Don’t Give Up: You Never Know Who You May be Inspiring with Your Content


When you write a #blog and put content out on social media day in and day out there are times when you may feel discouraged or ask yourself: Am I really making a difference? Is my work actually making an impact on people? And, then you get an amazing message like this!

It’s messages like this that inspire and encourage me to keep on going. Even if you only get a small number of views, you never know who may be positively affected by your online content. And, while I obviously do like making money💰(who doesn’t?), feedback like this makes my day like no paycheck ever could.

Ultimately, building an online presence or a brand or a business takes a great deal of patience. In the beginning or even for the first few months or years, it may feel like things are moving too slowly or nothing is happening, which is why it’s so crucial not to give up too soon. And, don’t knock that one or two views or those five or six followers, because you never know whose world you may be changing for the better.

Why Quality Content Trumps Quantity Content

In a recent article on the Hubspot blog titled Marketers: This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, Kipp Bodnar explains how marketers ruin everything.

Take email for example. In the mid to late 90s, people read most of their emails. Getting an email was exciting. When you heard the phrase, “You’ve got mail,” you actually cared. But, then marketers came along and clogged our inboxes up with spam and junk mail. Today, most emails are ignored or not even seen and the average email open ratefor an email marketing campaign in 2017 is just under 25%.

According to Bodnar, the same is now happening to content marketing. Content will be ruined for everyone if marketers don’t cool it. About 5 years ago, way back in 2012 when I started getting interested in marketing, content marketing was romanticized, as Bodnar puts it, as an “antidote to disruptive advertising and direct marketing.” After consumers started using technology to filter out email promotions and banner ads, such as ad block, “smart marketers started to create useful content designed help the consumer rather than sell them. If good and relevant, this content would find its way to the top of the search results page and, without costing the company anything in ad spend, deliver a compounding stream of incoming traffic.”

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Dear Creatives: Don’t Blame the Market

If you’re a writer or any sort of creator, then you’ve likely been offered pay in the form of exposure instead of money.

Does it piss you off? I’m guessing it does. Most creatives loathe doing work on spec (free) or for less money than they think it’s worth. It pissed one writer off enough to write an op-ed in The NY Times about it. 

I’ve heard many writers and other artists complain about not getting paid for their work or being paid way too little for it.

Here’s the cold, hard reality:

The market doesn’t care.

The market is the market is the market and whining won’t get you paid. The creatives who win are not necessarily the ones who are the most talented or the most “creative.” It’s the ones who can face reality and know how to treat their art like a business. In the digital age, developing a personal brand is a great way to do just that. While being great at your craft is important, it is only one part of the equation. The rest is business savvy — knowing how to market and promote yourself, how to negotiate in your favor, and how to protect yourself and your work legally. Unless you can figure out how to use your art or skills to fulfill a certain need in the marketplace, it will have to remain a hobby. 

And, here’s the thing with working on spec or for a lower pay. There are many times when it literally doesn’t pay,  no pun intended, but sometimes it can pay very handsomely. Just because you are not getting paid much or at all in money, doesn’t mean you can’t still get a great deal of value out of the experience. Everything must be measured by the cost versus the value or benefit provided. There are times when doing some work for free or for less money can be your ticket to a great deal of long-term monetary value.

Take, for example, being a Huffington Post contributor. I’m not paid for my column, but it helps me in the following ways and more:

  1. Increased awareness of me and my work, which has directly translated into more leads and clients. 
  2. Lends trust, credibility, and authority which can be leveraged to charge more for my content marketing services.
  3. Access to movers and shakers with whom I can network that I would not have had access to if it wasn’t for my Huffington Post blog. 

