Posts Categorized: Uncategorized

12 Tricks To Looking Awesome On Video

This guest post comes to us via Share Ross best known as the former bassist for 80’s platinum-selling all female rock band, Vixen. Many years later she went on to become a video editor and producer for clients that included Sony, Geffen, Universal and BMG. Share launched Video Rockstar University to help female entrepreneurs unleash their inner rockstar on camera.

Making videos can be intimidating. Makeup!  Lighting!  That weird accent that you didn’t realize you had!  But after working with tons of clients, I’ve found 12 easy ways to look awesome on video.

1. Smile
Seriously. Smile a lot. It opens us up to what you have to say.

2. If you wanna be a star, you gotta show up
If you wanna make videos, that means you actually need to press record. Go.

3. Make an effort
Spend a little time to look ‘nice’ for the camera. If nothing’s working and some days, let’s face it, it just ain’t, grab some shades and rock ’em.

4. Be the supporting actor
Your videos have a purpose. No matter if the purpose is selling, promoting, educating or something else, make the videos about your viewers.  Let your message be the star.

5. Dress the part
For most DIY videos all you have to do is wear a well fitted top. Easy, right?

6. Own the pauses
If a pause happens, let it be there. Don’t panic. Just breathe.  “Be the silence.”

7. Rehearse
Practice for your videos! Don’t expect the brilliance to pour forth from you like water from a faucet. Practice your message a few times before you  press record.

8. Be seen
You gotta be lit to be seen. Make sure you’ve got lights in front of you, not behind you. And if possible avoid those nasty overhead fluorescent lights that give you dark circles under your eyes. Unless you’re going for that whole Dracula look. Which is cool, too.

9. Allow evolution
It’s only natural to expect your first video to be amazing and to want perfection. But throw that idea out the window. Allow yourself and your on-camera persona to develop over time. Give it room to evolve. You, your videos and your on-camera energy will keep shifting and changing the more you do it. And that’s a good thing.

10. Can we hear you?
If you invest in a lavaliere mic, it will make a huge difference. The Audio-Technica ATR-3350
is about $25 and works with most laptops.

11. Gaze
Get used to gazing with love into the camera lens. Melt us.

12. Finally, be daring. Be adventurous. Be unpredictable
Challenge yourself. Surprise us. The results will be stupendous.  Shoot for passion instead of perfection.

Do you use video for you blog/website/business?  Any tips to share?

vintage video camera in image for sale here 


7 Posts To Read If You Care About Your Business + Blog

Are you looking at this blog post thinking “Well, that’s a cop out, Sarah.  You didn’t even write anything!  You just linked to a bunch of helpful, informative stuff!”

And while that is true, dear reader, there’s a method to my madness.  Link round ups are a great way for me (or you or any business/blogger) to help out their readers/customers and build relationships with the people they’re linking to.

Also: I wanted an excuse to feature that hilarious sheep print.

Is it time to abandon Facebook?
First, the minute you actually depend on Facebook for your business, they will change their terms of service in a way that causes you pain.  Second, “engagement” does not equal “customers.” I see too many coaches in particular who have magnificent engagement on Facebook. They get tons of shares and comments and likes. But that’s not translating into business. That’s not marketing, it’s an annoying hobby.

The art of getting retweets.

How to write emails that get an immediate response.

15 WordPress user errors that make you look silly.

You probably already know that guest posting on other blogs and hosting guest posts is one of the best ways to network and boost traffic.  Here are two great (free!) downloadable worksheets to help get you pointed in the right direction.

Got a product that’s not selling as much as you want?  Here are 8 ways to boost your sales.

It’s totally possible to take great product photos using just a bright seamless background, natural light and free photo editing software.  Yes, really!

Have you read any particularly helpful posts lately?  Leave links in the comments!

image by art california, for sale here.

3 Creative Ways To Use Videos For Your Small Business

This guest post comes to us via Monica McCarthy, actress and founder of Show & Tell Stories Productions, a boutique production company helping small businesses, entrepreneurs, coaches, and creatives share their stories on camera.

These days I spend little time trying to convince my fellow entrepreneurs that their business could greatly benefit from some video TLC to share their story on their websites. That’s because most people know they want to create more videos.

Sharing your story on camera allows customers to quickly connect with your message and get a more in depth perspective of your service or product.

