One of the really interesting things about summertime for me is that it changes my work schedule. If you’re a side gig part-time entrepreneur like me, one of the things that you come to realize is that your life rolls in seasons. Right now in my life I’m in a big season where I have some elementary school kids that need some attention and some kids that are going off to college or that in college that needs some attention. That’s the big macroscopic season of life that I’m in.
That’s going to change. Those little kids are going to get older and go on to high school where, in some ways, they’ll need less day to day attention, but in other ways they’ll need more attention. All of that kind of external influence affects my ability or the time that I have available to work on my side gig, given all of my other priorities.
I think the important thing to realize is that it’s just a season. We can work through the current season and do the best we can in the current season, and when the season changes we can change our strategy and do something differently.
I saw this many years ago when Pat Flynn had a certain work ethic and way that he worked, and then when his first child came along – and he talks about this on his podcast – he completely changed things up, changed the way he works. He worked alongside his wife, April, to figure out a schedule that works for him. Now, for those of you that listen to Pat and his podcast, he’s in yet another season where he is looking at changing up again.
These big seasons, it’s okay if you don’t have quite the optimum thing, because chances are whatever your work habits are now you’ll be able to modify them in the future when your circumstances change.
There are these little seasons, too. I alluded to this earlier. There this is school year season that I’m in. Soon I’m going to be in the summer season. What does that mean for me? That means if I get up early in the summertime I can get out of the house and go work on my business for maybe even a few hours before my day job starts, because I don’t have the burden of needing to get the kids ready for school and all of the stuff that’s going on.
The truth is my wife does most of the heavy lifting there. I fix breakfast for the kids every morning, but I won’t be doing that in the summer. So I can leave here at 5:00 or 5:30 in the morning and go work on my business while I enjoy a cup of coffee at Starbucks or whatever.
The point being that you have the opportunity to understand the fact that the things you do are really seasonal, and you can take advantage of those seasons as your situation changes. As a part-time entrepreneur, I want to encourage you to always be looking for how you can take advantage of the change of seasons.
Bring Your Own Weather
Talking about a change of seasons, changes of seasons bring weather, and I wanted to tell you guys a story that made me very happy about my friend Brady, who I’ve talked about before on the show, who started a blog about the thing that he knows best, pharmacy. What he noticed in the marketplace was there are a lot of pharmacy blogs that talk about pharmacy to other pharmacists, but there weren’t many blogs where pharmacists were talking to people.
So Brady started a blog called Helpful Pharmacist. As he works through his seasons he’s able to write articles that are in general helpful to people who are the users of pharmacy. It turns out that pharmacists are actually very interested in reading that kind of content, too, so Brady has had some success there.
He’s had so much success that actually a big publication, Pharmacy Times, asked him to write for their big media blog over at PharmacyTimes.com. That has been very exciting because Brady was able was to negotiate a backlink, which you can see.
I’ll link to his latest article on PharmacyTimes.com. In that article he talks about carrying your own weather. This is something that is very exciting for me because this is something that I’ve been talking about for years. I think I got that idea from Zig Ziglar maybe 30 years ago.
It’s this idea that instead of letting yourself be influenced by the weather around you, if it’s a gloomy day you feel gloomy, or if your circumstances are gloomy, if things around you or people around you are bringing you down, why let yourself be affected by that, why not go ahead and bring your own weather, bring your own sunshine. We all know that we feel better on a sunny day. That’s how I try to roll, in everything that I do I’m going to enjoy it or I’m simply not going to do it. I just choose to make everything as happy as I possibly can.
That has served me well over the last 30 years and I think that’s an important for you and your internet business. I encourage you to go over to this article on Pharmacy Times. First, take note of the fact that there is a backlink to Brady’s Helpful Pharmacist blog in the article.
