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.

Heart
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.

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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.

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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 Photos8.com

Image by photos8.com

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

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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.

From The Trenches: Rockin’ Biz Edition

I just know I’m going to enjoy writing this trenches post. Previous editions have focused on what I’ve learned from my screw ups. This edition focuses on what I’ve learned as things have started to fall into place.

I’ve been slogging away at this for 2 years but last month, I got told I was getting evicted. This one change made me change the way I approached business. I started asking for help and many people were happy to give it. I was able to turn things around drastically in just one month.

I’ve:

  • Started a job with Dave Navarro. It’s awesome. I’m accidentally learning about launches and am getting paid for a skill that comes naturally to me.
  • Starting earning consistent affiliate income. I literally wake up to sales most work days.
  • Launched an email newsletter. This was really scary but heaps of people are signing up and interacting with the content.
  • Have found joy in my work. It look a lot of experimenting but now I am so happy I can make money from my love.

In this edition, I’ll be focusing on some of the factors that have contributed to my success.

A quick note about the job

Part of my job with Dave is monitoring the smaller launches and reporting on the info-product trends in several niches. If you are, or know of someone, that is releasing a product then let me know. Where relevant, I’ll pass it on. I can also support you in arranging email interviews with him. Just contact me and I’ll help you create a kick arse post.

Lessons Learned:

Starting a list doesn’t have to be a scary thing

I procrastinated badly when it came to starting a list. The idea felt foreign and cold. I only started a list because I wanted to knock the project off my to do list.

It has been amazing. I’ve had my list set up for 2 weeks and have over 40 subscribers. I’ve sent out just one email and had several people respond. When I tweet about it, I get a lot of friends signing up.

It has been a fascinating journey. I’m really enjoying it and think I will like it a lot more as I learn more about it. I’m so excited about the potential to connect with new people.

The best thing is that you don’t need any fascinating programs to learn how to do this. I’ve been saving email marketing messages for 18 months and am now going through them to find the techniques that worked for me. I’ll be applying them to my own newsletters as I learn.

Review products before launch to capitalize on the buzz

My review of The Sticky Ebook Formula marked the first time I’d made my money back from an affiliate based review. I’d considerable income by placing my reviews on high profile blogs but never on my own.

I discovered The Sticky Ebook Formula when visiting the Remarkable Marketing Blueprint. It’s an awesome community. I immediately took advantage of the prelaunch special and did a review of the product. I let Kelly know via the forum. She tweeted about it as well as linked to it via the sales page and mentioned it in a follow up post.

I’ve made four sales from a review that was just a blog page. I’ve had several people thank me for it and tell me how awesome Kelly is. I learned a lot about affiliate marketing from this one  review.

  • Buying and reviewing an affiliate product is a great way to break the ice
  • The act of filtering awesome products is a way to network. If people enjoy the product, they’ll be thankful to you for pointing it out
  • You will capitalize on the buzz if you are one of the first to review. This is something I haven’t been able to do due to time constraints but will now be doing.
  • Mentioning the review in a newsletter is a good way of driving extra sales.

I now wake up most mornings to an affiliate sale. It’s awesome.

Perception is everything

Over the past month I’ve taken a step back from other responsibilities. Instead, I’ve been working on the rebranding and focusing on developing my blog.

Since we’ve started doing this, we have seen a lot more traction. I’ve been working with Bill on improving the appearance and usability. As a non-techie, I’ve never really focused on this before. I assumed my content would suffice when it comes to telling my story.

Since I’ve involved Bill in the rebranding process I’ve been getting a lot more comments about the design. Every time I’ve spoken with Dave he raves about the design of my products. It has led to more subscribers and engagement with content.

I’ve been featured in a product

My corrupting influence good friend Catherine Caine just a course called Awesome Fear Wrangling. It was my honor to participate. My interview appears alongside my friends and idols.

Catherine has had to work very hard to overcome her own fears and rock it online. She has been an inspiration and was recently able to quit the day job and take the leap into full time business. If it sounds like your thing, head over and check it out. If not, I’d still recommend following Catherine on twitter. She’s kinda awesome.

Over to you

What awesome stuff has been happening for you over the past month? Let me know if there’s a way I can help you guys kick arse too.