Therefore, the question I hear most (aside from “What kind of camera should I use?”) is “What kind of videos should I be making?”

The world is your cinematic oyster of course, but for brevity’s sake, lets take a look at three ways to use videos you might not have considered:

1. As a welcome to your newsletter subscribers
What better way to make people feel welcome into your community than addressing them face to face? You can upload the video to your website or Vimeo or YouTube. Or there’s a video hosting business called Wistia that makes the viewing process easier and provides all the data you need to see
who is watching and for how long. I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s on the list!

2. Promoting products
Instead of that plain ol’ text Amazon Affiliate link, why don’t you offer a quick book review first? If you have sponsors on your blog, what about a video shout out mentioning why they’re awesome? Videos are terrific tools to promote product giveaways on your site as well since the audience gets to see with the prize in hand. Ooh, exciting!

3. Make-overs
If your business offers tangible products, consider showing a before and after. If it’s service based, ask a willing client to let you walk through the process with them. Even if your business doesn’t involve face -o-face interactions (like with copywriters or graphic designers, for example), you can do an interview and use services like Screen Flow to walk through a before and after sales page.

However you choose to incorporate videos into your business story, the most important thing to remember (aside from keeping the videos short!) is that your audience is tuningin to either be informed or entertained (or both).

Of course, videos require planning and practice, but everything worth creating does!

I’d love to hear from you! What questions do you have about creating video content?

adorable video camera necklace by bRainbowshop, for sale here


How To Get People To Notice You On The Internet

Oh, but the internet is crowded with interesting blogs, cool products, and one million people trying to tell you about one million things.  How’s a fledgling blogger or company supposed to gain any traction in a market that already feels totally saturated?

Well, pretty much the same way that anybody ever accomplishes anything: with a plan + lots of hard work.

Here’s a basic break down of how to get people to notice you on the internet.

1.  Create helpful, engaging, beautiful, well-written content
Dur.  Write tutorials that your readers will find useful and forward to their friends.  Take gorgeous photos.  Create content that resonates and connects with your readers and their lives.  (I realize that this is sort of easier said than done - I’ll tell you more about this in future posts!)

2.  Post that awesome content consistently and promote it multiple times on social media
Remember why it’s so important to post consistently?  The more awesome content you put on the internet, the more likely it is that people will notice you.  And remember that because of the way Twitter works, you can tweet links to your posts multiple times without annoying anybody!

3.  Interact with your peers
Assemble Twitter lists and Google Reader folders of the people in your field you’d like to collaborate with.  Chat with them on Twitter, link to awesome things they’ve done, leave comments on their posts, and then email them with collaboration/guest post/let’s-get-coffee ideas!

4.  Pitch your stuff
It’s unlikely that Apartment Therapy and Designsponge are going stumble upon your website of their own volition - pitch them!  The same goes for websites you’d like to guest post for. Pitching can be a bit intimidating, but the worst that’s going to happen is that they’ll ignore your email - pretty painless, right?

5.  Engage your community
The people who read your blog, buy your products, and link to your content are your most valuable resource.  Make sure they know it!  Ask them questions, reply to their comments, give them freebies and discounts.

6.  Don’t be afraid to do something totally different
Sometimes your biggest successes will come from ‘un-monetizeable’ ideas or things you’ve never seen done. Prior to Danielle LaPorte’s Burning Question series, I’d never seen bloggers ask their readers a question and then link to reader responses within their own blog. Storychord is a monthly short story that you read while listening to a hand-picked soundtrack. My own True Story series is sort of an internet anomaly that brings me zero dollars but lots of traffic.

Is this a lot of work?  Yes.  Will these things help you make more sales + gain more readers + network with the best of ’em?  Also, yes!

Do you have any tips to share?  How do you get noticed on the internet?

vintage glasses for sale here

That Jacked Up Social Media Presence Is Hurting Your Business (And How To Fix It)

This guest post comes to us via the lovely and talents Bobbi of Ready To Blog. She creates gorgeous, super affordable custom blog designs and websites for clever people.  Follow along on Twitter or Facebook

Having confusing or slightly obscure internet handle was pretty much a right of passage for anyone who can remember the times when dial-up was king and AOL used to send you CDs packed with ‘1,000 FREE HOURS, FREE!’

