59: Internet Marketing – Interview with Andrew Lock

Today we feature Internet Marketer Andrew Lock, one of my favourite marketers, who I’ve been following for almost 10 years!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

Im originally from Surrey in the UK, and even at school I realized I had an entrepreneurial leaning. One day I was called into the headmasters office (I was scared stiff to find out what I’d done wrong), and to my surprise he said, “I’m awarding you the top of the year prize for business studies”! That solidified my realization that I was indeed an entrepreneur! My earliest venture was buying big sacks of potatoes from a local farm, and then selling small bags of potatoes to elderly people in the community. They loved it because potatoes are heavy to carry home from the shops!

Any entrepreneurs which you look up to?

I’ve been influenced by many entrepreneurs over the years. Mainstream people like Richard Branson, and more niche marketers like Dan Kennedy and Jay Abraham.

You moved from the UK to the US. How do the two countries compare? Why you chose Sandy, Utah?

Since my first visit to the States in 1989, I fell in love with the country, and made more than 30 trips while still living in England! Originally I moved to California in 2003, and after 2 years I discovered Utah by chance, on a road trip. Utah is beautiful, with amazing mountains and national parks, and a more relaxed pace of life. After being there for more than 10 years, I decided to move back to California again, and I love the LA weather!

You have a new course out now called “WebTV Wealth”, tell us more about it!

If there’s one thing that I’m known for, it’s my WebTV show, “Help My Business!” which started in 2008. It’s been the cornerstone of my business over the years, and I’ve helped over a hundred other people to create shows in various niches. With the success of my show, naturally many people approached me and said, “how can I do that, too?” That’s what led me to create a comprehensive course that explains everything step by step (www.WebTVWealth.com) It’s immensely satisfying for me to see other people launch a show, as a result of following the course. Video is here to stay online, and I encourage every business to take full advantage of it, asap!

You are a big fan of Disney! What are your top brands in terms of marketing?

I have enormous respect for what Walt Disney established, and he was not only a visionary, but a genius marketer too. Other brands that i think are doing it right, are Virgin, Apple, Lego, NCL, and Starbucks. I find it fascinating to study how they’ve become successful, and that’s what inspired me to write my latest book, “BIG Lessons from BIG Brands” (www.BigLessonsBook.com)

Are you known to the Disney people as a superfan?

Haha, well, some of the management know who I am, and I’ve developed a good relationship with them to be able to take groups of entrepreneurs behind the scenes at Disney World, which is great fun, and a real eye opener! (www.MagicalMarketingExperience.com)

 What are some good industries to go into at the moment?

I don’t really look at industries in that way, because I think it’s dangerous to jump on a bandwagon. I always encourage entrepreneurs to follow their heart and their true passion, whatever that might be. It’s hard to build a business from scratch, and if someone is only doing it because they think an industry is ‘hot’, it will invariably end in disaster.

What are some red flags when you partner up with somebody?

I learned the hard way that it’s important to do due diligence and be very careful who you partner with. Many people partner with people who are like them, which is a big mistake. Its important to find skills that are complimentary to yours, not the same as yours. Also, if you don’t know the person very well, always ask them to provide the names of 3 people they’ve done deals with in the past, so you can verify they’re honest and ethical. If they can’t do that, it’s a huge red flag.

Outside from common sense business advice, what are your creative marketing tips that people don’t think about?

Most business owners copy each others marketing. For example, a plumber sees all the other plumbers advertising in yellow pages, so they naturally think that’s what they should do! It’s a lemming mentality, and it’s counter productive. The best type of marketing is when it makes your business stand out from the crowd. The other thing to aim for is to establish yourself as the expert in your industry. Why? Because people do business with those who they perceive to be credible experts. For example, if you have a book, or you’re interviewed on the radio or in a newspaper, those things add enormous credibility, and make people feel much more comfortable about doing business with you. Lastly, collect as many comments from happy customers as possible. What those people say about you and your business is infinitely more valuable than any type of marketing you can do.

Best advanced marketing books you can recommend?

I recommend studying all the Dan Kennedy “No BS” books, they are the best primer in advanced marketing concepts. Dan was one of my key mentors, and his approach goes counter to what’s taught in most business schools, but it works!

Do you still think eBay is a good place to start a business?

eBay has changed a lot over the years. When the management decided to favor customers over sellers, things went downhill fast in my opinion. The site has a fraction of the traffic it used to have, sadly. Having said that, eBay is still a good place to start a business for someone who has in demand unique products.

