Benefits of hiring temporary workers

By Eric Bradford

Organizations ranging in size from startups to major corporations are realizing the benefits of hiring temporary workers. Don’t think so? Check this out. Statista says that staffing agencies pull in about 250 billion euros a year. In the United States alone, employers spent nearly $110 billion hiring temporary workers in 2011.

hiring temporary workers
6 major benefits of hiring temporary workers

These revenues include direct agency payroll costs and recruiting charges to find and attract skilled temporary contractors. For sure, it cost enough to reap the benefits of hiring temporary workers. But, in many instances it’s worth it. Following are reasons why.

  • Payroll taxes – Staffing agencies are responsible for withdrawing and submitting federal, state and local taxes on contractors or temporary workers.
  • Health benefits – Medical, dental and vision health benefits are the responsibility of staffing agencies. Depending on the size of your organization, this cost alone could save you thousands a year.
  • Paid time off – Vacation, personal and sick leave is the responsibility of staffing agencies. Although, as a courtesy, temporary workers tell you when they are planning to take a day off, staffing agencies record time off and compensate the workers.
  • Culture matches – Personality and culture must mesh if workers are to be satisfied at your organization. If you’ve been at your organization for several years, you might not be aware of the culture that’s embedded in your company. Yet, it’s there. When workers’ personalities don’t fit into your culture, conflicts and challenges rise. For this reason, this ranks among the top benefits of hiring temporary workers. Should temporary workers not fit your culture, you can sever the ties by picking up the telephone and calling the staffing agency and telling an agent that you want to end the working relationship with the temp.
  • Innovation – Because temporary workers fill in spots at a variety of organizations, these workers have insight into different management styles, culture, communication practices and project management procedures. Tap into this innovation by asking a few simple questions and benefits of hiring temporary workers for you could lead to enhanced innovation.
  • Recruiting pipeline – It wouldn’t be a surprise if your organization went to the same one to two staffing agencies to find temporary workers. As the numbers of temps you hire from a staffing agency, bringing the workers on as permanent employees increases, you develop a pipeline of talent.

Reduced payroll expenses are one of the major benefits of hiring temporary workers. The chance to test applicants’ skills is another benefit you could get. Additionally, as the owner of a startup or established business, benefits of hiring temporary workers allow you and your team to find out firsthand how well applicants fit into your organization’s culture.

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Email marketing is not dead

By Ericka Simpson

email marketing imageEmail marketing is a must if you want to deepen customer relationships. Source Digit says that globally more than 182 billion emails were sent every day in 2014. Texting and social media aside, people still place a lot of value in email.

You could rely on social media to connect with prospects and current customers. But, think about this. Who owns your social media followers’ and friends’ contact information?

Social media can’t replace email marketing

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram own those details. So, if Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram shutdown (a long, long stretch) or changed their rules (not as farfetched), how would you keep in touch with the hundreds or thousands of social media followers you’d already spent marketing dollars to get?

Build your own in-house email marketing database and you would have the information that you need to keep communicating with these valuable contacts. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get a lot out of social media. You can. You should.

While you’re posting Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest messages, polls and images, offer your followers free white papers, tip sheets, coupons and free newsletter subscriptions. Include a link to a search engine optimized landing page. Ask responders for their name and email address.

Email marketing and social media marry

If your company warm calls prospects, request responders’ telephone numbers as well. Add responders’ contact details to your in-house contact list. As a tip, easy to use contact list development tools include Excel (or another spreadsheet application), Constant Contact, MailChimp, iContact, Benchmark and Pinpointe. Purch has a good review of the top 10 email marketing services.

Email marketing and distribution services save you time and effort. To update email marketing contact lists, simply add a short code to your website and let visitors subscribe themselves to your contact lists. Once a month or once a quarter, download the contacts into a database (i.e. Word, Excel) that you save on your business computer, again maintaining full ownership of the data.

Pay attention to when you send email marketing messages. Send emails, especially electronic newsletters, on Tuesday and Thursday and you could increase your number of opens. Your target audience can impact the best times to send emails significantly.

