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A Backstage Tour Of My Business (How I Make Money, Who’s On My Team … And More.)

Filed under Public Relations

If you’ve been reading my emails, lately, you know that I’ve been holed up in my office… surrounded by snoozing kittens, steaming pots of green tea and squares of dark chocolate… putting the finishing touches on a totally new program.

IMG_0839 copy

Photo Credit: (My Sweetie) Will Csaklos

(If you missed that memo, have a peek at this. Particularly if you’re hoping to get more publicity and sales in 2015. And, let’s be frank… who isn’t?) Even if you’ve looked before take another gander as we’ve made quite a few changes (for the better!).

The past couple of weeks have been busy, for sure.

But even though I’m deep in the throes of producing and launching a new program, things feel… pretty peaceful around here.

This is no accident — and it certainly wasn’t always like this!

But after running my own company for 24 years, I’ve put some very specific support systems in place that allow me to serve clients, launch programs, write for multiple platforms, send out my weekly e-zine, host webinars and produce tons of new content every month… without losing my marbles.

I’ve never revealed exactly how I do business — and what my daily routine looks like — but today? I’m pulling back the velvet curtain.

If you’re thinking about tweaking or upgrading your business in the New Year — or just want a detailed peek into how I run my operation — this “backstage tour” is for you.

HOW I MAKE MONEY

I make money in three ways: working with private clients, selling my products, and (occasionally) selling other products that I love, for a commission. This is how I run several 6-figure businesses.

Private clients.

I typically work with 3 or 4 long-term private clients each month for 3 months to a year or more. And 2 or 3 short-term clients who have a project they want to complete or sound bites they want to hone.

Sometimes, people hire me because they want to start getting featured in the media more consistently, or get higher-profile media bookings that allow them to reach a national or international audience.

Other times, people hire me because they’ve already got a couple media appearances on the horizon and they need to get prepared for the spotlight, fast.

Often people hire me to get their systems set on the backend (products, opt-in offer, new revenue streams) so when they are ready for publicity it has the results that they want.

And other times, all three!

These clients pay me anywhere from $2,000 – $10,000 a month, depending on what we’re working on — and how quickly they need results.

We work together over the phone, via Skype, in their city, as well as face-to-face in the Bay Area of California, where I live.

(If a client is getting ready for a TV appearance, I’ll take him or her into the CNN News Studio in San Francisco for live media training in a real studio environment, including satellite interviews. So fun!)

My clients come from all kinds of industries and backgrounds — entrepreneurs, coaches, consultants, business owners, chefs, techies, public speakers, first-time (and best-selling) authors, publishing industry veterans — even a few TV personalities in the mix.

They have fabulous products, services, causes and sometime a socially conscious enterprise. Some want to change the world, others simply want to change their own lives and businesses for the better.

If there’s a “common denominator,” it’s this:

All of my clients want to use media exposure to double or triple their income — without selling their soul.

For me, helping a client go from “unknown” to “household name” is incredibly exciting.

This has been my life’s work — and my biggest revenue stream — for most of the past 20+ years.

Product sales: through my website.

I’ve created a number of print books, e-books and online programs over the years, which I sell on my website and through Amazon.com.

Your Signature Sound Bites is one of my most popular products. It’s an online training program for people who want to learn how to speak in crisp, media-friendly sound bites (one of the BEST skills you can have, as a business owner—even if you never plan to do publicity!).

It’s available year-round, sells for $497 and includes lifetime access to the materials.

Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul™ E-Course, based on my bestselling book of the same name, is a 25 email-a-day program for people who want to create publicity program that suits their style, skills, and temperament. This course can be purchased separately or with the Your Signature Sound Bites program for a complete publicity package.

The Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul™ Membership Club is my latest offering. It’s a 12-month+ ongoing program for people who want to learn how to get booked in the media + generate (a lot) more revenue ― while keeping their integrity intact.

It starts in January 2015 ongoing. Membership is $25 a month. So people can subscribe month-to-month or purchase a year all at once.

I also have several tightly niched e-books:

As you can see, I offer products at a wide range of subjects and price levels—that all complement growing your business with publicity at any stage of your business.

