Personal Brand Increases Marketability

MEET The Image Connection Group:  The Image Connection Group ( is a personal  brand / professional brand firm. At the helm of the firm are three unstoppable innovators: LaShanda Millner-Murphy, Monique Stubbs-Hall and Melissa Jo Baker. Our desire is to define the new view of the professional. We help professionals make the connection between mindset, talent and image in order to increase marketability. Work that we do helps professionals get noticed. Clients served include State Farm, Hanes, Communities in Schools, Hilton and the Social Security Administration.

imageconnectiongroup signs

WMI:    What is personal brand?

ICG:       It’s what you are communicating to others through verbal, non-verbal and physical means.  It’s your live logo.

WMI:    When and why did you launch Image Connection Group?

ICG:        We launched ICG in January 2016 with our book Professionable: The Art of Being a Fashionable Professional.

WMI:    What was your initial vision for Image Connection Group?

ICG:        Our initial vision was to provide professionals with a unique concept: the ability to receive a combination of Personal Professional Development, Styling Solutions and Beauty/Grooming Answers all under one roof.

WMI:    Tell us about the services that you offer and who your services are geared toward.

ICG:       We offer a customizable one on one coaching package. It’s a package that allows clients to coach with each of us individually, ensuring that we access the areas in which clients need greater assistance. We then provide a la carte coaching in more intensive sessions to help refine our clients’ personal brand presentation.

Our target market includes entrepreneurs who are coming out of corporate environments, leaders who need to establish a style compatible with the type of business they are establishing. We also serve millennials who are entering the job market and need to brush up on their skills and image. Generation Xers who have been working in corporate for several years, people who realize that they need to pay more attention to their image and personal brand to stay competitive in the marketplace, are also members of our target audience.

The Beginnings of Image Connection Group

WMI:    How did you all meet?

ICG:       We met at a women’s networking luncheon in Charlotte, each of us having our own individual businesses.

imageconnectiongroup personal brand

WMI:    Share the talents, passions and experience that you each bring to Image Connection Group.

ICG:      LaShanda began her fashion career in 1984 as owner of a specialty boutique. She was a producer of fashion runways and a personal stylist for executives and First Ladies in North Carolina and Virginia. LaShanda has mastered skills that help her clients to be creative and have versatility in their professional wardrobes that result in a new “style image.” LaShanda has been sought out by women and men nationally through her personal brand as Fashion Image Coach and Clothier Designer, a creative who has styled celebrities, entertainers, sports figures, professional models, pageant queens, entrepreneurs and more. She thrives on the challenges of helping people discover their lifestyle and express their individuality through their outside appearances. She believes that it is one of our greatest powers in life and that everyone should seek to embrace it. Through years of experience engaging, inspiring and creating styles for clients, she knows that “every size, shape and skin tone has a clothing compliment.  When her clients add their personality to that, suddenly they express power and confidence they didn’t even know they had.”

After working for 32 years in Los Angeles as an executive and beauty industry leader for brands like Sephora and Urban Decay, Melissa moved to Charlotte for family. She knew that she wanted to use her beauty knowledge to serve women in a better way. She’s always had a passion for fashion and has been known to be the one on trend in her circles.  She brings her beauty and style expertise to the group from experience and intuition.

Monique has an extensive background in sales management in the cosmetic and hospitality industries, and is also an accomplished public speaker with over 30 years experience collectively working for Fortune 500 companies. Her years of experience in both cosmetic and hospitality sales and customer service affords her both the skill set and proven techniques for the success that she enjoys teaching and coaching to enrich individuals and business leaders who are struggling in these areas.

Helping Top Firms Strengthen Personal Brand

WMI:    You have worked with top companies like State Farm, Hilton, Hanes, eWomen Network and Communities in Schools. Please share three to four steps that Write Money Incorporated readers can take to introduce themselves to major firms and land desirable partnerships with those firms?

ICG:     Research the specific contact in the department that directly seeks out companies that offer your type of service or product. This will save you time.

  • Be professionally persistent. Have good follow up and don’t just take the “no” as the answer; attempt to find out why the answer is “no”. The “no” may be just not at this time and, if so, find out when would be an appropriate time to follow up.
  • Make every effort to have a face to face meeting with the decision maker. We have found that phone and email conversations do not always convey the true conviction of your service or product as well as a face to face interaction.


WMI:    Tell us about the inspiration behind the guidebook Professionable.

