Archive of ‘From The Trenches’ category

The Indulging, Obligatory Reflection of 2011

There has been a trend on this blog over the past couple of years. I get to the end of the year, burnt out, and talk about what I’ve learned over the previous 10 or so months. These posts have been somewhat depressive as I’ve been battling mental illness was pursuing an online career.

This year, it’s different.

As with every year, a lot of crap happened. There was a period of time when I’d laugh whenever I got bad news, because I thought that things couldn’t get anymore stressful.

Early in 2011, I realized that this was a year for personal growth and was content to put work stuff on the backburner. I dealt with situations as they arose. I cried when things fell apart and made huge changes in how I approached my life.

In this post, I’m going to talk about some of the major stuff that’s happened this year. I’m hoping to return to regular blogging now that things have settled down.

The boyfriend

My boyfriend and I are nearing our first year anniversary. My boyfriend. Huh. I never thought I’d be capable of having a relationship.

See, I struggle a lot when it comes to people. I didn’t think I could ever handle a relationship. Being someones partner means letting them see you at your most vulnerable. My partner has:

  • Watched me cry a lot when work stuff got on top of me. He knew far more about some work stuff then he should have.
  • Endured conversations where I’m somewhat incoherent
  • Shared my bed. I have a thing about beds. When you’re asleep, you have no control over how people perceive you. I’ve gotten so good at handling anxiety because I control how I react to stuff. With Glenn, I don’t care.

It took a while to get used to being in a relationship, especially as I felt guilty about him getting caught up in my crazy. There were a lot of conversations because I didn’t know what I was doing. Glenn was fantastic throughout the whole process and helped me realize that each relationship is different and requires venturing into the unknown. There are no rules on how people interact and relate to each other.Learning that allowed me to chill out. I treat the relationship similar to how I treated the friendship. We hang out and talk geek, and help each other track down the best comic-related items.

The only difference is now, we are casually planning a future together. We’ll probably be buying a house over the next year using the money he inherited. It will be *his* house, but I’ll be part of the life he creates there. We’re talking about what we’ll do if we’re still together in a couple of years, but aren’t making any commitments.

I never thought that being in a relationship could be this simple or so… enriching. I really believe he is one of the reasons I’ve been able to cope so well this year.

I will be writing more about this relationship in the future. I find it so fascinating.

The business

Business. What business?

I stopped blogging early on in the year. I stopped the Blog Networking Tips newsletter because I felt it wasn’t good enough. I’ve chopped and changed everything so much.

Business wise, this year was hell. Most of you guys are aware that I was caught up in the Salty Droid drama. Everything surrounding my ex-boss and his business partner has caused a great deal of stress. It felt like I was put in an awkward situation and didn’t know what to do. This isn’t anyones fault. There is no guidebook for how to handle a lot of stuff and people were just reacting to situations. I believe that stepping back was the best thing I could have done, considering how things played out.

The year wasn’t wasted, though. I launched a couple of projects, and did a lot of consulting behind the scenes. I learned a lot and will go into 2012 with a solid business plan, one that would be a lot more enriching then what I had planned to do this year. I’ll be creating a paid newsletter about that particular transition. Yes, I know that they are everywhere. I’m creating this moreso for myself.

Currently, I’m on income support payments from Centrelink. I’m getting support from a Job Network. When I talked them through my condition, they recommended that I get put in the some classification I was in when I had just had a nervous breakdown. This is kinda demeaning, as I am so much better now. It made me feel defeated, but I realized that these classifications are only there so that people can get the support that they need. I may rock at this social media and community management stuff, but I will need support to enter the traditional workforce.

Ironically, I start getting a lot of interest in my work in the same week that I apply to centrelink. I have a job interview tomorrow and am talking with a few people about helping them. I got a random freelance gig.

I’m not sure where things will go from here. I’m going to see how the next month pans out. I know I’m going to actively seek work, as I believe that I need more industry experience. I’m also interested in returning to study. I feel like my career, and life, has so much potential now and that there are so many opportunities. I just have to choose what I want.

The house

I moved this year. Erg, what a stressbomb.

It took 3 months get me into the new house. Everything kept going wrong. People got extremely ill, and cars broke down. I spent a good 8 weeks without most of my clothes and books. I’d put a lot of work projects on hold during this time so it was rather frustrating.

I love my new house. It was totally worth the effort to get here.

It’s in an upmarket suburb. I never thought of myself as a suburb snob, but now I see why people pay extra to live in a nice area. I come from a poorer suburb and used to defend it vigerously. I originally wanted to buy there.Most of the people are okay. The main issue was with the buses. You would get some scummy people on the buses. They would have public fights and talk about drugs. I’m pretty relaxed when it comes to stuff, but I often felt uncomfortable. My new suburb doesn’t have that.

It’s an older suburb. It’s very green and relaxed. It has the feel of a small township. I feel a lot calmer since living here.

It is a huge block. There are possums here, and cockatoos flying overhead. I can see the community garden next door from my window.

When my nephew visits, I show him the apples and pears that are forming. We look at the bugs and dig for worms in the veggie patch.

Kyo is now an outside cat. I used to keep her inside because I was afraid that she would die if let outside. BJ was an outside cat before I got him, so I didn’t try to control that. I tried to control her. She loves it outside.

I’m really happy here and am finally able to settle into work. Well… when I’m not outside gardening or playing with the cats. I’m really, really happy.

There are two months until the end of 2011. It has been a tumultuous year – one that has brought challenges that I didn’t think I’d face. I know there are going to be more challenges over the coming months and into early next year. It will be a while before I get back on my feet.

But guess what?

I’ve had shit blow up. I’ve been placed under a lot of pressure and have had my finances fall apart. Anxiety is fear of the unknown. This year so many things happened that I couldn’t have predicted, and I responded the best way I could.

I’m happy with how I handled this year. I’ve grown up a lot and am quite proud of the person I’m becoming. I’m starting to stop defining myself by my mental illness and defining myself by what I do.

Whats up for you guys?

Launch Watch – The Accidental Success Story

I created Launch Watch on a whim. I’d just gotten a phone call saying my cat had a 50% chance of pulling through an operation. I couldn’t stop crying so bought the domain name, migrated some content over and started working on it.

Yesterday I hit 1000 visitors/month. Not bad for something I squeeze in between other projects. In this post, I’m going to share the background.

I used to work for a launch coach.

Not any launch coach – the Launch Coach. We’d come to an arrangement where I was going to work full time as part of his business. One of the initiatives we were going to work on was a concept called Launch Watch.

I’d helped set up interviews for his Lessons Learned series and they’d proven popular. I was discovering more stories then we could feasibly cover on his blog. We were going to focus on the top launches and create a destination where people would go to first when they wanted someone to cover their launch.

Thom Chambers had just launched In Treehouses and I wanted to use a similar model. Dave argued that it would take too long – some launches are over within a week. I agreed and so we decided to use custom post types, and link to the content as part of his weekly newsletter.

