your life’s goals and dreams than you were a year ago?

Or are you just wasting time moving from one distraction to another?

Take a moment and think about how you spend your free time.

If you’re a creative person or a dreamer, you may have a lot of different interests and hobbies. That certainly describes me.

But have you ever thought that maybe those things you’re interested in are actually keeping you from your goals?

Are your hobbies and interests really just placeholders for what you really want to achieve?

Maybe you’re using these activities to put off doing the thing you really want to do because… you’re afraid.

You’ve got this comfortable dream or fantasy and it’s perfect. And as long as you don’t do anything but daydream about it, it will stay perfect.

Is your fear that when you realize your dream, it won’t live up to how you’ve built it up in your mind? Or maybe you’re afraid you’ll find out your dream isn’t attainable.

Try this: be mindful when you spend time on your hobbies and interests. Keep asking yourself how you feel about doing those activities instead of chasing your dreams.

If you spend an hour in a record store hunting for some music, ask yourself why you didn’t spend that hour in pursuit of your dream.

There will always be more records to buy.

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Reading: You’ve lost that lovin’ feeling

Laurel and Hardy reading

Reading is supposed to be fun

Last year, about 1 in 4 Americans did not read a single book. Or even listen to an audiobook.

When was the last time you read a book?

I’ve been trying to figure out why fewer people read these days.

I think most people agree there are more distractions – video games, cable channels, Facebook, and smartphones.

Another reason I think people might read less is that we are always multitasking. We’re distracting ourselves.

For example, I used to be guilty of sitting on the couch, turning on the TV, and trying to read a book. Over time, I was reading fewer books and enjoying it less. I didn’t notice what I was doing.

And then I discovered mindfulness – of simply focusing my awareness in the present moment.

So, I made a simple change. When I wanted to read, I sat in a comfortable chair under a good light. No television or music allowed. Just the reading.

I learned to slow down (deliberate and slow breathing helps) and give myself a few minutes to leave my current reality and enter the world of the book.

The theater curtains open and the story begins.

I learned to enjoy the experience of reading again.

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Quit obsessing about work – here’s a simple hack

obsessing

“Let it Go” isn’t just a catchy tune

If you’re a part-time entrepreneur with a full-time job, you’ve probably noticed it’s hard to be productive when you’re obsessing about work.

Sometimes it can be hard to let go.

Here’s a quick and easy hack: at the end of the work day, write down what you’re working on. Then stick it on your computer monitor.

Now you can let it go. Forget about it.

Years ago, when I started working as a computer programmer, I made a promise to myself. I wasn’t going to think about work after I left the office.

I didn’t want to be one of those people who couldn’t turn off their work brain and let it ruin the rest of their day. This can be a big problem for computer programmers who often get stuck on coding problems.

So, at the end of each day, I wrote a short note detailing exactly what I was working on, taped it to my computer, and went home.

It worked almost too well. I didn’t give work a second thought. I was able to enjoy my evenings and weekends.

When I went back to work in the morning, I had to read my note to remind myself what I was working on.

I don’t do that every day these days, but when things get intense at work, and it’s time to leave, I reach for my pen and sticky note.

Two minutes later and I’m out the door and free from worry.

At home, I can give my online business my full and undivided attention and get more done in less time.

And THAT is how you get it done!

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How to get your focus back

Focus

Chase the distractions away

Are you finding it difficult to focus on your goals? Maybe there’s a business or project you’d like to start, but you just can’t seem to get going.

Or maybe you’ve started, but you aren’t making any real progress toward your goal.

It happens to most of us.

We’ve got so much going on in our lives that our dreams take a back seat.

I’m busy, too. I get up at 5, head to work, and often don’t get home until 6:30 or so. And I have a daily podcast to write, record, edit, upload, and promote.

So, yeah, I understand being busy.

It might be 8:00  or later before I can start working on my new business and product. Staying focused and making progress toward your goals is tough.

Try this: turn the TV off and sit down in a comfortable chair or on the floor. Close your eyes or focus on an object in the room. Take slow, deep breaths.

