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As a sole-proprietor that's offering services, your income relies on bringing in new clients and maintaining your current client list. Part of the ways that people build a potential client network is through emails. However, before you send out that cold email to spread the word about your business, you need to make sure your message is relevant.
An Example of a Badly Targeted Email That Won’t Win You That Client
Dear Team, (Uh oh, you don’t even know who you’re talking to. You didn’t spend 30 seconds on the website to try to determine the owner or manager name. Since this is an actual email I received, I can assume he didn’t even look at the website address! But let’s keep going cause it just gets better.)
Not sure if you knew this but your website X has some problems that you might want to consider looking into. I spent 2-3 minutes looking around and found: ( I just bebunked this in the top paragraph with the greeting.)
- It doesn't work properly on Mobile Phones, at all (which is how people browse the web these days). (Actually, it does. This guy assumes that I don’t have a cell phone and haven't looked at my own website on my cell phone)
- It doesn't adjust properly when you resize the screen (Google recommends RESPONSIVE Websites rather than ADAPTIVE) (Actually, yes it does. I’ve tested this myself. Works on cell phones and tablets. It’ll also resize itself if you adjust the size of your browser on your computer or tablet. Again, did you spend 10 seconds on the website?)
- It's hard to read on larger displays ( bahahahahahaha. This is just complete and utter bullshit.)
- The design looks really, really dated compared to some of your competitors. (Because you want to turn a 2000 page website into a Wordpress site. BTW, I’ve never seen a good one.)
I actually do web design as a living so I figured I'd reach out and let you know there's serious room for dead easy(and affordable) improvement. If you would like, I can send you some of my previous work samples. (hahahahahahahhaa….. My website is shit. BUT this guy can web design it into perfection! Yeah, that’s gonna work.)
I can develop the website on a more advanced platform at an affordable price. That price also includes making it complete mobile responsive which will support all modern devices including all ranges of screen sizes. (Uh huh… sure you can web DESIGNER! This guy doesn’t know the first thing about the platform I use. I’d guarantee it)
Is that something you'd be interested in? (Not a chance in hell)
I do want to point out that this is a form email. I’ve received it numerous times, and this guy now goes directly to my spam folder, but the problem here is that the guy completely insults the website. When you add all this together, he calls the website trash. THEN, after he’s presumably made me doubt my own web development and programming skills, he tells me he can do it better. He can go suck something unpleasant because:
I have a computer science minor
That minor specializes in web design and databases.
I used to be a Java programmer
The bottom line is that you should never do this. Don’t insult potential clients, even if you think whatever they already have is terrible. I never tell potential clients that the content on their websites is garbage. I may feel that it is, but I sure as hell do not insert that opinion into my emails. Instead, I tell the individual that I am a freelancer writer. I specialize in X content (whatever industry they are), and I can write content for them. At no point do I ever tell them that there existing content is shit. That’s a sure fire way to piss someone off because they probably paid good money for that content! I also tend to include coupons or free articles in those emails as an incentive.
How Should You really Tailor Those Custom Messages?
1. Do not insult potential customers.
You want this individual or business to give you money for a service that you provide. You do not know who designed the website (unless it says. Sometimes there’s a link at the bottom.) You do not know how much the individual or business paid for their existing website and web development and maintenance services. Sometimes, this can be quite a huge amount of money, so you don’t want to tell this person that they’ve wasted all their money up to this point.
2. Make sure the individual or business lines up with your services.
Don’t offer them a service they don’t need. For a freelancer, this would be looking at the blog posts and checking the date on the most recent blog. If they’ve posted in the last month, they don’t need your services. If it’s been 6 months, they might need your service.
3. Look at the website and figure out who the owner is.
This information is normally located on the About Us page. If it’s not, look at the blog posts. Sometimes you can find the name of the owner in there. If the website is a NAME, well… duh. If you really can’t find a name, skip the Dear X and just get to the point.
4. Get to the point. Quickly.
If you are not asking the individuals something about their website, a product or a book or asking a question that is relevant to the individual you are sending the message to, get to the point. You’re already wasting their time because you don’t need anything. You want something. Specifically, you want this cold email to lead to a new client, and you want them to pay you money for your services.
5. Offer Something Free
If you’re a freelance writer, offer a free blog post. Make sure it’s unique and a good example of your work. Yes, you will have to offer different articles for different potential customers. You do not want to circulate the same email. If they use it, it’ll be dinged for duplicate content. If you’re a graphic artist, make a simple logo. Pick a blog post and create a new top image for it. And say – Hey, I thought you might like this. It’s totally free. Feel free to use it. It is an example of my work.
