Branding Your Business Gets Results

Branding Your Business Gets Results

You may not have heard of business branding before, or may feel uncomfortable about the kind of scary term. Business branding really means the logos and slogans you use to promote your business. Before you put up a website, open up social media accounts for your business, or buy business cards, you need to think about your brand. And I mean, think of the face you want your business to show to the world. As an example, you can see that my brand is a carbonized version of my face, my name, my slogan, and my title.

“Success means doing the best we can with what we have. Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be.”

~ Zig ziglar

Brainstorming Your brand

In the business of freelancing, it’s a really good idea to put your face and your name as your brand, and it makes things much simpler when you go for a business license, since you won’t need to copyright your own name.

As you go about your weekend activities, take note of the name brands you see on billboards, store shelves, and commercials. Note which of these is most memorable to you and how many public figures use their name and picture to promote their business, aka their brand.

Unless you are hiding from an abusive ex where using your name and face could put your life in jeopardy, like I am, you should have no problem using your real name and picture. Many writers and freelance artists use a combination of either their first and middle names, or middle and last names, along with a decent looking selfie, as their personal brand.

Designing Your Personal Brand

Before you go buy cards with your name and picture on them, you can use a free product like PicMonkey to design your brand, logo, headers, profile images, favicons, business cards, and much more.

“Selling is essentially a transfer of feelings”
~Zig Ziglar

This weekend, or this week, take note of brand logos, designs, social media headers and icons, (those of businesses in your area), and your personal tastes in font types, colors, and icon images. Then familiarize yourself with PicMonkey features by checking out these tutorials. Feel free to doodle in your notebook until you get an idea how you want your website header, social media header, profile icons, and business cards to look like.

Next week I will put up a nice tutorial on setting up and designing your graphic media that will become your brand. This tutorial will be complete with image size requirements and placements. In the meantime, think of a catchy title for your position, mine is “Freelance Blog Writer” and my slogan is “Professional business blog writing and promoting. Turn your website & social media into a sales funnel.” I hope this helps you decide on the type of freelance work you would like to provide and how you would like to present your sales pitch in a conversation.


brand photo
Photo by Brett Jordan
Saving Up to Start Your Home-Based Business

Saving Up to Start Your Home-Based Business

In an earlier article I showed you how you can start up for under $40. But for the purposes of assuming that not everybody can barter for a free website host, let’s just say you need the bare minimum of $100. And let’s assume that you will need to pay recurring expenses, yearly fees, for keeping your business open. Next year you will need about $200 to keep the doors open. And in about six months, if you earn over $5,000, you will need to purchase a business license, and that cost can vary by state.

Let’s get started on adding up your expenses and then looks to see where you can pull these expenses from your budget. Chances are, you can skimp and save here and there over this next month and easily come up with $100 to start your business. The remaining fees will be earned from your clients. Let’s not think of this first $100 as an expense, but rather an investment into your new bright future and the lifestyle you dream about. Let’s make your dreams a reality.

When designing your MLM business, and your life, remember every detail you leave out must be filled in by someone else.

—Michael S. Clouse

The Startup Expenses, Plain and Simple

The investment of $100 into your business can be divided up into the following:

  1. $15 for a domain name
  2. $49 for your first year of webhosting* (Some places throw in a free domain name too)
  3. $25 for basic business cards with taxes and shipping (If you refer a friend and they order cards, you can get $10 off your purchase)
  4. $10 for office supplies (Binder, divider tabs, binder paper, notebook, day planner, pens, pencils, highlighter, and sticky notes all at the dollar store. For $9 plus tax.)

Buying Out the Savings for your Business Investment

Having been homeless exactly three times in my life, mostly due to jobs not paying me my last check, I know how hard funding can be. You have two options here, the first is to start a crowd funder. This option is much more difficult and entails a long process and a lot more work. If you are interested, here is a book called Step by Step Crowdfunding: Everything You Need to Raise Money From the Crowd* can help you get started.

The second option is to save this money from your current budget. Most people are living paycheck to paycheck, but there money is there, promise. One of the simplest ways to save, but it takes more time, is to simply round each item up in your check book or financial records to the next dollar. So if your rent was $659.35, you put $660 down in your ledger. And you do this for every shopping trip, bill, or expense you have. Those nickels and dimes add up fast.

