Sunday, August 29, 2010

Making Money From Blogs

I've been blogging for a little over a year and one thing I have found to be true is that making money off of blogging is hard work.  First of all, you need fresh topics to write about continually.  You have to give your readers a good reason to keep coming back.  Then, you have to very highly publicize your blogs.  I'm getting better at this.  Currently, my blogs are promoted the following ways.

1.  Listed on Technorati
2.  Listed on Blog Catalogue
3.  Listed on Zimbio
4.  Listed on Delicious
5.  Shared thru Google Buzz
6.  Shared thru Google Reader
7.  Shared on Facebook
8.  Shared on Twitter
9.  Links with other bloggers.
10.Emailed to select readers

Since really getting into the blog promotion phase of this project, my page impressions have increased over 400% monthly.  Having a solid readership is of critical importance if you every want to make money from blogs.  You also need to invite people to follow your blogs.  This can be done through Google Friend Connect, Feed subscriptions, and anything else that is available for readers to click on to follow.

Some things I didn't think of until a friend of mine suggested it is to link my blogs together.  I currently have 4 active blogs.  Each of these has links to the other 3 blogs.  This makes it easier for readers to find all of my blogs.  It also helps your Google search ranking which is very important if you want people to find your work.  Other things you can do to increase your page rank are:  incorporating search terms in your blog titles and in the body of your posts.  I also use a labels gadget to make sure all of my labels (which are nothing more than Google search terms) are repeated several times throughout my blogs.

Once you have readers, now you have to figure out how to convert readers into dollars.  The easiest thing to setup for starters is Google AdSense.  These are the ads that you often see at the top and along the sides of pages you read on the internet.  When people click those ads, you get paid a small fee for driving traffic to those advertisers.  The problem here is that Google doesn't allow you to actually TELL PEOPLE TO CLICK ON THE ADS.  So, people just have to figure that out for themselves.  You just have to hope that the ads are enticing enough to get people to click. 

Most of the time, when a person doesn't want to click ads, there are really just a few reasons.

1.  Privacy - many people fear that advertisers can track their internet usage.  Nobody wants this.  Clear out your cookies and temporary internet files and that should take care of most of these worries.  Generally speaking, your privacy is safe with Google AdSense.

2.  Safety - it is common to fear viruses and other harmful applications that can hit your computer from clicking on ads.  For me personally, I will click on ads from reputable companies because I trust that those ads will be safe.  Generally speaking, ads are safe.  Just be smart about what you click on.

3.  Value - If ads do not appear to have great value, nobody is going to click them.  This is the responsibility of the advertisers.  Your job is to simply get eye balls to see the ads (but don't tell people to click them).

4. Attraction - if the ads aren't visually attractive and stimulating, many people will not think to click them.

Remember though:  you can not tell people to click on your ads.  Instead, your viewers have to understand that these ads are how you pay for your time of providing valuable information to them.  Your information is free to them.  If they see an ad and have interest, then clicking on it can benefit them and compensate you for your good work.

Other ways that you can make money from your blogs include:

1.  Sell something related - I am going to use my blog to promote my upcoming management book.

2.  Offer advertising space to willing advertisers.  You may be able to get paid directly from advertisers.  I am going to contact some of these companies for this very reason.  Eventually, someone will agree to a deal.

3.  Associate / Affiliate Programs - these are programs where you get commissions for selling products on your blog site.  You provide links to products and when people click and purchase, you get paid. is big in this area.

4.  Offer you personal services.  You are probably an expert at the topics that you write about.  Someone might want more individualized help from you.  Offer this as a consulting service and get paid for it.

These are just a few of the points that will help you make money from your blog site.  Surely there are other ways and you should explore your options if you want to make money from blogging.  Start with the information here in this article and build from there.  If you're like me and you're already writing blogs, you might as well get paid something for it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Business Management: Don't Be Blinded By Success

I've learned a very valuable lesson this year following 3 back-to-back-to-back record breaking years (hence the name, Record Breaker).  Never be blinded by success.  It can be here today and gone tomorrow - especially in the field of medicine where most times, your biggest competitors are the state and big insurance companies.  Legislation can eat your lunch if you are uninformed and under-prepared.  That's really for another article, at another time.  For now, the lesson is to not be blinded by success.