How can we achieve world peace? 😉

Yes, that would certainly be nice, wouldn’t it? It strikes me that most people want to get along, but certain world leaders are power hungry and it’s their decisions that affect the majority. We need government of course to maintain order, but history has shown that many if not most rulers invariably succumb to corruption or greed. I try not to watch too much TV news these days because (a) most of it is negative, (b) it’s incredibly biased, and (c) it’s easy to waste a lot of time and mental energy on it. I’m grateful that I live in a relatively peaceful area that encourages entrepreneurship!

To learn more about Andrew Lock please visit his main page at Helpmybusiness.com.

14: Interview with copywriter Mish from Mortified Cow

Today we’ll pick the brain of another copywriter! I interviewed Londoner Mish from Mortified Cow who works and lives around the world.

mish

What kind of business do you run? When did you start it?

I run a two-person copywriting agency called Mortified Cow. (The other person is my husband!) We work while we travel the world as digital nomads. We both have backgrounds in copywriting, but before Mortified Cow we were regular employees at London-based companies. After quitting our jobs in 2012, we started writing for clients on Elance (now Upwork) and worked our way up from there.

What inspired you to start this business?

We were struck by how samey the words on most company websites are: they’re all “focused on your success”, they talk about how they have “the solutions for you” and will “deliver the results you need” – usually “whether you’re a large, medium or small business”. Everyone sounds the same – from lawyers and accountants to web designers and life coaches. More importantly, though, their words feel insincere and meaningless. (No reader ever thinks, “Oh wow… this company says they’re ‘passionate about customer service’. I’ve GOT to hire them!”)

We wanted to help businesses set themselves apart from the competition through personalityful, attention-grabbing text that actually says something meaningful. As a result, we help them reach their dream customers, and we make sure those customers feel like they couldn’t work with or buy from anyone else.

Does your business generate enough money to support you?

Yes. My writing can make all the difference to my clients’ businesses, and what I earn is a reflection of that.

This wasn’t always the case, though! When I started out on Elance, I was charging something like $100 for huge, week-long projects. And then once I came off the Elance platform, I was still charging very little for my work. If I had the chance to go back and do it all again, I don’t think I would (or indeed could) change things: clients were taking a chance by working with a newbie, and I didn’t have the knowledge or writing skills that I have now.

Which resources to run your business do you use most?

Google Docs is the biggie. All my writing is done in Google Docs.

Mixmax is a great little Chrome extension for Gmail. I use it to track email opens (useful for making sure my emails are received!), and to provide an easy way for people to schedule calls with me.

What is your single best non-obvious tip for running a business?

When starting out as a freelancer or entrepreneur, cut out all the “faffing around the edges”. You don’t need a business card, you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a website, and you don’t need a plan to handle a zillion customers.

All you need is a clear description of the problem you solve, and your first three customers (by any means necessary).

Don’t worry about scaling, branding, or anything else until you know that people will pay for your product/service.

What would you recommend to generate traffic to the website? Have you tried SEO companies?

Write a book! I recently published a book about business writing called May I Have Your Attention, Please?, and I’ve had so many enquiries as a result of it already.

I’m also a great fan of podcast interviews, blog interviews (like this one!), LinkedIn, forums, Facebook groups, and generally just being “out there” and helpful.

I’ve never used an SEO company for Mortified Cow.

How did you come up with the name of the company?

Unfortunately there’s no hilarious backstory about embarrassed cattle! But we chose the name because of what it says about us.

To a lot of people, it says, “We’re not serious enough for your Very Important Business. Go over there and talk to Platinum Corporate Solutions instead.”

But to a few other people – the ones we want to work with – it says, “We’re going to write something that really puts across the excitement and uniqueness of your business – and we’re going to have fun doing it.”

Do you think that Social Media such as Twitter or Facebook are good marketing tools?

Yes, but they shouldn’t be your only marketing tools: you need to be in many places at once to both increase brand awareness and reach as many people as possible. Yes – be on social media. But be in other places, too.

How competitive is your industry?

Extremely competitive! The problem with copywriting is that too many people think they can do it. They fail to realise that copywriting is very different from “being able to write a sentence on a page”!

The upside is that it’s fairly easy to differentiate yourself from these kinds of writers and charge far more money than them. Not everyone will want to pay your fees, but that’s OK: the ones who gasp at your prices probably won’t appreciate your skills and expertise. The right clients will know you’re worth it, and they’ll be willing to pay a premium to work with you.

What is the best way to publish a book in your view? What do you think of Lulu?

