Category: problem solving

Want to learn 14 ways to increase your income? So do I!

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Some time ago, I read 10 Minute Money Makers by Jeanna Gabellini. The book describes (among other things) a number of strategies for increasing your income in relatively quick and doable ways (I won’t say easy, as that will vary from person to person). The book is ideal for self-employed professionals (writers, coaches, consultants, etc.) who want to expand their influence through social media. Check out Jeanna Gabellini’s website for more information (I am not an affiliate and have no financial stake in her content or website).

Here are 14 ways to increase your income (some are better than others):

  1. Make a “no kidding” decision. Decide on what you want to achieve as a financial goal. For example, do you want to sell $1000 of new books per week, or increase your service sales by $2000 per month. Then everything you do will be geared toward supporting that decision. The “how” is not as important as the “what”, which will be your focus.
  2. Follow up. (I am a big believer in this strategy!) Check in with past clients – ask how they are doing, what’s new, etc. Do not try to force a sale. Send a thank you to new clients. Send customers a feedback form or survey, and use the results in your testimonials.
  3. Offer past clients a deal. Offer a product or service with clear benefits and great pricing. Make it a simple, limited-time offer. Use the offer to thank them for being a customer.
  4. Make a quick, get-them-in-the-door offer. Create an affordable, discounted or bundled offer of your products or services. After the customer takes advantage of the offer, suggest something else that you do that will help them at the regular price.
  5. Just ask. Ask helpful people to help you with getting clients through referrals or introductions. You can also ask to be interviewed or recommended on social media.
  6. Talk to your virtual client. Have a virtual conversation with your ideal client about buying your highest ticket item or best service. Ask key questions to overcome: What is their biggest objection to buying? What do you need to say yes? When is the best time to call you? What can I do to improve my service? You have the answers.
  7. Take advantage of available resources. Think of an area in your business where you want to produce more money. Then turn to the Internet for new marketing ideas. Find a diversion to relax your mind and come up with what you need. Join a mastermind group to get motivated.
  8. Pump up the value. Update your products or services – add new material and content to make it fresh.
  9. Get famous. Get more media attention. Become a guest blogger. Start a Google Hangout. Get a testimonial.
  10. Step into the elevator. Create a strong elevator speech that is short and strong on benefits. Make sure to test it out whenever you can.
  11. Create a money funnel. A money funnel is a visual plan of how you invite people into your tribe and move them through your offerings. First, name the ways you get leads and visibility (e.g., published articles). Once you attract a potential client’s interest, get them to be part of your tribe by giving them access to free and inexpensive, yet valuable, content. Then introduce them to differently priced offerings that fit their needs.
  12. The price is right. Re-price your service offerings so that they feel right for you – they meet what you are worth and they are right for your audience. Increase your rates to increase your worth and the level of effort you bring.
  13. Prepare for your windfall. Create a plan to be successful before you are successful. Set up the resources and plans needed to fulfill what will happen when you get extra work, more attention, more money, etc.
  14. The Double It Game. Turn an aspect of your business into a game where you have to a reach a specific goal (such as doubling sales) within a given time frame. It should excite you to try to achieve these goals, and there should be a reward when you hit the goal. Make it a daily effort, and make it fun.

Jeanna Gabellini has a lot more to say in 10 Minute Money Makers. I shared what I thought was most relevant here. Make sure to give it a read.

If there are any eBooks that you’d like me to read and summarize for you here, or give my thoughts on, let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

How can you position yourself as an authority to prospects and clients?

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People want to work with professionals who are experts in their field. We don’t want to work with amateur lawyers, doctors, bookkeepers, plumbers, financial planners – we want to work with people who know what they are doing. Working with knowledgeable and experienced people gives us the feeling that things will be done right (although this does not always happen).

If you are sole proprietor (like myself), consultant, self-employed, sole business owner, etc., then you should position yourself as an authority. You’ve been running your business for some time, and you obviously have the skills and experience to do the job. But you have to prove to your clients that you are capable of doing the job because you are an authority in your field.

The first step is to focus on who you are, rather than what you are. You are not just a professional writer or consultant or generic service provider. This will sound odd, but you are the only you there is. There are many writers, but you are the only writer who has your specific experience, skills and authority. Change your perception in the market’s mind. Don’t focus just on your skill level, but who you are and what makes you different.

Who you are will influence your prospects and clients. If you are an authority, then you will become in greater demand, which means you can also charge more. Your client list also affects your value. Working with high-profile clients means that you are worth more by association. They chose you because you are an authority; therefore, others will want to work with you as well.

Do not wait for the market or others to tell you that you are an expert or that you are an authority in this field or that. Your authority depends upon your mindset. Realize that you are skilled and bring value, and that you are an authority in your field. Then present yourself in this manner. This will determine how others view you.