ICG:        We were clear that we wanted this to be a fun read.  Nothing overwhelming. Women have enough of that in life.  Our guidebook offers bite size nuggets that the reader could immediately understand and  implement.

image connection group personal brand event

WMI:    Why is a fashionable professionable mindset and appearance important?

ICG:       Mindset is important  to create a desired shift. If someone doesn’t believe that she has a need to improve her appearance, we won’t be able to move the needle in those areas.  It’s a moot point.

Appearance is important because it is a form of communication.  And it can get us the job, the raise, the client or the sale.  Or the complete opposite.

Marketing Success and Personal Brand Tips

WMI:    Social media networks, press releases, interviews, etc. provide a myriad of marketing opportunities. Share three to four marketing strategies/action steps that you take to gain exposure for Image Connection Group.

ICG:     Conducting Book Signing Events/Tours – These bring exposure to the material in the book and allow us to bring professionals together in smaller group settings  to give them tips that show the value and expertise in our respective areas. This also allows professionals to express the areas in which they feel they need additional coaching to improve their personal brand.

  1. Mini Work Shop Series – We have successfully held mini workshop series to cover specific areas that will enhance professionals’ marketability. After attending the workshops, clients realize why engaging with us is beneficial to their professional success.
  2. Social Media Campaigns – Social media campaigns, including Facebook ads, have definitely been beneficial in raising awareness of our brand and keeping the public informed about our upcoming events.
  3. Television Coverage –Wherever possible, we look for opportunities to gain media exposure. Media exposure helps to build credibility in the eyes of the public. Because television is visual and also because we discuss image and style, we have found television coverage to be very effective for our brand.


WMI:    To keep your business going, you have to generate cash inflow. Tell us about two to three effective cash inflow strategies that you’ve found effective.

ICG:       IPA-Income Producing Activities is one of the pillars to keep your eye on.  We keep book signings in our ‘pipeline’ as a core activity, large and small, at a variety of different places, to reach new people and create collaborations.  We also do workshops in Charlotte and other parts of North Carolina.

WMI:    What’s next for Monique, LaShanda, Melissa and Image Connection Group? Where do you see yourselves and Image Connection Group three to five years from now?

ICG:    We see ourselves as a national personal brand firm with trainers (or as we refer to them “Professionables”) that we have groomed to present our style of coaching one on one and in larger forums such as stage presence at women conferences and tradeshows.


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Marketing Project Planning Actions

Are you in charge of marketing where you work? Doesn’t matter if you work for someone else or if you’re a rocking solopreneur.

Don’t Believe the Marketing Hype

If a chunk of your job involves getting the word out about company products or services, you’ve probably seen marketing software or marketing agency ads that tell you how plentiful your online growth opportunities are. The ads are worded as if just because there are a lot of people online, you’ll nab lots of sales if you purchase their software or marketing services.

When I started my business, I fell for marketing promos like “Millions of people are on YouTube every day.” “Facebook has one billion users.” “More than 100 million people use Instagram.” I told myself that, with seven billion people on the planet, I could sell thousands of books.

More than 10 years later, and I’ve yet to find the magic wand that yields millions of sales just-like-that. Have you?

Marketing Takes Planning

Effective marketing calls for work, consistent work. It also requires the right marketing project planning actions. Marketing project planning stages should fit your organization, but may include:

Ask the right questions – Meet with product development teams to get answers to key questions. Find out why you’re developing a product or service. How much experience do you have in the area that you’re developing a new product or service in? Is the marketing curve for the product or service on the down swing? In other words, are you coming into the market at the optimum time?

Market research – You need to know how saturated your industry and market are. Ask an independently published novelist who published his first novel in 1995. Novels were easier to sell in the 1990s. Why? There weren’t as many self-published novels on the market as there are today. The book market is so saturated today that authors and publishers are giving books away.

More Project Planning That Yields More Sales

Value proposition – Write down your product or service’s value points. Examples of value points are convenience, safety, flexibility and reliability. If you enter a saturated market, go in with a well-defined marketing angle. Your product or service also better be completely different from similar products in the market on at least one point. Folks need to feel like, if they don’t buy your product or service, they’ll have to go without what they value. They need to feel as if they’ll lose if they don’t buy from you.

Market testing – Hold focus groups. Ask focus group members to use products or services you plan to market. Distribute score cards. Ask group members to use the score cards to indicate what they liked most and least about the products or services. Leave room for group members to offer suggestions and comments.

Start early – Marketing project planning starts before a product or service is developed. Going back to the novelist example, successful book authors and publishers start marketing new books at least six months before the books hit the market.