For example, if you’re emailing college students during the summer, early morning emails might go unnoticed. On the other hand, emailing C-Level executives before 8am could work. For emails with deadlines (i.e. sales with soon approaching end dates), get emails out three to five days in advance of the event.

Pay attention to email marketing results

Check out email marketing stats. Things to look for include open rates, social shares, clicks, un-subscribes and new subscribers. Add images to email to increase opens and reads. If you get in the habit of including valuable coupons and other deals in emails, not only might your email contact list grow, subscribers could start pinging you, asking when your next email is coming.

Should more people unsubscribe after you send emails or newsletters that have three or more ads in them, reduce your ads to one or two. See if fewer people unsubscribe. As with other business strategies, tweak and change your email marketing actions.

This means changing the dates and times when you send emails. It also means adding feature interviews, quotes, quizzes, downloadable apps and sales codes to emails and monitoring the results. Some marketers advise that you upload email contacts from your personal databases into social media accounts. It’s a great way to build social media connects. Just remember identify the types of relationships you have with these people. Your 65-year old Aunt Serena might not want to get an email about each high heeled shoe sale you’re boutique is running.

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Easy ways to lose stubborn pounds

By Eric Bradford

run to lose stubborn pounds

You can lose stubborn pounds.

Remember how easy it was to lose the first 10 to 15 pounds? An old photo, glance from a relative or friend you hadn’t seen in awhile or a joke made at your expense by your child (little angel) or grandchild sparked your urge to drop weight. Right away, you hit the gym, jogging on the treadmill for 30 minutes at a time.

Fast weight loss

Within days, you added stair stepping, cycling and weight lifting to your regimen. Four weeks later, you’d dropped 10 or more pounds. Snug jeans were now loose. But, you’ve got a long way to go. If you’re a 50ish or 60ish executive or solopreneur, you could have a pound to lose for each year of your age.

Don’t worry. It happens. . . . to a lot of people. For women, an increase in estrogen production during the middle years can cause weight gain, according to Dr. C. W. Randolph. The Berkeley Lab (their findings are interesting) studied runners and discovered that there’s damn near nothing adults can do to stop the weight gain process after they hit the middle years, except . . .

Run more. But, who wants to do that?

To lose stubborn pounds, accept the fact that what’s happening to you has happened to millions of people. You’re not a bad person. You’re a normal person.

Focus on your diet (as in what you eat every day, not how little you can eat). Increase the amount of protein you eat and drink. Eggs, skinless chicken breast, salmon, light tuna, peanut butter, nuts and tofu are good protein sources. Cottage cheese, steak, quinoa, soy milk and pumpkin seeds are other good sources of protein.

Steps to lose stubborn pounds

By adding more protein to your diet, you could build muscle. It’s muscle that aids in weight loss. Which is a reason why you could lose stubborn pounds by pumping iron.

Another action step you could take to lose stubborn pounds is to reduce the amount of carbohydrates you eat. This means eating less bread (including sandwiches with lean meat), pasta, cakes, pies, candy bars, etc.

Because you need vitamins to keep your body healthy, try to eat three to four servings of vegetables each day. You might not think so, but getting a good night of sleep also helps you lose stubborn pounds. Scientists and nutritionists are discovering this more.

running to lose pounds

Photo by lululemon athletica

Other ways to lose stubborn pounds include taking it easy. Stress causes inflammation (achy joints), fatigue and irritability, to name a few. To lose stubborn pounds, also:

  • Eat a healthy breakfast/skip the bread (You’ve heard this how many times? Are you doing it?)
  • Get up from your desk every hour and walk 100 or more yards
  • Chew gum instead of snacking on junk
  • Drink fresh water
  • Go outside for a midday walk (this is also a great stress reliever)
  • Walk, jog, swim, bike ride, etc. in the evening (try to do so at least two hours before you head to bed)
  • Pack a healthy lunch and bring it to work with you
  • Choose fresh food over processed food (these means you’ll be using the stove more than the microwave)
  • Monitor or activity using a fitness tracker (i.e. Misfit, Fitbit, Garmin, Jawbone)

Be patient with yourself. Love yourself. Your worth is not measured on a scale. You’re awesome right now, just as you are!  That’s not something to believe. It’s a fact!