As an authority, you know more about your given topic than anyone else. Make sure that you make this fact known – on your website, in your social media, when you talk to prospects and clients. That does not mean bragging “I am the best.” It means demonstrating your knowledge when required. Focus on where your business is seen, and how prospects perceive your business.

To be viewed as an authority, associate with other authorities. Interview experts in your field, and related areas, and give them exposure – this will allow you to be seen as an expert as well. Are you a marketing writer? Interview marketing experts, and authors with marketing books. Every field has its published experts and authorities. It’s up to you to find them, and ask them to speak about what they do best. Share these best practices with your clients and prospects. Now you’re an authority.

Do you need help with becoming an authority – writing articles, blog posts, etc.? Are you an authority in your field, and want to talk about what you know? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

Become a better writer – or speaker – by avoiding these mistakes

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I attended a webinar on how to grow your income through public speaking. The speaker focused on three key mistakes that speakers make that prevent them from being successful. These points were quite valid, and the advice was fantastic… so much so that I thought that they could applied to the writing world as well.

Perhaps you’ve made these mistakes in trying to sell through writing. Once you’ve recognized these common errors, you can improve your writing and accomplish your goal of selling your message to the reader.

Not understanding what the audience is buying

The reader wants to solve a problem, which is why they are reading your story. Your writing should address their problem, and get them interested in how you plan to solve it. In essence, the reader is buying YOU – your expertise and your stories. To convince the reader to use your solution, you must get them to feel a connection to you. They want to buy the solution that you’ve already provided to other clients, who had a problem that is similar to them. So, tell a client story that shows how they succeeded because of what you did.

There are different kinds of stories that you can tell, such as:

  • “So much more” story: It’s more than a testimonial – it shows how you went further (above and beyond) to solve the problem.
  • “Doubtful to dynamite” story: You offered a solution that brought a big change in the client’s situation – from going nowhere to WOW it worked.
  • “Tried it all and nothing worked… until now” story: The client tried everything to solve their problem, and you came along and fixed it with your offering.

Trying to become the perfect writer

You could rewrite and edit your writing forever, because it can always be better. Effective writing is not about being perfect. It’s more important to make a connection with the reader than it is to achieve perfection. Focus on connecting with the reader – speaking their language, understanding their problems and what is important to them. Be real and human – humans are flawed. You will never get your writing out there if you strive for perfection. If you keep waiting to be perfect, you will never sell and you will achieve nothing.

At the same time, don’t write by the seat of your pants. You’ll lose credibility if you don’t take the time to research your reader and know how to solve their problem, and write about how you will help them. Write and sell from the heart. Give the reader an opportunity to transform and be better than they were. Think about how you helped your best client, and transfer that to your reader. Add value by writing a powerful message – think deep and focused rather than wide – and make it easy for the reader to say yes.

Planning to educate without planning to sell

It’s great to educate the reader about their problem and possible solutions, but it’s pointless if you don’t clearly sell your offering. You must first clearly describe the problem before you can offer a solution. Don’t buy into the myth that selling is a separate function from educating. Lead the reader along the path, and then outline how you can take them to their goal. Create a clear call to action – how they will contact you or get what you are offering.

Plan for clarity. Be very clear about where you are headed, the reasons for each step along the way, and how they will get to the end (your solution). Build the sales plan into your plan to educate the reader – know where you are taking the reader before you take your first step.

Have you had any of these problems with your sales writing? What other issues have you encountered, and how have you solved them? Let me know – I’d love to hear about it, and perhaps help you to improve your writing. Send me an email – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

Avoid these common mistakes in reasoning when writing

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Most people have written an essay where they have presented a position or argument, and then backed up that statement with a series of facts and evidence. It happens in business and politics as well. The author will attempt to convince the reader that their “argument” (which represents a product, service, strategy, platform, etc.) is correct, and will back it up with reasons.

Unfortunately, many great arguments or positions have been defeated by a common fallacy, or mistake, in reasoning. Learning to identify, and avoid, these mistakes will help you to get your point across and convince your reader that your statement or position is valid.

There are five main types of fallacies in reasoning, and several subtypes within those categories (thanks to the Harbrace College Handbook for the definitions).

Fallacies of deduction or inference

Non sequitur: The conclusion of your argument does not necessarily follow from the premise. (Our product is easy to use, therefore your revenue will increase.)

Self-contraction: Your argument contains a number of exclusive premises. (This new software will address the most unmanageable human resources issues.)

Circular reasoning: The conclusion of your argument is contained within your premise. (I believe that your website is terrible because our technical advisors state that it is a terrible website.)