6. Use a polite closing
Sincerely and Regards are passe, overused and unwelcome. Close your email by thanking the person for their time. Tell them that if they have questions, they can email you back, and you’d be happy to speak with them. Put your contact information under your name, and include your business name if you have one that is separate from your name. If you include links, they may not get clicked, but they may search your business name in their web browser.
By taking these steps, you are helping to ensure that your cold email is read, your potential client is not insulted and that you get your message across in a clear and concise way. In other words, you're going to increase your chances of landing that new client.
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If you haven’t been on LinkedIn lately, you’re missing out. They’ve gone above and beyond to inundate you with advertisements. As you all have probably guessed, I’m not opposed to relevant advertising that’s performed in a non-intrusive way. I mean, after all, look at my Twitter feed. I recommend products all the time. What I don’t do is spam you with DMs regarding my books or Amazon writing products. After all, that’s rude. Well, LinkedIn doesn’t see things the way I do, and I’ve received two of these “sponsored” messages in the last week. The first time, I didn’t realize it was an advertisement, but I did wonder why I didn’t get a notification on my phone. After all, I want to respond to your relevant messages in a timely manner.
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Imagine that four is your lucky number. Say you are job hunting, and you get an interview on April 4th at 4:00 pm. What are the chances?
With all those fours in the mix, you know you’ll get hired.
So, of course, you do.
Everything about the job is perfect: friendly co-workers, an easy-going boss, and free parking.
Life is pretty good for a while until COVID-19 lockdowns hit your town. A few months later, your company announces they are creating a layoff list. Anyone without a certain number of years will find themselves on that list and out of work.
The number of years they decided upon is five.
And how many years do you have with the company?
But wait! Isn’t four supposed to be your lucky number? What’s going on here? Not only do you find yourself out of a good job; after several months, you are unable to find a new one. More importantly, you think you can no longer count on the signs from the Universe that once helped guide your path, and you need them more now than ever because you find yourself getting ready to kiss poverty—and you can already tell his breath stinks!
So what can you do?
As a mindfulness practitioner and a person who has experienced a heavy dose of financial hardship, I recommend adopting a few key mindsets.
MINDSET #1 – Deliberately Create a Future for Yourself
That dream of taking a European vacation two years from now is on hold. The money is gone. It went to pay the rent. Heck, you can’t even think about life two years from now when you aren’t even sure where you’ll find the money to cover next month’s electric bill.
Finding yourself in an impoverished state can seemingly rob you of your ability to see yourself doing anything in the distant future. When you held a secure and well-paying job, you could easily conceive of things like a 15- year retirement plan or a 30-year mortgage. However, when a person struggles financially, the individual’s time frame for goals and dreams often shrinks down to months or weeks. Sadly, many who are homeless live a day-to-day existence.
This type of short-term thinking is dangerous, as it can keep you trapped in poverty and lead to depression. Therefore, it is up to you to deliberately create a future for yourself. While the type of goals and achievements in that future might be dramatically different from your previous ones, there are still many things you can realistically see yourself doing.
One thing to consider is learning origami. There are free how-to videos online. Could you see yourself learning this craft and giving away some homemade origami projects to family or friends six months from now?
The important thing here is not what you see yourself doing; what is vital is that you set a goal for yourself at least six months to a year out into the future. If you don’t care for the art of paper folding, envision yourself doing something else. Even seeing yourself having cleaned out and organized the garage is okay as long as you see that as an obtainable goal that you could achieve in the future.
Because seeing yourself as having an extended future and being open to the possibilities that could enter into it creates the space for opportunities to come into your life. Believing you have opportunities increases happiness.
MINDSET #2 – Consider Yourself to be Your Main Investment
Wealth creation consists of saving money and investing it. Poverty can cause an individual to become preoccupied with the first part of that equation and dismissing the second part. Desperation to find savings on everything from milk to raincoats to toilet paper overtakes the brain. Save. Save. Save becomes your mantra. There usually isn’t any extra money left for investigating things like money market accounts or fine art, so the thought of investing leaves one’s consciousness.
Yet, this is the type of consciousness needed for wealth creation.
The best way to maintain this type of thinking is to reframe your thoughts about spending your money. For example, say you decide you want to save money by buying some online food saver bags. Putting fruits and vegetables into these bags will waste less food and reduce spending on produce.
However, you can also view this purchase as a smart investment in your health as you are prolonging the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables in your home to improve your nutritional needs.
Notice how that line of thinking is expansive, whereas the notion of penny-pinching to save a few cents on produce is reductive. Having a balance of both thoughts can help relieve some of the anxiety financially challenged people create by continually entertaining thoughts of needing to save every dime.
MINDSET #3 – Turn Your Situation into a Game When Possible.
If you haven’t seen the film Life is Beautiful, please watch it. The story centers around a Jewish Italian bookshop owner who employs various games to shield his son from the horrors of imprisonment during World War II.