The alternate second option is to buy less. This means foregoing eating out for a month, buying coffee out in the mornings, or putting a couple of items back when grocery shopping. So if you see yourself reaching for a fast food latte, put it on your list to buy coffee and creamer to use at home. And if you usually buy a soda or candy when you buy groceries, put these items back and subtract their cost from your account and place it in savings. Start actively looking for things you don’t absolutely need to survive, and tuck those dollars away here and there.

If you are dead broke and unemployed, actively now find a part time job. Even if you are handing food out of a drive through window, bagging groceries at a supermarket, watching the neighbor’s dog, mowing a few lawns on the weekend, or taking in someone’s laundry. There is money you can make and save up to start your business. And you can use this part time job as leverage to meet new people and potential future clients.

Part Time Job = Full time Networking

A part time job is a gold mine for both start up investment funding and a network of people you can make friends with who can be potential clients. Remember the job is temporary and the job is pure gold and a rich source of potential for your business. Just don’t try to sell to them yet, simply start making the connections, trading phone numbers and getting to know people in your area. Keep good notes on where they work, if they own businesses, and minor personal data you can use to start conversations about them and keep your interest focused on them and their lives. Congrats, you just started networking.

To the degree we make our invitation inviting, it will be to the same degree that our prospects will want to be invited.

 —Michael S. Clouse

*Affiliate Disclosure

Using Your Time Wisely – How to divide Your Time as a Freelancer

Using Your Time Wisely – How to divide Your Time as a Freelancer

The thing about freelancing is that, unlike a regular job where someone else sets your schedule and has you on a set course of activities each work period, time spent freelancing is rarely ever the same. Sure, after a time, you may find yourself with a routine of blogging on certain days, but the majority of your time will be spent prioritizing your time among a laundry list of necessary projects, all of which will keep you on your toes for months to come.

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great. ”
-Zig Ziglar

Getting your priorities set helps you divide the time up you have. I understand fully that not everybody gets a bonus week off work to sit down and build a website, but over the next few weeks I hope you will join me as I write tutorials that help you build your website, marketing campaign, and client base. Let’s get busy planning your first business projects: your website, your social media campaigns, your business cards, and your presentation.

Your First Website

You may have had website in the past, or may be running a semi-successful website now. If you want to run a business, you will need a dedicated website to act as a storefront for your clients to see all about your product and how you can serve them. This website should be clean, simple, and clear about your product or service.

We will get to this tutorial next week, but for now, think about what product you will offer, articles, blog posts, graphic media, art, ebook writing, virtual assistant, etc. brainstorm what kind of career you want to do from home that is in high demand on today’s online markets. You will need a clear vision of the purpose and branding your website will have and this needs to be separate from things you might sell, like purses or dress patterns, if you also want another hobby to earn cash.

Your Social Media

Before you run along and set up a Facebook page or twitter account for your business, you need to have a clear vision of your mission as a business owner. Tomorrow’s article will talk about branding yourself.

Just for now, today’s homework is to go find YouTube videos about setting up Facebook pages, twitter, google plus, and linked in. we will have some nice tutorials laid out for you in the coming weeks. Familiarize yourself with these marketing tools and how they are used during this week’s free time.

Business Cards and Offline Marketing

Business cards will be your main offline marketing campaign. You will find a tutorial for this on my blog and learn how to use your branding to get your cards in the hands of waiting and interested people. For not, just know this is one of the most important expenses you will have. If you need to forego a few lattes this week to save up for them, please do.

Branding Your Business

Branding your business is a combination of your logo, your mission, your 5-secondd pitch, and how you can inject this into daily conversations and your online media. First things first, there is no need to go plastering your friends and families pockets with your new idea. It is okay to keep it secret, because although you may eventually sell your product to one of them, it’s a tough market and you may be underpaid as family and friends tend to think you can serve them for next to nothing. Leave them out of your dream, your market is everybody you meet and greet and more. Don’t worry if you are shy or clam up around strangers. I have an approach that makes the focus on the other person and puts your business in their hands with less than two sentences to a pitch and letting them do all of the talking.