At Blogworld, this plan still looked like it was going ahead. Shortly after, stuff blew up and I ceased working for Dave. I had permission to use this concept but didn’t want to step on any toes, so shelved the idea.

I toyed with reviving it for 6 months

During the next 6 months or so, I hid online. I hate drama and didn’t like the fact that I was caught up in one, so tried to draw as little attention to myself as possible. A lot of my friends were coming up to me with their latest launches and initiatives but I had nowhere I could talk about them.

I didn’t want this site,, to be a collection of all that is awesome. I’d been evolving and knew this site would eventually extend beyond the business.

The goal was set. I was going to create Launch Watch… eventually.

I kinda didn’t want to launch it.

I procrastinated. The .com was taken, so I spent a while trying to come up with a new name. I had no idea what format it was going to be. I didn’t know if people would respond to it, or what type of content would resonate.

I launched it on a whim because it was the only way it would get out there. Slowly, it grew. My friends would email me with ideas about monetization, occasionally. We’d work together to cover their launch and help people in the best way possible. I was glad I procrastinated, but it meant I was very behind with my plans.

I still don’t know what I’m doing.

This is the fascinating, brilliant and inspiring thing. I am flying blind with this concept. I know it is serving a need, so I continue to do it. I got a lot of initial feedback from people saying that they loved the concept, but got very few ideas about what they specifically needed.

I love it.

I’m pushing the edges of content curation and testing an idea in the field. I did this before with digital magazines and it is so professionally satisfying.

The coming months will see experimentations with static pages listed in the sidebar, product reviews, guest contributers and launch analysis.

What I’ve learned so far:

  • Monetization will be best via the back channels. I’m making $1-200 in affiliate income so far, but it’s not worth the amount of time put into it.
  • This is a news site. Too much personality can be distracting. This means I have to work harder to justify my statements.
  • My microsites were a flop. I’m taking most of them down and shifting the content to Launch Watch.

Your thoughts?

I’d love to know what you think of the Launch Watch concept, and whether you have any ideas or suggestions. I think it has the potential to really take off.


How I Kicked Arse in 2010.

Over the past year I’ve written a number of ‘woe is me’ posts. Examples are 14 Things You Don’t Know About Me and How I screwed Up My Blog in 2009. I’m glad I did. Allowing me to get certain shit out there allowed me to push past my perceived limitations and create something awesome.

The year has been all kinds of crazy. A relative attempted suicide, domestic violence, eviction. It has been incredibly stressful and has meant that I haven’t been able to devote as much time to my work as I would have liked. But you know what?

I bloody rocked it this year. At times everything was crumbling around me and I persevered. I shone. I kept on going when my mind and body were screaming at me to give up.

In this post, I talk about the stuff I’m proud of this year. And yeah, I get a little personal. It’s who I am and I’m damn proud of the businesswoman I’m becoming. And, yes. I totally told my shrink about this post today and he’s gonna read it. Hi! ;)

I stuck with my blog for a year

I’d been blogging for about 15 months before I started smsols. I got sick and screwed up a lot and, as a result, my blog was all over the place. It didn’t help that I’d hide anytime something big happened and I got too much attention.

When we started the business, I made the promise that I would stick to the blog for a year. That was hard. Boy, was that hard. I have no problem writing for other peoples audiences but the fear is almost paralyzing when it comes to writing on this one. It really freaks me out when people like David Risley and Jonathan Fields comment on here. So much that I usually shout at the laptop and have to pace around the house to calm down.

Despite the struggles, I did it. I didn’t make any major changes. I built upon previous successes. I participated in the community. It was freaking hard to do so considering the demands on my time but it’s something I’m glad I did. Writing for your own audience is harder than writing for someone elses and it was a skill that I needed to learn.

I stopped hiding from success

Hide and Seek 112/365

Image by SashaW

Earlier in the year, I paid $200 for a consulting session from Charlie Gilkey. I used to live on less then this each week so it represented a huge investment in my mind. I expected it to be a life changing experience where I would figure everything out. It didn’t.

What he did do was point out a number of things I was doing wrong and give several suggestions on how to change things. One of the suggestions was to stop shooting myself in the foot and hiding from change.

Now, change is a huge trigger. Change can leave me cowering under the bedsheets and crying down the phone to Bill, my parents or whatever telemarketer that has the misfortune to interrupt me. I dislike it, even when the change is good.

After that call with Charlie, I stopped hiding from change. I went to Vegas. I participated in a vanity publication. I constantly improved my blog and took up brilliant opportunities. It was scary and it challenged my anxiety at the very basic level. It made me physically sick and even triggered some serious symptoms like suicidal fantasies and thoughts of self mutilation.

I had the support of good friends and a mental health team and was able to get through the change. It was a necessary part of my recovery and taught me many skills. Now stuff changes faster than I can keep up with it and I’m fine. Amazing opportunities happen and I’m excited, but have to delay the happiness until I have time to slow down. It’s a fascinating contrast compared to I was just 6 months ago.

This puts me in a brilliant position for next year. I know there will be amazing opportunities coming up and I’ll be in the right mindset to take advantage of them. I’m really glad I took a slower path than many of my peers.

I embraced  jealousy

I’m very insecure. My anxiety disorder can be crippling, and I get really pissed off at how it interferes with my work. As such, I envy many of my peers.

  • I’m jealous of the energy Mars Dorian injects into every post.
  • I’m jealous of how Annabel Candy is able to be everywhere, despite having a husband and children
  • I’m jealous of how Catherine Caine is so brilliant at being positive and structuring a business around her brilliance
  • I’m jealous of how when people find out about me, they usually contact Bill for design work because I have no clear service offerings

I don’t think this is something I’ll be able to get over for some and I’m cool with it. It’s not them I’m annoyed with, it’s myself, and that is something I have to deal with. Instead of fixating on how annoyed I am, though, I now choose to analyze the reason for my jealous. Often, it can lead to little improvements.

And yeah – I’m still jealous of the people above. I no longer hate them for their successes, which makes blogging a lot funner.

I learned how to love.

Image by seyed mostafa zamani

One of the things that happened during my nervous breakdown was that I lost the capacity to love. I used to think something was wrong with me in that I didn’t feel anything for people. Then, as I started to rebuild friendships, I thought as I was asexual as the idea of sex horrified me and made me want to punch people in the face. I thought relationships were asinine and something that weak people did because they couldn’t handle stuff on their own. Boy, was I wrong.

I haven’t told you the story of why Bill and I created Social Media Solutions. I fell in love with him and he didn’t love me back. He was all ‘Dude, friendship. What we have is awesome and I’m not wrecking that.’ And he was totally right – I’m glad he did it. The friendship is brilliant and I love that dude, platonically, to bits.

At the time though, I saw it as sheer rejection. I had dropped all my friendships when I was ill and Bill was moving 3000km away. We caught up at a nature reserve near his house and I cried, saying I was scared that he’d just drop the friendship when my anxiety was too hard to deal with and that I wanted him to be part of my life for a long time. He reassured me and has continued to reassure me all year. Letting someone into my life was one of the hardest things I have ever done. The trust built through this time led me to pitch the idea of the business, which he accepted.

