Tag Archives: business

On Mistakes, Friendships and Not Going it Alone

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Being your own boss is the most wonderful thing. Since launching Rock n Roll Bride in 2007 I’ve discovered a LOT about myself, the wedding industry and running a business. But if there’s one lesson I learnt faster than anything else, it was that I couldn’t do everything myself. For example, I could have spent hours wrestling with Photoshop to come up with a design for my site, or I could work a little harder on the things I am better at so I can pay my designer to do it for me.

However, to me, even more vital than learning to outsource, was finding those people I could trust to help or advise me on a more personal level. These are the people that you know will always have your back and your best interests at heart. Without them in your corner, running your own business will be a million times harder.

I kept Rock n Roll Bride a secret from ‘the real world’ until the end of 2008. Gareth and I got married that April and I was completely embarrassed to be still obsessed with weddings after our own big day was over. At this point, the blog was nothing more than a hobby anyway, I didn’t feel the need to make a big deal about it offline. Then, about a year in, I made my first big mistake. I was trying to install Google Analytics on the site (I am NOT technical AT ALL by the way!) and somehow managed to delete the whole thing!

ARGH!

So I went to Gareth and shamefully admitted that I had this secret blog… about weddings… that I’d somehow managed to delete. Despite his techy prowess, there was no way for him to magically bring the obliterated site back, but he offered to help me start over. We signed up with WordPress.org, bought rocknrollbride.com and I began again.

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The Seven Secrets of Making Money Online

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We’ve all seen them, those business coaches promising that they can make you rich. Swearing that for the measly sum of (insert number with way too many zeros on the end here) they can turn your business around by showing you their top secret techniques that will make your pockets bulge with excess cash. They brag about their seven figure incomes, their thousands of happy clients, their giant mansions and the exotic vacations they take at every opportunity.

Don’t be fooled my friends.

Let’s keep it real for a second – even if you did the exact same things, at the exact same time, you’d never get the same results as someone else. There are just too many variables.

So let’s cut the crap. Here are the REAL secrets of making money online:

1. Work harder than everyone else

The reality is that there is no escaping having to put in a truckload of work if you want to make a living from your own business. I am genuinely amazed when I hear of people who want to start their own online empire because they think it will be an easy way to make a passive income. Too many people want to believe that there are shortcuts in life. They want to jump ahead to the (expected) riches without actually working their asses off for it.

Those overnight successes that we seem to hear about all the time are the exceptions, not the rule (and even then they’ve probably been working bloody hard doing something before anyone ever heard of them). We lap these stories up though because it’s much more exciting to hear about the start up that made £100,000 in one day, or the developer that made millions from their first app, than the author that struggled to sell 100 copies of their book or the blogger than had to quit because they couldn’t pay their rent.

2. Make sacrifices

Oh yeah, sacrifice. That’s a big one. I genuinely think the majority of people don’t realise just how many if them they’re going to have to make if they want to run their own business.

You have to be obsessed to the point of madness with it. You have to want to do it so badly that there is no other viable option for you. You’ll have to get up early, go to bed late and say no to way more invitations than you’d like to. You’ll have months when you can only afford to eat beans on toast, and you might need to work two jobs for years before the business can support itself.

Sounds depressing, but you won’t care, because you’ll want to make your business a success more than any of those other things.

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3. Forget about the glamour

I feel so incredibly blessed that I get to do something I love and get paid for it. I’ve also been presented with some truly amazing opportunities since starting this blog, all of which are beyond my wildest dreams of how I thought my life would turn out. I’ve been featured in magazines, interviewed on the TV, published my own magazine, and flown all over the world to talk about something I am truly passionate about.

But like everyone, I only share the highlights. My day to day life is not that exciting. Most of my time is spent writing content, replying to emails, sitting alone in my office, drinking tea, still wearing yesterday’s underwear…

I love what I do, but it’s important to keep some perspective. Even the most successful entrepreneurs spend most of their time doing normal, boring things.

4. Don’t get too comfortable

As your business grows it can be easy to get complacent. Your time begins to split between doing things to keep your customers happy, and coming up with new ideas to grow. If these ideas end up being super successful, you might eventually get to a stage where you no longer feel the need to implement new marketing techniques or bring out new products. This is where the cracks can start to appear.

