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If You Can Write a Simple Letter, You Can Earn a Great Living as a Freelance Copywriter

Simply put, a copywriter is someone who uses words to sell products, services, or causes. One huge perk of being a Earn a living as a freelance copywriterfreelance copywriter is the flexible lifestyle. You can earn your living from anywhere in the world – on the road in your RV, in a London flat, on an island, or in your own home. The self-paced course is outstanding and includes individual feedback from an American Writers & Artists Institute instructor. Plus, they show you everything you need to know to start getting paid assignments. Top copywriters earn mega-six figure incomes. Most people average more in the $40,000 – $80,000 range. I’ve personally met dozens of people who’ve been able to quit their job in as little as a year and are now working as freelance copywriters.

Read my complete course review and meet the instructors and people who’ve taken the course at ChangingCourse.com/make-money-as-a-freelance-copywriter.htm or listen to Katie Yeakle, Executive Director of American Writers & Artists Institute, and Krista Jones, a freelance copywriter, answer questions about being a professional copywriter as part of our Ask the Expert Teleclass series at ChangingCourse.com/ask-the-expert


The Key to Changing Course is to Start: 6 Tips on How to Get Started

 



Valerie and her wonder dog,
“Cokie Roberts”

Sometimes signs arrive when you least expect them. On a recent dog walk along the Connecticut River, I spotted a large white sign tacked to a tree on the opposite shore. The sign contained a single word: Start.

This simple but powerful word got me thinking of all the different places someone who wanted to change course could start. Here are 6 tips to get you started on getting started:

1. Start where you are.

The great tennis player Arthur Ashe once said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Let’s say the main thing holding you back is money. You might start by downsizing your life now so when you do take the leap, you’ll be better prepared to earn less in the short term. Or, you could start by setting up a special savings account to fund your dream. The psychological impact of saving for a dream can be as powerful as the actual monetary earnings.
 

2. Start hanging out with the right crowd.

A client named Eve had been a teacher for 20 years. Whenever she talked about the things she’d love to do – travel, work with dogs, start a summer camp, her voice would fill with excitement. This initial excitement, though, would though always turn to resignation, “I know this is just a pipe dream,” she’d sigh.

The fact that I never see dreams as unrealistic made me think that Eve was probably hanging out with the wrong people. People who have always worked for someone else tend to have a status quo, play it safe, the only way out is to hit the lottery type mentality. Entrepreneurs on the other hand are possibility people. They think “what if…” and “why not?” and then they go out and make it happen.

Where do you find entrepreneurs? You don’t have to be a business owner to join your local chamber of commerce or another organization like Business and Professional Women (BPW).  Even though I’m not an inventor, I joined a local inventor’s group just to be in the company of “yes you can” type people.

3. Start tuning into your gifts

A great place to begin to explore your true calling is by looking back at the kinds of things you loved to do as a child. That’s what Barbara Ewing of Springfield, Massachusetts did. Barbara has known since she was young that she loved to cook. When other kids were outside playing, Barbara would be in the kitchen.

Pay attention, too, to the things you love to do right now. Like Barbara, Cindy Friedman of California shared a passion for food and cooking. When I first met Cindy she was considering becoming a personal chef. Living in wine country also made her want to work somehow with wine.

For Gail Greenwald, a 41-year-old from New York City, that love is yoga. So much so, that after a long day working at her job in a media research company, Gail still had the energy to teach a yoga class. If something makes you happy, it probably contains important clues to your calling.

If you still don’t know what you want to be “when you grow up” then start by trying to find out. You might want to do as Barbara did and start by recalling the kinds of things you loved doing as a kid, start reading Wishcraft, or anything by Barbara Sher, or checking out numerous articles in the Changing Course articles archive at ChangingCourse.com/articles

4. Start listening more to yourself and less to others.

Pablo Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Unfortunately, even in childhood, our dreams too often get dismissed. Barbara says that growing up, her interest in cooking was always either viewed as a hobby or as “cute.” She says, “I was never encouraged to pursue this as a career choice,” adding “sadly, I am not alone. If more people would just stop listening to others and instead develop [their] God given talent or skill,” she writes, “we as a society would have happier, less stressed, successful workers (versus the grumpy, stressed, unhappy, successful workers).”