Then, quite recently, an old friend came into my life. He was going through personal stuff around the same time I was and had also retreated socially. We caught up, geeked out, and are now dating. This is my first serious relationship and is a huge step for me.

Even though he broke my heart, Bill is the guy I have to thank for this. He supported me through one of the hardest times of my life and has continued to support me. The business is going through a huge growth phase. I’m in a relationship and have my shit together. Learning how to love, and the different types of love, is the thing that I am most proud of accomplishing.

So – what am I up to in 2011?

  • I’m redesigning the blog. I want to make the focus on my work rather than my social media presence
  • I’m going to get back into guest posting. I’ll be contacting people I’ve promised posts too however if you’d like one, or an interview, now is the time to contact me.
  • I’m going to focus more on giving back to the community. This includes talking more about my anxiety disorder.
  • I’m going to focus on sites and products for the Australian social media market. I believe some of my projects will really be able to help people.

There is a load of other stuff. Stuff I can’t really talk about because the ideas are still fermenting. See you in a month!

Jade’s Jetlagged recap of blogworld

Back. In Australia. I swear – I’m NEVER going overseas again without stocking up on Australian food beforehand.

I’ve been home for 24 hours and my mind is full of blogworld awesomeness. This post is going to be less of a ‘lessons learned’ and more of a ‘stuff I did’ post. This is for those who, like my parents and best friend, heard about the funny and interesting parts but didn’t get the full story of what I was up to. Let the tales of insanity begin…

Dave Work: Change of game plan

The original reason for me attending was to be Dave Navarro’s networking assistant. I worked hard before hand to make sure that when he got there, he would be able to take time off to relax and just hang out with his friends and readers. I sent emails, wrote descriptions of the people we would catch up with and gave suggestions of stuff he could do when meeting certain people. I’d planned it so that he could get cool media (videos and such) to help his audience yet also meet with the people that were his biggest fans. It was going to be awesome.

Then he decided to go AWOL.

Kidding – he actually met up with Naomi Dunford and realized that this would be the only uninterrupted time the both of them would have to talk about business strategy. They decided to take advantage of it. I respect that. It freaked me out that my costs were covered and I was – gasp – allowed to do exactly what I would have done if I had paid for my own expenses, but I still was able to do a lot for Dave. I found out about new projects his audience may be interested in and was able to talk about his work to my friends that were readers.

I know that this was the right decision for them because they showed me some of their plans. I would totally share them with you if I could just remember which ones I had permission to leak. Trust me – those two are going to really play a much bigger game next year. And, it was good for me to learn how to handle an event like this without having someone around to make me feel safer. I had to trust that I would be fine in social situations and I was. At least until the jetlag hit.

Jetlag makes my anxiety worse.

Seriously. Who needs to drink alcohol when you can make a total arse of yourself just with sleep deprivation. I was fine the first night. I’d spent 35+ or so hours travelling and was able to catch up with David Risley, Nathan Hangen, Dave and Chris Guthrie on the first night at New York, New York. I was knackered but it was so worth it – I learned that I had no reason to be scared of bloggers who have considerably more authority then me.

On the Wednesday night, I left a party crying because I was so overwhelmed. I called Bill and cried, saying I just wanted to go home. On the Thursday I ended up vomiting meters away from the room the Problogger party was being held in. This was humiliating but also very humbling. I learned that my anxiety disorder is multifaceted. I can be fine emotionally but if I ignore the warnings my body will let me know. It works the other way. I can feel exhausted emotionally and if I ignore the warnings, my body will play up. This may lead me to walk down the Vegas strip publicly crying.

I was fine on most of the other days. I learned to listen to what I was feeling, physically and mentally, and retreat to my hotel room when I needed a break. I learned not to feel guilty for being unable to spend every waking moment with friends or learning about blogging.

It’s stupid to try and pretend I’m superwoman. I’m not. I worked so hard in the months leading up to blogworld and surprisingly, the event was the trigger I needed to take a step back and just care for me.

I didn’t think it was possible to be so happy when surrounded by people.

I hung with the same crowd most of the time and I loved it. I felt so safe and loved, and I felt so peaceful being able to see how my work helps people. I figured out that I was more of a matchmaker then a connector and that the compulsion to connect is evenstronger in real life.

I realized the main thing that inspires me to connect is how much goodness I can see in that person. I’m always talking about Srinivas Rao, Ali Hale, Catherine Caine and, before employment, Dave Navarro. I did that because I could see a goodness in them and wanted to help the world see their talents. I’m kinda blessed in having a dodgy brain. My anxiety means that I can see considerably more steps ahead then most people are capable of. This allows me to see the impact certain actions of mine will have.

Something a lot of people asked me was to list who I was keeping my eye on. I was too jetlagged to think of suitable names at the time, so I’m going to kill two birds with one stone and write about those I met and the logic, or lack thereof, behind the friendship.

Karol Gadja

When I first met Karol I was intimated because not only has he accomplished so much at his young age, he is also rather tall. Seriously – we tried to shoot a video and couldn’t fit us both in the frame. I felt at ease around him quickly though. He is a lovely guy and quite the gentleman – he helped me carry stuff when finding a spot to shoot our video.

This is proof that you can’t starfuck with me. I decided Karol was awesome when I discovered that he was in Geelong the day we (the Geelong Cats) won the AFL grand final. The fact that he knew, and had been to, my home town was enough to make me feel comfortable enough to ask more about his work. While he was in Australia, he went to the Marketing Now conference. Three of the people that attended – Darren Rowse, myself and Emma Merkas – were also at Blogworld. More surprisingly, the only people he remembered was Emma and Darren. He is brilliant, inspiring and someone I’m looking forward to getting to know.

Traci Love

I was meaning to contact Traci about paid work (she offered to hire me) but failed to do to way too many work commitments. I promised myself that I would make it back to her when at Blogworld. I certainly did.

I connected her with Dave. He was really impressed with the fact that she implemented the recommendations he had given. She showed him a copy of her free book on her ipad and he was incredibly impressed. She also had a print copy of that book that she showed us. I helped her find some inspirational people for an interview project for her site. She’s going to be interviewed for Blogcast FM. She also happened to call the moment I gave the phone back to Dave, so she had Naomi Dunford answer the phone.

She has some awesome stuff coming up. If I hadn’t talked to her before hand, she’d totally be in the new discoveries section.

Clay Collins

Dave had told me about how awesome Clay was but all I saw was the aura of super-geniousness that surrounded his work. I was too intimidated to talk to him.

Then we hung out over the Wednesday and I learned just how cool the guy was :-) I don’t remember why – I just remember feeling like this guy is someone who will be accomplishing so much during 2011. And, I felt like I had to tell you that.

Sid Savara

Sid. I was hesitant about meeting him. I learned you shouldn’t base your opinions of people on how long and confusing the tagline for their blog is.

Sid is hilarious. Again, I can’t remember why I like him due to jetlag however I will always remember the banana I stole from him. Seriously, Vegas fails at fresh fruit.

