Let’s Hear Your Blog’s Elevator Pitch

I’m working through Darren Rowse’s book, 31 Days to a Better Blog. I’ve gone through the book before, and it’s an excellent resource and reference for starting, or building a blog. You can find more information about the book here: 31 Day’s To A Better Blog

I’m going to be posting what I’m doing for each day here, to keep me accountable and to share a little about what I’ve learned. Plus it gives me something to post here for the next few weeks, and helps me get back into the habit of posting regularly here at Lens Author. I’ve learned a ton of great information through the years, and I can’t wait to share!

On Day one of 31 Days to a Better Blog, Darren challenges you to work on your about page, and to come up with an elevator pitch for your blog. Do you have an elevator pitch to describe your blog or small business? First, what is an elevator pitch or speech? An elevator pitch is a quick (usually under 2 minutes) in a nutshell description of what your blog or business does. You want it to grab the attention of complete strangers, and at the same time tell them about your business.

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The idea of an elevator pitch is to have something already worked out to tell someone about your what you do, or what your blog or business is about. So when someone asks you can rattle off your pre-made speech instead of stuttering around and blowing the moment. You usually don’t have long to catch someone’s attention, only a minute or two, and they’re on to something else.

You can use your speech anytime someone asks you what you do, or asks you about your business. You never know who will end up being your next reader, follower or fan. If they’re not interested themselves, if they’re intrigued enough maybe they’ll mention your blog to a friend, or relative.

Make sure your pitch is sounds natural, and interesting to the people you meet. If you have a prepared speech you can practice ahead of time. Then you’ll know what to say the next time someone asks you out of the blue, what you do, or what your business does.

My elevator pitch for Lens Author is: At Lens Author I share blogging, social media, and photography tips to help others build a business online.

You can check out my updated About page here: About

Both are a work in process, and I plan to tweak them over the next few weeks. What do you think? I’d love to hear input from others!

Do you have an elevator pitch for your blog or small business?

Image: sxc.hu

5 Advantages To Running a Home Business

I run my small business from home, and I love it, but it’s not the perfect fit for everyone. There are both advantages and disadvantages to running your small business from home. Today I’m going to focus on the advantages, but I’m also going to present the disadvantages for each.

  1. One of the biggest advantages is working in your slippers if you want to. When you’re not meeting with clients or customers you can hang out in comfortable clothes and your slippers if you want to. I do always try to get dressed for the day when I get up in the morning. I think that sets the tone for the day. When I’m up and dressed I’m ready to get to work. The disadvantage: Sometimes it’s hard to get in a work mode with dishes to do, a pile of laundry staring at you, or your family has other plans for the day. It’s easy to get sidetracked and get nothing done!
  2. You can set your own hours (sometimes). Setting your own hours is usually a benefit, as long as you make sure you set aside some time for work. Don’t just blow it off because you have flexibility. You’ve got to put the hours in if you want to build your business. The disadvantage is you never leave work! It can be tempting to work too much, and neglect your family if you’re not careful, or to let clients take over your down time.
  3. You can decorate your office or work space however you want to. If you want to go all out for Christmas, there’s no one stopping you. If you want photos on your desk, or a coffee warmer, it’s all up to you. The disadvantage (for me at least), sometimes it’s easy to let my office space get cluttered with non office clutter, and to let my office expand into other rooms in the house. It can be difficult to keep things separated.
  4. You don’t have to pay for a separate work space. If you set up an office or a storefront it’s an additional monthly cost to your business. Disadvantage, the same as number 3!
  5. You’ll save big on commuting costs. With gas prices up you can save big dollars each month on gas, wear and tear on your car, and insurance by driving fewer miles and working from home. Disadvantage: Since you are at home it’s hard for others to believe you’re working, and easier for them to try to request things from you during your work time.

If you run your small business from home, what is your favorite advantage?

Do You Have A Business or Hobby? Can It Be Both?

One thing that I love about blogging and creating Squidoo lenses is taking things I enjoy doing (my hobbies), and making money from those hobbies.

One of the most popular ways to start a small business is to take something you love and build a business around it. But is it feasible to create a business around your favorite things, or hobbies? It is if you think outside the box!

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Sometimes you have to get creative to build a business around your hobby, but it can be done. You might not be able to create a business crafting or drawing because it’s too time consuming to make much money at it (although I’m sure there are those out there who do).

Think outside the box with your hobby, here are a few business ideas using the crafting and drawing examples I used above.

