Tag Archives: Aunti Cindi

Tame Those Pesky Details – March – Are you making money while you sleep?

TTPD – March – Are you making money while you sleep?

Cha-ching!

Ah, the joy of waking in the morning to discover that money was deposited into your account while you were off in dream land.

I’m following along with my book, Tame Those Pesky Details (TTPD), where I focus on one specific item each month to keep your business in tip top shape. March is the month for Passive Income, the ability to make money while you sleep. As the Internet pervades our lives more each year, options for passive income become more readily available. Of course, it’s not as easy as waving a magic wand; there is much prep work to be done, but once you’ve put in the effort, you can reap financial rewards for some time to come.

I think it’s the ultimate goal of many online entrepreneurs to be able to work as few hours as possible while making as much money as they can. That’s not the only goal, mind you, but by creating a steady online income, you can do anything from quit your full-time job to plan extravagant vacations or donate to your favorite charity. Even if you have some other source of income that you’re content with, earning extra money online is still a good thing. It’s always great to have multiple streams of income.

So, where do you begin? Here are four options to help you build your bank account in your sleep.

  1. Affiliate links. Everyone has them. Why not you? If you reference any products in your blog posts, YouTube videos or elsewhere, it’s easy to direct people to the item you’re referring to by including an affiliate link. Your commission will vary depending on the agreement the company offers. Be sure to disclose your use of affiliate links, and check for broken links on your site on a regular basis. Broken links result in lost commission and can even impact your search engine ranking.
  2. Books. As a writer, this is one of my favorite ways to find money in my account! With POD (print on demand) and ebooks, there’s no inventory or shipping required. If you have a shop on your site, you can even include the books there, avoiding sharing the commission. Choose a topic – or three – that relate to your business and pound away on the keyboard. Of course, the book will need to be well-written and properly priced, but there are many ways to build a lasting income through the written word.
  3. Classes on demand. If you have an area of expertise, or if you can produce training classes that show how to use your products, then online classes might be a good option for you. You might need some technical guidance to put this all together, but once you’ve mastered the process, you can create one or two new classes each year to build your offerings. I’ve seen classes for free (particularly when purchasing a product) or for a wide variety of prices, from $19 to several hundred dollars.
  4. Online shop. Can you create digital downloads that complement your blog content, books or classes? Post them in your online shop. People are online 24/7 and a digital download is readily accessible with an easy shopping cart. It might even be the way to find customers for your other products – a digital download could lead to a book or class sale. Be sure to have a secure checkout and capture the buyer’s info to build your email list. One thing leads to another…

Don’t feel you have to do everything at once. Choose one method of passive income, make sure it works properly, then add another to the mix. Evaluate your income streams on an annual basis. If it requires too much work to maintain for too little return, consider dropping the stream or item and add or enhance another. Things are constantly changing on the Internet, so what works this year might be passé the next.

If you’d like to follow along through the year, purchase your copy of Tame Those Pesky Details. (link below) Print books will be available soon!

What are your favorite sources of passive income? I’d love to hear! Leave a comment below.

I do hope you’ll enjoy my blog posts, Instagram photos and tweets on Twitter!

Enjoy!

Cindi

Tame Those Pesky Details – February – How well can your business run without you?

TTPD – February – How well can your business run without you?

If you’re a solopreneur or small business owner, chances are you’re focused on growing your business. Or, at the very least, maintaining a smooth operation. A good mindset to have, but what happens when – Heaven forbid – something unexpected occurs and you’re unable to helm the day-to-day activities of your company?

If you were part of a large organization, there would be multiple people at the ready to take over in your absence. But, if you’re a one-person show, it’s very possible that no one else has a complete understanding of how your business is run. Every business has so many different facets that it’s more than just leaving passwords, mission statements and banking information for your temporary CEO; contracts, trademarks and even fonts and colors of your logo are all crucial information.

I’m following along with my book, Tame Those Pesky Details (TTPD), where I focus on one specific item each month to keep your business in tip top shape, February is Legalities and it covers a wide-range of issues. Having a way to provide a temporary – or even permanent – means of understanding and operating your business will bring peace of mind.