Sometimes doing unpaid or low-paid work for a major influencer can advance your own position and be the gateway to future opportunities. David Rock was an amateur filmmaker who approached Vayner Media CEO, Gary Vaynerchuk and offered to film him for an entire day so he could turn it into a documentary for free. Gary loved David’s work and hired him to be his personal videographer and creative director. Now Mr. Rock enjoys a well-paying job filming and editing Gary’s videos. Thanks to his new gig, which he earned through unpaid work, he travels to numerous locations around the world, enjoys newfound fame and notoriety on social media, and has almost unlimited access to a business leader and mentor many people would pay thousands of dollars to speak to for only a few minutes. 

While it can sometimes be in your long-term financial interest to do work for free or very little, don’t feel compelled to work with people who can’t promise you enough value — whether that’s exposure or money.

At the end of the day, the solution to not getting paid what you’re worth is not complaining about the market, but figuring out how you can use your craft to solve a problem or fulfill a need and making strategic partnerships with people who can help you. Networking and developing a personal brand are things every creative should master and social media makes this easier to do than ever before. 

Your Excuses Aren’t Helping

I’m sure you have excuses for why you’re not yet where you want to be in life.

We all have excuses.

But, excuses don’t move you further toward your goals. Excuses don’t pay your bills. Excuses won’t help you win. While it may feel good in the short term, making excuses is distracting you from making progress.

In my line of work, I’m used to hearing people talk about wanting to grow their business or personal brand. They want more people to know about them. They want their phone to be ringing off the hook and the orders to be coming in. They want more customers or clients or more ideal customers or clients. They want to become more well-known or take their business to the next level. But, when they find out how much work is involved and how much time, money, and effort is needed to build a brand and grow an online presence, they’re not always up for it.

How do I get more customers? How do I get more awareness for my brand or company? How do I become the ‘go-to’ person for X, Y, or Z?

The answer is always the same. Put in the work.

It’s going to take a lot more work on top of whatever you’re already doing. The good news is that if you have a smartphone, it’s easier (and cheaper) than it was before to talk to the world, connect with others, and gain a following. The bad news is that there is more competing for our attention than ever before. The only way to be relevant and get on the radar screen of the people you’re trying to reach is by putting out content for social media and mobile devices that gets attention and provides value. Yes, it takes work to churn out blog posts, shoot vlogs, podcast, and connect with people on social media, especially if you can’t afford to hire a team that will do it for you. But, who said achieving success comes easily?

And because there is so much competing for our attention, it takes more effort to rise above the noise. It’s harder than ever to get people to pay attention to your ads and your content truly has to be quality as well as relevant and well-timed. Yes, it’s all hard, but it’s the only way. The only alternative is making excuses and wondering why nothing is happening.

If giving up is not an option, then stop making excuses and start taking action. Start doing. Start now.

Being Cheap Will Cost You

When I was younger, I used to pride myself on spending the least amount of money as possible on things that I wanted. One area where I was particularly cheap was sneakers. Initially proud of my purchase, it took me a while to figure out that I wasn’t getting a good deal at all. When the laces are frayed and the sneakers are worn and falling apart beyond repair after only a few months you’re only screwing yourself into having to buy yet another pair much sooner than you would have if you had spent a little more and invested in better quality.

One thing you learn as you get older and more experienced is that being cheap rarely pays off. If anything it costs you more money, time, and headaches later down the line.

We all have areas of our lives where we don’t care enough to spend and that’s fine if we’re OK with the consequences. But, when it comes to the things that matter, like our health or our business, we really should think twice before we go with the cheaper option. The damage that could be done by hiring an amateur could end up being far more costly than paying an expert. Skimping on added features, options, or services in the short-run may end up costing you far more in the long-run.

Let’s say you’re choosing a marketing firm to do your social media marketing. They present you with several options. Thinking only about price, you go with the cheapest one. Later you realize that you can’t get the results you hoped for without the additional services offered in the higher priced option. Now, you’ll either spend more money on hiring freelancers to fulfill the need or you’ll end up upgrading your package with the marketing firm. Either way, you just spent the past month or more spending money and receiving little in return. If you had only done it right the first time, you would have accomplished more and sooner. And, if you depleted your budget, then it might already be too late.

