4 Ways to Make Your Business Extraordinary

I recently had an amazing experience with a local business here in Boulder, Colorado. I had been shopping around for a doggie daycare for my new puppy, so I asked my dog owner friends for their recommendations.

Many of my friends recommended The Dog Spot, a locally-owned daycare and boarding business for active pups.

I reserved Moose’s first daycare day with them, and right from the first moment, I got a great feeling about The Dog Spot. Here’s what I loved about my experience on the first day:

1. I was asked to fill out a complete profile for Moose, so that his caretakers would know his personality, including all his quirks and weird habits. I love that they wanted to know everything about my dog, in order to take the best possible care of him.

2. The owner, Shannon, greeted me warmly at the door, and as I was filling out my paperwork, she greeted each of the other customers (and their dogs!) by name as they came in the door.

3. Every dog who came in was incredibly excited to be there — some were actually scratched at the door to get in!

4. I was told exactly what Moose’s schedule for the day would be, so that I would know what to expect. I particularly loved hearing that The Dog Spot owners carve out the hours between 12-2 PM every day as “naptime,” so the pups can get some rest.

5. The place was clean, welcoming, and quiet when I arrived. It is obviously well-run and very organized.

6. During Moose’s first day, the caretakers posted hilarious photos of him on their Facebook page. When I picked up him that evening, I also received a full report on his first day, including a fabulous photo collage of pictures of Moose with all his new friends.

I am so thrilled with The Dog Spot that I have been talking about them non-stop on Facebook and Twitter. I have also recommended their facility wholeheartedly to my dog owner friends in Boulder.

Here are the lessons you can take from The Dog Spot, to make YOUR local business more extraordinary:

1. Know your clients! Greeting people by name when they arrive makes them feel valued and welcomed.

2. Go out of your way to provide a memorable experience. Because The Dog Spot owners provided an amazing experience for me and Moose, they are going to get tons of referrals from me. What can you do to provide an incredible experience for your clients?

3.  Integrate your social media presence in smart ways. The Dog Spot uses their Facebook page to post regular pics of the dogs’ adventures, so puppy owners can keep an eye on their pets during the day. What can you do with social media that makes your customers’ experiences even better?

4. Be nice. One of the things I love about the folks at The Dog Spot is that they are so warm and friendly. Studies show that as human beings, we most often do business with the people we like — so being nice is not only the right thing to do, it’s the profitable thing, as well!

Your assignment for this week: Take a look at what you’re doing with your business, and see if you can make some small changes that would make your company really stand out from the competition. Make your business better, and your clients will be delighted to refer their friends and family members to you.

 

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What’s Your Why?

Do you ever think about why you started your business?

Yes, we all like to make money. But most of us also started our companies because we want to help people in some way.

If you’re a coach, you probably want to help people live their best lives. If you’re a realtor, you want to help people find their dream homes. If you’re a personal stylist, you want to instill professional and personal confidence in your clients.

As a social media consultant, I want to teach people how to leverage social media so they can make more money with their businesses. And that mission is really important to me. But it’s not what truly drives me.

Let me back up a bit.

I am incredibly lucky. The last two years of my life have been absolutely amazing — and things just keep getting better and better.

I published a book last year.

I’ve earned a spot on the Copyblogger Media editorial staff — which is my dream job.

I work from home every day, and set my own hours. As a single mom, owning my own business allows me the flexibility to go to school events (or stay home with my kiddo when he’s sick).

I have a brand new puppy who brings my family joy.

I feel like my life is pretty damn awesome.

I don’t mean to sound like one of those cheesy 10-page sales letters filled with promises of sailboats and tropical vacations. It’s not about that.

But here’s the secret — in my consulting and coaching business, I do more than help people with their online marketing. I help people fulfill their dreams of living happier, abundant, amazing lives.

I believe – from the bottom of my heart – that we can all lead lives of extraordinary power and magic. We don’t have to suffer through jobs we hate, or 3-hour daily commutes, or living in places we don’t like.

The real reason I started my business — and the reason I keep going, even when things occasionally get tough — is that I believe that people can live amazing lives.

They can build an online business that supports their dreams. They can travel, or work from home, or have the money to buy that new house.

And I want to help them get there. That’s the real reason I get out of bed every day. I want to help people live magical, extraordinary lives.

For more inspiration about finding your “Why,” check out this incredible TED talk by Simon Sinek.

So tell me – why do you run your business? Tell me your “Why” in the comments below.