Networking secrets the A-Listers wont tell you about

Edit: I have kept this post as it shows part of my growth as a blogger. I would like to clarify that I no longer endorse many of the bloggers mentioned and am considerably less naive now.

I’ve got a bit of a reputation as a skilled networker. Just look at my favourites. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with many A-Listers and have had many people beg for my secrets.

The truth? There aren’t any. There are strategies. There is hard work and the willingness to accept failure.

Rather than provide yet another tutorial, this post talks about how I managed to go from a blogging nobody to where I am.

Now, I’ve released a cool networking course called ‘How To Network Fast‘. It is way more comprehensive than this post and contains the Twitter and guest post strategies that got me out of poverty. If that sounds like the thing kind of thing you’d dig, click here to check it out.

The beginning

I started out experimenting like everybody else. I did the 30 Day challenge. I signed up for the RSS feeds of all the top blogs. I reviewed a lot of products on my comic book blog. I learned so much but the income was just trickling in.

It was around the end of 2008 that my anxiety disorder got worse. I was unable to work so just hung out on Twitter. I primarily hung out in the Australian blogging community and I made some really good friends. One of my earliest friends and supporters was Darren Rowse. I was always a fan, but wanted to connect with him after the birth of his second son. I had become an aunt for the first time and emotionally connected to the story. I started talking to him on Twitter and occasionally had a Google Talk conversation with him. I also enjoyed talking to WordPress geek Jeff Chandler.

Then I did my first Problogger review

Darren Rowse @ProBlogger


Image by Rail Life

Reviewing Dave Navarro’s How to Launch the **** Out of Your Ebook was a turning point. I wrote about how this happened on Remarkablogger. What I didn’t know was that this one review would lead to so many other opportunities.

I followed up with a review of the The Unlimited Freelancer. I got some negative feedback which scared me off doing a review for a while. However, this one opportunity led to so many more.
The following people are just some of the people I connected with via this review.

Charlie Gilkey.

Dave is friends with Charlie Gilkey. Charlie reached out to Dave about how to get a guest post on Problogger and Dave recommended he get in touch with me.

I sent Charlie a comprehensive email which included a link to his guest bloggers page and details that would help make a personal connection. We had a brief Google chat and have kept in touch since. Iplan to hire Charlie to help with my business.

Naomi Dunford

If you’re going to review a product on a leading blog, do one that is a joint venture. You have two audiences and two different people to network with.

Now, because I’m that awesome, I barely knew who Dave and Naomi where before buying this product. I knew Naomi was a star but she intimidated me.

Naomi tweeted about the review and asked me to do a guest post. I still haven’t done that – I needed to build up the courage.

We haven’t become close working buddies but we’ve been cool. I’ve got review copies of some products and she knows who I am. I know we’ll eventually work together on some project. I’ll hire her for consulting as soon as I have a home phone. I really need a home phone.

Johnny B Truant.

When I initially connected to Naomi, I asked her for advice. Her main recommendation was to play the Problogger review card. This was something I was uncomfortable with but then Johnny release his Zero to One business course. I really wanted it and there was no way I could afford it – not on $200 AU a week. So, I gave it a try.

Darren had given me permission to do this so I asked. I worked with Johnny to create a post based around his success. The response was mixed. Skellie emailed me saying she loved it. Some people got snarky, but it opened the doors for Johnny to post on there more often. I’m going to interviewing him for my podcast this Friday and will be interviewed for the Jam sessions project he has with Charlie Gilkey.

Lessons:

Be willing to leverage previous successes

I was too scared to do this because it felt like bragging. I lost a lot of opportunities to connect and work with new people.

You don’t have to be annoying and spammy to point out why you rock. You just have to point to examples of your work and any relevant social proof. I now try to collect LinkedIn references from my clients so they can speak on my behalf.

Iwas comfortable with losing those opportunities because I was uncomfortable promoting myself and that’s fine. I wasn’t ready to push certain boundaries and doing so may have led to resentment. However, it’s worth knowing when to leave your comfort zone.

Don’t take criticism to heart

I didn’t review products for a long time after my Unlimited Freelancer review was criticized by the readership of a popular copywriting blog. I’ve never been able to distance myself emotionally from my work and that has led to me turning down opportunities because I was scared of the criticism the extra exposure will bring.