Srinivas Rao

I rave about Srini online a lot. I’ve also heard about who he wants to connect with and what he wants to accomplish. Therefore – I had a challenge.

I connected him with some pretty kick arse people. I also learned just how much faith he places in my recommendations. He is also so fun to hang around. I always knew that he was awesome but I had never experienced it up close. He is totally the type of person I want as part of my inner circle – the people I trust and respect and want to keep in touch with because they make me feel happy.

There will be some fabulous interviewees appearing on BlogcastFM in the coming months. There will be awesome stuff coming from Srini. He is one smart guy and works hard.

Thursday Bram

Thursday seems so formal and serious online. She told me that her mum follows her twitter so I understood. I’m different in real life too because I’m on ‘mum manners’ online.

But seriously – she is so freakin’ awesome.Words can not explain it. She is smart and has a wicked sense of humour. Her hair is purple and her husband likes taking apart napkins. She is someone I think I’ll become really good friends with.

Andy Hayes

Andy is even more nice in person – we totally went on an ice cream date. The fact that it was actually frozen yoghurt is a tiny detail. Andy has been a huge part of keeping me on track this year and I felt so happy to be able to tell him that.

I did meet many others. Corbett Barr, Adam Baker, Erica Douglass, Sean Platt, Jonathan Fields, Deb Ng, Darren Rowse and many, many more. I just didn’t want this post to turn into a name dropping one. The people I met were awesome. I’ll be writing about their projects and sharing their stories in the coming months.

New discoveries

As soon as I learned that I wouldn’t be helping out Dave, my brain switched gears. I decided that I wanted to take advantage of the situation and learn as much about the awesome stuff as possible. I succeeded in my challenge.

However these will have to wait until a future post. This draft has sat in front of my computer for three days, untouched. I had such a blast at Blogworld and wanted to let people know that, but I’m currently unable to write about it as thoroughly as I’d like. Know that I’ll be talking about many of the people and information featured – and include pictures and links – in future posts.

Networking to the next level: How I’m going to blogworld

Some of you guys know that two months ago, Dave Navarro asked me if I’d be his networking assistant. As you’d expect, I was all ‘oh noes I can’t do that.’ Huzzah for excessive modesty.

This has led to a lot of questions – some of which are answered in this post. It’s also the perfect opportunity to talk about this awesome product Catherine Caine and I have created.

So! Onto the awesometasticness!

How did it happen?

In July, after getting denied for a bank loan (thank you, self employment), I made the difficult decision to cancel BlogWorld. For the first time this year I was able to take an honest look at my workload, and budget, and realize that I didn’t have the energy to pull off what was required to attend.

I tweeted about it, had a bit of a cry, and went back to work.

Later that night, Dave Navarro asked to speak with my honestly about what it would take to get to BlogWorld. This conversation was brutal on my end because I am a very proud person. I don’t like mixing personal and business. I won’t get into the content of the conversation however I was pretty adamant that I don’t accept charity. Dave was equally as adamant that this was a business opportunity and it would be win/win.

This was offered to me because my work has proven to be an asset to Dave over the past year. I really want to write about what an honour this is and how I am enjoying the work I do, but that isn’t useful for you guys. Instead, I’ll be blogging about the specific skills that make me stand out as a networker and how you can position yourself as someone that is extremely useful.

My name is Jade Craven and I’m going to Vegas.

The AWESOME news is that Dave will be covering my travel expenses in return for me being his networking assistant. This will require a lot of work before, during, and after the event.

I do want to clarify that this won’t be an easy gig. There is a reason I rock at what I do . We haven’t yet had the chance to formally talk about strategies but I have a fair idea of what I’ll be doing. Networking at a conference is really hard work and a lot of the hard work will be shifted onto me so Dave can do what he rocks as.

I’m really looking forward to it. I’m brilliant at what I do but, because of my obscurity, am unable to see if my theories on a larger scale.

So – what makes me appealing as a networking assistant?

I know who he should be talking to

Dave is busy. Like, really busy. Most of our conversations happen around midnight his time when he’s starting to feel exhausted.

Checking out people takes a lot of time. There are so many tiny aspects of filtering the information. I check who they are talking to, what they are writing about and whether their business style aligns with Dave’s.

Here are some examples of how I made it easier:

  • Corbett Barr shows a lot of social proof in the sidebar of Think Traffic. However, I didn’t even have to look there to recommend him. I’d had several friends speak positively of him and he demonstrated his authority via the tone of his email. The week after, they created a podcast.
  • Another example is when Srinivas Rao commented on Henri Junttila’s post, and mentioned how he wanted to interview Dave. He was doing a launch and didn’t have the time to go back and check the posts so I sent Dave there and recommended he approach Srinivas. It’s amusing now because Srini approached me shortly after for an interview without knowing the connection.
  • I’d recommend people to feature as a Lessons Learned case study. This was awesome because it meant some of the less famous people were featured and was able to show that you don’t need to have a huge empire to have a success launch.

These activities were incredibly easy for me because I have created processes for people to keep me up to date. It saved Dave a significant about of time. This will be beneficial at BlogWorld because:

  • I can help set up interviews and testimonials. I know the people that have bought Dave’s content and were able to successfully create a product. I also know of unique interview topics tailored to that persons situation.
  • I have a solid idea of the products and launches that are going on in the industry, and in other verticals. This means I can save the chit chat and connect Dave with people that he could really help, and then leave a good impression on.
  • I’m going to be doing cheat sheets on some of the people we’ll be talking to. Some of these will include inside information.

I can help facilitate the conversations

When bloggers of two different tiers get together, the initial conversation can be stilted. This is something Catherine and I discussed in our new super-awesome product.

I’m the type of chick that is good friends with bloggers and people at all levels of success. I see them as the person they are, as opposed how much authority they are perceived to have. This makes it easy for me to walk up and have a conversation with them about their kids, hobbies or projects.

Additionally, I encourage people to talk to me about their projects via various backchannels. I’ll ask about ways I can help, and to learn more about what they are doing. This means that when I introduce two people, I can present the information in a way that they’ll be instantly interested in the other person.

This is awesome for me because it means I get to network passively – I’ll be remembered, but I won’t be the centre of attention. I’m really looking forward to attending for this purpose.

It’s also good for Dave and the people that I’m connecting him too. I can bypass the initial ‘get to know you’ stage and encourage conversations that will be memorable.

If you aren’t buddy/buddy with a lot of people like I am, you can make the conversation easier in the following ways:

  • Engage with them on twitter beforehand. When I met Jonathan Fields he said “I know that face” which really shocked me.
  • Try and figure out what topics make their heart sing. In the case of Dave, if you stalk him on Twitter it’s pretty obvious he loves his Halo music.
  • Get something signed. I’m an autograph collector and this a useful way to get someone’s attention for a couple of minutes – AND you get an autographed book!

I’ll help record the conversations

This is the part of conferences that is always a pain in the arse. I kinda love being the photo girl because I get to hang out behind the scenes but will capture the stuff that people remember forever.