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How I Got a Book Deal, Part Three

How I Got a Book Deal, Part 3

Note: This is a series of posts about how I signed a deal with Wiley and Sons for a book on Pinterest marketing. Click here to see the navigation page for the rest of the series.

I was in the middle of my workday on Wednesday, February 22nd when I got an email note via my website contact form.  Here’s what the email said:

Hello, Beth.

I am a business book editor and would love to talk about a publishing idea I have. I just read your piece on CopyBlogger for how to market your business on Pinterest. Good stuff!! There is a HUGE market ready to hear what you have to say on this.

Let’s talk!

The note was signed by an editor at Wiley. This is the kind of note that bloggers dream about getting from publishers, so I had to read it several times (and look up the editor online to see if she was legit) before I let myself believe that this wasn’t just a nasty trick that someone was playing on me.

After doing a little research on Wiley (and realizing that Wiley has published virtually ALL of my favorite social media books (by authors like Scott Stratten, David Meerman Scott, Ann Handley and Joel Comm) I spent about fifteen minutes privately freaking out about the fact that a publisher had contact me.

After I spent another couple of minutes getting my major delusions of grandeur and daydreams of best-selling book glory out of system, I took a couple of deep breaths and called the editor back.

The editor was wonderful on the phone. She was clearly very excited about the idea of publishing a book on Pinterest marketing, and thought there could be a huge market for a book on the topic. She told me she had seen my guest post on Copyblogger and really enjoyed it, then asked me if I thought I would have enough material for a book on Pinterest marketing. I said yes.

She then asked me if I could write a book proposal by the following Monday morning. Internally, I groaned, knowing that book proposals are notoriously hard to write and that they are typically incredibly labor intensive.

But when an editor from Wiley is on the phone, and she asks you for a proposal, and she thinks you might be able to write a book that could really sell really well, YOU SAY YES.

So I smiled and said “Absolutely! No problem!” We exchanged a few more pleasantries and hung up the phone.

Over the course of the next few days, I also found out from Wiley that they really needed me to write the Pinterest book in six weeks.

When they asked me if that was possible, I had a moment where I consciously thought to myself, “Say yes, then figure out how to do it.” I called my friend Lori Wostl, who is the person in my life who supports me when I want to do truly insane and awesome things, and asked “I am insane for wanting to agree to this?”

She said, “Yes. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it!”

We talked logistics. We talked time management. We talked about quitting my day job. And in the end, we came up with a workable plan for getting the book done. So I told Wiley that I thought I could do the work in six weeks.

Then I started working on the proposal. Because of family and work obligations (I was still working 30 hours a week at a day job at this point) I had to wait until the weekend to really be able to dig into the writing. And man, did I work hard that weekend. My butt didn’t leave my chair (except to eat and sleep) for three solid days.

My agent, Kristina Holmes, was invaluable in helping me write the proposal. The story of how I retained Kristina as my agent is another epic tale, but I’ll save that one for another day. Kristina read every word of my proposal – many of them several times – and gave me great advice on what publishers look for in a book proposal and how to present myself and my platform in the best possible light.

By Monday morning, I was exhausted, but I felt like we had put together a decent proposal. I took a deep breath and sent it to the Wiley editor, saying a little prayer in my head to the publishing gods as I hit “send.”

After sweating it and dealing with very negative self-talk for several hours, I heard back from the editor and heard that she was happy with the proposal. Then she told me she was going to take my proposal into a weekly meeting that she had on Tuesday afternoon. I got the feeling this was a meeting where people pitching new ideas. I also got the feeling this was a meeting that was kind of a Big Deal.

I won’t deny it – Tuesday was hell. I went back and forth between thinking that my life was about to change and thinking that I was a crap writer who was going to fail utterly at everything I tried to do in my life.

All I could do was wait until the good folks in Hoboken, New Jersey decided my fate.

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How I Got a Book Deal, Part Two

How I Got a Book Deal, Part Two

This post is part two in my series about how I got a book deal with Wiley and Sons.

In the first installment of my book deal story, I told you about how I signed up for Jon Morrow’s guest blogging course and got my first guest posts with Problogger and Copyblogger, two of the biggest social media blogs on the web.

After my debut at Copyblogger, I immediately started working on my next guest post – an article on using Pinterest to market your business. One of the things I had learned from Jon’s course is that list posts (especially LONG lists) often make great guest posts. So when my research sparked a monster list of over 50 ideas for Pinterest marketing, I felt like I might really be onto something.  I felt great about the post when I handed it in to my Copyblogger editor.