Once you do find your gift, Gail says you should never dive in without doing your homework. Once you do, though, she adds, you should “listen to your heart because your head will tell you differently.”

5. Start letting go of the idea that everything has to be perfect

In his online newsletter, Quick Tips for Creative People, creativity coach Bob Baker writes, “Far too many creative people drag out the artistic process, adjusting a detail here, fine-tuning a nuance there… waiting for a time when the thing is as perfect as they can get it. Others wait years just to start a new project. They require every factor (including their mood) to be in alignment before they’ll even take the first step.”

Perfectionism is the bane of dreams. So is striving to be the “expert” who has to know everything there is to know about a subject before you can take action. And like perfectionism, striving to be the expert can slow you down or, in some cases, bring your goals to a screeching halt.

Why? Because if your definition of competence is “needing to know everything there is to know” then there will always be one more book to read, one more class to take, one more presentation to make, one more book to write, one more degree to earn before you dare pronounce yourself “qualified.”

6. Start taking action

Since attending the Dreams Can’t Wait workshop, Barbara has made tremendous strides in turning her dream of launching her own food line into reality.

She writes, “I have decided on a name for my food brand, contacted the Franklin County Community Development Center and met with director of the Food Center. I have chosen the first six or so recipes I want to use to get the food line started. I have also started formulating the next level (growth) processes. In addition to the contact with the Food Center and development of my ideas, I have enrolled in the AWAI Copywriting and Resume Writing courses. My plan is to use some of the writing income to fund the Food project.” (For more information on these courses go to ChangingCourse.com/awai.htm)

Cindy, too, took action. After 16 years in the software industry in Marin County, California, the 39-year-old decided it was time to get off the fast track. She quit her high-pressured sales job and moved to a less expensive area of the state to work in the fields she really loved, wine and food.

But first she reconsidered her initial idea of becoming a personal chef. “After giving this careful consideration I decided to hold off pursuing it in the fear that I would burn out and not enjoy cooking for my own family and friends anymore… which is something I enjoy immensely.”

The important thing is that Cindy put herself in a position to be open to possibility. So when a part time position opened up in Chico at a very successful wine bar and cheese shop, she went for it. “The customers are demanding and walk in with their dinner menus and ask for specific wine pairing recommendations. This job has turned into much more than just retail sales. I have helped the owner with special events, including wine tasting classes, etc.”

Sometimes changing course happens in phases. Cindy says, “I am exactly where I need to be. Even though I am not running my own business I have flexibility and am able to enjoy being involved with something I am passionate about. Perhaps someday I’ll become such an expert in my field that I can teach community classes about wine tasting basics and pairing wine and food!”

Gail has also taken bold steps to transform her love of yoga into her career. These are the kind of follow up emails every career advisor loves to get. She writes:

“About 3 weeks [after our session] I found a listing on a yoga website for a yoga teacher at a B&B in Cozumel, Mexico. I corresponded with the owner, went down in June to visit and this Thursday I’m leaving for a stay of four months to teach yoga classes in English. I quit my job to follow a more rewarding path.”

Three weeks later another update arrives. Reading Gail’s update should inspire anyone with a dream to start. She writes:

“My decision to go to Cozumel, Mexico involved a surrendering of some sort. I left a steady job, the sites and sounds of New York City, said goodbye to clients, co-workers, friends and family to make room for a new experience. My schedule and transportation options allow me to bike to Playa Azul during the day. I swim in the clear turquoise colored waters at this beach and admire palm trees sprouting out of white powdery sand.

I am able to travel to Isla Mujeres, another island that is a laid back Caribbean paradise of shallow clear waters. It is twenty minutes by ferry from the city of Cancun on the Mexican mainland. An overnight stay at the island enabled me to see the moon lighting a lunar path over the sea and fall asleep to the sound of the ocean’s ebb and flow.