I’ll be collecting and uploading interviews, testimonials, photos and other media as part of my job. I’ll even be able to sneak in a few tips on good questions to ask.

This is awesome because Dave doesn’t know all the random stuff that I do. He may not remember the many gushing emails he gets about his product in a weekend challenge. I do, and in many cases will have checked out the product. This is going to make for some brilliant conversations to share with people.

14 things you (probably) don’t know about me

This post is part updating you on some of the awesome stuff that has been happening, and part giving an insight into the stuff that doesn’t fit into my normal blog posts.

This content is somewhat heavy on my mindset as I continue my recovery from anxiety. I really want to kick arse over the next year and to do that, I’m going to have to do some hard work to overcome my insecurities. And the first thing I can do is own them :-)

1. I am going to Blogworld as Dave Navarro’s Networking Assistant.

The flights are now booked. I’m going to Vegas, baby.

Seriously though, this situation happened by accident. I’ve always been a person that makes a decision and assumes they’ll figure out the details later. I’d been planning to go to Blogworld all year but in June I took stock of my finances and it wasn’t pretty. I had just moved and my savings were gone. I decided to sacrifice the ticket cost and just put it down to a lesson learned.

Shortly after tweeting about it, Dave approached me to help out. He would cover my expenses in return for helping him out before, during and after the conference. I’ll be his second brain – taking pictures, uploading interviews and doing the behind the scenes stuff that will help him rock it.

I’m honoured at this opportunity and I’m also terrified. I’m also really uncomfortable with the fact that someone values me skills that much, but it is something I’ll have to overcome if I want to succeed.

2. I don’t like selling because I don’t think I am worth it

Yeah. This has been one of the hardest things to overcome and putting out my first product has been great in this respect. I’ve had so many people buy, and then give positive feedback, when my initial reaction was to refund the money because they were friends and I would have just given a review copy.

I’m doing a joint product and the thing that excites me most is that I can do the creation and my JV partner can do the selling. I wish I could do more projects like this to help me deal with the mental ‘oh noes’ cycle.

3. I love Bill to bits but we are not a couple

This is a question that I have been asked a lot and I feel like it needs addressing. Not because there is anything to hide but because he has been the best friend I’ve ever had. Seriously, I don’t think Bill gets enough praise for what he has done for me.

I have a severe mental illness. I’ve pushed most people out of my life because it is so much easier when you aren’t constantly doubting/hating yourself in social situations. I have tried to ‘ditch’ Bill on multiple occasions but he hasn’t let me. He’s been there through the awful shit during the past year when I was unable to work. He’s talked me through panic attacks. He let me cry on his couch when I stayed up there because I was so burnt out. He has put up with a lot of my crap in the past year and I love him so freakin’ much for just being there and not giving up on me. I logically can’t understand why he hasn’t given up, but I am really appreciative that he has stuck it out because we’ve had some awesome times.

It is not a good idea though to ask him to tone down our public immaturity. He’ll then remind you of how you tweeted about your theory of creating a race of cat people like in Doctor Who. Then, on the same day when someone asks if he is your husband, you’ll get asked if you are cracking onto someone because you are talking to a red head about your desire to create the ultimate ginge (again based on Doctor Who)

4. I really am that obsessed with ice cream

In particular, chocolate paddlepops. Rainbow is rather nice. I’m rather fickle about my flavours and usually eat them before a phone call. No, Annabel, I don’t eat them all the time :-P

5. I feel like I’m living a double life and it makes me really uncomfortable.

Last month, I was really freaking out. I felt detached and weird and it was making me feel ill. I quickly realized that it was because of the dissonance between my online, and offline, lives. Online I kinda kick arse. I’m not as successful as many of my peers but I have a passionate audience and have accomplished some great things. I have some brilliantly, talented people that I am proud to call friends.

Offline, I’m recovering from a debilitating mental illness. I struggle to manage everything in my personal life. My friendships are plagued with self doubt. I have to take time off due to dramas, and to deal with my symptoms. I am poor, by choice, as I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself. It is a total contrast to my blogging career.

I thought there was something wrong with me until I met Jonathan Fields and he confirmed it was normal. It is something I think I will struggle with for some time but will get used to the changes as I prepare to up my game.

6. I don’t care about most of my successes. Seriously.

Last week I paid $200 for a consult with Charlie Gilkey. (Honestly, I think this freaked my parents out more than me. I was like $200? Small change for what Charlie can accomplish)

We were talking about my lack of about page and how I just don’t know what to put on there. I tried to think of cool stuff that I had done but I just couldn’t think of any. Gilkey said that it was noticable that I hide after every success. In his words, an extreme (even when positive) reaction results in an extreme stressor. And it’s true. The reason I don’t feel very successful is because every time I pull of something brilliant, I get a tonne of email and requests for help. Because I care so darn much, I pour everything into helping everyone who asked.

I am proud of what I have accomplished and I plan to work on how to handle success without freaking out.

If anyone can help with stuff to put on that about page though I’d be so gosh darn appreciative.

7. When I get attention (online or offline) it triggers an anxiety reaction.

I have been to two local events where I have received a shout out from an A-List blogger. I dislike it. It feels nice however on both occasions it made me want to vomit. The reaction is worse when I’m already in an anxious state – which I am when in a packed room full of bloggers!

Online it is rather tame. It mostly triggers a negative thought spiral. Fortunately, by hiding online somewhat you can restrict the amount of people that will write about you :-)

8. I am actually rather good at this connecting stuff

I always thought that my skills were just lucky breaks – several lucky breaks. That seemed to happen rather regularly. Oh shush, I was depressed for most of last year.

Anyhoo, I didn’t really know how good I was until I started working for Dave and created my business with Bill. Sometimes clients will go to Bill asking for recommendations. He’ll come to me, and I’ll send a few names, and he’ll sometimes be like ‘woah’ at how I just know so many random people.

With Dave – several of people that have contacted me have somehow entered my, or bills, sales funnel. I’ll tell someone that Dave is unavailable for interview and then offer alternate suggestions. Most people are genuinely happy and I invite them to talk to me about other stuff should they want or need to. It’s kinda surreal.

9. Anxiety makes me a better person but I genuinely do hate myself.

I think I’m worthless. A piece of shit. I don’t see the point in talking about it because to me, this thought cycle is just as real as the grass is green. I can recognize that it is wrong and work with my support team (doctor and psychologist) to get better but it is my reality.

I’m only mentioning it so that people will know that my humility isn’t me talking myself down. It’s me attempting to talk myself out of my cycle of self loathing. And this, I believe, is what makes people resonate with me. They see me for who I am, my flaws, and see that I’m just someone trying to make their mark on this crazy online world.

10. Birds make my heart sing

I’ve been obsessed with birds ever since I was a kid. Specifically, parrots. I can even narrow it down to different genera of parrots but no, Jade. Don’t be a geek.

I’m the type of chick that will travel to the top of the country, at great expense, just to see a palm cockatoo in the wild. My cairns holiday was based around my desire to go to Birdworld again and I chose to stay in Kuranda because of the proximity to Birdworld.

