Pitching Tips from Startup Grind Baltimore’s Aaron Hsu

I attended an event organized by Startup Grind Baltimore. The topic was pitching competitions, and I learned so much. Aaron talked to us about the differences between the pitching competitions you’ll likely come across during research. 

He also talked to us about ways we can make winning more likely, which I thought was very insightful. He knows because he’s done it after all. Aaron Hsu is the founder of Clearmask, an innovative company that wants to bring a better surgical mask into the world. One that happens to be transparent. 

We strayed a bit into things like product development and market research as well. Overall, great presentation, and I’m looking forward to putting his recommendations into practice myself!

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

Important Tips for Pitch Competitions

In June, I attended a Startup Grind Baltimore event for companies that are growing and looking at investing, pitching, and things like that. Aaron Hsu was the speaker that night, and he gave us all lots of things to think about in terms of pitch competitions. 

Keep in mind that my understanding is pretty basic because I’m just starting to look at pitch competitions. Basically, you go and talk about your business for a predetermined amount of time.

You may be able to have slides and props, or you may not. You may have 5 minutes, or you may have one minute. That’s the competition. Usually, some pre-stated amount of money is also on the line. Depending on the organization, they may or may not require you to report heavily your activities. You really have to look at the individual organizations. 

Good Public Speaking

However, he gave us some tips that cross over into what you’d consider good public speaking. One of the first things he said is that you want to project confidence and be relatable during your pitch. He said that if you’re doing an impromptu pitch, 2-3 minutes is normally ideal. That’s because of the human attention span. You go on much longer than that, and people just stop paying attention. 

Pay Attention to Recurring Questions

He also mentioned something really good. You can pick up on what people didn’t understand or what you didn’t say by listening to the questions they direct you. If you consistently get the same questions, you can add that into your pitch. I thought that was a super awesome tip. 

Ask about Your Allotted Time

When you’re going to a competition, Aaron said that you always want to ask what the allotted time for your presentation and Q&A is. You don’t want to have your presentation and come up too short, in which case you might not be making the best use of the time given to you. 

Do Your Research

He mentioned researching the investors and then structuring your pitch accordingly. Some organizations are a bit more about social/world impact and what good things you’re doing. Then, some investors are all about the money. 

If you know you’re going to one that’s more about impact, spewing numbers and statistics at them about how you know how your product is going to do, would not be as beneficial as exploring statistics on the actual impact your product could have. So it’s not that the information you have is invaluable. It just may be that you may not have the right audience for it if you don’t do that research ahead of time. 

The Problem and the Solution

Aaron also says that you should pitch the problem and why anyone would care about the solution. People may not initially understand your product, but they’ll be able to understand the problem. 

Be Selective

Then, he mentioned knowing which competition to go to. Aaron, he used Google a lot, but then as he talked about his idea with people, he was able to leverage his network to be his eyes and ears. So whenever they heard of something, they would come and tell him. 

How great is that? It’s basically like the referral network you’re looking to build as a small-business owner anyway. Hearing about pitch competitions where your product/service would be of interest to investors is something you might miss, especially if it’s relatively small. 

He also mentioned foundations like Twitter. So if you’re looking to get into pitch competitions, you might want to check out Twitter and look for some relevant hashtags. 

He definitely said that a targeted approach is better than the spaghetti-at-the-wall approach. You throw a handful of spaghetti, see what sticks. A targeted approach helps because it keeps you from doing wasted work filling out applications. That’s why researching the foundations will help you not waste time. 

Relationship-Building

Aaron also recommended that you build relationships with the organizations that you’re looking to apply to. This means looking out some time ahead of the competition, but he’s said he’s even done some relationship-building at the competition. 

You might want to go chit chat with the judges/organizer and not ask about your pitches. You just talk about other things. Everybody’s got their own life, and showing interest can gain you some favor. 

Formulate a Master Deck

When you’re putting together your pitch deck, he recommends that you have a master deck and tailor it to the competition you’ve applied. Eventually, you’ll end up saving time and you’ll have a more targeted pitch deck. 

I do something similar with my content marketing proposals when we’re working on a big, long-term, or ongoing project. I try out proposals that I’ve used to structure new proposals. That is something I would definitely recommend. 

Remember to Reach out

Another thing Aaron said is to keep in mind that you’re competing as soon as you apply. So if you are interested in applying, it doesn’t hurt to reach out ahead of time to see whether or not you’d be a good fit. 

It also gives you an opportunity to start relationship-building by not wanting to waste their time. How many people just apply, and then never reach out? Reaching out shows that you take initiative, which is typically a good sign of someone who works hard.

Why It All Matters

One thing people often forget in their pitches is why it matters. Aaron said you can always work on completing your pitch in the most perfect way. but what about the why? This matters more than most people think, so it’s good to have an answer ready. Aaron also said that it’s best to be explicit. 

Do your homework, establish rapport, keep your master deck, and a structure including the problem and the solution. 

Free Keyword Research Tools, Yay or Nay?

Some people say that you shouldn’t use free keyword research tools. I have a different opinion though. I explain in today’s podcast why this view isn’t in alignment with most business owners’ budgets and I give you my favorite FREE keyword research tools. 

Content marketing without keyword research is like shooting around in a dark room. You may occasionally hit something, but it probably won’t be what you’re aiming for. 

You can start using these tools today to create a more targeted and informed content marketing strategy for your business. 

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

One of the things I consistently see online is the question of whether or not businesses should use free or paid SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tools. You might hear that you shouldn’t use free SEO keyword research tools. This is typically because they’re not as accurate as the paid tools. If your cash flow is such that you can afford to pay for a tool like SEMrush, which can run pretty high if your budget is very tight, you should get it.

But if your budget is too tight, what are your alternatives? 

Free Keyword Research Tools Aren’t That Bad

I think that free tools are a completely legitimate option for businesses with small budgets because they’ll at least point you in the right direction. 

If your budget isn’t open enough for a paid tool, are you just not going to use anything? If you’re being told not to use free tools, and you can’t afford the paid tools, then do you just not use anything? The free tools might be a dim light in the room, versus just walking around in complete darkness. 

Paid vs. Free

There are some differences between paid and free tools.

Competitor Research

A big one is that most free tools don’t offer very comprehensive competitor research. 

Despite the fact that you might have a small blog, you still definitely want to take a look at your competitors. However, because you’re not necessarily generating a lot of organic search engine traffic anyway, your primary goal should be to create content that your audience wants to read. Your audience is made up of people who are already interested in your product and buy from you. Your blog gives you a means to educate or entertain them, which is your primary purpose. 

If you’ve listened to the podcast episode about search engine content writing, you’ll be able to take a look at anyone who pops up at the top of Google search results. They’re essentially your competitors for that keyword. Therefore, you need to evaluate how they’ve done things. 

Should you write for search engines or humans? Learn why we don’t believe it’s an “or” situation.