Distancing myself from my work is a challenge and it takes a lot of practice to get used to criticism. I now see negative comments as a challenge. I try to see a situation from their perspective and trying to talk back to them as a fellow person. Most people respond to this. Those that don’t aren’t willing to see any other opinion than their own.

Going to tweet ups

@jadecraven and @neilcreek

After I’d been on my meds a couple of months, I decided I really wanted to meet Darren. We’d been talking for about 6 months and had developed a good rapport. I arranged to catch up with him at a Melbourne Bloggers meetup.

It was awkward. I hadn’t socialized in over a year and just leaving the house was embarrassingly difficult. It was fun to have a chat but I was nothing compared to how I am online.

Days after that, I discovered that there was a new tweetup called Tweetupmellers and sent Darren a DM seeing if he would go. I nearly couldn’t make it due to a random foot injury but did so. It was a rough first tweetup.

I didn’t know anyone so had to embarrassingly introduce myself to everyone with a Seth Godin doll. It certainly broke the ice but I felt embarrassed at future tweetups. It was at this time that I met my future mate and business partner, Bill Journee. I thought he was a goober and still have no idea how we became friends.

I later introduced Sarah Prout to Darren and was able to review her Twitter book on Twitip. I also met Si Dawson, creator of the Twit Cleaner. I reviewed that on Twitip as well.

Tweetupmellers was such a fabulous business opportunity, but also helped with my personal life. I’ve met many people that have become good friends that I’ve since caught up with in Melbourne.

Lesson:

Tweetups are a great place to network

I’m an influencer but I only recommend products from the people I trust. Meeting someone in person is one of the best ways to build trust. I trusted Sarah Prout and Si Dawson because they were friendly, talked to me as an equal and helped me out when I was feeling ill.

Business wise, I don’t get that much out of tweetups. I see it them as a place to meet cool people. I rarely try to help the person that just shoves a business card in my face. I’m looking for people that are smart and take care of their community. One of the best ways to observe how they treat people, including yourself, is at a tweetup.

The 892 bloggers post

DM Scott, Jen Frahm and Sponsors

I created the first post, about Darren Rowse, before I launched the prolific writer. This had got a bit of attention via Twitter and Stumbleupon so I created a similar one about Shai Coggins. I had always planning to create a huge post called 1000 tips you can learn from 40 bloggers but had been unable to blog for some time. In June, I decided to re-launch my blog with this main concept in mind.

Networking while creating the list

My intention with this post was to create a list of top bloggers and what you could learn from them. I planned to interview each person and review all of their content. It was an epic undertaking and one that was quite stressful.

I published each post as they were completed. This led to a lot of people commenting on the posts and contacting me personally. Many asked for me to tell them when it was up so that they could retweet it. I was able to get some review copies and generally, build some interested.

I ended up launching it in September to coincide with the social media masterclass with David Meerman Scott.

Meeting DM Scott

Meeting David was one of the highlights of last year. He is such a compelling presenter and his book, World Wide Rave, was the best social media book I had read.

I had the pleasure of attending drinks with him, and other prominent social media identities, the night before the conference. Normally, I would have felt out of place at a meetup. I met two fabulous Brisbane women – Anne Sorensen and Jillian Kingsford Smith. I was able to help them both out after the conference. I was glad to, because they were so fascinating.

The list post was a good reason for David to talk to me. He thanked me, and asked about the work that went into it. I talked about his books and was able to get my copies signed by him. We made arrangements for me to interview him the next day via flipcam.

Lessons:

It is worth getting the persons attention prior to their event.

So many awesome people attended the Masterclass. There was a lot of demand for David’s attention and, under normal circumstances, it would have been difficult to reach out to him.

Because I had made the prior connection via the post and the drinks he sought out me to do the video interview and even gave me advice on what I could do. All it took was including him in a crazy launch post.

You can network while creating a blog post

I do a lot of blog posts that feature others and will continue to do so. These resonate with the audience and help me get to know awesome people.

I try to work with someone to create a really awesome post. That means interviewing them, creating relevant promotions and sending them post drafts to see if there is anyway they’d improve it. It means I get to know the blogger better and learn more about their working style.

Getting my job thanks to Twitter.

