Posts tagged Building an eBiz
Wondering why I haven’t posted lately?
Besides being busy with VProz and developing courses I’ve also written a new book.
Check out the Kindle version here.
Check out the print version here (Coming soon)
So what’s the book? It’s called “How to Document a Project Plan: What You Need to Know to Design a Project Management Plan Quickly and Easily”. It’s a detailed look at what you ned to do to create a comprehensive project plan that will help you succeed.
For more information you can go here.
Or to buy it …
On the Kindle go here
In paperback go here (coming soon)
Somehow I don’t feel like trying to come up with blog ideas for writing. Guess the article writing has gotten to me. So for the next little while I’ll talk about building an ebiz instead.
Anyhow … hope everyone had a great Easter weekend … even if you don’t celebrate it directly.
This article marketing is driving me to distraction. One week the incoming traffic goes through the roof. The next the traffic goes through the floor. And it doesn’t seem to matter what is happening that week. It also seems that a lot of people who read articles don’t work for a living.
The other issue I’m running into is that EzineArticles.com is really erratic is approving my articles. I can submit a set of articles and have half of the approved within a couple of hours but the next set wait for two days.
But at least the process is bringing me traffic.
This week I get to see if adding a new category increases :grin: (or decreases ) my traffic. I’ll let you know as soon as it becomes clear.
…. P.S. ….. Don’t forget that Friday I’m hoping to make an announcement so check back and see what it is!
Okay, we’re almost finished.
So far we’ve covered the cost of producing different types of information product, we’ve covered the reputation value and we’ve covered the training value.
Today we’re going to discuss a type of value we as internet marketers like to discuss … money. Bucks, dollars, lira, pounds, pesos … $$$$$$$ (got the pic?)
So how much is a customer willing to pay for a product?
Frankly, that’s a question that has stumped many a marketer. The answer is typically “more than you thought!”. And there are a number of factors involved. Like, how good your sales copy is, did you position your information product as a system or just a book, are you targetting the affluent or the rest of us … and so forth.
However, once you’ve established a price you should get a relative price that looks along these lines (for comparable amounts of information, well presented and professional in appearance):
So for example (and these numbers are made up but reasonable), a multi-DVD set which has been repurposed into a book and into an audio set might sell for:
- Live Seminar (1 day) $1500
- Video (4 DVDs) $297
- Audio (4 CDs) $97
- Book (200 pgs) $49
Did the relationship surprise you?
It should have … and to be honest it was a bit of a cheat. You see the relationship between live, video and audio is reasonably stable (and in that order). This corresponds to our previous discussion of value in terms of training quality.
However, books have an established market. And the price needs to correspond to that price point which your customer has established in their mind. That’s why the ending dollar amount of $7 is not as key. People are used to the $9 ending point.
So if I redo the prices (still being reasonable and still providing the same information) I might get the following:
- Live Seminar (2 hrs) – $250
- Video (1 DVD) – $97
- Book (60 pages) – $19
- Audio (1 CD) – $7
Notice that the relationship between book and audio switch places. Why? Because people expect a book to have a minimum cost which is higher than that of the audio.
Now how much is your information product worth?
In real terms you’ll need to estimate that based on your knowledge of the market. And don’t forget that some products will be worth more to you without a dollar figure. HUH???????
Remember that even FREE live seminar can sometimes make you more money than one you charge for! So when you are predicting the price for the purposes of determining what formats to use for your information products, don’t forget to figure in giveaways. For example, by providing a FREE live seminar you may get a large, interested and active audience (you might not but that’s another issue). Just perfect for background to create a DVD set for you to sell at the back of the room. In this case, the dollar values are all messed up because you traded dollars today for dollars tomorrow.
Similarly, books are often given out as free samples (e.g. opt-in and bonuses) as are MP3s. Once an audio is given out for free, the physical version (a CD) has little if any value. But of course, building a list is often of far more value than the audio.
Despite the difficulty of identifying a price point, the price is a major component of the decision to create an information product in one format or another.
We’ve now finished the discussion of the various elements involved in the decision. It’s now time to discuss the decision itself. Which we’ll do in the next web entry.
