Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Are you Missing this Huge Target Market?

Who are these masked men and women?

According to Wikipedia: Cultural Creatives is a term coined by sociologist Paul H. Ray and psychologist Sherry Ruth Anderson to describe a large segment in Western society that has recently developed beyond the standard paradigm of Modernists versus Traditionalists or Conservatists.

The concept was presented in their book The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World (2000), where they claim to have found that 50 million adult Americans (slightly over one quarter of the adult population) can now be identified as belonging to this group. They estimated that there were another 80–90 million Cultural Creatives in Europe in 2000.

Dr. Ray and Dr. Anderson divide cultural creatives into two subdivisions:

Core cultural creative

Just under half of the CC population, this segment comprises the more educated, leading-edge thinkers. This group includes many writers, artists, musicians, psychotherapists, feminists, alternative health care providers and other professionals. They combine a serious concern for their inner life with a strong passion for social activism.

Green cultural creative

The more secular and extroverted wing of the cultural creatives. They tend to follow the opinions of the Core group and have a more conventional religious outlook. Their world views are less thought out than the Core group and less intensely held.


Dr. Ray and Dr. Anderson created a questionnaire to identify cultural creatives in Western society. The below characteristics were identified as qualities of a cultural creative. Agreement with 10 or more indicates status as a cultural creative.

  • love of nature and deep caring about its destruction
  • strong awareness of the planet-wide issues (i.e. global warming, poverty, overpopulation, etc.) and a desire to see more action on them
  • willingness to pay higher taxes or spend more money for goods if that money went to improving the environment
  • heavy emphasis on the importance of developing and maintaining relationships
  • heavy emphasis on the importance of helping others and developing their unique gifts
  • volunteer with one or more good causes
  • intense interest in spiritual and psychological development
  • see spirituality as an important aspect of life but worry about religious fundamentalism
  • desire more equity for women in business, life and politics
  • concern for the violence and abuse against women and children
  • want politics and government to spend more money on education, community programs and the support of a more ecologically sustainable future
  • are unhappy with the left and right in politics
  • optimism towards the future
  • want to be involved in creating a new and better way of life
  • are concerned with big business and the means they use to generate profits, including destroying the environment and exploiting poorer countries
  • unlikely to overspend or be in heavy debt
  • dislike the emphasis of modern cultures on making it and success, on consuming and making money
  • like people, places and things that are different or exotic


Dr. Ray and Dr. Anderson assert that "values are the best single predictor of real behavior". The list below outlines the values that dictate a Cultural Creative's behavior:

  • Authenticity, actions must be consistent with words and beliefs
  • Engaged action and whole process learning; seeing the world as interwoven and connected
  • Idealism and activism
  • Globalism and ecology
  • The importance of women

Core cultural creatives also value altruism, self-actualization, and spirituality.

In business

The 2008 marketing text, Karma Queens, Geek Gods and Innerpreneurs, by Ron Rentel, was the first to identify the cultural creative subculture in entrepreneurship. Rentel named entrepreneurial cultural creatives "innerpreneurs". Innerpreneurs have the defining characteristics of an entrepreneur:

  • high need for achievement
  • high need for independence
  • low need for conformity
  • internal locus of control
  • love of ambiguity
  • propensity for risk-taking
  • obsession with opportunity

But in addition to using their business for monetary gain, innerpreneurs use their business to find personal fulfillment (creatively, spiritually, emotionally) and create social change.

In 2008, there has been much discussion in the Western media on the ‘creative economy’ and the importance of the ‘creative class’.

Richard Florida published a series of books on this identified the 'creative class' and their upcoming economic importance.

Bill Gates spoke at the World Economic Forum 2008 on the need for ‘creative capitalism’ as a solution to the world’s problems. They theorize that being creative and inventive will be the key to business success in the 21st century. That a country’s economic success will be determined by its ability to mobilize, attract and retain human creative talent.

Are you a cultural creative? Are you an innerpreneur?

Is that your writing or spiritual market?

