Welcome to the 2018 Productivity Challenge!
This is the eighth consecutive year I have hosted the Productivity Challenge on my site. During the course of the next 30 days I will share my best tips and strategies for creating a profitable online business by taking steps every day to be more focused, intentional, and productive. It is my hope that you will benefit from this year’s challenge by visiting here each day, taking action, asking questions in the comments section, and getting your own business up and running in record time. Get started by leaving a comment here to tell me that you’re in for the 2018 Productivity Challenge!
It is my sincere belief, based on my experience and that of the people I mentor that you can become an expert on your topic and begin the process of building a lucrative online business during your first thirty to ninety days online. If you are willing to do the work and take each step seriously, you will succeed.
Day 1 – This is the day to move past and let go of any procrastination, fears of failure (or of success), perfectionism, or overwhelm you may have experienced in the past around building and growing a business on the internet. Today is also a day for creativity and daydreaming – use your right-brain powers and ability.
- Think about what you would like to be known for in your business. This will be your niche. Imagine what it will be like to serve people who want to know more and can only do so by experiencing your message.
- Make a conscious decision to work diligently on your business. This involves a personal commitment you make to yourself to do whatever it takes every single day to succeed.
- Sit quietly and see what comes up for you. What do you envision as occurring throughout your journey to online entrepreneurship?
- Know that you can do this, and do it well. You are smart enough and have enough life experience to make this work for you. No one can share your message as you will be able to during your lifetime.
- Take 10 minutes (no more!) and list all of the ideas you have for products and courses around your niche topic.
Day 2 – How are you building your platform online? What I mean by this is…what are you creating in your niche to set you apart from everyone else? These are some of the things I have done over these past twelve years since coming online as an entrepreneur:
- Write and Publish Books on Various Aspects of Your Topic (Are you writing a book right now?)
- Create a Body of Work on a Blog (Are you blogging twice a week on a WordPress, hosted blog?)
- Host Teleseminars and Webinars (Is teaching in this way a regular part of your business?)
- Create Information Products/Courses (Are you working on one right now that will share your knowledge with your target audience of prospects and customers?)
- Speak at and Host Live Events and Workshops (Where did you last speak or present? Do you host your own live events?)
It has never been easier to make a name for yourself as an expert in your field, and the items I have listed above are stepping stones to great experiences in your journey as an entrepreneur. Make it happen!
Share your main site in the comments, along with any details you would like to share about your books, products and courses, and speaking engagements.
Day 3 – This is a productivity challenge and our focus for these thirty days is how to be most productive for maximum results in your life and business. Looking back over these past twelve years that I have been working exclusively online I know for certain that writing each day has made the difference. And in a world where doing what you say you will do and making the extra effort to achieve every task and goal you set out to accomplish sets you apart from others, a daily writing practice is of utmost importance if you are to reach the level of success you want and deserve.
I have begun using a site called 750 Words to write every day. Some of this writing is for my business, while other days it is more like journaling to get a fresh start to my day. There is no cost to belong for the first thirty days ($5 a month after that) and it might be the best decision you have ever made. I may even use this site to write my next book.
Your writing serves many purposes and goals in your online business. These include, but are not limited to:
- blog posts
- short reports (to sell and for your free giveaway to build your list)
- email messages
- articles for publication (offline and online)
- information products
- books on your topic
Also, remember that readers make the best writers, so having a book in progress is very important. I tend to read mostly non-fiction business books, and round that out with inspirational non-fiction and some fiction by authors I enjoy. No matter what is going on in my life I am always reading. Be sure to check out my “Reading List for Entrepreneurs” on this site.
Please share your daily writing rituals, habits, and resources with us here so that we all may benefit.
Day 4 – Have you written your seven hundred fifty words yet today? It’s just after six in the morning as I write this and I will do my daily writing immediately after I update your Productivity Challenge for today. My topic is “intentions” and I will allow it to unfold as I write. See Day 3 above for a link to the free site I use to do my writing each day now.
Today I would like for you to make a list of your assets in your business. These would include, but are not limited to your:
- registered domains
- sites you have set up
- permission based list (you may refer to this as your database)
- information products (your own or PLR (private label rights), live and recorded courses, and services
- membership sites (active or in progress)
- writing (blog posts, reports, white papers, books, etc.)
- mentor, coach, and/or mastermind group
- speaking and presenting engagements during the past two years
- testimonials from people you have served
The goal of having you write these items down is for you to see where you have strength right now and where you need to improve. For example, if you have not been speaking or presenting on your topic, you can now reach out to groups locally and virtually to make that happen during the next thirty days. No matter where you are today, that can change drastically by your taking action and moving to the next level as an entrepreneur. Author and motivational speaker Brian Tracy teaches us to work on improving our lives one percent each day. This is an excellent way to set that concept into motion.
Leave a comment where you share some of the assets you have in place already, along with what you will be working on as a part of the Productivity Challenge 2018.
Day 5 – For today, I want you to commit to a business model you will pursue until you monetize it. Most of us came online with the goal of earning income, yet most people do not achieve success because they chase multiple ideas and models and do not focus on a single one to completion. If that describes you, turn that around during this productivity challenge by focusing on one model only until you have earned your first, or next income. Here are some business models for you to choose from:
- Information Products (your own ideas or ones using PLR)
- Affiliate Marketing
- Small Business Marketing
- Membership Sites
- Authorship and Speaking
I am including only the business models above because you can have success more quickly with these than with others that I and others have later incorporated into our businesses as online entrepreneurs. What will it take for you to have an information product for sale, earn affiliate income, have a small business client, add a member to your membership site, get a coaching client, or become a published author with a speaking engagement? The answer will be different for everyone, but know that you can achieve any of these goals over a seven to ten day period. I have done this in all of these areas many times over the past twelve years on multiple occasions. You can do it; I have complete confidence in your abilities as an entrepreneur. The next steps are entirely up to you and I am here to assist you on your journey.