During this bit of familial nonsense, we ended up calling the police with respect to the theft of property (remember that he was renting and that there was no in-common involved). The phone call was less than satisfactory.
Let me be clear to begin. I believe that the ultimate answer was correct and that the constable was correct. Not in the path he took but in the end place.
The point is that when we callled, we got a very disinterested voice at the other end. He asked a number of questions and then said … “This is a civil matter, we can’t get involved. You’ll have to call your lawyer.”
Now I want to be clear that if we had pursued it as a theft (which it was), then we would have ended up with a number of angry relatives. And the end result would have been worse than the theft.
The key, though is that the constable came across as unwilling to bother taking the report — in other words, do his job.
On the other hand, I had a GPS stolen from my car. Not cool. So I called the police to report the theft. The constable took the report and then explained to me that there wasn’t much point in proceeding. That they would never find the thief nor the GPS and that outside of CSI & television, cars aren’t a good base for fingerprinting (too many hands touch). Again no help but this time the reasons were given and explained so that I agreed with his reasoning.
As entrepreneurs we are going to face this situation — both with ourselves, our partners, our employees and our suppliers.
Of course, I’m going to encourage you to ensure that your employees and suppliers do their jobs. After all, if they don’t you won’t survive!
But, more important, is to always appear to be doing the best possible job.
There are always going to be issues where the client isn’t going to get the solution they want. Either because of laws, or ramifications or just physical impossibilities.
Be the second officer … explain why it’s a bad idea (or … or … or ….) and help the client to understand why. Sell the client on not proceeding.
That way, you’ll be perceived as doing your job — and satisfying the client — and not just as avoiding work.
As entrepreneurs we need to ensure that our employees and suppliers understand how important this attitude and behaviour is. To the company, to the client and ultimately to themselves. In effect, selling isn’t just to yes, sometimes you need to sell no.
On the other hand is ourselves and our partners … especially when we’re solo.
Not only do we need to sell our clients on no, but we also need to make sure that we do our jobs — and maybe more — when there is no one there to push us.
Sometimes that is easier said than done.
That’s a big part of why so many internet marketing gurus push the “fix yourself” button so often. Personally, I’m not a motivation kickstart kind of guy. I’m self-motivating and generally my bulls**t meter screams when I’m in some sort of “Get Motivated” type of presentation.
But the sad truth is if we don’t do it, it won’t get done. So we need to keep motivated.
To do that means we need to know ourselves. Do you need to be externally motivated? Do you need to be helped over the rough spots? Then you better find yourself a good coach and/or motivation guru (or both). Are you self motivating until you collapse? Then you need to identify the warning signs and how you will overcome collapses — which may mean a coach and guru or a beer and wings with a friend. In case you are wondering, I want to be clear that a coach can and should be used for more than just motivation but I’m focusing on this aspect for this discussion. In fact, you may find you need different coaches for different aspects of your business life.
In any case, the time to discover that you need motivation is not when you are sunk in the roots of despair.
As an entrepreneur one of the risks you must manage is the risk of your demotivating … and like all the other risk events, management means a plan to avoid (or encourage), and to overcome (or exploit). The one must occur prior to the event, and the other be ready on a moment’s notice if the event occurs.
Up until lately, I had thought that the sense of entitlement was limited to those who were younger than me. That my generation had created this sense as part of our growing up.
I was wrong.
My wife’s aunt demonstrated that very clearly. Because that was what was at the basis of her actions. She felt that she was entitled to anything Gerry had left behind.
As entrepreneurs we need to guard ourselves against this attitude … in ourselves, in our employees and in our clients. And learn to use it ethically.
So what is the sense of entitlement? It is a belief that for whatever reason, a person is entitled to something. That they have earned it, and they deserve it. That they should have it.
The truth, of course, is different. Yes, we may have worked for something. Yes, we may have, in the eyes of a rational God have earned it. But that is no guarantee that we actually will or should have it.
An entrepreneur sees this in their own actions. After all, we all work hard to build a business. We give up our time, energy and sweat. For those foolish enough we may even give up our family and health. But that is no guarantee of success. If it were far more people would be successful. And far fewer of the people who are, would be.
Life isn’t fair.