It’s time to stop superimposing old paradigms on our products, services and writing and feed the hungry masses with what they’re hungry for – deep spiritual meaning, fresh ideas for the future, and products and services that honor our environment.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Questions of Pricing

by Sandy Penny

Matt-Sandy-Andrea I received an email today asking about pricing for reading a manuscript that is ready for design. The designer has noted errors and inconsistencies and is unsure of how to proceed with the author:

[Good morning Sandy, I'm a graphic artist who will be formatting a client's book after her manuscript is complete.  She is not a fluent writer, her grammar usage is poor, she lacks flow and continuity and many areas are "lacking." She's a perfectionist on top of that who doesn't always recognize her weak areas, all of which results in a dangerous combination.

      How would you approach her to put the manuscript in professional order?  Is it acceptable for her to expect a quotation under these circumstances?  Would it be beneficial for you AND her to have an estimate with a very specific plan involving clear stages? In my view, there seems to be no way to accurately estimate the amount of time it will take to clean everything up.  And no way of knowing how many times we'll go 'round and 'round with an editor before she's satisfied. How do you address such projects, and what are the processes she should anticipate?]

First, I would compliment her on completing the manuscript and tell her I know she wants it to be successful, and let her know that I have noticed a few issues and ask if she’s interested in my input. If not, just do your job as a designer and let her learn the hard way. Also, it would be better for you, as the designer, just to introduce her to an editor and step out of that process. Let the editor communicate with her as a professional in that arena.

In the case of a new author, I usually charge a flat fee to read for content suggestions and for proofing. The flat fee is based on length of the book, content difficulty, fact checking requirements and other factors determined from a quick look at the manuscript. Something is added for difficult clients.

I give concessions for spiritual content as that is what I like to work with. For technical material, I charge an hourly rate as it can be grueling, and there is no way to predict how long it will take to get it right technically and to refine it.

On flat rate projects, I return all comments to the author (usually via email in a word doc) and charge 1/2 the flat fee for a second read after they make the changes. Then, for every time they want it read again the 1/2 rate applies. I recommend that they have it read at least three times by a professional and in between the first and second round give the manuscript to friends to read and make comments. The third time is just for final proofing after the designer is done and should not have rewriting still happening (but, of course, it usually does). The second time could be given to a different editor for new eyes, but that will cost more. Every time changes are made, a new read is recommended.

I ghost wrote a book, and after it left my hands, the publisher’s staff made changes. Apparently no one proofed the final copy after the changes were made, and over 25 errors were in the printed book. How terrible to be reading your book, being so proud of being published, and then to notice error after error. What a letdown.

For graphics, which I did for 20 years, you only make the changes a client asks for, and if there are additional changes due to their errors, you charge your hourly rate. You can try to be helpful if you see gross errors, but it's not a designer's job to proof a manuscript.

Specify up front what your parameters are. If I offered a flat rate for the design work, I specified what I included (usually one design and formatting and one round of changes) and noted that all other work and changes are charged at the usual hourly rate. The longer you work as a designer or an editor, the more you have an idea what amount of time it will take on projects. It’s a personal process of learning.

It is the final responsibility of the author to ensure a quality manuscript, especially if they're doing publish on demand. However, even traditional publishers, who employ editors, allow errors through these days, and the author has to take the responsibility for their product. If they don't, they're wasting their time and effort and perhaps money if they are self-publishing. If you launch a book with errors, you will lose the respect of some of your audience.

Some authors think their errors are actually part of the charm of their book, but for the general public, they would be wrong, unless they just hit a niche that is looking for an author. Or, if they're Mark Twain who wrote in dialect and told a great story.

For a specific quote, I'd have to see the preliminary manuscript or at least some chapters to price it. I would need to know the length of the finished manuscript, and what the author expects me to do for them (proofing, copy editing or structural evaluation).

Pricing is a trial and error process, and you have to decide what your time is worth and price accordingly. If you take on low-paying projects, you may not have time to do the high-paying quality project when it comes along. You have to market your services all the time and be selective and trust that the universe will continue to provide great opportunities if you do the best job possible.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

… Do you Want to Know What Your Customers Think?


Have you read my article titled “Is Feedback Important” yet? If not, this article is the second in a series about asking people for feedback. It’s more about email marketing and website structure.

This whole doing business on the internet is evolving so quickly that some of the niceties of doing business are being forgotten or intentionally left out or made obscure in the technology.