Currently, I’m obsessed with the red tailed black cockatoo. Beautiful markings and call. Bill played a recording of red tails when I crashed at his place during our Holiday and I nearly wet my pants. He fails.

11. I am doing a JV product on networking and it scares the shit out of me.

I was fine with my previous launch being low key because my primary goal was to get over my mental crap, rather then make a huge income. This time, my goal is to blow people away with what I can accomplish in 40 days.

I’m terrified on so many levels. Can I work this hard without getting sick again? Can I put myself, and the product, out there to be judged? Will I make my JV partner proud?

This is worse than going to BlogWorld in terms of fear. It’s a challenge I’m really enjoying though. I know it will make me sick but it many ways, it will force me to grow up when it comes to a lot of business issues. It will help me learn more about myself without the full attention being on me. I also really think I can do the topic justice :-) I’d love to know if you have any ideas or feedback on this.

12. I want to take marketing concepts and apply them to the blogging world.

This has become a recent obsession of mine and one that seems to resonate with a lot of people. I’ll take bits and pieces from my favourite business books and rearrange the principles so that they work from an inbound marketing perspective.

This has been really effective. I’ve noticed that, as a result, a LOT of people are buying the books I recommend. This actually freaks me out because not everyone processes information the same way I do and may not enjoy it as much.

13. I spend way too much time on the Cheezburger blogs.

Bill once said that for someone that has no intention of having a wedding, I sure to think about them a lot. No. Not weddings. Parties where you have a marching band, dress relatives in hilarious clothing and then do bowling with flippers and binoculars.

It may be possible that my two year old nephew can now say fail and that its a permanent fixture in my vocabulary.

14. I’ve increased my med dosage because I want to be able to play a bigger game.

Right now, I’m mentally exhausted. I have to tell Bill to avoid topics because I have no energy to cope. Today, my doctor agreed to trail an increase of Effexor.

This… what I’m doing now isn’t sustainable. My workload (15-20 hours a week) is making me physically sick. This isn’t the time spent listening, and talking. This is the time spent on the stuff that requires a lot of concentration and focus.

I have made a lot of progress in the last year and I’m stoked at how far I have come. However in the past 6 months I have noticed limitations that I haven’t been able to push through using willpower and the techniques I’ve been taught.

This is daunting. There is the risk it will have no effect or that I will suffer from side effects. However I want to kick arse and be able to reach my potential. It is time to try to see if I can get well enough to accomplish everything I want to do over the next 18 months.

Behind The Scenes: 50 Netsetters Post

Late last week I wrote a post as part of The Netsetter relaunch called 50 Netsetters You Should Know About. This was a paid project for Envato but it was so much fun. For me, it was an experiment that I felt would pay off and it did. If this post, I just wanted to share a bit of the background story so people could understand the processes and sheer hard work that goes into creating an epic post.

The background.

I was approached to create buzz surrounding the relaunch by Joel from Envato. Skellie, who I idolize, recommended me, and Envato is probably my favourite company. I was so ecstatic to be approached and pitched the idea of this post. I did the 30 Bloggers To Watch post 6 months ago and while that was successful, I had wanted to try some of the new techniques I had learned.

For full disclosure, the original job offer was to build awareness and create buzz. I pitched this post because so I could start the conversation and continue it when people decided to take it elsewhere. It was a non icky way to be useful and earn money. I’ve put in way more hours then the original brief but that’s cool, because this is how I work.

Then I heard my Pitch got accepted. I had four days to complete it, and had an amazingly hectic real life schedule between then and the deadline. Eek.

My approach

Creating segments

The five areas you see weren’t part of the original post. That was just a method for me to keep track of people in my head to make sure the list didn’t become too incestuous.

I quickly realized that it made the post so much more useful. The individual sections helped people continue the conversations in the comments. Many people in the support team group were especially grateful that someone drew attention to their work.

If you are considering creating a list, I’d look at how you can segment it into groups. And, within each segment, look at ways you can shine the spotlight on people who aren’t normally talked about.

Focus on people from different hubs

I discovered the concept of hubs in Emanuel Rosens brilliant book ‘Buzz‘ but had trouble finding a good definition. A good example from the book was someone that was connected to a lot of different clusters and “served as an information broker amongst these different groups.”

Now, if you apply that to an online setting then you are looking for someone that dabbles in multiple niches. They can have the majority of their influence in once niche but have the skills to identify the right people to approach in other areas.

I’m a hub. That’s what makes me kick arse. However, if you talk about people who are members of multiple clusters then you increase the chances of the post being sneezed beyond your own.

This sounds market-y and a bit icky, but it is possible to do it in a way that helps them. In my case, I placed them in a list amongst their peers and idols. They wanted to share it out of the sheer joy of being acknowledged. And, that was my intention with creating this list. I wanted to test my theory of hubs but I wanted to make people happy.

Do you know people that are friends outside of your niche? If you, touch base with them to see if there are ways you can work together and help each other.

Identify the people that aren’t being talked about

There are some brilliant people out there that aren’t being talked about because they aren’t easy to label, or are hidden gems. I know many of these and, where appropriate, am helping them out. One is BlogcastFM.

This is very effective because in most cases, the people are very grateful. It opens up the dialogue and opportunities to collaborate. It also means that people are willing to sneeze it because they are genuinely happy at finding new role models and people to engage with. Those people will then start to talk to you to find more cool resources and even send you tips of cool stuff to share.

The good stuff

I got a lot of social credibility

I got this gig on a very short notice and had a tight deadline. I was more worried about doing the right thing about Envato then how it would affect me. That meant that when the GilkMeister emailed me to ask me what I planned to do now, I genuinely had no idea. I’d just moved, been sick and had a depressive episode. I haven’t had the time to focus on the next phase of my business.

My short term goal is to build up the relationships with some of the people who now know who I am. I also want to strengthen the ones with good friends who I haven’t talked to in a while. Today I got to speak on the phone with Annabel Candy and that was awesome.

I got to test crazy theories

I read a lot of marketing books and I’m always trying to find cool techniques traditionally used by big businesses with the budget for viral campaigns. What I loved is that I was able to take knowledge from a book – a simple 300 page book – and create a post that has echoed around the blogosphere. I have learned so much and can’t wait to test more theories with future guest posts.

The Hard Stuff

I couldn’t play favourites.

There were so many people that I wanted to include. Lavonne Ellis, Siobhan Bulfin, Natalie Peluso. I felt really bad because I would have loved to be able to share them with people from other hubs, but I didn’t want it to be a list of people I liked.

I also had to be careful what communities I picked people from. I excluded some people because I had a lot from that paid community or even the country.

I wanted to create a list that was so useful that people would be coming back to it for months. I want people to discover brilliant minds and resources that could help them. This meant that many people couldn’t go on it but that’s fine. I’m a sneezer by trade and I always find ways to share the awesomeness.

