How I Dug Myself Out Of The Lowest Pits in My Life – 60

By Christine OKelly | October 29, 2008


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Dumpster DiverThere was a time when I was so broke that I actually ate donuts out of a trash bin behind a store that my boyfriend and I found while walking back to our squat (homeless camp) at the beach. Not joking. To my credit, they were double bagged in a clear garbage bag. (Though this may sound wretched, it was actually glorious! When we arrived at the squat with this beautiful bag of donuts, our neighbors were absolutely thrilled and the score was cause for celebration!)

Although my dumpster-diving squatting days were ‘physically’ the lowest I’ve ever been, they weren’t the most difficult times to overcome. The reason is that I was in a positive mental state at that time. I believed that anything was possible and therefore, it was quite easy to move on once I decided I was ready. It was the times that I was mentally and emotionally buried and beaten that were pure hell… a pit I thought I might never escape from.

I get a lot of email from people who say that they are feeling this way. I know what it feels like to be so afraid to lose what little you have, yet so dissatisfied with your life at the same time. It’s a hellish existence.

I don’t know how it is for others, but there is something about being truly down and depressed that made me even less receptive to want to take action to change. Any advice just seemed hollow, and to somehow mock my personal hell. Struggling out of a truly dark pit in life feels like I imagine it feels to try and escape from quicksand. The more you try to get out, the more you’re pulled down. It’s just easier to sit there and do nothing and stagnate in it.

My goal with this post is to share some of ways that I overcame the challenges of feeling so down and out that I was nearly demobilized. I still use many of these tactics today to keep myself in the a forward-moving mindset.

Take Aggressive Action To Remove All Negativity From Your Life

When we ourselves are in a negative state of being, it seems we surround ourselves with negative people and negative things. I made an aggressive stand to remove all of these things from my life. This included:

    • Strict information diet – I turned OFF cable – no more news shows with hours of coverage of horrible things, no more Forensic Files. These are the things I was drawn to when feeling down. I spent the time I once spent doing those things plowing through my goals, reading things with a positive focus, or doing brain puzzles to keep my mind occupied.

Life is a Trash Bag of Donuts

  • Removing all negative people from my life – I isolated myself not only from negative people, but also from those who weren’t filled with a positive outlook on life by moving and changing my phone number.
  • Getting rid of clutter – “Stuff” can carry a lot of memories. I got rid of everything that I didn’t absolutely love and didn’t serve a purpose. If it had negative memories attached to it, I got rid of it even if it did serve a purpose.

Examine Your Life in “Slices”

A lot of what makes us afraid is what we think “might” happen. Worrying about things that might happen can bring about terrible anxiety. I would ask myself, “What is so bad about TODAY?” Sometimes, when there were daily struggles, I would ask myself “Is anything wrong this exact MOMENT?” When I examined a small sliver of time in this way, I often found that nothing was really all that terrible. At any given moment I was alive, not in pain, in a safe environment, etc.

Get Your Brain Chemistry, Health, And Inner Demons Under Control

Getting your health and your demons under control might be one of the most difficult things to motivate yourself to do… until the ball gets rolling. By health and demons, I mean chemical imbalances, physical deficiencies and aliments, addictions, and past traumas.

Brain chemistry is a powerful thing. Having any type of chemical imbalance, no matter how small, can make life much more difficult than it needs to be. I used to believe that I could use ‘mind over matter’ to overcome anything. I thought that anti-depressants and other types of medication were for people who were too lazy or too unmotivated to change. But now I think differently. At some point I realized that we are so fortunate to live in a time and place where there are ways to balance your brain chemistry and affordable ways to access these things. I thought… if I CAN regulate my brain chemistry… why won’t I? Why am I choosing to make things more difficult for myself?

Even not having the proper levels of vitamins in our bodies can drag us down. If you’re eating poorly, isn’t it worth it to eat better and take vitamin supplements if it will make you perform better? Eating crappy food is an addictive habit – I know because I can easily become that way! Eating food that is good for you sucks – until you get used to it – then it feels great.

Many people suffer from addictions that they know damn well are hindering their life and their progress. Some people are hung up on things from the past that, until they are confronted, will not allow them the freedom to move forward. Hoping to get ahead without addressing either of these things is like swimming upstream in a downstream current.

Tackling these things might mean seeing a doctor, seeing a nutritionist, or joining a support group, depending on your views and your situation. If you’re like me, and probably like most people, you will fight yourself to take action against these deep-rooted things. But refusing to take action is essentially making a conscious decision NOT to get where you want to be in life.

Vigilantly Forge Ahead With Goals – Even If It Seems Like You’re Not Getting Anywhere

One thing that I’ve learned over the years of owning my own business is that many things you try won’t work and that results come from an accumulation of efforts. You may not see the effect of something small you do today, but doing a few small things today adds up tremendously over time. If you only took 2 meaningful actions per day toward your big goal, in a year’s time, you would have accomplished 730 steps toward progress. Not all 730 will have worked. In fact, maybe only 1% of those things (7) had a major impact that moved you closer to your goal. But if you had only taken 50 actions in that same year…well, 1% of 50 doesn’t even amount to 1.

It can make you feel like huge loser to continue to chip away at goals and try things with no results – if you let it. Or, you can think that the more things you try that DON’T work, the higher the odds are that at least a small percentage of them will. Sometimes, it only takes one big break.

That may mean trying lots of different business models (for example several different revenue generation streams) or mean trying to promote your own business trying lots of strategies. It depends on what you’re goals are.

I’ve spent plenty of time doing things that didn’t really amount to anything. But a small fraction of those things really took off and that’s what made all the difference.

Thank You’s And New Stuff

We just launched our first WordPress Widget! It’s called “Online Now” and if you’ve read to this point, you’re probably looking at it in the sidebar. It gives a count of how many visitors are on your site now, how many have been online collectively throughout the day, and the countries where the last 5 visitors were viewing from. Get the Online Now WordPress Widget here, free ~Internet Marketing Strategies Diva
I’d also like to extend a big thank you to Elizabeth Ashe of Internet Marketing Strategy Diva for taking the time to do an interview with me for her podcast listeners about SEO copywriting. Thanks Elizabeth!

Topics: Freelancer Tips | 60 Comments »


How I Gave Away Everything And Ended Up With More – 55

By Christine OKelly | October 6, 2008


For the last few years, I’ve been really freakin’ irritated with myself for not living up to my full potential. Know the feeling? Perhaps the worst part about achieving ‘some’ level of success is that once I had something to lose, I was hesitant to gamble it all – especially after having experienced the hell of rock bottom.

Don't Let Your Dreams DieBut eventually, the dull, nagging torture of knowing that I was purposefully limiting myself because I was ‘comfortable’ became more unbearable than the risk of hitting rock bottom again. And that’s when the blogging stopped a few months ago. That’s when I pushed in all my chips and gambled my entire business, my work, my clients – everything – in the hope of coming up even better than before. And it paid off.

My freelance business was great – it paid my bills and allowed me to lead a comfortable life. But I felt more like my own employee than an entrepreneur, which is my true passion. Several conversations with time management coach Dave Navarro gave me the opportunity to voice what I knew needed to be done for quite some time…

If I truly wanted to follow my dreams, I was going to need to make some major changes. I needed to stop tiptoeing around this buzzing hive of fears and passions and anxieties and emotions that had been brewing within myself. I was going to have to purposefully shake things up, and face whatever came out of it.

There’s Never a ‘Right’ Time

In order to grow, I needed to expand my team. I wanted someone who was just as vested in the success of the business as I was – a 50/50 business partner. I also needed to build a writing team and stop doing all of the work myself. That meant that where I was earning 100% of profits, I would now be earning 25%. That meant that my income was going to instantly be cut by 75% and we would need to get four times as much business just so that I could get back to ground zero.

I was not really in the financial position to ‘logically’ do this – so financial stability is not really an excuse to avoid action. I’m a single mom and the only income earner. I had only a small amount of savings – just barely enough to scrape by for a month. But I decided to practice what I preach here on this blog – to take stand and stop existing and start living an amazing life. To go on a quest to hunt down and expose my deep dark challenges the only way truly possible – to TAKE ACTION.