I find myself giving in to afternoon naps. The temperature has been in the 80’s with high humidity. It is perfect for falling asleep below a whirling ceiling fan. There are areas of Cozumel I would still like to explore, but when I feel my body dragging and my eyes closing, doing nothing is more satisfying.”

Not quite ready for such a big change? Then start small. Read a book, take a course, talk to someone who is doing work you’re drawn to, research how other people are making a living from their love of animals, cooking, writing, travel, art, or wherever your own gifts lie.

If you’re waiting for inspiration to strike first, don’t. As Frank Tibolt put it, “We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.” When it comes to changing the course of your life, the key is always simply to start.


Find Your Calling by Helping Others Realize Theirs

Valerie YoungWhen I left the corporate rat race a decade ago, I did it to take control of my time. My life. But I did it for another reason, too: because I really wanted to feel as if I was doing some good in the world.

It’s not that I’m so incredibly altruistic. It just feels good to do good. It gives you a little high. You help somebody and you feel rewarded.

Now, I feel that sense of satisfaction every day. Plus I get paid for it.

You could too.

If you’re interested in following in my footsteps… you could work from home, brainstorming with people on the phone about creative ways they could turn their passions into profits and work at what they love…

That’s what I do. And I can show you how, step-by-step, you can recreate my success…

…how you can grow a business that capitalizes on your interests and talents… and feeds your
spirit while it fills your wallet.

And I’d like to do it in five days this May. That’s right. Five days.

“This kind of ‘work’ is more than work… the clients really appreciate/enjoy it immensely… there’s such a sense of gratitude from them… and I’m feeling that I’m involved in something so big… so sacred… Thanks!”

~ Kelly W., Certification Program Participant, 2007

Right now, it takes 16 weeks to go through my Outside-the-Box Career
Counselor Certification Program. They don’t feel like long weeks. Actually, they
whiz by. But still. That’s four months.

So the first week in May, I’m going to shave that 16 weeks down to a very intensive five days.

They’re going to be five days with full access to me. Five days when you’ll clear your mind of other distractions. You’ll have my undivided attention and guidance. And together we’ll concentrate on creating and building for you a business that’s both fulfilling… and viable.

A business helping other people make their dreams a reality.

It’s not just my expertise that’s important here. Something happens when you get singularly-focused people together in a room. There’s an energy that builds… and an amazing way that good ideas form, and then get molded and polished and transformed into something even better…

That’s what this immersion program, this “summit” is all about. And I’d like to invite you to be a part of it.

I’m going to teach this group everything I’ve been teaching in my 16-plus week certification program… and more.

Plus the people with me at this summit in May are also going to walk away at the end of these five days with all the initial “hurdles” to starting a business cleared.

And by that I mean: You won’t just walk away with a plan of action for yourself. But you’ll leave with things like a name for your company… business cards… your own Web site domain name… a personalized, professional e-mail address… and, well, you get the idea.

You really will be on your way. In five days.

And, too, you’ll be on my radar screen. And on the radar screen of all the other people you meet at this summit.

That’s an invaluable thing. Because when you have people who understand what you want to do thinking about ways they can help you do it — you have a powerful network for success…

I’m really still working out the details about this event. I do know it’s going to be more personalized, more intense, and more immediately productive than anything else I’ve ever offered. And to be honest, I haven’t even put a price tag on it yet.

I’ve created a First-in-Line List — and I’ll be sending updates to the folks on it, letting them know how it’s shaping up. (To put your name on it, go here: ChangingCourse.com/firstinline.htm)

And, naturally, I’ll let the people on that list know first when I’ll be opening the doors to registration. (Sometime in the next few weeks — just as soon as I’ve got everything finalized.)

I’m not sure yet how many people I’ll be able to take — somewhere between 15 and 20 I think. Quite possibly fewer.