I’ve been busy updating a lot of personal and business items lately, and although I have binders and electronic and paper files filled with the proper data, I realized that it would take a concerted effort for someone to step into my shoes should that unexpected need arise. I also discovered that I was missing some crucial information because my business has been operating for so long and I’ve moved so many times, some things have gotten misplaced.

I also think in terms of emergency preparedness. I keep hearing stories of people who had to leave their homes with moments’ notice and left behind some key business info because they were unprepared and were worried about saving their lives, which, of course, is most important.

In addition, I’m looking forward to expanding my business in the foreseeable future. Parts of this data collection can easily be organized into an employee reference manual. A little extra work up front will pay big dividends down the line. Again, this is all normal in a larger organization, but smaller businesses might not view this as a high priority. I’m all about having a solid foundation to build upon so this data collection and coordination will benefit me greatly as I move forward. Having all my info at the ready will save me time and frustration and enable me to easily update any changes. Whew!

While you’re organizing your business, think about vendors or employees who perform key tasks that you personally don’t know how to do, for example, adding/deleting items from your online store. This may seem like a small item but your inability to make these simple changes can have an impact. That employee or vendor can disappear on a moment’s notice and your ability to run your business smoothly will be hampered until you either learn how to do it or find someone new to work with.

Aside from determining the safest place to keep this info, my next decision is whom to share it with. And, I’m even thinking about a permanent succession plan for down the road. If there’s someone in my family I’d like to groom to take over the business, one can never start the process too early!

It will take a couple of months to pull this all together, I suspect, but once I’ve completed it, I’ll post a free checklist in my store. I might even do another blog post with more details. So, keep your eyes on all my social media so you can access the information as soon as possible.

I do hope you’ll enjoy my blog posts, Instagram photos and tweets on Twitter!

If you’d like to follow along through the year, purchase your copy of Tame Those Pesky Details. (link below) Print books will be available soon!

How do you organize your business data? Do you have a plan for someone to take over in case of emergency? Have you ever experienced the need to have someone step in your shoes? I’d love to hear all about it. Please leave details in the comments below.

Enjoy!

Cindi

Tame Those Pesky Details – January – It’s Time for a Corporate Image Makeover!

In my book, Tame Those Pesky Details (TTPD), where I focus on one specific item each month to keep your business in tip top shape, January is the month for Corporate Image. Your goals were set in December; part of achieving them will be to make sure you have the appropriate corporate image for your business.

This month, I’m going to use myself as a prime example. Toward the end of last year, I felt I finally had the vision I had been searching for regarding my online presence. And, I also knew that would require a lot of work!

I immediately looked at my website and all my social media accounts. It was time for a major makeover! My logos had been updated recently, so I was comfortable there, but my overall look didn’t scream ME!

The Internet has become more and more a place of images, so I concentrated on learning to take the right kind of photos. I spent hours scouring sites and bookmarking those whose photos really drew me in. I also took a wonderful online photography course through StrangeCharmed.com. It was extremely helpful to get my mind going in the right direction.

As for my website update, again I spent a ton of time looking at blogs I enjoyed. Usually at the bottom of the home page is a link to the company that designed the theme for the blog. There you can view the multitude of themes that company offers, generally for a reasonable price. I’d already decided I didn’t want to use a free WordPress theme for my update as they wouldn’t have the design elements I knew I needed. There are a surprising number of options available for paid themes.

I still wasn’t totally sure what I wanted my site to look like until one of my favorite blogs updated their site. Wow! I loved it!, It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but I at least had an idea. I continued to view company theme offerings until I found a similar one that was a perfect fit.

Once my website is updated, my social media accounts will follow. Will I finish all of this in January? Probably not. I’m currently in the process of getting all my ebooks ready for print and releasing a new novel. I want to have the print books for photos so I’m expecting to wait until I have copies in hand, sometime in February. However, I will purchase the theme and get done whatever I can, including setting up the store which is a whole new element for my site. Some other tweaks will have to wait a few months but those should be secondary.

I’ll do a new blog post once I’ve launched everything. In the meantime, I do hope you’ll enjoy my blog posts, Instagram photos and tweets on Twitter!

If you’d like to follow along through the year, purchase your copy of Tame Those Pesky Details. (link below) Print books will be available soon!

What corporate image challenges do you face online and what are your plans to fix them? I’d love to hear. Leave a comment below.