Are you in charge of marketing where you work? Doesn’t matter if you work for someone else or if you’re a rocking solopreneur.

More Marketing Planning Steps

Additional marketing project planning actions focus on the types of marketing tools that you’ll use. They also focus on timing and return-on-investment. We’ll cover these in the next article right here at Write Money Incorporated. Follow us or bookmark us to keep getting tips and advice on how you can get results when marketing your products and services.

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Find top freelance clients

Rebecca Davis
More than 30 percent of American adults currently do work for freelance clients. A good number of these adults learn that freelancing, like traditional jobs, has challenges. Picking the right freelance clients is a leading challenge that independent workers often face.

Work with top freelance clients

The sooner professionals get real about the challenges, the more they can reap ongoing freelancing benefits. For example, working with top freelance clients could be a way to set your own work hours, establish the location that you want to complete projects from and have the flexibility to change your pay rates and overall income. Working with freelance clients can also offer you opportunities to strengthen your entrepreneurial muscles and start building your own business.

Basic elements to look for in freelance clients include the clients’ credibility. In addition to conducting an online search on potential freelance clients, ask clients for referrals or references similar to how a traditional employer seeks references on people they are thinking about hiring. Unscrupulous people can easily create websites that mirror official company web pages and deceptively try to convince you that they started or work for a credible organization.

Be smart (not desperate) when sourcing for and accepting freelance clients.

Get paid by top freelance clients on time

This means that you perform your due diligence and make sure that freelance clients pay on time. Research the market to see what other freelancers earn by the hour or assignment. Align your rates similarly. Value yourself and your abilities, so you’re not underpaid.

Asking for constant edits is one way that freelance clients could try to push out the date that they pay you. For this reason, limit the number of edits that you will do per assignment without asking freelance clients to pay you more money.

Flexibility goes both ways

You’re not the only one who needs to be flexible for a freelancing gig to be rewarding. Freelance clients who you work with should also be open to your ideas and recommendations. Good freelance clients genuinely care about you.

For example, if you tell freelance clients that you are taking off during a holiday, your birthday or to vacation, good clients will generally work around your schedule. They won’t demand that you work on vacation or only take time off when they want you to.

An integral part of the team

The best freelance clients will make you feel like you’re an integral part of their team. Because you’re a freelancer, they won’t treat you like you’re an employee. You generally won’t receive paid benefits like company paid vacation and retirement benefits. However, good freelance clients will make you feel like you are a key part of their success.

They will complement your good works and express their appreciation for your projects that you work on for them. In fact, some freelance clients express more appreciation for work you do for them than traditional employers do.

Won’t keep you a secret

Add the right freelance clients to your roster and the numbers of organizational leaders who learn of you and your skills may expand. Good freelance clients aren’t afraid to let others know about you. In fact, they’re happy to share your contact information with other entrepreneurs they know who are looking for contractors to fill one-time or ongoing project needs.

You could also add the organizational names of good freelance clients that you work with to your online and print portfolios. Your portfolio is one of the resources that potential clients will look at before they decide to contract with you for work.

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Grow your followers 15 minutes a day

By Rhonda Campbell

15 minutes a day is all it takes to grow your followers. But, you have to spend 15 focused minutes every day performing at least one growth initiative.

Examples of growth initiatives are:

  • Asking and answering LinkedIn group questions. Join groups that cover subjects that you have experience working in. If you’re a nurse, join a regional or national nurse or healthcare LinkedIn group. Add in a few groups that you’re socially interested in. These groups include alumni, current and former employer and hobby groups.
  • Publishing educational videos on YouTube and Vimeo. Provide keyword rich descriptions with videos to attract search engine attention. Keywords in descriptions also help the right people to find your videos, so that you can grow your followers.
  • Posting questions in Google Plus groups that lead to answers that help identify areas of expertise that group members have. Also, ask questions that offer solutions that several group members are looking for (but may be too tentative to ask for on their own).

Work social media platforms that yield the best results

Choose one social media platform to engage followers and potential supporters on. Consider working one social media platform a week to see which platform grows your followers the most. You may find that:

  • Twitter yields the best traction for your book covers, motivational quotes or business event photos
  • Google Plus works best when sharing surveys
  • Facebook is good when conducting private online chats
  • LinkedIn is great to use to share longer forms of written content and when seeking new business partners, freelance clients or a new job
  • MySpace puts your videos in front of a more narrowly defined audience better than YouTube
  • ScoopIt is effective at presenting you as a subject matter expert, especially if you publish several pieces of related content a day
  • Podcasts work well with marketing or advertising joint ventures, particularly when messages are presented in interview for discussion format

Use social media scheduling tools like StumbleUpon, HootSuite, Sprout and Vista Print to save time. These apps are great ways to keep your message in front of current and potential supporters.