Remember to lose stubborn pounds, you want to build muscle (protein is a muscle building friend). To stay limber, stretch, enjoy regular massages and bubble baths. Balance balls and stretch ropes are also good. Monitor your results and tweak your efforts, but don’t give up. So many have and you too can lose stubborn pounds.

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Quickly lower your overhead costs

By Ericka Simpson

image of money counting

Start a restaurant and you could shell out $400K to $500K or more on space leasing, construction, appliances, furniture and advertising. That’s for a small restaurant, the type of eatery that operates more like a fast food or carryout than a family sit down restaurant. Manufacturing businesses aren’t much less expensive to get off the ground.

Reducing the costs of business
Even if you start an at-home business, you’re going to incur costs. A crafts shop owner spends $1,500 a month to advertise her business on Facebook alone. Then, there are shipping costs.

Don’t let overhead costs stop you from developing a successful business. You could bargain with other entrepreneurs to cover expenses like copying, writing and information technology. For example, you could barter with a freelance writer to write your press releases at a reduced rate if you, in return, develop graphic designs (i.e. social media page logos, banner ads, t-shirt logos) for the freelance writer. Just make sure that the price value of both forms of labor are equal or as close to equal as possible.

As with any business agreement, draft a contract. Make sure that both you and the entrepreneur you barter with sign and date the agreement before any work related to the bartering agreement begins.

Other bartering possibilities involve information. If you’re a lecturer, you could barter with researchers who need speakers to help them advance their findings. Traveling to the same hotel or convention? See if the establishment uses products or services that you develop. If it does, schedule a meeting with a manager who has the authority to make buying decisions and ask about a steep hotel discount for you and your team members in exchange for bulk business or a product/service exchange.

More costs saving deals and business bargains

You may not be able to get exclusive deals as that could be encroaching on fair competition laws. However, by bartering with organizations or professionals that you regularly conduct business with, you could balance the amount of risks both organizations assume during the normal process of your operations.

Another step you could take to reduce your overhead costs, is to share talent. What do I mean by this? Let’s say you own a cafe and you know someone who owns an event planning company. Try asking the owner of the event planning company if you could use the services of the payroll specialist that she uses. You might be able to get the specialist at a reduced rate if you and the event planner offer the specialist a shared working space.

What does this do? It lowers the specialist’s travel costs, telephone expenses, etc. It also makes it easy for the specialist to land a new client (you!). Consider using this as leverage to bring the specialist on at a lower rate, keeping in mind that each specialist should adequately paid for her services.

Posted in Financing Your Business | Leave a comment

Two smart ways to get more online traffic

By Rhonda Campbell

get more website traffic image



















Like most businesses, operating an online enterprise is, in large part, a numbers or traffic game. Sale high end products or services, and you’d be doing well to have a visitor-traffic-to-sale conversion rate of two to three percent. For less pricey items, a conversion rate of three to four percent is considered to be average.

But, that doesn’t tell the whole story. Sell 20 products a month that are priced at $1,000 each and you might find yourself going over the top financially, especially if you’re a salesperson with low overhead (i.e. Internet costs, home office, postage for shipping). Sell products that cost below $50 and you’re going to need to land a lot more sales.

First you need more website traffic
To do that, you have to attract more visitors to your virtual storefront. Pretty simple, huh?

There are two ways that you could attract more online visitors: SEO or organic methods. Take the SEO approach and you can count on having to implement:

• Keyword research
• Strategies to study and stay apace with search engine rule changes, including updated Google algorithms
• Valuable inbound links
• Content mapping
• Targeted content

Other options open to you with the SEO approach follow:

• Paid traffic
• Social media ads
• Banner ads on relevant websites
• Press releases

Using the non-SEO organic method requires you to develop rich relationships with online visitors. Getting a sale isn’t your number one priority. To build these highly rewarding relationships, you must provide information or content that is not readily available on the Internet. Examples of this content include:

