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Archive for the 'General' Category

Positive thinking: can’t solve everything

December 4th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Theories such as positive thinking, the Law of Attraction, and
Earl Nightingale’s maxim “We become what we think about” are
well-intentioned.

But they are not absolutes that work in all situations.

For instance, here are 3 things I can’t do — and just thinking
about them won’t solve the problem:

#1–I can’t swim.

I could swim as a kid.

But when I got older, the composition of muscle and fat in my
body changed to give me “negative buoyancy.”

Most people have positive buoyance, which means if they are in
water, they float naturally with little effort.

With negative buoyance (it’s not BS; Google it), the greater
density of lean muscle mass causes me to be unable to float … and
instead, I sink like a stone.

So far, the Law of Attraction has failed to switch my buoyance to
positive, which I need to avoid drowning.

#2–I don’t laugh.

I seem to be missing the “laugh reflex” that most people possess.

When I see or hear something that is uproariously funny, I smile,
but do not laugh.

Bellowing, guffawing, giggling, and prolonged, uncontrolled
laughter are not in my wheel house.

#3–I can’t dunk.

I’m 5’7″ … I can’t jump — and the basketball hoop is 10 feet
high.

Actually, I can dunk. But only if I am standing on a tall ladder!

Now, the positive thinkers and Law of Attraction advocates
believe what they are doing can motivate you to have or do
whatever you want.

But when someone who, say, has negative buoyance hears the
motivational speaker telling them they can do anything they think
about — including swimming — well, for me, it just doesn’t work.
Because I’m not fond of my lungs filling with water.

Optimists and the positive thinking crowd will disavow me for
saying this, but not everybody can do everything.

What’s wrong with saying that? If you don’t have the physical
attributes, the intelligence, or the aptitude for anything from
pole vaulting to singing opera, changing your thoughts is not
always going to change the reality.

Solution: find other things you like that are a good fit for your
natural talents, skills, aptitudes, and abilities. And do those
things.

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Category: General | 242 Comments »

A valuable money tip for freelancers

November 30th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Unlike employees with salaries, who know what they’re making each
month, freelancers and small business owners often face
unpredictable cash flow.

Even if business is good, payment promptness varies among your
clients.

As a result, your bank account may be flush and full one month,
while another month, there’s barely enough money to pay the rent.

If you don’t keep careful track of your cash flow when funds are
scarce, you risk writing a bad check without realizing it.

You never want a check to bounce, especially with certain payees.
These include the bank that holds your mortgage, the gas and
electric utility, and especially the IRS.

So here’s a simple tip that can keep you solvent when cash flow
is lean: take out a line of credit at the bank where you have
your business account.

Because life is expensive today, I recommend a credit line of at
least $25,000 — and $50,000 would be even better.

Have the bank connect your line of credit to your business
account to give you overdraft protection.

Meaning if you write a check, and there are insufficient funds to
cover it, the check automatically draws from your line of credit.

No bounced checks. No worrying about low account balances or a
temporary lull in your cash flow. No pissing off valued vendors.

With overdraft protection, your service providers are paid, you
don’t risk shut-off of a vital service such as the gas or
internet access — and you don’t get black marks on your credit
report.

I have such a line of credit and overdraft protection on my
business account.

I’ve never had to draw on it — so far.

But you never know.

And it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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Category: General | 178 Comments »

How I stay energized during the work day

November 13th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Subscriber DK writes:

“Mr. Bly, you’ve proven yourself a prodigious writer and continue
to be. I ask not for your copywriting secrets, but rather
secrets about your energy level.

“I get that switching topics or assignments can keep one
invigorated, but even with a few hits of caffeine, I now have
trouble making it through the day without wanting longer
downtime.

“Can you share your wakefulness secret?”

Unfortunately, I have no silver bullet for this, so I can only
share with you exactly what I do to maintain energy during a
typical 10-12 hour workday … a couple of which DK has already
named:

#1–I do depend on caffeine. It is an addiction, and I drink 4
large mugs of coffee daily.

#2–Twice a day I use a sublingual vitamin B12 spray for added
energy.

#3–When I feel myself fading, I wash my face and the back of my
neck with cold water.

#4–I always get a good night’s sleep. I seem to require the
standard 8 hours of sleep. If I get 7 I am still OK, but 6 or
less and my energy level is subpar for the day.

#5–To accomplish #4, I never stay up past 10pm on a work night.
This enables me to awaken refreshed at 6am, having gotten my 8
hours.

#6–I awaken at around 6am and start work between 6:30am and
7am — no later. I adhere to Mark Ford’s rule of “early to rise.”