But, with the rise of social media and the proliferation of personal and social brands, it has become necessary for people to be able to find you quickly and in a way that makes sense. Before, using an acronym of all of the sports you used to play followed by a string of numbers as your Twitter handle–I actually did this at one point–might have been fine, but now doing so will rightfully earn you a few side-eyes.

A common, and damaging, mistake that many companies and brands are making on social media has to do with both consistency and clarity. How many times have you seen this: On Twitter, your favorite store has a handle of @marysteacups. Awesome! You scoot over to Facebook so give them a ‘like’, but you find it almost impossible to locate their page. It’s not No sign of Mary’s Teacups when you do a search. When you finally (finally) locate the page, you find a messy URL with an indecipherable string of numbers tacked on to the end. It’s annoying, and it’s totally unnecessary to force your customers to chase you around the internet just to give you some love!

If you’re running social media for a company or for yourself, it’s crucial that you make the best case for yourself online, and that starts with getting your social media property in check. Why?

You’ll look more professional
Once you decide on a name, stick with it, and hoover up all the real-estate you can get your hands on. If you are your brand and you’re going with @firstname_lastname on Twitter, go with the same on Instagram. If you can snag (or something close), do it! There’s no reason to leave your potential customers or fans playing a guessing game to find you. Make it easy and make it obvious. (To set a vanity Facebook URL for a fan page, log in to your account and navigate here:

You’ll encourage people to engage with and share your content
It’s much easier to write, “Find me on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest at @brandname!” than it is to list three different handles. While it might not always be possible to get your desired usernames, you should get as close as possible and keep an eye on the handles you want in case they become available. When your handles reflect your brand in a concise and clear way, your viewers will have an incentive to not only check you out on your different platforms, but to engage with you on them as well.

You’ll protect your brand
You might not be Twitter-famous yet, but why risk having handles that can be closely associated with your brand snagged by someone who has nothing to do with your business? Having control of your name on different platforms means that you get to determine what’s done with the real estate. Even if that’s nothing, it’s important for you to control the content and messaging through as many of the channels at your disposal as possible.

So, how can you get your social media in order?

Start with your domain
If you’re currently blogging on a free platform like Blogger or, make the $10 investment and get yourself a custom dot com. If you’re feeling particularly thorough, look into securing the .net, .org, or other similar secondary domains as well! This is the first step to putting your best foot forward online and to avoid co-branding yourself with a third-party.

Bring your handles in line
If you currently Tweet from @firstname_lastname and Instagram from @highschoolnickname, start changing your handles to match your brand and each other! Whether that means that both are @firstname_lastname or @companyname is up to you, but make a choice and stick with it. It’s scary, I know! But the sooner you do it the better, and since you can switch your handles without losing your fans and followers, you’ll be glad you made the switch in the long run. Note: If you already have a following and don’t want anyone else to use your old username, swoop in behind yourself and secure your old handles with a new account. While it seems a bit strange to hold on to a handle that you’ll rarely use, you’ll want to have control over your old account to 1) prevent anyone else from pretending to be you and 2) direct any fans that may not check in with you regularly to your new handles.

That’s it!

An investment of 20 minutes is all it takes to get your house in order and begin to project a streamlined and professional front online.

How can you make your online presence more cohesive?  What mistakes have you made along the way?


7 (More) Posts To Read If You Take Your Blog Seriously

We’ve talked about it before - link round ups are a great way to network with your peers, share valuable content with your readers, and put together a blog post for the day after Christmas when you know everybody’s too bloated and tired to read anything real.

Yup.  Social media marketing explained in 61 words.

Want to make the images on your blog more ‘pin-able’?  Five tricks for making engaging images.

If you couldn’t attend the Problogger event (because, um, it was in Australia) here are The Best 9 Things one blogger learned there.

“Hell, no.  I can’t fall off my hustle” - lessons for creatives from the world’s biggest rappers.

8 Skills You Need When Running Your Own Business
No one is going to do anything for you or tell you off if you don’t do the things you know you have to. But your business will suffer. You have to push yourself, yourself. You have to be your own nightmare boss, your own deadline setter, your own bank manager breathing down your neck.

I find links for my round ups the old fashioned way (by reading the internet.)  If that’s not your jam, you can use Prismatic to create a newsfeed that’s topic-specific.  Perfect if you’re a bike shop and need cycling links or a vet who needs animal health links!

