5 Secrets to Keep Yourself Motivated

August 21st, 2010

As a solopreneur, you’ve likely had moments when you didn’t feel like getting out of bed, let alone getting into work. For me, I’ve had days when I just couldn’t bring myself to fire up the computer, opting for the lure of a lazy hammock in the backyard instead.

Once in a while, a day off can help recharge your mental and emotional batteries. But string a few days of unplanned ‘hooky’ together and it can be difficult to get back on track which can lead to missed deadlines, overlooked opportunities and lost clients.

Keeping motivated is critical when you run your own show. But how do you do that when work is the last thing you want to do?

Check out these 5 handy tips for keeping yourself motivated.

1.Give Yourself a Real Break. Taking time off doesn’t always mean we stop thinking about work. This is especially true for high achievers. But having time away from thinking about marketing, sales, delivery, etc. is critical to maintaining our mental and physical health. Give yourself a time limit to go walk the dog, go for a swim, work out - anything to get distracted. Having a time limit ensures an hour doesn’t turn into the rest of the day (or week!).

2.Change of Scenery. If you are an online solopreneur chances are you’re mobile. Try out a new room in the house to get inspired. Or, even better, treat yourself to a warm beverage at a local coffee shop or library. You’ll find other freelancers doing the same thing - thinking of them as your colleagues can help boost your desire to get to work.

3. Where’s the Carrot? Sometimes all it takes is a promise of a reward to get things moving with your creativity and delivery. Set a work goal for the day and once reached, give yourself that reward.  It could be a massage, an afternoon at the zoo or a slice of chocolate cake -  you’re the boss - you get to choose. Since no one else will pat you on the back for a job well done it’s up to you.

4. Switch it Up. The ability to focus is a great skill to have to help get projects done. But if you find yourself bogged down on something no amount of concentration helps. Try working on a different project. Choose something that challenges a different set of your skills. It allows you to come back to that original project with a fresh perspective.

5. Reach Out. Being a solopreneur can be lonely. Venting with someone in your support network can be a great way to shake off the cobwebs from lack of motivation. It helps to commiserate with a fellow freelancer because, chances are, they know what you are going through and can offer advice or simply someone offer an ‘ear’. 

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Vote For the Movie You’d Like to See Made

March 18th, 2010



Tired of coming out of a movie theater thinking, “I could have done better than that!”

Now’s your chance to tell Hollywood what YOU want to see.

If you opened the entertainment section of your local newspaper this weekend, which of the following films (if any) would you pay to see…?



A Rocky Mountain Rescue Pro must team up with his future father-in-law, an uptight Japanese banker, to track his fiancé when she’s kidnapped and held for ransom by a psychopathic bank robber in the remote wilderness.



(Broad Comedy)

A foreclosure victim stumbles into an untraceable $1 million dollars from the very bank that took his home. Things are going great until he falls in love with the daughter of the embezzling  bank CEO…now he’ll have to break into the bank and put the money back without getting caught to save his future family.



A guilty bank robber confesses his latest heist to his father, who then risks his life and freedom to break into the bank and put back the money, so his son won’t do 20 years hard time.


(Broad Comedy)

A broke Life Coach who teaches the Honesty Principles Program discovers he has an unusual brain tumour that forces him to lie for the week leading up to the biggest event in his career.


(Sci-fi Adventure)

A test is introduced that can determine whether teens will become criminals…but when an honour student tests positive he goes on the run rather than turning himself in for mandatory reprogramming to prove his innocence.

MINORITY REPORT for young teens


(Comedy Fantasy)

A white trash trailer park guy traces his lineage all the way back to King Tut and sues the travelling exhibit to recover his family fortune only to find the curse of the pharaohs is no laughing matter.




Diagnosed with a terminal illness a lifelong loser decides to make it up to his family by trying to get killed in one extreme sport after another so they can claim his life insurance…but when the diagnosis turns out to be wrong he gets a new lease on life, until he learns his family has gone into debt in anticipation of the $5 million dollars on his head and now they’ve come after his head to claim it.




A self-destructive young rock star goes to rehab in a remote location only to be menaced by her stalker from the outside world…but she’s been expecting him and has plans of her own to get him out of her life once and for all.






A disillusioned teen is considering suicide then realizes it might be better if she was never even born at all so she goes back in time to make sure her parents don’t get together.






When their parents are laid off and unable to afford Christmas this year three determined kids decide to get revenge—by robbing the mega toy store that fired their families and bringing down the embezzling CEO behind the layoffs.