I was not really in the emotional position to do this either. My ex-husband and I were breaking up AGAIN. He had come back at some point and we tried to ‘work it out.’ That became volatile fast and he left – but that was for the best. I met new people, made new friends enjoyed the human side of life that I’d been purposefully avoiding by burying myself in work.

Happiness is not an accident. Nor is it something you wish for. Happiness is something you design. ~Jim Rohn

(Thanks to Timothy Carter for posting this quote on Twitter at the exact moment I was finishing this paragraph on taking action to create your own happiness.)

The Rocky Road of Business Growth

If you’re a lover of life and a dreamer and you refuse to go down easy, if you refuse to settle for less than you know you can achieve, then there will be rocky times. Because you’ve GOT to take risks to get the rewards. And sometimes those risks pay off and sometimes they don’t. And even when you win the war, you may lose some of the battles along the way but that can’t get you down.

Life and Love is a Heavy, Heavy LoadThere were days when I would stand out on my porch looking out at the mountains thinking… what have I done? I’m doing more work and making less money… I’m not doing the creative work I envisioned…. Where is this going? What am I going to do with my life? Everything that was once comfortable is now foreign… This sucks….

I don’t know who I am anymore…

What got me through these days was having the best business partner I could ever ask for. Maybe you feel like I once did – until I had this revelation, I never considered having a 50/50 business partner for a myriad of reasons – but none of them logical. Life is a rocky, rocky road, and having someone that I trust and respect and genuinely LOVE to work with who is just as vested in our success and has the same goals has made all the difference in the world. Thank you Tara!

When we started our journey we had a long-term vision and a short-term plan. The long-term vision was our PASSION. The short-term plan was our vehicle to achieving the vision. What’s interesting is that the short-term plan has changed gears many times. In fact, our short-term plan of attack is nothing at all like we intended it to be in the first place. We reevaluated it constantly – and shifted gears based on instinct and constant weekly reflection.

I believe that it is a result of this constant reflection and willingness to adapt as necessary that we reached our first goal of quadrupling our gross profits in just 3 and a half months.

Lesson Learned: Don’t be afraid when things don’t turn out just as you thought they would. Just roll with the punches and correct your balance as necessary. It’s silly to continue doing something that isn’t working.

Our long-term vision has remained constant. Today we have the means to begin taking action on that vision. Literally, just TODAY we pulled the trigger on the first step in our long-term vision plan.

Is Your Refusal to Give Up Control Holding You Back?

Though I don’t necessarily consider myself a serious control freak, the fear of giving up control was more powerful than the potential of earning more money doing something I would enjoy more. By “control” I mean:

  • Control of a predictable routine
  • Control of predictable problems
  • Control of a predictable income
  • Control of feeling in control

Even though I wasn’t entirely satisfied with all of these things I was controlling, the fear of losing these things held me back from making a necessary change that was begging to be made for far too long. It turns out that the things I thought I controlled were controlling me. They were keeping me from moving on. By letting go of those things, and making some calculated but uncertain risks, I am happier, wealthier, and more excited about the future than ever before.

Are there things that you know need to be done in order to begin the journey toward living up to your full potential? If you’re not doing these things… why?

Topics: Business Development | 55 Comments »


Hunting Down and Exposing Deep Dark Challenges – 52

By Christine OKelly | May 3, 2008


Fighting YourselfThe insatiable drive to achieve higher levels of success is perhaps human nature at it’s finest – and the reason why we have progressed as far as we have, as fast as we have. However, the natural urge to push ahead challenges another powerful natural instinct – to remain safe and comfortable. Oftentimes, we must battle one of our own instincts in order to satisfy another.

Photo by Lu Barcelos

We all have our dark, personal challenges – the challenges that we are most afraid to admit or to face. These deep, dark inner struggles can prevent us from ever achieving our vision of success if we let them. Not believing that these exist or that you have them is easier than believing it — when we refuse to accept it, we can go through life believing we are doing “everything we can” and wondering why some people “get all the luck.”

ChallengesI imagine that many of you reading this “know” this one a cognitive level, yet you may still be denying it on a very primal level.

I know this is true for me. I constantly battle with first identifying and then knocking out these deep seeded fears that challenge my ability to achieve my vision of success.

The problem with our deepest challenges, is that they are often so latent that we don’t even know they exist and therefore we don’t know how to tackle them.

For the past several weeks, I’ve been pushing beyond my comfort zone. It has been exciting, uncomfortable, and exhilarating all at the same time. In this post, I’ll share some techniques I have used recently and in the past to hunt down and tackle my innermost fears and challenges:

Note: None of these suggestions will be of any value whatsoever without ACTION. All require pulling the damn trigger, and making the tough choices to go after what you want with vigilance.

Bring More Silence Into Your Life

When I first left my job, I cut off most forms of information from my life. I had no television, stopped listening to music on the radio, ditched my cell phone, and moved far away from anyone I knew. This lasted for about 2 years. I’ve mentioned this before, but I never mentioned why.

I wanted to create a silence so that I could better hear my own thoughts. Without any way to drown these thoughts with pointless noise, I was forced to deal with them in the silence of my own mind. It is much easier to find your own challenges without the constant drone of television, radio, or long chit-chatty phone conversations to take your mind off of the problem.

I’m not suggesting that this is the right path for everyone, but instead to become comfortable with silence. Try spending an hour or more in silence every day. If we allow ourselves to be constantly fed information, then we never have the time to discover our own.

Force Accountability Upon Yourself

Right now there are things you are avoiding that you KNOW damn well will get you closer to your goal. Yet you’re not doing them. I know this because I do the same thing. You’re probably avoiding them because just below the surface lurks a big nasty fear that you don’t want to face. Other people have achieved these things. These things are not impossible. These are things that only seem impossible to you right now because of your current way of thinking about the situation.

If you’ve set goals for certain things and regularly blown them off, it may be time to bring in someone else to hold you accountable. For example, I know that I will regularly blow off working out if I don’t have someone to hold me accountable. After years of blowing it off, I hired a personal trainer to keep me in line. If I don’t go, I disappoint Nik and he charges me for the time of his that I wasted. It hurts my pride and it hurts my checkbook if I don’t go, so I go.

Publicly challenging myself to make $20,000 in passive income this year is another way I’ve held myself accountable. I don’t want to look like an a$$, and that has kept me plugging away on this project that I’ve wanted to slack off on plenty of times. The reason for wanting to slack wasn’t out of laziness, it’s because the entire process has forced me to combat another deep dark fear that lurks in the very core of my being. If I wouldn’t have forced accountability upon myself, I would have probably found an excuse about why I never completed the project.

Have Someone Call You Out on Your Own Lies

The challenges we are most afraid to face – the ones that truly hold us back – are often so much a part of our personality and belief system that they are invisible to us. However, others can see the actions we are doing to cover up these inadequacies. If you really want to know what’s holding you back, maybe it’s time to ask someone the hard questions – the ones you don’t really want the answers to.

Since taking Dave Navarro’s time management challenge, I uncovered a cave of dark challenges – a scene very similar to turning over a railroad tie and finding a horde of wriggling worms and critters scurrying to find darkness again.

My lie was that I was “too busy” to take on the challenges I knew I needed to take in order to get to the next level. I created that lie by filling my time with busywork that wasn’t entirely necessary. Once Dave showed me how to free up my time so that being “too busy” would no longer be a valid excuse, I was left to stare my own deepest inadequacies right in the face.

Over the past month, I’ve been incredibly busy – but I’ve been busy acting on Dave’s advice and therefore creating a plan of action that will get me to the next level. I suspect that the “too busy” lie is one that many people hide behind. If you’re “too busy” then you don’t have time to face all the hard challenges that you already know need to be done.

Topics: Business Development | 52 Comments »


How I Tripled My Business Leads in 8 Weeks – 35

By Christine OKelly | April 16, 2008



This post offers more of a “mindset” how-to vs. a step by step guide. Every business is different, but I think these concepts are universal.

For years I’ve been doing what I think a lot of entrepreneur’s are guilty of… I’ve been purposefully, and yet largely unknowingly, holding back my business growth. I fell into the trap that all of us fall into at some point or another – my current status was comfortable. Making the necessary changes to grow meant navigating into uncharted waters and forcing myself to change.

But then a few things happened that changed my thinking and helped me to make some dramatic growth steps with my business.