When on the internet, It’s so easy to think of people as faceless masses or statistics, but on the other end of those emails are real people – your customers. They have questions and need assistance to decide about making a purchase. You can herd some people through a cattle chute to the end result, but not most of them.

So, when you send out a mass email, you ought to be able to respond to it and get an answer to your questions. If you click on reply and get a message saying this is a “do not reply” mass mailing robot, you’re going to lose a lot of people who might be real qualified buyers. And you’re losing an opportunity to find out what your potential customer wants. It may be a small tweak in your product that you can offer next time. Are you really trying to serve a need, or are you just after the dollars? In the long run, serving a need is the only way to sustain your wealth.

Now, about websites: the current design philosophy of making them intentionally complex so you can present advertisements on every page is just plain annoying. I can tell you that I have quit in the middle of making a purchase because I got tired of being herded through page after page of advertisements and “one more offers.” Some buyers are explorers, but some buyers want to go to the checkout and get on with their lives. This tactic may be the current rage, but it’s not respectful to your customers, and they won’t thank you for it, and often they won’t make a second purchase from you, even if they like your product, because their experience left a bad taste in their mouths.

And, how about telling people what something costs before they go to a shopping cart? It’s extremely off-putting to me to have to put in card info without knowing the price, and I usually won’t do it. In fact, I’ve had products added to my final purchase without my permission, simply because I didn’t notice they had an “uncheck” box if I didn’t want the product. That’s like going to a drive through, ordering a burger and having them adding fries and a drink and charging you without asking – then telling you, “Well, you didn’t say you didn’t want them.” What’s up with that? Really?

Then when I cancelled the purchase because I was miffed about that, they had already pre-authorized my debit card for the total amount with the extra products added. That’s just wrong – and probably illegal. It’s like posting one price on the grocery store shelves and charging you something different at the cash register – that’s illegal, and they have to give you the posted price by law. After an inordinate amount of sorting out to get my money put back, I bought someone else’s product, and I told everyone I know about that experience. And, why is it that a seller can take your money out of your account in 10 second, and it takes three days to put it back? That’s usury. These are all personal experiences that I have had, along with millions of others.

The average person is still having challenges with all the evolving technologies they’re having to learn to become part of the internet economy. Cut em some slack and be the one who helps them get where they want to go and buy what they want to buy. That’s how to make some real long-term money.   

And, place a customer service and feedback button right up front. So what if they don’t want to search through pages of self-help? They shouldn’t have to. It’s up to you to give them the help they need to make a purchase.

They will thank you for that – with their dollars!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Is Feedback Important?

by Sandy Penny

Why do so many people use a question as a headline?

It starts the reader thinking about the subject of the article. It speaks directly to the reader and immediately engages them. It’s a popular marketing strategy because it works.

It actually sounds like you care about the opinion of your reader, and most authors do care. So what if it’s a marketing ploy? If it engages you in an internal dialogue and you learn something about yourself in the process, isn’t that a productive exercise? Who doesn’t want to think our opinion is important to others?

Asking questions is a valuable social tool for creating dialogue. Many people lack the questioning skill. They just want to tell you what they think and move on to the next subject. Caring about what other people say creates a bond between you. It can create more loyal customers who feel that you’re listening and responding to their needs. After all, they’re buying the product, shouldn’t you care what they think?

Back in 1978, when I got the idea to start a newspaper in Houston, Texas, on the heels of another failed newspaper, it didn’t seem like a great business idea. If my predecessor went out of business, perhaps the market for that type of newspaper was lacking. I really didn’t know why they went out of business, so I hit on a strategy that worked for me, and I’ve since successfully used it to start other businesses.

I picked up a copy of the defunct newspaper, called all the advertisers and invited them to a party. I was up front that the party was about discussing a newspaper idea. I didn’t try to trick them into coming to a party and then spring the newspaper idea on them. I let them know I was interested in creating a newspaper that would meet their needs and the needs of their customers. I passed out a mock-up of my newspaper idea to everyone at the party. Then I did something unusual, I asked them how I could best serve them and their customer base. They had lots of great ideas.

Next I asked them to support me in meeting their needs, and I sold enough advertising that day, on a newspaper that had never been produced, to pay for the first printing. After that, I had a party every month when the paper was printed so advertisers could take bundles of newspapers to their businesses. I thereby eliminated about half my distribution costs (mostly efforts on my part). Each month, I would chat up my advertisers for new ideas for future issues and get their feedback on how I was doing with meeting their needs.