My editor was happy with the article, and told me that Copyblogger would run it on February 14th. Valentine’s Day seemed like an auspicious date for my second Copyblogger post, and I hoped for a little comment and retweet love on V-Day! :)

The morning that the post went live (you can see it here), I responded to lots of comments and watched as my Retweet and Facebook share numbers climbed at a steady rate. I also was delighted to see tons of people signing up for the free Pinterest report I offered at the end of my post. The Copyblogger folks were fantastic hosts (as always), and Sonia Simone and Robert Bruce were very supportive as the post gained traction on the web.

One of my goals was to get over a thousand Twitter retweets for my Pinterest post, so I was delighted when the post reached a thousand by the end of the very first day.

Then things got really of out of hand.

By the end of day two, the post had reached 1700 retweets, and the number of Facebook and Google+ shares was also growing exponentially. I tried my best to keep up with the comments that were flooding in, and tried to thank everyone who shared the post on Twitter and Pinterest, too.

I had my very first viral post. And I gotta admit, it felt amazing.

But the feeling I got from watching the Copyblogger post go viral was just a warm up compared with how I felt one week later when I checked my email and spotted a very important note in my inbox.

Wiley had come calling.

Stay tuned for the next installment of my book deal story – find out how I wrote a book proposal in 24 hours (and wrote a book in just under six weeks!)

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How I Got a Book Deal, Part One

How I Got Book Deal with Book Image

This post is part one in my series about how I got a book deal with Wiley and Sons.

In order to explain exactly how I was able to sign a book deal with John Wiley and Sons (and how I finished an in-depth book on Pinterest marketing in less than six weeks) I need to start the story a couple of months before the book deal started brewing.

The story actually started back in August 2011. At that time, I made a decision to take more active steps to build my website traffic and increase the amount of subscribers to my mailing list.

I knew that guest posting on popular blogs was one of the best ways to build traffic, so decided to sign up for Jon Morrow’s course on Guest Blogging so I could learn more about how to land great guest posting gigs. I had heard great things about Jon’s course, and even though the course tuition was a financial stretch for me at the time, I knew I needed to go for it.

My goal – even though it scared the hell out of me to even think about it – was to get a guest post on Copyblogger. The Copyblogger team is known for being extremely picky with their guest posts – they only accepted posts from great writers who had outstanding, unique ideas that created high value for their audience. Lots of people wanted to write for Copyblogger, but only a few were lucky (and skilled) enough to land those coveted spots.

I figure if anyone could teach me how to successfully break into the Copyblogger world, it was Jon Morrow. Jon is not only the associate editor for Copyblogger, but he has had more posts go viral on the CB site than any other writer I know. The man seemed to have some golden formula for writing – and I wanted to learn it.

I signed up for the course and got started with the materials right away. One big advantage to taking a course that is a considerable financial investment for me was that I was highly motivated to learn all the material and follow through with the lessons. I figured if I was paying a lot for the course, I really wanted to get everything I could out of it!

The course content was top-notch. Jon led the group through a series of instructional videos that explained how to begin identifying and networking with popular bloggers in order to get to know them before approaching them for guest posting spots.  The videos also gave students a great process for reaching out to bloggers with their guest post ideas, and for writing great posts that would resonate with readers and go viral on popular sites. The videos were chock full of incredibly useful information.

The class forum was another extremely valuable part of the course. The very active forum was where students could receive feedback on their guest post headline ideas. Jon also allowed students to post the full text of their possible guest posts, so the community members (and Jon) could review them and give feedback. I posted a few articles there, hoping the forum members could help me craft something that would be a good fit for Copyblogger.

One of the posts, “7 Reasons No One Reads Your Blog (Except Maybe Your Mom)” got the approval of the forum community, but I received feedback from Jon that it wasn’t quite right for Copyblogger. He encouraged me to submit it to Problogger, instead, and said he thought it had a good chance of being published on that site.

I submitted it to Problogger, and was thrilled when they accepted it and ran it a few weeks later. The post ended up being a fairly successful article for Problogger, and I was delighted to pick up a couple hundred people for my mailing list. That was when I knew I was I was totally hooked on this guest posting thing – it was a brilliant way to get more traffic!

Then I came up with my next idea for a Copyblogger post – “The Glee Guide to Attracting a Raving Horde of Social Media Fans.” I posted the text of the post in Jon Morrow’s guest blogging course forum and crossed my fingers.

Jon really liked the post, and recommended it for submission to Copyblogger. I was elated.