Your Homework for This Week:

Spend your carved out time this week and weekend familiarizing yourself with setting up social media accounts and how to utilize them in marketing. That it, just some study. My next posts will get you saving up for your major expenses a website and business cards, and after that, how to brand yourself.

And now it’s your turn! Read thebooks; listen to the CDs; take the classes; and build something magnificent!


—Michael S. Clouse

branding photo
Photo by Travel 2.0

Photo by Travel 2.0

Defining Your New Business – by Making Time and Space for a New Lifestyle

Defining Your New Business – by Making Time and Space for a New Lifestyle

The biggest hurdle in creating a new career for yourself is not actually the financial one, unless you are absolutely destitute and homeless. Believe me, I’ve been down that road and I know how hard the financial part of digging yourself out of a hole can be. The true hurdle is buying out the time for your business. Because time isn’t cheap. Sadly too many people simply cannot find the time to start their own business because they are unwilling to make the time, or carve the time out from other activities.

Planning defines purpose.

Michael S. Clouse

If you are one of these people who is looking to find time to create a business and career that you will love, fear not, you have plenty of time, if you are willing to make sacrifices. See, you have plenty of time, but like me, you likely are spending that time doing other favorite activities like playing games on your mobile phone, watching TV shows, going to the movies, reading books, or playing video games. Buying out the time means seeing those activities for what they are, activities that are costing you the life you deserve.

Step 1. How To Carve Time In Your Life

Start with a handle tool called Google Calendar. First you are going to download it to your phone or create an account by creating or using your current Gmail account. Then, once you have seen this tutorial on using Google Calendar by the lovely Phyllis, move on to step 2.



Step 2. Adding in the Important Things

Now that you have become familiar with adding events to your google calendar, let’s get started in seeing the shape of your life. You are going to start by adding in events that are unmoveable, like caring for yourself, your family, and your current job schedule.

Using one color for the immovable tasks add in:

  • Your work schedule
  • 8 hours of sleep
  • An hour to care for yourself, shower etc, daily
  • 30 minutes for each of the 3 meals, more if you cook everything at home
  • Time to exercise, at least 30 minutes daily
  • Time to study about your business, at least 30 minutes daily
  • Activities required by your family or work, such as commuting or soccer games
  • An hour off relaxation per week, TV, Movies, Meditation
  • Church or other religious or spiritual activity

Now what you have left is your free time. In step 3 you will see how to turn this open time into a life-changing opportunity.

You are the architect of your destiny… Because you write the blueprint for your life!

—Michael S. Clouse

Step 3. Change Your Mind, Change Your Life

Now that you know exactly where your time is spent, it should be easy for you to locate blocks of time from 30 minutes to 3 hours on a daily basis. Color these a bright bold event color and don’t let anything, except true life and death emergencies, interfere. These are important scheduled events, dates you have made with yourself to change your life.

These scheduled events, appointments with yourself, are the gold nuggets that will help you move from the life you have to the life you deserve. Schedule them in, see them for the gold mines they are in your life, and hold them dear. In my next article, I will show you exactly how to dedicate this time and divide it among your priorities as a new business owner. I will also show you how some of your other activities can be special gems used to multitask your new business into your lifestyle.


copyrights Google - Here is a sample of what a calendar might look like. yellow areas are time I carved out for my new career and training for the career. Purple is time for myself and red is for work. Grey is unchangeable time for sleeping and commuting.
copyrights Google – Here is a sample of what a calendar might look like. yellow areas are time I carved out for my new career and training for the career. Purple is time for myself and red is for work. Grey is unchangeable time for sleeping and commuting.


Getting Your Business Set Up

Getting Your Business Set Up

Getting set up as a freelancer is a lot easier than you think. Many people think you need a lot of money, even though there are scads of tutorials on people’s blogs about setting up a business on a shoestring budget. Actually, barring the tablet and computer time I purchased, setting up can be, and actually is a lot cheaper. That is if you are willing to work harder. No, becoming an independent contractor still isn’t free, there are costs involved. For instance you will need to pay for internet, a website, and possibly business cards. Here are a few more costs involved in setting up shop as a freelancer.