  • Instead of actually selling hand crafted pieces maybe you could create patterns from what you make and sell the patterns.
  • Create a blog about your craft or art work. Teach others to create.
  • Make crafting or drawing how to instructional videos and sell them in an online store, or have others sell them for you through Clickbank.
  • Create a website to sell your favorite art and craft supplies. You don’t even have to stock the supplies yourself just find a good affiliate program to promote.
  • Don’t have money for your own website? Start with a couple Squidoo lenses about your hobby, and make money selling the supplies through Amazon, ebay, or your own affiliate links. Promote your Etsy, ebay, or Zazzle store.
  • Sell your crafts through Etsy.
  • Sell your artwork on t-shirts through Zazzle, or Cafe Press.
  • Teach crafting or drawing classes locally
  • Create a membership site with learning resources for people who would like to learn more about your hobby.

Just substitute your hobby in for the crafting and drawing, many of these will work for different hobbies. If you like to play music, collect antiques, take photographs, etc, just take a look at the list and decide what might work for you. If you’re good at what you do share it with others, you should be able to create a small business around it.

Many business ideas can be tested these days without a big dollar investment. You can create a video and upload it to Youtube, set up a free blog or Squidoo lens, or patterns to be downloaded by your customer, and it will cost you very little, but you can make money from it with a little promotional effort.

Think outside the box, what type of small business could you create around your hobby? How can you promote that small business?

Image: istockphoto.com

Do You Work Regular Hours On Your Small Business?

I work full time from home, some of the work I do is on my own blogs and websites, but I also have several clients to juggle into the mix. My work for clients usually has deadlines, but no one’s looking over my shoulder to make sure I get my work done.

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Sometimes it can be easy to say I’ll do it later, and do something else instead. My motivation is, I LOVE doing what I do. I love working from home, and I love writing and creating. I don’t want to do anything else, period!

So yes, I keep regular business hours, and I treat everything just like a business. I make a daily schedule and I try to stick with it. If I didn’t I’d be out of a job and back to work someplace with someone watching over my shoulder.

Do you keep regular business hours for your small business? There are many reasons why you should keep regular business hours, even when your small business is just starting out.

  • If you set up regular business hours you will be more motivated to sit down and work. If you sit down and get sidetracked make a schedule and set a timer. Then you’ll know it’s work time and time to get focused, that you shouldn’t be folding laundry, or mowing the lawn. You should be working on something to move your business forward.
  • Your customers and other contacts will know when to contact you. Whether your contacts are hundreds of miles away, or right down the street, it’s good for them to know when your business hours are so they know when they can do business with you. I do regular phone interviews, and I usually schedule them for about the same time of the day, it helps to build a routine in my day.
  • Set rules with your family for your work hours. If you have older children you will be able to let them know when it’s OK to interrupt your work time, and when they need to be able to take car of themselves for short bursts of time. For younger children you’ll need to decide if someone else will need to care for them during your work time, or if you can pull double duty. It’s tough to balance work and children. Even if you schedule your work for short bursts with plenty of family time in between make sure you schedule that work time.
  • You’re better able to schedule your work day. If you have set work hours for your small business you’ll be able to make a list of what you need to get done, then set up a schedule during your business hours to get the tasks on your business to do list accomplished.

Even if your business hours can only be a few hours per week, it’s still a good thing to set aside that time to work on your business. The more time you can devote, the more you’ll have a chance to grow your business.

Image (c) L Gerlach

Seth Godin On When To Quit (or When Not To Quit)

I was hopping around on Youtube today and I found this interview with Seth Godin talking about his book The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick). I enjoyed the video, so I thought I’d share it here.

It’s definitely something you can apply to your online business. I think back to when I first started, and wonder what would have happened if I would have quit during those first few months when I made zero dollars online. Where would I be now?

Definitely not where I am today! The first three or four months I tried to make money online were a ton of work but no return. Then I made my first sale. I think I made less than $1 on that sale, but it was enough to get me pumped up about this internet marketing thing.

So I read more, studied what others were doing, and kept on plugging. Pretty soon I was making regular sales, and a regular income. I’ll still always remember that first sale, and wonder what would have happened if I would have quit before then.

Summer Lens and Blog Post Ideas

Are you hard at work on those summer lenses and blog posts yet? If not you should be, or even getting a head start on those fall ideas.IMG_6411

If you’re stumped for ideas here are 20 lens ideas to get you started. You could write about…

  1. 4th of July games and activities
  2. Your favorite pool games and activities
  3. Your favorite local amusement park
  4. Your local county fair (fair food yum!)
  5. Summer shoe styles
  6. Summer swimwear for toddlers
  7. The best summer vacation spot
  8. Your favorite childhood summer memory
  9. Your favorite summer foods
  10. Strawberry recipes
  11. Your favorite watermelon recipes
  12. What’s growing in your garden?
  13. The best places in your neighborhood to visit during summer break.
  14. Outdoor summer activity ideas for children
  15. Anything baseball
  16. Your favorite summer blockbuster movie
  17. Your favorite herbs to grow
  18. How to stay cool when it’s hot outside
  19. Your favorite flower
  20. Your turn… you tell me what number 20 should be.