• Pictures that you take yourself
• Personal videos
• Instructional videos on your products, videos that add a touch that only you could give (some video gamers have become rich taking this approach)
• Reports based on research work that you administered from start to finish (attach a membership fee to the reports and you could develop an additional income source)
• Feature interviews (ask the right probing questions and you could set yourself apart)

Key to website marketing approach
Regardless of the approach that you take, be consistent. Make website visitors feel like they are incredibly important to you. Ask followers and supporters at social media sites to follow your blog. You also might want to consider using a combination of both approaches as you grow your online presence. Also:

• Monitor metrics (guessing is not the best way to run a profitable business)
• Offer discounts to customers who refer two or more customers your way
• Develop a multi-approach to stay in touch with customers and prospects (i.e. weekly newsletters, podcasts, YouTube channel updates)

If your sales don’t grow as the numbers of visitors to your business website increase, revise your sales page and marketing content. As a tip, you could generate a lot more content if you work with a marketing agency, as agencies work with dozens of freelance writers. But, that approach can increase your content costs. To lower the cost of content creation, consider working with experienced and reputable freelance writers one-on-one (think 1099). Also, don’t be shy about running surveys to find out why contacts aren’t making a purchase. Survey services include Survey Monkey, Zoomerang and Checkbox.

Posted in Growing Business | 1 Comment

How to Succeed as a Self-Published Author

picture of Valerie Coleman










MEET Valerie J. Lewis Coleman:  Valerie J. Lewis Coleman ( and has helped thousands of women across the world find relational fulfillment. With over twenty years of experience in family and relationships, this expert has given advice on various issues including identifying the four types of male hunters, avoiding seventy percent of men who only want the goody box and winning the heart of Mr. Right-For-You. As she assists others with building strong relationships, she shares how she overcame personal struggles and offers proven techniques to help you get off the crazy cycle of relational demise in her bestselling novel The Forbidden Secrets of the Goody Box! To learn more about Valerie, her self-published books and overcoming relational matters, visit

As a multi best-selling author and award-winning publisher, Valerie has helped thousands of aspiring authors navigate the mysterious labyrinth of self-publishing. Having published more than thirty books, Valerie has launched writing careers for experts as well as inmates and high school students through the Passionate Pens program. To learn more about Valerie, read her Write Money Incorporated feature interview directly below. 

valerie lewis coleman pen of the writer conference

WMI:    What were you doing before you launched Pen of the Writer?

VC:      Prior to launching PenOfTheWriter, I worked as a senior industrial engineer for Delphi Automotive Systems (formerly General Motors). I saved the company millions of dollars by improving systems, reducing costs and eliminating wastes. I transitioned those problem-solving skills to the book business to help aspiring authors save thousands of dollars, mountains of frustration and hours of research by showing them how to make publishing quick, easy and affordable.

WMI:    How much time did you devote to building a business plan before you started your company? What process did you follow when building the business plan?

VC:      I did not have a formal business plan with a competitive analysis, marketing strategies and financials. I have a strategic plan comprised of annual objectives, monthly goals and potential opportunities. I review the plan every month with my accountability partner, Dr. Karen MR Townsend.

WMI:    Looking back, what would you have done differently to create a smoother transition from the corporate world into self-employment?

VC:      My facility closed and relocated my position to Mexico. No hablo Española muy bien. Since I was thrust into full-time entrepreneurism, I would have preferred to go out on my terms with at least three years of salary in savings.

WMI:    When and why did you launch Pen of the Writer?

VC:      Pen of the Writer was officially launched in 2006; however, I had been coaching aspiring authors for years prior to that. My purpose is to help people make better choices to improve their quality of life. As I assisted Vanessa Miller with the launch her self-publishing company, I met tons of people who did not understand business, let alone the book business. They were spending way too much money for inferior products and thus, unable to make a profit. Shady companies were robbing them blind of their money and their dreams. Compelled to make a difference, I created Pen of the Writer to be a reliable resource with relevant, useable information.

WMI:    What was your initial vision for Pen of the Writer?

VC:      Lao Tzu said, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.” My vision for Pen of the Writer is to teach people how to successfully self-publish books by minimizing costs and maximizing profit to create a quality product comparable to those of traditional publishing houses.