The biggest benefit that came out of the experience was the sense of community that was created around the newspaper. It became the hub for dialogue among community members, and the monthly meeting became the venue for that dialogue. I sold more advertising and collected checks in a timely fashion at those parties. About a year later, a larger newspaper came into my community and tried to start a competitive publication. It was better funded and slicker, but it could not get a foothold. My community was really loyal because I had created a personal bond with them by asking for their feedback – and of course, using it. You can shoot yourself in the foot if you go to the trouble of getting input, and then don’t use any of it. People tend to feel disregarded and badly used.

So, why am I writing about this in a healing arts section? The same technique works in personal relationships. It’s all well and good to say that we should not care what other people think. Independence and autonomy are great, and we should not let our lives be run by other people, but sometimes friends and customers have really excellent ideas that can benefit us personally and in business. Asking questions and really listening and using the answers makes our friends and customers feel valued. It develops interactive relationships. We all know those who pontificate from on high and never let others talk.

Dialogue creates community and cooperation and strong friendships that sustain themselves during challenging times. We are living in challenging times right now. Maybe it’s time to ask a few more questions of those you care about and really listen to what they have to say. What do you think?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Why is Advertising More Important Now?

By Sandy Penny

Many small business owners make the same mistake when times get tough. In an effort to slash expenses, they stop advertising. It may seem like a likely place to save dollars, but it’s a surefire way to go down the tubes with the rest of the entrepreneurs who don’t recognize the full value of marketing and advertising.

You cannot measure the benefit of an ad as a one to one direct response. Name and location recognition contribute greatly to a person’s decision to choose you when they’re ready to buy. With 30 years in the advertising field, and 20 of those in the newspaper industry, I have seen that it takes at least three times of a potential customer to seeing an ad before taking action, and sometimes more. A small consistent ad is more effective at building trust and recognition for a new business. A big splash is better for promoting time-sensitive events and product or service specials. The more times people see your name, the more they trust that you are going to be around when they need you. You can’t measure that as a direct response to your ad. It builds over time and reaches a critical mass. Suddenly, it seems, everybody’s calling, but really it started building toward the response phase through months of consistency.

During a recession, when others in your field decide to cut advertising, your ad will show up more prominently due to fewer ads. Consider that your company thrives on both client retention and new growth to survive. If you pull your advertising, in a small town like Taos, rumors can quickly spread that you’re going under. That has been death to many Taos entrepreneurs. The businesses who continue to advertise get the bigger share of the available market.

Here Are the Top 10 Sure-Fire Ways to Kill Your Small Business

1. Pretend everybody knows who you are and what you have to sell, so you don’t advertise.

2. Focus on you more important worries than promoting your business.

3. Make believe your customers won't notice that you discontinued your ads.

4. Tell yourself that your customers will never abandon you for the new guy on the block who’s making a big splash.

5. Ignore potential new clients that would buy your products or services if they only knew about you.

6. Forget that you competitors want your customers and start taking them for granted.

7. Keep telling yourself it costs too much to advertise. For about a $1 a day, you can have an ongoing ad in the Horse Fly. You can’t afford to be invisible.

8. Disregard the fact that marketing is not a business expense; it’s an investment in future business.

9. Forget that your established customers need to be reminded that you appreciate their business.

10. Don’t recognize that now is the best time to advertise since so many freaked out competitors are cutting back.

If you fall into those ten fearful practices, you can drive your business into the ground. We need more entrepreneurs in Taos, and we need them to be successful and thriving.

Three Advertising Strategies that Work

*Prove to your clients that you really do value and appreciate them. Run an appreciation ad.

*Show your customers that you are a successful entrepreneur willing to invest in your relationship with them. Buy a column sized ad and provide monthly information and tips for your potential customers.

*Instill trust, credibility and confidence in your company and services or products by maintaining a constant presence in your locally owned and published newspaper.

Your clients are your most valuable asset. When you use attentive, relationship-building marketing strategies, like ongoing information and gratitude, you create a bond that allows you to weather any type of economic environment.

Friday, March 20, 2009

How Can You Turn the Web into Money for Your Writing?