Photo by Ali Ansari

Working With a Coach: Dave Navarro

This point is first because if I hadn’t taken this step, I may not have seen all of these other opportunities. When I called out Dave Navarro to see if he could help me find more time in my day… I got far more than I bargained for. I “knew” cognitively that having a coach was a smart idea since most successful people recommend this, but I didn’t really KNOW how much of an impact it could have on my life and my business.

I’ve learned that if you are really dead serious about taking your business to the next level, you’ve got to bring more people into the picture that are invested in your success. Working as a solo entrepreneur for too long can put you into a place where you are unable to really see all of the opportunities you might be missing. Having a coach on your side that can see things from the 30,000 ft. perspective vs. the ground level where most small businesses and solo entrepreneurs are operating is in my opinion, one of the smartest moves you can make.

Many of the things Dave suggested were things I “knew” but that I was making excuses for not doing. Perhaps the most critical of which was that I needed to outsource a lot of the busywork that was taking time away from doing what I was most effective at. I had thought about this before, but had several excuses:

  • It’s easier to just do these things myself rather than training someone else

It does take a bit of time to train someone on your way of doing things… but if you invest that time once, you can free up countless hours in the long run. As a way to counter this, I’m creating written training and screen casted training modules so that I can do the training ONCE, but apply it multiple times.

  • Trying to manage someone else will take as much time as doing it myself

If you have good systems in place, managing a team is much easier. I started using Basecamp as a way to manage communications. I highly recommend this for anyone managing multiple projects and/or multiple team members.

  • I need to get more business in so that I can ‘afford’ to pay someone else to handle things

This is the biggest lie of all. Filling your time with busywork is a sure way to stop your business growth in its tracks. Until you can free up some of your time, your ability to grow your businesses is severely threatened.

If you are thinking something like “well… that sounds great but [insert excuse]” then you are thinking the exact same way I was in my pre-Navarro days. If you are dead serious about growing your business, I highly recommend finding yourself a coach – even if you can only afford a few short hours a week. Dave Navarro and Akemi Gaines are coaches that work specifically with small businesses.

Action Plan: Figure out exactly how much you need to get by and set a cap for your own earnings – then outsource as many tasks as you can that do not require your core competency. As a freelancer or small business owner, it is tempting to think…”well… if I did the entire project myself I could get x – but if I outsourced I would only get a fraction of x.” That’s not thinking that is indicative of growth.

Business Promotion

With my extra time, I took measures to promote my own business more – things that I was too busy to do before freeing up my time. There are many, many ways to promote your business online aside from developing your website and blog. I wrote articles, press releases, created a HubPage, a Squidoo Lens, sent out emails, enhanced my Marketing Kit, promoted my slide show on Slideshare, added some pages to my website, researched new methods of link building.

All of these measures have helped me improve my ranking in the search engines and convert more visitors to customers. I have many more things planned and am thrilled that I am taking measures to free up my time – what was I thinking before?!? The more I’ve put Dave’s advice into practice, the more ridiculous my original excuses seem.

Action Item: Instead of focusing 100% of your efforts on your blog or tweeting on Twitter, write and publish content on multiple sites.

I Heard This Saying: “Are You Playing to Win, Or Playing Not To Lose?”

Whoa. This saying was like a slap in the face. When we achieve a little bit of comfort, we start becoming afraid to lose it, so we stop playing to win and start playing not to lose. We say we want to win, but our actions don’t reflect that. As a result, I’m taking some risks that I was too ‘afraid’ to take before. I’m starting a 50/50 partnership with the wonderful Tara Geissinger, a chick with a self-made mindset and a skill set necessary for creating a business that was playing to win vs. playing not to lose.

Even if you don’t want to partner legally, there is an important psychological event that takes place when your business becomes more than just you. When it’s just you, you can become complacent. There is no one to keep you accountable. If you fail, you’re only hurting yourself. When you partner, there is a much greater responsibility to succeed. If you truly want to succeed and believe you can, why wouldn’t you take this step?

Here were my excuses:

  • Partnering with someone means I’ll be sharing 50% of my earnings

True. But if you partner with the right person, you’ll position yourself to bring in more revenue.

  • I haven’t found a person I trust to partner with

This is a legitimate excuse. I wouldn’t recommend picking someone out of the blue. Blogging is a great way to meet people. Tara and I casually knew each other before but only started realizing that we had this incredible like-minded kinship after I started blogging. A person’s blog can tell you a lot about them and help you decide if this is someone you want to partner with. Commenting on blogs and sending a blogger ideas for how you could make their business better is a great way to build relationships that could turn into a partnership. Tara originally approached me with ideas – and I’m glad she did.

Action Item: If you are truly committed to ‘winning’ (whatever that means to you) ask yourself at least once during the day – “Are the actions I’m taking indicative of someone who is playing to win, or playing not to lose?” Playing to win typically requires building strategic relationships with others. Keep your eyes open for people you think your skills would be a good match for and contact them with ideas. If you’re a blogger and receive such comments, be open minded to them.

I’ve Been Listening to Steve Chandler Almost Non-Stop

When I read this 78 word blog post on Michael Warner’s Dream Jobs Dialog Blog, I had no idea that it would completely transform my life. I feel like I’ve discovered a gold mine by being introduced to Steve Chandler’s work. How had I never heard of him before? After Reading “17 Lies That Are Holding You Back and the Truth That will Set You Free,” I went to Steve’s site and bought 3 more audios – all equally amazing.

Thanks to Steve’s editor Maurice Bassett, I’ve also received an advance copy of his 10-part audio series “Mindshift” – wow. In all of his work, Steve Chandler talks about how most of us are using our minds ineffectively and thus holding ourselves back from success. Chandler first learned about the power of the mind when doing psychological warfare in the military. He says that in order to change someone’s mind, you must know how the mind operates… and he does.

Action Plan: Get some of Steve’s books and audios! I’d love to hear your a-ha moments after learning from Steve.

What has worked for you?

What actions have you taken recently or in the past that have significantly grown your business? Have you tried anything that didn’t work – oftentimes knowing what didn’t work is just as valuable as knowing what did work! Have you had some a-ha moments that we can all learn from?

Special Thanks

Thanks Samuel!This week I’d like to give a special thanks to Samuel Ryan, the mastermind behind the Wake Up Later blog, for affording me the opportunity to interview on his blog earlier this year. Samuel is “a web designer and developer and admits to having already experienced about a dozen mid-life crises which nearly led him to become a teacher, med student, breakdancer, clarinetist, monk, or nomad. For a great blog that focuses on website building, freelancing, blogging, online entrepreneurship, and free stuff for freelancers, check out Samuel’s blog – Wake Up Later.

Topics: Business Development, Uncategorized | 35 Comments »


How I Made $2,952 Online with a $0 Investment – 78

By Christine OKelly | April 1, 2008


creating wealthThis post may come off like I’m “bragging” – but that’s not the intent at all. My goal is to show you how you may just have a few thousand dollars lying around in your brain.

When I published my e-book How I Launched a Profitable Freelance Business for Under $50 (And How You Can Too) online about 10 weeks ago, I really had no expectations. I didn’t build it up with a product launch. I didn’t do any promotion whatsoever other than mentioning in a blog post and creating a separate page for ordering.

Learning the lessons described in the e-book took years of trial and error, but the actual 26 page e-book took only 4 days to write and produce. In fact, I even look my laptop along with me while getting a pedicure. I could have left the laptop at home, but I wanted to be able to say one day that I had written some of it while someone was rubbing my feet.

I didn’t use any expensive software. My original cover was not going to win any design contests – it was just a simple cover that I made on my own. Only after the book sold 200+ copies did I have the wonderful Nate Whitehill of Unique Blog Designs create a new cover design for me for $99.

It cost me a grand total of $0 to write and publish this e-book. However, in just 10 weeks, the e-book has sold 246 copies @ $12 for a grand total of $2,952. To put that number into perspective, here is a screenshot of an order record with 25 orders on a page. 246 sales equates to about 10 of these order records.

e-book sales

This may not be much compared to other people who have ideas and systems that will make millions of dollars. But I think that chasing “millions” of dollars may be one of the reasons why many people never even make $1 online. Instead of focusing on the few ways to make millions of dollars online, perhaps it is more profitable to pursue one of the millions of ways to make hundreds or thousands of dollars online.

