52 Books in a Year: Week 1

bookI celebrated a birthday this week.  As a gift to myself, I decided to take on a yearlong reading project.

During the next year, I will read 52 books.  You smarty pants’ out there know that’s a book a week.

For week one of my reading project, I read a novel by Chris Cleave called Gold.  I’ve read other books by Cleave – like Little Bee – so I anticipated that I would enjoy it.  And I did.

Kate and Zoe – the main characters of the novel – are friends and rivals.  As competitive cyclists, they share two things in common: 1) a love for the sport and 2) a goal of winning an Olympic gold medal.  The novel pairs competition with an underlying story of friendship, tragedy, and life-altering decisions.  If you’re a cyclist – read this book.  If you love stories with relational twists and turns – read this book.  I highly recommend it.

 

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Increasing Facebook’s Revenue: New Micro-Fee Monetization Tactics

After much speculation and anticipation, Facebook went public in May 2012. Facebook’s IPO is one of the most infamous stock let-downs in recent history – making a huge splash and ultimately disappointing thousands with disappointing numbers. Since the public launch, Facebook has rolled out several ways to better monetize their website in creative ways and ultimately improve their IPO.

Since it has always been a free-to-join service, most of Facebook’s revenue comes from ads. However, a site can only have so many ads before they begin turning off users to the point where they quit. In order to keep their IPO rising, Facebook has had to resort to micro-fee monetization tactics to earn more revenue.

Increasing Facebook’s Revenue Through Promoted Posts

With a simple click of a button, business and personal users have the option to promote a post for a small fee ($5-$10 or more), which makes the fan page or a particular post highlighted on followers’ news feeds. Promoting a post is not only helpful to highlight high-level messaging and direct more pointed traffic to their pages – but also steadily increases a fan page’s following.

Facebook has also increased the reach of sponsored posts by increasing the budget amount. Previously, promoted posts and pages were limited on how much they could spend to promote. This budget increase allows businesses with large social media marketing budgets to pay more to improve a post’s visibility.

Personal profiles also have the ability to promote posts to their friends. For a small fee ($7 as of Spring 2013), personal users can highlight significant posts. Many users are taking advantage of this for fundraising for their personal hobbies, work-related items, and more.

Facebook Gifts

In late 2012, Facebook launched a feature that allows users to buy their friends gifts for special occasions, like birthdays and marriage announcements. Gift suggestions are based on the recipient’s likes, and include things like gift cards for iTunes and Starbucks.

This not only allows Facebook to make a little cash, but also creates an opportunity for users to quickly buy a friend a gift at the last second if they forgot about a loved one’s birthday until the day of the event. In the future, Facebook will likely be expanding the types of gift that are available for purchase.

Monetizing Messages for More Revenue

One of the other ways Facebook is increasing their revenue is through paid messages. In the past, if a user was not connected to someone and they sent them an email, there would be a potential for that email to go into the recipient’s ‘other’ inbox, which acts as a sort of spam filter and is rarely checked. Now, If a users is not connected to someone, they can pay $1 to ensure their email goes directly to the person’s Facebook inbox rather than their ‘other’.

Users have been highly divided about having to pay for a message to be received, but so far thousands of Facebook users are using the service.

All of these new changes are adding up. Facebook’s revenue shot up 40% in Q4 2012 over Q3 2012, however as of Q1 2013, their IPO has remained steady at $25-$30/share. Facebook is continuing to find creative ways to monetize the website, and users expect to see more of these changes roll out in the coming years.

 

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Conversations That Sell

A guest-post from Anne Samoilov

Today’s post comes to Thinkspace courtesy of Anne Samoilov and is republished by permission.  Anne has been helping solopreneurs become more productive, create and launch their life’s work. She teaches about topics including online launching, product launch, small business growth, productivity, self-management, motivation, business planning + goal setting. Anne’s background also includes 10 years experience as producer for animation, visual effects, and game development. We’re excited to have Anne here on the Thinkspace blog – as well as a featured speaker in a series of brown bag workshops.

conversations-that-sell

Is it possible something you said 4, 5, or 6 months ago affected your recent launch sales?

Does it really matter what you say to people about your launch? Will it make the difference between sales and dead air?

Is there a known, working method of reaching out, touching, connecting, getting to know your customers before you open the doors, starting conversations that actually lead to sales?

And don’t you want the RIGHT people to take your offer?

There’s nothing worse than making an offer and getting the wrong audience on board… though it does tell you something about what you’re offering… but I digress.

Talking about your upcoming launch, sharing the behind the scenes, taking people along for the ride – it’s crucial to your launch bottom line – but the process is riddled with mistakes people make when they’re first starting.

