Stop Reading about Everyone Else, Be Who They Read About

When I think of inventors, I think of shy, calculating geeks that lock themselves in their basement laboratory with Pinkie and the Brain lab rats, and a refrigerator full of low- quality beer. That’s why I was really surprised when inventor Peter Ginzburg asked me via email if I’d like to interview him.

His willingness to self- promote is probably because Ginzburg doesn’t classify himself as an inventor. No, if you ask him, he’s an entrepreneur.

Ginzburg created the Ginzvelo, a prototype human-electric hybrid vehicle that effectively blurs the line between riding a bike to work, and having one of those over-priced miniature electric cars. This is just one of many ideas he has – but, it is the first one he is trying to sell. What motivated his entrepreneurial aspirations? It was a combination of public support and blind optimism.

Why In The World Did You Make This Device?

I’ve always liked fast stuff. I used to race Go-Karts and make mini bikes and get in trouble for them not being street legal. When I got to college, I built a 3-wheeled go-kart that went really fast, but I knew it was going to need to be street legal.

Cool, But Why Did You Decide To Sell It?

Well, at first it was something just for me, but then I entered an entrepreneur competition at school. I didn’t win, but I did pretty well with the marketing aspects. Plus, the judges really liked my design.

What Were Your Plans Then?

I was planning to sell only a couple hundred, but they told me I was thinking too small-scale. So I considered their advice and thought big. I took it to the Internet to get more publicity and funding.

Is This Your First Business?

Sort of. It is my first product-based business. I had a landscaping business when I was a teenager.

So You Have No Formal Business Training, Do You Think You Are Being A Little Unrealistic?

Well yeah – to many people think my business idea may seem a little far-fetched. But I looked at the people I look up to, and their ideas seemed far-fetched as well at first.

So You Need Publicity; Have You Been Doing It On Your Own?

I have a Kickstarter campaign that has done wonders for my publicity because freelance journalists read about it and wrote stories. Now, I am even being casted to appear on Science Channel’s All-American Makers. I’ve . I’ve realized though that my lack of media is limiting my success and I’ve hired help to get me more exposure. They are going to be re-doing my Kickstarter really soon.

You Seem Like A Smart Guy, Couldnt You Just Get Some Well-Paying Job?

I thought about the alternatives. I could have spent 60+hours per week working, but I would still be creating my Ginnzvelo on the side – and for what? So that I could hang out with my friends and drink beers in the bars? That would have been a waste of my talents.

But Being An Entrepreneur Is Not Easy.

It has been so much more difficult than I could ever have imagined. I came close to quitting multiple times.

Why Do You Still Do It, Then?

People don’t do anything anymore. They don’t go outside. They are only thinking about what other people are doing. I don’t want to think about what other people are doing. I want to be the person that other people are reading about.

 

Do you dream big and take chances? Well, you might be an entrepreneur.

The Ginzvelo is currently a prototype vehicle. Learn more about how it works and donate to its crowdfunding efforts by visiting www.Ginzvelo.com.

What Everyone Can Learn From Ruff Ryders, Roc-A-Fella, and Wu-Tang

I grew up loving Hip-Hop. In South Carolina, when the latest rap song blasted through my radio, it fueled excitement in an otherwise simple and uncomplicated day-to regime. Although I had never walked the mean streets of Philly, sold drugs on the streets of Brooklyn, or ran the streets of New York, I knew about it because of these famous rap labels.

As a business owner, that experience has shaped how I approach marketing. They used a strategy that every business should be using if they are online. The fact that these record labels were able to reach a small town teenager 100s of miles away is not only due to huge financial backings. It’s due to something a bit less obvious.

Branding

What these labels did is create an identity for themselves outside of their music. They created something bigger than the product they were actually selling. By doing that, not only were they able to be more memorable, they were also able to make money off of their brand.

How many times did you see Ruff Ryders apparel in the mid and late 90s? Could you hold up the hand signal for Roc-A-Fella if prompted? Maybe you own some Wu-Tang branded merchandise?

Branding gives potential customers something to remember your business or product by. It helps customers forgive that mistake you made last month…

Remember when Old Dirty Bastard got in a little PR trouble? It didn’t kill the brand.

Your business can do something similar – with a little effort.

We’re Not All Rap Stars

This is probably a good thing too because my free-styling skills suck. However, we can all brand ourselves.

Seattle branding event

Which is why I am proud to be an ambassador for Tribe of Zero, a Canadian company helping small businesses and entrepreneurs find their way. This month, they are hosting a one-day event focused on branding for small businesses and entrepreneurs in Seattle, Washington.

Not only will I be attending, I also have discounted tickets to give away. If you would like to join me at the event, enter code JMCK307 to receive more than 30% off of your ticket.

Learn how to stand out from the crowd and be memorable, without having a crew of extra rappers who never actually produce anything…

And if you need any help with a writer to put it all together for you, you know who to call =)

Buy your discounted tickets here. Hope to see you there!

Screw Your Hack, I’m Trying To Work Here!!

Yesterday I wasted 4 hours trying to optimize my online business. It was supposed to be a simple upgrade. I wanted to customize my desktop, background and create a custom start menu on my Firefox browser.

What happened next was a disaster. First my Firefox froze, so I CTRL-ALT-DEL it. Then it refused to open, so I reinstalled it, losing all of my bookmarks. Finally, my in-house tech guru gets me back online and I happily install the plugins of my dream and get on with my day.