Please leave a comment where you share with us which model you are choosing to work on right now, how you have taken action to put it in motion, and what questions you have for me as to what steps to take each day to turn this into a viable income stream.
Day 6 – We all have the same twenty-four hours in a day, yet we all have different levels of productivity and results from the actions we take and tasks we accomplish each day. This Productivity Challenge is all about doing more in less time and moving forward in your business.
The goal is to find your “prime time” hours and to engage in income producing activities each day. Let’s take a closer look at each of these strategies…
During the years I worked as a classroom teacher people would tell me that I was a “morning person.” I always disagreed with them and said that I was not a morning person, but instead someone who had chosen a career where one had to be up early and fully alert to do the job.
It turns out I am a morning person after all, and it was only after I left teaching and gave away my real estate clients that I discovered this to be true. In 2006 I began working from home and could make my own hours. Yet, I was up by six each morning and ready to dig in to that day’s task. I also realized that my energy level would decrease after noon and that by early evening it was difficult to do anything that required my brain to be fully alert. The best thing you can do is to figure out which hours of the day are best for you and do most of your thinking and writing during that time. Those hours are ones I refer to as your “prime time” and they must be protected at all costs. I like to work on my business four or five days each week during my prime time hours and I suggest you do the same.
Now let’s discuss income producing activities. I divide these into two categories – those that produce income directly and those that are indirectly producing income for my business.
#1 – Writing (of all types, on a variety of topics, published for the world to read)
* writing an email message to my list actively produces income within minutes
* writing blog posts, where I include a link to something for sale is an indirect activity
* writing and publishing books is also an indirect income producing activity
#2 – Creating (courses, products, programs, virtual and live events)
* creating a new product or course can be a direct way to earn income, if you have promoted it the right way while you were creating it
* creating new lead generators (free giveaways) and short reports leads to producing income indirectly
#3 – Sharing (this is marketing)
* sharing your products, courses, and services on social media is direct, if you have built a loyal following
* sharing your products and resources (affiliate offers) to your list and on your blog will be both direct and indirect income producing activities
* taking your prospects and clients offline, with a phone call or in person is a direct income producing activity
You can see from this breakdown of activities that you must be building a list, connecting with the right people on social media, writing on your topic each day, creating new products, sharing your best resources, and taking people offline every day for best results.
What are you doing today that is either a direct or an indirect income producing activity?
Day 7 – What are you afraid of? Today I’d like to talk about the fears that may come up for you as you move forward as an online entrepreneur. Even though you are likely an accomplished person in your personal life and in your job or career, becoming an entrepreneur requires a new way of thinking and acting if you are to succeed. While Franklin D. Roosevelt may have told us that “there is nothing to fear but fear itself” you may still feel like the fear of success or the fear of failure is standing between you and the life you are creating in your business.
When I began I had two fears: one was that I was not smart enough or talented enough to write and to create information products for my business; the other was that if I failed as an entrepreneur I would not be able to find a job in order to meet my financial obligations each month. Instead of giving in to either of those fears during my first year, I chose to learn as much as I could from others who were successful and to implement what I was learning every single day.
This required me to give up something that I didn’t even think of as an issue in my life – the need to have everything perfect.
This perfectionism was rearing its ugly head with my writing. I told myself that as a former classroom teacher and college educated woman my writing had to meet a certain standard. I though about what “they” would say if they would find my writing online. I imagined someone going through each blog post and correcting it virtually, and then laughing loudly at my mistakes with grammar, punctuation, and more. And as these fears came closer and closer to destroying my business before it began I did something I had not had the courage to do for my entire life. I adopted a phrase that is now one of my favorite ones – “so what?”
So what if one person or a million people think my writing leaves much to be desired. So what if others judge me because of my writing skills. So what!
And with this proclamation came a sense of pride and freedom and joy. I stopped worrying about what others thought of me and focused on being the best “me” I could be each day. And as I stepped into this new found power I became almost fearless. My confidence grew, my writing improved, and I laughed all the way to the bank! Then I vowed to devote the remainder of my life to helping others to do the same thing in their lives.
Feel the fears, whatever they may be for you, and do it anyway. Become the loudest voice you hear in your head. Engage in positive self talk every day. Only you can stop yourself from creating the life you want and deserve as an entrepreneur. I believe in you. That’s what the Productivity Challenge 2018 is all about.
Day 8 – What’s for sale? If you are in business then you have something people may purchase. During my first year online this consisted almost exclusively of affiliate products, courses, and services (helping local businesses with their marketing). I recommended those products and courses I had purchased myself and was benefiting from in my own business through my affiliate links.
Then I wrote an eBook about real estate farming, a topic I knew well from my years of working as a real estate broker and appraiser. Finally, at the end of that first year I created an information product on blogging and article marketing. These days I have about sixty products and courses, as well as a mentor program and some shorter term mentoring classes. Affiliate marketing continues to make up about forty percent of my income.
I was able to make sales very quickly and increase my earning each month because I started building my list right away, I was blogging regularly, and also I submitted my writing to the article directories that were popular a decade ago. There was no social media in 2006, so this was not a factor. But I did join two paid forums that helped me immensely in my efforts as a new entrepreneur.
Today you must be more aggressive and systematic with your marketing efforts. A link in a blog post will not make many sales if you only post sporadically and don’t have a following. Build a list, blog and share your content through syndication, connect with others on social media and in forums, and create simple information products you can sell to many people who are interested in your topic. Publish videos on YouTube (please subscribe to my channel) and host teleseminars and webinars to teach what you know. Create free funnels that include a challenge like this Productivity Challenge. Engage in these activities regularly and consistently and your business will grow exponentially.
