Note from Glen: This is a post by Ramsay, who was recently introduced as a new member of the ViperChill team. Last month I made an extra $5,000 by jumping on the phone with a long-term email client to close a deal. And at that moment I had an important business realization: I’d forgotten something vital. And I think almost every blogger is making the same mistake that I was. You see, blogging and internet marketing can be a really tiny industry sometimes.
There are a few big players who dictate how things are done and then everyone else follows for a while. But within that narrow spectrum of teaching and following there are vital business practices being overlooked. This is not another “how to make money by following this method” kind of post. By the end of it you won’t have a new gimmick to test and obsess over.
But you might have an idea planted in your head that works for you for the rest of your business life.
And it might make you a lot of cash.
Let’s get started.
How I Made That $5,000
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now you’ll know that my money doesn’t just come from Blog Tyrant. I actually try to get my fingers in as many pies as is
reasonably intelligently possible.
The reason for that is simple: if you put all your eggs in one basket you’ll end up getting hurt.
Believe it or not, I learned this lesson from Google when they de-indexed my one and only blog back in University. This blog was my only income – the Adsense clicks were almost 100% of what I earned. So when the blog got turned off I ended up with nothing.
Luckily that blog came back in the SERPs. Not everyone’s does. Since then I’ve tried to keep a sexy mix of affiliate income, premium content writing, blog design and consulting work to help me make a living online.
Here’s how it went down…
Prior to the phone meeting I’d been emailing a long-term client for weeks and weeks about a new project that we were hoping to get started. I had previously built a website for them and we were discussing a new blog that they were desperate to get me on board with.
The problem? It just wasn’t happening.
We’d been emailing back and forth ideas and concepts and I’d told them I was ready to move. I had content plans, product ideas and website design drafts to show them. Excitement was building but no money had changed hands and something always seemed to pop up.
And then we jumped on the phone and met up for a quick coffee.
Within 20 minutes I’d sorted out all their objections and fears and sufficiently assured them that it was time to move. The next day they paid their invoice and the website and copy writing is now all under way. By the end of the year I think they are going to have a pretty cool blog and product ready to go.
And it all happened because of a phone conversation.
What Are We All Doing Wrong?
After I got off the phone to my client it occurred to me that something very important had just happened.
And I realized that it is something that almost every blogger is failing to do: make face-to-face contact.
I was amazed at how quickly the issues had been overcome by simply taking the time to talk to my client in a medium where they could hear my voice and see my face.
It was fast.
It was immediate.
And, most importantly, it was very personal.
I could have kicked myself at all the wasted hours. As I sat there thinking about what had just happened I wondered how many other jobs I’d lost because I was so insistent on being a hermit that only communicates via email. And this problem applies very directly to blogging.
The Problem With the Blogger Mentality
You see the problem with us bloggers is that we are all quite tech-savvy. Maybe it is a Gen-Y thing but given a choice between a phone call and a text message, I’d much rather send a quick SMS. And given a choice between an SMS and an email I’d rather send the email. But in a lot of ways this is a serious mistake.
Sure, it’s nice for us to stay in our pyjamas all day and talk to our clients and potential clients by email instead of meeting up for a coffee. It’s very safe and easy. Your clients might not feel like that though. Nor the people who want to collaborate with you on big new projects. Or the people who might want to buy your expensive product.
Yes we bloggers like to use email and social media to stay in touch. It’s often a lot faster and you don’t have to sit around a boardroom for two hours discussing what, 90% of the time, everyone already knew.
But sometimes you need to show your face. Sometimes people desperately need to see it.
And Skype offers us a way to “have a coffee” with clients and potential clients anywhere in the world and possibly create a whole new revenue stream.
Why is “Face to Face” So Important?
If anyone knows about the difference between being anonymous and showing your face, it’s me. Since unveiling on ViperChill a few months ago a lot of new doors have opened up.
But I’ve also been lucky enough to grow up around some really successful businessmen and women who are constantly closing big deals and impressing their clients on the phone and in face-to-face scenarios.
Some of the simple but extremely important lessons I’ve been told by my family members include:
- Never email a proposal
My sister told me that she massively increased her sales rates by refusing to ever email a proposal to a potential client. Instead she tells them she has five minutes free and she’ll meet them for a quick coffee to go over it. I’ll tell you why this works later on. Oh, and did I mentioned she was top seller for her firm in the country?