Success is great.  Celebrate it, but do it again.  We had such huge success over the last 3 years, that it sort of masked some serious problems that needed our attention.  As my office's top manager, this is my responsibility - to not take my eye off the ball.  The first 4 months of this year were very bad.  We had a lot of catching up to do.  Along the way, we realized that we needed some new training and new processes.  We found that what got us here wasn't going to get us where we wanted to go.  We've had to slightly change the way we operate.  We've plugged some of the holes and we're working on plugging the rest.

Success in business deserves celebration today and then a short memory tomorrow.  Always re-assess your current situation and make sure you keep doing what it's going to take to get you where you want to be tomorrow.  Smart competitors will adjust to adapt to their failures and to try to beat you.  The legal environment may find ways to work against you.  Be ready.  Be over-prepared.  KEEP WINNING.  Being a Record Breaker is about on-going success.  It's about breaking through barriers.  It's about never quitting and it's absolutely about BREAKING RECORDS.  So, do what it takes to keep breaking records and DON'T BE BLINDED BY SUCCESS.

Incidentally, because we took the short-term blinders off, we've gotten back on track because that's what happens when you're on top of things.  We are now on pace to have an exceptionally good year and finish strong.  Record Breakers find a way to create success.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Negotiation Backfire!

A week ago, I wrote about a business negotiation I was doing for some yellow pages advertising space.  You can read that at the following link:  Today, I finalized the deal and wanted to tell you about the outcome.  The title of this post is "Negotiation Backfire!", because of the way it ended up for the sales lady.

After she applied time pressure to me last week, unsuccessfully, she went on vacation and didn't get back to any of my emails until today.  When she finally replied to me, she told me that her boss wouldn't accept my offer of $2,500 per month for the back cover of the phone book (basically the best advertising spot on a phone book), and that it was originally going for $4,500 per month.  Incidentally, reading back to my previous post, $200 above my offer would have been $2,700 per month and I would have said yes to the deal.

Since I last spoke to her, I surveyed lots of my customers to find out that 72% of them use the internet for search instead of the phone book.  Seems like a no-brainer to me too, but written statistics can be very powerful, so I put together the data.  I presented the data to her and told her that with that information, I no longer cared if I was in the book or not, and that I would just go ahead and continue my previous 1/2 page advertising, but I would need it for 1/2 the price.  This was not a threat.  It was just a matter of fact that I was going to cut my advertising in half with her phone book.  That's a great negotiating principle - sometimes, a great impact can come from pulling dollars off the table that were already assumed to be part of an agreement.

Her response was priceless for me.  She sort of did the same thing that I did.  She told me that because we took so long to come to an agreement, that the advertising on the inside of the book had already "closed" and that my previous ads were no longer an option for me.  The only remaining option was this UNSOLD back cover, so she offered it to me for $2,800 per month.  (No kidding, as I write this my I'm smiling with a feeling of excitement.)  Anyways, I turned that back around and offered to take 100% of my dollars off the table instead.

I said that since I couldn't get my prior "ineffective" ad space for half price because she took a vacation in a failed attempt to apply even more time pressure on me and caused me to lose the only thing I had even a little interest left in, that I would pay $1,400 per month for the back cover.   If we couldn't do that deal today, I told her I would just take that $1,400 and advertise with her competition (it wouldn't be the first time I had to do that anyways).  She faxed over a contract for $1,400 two minutes later.

So, let me summarize the value that I got from working all of the necessary tactics on this deal.

Back Cover original price = $4,500 per month ($54,000 per year).
My Final Negotiated price = $1,400 per month ($16,800 per year).
A difference of $37,200 per year in my favor.

The real killer part of this deal though is not in the money that I saved above, and that's a lot of money for something like this.  No, the best part is that for $329 LESS PER MONTH, I have the BEST advertising spot available.  Being inside the book is like being burried in and around the competition.  Now, for $329 less per month that my previous ineffective 1/2 page ad, I'm able to help my prospective new customers to never have to look inside the book where my competitors are.  I essentially get to make my competition invisible.

