For two and a half years, every two weeks I sifted through over 140 blog posts and podcasts that talk about how to build successful online businesses. I found the best content, summarized it, added a bit of my commentary, and delivered it to the inboxes of entrepreneurs around the world…for free. I’m no longer writing Signals in the Noise issues (because my business partners and I are focusing on other parts of Clarity Lab), but please enjoy these archived issues. There’s a ton of useful information in them!
1. Lifesmile business?
What’s better for you: Getting a big pile of venture capital funding to build your business FAST and hope for the day when you’ll make millions, or bootstrapping your business with no outside funding and having full control over your lifestyle? Said another way, should you take the startup path or the lifestyle business path? Corbett Barr, from Fizzle, says that “After being on both sides of the equation, I’m 110% happier now running my growing business this way. The control I have over my life is nearly ridiculous, and the future of my ‘lifestyle’ business is brighter than 90% of funded startup entrepreneurs will ever achieve.”
I’ve looked long and hard at the startup path. I’ve worked in two startups. And you know, the more I see what the startup reality is like, the more I feel like I’m right where I need to be: running a lifestyle business.
I have friends playing the startup lottery and friends with lifestyle businesses, and I can’t help but notice that my friends with lifestyle businesses are happier, have more cash flow, and get to spend more time with their family.
So, yes, I’m totally biased towards lifestyle businesses, but that doesn’t mean they’re a perfect fit for everyone. If you ever find yourself wondering which path is best for you, imagine, like really hard, that you’re 80 years old, looking back at your life. From this vantage point, when you look at the things you didn’t do in life, which of them do you regret not doing the most? If you make decisions based on minimizing the regret that your 80-year-old self will feel upon looking back at your life, you’ll be on the right path for you, whether that path involves a lifestyle business, a startup, or a job working for someone else.
As Mark Twain once said “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
2. Bio con Dios.
“I know that I was meant for something big. Like, BIG-big. Not like, be-the-next-Miley-Cyrus-Big (yeah – no thanks). I mean Martin-Luther-Big (you know, the monk guy with the hammer that pissed off the Catholic church). Or Mother-Teresa-Big (not the fame; the “killing it for a greater good” IMPACT). The thought actually suffocates me on an almost hourly basis. Not because I’m afraid – well, yeah, I’m scared shitless, but it’s not the thought of DOING something that scares me, it’s the thought of NOT doing it. I just don’t know exaaaactly what “it” is yet – but I also know I’ll figure it out.” That’s a member of Ash Ambirge’s Unf*ckwithable Girlfriends community, introducing herself to the community in the group’s private Facebook group (a group that I’m a part of, and where I am seemingly one of two guys in the entire community of 450 women entrepreneurs. Yes, it’s a little awkward, but I don’t care, because I love Ash, and the people she draws into her community are amazing-inspiring-crazy-awesome.)
This post from Ash is about how this Unf*withable woman introduced herself to the group, and how you can use the same technique to write a wonderfully unique bio for your About page, or Twitter bio, or Facebook bio. It’s brrrrrrillliant. Period.
3. Canary in the coal line.
“As many as 40 people were injured after walking on hot coals as part of a self-help seminar hosted by motivational speaker Tony Robbins in Texas, fire officials said on Friday….Most people avoid burns because coals are not efficient conductors of heat, but standing too long in one spot and other factors can increase the risk.” That’s Jim Forsyth, of Reuters, on the unfortunate effects of the laws of thermodynamics in the realm of personal growth. The moral of the story? When you’re trying to “break through any limit” and improve the quality of your life, as the marketing copy says about this event on the Tony Robbins site, it’s best to avoid waiting in line for your break through if you’re standing on hot coals.
4. Lurch engine optimization.
Search engine optimization is still a game worth playing. Across the internet using world, when questions arise, often the habitual response is “I don’t know, but let’s Google it and find out.” And if, when people caveman-grunt their questions to Google, your site comes up on the first page of search results (or better, in the top 3 results of the first page), that’s free traffic, new possible people to sign up for your free list-building offers, and perhaps paying customers. YES, please. I’ll have some of that.
Half of the SEO game happens right on your site, which SEO geeks call “on-page optimization.” Here’s one of the best guides to the current most effective tactics for on-page SEO optimization from the always good Brian Dean at Backlinko. I just went through several posts on my site and made sure all of those things were in place, and now I’m working on my Sunday afternoon on-couch optimization.
5. Myers swiggs.
“In a recent media release from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, research scholar Dr Ikusan R. Adeyemi said, ’Our research suggests a person’s personality traits can be deduced by their general internet usage,’ and it could do so using machine learning algorithms by analyzing just half an hour of web browsing.” That’s Megan Rimmer, from Innovation Enterprise, on the leading edge of online marketing: delivering customized marketing content to your site visitors based on their personality type (which computer programs deduce from watching their web surfing behavior.)
I’m highly skeptical of their approach, but being able to know the personality type of each prospect coming to your site is an online marketer’s holy grail. If we could know that information about the folks that come to our sites, we could help them so much more, and could deliver useful, free content (and paid products and services), perfectly tailored to the ways in which they specifically like to consume content.
But anyone who has studied personality typologies knows that they are incredibly complex. I doubt that an algorithm watching 30 minutes of a person’s internet usage behavior can tell us anything useful regarding how we can best deliver content to them based on their “personality” (yes, those were air quotes.)
