Online Networking (Anti-Sell Style)! My Cardiff Met Centre for Entrepreneurship Webinar Talk

I Hate Sales banner
Hello! So… I was meant to give a networking workshop to a bunch of Cardiff Metropolitan University students around mid-to-late March, but then this whole Coronavirus/COVID-19 happened (you might’ve heard of it!), soo inevitably we had to cancel. But the lovely folks at Cardiff Met’s Centre for Entrepreneurship asked if I wanted to do a webinar instead – with (understandably) a focus on online networking tactics rather than offline/face-to-face ones. If you saw my Anti-Sell talks at either Freelance Heroes Day 2019, or Swansea Digital Marketing towards the end of last year, it’s an adapted version specific to the things we can do during our current situation – a ‘lockdown edition,’ if you will.

During the hour-ish-long webinar, I give tips on:

  • What types of online networking opportunities exist – some obvious, some less-so,
  • Why you should target ‘semi-related’ groups/communities instead of just directly-related groups/communities, and what I mean by that,
  • How to remove (or at least reduce) the nerves that can come with participating in something online for the first time, e.g. a webinar or Facebook group,
  • How running or creating your own thing (rather than just ‘attending’ things) puts you in so much more of a visible position – and takes things further,
  • How you should ask for testimonials (i.e. where and how you should try to acquire them),
  • Why you should always try to remain calm, professional and respectful towards others,
  • Aaand a bunch of other stuff.

The folks at the Centre for Entrepreneurship recorded it, passed the recording onto me, and gave me their blessing to publish it publicly on YouTube – big thanks to Hannah, Steve and Lyndsey!

Here are the slides on SlideShare as well:

As an aside, I’m eagerly looking to do more webinars, podcast interviews, written/blog interviews, etc. at the moment – so if you know anyone looking for a guest/speaker/whatever (delete as appropriate), please let them know about me. As thanks I’ll send a free copy of the book to whoever helps me to land something (a free PDF copy for now, and then a free paperback copy as well once the lockdown has been lifted). Check out my speaking page for info, testimonials, past speaking gigs and more.

The talk is in line with Anti-Sell, the ‘sales guide for people who hate sales’ which I self-published last year. Learn more about it here.

The Biggest Influence on Anti-Sell (is Not What You’d Expect)…

Photo of computer screen run through the Prisma appWell hello there! It’s been a while. The last post I published on here was *checks notes* five months ago?! 😨 Wow. And to think, I once committed to doing at least one new post per month on here! How the hell I ever even managed the time to do that, I’ll never know – haha…

Aaanyway.

Recently I realised that Anti-Sell came out this time last year (March 2019), which is absolutely unreal – the last year has flown by.

Since then I’ve blogged about the book’s release (see link above), as well as my Freelance Heroes Day 2019 talk and how I’ve been promoting it.

I also blogged about the books that inspired it – but later realised that its biggest inspiration (or perhaps “influence” would be the right word to use) isn’t actually even in that list.

So… what is it?

It’s got to be something SEO-focused, right? Like the Moz Blog?

Uhh nope! While I am a bit of a long-time Moz fanboy (I still often think back to my time at MozCon 2018), and I do briefly mention Rand in the book, it’s not the biggest influence.

So then it’s a business book, right? It’s gotta be! Like one of the ones in my Books that Inspired Anti-Sell post?

Well yeah, obviously they inspired Anti-Sell (it’s… literally in the post’s name, LOL) – but none of them were the biggest influence. (Although I’ll give a special shout-out to The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz, which was one of the first business books I read and subsequently fell in love with – the author is really funny and engaging, making it a very entertaining read.)

So if it’s not any of those, then what is it? What’s the biggest influence on Anti-Sell?!

Well… It’s Cracked.com.

Yep. Cracked.com. Genuinely.

Yep, the authors and purveyors of such fine articles including 5 Dumb Ways Celebrity Scandals Were Uncovered, The Sticky Scandals Of Brooklyn’s Maraschino Cherry Factory, and Skittish About Fan Theories? Well, These Rock – to name just a recent few.

Cracked homepage screenshot
Why yes, I have indeed blacked-out Fanmade Shrek’s chest, just in case anyone took offence…

So how is an American comedy website the biggest influence on a business self-help book?

Click to read more!

Doing a Content Audit? Here’s a Link Building Tip Even the Experts Miss…

Broken chain (Prisma)Despite not being a fan of clickbait, I’ll happily admit my hypocrisy given that this post has the clickbaitiest title in history – so before you break out your pitchforks, I’ll do you a deal: here’s a quick TL;DR summary so you can determine if you wanna read on or be on your merry way…

TL;DR: If you’re doing a content audit on a site that’s had guest content published on it, and you decide to remove some of that content, let the original author know if they want to re-publish it on their own site (along with a link to the ‘original’ source).

A few years ago, I wrote a guest post for Point Blank SEO, a site/blog run by veteran link builder Jon Cooper (@joncooperseo). The post was titled “Communitybait – Taking Egobait One Step Further” in which I coined the term communitybait and shared examples of what that was. The post is no longer live (I’ll get to that), but thanks to the Wayback Machine, it can still be read here: https://web.archive.org/web/20161005194750/http://pointblankseo.com/communitybait

Point Blank SEO post screenshot
How the post appeared on Point Blank SEO

Sometime between then and now, Jon must’ve sold the site/domain to Brian Dean (@backlinko), who’s also a veteran link builder. So I was surprised to see Brian miss a link building-oriented trick…

Click to read more!

How I’ve Been Promoting Anti-Sell (a Book About Not Hard-selling…)

In March 2019 I self-published Anti-Sell, the sales book for freelancers and small business owners who hate sales. You can learn more about its initial origins in this ‘launch’ post and on its dedicated landing page.