As entrepreneurs we need to leave the sense of entitlement behind. We need to try and try and try again. Sometimes succeeding, sometimes not. Sometimes failing through our own faults and sometimes suceeding despite them.
But never letting our sense of entitlement fool us into believing that we should stop or that we’ve earned our position. Because we haven’t. We may have paid for it, but we haven’t earned it.
We see it in our treatment of our suppliers. How many times have you said to a supplier … that’s too expensive, I can’t afford it. You should work for this amount. As if it’s their problem that you haven’t earned enough to pay the price. As Dan Kennedy recently remarked, “It’s not that the price is too high, it’s that your earnings are too low for it.”
We see it in our employees (or ourselves in that role). We see it in how they treat customers. Do the customers owe us their custom just for having the products? Do they have to buy just because we’ve gone out of our way? We’ve all seen this sense of entitlement in the poor treatment we’ve had in major department stores. Clerks who were more interested in discussing their latest date than in serving the customer.
We see it in our customers. We see them believing that we should give them free information just because we did so in the past. We see them wanting to pay rates well below fair market. We see them chasing the cheapest price without regard for the quality of the product.
This sense of entitlement is a failing we all need to fight against. Both in ourselves and in others. The truth is much less pleasant but at least we deserve the result.
As you may know if you’ve been reading my posts for awhile, my father-in-law died about two months ago. (On life and death – part 1, part 2) We spent a week or so in Ottawa, making arrangements and cleaning up his apartment. At least as far as we were able. After all we are talking about 15 years or so in the same dark, mildewed basement.
When we finally overloaded the van, we had a whole mess load of stuff still to pack. At least a day or two of work yet to be done. Including leaving his ashes on his counter (immediate burial wasn’t possible).
Arrangements were made to return in December to finish cleaning up.
Everything was ready for our return … or so we thought.
Of course, we had some problems scheduling — resolved. And Lisa’s Aunt didn’t seem particularly happy that we were returning. She also was angry at us for having removed “anything of value” as she put it.
Well, on Friday, we returned. We found out why she wasn’t happy.
By the way, did I mention that this hell-hole was owned by Lisa’s Aunt? (I know I mentioned the fact that she didn’t bother to tell either of her nieces that Gerry was in the hospital dieing.)
It was a long, dangerous drive up to Ottawa in the first blizzard of winter. Okay, I exagerate. On the edge of the first blizzard. That still means that we drove by 10 car pileups from the whiteouts on the 401. For those of you not familiar with the Highway of Heroes, the McDonald Cartier Freeway has parts of it which are frankly dangerous in the winter. Especially around Gananoque the highway ices and is subject to blowing snow (aka whiteouts). So accidents are quite frequent.
Needless to say, I was not really able to navigate the stairs so my wife and her friend went down on their own. The scream from the basement was heart wrenching.
This woman and her friends had emptied the apartment. Photographs had been thrown out (we found some in the garbage). Tools belonging to Lisa’s grandfather had disappeared. As had all the small appliances, expensive knives and cooking utensils and anything smaller than a desk. Even Lisa’s father’s ashes had disappeared (fortunately found later, below blankets in his bedroom). Even the freezer had disappeared (admittedly we knew about that). The only thing left was what they felt was unimportant and the garbage.
Saturday we spent showing our friend around Ottawa. We even saw the Olympic torch run. That may seem strange but it gave Lisa’s aunt some time to call her “friends” and try to get some of the stuff back. Of course, they denied that they had taken anything. And despite a call to the police, nothing was accomplished.
On Saturday evening, I drove us back to Toronto. Staying another night was not on.
I’m writing this on Sunday (which is when I try to write my blog posts for the week). And despite being half asleep, I’m still angry. Or is it protective? Or is there a difference?
Kharma is a bitch … at least, I hope it will be.
But out of this mess, I have several weeks worth of comments on the sense of entitlement, willingness to do one’s job and other topics for the building your ebusiness portion of this blog. I’ll try to break them up.
But today (as in Monday when this post is published) is my birthday. So my posts this week will be on getting older and better (from an entrepreneur’s viewpoint). Then next week, I’ll talk about entitlement and doing one’s job and one other subject yet to be determined. Which will take us up to Christmas. *BTW Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends – think of your family when you light the candles tonight and the next few nights. And be thankful.