This is a very intentional choice.

I firmly believe that top-notch publicity training should be accessible to everyone, not just people operating at a six- or seven-figure level.

I’ve worked hard to make sure that there’s something in my shop for every experience and income level… and for just about every kind of publicity / media goal!

It just feels… right.

HERO -from Beauty

Product and service sales: through other peoples websites.

About once a month, I will collaborate with a fellow entrepreneur, author or teacher to produce a webinar — that’s an “online seminar” — on a particular topic, like “how to start a podcast” or “ways to brand your website,” or “the quickest way to write, sell and promote an e-book.”

My joint venture (JV) partner will invite his or her audience to attend the webinar, and then invite them to purchase one of my products or programs.

Then, we’ll do the reverse:

I’ll share a webinar (featuring my JV partner) with my audience, and invite you to purchase one of his or her products or programs.

These kinds of partnerships allow me to pop up and say “hello!” to a brand new online community, deliver a helpful lesson, and then make an offer for people who’d like to learn more.

(And then, vice-versa: allowing someone else to say “hello!” to my community, teach a lesson, and make an offer.)

I enter into these types of joint-venture partnerships with great caution.

I always begin with a phone call to connect with a potential partner, personally. Then, I get deeply familiar with their work.

I don’t feel comfortable sharing products with my audience unless I am absolutely certain that it’s a quality offering, created by a highly ethical person, that I think my audience needs and will love. Often, it is a product or program that I already use—or want to.

So, I only do a small handful of these types of partnerships each year.

But when the connection is right… partnering up with another business owner can be exciting, fun and often, very profitable!

Product sales: other bits n pieces.

I have a network of about 300 affiliate partners — people with online businesses, websites and blogs — who can write about my products and link to them with a special “affiliate link.”

If someone clicks their affiliate link and then purchases one of my products, my affiliate gets a commission! (Usually 50% of the price of the product.)

Much like doing joint-venture partnerships, having an affiliate network has been a great way to raise visibility for my work, expand my audience, and generate more revenue.

And of course, it always feels good to pay out those monthly commissions to my affiliates… as a big “thank you.” 

WHOS ON MY TEAM

I have a lean, primarily virtual business — no rented office space or heavy overhead — and my team members are based all over the country!

I have three part-time contractors on my team right now:

Virginia. My web superstar! She does all of my graphics for PDFs, sets up new web pages, develops the membership sites, formats my weekly e-zine and assists customers who are having technical difficulties in the membership courses.

Kelly. The money gal! Kelly handles customer service-related emails from my online store, handles invoicing and accounting, preps me for tax season, pays affiliates, and helps with legal tasks, too (…like checking to make sure people aren’t stealing my work!). Lastly, she helps me strategize my biz to help me figure out what’s next.

Kayli. The social media butterfly! Kayli is the newest member of my team. She schedules social media updates, posts new pieces on my blog, re-writes older blog posts for syndication on other platforms and helps me out during webinars. She also gives new customers a personal phone call to make sure they’re 100% happy with their purchases. (She’s got the sweetest personality — I could listen to her “phone voice” all day long!)

Aside from the wonder-trio — Virginia, Kelly and Kayli — I have a couple of other people in my business orbit, including…

Alexandra. My writing coach + collaborator! We meet once a month, on the phone, to plan out new blog posts, co-create products, write newsletters, sales pages and press releases… and all kinds of other wordy-goodness. Having a monthly date with her ensures that I’m always going to do some writing for my business, no matter what. Plus, she sends me a surprise gift every month. How’s that for living and breathing gratitude?

To feed my creative + artistic side, I play with…

Laurie. She runs a writing center called 27 Powers, here in the Bay Area, where I’m part of a weekly writing group. She reads a poem and we (10 of us writerly gals) scribble without editing or censorship. (I often use this time to work on personal projects — like my young-adult novel, Aikido Girl.) Laurie also has weekend workshops with esteemed writers and poets that keep my fire lit for months afterward. 

The ladies in my book club. We share gourmet fare, chat, sip wine and read all kinds of books from every conceivable genre. Always an energizing time!