There are things that the tools might not catch, like what their writing style is and whether it’s inspirational or not. You do want to have a unique voice, but you may be able to adopt something from their style that you can turn into something new. So there are things that you wouldn’t necessarily get from a tool anyway. 

Free Keyword Research Tools

What sort of tools are we talking about? I’m not going to get too technical, but I am going to give you some names and a short description, so you can decide for yourself. 

Ubersuggest

One of the first ones I suggest is a tool that Neil Patel created, and it’s called Ubersuggest. It’s a great, free keyword tool. It even has some competition analysis. 

It gives you the top websites for a particular keyword, and you can take a look at them. It also tells you the number of backlinks (links that point back to your website from somewhere else). Backlinks greatly improve your search engine optimization. This is also why I recommend guest posting. 

Overall, his suite of tools loads very slow. At least for me.

Keywords Everywhere

As of October 1st, 2019, Keywords Everywhere is a paid tool. R.I.P awesome free tool.

Next up, Keywords Everywhere is another awesome tool. It’s a Chrome extension, although it may also be available on the other browsers. 

When you search on Google, it shows you the monthly keyword volume, the cost per click, and the competition. The monthly volume could be 100 searches per month, 1000/month, or 2400/month. The competition is normally from 0.0 to 1. So if you see a result with 0.9, that’s a really hard keyword to rank for. On the other hand, if you see a 0.2, that’s not so bad. 

You’d want to find a keyword that’s relevant to your blog, but that has low competition and high search volume. 

Let’s say you have an eCommerce store. If you see that 2000 people a month are searching for your niche service/product, that could be high volume for you. Focus on getting the top searches.

I think that it’s really awesome that Keywords Everywhere integrates it into your Google searches. By doing that, it makes it really easy for you to go through and look for ideas. 

AnswerThePublic

AnswerThePublic is another great tool for ideas. Enter in your keyword, and they give you different matching questions. There’s also an old guy at the top, and he’s always pretty funny to look at.

Google Search

Do not underestimate the value of Google search itself and its autofill function. If you scroll down to the bottom of a Google search page, then it also gives you “people also searched for.” That could give you some ideas about things to include in your blog posts. 

Google Keywords Planner

Google Keywords Planner, which you can get from ad manager, is another thing to consider.  

I advise integrating the Google Analytics and Google Search Console tools. 

If you use the analytics platform, it will bring in the search console data, and then you won’t have to go to as many places. 

It’ll also tell you the keywords that you’re already ranking for. So even if you’re ranking low, at least you’re ranking. You can look at keywords that you can use to boost your ranking.

So how hard would it be for you to rank higher for a certain keyword? Maybe you’re 60, and you want to get to the top 10. At that point, you don’t have to look at your competition and see how you can improve. 

I think you can kind of see how it’s not a bad idea to use the free keyword tools, especially in the beginning when your budget is still small. 

Marketing Your Blog for More Business

Okay, so you’re sold on using a blog to attract more business. How do you go about marketing it? In today’s episode, I focus on one technique out of many that you can use to market your blog for more business. 

For many small businesses, it’s about building relationships. And you can use your blog to do just that. Take a listen as I dive into this subject. 

What do you think? Would you use guest posting to attract more business? Before you discount this method, read all the way through!

If you still need help creating a strong content marketing strategy, you’ll want to take a look at our Blogging for Business Toolkit!

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

Utilizing New and Different Marketing Tactics

A lot of tactics you typically hear about are great for people who sell things like courses or ebooks, so you may have ignored them. 

Maybe didn’t pay attention to them because you may not sell digital products. Maybe you:

  • have brick and mortar store
  • have an online store
  • sell services
  • are an accountant
  • are a financial advisor, etc.  

So you ignore them because you didn’t feel like they were relevant to you. That’s fine because you weren’t their target audience anyway. 

But what I’m asking you to do next time you come across things like that, is pay attention to the suggestions that are made within that. You can take those tactics to stand out in your space. 

It’s always the people who are doing something different or innovative that get the most attention. And this is especially good for those business owners who feel like they do something boring. 

Guest Posting

I’m going to focus on one particular tactic that I really like in terms of using your blog to get more business. Guest blogging, or guest posting. 

To me, this equates with the new trend that businesses are using, which is hosting events in their spaces after hours or when they’re typically closed. 

An example of this is a networking event I attended recently at a coworking space called Spark Baltimore. 

Startup Grind Baltimore was putting on an event, and Spark Baltimore was the space that hosted it. I was already in Baltimore, so I bought a day pass and I got to see the space. 

If I start to regularly work and see clients in Baltimore, Spark Baltimore is going to be the place that I stop at. So it was a really good move for them, and worked out well. And of course, I’ve had nothing but good things to say about Spark Baltimore since. 

Letting Other People Guest Post on Your Website

So there’s two ways to go about it. The first one is that you allow people to guest post. 

When you allow people to guest post on your blog, you’re not just getting content. You’re also getting their audience, because, of course, they’re going to share it with that audience. What that does is it gets people, who might not have visited before, to visit your blog. I’m going to present a couple of examples of this. 

A B2C Example     

So for B2C, let’s say you sell fitness clothing products. Whether you own a brick and mortar store or you do it online, you might reach out to fitness professionals in your area. Even if you’re online, leveraging local connections is really good because it draws you into the community. 

You reach out to nutritionists and fitness professionals, and ask them to guest post on your site. 

Now you’re getting expertise that would have taken you longer to research. You’re also getting those people’s audiences. Not to mention you’re building relationships with local professionals in your area, which means that they may refer to you later on. 

A B2B Example

For B2B, let’s say you run a 3PL warehouse (third party logistics). What that means is that you own and run a warehouse, or you rent it, and manage the orders and shipping of other businesses. That’s why you’re a third party. 

So what if you turned your blog space into a place where B2B manufacturers can come and post relevant content that will be relevant to your audience? 

For example, blog posts like the struggles that B2B manufacturers face right now, pros and cons of 3PLs, etc. Those are the sorts of things you could allow other industry professionals to post on your website. 

And again, they’re going to share it with their audience and it’s going to spread. So you’re promoting content from your blog, but you’re also building relationships with people in your industry and related industries. 

Guest Posting on Other People’s Websites

If your blog is new, you’re still not going to see a whole bunch of site traffic. You can use your blog in a strategic way to develop relationships which lead to more business. 

Don’t forget you can guest post, but you want to come at it with a very strategic plan. 

Why would you guest post for this person? Probably for SEO purposes. The post gets a link back to your website, so that’s always nice. 

The site that you’re guest posting for will share your content and you’ll get new audience members. If they’re curious about you, they’ll click and go onto your website.

You want to get creative. If you’re pitching to a website that’s never heard from you or heard about you before, then you want to create a media kit. This isn’t super hard to do. You can do it in a program like Canva or Stencil, or if you have a graphic designer on staff.

Common Guest Posting Misunderstandings 

Whether you’re guest posting or you’re allowing guests posters onto your blog, there’s a couple of things to understand. 

