self-employment

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 Job, I’m Going at It Alone

What motivates someone to work as a freelancer? I think that it often isn’t an abundance of confidence or any type of a business plan. No, the decision to freelance can be similar to the inspiration of invention- based on a necessity.

Many freelancers go at it alone because they need to. Perhaps they needed to find a job and one suited to their skills wasn’t available. Maybe they are unable to work in a corporation due to discrimination, lack of access, or personal choice. There are even some people that choose to freelance because their abilities are too unique to fit a traditional job role. Basically, freelancers go at it alone because they have to.

Many times I think about what motivated me to start freelancing. Although my current situation is rather new, technically, freelancing was my second job. I began freelancing at The Charlotte Post as a sales person. It was my second job (while in college) after a 1 year part-time career in telemarketing. It quickly grew into a writing position.

At first I didn’t understand the big deal of having my own route, my own customers, and my own tax liability. It wasn’t strange because my father had lived that way my entire life. It wasn’t until my next job in computers that I realized the difference. While beginning my experience in technology sales, I longed for the emotional reward that I received while freelancing.

Working for one of the largest computer manufacturers in the world had its benefits for sure. I received industry training in computer hardware, everyday people considered me an expert, and there were the benefits of course. But, what that job didn’t offer – one that I’d always received while freelancing for the Post – was emotional gratification. I needed the reward from doing a good job, and while my customers regularly gave it to me, my company never did.

I moved from computer hardware, to cell phones, to software, to online retail- all the while staying close to those who’d validate my efforts (the customers). Though my regular jobs fulfilled a financial need, deep down, I wanted something more. I felt like I had a job- I wanted a career.

So I got back into freelancing- only a little at first, then completely at one point while working in event marketing. I was happy, but society frowned upon my decision. Believing I was a failure because I found no joy in my fortune 500 jobs, I tried it one more time… this time staying 3 years- only to crash harder than I’d ever crashed before.

I now know I was meant to be a freelancer- I was meant to explore and build using all of my talents, not just the ones the job entailed. My career was doing what I was passionate about- whatever that may be- and supporting my family with it. Isn’t that the ideal?

I definitely understand that everyone isn’t designed to be a freelancer- but those that are, should give up trying to fight it. I have.

Now, I no longer work; I finally have a career.