In any event, it’s going to be first-come, first-served. And I suspect the seats are going to go fast.

If you’d like to have first dibs at a spot — and ongoing updates about the program — put your name on the First-in-Line List here: ChangingCourse.com/firstinline.htm


Are Your Attitudes About Money Holding You Back?

Part 1 in a 2-Part Series About Women and Money

Valerie Young and her wonder dog, By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 177 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

I’m the owner of an online business. I’m also a woman. What that means is I often have to manage something a lot of my male counterparts do not, namely women’s attitudes – including my own – about money. Certainly there are men who have money issues. But when it comes to either investing money in our dreams or making a lot of money ourselves, I find women struggle a lot more than men.

I knew there was no way I could tackle such a complex topic myself, so back in December I asked my readers for input. I’ve included some of their comments here. I hope you’ll add yours as well.

What prompted the discussion about women and money was a Teleseminar I conducted with Alex Mandossian. Alex is an expert on how to develop your expertise and build a list of prospective customers using Teleseminars. During the call, Alex gave example after example of people he’d worked with who’d made tens of thousands of dollars in product sales as a result of introducing themselves to potential customers via a single Teleseminar. He also made a point more than once of underscoring that getting to this level of success takes at least three years.

I got a ton of positive feedback about the call. But I also heard from a woman named Agnes. Agnes told me she wanted to sign up for Alex’s training program but, she said, “I couldn’t help but wonder if it isn’t just a little ‘smarmy’ or something to make soooo much money so quickly? Even though I rationally know there really isn’t anything wrong with it – I can’t seem to put my finger on my own hesitation.”

It was Agnes’s next comment that got me thinking about a wildly popular method for making fast money that no one blinks an eye at – namely, the lottery. She writes, “I would love to win the lottery like everyone else and that doesn’t seem sleazy. I’m not a stranger to hard work and am very willing to work – it’s almost like I feel like I have to work very, very hard in order to deserve to make a lot of money – although now I work very hard and DON’T make a lot of money! Why does that seem ‘okay’ on some level?”

Even people who never play the lottery can relate to the allure of becoming an instant millionaire. I know I can. But clearly there is something deeper going on.

Chance vs. Effort

I don’t know why it seems more acceptable to get rich by chance than by effort, but I certainly can relate to Agnes’s confusion. I’ve been self-employed for about twelve years now. It took 11 years of hard work and sacrifice, but I finally had my first high five figure week. It was a major turning point in my business and in how I looked at money. It was also cause for celebration.

So I made reservations at a pricey area restaurant and treated a small group of friends to a fabulous dinner. When I was growing up, the only fine dining I ever knew was the very occasional Friday night fish fry at Howard Johnson. So it felt great to say, “Order everything you want!” and boy did we! The celebration was in high gear when some mutual friends happened by our table and asked what all commotion was about. “Tell them how much money you made this week, Valerie!” exclaimed my exuberant dinner companions.

I wanted to tell them. In fact I wanted to tell the entire restaurant. But instead of feeling proud, I felt embarrassed. I mean it’s one thing to share the good news with a few close friends, but to talk about how much money you made so publicly? I just wasn’t raised that way. But deep down I knew there was more than just my working class roots kicking in here.

In that moment I remember thinking how I wish I’d won the money on a lottery ticket. No one would blink an eye if I leapt on the table, winning lottery ticket in hand. In fact there would have been high fives all the way around! I know I certainly would have felt different about the whole thing. Intellectually I knew that I had worked, as Agnes said, “very, very hard.” Yet, still, I felt awkward talking about it.

Why is an unearned windfall from an inheritance, gambling, the lottery, or other form of chance somehow more internally acceptable than earning it through our own talents, hard work, and determination? Why do women feel undeserving to be affluent? Why is the desire for financial prosperity considered somehow wrong? I certainly don’t have all the answers but here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

“If I’m Too Successful, People Won’t Like Me”

For better or worse, men’s self-worth is often tied to how much they earn. The downside to this is that it puts a lot of pressure on men to prove themselves financially. On the plus side though I find most men are also a lot more comfortable charging more for their services or with wealth-building in general.