And make sure others know what you stand for and believe in when it comes to your topic. For example, I believe that anyone can become successful as an online entrepreneur if they are willing to learn as much as possible while simultaneously doing the work to build their business. I also believe that entrepreneurship must be a part of your life, regardless of the job or career you have right now. These beliefs are the basis for the books I write, the courses I teach, and the public speaking I do around the world.
What’s for sale in your business? Where may someone find these items?
How effective is your sales strategy?
Day 9 – Today I will go into more detail regarding #3 – Sharing (this is marketing) from Day 6. I want you to think of yourself as someone others look up to and want to learn from when it comes to your niche topic. Once you believe you have valuable and important information and ideas that must be shared to help others enrich and change their lives you will be ready to step into this position more readily. Use positive self talk to build your confidence and there will be no stopping you from achieving success as an entrepreneur. The question now becomes how you will best achieve this goal by reaching the largest number of people on a regular basis.
Start small, by writing a blog post and speaking with people you already know in your community. Then go BIG right away by sharing your writing and speaking with the world.
- Look for speaking opportunities in your local community. I did this by going to Rotary, and international service organization (not religious or political) where the movers and shakers in almost every city around the world meet weekly for fellowship, networking, and learning about something of importance. I have attended Rotary meetings throughout the United States, as well as in Canada, China, Thailand, Italy, Finland, Sweden, the U.K., the Bahamas, and Mexico. The Rotary Club in Santa Clarita, California (where I was a member until I transferred to the one in Santa Barbara about five years ago) gave me my start as a public speaker and I dedicated my first published book to them because of this life changing opportunity. There are other local speaking venues as well, including the Chamber of Commerce and other groups and organizations.
- Consider being a guest on other people’s podcasts. You may be interested in my training on this topic at Really Simple Podcasting. I hosted two podcast series over a six year period though 2016 and will tell you that finding guests was time consuming. Reaching out to the podcasters as a possible guest puts you in the position of being able to pick and choose how and with whom you will share your message and positions you as an expert and authority on your topic.
- Combine several of your blog posts into one document and share it far and wide. These are short reports but you may call them anything you like. I refer to mine as Focus Guides and you may download one of them here. Every time I create a Focus Guide on one of my topics, a new product or course is soon to follow. You can also use this content (assuming you have written it all yourself) as the basis of a book you can publish and benefit from.
- Create short (less than five minutes in length) videos and share them on YouTube. My Channel has attracted people I may not have connected with anywhere else. Please subscribe to my Channel and click on the little gray bell icon to receive updates and announcements of new videos as I release them.
- Utilize social media to allow your prospects, clients, and colleagues to find out more about you and what you have to offer on your topic. My motto here is “Get in, get out, and get back to work!” and I do everything that needs to be done in fifteen minutes a day. Follow me on Twitter to see how I use that site to expand my reach and then do the same for yourself.
These five marketing strategies can take you from where you are today to closer to where you would like to be. They increase your credibility and visibility and allow you to be the director of your journey to successful entrepreneurship. What I continue to do works well, and you will benefit by emulating my actions for your own business.
What are you doing in any of these areas to stand out from the crowd? What is your takeaway from this Day 9 update for the Productivity Challenge?
Day 10 – What is your “why” and what is your message? It takes a special person to become an entrepreneur. It’s more challenging than any job or career will ever be, and the only way you can succeed is by maintaining your inner drive and motivation to do the work every day. You must be self-motivated because no one will ever knock on your door or call you on the phone and ask you what you are doing that day to move your business forward. It’s your reason why and your message that drives you, and evolving these two concepts will help make your vision for your business more clear and focused over time. I have now worked with enough people to know that if their message is fuzzy and their reason for becoming an entrepreneur not clear to them, they have little chance of success.
My reason why came about as a result of my situation. I had created a life for myself during the 80s and 90s that no longer served me. I was a classroom teacher in the inner city of Los Angeles and loved the work for about fifteen years. I felt that it was a calling, akin to missionary work. But the system changed and I changed and during the last five years of my teaching career it became a struggle and a job. During this twenty year period of teaching I had also worked simultaneously as a real estate broker and residential property appraiser in my own small business. Needless to say, I was exhausted from this lifestyle. After illness and injury over the years I was ready to create a new life for myself.
My message is that anyone can become a successful online entrepreneur, provided they are willing to do the work and to learn as much as they can from mentors and guides they trust. With so many business models available, people from all walks of life and from around the world can build and grow a business they can run from home, or from wherever in the world they happen to be. And online entrepreneurship is a way to build a lucrative business more quickly and with a smaller investment than any other business opportunity I have ever encountered.
Please share your message and your reason why with us here.
Day 11 – Tools and resources are an important piece of running an online business. Too often I work with someone virtually who is having issues with focus and productivity, only too find out they are using a five year old computer that hasn’t been updated with the current operating systems and programs. I find that my computers will run optimally for two to three years and that is only because I have someone who maintains them and updates anything that is obsolete every six months to a year. I pay less than a hundred dollars for this service and it saves me untold hours in time lost due to waiting for a program to load or for simple tasks to be completed while the hard drive struggles in the background. Also, make sure you have an additional computer for backup at all times. You are in business, so behave as a successful business owner would when it comes to your hardware. I do have a laser printer but find that I use it less than one day each month, and that is typically for personal, not business reasons. You may want to consider going paperless as well.
Other tools includes ones that I use for my day to day business activities. These are listed on my Resources page. I recently consulted with someone who was considering four different options before starting his weekly teleseminars. He was taking price into consideration, as well as the ability to use something in conjunction with Google Hangouts. When we spoke it came up that his target audience was less comfortable with more technical services and more likely to get involved with something they could do with their phone, now considered to be a low level of technology for people around the world. He finally got it when I suggested he use what I and so many other six and seven figure a year earners are using because we already know what is cost effective and profitable. Also, the weeks he has spent researching his options has cost dearly him due to lost work time on his growing business.
