More New Content!

You would think that with every artist and writer locked up at home, alone, that there would have been some really cool masterpieces created. Right? New award winning grammy songs, new plays, and of course, new books from your favorite authors. Don’t look at me, I update the blog WEEKLY. Some writers haven’t written a tweet, let alone an actual blog. Although, I think that more celebrities and authors SHOULD write more. I think reading the thoughts, hopes and dreams of some well known stars would be fun. If you can talk, you can write. While some authors may not be the best at writing, at least they were trying. Some people write differently than how they talk. As I have instructed many aspiring writers, … are you “telling” me what happened, or am I experiencing it using all my senses? Do I “feel” what you feel? Can you smell the fresh baked bread in gramma’s kitchen as the amber sunlight slowly creeps in her flower box window? So I am taking a short break from the job search blogs, today. Yes I know they are entertaining and informative, but they are actually really boring for me. My days were filled with looking at bad resumes from students for years. I could quickly scan a resume and find at least one error … every time. But it takes a trained eye. Some HR recruiters might not even notice some errors. I think I covered most of the bases. Y’all should be able to get a job on your own now.

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So let’s flip over to talking about social media training. I know there are thousands of readers that would love to have a huge social media following. First ask yourself, why do you want that following? Maybe it is so you can build a platform so you can get publishers to notice you and print/publish your book? Your ability to prove to a publisher that you will sell future books is monumental. They claim it costs a lot to print books. Wrong. It costs a lot to print unsellable books. Just think how many stores Barnes & Nobles has, and how many books have to stock each store. Some readers want a following so they can monetize their content. Right. So if you get enough views on YouTube, then advertisers will pay money to put their stupid ad on your video. But you get paid. You might have a big “voice” that other people want to hear. Maybe you have a different take or perspective on a particular issue, and your platform shares those concerns? If you are in the spotlight, your personal lifestyle choices might be “reviewed” and if not deemed appropriate, YouTube can/will demonetize your channel and you get paid nothing. I can think of a certain individual who not only got banned but also lost monetary abilities.

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So if you own a website it may or may not have a blog incorporated into it. Believe it or not, that is something that is extra. If it is a WordPress website it is super simple to use the blog feature. If you didn’t know, WordPress allows additional software, called plugins to be installed to enhance your website. I think this is what has made their platform so successful. One thing that I would encourage website owners (you) to do, is use the Jetpack plugin which has all kind of cool features. If you have subscribed to the site, then you know you don’t have to visit it daily to check if a new blog has been posted. Super convenient for you, and also gives the site a rest from getting too many hits. That is a Jetpack feature. I don’t own my server, so if it gets overloaded, it causes it to stall or get a 503 error. You refresh and it is fixed. But imagine if you were say, Lady Gaga, who has millions of fans. Everyone’s website is different and has different reasons/usage. Some sites actually sell products, and when they launch a new product, … it crashes.

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So if you are a normal person, you probably won’t get millions of hits. But when you do, you can upgrade your site with your hosting server. Just so you know, there will be fans that love you so much they will actually set your website as one of their start up tabs. From the back-end you will know this happens as the same IP address is registering daily in your logs. Everyone has some interesting “hobby” that they are sort of an expert. You can write about it, or YouTube about it, and someone will like it and be a new fan. If you create interesting, new, fun content then you will start your social media following. What are you known for? Then brand yourself that way. Or what do you WANT to be known for? If you knew you were going to die next year, what do you want your legacy to be known for? Or do you have a secret recipe that you really should share with the world? Pin it. Instagram it. Write about it. Do all of the above.

 

Maybe you don’t want a huge social media fan base, but you can still start a free blog and document/write your thoughts that you want shared to your family and friends one day. I know you’re just bored, so do it out of sheer boredom. Writing out your thoughts can really help your mental health.

June. Teenth. What a stupid name for a federal holiday. Wow congress really has their priorities don’t they? May 4th should be a federal star wars holiday. I am sure there are lot of other “groups” that say “Where’s my fucking holiday?” Just saying, since no one else will. Evil is now streaming on the Paramount app instead of CBS. It is like $5 a month. So $1.25 an episode as they launch now every Sunday. I saw it, and it’s worth it. You do get a free trial.