When You Guest Post

Do You Get Paid for Guest Posting?

Honestly, we often do it for free. Now you have to be careful because if you approach professional writers, they may come back with, “Oh, you’re trying to get me to do free work.” Now that is a perfectly valid perspective because it happens to writers all the time. 

But when I, as a writer, had an opportunity to guest post for Cerasis, which is a transportation management system, I did not charge them for that blog post. 

However, it was great for me in terms of getting my name out there, building credibility, and getting website traffic. 

I got website traffic from that guest post, and I still do. But, like I said, I had other reasons for that. It was part of my own marketing strategy. So keep that in mind. 

Just be very upfront. Don’t dig in too deep with guest posting without getting clear on the payment. Now it’s not to say that somebody asking for payment is bad. You just want to make sure that you start out with equal expectations. 

Depending on who you’re asking, it may benefit you way than them if they guest post on your site. It’s all about give and take.

Agree on a Plan to Promote

The other thing that you can do on your side, if you’re guest posting, is making sure that you have a plan to promote, and ask the other person if it’s ok to do that. 

When You Let Others Guest Post

Showcase Your Appeal

If you’re inviting guests posters on, you want to make it clear why it would be valuable for them to post on your website and share your promotion strategy. You could reference that content repurposing podcast from the other day and show them that you’re going to consistently promote it to your own audience.

Follow up with People

But understand that guest posting is about give and take. It’s a relationship. 

And when you use this particular tactic for marketing your blog for more business, it’s also about relationship building. So don’t just guest post, share, and then never talk to that person again. 

You want to follow up. There may be additional opportunities for you. Maybe you can come to some of their events, or speak at their events. Maybe they’d even want to do a video interview with you.

Do you have guest blogging as a part of your marketing strategy? Let us know in the comments!

How Much Should I Pay Freelancers?

If you’re outsourcing any work, how much you should pay freelancers probably enters your mind a lot. As someone who takes on outsourced work (I’m a content marketer and writer), and someone who outsources, I have a perspective many small business owners don’t. 

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

I came across an interesting question on Quora and in addition to answering it, I decided to take it as a topic for the podcast today. The question was how much a freelance writer should charge for blog posts. This question comes up in a lot of different forms depending on who’s asking it: the client or the writer. 

The Short Answer…

To be honest with you, it depends. I know that that’s not the answer that people want to hear, but it’s a fact. There’s no standard rate list and writers have come up with rates based on a variety of factors. What are the variables when considering how much to pay freelancers?r

How You Can Better Ask This Question

When clients ask, it’s typically because they’ve never hired a freelance writer before. This covers freelancers in general. If you’re working with service professionals, their rates vary. I’m speaking from a writer’s perspective because I’m a writer, but this also applies to graphic and web designers. 

When a freelancer asks that question, it’s because they probably don’t know, which is a sign of inexperience. This doesn’t necessarily mean the writer themselves is inexperienced. It could be a new type of project. 

Whenever I take on a new project, I don’t ask how much freelancers charge. Typically, when I’m scoping for answers,I say “Can you share…?” For example, if I go on a Facebook group, I might say, “Can you share what your typical rate is for this?” By doing this, I get an idea of the market.  This is because the general rate may not be good for you, as a freelancer. 

Freelance services of almost any kind are not like picking from a menu. You can’t just say, “I’d like a blog post with the side of SEO. Thanks.” That’s not how it works. If it did, there are too many factors for that to be fair for the variety of freelancers that exist out there. 

The Deciding Factors

I mentioned that there are various factors that you have to consider when calculating a project rate. We’re going to go into some of those factors. 

I think knowing this is really important for clients because they can understand that freelancers can’t tell you exactly what it will be without any project details. 

So just saying, “I want a blog post,”, “I want a logo,” or “I want my website redesigned,” isn’t going to be able to let the freelancer quote you an accurate rate. 

For example, with a web design project, maybe the freelancer would want to know how many pages you want. Designing a 5-page website vs. a 20-page website includes different levels of effort, so the pay would be different. 

The Topic

In terms of writing, if the freelancer specializes in an industry, the first factor I have listed is the topic

So if you want a designer who also writes, then the topic becomes pretty relevant. The industry can be relevant depending on what the standard is. 

As you know from my business name, Defy The Status Quo, I like to know what the standard is and then flip it, but never to the detriment of anything. Flipping the standard can be a way of standing out. 

Still, if you want a good website, you want a good website, but you may flip the expectations of what your website will look like. 

Sorting by Difficulty

As it pertains to the topic, a blog post on gardening and a blog post on technology blockchain shouldn’t cost the same amount. So if I’m a writer and a client says, “How much is a blog post on gardening?” I can reply with, “That’ll be $75.” 

Then, the client may ask me “What about a blog post on the blockchain?” In that case, it wouldn’t make sense if I still quote them $75. I’m either going to have to do a lot more work for a blog post on technology, or I’ve got a lot of technology experience. The value doesn’t decrease either way.

There’s so much information on gardening out there, so it’s low-hanging fruit if you will. In my case, I also happen to garden, so I already know about the topic. But in terms of technology, even though there is a lot of information out there, it’s also more complex. 

Take Experience into Account

Moreover, if you want a writer who has experience in those industries, the rates may go up. A writer who specializes in technology is likely to have a higher rate because there’s just fewer people who specialize in something, especially a particular facet of technology. 

The Length of the Project 

Whether it’s writing or design, the length of a project also matters. If you asked me, “Ruthie, how much do you charge for blog posts?” I would ask you to specify how long you want it to be. 

If you don’t know, say so. Now I know that you don’t know, but don’t just pick a number out of thin air. 

For example, I haven’t written a 500-word blog post in a long time because they’re not particularly valuable for SEO and they’re not always long enough to cover an entire topic. 

Additional Time and Services 

Are topics such that the writer needs to interview your subject-matter experts? Does the website designer need to speak with other shareholders for this project? That’s additional time and so additional services. 

Are there any ancillary services that are going to be included? When I do blogging, I’ll find pictures and upload them onto their website, if the client wants me to. We take that off their hands. It’s not something they have to worry about, but it is an additional service. 

On the other hand, you always have to consider your freelancers’ experience levels. A new freelancer is going to be less expensive, but they’re probably going to make more mistakes. They may not know SEO writing very well, and there are other things they just won’t know. 

Consequently, their final project may not be as good as the more experienced, expensive writer’s. 

Why Experience Counts

I think something that’s key is that a less experienced freelancer typically reverts to order-taking. You tell me, “I want a blog post on this and I want it to be this long.” I say, “Alright,” and I do it exactly what you tell me to. I listened to you. 

But, an experienced writer might say, “First of all, that length isn’t good for SEO. Second of all, I did a little keyword research and that topic isn’t something your customers care about. So if we do this, you’re wasting resources.” 

You could choose to push it if you want, but now that I’ve given you this information, it’s pretty likely that you wouldn’t. My clients typically listen to me because I’m more experienced than them. 