Take a close look at your business to determine, as objectively as possible, what tools and resources you are using that no longer make sense. If you’re still using HTML websites, switch over to WordPress so your sites will load more quickly and look more modern. If you’re using free versions of tools you depend on, know that you will have no one to complain to when they stop working as you had become accustomed to or go out of business completely. And if you are spending too much time waiting for programs and pages to load, join the twenty-first century and invest in the best tools your budget will allow. This strategy will pay off handsomely over time.
P.S. On Day 12 I will share my strategy for using short reports to grow your business quickly and to achieve your goals with credibility and visibility. Pick up my training on writing short reports and use the code SHORT to receive an instant, significant discount.
Day 12 – Today is Short Reports Day here in the Productivity Challenge. I can’t remember when I was first introduced to the concept of writing short reports, but it must have been sometime around 2008. Soon I learned that these were the entrepreneur’s version of something called white papers in the corporate world. The idea is to share your best information on a topic and then either give it away or sell it to your prospects as a way to move them through your funnel. Even a new entrepreneur can combine four or five articles on a related topic into one document that shares more information than could be found in a blog post or in a forum.
Over the years my short reports have evolved into something I refer to as Focus Guides. I write on a variety of topics related to my niche of online marketing, and each focus guide contains seven to ten of my best (in my opinion) articles on that more specific topic. I add an introduction and a summary or conclusion, as well as a page or two for recommended resources and an “about the author” page. The idea is that anyone who reads one of my focus guides will know more about me and my topic. I give these away everywhere I possibly can and they are huge income generating vehicles. You may download my Focus Guide on copywriting here to give you an example of what I am talking about.
This short report consists of ten articles around the topic of copywriting and sales copy and is twenty pages in length (around seven thousand words in total). You will also notice that I also include information in this focus guide about my course on writing sales copy because it is directly related to what I am writing about. You want your prospect to read through your short report with interest about the topic and to be open about making a purchase from you (your own product) or through you (an affiliate product) as a plausible solution to their problem around your topic. Keeping readers focused is key to success here.
Start small, and look above at my P.S. at the end of Day 11 about the popular training on writing short reports you may pick up at a huge discount during the Productivity Challenge. If you are new to online entrepreneurship or to creating information products, short reports are an excellent way to get started. You may also wish to repurpose some of your short reports into eBooks (sold on their on website) or books for the Kindle platform. You will become a published author on the largest site in the world (Amazon) overnight while also having a product to sell on your own.
What Other Questions Do You Have on the Topic of Writing Short Reports?
Day 13 – Have you ever hosted a teleseminar? This is an audio recording where you talk about your topic or interview someone else about their topic. I began hosting teleseminars at the end of 2007 and was scared to death to do so. When I took a closer look at my fear it was around my belief that I did not have anything of value to share with my listeners. Once I moved past that belief I began hosting weekly calls. This process built my list, improved my speaking and interviewing skills, and increased my income significantly over the course of about a year. This is a post I wrote about my experience of hosting teleseminars online.
I highly recommend that you give teleseminars a try as you build and grow your online business. Unlike webinars that require you and your audience to be in front of a computer, you are able to host teleseminars from anywhere in the world using only a phone. I have now hosted more than four thousand hours of calls and I have used the same teleseminar service from the very beginning. In fact, I have audio recordings hosted on their site for dozens of my online courses.
There are several types of teleseminars and I recommend that you begin by interviewing someone you know about one of their products. Use an affiliate link during the call and then share that audio recording with people far and wide. This was how I began earning income as an affiliate marketer in 2007.
You will not care for the sound of your own voice when you first get started, but I promise you that will change at some point. If you can talk on the telephone for thirty minutes you can host a teleseminar as part of your journey to successful online entrepreneurship.
Leave a comment if you have more questions or would like to interview me using the service I am sharing above to promote an affiliate product or course.
Day 14 – Vow to become a lifelong learner and you will achieve anything you set your mind to do. While I was a classroom teacher I was always taking classes during the evenings, either to continue my education towards my teaching career or to learn more about real estate for my business I ran part-time simultaneously. I decided to share this part of my life with my students.
They were at first shocked and dismayed that I still went to school, but when they understood that I “got to” go to college instead of “having to” take classes their perspective on education shifted. I explained that as they became older they would have more of a choice about which classes they could take, and that once they had finished high school there were many paths they could choose to follow. I can remember one class I was taking on astronomy and how they felt for me when that course became extremely difficult. It was a learning experience for all of us and I gave up my dream of being an astrophysicist that semester. Just kidding.
The point I am attempting to make here is that you will never know all there is to know about online marketing or even about your topic. So you must pick and choose what you will learn and the direction you wish to take with your learning in order to constantly grow and improve in the areas that are important to you.
For example, writing is an area I chose to improve in when I first came online, based on my observations of what I most needed in order to excel as a new entrepreneur. This has paid off quite handsomely over the years, and this year I am taking some advanced training in a program run by some of the top authors and writers working online today. This program stretches me on a daily basis and my writing is beginning to improve as a result. I would never be at the level I would like to be as a writer unless I was willing to commit to this type of education. The fact that it is all online makes it more convenient for me and allows me more time to write, so that is a bonus.
On the other hand, I have little interest in learning more about technology and graphic design. Yes, I have some basic skills I use almost every day and I have learned more over time simply by default, but I will not go out of my way to learn more in these areas because I am not interested in doing so. I happily outsource these things to people who have fun with technology and graphics and think of what they do for me more as play than as work. That is the way it should be, in my opinion.
Which areas are you willing to learn more about and what would you prefer to let others do for you?