I think that with gurus tossing around huge million dollar sales figures, many of us have developed a mindset that if something isn’t going to make millions of dollars that it’s not worth pursuing. $3,000 may not be a million dollars, but it’s nothing to scoff at. A few thousand dollars can greatly enhance the quality of your life. $3,000 can buy:

  • A 10% down payment on a 2008 128I RWD 2-Dr Coupe L6
  • A 7 day Mediterranean cruise for 2 with a balcony view
  • A semester of in-state college tuition in many states
  • A 42″ flat screen TV and complete surround sound system
  • Freedom from $3,000 worth of credit card debt

“If you ask me to name the proudest distinction of Americans, I would choose—because it contains all the others—the fact that they were the people who created the phrase ‘to MAKE money.’ …Americans were the first to understand that wealth has to be created. The words ‘to make money’ hold the essence of human morality.”

– Ayn Rand (Thank you to Steve Chandler and his audio “FREEDOM! The First Ten Ways to Create Wealth” for introducing me to this quote)

Turning Your Personal Experiences Into Solutions for Others

Every single one of us has years of experiences that are just sitting around inside of our brains – experiences that others would love to know about. If you’ve spent years learning something through trial and error, don’t you think that someone would be willing to pay a few bucks to bypass all those failures you experienced in order to obtain the valuable information you know today?

Instead of asking yourself, “what can I write about in order to sell an e-book,” ask yourself, “what have I learned through trial and error that could save other people a lot of time and heartache if only they knew what I know now?

Dave Navarro told me something in one of our coaching sessions that really got me thinking differently about the potential for making money online. He said that there are 300 million people in the United States alone. If your knowledge could be valuable to even 0.01% of those people then you have a potential target audience of 30,000 people. Is what you know valuable to 0.01% of the U.S. population? And that’s just the U.S. On the internet, there are no geographical boundaries. (P.S. Thanks Simon for correcting my math in the comments!!)

Turning Your Failures into Dollars

For years, whenever anyone would ask me about my greatest fear, I would answer “fear of failure.” Now I truly understand that failure is just as much of an essential part of success as the success itself. For years I refused to try anything that I thought I might fail at. As a result, I just kept on doing the same old things that I knew I was good at.

Now I feel motivated and compelled to go out there and make mistakes. The more mistakes I make, the more first hand knowledge I gain about how to succeed. Having a license to try and fail is liberating! Every mistake that I make and can learn from can save someone else time, money, and stress. Thinking like this gives new meaning to the saying “what would you do if you knew you could not fail.” Because in every failure, there is a way to become successful – even if it is just through sharing your story!

Joshua Denney sent me a very thoughtful gift the other day out of the blue (thank you Joshua!) – a book called “How to be Happy, Dammit!” In that book are many sage words of wisdom, but one that very much relates to the topic of interpreting failures: “You live in a world of 1,000,001 interpretations. You must resist staying stuck on merely 1.” In other words, there are many ways to interpret your trials, errors, and life lessons. These lessons can become your greatest assets – so go out there and try things even if you fail!

Pull the Trigger

Now that you know that hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars are sitting in your brain somewhere waiting to be turned into a transferable knowledge, what will stop you from taking action? Even if you create an e-book that brings you a few hundred dollars, would it be worth your time? Just the simple act of creating something and putting it out there can teach you volumes. Here are some excuses that I made that kept me from publishing my information for far too long:

“No one will be interested in what I have to say”

That’s just not true. Humans have advanced rapidly because of our ability to learn from the experiences of others. Have YOU benefited from your experiences? Is it possible that even 0.01% of the population could also benefit from your experiences?

“I don’t know how to publish an e-book”

That’s easy. Start by creating a Word document. If you have a Mac, you can turn your Word doc into a PDF in the “print” options. If you have a PC, there are free programs out there like Primo PDF that will instantly turn your Word doc into a PDF. Next upload your e-book to eJunkie which will provide you with an entire payment processing system. eJunkie offers a free trial and then allows you to sell an unlimited number of your e-book for $5 per month. (Thank you to Alexis Dawes, author of the e-book “Desperate Buyer’s Only” for the heads up on eJunkie!)

I don’t have time

Yes you do.

Special Thanks

Adversity UniversityI want to give special thanks this week to Stephen Hopson of Adversity University Blog who was kind enough to invite me to do a two part interview on his blog. Whenever I think I “can’t” do something, I think of Stephen.

Not only is he an amazingly successful motivational speaker, he has achieved this level of success without ever having heard a sound in his life. That’s right – he is completely deaf and has excelled at his dreams of becoming a motivational speaker and pilot. Whenever you’re feeling challenged, I invite you to browse through Stephen’s blog for a dose of heavy inspiration!

More Special Thanks!

I definitely want to give special thanks to all of the people who were awesome enough to post about my e-book on their blogs. Thank you!

  • Dave Navarro
  • Michael Martine
  • Jon Phillips
  • Nate Whitehill
  • Stephen Smith
  • Fourty Plus Two
  • Zeke
  • Dave Starr
  • Joshua Clanton

Topics: Business Opportunities | 78 Comments »


Lies I Told Myself That Kept Me Broke and Lazy – 82

By Christine OKelly | March 18, 2008


liesLast week I tore through a book that I purchased after Micheal Warner recommended it on his blog. This book “17 Lies That Are Holding You Back and the Truth That will Set You Free,” by Steve Chandler is now on my ‘best books I have ever read in my entire life’ list. This guy has an incredible writing style and is brutally honest about how he has lied to himself over the years.

His book is not some round up article that he just came up with after doing a few hours thinking about lies people probably told themselves. These 17 lies are an examination of the failures and successes of his entire life.

Steve’s book has inspired me to take a look at my own life and think about some of the lies that I’ve been telling myself that have caused me to limit myself – and particularly my income. There are many. If I wrote them all it could probably fill another book. And since my posts are long enough, I’ve decided to focus on the top two lies that kept me broke, lazy, and miserable for a good chunk of my life.

Photo by Leo Reynolds

Lie #1: It Takes Money to Make Money

It might be easier to make money if you have some money to invest. But you don’t need money to make money. You need a damn strong desire to make money. You need to take action to make money. The notion that you ‘need money to make money’ is a lie that I (and almost everyone else) grew up “knowing” for as long as I can remember. This lie stopped me from believing that I could make money outside of a 9-5 job for a long time.

My Lie

For years I was a moonlighting entrepreneur while I worked my day job. I had a few hundred extra dollars each month to invest in my business which I told myself was not enough. I told myself that I needed an investor to really get the business off the ground. While I was waiting for an investor (though taking no action to actually find one) I spent the few hundred extra dollars I did have per month “preparing” myself and the idea for an imaginary investor.

I squandered the little bit of money I did have on useless things like business cards for a business that didn’t exist, business plan building software, and things to make me feel more organized in my home office. I even squandered an entire week’s worth of vacation time from my day job to stay home and write a business plan and research places to advertise that I could not afford. None of these things I was doing were getting me any closer to actually making money. I believed the lie that it took money (more than I had anyway) to make money, so my brain didn’t allow me to think beyond preparing for an investor.


When I quit my job and moved out to the middle of nowhere with no day job income to squander on useless things – – let alone pay rent or buy food, I learned what it really took to make money. It takes a burning desire to make money. It takes focusing 99% of your energy on taking action on things that will actually make you money, not prepare you for making money. If only I had read the head slapping simple yet wise words of Timothy Coote back then I may have been better off. Tim says: “Do things which make money.” Duh. (Thanks Naomi for introducing me to this post!)

With nothing more than a $100 computer that I bought off of some couple on Craigslist and an internet connection, I started making money freelancing and quickly replaced and then exceeded the income I was earning from my cubicle job. If I didn’t even have a computer or an internet connection, I could have used the computers at the public library to do this. When there was a fire under my a$$ and I had to figure out how to make money with virtually no money or let this lie make me homeless, I figured out a way.

Lie #2: Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness

There are probably many ways to argue this point. But in my opinion, this is a lie and one that I allowed myself to believe for many unhappy years. Whoever said that money doesn’t buy happiness was either broke, or they were a miserable person who won the lottery and allowed the money to magnify their misery. But for the rest of us who are essentially well balanced, I think money can buy happiness because in our society, money can buy security and freedom and those are things that make most people pretty darn happy.

