Category: Home Business

Marketing with magnets

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Marketing successfully means marketing constantly, and you have to be creative.

Using magnets as a marketing tool isn’t new, but I think it’s definitely effective. And judging by the number of business cards I get when I go to networking events, magnet advertising isn’t wildly popular among small business owners. So it makes sense to blaze a new trail to make your small business stand out from the rest, doesn’t it?

Whenever I get a business card or flyer that I really want to hold onto, I always grab a magnet (usually a pizza magnet), and attach it to my refrigerator. But it would be even better if the business card was actually a magnet itself.

Your business or service will be front and center more often. Besides being easy to put on their metal object of choice, your card will also be functional. In my case, whenever I feel like ordering a pizza, I never have to drag out a phonebook. I just go look on my frig. And sometimes I never even planned to get pizza, but that magnet is always there to remind me. I’m guessing a business card magnet will work similarly, especially if your customers put them on their file cabinets (refrigerators probably aren’t in their offices).

How to get new clients using email

An E-mail!

If you’ve been reading Crayon Writer for a while, you know that my primary method of getting new clients is via cold emailing instead of cold calling.

I’ve never gone into much detail about how I do cold emailing, and I also wanted to discuss the anti-spam legislation as it relates to cold emailing.

Thanks to my Entrecard travels, I met a great blogger who asked me to be to his first guest blogger. I was honored, and the article I wrote is up and running. Of course, the guest post I wrote is about getting new clients using cold email.

A big thanks to Marcus Hochstadt from the Internet Business Guide for this wonderful opportunity. His blog has some very helpful information about building an Internet business, so definitely hang out there for a while. And enjoy my guest post too.

If you get a chance to check it out, please leave a comment here or on Marcus’ site (or both). We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

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One of the perks of owning a home-based business is that you set your own hours. You can work late at night, early in the morning, or during “regular” hours. It’s up to you!

But when are you most productive? It probably depends on the task you have to complete, and also on your lifestyle.

For me, mornings are best for dealing with clients and for marketing. I work with clients all over the country, so I need to be able to contact people who live on the east coast. If I wait too late, they’re usually gone for the day. I’m most productive in the morning hours once I’ve woken up, eaten, and cleaned up.

My writing is best done late at night. I’m no good during the middle of the afternoon. That’s when I get overcome with sleepiness. So I’m kind of a night owl, and I get my second wind after 9 p.m. This might be because my daughter is blissfully asleep then, and I can’t write well when she’s up running around.

Blogging activities (replying to comments, dropping Entrecards, writing posts) are another story. When my daughter’s at home I can usually take care of most blogging tasks, but sometimes I wait until the wee hours of the night/morning.

What are your most productive times for the jobs you do at home?

Article writing at your service

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Recently I mentioned that I was writing articles for blogs who “bought” my services with credits from Entrecard. I gave it some thought, and decided against it. Why?

While Entrecard is great, and while Entrecredits can be used to “buy” advertising space on other blogs, Entrecredits aren’t worth enough for me to sell my services in exchange for them.

Some people have started selling ECs on Ebay, getting as much as $20 for 1000 EC, but often much lower. And I don’t remember high school economics that well, but I do believe there’s a reason the government limits the amount of money in circulation. If money keeps being created, the value of a dollar decreases. With Entrecard, you earn 1 EC whenever you drop a card, and 1 EC whenever someone drops you a card, and the only limit so far is in the number of cards you can drop each day.

All I know for sure is that ECs are not legal tender.

At this point I’ve decided it’s a better use of my time to write guest articles if the mood hits me, since guest blogging is a valuable form of advertising. But when I write in exchange for ECs I feel obligated to write, and I prefer to be paid real money for obligatory creativity.

One thing I learned from the Entrecard experience is that people are looking for great content. And they’re willing to pay something for it (of course, we all knew this anyway).

Let me direct your attention to my newest header tab: Article Writing Services. If you’re a blogger or website owner, and you simply don’t have the time to write lots of great articles, Crayon Writer is your new source for excellent web content.

Contact me so we can figure out your needs, and I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse. 🙂

Crayon Writer is open for business

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(Photo by Andrew Beierle)

In the beginning, Crayon Writer was intended to market my freelance writing business. It still is. But it’s become a bit more, and I now consider this blog to be a business itself.