Fallacies of induction

Confusion of fact and value judgment: Your argument confuses facts with value judgments (facts can be observed and measured, whereas value judgments are opinions or personal preferences). (Your website has too many words and not enough pictures.)

Hasty generalizations: Your argument makes a statement with too little evidence or biased evidence. (I had a difficult time using your product, so it’s not a good solution for what it offers.)

Cause-effect assumption: Your argument assumes that one event caused the event that followed. (I downloaded your software and my computer crashed the next day, so your software is problematic.)

False analogy: Your argument makes weak comparisons between situations or objects. (Your company is not #1 in its market category, so you cannot be effective at handling my business.)

Fallacies of irrelevance

Ignoring the question: Your argument presents facts that do not support the thesis. (We are the top marketing company in Canada. Our website is always listed on the first page of Google search results.)

Personal attack: You attempt to disprove an argument by attacking a person or company presenting the argument. (Our competitor’s president has declared bankruptcy in the past, so you should not use the company’s services to manage your website.)

Personal appeal: Your argument appeals to the reader’s emotions, prejudices or beliefs. (If you are a loyal Canadian, you will choose our services over our American competitors.)

Joining the crowd: Your argument is based on popular opinion. (Our software has been named the best in its class by Tech Magazine, so you should purchase it as well.)

Appeal to authority: Your argument relies on “expert” testimonials rather than facts. (The president of X Corporation endorses our marketing program.)

Fallacies of imprecision

Ambiguity: Your argument is not clear in its meaning. (This option is not a good fit for your company.)

Equivocation: Your argument uses a word or expression in more than one way. (You have a right to choose your service provider, so do what is right for you.)

Fallacies of misrepresentation

Oversimplification: Your argument omits important considerations on the issue. (Buying an ad in our magazine will increase your sales by 10%.)

False division: You argument makes a sharp distinction between two groups when the facts show gradation between the two. (Every training program is either great or terrible.)

Note that these “errors” are common and accepted in advertising, marketing, politics and other forms of communication. They are not always errors, except when you are trying to present logic and facts.

Have you made these mistakes in reasoning? Do you disagree with any of them, or do you know of any other mistakes? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

How to turn ideas into projects

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We all have ideas that we want to turn into something real. It might be a book or website, or a new product, or a fully functioning business. For example, I wrote and self-published How to Run Your Company… Into the Ground. The idea for the book sat in the back of my mind for years until I decided to put my thoughts on the page, and then into book form.

Too often we let those ideas remain inside our head until they fizzle and wither into the depths of our memory. However, there are some steps you can take to get on the path toward turning those ideas into something real (as I learned from Charles Gilkey’s book The Start Finishing Action Guide).

  1. Start with the end in mind, why it matters and who will care about (or benefit from) the realization of your idea. Determine why the project matters, and identify its main purpose.
  2. Avoid getting stuck on just the idea. List everything that has to be done to turn the idea into a project. Turn each item into a process.
  3. Sequence your projects to create a roadmap. Identify when to start and finish each part of the project. Use mind mapping to organize your ideas.
  4. Celebrate after completing a project. Debrief by determining what went well and what did not work.

I think the second step is vital. Writing down what needs to be done will help you get closer to turning your idea into a real project, and giving it life. Putting ideas on paper, and getting them out of your head, will make those ideas more concrete. It will also help to understand the steps needed to get to your goal.

How do you go about turning your ideas into real projects? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

Why did you make that edit?

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Some copy edits are obvious – something is spelled wrong, punctuation is missing, a word is in the wrong spot, etc. But sometimes a client will ask, “Why did you make that change?” Sometimes they just want to know, but on occasion they have an issue with a particular edit. I changed what they wrote, and they want to know why.

It’s an interesting question, as there are many reasons to rewrite a sentence or change a word. In most cases, I’ve made the change because I saw a better way of making the point, or I wanted to clarify the thought. I might have felt that the original sentence was too wordy or it needed to be restructured.

On occasion, I will reflect on the edit because the client’s question made me think about why I made the change. Was there a real reason for the rewrite? Did I want to put my stamp on the document? Did I have a problem with how it was written? Does it still work if I leave it alone? Is there another way to go?

There are several reasons why you should explain your edits to clients:

  • It helps them to understand why something is right or wrong, or why a sentence reads better one way versus another, which can help to make them better writers.
  • It shows that you care about making their writing better – you’re on their side, and you want to make them look good to their readers.
  • It’s part of your job to explain what you’re doing to your clients. They have the right to know why you did something, and the right to decide whether to keep your edit or change it back.

When asked, I will explain why I edited the content to the client. It’s their decision to keep my edit or stick with the original version, but I will do my best to answer the question. I want to ensure that they know the reason, and if I feel strongly enough, explain why it’s the right decision. But in the end, it’s their content, and their decision.

