Tag Archives: How To

Hourly Rates, Eliot Spitzer and Formulas for Follow-Up: 9 Links Worth a Read

Great reading from the past few weeks – enjoy!

  1. Charging By Project, Not By the Hour: If you keep up with my blog on a regular basis, you know I’m anti-hourly rates. The Freelance Switch, one of my favorite new blogs, nails it on the head in this post. In Skellie’s words, “Setting up timers and staring at a clock can feel a little like office work.”
  2. Spitzer Can’t Communicate His Way Out of Sex Scandal: Common Sense PR captures the uselessness of damage control in the Eliot Spitzer ordeal. As Eric begins, There are times when the public is willing to forgive the indiscretions of public figures. This ain’t one of them.”
  3. The Power of Free Samples: Interesting study using instant formula samples given free to new mothers as they left the hospital. I’m not convinced this translates well into many other industries, but it’s still intriguing.
  4. The 8 Types of Creative Directors:FUNNY! I actually like the 8 Types of Bad Creative Critiques more.
  5. The Proper Way to Throw a Golf Club: Because we all need to get better at this.
  6. Advertising’s Legendary Letter by Bill Bernbach: It was 1947, and a young creative director saw the writing on the wall for his now big ad agency in an industry that was still in its adolescence at best. Very inspiring, and still very relevant. My favorite quote: “The danger lies In the natural tendency to go after tried-and-true talent that will not make us stand out in competition but rather make us look like all the others.”
  7. 11 Ways for Web Designers to Gain Exposure: Useful, common-sense tips on how to get the word out if you’re a web designer.
  8. 6 Reasons to become Self-Employed: Wisebread shares some pretty good reasons for doing it yourself in the business realm. I think the most appealing to me is no vacation days.
  9. A Simple Formula for Follow-Up: Ever get stuck in copying and pasting a follow-up email to prospects and clients? Ilise thinks you’re missing out – here’s some good advice on little things that could make a big difference.

Similar Posts on Brett’s Blog:

What Painting Can Teach You About Your Business

My wife and I recently decided to paint our kitchen. We painted it once before, about a year and a half ago when we moved in, but now we’ve got a better idea of what we like, and the time seemed right to change it up a little. So we enlisted the help of another couple friend and got cooking at the end of January.

One thing we noticed when we painted the kitchen the first time around, about half way through the job, was that there was actually still wallpaper under at least two previous coats of paint. And we were adding a third. With the rush of moving in and already being halfway through the job anyway, I elected to move on and worry about getting rid of that old wallpaper later. Now, knowing that we were going to add a fourth layer of paint on top of this wallpaper that had no doubt been there since the mid-80’s, I decided the smart thing to do was to strip the wallpaper before we started painting. Our friends concurred, so we made it happen.

In addition, our kitchen has popcorn texture on the ceilings, which, again, dates it a bit. Our friends told us popcorn was easy to scrape off, and retexturing is a breeze. Even though we have 15 foot vaulted ceilings and lots of angles and hard to reach places in the kitchen, it seemed like the smart thing to do, and our friends, who had done it before, said it was easy, so were were in. Now, before a single drop of paint was going to hit our walls, we were completely stripping down our walls and ceiling, and retexturing all of it.

If you’ve done much painting at all, you know that the painting is not the hard part; it’s the prep work that’s a real whippin’. You can pretty much triple the time it takes to prep when you’re scraping and texturing. Every inch of your kitchen that you don’t want covered in dust and old pieces of wallpaper has got to be covered in plastic. Lining up the blue painter’s tape perfectly along every single edge in the room, and then making sure it adheres to the plastic takes FOREVER.

On top of that, scraping the walls was extremely difficult. The layers of paint understandably made getting through to the wallpaper a challenge. On top of that, the high ceilings and various nooks made scraping the ceilings more of a chore than we figured.

It took us two full weekends for four people just to scrape everything off the wall. Still no paint.

After scraping the walls, scraping the ceiling, texturing the walls and texturing the ceiling, at about 9:30 on the Saturday night of the second weekend, my wife and I got out the rollers and brushes and started to paint our kitchen. We were dead tired and sick of working, but the thought of actually getting paint on the walls was enough to keep us going. The good news is that we still had all the plastic and tape up from texturing, so we didn’t have to worry with any of that.