#7–I do my most important and difficult work in the mornings,
which is my period of peak energy.

#8–I work in one-hour increments, each separated by a 5-minute
break during which I check email and maybe watch a quick and
amusing video on YouTube (e.g., Family Guy, Jim Jeffries).

#9–For an energizing and refreshing snack, I eat a piece of
fruit. Okay, and once in a while, a cinnamon roll.

#10–In addition to the coffee, I drink one or two big glasses of
either water or club soda with ice and lemon during the work day.
We bought that club soda machine they advertise on TV and it
saves us a bundle.

#11–When the weather turns cool, I work with the office window
open. Low temperatures energize me.

#12–I make sure I have either the day’s newspaper, a good book,
or the current issue of the New York Review of Books to read
right after I finish work. It’s my reward for a productive day.
Most recent book I have read: “The Human Brain” by Isaac Asimov.

I also listen to a variety of music throughout the day to
keep my energy up and moderate my mood: classical for quiet,
contemplative, intense writing; e.g., a complicated financial or
technical promotion … and rock if I am on a roll with a fun sales
letter.

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Category: General | 127 Comments »

Coping with rude people online

November 9th, 2018 by Bob Bly

When I recently sent an email to my list promoting an info
product of mine, subscriber PT immediately replied:

“Anything to make a buck Bob.” Which is obviously a mean-spirited
put-down.

When my assistant Jodi saw this, she emailed me a one-word
comment: “Rude!”

If you are an internet marketer, participate in social media, or
are otherwise online, you will invariably have people say rude,
snarky, or insulting things to you.

Two issues: Is it ever justified? And how best to deal with it?

I can think of only 4 instances that warrant a strong and angry
response to an email that has been sent to you:

#1–It is a highly deceptive spam message designed to fool and
cheat the recipient.

#2–It makes value judgments on sensitive or controversial social
issues — religion, race, death, taxes, and politics — that you
find offensive. And so you fire back.

#3–It is a blatant lie about you or someone you like or admire.
Or maybe it is not an intentional lie, but it is false
nonetheless.

#4–It criticizes you, not in a constructive way, but in an
ill-mannered way designed to offend.

Now you have two options for dealing with this rude insult.

You can try to defend yourself. But that is a waste of effort and
doesn’t work 99% of the time.

The reason: you cannot use logic to remove from a person’s mind a
thought that was not put there by logic in the first place.

Arguing online wastes a tremendous amount of time and emotional
energy that is better dedicated to your work, family, or other
interests.

The second option for dealing with a rude subscriber is simpler
and far less stressful.

I immediately unsubscribe them from my list, block them from my
shopping cart, and also block any future emails they plan to send
me.

That way they are out of my life. My stress is eliminated and I
can get back to business.

Do I spend time thinking about their derogatory comment once I
have blocked them from communicating with me online?

No. Except to occasionally incorporate a tale of their stupidity
and ignorance in an essay like this as an object lesson for my
readers.

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Category: General | 176 Comments »

Why I answer almost every query I get

November 6th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Subscriber BD writes:

“I appreciate how you take the time to read and answer subscriber
emails. But I scratch my head wondering why and how you do it.”

Here’s my answer to BD and also to you if you were wondering the
same thing — and why, if you write and publish an online
newsletter, books, blogs, and the like — you should respond to
reader queries, too….

First, you surely have noticed that my answers are usually
extremely brief. So answering in most cases takes just a minute.

Second, two-way communication builds a stronger relationship
with your subscribers. So they trust you and like you more, which
in turn makes them more likely to listen to what you say … and
buy what you are offering.

Third, I think it’s my obligation to help people however I can —
within reason, of course.

Fourth, the comments from and conversations with readers give me
content I can recycle into my books, articles, columns, essays,
and other writings.

Fifth, I enjoy hearing from and talking with my subscribers. They
are an intelligent, lively bunch, and I probably learn as much
from them as they learn from me.

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Category: General | 209 Comments »

Cowards hiding behind their keyboards

October 26th, 2018 by Bob Bly

So, you may find this kind of interesting and maybe a little
bizarre or even unpleasant.

Weeks ago, I sent an email to my readers with the subject line,
“What kind of copywriting clients pay best?”

Immediately, subscriber LJ replied to me:

“I’m guessing not yours, or you wouldn’t be begging for attention
all your life.”

Puzzled by LJ’s unprovoked vitriol, I responded:

“What compels you to insult me, LJ?

“Have I ever been rude to you?

“As for the state of my business, I’m not exactly starving to
death; I earn six-figures annually and have a 7-figure net worth.