Now, visualize achieving your goal. How will you feel when that happens?

Keep taking slow, deep breaths.

What will your day be like when you reach that goal? Are you going to go out and celebrate with friends and loved ones?

Then think about one simple thing you can do right now that moves you closer to that goal. Just one simple thing.

Give yourself a few minutes with this simple exercise.

Now, open your eyes (if they were closed), stand up and stretch, and do that one simple thing.

Tomorrow, you’ll do one more.

And, so the journey begins.

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Goulet Pens: eCommerce done write

Goulet Pens

Do people buy fountain pens anymore?

Do you want a quick masterclass in eCommerce? I found an amazing eCommerce business that we call all learn a lot from – Goulet Pens.

There is so much awesomeness you can study here, I’m only going to touch a few highlights.

Brian and Rachel Goulet started Goulet Pens in 2010 after attending a pen show. This show was life-changing for Brian as he became an instant fountain pen enthusiast. Goulet Pens is a good example of a passion business.

Do people still buy fountain pens in 2017?

Goulet Pens has 41 employees and seems to be doing quite well.

They don’t have a brick and mortar location – all their sales are online from their website (unless they’ve got some social media buy buttons I didn’t see).

These guys kill it on social media. It helps that they have a good social media team.

Here are the highlights I promised.

  • They post short Facebook videos that tease their latest video. If you click on the link in the post, it takes you to their website where you can watch the full video.
  • Their YouTube videos are amazing! Brian is a natural on camera and his enthusiasm for their products shows. You have to watch their videos! Quick warning: you might become addicted to the videos and lose a weekend binge watching them.
  • The photography on their Pinterest account is gorgeous! I included a sample at the top of the show notes (see above). They have a very talented photographer on their staff.
  • Their customer service is first rate. I ordered some products from their online store. You wouldn’t believe how well it was packaged to ensure everything arrived in perfect condition. I was surprised to find a Tootsie Pop and a hand-written note included with the order.

Goulet Pens mission statement

Our mission is to provide fountain pen enthusiasts with the most personal online shopping experience through comprehensive education, exemplary service, and products we believe in.

As a bonus, if you want a fun mindfulness practice, buy a fountain pen and some good paper. Start writing, doodling, and sketching and really focus on the experience. The ink just glides from the pen to the paper in a way that’s almost magical.

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Scott’s Bass Lessons – online business case study

Case study: Scott's Bass Lessons

Studying a successful online business

I’ve talked about different kinds of online business and online marketing options on the show. Why don’t we put it all together and look at some examples?

Scott Devine runs Scott’s Bass Lessons, which is probably the most successful online bass lesson business on the planet.

His website is pretty slick – you really ought to check it out and study it. The design is really good – you can find what you need if it’s your first time on the site.

At the bottom of each page is a “Connect with us” section with links to their social media.

Their Facebook page is pretty active with lots of “Likes”. Most of the posts include an image which links back to the website. This is a good strategy for getting traffic back to your site.

It doesn’t look like they’re doing much on Twitter or Google+ these days. There’s a good lesson here: don’t kill yourself trying to be everywhere online. Pick one or two social media platforms where you’re getting engagement and focus your energies there.

The YouTube advantage

Their YouTube channel appears to be their most active social media channel. They have over 400,000 followers and their videos get a LOT of engagement: lots of likes and comments.

Scott posts at least one video a week on YouTube. Quick tip: post on a regular schedule on all your social media sites. It requires some discipline, but your audience is more likely to stick around and engage if you do.

Something else I’ve noticed with this business is they use contests to grow their audience and build engagement. It looks like it’s working pretty well.

You really ought to take a look at Scott’s Bass Lessons. It’s always a great idea to see exactly how the successful online entrepreneurs do it.

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Entrepreneur seeking manufacturer

Manufacturer

Stalking the elusive manufacturer

Once you’ve figured out what products you want to sell, it’s time to find a supplier or manufacturer.

In my own case, I’ve identified the type of product I’m passionate about. And I’ve decided to sell my own products, so now I need to find a manufacturer.