Your Freelancer’s Location

Where your freelancer lives may come into play. You may need programming of some kind, and the freelancer may live in a country where the exchange rate is such that you can pay them a lot less, but it’s still a good rate for them. That’s always the key. 

I’m taking advantage of currency differences, but if the rate is still good for them, then it’s okay. 

Obviously, depending on these factors, a 500-word blog post could be anywhere from $10-$500, so just keep that in mind when you put out what you’re looking for. 

All right. This has been an episode of The Defiant Business Podcast, and I’m Ruthie, your host. I’ll see you next time. 

Your Business Needs Your Belief

It seems a bit woowoo, but your business will not succeed if you don’t believe in it. In this podcast episode, I reference how Think and Grow Rich altered my perception of my successes and failures. 

Sometimes, I didn’t believe enough in a goal for it to succeed. 

Read today’s shownotes, and try to push that doubt aside. You’ve got this!

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

If you’re a small-business owner who’s having a tough time, or you know someone else who is, this is one of those episodes you might want to listen to. In this one, we’re talking about how your business needs your belief. 

Believe in Your Business

I know that if you didn’t believe in it, you wouldn’t have started it. I get it. But your business needs your belief the most when it’s hardest to believe in. 

So how do we typically start? Entrepreneurs typically start pretty high on hopes and dreams. You’ve got all these great ideas and you have a very set way of how you think things will go. 

And when they don’t go that way, it can be pretty rough. 

How do we normally start super happy, motivated, and excited, only to end up quitting? A lot of entrepreneurs do end up quitting, or putting their business on an indefinite pause. 

Low Points Are Tests of Your Determination

How do we typically quit? Well, usually it’s at a low point, which I’ll be talking about today. That’s the point where your business needs your belief. 

You have high points and low points, but when you quit, it kind of shows that you weren’t completely invested in the first place. I take that as not being completely invested in yourself. You’re not completely invested in your dream, excluding things like rent, kids, groceries, etc.

Most of the time, we don’t have to completely quit our businesses when things get rough. You may have to take side jobs or whatever, but that doesn’t mean you should quit all the way. 

Don’t Let Self-Doubt Prematurely Kill Your Dreams 

I was thinking about this while I was reading Think And Grow Rich, which is a fantastic book by Napoleon Hill. What made me think about it was how people can manifest their hopes and dreams. The problem is that we often let self-doubt cycle in our minds, and it impacts what we’re able to accomplish. 

In the book, there’s a story about a guy who was trying to mine a vein of gold. He was trying and trying for a long time. In the end, he said, “You know what? Forget it.” And then another set of entrepreneurs took it over, and it turned out that that guy had stopped 3 feet from the gold. 

So he was struggling, he was at a low point, and he gave up. 

He also continues that man’s story throughout the book to show that he learned his lesson. He didn’t quit the next time he had an endeavor. 

My Entrepreneurial Struggles

Your belief in your entrepreneurial dream is the first step, and you have to believe in it so much that it doesn’t leave room for the doubts that get in and poison your dream. The more you focus on the negative, the more you attract it to yourself. I can say that I would honestly not be here without that sort of fervent, fierce belief. 

I had a few people that I talked to about my plans and endeavors all the time. I would say “I’m going to do this. I’m going to do that. I just need to make this much by the time my maternity leave runs out, and if I can increase it, that would be even better. This is what I’m going for.” And that was how I did it. I talked about it a lot, and I was vocalizing my ideas. 

How am  I going to keep this from happening? How am I going to make enough? Who am I going to talk to? How am I going to start networking? I was so focused on it that I didn’t leave any room for doubts. 

Don’t get me wrong, the doubts came later on. And once I started reading Think And Grow Rich,  I realized why some of the things I had tried didn’t pan out. I wasn’t fully committed to them. When they didn’t initially work out, I knew that was it. 

When I was looking at how some of the other projects that I’ve tried to get off the ground since I started freelance writing, I realized that I didn’t focus and believe in them. I didn’t push past the possible failures and doubts. And that’s why those things didn’t work out. I’m not going to make the same mistake with future projects, and I advise you not to do it either. 

I started working as a part-time writer in July of 2017, and in January of 2018, I was able to do it full-time. January was my first monthly $1,000 from my business. In the next 4-5 months, I was able to double my income. So I’ve been a consistent four-figure writer on my way to five figures a month, which is going to happen before the end of the year. That’s what I’m manifesting. 

Belief, Focus, and a Strong Mindset

That’s, that’s where I started, here’s where I am now, and I’ve got my eyes on where I’m going. So don’t forget that your business needs your belief. You have to focus on that. While doubts are important because they help us with self-preservation, don’t focus on them to the exclusion of everything else. Your dream deserves your hope, and there’s nothing wrong with that. 

I know it was a bit more motivational than the last couple, but it was just something I felt moved to speak on. So if you enjoyed this, if you know somebody who needs it, if you’re in a group of businesspeople who need it, go ahead and share it on Facebook. I feel like this is a message that people need. Your business needs and deserves your belief. 

Win at Content with Content Repurposing

Gary Vaynerchuck recently shared his 86 slide content repurposing slidedeck. I thought it would be great to see what a lower scale version of this looks like for small business owners. So in this episode, we explore content repurposing, and how you can do it with as much or as little effort as you need to. 

I take you from start (audio, video, or blog post) to finish (many different types of micro content). This technique can save you so much time! Let me know what you think!

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

And here’s the transcript:

Hi, I’m Ruthie Bowles, owner of Defy The Status Quo, and you’re listening to an episode of The Defiant Business Podcast, your 10-minute shot of business knowledge. You don’t have a lot of time and I’m not going to waste it. So we’ll jump right into it. 

Today we’re going to talk about content repurposing. 

So I was taking a look at GaryVee‘s 86-slide playbook on content repurposing. It was about how his team takes a big piece of content that he’s created, and they repurpose it into a bunch of other types of content.

That’s what repurposing is. Content repurposing is when you take one piece of content and you turn it into something else. It’s still the same content, but you’re reusing it in a different format. He said, in a Linkedin post, that this is something he can do with a team. So that’s not necessarily the level of effort one would expect from a small business owner, if that’s what you are.

But I was looking at it and I was thinking that small-business owners or small marketing departments might struggle to take that 86 slide playbook, and translate it into something that they could do. Especially since their business isn’t content. So that’s the inspiration for today’s post. 

Doing Content Repurposing on Your Own

What does it look like when you do content repurposing without a team? When you’re on your own. Maybe you have a virtual assistant, or a couple of junior employees who could potentially take some of these tasks on. Regardless, it’s either you or a small team. That’s what we’re looking at. And I can tell you this because that’s my experience. It’s me and my virtual assistant, basically. 