 

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Sales 102

Have you had any formal sales training? Like, you actually sat in a classroom with other students, an instructor (preferably a seasoned salesperson), did role playing and actually closed some sales? No? Okay, well, today in your training you are going to learn a few things in life that might actually help you … in your job, your finances, your relationships. I, on the other hand, have had years of training and mentored with some of the best sales guys I have ever met. In fact, when I was a sales supervisor at Best Buy I was in charge of the orientation/on-boarding/sales training for all new recruits. It actually was really cool as I did the screening, interviewing as well, so spending all that time with new hires helped to retain them. One of the first rules at Best Buy (for me) was if you don’t shop here, you can’t work here. What? Why? You need to already know the products, the industry, the store. You know, basic expectations out of a candidate. So I am going to start with some basics, BEFORE you meet your contact, you have to prospect to get them. I do not mean posting something on your social media that you are now selling the latest, coolest, best _____ product on the market and you need to be one of the first with your foot in the door. Unless you have some geeky kid next door in his garage starting some cool idea company, I would be very, VERY apprehensive in whatever they are selling. Chances are it is a multi-level marketing company, and let’s be honest, you are never going to make real money selling for an upline. I personally know of dozens of good people who fell prey to the “what if it’s you?” bait/marketing scheme.

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I wrote a kids book and most of my friends have kids. Guess what? A tiny fraction of those friends bought or even asked for an autographed copy of my book. Why? I never asked, and actually didn’t care. I have hundreds of thousands of fans/readers all over the world who don’t know me who DID read it. Trying to convince your friends and family to buy your product or service is hard. It is like trying to convince a muggle that you have magic powers or you are psychic. Read my mind. Not all psychics’ powers work like that. So how do you get new customers if your own circle won’t buy? You pay for them. It is called advertising. You see it everywhere. You also get someone to endorse your product … like an influencer or someone who has a lot of people who look up to him/her. What it all comes down to is … word of mouth/ willing to recommend. Sometimes it is simply exposure and marketing your product. A book, like any product needs a marketing plan, a launch date, and many different vehicles to let everyone know. I used Facebook business advertising and exposed my book all around the world until I found my sweet spots. Who knew Algeria and Egypt would be big on my book? As I instructed my clients, we need a minimum of six months exposure before you launch. Get people excited about it before it launches.  The artist I hired for the cover granted me unlimited licensing of my characters so I made bookmarks with their faces. Everyone loves free bookmarks. I actually designed the bookmark, but if you hire a graphic artist, they can easily do one of you and your product (a book). It was also clever as it had the launch date on the bookmark so for a lot of people they saw the book daily before it launched. I know this was key in the marketing efforts. If you want one, Venmo a dollar for postage and envelope (USA only). Put your address in the notes.

 

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When I was in sales at AT&T, the “willing to recommend” was HUGE and I had to drill it into every single one of my customers. It was even on the survey. Are you willing to tell a couple of trusted friends to have the same 5 star experience? Yes? Awesome, here are two cards, write your name on it and when they come in I will give you 2000 roll over minutes for free. Wow. I know right? Now that wouldn’t work. While your own circle of influence may not buy your _____ (for me it was book/websites), they might actually give you customers. Weird I know. As a website guy I also would go to networking groups and I was always hitting up new business owners who didn’t have a website on their business card. I didn’t always get paid actual money, but I did manage to get some awesome trades in return. Keep in mind that not every prospect/contact is going to be a mutual beneficial arrangement. I can think of many, many times I built a website for someone and never got paid. I know, it sucks. When I first started I had a client who tricked me into thinking I was going to get all this new business from her. After a year of no clients from her she moved her website back to WordPress.org and put it on a shitty blog template. She didn’t deserve me. I also volunteered on a church business networking group on the committee/board. I did the website and got “free” advertising and membership. Yeah, that didn’t quite work out as well as I had wanted, as I was donating my websites for charitable causes all the time. Now when people want me to do a “pro bono” website I send them to Wix.com. If you haven’t used/seen it, they actually host a ton of professionals websites. Those who are too cheap to invest have their branding all over it. Although it is somewhat easy to use, it is slow, clunky, can’t be customized how I build websites. I had a client who thought she could do it better and later confessed she had no idea what she was doing. Again, a website for “trade”, I got to read all her training manuals on her specific trade, as long as I promised never to compete against her. I was like, okay, I do websites, you do emotional healing. You’re safe. While I don’t advocate spamming your newsfeed with your product/service I do promote listing it so people can find more about it. You can list your Facebook business page on your personal page, and then when people click it, they can see your posts and website address.