(Sci-fi Comedy)


A tiny planet with a very small army gets an idea…attack earth, lose the war and claim war reparations to get out from under their galactic debt.





When a hit man’s daughter is about to marry a guy he doesn’t like, he’s surprised to find out that his next contract is…the groom. Now, on the big day, he’ll have to decide whether to march her down the aisle, or send him to the morgue.




Any of these make you want to grab a bag of hot buttered popcorn? Let me know.


The Art of Sharing: How to Make the Most of Business Referrals

March 15th, 2010


You can greatly increase your marketing potential by increasing your number of business contacts. Chances are someone knows someone who can use your products and services.

Make the most of your business referrals and take the guess work out of target marketing.


1. Join a business referral group or your local chamber of commerce. Here you get to meet other business members at meetings and advertise together in common venues.

2. Making referrals a two-way street. Referring business to people who refer you keeps the karma mojo balanced.

3. Following up on referrals right away. When people want something, they usually want it right away and if they can’t get it from you, they’ll find someone else. Contacting potential customers while your name is still fresh in their minds keeps you top of mind. I usually jot down information on their business card immediately after meeting them so I can use that as an ice breaker or reminder of our meeting to jog their memory the next time I contact them.

4. Pitching your sale to anyone who will listen. I used to hate marketing my business because I always felt I was being salesy until someone told me to look at it this way, ‘Marketing is simply telling people what you do over and over again.” I can do that. And so can you. Telling people about your products and services in concise detail allows them to understand the nature of your business and whether they, or someone they know, needs your kind of expertise.

5. Making referrals a priority. Many business owners incorporate the referral process into their marketing plan only when profits are down. The old advice about marketing holds true here: the time to market your business is all the time. Referrals are ‘warm’ leads and are closer to the sale (and the money) than cold calls. Why make it harder on yourself?

6. Knowing your purpose. If you’re clear on what your purpose (and the purpose of your biz) is, you can communicate it cleanly and potential customers will ‘get’ you and the service you offer.

 7. Respecting other people’s time. Who doesn’t like to receive a ‘thank you’ - if someone helps you out with a referral responding quickly with a simple acknowledgement of appreciation will ensure ongoing referrals.





When You’re Stuck - Blog Post Idea Grab Bag for Solopreneurs

February 17th, 2010



These ideas and topics are meant to kick start your own creative process. Some can be used ‘off-the-shelf’ - title and all - you chose.


Happy writing!


1.      How to find the right niche.

2.      Top 10 signs you are in the wrong niche.

3.      Do I really need a business plan?

4.      __ways to find more paying clients.