It’s not as simple as posting 5 times a day on social media (and hoping for the best). If you track your tweets – you know most people don’t click on those posts.

You can’t just run an ad on Facebook – and again, think that everyone will be magically drawn to it.

And – you can’t hope those guest posts – ok that ONE guest post you did – a year ago, will help you grow your audience.

Unless, you understand what it takes to get the right people’s attention NOW.

I learned that to get the conversation started meant focusing on (BRACE YOURSELF THIS MIGHT SOUND SELFISH) the what I wanted back.

Yes – the exchange of ideas – opinions – feelings – experiences… that’s what I wanted.

Once I determined what I wanted back – I changed my approach to communicating forever.

And I’m going to share the secret with you in a very special,  in-person workshop on March 20th here at thinkspace.

Conversations That Sell: How to tell the world about your launch + reach more of the right people.

  1. The easy launch conversation starter that equaled sales within 24 hours – most people don’t realize that this simple strategy is so powerful – and it even surprised me.
  2. My top 3 “no brainer” methods to prepare your audience for a launch.
  3. The one no cost “everyday” business tool that saved me hours in time and money.
  4. How my “Launch Leak Strategy” allows you to “tease” your launch and create excitement before you even launch!

And then – I’m going to share my proven “before, during and after” launch communication plan that will take all the guess work out for you!

Anne will be presenting at an upcoming thinkspace event – March 20th, Fearless Launching: Conversations That Sell, Workshop #2.  For more information and to register for this event, click here.  If you aren’t able to physically be present for this event, view the webinar by subscribing here.

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Can a woman have it all?

“You have a condition that usually only occurs in people over 60,” my doctor said as she typed in her lap top. “Have you been under a lot of stress lately?”

Hmmm, does she mean balancing the needs of my family, and my growing business?
Or does she mean the PTA meeting I skipped so I could meet a writing deadline?
By “stress” could she mean the lists that don’t get checked off, or the emails that don’t get opened, or the dog that doesn’t get walked?
Which stressful event was my doctor alluding to, and how could I answer “yes” without shouting, “Isn’t every working mother- are you crazy?!!”

“You know,” she continued, “You will probably get this again if you don’t do something about your stress level.”

Shingles. That’s what she diagnosed me with. Shingles is this terrible burning sensation that attacks the nerves underneath your skin until you eventually erupt into mischievous oozing bumps. Awesome. I’m a therapist. I preach self care. I believe in balance. I teach people how to take care of themselves. And I have a stress-related, immune deficiency condition that no 38 year old should get.

Wake up call.

Come-to-Jesus moment.

Time to take some things. Off. The. Plate.

So, when Marissa Mayer of Yahoo announced no more working from home, I paid attention. When Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg told American women to “Lean In”, I listened.  What are the women at the top saying about their positions, their work-life balance? What are they saying about their priorities? How do they balance it, and what are their secrets?

Turns out, they probably experience the same things I do (with the caveat of being paid just a tad bit more- wink).

Erin Callin, former CFO of Lehman Brothers before the crash, recounts in her New York Times piece this weekend that “Work always came first, before family, friends, and marriage- which ended just a few years later.” She goes on to say, “Until recently, I thought my singular focus on my career was the most powerful ingredient in my success. But I am beginning to realize that I sold myself short… there were diminishing returns to that kind of labor.”

Though admired by many young women who see Mrs. Callin as a hero and an over-comer of the gender barrier, she is fraught with regret.

University of Michigan business professor Marina Whitman, a full-time professor and a corporate executive says in a recent CNN article by Todd Leopold, “I think this thing about ‘can women have it all?’ or ‘can’t they have it all?’ is kind of a silly argument. Yes, you may have it all, but not all at once.”

And what about Marissa Mayer banishing the working-from-home flexibility? She certainly has gotten a lot of back lash. Some of my working mother buddies say she ought to be ashamed of herself. But it has got me thinking that maybe “working from home” for the working mother, is just playing into the illusion that women really can have it all. That there is some ideal out there that a woman can be at home with her smiling contented children, while sitting at a desk with phone in hand, lap top open while climbing the corporate ladder. Maybe we’ve bought into the illusion that we “should” be able to do it all. Maybe we think, “if only my work schedule was ‘flexible’ then I could make that PTA meeting, I could take that work call while mixing the baby formula,” or in my case, I could schedule myself to being two places at one time and be half committed to both. Ugh.