At about midnight, we were finished. Though dust was absolutely everywhere, our shoulders hurt from reaching all day, and there was still a good deal of cleanup awaiting us for at least the next hour, we were excited to pull the tape from the edges and take a look at the finished product. It would make it all worth it.

As we pulled the tape, I noticed right away that some paint had leaked through onto our trim. Not a big deal; I could quickly touch that up. But the more I pulled, the more I realized this was to be the rule more than the exception. I don’t know if the dampness of the texture had affected the tape, or if we simply hadn’t taped well, but there was leakage everywhere. On our trim, our cabinets, our windows, our countertops.

I don’t know of a time in our young 3 1/2 year marriage that my wife and I have been so bitter. Our feelings of accomplishment were instantly traded for a deeply-rooted hatred for home improvement, work in general and our kitchen. It felt hopeless and absolutely frustrating. It felt like we had wasted a full week, and our kitchen actually looked worse.

That was the first weekend of February. Today (March 16), I finally finished most of the touchups. The last thing in the world I’ve wanted to do for more than a month is work on that stupid kitchen. On top of that, there are still some messy spots, but my painting skills have been maxed out. It will get no better.

So what’s this got to do with running a business?

There are lots of angles to make the truths of this DIY story applicable to your business. I could tell you how important prep work is, and how it’s often overlooked. I could tell you that a project you’re really excited about making happen can sometimes only happen when you address some issues that you don’t want to deal with (like the popcorn ceiling and the wallpaper). I could tell you that it’s the details, the touch-up, that makes what you do really special and different.

But that’s not the point I’m going to make. Here’s the real point we can all learn from:

Hire a professional when you want to get something done right that’s out of your expertise. Yeah, it’s probably fun to figure things out. Yeah, it’s probably really cool to pull it off and discover a new skill you didn’t know you could nurture. But more times than not, that doesn’t happen.

I can’t tell you how much I’d like to go back and hire a professional painter to come in and take care of our kitchen. Originally, we figured we’d be saving money, plus it would be fun learning how to make all of these improvements. Well, it did save money, but only about $300 when it was all said an done. And I did enjoy learning how to texture and patch, and all that. But the end result and most of the experience wasn’t worth it, and my kitchen is suffering for it. It took too much time, as well. Most importantly, neither my wife or I am pleased with what we produced.

Hire a professional to help you when you get outside your area of expertise. Get a web designer, don’t try to learn code. Hire a writer, don’t try to “brush up” on your grammar or AP style. Get someone who’s going to give you something you know you’ll be glad you have. It inevitably is always worth it, one way or the other.

Last Chance for Free Marketing

As discussed in my original post on this topic, I’m offering free marketing help. No joke, and even the very thin strings attached are really no obstacle at all. However, time is running out to take advantage of this – the last day to leave me a note to be considered is Feb. 2.

Soooooo, what do you have to lose here? It’s free, and it could potentially make for a HUGE payoff for you. At the least, it would at least be fun.

I’ve gotten a good response so far, but I’m still open to a latecomer. Write me an email or leave me a comment – just get your name in by Feb. 2!

A New Website is No Field of Dreams

Shoeless Shoe Jackson - “If You Build It, He Will Come.”Shoeless Joe Jackson and Terrance Mann might’ve known a thing or two about getting people to a new ballpark in the middle of an Iowa cornfield. But they don’t know jack about driving traffic to a new or redesigned website. If you build it, they still probably won’t come. So what do you do?

Here are some great resources from around the web on how to get your new site off the ground fast.

  1. Promoting Your New (or Redesigned) Website: These are some pretty good grassroots ideas on getting the word out. Most of these are something anyone can do in a relatively short amount of time.
  2. Promoting Your Website (Headscape): I found this interesting just in the fact that the writer suggests using some more traditional ways of communicating to get the word out.
  3. How to Launch Your Website to Internet Stardom: Just some quick ideas on link building and link exchange. Nothing new, but definitely worth a reminder.
  4. Don’t Launch That New Website Yet: If you’re launching a new design on the same domain, be sure you read through this article first. There’s a lot you’ve invested in that old design that can help you get a leg up with the new design, so leverage it.
  5. How to Launch a New Website and Quickly Attract Traffic: Here’s a simple list of tactics to get traffic flowing quick: press releases, blogs, articles, directories and pay-per-click.
  6. Free SEO Tools: Here’s a link to some useful Search Engine Optimization Tools.

Got any other ideas on launching a site?