My Lie

Like the old saying goes, freedom isn’t free. It can be if you want to mooch off of the generosity of others and live without any creature comforts like I did when I hitchhiked across the country and lived in a tent on the beach in Santa Cruz for 6 months. I thought I was free, but I didn’t see that I was completely dependent on the Elm Street Mission’s free weekend dinners, the St. Francis Soup Kitchen’s soup and bread lunches, and the temperate California weather. When a huge storm caused the tide to actually pick our tents up off the sand and soak everything inside during the dead of night, I realized that I wasn’t free and I wasn’t happy.

When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I was b-r-o-k-e. The husband and I were renting a room in a townhouse from a couple of college students in Boulder. We had no car. We had just rolled into town after this long and crazy hitchhiking experience. I had gone from a college student living just outside of Beverly Hills to a free-spirited hitchhiker on vacation with a bit of money in my pocket, to a homeless person who took showers at a homeless shelter and ate donuts out of a donut shop dumpster (they were double bagged!)


Now I was trying to blend back into society, pregnant, with no money, no car, and a broken sense of self worth. I was miserable and certainly depressed. I got an appointment at the local clinic for a counseling session so that they could tell me why I was depressed and give me something to fix it. After hearing my story, the two people listening to my story basically said that I wasn’t clinically depressed. They said that basically my situation just really sucked and that’s why I was depressed.

That was the first time that someone had validated that money could buy happiness. There was nothing wrong with me other than the fact that I had bought into this lie that money couldn’t by happiness and had spent the last year chasing ‘free’ freedom that turned out to be not all that glamorous.

Take a look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

If we want to get past a physiological existence where we live a life of “breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, and excretion,” we’re going to need some money. In our society, we need money to provide a safe comfortable home for our family. We need money to eat decent food that will keep our minds sharp and our bodies healthy. We need money for health insurance and health care. According to Maslow, we need to tackle this ‘Safety’ step before we can ever truly move on to becoming a person of love, esteem, and self actualization.

Your Lies

I started to write lie #3, but then I decided that I didn’t want to. I wanted to stop with these two rather than create a super long drawn out post just for the sake of having 3. Every list article has to have at least 3 things doesn’t it? I think that’s a lie and I’m going to prove it by only writing a post with 2 list items. Instead, I want to hear from you – what lies do you tell/have you told yourself that have held you back in life?

Special Thanks

Entrepreneur’s empowerment blog, Yes to MeI wanted to give a special thanks to Akemi who gave me the opportunity to do an interview on her blog, Yes to Me. Akemi is a self made chick who overcame plenty of obstacles in order to start her business. She is now a coach for entrepreneurs who want to learn how to take back their lives. Thanks Akemi!

Topics: Business Development | 82 Comments »


How I Sold Millions of Dollars of Intangible Products in a Highly Competitive Market – 46

By Christine OKelly | March 11, 2008


What selling intangible products that no one really wanted taught me about sales.If there is one way to put your sales abilities to the test, it’s selling car insurance. Car insurance is an intangible “product” that people are forced to have, don’t want to spend their money on, and never want to use. Car insurance isn’t a sexy product with cool packaging. It won’t help you become more successful. It’s not something you can show off to your friends to make you look cool. Not only does buying car insurance suck, but most people have a pretty nasty opinion about insurance “salesmen.”

Despite all of these challenges, I managed to become on of the top selling auto insurance agent in all of California for one of the largest insurance companies in the nation (think talking lizard). In this post, I’m going to show you the three most important techniques I used to sell millions of dollars worth of an invisible product that no one really wanted.

But before you assume I’m bragging about my natural master sales skills, let me tell you that the way I got to this point was anything but glorified!

Selling Insurance Seemed Better Than Begging For Money On A San Diego Intersection

Most embarrassing moment…In an earlier post, I mentioned that the husband and I, along with our two kids under the age of two, jetted from Oregon to California with pretty much no money in order to get away from soul-sucking relatives.

When we arrived, we had a couple hundred bucks in our pocket and nowhere to go. A friend of ours was kind enough to give us money for a hotel room for a few days. When that ran out, we made use of a state program called “emergency homeless assistance” which paid for one more week in the hotel as well as about $600 to put down a deposit on an apartment.

We spent the entire week scouring the town for apartments and jobs, and hitting the food shelters for free food. When we couldn’t find anything to rent in San Diego with the $600, we ventured down to Tijuana to find a cheap place to live. The week of paid hotel stay ran out before we could move in and we had no way to pay for the hotel. The morning that we had to either pay or get out, I actually held up a sign at an intersection begging for money.

I felt like such a loser. I had a college degree. Just months earlier we had been living a very comfortable life. I was a stay at home mom while my husband brought home the bucks during the dot com boom. Now I was standing on a street corner with a cardboard sign begging for money. I just fixed my eyes on the horizon to avoid making eye contact with anyone in the cars.

During that first week in San Diego, I also managed to get an interview with the insurance company. I didn’t particularly want to work at an insurance company, but they advertised a decent salary in their newspaper ad. I actually applied for a customer service position because I never imagined myself as a salesperson – let alone an insurance sales person. But after learning during the interview that the sales job paid $2 more per hour and offered bonuses, I changed my application immediately.

The point I’m trying make here is that I did not go into this this sales job because I thought I could kick ass at sales. In fact, I figured I was probably going to be the worst sales person ever. I chose the job completely out of necessity. And though I had serious doubts about my sales abilities, I knew that I had to do whatever it took to keep this job and be awesome at it, or else we might be stuck in Tijuana – or worse, homeless – for much longer than I cared to be.

It turns out though, that my abhorrence of typical “salespeople” is exactly why I ended up being so good at it.

Being Great At Sales Has Nothing to Do With “Selling”

The reason I thought that I would be so horrible at sales is that I have a lot of compassion for people and I am a horrible liar. I knew that I would not be successful at pressuring anyone to buy something they didn’t really want. But after being put through a rigorous 8-week sales training program with an incredible instructor, I leaned what became some of my most valuable life lessons – pearls of wisdom that helped me to excel in my insurance sales career, grow my own business, and become a better copywriter.

Essential Sales Skill #1: Discover What People Really Need

Sales is all about discovering and then REALLY listening to people’s deepest needs, and then presenting a perfectly tailored solution to put those needs at ease. And here’s the kicker. This means that your product may not always be the answer. If you genuinely care about people and you honestly want to solve their problems, you’ve got to be willing to give them a solution that will truly solve their problem or meet their need even if its not your solution. A great sales person is a great listener, has true empathy for people, and is a passionate problem solver.

“Selling isn’t something you do to someone. It’s something you do for and with someone.”
–Ron Willingham

How to Discover What People Really Need

To paraphrase Brian Tracy, unless you really understand what someone needs, you have no businesses offering a solution. Not only do you not know what they really need, they know that you don’t know what they really need. In a sales call, this means asking lots of questions and then buttoning your lip and listening.

Like politicians, if we stop listening and act upon our own agenda, little will be accomplished.
–Dan Sitter, Idea Sellers

The insurance application contained about 30 questions that were required to work up a quote. These questions gave me incredible insight about the applicant’s life, their job, where they lived, and much more. Instead of just blowing through the questions at top speed to get on with the next call, I often asked more questions that helped me to learn more about them. In the end, knowing so much about them helped me to put together a perfectly tailored solution.

I stumbled up on this strategy quite by accident. I wasn’t asking questions about them just to give myself leverage to close the deal. I asked questions because I am genuinely interested people’s lives. I think this is a key component of good sales.

Action Plan:

  • If you make sales over the phone or in person, come up with a list of questions that you can ask every customer throughout the conversation in order to learn more about their life and their problem so that you can ultimately offer an ideal solution.

In an online environment, there are even more ways to discover what people really want and need.

  • Forums and message boards: Look around on forums and message boards to see what kinds of questions people are asking. Instead of trying to figure out how your product meets those needs, ask yourself if what you have will really provide a solution. This can give you some great ideas about how to improve your product or service.
  • Analytics: If you have a website or blog, review analytics to see what types of search terms people are using to find you. Many people seem to use Google like a crystal ball, telling it their deepest needs in hopes to find a solution. Here are some actual terms that people used to find this blog:

search terms

  • Engaging in blog conversations: I’ve found that conversations on blogs follow the same principles as real life. It’s quid pro quo. If you want people to open up and tell you want they really need and want, you need to open up and reveal some personal things about your own struggles. People are more willing to take the conversation to the next level if you make the first move.