Let’s face it. Poverty isn’t usually fun. Leaky ceilings, worn-out shoes, and insufficient heating aren’t pleasurable experiences. Too much focus on these difficulties lowers our vibration, ignites stress, and increases depression. Since leaving your environment usually isn’t possible, making a game out of your situation is often a practical method for maintaining your sanity and optimism.
Here’s one option if you live with others: Get a small box or jar. Every time anyone in the household encounters stress, they get to write down the experience on a small piece of paper and put it in the container. At the end of the month, you can all play “Guess my Stress,” a type of charades played by taking turns pulling the pieces of paper out of the jar and act out, without speaking, the action on the paper.
The more ridiculous and exaggerated the actions, the better. Should you play this game, you’ll discover you’ve found a way to transmute the energy of stress and negativity into something funny and absurd. In that way, you will feel as if you have power over your troubles instead of feeling as if your troubles have power over you.
#Mindset 4 – Continue to See Yourself as Lucky.
Give the number four a break. Wait a while before seeking a different lucky number or talisman. You might not be as unlucky as you think. Had you stayed there, you might have found that downsizing caused your co-workers to become competitive, transformed your boss into a micromanager, and turned the free parking into a memory.
Keep in mind this quote from the Dalai Lama: “Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.”
Understand that his message isn’t saying you have to do cartwheels every time something terrible happens to you. The things that push us into financial hardship don’t usually fill us with joy. Death, disease, and betrayal rarely ignite feelings of good fortune. However, if we can find an element of luck within the situation, we can increase our chances of attracting more luck into our lives.
In fact, according to Richard Wiseman, author of Luck Factor, lucky people see the positive side of their bad luck. They believe that any ill-fortune in their lives will, in the long run, work out for the best.
A mindset like this boosts resiliency and increases happiness. Think about using it if poverty forces its way on you and gives you a smelly kiss. No, you don’t have to love the experience, but you can hold your nose and get through it. Maybe afterward, you’ll meet someone who went through the same thing, and they’ll offer you a free beer or even a job.
You might be that lucky.
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Are you thinking about monetizing your website beyond Google or alongside Google Adsense? If you are, affiliate programs, like Amazon, make sense, especially since you can choose every product that is presented on your website or social media page, which means you are better able to custom target products that your visitors and followers may like to purchase.
1. Understand Your Audience
Before you sign up with Amazon, take a look at the metrics for your website and the follower profiles on your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. Who are they? What do they do? What do they post? Amazon sells millions of products, and your specific audience isn’t interested in 99 percent of those products. For example, if your audience is full of insurance agents, they’re probably not interested in reading the latest erotic thriller or purchasing baby clothes. If your audience is like mine, full of authors and writers, you can rest assured the vast majority aren’t interested in DIY vehicle upgrades or sports equipment. And you’re probably thinking – butbutbut some of them might me. You’re right, some of them might be, but the vast majority won’t be interested.
2. Understand What You do
The second most important metric to understand is yourself. What do you do? What’s on your website? What do you post on your social medial pages? What’s your brand? The latter question is usually the hardest for most sole-proprietors, especially those in creative industries, because they think of themselves as a person and not a brand. You are also a brand, and you will need to choose products and services from your affiliate marketing sites that align with your brand. If your brand is books, then think about books. Books, pens, paper, computer paper and office supplies. If you’re an insurance agent, then think about home and commercial offices. If you’re a car mechanic, then it’s everything cars, including maintenance manuals, car parts and car enhancements and upgrades.
3. Is Your Website Geared for People Who Are 13 Years or Older?
Amazon doesn’t want their products listed on websites and social media pages that are geared for people who are 12 years old and younger. It’s a checkbox during the process to add your sites. If you have a website and social media pages that are geared for young children, you can’t use Amazon ads on those sites.
4. Sign-Up for Amazon Affiliates
Now that you understand your audience, yourself and your webpages and social media accounts, it’s time to sign up. It’s a fast process and self-explanatory. Once you get in, you will need to tell Amazon how you wish to get paid. It’s a link located under your email address at the top of the page. Just hover over your email address, and a dropdown menu will appear.
5. Your Associates Account
Next, hover over your email address again and go to Account Settings. Now click on Edit Your Website and Mobile App List. You will need to enter the website addresses of everywhere you plan to advertise, and I do mean everywhere, including all your websites, social media accounts and any mobile or online apps that you happen to have and where you plan to put your Amazon Affiliate ads. This is also where the question – Are any of these sites designed for specific use for children under 13 years of age?
Note: It will do you no good to put affiliate ads on your Instagram account. Instagram does not allow for the clicking of links in posts. Since the money you earn on Amazon Affilaites is directly related to people clicking on the link and buying a product, Instagram is useless.