How Can You Turn the Web into Money for Your Writing?
By Sandy Penny
I got an email from a fellow writer who is desperate for some money using his writing skills and working from home. This is part of my mission in this New Age, to help people do what they want to do, live where they want to live, and market their skills, services, or products online to a world market.

Since I’m still developing my own online writing business, I wanted to give a short and simple answer. Once I started writing though, I found that I have lots more info than I thought I did on the subject. And, now I have to follow up on all these leads for myself too. Hope this is helpful for your writers out there struggling to cross the prairie in this cyber space frontier.

First, search, search search on the Web looking for the right venue for you. Then…
I try to stay in the positive mind flow and not get caught up in the news events about the economy. That keeps the door open to the Law of Attraction factor. In this new age, the Aquarian Age, there will be few jobs as we used to know them. We will all be returning to the Age of Entrepreneurship. After all, this web stuff is the frontier now. You might enjoy my article on that subject. It's posted on my
http://writeandmarket.blogspot.com There are several encouraging and instructive articles there, including one I just wrote on creating your own free website. Check mine out: http://writingmuse.com. If you don't have a sample site, you need one. It can be simple, but it needs to have lots of samples, and you can build it yourself. www.synthasite.com is my favorite free service provider and the one I use.

And, here are some other practical resources, sites that employee writers that I've just learned about because I am looking to expand my income in the writing area.

1. http://www.elance.com/ (I have a real estate friend here in Taos who makes a full-time living with them.) You can join for free, but you are limited in your bidding, so bid carefully. Once you make money, you can sign up for the $30 a month or so fee. I think it varies depending on how much you bid.

2. http://www.suite101.com/freelance_writers/ (I just met a woman online who makes some part-time money from this site. I don't know how much yet. We're going to chat about this very thing. Interesting timing, and no accidents.) Here's the link to her blog about the sites she uses: Applying to Demand Sites

3. Email everybody you know in the industry (or any industry) and tell them you need some writing projects. It makes no difference where they are, as long as they will put in a good word for you with a potential client.

4. www.odesk.com is a site that's free to sign up for. You have to download their software, learn how to use it and pass a readiness test to work for them. They take a cut on the work you do, but it is added on to what you charge. They have some really low paying projects, but sometimes anything is better than nothing. They have a range though, so check it out.

5. This site has blogging jobs posted. You can hook up where you have expertise. I haven't used them yet, but a good friend sent the link to me. http://moneyzeal.blogspot.com/2008/09/paid-content-for-your-blog-10-best.html. And more: http://moneyzeal.blogspot.com/2008/09/top-marketplaces-for-freelance-writing.html.

6. Whatever expertise you have, look up companies online in those industries and send a cover letter and resume and link to your sample site to them telling them the kinds of things you can write for them, like managing their company blog, tweeting for them on twitter (if you don't tweet yet, gotta do it).

7. Sign up on twitter; post a 140-character teaser with your sample site included, every day a new tweet. Keep it business, and hook up with other freelancers, follow them and read their blogs if they give info on how to make a living writing. Julie's info above came from following her on Twitter. Check me out on twitter http://twitter.com/sandypenny and see the kind of posts I do... It is starting to get me noticed now.

I use old articles that are easily recycled, and post a link to something different every day. I also post on Spiritual Entrepreneurs and Self Growth and Spiritual Short Stories. I use the same articles whenever possible in many places. If you Google me, Sandy Penny, you'll find lots of them showing up on the search engines. You have to get a reputation for being a good writer, dependable, thorough and creative. If you are, you can parlay that into projects. I also post on Facebook, but it's not as businessy as Linked-In.

My best projects have come from friends that I have helped with their writing projects for free. If you're a writer, I know you've helped those who can't write. Ask them to recommend you to their friends. Ask them to email their list on your behalf, and ask them to envision you getting ongoing projects or to pray for you(more energy out there in the Universe on your behalf is always good).
Hope that's helpful. Now that I've written it, I'm posting it on my writeandmarket blog, tweeting it on twitter and recycling it as I can.

Last, but certainly not least, my inner guidance continually tells me just to keep writing and the pieces will fall into place. That's the best advice I've had over time, and the final piece I have for you is follow the leads when they come your way.