Essential Sales Skill #2: Being Sold On The Product You’re Selling

At the insurance company, I was convinced that I was selling the best product on the market. If I wasn’t absolutely convinced of this, I’m sure that I wouldn’t have done very well in sales. This piece of the puzzle is more important than it may initially seem.

There are lots of people selling affiliate products online that they know nothing about. How can you possibly really become great at selling these products if you’re not sold on them yourself? I toyed around with launching an e-commerce store a while back and then quickly ran into a conflict of personal ethics.

I went through all the steps of finding a wholesale distributor, setting up a DBA, and building the e-commerce store. But when it came time to write the product descriptions, I began to feel really uncomfortable with writing great sales copy about products I had no experience with and knew little about.

I wrote about 30 product descriptions before ditching the project. This is not to say that in order to operate an e-commerce store you need to know everything possible about every product! I think what it does mean is that you have to offer the opportunity for buyers to give their feedback on products and then take a critical look at that feedback to ensure that people are actually benefiting from the products you offer.

For me, the process of creating a great e-commerce store would have required more time and energy than I was willing to commit. I thought it could be a good side project, but once I really examined what it would take to make it the most beneficial for customers, I decided to focus my efforts elsewhere.

The next idea I had to solve this dilemma was to create a blog that only featured products that I or the author of the post had used personally. The formula was fewer products/more trust. Michael Martine and I had a great phone conversation about this which turned into a fun brainstorming session about how blogs can be a powerful tool for e-commerce sites.

In that conversation, he said something brilliant: “If you can’t blog it, don’t do it.” That’s because blogs are built on trust and transparency. This serves as a great litmus test for any kind of sales: If you are unwilling to “sell” it with full transparency and honesty, maybe you should consider selling something else.

Action Plan:

  • Instead of trying to find products online to sell that offer the most affiliate fees, ask yourself what products you already have personal experience with. Ask yourself what YOU can teach people based on practices you know work and turn that knowledge into an info-product, application, or physical product.
  • If you’re selling affiliate products, critically review the products you are selling. If you review a product and you don’t like it, the trust you’ll lose by recommending it will cost you far more than the couple bucks you make selling it. In his post “Blogging for Money,” Steve Pavlina talks about how he puts products he’s considering recommending through the ringer to make sure they are great. Because of this he has built an incredible level of trust among his readers. His blog reportedly earns $40,000 per month in sales.

Essential Sales Skill #3: Make Benefits Personal

You’ve probably heard about the distinction between features and benefits. But benefits need to be taken to a more personal, tailored level in order to be really effective. Many times, the buyer cannot make the connection between a generic benefit and the way in which they could apply that benefit to their life. Because of this, you need to do it for them.

Really figuring out what the benefits are for different types of customers is crucial and can be one of the most time consuming parts of developing a good sales strategy. For example, a feature might be 24 hour service. Until you apply that to me and my lifestyle, this means squat. However, when you paint a picture describing how I can use this feature, I’m all ears. In the case of auto insurance, 24 hour customer service can be incredibly useful to lots of different people for lots of different reasons.

For a mom, it means that when you finally settle down to manage your bills at the end of the night after the kids go to bed you can call someone and pay your bill or make adjustments to your policy that may save you money. For someone who works late at night, 24 hour service means that if you get into an accident at 11:00 pm on your way home from work, a real person is going to be there to document your claim. If the other person documents the claim first, they may tell a completely different story and put you at fault for an accident where you were actually the victim.

Relating how features provide specific, tailored benefits to individual customers not only helps you make the sale, it keeps them around longer. They aren’t motivated to leave because they are sure that they have the best solution for them. They don’t have that nagging feeling that maybe there is something better out there.

Action Plan:

  • List out all of the features of your product or service. Then create profiles of different types of customers and how these features could be applied to their life and become benefits. Invesp Blog has a 5-part tutorial called “The complete guide to increasing conversion rates through persona creation” that can give you more insight on this process.
  • Go beyond figuring out how these different “personas” can actually use the product. Dig deep and discover how applying the features can save them money, time, frustration, give them peace of mind, or help them avoid a potentially ugly worst-case-scenario situation. When doing this, be realistic. We’re all smart enough to sense hype a mile away. If you hype something up beyond reason, you’ve instantly created doubt, and then the sale is pretty much over.
  • Paint a picture of exactly what is going to happen when the customer goes to apply this feature. For example, if you’re selling web hosting with 24/7 service to a moonlighting entrepreneur, you need to explain how they can apply the 24/7 service to their life. When they are sitting at their dining room table at 10:00 at night ready to pull their hair out because they can’t upload something to their website, they can call a number and someone will walk them step-by-step through the process. If you make the benefits personal enough, those benefits become far more important than price.

A Free Sales Page Coaching Session

Because I enjoy helping people improve their sales I’m offering a free sales page analysis and coaching session to one reader. The best sales letter candidate will be one that is already receiving a decent amount of traffic or that will be placed on a site that is already generating traffic so that we can see some measurable results. Send me an email with your request and I’ll do the tough part of trying to pick one page to review.

What to expect:

  • I’ll review your sales page
  • We’ll talk by phone or Skype so that I can learn more about your customers and product
  • I’ll suggest ways that you can enhance your sales page
  • You’ll make the changes until we feel that it’s ready
  • You’ll launch your sales page and we’ll measure the results

I’d love to be able to help everyone, but this process takes quite a bit of time! Though I’m getting some fantastic time management coaching from time management coach Dave Navarro I need to be sure that I don’t pack too much into my day that even his hyper productivity techniques can no longer help me!

If you’re up to it, you can link to your sales page in the comments section and see what advice others can provide in terms of where you may need to clarify your message or handle specific objections.

Share Your Strategies and Sales Challenges

These techniques aren’t by far the only ingredients of a sale. These are just the 3 things that made the most impact on my sales numbers. I haven’t even touched on closing which is what most of the sales trainees I worked with found to be the most uncomfortable part (BTW, it really doesn’t need to be). What strategies have you used that have brought you measurable results? What are your biggest challenges with sales?

Topics: Business Development | 46 Comments »


Why Comparing Yourself to Others Could Be Suffocating Your Success – 31

By Christine OKelly | March 6, 2008


If we only apply techniques that have worked for others to achieve success and wealth without understanding the reason why these techniques work, it is highly unlikely that we will achieve the same results. I’ve found no better way to describe the magnitude of this mistake than story of the “cargo cults.”

During WWII some aboriginal tribes saw god-like airplanes filled with hordes of goods. They saw that these marvelous god-like airplanes would appear upon landing strips after the Westerners performed a series of rituals. Naturally, they figured that if they performed the same rituals, they would be blessed with abundance.

They set up of mock airstrips, airports, offices, dining rooms, and attempted construction of western goods such as radios made of coconuts and straw. They staged “drills” and “marches” with sticks for rifles and used military-style insignia and “USA” painted on their bodies to make them look like soldiers, thereby treating the activities of western military personnel as rituals to be performed for the purpose of attracting the cargo. The cult members built these items and ‘facilities’ in the belief that the structures would attract cargo intended to be sent to them.

The Why Beyond the How

I’ve learned an incredible amount of practical advice from reading the success stories of others. However, much of the story seems to leave me feeling more confused, anxious, and unsettled than before. So many times I have pursued the shelves of Barnes and Nobel searching for some magical words that would revolutionize my life. Can you relate?

The problem is that most people will tell you the “how it works” of their success, but leave out the all important “why it works.” The “how” of the story will get you some results. But trying to copy the how without the why is about as effective as building a radio out of coconuts and expecting treasures to fall from the sky.

Let’s take blogging for money for example. There are hundreds of thousands of people putting up blogs with regurgitated content and slapping on AdSense because they read about how Darren Rowse and ShoeMoney were raking in the big bucks with these strategies.

The “how” is blogs + AdSense but the reason why this strategy works for them is that they managed to build popular blogs and generate lots of traffic to click those ads.

You Might Have A Better Solution Than All These Gurus

As I mention in my e-book, I believe that sizing yourself up to the competition while you are developing your own success strategy is probably one of the absolute worst things you can do. For one, it’s depressing and can make you feel inadequate just when you need to be feeling empowered and creative. But more importantly, it is so easy to get caught up in “how” others are doing things, that you forget to ask the MOST important question of building a successful business – why do people need what I have to offer?