Day 15 – Connecting with influencers is the fastest way to make a name for yourself online. I accomplished this early on by working with people in a Mastermind who had already been online for several years. You can do this in a variety of ways that will enable you to know and to be known by those who are already well established in your niche. Here is how I suggest you go about this process:
- Make a list of at least ten people in your niche you would like to connect with. There should be a reason for each name on your list, such as wanting to know more about how the person became interested in your topic, or wishing a be involved in a joint venture with them, or hoping to be asked to speak at their live or virtual event.
- Next, do some research to see where each person can be found online. If they have a blog or website, read a little and opt in to their list. If they’ve written a book, read the book and leave a review. If they have a podcast or online course, get involved and share your feedback. You will set yourself apart by doing these things, as most people will not take the time and make the effort and then wonder why the movers and shakers in their niche have no idea who they are.
- Connect with each person on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube. Reach out to each person with a simple comment about why you are interested in knowing them or a positive comment about their book, blog, or course.
- Engage in these three steps over and over again with more and more influencers in your niche and soon you will become one of them. This strategy works!
Who is on your list? How did you reach out to them today? What else can you do to approach each person in a way that will show you in a positive light?
Day 16 – Blogging to build a body of work and grow your business is a crucial part of entrepreneurship. It seems like most of the people I work with do not relish the idea of blogging twice a week, but the ones who achieve success are willing to embrace this strategy and benefit greatly from it. Blogging from the day I got started online in 2006 turned me into a writer and marketer, enabled me to make sales before I had a list, and turned me into a published author in 2010 when I blogged my first book. I have now written more than three thousand blog posts and can honestly say that my writing has improved significantly over time.
Are you blogging? It will help you to find your voice on your topic, help prospects to find you more easily, and build your credibility as an expert and trusted advisor in your niche. Like anything else, we must make blogging a priority if it is going to happen. I write in the mornings, so you must decide when your “prime time” is every day and then mark it on your schedule to get it done. Start with three to five hundred word posts and write about topics that your target audience will be interested in. And for ideas and inspiration, visit my blogs at Huge Profits Tiny List and at Connie Ragen Green.
My Challenge to You…I am creating a mini-challenge within the Productivity Challenge 2018:
Choose a topic of interest to you and relate it to your main topic. Make a point within this post that will give your readers a different perspective than they may already have when it comes to your topic. Then expand this writing into a short report or even a short book for Kindle. I am starting this today and will let you know how it goes. This is the creative part of entrepreneurship that makes it the greatest work we can be involved in. If you do this I will be more than happy to share your writing with my community.
Day 17 – Creativity and the world of online entrepreneurship. Let’s expand upon the Mini-Challenge I shared yesterday on Day 16 of the Productivity Challenge 2018. You and I are humans with diverse talents, experiences, and interests. For this reason it makes sense to add a niche to our virtual portfolio that explores a subject area we are naturally drawn to for the purpose of adding an income stream. I’ve done this on the topics of dogs, education, real estate, and more. This week I am branching out into a new niche topic for me – professional baseball.
For years I taught that you must stick with and monetize one niche before moving on to another topic. But after thinking this over for the past decade and observing the results of some of my clients I am now changing my stance on this discussion. I have clients who run a macadamia nut ranch in Hawaii who have added surfing for teenagers as a niche. Another person is a florist and he is monetizing a niche around old Volkswagen cars.
The important thing to note here is that you must continue to ask yourself “what’s for sale” in any niche you choose. Refer back to Day 8 for a more thorough discussion on this. If you choose a niche where everything is free, then you will be adding a “hobby” site to your daily activities. Instead, do some research to find out just what might be for sale and then see if these items are selling. The best tip I can give you here is that if people are paying for advertisements in this niche, then something is most definitely for sale.
Be creative with this and know that everything you learn and take action on has the potential for profit. It also provides you with what I refer to as “crossover” skills you will benefit from in your main niche.
What niche makes sense for you to add to what you are doing online, give your interests, experiences, and talents?
Day 18 – Affiliate marketing is an excellent way to get started earning some income online. I’ve touched on this topic earlier in this Productivity Challenge and now want to share even more details with you. I define affiliate marketing as the process of recommending what you use, love, and have benefited from. Even though I have more than sixty products and courses of my own, as well as several mentoring programs, I continue to earn about forty percent of my income from this awesome business model.
Start by making a list of the products, courses, and programs you have purchased and benefited from during the past couple of years. Remember that you will have access to an almost unlimited inventory of digital products to promote, so don’t be afraid to be picky about what you recommend. Even though it may seem to you as though I am recommending many people and products regularly, the truth is that I continue to share the same people from year to year and only add someone new if I am impressed by what they have to offer.
And know that I am purchasing information products, courses, and training programs almost daily, but I only recommend a small percentage of these because they are not the quality and content I look for to share with others. I’ve been online since 2006, so just because I purchase something does not mean it will be right for the people who think of me as their trusted advisor. I stand behind my affiliate recommendations and say that everything I mention has my “Green Seal of Approval.”
You may sign up to become my affiliate at the Connie Ragen Green affiliate program hub page.
Day 19 – Taking a day off each week to rest, refresh, and rejuvenate is crucial to your success as an entrepreneur. At first you may be reluctant to do this because it feels like you have too much to do, but please trust me when I tell you that by taking off a full day each week you will become more productive than ever before. And this will spill over into other areas of your life as well. Why? Keep reading and I will explain this phenomenon from my perspective.
When I say to take off one day each week, I am referring to taking a day away from your usual tasks of writing, creating products and courses, and of marketing. Social media is included with this, so you will step away from that as well.
What you will not ever take a day off from is your thoughts and ideas. You will discover that when you unplug from the internet and allow your computer and other devices a day of rest, your mind will become hyperactive in response to the quiet state you have created. I allow myself paper and pen during this day off and sometimes I amaze myself with what I come up with as a result. It’s in trusting yourself to be creative and resourceful that the magic begins to unfold. And taking this day away from everything that is typically in front of you will feel like a three day vacation. You will end up with time on your hands, ideas in place for the following day’s to-do list, and the people in your life may ask you why you are smiling.