Women on the other hand tend to measure our worth based on the richness of our relationships – not our bank account. Talking about a windfall could be construed as being “too full of ourselves” which could make people think less of us. Being relationship-oriented also means taking care of other people’s feelings. A longitudinal study conducted with young girls enrolled in the gifted class found that if a girl earned an A on a test but her little friend only got a B, she would lie and say she got a B too. Women learn at a young age not to talk about their accomplishments to avoid making others feel bad. 

Some women are afraid that if they are “too successful” other people won’t like them. It may be harder to relate to friends and family, a spouse or partner may be threatened if you start earning substantially more, co-workers may resent your promotion.

I happen to think that maintaining healthy relationships and caring about the impact of our behavior on others is an important virtue and skill. It’s what makes women great managers and in some ways, marketers, and, I believe, what will ultimately save the planet. It’s finding that balance that is the key.

I’d like to see women have both – rich, rewarding relationships and freedom from financial worries. I also want us to find ways to feel good about and even celebrate our accomplishments. For example, these same researchers helped the gifted girls brainstorm ways they could continue to care about their friend’s feelings but also feel proud of their accomplishment.

That leads me to another important clue to understanding women’s attitudes about money. This too has to do with relationships. But here it is about how we feel about money and those who have it.

Our Love-Hate Relationship With Money

Part of my old corporate job included organizing these incredibly lavish sales retreats to reward the top sales people. The events were held in places like Palm Springs, Beverly Hills, or Monaco. We flew in a film crew from New York to shoot video montages, paid a song writer to compose a theme song, constructed elaborate sets. No expense was spared. Needless to say, the sales people qualifying for these events were very well off with no shortage of millionaires. That was when I became consciously aware of my conflicting feelings of contempt and envy around money and people who had it.

So it’s in that context that I try to understand the occasional emails I receive from people – almost always women – who are not just angry, but enraged with me if they are unable to afford to purchase something I may be offering. After all, the reasoning goes, if you really cared, you wouldn’t charge me.

I’m not the only one who has observed this resentment toward successful people. “When do women leave behind the mindset of poverty?’ writes Sandra. “When can they take on the mantle of success and not feel bad about it?” Rather than feeling contempt or envy, Sandra feels inspired. “I like to look to Ali Brown of Ezine Queen for some inspiration. She is not ashamed or shy to flaunt her success. And I mean flaunt in the best way.” I know for a fact that Ali also receives her share of hate mail. (If you aren’t familiar with Ali or her work, and would like to see an example of someone is not ashamed to talk about her financial success go to ChangingCourse.com/recommends/blueprintbox)

Perhaps part of the reason some women have strong negative feelings about people who flaunt their success is that women often devalue their own skills. After all, we think, if I can do it, anybody can. We have a really hard time attaching a dollar figure to our work and an even harder time assigning a high value. Not surprisingly, studies show that women are more likely to take the first salary offer while men are more apt to negotiate.

But here’s the thing. Once you learn to place a higher value on your knowledge, skills, and time, you start to charge more. And when you charge more you become more financially successful. And when that happens, you’ll run into other people who struggle with the same contempt/envy response I had. Some may even secretly want you to fail. This brings full circle… “If I’m too successful people may not like me… and I may not like myself.”

Personally I’ve never aspired to be a millionaire. Even if that were to happen, I’d give a lot of the money away. I mean how much money does one person need? Basically, I don’t want to die a poor old woman and I don’t want you to either.

There is of course much more to say about women and money but I’ll save that for the next issue. In the meantime, I hope you will take a moment to join the conversation at my new blog.


A Step-by-Step “Blueprint” to Online Business Success

Do you know Alexandria Brown, a.k.a. “The Ezine Queen”?