WMI:    Tell us about the services that your company offers. Also, who is your target audience?

VC:      My ideal client is the person who 1) Wants to write and publish a book, but doesn’t know how; 2) Has published a book, but wants to improve the quality and cost and 3) Wants a cost-effective option to vanity and subsidy publishing. To meet the varying needs of aspiring authors, we offer a range of services:

Do-It-Yourself Options

Self-Publishing Made Easy Journals—These how-to guides step you through the mysterious labyrinth of self-publishing. Master the secrets of writing from an editor’s perspective, avoid dishonest publishers and understand how to make publishing quick, easy and affordable!

Because Your Words Matter— Nigeria, Uganda, London, Toronto, Japan. I spend quite a bit of time coaching clients from across the world. The Because Your Words Matter eCourse makes me accessible every minute of the day to aspiring authors; stateside and abroad. This virtual DIY and coaching program launches this spring!

Show-Me-How-to-Do-It Options

Coaching—For the writer who wants to take the do-it-yourself approach to master self-publishing, let our staff take you by the hand. We’ll walk with you through the process and guide you through the serpentine maze of the book business.

Publisher on Call—If a gentle nudge is all you need to finish your book, then Publisher on Call is for you. Weekly consultations with our lead publisher allow you to obtain insider information at a fraction of the investment of coaching. And the first fifteen minutes are free!

Rate My Publisher—Although our imprint, Queen V Publishing, is a world-renowned publishing company, we realize that our services are not the best fit for everyone. To help you choose a reputable publisher, let Pen of the Writer conduct an in-depth analysis. You provide us with the name of the publishing company you’re considering. We’ll research the company, get answers to the tough questions and arm you with the pros and cons to make an informed decision.

Print My Book!—Since inception, Pen of the Writer has collaborated with more than 250 printers worldwide. We decoded the confusing and complex technical language of book printers to save clients thousands of dollars. Let us confirm your printing needs, shop your book project and then provide you with the top quotes.

Conferences—The first step to successful publishing is studying the art and business of writing. Pen of the Writer has created several conferences to take you from pen to paper to published!

Do-It-for-Me Options

We offer two imprints and multiple plans for your book-publishing needs:

Queen V Publishing is our answer to those who want the benefits of self-publishing without the hassle. We’ll put our experts to work for you.

Passionate Pens is our fundraising program for schools, churches and organizations. We’ll instruct your audience on the basics of the publishing business, coordinate the compilation of an anthology and then provide your organization with quality books to sell for a profit!

dayton ohio book conference

WMI:    You organize three writer conferences a year. Just what is involved in putting a writer’s conference together?

VC:      This question is an entire interview of its own. Event planning looks easy when done well; however, lots of behind-the-scenes work is required to make it run without a flaw. An effective conference for writers considers the expectations of several audiences: aspiring authors, speakers, sponsors, vendors and volunteers. Many conference planners neglect at least one, if not all, of the groups required to make the event a success. Another critical aspect of a conference for writers is stellar marketing and promotions. You can create the most wonderful event, confirm the industry’s premier speakers and still fall short of the glory if no one attends.

WMI:    What can writers and readers expect from the 2015 writers conferences?

VC:      The Dayton Book Expo is celebrating six years on April 25. Dayton Metro Library is collaborating with us to promote the event, confirm authors and host its annual The Big Read. The day includes sessions for aspiring authors, activities for kids and signings by sixty authors. The twelfth annual Pen to Paper Literary Symposium will be held on October 3 in Dayton. The purpose of this conference is to provide attendees with the foundation for self-publishing including:

  • Establishing Your Publishing Company
  • Judging a Book by Its Cover and Content
  • Pricing Your Book to Sell
  • Copyright 101
  • Millionaire Mindset for the Self-Published Author

The Write On! Workshop—which normally occurs the last Saturday in March—will not be hosted this year as I have been confirmed to present in Detroit that day. This conference focuses on the art of writing. It delves into identifying your audience, recognizing why you are writing (fix a problem, entertain, encourage, etc.) and a series of interactive exercises including creating a chapter outline, writing prompts and overcoming writer’s block.