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My work quickly got the attention of Sam Mutimer – the founder of Tweetupmellers and social media strategist of ThinkTank Media. I had offered her help via DM which led to her hiring me for a number of campaigns.

I was able to build my profile thanks to my work there. My blog posts got considerable attention. I became friends with Ali from Caroline Serviced Apartments. Sam also raved to some of her friends about the work I did.

Meeting Iggy Pintado.

One of those friends was Connection Generation author, Iggy Pintado. I did a blog post for Twitip about how I got my job thanks to Twitter which attracted his attention. He seemed interested in my work so I went to a mini tweetup to meet him.

Iggy later told me that my discomfort was very visible during this tweetup, but I was so grateful for the chance to go. It was smaller and less formal than regular tweetups. I was able to meet other local business identities like David Warwick and Luke Grange.

I was able to talk to Iggy about his book and interview him for my blog. This wouldn’t have happened without Sam’s help.

Quitting work

I ended up quitting Think Tank Media late last year due to severe family problems. I took some time off before starting a guest post campaign over the summer.

Lesson:

You can quit your job and still be friends with your ex boss

I felt horrible when I quit ThinkTank Media. I loved the work but I couldn’t handle the family stress and continue to rock the campaigns. I spent some time agonizing over the decision to quit and the hardest part was telling Sam.

It hurts watching the business kick arse and not being part of it, but I am very thankful for my friendship. I’ve gone into the offices to hang out and do work. I meet Sam at tweetups and chat to her on facebook. I even embarrass her at conferences by getting Gary Vaynerchuk to say Hi. This was an awesome lesson that I was really glad to learn.

Writing the Bloggers to Watch list.

Darren Rowse (Problogger)  & Chris Brogan ~ Blog World 09

Photo by Keith Burtis

I pitched the 30 Bloggers to Watch concept on a whim. I thought it would be a good idea so sent Darren a DM asking if he would be. He was.

I wrote it in 2009 but Darren waited some time until he posted it. It was a bit unpolished, so I was surprised when the post went up. I was also surprised at just how popular the post got.

It received the most comments out of any of my guest posts. Twitter went nuts. It was rather stressful dealing with the comments and fixing some of the issues in the post.

It was a fascinating networking opportunity. All of the people featured on the list were stoked and touched base with me. It was an opportunity for many of my friends, such as Robb Sutton and Ali Hale, to reconnect. Many people reported extra sales, and Twitter followers. Most have used their list status as social proof on their website or sales copy.

Here’s something that many people don’t talk about with these kind of lists: A lot of people got hurt feelings. It’s harder when you are friends with them and have to justify your decision because I was too tired to do more than 30 and wanted a balance of metabloggers.

It also led to so many new people connecting with me. I was able to chat to many of the rising stars and help them kick arse. I also had many established bloggers reach out to me – people like David Risely and Yaro Starak. That was an honour.

Lessons:

I did a summary of the many lessons learned in 3 Essential Lessons and 3 Benefits About Viral Blog Posts. They are still relevant and there was a number of interesting comments.

Launching my small business.

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Creating Social Media Solutions was one of the craziest, funnest, stressful and awesome things I’ve done. I’ve written about it on this blog several times. The business itself didn’t lead to an direct networking experiences. It was more of a chronological backdrop to meeting two people that I’m now an even bigger fan of.

Meeting Skellie

It was around this time that I met Skellie. This was a fabulous meeting. I’ve been blog crushing on her from the start. She is the person that made me go ‘Yep. This is what I want to do.’

I’d commented on her blog and tweeted with her but we didn’t make a solid connection until April, 2009. I was in Adelaide for the Easter weekend and was relaxing in the bathroom at the hotel because that was the only place with a free power point.

She put a call out asking for advice for email lists. I replied, offering to collate some of the emails from my swipe file and forwarded them to her. She then asked for my advice on what I wanted from such a product and we corresponded a bit over that first month. 9 months later she was nearing release and contacted me to look over the draft copy.

I did. It was so amazing that I contacted Darren, seeing if he wanted me to review ihttp://jadecraven.com/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=1325&message=10t for Problogger. I did, and that review will be up shortly.