Jon helped me submit the post to the powers that be at Copyblogger, and I held my breath and waited for a response. I didn’t hear anything for a couple of months, so I followed Jon’s advice and followed up after about two months. Shortly after I sent my follow-up note, I heard back from Copyblogger and got the good news – they liked the post and wanted to publish it on January 26th!

The day the post came out, I was delighted. After years of hoping to find a way to break into the Copyblogger family, seeing my name in print on the site was thrilling. The Glee post didn’t get a huge response, but I felt like it was a decent first effort for the Copyblogger folks.

I knew from the Jon Morrow course that the way to really make guest posting work for you is not just to do one post for a popular blog, but to run multiple posts.

The night the Glee post was published, I gathered up all my courage and wrote to my Copyblogger editor. I thanked him again for the opportunity to publish a guest post with them, and asked if I could submit more ideas for follow-up posts.

He wrote back right away, congratulated me on my first Copyblogger post, and said he’d love to get first crack at any new ideas I might have.

I sent the editor ten of my best headline ideas, not having any idea whether he would like any of them. I figured that if I sent him ten ideas, maybe he would like one or two that I could work on as a follow-up post to my first Glee article.

I was delighted when I got his email reply back and he told me he loved eight of the ideas! He sent them back in a list in the order that he wanted me to submit them in, so I had my work cut out for me.

The next post he wanted me to work on was about using Pinterest for marketing your business. I knew Pinterest was a really hot topic, and that Copyblogger would likely be in a hurry to receive the post, so I busted my butt writing the article and sent them the post about a week later.

Stay tuned to hear about the major breakthrough I had with this Pinterest post!

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How I Got a Book Deal: Series Navigation

In May and June 2012, I wrote a series of posts about how I got a book deal with Wiley and Sons for a book on Pinterest marketing. If you’d like to read the whole series, please follow these links:

Part One: Learning the Ropes of Guest Posting

Part Two: The Copyblogger Guest Post That Changed My Life

Part Three: Wiley Comes Calling, and the Proposal

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The Biggest, Scariest Leap of My Life

Some time in the next six months, I’m taking a HUGE leap. I’m going to quit my day job.

Many of my clients and followers don’t know this, but for the past four years I’ve been holding down a part-time  office job as an administrative assistant. I keep it for the benefits, particularly the amazing insurance I receive for an incredibly affordable rate. I will also admit that as a parent, I appreciate having a steady paycheck every month, especially when the nightly news is filled with such constant gloom and doom about the lousy economy.

But my business has now reached the point where it can’t grow any further until I can give it my full attention. I want the business to be much bigger, and I can’t grow it until I can throw my heart and soul into it, with nothing holding me back.

I’ve been saying for years that I’d like to make the leap, but I always have a ready excuse why I can’t let the job go – the bad economy, not enough cash in the bank, insurance woes, blah blah blah. Weeks turned into months and months turns into years, and still I punched the clock at the day job and wished for things to be different.

The idea of quitting my day job is terrifying. But something has shifted in me recently, and this time I know I’m going to act in spite of the fear – I’m going to quit the job anyway.

Want to know what my kick in the pants was? It was Betsy and Warren Talbot, the great minds behind the magical blog Married with Luggage. I recently finished their fabulous e-book “Dream Save Do: A No-Nonsense, Step-by-Step Blueprint for Amassing the Cash You Need to Live Your Dream.” In the book, Betsy and Warren spell out exactly how they socked away enough money to quit their corporate gigs, sell all their possessions, and go on an extended trip around the world. The book is not only practical but inspiring.

One of the coolest tips in the Talbots’ book is the idea of creating what they call “Dream Porn,” a large visual reminder of your dream. They advise you to put your Dream Porn in a really prominent place in your house, so you see it every day.

The day after I finished “Dream Save Do,” I created a giant collage of images that will move and inspire me to stick with my budget and keep doing everything in my power to live my dream. You can see my collage below – it’s hanging right above my kitchen table, and I get to eat my breakfast while I’m looking at it every morning. It moves me to take action so that I can make that huge leap.

Want to join the Live the Good Life Movement? Get $10 off “Dream Save Do” by entering the code “BETH” at checkout. Get the book. Create your Dream Porn. And get cracking.

Stay tuned here to find out more about my progress, and about some special offers I’ll be announcing between now and the end of the year in support of what I’m calling my “Free Bethy” project!

Thanks for your support!

(click on the image to get a larger version of the collage.)

Beth's Dream Collage

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