You would think that would be the end of it, but sadly, it is not.

The next day, after working seamlessly for a full 4 hours, my Firefox refuses to open again. I refresh it again, only to lose all of the customization I did the day before.

Now I am staring at my screen, wondering if I should bother with customizing my Firefox again. If that was supposed to be a productivity hack, it sure backfired.

How Does Anyone Get Anything Done?

The Internet can be frustrating. With all of our advancements, it seems like we’ve only made it more confusing. One example of this is blogging which started in the 1990s as a series of journal-like entries shared over the Internet. A blog was somewhere you could go to read people’s opinions, learn new things or connect with others. It wasn’t a sales tool.

My, how things have changed. ..Now every business needs a blog if it wants to survive online – but what do they write about, and best of all how do they find the time? Enter the copy blogger – a professional blogger that specializes in writing sales-oriented business blogs.

No longer is it about sharing opinions and connecting with others. Blogging has become about word counts, keywords, engagement, call-to –actions and readability. As a result, countless blogs, all saying the same thing (absolutely nothing) pop up repeatedly all over the Internet.

It’s no wonder many people have given up reading them.

Is There Even a Solution?

I gave up trying to hack my Firefox into optimized productivity. Yeah, I’m missing my colorful tabs, and screen grabber – but I know it’s for the best. My system is running smoothly, and I can function without an add-on.

Businesses can do the same thing when it comes to their business blogs. It doesn’t have to be rocket science. It doesn’t have to be bells and whistles. It doesn’t have to look like everyone else.

In order for a business to use the Internet to their advantage, they don’t need another copy blogging hack; they need some straight up common sense.

It’s simple actually. Share what you know and love. Do so on a regular basis. Make sure you use good grammar and spelling. Show some pictures if they are relevant, and most of all… have some personality.

You didn’t build a successful business based on shortcuts. Don’t use a content marketing strategy that does.

The Blue Pill or the Red Pill …

So what are you going to do? Follow the masses of websites running behind the Google train or jump into the great unknown of the Internet without guarantee of reward?

You know, it doesn’t have to be one or the other.

There was an internet before search engine optimization, and there will continue to be one if search engines suddenly stopped existing. Will people still find you if that happens?

The copy blogging formula says I should end this blog post with a call to action, but I’m not going to. I will, however, say that I offer services for businesses who seek to be different, and who aren’t afraid to say: screw your hacks. I do this because I remember when the Internet was worth a damn, when I wasn’t constantly afraid of ‘hackers’, Big Data harvesters, and fake friends trying to sell you something.

To survive online nowadays, you need to keep it real while still understanding the ultimate game.

Your future customers are out there, you just have to work a little harder to find them.

Baltimore, Opportunity and Freelancing

I’m from a small town in South Carolina. I wasn’t born there, but I spent most of my formative years imagining life beyond the local Piggly Wiggly. My father lived there as a child, and his father lived there. Prior to that, his father likely lived there … The story continues as far back as slavery when they picked the cotton that still grows there. It’s an upbringing that I am thankful to have because it keeps me grounded, although I have never set foot in the town as an adult.

My grandfather left our small town during the segregation era as a young adult to pursue work in Baltimore. In the big city, he found opportunity on the boats. My father left during the Civil Rights Era headed for New York, after a short stint in the military, he found opportunity in entrepreneurship. I chose a different route. Opting for college and a family I jumped from city to city, eventually laying roots in the Seattle area.

How does this relate back to freelancing?

I come from a legacy of people that search for opportunity when presented with little. From the moment I left my small town, I knew it was going to be an uphill climb, and I sought out that challenge. On the backs of those who had left before me, I knew there was opportunity in front of me… I just needed to find it.

That opportunity presented itself online. With the exception of part-time retail jobs, every job I’ve ever had was courtesy of the Internet. From freelance reporting to modeling, to mystery shopping… I found my opportunity through a system of information that connected me with the world.

I have been ‘online freelancing’ for 17 years now… and as I watch the environment change – I am saddened by what it has become. Just like Baltimore was once a Mecca of opportunity for my grandfather, it is now a city of despair. Similar to how my father ran to New York in the 60s, he ran from it in the 80s. The online marketplace has become overrun with the second-wave of hopefuls looking for their next opportunity. Many of them come underprepared and under-qualified and aren’t willing to put in the necessary work.

As a result, they have cheapened the definition of what it means to be an online freelancer and made it difficult for the quality ones to stand out.

Take, for example, the million dollar freelance copywriter. …

He brags about how easy it was for him to make money. He brags about how little education he has. He suggests that anyone can do what he did – if you just click here — it’s no wonder why anyone would have a difficult time putting a value on quality copywriting.

Am I suggesting he’s not good? Not at all; I don’t know anything about his work. What I am saying is that he is not unique. Time Magazine reported last year that 1 in 3 Americans freelance. If so many of us are going at it alone, how does anyone know who is actually about their craft and who is just looking for the next opportunity?

I’m not going to say I’m the best to have ever done it. Actually, I will be the first to admit that I am not. What I am, however, is dedicated. I am dedicated to freelancing, not because it’s what’s popular and not because someone suggested I could make a whole bunch of money. I am freelancing because it was the best opportunity for me- a small-town girl with big dreams. The Internet is my Baltimore. Freelancing is my New York.

I am committed to defending ‘my city’ from decay, and helping others succeed here as well. You deserve to be online. Read about my services and let me know if I can help.