Get Active Outside Social Media To Grow Your Followers

But, don’t limit your engagement with followers to social media scheduling apps. Actually, log into social media platforms and ask and answer questions, respond to surveys, “Like” other posters’ content, follow influencers and post motivational messages, photos and videos. Be comical, informative, open and honest.

Fill out your social media profile. Include a link to your website in your profile. Decide on topics that you are going to raise and respond to. Share information that sets you apart as a specialist in one to three areas. Respond to private comments that other social media platform users send you. It’s a great way to build relationships.

You can be active at social media platforms while you’re working on a new blog posts, updating your website tips or writing out the script to an upcoming YouTube video. The important thing is to be consistent and to define the topics that you are going to comment about or ask and answer questions on. Again, choose topics that align with your products, services and brand.

Devote 15 minutes a day to grow your followers. Do it for three months and the payoff could be significant. If you want to realize sizable growth, devote 30 minutes or more to online and offline marketing activities. It’s also important that you keep a list of contacts you make. These are people who you complete joint business endeavors with. These are also people who have requested to receive marketing, advertising and other communications from you.

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Market Your Small Business Website

By Rhonda Campbell
Wouldn’t it be great if everyone on the Internet clicked over to your business website? You could be sitting on a pile of money.

But, that’s not how it works. Just because more than two billion people access the Internet doesn’t mean that your small business website will even receive 10,000 visitors a year.

Don’t give up. Your small business website can work.

Each visitor to your website can tell 10 or more of her friends about your service and products.

Create Relationships with Small Business Website Visitors

To reap this benefit, get to know your small business website visitors. Develop relationships with them. To do this:

  • Design engaging Twitter pages. Add custom pictures and videos to your Twitter pages. Add a link to your small business website at your Twitter profile. Tweet your opinions about hot topics. Also tweet about government regulations impacting your industry.
  • Build Facebook pages that highlight your products or services. Highlight sales and discounts. Post about community events that your company will participate in. Boost posts by adding pictures.
  • Create newsletters. Allow customers to subscribe for free. By adding opt-out links at the bottom of each newsletter, you can build subscriber trust.
  • Feature your small business website articles in digital magazines using tools like and
  • Develop and market audio recordings. and are tools that you could use to create audio recordings.
  • Add a blog to your small business website. To grow blog traffic, post new content at least once a week.

Software Makes it Easy for You to Stay in Touch with Customers

Constant Contact, LetterPop, iContact and Vertical Response are types of companies that take the hard work out of designing and publishing company newsletters. When working with these companies, choose from a variety of templates that these companies offer. Click and drag newsletter sections to complete issue designs. Build and grow subscriber lists in seconds.

You can also create electronic newsletters using software like Microsoft or Mac Word. The drawback is that, with these tools, you need to create a database to keep your subscriber lists current.

More Ways to Market Business Products and Services Online

More actions that you can take to market your small business website follow:

  • Schedule interviews on Internet radio talk shows. Blog Talk Radio, Blake Radio and National Public Radio work with dozens of talk radio show hosts. Request an interview with these hosts. Send a cover letter that includes the name of your small business. Also, include the products or services that you sell. Provide a brief statement that details how your business will benefit the radio show’s listeners. For example, will your products or services save listeners time or increase their savings?
  • Create and distribute electronic postcards.
  • Host video conferences or web seminars. Charge attendees a fee to tune in. Free video or seminar hosting tools you can use include Any Meeting, Yugma, Mega Meeting, Stealth Seminar and Go To Meeting. Provide valuable information during seminars. Don’t create a video conference or web seminar unless you offer at least 3 points of advice.
  • Develop and send prospects product catalogs.
  • Invite shoppers to attend product or service open houses. It’s similar to sponsoring your own trade show. Put your best and newest products and services on display.
  • Write and distribute press releases to targeted media outlets. As a tip, include your small business website URL, telephone number and email address in press releases. Examples of press release distribution services are PRWeb, PR Buzz, PR Log, Business Wire, Web Wire and e-Releases.

Small Business Website Marketing Roundup

Social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Myspace can make it easier for you to connect with prospects. You can build professional pages at these social networks and send regular posts or tweets to followers. By taking advantage of radio interviews, press releases, electronic postcards, web seminars and newsletters, you can connect with current and prospective customers. You can also build consumer trust in your small business website and strengthen your bottom line.