Typically, the way that we used to do this was that I would write a blog post, and we would repurpose from there. But Christoph Trappe, who I’m connected with on Linkedin and Twitter, had tweeted about podcasting and how he uses it. We were going back and forth, and he was telling me how he would use it to brainstorm ideas for later blog post, talk about things and sort them out. And I thought that was a fabulous idea.

Not to mention, it can be easier to record audio or record a video, than it is for people to write something down. And so, that was another nudge I got in the direction of doing a podcast. 

Audio or Video to a Transcript to a Blog Post

So we’re going to start this from the same point. Let’s say you record some audio, or you record a video. It’s not to say you have to publish the audio or video. But if you know you can record five minutes of yourself talking, and turn that into a blog post, then you’re more likely to commit to a few minutes of talking. So it kind of lowers the level of effort required, and you’re more likely to get those important marketing tasks done. 

Let’s say you’ve recorded a piece of audio or video, and you take it and you turn it into a transcript. I use a program called Designrr (I’ll include an affiliate link) to make our transcripts. After that, my virtual assistant will go through the transcript and clean it up. That saves me a ton of time, because I don’t have to do that part.

The next step is creating a blog post. So you’re taking the audio/video, and turning that into a blog post. Sharing the audio/video publicly would be great too, because that’s another piece of content that can circulate online.

We’ve cleaned up the transcript, and now it’s ready for me to go back in and add additional content as necessary. For me, I publish my audio and videos, so I want to add that extra content. That way, when readers go to the blog and they see this post, they’re not just getting the same thing that they could have gotten for listening or watching.

Although it’s important to note that there are many people who prefer to read because they can read faster, as opposed to watching or listening. I’m actually one of those people. 

After all of that, my VA, Sílvia, will go through the post and we’ll decide where we want to add pictures. And then, you’ve got your blog posts ready to go. 

Identifying Microcontent

You can go ahead and publish it or not, but now you’re going to identify areas that you can turn into other pieces of content. Microcontent is what Gary Vee called it, and that’s the perfect term for it. 

So what we typically do is, either myself or my VA, will go through and highlight though-provoking sentences and statistics that we used in the post. Next, we turn those into images. They’re basically quote images. It might be a quote image over a nature background, or it might just be a white image with a gold trim. That’s one of the ones you’ve probably seen. 

If you follow me on other social media channels, we also go back to the audio/video and take 10 – 60 second clips. So the quote images and the audio/video clips can all be scheduled onto social media platforms. 

Don’t Be a Link Dumper!

However, you’re not done, because you need to include a link to whichever primary piece of content you want to route to when you share it on social media. If you share the link alone, we call that link dumping.

We’ve designed this image or we’ve got this little clip from the video/audio, here’s the link. You want your social network to click through, so you just drop it in Linkedin, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. That’s link dumping, and it doesn’t do much by itself. 

Expanding on What You’ve Shared

Your next step is to create a post that talks specifically about what you’re sharing. That could be going a little bit deeper on that particular statistic or quote that you pulled from your posts, or just telling a story about why that statistic was important. You want to do something a little bit unique. You don’t have to write a whole book about it, because you’ve already done the blog post. But you want to add value there.

I like to end with a question, just to see if people want to engage with me. So if I was doing a quote for content repurposing, my question might be “Have you tried content repurposing? Do you think you’ll try content repurposing now?” You give them an opportunity.

You don’t necessarily want to ask a super hard question, because the level of effort will indicate how likely someone is to engage with you. But the key after that is creating those thoughtful social media posts and you link back to your primary content. Then people have an opportunity to come back to your website. It also tells you how effective you were.

Customer Engagement

But don’t forget your website stats aren’t the only ones to watch. Your social media stats are too. If they listened to the audio, watched the video, or commented on the image that you’ve shared, comment back.  It’s an opportunity for engagement. Even if they don’t click the link to go to your site, that engagement is still valuable.

That’s an opportunity for you to engage with your network and show them that you care about what they’re saying, even though they didn’t go to your website.  Engage wherever your clients or customers are. That is one of the keys to being accessible.

Here’s a great example of people engaging on social media, but not on the site. I published a blog post, and shared the link with my LinkedIn network. The post got great engagement and a high number of views! But my page stats for that post weren’t all that high. More people engaged on the post, and many didn’t click over to my site. That doesn’t mean that my post wasn’t effective though! Here it is:

At the time that I wrote this up, the post had 24 reactions, 44 comments, and almost 1400 views. I’m not a mega-influencer on LinkedIn, but this is a great performance for me!

People I wasn’t connected with also responded, and the post got great visibility. It’s all about relationship building. I made sure to respond to every single comment, because it makes me happy that people took the time to give me their opinion.

Content Repurposing Is Scalable

As you can see, I’m incredibly passionate about content repurposing. I think the way that I described it here is something that’s a lot more achievable for small-business owners or companies with small marketing departments.

Even if you have a large marketing department, I would recommend you start small and scale up. That way, you’re more agile and can adjust fire as needed. You don’t want to orchestrate a huge effort only to find you’ve made a critical mistake.

Whether you’re a solopreneur, a freelancer, a business owner with a couple of employees, this method is something you can do. And you could do it bare bones if you needed to. You could do audio/video, transcript, blog post, quote images, boom.

No audio or video clips, whatever. So you could just do it in those three phases. The point that Gary made was that it’s scalable. You can do as much or as little as you need to do, but it’s easier to put effort into one piece of content and then make that content digestible on other platforms. 

So as I said, I’m Ruthie, owner of Defy The Status Quo, and you’ve listened to an episode of The Defiant Business Podcast, your 10-minute daily shot of business knowledge. I hope that you got something out of this episode on content repurposing. If you did, feel free to leave a comment wherever it is that you’re engaging with right now. Until next time.

P.S. In case you want to see it, here is Gary Vee’s model:

Content Writing: For Search Engines or Humans?

Today we’re exploring a big question: content writing, for search engines or humans? A lot of people are vocally in support of the latter. But I don’t think there is a difference. You have to remember that your priority is always the people. Specifically the people in your target audience. HOWEVER, search engines play a role too. 

Listen to this episode to see why you should be writing for BOTH!

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

And here’s the transcript:

Hi, I’m Ruthie, owner of Defy The Status Quo, and you’re listening to an episode of The Defiant Business Podcast, your 10-minute daily shot of business knowledge. You don’t have a lot of time and I won’t waste it. So let’s get into it. 

Today we’re going to be talking about whether your content writing should be for search engines or humans. I actually see this division of thought about content writing pretty frequently. And when I do, whether I see it on Linkedin, Instagram, any social media platform or when I’m speaking with people at networking events, you can pretty much always count on me to throw in my 2 cents about this.

That’s because I don’t think that there is a difference. If you’re one of those people who do believe that there is a difference, I think that by the end of this 10-minute segment, you will at least have the other side’s informed opinion, even if you don’t change your mind. 

Content Written for Humans Only

So when I’m on Linkedin or Instagram, I see things like “I write content for humans”, or if it’s a company posting about their content needs, they will say things like “Content written for humans only”. Those are two sides of the same coin there: the writer, and then the business who’s looking for writers. And what these statements reflect is outdated knowledge about search engine optimization. 