And the online world will not realize you are not around for a day each week, thanks to the power of automation. Emails continue to be sent, social media posts and updates will magically appear, and even your blog posts can be scheduled in advance. Sometimes when I look back it appears that I was more productive on a day off than I am normally.
When you begin as usual the next morning, take a moment to express gratitude and appreciation for the world we have created online. Being able to work from home, or from wherever in the world we happen to be is a gift that must be acknowledged.
I’m curious; when you decided to come aboard this Productivity Challenge 2018 did you add it to your dynamic to-do list or your schedule, or did you wait until I mentioned it in one of my social media posts or an email message before you remembered that you were a part of this? How you do anything is how you do everything, so I will encourage you to develop and establish habits that will serve you well as your business continues to grow.
Day 20 – Do something outrageous! Entrepreneurship requires you to think and act outside the box if you are to achieve great results in your work. You deserve to be seen as a leader and to accomplish your goals in a way that is fun and exciting while also serving others. Here are some ideas on how to get started with outrageous thinking and actions in your life and business.
- Start something new and exciting and share it on social media. My friend and colleague Donna Kozik did this recently when she announced her idea for a community book project. That was on a Wednesday afternoon and by the weekend I and about seventy others were busy writing our contribution to the book. You can see the result here of the project she named “Success Is Yours!” and learn more about how you can do something similar.
- Do something in your local community that will be newsworthy. We all hear about things going on in our communities that would benefit from some helping hands, but how many of us move forward to take action and make a difference? Even though I am a part of several service organizations in the two cities I live in, I like to be the one to bring a situation to the attention of these groups and then chair the committee that will enthusiastically jump in to help. Begin to see your world through the eyes of someone who is willing to take a stand and bring about positive change.
- Speak up to local and national media outlets to share your opinion. Once I stopped caring about what others thought of me I was free to share my thoughts and ideas on a variety of topics of interest and concern. Once you are willing to speak your truth and show that you are a person who cares about people and situations your life will be forever changed.
What outrageous ideas do you have? How can you share these with others in a way that will showcase your skills, abilities, and beliefs that will result in you and your business growing exponentially?
Day 21 – Let’s review what has been covered in this Productivity Challenge over the first three weeks. We talked about:
- Building your online platform to grow your business steadily and exponentially
- Writing daily to create a body of work that will serve you forever
- Your online business assets that lay the foundation for everything you will create
- Choosing a business model that makes sense for your goals
- Time management to make the most of each day
- Income producing activities that ensure your business grows and increases steadily
- Overcoming fear and procrastination and knowing that you can be a great success
- Asking “What’s for sale” in your business to grow your active and passive income
- Evaluating your “reason why” and your message to the world
- The tools and resources you need to stay in business
- Leveraging the power of short reports to reach more prospects, customers, and clients
- Hosting teleseminars as a way to expand your reach exponentially
- Becoming a reader and a lifelong learner to accelerate your position of authority
- Connecting with influencers in your niche to leverage your business growth
- The power of blogging in turning yourself into an authority and expert
- Choosing a complimentary niche topic for added income and market reach
- Creativity for entrepreneurs to set yourself apart from everyone else
- Affiliate marketing as a business model that makes sense
- Taking a day of rest once a week to refresh, renew, and rejuvenate!
- Doing something outrageous!
Take time today to go through the Productivity Challenge so far and take action on anything you have not yet implemented in your life and business. Remember to take this at your own pace and to just keeping moving forward one day and one step at a time. Believe in yourself as much as I believe in you and great things will start happening very quickly for you.
Day 22 – Today I will share a strategy I have used for many years that no one else seems to be doing or teaching. It’s creating a simple information product within a blog post and giving it its own domain name. I have done it numerous times now, including here with the Productivity Challenge 2018. In this case it’s a free product, but it is also an excellent way to create a paid product.
Start with your idea, and write a blog post about it. Then begin to flesh it out and begin teaching and sharing everything you want to include. be as generous as possible, with resources, bulleted lists, and step by step directions and instructions on how your prospect/customer can replicate your tips, methods, and strategies.
Purchase a domain name and forward it to the permalink for your blog post. For example, I forwarded ProductivityChallenge2018.com to HugeProfitsTinyList.com/productivity-challenge-2018. If it’s a free products or course or training, simply send people to the domain you have purchased, such as I am doing here. If it’s a paid product, send them through the domain you purchase and password protect your post.
You may even do this with a sales letter for your product, using a page on your WordPress site and a second domain name.
This is an excellent way to get started with information product creation and one you can get started with right away.
Day 23 – Get noticed! Most of the people I connect with online through my business identify as introverts, as I do. This means that we prefer our own company to that of others most of the time, and will avoid being the center of attention or being in the public eye at all costs. If this describes you, please keep reading…
Be ready for your close up now!
Early on I realized that an online business did not mean that I could hide behind my computer and build a lucrative, successful business. I knew that I would need to connect with people, online and in person if I were to make a go of this. Now these were the days before social media, so once that became a part of what we all were doing on the internet (around 2008) then it became even more crucial to be seen and heard in regards to your message and your products.
I took a leap of faith and began hosting teleseminars, as I have described above. Then I started my YouTube channel. Between sharing my face and voice and words online and connecting with people in person at live events, I slowly became more comfortable with getting noticed. And I have to admit that I even enjoy it many times. Earlier today I was interviewed on a Facebook Live broadcast and enjoyed sharing details about my business from my second floor balcony overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
The next steps include seeking interviews where you can discuss your topic, as well as speaking opportunities in your local area. I teach an online course called Become a Local Celebrity where I go into great depth on these topics. The idea here is to first become known in the city or town where you live and to then branch out to locations far and wide. Even though much of what we do can be accomplished virtually, there is nothing that compares to meeting your prospects and clients in person.