Here are a couple of points from this. One is the weather thing, I think attitude can make or break your internet business. I think you really need to think about what your attitude is and how you’re rolling on a day to day basis, because integrated over time that can really make the difference in whether or not you succeed or fail in whatever you’re doing in life. I want to really encourage you to read that article and take those ideas to heart and apply them to your business.
The second thing is notice that in negotiating this article with Pharmacy Times Brady was able to negotiate for a backlink not only to his blog, which sends link juice to his blog, but to his social media profile, which brings him followers. That was huge, because he did not get that automatically. When they asked him to write for them they originally published one of his articles with no hotlinks, they referenced his blog but the links weren’t hot. Knowing about SEO, Brady contacted them and said, “Would you guys mind actually making that link live?” and they had no issue with that at all. In fact, Brady has brought them a lot of traffic and they’re thrilled.
You would do well to follow Brady’s example. Are you blogging in a space where there are mega blogs that you can write for and contribute your content so that you can get exposure? This kind of guest posting, whether it’s on a big professional blog like what Brady has done, or on some even medium sized blog is a well known way to improve your SEO.
We applaud Brady both on the concept of bringing your own weather and getting that message out there to the pharmacy community, and now to the Late Night Internet Marketing community, but also on having the SEO savvy to go ahead and ask for the backlink. Sometimes all it takes is just a nice request to say, “I’d really appreciate a live backlink in this article. Thank you very much,” and you might be surprised at the response.
Late Night Listener Feedback
I wanted to handle a little listener feedback. That’s one of my very favorite things. I promise you if you go over to LateNightIM.com/itunes that you can click through there and get to iTunes on your computer to leave a review. If you do that, I will happily give you a shout out on the show notes.
This time it’s a shout out to Ross from PaidInsights.com, who leaves a five star review saying that he has been listening to the show for six months. It’s relevant and up to date info for him and he likes the transparency.
I appreciate that. I get that comment a lot and I really appreciate the shout out with regard to transparency because not only is the way that I normally am, but I think there are a lot of not so transparent people online, especially with regard to internet marketing. I appreciate that. Thank you so much for the shout out. Those ratings and reviews make a huge difference to me.
Here’s something interesting. I checked out what Ross has going on over at PaidInsights.com. There are some pretty interesting shows over there. He has a new podcast over there and a couple of the shows are about breaking down other people’s keyword strategy, particularly for paid search.
That looked really interesting to me. It looks like there is some great content over there, so I want to encourage you to do two things. One is head over to PaidInsights.com and tell Ross hello. The other thing is to leave me a review at LateNightIM.com/itunes, it is so much appreciated and it helps people like Ross find the show.
I think I told you guys this funny story where one time my HR manager called me into her office and we were talking and she said, “I know a secret about you.” I said, “What is it?”
She said, “You have a podcast.” I said, “I do have a podcast. How did you know that?” She said, “I was on iTunes and it said people who listen to the shows that I listen to also listen to the Late Night Internet Marketing Podcast.”
That’s the value that these things bring. First it outs me and gets me out of the closet, but second of all it helps people discover the podcast. The more people that listen the more people I can help.
Thanks again, Ross. I really appreciate the review and great work over at PaidInsights.com.
This Week in Internet Marketing News
A little bit of internet marketing news for you. The sister publication to Search Engine Land, which I read all of the time, as we’ve mentioned many times on the show, is Marketing Land. Marketing Land has an interesting article, 12 Email Marketing Fundamentals to Master.
If you look at that blog title, we can talk a little bit about copywriting here. It has a number in it, we know that stops people’s eyes. It has email marketing, it has good SEO because you know people are searching for email marketing. Fundamentals to master implies a benefit that by learning these simple basics I can become a master of email marketing.
Pretty good title there. It doesn’t evoke a lot of curiosity, although it does leave the open loop of, “I wonder what those 12 things are.” That’s generally the magic of these lists posts is the open loop that they leave.
As usual, on these high end publications that you see in Marketing Land and Search Engine Land, there are a couple of things in this article that I thought were really interesting that I wanted to bring to your attention.