Good luck, joyful writing and happy hunting.

Sandy Penny is a street-smart marketing writer with bootstrap credentials. [That means that I learned many of my skill on the job and at a distance, without a degree.] She specializes in spiritual writing and new age business blog content. 20 years of high-end corporate writing affords you top of the line writing, editing and writing-marketing coaching. Check out her new Web site: http://writingmuse.com/ (nobody uses the www
anymore, you don't need it).
Email her at sandypenny@live.com.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Should you have a Free Web Site?

By Sandy Penny

I paid for a Web site through Yahoo for seven years. It was only $20/month, but over those years, I spent $1680. At the time I signed up, I was living in Houston, making plenty of money, and that was nothing. It was a bargain.

Since then, my life has changed. I have retired from the corporate world, and I have scaled back of my own accord. I did not lose my job or get forced to make the change, but I felt it would eventually come to that. I was mainly working in the financial industry at the time, and the writing was on the wall.

When I lived in Taos, their economy was shocking after living in Houston. The only jobs available to me were in the hospitality industry. I went to work at front desk of the Quality Inn for $7.50 an hour, moved up to $8.50 at the Taos Inn, and managed an Art Gallery for $10/hour. I was making that much money in 1970 at 20 years old. Fortunately, my little writing studio was cheap, and I no longer had credit card debt, having given it up after my last marriage. Fortunately, I had a few clients from Houston with projects I could do remotely to bolster my income.

The point is, I had to start examining all my purchases and be more frugal where possible.

I started looking at the monthly deduction from my bank account for my Web site, and as a writer, the site was not really performing that well for me. I figured I could just as easily use one of the free sites as continue paying.

My web designer friends talk trash about templated sites, but I find them usually easy to navigate, easy to build, fast to launch and easy to edit.

I Googled free Web sites, and came up with some good ones.

Most free sites have a lot to offer: free web hosting, free template choices, MS word style page editor, photo storage with access to photo editing tools, video features, blogs and forums, events calendar, and lots of widgets to personalize your site, PayPal and other payment options, social networking, traffic tracking, upgrades, and restricted access pages, if desired.

Domain names usually have an annual registration fee from as low as $5 to about $20/year, mostly around $12.95 for a .com these days.

You have to check out what the sites offer for free and what constitutes an upgrade. That’s sometimes difficult because they don’t give you access to the templates or identify upgrade items until you join them. Well, hey, it’s free, and you can always disable your account if you don’t like it. It does take some time to investigate, but to me, it was worth it. From investigation to launching the site, I spent 18 hours of my time. In Taos wages, that’s around $200 from start to finish.

The real test of whether you want a free site or not is whether you have the time to do the background work, the skill to use the site building tools, a visual eye for design, and the ability to define the content that will best serve your business.

I chose Synthasite, now Yola.com  for my free space. I liked their tools and their templates. There were a couple of things missing that I wished for, and over time, they have added those. After 8 years with them, I am still satisfied with the options they have, and the additions they continue to make.

I would like an automatic “sign up for updates” button, but it’s not offered. After doing the research, I signed up for a free account with MailChimp.com, where I can create sign-up forms and automatic mailouts for sites and blogs.

Yola also didn't offer tracking automatically. I had to add that from a third party. Now it does, but I still use my free account with StatCounter.com. I love the ease of use, and the depth of information it offers.

Check out my site at http://writingmuse.com. If you use a subdomain for free, you may have a small ad on the page from the free site. Check out this one of mine. It's a free site: http://simplewebclasses.yolasite.com/. With a paid account, you will get better templates, but if you are creative, you can use a plain template and make it spectacular.

For $12.95/year, I bought my previous domain name, http://writingmuse.com. Once you have a personalized domain name, you'll have to buy a hosting plan. I have Yola Silver. I can build up to 25 websites and point new domain names to them for the same price paid per month or per year. Choose your payment plan. You get a discount for the annual payment.