Black Hat SEO

Typically when people say “I write content for humans”, or they say “Content was written for humans only”, what they mean is they don’t want any keyword stuffing. This is when you take one keyword, and you stuff it in a lot of places in a blog post or a webpage. This is actually something we call black hat SEO, and there are other techniques with this label. Like paying for backlinks.

Why would someone pay for backlinks? Read our post on the top SEO ranking factors to learn more.

Keyword stuffing is typically the one people think of, and they’re like “Yeah, I don’t want that. That stuff doesn’t make sense.” The thought that keyword stuffing and black hat SEO is what SEO writing means, has been pervasive. It’s been really hard to get rid of, but it’s outdated.

While that thinking persists, the opposite is actually true. If Google sees black hat SEO techniques, like keyword stuffing, used on a website, they will eventually bury that website in the search engine results. Maybe it ranks really high for a second, but then Google is like “Hey, let me take a closer look at this website. It’s doing so well. Oh, they’re not doing good things at all”. And then it starts to bury it.

People won’t be able to find you, so you don’t want that to happen to your website. So a content writer worth their salt won’t use black hat SEO on your website. 

What is the Goal of a Search Engine?

Today, what you need to do is consider the goal of search engines. What is the goal of search engines? To provide the best user experience that they can for their users. So their goal is to serve the best, most relevant, most entertaining content. So if your content is that content, then you’re already halfway there, maybe 75% of the way there, because good content wins out. 

What Is the Purpose of SEO Content Writing?

So what is the purpose of SEO content writing, then? SEO content writing is how you make sure search engines know that your content is the most relevant and what their users are looking for. You use search engine optimized content writing as a tool to communicate effectively with the search engines that you want to deliver your content. 

Let’s take a look at some of the guidelines for good SEO content writing. 

Broad and Specific Keywords

The first one is keywords. Yup. Keywords. The reason for this is because keywords are indicative of a topic. There’s broad keywords, and there’s specific keywords.

So a broad keyword would be “running”. That’s really broad and you’re probably never going to rank for that if that’s your goal. If you do, it’ll be a long time coming. A more specific keyword, or a long tail keyword phrase, normally reflects how someone actually enters in a search term in the search engine.

So instead of saying “running”, they might say “How to start running a 5K”. That’s a really popular topic, so you’re probably not going to rank for that either, for a long time. However, it’s still a great example of a long tail keyword.

But maybe a search engine phrase like “alternative plastics for bottled water”, is probably not a super common keyword. That tells you a topic, and as I’m thinking of this blog post, I can plan it out already in my head. But it’s not too specific that no one’s looking for it.

As you can see in the examples above, I’ve taken a broad search term and made it specific to a theoretical target audience. Even the phrase “starting a business”, looks like a long-tail keyword. And it is, by definition, but it isn’t one I’d recommend you use. Especially if you can make it more specific to your audience.

Check out our post on free keyword research tools if you need some help getting started.

Headlines and Sections

Pay attention to your headlines and sections. Search engine guidelines say you can’t have more than 300 words within any given section. If you have more than 300 words, then you probably need to break it up with another subheadline.

It’s good to include your keyword in your headline, but don’t overdo it. You want to do it in one of your headlines, but don’t stuff it if it’s not natural. Google’s aim is to get as close to human understanding as possible, and I’m sure one day they’ll achieve it. You want to make sure that your content is future-proof.  

Switch to Active Voice

The other thing that’s rough for many writers is the switch from passive voice to active voice. When we go through school, teachers emphasize passive voice.

Most of the time we don’t use you in our professional writing. We don’t say I in our professional writing and essays in college. We use the third person in content writing. From a marketing perspective, you want to say you, I and we. Those are the pronouns you want to use, but you also want to make sure your phrases are active versus passive.

An example of that is “The window was broken by the boy”. That’s actually a pretty long sentence, which you could flip to be active and say “The boy broke the window”. That’s a much shorter, concise sentence. Active sentences normally convey more emotion, and are easier to read.

Need more info on how to write search engine optimized content? Check out our Blogging for Business Toolkit.

Your Content Writing Should Be For Search Engines AND Humans!

So those are just three SEO recommendations that we follow. There’s a lot more. Use these things properly, you’ll communicate to the search engine that your content is good content for its users. That is the goal of search engines. It’s not to be peppered with keywords and be unreadable. That’s black hat SEO, that will get your site buried.

Just remember that SEO content is for humans. It helps the search engines understand that your content is what its users need to see. It helps search engines get your content in front of the people that you want to see it, which is basically anybody who might enjoy or benefit from your content. 

Search engine content writing is human content writing. It’s the way that we communicate with the search engines to let them know that our content is what the users want to see.

So next time somebody says “content writing: for search engines or humans?”, just remember search engine guidelines are a tool like anything else. A writer effectively merges what the users want to see with what the search engines need to see to get the content in front of your ideal target audience. 

I’m the owner of Defy The Status Quo, and this was an episode of The Defiant Business Podcast. I hope you enjoyed it and I’d love to hear your feedback, so be sure to leave me a comment wherever it is that you’ve run into this episode.

Try Consistency Instead of Quitting

When you quit something, what has been the usual reason? 

Lack of ROI?

Need to spend your time elsewhere? 

….. what other reason? 

In this episode, I talk about what consistency instead of quitting can do for you. 

Consistency instead of quitting for blogging, social media, or any other business endeavor can be a huge difference between your glorious success and someone else taking the opportunity. 

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

Today, we’re going to talk about trying consistency instead of quitting. 

So why do I even have to bring this up to a group of entrepreneurs? It might seem counter-intuitive, but we’re all susceptible to it, without even realizing. I’m sure that after you read this you’re going to agree with me that you’ve done it at least once. Let me know! 

The Effort You Don’t See

Last night my family and I were watching an episode of America’s Got Talent. We watched a noise mimicker guy get to the next round. His name was Greg Morton. 

He got four yeses, which was pretty cool. It was a dream he had been working towards his entire life. 

The big thing I took away from his story is that he was 60 years old. I said to my husband, “Honey, isn’t that amazing? How many people would have quit by now ? I mean, pretty much everyone else”. 

When he finally got that big break, he seemed to become an overnight success, but his story tells you that that’s not the case. 

He didn’t wake up a few weeks ago and start doing it. He had been working as a DJ and had held numerous jobs that were related to what he did. 

He had been working towards this dream of being able to do it full time, and have his own show for a long time. He was the opposite of an overnight success. 

It’s like when you plant a seed in the ground and you can’t see what’s going on, but after a few weeks we see something break through the surface. 

We see the leaves. but that doesn’t mean that little seed wasn’t working hard the whole time. There’s so much happening that you don’t see. 

Winning the lottery is a big overnight break. Almost everything else requires effort. The seed is constantly working underneath the ground, creating the root system, and doing everything it needs to in order to succeed. 