Over the last 30 minutes, I’ve opened and closed 87 tabs in my browser with different articles that I’ve read (for a second time) while I find the best ones to share with you for this issue of Signals in the Noise. Based on that behavior, the personality guessing algorithm would likely label me with ADHD, short-term memory loss, and would completely miss the fact that I love watching funny animal videos after a long work session.
6. Lend a helping brand.
What’s your One Big Life Goal? If you’re reading this newsletter, I bet you’ve asked yourself that question, or have thought, at one time or another, that you might want to work towards One Big Goal. Jon Westenberg thinks that that “question stems from the fact that most people don’t know what their own life’s single driving passion is, but they’ve been told by all these life-hacking, startup porn, inspirational articles that they have to have this one Big Thing they’re working towards. Mine is best summed up like this. I want to help people. I know that sounds pretty simple, but I like simple. It might sound cheesy or overblown, but I’m not sure I give a shit. The world is full of people who need advice, and need guidance, and need direction, and just…need. Need something, even if they’re not sure what it is.”
I’ve held this same philosophy for years. (I was even quoted in Forbes a few years ago saying it.) If you focus your attention on helping people improve their lot in life (and not just wanting to help people because it’s profitable), your business will never be short on customers. Plus, you can get quoted in Forbes and totally forget about, like I just did for the last three years until I wrote this piece today. (There goes that personality algorithm again, labeling me with short AND long term memory problems.)
7. The price is light.
“Then one day everything changed. In a flash, I saw with total clarity that billing clients by the hour was hurting me, my company, and our clients. It was the source of just about every problem that we faced as a company. Best of all, I saw an alternative: value-based pricing. I left the hourly firm, set up my own consultancy, and in the first year I doubled my income using value-based pricing. This year, I’m on track to do triple what I made by the hour. All while working with better clients, on more interesting problems, with lower labor intensity, and almost zero administrative overhead.” That’s Jonathan Stark, in a post on Double Your Freelancing, about how to get out of the rut of charging dollars for hours (which is only slightly better than bowling for dollars) by pricing your freelancing, coaching, or consulting services based on the amount of value you deliver to clients, rather than how much you think your time should be valued.
8. A dollar ninety shine.
“Check this out…Out of the 40,000 people in the PlatformU sales funnel that didn’t buy, 819 signed up for the $1.99 offer. Of those 819 people, 292 canceled their auto-convert option. Which means that 527 new members were added at $37 per month. And this is where things get crazy…At $37 per month, that’s an additional $19,499 of monthly recurring revenue (MRR). Since their average member stays for 17.3 months, that’s a lifetime value of $640.10 per member. Add all of that up and that will produce an estimated $337,332 in revenue from a $1.99 trial offer. *mind=blown*.” And so is mine. Holy crap. That’s Bryan Harris describing what happened when Michael Hyatt did a $1.99 7-day trial of his Platform U online program, which opens twice a year for registration.
I am SOOO going to try this next time I launch a program. The email Michael sent with this offer (which you can read in Bryan’s post) is authentic, warm, and down-to-earth, and lets you see that you can offer things like this to your audience without looking like a smarmy online marketer (unless, of course, you’re into that kind of thing.)
9. Global online potluck.
“I did everything from my blog which I wrote consistently every single day for three years to keep content fresh, to keep the SEO working. I would guest blog, I had an email list that I was growing, we worked a lot on referrals. I would do free events around the city, around the country at times and really just getting the word out that this was what we were doing. There was no one else doing it the way I was doing it and word spread and we would fill up week after week.” That’s Meghan Telpner, founder of Culinary Nutrition Academy, in a great interview with Pat Flynn about exactly what it took for her to get her online cooking course from zero to the $1 million plus per year level of revenue.
This is such a rich conversation. Meghan lays out a lot of the nitty-gritty details of what it takes to build a successful online business that teaches an online course once or twice a year. If you want an incredible inside view of the reality and tactics involved, this is one of the best I’ve seen.
10. Optimize for Italy.
“So it all comes down to the information you derive from the A/B tests. The bad news is there are 19 ways A/B testing can tank your conversions. If you’re running A/B tests, you may be committing one of these 19 errors, which lead to wasted time and money, fewer email addresses collected (leading to decreased sales and revenue), and a user experience nightmare for your visitors.” Sean Bestor, at SumoMe, on how you might be screwing up your split testing, and how to your fix A/B science experiments. Wait, wait…you are running some split tests, aren’t you? If you don’t test, you won’t find the best. A/B split testing allows you to optimize your money and impact making engine.
If you find the best performing copy, colors, images, and button styles, your revenue and impact in people’s lives will increase. Your business will be better. Your customer’s lives will be better. And you’ll get more time to run your business on your own terms, like working from a perfectly cute cafe with fast wifi in Italy. Logic, therefore, dictates that good A/B split testing will maximize Italian cafe work time.
And on that note, that’s a wrap for this issue of Signals in the Noise.
If you found some helpful nuggets in here that helped you a bit on your business and life path, I would be ever so grateful if you share this issue with your friends. You’ll feel good sharing, more people will get help from these newsletters, my audience will grow a bit, and we’ll all feel like hugging each other.
Here’s a couple of links to make sharing on social media easy peezy:
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May your business take a big leap this week!
Founder @ Clarity Lab
Editor-in-chief @ Signals in the Noise
P.S. You can find the archive of past issues of Signals in the Noise right here.