You may have heard me tell this story before, but a few years ago I attended Alexandria (Ali) Brown’s (a.k.a. the Ezine Queen’s) Online Success Blueprint Workshop. Over the years I’d hear about all these big time Internet marketing gurus who make big promises. But I’d never actually been to any one of their seminars. Since I know money is an issue for a lot of my readers, I was curious to see first-hand whether these high-priced Internet marketing seminars delivered enough content to justify the cost.

Don’t get me wrong… I knew that any workshop being run by a woman who has managed to build a business that generates $50,000 in sales… a MONTH was bound to contain at least a few nuggets of wisdom. Right?

Well I was wrong. The workshop contained hundreds of them. Instead of dangling exciting “magic pill” solutions in front of you, or selling “the next big thing,” Ali tells it like it is. Over the course of three full days, she shared her step-by-step, internet-based plan for dramatically increasing your business while working LESS.

The bad news of course is that Ali’s sold out Online Success Blueprint Workshop that happened last November has come and gone. But, the GOOD news is, after hours of editing, polishing, and coddling, the brand new 2008 Version of her “Online Success Blueprint-in-a-BOX” is now ready. This self-study version contains everything you would have gotten in the live event only you get the benefit of learning from home – and at a vastly reduced price.

If you are a coach, consultant, writer, speaker, or other solo entrepreneur and are ready to learn what it takes to build your business online, you’ll want to jump on this FAST, because Ali is only releasing 147 copies of this version of the program. And from what she told me yesterday, she’s already 35% SOLD OUT.

This is Ali’s 2nd year of honing this program to perfection, and I can honestly and confidently tell you — there is NOTHING else out there like this. And “blueprint” is not a figure of speech. You actually get a big blueprint mapping out every step that you can hang on your wall.

I know this product, and if you are ready to make it happen, I can honestly say that the Online Success Blueprint-in-a-Box program can change your business and your life. Learn more at ChangingCourse.com/recommends/blueprintbox


Follow the Trends to Find a Profitable Business Idea

Looking for an inspiring or innovative business idea? One surefire place to look is to trends. Depending on your interests it might be trends related to the U.S. housing market, global warning, parenting, fitness, food, pets, technology, travel, dating, sports… the options are really limitless.

Today we’re going to look at three examples of how entrepreneurs benefit from the trend of safety. As you will see, each one is connected to the safety trend in a very different way.

Trend #1 Back to Basics With Wooden Toys

If a year ago I had told you wood-working types that you could run a successful business building simple wooden toys you would have said I was nuts. But with millions of recalled toys manufactured in China containing lead paint and other dangerous chemicals, the makers of domestic wooden toys were swamped with holiday orders.

Ron Voake operates Vermont Wooden Toys (VermontWoodenToys.com) out of his home in Norwich, Vermont. His company makes over 135 different kinds of wooden toys from “riding size” fire trucks to doll carriages to blocks. According to an article in the New York Times, wooden toy makers like Ron can barely keep up and are hiring extra employees. “Every time there was a story about a recall,” said the 61-year-old Voake, “I got flooded with orders.”

Voake isn’t the only toymaker to benefit from the trend toward safe toys. Mark Rainville of Maple Landmark Woodcraft (MapleLandmark.com) in Middlebury, Vermont was also deluged with orders. With toy orders up 60 percent in the last quarter of 2007, he and his holiday staff of 45 were working 16-hour days. It’s clear from his company’s Web site that Mark is seizing on other current trends like the buy local movement and environmental responsibility. And speaking of the environment…

Trend #2: Safe Water and a Cleaner Environment

When Stacey Griffin graduated from Tulane School of Social Work in 1995 she was more interested in healing kids than the environment. Five years later she opened a psychiatric facility for low-income children and adolescents (MilestonesMHA.com) in New Orleans. Then she lost it all to hurricane Katrina. Safe, clean drinking water was just one of the many problems in flood ravaged New Orleans.

During the time she was rebuilding her staff and agency, Stacey got an idea from her then 3-year-old daughter who had a strong preference for juice boxes over water bottles. Why not package drinking water in juice boxes?