What if by reusing the strategies that others have started, you are stopping yourself from developing the next great strategy? Who says that just because some technique worked for one “guru” that you can’t find a better way?

Blaze your own trail

Here’s an example of a want ad we are probably never going to find:

Dream Want Ad

If you do see an ad like this – don’t answer it! The reality is that no one is going to offer us a job being our own boss doing exactly what we want. YOU are going to have to go out there and make that opportunity and then take it.

Make the opportunity by discovering ways that people and businesses can solve a problem, make more money, become more influential, enjoy life more, or reach their dreams and goals. It is very likely that the leaders in your industry have become too comfortable with the way they’ve always done things and are missing new opportunities.

The CEO of the last company that I worked for was a very smart man. Though his company had become very successful and earned tens of thousands of dollars a day, he reiterated several times in company meetings that his biggest fear was that some more passionate, hungrier person in a garage was going to come up with a better solution and take our position. He knew this was possible because he did it himself.

Progressive companies understand that they don’t always have all the answers and are willing to turn to outside consultants who can bring significant value – even if they didn’t necessarily know they needed what you had. This is precisely why you don’t need to wait for a pre-packaged want ad. If you wait for someone to come up with the need and then request to fill it, you’ve lost all power. When YOU declare why your services are necessary and then create a need for your services, you have the power of setting prices, terms, etc. But first you need to really understand “why” your solution works.

So go out and blaze your own trails! Ask yourself what services you can repackage that you already offer to add incredible value to people who may not even know they need what you have.

Here Are a Few Ideas:

  • Do you understand the value of a blog and why certain blogs are successful? Think of all of the big stuffy companies who could drastically improve their communications through a blog but have no idea how to communicate this way.
  • Are you great at organizing an email inbox? Do you understand why email boxes become cluttered and have a reproducible system for how to solve the problem? There are big companies out there that would pay someone to teach an in-house class to train their employees how to do this. GEICO, a huge company that I worked for, offered a class just like this. Position yourself as an expert on this seemingly simple topic, and it will be even easier to sell your worth.
  • Are you a mom that has come up with activities and games that actually keep your kids engaged and occupied? Why not create an “activities program” and schedule trainings with daycare providers on your system? Do you understand why kids lose interest and why teachers lose control of a classroom? Again, Position yourself as an expert and it will be even easier to convince people why they need YOU to train THEM.

It doesn’t really matter what you’re great at – there are people who need what you have to offer. There are ways to build profitable freelance businesses from just about any skill. Instead of only looking for things that are already out there, look inside yourself and discover why your experiences are valuable and then figure out how to turn it into a business.

Topics: Business Development, Business Opportunities | 31 Comments »


Challenge: Stop Existing And Start Living An Amazing Life – 69

By Christine OKelly | February 25, 2008


CountdownWe have one single chance to live our lives – just one. Why should we waste even a single moment heading down a path that isn’t what we truly desire?

For much of my life, I’ve been so preoccupied with just making ends meet, that I haven’t had a lot of leftover energy to spend on creating a life that is truly amazing. Can you relate? Now that I make a comfortable living and I’m not stressing out over money constantly, the time has come to challenge myself to take things to the next level.

Money itself does not create an amazing life. Like Tim Ferriss said in his book The 4-Hour Workweek, he was making $70,000 per month but was miserable because he had no time to actually live.

That’s kind of where my life has headed. I’m comfortable, but I don’t have the time I want to live the life I want. As part of the Freelance Smackdown, I challenged Dave Navarro’s time management coaching programs to help me find a few more hours in my day that I could devote to creating passive income streams. After talking to Dave, I got really excited about what I could do with more time. Ultimately, I don’t want more time so that I can work even more. I want more time so that I can live more.

I guess I always thought that somehow this great life would just “happen,” that somewhere along the way things would just fall into place. But now I’m 32 years old and I’m realizing that there is no waiting for something to happen and that creating an amazing life doesn’t happen without a highly concentrated effort.

Have you ever stopped for a moment in time and wondered… “How did this become my life?” If we’re not careful, we can drive ourselves right into a life that bears no resemblance to what we really desire. Is it really possible to break free of an existence we don’t feel passionate about? Do the people living our dream lives have some sort of special quality that gives them a ticket to live an incredible life – or are they just making different choices?

I think it is absolutely possible. I managed to escape one unfullfilling existence (cubicle) in exchange for a new life (freelancing), where I now have a lot more freedom and flexibility. Now, my goal is to take what I learned during that process to create a life that is truly exciting and absolutely in line with my passions.

Do You Really Want What You Think You Want?

This might sound strange at first… but hear me out. Sometimes we think that we want some end result, but we wouldn’t be happy doing what it takes to get there and to actually carry out the plan.

Sometimes, the cost of achieving a goal is higher than we’re willing to pay. If this is the case, that’s fine! It just means that you may need to reevaluate what you actually want and stop chasing goals that you aren’t willing to achieve and then being angry at yourself for not accomplishing them.

Action Plan: Find out exactly what the day to day life is like of someone living the life you think you want. Find out if this is something you’d even be happy with. Will it give you the richness of life that you are actually seeking?

Have You Been Pigeonholed into Believing That There is Only One Path of Success For You?

I remember when I was moving up the ranks at the insurance company I used to work for. I was so blind sighted about there being only one way to succeed in my career (the path that was laid out by the company) that I did not see any other options. I remember thinking that I needed to grow up and realize that adults were supposed to get a good steady job and the dreams I had of traveling the world were just unrealistic dreams. I was 26 and thinking this! The thrill of chasing promotions was fun for a while, but after I got to where I thought I wanted to be in the company, I found the experience quite empty. I shudder to think just how many people must feel like this right now.

Action PlanTake some time off to get some perspective on your current situation. What kinds of talents do you bring to the table at your current job? Is there a way you could be helping more people with those talents than just your company? If your company is willing to pay you for your expertise, then aren’t there plenty of other people who would do the same? Can you turn the knowledge you have into a packaged product or service that could bring value to many people?

Is Your Current Life Conducive Of Achieving Your Ultimate Goals?

My ultimate goal in life is to travel around the world – and not just on vacation. I want to be able to soak up as much as I can about a place before moving on. I don’t like to be on rigid time schedules and I don’t want to spend 51 weeks of the year saving up for 1 week of vacation. Ideally, I want to integrate my work into my life so that there is little separation between the two.

As a freelance writer, I can work wherever I want and whenever I want as long as I have an internet connection. I met an amazing woman last week named Anna Dubrovsky who is really living the freelance writer’s dream life! While I could travel anywhere, it would be pretty difficult to get anything done in a hotel with 2 wild couped up kids. And because the majority of my income is made from a straight trade of hours for dollars, I must be continuously working in order to make an income. This is the reason that my next goal is to create systems that generate passive income. This type of income still requires a great deal of work, but it also allows for even greater time flexibility.

What freelancing has done for me is to give me the flexibility of time that is necessary to pursue my passive income goals. More importantly, it has given me the belief that it is possible to make a living without an employer. This is huge. If you don’t really believe that this is possible, then you probably won’t invest the time it takes to pursue those paths.

Action PlanAsk yourself – if all things were possible, what would I be doing right now? What would be the ultimate life? Don’t assume in your question that you are independently wealthy already. If you do that, you may be waiting forever to get to a point where you are independently wealthy to ever start living your dream life. How can you live your ultimate lifestyle while still working and generating revenue?

Are There Negative People or Situations That You Need to Purge From Your Life?

There have been a few times in my life where my situation was just so non-conducive to making progress, that I just decided to turn in my cards and start over with a fresh hand. Sometimes you can adjust your current situation enough to start making progress toward your goals, but if you’re in a negative environment surrounded by people or a situation that sucks the life out of you, it may be time to walk away and start over.

There was a time in the dot bomb era of 2001 that my husband lost his job along with more than 5,000 other people in the tech industry in Oregon. We had a 1 year old and a newborn. In an attempt to save money, we moved in with my husband’s mom and her husband – bad move. They are perhaps the most depressing, soul sucking people I have ever encountered. In their presence, neither of us could get to the state of mind we needed in order to create a dream plan, let alone actually achieve it. Though we had food and a roof, this was nothing compared to the positive, kick-ass mindset we needed to pull ourselves out of the situation.

