Categories
Business

My First Collaborative Ebook is Here!

Just a quick post to tell you about my first colaborative ebook that I released over at my other blog eshopwiz.com

This has been a great experience, I got to meet many interesting people from all different areas of business. More about the creation of this book in the near future. But for now, go check it out here!

Categories
Business Technology

Founders of Youtube, Twitter and Skype Speak at Dublin Web Summit

My friend Michael Clyne of Pathpacific.com just posted up the recording of the Dublin Web Summit where they had some truly amazing speakers.

The line up included Chad Hurley – Founder of YouTube, Jack Dorsey – Twitter Founder and Niklas Zennstrom – Skype Founder to name a few.

Michael runs a video production studio in Dublin so check him out if you’re in that part of the world.

Chad Hurley – Founder of YouTube

Jack Dorsey – TWITTER Founder

Niklas Zennstrom – Skype Founder

There were a few other great speakers including Brent Hoberman – LastMinute.com, Sloane Berrent – AnswerwithAction.com and Soraya Darabi – FoodSpotting.com. Check out all the speeches here.

Categories
Business Technology

Social Network Shopping

This is a guest post I just did on awebsitedesigner.com.au

Social Network Shopping – The Dawn of a New Era

We all know about social media and social networking. It’s been a hot topic in the news, on the internet and in Hollywood. But as a business owner who runs a business in the real world, what does it mean for you? How can you actually use social media to help achieve your business or life goals?

It’s true that social media can have a positive impact on business. There are methods such as running viral competitions to mass increase subscribers and more innovative approaches such as the Old Spice campaign. But while it’s true that interacting on social media can boost brand awareness and interaction, is it really the best use of time for an employee?

Read full post…

Categories
Business

The Launch Post – Could this be the Difference Between Life and Death?

I’m currently working on launching my new site which is a complete, free video guide to building an online store as mentioned in this post.

The site is coming along nicely with the core 7 lessons already developed, the email auto responder is set up using aweber so you get a nice email in your inbox with a link to each lesson (the lessons are delivered over 8 days). There is a blog that is coming along nicely, kind of. There are a bunch of sales pages up at the moment. I’m testing different subscription boxes. I have a sales video made, but need to make another one or two so I can have them rotating for testing by the time launch date comes… I don’t like making sales videos so I’ve been putting this off.

The site is already running, it’s been ‘soft launched’ meaning I have done some mild marketing for it and have a fair few subscribers but it’s still a little rough around the edges so need to smooth things out for the official launch.

One thing I’m very excited about is the launch article I’ve been working on. I think a post article can be very important as a solid kick start to any new site. If done properly, it could really blow out and create a viral effect. If it doesn’t work, it will result in a great post with not much traffic so either way it’s not so bad.

For my launch post I’ve been contacting influential figures in the ecommerce space and asking them this question:

“What is one unconventional piece of advice you would give someone looking to start their own ecommerce store”

So far the feedback has been exceptional! I have had feedback from a number of prominent CEOs, top bloggers and even a guy who has a radio and TV show. I won’t reveal the details just yet but there is some pretty juicy stuff. The goal here is that not only is this turning out to be a great post – which might even turn into a free eBook if I keep getting content like this – but hopefully the people I’m contacting will help me promote the article/ebook and it will go viral. I will write a post on how I went about contacting these people in the future. I cant take credit for this idea however, It was actually something I picked up from listening to this podcast between Pat Flyn (Smart Passive Income) and Corbett Barr (Think Traffic).

I plan to do some pretty hefty marketing to friends and people on my social media networks to try and get Diggs and Stumbles up. By hefty I mean one email asking them to Digg and Stumble the post. I’ve NEVER marketed to my friends before so I’m a little nervous about this, but this factor is driving me to ensure the quality of the content is as high as possible.

The whole process is turning out to be much more coordination than I originally thought. I also need to write a press release or two and push it out to the press release sites. I’ve never done that before… I just put a request up on HARO to see if I can get more contributors to my article so will see if that brings back anything useful. And I’m sure there are plenty of other things I need to do that I have either forgotten or haven’t thought of yet. Either way this post is kind of a check list for myself.