OK, so here are some negotiating lessons that you should gain from my this experience.

1.  Never fall to time pressure.  Turn it around and use it to your advantage.

2.  Deadlines are very often not real.  Push them back as often as you can so that time pressure is on your side.

3.  Take money off the table that was previously assumed to be part of the deal in order to get a better deal.

4.  Paint the portrait of pain.  I did this by showing the sales lady how I would take all of my money out of her book and put it in her competitors' books.  She would have lost the sale and her competitors would have gotten stronger.  I was absolutely going to do this.  Be prepared to do what you say you're going to do.  If your bluff is called, that can seriously backfire on you.

5.  Use market data to back up your position.  The power of the written word, especially in relevant statistics, can be a very powerful tool.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Get Hired In Spite of Your Weaknesses

In a recent blog post, Abdus Salam ( points out the importance of being ready for interviewers to ask you about your weaknesses.  He says to be straight-forward and honest.  While I most certainly agree with his point, my response is below.

Great advice. I happen to be responsible for hiring new associates and while weaknesses are important to know about, it's more important to understand that we all have them. If I'm asked about my weaknesses, I'll admit that I need a calendar and task list to be organized, otherwise all bets are off, but I'll also say that with those tools and my other strengths, I'm going to break records. Immediately redirecting to strengths and opportunities is a good way to keep interviewers on-point as to why they would be making a huge mistake not to hire you.

Take a loot at Salam's Better Jobs Advice blog.  It's really good and he makes extremely good points. 

When it comes to getting hired, always, always, always be honest when asked about your weaknesses, but do your best to keep the interviewer focused on your strengths and on the opportunities those are likely to bring to the company.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Negotiating Experience of the Day

Today I had a very nice meeting with a new sales rep for a major yellow pages publisher in my area.  This was a great opportunity for me to sharpen up on my negotiating skills.  So, I made note of all of the tactics she used on me (knowingly or not) and I used my own in response.  Here's what happened.

The tactics she used with me.

1.  Time Pressure - The book was closing tomorrow, so that I would have to decide today.  I did not decide today, so time pressure didn't work.

2.  She told me who else wanted the ad space that I was considering.  This happened to be someone that I know and respect.  So, instead of it making me feel pressure, it made me reconsider purchasing the ad space at all.  Backfire.

3.  She deferred to her higher authority to come up with a price.  I told her she would have to do better than that and get back with me.

4.  She tried to get more and more information from me.  I said as little as necessary because that information was a strength for me and could have been turned into a weakness if I shared it.

5.  She said she could keep the price the same instead of raising the rates in order to convince me to do the deal today.  I said that I might just pull out of that book all together.

6.  She offered to give me free ad space to sweeten the deal and convince me to say yes.  I accepted that with the condition that she would also give me better pricing and then I continued to hold out for a better offer.

What else did I do?

1.  I was completely disinterested.
2.  I was noticeably uncomfortable with the idea of signing another agreement.
3.  I was very quiet causing her to give me more information.
4.  I mentioned that my plan B was to completely stop advertising in her book.
5.  I deferred to my higher authority by saying that my CEO would have to approve anything that I agreed to.
6.  I reminded her of the last time that I pulled $35,000 of annual advertising dollars from her company just a few years ago and spent it at the competition.

My best guess is that first thing tomorrow morning, she will email me and offer all of the ads that I want, including the free ads, and come in at no more than $200 per month more than what I was already paying last year.  If that is the case, then I'll accept the deal after she reduces it $100 more per month.  We'll see.

Friday, August 6, 2010

In Sales, Tell Customers What you Want Them to Do

An understood "rule" of sales is that if you want the customer to do something, you first need to tell them.  For example, if you want customers to call your phone number after seeing it in a yellow pages ad, you should say, "Call Now," next to the phone number.  If you want customers to order 3 or more of something, you should tell them that the price is discounted if they buy more than 3 items.  It you want customer referrals, you ask for the referral and if you want customers to visit your website, you say something like, "visit us online at"  You should never take it for granted that customers know what they're supposed to do next.  Some people will see your ad and automatically connect the dots and call you or visit your website.  Those people will get to your website and make a purchase.  Others may need a little help connecting the dots with some friendly persuasion.  For those people, you say things like, "call now" or "visit us online at. . .".  If you want something, ask for it.  If you want someone to do something, tell them what you want.  This works and for that reason, it is a well understood sales principle.