It was hard to step back and let the conversation happen naturally

This was a paid gig so even though I was immensely proud of my work, I had to step back from the conversation. I am very, very careful about what I share and do not want to compromise the relationship I have with those that follow my work.

I did sneakily tell a few people about it. People like Annabel and Catherine. My motivation there was to unburden a secret moreso then create pre-launch buzz. I was very fortunate in that most of the craziness happened while I was asleep.

Now that the initial buzz has died down, I am able to step in and help continue the conversation. Pat Flynn had a fascinating post on his blog and I added a few insights there. Other people are creating projects based on this and I’ve been in email contact with them.

I’ve exceeded the paid hours so I’m allowed to do this is a fan, rather than a client. I truly believe that this is where the awesomeness begins.

Was it worth it?

Gosh yes. On so many levels. It was awesome to wake up to so many positive tweets, emails and comments. It has given me a lot of material for my own business and has inspired me to think bigger.

I would recommend that anybody creates a list but only if the list serves a purpose other than attention. Create something so darn useful that people feel compelled to share.

If you have any questions or want to share your own experiences, I’d love to hear them.

Lessons from a failed launch

I may be *this* close to hyperventilating. I just checked our stats, and since its release we have sold 40 copies of the e-course. In total, $880 USD.

I find this hilarious. We “launched” on May 8th and it flopped in just about every way possible. It hurt at the time but was so important to the growth of our business.

I was uncomfortable with all elements of selling and starting a mailing list. I decided that I was going to have an anti launch and take the internet marketing world by storm by showing that you don’t need a huge strategy to rock the sales.

Despite my defiance, I knew there was a good chance I would fail. I knew this was important for learning. It wasn’t enough for Dave Navarro to repeatedly tell me I needed a list. I needed to experience a launch cycle without the list and learn how to sell without it making me feel physically ill.

This post deals with some of key lessons we’ve learned.

High Profile Coverage Will Not Lead to an Influx of Sales.


Photo by reintjedevos

I already knew this as I had done several product reviews on Problogger and TwiTip. I am friends with Darren and usually knew the product creator so I was able to get an insight into how it converted.

I recently did a Problogger guest post called The Unmissable Secret of Long Term Blogging Success. I included both a link to my email list and the course in the footer of the post.

We’ve had a significant increase in the newsletter subscribers but only one sale. That’s cool, and expected. Part of low key marketing is that it is low key. I had a couple of people email me saying that they’d been told to check me out, but the guest post cinched it.

I’ve always done guest posts for the networking benefits and this was the first one I did for potential sales. It didn’t convert but that was just part of my experiment. I could have done many things to improve the odds including providing a tighter call to action or making it the sole focus of that section.

I have this technique convert rather well for other bloggers. They usually include a custom discount code for that audience and include a call to action. I had planned to do this but had made a number of errors with discounts and decided that it didn’t fit with my marketing style.

I’m going to continue guest posting but won’t seek out high profile blogs. I’ll seek out blogs of friends which allow me to experiment with my style. Sales are now a secondary goal but I find the less I focus on them, the more I make.

What I’ve learned:

  • Make your first priority helping people. If people feel like they are being used, they will ignore your message. No matter how awesome it is.
  • If you really want to increase sales, give the readers a reason to buy. Provide an incentive and a compelling reason to buy.

A Mailing List Isn’t Necessary

half-closed mailboxImage by s-t-r-a-n-g-e

None of these sales have come from the mailing list. Some have come from interviews and guest posts. Many are people those that I have helped via Twitter and email and are looking for ways to support my work. However just because its not necessary, doesn’t mean that you aren’t leaving money on the table.

The problem with ignoring a mailing list is that you are missing out on that initial boost of sales. This isn’t just good for the pocket – its good for the ego AND it’s good business. More buyers results in more potential affiliates. More people who could opt into other sales messages.

Selling, and mailing lists, doesn’t have to be sleazy. It is scary but I recommend getting over the fear. I just hit 110 newsletter subscribers and love the level of engagement I get with you guys. I’ll be creating and releasing more products via the list. My primary focus will be to help but I will start drawing attention to my paid products.

What I’ve learned:

  • Mailings lists aren’t scary. However, there is nothing wrong with avoiding a mailing list altogether for a launch. You will limit potential income but you will earn so much more just by taking action. If it is the list that is preventing you from taking action, then focus on it post launch.

I Didn’t Ask People to Write About It.

Man Writing by

Image by

When most people launch a product, they coordinate a group of people to talk about it. They provide incentives, review copies and suggested tweets. I didn’t have anything like that.

I intentionally tried to avoid the ‘buzz’ element. When other people do this, they usually have a significant price rise that encourages people to buy. I didn’t want to make people feel rushed so stood clear from these methods.

I chose not to do this because I didn’t have the energy to coordinate something that huge. I felt that if someone wanted to talk about it, they would. People are now starting to talk about it but it took a lot of time to build up traction. And, rather than talk about the product, people are talking about my personal approach to blogging and how they resonate with what I’m doing.

Now, this isn’t to say these techniques aren’t worth doing. Many people are able to do this tastefully and, along with a mailing list, it does lead to a significant influx in sales. I chose to go with my gut rather than what the industry was doing and I believe this worked for me.

What I’ve learned:

  • Stories sell. I didn’t see it, but there are a number of elements to my story that help improve my authority. Pushing through the anxiety disorder is one of them.
  • You can empower other people to  create the buzz. I did a brutally honest interview with Ije Ude about my struggles, and a really casual podcast with Catherine Caine. Both were talked about in blogs and forums during a time when I was unable to be online much.

Don’t Touch Discounts Unless you Know what you are Doing

Step right up...Image by camkage

I assumed that since all the retail stores offline used discounts that it was ok for me to do so. And it is – there certainly isn’t anything negative about it. The problem is that in a retail situation there are multiple people selling your product. They can do whatever they like to attract customers.

As soon as you start offering discounts, you devalue your product. People buy because of people and will be upset at the particular person if you knowingly let them purchase a product when they have a promotion elsewhere.

I did discounts as an experiment and they worked. People responded to them on the twitter landing page and in forums. They are useful as an incentive.

I had one lovely person contact me, kindly pointing out that they’d bought the product on good faith and asking if they could take advantage of the discount I provided after they had bought the course. I had felt uneasy about discounts for a while and this cinched it. I removed most of them and will be researching them heavily before using them again.

What I’ve learned:

  • If you are going to provide a discount, make it no more than 5-10%.
  • If you have a promotion planned with a significant discount, let your list/readers know in advance.

How are things now?

We make a couple of sales a week dependent on my promotional activities. I haven’t done many guest posts this year, nor do I really publicize what I do. I feel that the sales will increase as others start to talk about me more.

I know I made a lot of mistakes during my launch process but I am very glad that I did it the way I did. My goal was to get as much practical experience as possible and this was achieved.

I’ve changed my style somewhat during this process. I plan to offer products that target a small group of my readers covering topics that no-one else has heard of. I’m not sure if they will be as successful as a generalist product like this one but, well, you only learn by getting out there and giving it a go.

