I wanted to start this thread as a bit of encouragement to counter the fast-approaching Holiday blues. A lot of people (friends and family both) thought I was crazy to resign my job before the biggest launch my company had ever tried.
My heart just wasn't in the new direction they wanted to go in, and I wanted to get way more hands on with actually helping people instead of just marketing at them constantly. I figured there was no better time to jump in with both feet.
So how am I doing?
For the past couple of months, I've been able to almost replicate my previous paycheck income almost entirely from freelancing while building up a couple of healthy and growing passive income streams.
How did I do it?
I'm actually kind of ashamed to say that it wasn't all that hard. Not all businesses are participating in the economic downturn and a LOT of them are actually expending to scoop up former competitors territory as smaller or less secure businesses dry up and blow away.
Those business are potential customers are they are hungry for help.
And I did it just by applying the stuff I already know how to do, and actually just getting out of my own way and offering it to people.
I'm mostly working for small local and regional businesses as a contractor and consultant, helping them get rankings, doing copy re-writes, and helping set up social presences.
How do I find these "eye of the tiger' type of businesses that are still aggressively marketing?
It's easy. Just look around you.
The businesses that are spending money on advertising right now have money to spend on even more. Billboards are expensive. Print ads are expensive. TV and Radio are expensive. My partner and I identify the ones we KNOW we can help, just by looking at what they're doing now.
We look at what they're doing, customize a quick proposal based on what we KNOW will work even better, and we're getting SOME form of business out of almost 70% of the people we cold call.
But that's getting rarer. People have started calling US based on word of mouth. All of this is true and possible.
So take what you learn here and get out there and help someone. If you can help them, you can reap the rewards.
And in most cases, it's not all that hard to help them out A LOT because they're simply too busy to even start doing all the stuff they know they should be.
If you're willing to do the work, I've found that there's pretty much gold just laying around for the taking. Anyone who says otherwise should move to a bigger town with more businesses or try harder to find leads. Just remember what I said - look for who is already spending money on advertising.
Anyway, hope that encourages and helps anyone who is feeling like this IM stuff is just CandyLand and Chutes and Ladders. Use it to get real results for real businesses and you might be able to start writing your own ticket too.
I did it in just two months.
DAMAGING ADMISSIONS TIME:
1. While I've nearly replaced my own income level to what it was before I quit my job, my wife still works, too. It's necessary for now, but we're still young. I'm working hard to change that. So don't think I went from zero income to living large and now I'm just coasting. It doesn't work that way.
2. I have some copywriting and internet marketing chops that are probably a cut above the "average joe" just from being part of the StomperNet internal team, and being their chief copywriter.
BUT KNOW THIS: There's nothing I LEARNED there that you couldn't also learn. The basics of marketing haven't changed in 100 years. I just have some experience as far as things tried and tested, and I have good hunches because of that. I was lucky enough to have that to start with, but there's no reason you can't get that while learning on the job.
3. My partner is a cold-calling, good old boy, pat on the back, firm handshake SALESMAN. I'm an antisocial misanthrope, so he takes a BIG role in our continued success as far as actually making first contact and being personable with our clients.
I'm kidding of course. It's not like I'm Klaus Kinski or anything as far as getting along with people. I'm very likable, but I'm also kind of shy when it comes to selling, and he's NOT. If you're meek when it comes to actually getting MONEY for the services you provide, find someone to partner with.
I promise you that no matter where you are, there's a salesman nearby who wishes he could make more money if only he had something worth SELLING.
So put it together, get out there and make something happen. Let everyone else do the complaining while you deposit your checks and actually HAVE FUN working with other people who are passionate about business and marketing.
WARNING: I didn't tell anyone that it's a good idea to quit their job, SO DON'T UNLESS YOU CAN! But it's worked out for me because if you're willing to work, the opportunity right now is nearly bottomless.
IMPORTANT UPDATE - 4/17/11 Almost once a month, someone PMs me to ask about this lead-generation business. In 2010, the partner I mention above had some things that required him to leave the business so we both moved on to other things. I really have no useful advice to give on building a lead gen business like this as I've been out of that game for over a year. Please do PM me to get in touch, but I don't do this business at all any more. Thanks for your interest though, and don't let that stop you from pursuing it. As of the time of this writing, this kind of service is needed more than ever, and I'm sure it's still very lucrative.