Enjoy!

Cindi

TTPD – June is for Vendor and Contractor Review

June is Vendor Contractor Month

Greetings Sparklers!

Summer is inching its way towards us, but work goes on year-round and it’s time to take another peek at our monthly topics. We’re up to June!

In my book, Tame Those Pesky Details: 12 months of business tips and tasks (Aunti Cindi Presents), June is devoted to vendors, contractors and consultants. Now is the time to double check all your current agreements to see that you’re getting the best service for the best price while considering which vendors you no longer need or others which you do.

This can be a tough month for some people while others enjoy the challenge. Some people like to negotiate. Others will pay full price no matter what. Some business owners will nickel and dime their suppliers to the tenth of a penny but balk at their own customers requesting a discount for early or all cash payment. Other business owners are afraid to call for service or necessary meetings because they know a sales pitch will accompany them, forgetting that their own businesses depend upon the same such sales calls. I think most of us fall somewhere in between.

Here are a few steps to getting through the month and hopefully saving some money.

  1. Review all current vendor/consultant agreements. Are you paying for something you don’t use? Are you unhappy with a particular supplier? Are you receiving the best price for what they have to offer? Make a list of questions for when you contact the vendor.
  2. Pull out your June folder and review others who have contacted you and piqued your interest. Is there someone in the folder you’d like to interview and request a quote?
  3. Pick up the phone and call all your current vendors. Tell them you’re doing your annual review and you’d just like a few minutes to chat. Then, ask all the questions you have and remember one of them should be, do you have any new services or packages that might better suit my needs?
  4. Gather the results of your research and decide who you plan to use for the next year and at what price.
  5. Work your new figures into your budget for the next 12 months, or the terms of the contract.

It doesn’t take much effort to save money. In the last few weeks, I received a sizeable credit from one vendor just for doing an annual review with them. I didn’t change my contract because they no longer offer the package I have and any changes would incur higher fees. However, just by calling them and doing a review, they give me an invoice credit for being a loyal customer.

Another vendor has reworked their offerings and, with a few minor tweaks on my part, I saved $50/month on my agreement. Might not seem like much, but it only took a few minutes and it resulted in saving $600/year. If I can do that with five vendors, that’s $3,000/year savings just for a few simple phone calls. It all adds up.

I’ve also replaced one vendor with another, finding one that does an excellent job for my needs at a lower price.

One of my pet peeves is not offering a discount or perk to a long-term, loyal customer. Many businesses only offer them to first time customers, hoping to build their clientele. While I think that’s a good strategy for them, there should also be some reward for those who stick around a long time, something like an Anniversary Discount. I talk about my own experiences in my book, How to Screw Up a Good Idea: Insights for Entrepreneurs (Aunti Cindi Presents). I’ve been on both sides of the equation and hopefully, I’ve learned.

It’s nearly impossible to be successful in business by yourself. Whether you have your own staff or a team of vendors, contractors and consultants, it’s important to have the right people at the right price providing exactly what you need.

Sparkle On!

Your Aunti Cindi

This post contains affiliate links. However, all opinions are our own.

Emergency Preparedness: Backup Your Backup- 3 Tips to Keep Your Data Safe

Backup Your Backup

BACKUP YOUR BACKUP: 3 TIPS TO KEEP YOUR DATA SAFE

Greetings Sparklers!

Whether you own a business or keep a lot of personal data on your digital devices, the truth is, it can all be gone in a flash. After my own personal experience with a quickly dying computer about a year ago, I’ve been on my soapbox about reminding people to back up their data. The sad part is, I continue to find people who have never even thought about backing things up. And, once again, I had a weird technical event that reminded me to remind you to backup your backup.

There is nothing more frustrating than investing hours, days, months, years in creating a project and having it all disappear when your computer suddenly does a crash and burn. I had a situation recently where I was working on a document and when I went to save it, the program crashed and restarted but there was no autosave file to recover. I looked everywhere and even contacted a community forum where respondents were very kind but could not offer a solution for file recovery other than the steps I had already taken.

While the loss of a file in that manner is a bit unusual, the most common culprit is not backing up your devices. I feel I cannot remind people often enough. Every time I bring up the subject I meet people who lost some important part of their lives because they didn’t back up their stuff.