How are getting noticed in regards to your niche topic and your business? What areas do you need to focus on more? Reach out to me on social media and I will be more than happy to share your latest updates with my online community.
Day 24 – Getting back to the basics of blogging regularly is crucial for you as an online entrepreneur. You already know when your “prime time” hours are each day, as I shared on Day 6. These are the hours out of your twenty-four hours each day when you are the most alert and will do your best and most productive thinking, writing, and creating. On Day 16 I discussed the importance of blogging as a means to find your voice, grow your audience, and become a trusted authority on your topic. On Day 8 I asked you to answer the question of “what’s for sale?” in your business. Today let’s bring this all together in a way that you will benefit from for years to come.
Write a new blog post (your original writing) of at least five hundred words on some aspect of your topic. Include within your post some information about a product or service that is relevant to your readers. This could be something that you have created or something from an affiliate. Even though selling from within a blog post is not the post effective strategy for new online entrepreneurs, it gives you a starting point from which to grow and expand your reach.
Tomorrow I’ll share some strategies for marketing your post that you may not be familiar with, but for today simply write your post and know that you will be sharing it with people around the world who may be interested in connecting with you and what you have to offer in a way you may not have previously been able to imagine.
Day 25 – Storytelling to Build Your Business – There is great power in a story, so I want you to share your stories as often as possible. But how will this help me to become more productive, you may be thinking. The productivity piece of this activity comes when people begin to know who you are without you having to go into a lengthy explanation, either verbally or in writing.
Everyone of us has a story. And when we begin our business, that is a story as well. At this point, many of my prospects know my story as well as I do. I was a classroom teacher, working after school and on weekends as a real estate broker and residential appraiser. After going through cancer treatment and a serious work injury I came to the decision to leave teaching and real estate to work online. I had no idea what I was doing and struggled during that first year, but once I figured it out and put the pieces together I went on to not only replace my previous income but to increase it eight times over.
What is your origin story? By this, I mean the story that explains why you came online to start a business. Share it with us here in the comments. Make it as real as possible, using as many senses as possible and evoking some raw emotion. First, think about what emotion you want to communicate and then provide information to support the emotion. Be real and know that others care about and will remember you more for your story than for anything else, at least at first.
This is from Margo da Cunha on Storytelling Tips…
The 5 C’s – Circumstance, Curiosity, Characters, Conversations and Conflict:
When crafting your story lay out the circumstances. Set the scene and give the vital information that will provide context for your reader. Use curiosity to leave the reader wanting more (this trick works in headlines too). If there is nothing to be curious about then why would the reader keep reading? Characters and conversation go hand-in-hand. If you’re telling a story without any people and no dialogue your readers will likely doze off. And last but not least, conflict, which is easily the most important element. “If there’s not any conflict then there’s not much of a story.”
What’s your story?
Day 26 – Outline a book you will write this year – I am proud to be the author of more than a dozen books on the topics of entrepreneurship and personal development. With the advent of self-publishing in its modern iteration less than a decade ago it is now possible for everyone who want to be an author to do so, inexpensively and effectively.
Most people I am connected with through my online community do not achieve their goal for a few reasons. One of these is that they do not have a tight outline from which to work while they are in the process of writing their book. If this describes you and you want to write a book on your niche topic in order to be perceived as an authority and expert, here are a few things to include in your outline before you begin:
- a tentative title and subtitle
- what your book will be about
- who you are writing for – your target audience
- what you believe about this topic
- other books/websites/thought leaders in this niche
This gives you a framework from which you may begin to write, and also lays the foundation for the research you will want to do before you begin writing.
Are you writing a book right now, or do you have plans to write one in the near future? I highly recommend it as a way to set yourself apart form more than ninety percent of the people who are in your same or a similar niche on the internet.
Day 27 – Staying motivated and inspired – As an online entrepreneur most of what you do each day will be done alone, in front of your computer. As much as I enjoy this solitude, it can sometimes feel like isolation or that of being sequestered from the human race. When and if you feel the way I am describing here, there are activities I will suggest to motivate and inspire you to greatness and joy.
- Go outside – I take regular breaks during the hours I am working most mornings. These include taking my dogs outside to play or going for a short (twenty minutes works well for me) walk to think about what I am working on and to literally distance myself from the project for that day.
- Watch a video – I like to watch TED talks on YouTube to acquaint myself with people and ideas I am not yet familiar with. These short presentations have changed my outlook on life and helped me to take actions I might not have otherwise.
- Read a book – I always have one or two book going that allow me to escape my own thoughts and ideas and enter a world where the author is sharing his or her beliefs in a way that allows you to grow and expand both your thinking and your knowledge. The saying that “readers are leaders” is a valid one, I believe.
What do you do to regularly inspire and motivate yourself to new heights in your life and business?
Day 28 – Earning income with the skills you already possess, or can enhance is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the world of online marketing and pay for the products, services, and training you will need along your journey. When I first came online I thought I had no skills that would be of value to others. This was not true, but it was my belief at that time and that made it my truth.
Here is just a partial list of the skills you may have that are in great demand by other entrepreneurs:
- Graphic design – If you are familiar with programs such as Photoshop, there are people who will gladly pay you for your services.
- Technical set up – Again, if you are familiar with setting up websites, both in HTML and WordPress, as well as with autoresponder services and affiliate programs these and other tasks are in high demand.
- Editing – This skill is in even greater demand these days and you can make a living by helping people who blog, write books, and create courses and presentations by editing their work for them.
- Copywriting – By far, this skill will be the most rewarding and highest paying of all the skills I have mentioned here. Familiarize yourself with sales copy and practice writing headlines, features and benefits, and vivid descriptions of products and services to make yourself a valuable asset to an online entrepreneur’s team. I learned to write sales copy by writing it out in long hand and identifying each aspect of a sales letter. Hone your skills in this area and you will never want for interesting and lucrative assignments.