Creating Your Own Images

There are tons of great stock images out there for low or no cost, but creating your own image gives your work a personal touch. I love to use my own images whenever possible.

You don’t have to spend a fortune on a camera, or equipment to get great images. I have a Canon PowerShot Digital Camera and it takes fabulous photos.

I have an SLR camera with fancy lenses, but my point and shoot fits in my purse or pocket and is ready to go in seconds. It’s the camera I use to get most of my images, including all of the images I’ve posted below.

I take photos of my garden and flowers.

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Capture food images…

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Crafts…

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And anything else I feel like capturing in pictures.

Sometimes the image itself can inspire an entire blog post or Squidoo lens. I take pictures of everything! Even if I’m not sure at the time what I’ll use the image for.

Many times I’ll write a post, and remember that I have the perfect image for it in my collection… then comes the fun part… finding it.

You don’t have to spend a ton of money on photo editing software either. A couple of my favorite photo editors are free downloads. Number one on my list is Photoscape, and I also use Gimp from time to time for putting together banners and headers.

I’ll be back with a few more tips on capturing great food images.

I Have a New Toy!

HP Pavilion DV5 Laptop I got a new toy yesterday. An HP Pavilion DV5-1160US Laptop , and I am loving it. I said in a previous post that I had money set aside for this from my online business. Well, I finally found the laptop I wanted.

I’ve been busy “mucking it up” as my son says with all the Internet tools and programs that make my life easier. Most are free downloads, so I’ll be back on another day to let you in on some of my favorite tools to help make working online a little easier.

It’s a totally sleek machine with Windows Vista Premium, 4GB RAM, and a 320 GB hard drive. And I’m now in the new century with a wide screen. Woot! Way faster than my old laptop!

Now I have both laptops (old and new) connected to the router, and I’m switching from one to the other. Yeah I’m addicted.

For now I have to get back to playing working. I just had to tell someone about my new toy.

Are You a Part of Generation G?

sharing According to Trendwatching.com’s February trend briefing, we’re heading toward Generation G. That’s G for generosity… not for greed.

According to the report, here are some of the trends pointing us in the direction of Generation G:

  1. Consumers are fed up with overspending, and are disgusted with big business.
  2. They’re looking for businesses and institutions that care about their customers.
  3. Sharing is the new giving. More people than ever are sharing their photos, videos, thoughts, etc. via Youtube, Flickr, Wikipedia, millions of blogs, Twitter and of course Squidoo.

So what is Generation G? According to Trendwatching, Generation G is about:

passionate, empowered individuals (if not entire generations) being more willing and able to give, to share, to collaborate; to be more ‘generous’ in many ways.”

I agree with the article, I think we’re going to see a big change in the way big business conducts itself in the upcoming years.

Check out the full article at Trendwatching.com.

Image via Stock.xchng

The Christmas That Was Paid For By My Online Business

gifts Our Christmas was paid for this year completely from my online business. Not a dime was charged on credit cards, and I didn’t have to scrape and cut out gifts. We did cut back a little, but not much.

Actually I should be a little more specific, I used one month of my online business earnings to pay for Christmas this year. Thanks to Squidoo, my niche sites, and blogging, I could afford to buy a Wii Fit for the family, a Sony 32-Inch LCD HDTV (not a big screen, but plenty big for our little family), several Wii games for my son, a guitar for our budding music artist, gifts for parents and grandparents, neices and nephews, and a new lap top (which I have the cash set aside for, but hasn’t been purchased yet). All…paid…with…cash, it was such a wonderful feeling.

I don’t usually like to talk about my earnings, I don’t do the print screens with shots of my earnings screens. Who can believe them anyway, since so many Photoshop the results to make them look better.  But I want people to know it’s possible to earn an income online, if I can do it so can you.

I would really like to help all of the people out there who have been struggling, and/or are finding themselves recently unemployed victims of our current economy.

My plan is to share with you my journey for the last year and a half, and show you how you can go from making nothing online to making a regular income.

We’ll definitely talk about Squidoo, because I looooovvvveee Squidoo! I think it’s a necessary part of any online business plan, whether you have an Etsy, Zazzle, Cafe Press, or eBay store Squidoo can help you build your business. If you have niche websites, are an affiliate marketer, or blogger (or all of the above), Squidoo can help you take it all to the next level.

I haven’t posted here for a little while, but one of my new years resolutions is to help others achieve what I’ve been able to achieve, and make a regular income from home with their online business.

It breaks my heart to see people losing their jobs, their homes, and their pride, if I can help just one person succeed it will be worth it, so stay tuned in the next couple weeks and I’ll share as many Online business ventures with you as I can.

I’d also love to hear from anyone who’d like to do a guest post related to their own online business ventures (or Squidoo ventures) to share with Lens Author’s readers. Leave a comment or contact me directly to share your story.