The one thing I still haven’t come close to deciding and that is super important is a title for the launch post. Without a title I’m 100% happy with, the launch isn’t happening. Because as you may know from here, here or here the headline of a post/book is the most important part. Here’s a few I just thought of:

Unconventional Advice from Ecommerce Geniuses?

Too boring…

Want Larger Breasts, a Super Model Girlfriend or a Million Bucks?

Too much?

Captains of Industry Reveal their Tips to Conquering the E-commerce World?

F*&% I don’t know… Maybe it will come to me in a dream. Got any ideas?

Categories
People Technology

Abstract Education: The Khan Academy

This site is truly amazing and could turn out to be one of the most important websites in the world. Abstract living at its finest. I urge everyone to share it with everyone they know.

Its a site with videos teaching educational concepts. It starts with simple concepts like 1+1 and goes all the way into college level and calculus.

The Khan Academy is helping people all around the world, giving them access to a free, first grade education.

 

www.khanacademy.org

 

Categories
Technology

Gangster & Innovator – Mark Burnett @ Blogworld

One of the more interesting events that happened during the day at Blogworld was a keynote by Mark Burnett and his following publicity stunt.

If you don’t know, who Mark Burnett is, here is a Wikipedia excerpt:

Mark Burnett (born 17 July 1960) is a British television producer, known for creating and/or producing competition-based reality television shows such as the American edition of Survivor, The Apprentice and Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?

Mark Burnett’s international productions include: Amne$ia Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader?, which has been produced in over 55 foreign countries, The Contender-Asia (a Thai kick-boxing version of the American Boxing-Competition show), and The Apprentice which has been produced in over 21 foreign countries.

Mark Burnett is pacting with casino and resorts giant Genting Intl. to launch a $20 million joint production venture. Mark Burnett Prods. Asia will produce original content for Asian broadcasters and license those formats in markets around the world, including the U.S. The TV venture, the first for Genting, marks the latest overseas expansion for Burnett.

For a guy who use to be in the military and worked as a nanny, his talk sounded awfully familiar to a Tony Robins presentation. Which is not a bad thing in any way as Tony Robins is a gangster (the cool kind) and I’m a self help junkie.

The interesting portion of the talk was at the end when he launched his new TV show: Sarah Palin’s Alaska.

While I am no fan of Sarah Palin, I am a fan of Mark Burnett. For his TV shows, his marketing skillz and most recently his gangster Tony Robins like jargon.

During his keynote at Blogworld, he announced this TV show for the first time by having stevegarfield whom I don’t who, but seems to have a decent sized Youtube channel, upload the first copy of the TV Trailer to his Youtube channel, tweet it out then asked everyone in the room to also tweet it out.

This is the video that was uploaded to Youtube.

The official first tweet
The official first tweet

At the time of writing this video is currently on ~82,000 views. Not bad for 10 days.

Who knows if this tactic will work or not but I like his innovation and guts for giving it a shot. Plus its Sarah Palin so no one really gives a sh!t if it works anyway…

Categories
Business

Abstract Income: How to Support an Abstract Lifestyle

Recently I have been participating in the Niche Site Duel, more as an experiment than anything else. But the reason I have been playing around with things like this is I am trying to build myself a strong income stream. A stream that comes from multiple sources and ideally that can be eared from any country in the world.

To do this, I have been setting up income businesses. An income business (versus a value business) is a business that you can set up for relatively low costs, that will bring in consistent income. While many income businesses are now forming online, they dont have to be online. An example of an income business would be a cafe, restaurant or convenience store. They are never going to turn you into a billionaire, but they allow you to earn your income yet still have more control over your life (at least that’s the idea, doesn’t always work out that way as im sure many restaurant owners would argue).