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If are you NOT selling a product or service and you are simply looking for work, let me visit your employment profile for a moment. If you are unemployed then you definitely need to let all your contacts know you are looking for work. Text, email, post an update, snap it, meet friends for drinks and find out more about their companies. If I had to go look for a corporate job, I would hit up my network of colleagues to see what they had open and would recommend. There are lots of jobs out there if you look. Keep in mind that many companies will not post jobs on outside websites so you might have to do more work to find those jobs. Getting an employee referral is your ideal situation. When you do meet up, be ready to spit out all kinds of tactical experiences that you can easily transfer to another company. I’m a sales/marketing/HR kind of guy, so a job traveling for trade shows selling HR ____ would be my target job. Could I sell to HR colleagues? Easily. If I didn’t have any networking friends, I would use LinkedIn, theladders.com and I would target companies that I felt were desirable to work at, like, you know, Google, apple, Disney. What software are you an expert? Can you really use Photoshop or are you just using a fancy paid app like Khloe Kardashian? How fast do you type? As silly as that sounds, there are still millions who can’t type. I hate typing on a phone, so I use voice to text. But I am long winded so you might think I type really really fast. It is crazy when I go somewhere and I see the employee looking at the keyboard for the right letters. Crazy right? How are your organizational skills? What do you use to keep you on time, at the right place, and not forgetting shit? What apps do you use? As weird as it sounds, in this day and age, you really have to know how to use apps to work. Like, Slack for instance. It isn’t industry specific, but it is an app that I had to learn to use.

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I haven’t updated/visited my resume in a decade, and I bet there are a lot of other people who can say the same. So why don’t we start together and create something new, current and ready for today and tomorrows job market? The first part of the sales process is going to be selling YOU, your skills, experience (or lack thereof), your personality and what you can do for a company. Start by identifying WHO you are, and how you are going to market that. For example, am I a writer? HR guy? website guy? sales? trainer? You might have several resumes based on your skills, or you may just have one that you customize with each job/employer. Think about the “things” you can do now, and for your next job. Everyone has something that will make them unique, and highly desirable as a candidate. Having lots and lots of skills that multiple departments can benefit from will quickly advance a candidate. When I said I could train the staff on some different sales and closing techniques that would increase revenue and new business development, I was a “sure thing”. When I was asked if I knew the 4 “C’s”, I replied, “Cash, check, charge, credit.”

 

For your resume, start with your objective and/or your professional profile (or highlights). This will be the first section of your resume. I also like to call this the formal 30 second commercial. If someone only had a few seconds to scan through your resume, what are the things you want them to see immediately?

Share the wealth and forward/share this valuable information with someone you know needs it. If this was forwarded to you, hit up the website and subscribe to get your own blog updates.

 

 

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Sales 101

Alrighty kids, let’s learn something, or shall we say, revisit a very simple but important concept in running a business. So if you don’t think this relates directly TO you, there might be someone in your circle of influence that you need to pass this message. Fair enough? One of my specialties has been to identify areas of opportunity and determine sources of revenue. So small business owners or really creative idea generators listen up? Whatever your business is … you MUST secure a stable stream of revenue or you will fail. Now, there are exceptions to every rule, such as, a millionaire like a Kardashian can start a company, it can fail and they don’t lose everything and go on unemployment. You can also be a non-profit and you get grants, donations and sponsorships to keep the daily operations going. One of the hardest thing to do in starting a business is acquiring new customers. Hence advertising, word of mouth, social media all have a huge effect on whether people will buy, use and recommend your product or service.

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So where am I going with this? Well, take a look around at what products or services are now hard to come by, … such as rental cars. About a year ago after everyone was forced to stay home, some of the supporting industries took a huge dive in customers. No one was traveling and many of the big rental car companies were forced to sell off their inventory at a huge loss or face bankruptcy, which actually happened to a couple of companies. So now that things are somewhat returning to normal, there are no cars to rent. In some places, people are renting the pickup truck from Uhaul as it is cheaper than a rental car. So if you weren’t aware, there is a car sharing app/company that has been around for a little while, but like everything, had a downturn in sales. That company is Turo.com. Now I have never used the company myself, nor do I know of anyone who does, but it comes highly recommended. It is like air B&B, where you rent your property to someone, and it is covered by another insurance company, and you can make money on your car if you aren’t using it. There are actually people who went and bought or leased a new car, and then turn around and put it on Turo as their income. Same concept with the air B&B, … as long as you have customers. So if you are planning a vacation or trip anytime soon, be sure you use this cool website. You can rent anything from a Jeep 4×4 to a brand new corvette. This is especially fun if you are going to be doing a lot of driving on your trip.

And in case you missed it, Colorado was the tragedy of the “Mother’s Day Massacre”, in Colorado Springs where six people were gunned down at a family celebration in a mobile home trailer park. The killer was the boyfriend of one of the victims and died of a self inflicted gun wound. Our hearts, warm thoughts and prayers go out to the surviving family members and friends.