The basics are the business.

 —Michael S. Clouse

1. Office Products

Not everybody will want to be as organized as I am, I’m sure, but keeping notes, client data, and lists of projects does make it easier to keep track of things. Aside from the usual supply of sticky notes, pens, pencils, highlighters, and a notebook, I’d say your most important expenses will be a planner to calendar with daily pages and a binder with organizer tabs and notebook paper. Because it is easier to keep your website and its content separate from, say, the 2 to 5 clients you are also keeping tabs on.

I know Annie hooked me on this when she started keeping notes on my website, when she was helping me set it up. It is super helpful not only to have a planner to sort out projects and client project due dates, but also that handy binder to keep lists of their contact data, security codes, and article lists. Because, when you are in a rush to get something done, it is way easier to flip to the fifth tab to find out the color code client XX wants is a hexadecimal of blue, than try to match it on a screen that may or may not show their exact color of blue in the text editor.

2. Electronics

I know a few colleagues who use all the above products on their tablet or laptop, carefully sorting their calendars onto google Calendars and their notes in excel sheets. For me, working on a tablet, it’s harder to switch back and forth between screens when I’m typing. But you will want at least a means of typing our articles, a small $150 to $350 laptop will do, and a cell phone to create an internet hotspot.

If all you can afford is a free tablet, like I got, then go for it. Last year Verizon was doing this deal where the tablet was free if you signed up for a $10 data plan to go with it. Just pay the tax, which also got footed onto my phone bill. So for a hefty extra $11 a month, I have a tablet to work from, until I replace that water-ruined laptop I lost two summers ago.

3. Online Business Marketing

Many businesses cannot fathom why they need a website or social media. Let me tell you, the difference is catching all those people plugged into electronic media, or not. If you are not online you’re at the mercy of people being able to walk past your storefront to find you. Don’t have a store front because you are working from you laptop at a café? That’s why you need a website, it is your virtual storefront. The cost is someplace around $10 to $100, depending on hosting plans, carriers, and whatnot. It is still worth the virtual reality to purchase. Add to it social media accounts like Twitter and Facebook pages, and you are basically adding the internet equivalent of fliers and business cards to everyone who frequents the internet.

4. Offline Business Marketing

Business cards are all the rage still. I mean, why mess with a good thing, right? Business cards are about the only real offline marketing expense you need right away, as a freelancer. You basically need a card that you can hand to people when they ask you what you do and this card needs to tell them just what you do and how to get in touch with you. Business cards run from $10 to $50 and are well-worth the splurge.

5. Future Business Expenses

Just starting out as a freelancer means there are very few actual expenses. You can easily get away without having a computer for a while, if you frequent a local library. Which leaves just a notebook, planner, and business cards. You need to save up about $100 to get started.

I Got Started with Just $20

In fact, I started with supplies I got for about $5 at yard sales during my summer trip. Because buying a tiny RV and refurbishing it ate up my entire savings. So I found odds and ends at penny and dime bins any time I crossed paths with a typical garage sale sign. Then, a quick trip to a dollar store netted the big final expense of a daily, dated, day planner. Like I said previously, I bought the domain several years ago, so the recurring $10 renewal fee wasn’t much to keep up with, even though it really hurt some years to keep it up. Wrapping that up with the $5 deposit I placed on my tablet, and I think anyone can actually do this.

How You Can Get Started

If you want this thing to work, you’ve got to work this thing you want.

 —Michael S. Clouse

Let’s add up you first expenses: Internet access (free at the library), computer (also free at the library), Hosting ($0 to $50 per year, depending on how you procure it), a domain name ($5.99 to $15.99), Business Cards ($15), and office supplies at a dollar store ($10 should cover everything – pens, pencils, highlighters, notebook, binder, planner, divider tabs, notebook paper, bag to carry it all in.) Total cost to get started $31 to $91. Can you afford this? Can you save up for it? I bet you can repay yourself for this after just one client too.


planner photo
Photo by danyeela


Photo by danyeela