Over to you:

What are your experiences with product launches? Have you turned mistakes into learning experiences?

From the trenches: Newsletter edition

We’ve officially had the Blog Networking Tips newsletter for a month. It has been a huge learning curve but, surprisingly, it has also been really fun. We’ve reached 72 subscribers with very little promotion. This is awesome for someone that doesn’t have an incentive or pop up.

This post covers some of the little lessons I’ve learned over the past month. I’d recommend setting up a newsletter just for the learning experience. Taking action doesn’t compare to just reading about it.

Conversational writing translates really well in emails

One of my concerns with building an email list was that I disliked hype laden emails. I wanted to write something that is friendly but didn’t know how that fit in with all the pitches I was getting in my inbox.

I decided that I’d wing it. I’d go with my gut and would let the audience tell me what they disliked. This method resonated with me as I had trouble finding an email style that resonated with me. This risk paid off.

When I wrote my last email about moving, I got a lot of responses from people with support and advice. I got two emails congratulating me on my writing style saying that they normally don’t respond to emails.

I’m sure I’m probably breaking the rules as I’m learning, but doing it this way has allowed me to test out a new tool that I’m really uncomfortable with.

Your feelings will get hurt when people unsubscribe

When I discovered our first official unsubscriber, I got angry. I took it as a personal rejection. I was hurt when I saw the person still followed me on twitter.

I quickly realized that some people just wanted pure content and less personality.  That’s cool. It’s not a slight against you. You just have to figure out if more people are engaging with your content than unsubscribing.

Don’t expect an instant response

When I sent out my first newsletters, I expected instant action. I thought that I’d get lots of responses, affiliate sales and traffic to the links contained in the post. In some cases, I’d get an instant reply. Paul Cunningham and Andy Hayes have been really helpful and supporting in this process.

What I have found is that it is great for networking. I’ve been contacted by people thanking me for recommending them in their newsletter. People have responded with their own feedback on the products I have recommended. This is really valuable information for someone that acts as a filter.

We have made several affiliate sales based on the newsletters, and it’s great for building my brand. I don’t believe that a simple newsletter will solve your problems until you’ve built up traction.

I regret not starting a list sooner

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that you should not let your fear rule your business decisions.

I was terrified of starting a list. I was comfortable with blogging, no, I was awesome at what I did. I didn’t want to start that learning curve and make mistakes quite publicly when I had just found my freelance mojo.

It has been difficult, but it has been worth it. I’ve been able to learn so much by observe how people interact with the content and by asking for feedback within the post. It helps me ascertain what my core audience wants. The learning experience has far outweighed any negatives.

Over to you.

I’m probably in the minority for being such a mailing list newbie, but I’d be really interested to hear about your early experiences. How did you figure out what to do when you started? How did your approach change as you got more established?

A Day in the Life of a Sneezer

Or, Why I spent 160 dollars thanks to a dog


So, last night I was at the Social Media Club Melbourne event. (Side note – YAY for getting a shout out from the Problogger himself, even if it thoroughly embarrasses you.) After the panel ended, I *may* have been proudly showing off my new Haul bag to my friends Darren, Renee, Fran and anyone else who would listen. I then made the comment that networking is expensive.

On the train home, I realized how ruthless that sounded. I didn’t buy that bag because I wanted to connect with the owner, Scott. He’s awesome and I know we’ll have the chance for a decent conversation at some point. I did it because I don’t like recommending a product unless I have experienced it. This is why I stand out as a connector. My goal with this post is to give a bit of an insight behind the scenes of what I do.

Spending money makes you a better filter

I get given a lot of stuff to review. We are talking close to $10’000 worth of stuff. Ebooks, courses, seminars. Half of it comes from existing contacts and the other half comes from word of mouth. Over the past two years I would have spent at least $6000 on infoproducts. I would have spent more if my finances didn’t limit me. This isn’t because I needed the material. It was so I could make an accurate recommendation.

When you make a financial transaction, you are in the same mindset as other buyers. You have the same fears and hopes. You aren’t getting the special treatment from your mates. You are getting the exact same experience that most people would get.

What I loved about going to Haul was that Ann was friendly, knowledgable and helpful. She brought the celebrity canine down so I could have a snuggle. She gave me background about the product. She didn’t know I was going to blog about it. I am 100% confident in recommending that people buy from them. I am equally as confident of people such as Danielle Laporte and Kelly Kingman. I had no prior connection with them and spending $167 on two information products terrified me. Both purchases impressed me with their awesomeness.

I will go out of my way to help people who acknowledge me and help me.

This stems from having an anxiety disorder and having a lot of insecurities about how I fit in the social media/corporate world. When I was very ill, some people treated me poorly including some of the support services that were meant to help me. As a result, I have very little time for people who are just after favors or want to use me.

Usually, I’ll decide that I’ll want to help someone and then make the first contact. With Scott, I did this at Connect Now. I told him I was interested in the messenger bags but didn’t understand why they were, in my tiny budgets opinion, expensive. He took me very seriously and explained the extra time that went into creating the product. The other times I’ve met him he has remembered my tweets, inquired about aspects of my personal life and congratulated me on my small successes.

Basically, Scott was able to demonstrate that he wasn’t in this scene for what he can get out of it. That was one of the major factors behind my purchasing decision. I didn’t necessarily want the product now but I knew I wanted to show it off and talk about it.

If I am thinking of talking about you, I will ask for recommendations

I was driving to the Dandenongs with Lane Burdett just before I went to the Social Media Club, and I mentioned how I wanted to drop into Haul. Lane told me about how impressed he was with the service at Haul. He phoned up wanting a Macbook sleeve and they didn’t make the one in the size he was after. Scott was able to direct him to two other companies that could help.

This works in the opposite way. At the same event, I was talking to a friend who had worked with someone who was getting a bad reputation. While the service was initially good, she got treated poorly when she decided to leave. I had heard similar things from other people and as such will not be researching her because I don’t want to recommend someone who will screw over of my friends.

I am putting my reputation on the line

I know that people buy my products, and those I recommend, because I have personal experience with everything I talk about. I don’t bullshit. It makes me feel sick if someone buys something that I know is poor quality and I could have stopped them. I can see the potential in people and will connect them with whatever they need to kick arse.

What most people don’t see is the stuff that goes on behind the scenes. The long emails to those who are wanting advice on what product to buy. Talking for ages on skype, google chat and in real life so you can learn enough to make a proper recommendation of them. Messages saying that ‘such and such is amazing and can really help you.’

I’m getting a reputation as a connector. It’s a skill and one that I’m leveraging to help others. However, I wont recommend someone unless I am 100% confident they wont screw over my friends. That’s what all this hard work boils down too.

I work this hard because I like helping people. I have a skill and am an incredibly good judge of character. Just be awesome like Paul Cunningham, Jonathan Fields or Scott and I will work so hard to help you out.

Note: This post is unproofed because I didn’t want Bill to know I spend $160 on a bag. He’s busy this week so hopefully he wont have time to read this. :-) That is all.

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