 

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Entertainment Subscription Websites

How many websites do you pay a monthly fee? Yes, some are for entertainment, like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, cable, … all of these are things the occupy your time and feed your need for entertainment. I think “most” people are okay with paying for music or video, but when it comes to reading content, they just simply refuse. How many times have you visited Wikipedia and seen the “help us, and donate anything you can” banner? Web hosts and services aren’t free but yet every day people use that website and don’t pay a dime. Why? Surely if you were accessing some information you found valuable you could easily justify the expense. So this is a teaching article, and mostly I am targeting any artist who is self employed, such as myself. So, if you get a 1099, or you send invoices, then this might be you. If you create something that someone can buy, this also might be you. Your customer base/fans love and support you. I watch as “collectors” go crazy when a limited edition anything is released. So maybe things are a little slow for you now. COVID sucks for everyone and networking and art shows, festivals, and other performances are extremely limited. I am willing to bet if you asked your fans/customers for donations, they just might do it. I saw Billy Gilman doing a livestream on Facebook, and just like me, he is an artist that can’t make an income, so he listed his Venmo “tip jar”, and believe it or not, people gave him money. If you aren’t familiar with Venmo, it is an app that you link to your bank account that allows you to transfer money to friends easily and for free. We literally live in a cashless society. Some of us, rely upon customers to make our rent/mortgage. I’ll admit it, I’m one of them. Things are tough for everyone. So if you have a website, or a Facebook page, go to your Venmo app, take a screenshot of your QR code and post it so your fans/supporters can donate to your cause. Here is mine. If you are a long time reader and found one of my articles/blogs helpful, handy, inspiring or just entertained you and took you away from this nasty world for a few moments, then do me a favor and help me out. Did I help you out with a job issue? HR situation? WordPress or website ah ha? Btw, if you are running WordPress there is a new core out and you need to upgrade. Did you close a sale, get a new job, new customer, or negotiate a better salary because of something you learned from this site? Is that worth the equivalent of buying me a drink or a dinner? For my fans/readers who have already told me they want to support me, this blog is for you. And if you are also an artist, you should be putting your Venmo code out there too. People generally are good heart-caring people. So put your code out there, and maybe if you get a donation, you can share the information with your circle to do the same, and then hit me up with a donation for teaching you something new and creating some income for you.
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When I was in college, I was the VP of Finance for the American Marketing Association for the University chapter. Fancy title huh? Yeah, it actually came in very handy when I interviewed for jobs years later. A lot of interviewers wanted to know what all that big fancy title entailed, and of course I was happy to talk, and talk, and talk. I partnered with dozens businesses amassing thousands of dollars in “door prizes”. I was amazed how easy it was to ask for gift certificates, prizes, food … and businesses gave it without hesitancy. I called it active fundraising and partnership affiliate marketing. I also had check signing rights, and held a pretty heft budget for college organization. Little did I know that simply asking for money was a real job in the real world. Some places call it grant writing … again asking for money. Later in life I used that valuable skill to get companies to pay for something called “Sponsorships”, so their name would be advertised prominently to a captive audience. Gold, Silver, Bronze levels … honestly was the biggest con ever. Oh yay, your name is on all the ____ at the event. You get a table and a banner (that you provide).

 

A thousand thank you’s for my long time readers/supporters. Post your Venmo code. Start your fairy garden today. YouTube has fairy music that you can play to attract fairies.

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Trump’s New Blog (desk)

Twice impeached former US President Donald J. Trump has “launched” his blog. He calls it a new social media platform. Uh huh. I’m a webmaster and I read code. I can see right through it. And technically it is no different than my own blog. Instead of calling it blog he simply renamed the location as “desk”.  Unlike my own meandering thoughts and far fetched ideas, displayed in a huge font for us visually challenged folks, his “tweets” or posts I should say, need improvement. They are too small to read and due to his highly formal background in the English language, are nothing compared to our former President Obama, a former attorney and politician. I didn’t subscribe to his website and I did not donate either. He’s a “billionaire” and he is asking for money. I actually have been saying all along he should just use his own domain and website to post his thoughts, … just like Ben Shapiro and myself. You have a target audience that actually wants to hear what you have to say, and like my site, he does not allow you to comment on the site. You can actually comment on mine, I just don’t publish them on the site. Whomever is doing his site really should do some upgrades. Trump is still technically banned on all social media, including Facebook and Twitter, so I am not sure they will allow users to post his “tweets”/posts to their own newsfeed/timeline. When Ivanka did an interview with daddy and put it on Instagram it was immediately removed from her page and every user that shared it. It is no big surprise Trump is still obsessed with spouting lies. I will agree, the election WAS stolen, when he got elected the first time. When you know, the Russians hacked our system and forced the US to have paper ballots as backup/proof. Hillary did not once pull a temper tantrum like Donald. She didn’t tell hundreds of democrats to storm the capital. I think he still thinks he is innocent and the fact that lives were lost due to his immaturity is not his fault. I’m still waiting for New York to find him guilty of all kinds of shit. Tax evasion, racketeering, and not to mention the egregious abuse of power. He made millions charging guests (secret service) at his hotels. And let’s not forget every one of those damn hotels charge … you got it, a resort fee. Which we know is a bullshit fee since we all have internet on our phones.  Ironic how those hotels are remaining unoccupied, mostly due to COVID, which he said would magically go away the day after elections.