HOWEVER, this is not the case with google ads.  I learned recently that you CAN NOT tell your prospective customers to "click the ads".  You can not say this in anyway whatsoever.  Those ads basically have to sell themselves.  I received a friendly message from google and the majority of it is below.  Take a look.

Publishers are not permitted to encourage users to click on Google ads or bring excessive attention to ad units. For example, your site cannot contain phrases such as "click the ads," "support our sponsors," "visit these recommended links," or other similar language that could refer to the Google ads on your site. Please make any necessary changes to your web pages in the next 72 hours. . . If you choose not to make the changes to your account within the next three days, your account will remain active but you will no longer be able to display ads on the site. Please note, however, that we may disable your account if further violations are found in the future.

So basically, advertisers want you to click on the ads.  They are willing to pay  me when you click on the ads.  But, they do not want me to tell you to click on the ads.  You just need to figure that out on your own.  I understand the rationale for not wanting me to tell you to click on the ads.  They want people who are genuinely interested in what is offered in the web sites that you click on.  These advertisers have another huge responsibility once you click on the ads however.  THEY HAVE TO SELL YOU ON THEIR PRODUCT OR SERVICE.  They have to close the deal.  My job is to provide a way for you to get to their site and their job is to make a compelling offer to you that you will find hard to refuse.  They're already qualifying you as a potential buyer by placing ads on my site that are somewhat relevant to my blog's topics.  That's a great idea!  Knowing that I have qualified viewers on the blog page where I'm advertising, I would want me to tell you to click on the ads because I would want the opportunity to make you an offer that you can't refuse.

With all of that said, Google's ad policies are what they are and bloggers like myself must adhere to them.  So, in the future, I won't be telling you to click on the ads.  Instead, you'll just have to see them and do whatever you feel compelled to do.  Regardless, don't forget the very well understood principle in sales:  tell customers what you want them to do if you want them to do what you want.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Negotiating Tactics

These are some of my favorite negotiating tactics.  Tactics are things that you say and do to help the other side do more of what you want them to do. 

1.  Fear of Loss.  Show someone how not choosing your product or service will damage their position.  For example, if your product has been proven to help businesses make $10,000 more each month, you might say something like, "It's going to cost you $120,000 per year NOT to do this deal."

2.  Time Pressure.  I personally hate when people do this to me.  Here, you make it clear that the current good deal will go away after a certain date - "This deal's good thru the end of the month."  "If we can get this done today, I can knock off an additional 10%."  Another way people use time pressure is in renewing contracts.  I find that advertising sales people won't contact me to find out if I want to renew my ads until about a week or so before the supposed closing date.

3.  Walk Away Power.  This is a good counter-tactic for time pressure.  When someone says you only have a week or a day (or whatever) to get this done, I'll often tell them nevermind.  Don't succumb to time pressure and other negotiating tactics if you don't have to.  Walk away power can be powerful.  You can always come back to the negotiating table if and when circumstances change.  You're never back into a corner unless you put yourself there.

4.  Show people the net positive value of their good decisions.  If something will cost $1,000 up front, but then bring in $5,000 more, then the net positive gain is $4,000.  When people see what's in it for them, and financial gain is a huge motivator, they will usually agree to a deal.

5.  Show shock and disbelief.  When someone makes an offer to you, no matter how good it seems to you inside, you should show disbelief that they would consider such a bad offer.  To really sell it, you need to look noticeably disturbed for a while after the offer.  Many times, the opposition will modify their offer out of fear that you might walk away.

6.  Isolate points of agreement.  Once both sides agree on what they already agree on, it makes it much easier to break down the remaining points of disagreement.  "We already agree on the color, the quantity, and the base price.  Now, we just need to work on leasing terms and a fair final payment amount."  This prevents the deal from being clouded up unnecessarily and allows you to negotiate the remaining points individually.