After trying out webs.com, formerly Free Webs, it was more difficult to use, has less file space, and large ads on your pages. Although it seems to offer some tools I like, email list building and web rings, Synthasite was easier, more user friendly. Honestly, Free Webs was not intuitive, and I'm pretty savvy. I'm glad now that I went with Synthasite. Webs.com own site is very well done and sophisticated, but it just didn't work for me. It will also be more crowded because it's being highly promoted, and I’m unsure of its reliability if it gets super busy. Since, as a writer, I don’t have or need millions of hits, I’m good with a smaller server for now. I also tried out 18 other free builders, and there were good and bad things about them all. I'm really happy with the choice I made, and I'm still with them after 8 years (now Yola.com).

Wordpress is big these days, but I don't find it easy to use at all, so I refuse to go that route.

So, free site or not? It’s up to you, but well worth exploring. And, there is no reason not to launch a business with a free site, because if you make money, you can always upgrade later. If you don't, you've only spent your time, not your cash.

Contact me at my email address: sandypenny@live.com for more information, price quotes, project discussion or writing, editing, or marketing/writing coaching assistance. Read my web samples at http://writingmuse.com. Check out my sample websites at http://simplewebclasses.yolasite.com/web-gallery.php. Let me know how I can help you.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

What Creates Success?

What Creates Success in the Aquarian Age?

By Sandy Penny

In this time of shifts, changes and re-creation, it’s no longer time to go it alone. One of the requirements for success in the Aquarian Age is the establishment of community. I notice it happening all around me now. People are creating groups for all kinds of endeavors. We’ve always known that networking helps build success, but now, more than ever, it’s absolutely necessary.

In the spirit of community, I placed an ad in the upcoming issue of the Horse Fly ButerFly section that I write to invite healers and spiritual practitioners to unite with me to provide a monthly gathering to demonstrate their skills and talents to the public. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, and now’s the time to launch it. Taos has so many of these wonderful helpers, but it’s a little on the QT here. Now it needs to come to the forefront. The energy is supporting all kinds of mutually beneficial endeavors.

A New Way to Look at the Challenges

Every time you see an old paradigm business struggling or failing, energy and money is being released to be reinvested in businesses and systems that better serve the greater good, the people who support them. Systems that no longer serve the public but expect the public to serve them cannot remain in this new age energy. They have to either make radical shifts in the direction of the people they serve, or they must go away.

The old ways do not depart quietly though. They hang on by their fingernails and fight for their turf, but we, the people, must not allow them to continue their usury practices. This goes for the financial institutions and the automobile manufacturers. And how does that change occur? The public has to vote with their dollars for what they want to survive. They also have to voice their opinions to the people who represent them to those larger institutions. I am not a politically oriented person, but at this time, if you want your desired changes to occur, you must take the action (even if it is only in the other dimensions) to visualize and create the positive changes you want.

Spirit of Community

In the spirit of community, it’s also a time to remember that you can call on those you love and those who are your supporters to hold the energy for your success at whatever it is that you are trying to create. Do not forget this. Sometimes it’s difficult to ask for help, but the truth is that by just asking others to help your envision your success, even if they do nothing, just the reading of your email or your speaking your request strengthens the response from the universe. Communication is another prime directive from the Aquarian Age energy.

Many people hesitate to do this, as they do not want negative feedback from the people to whom they reveal their goals, and that’s a valid point. Choose wisely those you ask for help. Choose those who understand the power of positive confirmation of your goals. I will always hold the energy for you if you ask me to. I will hold it cleanly and powerfully in the way that you ask for it.

And, if you’re experiencing the sense of being done with whatever you have been doing, now is the time to reinvest your time and energy in something that feels right for you. If you don’t know what that is (but most of us really do, we just may not think we can have it), begin with a confirmation: “I now know exactly what I want to be doing with my life.” Repeat that until it feels like you’re done saying it; then leave it to the universe to bring back the highest and best vision of that reality. And you can ask friends to support you in drawing that to you as well. The more you vibrate with the frequency of the knowing, the faster it comes back to you. This is a time of amazing aha moments.

And, constantly check in with your heart, your feelings, to see if you’re on the right track. Don’t be led down the path of what you “think you ought to do.” Also, redefine success for yoursef. Make it your own vision of success. Don't use someone else's measure for your dreams.

Go for the gold. St. Patrick’s Day is coming up, find your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that you are. Onward and upward with ya, now Laddies and Lassies.

Sandy Penny, Writing is My Passion

"Doing what you love opens the doorway to magic in your life,
opening the doorway to magic creates more of what you love."