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And in other news, I read that the Biden Administration is looking to increase the number of years that a public student would need to graduate, to an additional 4 years. So if you can’t make college free for everyone, then simply change the rules for public education and give them the 4 years for free. I see this could be a good thing, or a bad thing. What if the kids say “F” this and they all start dropping out after the 12 years are up? I don’t know about you, but I was ready for college. High school was … confining. I don’t personally agree with all the things they make kids do to graduate. If I was in charge of education, I would make some serious curriculum changes. How to change a tire, jump start a car, cooking for dummies … you know, real life skills. As a member of the InstantPot group on Facebook, I have come to the conclusion that millions of people do not know how to cook, and they think their new magic InstApot is a replacement microwave. Every day, every minute, somewhere, someone is making a 3000 calorie cheesecake and dumping another 2000 calories in chocolate and toppings. I drink my calories, in those delicious Arby’s orange creamsicle shakes. If you haven’t had one you really should try one as they are for a limited time only. A large is a whopping 950 calories. Yep, that was my lunch and dinner that day.

Did you get your mom a gift yet? Time is running out.

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Sephora, Ulta, or Discount Store

If you have ever walked into a Sephora or an Ulta store you know that it is full of highly priced beauty products. Women (and now men) spend thousands of dollars in these stores, all with the goal in mind of looking pretty, or younger. As you glance around the store, almost all the customers are pretty and the salespeople look like they walked out of a magazine. After all, if you are selling beauty products then it should look like you are using them. I used to think that these two stores were basically the same store, selling the same products. But after doing a lot of research, and shopping I have come to a clear decision on which one I like best. AND since a lot of people wonder what I think, telling them where I shop can be advantageous. After all, as one friend said, I have already done all the leg work of doing the research.
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Now if you don’t care about your looks, getting old, or attempting to be somewhat attractive to the eye, then you might just be a straight male republican. Hahahaha. Seriously, my twin brother doesn’t have a skincare routine, and he doesn’t even wash his face at night. And he wonders why I look younger. Kim Kardashian doesn’t just wake up looking gorgeous. So the difference in the stores, from which I can tell, deal with the kinds of brands each of them carry. As you may know, there are literally hundreds if not thousands of brands and products. How do you decide on which ones to spend your hard earned cash? You do want to look amazing for the rest of your life and you can’t do that without some help. As I told a friend, in all honesty, if someone is exfoliating, using a serum, moisturizer and spf, he/she is going to look good. Not knocking any brand, so if you got it at Target or at Sephora, something is better than nothing.
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Sephora is more high end and is going to carry more expensive brands. Ulta will have middle of the line, and maybe some luxury brands. Target, Walmart, Dollar Store all have make up and skincare but they may not be the highest quality. Of course, if/when you find a brand you love, you can buy directly from their website. BUT if you want to make life easier, you can buy online from Sephora and get free shipping, free products, and tons of free samples. They have a $35 minimum to get some of the samples, but if shipping is free, I just make multiple orders and get all the samples. They know what I am doing and combine them all into one box. Twice a year they have a beauty insider event. You give them your email and they track your purchases and then you get a special discount event. So that super expensive _____ that you wanted, you can get it on sale. Some of the skincare products are really pricey, so getting samples of those products is a bonus. If you aren’t signed up, head over there now and the next event for 10% off is this week. I am addicted to “Sunday Riley” skincare, which they sell on Sephora and Ulta. But you don’t get a discount or free shipping at Ulta.

Go pamper yourself with some skincare products. When your skin/face looks good, you feel good. And let’s be honest, no one gives a hoot how tan your face looks. You can use make up bronzing to give you a healthy beautiful glow without damaging your skin. I like to use Natasha Denona’s contouring powder to enhance my dark skin tan.