7.  Break prices down to their absolute smallest points.  For example, if you are trying to get someone to pay you $12,000 per year for your services, tell them that it would only cost $33 per day.  Then of course remind them of their potential benefit which could be $48,000 per year or 4 times their investment.

8.  Calling people out on their tactics.  This usually will make them feel silly and embarrassed for trying to use negotiating tactics on you.  For example (and this happened to me once), if someone tries using the "good cop, bad cop" tactic on you where one of them is on your side and friendly, while the other is more aggressive and abrasive, it's funny to call them out on it.  I stopped the conversation and said, "wait a minute - is that good cop, bad cop?  I'll do this deal for the amount I originally stated or not at all.  What's it going to be?"  Winner - me!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Schizophrenic Economy?

Bloomberg Businessweek's August 2nd edition has an article about "The New Abnormal" economic climate.  It talks about Americans who are cutting back on some things, but splurging on others.  During a time of nearly 10% unemployment and foggy economic uncertainty, many people simply don't know what to do.  People worry about losing their jobs and about not being able to pay the electric bill.  Others are cutting back for that just-in-case situation, while some are cutting back in areas so that they can continue to spend in other areas.  The Dow hits extreme highs and extreme lows.  Economists can't seem to agree on the outlook in the short term or the long term.  News outlets are so politicized that the average person can't tell the difference between the truth or variations of the truth.  Instead, they blindly rely on MSNBC and Fox News to set them straight.  Record numbers of people are out of work and the news media focuses more on the 10% unemployed than the 90% still employed.  Train wrecks make the news.  That's just the way it is.  Now, the country is waiting and hoping that things will soon turn around, and they will turn around, but everyone is going to have to adapt and adjust.

Businesses that have down-sized are not going to just instantly increase staffing numbers because the economy turns around.  Instead, they are going to try as much as they can to get more efficient and need less people.  They are going to get more efficient in every area possible.  At the same time, people will need to adjust and adapt to their situations. When we get a raise or a promotion, we tend to adjust our lifestyles up.  Well, this will be necessary too when we need to adjust down due to pay cuts, demotions, lay offs, and terminations.  Everyone is going to have to adjust and everything is going to be uncertain for a long time to come.  It's not economic schizophrenia.  It's just shock and adjustment, but it's going to be OK.

This is an opportunity to teach young people to be smarter with their money.  Teach high school kids financial and entrepreneurial skills.  Mandate finance classes for all college students - not just literature, algebra, govenerment, etc.  Make extern programs mandatory for all college degrees.  This is very successful in the healthcare fields.  It's free labor for business and on-the-job training for students.  Teach business ethics to young people today to prevent Enron and Worldcom tomorrow.  Teach people how to make personal budgets and avoid future credit crunches.

This is an opportunity.  We need to make the best of it.

Monday, August 2, 2010

What's Wrong With Generations X and Y?

I just attended a business conference with the most intelligent and highly educated speaker I think I have ever heard.  His name was Dr. John Howard, MD, MPH, JD, LLM.  I leaned over to my co-worker and told her that he was "the smartest guy in the room" by far.  He had some very interesting statistics about the make up of the workforce in this country and about where that make up was expected to go in the near future.  The thing that really didn't sit well with me was his facts on the Generation X and Generation Y portion of the workforce.

From 2000 to 2010 there was a 9% drop in the number of workers ages 35 to 44 (Generation X).  This is expected to continue thru the year 2020.  During this time, workers in other age categories will increase.  What the heck!

Generation X is made up of people born between 1965 and 1980, followed by Generation Y (born 1980-2000).  In the study presented by Dr. Howard, from 1992 to 2002, Generation X'ers desire for jobs with greater responsibility fell from 69% to 54%, while Generation Y's desire dropped to 60%.  So in other words, those in Generation Y are demanding higher level jobs at a higher rate than Generation X (although not by much).  And, this decline happened during the '90's.  What happened in the '90's that caused the younger generations to lose the motivation and drive for jobs with higher responsibilities?  And, why is it worse for Gen X than Gen Y?  What's wrong with responsibility and with being in charge?  These positions set the standard for business.   They set the rules of business.  They are some of the change agents of the world.