Currently here in Vancouver, I am exploring the possibility of a value business. A business that has the potential to make lots of money but comes with high risk, more stress, less flexibility etc…

While I have been travelling though, I have built one online income business that has managed to make me a decent profit and is continuing to grow. This business has been an ecommerce business. The model I followed was the same as the one given in the 4 hour work week by Tim Ferris, and truly does work. While it can be a bit of work initially, it does pay off in the long run.

I am launching a new site in the next couple of weeks that will be a free course to show people exactly how to build an online store. Its going to be AMAZING!

No seriously, I already have 4 hours of video content, with loads more coming. It will show you how to go from absolutely nothing, not even an idea (although if you already have a product or idea that will help) to owning your own ecommerce store.

It will include product research and selection, domain research and selection. Build the back end of your store (don’t worry, you don’t need to be a techie!) including setting up tracking and payment processing. Designing your store. Building the content. Plus building a marketing and customer retention strategy.

So make sure you subscribe over to the top right as this site is going to kick ass and be totally free!

Categories
People

Bobby Chang from Incase on Socially Responsible Businesses

I got a chance to work with the guys from PathPacific.com in Dublin a while back. We were shooting a video for a product launching in Asia (weird I know). Path Pacific had recently recorded the Dublin Web Summit where Bobby Chang was among one of the many impressive speakers attending. I had never heard of Bobby before, but he is one of the founders of Incase, the company that makes the official cases for Apple products.

He did a great speech on the background of his business, collaboration and building socially responsible businesses. Check it out:

Categories
Technology

Emailing Awesomely – The Definitive Guide to Email Structure

Email is, and has been for some time an important form of communication. There are lots of tips out there on how to write emails for achieving specific outcomes. There was a great post recently on how to contact market leaders and there are many blogs on how to use email as an effective sales tool. But what about for those circumstances that are too ad-hoc, that you may not see direct value from or just don’t seem important? How do you construct your emails then? Do you have a set format you follow? Do you even need to worry about how you construct them? I think yes.

I feel every single piece of communication I have with anyone is important. Unless they are friends of more than a few years you really should be following a ‘standard’ email format for EVERY email. This is not just with business either, but with every contact you make. Whether you are talking to your accountant, looking to rent an apartment or buying a fish you should follow your standard format. Your standard email format will vary depending on who you are, what you do and what kind of first impression you’re trying to give off, in other words, your identity.

There are a few reasons I recommend having a structure to how you write your emails.

  • It gives you a fall back format if you’re unsure how to handle that particular kind of email
  • It makes your email writing quicker as once you get the hang of it, you wont have to think about how to structure your email before you start
  • And most importantly: It gives the reader an idea of what kind of person you are

Letting people know your identity, what you do and how you can help is super important. You NEVER know when someone you speak with could open up a new opportunity for you. The guy selling the fish could be your next client or boss.

You are definitely going to write many more emails (or waves) in your life, so its fair to say that writing a good email is a necessary skill and one you should take care of – if you haven’t already.

You may also be interested in this: Top Chrome Extensions for Email Optimization

What is a Good Email?

In my day I’ve had many an email discussion with people from all walks of life. Working as a recruiter, and now as an Entrepreneur means I’ve made first contact with people from the strange to the successful. I’ve had conversations with students, scholars and salesmen with clerks, caterers and CEOs and with bankers, builders and beauticians. Out of all the types of people I’ve had email conversations with, there are few that project a professional, educated and articulate image in their writing. It’s not because they’re uneducated or can’t articulate their thoughts, it’s because they don’t put in the effort or don’t think it’s important.

As a high level rule, bankers and salesmen are the best email writers. And they should be, they get trained on how to write an email. CEOs are fairly hit or miss, as are most senior managers in large non-white collar industries. Everyone else, well, they usually suck. This is good news for you tho because it makes it easy to stand out from the pack.

A good email has many variables including your identity, who you’re contacting and why you’re contacting them. But there is a constant that flows with all well written emails and that is structure. How you structure an email says lots about your personality and thus should be taken into consideration with EVERY email you write. Not just first contact.

How to structure a good email?

Below is the general structure for a well written email. I will explain in detail below.