One thing that is recommended by this article that I’ve never actually thought about before is this Goldilocks idea of a subject line that is just right in terms of length is not really true, that actually if you have the average length subject line – not too long, not too short – that’s probably the wrong answer. Research suggests that a key driver of email open rates is the length of the subject line, and if it’s really short or maybe longer than average, that can be a lot better than the medium average line.
I would suppose that part of that is because this makes it stick out in the list when it’s on the screen. A short subject line looks weird compared to all of the average length ones, probably the same for a long one.
Although, in certain email clients you’re going to get the dots of ellipses, so I’m not sure how effective that would be. That’s something that you would want to split test. It’s something that I’ve never really tested and I thought it was a really interesting thing. Usually I’m very worried about what the words are, but not how long the subject line is. That seems like a really interesting thing to test.
If you have a tool like ConvertKit, then it’s easy to test subject lines. That’s built into ConvertKit and you can split those very easy. If you’re not familiar with this idea of split testing, you can send the same email to two different groups in your list with two different subject lines and you can compare the open rates.
If you do that over and over again, you can learn how your audience best responds to subject lines and you can get better and better at your subject lines and get higher open rates. That’s why you would want to do that.
Another really interesting point is this idea that you should front-load a link. This is something that I do, but not in the way that is described in this article. They suggest that the first few words of the first sentence of the first paragraph should be hotlinked to your call to action. That that’s where the eye stops if that’s linked and a lot of times you’ll get that click just because it’s linked up front. I thought that was very interesting. That’s definitely something that I am going to test.
Here’s something that I’ve felt for a long time, but I wasn’t sure about; in email accuracy trumps personalization. This idea of “Hey Joe,” this programmable thing where you pull the name out, their point is if your list is not 100% accurate with regard to names – in other words if you suspect maybe people are putting in fake names or you have some opt-ins that come in without any name at all, or you know that the name is bogus or wrong – having that personalization there (or missing) can actually hurt you when it’s inaccurate.
They recommend instead of using personalization, use something more generic like “Hey,” or “Hi,” or “Hello.” A lot of times I do that because I am sensitive to that.
I have looked at my email list and you can scan through it and find lots of places where people have put in bogus names because they’re trying to protect their privacy or they’re trying to be funny, or in some cases the names are missing. Particularly for opt-ins that come in from text message the names are generally not there.
That can be an important thing. That’s also something to test over time to see how that works.
Should You Tell Your Boss About Your Internet Business
We’ve been talking a lot about the Late Night Internet Marketing Facebook Group. It’s really cool. Last week I talked to you about Phil, he’s tearing it up in there and making all kinds of progress and inspiring everyone in the group. It’s a small group and you can join us there at LateNightIM.com/fbgroup. It’s a cool place to hang out and if you’re not cool you get kicked out. It’s happy and I bring my own weather to the Facebook group as well, so you can see that in there.
We’ve been hanging out there and Phil is in the middle of working on a project that is related in some way to his day job. He’s an expert in a particular area of engineering and he is teaching this engineering online. It’s not a conflict of interest with his day job, but it is just taking the knowledge that he’s an expert in that he applies to his day job and packaging that and making it available to more people.
That’s really cool and that’s something that I know a lot of us have done or are in the process of doing. We’re an expert in an area where we’re making a living and we’re also trying to bring that presence online.
Phil’s situation is that his boss knows that he is doing it and the company is cool with it, but one of his coworkers is a total hater and is complaining to Phil’s management about the fact that Phil is doing this stuff on the side, and if Phil has a business outside of his day job is that fair and how can he be serious about his day job, and etcetera. Basically, it sounds like bitter jealousy to me. This guy is just a troll hater who doesn’t want to see anyone else succeed.