So what did I learn from Shingles? Well, for one thing, I’m taking the Sabbath. I’m working my tail off Monday through Friday 8:30 to 3 until Sweet and Sassy get home from school. I’m shutting my lap top until they go to bed at night, and I’m wearing them out on Saturdays with chores, sports and lots of family fun. I schedule a date night with Mr. Dashing and make deposits into the marriage bank account. Come Sunday, I don’t return e-mail, I don’t write blogs, I don’t do anything that could remotely seem like work. I go to church, I go out to eat, and I read for FUN (not for work.) Then I try to catch up on some Duck Dynasty, which really puts me into relaxation mode, because I’m pretty sure they haven’t worked a day in their lives, unless you count catching bull frogs as work.

Everything has a price tag. Everything worthwhile requires sacrifice. Some of us choose work, some of us chose family, and then the crazy ones, like me choose to work out the balance of both. The sacrifices I make as a working mother are continual and on-going. The fact is, if I throw the soft ball with Sporty Spice, then I’m not going to get that blog post done. And if bring home work to do, I won’t be available to hear mini-Taylor Swift’s original song on the piano. What am I going to forfeit? What am I going to give up? Something has to go, which one will it be? I’m the last to cast a stone at working mothers’ choices. But I’m the first to say, life is about choices, and values, and about consciously making those choices according to your values. Could I be further along, higher on the ladder, with a broader following if I chose to spend more time at the office? And if I spent more time at work, would Sweet and Sassy be as well adjusted and fantastic as they are now? I wonder. We make choices, some good, some bad. But most times we don’t know they’re bad till we feel the pain of them. Like the pain of Shingles. I didn’t know I was burning at both ends until I actually felt the burning.

My prayer is that you won’t have to.

This  is a guest post written by  Michelle Hollomon.  Michelle is a Counselor and a Coach, author of God Unwrapped, and host of Relationship Coach Radio. You can find out more about her at MichelleHollomon.com.

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The glorification of busy.

always-open-closed11Has anyone ever qualified a question with the following: “I know you’re busy, but…”?

This happened to me the other day, and I had two immediate reactions.

My first reaction—> I was glad they recognized my schedule was packed with busy and important things.
(Confession: that observation made me feel important and popular).

My second reaction—> I was frustrated that my busyness made them think I wouldn’t have time for them.

Too often, I over emphasize my busy schedule.
When people ask me “How are you?” usually my response includes something along the lines of “Good, I’ve been staying really busy, etc etc etc.”
We live in a world that masters the glorification of being busy.
While busy seasons come and go, defining myself by my busyness will communicate that I’m unavailable.
So even though I desire for others to know that I am always open, my actions show that I am closed.
What would it look to communicate a more open and flexible schedule?

I’ve set a new goal—> To stop defining myself by being busy, and to be more approachable and flexible so people don’t begin conversations by first acknowledging my limited availability.

That’s been on my mind this week…I’d appreciate any feedback or suggestions you all might have!

 

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Compartmentalization is overrated.

workA while back, I learned the importance of creating boundaries between my work and personal life.  Those boundaries helped to compartmentalize my life, which had its benefits.  I kept my work life separate from my personal life.  And there wasn’t much crossover.

Working at thinkspace has shown me that I actually need less compartmentalization.  A healthy level of balance can still be maintained without strict boundaries.  In a recent conversation with a coworker, he expressed his strong dislike for the idea of work/life balance.  He argued that the work/life balance concept creates a delineation that doesn’t need to be present.  It usually generates a “clock-in” and “clock-out” mentality.  To compete in the Social Era, that mentality needs to take a backseat to generating value and relationships.  With Value driving the car and Relationships as the copilot, crossover (once was seen as a negative thing) is now welcomed.

In an article in Forbes, Ryan Blair explains a  “pro-compartmentalization” strategy:

“Pretend as if everything you’re dealing with in your life is a room where you have to walk in and solve an equation on a white board. You have a countdown clock with less than an hour to get the problem solved, or take a single step in the right direction, and then shut the door and go into another room equally as important. You spend your entire life going from compartment to compartment.”

While I appreciate what Blair is getting at, and while it may be helpful for some entrepreneurs,  his “one room at a time” strategy is limited.  Every area of our life is hard wired to every other area.  Therefore, there will always be some rooms that I simply can’t “shut the door” on.  Plus, there are some rooms that will always take up more than just one hour of my time.  To take part in meaningful projects, conversations, and interactions, rooms should be inviting.  A countdown clock may be strategic, but it is not inviting.

In an article called “The Fallacy of Compartmentalization,” Jonathan Fields shares his opinion on why compartmentalization is overrated:

We talk about things like our work life and our home life as though we can somehow slip out of our skin and assume another identity when transitioning between them.  However, trying to compartmentalize the various parts of life can take a significant toll on our effectiveness across the board.

How about you?
Are you pro or anti-compartmentalization?
How do you make sense of balance in your life?