I’ve published a few books around the topics of digital nomadism and business writing, and I’ve always used CreateSpace for paperbacks (and Kindle Direct Publishing for Kindle books).

CreateSpace royalties are the most generous to self-publishers (compared to other self-publishing platforms), and the process of uploading a book and having it available on Amazon is pretty seamless. It’s been a while since I looked into Lulu as an option, but I’m happy with CreateSpace at the moment.

Tell us more about being a digital nomad. Pros and Cons? Where are you at the moment?

We’re in rainy old London at the moment! It’s where we’re from originally, and we’re here for boring admin-related reasons before heading off again next month.

We tend to spend between one and two months in a different city before moving somewhere new. It seems like a lot of effort, but it’s actually pretty easy: we each have a 45L backpack of belongings (clothes, toiletries, tech, etc.), and that’s all we need. It’s an amazing feeling to head off to a new city with everything you could possibly need in a small bag on your back.

We always stay in Airbnb apartments, and yeah… it’s a pretty fun lifestyle! We get to see the world at our own pace, and we’re able to experience living like locals rather than trying to squeeze a ton of attractions into a weekend trip. We have lots of digital nomad friends, so there are always at least a few people we hang out with in each destination.

We haven’t experienced too many downsides to digital nomadism, although we get very broody for puppies and kittens! We do know some people who travel with dogs, but it looks like a whole world of hassle – and not all that fun for the dogs.

Mish’s newest book

Tell us about your other books you wrote.

There’s Travel Like A Pro, which helps digital nomads find flights, book accommodation, and understand their visa and insurance options.

Then there’s also Travel While You Work, which is all about helping digital nomads get settled in a new destination in super-quick time. It also provides heaps of advice and resources for running a business, hiring staff, managing a team, etc. while travelling the world. (We also run a property management agency, so we have a lot of experience in all this!)

My husband and I also wrote Protect Your Tech together, which is a geek-free guide to having a secure and private digital life.

May I Have Your Attention, Please? is my most recent book, and it’s aimed at a completely different market: business writers who want to charm, captivate and convert potential customers through the power of the written word.

There are a few other “fun” books, but those are the main ones!

Do you have a base in London? Where do you pay taxes?

Yes, we have a base in King’s Cross. We’re UK residents, and we pay all our taxes here.

In which countries have you lived so far? Any favorites?

My favourite is and always will be New York: I’m obsessed with the place. Close second (and my husband’s first choice) is Bangkok. The food, the people, the smells, the excitement… it’s a fantastic place. We’re also huge fans of Barcelona.

If someone wants to hire you what would be the process?

Visit Mortifiedcow.com, check us out and send us a message! If you want to see examples of our work, I have a snazzy new portfolio that I’m desperate to share.

mish-and-rob
Rob & Mish

13: Interview with copywriter Ian Chandler

Today we don’t feature a business owner but copywriter Ian Chandler from Ianchandlerwriting.com. I hugely enjoyed this interview and so will you I hope!

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Are there any blogs, podcasts or Facebook Groups about entrepreneurship you follow closely?

Quicksprout is one of my favorite blogs, and it’s the only blog I follow on a regular basis. It’s consistently informative, one of the few blogs I’d describe as “actionable.” Others, like Copyblogger, I read whenever I’m in a rut or want new insights into a certain aspect of copywriting.

Do you read any discussion forums about business?

The Entrepreneur subreddit is an interesting place. It’s a nice assortment of entrepreneurial topics; there’s everything from building email lists to book recommendations. The disadvantage is that you have to self-curate what you read, but there are definitely some diamonds in the rough.

Which resources to run your business do you use most?

I rely on Gmail, Google Docs, Todoist, and Tomato Timer. I could probably eliminate all of my other resources if I had to. Todoist helps me organize my days, and Tomato Timer is a timer for the Pomodoro Technique. All of these tools keep me in a good routine, which is vital for me.

Does your business generate enough money to support you?

Perhaps surprisingly, it does. I’m not exactly sure where I am on the freelancing spectrum, but I do make enough to support myself. It does get tough sometime because I have such an erratic pay schedule. Freelancers talk about feasts and famines, and that’s definitely true for me. Some weeks, I’m getting paid for three articles, and other weeks, I’m waiting anxiously for my next payment. That’s one of the hardest elements of freelancing.

Do you think that social media such as Twitter or Facebook are good marketing tools?