A lot of these things with these kind of people, if you break them down, this kind of attitude comes from a scarcity mentality or a jealousy mentality where, “Why poor me? Why don’t I get to do that? Phil is having some success, how can that be fair? How is it fair for Phil to do something that I’m not doing?” When really the answer is Phil is busting his butt. I’m going to tell you that right now, because we’re seeing it in the Facebook group. He’s earning that progress that he’s making in his side business.
This raises a lot of questions. We’ve covered some of this before on the show, but I wanted to get to this issue particularly because it’s the cross of two things that we’ve talked about before. One is this sort of troll mentality and the second thing is how you handle conflicts with your day job. This is the overlap of those two, which I think makes it particularly interesting.
I think this is always what I’ve recommended and I’ll reiterate this. When you’re working on something on your side business that is related in any way to what you’re doing in your day job, I think it is a smart move to talk to people that you trust at your company, let them know what you’re doing and make sure that they’re okay with it.
I know for a fact in Phil’s case he had done this, he talked to his boss, they know what he’s doing and they’re cool with it.
In fact, enlightened employers will love the fact that a luminary in the industry, or someone who is establishing industry-wide credibility, is working for them. There are lots of benefits of this.
One, it makes Phil better at his job, because he is constantly researching to bring the best stuff to his online customers. He’s bringing that same information to his job every day, so Phil is a better employee.
It also eventually can be a benefit for people who want to work with Phil’s company, because as Phil gets more and more famous they may win business based on the fact that Phil knows what is going on. That may actually lead to real sales for that company.
There are lots of reasons for an employer to be okay with a side gig. For that matter, I think if you abstract it, if Phil had a lemonade stand they shouldn’t care, so why should they care if he happens to be working on something that is adjacent to what he works on at work.
Kudos to Phil for making sure that his employer was cool with it. I recommend that for you, too.
I think it’s really important – and I’ve said this many times – that you never, ever work on your business while you’re at your day job. Just don’t cross the beams. (That’s a Ghostbusters reference for you young listeners in the audience.)
You don’t want to even leave the impression with somebody that you are using the company’s resources or time in order to advance the state of your business. I think that’s really important. That’s one of the reasons that this brand is Late Night Internet Marketing, because every time I get a chance I’m trying to draw the line to say, “This business is something that I’m doing at night on my own time, when I’m not being paid by my daytime employer.”
That’s one axis. The other axis is this whole thing about the troll. I’ll tell you what, there are people that you are going to encounter, whether you’re blogging and there are people in the comments, whether you’re a podcaster and there are people listening to your voice that are going to take issue with what you have to say, or how you said it, or just the fact that you’re speaking at all, or the tone of your voice, or the way your voice sounds, or the color of your hair, and they are going to tell you about it. They are going to try and bring you down to their level.
In my experience, most of these people have some fundamental issue going on where they have a scarcity mentality, or they’re jaded for some kind of reason. Usually, you’ll see this because rather than coming to you personally these people feel like they need to either come at you publicly, or like Phil’s case come at you by talking to your boss at work, which is a totally ridiculous kind of thing to go do and completely inappropriate.
What is the proper procedure? When we talked about this in the Facebook group, what we suggested in this particular case for Phil, rule number one is don’t feed the troll.
I think the most you can ever do with a troll kind of guy is to say, “Thanks for your input. I appreciate it. I’ll consider what you said. Thank you very much, I really appreciate the feedback.”
Usually when I get this negative feedback from people, of whatever flavor, the attitude that I will take, because I’m carrying my own weather and I’m not letting this troll affect me, is treat the guy with respect, whether he deserves it or not, and then analyze what was said to see if there is any truth in it, even a little bit, something that I can learn, some value that I can get out of it.
Take the tone out of it, take the attitude out of it, and look at the data. Is there any data in the information from the troll that is helpful? And then set the whole thing aside. Take that tiny little nugget of information and set the rest of it aside and just put it behind me. That’s one thing; don’t feed the troll.
The second thing that we talked about is what are the real implications of this. The real world implication of this troll is that he could be creating difficulties for Phil’s boss. Even though that’s not Phil’s fault or Phil’s problem, something that Phil is doing (running an online business) could be indirectly causing some trouble for Phil’s boss.
