Marketing on a Shoestring: How Business Coaching Can Help

By Grazina Ajana Szewczyk
If you do not have a lot of money it does not mean that you cannot afford marketing. Many business owners run their businesses on a shoestring. It may take a little bit of time and effort but it is achievable.

First, write a marketing plan. You can create a mind map — it works very well for me. A simple to do list with a few steps written down is better than a perfect plan that you just think about.

Choose marketing activities that you know you can do, and outsource everything else. Do not try to save money by writing your articles if you know you are a terrible writer or if you hate writing. Hire someone who can do if for you, and spend your time on doing what you do well: coaching, selling, designing jewellery, or programming.

Your business needs an online presence, a website or a blog is a must. You do not need to spend a lot of money on custom designed websites. If you know how to use WordPress you can create your website in a couple of hours. A few plugins especially designed for business websites will make your life easy and your marketing more effective.

Some people prefer blogging, and they make a lot of money on blogging. If you are interested in creating your own blog, you do not even need to pay for domain name or hosting, just go to Blogger and follow a few simple steps. It is really easy and a lot of fun.

By the way, you can use WordPress for creating blogs, static websites, artists galleries, magazine style websites and more. Try it, it is awesome.

List your business on Google Places and in local business directories. It is free of charge and quite effective. And do not forget to ask you customers to write testimonials for you.
Create a Facebook Page, an account on Twitter and LinkedIn. You will have to update your Facebook and Twitter regularly, but if you organise it well it will not take a lot of your time. And it can be fun, too.

It is easier to write quality posts for your blog, or articles for your website if your business is truly unique. Make sure that you know who your target market is and how your business helps your customers solve their problems, or make their dreams come true. Never copy what other people do without adding a bit of your own touch, it may be just what your customers are looking for.

Here is one of my favourite strategies: writing ebooks, articles, press releases, blog posts, letters, emails, newsletters and ezines. When you publish a printed book on or an ebook on Kindle, you not only become an instant expert but create a nice set-and-forget- passive income.

You can even set up an affiliate program, for example on Clickbank, and if the book sells well, the sky is the limit!

If writing means to you staring at the white page half-paralysed or panicking, you can always outsource it. There are many outsourcing companies, and micro-job websites like Elance or Fourerr, where freelancers can be hired for very little money.

If you prefer talking to writing, you can focus on creating videos and upload them to YouTube — remember Google owns YouTube now, so you better put making a video on your to-do marketing list.

Use your public speaking skills to enhance your image as an expert even further. You can run workshops, seminars, teleconferences, seminars, and additionally make money on them.

Join online and offline forums and organisations, and look for potential clients, mentors, people to learn from, and people you can help. I am going to publish an article about one of the best online communities (over 309,000 members as per today) at the end of this week, make sure you check it out.

Offline professional groups like Chamber of Commerce or Toastmasters have always been important in developing a business network, so do not neglect them. Even if you are running an online business you may be dealing with these people anyway.

I believe that hiring a business coach or a mentor is of the best investments ever. Our role is to help you save money, not just spend it on our services. Research shows that the average coaching ROI (return on investment) is 500-700%. Worth your money, is it not?

When creating your marketing plan, write down all the steps you think are important for making your business grow. Forget what you can, and what you cannot afford right now. Think outside the box. If you cannot do it, and you have no money to pay for the service, maybe you could barter?

Look at your current expenses, and see it there is anything you could save money right now. Can you find a cheaper hosting, or use a free autoresponder instead of the paid autoresponder you use currently?

There are many ways of marketing your business on a shoestring. Choose the ones you can start today, and take action. And do not forget to put "have fun" on you list.

Copywriting on a shoestring?

I was sitting at my computer one day trying to write a really smart sales letter  for this page.  A sales letter that would make people contact me straight away and hire me to write for them.  After all, if I believe I can help my clients sell their products I should be able to sell my services as well, right?
This time it was not that simple.

I was deleting one draft after another, getting more and more frustrated in the process.  

“I usually do not have writer's blocks, what is wrong with me?”, I thought.

Someone knocked on the door, and I welcomed the distraction.  I did not care if it was Avon calling, or some other people who knock on the doors, I was happy I had an excuse to get away from my bummer project.

A young man handed me some junk mail from a local real estate office.  One look was enough to see these guys needed help.  Nothing wrong with the young man, he was nice and professional, but the leaflet he gave me… “oh, dear!”, I thought.

“Would you like to come in?”, I asked.  He walked in, and closed the door.

“Now, who wrote that?, I asked.
“One of the girls in the office”.
But of course…
“Is she a copywriter?” – I knew the answer somehow.
She was not.