So, don’t be a cheapskate. Think about the long-term or the lifetime value. Your business is something you’d like to comfortably own for a long time. Don’t treat your business like a cheap pair of sneakers. Spring for the better option and you’ll wear it well for years to come.


5 Tips for Success with Blogging

So your company wants to start blogging.


Where to begin? How do you ensure that the blog will be a success?

Here are 5 tips that will break down the essentials of corporate blogging:

  1. Set goals. 


If you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish with the blog, how will you be able to determine whether or not the blog is successful? Determine from the outset what results you’d like to see or what metrics you will be using. Also, make sure that your blog’s goals are aligned with your company’s larger goals and purpose. Is the goal of your blog brand awareness? Getting more leads? Attracting talent? Generating more subscriptions to your email newsletter? Gaining credibility and establishing thougtht leadership? Improving brand perception? Choose a clear goal or set of goals for the blog before you start. Keep in mind that your blogging goals will likely change over time.

2) Target your audience.


Next, you need to determine who the blog is written for. Are you trying to appeal to people who live in a certain geographical location? Stay-at-home moms? Moutain biking enthusiasts? People who enjoy outdoor activities? HR managers?

Identifying who your blog is speaking to will help you choose topics, set your tone, and develop a consistent brand voice. Targeting a specific audience doesn’t mean that it won’t be appealing to others as well, but a blog for everyone is for no-one. Try to tailor your blog content to one audience who would be particularly interested in your brand and write for them.

3) Publish frequently & consistently.


Hard at work
Author hard at work on a blog post


A major key to having success with blogging is publishing frequently and on a consistent basis. Publishing on a once-in-a-while or “whenever we get around to it” basis is not going to cut it. The only way to grow an audience and build momentum is by publishing frequently. Blogs that publish sporadically or infrequently fail to gain traction. Aim for once a day or once a week in the beginning. It’s also important to publish consistently. This will help you plan your content in advance so you never have to scramble for ideas. It will also please search engines and help your audience know more-or-less when to expect your next piece. Use a content calendar to schedule your posts. For example, you can decide to publish every Monday and Thursday or every day at 1 pm. The only way your blog will get off the ground is by making it a priority. Treat it like a TV program. Don’t delay, make excuses, or push it off. The show must go on!

4) Provide value


While your organization has an idea of what it would like to see happen with the blog, don’t forget to focus on the needs of your audience. If you want people to actually read your blog and share it with others, then you need to create content that your audience finds valuable and keeps their attention. Good blogs usually entertain, educate, tell stories, inspire, or answer common questions. Some blogs do all of the above, but chances are, your blog will excel particularly well in one of those areas.

5) Distribution


No matter how great your content is, your blog will not do well if no one knows about it. Creating the content for your blog is only half the battle. Without a good distribution strategy, few people will discover your blog. Therefore, keep SEO best practices in mind when writing your blog posts so that people will have an easier time finding them. Share the blog posts to social media in a way that respects the individual nuances of each platform. For example, on Twitter shorten links, keep your posts to under 140 characters, and use 1-2 relevant hashtags. On Instagram, direct people to click the link in your bio to read your latest blog post. Write out a long-form teaser, caption, or excerpt in your Instagram posts, Facebook statuses and LinkedIn updates.

Besides contributing regularly to your “owned” blog, consider blogging natively on blogging platforms where your audience is already hanging out, such as Medium.

Good blogging takes a lot of time, dedication, patience, and consistent output. It also must be goal oriented and targeted to a specific audience. Combined with good content and basic technical know-how, these 5 tips will help your company achieve success with blogging.

How to Deal with Rejection

“I’m sorry, but we’re just not interested at this time.”

We’ve all been rejected at one point or another. If you haven’t been, then you’re not trying hard enough or putting yourself out there.