Anti-Sell paperbacks (Prisma)
I’ve faced a few challenges when promoting the book post-launch. Firstly, despite being an online marketer in my day job, I’ve never promoted a book before, so it’s a brand new territory for me. I also self-published it, so I don’t have a fancy-pants publishing company to back me up and do the marketing for me.

The biggest challenge however? Well, it’s… a book about not selling. Or at least not hard-selling. So I’ve tried to be really careful about how I go about promoting it. After all, it’s going to go against the ethos and core message of the book if I ‘over’-sell it and end up ramming it down people’s throats (so to speak).

A few months on, here’s what I’ve done to try and promote it.

First: the numbers

Anti-Sell sales chart in KDP
Ok, so first of all: am I even qualified to give this advice? Like I say, I’ve never promoted a book before, so why should you even listen to me and read what I say? Well, I’ll be open with you with its performance to date…

So far I’ve sold a few hundred copies – bearing in mind that’s across all formats: paperback (which can be bought via Amazon or bought from me in person), Kindle eBook, PDF eBook and self-narrated audiobook. But it doesn’t include the free copies I’ve given away, especially in PDF format (more on that below).

A few hundred copies feels like a lot and barely any – all at the same time. I’m amazed that a few hundred people actually want to read something I’ve written (and have paid actual money to do so!), and yet it might be a laughably pitiful amount compared to other more well-known authors. I’m happy with it though – I told myself going into this that I didn’t know if I’d sell 50 or 50,000 copies, and while I’m light years away from the latter, I’ve jumped way past the former. So there’s that at least. I haven’t yet broken-even on my initial costs, but I’m getting there…

It’s also starting to feel like everyone I know who said they’d buy a copy has now bought a copy. While sales haven’t exactly slowed down just yet (August 2019 – five months after the book’s release – has been the 2nd best month to date), it does feel like it’s more (and harder) work to try and shift copies now.

How I’ve been promoting the book so far

So here’s what I’ve done so far to try and promote Anti-Sell – some of which might be quite obvious and traditional, while some tactics might be a bit alternative and out-of-the-ordinary.

Let’s start with one straight from the latter category…

Click to read more!

The Books that Inspired Anti-Sell

Anti-Sell alt cover - bookshelfAt the end of Anti-Sell, there’s a ‘Further Reading’ section, recommending a bunch of books that the reader can check out beyond mine. And even though it might seem like a really lazy rather ingenious copy/paste job from the book (😉), I thought it made a lot of sense to share it on here, too.

Throughout the book I’ve mentioned numerous books and resources that can help you on your Anti-Selling journey. Here’s a list, with a bit more info about each of them, plus a few more for good measure.

A quick note: None of these authors paid me a fee to be included, nor do I get a commission if you buy any of them. I recommend these books 100% wholeheartedly – because I actually really like them.*

ReWork by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

ReWork book coverReWork is probably my favourite business self-help book of all time, and a big influence on Anti-Sell. Why? Because ReWork is also quite rebellious in nature: it goes against the grain of traditional business advice but makes excellent recommendations in spite of that. It was recommended to me by a client (thank you Scott of TestLodge!) and on the first listen (I bought the audiobook), I fell in love with it. While listening to it in the car, I used to scream “YES!!!” after sentences I agreed with – which happened a lot. And probably sounded weird if I had my car window open. But there we go.

Some of its takeaways include:

  • Other people’s failures are other people’s failures, not yours. So when people talk about the survival rate of freelancers, small businesses and startups, just remember: if other people fail, that doesn’t mean you will too.
  • Plans should be called “guesses.” I remember freaking out when I had to put together a business ‘plan’ for some funding that I was seeking in the early days of freelancing (if I remember correctly, it was funding to cover my first year’s membership at my coworking space). How do I know how my business is going to do next year or the year after that? And that’s precisely the point. Call them guesses. To quote the book: “Start referring to your business plans as business guesses, your financial plans as financial guesses, and your strategic plans as strategic guesses. Now you can stop worrying about them as much.”
  • Everything you do is marketing. This ties in very closely to the message of the book you are currently reading. Marketing isn’t defined by adverts and promotional materials – it’s literally everything you do. Every. Single. Thing. You. Do. Every email you send is marketing. Every invoice you send is marketing. Just because you’ve won a client, it doesn’t mean that the marketing stops there for them. Every action you take can leave an impression on someone – good or bad.

I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there (not-in-the-book note: I actually wrote about my biggest takeaways from ReWork – including the above points plus more – on this very blog a few years ago: here’s the link). If Anti-Sell has resonated with you, and you haven’t yet read ReWork, pick up a copy. I’m sure it will resonate with you as well.

While writing this book, Fried and DHH released a new book: It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work, which – as you can probably guess from its title – addresses the sensitive subject of work-life balance. It’s worth checking out as well.

> Buy ReWork on Amazon

The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz

The Pumpkin Plan book coverThe Pumpkin Plan is a special book to me. Whether you’re just starting out, or you’ve been running a small business for a while and you’ve hit a rut, there are some great tips in it. As mentioned in earlier chapters of the book, it has advice on:

  • How to go niche when it comes to targeting clients.
  • Creating your own Assessment Chart, which can be used to score clients on certain criteria, in order to help you to detect which clients are the best-fit for you (not-in-the-book note: I’ve blogged about the Assessment Chart over on State of Digital).
  • Tactics for cutting bad-fit clients in a way that won’t cause any animosity, fallout or professional embarrassment.

Mike also has another good book called Profit First, where he recommends paying yourself first before paying bills, whereas typically we do the opposite (we pay our bills and then keep what’s left over as profit, however big or small that amount may be), so it’s worth checking out what he has to say on that as well.

> Buy The Pumpkin Plan on Amazon

Click to read more!