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Monday, February 9, 2009

How You Gonna Fund that Film?

Insider Info for the Wannabee Filmmaker, February 9, 2009
By Sandy Penny "WritingMuse" (Taos, NM) -

You can't get more insider info and practical advice on how to fund your film project than this book, "The Art of Film Funding" by Carole Dean. Nobody knows how to get money and donations better. Carole asks you the questions that make sure you really want to do the project and that you understand the commitment needed. Before you start shooting your masterpiece, if you only read one book, read this one. It could save you a lot of time and heartache, and it could be the answer to your prayers. Straight talk, encouragement, and practical procedures from someone who knows what she's talking about. A good read and a good reference book.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Party Your Way to Success or
Let Them Eat Cake

by Sandy Penny, sandy@WritingMuse.com

Who doesn't love a good party? Social networking has always been the way to get to know people and convert them into clients, before Facebook, My Space and Linked In were born. It's a tried and true recipe for success.

When you start a new "bricks and mortar" business (not just a web business), make a list of competitors, if you have any, and find out who their clients are. If you can't find out who their clients are, run an ad in a local paper or a trade journal directed at competitor's customers inviting them to get to know the new guy in town.

If you don't have any competition, make a list of potential customers, and send them personal invitations to a party. It does not have to be a fancy party, a few appetizers and libations, perhaps on a theme that says something about your business, and voila, you have the opportunity to meet and get to know your intended clientele.

Make a list of simple social questions that will give you information about how to better serve them as clients. Asking them for input on what you can offer them makes them feel like part of the team. It's the beginning of creating a loyal community that supports you. Even if they turn out not to be buyers, they're usually happy to mention a few people who might be interested.

In a small town, going to a popular local happy hour is a good way to get to know people socially, and then you can convert them into clients as they get to know you. It's important not to just be trying to use them, getting to know them better may also give you ideas for other products or services.

For instance, I know a couple who started a restaurant here in Taos. He was a professional restauranteur with many successes under his belt. When they first decided they actually wanted to create a restaurant here, they were undecided on what would work. So, they frequented local restaurants, collected up menus and asked people they met what kind of restaurant was missing in Taos. They frequented local happy hours and talked about it a lot with the people they met. They knew they had to meet the needs and desires of the locals if they wanted to survive when the tourists are gone.

What they finally came up with is a high-quality, medium priced burger restaurant. They added low-priced menu items for their drive-thru menu. They included a half-price beer and wine happy hour, always popular in Taos, and so far, they're having great success. Taos is a very green, fair-trade community, so they made sure their food was aligned with that concept. They even use totally biodegradable, non-toxic, green cleaning products. They decor is light, happy and inviting and they included a large group table where locals could meet and socialize. To get the best kitchen and wait staff in a tourist town where those jobs are always up for grabs, they offered slightly better wages, great training and incentives for staying around. So, they took all their input and designed the restaurant for the town people, no cookie cutter chain. They did included ideas from highly successfully up-scale burger chains. When they opened, they had a big party to introduce people to the location, the food and the concept.

Giving something away is the best way to attract potential customers to your party. In the case of the restaurant, they gave away free food, and continue to give away small ice cream desserts to kids. Letting them try the food is the best way to sell it if you have a good product. In fact, letting people try your products is a tried and true way to sell them. Notice online and on TV, the ads for all kinds of products that give you free trials, a 30-day supply and all kinds of offers to get you on board as a customer.

What good marketers know is that once you get used to going to a store or a website, you're more likely to go back again. We are creatures of habit, and trying something new is not always our first choice, so we need an incentive to get us there. Once we trust the store, the product, the service provider or the website, we have a tendency to be somewhat loyal unless we get seduced away by free stuff.

If you have a product, have a product party. Everybody's doing it, and Mary Kay Cosmetics and Avon made billions of dollars with makeup parties. Tupperware sold high-priced plastic storage containers when that was a whole new concept by recruiting local women who wanted to make some extra money. Partiers got to see, feel and learn how to best use the products. And who doesn't spend more money when they're in a party mood?

Party, party, party. How can you party your way to success?

If you need help figuring out how a party can build your business, contact me at Sandy@writingmuse.com for an estimate on my writing and marketing services.