Especially if you’re in the wedding industry, which is not only a seasonal but constantly refreshing market (aka your customers get married and then no longer want to buy anything from you) it is vital that you don’t get lazy or complacent. All it can take is one weak year for you to drop off people’s radar. You are only as good as your last job. Never forget that.

5. Stop comparing yourself to others

Comparison is the thief of joy and all that… and this never as true as when you conduct a lot of your business online. It is waaaaay too easy to look too closely at what your competitors are doing, to stalk them on social media and feel bad about yourself when they do something amazing. WE ALL DO IT.

You need to remember that their successes are not your failures. You can co-exist. It is vital (for your own sanity) to work on improving and differentiating your offerings instead of focusing how you can compete with them. It’s just not a very healthy mindset to be in.

When you start to feel that green eyed monster creeping in – stop. Shut down your browser and step away from the computer. Nothing good can ever come from spending all your precious energy focusing on what someone else is doing.

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Positive Peer Pressure

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When you’re a teenager, peer pressure sucks. That constant squeeze from your peers to act the same, think the same, be the same as them. It forces you to fit in, to conform, to not be your own weird ‘n wonderful self.

As an impressionable, confidence-lacking 14 year old, peer pressure can define you. It can make you take up smoking (yep), start drinking (er… yep), sneak out of class and lie to your parents (yep, er… yep!) I think we can all look back on those times and realise that peer pressure was actually just a form of bullying, dressed up with a more socially acceptable name. And bullying sucks. Period.

Then suddenly, you’re an adult. If you’re anything like me, you quickly realised how stupid it was to want to be the same as everyone else, and how marching to the beat of your own weird-ass drum is a much more attractive option. After all, it’s what make you, you. You’re more confident in your own skin, and much happier doing things that make you jump for joy, rather than trying to please other people.

But for a lot of us, the peer pressure remains. However in adulthood, with our new-found self-awareness, it can actually be a really positive thing. Peer pressure is more likely to encourage you to push outside of your comfort zone and improve yourself, rather than make you want to take up a questionable or addictive habit.

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How Do I Know What to Charge?

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Hi Kat
A quick query: How much do you charge for product reviews? I am a virtual vet. I also have a blog, posting every day. This is becoming a larger part of my workload, but I do it for free, which is a challenge. Part of my mix is a weekly product review, which I have done for free up till now. A PR company told me that one of the reasons that they use me is that I am free whereas people like you charge a fee. So hence my question: How much do you charge?

Hey Kat
I’m a relatively new wedding photographer and struggling with setting my rates. I know I’m cheap (a lot cheaper than most other photographers I’ve looked at) but I feel that my prices
 are justified because I’m still in my first year of business and I have a lot to learn. I guess my question is really this – how do I know when I’m good enough to charge more and how do I get from where I am now to where everyone else seems to be?

I get a lot emails from people asking me these kinds of questions so let me start by being completely honest – when it comes to how much you should charge I really have no idea.

There are so many factors that need to be considered when setting your rates, and as an outsider I can’t examine any of them. What I can do for you though is point you in the right direction for figuring this all out for yourself.

Finding your pricing sweet spot should depend on a variety of elements, all of them very specific to you and your business. There are a number of things you need to look at:

1. How much time the job will take you – time is money and all that. It might be easier to think in an hourly rate, i.e. the longer and more complex the job, the more you should be paid.

2. How much doing this job will cost you – in expenses such as travel, kit or outsourcing anything. These obviously need to be covered by whatever you charge.

3. How many paid jobs you want to do per week/month/year – so you know how much you need to get paid, per job, to reach whatever salary you want to earn.

4. How much you need to earn, per job, to make a profit – because, after all, you hopefully want to make one. Make sure you add a little bit extra on your fee to get there!

5. How much it costs you to run your business – knowing this will help you figure out how much you need to earn for your business to be profitable. Taking all of the above into account as well of course.

