Let’s Chat About The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

We are excited to announce a brand new chat topic for our Thursday nights on Twitter. Starting on April 18, 2013 and going through the summer, we invite you to join #BEECHrt for a discussion of the wisdom and inspiration in The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau.

The $100 Startup Twitter Chat @BEECHRetreat

Chris was kind enough to send the each of the creative team her own copy of this amazing book. Reading the book is not required for participation in the chats, but we encourage you to get your own copy. You will be motivated as you read his stories of ordinary people who created meaningful and profitable microbusinesses with very few resources.

Twitter Chat Schedule for $100 Startup

4/18 Pro  The microbusiness revolution — transforming your hobby or passion into a business model.
4/25 Ch 1  Unexpected entrepreneurs find where their passion/skill overlaps with what is useful to others.
5/2 Ch 2  Providing value by knowing what people really want.
5/9 Ch 3  The follow-your-passion business model.
5/16 p. 69  Becoming your own publisher.
5/23 Ch 5  Understanding your audience.
5/30 Ch 6  Explaining your business with a mission statement and getting to the first sale.
6/6 Ch 7  Creating an irresistable offer with real value.
6/13 Ch 8  Launching strategies and tactics.
6/20 Ch 9  How to promote your microbusiness and still have time to create.
6/27 Ch 10  Creating a profitable microbusiness with no or little start up money; tips for earning money.
7/4 na  Independence Day, USA chat cancelled
7/11 Ch 11  How to grow your business.
7/18 Ch 12  Hiring help, outsourcing, and forging partnerships.
7/25 Ch 13  Maintaining your microbusiness long-term; choosing to stay small or grow.
8/1 Ch 14  Facing our fears; taking risks; enjoying success.
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Social Media Tips for the Newbie Blogger

As a newbie blogger, the social media world was to me as unfathomable as the Atlantic Ocean—as mysterious as air that I can’t see, can’t hold, can’t make, but can’t live without.

A blogger really can’t make it without social media so, here we go!

social media tips

Facebook, I can do Facebook… I think. But what is Twitter? How do I put out enough interesting content in 140 characters at a time to get 272,598 followers?! And Pinterest? How do I get from pure delightful distraction to actually making it drive people to my blog? Google+? I think I’ve heard of it. How many types of social media are there?

If I have just described you as well, let me share with you four things that unlocked the mystery of social media for me and the tips that have helped me grow my blog so far.

  1. I attended the BEECH Retreat 2013. It filled my heart with new friends, my head with possibilities, my bag with resources and my notebook with more information than I thought possible!
  2. I read Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt, and joined Platform University.
  3. I read Pinteresting – Pinterest Strategies for Brands and Bloggers by Tabitha Philen.
  4. I read Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Andrews(time management principles that apply to life AND social media).

The tips I gleaned from these experiences:

Branding – Get a good headshot (profile picture) and use the same one uniformly across all your social media. The same could be said for your blog header and background too. This helps with branding. Helps others recognize you as you, wherever you show up.

Promotion – Promote others 80% of the time and yourself 20% of the time. Don’t promote just so that others will promote you. Promote content in your niche (area of expertise), content that you like, use, approve of, etc. This applies to other people’s posts, to affiliates, reviews you do, where you guest post. Being niche conscious in your promotion helps you establish yourself as an authority in your niche and keeps you from looking like a spammer.

Time Management – Decide what is most important and make a plan to get it done. Scheduling social media posts keeps it from controlling your life. Use the Facebook activity log to set the date and time of posts to share. Use Hoot Suite or a similar application to schedule tweets throughout the day. Know your goal and set a timer. Determine what you want to accomplish on social media in this 10 minutes and set a timer to help you not to be distracted. When time is up, go on to the next goal or task.

Facebook – work to get interaction, ask questions and be conscious of your niche when posting or sharing.

Social media and blogging is not about you. It’s about the reader. If you are going to grow your blog you must see it from the readers eyes, interests, and point of view.

Twitter - follow people in your niche. When retweeting, always add a comment to increase the value of the information shared.

Pinterest – Have the mindset that Pinterest is not just about eye candy, it’s about business. Pin mainly those things that match your blog’s niche. Pin your own stuff, but observe the 80/20% rule. Pinning something once a day consistently is much better than pinning 80 pins all in one day per week.

Google+ – Learn it. Use it. Google is fast becoming the world’s most authoritative directory of everything and learning to rise with it is just wise. The more you author (even in places other than your blog) that is linked back to you on Google+, the higher you will rank in the Google world and quite possibly the entire world. Don’t underestimate or discount Google+.

Have I got it all figured out? No. But my blog is growing much faster since I started implementing these tips.

What advice would you give a newbie blogger? What do you wish you had known from the beginning?

Katie Hornor paradisepraises.com is an educator, writer, and speaker who blogs about marriage, motherhood and ministry at ParadisePraises.com. She is the author of Loving You Long Distance and of the Lemonhass Homeschool Curriculum for Spanish speakers. Connect with her on Facebook or Pinterest.