Whether you’re a salesperson, a freelancer, or the leader of an organization who is trying to raise money or get new clients, you have to get used to hearing a lot of “no-s.” In fact, it is probably the no-s that make you greater appreciate “yes.” Being rejected is the norm rather than the exception. You have to develop a thick skin and get over your fear of it if you want to succeed.

As a freelancer serving clients and someone starting a digital marketing agency, I know all too well about how to deal with rejection.

Here are some tips to keep in mind the next time a prospect says no to you:

It’s not you, it’s them.

Don’t take rejection personally. Unfortunately, the first instinct of many people, especially new freelancers, is that someone saying no to them means: “You’re not good enough” or “Your work is not good enough.” But, that’s not necessarily the case. More often, the real reason they said no may have nothing to do with you at all. It may be because of any of the following reasons or more:

  • You didn’t generate enough interest or provide enough value in your pitch.
  • You poorly explained the benefit or value of what you offer.
  • They had no interest or need for the product or service in the first place and would not have purchased it from anyone.
  • Their budget is too tight right now.
  • The decision maker is too busy to consider your offer at the moment.

Don’t dwell.

Regardless of the reason, the prospect already said no. The wrong thing for you to do is dwell on it. Sure, learn from your mistakes or refine your pitch, but don’t waste time agonizing over it. The longer you dwell over a loss, the longer you hold yourself back from your next big win.

Don’t burn bridges.

Although it may be frustrating, keep your cool. Don’t respond emotionally or send an email when you’re angry or upset. Simply move on amicably and keep looking for the next deal. Burning a bridge is never worth it. For one thing, it can come back to hurt your reputation. Burning a bridge is also counterproductive, because a rejection right now may later turn into an acceptance if you’re nice about it, which brings me to my next and final point:

No always means not now.

When it comes to sales, adopt the mindset that “no” simply means “not now.” There have been many times when a prospect said no to me, but said yes when I reached out again later. People who turn down your initial offer may end up being more receptive at a later point in time or be persuaded by a slightly different offer. Therefore, don’t despair when someone says no. You can always try again later. A rejection is not written in stone for all time. A little persistence or stepping away and circling back in a few months can sometimes change the outcome for the positive.

Whenever you’re having a tough time with rejection, don’t be so quick to blame yourself or your prospects. Simply remember the above three points and keep on keepin’ on. A positive attitude will make all the difference.


The Day I Left Without Paying

Almost 6 years ago, I was in a restaurant in the TriBeCa section of Manhattan.

I was at a low period of my life, attending law school because of family pressure and hating it. Feeling alone and miserable, I ate my lentil stew that day dreading my upcoming engagement party later that night. “Call it off!” a mentor of mine urged. But, I couldn’t. They had already hired the caterer. Everyone was counting on me.

I must have been pretty preoccupied because I accidentally left without paying for my half-eaten soup!

It was not until hours later that I realized my mistake, but by then I was too embarrassed to return and never really made it over to that part of town.

Yesterday, almost 6 years later, I returned to this reasonably priced kosher falafel and shawarma establishment and paid for the lentil stew, finally ridding myself of feeling any guilt for not paying on that confusing Autumn day back in 2011. Then, I sat down and had lunch (which I paid for) in between meetings.

It’s pretty amazing to reflect on how far I’ve come. Within a month after that day I left without paying, I broke off the engagement and I dropped out of law school. Today, I’m working hard doing something I love and actually enjoy.

Life has a funny way of turning out well when we stop worrying so much about what other people think or want from us and start being true to ourselves, taking responsibility for our own choices, and following our own path instead of the ones others would like to see us take.

We have only one life and regret is a painful thing, which can breed resentment. When we live in fear of what others think, it leads to poor decision making like marrying someone not right for us, working too long at a job we hate, or forgetting to pay our tab at the restaurant.

I’ve learned that it’s far better to pursue your dreams and do what you feel will make you happy, even if you fail than to regret never having tried because you didn’t want to let anyone else down.