“And of course, in cowardly fashion, you do your insulting while
hiding behind a keyboard — no guts to say it to my face.”

There are two lessons to be learned here.

The first is, as I told LJ, if you insult someone hiding behind a
keyboard, you are in fact a spineless coward — even though you
may delude yourself to the contrary.

The second is a reminder that this formula, developed by my
friend Dr. Rob Gilbert, is so true:

SWL + SWL = SW

It is short for:

“Some will like you, your product, or your work.

“Some won’t like you, your product, or your work.

“So what?”

As long as you have enough clients, customers, fans, tribe
members, or whatever to earn a decent living, you should ignore
immature haters like LJ.

My problem in doing so is that my personality is such that I do
not suffer fools gladly.

The only reason I tell you the LJ story here is that I think
there is some value in the lesson it presents.

So maybe I should thank her.

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Category: General, Writing | 40 Comments »

Avoid the crisis-lull-crisis of marketing

October 9th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Years ago, a freelance copywriter complained to me about the
crisis-lull-crisis nature of freelance as well as ad agency work.

Many other freelancer tell me the same thing.

When they have little or no work, almost no leads come their way,
and most those that do are of poor quality, and the good ones
never close.

On the flip side, when you get busy, the work keeps on coming,
and your schedule fills to nearly overflowing with great clients
and assignments paying top dollar.

Self-employed professionals in many fields also encounter the
crisis-lull-crisis cycle.

I have found 2 very effective ways to fight it.

The first is continual marketing, which means marketing your
services even when you’re busy — in fact especially when you are
busy.

That way you fill up your lead pipeline, so that if a bunch of
clients go silent or the leads don’t close, you have plenty of
other prospects in line eager to take their place.

The second strategy for keeping busy and profitable is to have a
second stream of income (or several), so when your main business
hits a temporarily slump, you have other revenue-generating work
to turn to.

For freelance copywriters, these second income streams can
include: writing magazine articles … writing books … consulting …
speaking and training … teaching … internet marketing … even
owning an unrelated business, like a restaurant or store.

That way, you remain busy and productive with no interruption in
income.

And just when you think your copywriting business is doomed, the
phone will start ringing off the hook with more clients wanting
to hire you than you can handle.

It’s true what they say: when it rains, it pours.

And despite your temporary drought, rest assured it will rain
again, and sooner rather than later.

It always does.

Why this is true, I have no idea.

But between multiple streams of income and having the cycle of
busy/slow/busy shift once again in your favor, you’ll be A-Okay.

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Category: General, Success | 40 Comments »

The customer is always right — even if he’s not

October 5th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Subscriber DC writes:

“After 23 years as a full-time freelance copywriter, I still
occasionally find myself in a difficult situation with a client.

“As you know, in their terms and conditions, most copywriters
stipulate that copy revisions are free of charge, but changes to
the assignment will incur an extra charge.

“I do this too, but sometimes there can be a slight grey area in
which a client can argue that a small change to the assignment is
actually just another revision. [This incremental additional work
is referred to as “scope creep.”]

“My client did this today, and I’ve ended up effectively working
3 extra hours for free. For goodwill I offered to ‘meet halfway’,
but the client — a very large company — now refuses to pay
anything above the quoted amount.

“More than ever, clients know how powerful they are and it looks
like I’ve got to grin and bear this loss. Perhaps there’s a
newsletter article here?”

Well, this covers two fundamental rules of the service business,
both of which are important.

The first rule: the time to discuss costs is before they are
incurred, not after the fact.

DC should have given his client a written estimate of the extra
hours the rework would take, and gotten them to agree before
proceeding.

Because he did not, I feel the client owes DC nothing for the
extra rework.

The second rule is: if it’s a choice between being too generous
to your clients vs. being a hard ass and looking out for yourself
first, you should err on the side of being too generous.

I’m not saying you should be a sucker and work for people for
free.

But it’s almost always better, in case of disagreement or
dispute, for the outcome to favor the client, and not you, even
if it costs you in time, money, or both.

Being a large corporation, the client company here could have
given DC a significant amount of new business — many tens of
thousands of dollars — if they continued to use his services.

Therefore, eating 3 hours of DC’s time is insignificant when
compared to the potential income from this account.

And when you treat people in business fairly and favorably, word
gets around, and you build a reputation for being honest and
honorable.

On the other hand, if DC fights the client on this, he will lose
favor with them, and they won’t continue to use him.

The great David Ogilvy likened the advertising business to a game
of chess and advised, “Guard your King and Queen; let the pawns
go.”

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Category: General, Success | 37 Comments »