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Why You Need a YouTube Strategy

Do you have a YouTube strategy? In case you didn’t know, it’s the 2nd largest search engine on the planet and your audience is there every day. More video is uploaded there every hour than is housed in the Smithsonian. So I ask again, “Do you have a YouTube strategy”?

Youtube Strategies

The Nashville Symphony has a very active strategy. Their goal is to post a new video every week. Wow! Imagine how much work that must be. But the Nashville Symphony’s goals are definitely aligned with that strategy. They want to be there to engage with their fans, and videos help create that engagement. And the demand of 1 video per week means every department in their organization gets involved at some point or another.

Another strategy is to set-up your channel like your website and drive traffic to your channel as a resource, not to specific videos. To use your YouTube Channel as a resource for your audience, first create playlists for each of the categories you feel would be useful to your audience (hint: look at your website navigation bar). Then when you’re customizing your channel check the box that says “show playlists” and uncheck the box that says “show uploaded videos.”

The nice thing about playlists is you can put any video in them, not just yours. So if someone else filmed you, you can add that to a playlist and it will show up on your channel page. Then your channel page will look a bit like your navigation bar with category buttons they can peruse.

A little known but extremely effective YouTube strategy harks back to the days of “Choose your own Adventure” books. Unlike those books however, we’re not going to be funneling people to the end of an adventure, but helping them find what they’re looking for. This strategy involves the use of the “annotations” feature in YouTube’s video editor.

Annotations are the boxes you see in videos that say things like “Subscribe to my channel”. YouTube allows you to put these boxes in videos and use them to link to your channel, your subscribe button, and other YouTube Videos.

To do the “choose your own adventure” strategy, you really need to plan it from the beginning. When you’re shooting a video, start by leaving an extra 10 – 20 seconds of dead air at the end of the video. That dead air at the end of the video is going to be where we put “annotation buttons” linking to other videos.

For instance if you are in the health niche and create a video about “Best Foods to Eat in Winter”, you could put links two links at the end of the video to divide your audience. This is the choose your own adventure part. One of those links might say “Top 10 Foods for Weight Loss” and the other “Best Exercises for Six-pack Abs.” Now your audience will divide themselves between those interested in exercise and those interested in nutrition.

Then at the end of every ensuing video, include links to two more of your videos. The great thing about annotations is that you can change them at will. Got a hot video? Take advantage of that traffic and move them to your newest video.

This strategy does one very important thing. It takes the eyes off the sidebar and keeps them on you. Once someone has seen two of your videos, you have the opportunity to become the expert in their eyes. When you keep moving them to subjects that appeal to them, you start making fans. And that’s where the gold is.

So, do you have a YouTube strategy? If not, do you sense the value you could provide if you did?

Dan R Morris is the founder of LettersFromDan.com, a website dedicated to improving your revenue stream from online efforts. Dan is an infomercial producer, niche website owner, product developer, author and Mastermind leader. Dan actively encourages marketers to take that extra step so that “Hope” doesn’t become the marketing plan.


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Encourage Powerful Pinterest Pins

Most bloggers are in love with Pinterest not only as a great visual bookmarking tool but also as a source of traffic. It goes without saying that Pinterest is a game changer when it driving visitors to blogs.

If you have pin-worthy images on your blog (and you should), there are a few things you can do to capitalize on the influence on Pinterest and use it to your advantage.

Encourage Pinterest Pinning

Pinterest is not without its critics, and some readers may be afraid to pin your images. In that case, you can reassure them that you are Pinterest friendly in two ways.

1. Display a link to your own Pinterest boards, inviting readers to follow you there.

You can use the buttons supplied by Pinterest or create your own. Although not a direct invitation to pin, a link to your own Pinterest account does hint that you are a fan of Pinterest.

2. Install a plug-in that adds a Pin It button to each image.

There are many sharing plug-ins that will add a reminder to pin an image. When your readers see that icon, they can be sure that you welcome their pins.

Tailor Pinterest Pinning

Once you have made it as clear as possible that you welcome pinning from your blog, there is still more you can do to foster powerful pins.  A pin that features your blog and brand in the best possible light is better than a generic pin. Your two secret weapons lie right inside your image editor.

To access the image editor, click on an image inside a post, and you will see the window that is pictured below.

Powerful Pins Secret Weapon #1:  Title Attribute

When you pin an image, have you ever wondered where that automatic description comes from? Sometimes it is very thorough and relevant, and other times it seems to be nonsense like IMG50933. That description comes from the title attribute.

As a blogger, you have full control over that title attribute. Therefore you have control over the default description that appears when a reader pins your image. A reader can modify that description — edit it, add to it, or erase it all. But in general, people use what is already there when they pin.

Try it out. Pin the top image in this post and see what appears in the description field. Now compare it to the second image in the post. Which is more powerful and promotes the BEECH Retreat brand in the best light? Surely the first one. (I purposely left the second image with a title of  ”pinterest-friendly-image-screenshot” so you can see the difference.)