Interested in joining this venture? There are several ways.

First, I’m adding a Satisfied Readers blogroll for people and companies who’d like to pay me for my “crayon writing.” Some call it a donation, but I figure that you should only donate if you think my words are worth paying for.

Or perhaps you feel strongly, like I do, that society benefits from mothers staying with their children as long as possible, and you’d like to support that cause.

Either way, if you send at least $10.00 using the convenient “Donation” button (found in the sidebar), your link will be added to the “Satisfied Readers” blogroll. Just so the list doesn’t get too long, I will have to remove links sometimes (first in, first out), but your link will be active for at least 24 hours (probably longer). I will only link to sites that are PG, though, so if it’s offensive to me I won’t post the link (no refunds for donations, though).

Email me the following information when you’ve donated $10:

  1. Tell me what anchor text you want for your link
  2. Tell me the URL for the link

Want to have a lengthier, more visually appealing advertisement on Crayon Writer?

You can buy advertising space or a review. The full details are on the Advertise page, complete with convenient buttons for you to make immediate purchases. Reviews are just $50, while 125×125 ads are just $40 per month. Click here to reserve your space or buy a review now.

Finally, take a look at some of the products in the sidebar. I have an affiliate partnership with the products I recommend, so if you’re in the market for them please buy them by clicking on them at Crayon Writer.

That’s it! Crayon Writer is officially open for business. If you’re ever in need of great writing for your business or blog, click on the tab for Copywriting Services. My freelance business is still accepting new clients too.

Writing for Entrecard

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If you’re a blogger too, you’ve no doubt heard about the latest social networking tool, Entrecard. I was skeptical at first, and I guess I’m still a bit cautious, but I decided to jump in while it’s still hot. If it stays that way, so much the better.

At first I was just clicking my way through the “Drop Yours” widgets like the one you see in my sidebar.

But then I realized there’s a “Shop” on Entrecard that allows its members to sell things for Entrecard Credits (EC). Sure, EC isn’t a real form of money, but it does have value. You can use EC to get your own personal 125×125 ad (check out mine at the top of this post) placed on other people’s blogs. The trick of the system is to have enough EC to place a lot of ads that hopefully get clicked on by regular street traffic.

I’m a writer, right? So what better thing to sell than my writing? Besides getting EC to advertise on other blogs and increase Crayon Writer‘s exposure, I’m also letting others see my talent even if they don’t feel like reading here. I’m hoping to get clients that pay real live money for writing services.

I’ve already written for a few bloggers who paid me EC.

Here’s a big thanks to James from Total Web Review for buying an article from me and letting his readers know about my services.

The only problem I have with Entrecard right now is the amount of time it takes. But for now, I do think it’s worth it. I’ve met a lot of other bloggers already (I joined on January 26). Unlike MyBlogLog, you have to actually visit a person’s blog to get any benefit.

Anyway, expect to see me write a little sporadically as I figure out how to use Entrecard to market my business, continue to look for a day job, build my writing business, and, of course, my most important and demanding job, take care of my daughter. At two-and-a-half years old, I’m finding she is busier than ever!

Guess it’s time to get back to business and stop playing hooky. 🙂

Writing is hard work. Play hooky with WildGames

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Running your own business is hard work. Sometimes you just want to play hooky, right? As long as you do it in moderation, goofing off is obviously a good thing.

Besides watching TV, my favorite pastime is playing online video games. I would go to an arcade, but I don’t have as much time as I did when I was a kid. So now I play online games.

I used to play video games that have a timed free trial, so I would be playing happily for about an hour before it timed out. Then you have to buy the game, or just forget about it. Major bummer.

But then I stumbled across WildGames, and I’ve been hooked ever since. With WildGames each online video game comes with a free trial that lasts for about 24 hours (let’s hope you don’t goof of that long). Most of the online games allow you to play at least two times for free, as long as you don’t remain idle for more than 20 minutes.

Here’s what I do. I choose one of the hundreds of exciting online games and make sure I have a block of time to entertain myself. I play and play till my heart’s content. And if I want to check email or whatever, I do that too, making sure not to be away from the game for longer than 20 minutes. I might just unpause it for a second and get back to my email or article.

When I’m done for the day, I play again at a later date when I’m ready. If, after having really given the game a good try, I decide to buy it, I know that I must really want it. It’s the best way to try before you buy.