WMI:    You’ve also written and published books: The Forbidden Secrets of the Goody Box, Blending Families An Anthology, Tainted Mirror An Anthology and Self-Publishing Made Easy. When was your first book published and what three key marketing strategies have you learned since your first title hit the market?

VC:      Blended Families An Anthology released in 2006. Published to provide biblical principles and practical tools for stepfamilies, this book has been #1 on in the parenting-stepfamily category and topped several other best-sellers’ lists.

I have learned much since the launch of my first book. The following strategies have proven quite valuable:

  1. You have to connect with your audience face-to-face and on social media. Most authors are introverts who hide behind the computer attempting to sell books. Although digital marketing is essential, meeting potential readers, speaking engagements and networking provide quantum leaps toward success.
  2. Honest reviews from real, unbiased readers go a long way. Sites likecom, and help authors boost exposure and gain new readers.
  3. Think beyond bookstores (which are filled with competitive titles) for book sales. Daycares, schools, hospitals, military bases and trade shows are great venues.

WMI:    An influx of powerful African American literature occurred during the Harlem Renaissance which produced writers like Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and Countee Cullen. These writers’ voices continue to inspire and empower readers. Today we’re seeing larger numbers of African American stories being published, particularly stories that focus on romance and relationships. What legacy do you think currently published books will leave on the human landscape over time, fifty or more years from now?

VC:      My hope is that African American authors—and authors in general—take pride in their work, invest in professional editing and publish the highest quality books possible so that the legacy is one of pride and not embarrassment; satisfaction and not shame.

WMI:    Social media networks, press releases, interviews, etc. provide a myriad of marketing opportunities. Share three to four specific marketing strategies/action steps authors can take to get more exposure for their books.

VC:      At speaking engagements, trade shows and drive-up windows, I give potential readers an eight-page booklet that I created using Microsoft Publisher. The booklet includes the cover image, synopsis, reviews, the first chapter and then a call-to-action. This tool has won over many would-be readers. Collaborating with authors of like genre—and work ethic—has positioned me to meet readers, sell books, generate leads and reduce costs. Many authors fail to see their book as a marketing tool. From the title, cover image and of course, the content, every aspect of the product must be perfect. I added a call-to-action at the end of The Goody Box Book asking readers to write a review, buy copies for friends and invite me to conduct a workshop or book club discussion.

WMI:    You’ve been managing Pen of the Writer for over a decade. To keep your business going, you have to generate cash inflow. Tell us about two to three effective cash inflow generating strategies you’ve found effective.

VC:      As a subject matter expert, event planners often contract with me to facilitate workshops, keynotes and seminars. In addition to the speaking fee, back-of-the-room sales of my books and I Love Myself T-shirts generate revenue. Although the process is labor intensive, publishing books for clients is another income stream (Queen V Publishing). Once Because Your Words Matter launches, I anticipate the service will create residual income for years.

WMI:    In addition to being a business owner, you’re also a wife and mother. How do you balance it all?

VC:      I wish that I could puff my chest to boast the ‘S’ on my Superwoman costume, but I have a team of people who help me. My husband is quite supportive of my business. He helps with household chores, cooks and promotes me on social media. Since my sons are grown with families of their own, I have ample time to be productive.

WMI:    Please give us a brief synopsis of The Forbidden Secrets of the Goody Box.

VC:      The Forbidden Secrets of the Goody Box–Relationship advice that your father didn’t tell you and your mother didn’t know

Successful. Beautiful. Intelligent. Yet a satisfying relationship eludes Debra Hampton. At thirty-five years old, she can’t figure out why her philosophy on men—and what they want from women—isn’t working. She’s trapped in a cycle of shattered relationships, until a friend refers her to a relationship guru. After some resistance, Debra finds refuge in his counsel as he helps her navigate through the storms of rejection and failed love. Once he reveals the error of her ways, will Debra master the forbidden secrets to attract her soul mate or continue to keep love at bay?

goody box novel cover image

WMI:    How have you managed to keep The Forbidden Secrets of the Goody Box relevant in the eyes of readers since it was published?