The bottom line is use that title field to your best interest. Create a meaningful title for your image, possibly the title of your entire post. Add your Twitter handle or a relevant hashtag. You may even want to add your own URL or blog name. It is up to you. Make it useful and descriptive and your pinning readers will probably leave it just as you compose it. Now every one of your pins will clearly and powerfully work to build your brand.

Also, when people search within Pinterest, they are more likely to come across your pins if the description fields have strong keywords. You can put those keywords there when you add the title attribute.

By the way, if the image title field is not filled in at all, Pinterest will pull the Alternative Text (alt tag) into the description.

Powerful Pins Secret Weapon #1: Link URL (None)

Another secret to powerful pins is to unlink your images. Just click None under the Link URL field to clear it out quickly.

Readers tend to click on images. If your image is linked to the image location, you may end up with pins on Pinterest that are orphaned –separated from their posts. You can read more about linking images here.

You are invited to learn more about blogging and social media at BEECH Retreat, January 31 – February 2, 2013. Soak up wisdom from keynote speakers Michael Hyatt and Crystal Paine. Implement new blogging strategies in hands-on workshops in the luxurious South Seas Island setting of Captiva Island, FL. Your ticket includes resort lodging, all meals, and airport transfer.

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Are You a Hit and Run User of Social Media?

Social media seems simple enough. These online platforms provide free ways to interact with others, share ideas, promote brands, and evangelize causes. But some users have neglected the more human aspect of being social and have turned social networks into a bumper car rink of meaningless hit and run.

Although these hit and run tactics are extremely common on Twitter, I’ve seen them on Facebook and Google+ as well. Are you guilty of these social media mistakes?

1. Asking questions but never responding to replies

Asking questions is a classic way to encourage conversation. Everyone has an opinion to share, and when you ask for it, you often get an answer. But if you never go back to see what answers you received, you are misusing social media. The people who answered you will soon realize that you don’t care about their reply at all. And over time they will stop replying altogether.

Your follow up doesn’t have to be anything grand. A simple acknowledgement is adequate. Ignoring them is unforgivable.

One of the big culprits to this hit and run behavior is connecting your social networks together. Maybe you are active on Facebook but not on Twitter. However, your Facebook question is set to autopost to Twitter. You never check Twitter, so you never see the readers who are reaching out to you. That is a social media fail. Disconnect those accounts and only feed to platforms where you commit to engage.

2. Autoposting identical content to multiple platforms at once

We all know that there are just a handful of big social networks out there and everyone seems to have her favorite. But posting the same link on every single one of them within the span of thirty minutes is not going to engender love. Instead, it looks very “hit and run-ish.”

All you need to do is space it out. Auto scheduling your posts is helpful here so that you can set it up at once, but the posts don’t all hit at once. So that you don’t commit transgression #1, be sure to check in with each network for reactions to your posts.

3. Sharing link after link but never interacting as a person in real time

Automating your social media posts is an efficient use of time, and many readers appreciate it. But if you never interact in real time, you become a cardboard personality.

Go ahead and schedule your posts to Facebook and Twitter, but also plan for a few minutes each day to check in and post some  spontaneous, non-promotional things. (While you are there, react to those who reached out to you earlier in the day.)

4. Sharing the same 5-10 links in a repetitive cycle

There are some Twitter accounts that run like the alarms on my iPhone. They never vary; they are like clockwork.

Whoever set these up wrote a dozen nifty tweets and then set them into some sort of perpetual motion machine that spits them out on schedule, never varying the wording.

Boring. Cardboard. Hit and run social media.

5. Sharing the same content from two or more different accounts at virtually the same time

Since many bloggers have multiple blogs, crossover in  social media is to be expected. But try to disguise it a bit and space it out. Don’t tweet from your personal account at 8:02 and then repeat the same tweet from your blog account at 8:03.

You may claim that the accounts have different followers, so it’s okay to tweet the same thing at the same time.

Actually, you probably have a lot of overlap in followers. Or at least you will until those readers get sick of seeing duplicate tweets and unfollow one (or both) of your accounts.

When your cross-promote, personalize each tweet for each account. And schedule them for different times.

6. Auto direct messaging without real interaction

Most everyone agrees that auto DMs are bad practice. And yet I see them all the time. Actually, I don’t mind them so much if there is a human on the other side. But I’ve found that nearly every time I’ve replied to an auto DM, I get no response at all.

Don’t Commit Social Media Hit and Run

Social media hit and run means that you are blasting out your message with no concern for those hearing your message. You offer no chance for true dialogue because you just want to be heard.

The irony of hit and run social media use is that it results in total deafness. No one wants to interact with a megaphone that can do nothing but shout.

The solution? Be a human. Pretend that there are real people on the other end of your tweet, status, or post. Because there actually are people there.

You are invited to learn more about blogging and social media at BEECH Retreat, January 31 – February 2, 2013. Soak up wisdom from keynote speakers Michael Hyatt and Crystal Paine. Implement new blogging strategies in hands-on workshops in the luxurious South Seas Island setting of Captiva Island, FL. Your ticket includes resort lodging, all meals, and airport transfer.

Subscribe to BEECH Retreat by Email