But if you never want to buy a particular online game, no problem. You can still play that fascinating game until you beat it. WildGames has a cool online quarters feature. Each game takes a certain number of virtual quarters, from 1 to 4. So after your free trials have ended, just buy some virtual tokens and play a few more times.

This beats buying a $20 game only to beat it after 4 plays. If you beat it that fast you could pay just $4 instead. The beauty of it is you can use tokens to play any game whose free sessions are ended. I usually buy a $10 pack, which gives me 40 tokens.

Okay, if you’re convinced, let me direct you to the cool logo in the sidebar to the right (the one that reads “WildGames.” They just launched an affiliate program, and I bet I was their first affiliate (maybe not, but as soon as I got the email I signed up). If you decide to just play a lot of the games for free, but you later decide to buy some tokens or buy a game, please come back to Crayon Writer and click on the logo here. (While you’re at it, take a look at all of the other items in the sidebar.)

And let me tell you a trick to get the $10 pack. When you go to the signup page for the WildCoins, it’ll take you the ordering page for the monthly plan at $20. Click the “back” button on the page, and it’ll offer the $9.99 or $12.99 pack.

My favorite games are the Diner’s Dash games, Cake Mania, and other casual adventure type games. They also have RPGs, action, kids, and more.

Check it out! Just don’t play too long.

If you’ve played any online games, what are your favorites?

Getting started as a freelance writer: Books to read

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Years ago I realized I was a good writer. I would say it started in elementary school when my teachers always told me how creative I was. In college, I helped friends edit their papers, and even though my degree was in biology, my first job after college was as an assistant editor.

So it makes sense that I’m pursuing a writing career.

More recently, I’ve figured out that I prefer writing for businesses. I write website content, newsletters, press releases, sales letters, correspondence, brochures, and more. Basically, I’m a freelance commercial writer.

A new freelance writer asked me to recommend some books that helped me get started. There are two that I found particularly useful for commercial writing, and they’re both by the same author.

Peter Bowerman’s books include The Well-Fed Writer and Back for Seconds. The best thing about his books is that they give explicit instructions for building your commercial writing business. It’s not a bunch of, “Look how great I am!”

Peter’s first book, The Well-Fed Writer, is very specific but primarily based on the way Peter built his business. It’s great for learning about an effective business model. When I followed his directions, I definitely made progress.

His second book, Back for Seconds, includes lots of examples from other writers’ experiences. You’ll learn from people from all walks of life who are running their own commercial writing businesses.I also appreciate that Peter responds to his email messages even though he’s clearly very busy. He has a new book coming out soon, and I’ll be sure to let you know what I think of it.

In the meantime, if you’re serious about a freelance writing career, grab these books and get to work. I pick them up whenever I need a boost.

A WAHM Christmas greeting

924850_decorated_christmas_tree__2.jpgMerry Christmas, everyone!

As a work-at-home-mom, I definitely deserve a break today. I’m grateful that there are family and friends visiting. Not just because I get to see them, but also because my daughter enjoys seeing and interacting with new people.

My “break” is that other people will be occupying her so I can get some much-needed work done. (Do home-business owners ever stop working?) After being up late wrapping presents, and spending the morning trying to convince my daughter to open them (she’s more interested in the wrapping paper), I felt a little off-kilter since I hadn’t opened my laptop all day.

I hope you are enjoying today, however you define “enjoyment.”

Merry Christmas!

Brick by brick

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November was my month for marketing my freelance writing business

I did a bit of cold emailing (as time permitted, considering I have a very busy toddler), and I have a few warm leads as a result.

I also started a new blog, Marana Unwrapped, both because it’s an interesting topic and it’s a more specific niche. (I consider Crayon Writer to be a more personal blog that also has some universal appeal.) Hopefully the exposure in my community will help me gain more clients, and the niche should attract advertisers also.

So December is my month of looking for freelance gigs, while I also continue looking for another day job.

What’s a freelance gig? Projects I find not by marketing myself, but by perusing freelance sites. Right now I only use Craigslist. With access to cities across the country (and the world, if I choose), I should be able to find some nice side work.

If you’re a single parent or sole breadwinner, how did you get started with your freelance business, and how do you keep on keepin’ on?