5.      The best ways to conduct market research.

6.      How to handle a problem client who’s also your top billing.

7.      The art of firing a client (and how to guarantee they recommend your service after they’re gone).

8.      What do you do when a client fires you?

9.      How to ‘close’ a hesitant client?

10.  How to handle complaints without breaking your boundaries.

11.  How to apologize to a client without losing their biz (or their respect).

12.  How to write a ‘cold’ email to prospective clients.

13.  When do you know it’s time to quit your day job?

14.  How do I use Facebook, Twitter, social media to attract new clients?

15.  How to tell if/when you are ready to quit your day job and start working at home.

16.  How do I quit my day job, work from home (and not go crazy from worry/the stress)?

17.  The challenges of being a solopreneur AND a mother/father/spouse/partner…

18.  What is competitive advantage and how do I know if I have one?

19.  My best/favorite client success story.

20.  The worst client I ever had…(anonymous of course).

21.  How to sign up new business in tough economic times.

22.  How to write a promo and not feel creepy/salesy/pushy.

23.  How to write a sales letter that doesn’t suck.

24.  How to find a great writer-for-hire.

25.  What are the best things about your work environment (space/light/color/gadgets/desk…)?

26.  What I miss most about working outside the home (and why I’ll never go back).

27.  If you could run your business from anywhere, where would that be and why?

28.  How to break out of the 9 to 5/pay check mentality.

29.  Profit share and subcontractors – should you or shouldn’t you?

30.  How to set up a profit share with subcontractors.

31.  Affiliates – teh good the bad and the just plain ugly.

32.  What does a day in the life of YOU look like?

33.  Where was your last vacation and where are you planning to go next – why?

34.  Budget is NOT a four letter word.

35.  How much money do I need to set aside in my business for expansion/tax/education/travel?

36.  How do you define success and how will you know if you get there?

37.  How does a business budget differ from a personal budget (and why should I care)?

38.  How to tell if you’re addicted to personal growth/conventions.

39.  How guerrilla marketing can make you look like a turkey (or an eagle).

40.  What’s your competitive advantage?

41.  Social media and you - how to get started.

42.  How to go from good to great.

43.  How to leverage current events to improve YOUR search engine ranking.

44.  What’s a viral post and why should I care?

45.  Solopreneurial Siberia - Where to go when you feel isolated?

46.  Chrystal ball - What will your field look like in 5, 10, 20, 50 years?

47.  The Ten Biggest Mistakes I Ever Made in Start Up (and how you can avoid them).

48.  The most embarrassing client moment and what I learned from it.

49.  My ultimate top 3 stress busters.

50.  Share a milestone in your business/personal growth.

51.  Write about your ‘niche hero’ and what it is about them that you admire most.

52.  Review the most recent business book you’ve read or most recent websites you’ve visited.

53.  What I learned from (a current event, a person you met, or an experience you had).

54.  Define commonly used terms in your niche that a beginner might not understand.

55.  Ask your readers for their biggest problem and write about it (and any follow ups).

56.  Contradict/challenge a hugely popular site/concept/method in your field.

57.  Speak out against the conventional wisdom and rules of operation in your field.

58.  Introduce 5 new services/service providers you recommend and say why (be specific).

59.  Take a popular blog/website outside your field and show how to adapt success principles from it to your own niche/field.

60.  Highlight someone in your field ‘doing it right’.

61.  Take a snippet from a previously published article you wrote and highlight it in a post (and provide a link to the full length article).

62.  Share your frustrations about blogging and what you do to keep writing/motivated.

63.  Share a story of success you found directly through blogging.

64.  Take a spam email/promo/sales letter sample that deals with what you offer/do and take it apart to show why it does/doesn’t work for you.

65.  Describe a service you use that you just couldn’t do without.

66.  Just keep writing.


I know, a list of 66 is an odd number – that’s just where it fell. Stay tuned. If this proves popular there may be more to come.

10 Ways to Spice up Your Blog Posts

February 17th, 2010


Spices in wooden spoons


Let’s be honest, blogging can be a real pain. Coming up with fresh topics to write about can be a big challenge.


The keys to a great blog are: relevant, current content provided in an entertaining way.


Check out these ideas to get you back into the groove when you’re stuck. Don’t forget - for the most part, apply one concept per post.


1. LISTS - Why do people love lists? Readers like them because they are quick and easy to read. Bloggers like them because they are easy to write. Try…Top 10 (or 5 or 3) lists, 7 Ways to…, 3 things NOT to do…. The key here is to hook them with a great title.


2. INVITE PARTICIPATION - Invite your readers to participate in a question, comment or discussion. 


3. INTERVIEWS - Talk to someone in your field - colleage, expert, controversial figure - then write about it and/or record it and put a link to the audio in your post.


4. RECOMMENDATIONS - Basically, if you use stuff and you have a list people will be interested in your insights and experience - from the kind of pen you prefer to your favorite vacation spot.


5. GUEST BLOGGERS - Invite a guest host to write a blog for you OR swap blog posts for a month with a guest host - obviously it’s someone you know, like and trust and vice versa. Don’t forget to have your final approval for content.


6. REVIEWS - Whatever works for your niche - music, websites, other blog posts, movies, food, books, services, gadgets, etc.


7. HOW TO’S - Share your expertise. We’ve grown up in the ‘how to’ and DIY world and people love easy to follow instructions to help them get further in their lives and their business.


8. GO VISUAL - Whether they’re from YouTube or your own collection, photo’s and videos can be great attention getters.



9. QUOTES - Share a quote or saying from someone famous or in your field related to your post.



10. Q&A - Answer readers feedback/questions/comments.


It doesn’t take much to spice up your posts (and recharch your creative energy). Try one (or all) of tips and you’ll not only have more fun with your posts, so will your readers.

5 Kick-Butt Ways to Kick Start Your Writing

February 3rd, 2010


Feeling as though your creative juices have fermented? And I’m not talking about the, “It’s brought out a smooth nutty flavour with subtle overtones reminiscent of ethereal French pressed coffee with a faint suggestion of creme-brulee and a velvety finish…” kind of fermentation. More like the kind of fermentation that happens in the bowels of a frat house refrigerator.

If your writing has soured try a fresh approach with these quick and easy tips:

1.     Write a bunch of crap. Don’t feel bad. Write the worst you can. Think of the old prospectors from the California Gold Rush days –how much ‘crap’ did they have to get through to find that single nugget. And so it is with writing. Once you give yourself permission to ‘suck’, you’ll be surprised how fast the good stuff shows up.