Last night, I spent some time doing online searches in hopes of finding someone who can make my products. I had a little luck and started my list of potential product makers. However, I don’t necessarily think I found “the one”.

I’ve just started looking, so I’m not discouraged. It’s going to take a little time, but I want to start making and selling my products as soon as possible.

Serendipity strikes

I was out shopping this morning and stopped by a local specialty retailer. I’m friends with the owner and I was telling him about the products I was planning to have made and sell.

His face lit up. He happens to have some expertise and experience in this area and was happy to share this with me.

Thank you, Brent!

He just saved me a bunch of research time and pointed me in a promising direction. You never know how your friends might be able to help.

I’m very excited about this business and I’ll let you know more as things progress.

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What products should you sell online?

Gary Leland and the products he sells

Have you decided what products to sell?

You want to start your online business, but maybe you don’t know what that business would be.

If you can’t figure out what kind of products you want to sell, ask yourself a simple question: what are you really passionate about? This will determine your niche.

As my buddy Gary Leland says (I’m paraphrasing here), find something you’re passionate about because it takes a lot of work to run a business. Without that passion, you’re going to run out of motivation when things get tough.

And it will get tough.

Once you’ve identified your passion, make sure there are others who share that passion. Are there Facebook groups or online forums or fan clubs related to that passion? You need to know this because the people who share your passion are going to be your customers.

Your next step is to figure out which products in your niche to focus on.

 Things are getting nichy

Most experts, whoever they are, advise niching down. In other words, find a niche within a niche – and maybe a niche within that niche.

Let’s use Gary’s Softball Junk as an example. The main category is sports. A niche within sports is bat and ball sports. Within that niche is softball. Within that niche is girl’s softball. And within that niche is girl’s fastpitch softball.

Let’s see – that’s a niche within a niche within a niche within a niche within a niche. Now THAT is niching down!

And that niching down has helped make Gary very successful.

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Don’t be a social media tourist

Social media marketing

Stop kicking the social media marketing tires

Why do so many people think social media is some kind of magic elixir that will somehow make them a lot of money?

Here’s something that really annoys me

Whenever I go to a social media Meetup or group meeting, the host usually asks how many attendees are first-timers.

Inevitably, almost everyone’s hands go up. The room is full of excited social media marketing wannabes who expect to learn how to leverage their online time for cash. Lots of cash.

At the next Meetup, I’ll see an entirely different group of wannabes.

Social media marketing is work. And if you want to leverage social media effectively, it can be a LOT of work.

But who wants to hear that?

Yes, it’s easier and cheaper to start a business these days, especially online.

But, at the end of the day, it’s still business. You have to have a product or service and you have to have customers. And you have to keep those customers happy.

Think of it this way: business first, social media later. Don’t waste your time with a social media strategy until you have some kind of business. Most of the people going to the Meetups don’t have one.

What I’m saying is… it’s time to start your business.

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Email marketing has an image problem

Email marketing with the frog

Email marketing –  can you think of anything less sexy?

How’s this for sexy – according to Campaign Monitor, the king of the marketing kingdom is email marketing. It has a 4400% ROI which means for every dollar spent you get $44 in return.

No other marketing method comes close.

When you have a product or service to sell, you need to make email marketing part of your promotion strategy.

Okay, that’s one view. Here’s another: do you know anyone who is making money using email marketing?

I read blogs by people who say they’re making a killing with it and I listen to podcasts with the same message.

And I know a lot of people who make a killing online and don’t use email marketing.

I keep hearing “the money’s in the list”, but who has this list?

Maybe it’s just that email marketing is so boring, I’m just not paying enough attention.

And that’s probably my loss.

With no first-hand experience with email marketing, I can’t pretend to be an expert.

I see lots of promising courses on Lynda.com and udemy, but I haven’t taken any… yet.

But, right now, I’m working on some products and, once they’re ready for release, I’ll be building my list.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Don’t forget – send us your questions, stories, and pictures to [email protected]

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