I'm a little frustrated that the younger generation is more likely to be my boss in the future than I am to be theirs (statistically - I'm definitely not in-line with my generation).  Now, look at these next figures.

According to this study, Generation X values are less aligned with the organization than any other generations (of the 4 generations since 1928).  Even Generation Y is more highly aligned with the organization's values than X.  Gen X is also near the bottom (very closely followed by Gen Y) when it comes to caring about the fate of the organization. 

What in the world is going on with people born between 1965 and 2000?  And, are we passing on this apparent apathy to our kids?  With this much apathy, it is my opinion that the "cream will rise to the top".  That's why those of you reading this need to be aware and take action.  Be more motivated than the average Gen X'er and Gen Y'er.  I think there is real opportunity for the 30 and 40-somethings to get into positions of authority and make a difference.  Get into the top of the class (so to speak).  That doesn't appear to be too hard unfortunately.  Take some initiative.  Don't be part of the 9% drop in workers from our generation over the next 10 years.  And if you can't get aligned with the values of the organization, then by all means, start your own!  Do something!

I hope that reading this makes you feel unsettled just like it does me.  My business conference had a lot of other information in it today, but the rest of it was a very distant second compared to Dr. Howard's presentation. 

Let's reverse this trend.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

10 More Tips for Negotiations

This is part 2 in my series on negotiations.  These 10 tips will be helpful in any deal-making situation.

1. Always tell the truth.  If the other side ever catches you in a lie or finds that some "fact" you used to support your position is not accurate, it will sabotage your position completely.  If I find that someone misleads me, lies to me, or uses inaccurate information, I'll be a broken record on that point as often as possible to get a better deal.  My feelings will literally be hurt (as far as the other side knows) and I'll use it to my advantage.  Always be accurate.  Always tell the truth.

2. Dress like a person who is successful.  When you appear successful to your adversary, they will (often unknowingly) give you more respect.  Men - wear a dark suit, light colored shirt and a tie with red in it.  Women - wear a dark colored suit or dress.  Get a haircut.  Wear appropriate makeup.  Shave.  Use nice cuff links.  Shine your shoes.  Be the best dressed person in every meeting.  Dress like the deal is unimportant and be prepared to lose.  Dress for success and have success.

3. Put your information in writing.  People generally believe things that are in-writing.  Use charts and catchy headlines.  If you're product saves businesses thousands of dollars per month, show the other side the average dollars saved monthly.  Put it in writing.  If your customers are overwhelmingly and enthusiastically satisfied with your services, put their satisfaction scores in writing.  This will be far more powerful than just verbally saying so.

4. Cite your experts.  Tell people who else uses your services and who else recommends you.  This can be anyone in positions of authority.  Mayor, council person, doctor, lawyer, CEO, pastor, etc, etc, etc.  Anytime you can cite the strong opinions of a (even perceived) expert, you will be in a position of strength.

5. Get people to commit to things verbally and publicly.  Generally, when a person says something out loud, especially to a group of people or to someone they respect, they will be inclined to back that up with their actions.  For example, if you can get a potential client to tell a group something good about your product, he/she will be more likely to back that statement up with a purchase.

6. Make yourself well liked.  Try to use charisma.  When people like you, they are far more likely to do what you want and expect.  If you want someone to buy from you, you have a lot better chance if they like you than if they don't.

7. Never get angry.  Negative emotions are deal-killers.  He who gets angry, loses.

8. Put your strongest arguments either at the beginning or at the end.  These are the most memorable points of any presentation.  Putting them at the beginning can set the potential client up for agreeing with everything else you have to say.  Putting them at the end leaves the potential client with a strong feeling that will be hard to forget.  The very best thing to do is put your strongest point in the beginning and then reiterate it at the end.

9. The Power of Golf. The reason so many business deals are done on a golf course is because golf can be such a pleasant distraction.  When the buyer / client is in a positive frame of mind, a deal will be more likely.  It doesn't have to be golf.  It DOES have to be whatever the client finds to be a positive experience.

10. Always tell people what you want or expect.  If you want them to buy something, you have to say so.  If you want a better price, you have to say so.  Tell people what you want.  This is the very best way to get it.