- Never wear sunglasses
When I was probably around 10 I went to a big meeting with my dad who was wearing transition lenses at the time. As the meeting was outdoors the glasses turned into sunglasses and he took them off and put them in his pocket. When I asked him why he was doing that (he needed them to see), he told me that you should always look clients in the eye to create a bond. Sunglasses prevented that. Computer screens do too.
- Deals that count don’t get closed by email
Obviously there will be exceptions to this rule but I remember hearing that all the big deals – the ones that count – get closed at lunch meetings, golf games and other face-to-face scenarios. The details might get worked out over email but the real “selling” takes place when you can chat openly. More on this later.
So why wasn’t I applying these things to my work as a blogger or copy writer?
It’s often really tempting to think that just because our services or products are online we can just use email. And in many cases that will be enough.
But what I’ve found recently is that some of the most impressive sales and business relationships have only come about because of a face to face meeting. And Skype gives us a modern version of this. Meeting in person is even better but with Skype we can create personal bonds that were hard to develop before.
So why is it that talking on Skype or meeting a person for lunch can be so much more powerful for selling a product or creating an important alliance? Well, there are a few reasons.
- Humans are social creatures
By nature, humans are very social creatures. We make families, go out for dinner with friends and play in sporting teams. We are built for that community living – our whole society is set up in that way. Why, then, would we forget to do apply that basic principle to blogging and business?
- Email is still new
It sounds totally ridiculous for us but for a lot of people email is still considered something new and foreign. Even if they have been using it for ten years, many people from the previous generations don’t feel “at home” using it because they didn’t grow up with it like we did. For them, face to face will always be the default.
- Email causes a physical stress response
Believe it or not but studies have shown that constantly checking emails causes the body stress. What this means is that for a lot of stressed out people (me included!), emails often represent negative things. Perhaps not a great introduction to a deal?
- People don’t believe you based on what you say
Strange but true. A lot of the time we don’t trust people because of what they say, we trust them because of how they say it. Facial expressions, tones, etc. This guy has made a career out of reading them. Mix that with the fact that the internet is a scary place for a lot of people and you are much better off showing your face.
- It is an organic and fast process
As happened to me in the example above, talking face to face can be a much faster process. Emails take time and people put them off (sometimes it takes weeks for Glen to reply to me). But on Skype or at a meeting you can jam and chat and things move really efficiently – if you’re good at it.
One of the most common questions that you guys asked on my unmasking post was about how we can speed up the whole process. So many new bloggers get upset at how long it takes to be successful. And I can’t help but wonder whether part of the missing ingredient for a lot of us is the human connection.
So let’s move on to the fun stuff.
How You Can Use This to Grow Your Online Business
Hopefully by now you’ll be thinking that maybe creating a face to face connection is a good idea. So what’s the best way to go about it?
Let’s take a look.
1. Do the Blog Tyrant — unmask
If you are blogging anonymously I think it might be time to consider getting your face out there.
As you might already know, I blogged anonymously for exactly 99 posts before revealing my identity. It was a huge step for me as I’d built up a lot of brand equity as the Blog Tyrant and was pretty concerned that the “buzz” on my blog would die off after I opened up.
It didn’t. Things got better.
My old friends and loyal readers became more friendly and I seem to be getting lots more personal interactions with people who visit the site. I even got asked out on a few dates!
But if you think it worked well for me, have a look at what happened when James Chartrand from Men with Pens revealed that he was a she! Remember, this was before Twitter was big.
2. Collaboration potential – arrange Skype chats with bloggers whenever possible
This is probably the most important point because by getting on Skype with bigger guys in your industry you often open up a lot of doors to new collaborations. And collaborations are the things that really grow careers.
Blog Tyrant was going really well for me but when Glen asked me to join the ViperChill team I knew that things would really take off. It’s a simple fact of business that you can get a lot more done when you team up with people who believe in and want to achieve the same things as you.
Now, the ironic thing here is that Glen and I never video Skyped before we came to our arrangement. But it did involve me opening up my “secret identity” to him and sharing lots of personal exchanges. I even emailed him pictures of my cat! (Note from Glen: This is true, as well as photos of his GF)
So the next time you get an opportunity to do it, why not drop the phrase, “Hey can you jump on Skype real quick?” You’ll be surprised how many doors open up once a person has seen your face and heard your voice.
So how do you get big bloggers on a Skype chat?
