For the last several weeks, I have brought you advice from the SITS Girls, Girls Lunch Out, and Eli Rose Social Media on the topic of how to take what you love to do in the blogging and social media space and turn it into a successful business venture.
This week, I have Melissa from Momcomm. Melissa is a rising social media guru who knows her stuff and isn’t afraid to share what she knows, which is what I love about her. You want to know about numbers? She’ll tell you. Not sure what goes on a blogging business card, she’s got a handy-dandy button in her sidebar so you can find that post easily. Melissa is a pay-it forward kind of gal and this interview is no different.
1.) Momcomm is fast becoming a resource for many bloggers – you are essentially becoming what Erik Qualman (socialnomics) would call a “Digital Leader”, tell us a bit about how this came to be and why social media has become such a passion for you.
Why thanks for the compliment! It’s hard to say why Momcomm took off like it did but I think it’s partly because I try to simplify social media and marketing into easily digestible chunks (as gross as that sounds- ick). In my marketing work, I’ve always loathed what David Meerman Scott calls “gobbledygook.” Ya know, when people say things like “cutting-edge”, “evolutionary” and words that just don’t mean squat. Or when they use words like “utilize” to sound fancy when “use” will do just fine. I explain things pretty informally on Momcomm but I’m a sucker for structure so I make sure that I organize my posts so they flow nicely. Social media became a passion for me because as a marketer by trade, it’s necessary to understand how it all works. Some basic marketing communication concepts can be applied to social media but in a lot of ways, it’s a new frontier which makes me super giddy in a geeky marketing sorta way.
2.) You recently launched a very successful course called Content Brew where you taught your students (about 50) how to better cultivate and “brew” content on a regular basis. It was a brillant course that I learned so much from(…and I’m not just saying that because you agreed to do this interview). What do you think the keys to success were in planning that course? What will you do differently the next time around?
I think the biggest thing about planning that course was that I mapped out a simple project plan so I could have a birds eye view of what I needed to do to create the course. I included everything from drafting content to determining how to execute the delivery of the course. In addition, I have a few close friends who gave me feedback during the creation stage, which helped me decide on how many days the course should be and what I should and shouldn’t include.
If I had to do something differently, I’ll try to better nail down what each day looks like before I start writing the content. The class was originally meant to be 4 days (which makes me laugh now thinking I could squeeze all that into 4 days). It’s currently 7 straight days but in future Content Brew classes, we’ll take the weekend off. In the future, I plan to try my best to keep a course to no longer than a week.
3.) You wrote a fantastic ebook – the DIY blog critique workbook (I’ll link this up in the post) – what were some organizational and business lessons learned from that experience? What are some tips you can offer someone thinking of writing their own e-book?
Again, I’d say HAVE A PLAN. I mapped out a project plan for this too! While it sounds uber nerdy, it not only kept me from missing key part of creating the book, it gave me a nice skeleton for future ebooks (if I do another one). The other lesson I learned is not to forget to create a launch plan. I sort of threw mine together with a mix of guest posts, a discount for newsletter subscribers, etc but I probably should have given myself a bit more time to plan how I was going to build some buzz around it. Nevertheless, it sold well on the first day and has been pretty steady ever since. I’ve found over time that not only do I need to continually promote it, but that I need to offer sales or incentives for my affiliates too in order to keep the momentum going.
As far as tips go, I’d say to buy a few ebooks and study them. Not to copy content (DUH) but see how they’re structured, what disclaimers they include, do they have an author page?, what platform are they using to sell it (I use e-junkie by the way). You can learn a lot by seeing how others have been successful.
4.) On your “services” page of momcomm you say: Social media is hot. But jumping into social media and doing it wrong is worse than not doing it at all. What is one of the most common social media mistakes you see bloggers making when starting off their business ventures?
Not creating buzz. You’ve GOT to talk about yourself if you want others too. Sure, buzz should spread organically but you can’t wait around for it to start either. Create your own buzz (without sounding like a sleazy car salesman) by creating a Twitter chat leading up to the launch, giving readers a hint of what’s coming, etc. When you’re excited, people assume it’s worth watching out for.
5.) You have experiences that run the gamut – marketing, writing, editing and project management. From all of those perspectives – what are 3-5 of the most common mistakes that you see bloggers making who are venturing into business making when they are setting up their websites, working with brands, marketing their services etc…?
I’d say these are the mistakes I see most often:
– Not projecting confidence. It’s not always easy, especially when you’re entering into a new venture, but outward confidence is a must. Be positive, be PROUD that you’re totally awesome at what you do. If you don’t feel awesome, have someone tell you you’re awesome. Haha. And in your writing or speaking, try to avoid too much of language like “you can email us if you’d like to.” or “I hope you find our ebook helpful.” Make it confident, not wishy-washy. Instead say something like “Email us to find out how we can help you successful launch into the social media space…” or “This ebook will rocket you to the top.” Okay, so I didn’t mean to use spaceship-like references here but you get my drift.
– Pricing themselves too low. While I’m by no means an expert in pricing, I do know this: we underprice ourselves all the time. When pricing out a project for a client, break down a list of everything it will take to complete that project. Now jot down how many hours you think it will take. You probably won’t get this detailed in a client proposal (I wouldn’t) but it will then give you a realistic estimate of your time which will then help determine how much to charge. Also don’t forget that you have to pay loads of taxes as a consultant (check with an accountant to determine how much to set aside). And remember a company isn’t paying your healthcare, sick time, vacation, 401k so a consultant’s rate will be higher than if you were an employee.
– Not “packaging” your services properly. When you’re trying to sell something (whether it’s a course, ebook, consulting services, advertising, etc), you’ve got a package everything nicely. If it’s a course or an ebook, that means the design is professional and the title is eye-catching. If it’s consulting services, it means being crystal clear not just in what you offer, but why it’s important to who you’re speaking to. When writing about your services, think to yourself “so what?” Then answer it. For example, I offer social media consulting. So what? To help you understand an ever-changing landscape and provide best practices that will give your business yada yada yada. Obviously, don’t write the “so what” but use this to help answer how your potential client will benefit from what you’re offering.
6.) You’re speaking at Type-A Conference soon (Congrats!!) which is a fantastic accomplishment and another way bloggers can branch out and making blogging a business venture. What 3-5 tips can you offer for bloggers looking to expand to speaking and teaching opportunities?
Just go for it! Few people are going to actually get ASKED to speak or teach. You have to write proposals and put yourself out there. Ask yourself what it is that you can help others with AND how can you present it in a way that isn’t the same old, same old. Is there a new angle you can take on it? Or use a fun way to present the content (like how I called my class Content Brew, not something like How to Plan Content)? If you can put a unique spin onto something, it’s more likely to be a success, whether it’s speaking or teaching.