To an extent. I don’t personally use either because, for me, the negatives outweigh the positives. I use Reddit because it has great job opportunities and LinkedIn because it’s a professional network. Reddit is one of the few sites that offer a casual-meets-professional situation. Twitter and Facebook are both extremely casual, and if you’re a businessperson, you won’t be able to match the tone 100% of the time. So that can hurt your engagement. Now, advertising is a different story; I’ve heard Facebook advertising is lucrative. Again, I haven’t done it myself. I like the “network” part of social networks; Twitter and Facebook are social first and a network second.

What would you recommend for new copywriters? How should they get started?

I would recommend researching every aspect of content marketing. That means creating the content itself and then learning how to share it through various channels. This can be any form of social media––Twitter, blogs, Pinterest, etc. Learning how to write the content is only half the battle, as Neil Patel points out. Marshall McLuhan said “the medium is the message,” and that’s spot on. If you share a post on Twitter and LinkedIn, you’ll get drastically different results.

Places like Copyblogger, Moz, BoostBlogTraffic, Quicksprout, and Kissmetrics are all great for the beginning copywriter. Neil Patel and David Ogilvy are two content geniuses that every writer should study. Then, go to blogs you read and study that content. See what makes content great and emulate that.

What is your single best non-obvious tip for working as a copywriter?

Listen to instrumental music while working. I can’t remember the last time I worked in silence. A soft, non-intrusive musical backdrop helps my ideas flow better, and it relaxes me. Classical music is also a wonderful choice.

What would you recommend to generate traffic to the website? Have you tried SEO companies?

I haven’t tried SEO companies, namely because I don’t think SEO is worth pursuing. I do make sure I’m good for basic SEO, but I don’t focus on it. It’s still important, don’t get me wrong, but it’s best used in conjunction with other traffic-generating methods. Sharing content in online communities and keeping a blog are two of the most potent methods of getting traffic, but you have to do it right. Ideas like Seth Godin’s permission marketing come into play here.

How do you stay productive and not get distracted?

I use the Pomodoro Technique, and it’s done wonders for me. For those unfamiliar, you work for 25 minutes, take a 5-10 minute break, and then repeat until you’re done. Most Pomodoro practitioners use it to complete one task at a time, but I use it to refresh myself and make sure I’m not working too much. And I’m disorganized and take a lot of breaks by nature, so going Pomodoro has made me more productive than I had thought I could be.

Where is the best place to find work as a copywriter?

Lots of copywriters go through content mills to find work. Upwork is especially popular right now since it’s taken over Elance and oDesk. Fiverr is also popular. I was on Fiverr for a while. Content mills work, but they’re such a problematic path to continue on. It almost defeats the point of freelancing. You don’t get to set the terms or even what you work on.

I consult job boards and other online communities for jobs. I can talk to the business owner directly instead of going through a recruiter or third party. Countless copywriter are on Upwork or Fiverr as life support, and as a result, they’re undervaluing themselves. I avoid these at all costs, but they can be good if you know what to do.

The Problogger job board is usually a solid place for writing jobs. Reddit has been my number one source of jobs; it’s wonderful. Aside from that, I look at blogs and publications for jobs. Even if I only get one article published somewhere, that’s another connection and another opportunity to grow my business.

What is the best way to get paid?

Nothing beats straight up bank transfers or checks, if your clients are okay with that. I do use PayPal, but I’m phasing it out in favor of bank transfers. If clients want to pay with PayPal, I’ll accept, but the fees have grown to be too much of a loss for me. And since most processors charge fees, I’m not keen on them. That said, there is Dwolla, which I’m also thinking about using.

Do you use WordPress? Any plugins you can recommend?

WordPress and Shopify are the only two CMSs I use. WordPress is by far my most used. I love the MailChimp for WordPress plugin combined with the Top Bar plugin. Together, they can turn your site into a lead generation machine. I use Huge IT Portfolio Gallery for displaying my published work, and I’m really happy with the layouts it provides. Social Locker is another good one; it hides certain content, and you have to share the site or post on a social network to access the hidden content.

What is your experience with LinkedIn?

LinkedIn has a lot of potential energy, but so many people don’t use it. They want to be where their customers are––Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and so forth. And that’s fine, but they overlook LinkedIn as the boring site. It’s wonderful for making professional connections, and more importantly, being seen by thousands of peers. Their publishing platform, Pulse, is amazing and can generate substantial traffic. It’s one of the few free methods of getting page views that works like a charm.

To learn more about Ian please visit his website Ianchandlerwriting.com and his book The No B.S. Guide to Freelance Writing.