VC:      Because I wrote The Forbidden Secrets of the Goody Box for you and every woman whose first love is supposed to be her father, its timeless message permeates the hearts of readers. As a result, a considerable amount of sales comes from referrals. I keep the I-love-myself-too-much-to-give-you-my-goody-box message in front of people by posting relationship advice on social media, hosting contests and conducting workshops.

WMI:    Blended Families, Tainted Mirror and A Kingdom Waiting are anthologies. Why did you decide to take this approach (developing an anthology) when developing these books?

VC:      I published these anthologies for several reasons: 1) To obtain a variety of perspectives to better convey the message: Blended Families An Anthology is about managing life in a step family; Tainted Mirror An Anthology delves into how to overcome physical and virtual restrainers that hold us hostage; A Kingdom Waiting illustrates the resiliency of youth; 2) To create a vehicle for aspiring authors to become published and 3) To maximize exposure by having multiple people promoting the titles.

WMI:    Being that the anthologies include stories from several writers, offering readers diverse point of views, was it easier to build reader interests in the anthologies than in The Forbidden Secrets of the Goody Box? Please explain.

VC:      The Forbidden Secrets of the Goody Box has proven to be much easier to promote and sell. More people are interested in real relationship advice that leads to fulfilling relationships than the messages of the other titles which are quite specific. Another consideration is that The Goody Box Book is fiction while the other titles are nonfiction.

WMI:    Is Lord, Help Me to Hold Out non-fiction or fiction? What is the inspiration behind the book?

VC:      Lord, Help Me to Hold Out is a fiction written by Joy Marino. The manuscript went through extensive developmental editing during the publishing process. In lieu of an additional fee for the substantial edit, Joy agreed to list me as co-author. Her inspiration for writing this book was to show women the importance of choosing wisely with respect to men.

WMI:    Please share a few tips from Self-Publishing Made Easy that help to make writing, publishing and marketing a book less challenging.

VC:      The Self-Publishing Made Easy Journals are chocked full of information, charts and activities to help writers transition to authors.

Create a POWER Team—Publishing consumes about thirty percent of your time, energy and money expended to complete your book. To expedite the process and minimize disruptions, I recommend creating a network of supporters. Your POWER (Pen Of the WritER) Team should consist of people who have your best interest at heart and will give you honest, timely feedback. Knowledge of the book business is not a requirement; however, include at least one business person and two avid readers.

Organizing your thoughts—With all that you want to say, where do you start? When are you finished? How do you eat the elephant? Regardless of genre, creating a chapter outline helps pinpoint your effort for maximum results. My tool of choice is the Bubble Map Technique because it takes the mammoth project of writing and chops it into manageable, bite-sized chunks.

Competitive Analysis—As a self-published author, your book must effectively compete with traditionally published books including exterior/interior quality and pricing. Using superior competition as a benchmark positions you for excellence. Corral a couple of members from your POWER Team to conduct a competitive analysis at a bookstore like Barnes and Noble (libraries are also great for this assessment). Peruse the section with books of the same genre as yours. Grab twenty to thirty books, a cup of java and then find a secluded area. Analyze the page count and retail price. For the books that appeal most to you, note pertinent information about:

  • Cover design (front, back and spine)
  • Graphic designer
  • Editor
  • Illustrator
  • Publisher

WMI:    What’s next for Valerie J. Lewis Coleman? Where do you see yourself and Pen of the Writer three to five years from now?

VC:      Five years from now, I will have helped over 10,000 writers become published authors. My calendar will be filled with international speaking engagements. The Goody Box Book brand will have grown to include an audio book (releases later this year), the sequel and a version for teens. My company will be self-sufficient generating a six-figure, annual revenue.

Like this feature interview? Please share it with with your social media followers!

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Real content marketing tools and tricks

By Eric Bradford

be yourself positive sayingWe’ve reached a point of content oversaturation. According to Statistic Brain, approximately 190 million Tweets are made each day, over 1.3 billion people are active on Facebook each month (the vote is still out on what percentage of these users are “real” people) and a whopping 92 billion YouTube views are made each month.