“You know”, I said, “if you had a toothache, would you ask her for help?”
“I would ask my dentist”, he smiled.
“Well, you would ask an expert, right?  You would not fool around with a toothache because you know how important healthy teeth are to your well-being.  I believe that a healthy copy is as important to your business.”

As many small business owners run their businesses on a shoestring, they often accept help from well-meaning friends and family members to save money on web design or marketing.

It may work, but most of the time the results are disastrous.  When they tell me that their website was designed by a nephew who loves computer games, and the copy written by a friend who has already published her poetry somewhere – I know they are in trouble.

There is more to copywriting than good grammar and punctuation; in fact, I know brilliant copywriters who have their grammar all over the place, and bad typos on their websites.  Guess what?  Their sales letters sell, and people read their emails, and that is what counts.

So what was wrong with that real estate leaflet?  Have a look, and see if you like it.


I am waiting for your comments.

Do You Make These Mistakes While Building Your Online Business?

Like many other people I had a dream of working from home. I liked the idea of flexible hours, no boss breathing down my neck, and – unlike in my casual job at the shop – of unlimited income, and ultimately, freedom from any financial worries. I thought I could follow my passion, and get paid for it; I wanted to make money writing, coaching, and helping people.

I just started making some money on the net recently, and as I was sitting in front of the computer last night, typing away, I asked myself what was stopping me from making money until now?

I know I made many mistakes, and I ended up overwhelmed, confused, and almost ready to quit. If you make these mistakes, too, do not worry, they are easy to fix as long as you are aware of them, and know what to do.

Mistake #1: Targeting only younger market
According to eMarketer, the US baby boomers spend more time and money online than any other generation. Research shows that around 78.2% of baby boomers are very comfortable with using the Internet, spending over 30 hours monthly, and more than more than $2 trillion annually.

Baby boomers love gadgets, most use mobile phones – also to access the Internet. If you use mobile marketing to sell your products or services to mature customers, your conversion rate may double.

If you target only younger generation, you are leaving money on the table.

Mistake #2: Not focusing on one program, product, service, niche or target market – at least at the beginning
Successful marketers often talk about introducing new products, targeting new markets or up-selling. But they never make a mistake that I made many times: I would find a product that I liked, start selling it, then find another one that I liked even more, then decide to create my own… no wonder it never worked!

You need to find one proven system that works, and focus on it until you see the results. If you are not sure which one to choose, find a mentor you trust, someone who can prove that he knows the business, and can teach it. There is no better way that following the steps of someone who is right now doing what you are planning to do.

Mistake #3: Trying to make money on what other people sell successfully ever though you hate it
Not matter how lucrative dog training is, I am not interested. I love cats, and I find this whole dog training business quite boring. When write about topics that amuse or fascinate me, I can work long hours without being tired. Did I say work? Well, I should not call it work at all.

There are many benefits of using your passion as a foundation for your business: to start with, you probably already know a lot about your favourite topic, and you cannot build a successful business without good knowledge and skills.

Additionally, you will have more fun, and this is extremely important. A product created with with passion and love has a different vibration, and it is funny how people can feel it. It goes beyond branding and cannot be faked.

Mistake #4: Building your business around your passion
Hey, did I not just say that you should base your business on what you love doing? After all, that is what I am doing right now, I am building my business doing what I love doing and what I do well.

Following your passion is fine, but you have to make sure that there is a hungry market out there, and that your customers can afford to pay for your services or products. If your life's mission is to help homeless children you may find it difficult to make money on it.

Remember, it is a business we talk about, not a hobby, and it makes a big difference. If you cannot see it, you better find a job.

Mistake #5: Trying to do everything on your own
There are simply not enough hours in a day to everything and do it well. If you want to write, and coach, and provide technical support for your customers, and design covers for you books you very soon will not have time to get decent sleep. I am speaking from experience.

Not to mention to travel and enjoy life, because that is why you got into that Internet business, right?

Yes, I know, I thought I could not afford outsourcing either, but I changed my mind when I did some simple calculations. If creating a simple video tor a slide show takes me a week – and it is far from being perfect – it just makes sense spending time on what I know I can do well, make money on that, and pay someone else to create the video.

A poorly designed book cover can negatively affect your marketing efforts while a professionally designed graphics make a lot of difference. After all, you are in business, and like with any other business you have to invest some money to make profit.

Mistake #6: Not paying attention to new trends
Everything changes so quickly on the net! That is why spending money on a system or a program and then putting it on a back burner for 12 months is a bad idea. Keeping up to date with the latest technology changes is not easy but it is vital for your business.

If you want to publish an ebook you need to know how to format it so it can be read on Kindle. When you optimise your website content or write article you have to be aware of Google's most recent search algorithm changes or you are in trouble.