We met up soon after the launch. It was amazing to meet someone I truly idolized and share stories about guest posting and blogging. She is such a fantastic person and I’m so thankful I got the chance to be part of her launch.

Meeting Fi Bendall

Fi Bendall is the founder of Bendalls Group – a digital agency that works with clients like ANZ and Coles. ANZ created an initiative called Febusave and she put the call out for woman bloggers to participate. She asked Iggy Pintado for help and he recommended me and Kirsty Wilson.

Iggy contacted me initially and recommended that I participate because it could open doors for me – and also offered for me to stay with him and the lovely Kerry when in Sydney. I agreed and Fi called me the next day.

I helped with Febusave, but due to my business course was unable to blog about my journey. Instead, I did a guest post for Iggy’s blog about why I thought it was a fabulous initiative. I have the domain and site ready to participate next year.

Because of his, Fi was willing to meet with me when she came to Melbourne. I ended up travelling for five hours just to have a coffee with her near her hotel.

It was a great opportunity. She is such a savvy and fascinating woman. I really liked talking to her and caught up with her again when I went to Sydney. She has agreed to be interviewed for the Twitter book and I’m sure I’ll eventually be able to work with her – once I’ve reached her level of awesomeness.

Lessons:

People have the same desire to help regardless of how successful they are

I was so surprised at how awesome both Fi and Skellie were. They both offered to help me, which was amazing. They are both intelligent and busy people and I was honored they were willing to help me with my new business.

I didn’t take up the offers. I see both Fi and Skellie as mentors and would rather focus on observing them and learning as much as possible by me helping them. But the fact that they offered, well, that makes them SO much cooler to me.

Having a business makes a great networking point

When I was ‘just a blogger’, I struggled with conversation with a lot of business types. I didn’t feel I was qualified to talk to them about issues. Now that I have my own business, I find it a lot easier to talk about it. I don’t know whether this is a confidence thing, or just that my knowledge has grown, but it has allowed me to have very serious discussions with prominent businesspeople about ways I can specifically help them. It’s been awesome and I suspect it will lead to a whole new level of connecting people.

Going to Connect Now

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This is something that I never expected I’d be able to do. I went to an interstate conference and met such amazing people.

I hugged Darren Rowse. (I’ve been mates with him for a while but had never hugged.) I got a pic with Gary Vaynerchuk. I got my copy of Engage signed by Brian Solis. I got to chat with many of the other presenters in the breaks. It was awesome.

The best action happened with those that weren’t ‘famous’. I was able to meet people that I’d spoken to for over a year and really wanted to meet.

I was able to save money that week by staying with Iggy Pintado and his lovely wife Kerry. Staying with them was such a lovely experience and really helped with the accidental networking. Iggy loves connecting so was constantly connecting me with people. He was able to introduce me to a lot of Sydney people I hadn’t had the chance of talking to on Twitter. We went to champagne Fridays and East Side Coffee Mornings and he was able to introduce me to people I wouldn’t have otherwise met. Some of these led to really cool friendships – such as with Nancy Georges and Kristin Rohan.

Connect now was a financial risk. I haven’t gotten any direct business from it. From a networking perspective, it was bloody amazing. Its led to new friendships and possible work opportunities. I’m planning to go to Blog World Expo in October.

Lessons:

Prepare for the conference well in advance.

I wrote about my conference networking techniques previously, but I was nowhere near prepared for Connect Now. I had researched the presenters but hadn’t researched enough of the attendees. I feel a lot calmer around people when I’m familiar with their work. I was able to easily chat to, and hug, those I had already spoken to online. With others, it was rather awkward.

I know what to do for next time and will be following up in a future post.

Stay close to the action.

I stayed with friends about 30 minutes out of Sydney. I loved staying with them because it was comfortable and felt like home. I know that I lost some networking opportunities because I was so far away from the venue.

If I had stayed closer, I would have been able to go out to some of the post event networking drinks. I wouldn’t have lost so much time getting there and back and would have been able to hang around to chat after the speakers had finished.

I wasn’t worried about this at Connect Now, because it was draining and I didn’t have the energy to network. However, I’ll definitely be taking advantage of this at future events.

Other stories:

Not all meetings can form part of a narrative. Even though I’ve actively leveraged my previous work, a lot of my networking has been accidentally.