  • Greeting
  • Pleasantry
  • How you got their details, call back and reason for email
  • Body Topic 1
    • Situation
    • Benefits
    • Call to Action
  • Body Topic 2
    • Situation
    • Benefits
    • Call to Action
  • Body Topic n
    • Situation
    • Benefits
    • Call to Action
  • Closing line
  • Signature

Greeting

The greeting is simple. If you know their name “Hi NAME,” or “Dear NAME,” will suffice. If you don’t know their name (in the instance of contacting some businesses or a seller on craigslist open with a simple “Hello,”

Pleasantry

You should ALWAYS follow with a pleasantry after your greeting. EVERYTIME without fail. Ingrain this into your fingers so that you naturally spit it out with each email you write. There is no reason ever why your email shouldn’t have a pleasantry. Even if you are criticising someone (which you shouldn’t do over email anyways) you should still have a pleasantry to give them the sandwich effect. You will never have anything to lose by adding in a pleasantry, you will make people more inclined to read the rest of your email, you will soften criticism, and will hit the positive emotions of a few. Most will simply ignore it, but for two seconds if your time, its definitely worth it.

Pleasantries can include the following:

  • I hope you’re well
  • I hope all is well
  • I hope the day/week is treating you well
  • I hope all is well since we last spoke

Once a conversation has started:

  • Thanks for that
  • Thanks for getting back to me
  • Thanks for your response
  • Thanks for your quick response

This is also the line where you can start to display some of your personality and identity. You can add in your super-awesome-fun-exclamation-mark-loving personality or your polished articulate self.

  • I’m super excited you got back to me, thanks!!!

or

  • Thank you kindly for your prompt response, it is most appreciated.

How You Got their Contact Details, Call Back and Reason for the Email

This portion of the email will vary depending on the purpose of the email and how you know the person. Use your common sense to determine what to put here but here are a few points that should cover most circumstances.

How you got their contact details

This is only necessary at the start of a conversation. But adding in a line such as “I found your details on xyz website or social media platform” gives the reader a sense of where you are coming from – this is important for first contact.

Call Back Content

If you got their contact details at a networking event, party or some other scenario where you had an interaction of some sort, built some rapport and made plans to stay in contact – this is a great place to add in what I call call back content. If you spoke about a sporting event, a ski trip, kids, whatever – add a few lines in this portion of the email. This will firstly help them to remember who you are and further built rapport. It will also give them some content to bounce off making it easier and more enjoyable for them to respond.

Reason for Email

A reason for the email should be included in every new conversation, even if you’ve spoken to the person before.

  • I wanted your opinion on xyz
  • I have a proposition/opportunity I think you may be interested in
  • I have a few things I think we should catch up about
  • I have an update on xyz project or report
  • I have some news I think you should hear

This should be brief as you will explain it further, but should give the reader an idea about what they’re in for. This is important when contacting busy people. Also, if the email has multiple topics (discussed below) outline them here.

“I wanted to give you an updated on xyz project and see if you were available to catch up with George on Tuesday”.

You may also be interested in this: Process Street the Ultimate Business Productivity Tool

Body

The body should be broken into three parts.

  • Situation
  • Benefits
  • Call to Action

You need to repeat these three parts for every topic in your email.

Situation

This is what is happening, the reason for the email in more detail and what needs to be done (basically what most people write in a normal email).

“I’ve just received the report back from John and we need you to look over it. It shouldn’t take too long, just need you to check the final figures and make sure the portions that relate to your team are worded correctly. We need it back by lunch tomorrow”

Benefits

The father of self help Dale Carnegie in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People states the only way to make someone do something is to make them want to do it. Unless we are communicating with friends, chances are we want something out of every email we send. The way you make people want to do something, is by explaining the benefits. You can always find a benefit for why someone should do something.

In the above example “I’m sorry for the short timeframe, but BOSS MAN is coming down hard on me to get this finished and your section is the last one we need.” – The benefit here is that he will either avoid getting in trouble by BOSS MAN if he does this on time, or he will get emotional gratification for getting you out of trouble with the boss.