(I was not paid to endorse any of these companies). Sephora, Sunday Riley & Natasha Denona are “Aaron Approved”. 
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Branding Yourself

If you are reading this blog/article via email, then you won’t see my website header, which includes my smiling face, my educational credentials, and other fun aspects of “who” I am. This is called branding. Here it is for those readers:
AaronMstephensMBAIf you were one of my clients I would instruct you to do something similar in your own efforts. It will help you to narrow your audience and help your readers determine if they want to keep reading. Also, as a … we will just say “influencer” or future influencer, you want people to remember you “for” something. And if you are selling something, they will automatically think of you. You may not have as many “things” you are branding, and maybe you just want people to know you are a _____. (realtor, attorney, writer, artist, actor, salesman … you get the idea)

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In addition to spending time writing expert articles on your blog, you will want to cultivate some of the more popular platforms. The great thing with your blog/website, is you can very easily share your articles to all your platforms. Chances are you already have “some” followers, people who are not your friends or family. I am sure you are still using e-mail, so in your footer signature, you can add your website and Facebook business page. Over the years I have gained thousands of new readers by someone who got an email or forwarded email from me. When you manage and develop these platforms, it is important that you do not repeat the same content across all platforms. What? So, if you post a photograph of an awesome dinner on Instagram, do NOT put it Facebook, or Snap it. Why? Well, a lot of your fans/followers follow you across multiple platforms. So it is best to only share certain things on certain places. Does that make sense?  Of course you can do whatever you want, but if you want to gain new followers, then you will want to create new content across different platforms. I don’t have millions of followers, and I’m just a normal guy. I’m not a celebrity, a rock star, or even anyone remotely famous. I just have a lot of people that like to read my thoughts. Or so I have been told. Content is key, and writing or creating good/entertaining content is king.

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One more thing, when you are branding yourself, it is a really good idea to use a semi-professional looking picture for your profile shot. Now, once you have a million followers and you are identified because of your keen unique sense of style, then do whatever.  But for starters, it is not hard to get a decent background and good lighting for that first impression. Yes, I am guilty of taking car selfies, and they are all over my Instagram. Do yourself a favor and take off the sunglasses and pretend for five minutes that you are someone’s role model. That one day, someone may just want to interview you, hire you, photograph you, and you really want an amazing first impression. There literally are over a billion Asian men on this planet. I’ve been told I am remembered by my beautiful smile. Awww. That is a good thing, since I have literally spent thousands on dental work.

On a final note, if you are a parent, a teacher or a caregiver, you are also a role model. Probably a very important one. A thousand thank you’s for all you do. With great power comes great responsibility.

 

 

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Are you a new social media influencer?

Are you looking for some helpful advice to growing your audience? As a marketing expert, and social media influencer myself, I thought I would throw out some cool tips and tricks if you are starting your own following. I actually have coached paying clients on how to reproduce the same system that I have been using. I know there are a lot of my friends in my own circle who are continually perplexed on how is it that a normal ordinary guy like Aaron M. Stephens manage to amass such a ridiculous number of fans/followers/readers? Believe it or not, it all comes down to marketing.

 

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YOU are the product. So, what are you selling? Preaching? Teaching? People ask me what do I sell and I tell them they can go buy a childrens book or they can buy a website. But actually they can’t, as I am not taking on any new clients right now. BUT as a new influencer, YOU will need a website. That should be your starting point at directing all your new fans. All of your social media should be on this site and they should all link back so people can find all your outlets. It doesn’t have to be super fancy. It can be just one page, your picture, bio, and links. So depending on how you are branding yourself, your site should reflect it. People buy from people that they like. They also buy from people that they feel have common ground with themselves. One key selling advantage when I applied at the jewelry store was there were no Asian salespeople working there. Well, guess what? Asians prefer to buy from Asians. It’s a known fact. That is why they all cluster together and form their own communities.

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So if you are a writer, you should have things to read. If you are a photographer lots of pictures. Beauty artist then you should have how to do videos. If you are a life coach, you should have testimonials from people’s lives you have changed. Once you have determined your “niche” then you also need to have a lot of content. Your Facebook business page should have at least 30 minutes of unclickable content. I say unclickable, meaning, you don’t want people leaving YOUR page to go read some other author’s work. Now, if you just wrote an awesome blog on your website, sure put that on your Facebook page. While you are building your content, DO NOT ASK FOR LIKES or followers. Let me repeat that. DO NOT ASK/BEG for likes. I cannot tell you how important this is. If you have NOTHING on the page your friends “might” like it out of pity, but not because they truly believe in your product or service. They might even unfollow the page as they don’t know what you are going to spam them with your new business page. IF you create great content, hashtag it, you will be default find new followers and they will like your page. This is true with all media channels. Don’t announce or ask for anything until your product launch day. Set a day you are going to “open for business”. You can preset every single post in Facebook for a future day, or days. How cool is that?