David Gargaro

Instructions are worth the effort

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I occasionally get requests to edit copy decks (the original manuscript) and the final layout (websites, brochures, etc.). In most cases, the client wants me to ensure that the content in the copy deck is the same in the final layout. On occasion, a designer will input an error or something will get missed from transferring the copy deck to the final layout. There are times, though, when the client wants me to do the opposite because the copy deck is an older version and they want to update it based on what is now in the final layout (not sure why, but that’s their business).

Sometimes, the client does not clearly explain exactly what they want and somehow assume that I know what they want. This is where one can appreciate the value of instructions. Had the client taken the time to write a few simple instructions, it would have saved time in going back and forth via email to determine what is required. It would also prevent me from doing unnecessary work, which is coming out of their budget.

Of course, when a project is not clear, it is up to me as the service provider to determine exactly what they want before I start doing any work. When work is assigned during a phone call, I can ask questions and determine exactly what the  client wants me to do. It’s a bit more time consuming when work is assigned via email, and instructions are lacking or unclear. In this case, I have to either call or reply with questions.

Take the time to explain what you want, clearly and briefly, before a project begins. Instructions are worth the time and effort because the payback is worth more than the investment.

David Gargaro

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When do we get to slow down?

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A client emailed me recently to see if I had received a previous email that they had sent 10 minutes earlier. It was an urgent project, and he was used to relatively quick responses from my end. I guess there was some reason to wonder why I had not responded as quickly as he needed. I was on the road, so I could not respond right away until I returned to my computer. But this leads me to ask – When can we slow down?

Everyone wants responses right away. We want our food fast, we want answers fast, we want instant gratification. Technology has made it possible to get immediate returns on our desires. Of course, there is a cost – we are always in a hurry, quality declines to a degree, impatience increases, etc.

I had an interesting discussion with my nephew about slowing down. He is a Gen Y young adult, and has grown up in a culture of increasing speed on return for wants and needs. And yet he thinks that we should slow down, especially when it comes to working. He likes how some cultures (Europe) shut down for a couple of hours in the afternoon for naps. I argued that our capitalist culture would never allow this to happen because people won’t wait longer for what they have been used to getting within a certain time.

Mind you, the slow food movement has grown, but there are more people who want fast food than slow food. Perhaps things will slow down if there is a cultural shift against speed. But instant gratification is difficult to move away from. We hate slow computers, slow download times, slow cars, slow-loading files, etc. We don’t like waiting in line, waiting for our package, waiting for answers.

I don’t think we will slow down, but perhaps we can stop rushing.

Are you being honest with your clients?

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Have you been dreading telling your client that a project will take longer than quoted?

Are you spending hours trying to figure out how to complete something that could be solved with one phone call to a client?

Do you fear telling your client that you cannot take on that high-profile project because of time issues?

Are you hesitant about telling the client that you found a serious problem with their material?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, then it’s time to come clean. Honesty is important in every relationship, and this applies to the client-service provider business relationship. Be honest in what you can or cannot do. They will respect you more for saying that there is a concern before it becomes a serious problem. They will come to rely on you for your honesty – as opposed to doubting your ability to do the job reliably.

Be known for telling the truth. Give your clients the facts, and let them make an informed decision. The relationship will be that much stronger. And, in the case where you are fired for being honest, you are probably better off.

When was the last time you had to be brutally honest with a client, and how did it turn out? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

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How to adjust your rates based on client value

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There are many different formulas that can help you to determine how much to quote on potential client projects. One method involves figuring out how much you want to earn per hour (e.g., $100), and then multiplying by how long you think the project will take (e.g., 40 hours), and then adding a percentage to cover unforeseen consequences (e.g., 10%).

So, 40 hours x $100/h = $4,000, and then add 4000 x 0.1 = $400, for a total of $4,400.

Using a strict formula will help you to provide a quote to potential and existing clients. You set a number that you want to reach, and then the client will either accept or reject the quote, or ask you to amend it according to their budget. Then you determine whether to amend the quote or reject their counteroffer.

However, most formulas don’t consider the value of your client to your business. Think about this:

  • How much have you earned from this client in the past?
  • How much do you expect to earn from this client in the future?
  • Is the total future business worth reducing your quote below a certain threshold?
  • How much do you enjoy (or detest) working on these types of projects and with this client?

Would you cancel a project that is $100 below your threshold when the client is worth $50,000 in future business? It sounds ridiculous, but consider what is involved when you turn down work and how that affects future assignments. I am not saying to accept all low-paying jobs, as you need to earn a living and get paid fair value for your work. But before you reject a project for a relatively small difference, consider what the project (and client) is truly worth.

Need help with calculating rates based on value? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.