So entrepreneurs and small business people gather round and listen to me rant. And I’ll try to make it instructive.
Get Learning and Get Earning
So over the last two weeks I’ve talked about the four types of books and why the Content Mapping System works for them – or doesn’t.
While the system isn’t a panacea and it doesn’t work for all books, it does work in most cases for how to books and why to books. In short, most non-fiction.
This is true because most non-fiction books are fact based regardless of their organization. Even if they are a simple collection, they still need to be organized. If they are a how to, they still need to be organized. So it doesn’t matter if they are sequential, fact-based or collections, they are still a set of facts that need to be organized. And the best system to do that is the Content Mapping System you can find here in video form (for free) or here in book form (not free).
A minor exception to the above rule is sequential based books. With sequential or process based books you need to add pretty pictures. In other words, flow or process diagrams. But the basic Content Map system works quite well and does allow for adding this type of information. (Yes, believe it or not it is a function of the tool. We don’t talk about it very much but it is part of the proper use of the tool.)
The major exception to the above are time based books. These are histories, (auto-)biographies and fiction. Because they are time based they need a tool which is time based … in other words a time chart based system. Sorry but the Content Mapping system just isn’t the right system for those books.
A couple of final comments.
First, an historical analysis is not a time based book. It is primarily a fact based book. Having said that you may want to use a time chart to help document the occurence of the actions which you are analysing. This leads to the second comment.
The system allows you to use pictures and diagrams when they communicate the information better than words. Don’t be afraid to use them! After all a picture is worth a thousand words. This also applies within your book. Sometimes words are not the best tools to communicate with. Sometimes pictures are. Never be afraid of diagrams. And don’t forget to use boxes … those little quick fact summary boxes you see in some books or at the side of articles. They help to seperate the book and to emphasize key facts.
So enjoy the Content Mapping System and learn to write books in less than 24 hours. Just remember that the system doesn’t work for all books, just non-fiction. It works great for how to books!
Enjoy, learn & get earning.
& the LearningCreators team
So far we’ve talked about two types of books – fact and time based. Our system works for one but not for the other. Well, actually yes it will work for both — but it’s not the best technique for the other and I only want you to use the best system!
Now, when I first thought about creating a system I believed there were only those two types.
I was wrong!
Yup, I admit it. There are two types that I don’t usually write.
Today I’m going to discuss sequence based books and tomorrow I’ll talk about collections.
So what is a sequence based book? Well, first of all, it probably doesn’t really exist in it’s pure state. It is a presentation, however, which appears frequently in technical writing.
So what is it already?
It’s a process based presentation; in other words, a how to book dealing with details. Which is why it seldom exists in pure form. Why? Because even technical manuals need to deal with summaries and explanations. It’s a book which is organized to presentt:
- Step One – do this
- Step Two – do this other thing
- Step Three – when you finish do another bit
- Step Four – if you haven’t finished go back and repeat step one.
- and so on and so on and so on.
Quite frankly, words are seldom the best way to present process or sequential based information. Flow diagrams are a much better way of describing that information and should be included whenever you are describing a sequence.
So obviously the Content Mapping system isn ‘t the best way to design this type of book right? Wrong!
Remember my comment on sequential books not existing in pure form? Typically you find a sequential sausage being buried (literally) in a fact based corn roll. Can you tell I haven’t had supper yet? Ah, corn dogs … oops back to books.
The trick is that the majority of the book’s organization is argument or fact based with sections being sequential based. Therefore the Content Map system is the best way to design the whole book. Where sequential elements appear they can be documented either on a seperate sheet or in a spare blank part of the map sheet. The sequence diagram can then be referenced within the content map.
This is the same technique I used when writing How To Write Your Own How To Book in 24 Hours or Less. I sketched the process in one corner of the map and then used a topic tag (actually a group of them) which referenced the sketch.
So is the Content Map the best method for sequential books? Yes, because most sequential books are actually fact based books with sequential pieces.
However, the sequential pieces are best described using a flow diagram. And that applies to both designing and in presenting within the book.