Sooooo helpful!  The Anatomy of a Blog-to-Brand Deal.

Add any links you’ve found particularly helpful in the comments!

image by Alex Hartman, for sale here

How To Find Your Writing Voice (And Not Sound Like A Robot)

This guest post comes to us via Tara Swiger, author, maker and Starship Captain. She leads creatives on explorations on her site and squeals about geekery, vegan pies, and hot pink on Twitter.

So you know you need a blog, and you know what to do if you don’t wanna…but what if your blog comes out sounding awkward or stiff?
The good news is: it’s not you.

Well, it is you, but it’s not that you don’t know how to write. It’s that you’re uncomfortable. If you can get comfortable, you can get flowing, friendly posts written (I promise).

How to get comfortable and sound like a real person:

1. Talk TO a real person.
Instead of thinking of your “audience”, pick just one person. If you have a passel of friendly clients, pick one that really gets you and what you do. Now write your post like you’re having a conversation with her.

If you don’t have any clients (yet), picture your ideal client. Why does she come to you? What do you help her with? Spend a few minutes writing a loving description of your new best friend, and then write a post as if she already loves you, and you’re talking to her.

2. Write in your zone.
Kelly Parkinson has this awesome (free) assessment to figure out where your zone is. Do you like thinking about systems and applying logic? Or are you a big dreamer and picture-painter? No matter what your zone is, you can find a way to write in it…even if it means you don’t write. You can get that content out of you in a zillion ways: “write” via voice memos in your phone (and transcribe them later), have someone interview you, record a video or a podcast, take photos. Find your most comfortable way of communicating, and blog with it.

3. Check yourself, before you wreck yourself.*
Once you’ve got some words on the screen, don’t hit publish just yet. Let it sit, and come back to it. Writers insist that writing is rewriting. Even the most jumbled ideas can be edited into a clear, concise  friendly blog post with some patient editing. While you’re editing, check your language. Are you using words your customer understands? Even if they’re in your field, skip the industry-speak and go straight to the point. Use words you use in actual conversations. Use words they use in actual conversations about your product.

Hey, look at that! You sound like a real person!

Congratulations!  Do you feel stilted and awkward when you write? How do you find a human voice for your blog posts?

*Just like Ice Cube taught us

original image (without text on top) by maureen dai, for sale here

Three Ways To Get People To Sign Up For Your Email Newsletter

We’ve talked about why you need an email newsletter (keep in touch with prospects! share important updates!  build trust!) but how do you get people to sign up for said newsletter?

Friends, here are three ways to entice readers and potential clients to invite you into their inboxes.

1) Give them something free + awesome in exchange for signing up for the newsletter.
An ebook!  A downloadable workbook!  A podcast!  A collection of videos!  The important thing here is that this freebie?  It’s so awesome and valuable that they can’t wait to get their hands on it.

This is also a great opportunity to showcase your expertise.  If you’re a stylist, give them a downloadable workbook about organizing their closet.  If you’re a dance studio, your readers might like a collection of videos on mastering complicated moves.  Online shoe retailer?  Maybe an ebook about pairing different flats/boots/heels with different outfits?

Examples of great freebies: Michelle Ward gives you access to her whooooole VIP library when you sign up.  Amy Schmittaur gives you a great Ultimate Twitter Guide.  Danielle Dowling gives you a blueprint to get anything you want in life (!).

You can sign up for my small business newsletter over on the sidebar and get the above ebook for $0.  Just sayin.’

2) Give them a discount code for signing up
This is particularly useful if you’re selling something that’s a bit expensive.  Who wouldn’t want a 15% discount on a $200 dress?  Crazy people, that’s who.  Set up your auto-responder to include a discount code that they can use on one purchase.  You can also set up Twitter auto-responders to offer discount codes to new followers!

Examples of people/companies who use discount codes: H&M give you 20% when you sign up, American Apparel gives you 15% off,  Blowfish Shoes gives  you 10% off.

3) Unique, not-on-the-blog content
If you write and post almost exclusively about your area of professional expertise, or don’t share much personal information, your readers might like a peek behind the proverbial curtain.  If you usually write in a super polished, professional tone, they might like hearing your ‘real’ voice.  Or if you’ve got some content or ideas you’re not ready to share with the world wide web, test ’em out on your most devoted fans.