After a few days of contemplation, we decided to go back to California because California had always been a place where we felt we could achieve anything. There is just an “essence” of empowerment in the air that I haven’t found in many other places. We borrowed a little bit of money to make the 1,000 mile journey with a few hundred left over that wouldn’t come close to paying for even half a month of rent in California. Everyone thought we were nuts. Along the way, we decided that we were going to purge every person from our life that was a negative influence or who didn’t believe in our plan. That left a total of two people.

We ended up renting a little place in Playas de Tijuana Mexico that had no stove and no refrigerator. We had no furniture. But that situation, as “grim” as it was, was far better than the situation we had just left. I got a job in Northern San Diego county and would spend about 5 hours in the car traveling while he stayed home with the kids. The kids were happy as ever. At that age, they had no idea what was going on – only that mom or dad or both was always with them. After about 3 months, I saved up enough money to get us out of there and we were back on track.

Don’t be afraid of making major life changes if that’s what it’s going to take. If you believe in yourself enough, you’ll find a way to come out on top. You may be better of with less “stuff” and a more positive, empowering outlook on life than with lots of creature comforts and bunch of dull negativity.

Action Plan: Identify which things in your life are bringing you down. It may be a family member, a ‘friend,’ a boss, a coworker, or a client. What is keeping these people in your life costing you?

Embrace the Fact that Fear and Rejection Are Part of the Process

Making any major change in life is going to require taking some risks. It’s going to require that you purposefully put yourself into some uncomfortable situations. It’s just part of the process! Are you ready for that? If you’re just starting out trying to create a new stream of revenue for yourself, risk may be as simple as taking that first step to call or email someone and ask if they could use your services or if they will place your product on their shelf. If it feels scary, that’s a good thing.

Most of us are so scared of feeling fear or rejection that we just stick to our comfort zone and never try new things. When you’re just starting out, very few people will believe in you. That’s just the way it is. It was probably that way for everyone who is successful today. If you learn not to take these things personally and not internalize that negativity, so many new doors of opportunities will open.

Michele Hoskins, a woman who created a brand of syrup from her grandmother’s recipe was rejected by Denny’s buyers every single Monday for two years until they finally agreed to stock her syrup at Denny’s. Now she’s a millionaire. Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen’s Chicken Soup for the Soul books were rejected by 300+ publishers before one finally agreed to publish it. What would we (and they) have missed out on if they had taken this rejection personally and given up?

Action Plan: Get out there and make mistakes. It’s going to take plenty of failures to hit on one success. Screw up a sales call. Pitch an idea to someone even if you think they’re going to laugh at you. Who cares if no one believes you are going to be a success. No one else is living your life but you. You are the only one who can decide what your goals should be and you are the only one who cares enough about your life to make them happen. If you listen to the nay saying of everyone else, you may find that you’re living a life that bears no resemblance of what you really desire.

Topics: Business Development, Freelancer Tips | 69 Comments »


Show Me The Money Dave Navarro! – 59

By Christine OKelly | February 18, 2008


On Notice!Dave Navarro – you’ve put yourself and your time management coaching to the challenge when you put me On Notice! :D

If for some reason you haven’t heard of Dave Navarro (no, not that Dave Navarro, but a rockstar all the same), you soon will because I’m about to see if his time management coaching can make me an extra $20,000 in passive income this year without taking away from the time I spend on my regular SEO copywriting business.

I know that $20,000 isn’t a TON of money to generate over the course of 10 months. But $20,000 in passive income is completely different than $20,000 made from swapping hours evenly for time. It seemed like a decent goal for my first real crack at passive income.

I have no doubt that I can recoup the $12 I invested in your early riser program many times over and have committed to getting up by at least 4am and working on passive income projects between 4 and 7 am for as long as it takes to get these projects completed. But I’ve got bigger issues Navarro! I was already getting up somewhere between 5 and 6 almost every day to handle my other obligations. How am I going to cram all of that lost time into the rest of my day Mr. Productivity Pants?

I completed the workbook page on Wiping out Weaknesses from Chapter 5 of your 30 Hours A Day program. One of the glaring weakness I have uncovered about myself (along with plenty of others) is a major problem with interruptions. I drilled into this problem a bit deeper and have identified the three major culprits:

Time Management Challenge #1

crazy kids

Two Crazy Little Kids Ages 6 and 7. These kids are cute, funny, awesome, and my favorite people in the world. They are also loud, bicker constantly with each other, generate huge piles of laundry, and leave enormous messes in their wake. I probably spend 2 hours a week just repeating the four phrases “brush your teeth, take a bath, do your homework, and clean your room.” For a good idea of what a complete day with these guys is like, watch this and then multiply it by two.

They require shuttling back and forth to school, ballet class, and hip hop class. They are also preparing for starring roles as a fork and plate in an upcoming school production of Beauty and the Beast for which I am supposed to be helping out with. I know you’ve got THREE kids and still have managed to blog consistently for Freelance Folder, put together monster-sized audio programs, do freelance consulting, and do this all while working a full-time gig – so you must know some kind of secret that I don’t. Help me Dave Navarro, you’re my only hope.

Time Management Challenge #2

crazy puppy

Molly O’Kelly. The newest member of the O’Kelly clan is perhaps the cutest baby Scottish Terrier I have ever laid eyes upon. She also has zero bladder or bowel control and requires being taken outside on a leash every half hour. Still, she will return from her walk only to pee or crap on the carpet. The clean up alone has added several extra hours worth of steam cleaning to my weekly obligations. (Sorry about the bad picture. I had to take this with a cell phone because above mentioned kids dropped and broke my camera while arguing over who would use it next.)

Time Management Challenge #3

overstuffed email box

An Overstuffed Email Box. I use my email inbox as a “to do” list. Ideally, this should be empty each day – but does it look empty? Each one of these items represents some action that I must take. I’ve implemented David Allen’s GTD principal of handling everything that will take less than 2 minutes. This can and does consume about 4-5 hours of my week while still leaving a boatload of things in the email box. Here’s the challenge… I appreciate each and every person that writes with a question or an idea about growing their business and I want to get back to all of them… you’re not going to make me give this up are you?

So Navarro – do you think you can help me? Remember, I’ve still got to earn a living in the midst of all of this. Plus blogging which I love – and I’m also a contributor for a new and awesome blog called Sproutwire developed by Shane and Peter (these guys are a$$ kickers let me tell you… they get an idea and they MOVE on it and they don’t cut any corners!) I’ve got the ideas to create passive income – now I just need you to show me how to find the time to get them done! I’ve got both of your time management programs and I’m ready to put them to the test.

The Everyman Dilemma

Like most of the people who read this blog, I’m no big hancho with a staff of people to order around. I’m an everyday entrepreneur wearing multiple hats and juggling a bunch of responsibilities while trying to maintain somewhat of a life.

You are the person that I want to get my time management advice from because I know that you’re in the same boat as I am, and yet you manage to get more done than just about anyone else I know!

You’re not David Allen who is charging executives top dollar and probably doesn’t even need to work his a$$ off anymore. I believe in you Navarro because I’ve seen you accomplish amazing things while existing in the same trenches that most of us are in.

So Here’s the Deal…

Over the next 30 days, I’m going to be your most attentive student. I’m going to complete every worksheet in your coaching programs and listen to every piece of advice you give me and take action on it. I know it’s up to me to pull the trigger and to create something that will actually generate $20,000 in passive income over the coming year – I just need your help to find the time to actually do it!

Am I The Only One?

Does everyone else have it all together or are other people struggling with major time management issues? Do all of you just seem to have it together on the outside but are just as maxed out with time behind the scenes?

And a Winner!

Last week I offered a free press release optimization to one commenter… So that I wouldn’t be biased in any way, I had the two crazy little kids pictured above agree on a number between 1 and 51 (the number of unique comments). Then I took that number and counted down the list to find the winner. That person is Michael Martine of Remarkablogger! This is exciting to me because I think Michael’s blog consulting packages rock and I really want to see more businesses leveraging the power of blogs. Everyone who wrote has such amazing businesses that deserve to be promoted. I hope you take the ideas in the press release writing guide and create some more buzz and backlinks for your business!