In the last few months alone, I’ve heard of someone who lost nearly 10,000 digital photos, an author who lost his entire novel, someone else who lost years of contacts and business data, another who kept everything on a portable drive until the drive died. I could go on, but you get the point.

In the IT world, there’s a belief in redundancy. In the prepper world, the saying is two is one and one is none. Whichever mantra you prefer doesn’t matter, as long as you’re taking the time to REGULARLY back up your digital devices.

Here are three tips to help you to keep your data safe and secure:

  1. Do your research.
    Take the time now to research and decide what is the best backup routine for you – and stick to it! I copy files every night to the cloud, then once a week copy to an external drive. I would recommend at least one external drive and a cloud backup of some sort. If you can do two external drives and keep them in different locations, one offsite, plus the cloud, that’s even better. Of course, it all depends on how much space you need.
  2. Back up all your devices.
    Desktops, laptops, tablets, phones, flash drives, memory cards – copy all of it. Check with your cellular service to see if there is a secondary way to backup your phone. You might also want to download your contacts from your phone on a regular basis…just in case.
  3. Don’t forget about your website.
    Check with your ISP/host company to verify that your entire website is backed up. In my case, the database is backed up but any external items I’ve added, such as images, videos and files are not. Twice in the last couple of months, I’ve updated my website and it completely crashed. It hadn’t happened in the previous decade but suddenly it happened twice in a short period of time. If something bad happens to your site, you want to have as little downtime as possible. I use FileZilla to transfer all my files monthly, then back them up to the cloud and on external drive.

Weird things happen when it comes to technology, so always, always, always be sure to backup your backup! I’d love to hear how you keep all your digital data safe. Please share in the comments below.

Sparkle On!

Your Aunti Cindi

Planning – What is your motto for the year?

 

2016Many people this time of year are focused on New Year’s resolutions or setting up a few goals for the coming new year. I’ve been a big goal setter for several years. I like to remind myself what I want to accomplish during these 12 short months as well as celebrate all that I’ve accomplished at the end of the year.

Over time, the way I set goals has evolved and I’m sure it will continue to evolve. I change. The world changes. Technology changes. Many different things influence my methods to achievement.

In my book, Tame Those Pesky Details, I talk a bit about goal setting. However, the past few years I’ve added a twist. Before I begin my planning, I determine where I want to be at the end of the year and summarize in one or two short sentences, mottos or mantras, what is the theme for the year. Everything else falls in line behind that.

It’s often said, if you don’t know where you’re going, all the planning in the world won’t get you there. While setting goals is fantastic, I’ve found it’s become even more meaningful by having a motto or two as an umbrella of sorts to summarize and light my way.

Let me give you some examples. Perhaps, if you’ve been working on a project for a long time, this might be your Year of Manifestation, when you finally reach that major goal. Or, if if you’ve struggled financially but feel you have a gameplan for changing that, your motto might be the Year of Good Income and Good Savings.

Only you can decide what your motto will be. The first year I did this, I only had one motto. Now, I find that I like to have two. Why? I can’t exactly explain. If I had to deduce I’d say one has more of a personal slant and the other relates primarily to my business, but they intertwine. However, if there comes a year when I feel one will sum it up completely for me, I’ll do it.

I like to set up my motto as a daily appointment on my Outlook calendar, so every morning when I turn on my laptop I’m reminded and focused on making my year the best that it can be in the direction of my motto. Doing this definitely inspires me and keeps me on track. I’ve also written it into my planner (more on that later) but you could set it up on your phone or make a pretty screensaver image with it. Whatever works for you!

Most goals tend to be pretty specific, but I feel we need to be open to opportunities that arise that may be better than we ever imagined. Or, that are our dreams come to fruition! Working towards your goals but focusing on the big picture motto creates a perfect storm of positive energy. At the end of every year, I’ve realized my motto has been achieved even though it might not have played entirely with my goals. In a good way.

What are my mottos for 2016? Sorry, I share a lot but for me, that’s something I hold private. If you care to share, I welcome that. More importantly, I encourage you to think in higher-level terms when it comes to your goals and know that you have your destination, you just don’t always have your route!

Best Wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

I am,

Your Aunti Cindi

This post contains affiliate links but all opinions are my own.