If You’re Quitting, Who Else Is?

We quit many business endeavors that we attempt. Usually, we’ll try tackling a task from different angles, and when none of them work…well, you only have so much time. 

I get it. You can’t spend time doing everything. You have to determine what’s going to give you the best ROI. But the question that I have for you is, if you’re quitting, who else is? If you’re quitting, the majority of everyone else is quitting too. 

Blogging as a Commitment

For example, blogging is something I see many companies start, and then they quit after a few weeks. You can tell this is the case because if you happen to check out that blog for any particular reason, you’ll see that nothing new has been posted for the last 2 years. 

You say, “Well, that’s a shame” And then, as a customer, you move on. 

But as the business, how many customers have you lost because of that lackluster blog that you’ve neglected? How are you supposed to get good if you quit? 

If you’re thinking, “Oh, we started a blog, but it just hasn’t given us a good return on investment. That’s why we haven’t maintained it”. Well, I hate to break it to you, but blogging is definitely a long-term commitment. 

If you’re going to commit to writing once a month, your term of testing should be at least a year and a half, and two years for optimal results. 

If you’re going to post every week, I’d say your testing phase could be a year.

However, blogging is one of those things that you just have to do consistently. You have to try consistency instead of quitting. 

You aren’t going to get serious, visible results in the first few months, but you’re building your search engine optimized footprint through your blog. That takes time to do. 

Success comes by faster for some topics than others, but you have to do it consistently for quite some time to build your audience.

Is This Endeavor Worth It?

You have to decide whether this is a poor use of your time, or would commitment and consistency turn this into a success. You have to think about the business struggles that you’ve had. 

The Time I Got Scammed…

I got my start on Upwork, and there were stumbles, trips, and falls. I talk about many of them in my book, which I’m currently writing. 

One that immediately comes to mind is the time I got scammed. I was looking for a job to apply to, and one person said that he was writing a military, adventure, action book. 

I was like, “Cool. I’ve got military experience. I could totally edit this and make it better! No problem”. 

He wanted me to edit 500 words as a test project. I was fine with that, so he gave me the piece that he wanted me to edit. I did a really good job with it. I fixed his tone, edited some things that we wouldn’t say as army people, and straightened it up. 

I sent it back, and I eagerly awaited his response. What ended up happening was that I didn’t get a response at all. 

Turns out that’s a very common way for client scammers to get free work done. So he likely doled out 500-word segments to almost every single desperate writer who responded. 

That’s obviously not going to turn out into a good book, but he’s a scammer who’s trying to get free work. What does he care? 

I could’ve easily quit at that point. I could have decided that all online clients were like that. I could’ve decided that the only way to succeed as a freelance writer was by knowing people and working in industries that I knew, which wasn’t the way that I was going about it. 

Instead, I took it as a learning experience and I moved on. I decided that consistency and commitment would turn it into a success. 

I didn’t quit. And that’s what I’m telling you today. 

There’s Less Competition at the Top

The next time you’re thinking about social media, blogging, business opportunities or endeavors, I need you to consider that when you’ve decided it’s too hard, the vast majority of people have decided that too, which means that there is less competition. 

When they say there’s less competition at the top, it’s not necessarily because the top is such a great place to be. It’s because you had to hike to get up there when so many people quit and turned around. So if you don’t, then you make it to the top. But it can be grueling and it can be tough. 

So please, the next time you run into an obstacle in your path, ask yourself, “Is this a poor use of my time, or would consistency and commitment turn it into a success?” 

The Employee Mindset is Bringing Down Your Business

We were discussing the “employee mindset” during one of the networking meetings I go to, and it struck me as something many of us struggle with at various points in our entrepreneur development. It’s a real struggle for service professionals. 

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

Today’s topic is how the “employee mindset” is bringing down your business. I know you’re probably thinking, “Ruthie, wait. I’m not an employee. I’m an entrepreneur. What are you talking about?” 

Well, I was meeting with a group of creatives the other day for a meeting we call world domination. We ended up talking about the employee mindset, and how it impacts us even as entrepreneurs.

What Is the Employee Mindset?

Most entrepreneurs have spent at least some time as an employee, and many of us don’t have entrepreneurship in our families. Some people are the first business owners in generations. 

That being said, your time and your experiences as an employee impact the way you conduct business. 

This is particularly serious for businesses that have variable rates, typically service professionals. As a content writer, I make an assessment of a project based on what the client tells me they want, and then I give them a project fee. 

When you sell a product, as opposed to a service, it’s different. For example, this cup is $5. It doesn’t matter whether you buy it. It’s a $5 cup and we have to decide whether or not we’re going to pay $5 for that cup. When you’re shopping online, you don’t send a message to the seller and say, “Hey, I’ll give you $3 for it.” You buy the $5 cup, or you go find a $3 cup. 

However, with service professionals, there’s often a lot of negotiation. People may also negotiate on products, depending on your country and culture, but with eCommerce and online, you’re not sending messages to negotiate on price. 

So a service professional could be a professional content marketer or writer, a web designer, graphic designer, a digital marketer, a consultant of any kind, a business/lifestyle coach, a Google ad professional, etc. These are all people who provide services, not tangible products. 

The Bad Manifestations of the Employee Mindset. 

Settling for Much Less Than We’re Worth

The biggest bad manifestation I see, especially among writers, is that we let clients dictate rates. I’m not saying you shouldn’t work with people to come to a happy medium. 

However, what typically happens is that you give them a rate, and then they tell you they can’t afford it. And then you ask them, “Okay, well what can you afford?” They tell you a very unsatisfactory number, and you spend a lot of time trying to make things work for your client. 

This is something a lot of new consultants and freelancers puzzle over; How do I make this work for them

But you’re forgetting a key part of the equation here. How do you also make it work for you? 

Sometimes the gap is just too big. If you’re a writer or any service professional, and you charge $500 for a blog post, and the client says they can only pay you $100, the gap is definitely too big. 

If they come back and say, “Hey, we could do $400 for that.” Maybe I could puzzle over it, but even then, I’m not just going to give them $100 off for nothing. You have to make it work for yourself too. 

If they can afford $400, maybe you can lower the length of the blog post. That way, you’re making it work for both of you. You’re not supposed to lower your rate for anything. You should get something for lowering it, even if it’s not something monetary.

Oftentimes, we don’t do that. We just take what’s given to us. You might do that the first time, but you’re not going to continue to enjoy doing it for such a low rate. 

 That’s the employee mindset. When you interview for a job as an employee, you have already told them what your ideal pay is, and they tell you if they can match it. 

 Most of the time we end up accepting it because we feel compelled to take jobs because we’re scared we might not get another opportunity. As an entrepreneur, you have the power to say no and walk away. 

 Obviously, you have to make your own assessments. Sometimes, with a difference of $100, you may be less inclined to walk away because you’ve got bills. Though, a huge difference in rates is just not worth it for you. You’re better off taking that time and finding clients who will pay you the rates that you’re asking for. 