Maybe this troll guy is talking to Phil’s boss, but maybe he’s also talking to HR and to Phil’s boss’s boss. Who knows what he’s doing, it depends on how trollish and wacky he is.
One good thing to consider if you trust this boss is to check in with him and say, “I know this is going on. We had talked about this before and you said you were okay with it. I’m really sorry if this is causing you any trouble. Obviously, as you know, this doesn’t have anything to do with work. Is there something that you want me to do about this situation?” Just air it out with your boss so that you guys stay on the same page.
I think even though Phil knows he is in the right and even though he’s not doing anything that is technically an issue with his employer, if it’s inconveniencing his employer in some way because of this troll, it’s probably worth checking in. That was my advice to Phil and it’s my advice to you, too. If you get in these situations, just bring some transparency and say, “This is what I’m doing. I love my work so much that I’m taking it online because I’m passionate about it. Thank you for supporting that. I know there’s this issue. What can we do to work through that and solve that together?”
I think when you do that, always, you have to be prepared for the possible outcome that your boss is going to say, “As a matter of fact, this is bugging me. You need to make a choice. You need to either shut this down, or do it more quietly, or go find another job.”
I would say a couple of things. One, if that’s what is coming, it’s much better to know that up front where you have some time to prepare and you agree on a timeline for exiting, than to have that slammed on you one afternoon when business turns down a little bit and you’re the first guy they layoff, and it’s because of your online business and you didn’t even see it coming.
I think transparency is good and that’s always what I advocate in these sorts of situations, especially when you’re working for someone that you trust.
If you’re not working for someone that you trust, you probably need to go find a new job anyway. And if you’re working with someone who is not okay with your business, you probably need to go find a new job anyway. If they’re asking you to leave in this situation, they’re probably just pushing you in the direction that you need to go anyway.
I hope that is helpful to you. I’d love to hear your stories about your conflicts with your day job, if you’re doing stuff part-time. If you have overlap or maybe they just don’t like the fact that you have a side job because they expect you to be thinking about them 24 hours a day, I’d really appreciate hearing about that.
In my particular case, something funny happened to me just this week. One of my colleagues, a manager at the next level in my company, called me out of the blue on the phone and said, “I’m trying to write a job posting for an online publication where we post for jobs. I’m trying to write the headline and I know that you know a lot about writing copy. Would you help me write this headline?” I said, “Sure, I’ll be happy to do that.”
So we talked for a little bit and his comments were things like, “I hear you talking about this on your podcast.” I thought, “Oh great, my management is listening to my podcast.” That’s very interesting. Obviously, at least for the moment, those guys are cool with that.
It always reminds me of Scott Adams, the cartoonist that wrote Dilbert. He worked for AT&T, he took a lot of his examples of bad or goofy workplace behavior from AT&T. He made fun of things that happened at AT&T and other technology companies, like the technology company that I work for, and he would publish those in a cartoon strip. They kept him on for a very long time, but eventually his business got so big that it was much bigger than his day job. They worked with him all through that time.
I hope that your employer is like Scott Adam’s employer and I hope eventually your side gig gets so huge that you just don’t have time for your day job anymore.
Wrapping Things Up…
That wraps things up for this week. I hope you have an absolutely fantastic week. I want you to do what Brady the Helpful Pharmacist tells you to do this week. Listen to your pharmacist. Take your own weather with you. Bring your good attitude with you. Make that a conscious decision.
Zig Ziglar talks about getting up in the morning and deciding when your feet hit the ground that it’s a great day and it’s your big opportunity to make something out of it every day. Just decide that. You don’t need anyone’s permission to have a great day. You can decide to have a great day all by yourself. If you do need someone’s permission, I give you permission to have a great day for the rest of the day today and all day tomorrow, and every day after that.
Go get ‘em. Talk to you soon.