2.     Write around it. If I’m stuck I write around the project: I’ll come up with the easy stuff – headlines, outlines, key words, key phrases – basically all the stuff that comes off the top of my brain. This allows the big picture to take care of itself.

3.     Show up. Woody Allen once said, “90% of success is showing up.” Using that logic you can’t be successful if you don’t show up so schedule a writing time that works, and one that you know is doable. Even 15 minutes per day. Once it’s a habit you’ll find you actually want to write more and you’ll spend more time doing so (without the pressure of a three hour writing marathon).

4.     Avoid closure. When I’m done for the day I’ll stop, not when I’m stuck, but in the middle of a stream of thought. It leaves me with something to jump right into the next day. Key - make a note of your thoughts in bullet form, but to save the writing for the next day. When tomorrow comes, look at your bullet points and hit the ground running.

5.     Stop writing and start reading. Take a look at some of your old writing. Can you refresh and recycle it and avoid the need to come up with completely new material?  Professional writers do this all the time. You invariably improve the original content with new insights.

Give it a try – the real trick here is to make sure you write and write every day even if it is ‘crap’ and you never use it you will still benefit from the practice.

Remember, you can always use the ‘spittoon’ if necessary until to find the one tip that suits your taste.







The Power of Storytelling and How it Can Get More People Reading Your Stuff.

February 2nd, 2010



I was vacationing in the Bahamas recently when I got an urgent email from a client of mine: “Mike, I’m in a jam! Are you available for an urgent project?”

This client, I’ll call her Vesna (cause that’s a cool name) had been labouring for over 20 hours on a thousand word article. She was stumped and behind the proverbial eight ball. “It’s due in 3 days and my editor told me it sucked! I don’t know what to do to improve it. Help!”

“Vesna”, I said, “Leave it with me.” So she did and I got to work.

It wasn’t bad. But it was missing one critical piece: a story. People are always looking for a personal or biz story they can relate to. Once I captured that hook and passed it on, Vesna read it and instantly got it. So did her editor.

Result: happy client, happy editor and happy me with some unexpected cash for a nice lobster dinner.

Why is storytelling such a powerful tool?

Ever since we lived in caves and recounted stories from the hunt in the glow of the fire, we’ve been captivated with stories. Today that warm glow of the fire may have been replaced by a child’s bedside lamp or our 50” plasmas, but the principle remains – people love stories at the end of the day.


It’s more than entertainment.

Stories offer us a chance to live and learn through the experiences of others and offer the opportunity to apply those lessons to our own lives. Through our hero’s (and villains) we can learn how to be more courageous, humble, compassionate, successful…

What do we look for in stories?

  1.   To see how others do it and build skills by visualizing ourselves performing a particular skill successfully.
  2.   To see a reflection of who/where we are in our own journey.
  3.   To help makes us feel a part of something greater – something universal.
  4.   To give us comfort.
  5.   To show us how to work out our own problems through watching others work out their own.
  6.   To help us understand, manage and leverage our emotions.
  7.   To show us how to solve problems without having to reinvent the wheel.

Powerful storytelling can be a great promotional tool not only providing simulation or knowledge in how we can act in our own lives but also to motivate and inspire people to take action.

By incorporating some storytelling basics we can reach people on a much deeper, more meaningful level.

Face it – you already use story – testimonials, case studies, success stories – these are all a form of storytelling. How will you leverage your story?


How to Get (and stay) Motivated While Writing Your Great Work.

February 2nd, 2010


Some hard fought lessons from the trenches to stay on target with your writing.

1.   The Buddy System. Find an enthusiastic writing buddy. They don’t even have to be a writer. Just having a ‘go to’ person who’s in your corner can help lift your spirits. Find a fierce supporter of you - someone who doesn’t hesitate to offer you their enthusiastic encouragement.

2.      We can’t all be rock stars. I wish I could sing well or play guitar like Stevie Ray Vaughn, but I can’t. But I can play inspiring music. I know for me listening to great music from amazing talent. Heavy metal, easy listening, rap, good old rock and roll…

3.      I’m a visual learner. Keep a visual reminder of the larger reward your writing will bring – a jar of sand to represent a dream vacation, a photo of a musical instrument, for me it was a picture of a kayak, or maybe it’s a photo of the loved ones you’ll be supporting with your continued writing.  

4.      Clean up your act. You’d be surprised how a little environment de-cluttering can clear your mind.

5.      Da Plan Boss! Da Plan! Develop a plan for your book. An outline or Table of Contents sets a mark to write towards. It lets you know where you’re heading and leaves fewer opportunities to get stuck.