After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Reducing Words per Sentence in Your Writing
The first three techniques I’m going to suggest are designed simply to reduce the number of words in your sentences. After all, as you go through the school system you are taught to create more and more complex thoughts. This complexity often rolls over into your sentence structure. Long, complex sentences are the foe of understanding. They build gates around the mind which the rams of your thoughts must contend against.
Puff, huff, puff, huff …. Salbutamol quick!
Bluntly, keep it super simple! More words. More difficulty reading. Less words. Easier to read.
One thought at a time
The first technique is to keep it simple. One thought = one sentence. Stop trying to cram all the exceptions into one sentence. If I’m trying to explain the rolling of the cart wheels while simultaneously explaining how the wheels are made of wood and iron and the iron has been lovingly smashed by the hand of the big, burly smitty with the burned leg and the secret of the sword, then I’m going to tend to create run-on sentences. Break the sentence apart. Tell me about the rolling cart wheels. Tell me how the wood and iron squeak together. If you must explain that the rim was forged by the same smitty. The burly artificer of the magic sword. But please, please, tell it to me one idea at a time. Lose the run on sentences. Be merciful, us old fogeys can’t follow that many thoughts. We get bored.
Mind you, if you’re writing a how to book you wouldn’t combine a sentence containing several elements of the situation and the story into a single, comprehensive sentence, which causes one to fall asleep by the time the full sentence has been completed, now would you? Not if you’re smart. One thought. One sentence. Multiple thoughts. Multiple sentences.
Conjunctions belong at the beginning
When you were in school, your teacher taught you not to begin sentences with coordinating conjunctions such as and or but. But now that you are an adult … feel free. Conjunctions are used to connect subordinate and co-ordinate phrases. Words like if, and, or and but are used to join multiple thoughts together. As we said earlier, multiple thoughts need multiple sentences, and single sentences should be limited to single thoughts. So break them apart. If only to make it easier to read. Who cares if you end up with a sentence fragment. We think in fragments. We talk in fragments. So write in fragments when appropriate.
Getting blitzed on Adjectives and Adverbs.
Adjectives and adverbs are like fine wine. They compliment the nouns and verbs they accompany. They are selected and blended to add just the right piquancy to the verbal meal. So stop getting blitzed on the Wild Turkey and Strawberry Zinfandel of words.
If every grass blade is a deep, shamrock and moss green, then you probably are using too many words. Scrap probably. You are using too many words. In fact, there is a name for that writing. It’s called purple prose. It was a dark and stormy night. No it was night. The wind was blowing. We get the picture already.
There is no need to write purple prose. Especially when writing how to books. Keep your adjectives and adverbs spare and infrequent. Trust your reader. Anywhere you have multiple adjectives or adverbs per noun or verb … remove them. Light green grass? Try just grass. We already know it should be green. You’ll be surprised how many words per sentence you’ll lose!
As I’ve written this I’d like to blame my tone on Halloween candy. But the truth is that having extremely long sentences is a case of laziness. It’s foolishly used as an ego enhancer. All it takes is a bit of effort. Figure out where you’ve used one of the mistakes above. Rewrite the sentence. Break it up. Shorten it. Your readers will thank you. And your writing will improve immensely.
Keep Learning, Keep Earning
& the LearningCreators team
My background is in IT. I’ve been creating websites since the web was initially opened to the public. I even know why HTML is scripting not programming, what the initials mean and where it came from. (HyperText Markup Language was a subset/supraset of Standard Graphics Markup Language. SGML was a statndardized set of codes which controlled the big printing presses. Think typsetters marks).
In fact, my consulting business is in IT. Most of the training we do is in IT (or management skills).
But in this business I am first and foremost a business manager. An entrepreneur.
And at some point I need to decide. Is the work that needs to be done worth my time to do it? Would I be better off hiring someone and letting them do the work for me? Even though I can do it, it may not be worth my time. Better to throw $$$ at it than the one asset I can’t replace or increase – my time.
Lesson Learned #9:
Money or Time
If you want to play, you’ve got to pay. Your time is always more valuable than the guy beside you. The key to success is to know what you need to do, what you shouldn’t do and who to hire to do it instead. The corolllary is that hiring the cheapest isn’t necessarily the best way to get the job done. Sometimes, paying more is a better investment.