Examples of not-on-the-blog newslettersKathleen Shannon sends out her Letters for Creative Entrepreneurs.  Amanda Genther includes unique content in most of her email newsletters.

And if you’re feeling reaaaaally ambitious (and generous) you could do all three!

Do you have an email newsletter?  How do you get people to sign up for it?  How often do you send it?

7 Posts You Should Read If You Take Your Blog Seriously

One of the things I tell my clients on the regular is “OMG link round ups should be part of your blogging plan.”  Also: “Fortheloveofpete, please change your Twitter background.”

Yes, link roundups can be a bit time consuming to assemble.  And, yes, if you’re a greedy traffic hoarder it can seem a bit counter intuitive to be directing your readers elsewhere.

But here’s the thing.  Link round ups:
a) are insanely popular with readers
b) provide helpful information to your readers and customers whom you love
c) help build relationships between you and the people you’re linking to

That’s a win/win/win.

With that said, here are seven super helpful posts that will help you (and your business and blog) kick ass.

If you’re building your own site, attempting your own branding, designing your own ebook, y’all need a nice color palette.   Here are 19 (!) color palette generators that will help you design like a pro.

Writing an ebook?  Here are 100 ways to make it more awesome.  (But don’t do all of them!)

Just doing one little thing every day can have a huge impact on your business and blog.  Just one thing!

Do you have the new Twitter layout yet?  I do.  Here’s how to get it.

30 Ways To Promote Your Blog Posts (again, don’t do all of these!)

Do you (or your business) use Instagram?  Here’s how to tell your story and take great, engaging photos.

An incredibly useful (and super cheap) set of scripts to fill your client docket.  There are five scripts here - they’ll help you launch your blog/business, pitch for guest posts, get testimonials from clients, and donate your time to an organization you’d like to work with later.  For $15!

If you’ve encountered any particularly helpful apps/platforms/posts/blogs lately, leave links in the comments!

original image (without the text on top) by a bit of whimsy, for sale here.

How To Blend The Personal With The Professional

This guest post comes to us via the lovely Kathleen Shannon!  She’s  is an art director turned free-spirited champion for the small creative entrepreneur through her business show co-owns with her sister, Braid Creative & Consulting. She’ll follow a whim from painting larger-than-life stripes in her living room hallway, to trekking the foothills of Mount Everest – just to have a good story to tell.

A lot of times we try and maintain a work/life balance by separating who we are and what we do. But when it comes to being a solopreneur living in the overlap is pretty much essential to a thriving business. A personal brand is what makes you memorable. And for creative entrepreneurs it’s often what gets you hired.

So what exactly is a personal brand? On the surface it could be the way you fashion modern trends with vintage finds or your signature hair style. But it’s more than that. It’s the intangible things about you that won’t change even as styles do. It’s what you know and create - but also how people feel after interacting with you. A personal brand is the packaged and definitive you - both the surface-y things and the deeper stuff, too.

Here are 4 tips on how to bring a little more personality into your business:

1. Recognize that business is personal.
When your client gets to know you as a person your expertise is more likely to be trusted. And on the flipside - when you see your client as a human being you’re trying to help, you’re more likely to listen to their needs and effectively solve their problems.

2. Pick the social media platform that is right for you.
If you hate writing maybe a YouTube channel is a better fit for you than a traditional blog. Or if you prefer curating and collecting, Pinterest might be a great way to share that talent. And if you are great at one-liners or quick quips of advice then Twitter might be your gig.

3. Write (and speak) like you really speak.
Ditch the industry jargon and just say what you mean. Try this: write a list of words you say all the time. Start peppering those into your small business interactions online and off. For me that means saying “rad” and “hotshit” - even in front of clients. And they love me for it.

4. Share your process with your client.
It’s easy to be authentic in business when you let your clients in on a little bit of the magic behind the curtain. Show your clients how you’re meeting their needs as you go. Removing a little bit of the mystery can go a long way in getting your work enthusiastically approved.

Kathleen is currently offering a Braid ECourse on Personal Branding: Blending Who You Are with What You Do from Oct. 29th - Nov. 4th. Sarah Von Bargen readers are invited to take this course at a discounted rate of $65 using the promo code: YESANDYESOCT2012.