I spend somewhere between $300 -$400 every two weeks on groceries because we’ve got 4 kids. For me, that’s the difference of a grocery shopping trip. 

 But you can say no and walk away. That’s your powers and entrepreneur. A lot of entrepreneurs give up their power. Just because a client has engaged with you, doesn’t mean you have to continue engaging with them if the business relationship is not beneficial to you both. 

 Not Taking Any Risks

Another thing is that you might not take risks, especially on your business goals or dreams. Many companies’ cultures are about maintaining the status quo. 

You don’t rock the boat. You don’t do anything crazy. You don’t take risks. 

Now that we’re entrepreneurs, we carry that over into our businesses. So we consider things and we’re like, “Oh, that’s too risky. That’s never going to work.” 

 Arguably, I’m sure many of you had naysayers when you first started your business. Your business wasn’t supposed to work. So what do you have to lose? You have to get into the habit of taking risks. 

Prioritizing Pleasing Your Client Above All Else

Sometimes, you feel pressured to do what a client tells you to do, versus what needs to be done.

I actually broke off my relationship with a client last year because they wanted things to be done in a certain way. I tried to tell them that it shouldn’t be done that way, and they initially agreed. I did things my way, and they made me revert it back to the way that they wanted it done. I told them, “Hey, that’s not gonna work and Google isn’t going to like you for that.” And they said, “Well, this is the way we want it done. “ After that, I told them I didn’t think we were a good fit, and that I wasn’t going to do any more writing for them. 

 That was how the relationship ended. It was within my power because I was going to be unhappy doing that work. So I walked away. 

Remember Who You Are

You have to understand that you shouldn’t give up your power when you engage with clients. It’s really important that you hold onto that power and understand your position. 

You are not an order taker. You are not an employee. They can tell you what they want, but you always have to factor in what you want.

Nobody else is factoring in what you want, so if you don’t do it, no one will.

Why You Should Read Profit First

The book Profit First is by Michael Michalowicz is a great book that I used to transform my business money management at the start of the year. I recommend it to everyone. 

It will change the way you view your business finances, and it will help you keep your business healthy. Listen to this episode to hear about why this book is the key to transforming your business “from a cash-eating monster to a money-making machine!”

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

Today, we’re going to talk about why you should read the book Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. 

I have to imagine that sounds pretty good. Anything with the word profit in it sounds good to most entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial-minded people. 

I don’t feel like I’m taking away from your reading experience by sharing this, because there’s nothing I can say in 10 minutes that’s going to be as accurate as just reading the book. So I definitely recommend you read it! You can get it on Amazon. I’m not an Amazon affiliate or anything, but I know a lot of people get books from there. 

Transform Your Business

The tagline is probably one of my favorite parts about the book. It highlights exactly what you’re going to get when you crack open the cover. It says “Profit First”, and then it says “transform your business from a cash-eating monster to a money-making machine.” 

How Profit First Helped Me

Before I implemented Profit First in my own business, that’s exactly how I felt about my business. I felt like it was a cash-eating monster. It felt like I could keep giving it money and it would never be enough. You may be able to relate to that. 

The very first day I set it up, I immediately felt better about my business. I was able to see what amount of money needed to go where. 

The Profit First System

Set up a Series of Bank Accounts

Before I talk about that, I’ll go ahead and talk about what the Profit First system looks like. 

Personally, I was already doing this because I knew I needed to pay my quarterly taxes. I knew it would be easier for me to keep track of quarterly taxes if they weren’t just sitting in my main account because then I would think that I could spend that money. 

So I had my main account and I had a taxes account for my business. However, I still didn’t have a very good idea of where all my money needed to be and when.

Mike has you set up a series of bank accounts. This includes things like:

  • Income (your main account where all your money comes in)
  • Profit
  • Taxes

You also have a couple of other accounts related to operational expenses and things like that. 

Plan for Profit

One of the things I really love about this book is that they plan for profit. 

One of the things I learned in the army is that if you don’t plan, you’re planning to fail. You have to plan for success. 

That little inclusion was just amazing to me, because what’s our inclination to do with the so-called extra money? We don’t use it as profit. We typically reinvest it back into the business, which causes the business to become that swelled-up, cash-eating monster. 

Now, this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t allocate any funds at all in investment and things that your business needs. But, he says you can even start very low.

I have about 20% that goes into my tax account. You need to make sure because every time you do your allocations you’re putting away profit money. 

For me, it lines up really well, even though I’m paying my estimated taxes. I’m also getting a quarterly profit distribution from my own business. 

So that’s what he has you do. Once per quarter, you get to take half of what’s in that account and spend it however you want to, just not on the business. The beauty of this is that because you take half, you don’t take the entire thing. That other half stays in there. 

So let’s say your first quarter is $500. You take $250, even if you earn the same amount for the following quarter. Even if you earn the same amount the following quarter, there is $250 already in there. 

Since you get another $50 later on, now you have $750, half of which is $375. 

At this point, you get to take that $375 out and leave the other $375. 

The number goes up for the next quarter, and you always take half.

It’s Beneficial to Your Family Life

Eventually, your quarterly profit distribution is going to be very sizable. You’d be able to afford a vacation or buy tickets for an awesome experience for you and your family.

I think that that’s what makes it so awesome; you get to take out that money and do something with it. 

If you have a family, they would see the benefits of your business as well. 

Don’t Let Your Business Deplete Your Resources

As entrepreneurs, oftentimes we go into business thinking we have more control over our time than we really do. But if we’re not careful with our money and time, our business will eat all of it. 

There’s never a moment where your business is like, “Okay, I’ve had enough. I don’t need any more of your time or money”. There are always things that need to be done. 

I think the allocation of the profit helps so much because it’s easier not to touch your account which is specifically made for profit. You’re stealing from yourself if you touch it. 

Assess Your Business’s Health

One of my favorite chapters in the book is Chapter 4, which assesses the health of your business. 

If you’ve listened to any of the other episodes of the podcast up until now, you know I’m all about healthy, consistent, and scalable business growth. 

In the chapter, there’s a formula and a chart for you to fill out. Once you’re done, it can be a bit of a shock how unhealthy your business is. 

My case wasn’t that bad, but the author also describes some scenarios that were pretty bad. That’s okay, you’re going to start fixing it instead of continuing on like you have been. 

Once you’re done with the assessment, you’ll see where your business is hemorrhaging money. Your business is a bucket with holes in it, which you didn’t realize were there. So the money is just coming out. 

Take Action!

That’s the whole point of Profit First; the creation of a healthy business. You don’t want to have to stress out over funds if you don’t have to, so that is why you should go read Profit First. It’s not a super long book, and you’ll be able to implement things as you go. 

He actually gives you that direction. Stop reading right now and go do this. 

Let me know if you read or implement the book. Go ahead and leave a comment, or contact me on any of the social media channels in which you find this episode.