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Job search pitfalls to watch for

By Belinda Johnson

Job search pitfalls could derail your best employment efforts. Don’t let this happen this year. Get more out of your hunt by adding the following job hunting actions to your career advancement plans, while subtracting these other behaviors.


Job search no-nos

Steer clear of the casual approach – As you start your job hunt, this cannot be overstated. Create a winning online profile. Although your holiday party picture (your smile bright and memorable) shows off your features, it may not create the right impression on employers and hiring managers. Instead of posting a casual picture with your online profile, add a professional picture. Throughout every step of your job search, present the same impression with your online profile as you would if you walked into a hiring manager’s office for an in-person interview.

Don’t share what you wouldn’t want posted on a billboard – Technology has made it possible for IT professionals and other hiring managers to not only search your online profile, but to also search online messages that you author. Although what you do with your time away from work is your personal business, messages, comments, videos and pictures  that you post and respond to could be used disqualify you for great opportunities that you find during your job search.

Stay away from work hour postings – Content isn’t the only thing that hiring managers pay attention to. Your job search could be stalled if you post online messages and other content during work hours. Think about it? If you post to social media accounts, etc. during work hours, it could send the message to hiring managers that you engage in personal pursuits on work time. This isn’t a plus if you’re currently employed and conducting a job search to find better employment.

Your attitude matters a lot

Cut down on the complaints – This one is especially important if you are currently employed and looking for a new job. It might be tempting, but, don’t complain to coworkers and/or supervisors about how much you dislike your current job. These same people could write a strong recommendation letter for you, a letter that could improve your chances of securing the role you want during your job search.

Fall out of touch with former colleagues – Remember former colleagues, including supervisors and managers that you worked with during your job search. Actions that you could take to stay in touch with former colleagues include sending former colleagues holiday postcards, birthday greetings, anniversary messages or “hello” telephone calls. Keep in touch because you sincerely want to sustain and enrich these relationships. Before closing each communication, let former colleagues know that you’re in the process of a job search. Be sure to let them know what type of role you’re seeking.

Of all the job search pitfalls that you should steer clear of, falling out of touch with former colleagues could be one of the more impactful. Each person who you know likely knows dozens of other people who could aid you in your job search. Stay positive during your job hunt, avoiding falling into the habit of complaining. And pay attention to the image that you create online and offline by creating professional posts, messages and liking content that keeps you in a professional and positive light.

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Free writer inbound marketing courses

By Rhonda Campbell

inbound marketing training

Picture by Mosborne01

Free inbound marketing courses may gift you with at least three benefits. Take just one of the courses and you may learn a new way to optimize your website for those friendly search engine crawlers. Don’t go light with this benefit.

Search engine optimization equals website, blog and social media traffic, the oxygen of a digital enterprise.

Successful writers love traffic jams

Low to no traffic is like opening a store and hoping for sales even though not a single person ever walks through the front door. You have to attract loads of the right visitors. But, if you’ve been marketing online for just three months, you already know how important traffic is.

It’s up to you to turn those first time visitors into repeat visitors. One of the companies that provides free inbound marketing courses for writers also trains writers on how to keep visitors returning.

The other two benefits associated with the free inbound marketing courses are knowledge to build a stronger brand and — writers may not love this one — realization that, despite how often (or how long) that you have been marketing your books, novels or freelance writer portfolio, there’s still a lot that you don’t know.

Regardless of your marketing results and regardless of how many inbound marketing courses that you complete, never lose sight of the fact that you don’t know everything. This is a good thing. Openness to improvement can easily spell continual growth, what you want.

List of free writer inbound marketing courses

Hopefully, you didn’t skip ahead to hurry and see the list of free writer inbound marketing courses. Because a reminder that there’s always a lot to learn is not one that you want to miss. And the free courses are:

• HubSpot Inbound Marketing Certification –
• Google Online Marketing Challenge –
• GCF Learn Free –
• Copy Blogger Content Marketing –
• HootSuite Podium –
• Quick Sprout –

Some freelance writers also teach free writer inbound marketing courses. Writers can also find free inbound marketing courses that are embedded in larger training programs. These courses aren’t always free. If they are, they may not offer a certification.

Earn an inbound marketing certification? Add it to your freelance writer resume and to your online writer portfolio. Also, incorporate lessons that you have changed in your website, blog and social media designs and posts.

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