If you are serious about learning more about copywriting as a skill for your own business, as well as offering it as a service for others, be sure to take a look at my Really Simple Sales Copy training. You may also wish to read this article by James Chartrand on “How to Become a Master Copywriter in Just One Year” where she (yes, James is female) says:
Get One-on-One Training
Self-education is great, and it can certainly take you a long way, but there’s nothing better than working one-on-one with a copywriting coach to advance even further towards mastery of your skill.
After all, this person has been where you are and can show you how to take your copywriting skills to the next level. He or she can provide direct, immediate feedback on what you think you’re doing well enough or what you feel you need work on.
Feedback from someone better than you is key: You’ll learn which areas need work, exactly what you should do to improve and get confirmation when you’re doing it right – or correction that helps you when you can’t quite get it.
What skills do you have already and which ones will you spend the time to enhance?
Day 29 – Develop a servant’s heart with everything you undertake. My experiences since coming online have reinforced my belief that in serving others we have the greatest opportunity to achieve all of our goals and dreams. Whenever I send out an email message with the subject line “how may I serve you today?” I am rewarded with connections and stories and thoughts and ideas that lead to the online world becoming an even more personal one.
How can you be of service to another person who is working to achieve the same or similar goals to yours? How can you make the relationship even more meaningful, perhaps by moving the conversation off the internet by way of a call or a personal meeting? And how can you quietly be of service to another, perhaps by recommending them to someone else or by sharing their content with your community. These small steps lead to the magic that will help you to create a life and business you could not have imagined even a short time ago.
Day 30 – As we bring this year’s Productivity Challenge to a close, I’d like to leave you with some thoughts and ideas about what may be the most important topic of all for you as an entrepreneur. That topic is money and budgeting, one that most of us do not care to think about. But if you do choose to increase your knowledge in these areas, your entrepreneurial journal will be a more joyous one and you will gain more than additional zeros for your bottom line.
I grew up very poor, and it was just my mother and I after my parents divorced when I was three years old. We never had enough money for even the basics, and by the time I was ten or eleven I began babysitting and doing other small jobs for friends and neighbors as a way to bring in some money to help with our household expenses. This led to all kinds of limiting beliefs around money, ones that would stay with me through adulthood.
As a classroom teacher and real estate broker/appraiser I was able to earn more money than I ever imagined I could, but I did not have the necessary skills around money to become efficient with budgeting and saving.
Then I came online in 2006 and within three years I was earning more income than I thought would be possible from this endeavor, given that I was now working about twenty-five percent of the hours I had previously and bringing in five times as much money as I had ever earned in a year. That number continues to increase, but only because I finally made the conscious decision to become more knowledgeable about budgeting, saving, and personal finance in general.
Go back into your memory bank and think about your monetary situation growing up. Did your parents talk about money? Were they always penny pinching because funds were tight? Did they rack up piles of credit card debt living above their means? No matter what your personal situation, it laid the foundation for how you think about money today.
As with any problem in life, you alone have the power to change the outcome. If you suffer from limiting money beliefs (just about everybody does!), you can change your mindset but that requires taking action. Beliefs are neither right nor wrong; they are simply beliefs that have become ingrained in our minds and at any point in time you can make the effort to change those beliefs. However, it’s not enough to just say, “I want to change.” You need to actively seek out ways to change your attitude about money.
Until you know what you’re really spending, you can’t create a workable budget. Start by tracking all your business expenses, no matter how small. A simple spreadsheet will do; no need to get fancy.
If you want super simple and old school, keep a small notebook with you at all times and jot down all your expenses during your daily routine. At the end of the day you can categorize them on your spreadsheet into Business vs Personal expenses. This example is a little neater than simply throwing receipts into your pocket or purse, although saving those receipts is important for tax time so don’t be quick to toss them.
Now is the time to start looking at ALL your business expenses and make note of any duplications. Do you have extra domain names that you haven’t used? Consider selling them or letting them expire. Is there a less expensive autoresponder available? Switch plans or commit to sending out more emails to your list. Do you really use and receive value from the paid online groups you belong to? If not, cancel your subscription without regret.
How much have you invested into your company? Many solo business owners have no idea; they just check their bank balance before making a purchase and don’t account for the purchase or know where that money is coming from. Working this way is detrimental to your overall earning potential because you are likely not buying necessary items and you may be focused on all the extras that are not important to your overall monetary goals.
Do you have any outstanding loans or debts related to your business? Those should be listed under your expenses as they need to be paid back on a monthly basis.
In general, entrepreneurs who run their practices out of their home have very little overhead and assets to report but it’s still important to take note and know how much money you spent on each asset. Most importantly, incorrect reporting can be punishable with hefty fines, so consult with an accountant or a bookkeeper to make sure your files are in order and the records are accurate. I brought a CFO (Chief Financial Officer) aboard in the fall of 2017 to keep everything in order as my business grows.
Part of your new monthly accounting process is to create a Profit/Loss report. Many invoicing programs have this feature and depending on the app you’re using, that may be an added feature, too. When you print out a report or view it on your computer, those are cold hard numbers staring back at you and they don’t lie. Right there in black and white is how much you made minus how much you spent with the remainder being the profit you made that month.
Learning to “know your numbers” will lead to greater productivity as your business grows and expands. This area is too important to be left behind as you become more successful with entrepreneurship.
“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” ~Jim Rohn
Be sure to leave a comment and let me know you are joining us for the
2018 Productivity Challenge. You may begin at any time, so you are never behind! Remember that you will have access to the PDF of this Productivity Challenge immediately after the thirty days are completed, so bookmark this page and come back as often as possible to read the latest updates and to let me know that you are a part of this experience during April and May of 2018.
Download a PDF of this 2018 Productivity Challenge
and continue your progress at your own pace.