6. Manage Your Tracking IDs
Amazon sets you up automatically with one tracking ID during the sign-up process. If you want to breakdown your metrics, you will need to create additional tracking IDs. If you want to be able to look at the metrics for your social media accounts and websites separately, you should create a tracking ID like Mywebsites. In this scenario, you’d use your main tracking ID for your social media and the Mywebsites tracking ID for the ads on your website. However, it’s important to note that you will need to make sure you are working under the correct tracking ID when you collect your ad code. If you accidentally put an ad on your social media with the tracking ID Mywebsites, Amazon will put the metrics under MyWebsites.
7. Install SiteStripe
In order to make your product curation easy, I recommend installing SiteStripe. It’s located under Tools. This is an Amazon Affiliate Add-on for your web browser, and it allows you to search Amazon from the main pages and create ad code. It’s much faster to use site stripe to find individual products than it is to use the Product Links menu under the menu Product Linking in the Amazon Affiliates dashboard.
8. Find Your Products
Next, find your preferred products. Make sure each product is aligned with your brand, your message and your audience. If you’re placing them on your website, you can use the full code for HTML or Images. You can also take advantage of Banner, native Shopping ads and mobile popovers (if you really want annoying mobile popovers for those who are using cell phones). I recommend playing around with this so that you understand how the products appear on your webpage and which ones look best with your layout. It’s important to note that you will need to let your visitors know that the ads on your website are from Amazon. This can be the word “sponsored” below or above every ad or a menu link that explains that you are an Amazon affiliate. I use both because when I started this I didn’t know. The sponsored wording takes care of every ad I remember. The menu link covers every ad I forgot about over the last two years or can no longer find cause it’s buried.
If you are going to run products in your social media feeds, you always want to choose HTML SHORT LINK. This is the amz.blahblahblah. It looks cleaner, and everyone understands that a short link containing amz is from Amazon. You must also be compliant with the FCC regarding advertising. This means that for every post you put up, you need to add @amazon and #sponsored or something that lets people know that this is a link that goes to Amazon, and you will receive a certain amount of money if someone clicks on the link and makes a purchase.
9. Understanding Payments and How and When You Get Paid
Like all things Amazon, it’s on a two-month delay. If you sell books on Amazon, you are already familiar with the method. You get paid this month for items you sold two months ago. When your account reaches $10 (assuming direct deposit), Amazon will send the money to your account. If you choose another method, the amount that triggers a payout may be different. For direct deposit, you’ll get paid somewhere around the 29th of the month for which your account balance was $10 or greater.
10. Setting Expectations for Amazon Affiliates
I did Amazon Affiliates off and on for more than 10 years before I made a dime. I only started making money off of it when I started running ads down my social media feeds, and it was a decision that I took very seriously. I weighed the pros and cons. I thought about my audience. I thought about the spam factor, and eventually, I came up with a plan that wasn’t too horrific and aligned with the content that I was already running and included products I know I like because I own them. Did some of my audience vacate the premises when I started monetizing my social media? Yes, they did, but I get more kudos for highlighting relevant products on Amazon than I do complaints. This is why I say knowing your audience is vitally important. If you put products on your website and social media feeds that are not relevant, you will get thrown into the category of spammer by your audience. If you’re wondering how much you’ll earn, set your expectations low. If you sell 1 product a month, consider yourself a success.
11. Amazon Will Delete Your Affiliate Account if You Do Not Sell Anything
Amazon will give you the exact timeframe when you sign up. I can’t remember if it’s 3 or 6 months, but if you do not make a sale, Amazon will delete your affiliate account, and you will have to create a new one. Now, there’s no waiting period to create another account, but I do recommend doing some hard thinking on why you did not sell a single thing and adjust your strategy before signing up again. It’s also important to note that it does not matter how long you’ve had your affiliate account. The minute you stop selling for X month, Amazon will delete it. I tripped over the Affiliate forums one time and saw that a lady who had been an Amazon Affiliate for 20ish years was deleted because she didn’t make a sell within X months.
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Will it ever end!? I think this is the question we're all asking ourselves. Sixty-percent of the population has had COVID at least once in the last 2.5 years. Even more of us are vaccinated. Some are boosted, and it just keeps going. If you're like me, you've spent the last 2.5 years in near isolation, and every time you do venture out (on low covid days) you inevitably run into someone who tells you - so and so is sick.... Oh yeah, and they live in my house and I'm outside and and and . . . FUUUUUCCKKKKKKKK! Fucking seriously?? (No joke, I just had this happen to me the other day. I'm not clear until May 10, 2022, and if I do get sick, I'm wondering if I can charge them with attempted murder.) But anyway, I'm still trying to get some writing done.