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As part of your branding, you should always let readers know who you are, in addition to the things that you can do. There is a big difference. Your website really shouldn’t be your LinkedIn profile. It should be entertaining. It should be easy on the eyes. If you are selling something on your website, you should outline pricing clearly, or give ballpark figures. If something seems too expensive right off the bat, people will just close and leave. I highly recommend you incorporate a blog into your site. That way you can write articles, reviews, and updates for your readers. Some websites don’t have a blog, they are old and outdated and they probably never get repeat visitors. As I have talked about in past articles, when you write a blog it keeps your site the most current and when people do searches it maintains your site comes up first. Now of course you need some SEO, tags, headers, and hashtags, but WordPress makes it easy. Remember, your website is the one piece of social media that you control. If Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, or whatever decide to ban you, … you – are – screwed. All your content you wrote on those platforms are gone forever. Your site however, you can backup daily.

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You fans/followers are typically NOT your friends. They are strangers who know nothing about you — other than what you share with them. Whether you have 1 follower or 100 thousand followers, you have made a decision to be in the public eye and the things you think, say and do can have amazing or horrible outcomes. So determine why you want to have a following so you can detail your marketing messages appropriately.

 

On a side note, 6 Dr. Suess books have been banned. I never really saw the fascination with them but of course I am familiar with the artsy books. After seeing  a radical racist cartoon and the caption “Slap the Jap” I am appalled that these books have not been banned sooner. Mississippi joins Texas in the no mask mandate. Wow. March madness begins. What do you think will happen next that is super crazy? I bet something big around social media will happen. Parler? TikTok? Facebook? Grab some snacks and sit back and watch the fun. Speaking of fun, the season finale of WandaVision launches at midnight. If you have been waiting to binge the whole season, just remember, it starts out slow but builds and gets better.
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Who is YOUR news source?

We all get our news from somewhere, whether that be an official media news outlet, maybe it is Twitter, Instagram or even Facebook. But something that all of those platforms have in common is … it is owned by someone who wants to make money. So you know a lot of sites have been implementing a “1/4 articles” for free, then you have to pay. Some sites make you do a stupid survey or questionnaire.

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I hate to be the bearer of bad news for Australia, but Facebook is now restricting all of your access to media and news outlets. What? That’s crazy! Yep, it is true and if they want to get their information, they are going to eventually end up paying for it. Publishing companies worldwide are suffering financially and they struggle to find new sources of revenue. Is this something that might happen all over? It is hard to say, but like I have been saying/preaching for years, you cannot rely on someone’s website that you have no control over, as your primary social media outlet. Facebook accounts and business pages have already been deleted. Chef Pete Evans was just the first of many. Now he has been removed from Instagram also. So no pretty pictures of his amazing dishes. So that was 1.5 million from Facebook and 279k from Instagram. I “think” he has a website, but I do not know if he actually uses it writing articles or blogging. So I just checked and he does have a website, which he is selling all his many endorsed products. The only platform left is something called “Telegram” which I am guessing is some new site. He also is on Parler, but as you may know, that has been having its own struggles. I’m not on either of those.  If Pete had a Twitter account, that too is now gone.

 

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Facebook in general is targeted to certain users. Most of them are probably 30 years old or older. Baby boomers finally “get” Facebook, and are terrified to try new apps/social media platforms. If you say “Snap me” they literally snap their fingers and then say “Okay, now what?” Yes seriously. I just laugh when that happens. There will always be people who stay away from technology.  Are those people actually secretly blessed to not be inundated from all that “noise”? Twitter in my opinion is just a big waste of time. WAY too many people sitting on their app, wasting time. I can think of a few off hand that need to just put that phone away. I can’t even begin to list all of the tweets that have gotten someone fired, cancelled or removed. But wait! Aaron, you have Twitter too. Yes, but when was the last time I actually tweeted? Exactly. There are just too many tweets to compete with when trying to get your message out.

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And in other news, Texas is still frozen as millions are without power. Their senator, Ted Cruz is laying on a beach in Cancun. Rush Limbaugh is finally dead at 70. Ding dong the witch is dead. Or so the munchkins would be singing. I bought a little propane heater online that you use those little 1 pound tanks. I figured it would be good to keep in my car in case I ever got stranded. Crazy thing is it is cheaper at Walmart online, with store pick up, than it is at Amazon, with earliest delivery next week. Stay warm friends. Stay home. If you are a Texan, so sorry you are suffering. Let’s all say it together “SNOW ANGELS GO AWAY”.