- Start with their needs
Glen suggests that one of the most powerful ways is to start with their needs and slowly transition to your own. For example, you might hit us up saying you want to promote one of our products or posts and then gradually ask for something in return.
- Be personal and informal
In my article on how to write successful emails I talk about a similar thing – try to be informal and personal by studying the big blogger and getting to know their favorite TV shows, sporting teams, etc. I love Tweets about tennis!
Remember, the idea here is not to “scam” your way into a phone chat with an A-lister. The idea is to develop real friendships and alliances that you actually value. There are guys like Pat Flynn, Darren Rowse and Brian Clark that I Tweet and email because I genuinely respect and like them. There are also other big bloggers that have similar influence but whom I never email.
3. Emphasize your photo and personality on your site
I can assure you this wasn’t an easy move for me – propping myself up like that makes me feel like a douche. I’d much rather stay anonymous. But at some point I realized that I had to bring myself in to my brand more. If I want blogging to be a viable long term career for me I need to get myself out there instead of just the website.
By making your photo and story accessible and prominent you can create some distinctiveness even when your content might not be that original.
Neil’s simple but effective sidebar photo and bio.
Neil Patel does this really well as you can see in the shot above.
Adding his photo and story to his sidebar keeps him visible and distinctive no matter which article you click on. Once you see the face and bio a few times you feel a sense of trust and are more likely to stick around when you know it’s something he’s written.
4. Connect with readers and potential clients on Skype
These days a lot of bloggers are talking about loyalty. But something even more important than that is creating distinctiveness. You need to stand out.
Now, I’m sure I wasn’t the first person to do this (Glen: *cough*) but a lot of people have commented on how a number of big bloggers are now replying to every comment after it became well known that I was doing it on Blog Tyrant. And while I’m sure this added to a sense of community and belonging on my site, I think the main thing it did was help me stand out from the crowd.
With Skype you can take this process even further. Sure, it might take a little more time but by jumping on for a quick chat you might close a sale because the person wants to give you the business. You will be surprised at how many people will buy your product or service because they like you more than they like what you are offering.
If you are really good at what you do you can also charge for this time. People will pay for solutions – especially if they come from their favorite blogger. Don’t be afraid to take this relationship/situation to a paid level.
5. Use video whenever possible / reasonable
Videos are getting bigger and bigger every day. As far as I’m concerned, the only drawbacks with video is that people often can’t watch them at work and sometimes they take too long to digest in a world full of “scan readers”.
But if you can do it nicely and at the right moments you can make a big impression.
Someone who does this really well (is there anything he doesn’t do well though?) is Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income. Let’s take a look at the video he made for his “Start Here” page where a lot of newcomers get to meet the man behind the site.
This approach is personal, warming and, above all, gets noticed. People instantly feel connected to Pat and are more open to his ideas and articles. Although it isn’t a live chat in person or on Skype it does produce a very similar affect. A lot of the time I read articles he’s written that I otherwise might not just because I really like Pat.
Tips For Getting the Most out of Skype
I wanted to finish off this article by giving you some practical tips for using Skype.
More importantly, I’d love to draw on the experience of the ViperChill crowd so if you have any of your own tips please leave a comment. Feel free to drop a link as well if you’ve written anything that might help.
- Photo: Make sure your photo is friendly and recognizable such that when people see you on other media like blogs or Twitter they will know who it is straight away.
- Handle: Ensure that your handle is appropriate for all types of conversations. You don’t want to be doing a big business meeting under the name “lazybugger433434″.
- Expectations: Don’t be online all the time unless you are willing to take calls when people see you there. Set up times to be online so people don’t feel ignored.
- Quality sound: There is nothing worse than having an important conversation on Skype with someone that you can’t understand due to bad sound. Make sure you buy a good quality mic like the one I used here.
- Preparation: When I do my consultation calls I try to set aside at least 20 minutes before hand to go over the topic – even if I know it extremely well. This lets me put together any links or resources I might want to share as well as refreshing my memories of the subject.
- Presentation: If you’re jumping on a video chat then you really want to make sure your hair is brushed and you have a nice shirt on. This matters more for big paying clients than it does for friends and contacts.
The most important thing here though is to be yourself and find your own style.
What Do You Think?
Do you think you could increase your conversions, sales or relationships by adding in some more face-to-face time? Have you ever used Skype in this way? Leave a comment and let me know.