6. Your experience – the more of it you have, the more you can charge. In the vet’s case, you also need to consider the traffic and reach of your blog. What kind of results can you give people who pay to be reviewed on your site? The more traffic your site has, the more you can command per article. How many products will the companies you feature need to sell off the back of your review for them to be happy about what they paid? For example, if you charge £200 for a review, a dog biscuit company might have to sell 40 packets of biscuits at £5 each to break even.

7. What you think you’re worth – how much do you think each job is worth? Would you be happy to do the task for £100? £500? £1000? £10,000?

8. What people are willing to pay you – it’s all very well and good quoting someone £10,000 for a job, but will they actually be willing to pay that?!

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20 Ways to Keep Your Facebook Page Active

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Like most small business owners, I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. We might all moan about whatever new development they implement next, but it is still, by far, the social media channel that brings the most traffic to my blog, and the one where the most reader engagement happens. Although the reach of your page may be decreasing due to whatever it is Facebook is up to at the moment, it is still a vital tool for any small business owner.

Here are 20 easy ways to keep your page active. The key with Facebook, or any social media outlet really, is to post things that your fans will want to engage with. Don’t just use it as a place to spam your latest business updates or blog links. Using a mixture of these ideas will help to naturally engage your fans, and over time, up your overall reach.

1. Update it regularly (at least daily)

2. Post funny, shareable memes

3. Ask questions

4. Run a contest

5. Share sneak peeks

6. Post funny, real life, stories that your audience will relate to

7. Post inspiring quotes

9. Engage with other people’s pages

10. Start conversations

11. Vary the lengths of your updates

12. Share trivia

13. Re-post old blog content

14. Run opinion polls

15. Share news stories

16. Give your fans special offers/discounts

17. Post infographics

18. Include videos

19. Remember who your audience are

20. Use Facebook Insights to post when your fans are online

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How to Email Like a Pro (or, How to Get a Reply from a Busy Person)

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Dear Kat
I’m a new blogger and I’m really struggling with getting my name out there… well, it’s not even that really, I’m struggling to get any kind of response from people. You see, I’ve emailed a bunch of people in the industry that I admire, sometimes to ask for a little advice, but mostly to just introduce myself and say hello… but no one is replying to me. I’m starting to feel invisible!

It’s so difficult to get a new blog or business off the ground as it is and I already feel like giving up. What am I doing wrong?

“Getting your name out there” can be one of the biggest hurdles for new bloggers and business owners. You have this great idea but no-one knows you exist! There must be an easy answer… right? Unfortunately you couldn’t be further from the truth. Effective networking and marketing need to go way beyond simply sitting behind your computer and firing off a few emails or tweets and hoping someone pays attention. I’m sorry to break it to you, but they won’t.

Emailing people you admire, or want something from, is a skill in itself, so today I thought I’d address this issue specifically.

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The first thing you need to realise is that the non-responses are probably not personal. It’s unlikely you’ve mortally offended any of these people.

To be brutally honest with you though, I hate getting messages like this. It’s not that I don’t want to help where I can, but sometimes it can all just feel very demanding. Like, they want me to do something for them (and as harsh as it sounds) there’s nothing in it for me.

Also, a lot of these emails feature the same irritating mistakes. Like most of the people I’d imagine you are emailing, I am very time poor. It’s actually quite presumptuous to expect a busy person to give up some of their precious time to help you “get your name out” when you’ve effectively just cold called them.

So what can you do to make sure the busy person you want something from might actually reply?

Your email is personalised and genuine

If you’re emailing someone you admire, either to just to introduce yourself or to ask for advice, then for goodness sakes make it personal. This is not the time to use the CC or BCC tool! A mass email stands out a mile and efficiency should never win over manners.

Always address the person by name. I get hundreds (I wish I was exaggerating) of emails a week from PR companies, small businesses or people wanting something from me that simply start with “Hi there”, or “Dear Sir/ Madam” (!) or even worst “Dear Blogger” REALLY!? To me this looks like you’ve either a) sent the same email to multiple people or b) can’t be bothered to find out what my name is (and for goodness sakes it’s IN my email address!) 

You need to show that you are genuinely interested in whoever you’re emailing, especially if you are asking for a favour. People are less likely to ignore you if they see your passion and personality coming through in your message.

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