Standing out in the content marketing crowd

That’s a lot of text, images, videos and shares. We are neck deep into the data age. Another shift that we are seeing is a greater movement from manufacturing to service oriented business initiatives. The right content marketing strategies could spotlight your company’s services and introduce your products to thousands, millions or billions of consumers.

During the Internet’s early days, you could publish a dozen or more articles or blog posts a week, enhancing this content with press releases and one to two weekly business videos. Today, that could very easily equate to a weak content marketing strategy. Why? It’s the same strategy that thousands of other companies are taking, which is what has brought us to content oversaturation.

So, how do you distinguish your business from the crowd?

Business Insider puts it this way, “Branding, among its many traits, is also about differentiation. That doesn’t mean you should start wearing bow ties, but positioning yourself so that you do stand out.” The American Bar Association tells its student attorneys that, “It’s important to build your own personal brand and your “unique selling proposition.”

Have you ever walked down New York’s jam-packed 7th Avenue on a Friday evening, the time of day when employees are just leaving the office? Pedestrians look like one big mass of people until your gaze catches sight of a woman dressed in a sharply designed brightly colored skirt suit, the silky fabric causing you to wonder if the suit is imported.

Clearly, this isn’t a suit that came off a mainstream store shelf. The fact that the woman is walking with her head erect, confidence boosting her mood, doesn’t hurt. Before long, you’re coaching yourself not to stare at the woman, her suit, her stride, but you stare anyway.

Upgrading your content marketing strategy

Your business content marketing efforts should set your content apart in similar fashion. Pulling this off requires nothing less than the best content. You have to genuinely care about your readers. Instead of focusing on what readers can do for you (i.e. more ad clicks), focus on how you can use content to teach, inspire, guide or encourage readers.

Tips to consider while upgrading your content marketing strategy include subscribing to popular news feeds, digital business periodicals and blogs. This will help you to develop a keen eye for what’s trending in the business world. You could also use mobile apps developed by companies like Electric Web Marketing, FIKSU and Appency.

Marketing app companies should identify your target audience, determine that you are a good fit for the services that they offer and use a multi-platform (i.e. social media, SEO, press releases, public speaking) marketing approach. A multi-platform marketing approach can get your products in front of more members of your target audience. For example, if your products target recent college grads, you could build and offer a free download of a new, unique and exciting app to each person who purchases your new novel.

Include hard-to-find statistics in videos and written content. Consider adding infographics to your content marketing strategy, as infographics help you share loads of valuable data in short spaces. Videos that appeal to human emotion, thought, sound and vision are great. Check out these 10 tools that American Express shares that you could use to create and market videos.

Regardless of the video creation and marketing tool that you use, focus on being unique. A great way to pull this off is to create the videos of yourself, your team, events your attend, etc. Not only will your videos be unique, you’ll own the rights to them. As with any other tool, avoid over-using videos. It might not seem like it now, but in a few years, consumers might tire of having one video after another pushed out to them online or on their smartphone.

Absolutely avoid copying content from other sources. Even if you cite other sources, it’s a good idea to steer clear of rewording or rewriting existing content.

Ask yourself if the content that you develop fascinates, educates, inspires or intrigues you. If it doesn’t, there’s a chance that readers won’t be fascinated or intrigued by the content either. Some experts advise business owners to steer clear of automated content management systems. However, if you combine automated systems with real-time posts, you may be okay. Great posts may qualify for press release attention, especially if the posts include quotes or interview material from industry leaders.

This isn’t often shared, especially in the age of social media, but it’s a damn good idea to build your own content management systems and databases. You could do this by creating a customized newsletter database (one that you own) and direct email database (to send information about coupons and discounts). Why is this important?

Should social media networks close or slow down (think MySpace), you’ll still have the consumer contact data that you own. Be patient. Even if it takes you two years to build 5,000 contacts in your private business database, that’s 5,000 more than 0. Also, encourage shares. The more shares your content gets, the high value search engines place on the content, which equals higher search engine rankings.

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