Mistake # 7: Underpricing
I wanted to get paid for writing so I started from writing articles for $2.70 article. The trouble is that I do the research and I write my articles from scratch, I do not use software to spin them, and never copy them from the Internet. It was taking me an hour to write an article, and you simply cannot survive working for $2.70 an hour.

When you decide on your own fees, do not make them out of thin air, remember there are always overheads like phone calls or Internet connection that you have to pay for before you make any profit.

Underpricing your services undervalues your services. Some people avoid low cost services knowing that you have to sacrifice something and it is usually the quality. So by setting your prices too low you are potentially losing your best clients who value quality and are happy to pay for it.

Mistake #8: Getting distracted
I have a PhD in this one, and I majored in procrastination, which does not help. I have learned hard way that working from home should be just that – working, even when you are having fun.

Unfortunately, there is always something that you can use as an excuse for not finishing your projects, or – even worse – never starting them. Having great ideas and detailed plans does not mean much until you take action. Business activities like chatting on the phone, doing household chores or watching funny videos on YouTube are not going to add to your profits, and are easy to avoid.

If you have a system that works for you need to follow it until you see the result of your efforts. If you find mess and clutter distracting, tidy up and get organised, and if you do not know how learn from someone who does.

Some of these mistakes are caused by bad judgement, some by lack of knowledge or attention. Many can be costly, but they are easy to avoid by getting a mentor, following a proven system, getting focused and treating a business like a business, not like a hobby. Add genuine willingness to create real value, and you just cannot fail.


Tolerate Nothing

I found this tip in one of my favourite coaching books, The Portable Coach: 28 Sure Fire Strategies For Business And Personal Success by Thomas J. Leonard, the father of personal coaching.

“Tolerate Nothing” is one of the 28 Principles of Attraction, part of the system that can changes life and attract joy, happiness and success regardless of your situation.

We often tolerate things, problems, and issues that drives us bananas: clutter, a friend who does not respect our time, lack of money, stress, job that we hate and so on and so on.

The solution is simple – get rid of what makes you unhappy, sick, depressed, what creates havoc in your life.

First, make a list of everything that annoys you, all the emotional, mental and physical rubbish that drains energy.  Then, step by step, reduce or eliminate it.  Mind you, this can have consequences such as losing friends.

It will fix many problems in your life though if you do it smartly without offending everyone around you.

Bee Happi

I know I look like a zombie in this video.  A very tired and ugly zombie.  When I was learning how to optimise a video I needed a guinea piggy video to see how it works. I made this video after 16 hours of writing, so please be gentle…

Life Coaching — 3 Simple Tips to Create a Better Life

Life is not always easy. Instead of feeling miserable or looking for someone to blame why not spend your energy on creating something better? Creating a life you deserve is a simple thing, maybe not always easy – but the rules are simple. There are many tips that will help you, here are the three tips you can use straight away:

1. Be happy.

It really is a choice.

When you realise that you are in control of your emotions you will find that dealing with stress, difficult people and difficult situations becomes easier. Put it that way: you invited a few friends, and decided to bake a cake for them. You try a new recipe, bake the cake and it’s… disgusting. You spend time, money, energy… what went wrong? Your have one hour, too late to bake another cake, plus you are so angry and disappointed you feel like crying. What to do?

If you have a contingency plan — a frozen cheesecake in your freezer or a favourite recipe for 10-minutes biscuits you can bake in your sleep — you will be fine. You can choose to fix the problem quickly and efficiently, or get cranky, miserable and spoil everyone’s evening.

It is your choice.

You can start every day listening to the news and then feel depressed all day, or spend a few minutes watching dancing babies on youtube and feel happier all day. Choosing your mood is a choice. Choosing what you watch and listen to is the first step to feeling happier.

2. Get rid of clutter.

That includes mental and emotional clutter as well.

Here’s the amazing power of uncluttering: the moment you start getting rid of books you do not read any more, you have more peace of mind and can focus easier; when you get rid of negative thoughts, you will find that cleaning your office space of old papers is quick and easy.

Clutter weights us down, and adds mess, confusion and lack of order into our life. Getting rid of everything that is unfinished, things we do not use or love, will help create a better life.

3. Become selfish.

If your decisions and life choices are based on other people’s values you will have a tough time creating a happy life.

To start with, everyone expects something different from you, and those expectations can be totally opposite: your wife wants you to go on a holiday with her, and your boss wants you to stay and finish an important project.

You cannot please everyone, and why should you? When you start looking after yourself, listen to your needs and your intuition, you will become a happier, better person.

Which doctor would you ask for help: the one who always wanted to study medicine, or a doctor who was dreaming about becoming a musician, and went to medical school just to please his father?

If you want to create a happy life, start with these simple tips: make happy choices, avoid negativity and get rid of mental, emotional and physical clutter. Use your intuition and learn to make smart choices that will help you create a good life instead of fulfilling other people’s dreams.