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WordPress Security – SSL – Tax Deductions

Two Factor Authentication

You may have noticed some websites now make you verify it is actually you by sending you a text message to your cellphone. For your website, you should implement this type of security. I have it on this site, and when I attempt to login, it will require me to use the Microsoft Authenticator app before granting access.  This will prevent any hackers from getting unauthorized access to your files. If you use Wordfence, like I do, then it is already in your arsenal of weapons against hackers. Activate it and use your favorite app to verify you. It is pretty easy. Once activated there is a QR code you scan and it then puts everything  into motion.

Jetpack

This is an awesome plugin that I install on every website I build. It has a plethora of utilities that make your life as a webmaster easier. It has had a boatload of updates over the years, and actually is the tool that I used to notify users of a new posting. Personally I think that it is the coolest feature of all. Almost everyone has their email attached to their smartphone. So it is cool that I know thousands of people are casually sipping their coffee and reading their Aaron update. Today, which actually happens to contain some useful information that may save your site one day.

Another cool feature is the “prevent brute attacks” which blocks out thousands of hacker using software – that are trying to log into your site as “admin”. As a rule of thumb, I tell clients to just delete that login and then set Wordfence to automatically ban that IP from the site, if someone tries to login as “admin”, which of course, doesn’t even exist. Also, NEVER use admin as the login and password. Speaking of passwords, a cool trick I learned as a freshman in college — from a buddy who I met online, is to always start and end your password with a space character.  You know the long button that you use in between words. Why? Because it is a non-printing invisible to the eye character that a hacker would not be able to distinguish, if he was using like, a keystroke device to capture all your passwords. AH! Another trick, is to use the number 1, and the letter l, “L”, lowercase, as they look the same when printed, and you can also use that weird | symbol. lll|||lll||| is kind of goofy but it is something no one is every going to guess.

SSL certificate

The next layer of protection I advise all website owners is to install the security certificate. For one, you will need it when you are selling products or services directly from your site. Even if you use Paypal as your checkout gateway, you still want to assure your customers/clients that it is safe to enter in a credit card number from you site.  Paypal is super easy to use, install, and bill your clients. In fact, I send all my invoices to clients through a template invoice, and they can pay with their credit card or bank account immediately. Contact your website  host about installing this security certificate. You are less likely to be hacked if you have this simple, cost effective gatekeeper. My hosting package actually included it for free. Otherwise I think it is as low as $20 a year.

Tax Deductions for Website Owners

If you file your taxes as self-employed or owner of a business, then you already know that your website expenses and all hosting associated with it are deducted from the gross income, hence lowering your tax liability. So there really is NO reason at all that you don’t have some of these extras. Dropbox, you need it. It’s deductible. Graphics, (from Photodune) are cheap, and grant you copyright. You need it. Deductible. The web designer who is able to direct your potential customers to a sale and creates a new revenue stream for your business … you need it. People can’t buy what they can’t see. I can’t tell you how many times I see a site and I am left wondering, “What is it you are selling, because I can’t figure it out from your site.” No call to action is very common, and ultimately it is abandoned by possible new readers/subscribers. This site sells things. It sells books, and has a menu directing people to the rest. Mostly it sells ideas. People don’t come to this website to “buy” something. Usually they come to learn something. Probably 80% of new visitors come from Google, Bing and MSN. Most of my long time readers just subscribe to get the blogs and know they really don’t have to go to the main site unless they want to read older blogs.

If everything I just wrote means nothing to you, then you must not be a website owner. So, on a side note, Disney+ just released the movie Mulan, for $29.99, and unlike Trolls that only allowed 48 hour playback, you can play it as long as you are a Disney+ subscriber. So Disney actually listened to feedback from Trolls and grants you forever access without buying it again when it comes out next year on digital and disc for the rest of the world. HOWEVER, if you cancel Disney+, then you lost it.

Also, for American Express platinum cardmembers, they receive up to $20 a month on streaming services. So my Netflix, and Disney+ are free for me, and then I also get $20 a month credit on cell phone services. So for cardmembers it would work out to like, $21 to get the new Mulan. I’m actually watching it right now in the background and it is surprisingly pretty good. I haven’t written an actual movie review in years, but who knows? It could happen.

If you like my posts, please like my Facebook page. You can click like at the footer of any page on the site, or subscribe, also in the footer, and get my posts by email. I strive to post on a regular basis. Especially now that everyone is in lockdown.

 

In the United States, it is Friday, the beginning of the Labor Day weekend! I am guessing there will be millions of backyard bbq’s. Have a fun and safe weekend friends!

 

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