Most interactions will have some kind of mutual benefit. If you’re trying to get a job, buy, sell or share something, chances are you have some type of value to offer. If you’re really stuck for a benefit you can always “owe them one” or “buy them a beer”.

Don’t forget to highlight the benefit.

Call to Action

Once you’ve told them what needs to be done, and what they’re getting out of it, you need to put in a specific call to action or next step.

In the above example: “Please confirm via email that you will be able to complete this for me by lunch tomorrow. If I haven’t heard from you by 4pm today, I will give you a call.”

Here are some other examples:

  • Please contact John on this number at this time
  • Please send this report here on this date
  • I will call you at 4pm on Monday to come see the fish
  • Please start this as soon as possible, I will call you on Tuesday at Lunch to see how things are progressing

This step assigns accountability, adds a timeframe and a specific follow up action to get things moving straight away without additional emails back and forth.

Remember: rinse and repeat these three steps for each topic in your email.

Closing Line

This is a simple line, almost a second pleasantry. Something like:

  • Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or issues
  • I will follow up shortly to check your thoughts
  • Thanks so much for helping me out with this
  • I look forward to your response

Signature

Finish off with your signature. This will include some kind of a:

  • Regards
  • Kind Regards
  • Thanks
  • Cheers

Plus your name and additional contact information such as phone number, website, social media profile etc.

Check out Wisestamp – an awesome free Firefox Plug-in that adds HTML signatures to any web email client such as Gmail. It includes integration and cool little icons for blogs and social media profiles.

Adding this information is important because if you’ve made a good impression in your email and sparked some curiosity it allows people to go off and find out more about you.

Conclusion

This may seem like lots to integrate into every email you write, but as I mentioned, having a structure for your emails will actually increase the speed you write them once the structure is internalised. Having this kind of structure will also give people a strong first impression. Not only that you are kind, formal, structured, put in effort and courteous – but the body will be a relief for people who deal with large volumes of emails as it is telling them exactly what needs to be done. There is nothing more annoying than receiving an email that you need to respond to asking for more information before you can action it.

I hope this helps you build an email structure – personalised to your own identity – that will lead to rewards in the future. Remember, some people will not remember when you write an email well, but they will certainly remember when you write on badly. So make it a habit to write awesome emails!

Categories
People

Networking Awesomely Review

The other day I read a book by Colin Wright called Networking Awesomely. Colin lives a truly abstract lifestyle as a location independent professional, moving to a new country every 4 months as he runs his design studio remotely. The country he moves to is decided by the readers on his blog Exile Lifestyle. In this book, Colin talks about the lessons he has learned about networking and meeting new people as he travels the world.

Review

Networking Awesomely is a guide to networking in the new world. It encompasses old school networking strategies, new school technology and a touch of awesomeness. A book perfect for both newcomers and veterans alike Colin philosophises, deconstructs and simplifies networking from every angle. A strong message to rethink the boundaries between your lifestyle, friends, business colleagues and even sexual partners – this is a book not just on networking but on life. For the more experienced you will receive at the very least a number of handy tips to network in common (and some uncommon) situations plus a refresher on many of the important life lessons once learned.

Colin incorporates lifestyle design, social dynamics, the concept of value, frames of reference and more to help build confidence, attractiveness and social skills – turning you into a natural networking machine. But don’t let the big words scare you as Networking Awesomely simplifies the lot making it an easy read for all. With stories, humour and a cheeky attitude it will be tough to put this down once you start. This book wont leave you dreaming about what could be either. Colin delivers many “do it now” tips including advice on fashion, social networking shortcuts, email scripts and business card design to get you networking awesomely right away.

Another interesting aspect to the book is the input from other bloggers. Not only is this empirical evidence of Colin’s ability to network but gives extra spice to the material. You will hear from many new world networkers about their approach, thoughts and successes from networking.

We all (should) know networking delivers exceptional value in all areas of life. A small investment to improve this skill is a no-brainer. It only takes one person to change your life. Buy it now!

You can check out the book here.