6.      Cut it out. You wouldn’t jump out of the tub to answer the door or spit out your dinner to answer the phone would you? (oh, you would?) Well, I never do. Just because someone thinks it’s a great time to contact me doesn’t mean it is. If I’m not expecting a call/visit etc. I just don’t answer. That’s what paper, pen and voice mail are for, no? Take advantage. Negotiate schedules with loved ones during your writing time.

7.      Retreat! Professional development in the form of conferences or retreats is a great way to inject some new life into your writing. It’s also a great place to hook up with other writers to boost your motivation.

8.      Maybe it’s time to quit writing altogether. Did that one hit you in your gut and hurt or do you find yourself nodding in agreement? ‘Man up’ or move on.

The bottom line – keeping up with writing requires more than will-power – that tank is easily emptied. Writing passionately about what you love is the most energy efficient fuel your creativity can burn.  

It’s Not (Just) About the Writing

November 12th, 2009

frustrated-writerI have a client that I phone interview and record on a regular basis. I take those recorded conversations and turn it into his newsletter and blog postings. On our last call he confided in me “Mike, I know a lot has happened over the past week, but I just don’t know what to talk about.”

That’s when I knew that the value a writer offers to his clients goes way beyond the simple act of writing - when it’s done right, it’s really a collaboration in the truest sense of the word.

It’s not just about the writing…

A great freelance/ghost writer doesn’t just record great ideas, they help incubate those ideas. They need to be sensitive to understanding when it’s time to ‘birth’ an idea and when it’s time to back off. It’s about encouraging the creative process and knowing (and respecting) when it’s time to push and when to pull back  - and communicating that clearly.

Being a great ghostwriter is more than simply asking timely, thought provoking questions (very important), it’s about actively listening (MORE important) and listening for what’s between the lines (MOST important). Quite often that’s where the nugget, the real passion is found - between the lines.

Writing can be a tough job especially for those whom writing is a secondary skill or merely a means to an end. Helping to hold clients accountable (i.e. to a regular call time for newsletters/blogs) ensures their message reaches its intended audience in a timely, relevant manner  - a great ghostwriter can offer the structure and accountability necessary in the pursuit of success.

If you want to create value to the your information products then a writer can (and should) be an integral part in that value added process -  not just recording word for word but thinking strategically, with the client AND their clients at the top of their mind ALWAYS with an eye for business development and marketing.

So when a client comes to me saying they “just don’t know what to talk about” that gets me sitting up straight. It’s an opportunkity to step into a new level of the relationship and go beyond being merely being someone’s writer - it me into the role of collaborator and investor in my clients’ success - ya gotta love collaboration.

“How to Become a Millionaire and Never Pay Taxes…

November 12th, 2009


…First, get a million dollars…” - from an old Steve Martin stand up routine.

Keys to Boosting Your Expert Status

So how do you become an expert and find more clients? First, become an expert…” 

Experts charge more, work less, are highly respected and get to work with other, really great experts. 

So how do you showcase your expertise so others see you as an expert?

 1) Build a Website 

Ideally your website should showcase your expertise to your particular niche. Make sure to include samples of your work - writing, videos, partnerships, press releases, etc.

2) Publish a book

Books are the new business cards. Whether you self-publish, publish on demand (POD) or get published the old fashion way there’s no substitute for the credibility/recognizably factor a book provides. Feels overwhelming? Start small with articles, newsletters and blog posts.

3) Publish a Newsletter

Newsletters provide repeat exposure to your market with fresh content.  Focus your newsletter on your area of expertise . Once into a routine newsletters are a snap to write.

4) Seek publicity regularly.

Enlist the help of your colleagues, JV partners, associates etc. to promote you - and return the favor. Try sending out a press release and do promos every quarter.

5) Testimonials (with photo) 

People want to know if you can help them. Show them how you’ve helped others. Testimonials should answer: 1) How you helped 2) The result. One great testimonial can seal the deal. 

6) Speak up

Workshops, seminars, guest speaking, etc. gets you in front of a crowd and builds credibility. Hate public speaking? Try non-traditional venues like teleclasses, teleseminars, telesummits…

7) Hang out with experts

When you spend time with experts you’ll be seen as one yourself.

8) Dont’ be Shy

If you’re an expert claim it. If you’re not an expert yet, do what it takes to become one. 

9) Get Regular

Once you build your expert status opportunities arrive faster and more easily. Regular, consistent actions help maintain your expert status.

These strategies may or may not make you a millionaire but they will definitely help build your expert status.