Abigail. An amazing photographer. I don’t do photo shoots too often, but when I need new headshots… she’s my go-to gal. I love her romantic eye and beautiful use of lighting. She makes life feel so… glamorous!

TOOLS I LOVE

I use lots of tools to keep my business running smoothly.

Currently, I’ve got…

Webinar Jam
My software for hosting and recording online seminars that integrates with Google hangouts.

CopySentry
It monitors the web for duplicates of my content… to catch plagiarists!

ZenDesk
The best customer service software that I’ve found, yet.

AWeber
This is what I use to send out my e-zine (aka: newsletter).

1ShoppingCart
This is the software I use to sell products in my online store, manage autoresponders for free mini-courses and tip sequences, and to handle my affiliate network.

LeadPages
This tool lets you create special web pages to say “hello” to potential clients and customers — and invite them onto your mailing list with all kinds of helpful opt-in templates.

PicMonkey
A fun online photo editor! I use it to add text to images to create Pinterest-friendly pictures. It’s also great for banners and to make Facebook ads.

Haiku Deck
Presentation software that’s much prettier than PowerPoint (in my opinion!)

On the non-digital side of things…

I carry at least two notebooks around with me, everywhere I go—one for Aikido and one for everything else. Usually made by Moleskine. Sometimes some exotic Italian, French, Japanese or Swedish ones that I find in specialty stores I frequent. I have quite a huge collection that’s (unfortunately) overflowing my special closet designed just for fabulous paper stuff.

moleskin

Photo Credit: Nick Olejniczak

I’m a bit notebook and stationery obsessed. I just can’t have enough!

MOMENTS THAT FUEL ME

Even with the best team in the world, tight systems and great tools… we all have days where things feel overwhelming, or where projects aren’t moving along as fast as we’d like.

In those moments, I know that I need to unplug and reconnect with my sweetheart Will, my two kitties, take a brisk walk, or jam to the Dojo for some Aikido training. These are the moments that fill my heart and fuel my work.

Today, in particular, I am so grateful for…

  • That sweet moment, every morning, when Will makes me a cup of hot buttered coffee (yes, really… It’s delicious!) and brings it to me in a gently-heated mug. What a doll!
  • My afternoon walk through the neighborhood, petting dogs and cats, smooching babies, and picking fresh plums from the trees on my street.
  • A quick jaunt to the local thrift store to pick up some vintage jewelry, cool new boots, an antique toy, and books, books, books. I shop all year round for Christmas and birthdays to find unique things for the people I love.
  • My evening Aikido class 3-4 nights a week. My martial arts practice strengthens me, challenges me like crazy, and reminds me that there is always room for improvement.
  • Curling up with a murder mystery. Lying on my samurai massage man, cherry pit heating pad under the covers, kitties lounging on the bed on the faux fur, and reading until I drift off to sleep.
  • My weekly date night with my sweetie (gluten free pasta with olive oil, butter, garlic and hot lava spices, and British spy dramas! Yes!)
  • Once a week phone date with my best friend Terry who lives in LA. We’ve been BFFs since college and we catch up after my Aikido class on Saturdays. I’m going to visit him, play with his dog Dottie and swim in his new pool, right after I finish this missive today!
  • Gifts, emails, blog comments, and sweet notes from friends, collaborators, clients, customers and people like you! (Thank you!)

Running your own business can feel isolating, at times, and little emails and check-ins from the people in my community remind me what it’s all about:

People.

So, thats your backstage tour into my business (and personal) world.

I hope it got your wheels turning — and got you thinking about how you might like to tweak, refine or upgrade your own business in 2015.

I’d love to be part of your business journey, in whatever capacity feels best for you.

And — if you haven’t signed up, already — I invite you to check out the new program that’s beginning this January (and ongoing from there): The Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul™ Membership Club.

It’s for people who dream about hiring a top publicist + getting famous, faster… but don’t have $10,000 a month to make it happen! (Most people… don’t!)

Get all the details here.

And if you need a bit of extra time to decide, I’ll be around all week to answer any questions you may have about the membership club. Just respond to this message and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

Sending you all good things from my kitten-covered chair…


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