Initially she was discouraged to find that two other companies were doing it. When she looked closer, though, she found that one specialized in disaster relief and the other geared their product to kids. That left a huge unfilled niche – environmentally responsible people like me who hate the wastefulness of creating, shipping, and then land-filling plastic water bottles.

Stacey started Aqua2Go in 2006. She got a lot of help from her husband who worked on the business in addition to his full-time job. Things really took off when Ellen DeGeneres featured Stacey’s water boxes on her show. The very next morning a big merchant who Stacey had been working hard to contact called her at her home. Today Aqua2Go is in selected Target department stores, Winn Dixie super markets, Whole Foods in Louisiana, and other major retailers. (I plan to print out info about Aqua2Go at WaterOnTheGo.com and present it to manager of my local Whole Foods store.)

Every day 40 million plastic water bottles go into the trash or becoming litter (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5279230), putting a huge a burden on local landfills. Some communities like San Francisco have responded by banning city departments from buying bottled water for their offices. This trend toward municipal bans, the need for safe drinking water on the go, and a growing awareness about global warming all point to continued success for entrepreneurs like Stacey.

Trend #3 All Natural Products for Kids

This next example comes from Kristen Bassick of Stuff4Sprouts.com. Like Stacey, Kristen’s business idea was also inspired by her children. In Kristen’s case it was to find a natural way to treat the persistent dry skin of her own children, or little “sprouts” as she likes to call them.

So at the urging of her husband who was throwing money at products that didn’t work, Kristen decided to start her own line of kids’ skin care products formulated without using nut oils, animal products, paraben-based preservatives (to which some people are allergic), soy, artificial colors, or chemical fillers. Her company’s promise also serves as her motto: To produce products with “Nothing weird.  Nothing gross.  Just good stuff for dry skin.”

My Canadian friends who love the idea of all natural products for kids and prefer to shop local should check out an online company in the Toronto area called ParentingByNature.com. In addition to a wide range of products like an organic baby skin care line and cloth diapers they also carry wooden toys!

I love Canada but I have a soft spot for Kristen’s business because she is one of the many success stories to come out of my annual Work at What You Love seminar. I’ll let Kim share her progress report in her own words:

I came to the seminar last August unhappy with my “job” and with an idea for a new business venture.  But I was terrified by the idea of building a “business” with employees, and a building, and a manufacturing site…and all that stuff that just seemed like more than I wanted to take on.

Sitting there listening to all of the stories of micro-business owners, who didn’t have a “job” and didn’t have what I had initially thought that a “business” would need to be, opened my eyes to what was possible.

I launched my company in September after two years of putting all of the pieces into place.  Manufacturing is outsourced, distribution will be soon.  I work from my home office, available for all of the things in my actual life that demand my presence.

I was lucky to be on the receiving end of a well-timed downsizing/severance at my corporate job and now have the chance to move Stuff for Sprouts to the next level. Life is good and my new jobless job is so completely cool I just had to share!

I said I was going to share three business ideas but there is actually one more safety-related trend worth mentioning. This one is actually not a new trend. In fact, it’s been kicking around for quite some time. I call…

Safety Trend #4: Thinking Up New Excuses For Staying Stuck

There’s nothing safer than staying miserably where you are. And one of the best ways to play it safe is to come up with a litany of excuses about why dream making is always easier for the next person.

Admit it. How many of you zeroed in on the line about Kristen’s well-timed severance package and thought, “Hey, I could start my own business too if I had money coming in from a severance package!” Maybe you would and maybe you wouldn’t. But did you also see the line about spending two years putting all the pieces into place?

I’ve worked with my share of desperate people who had a full year to find and work on a business idea but waited until they had one month of severance pay left to call in full out panic mode because they were going to have to find another j-o-b. There are plenty of other people out there with either the time or the money to start their own thing – but because they are too afraid, or they lack confidence, or they don’t know where to begin, or all of the above, they do nothing. Kristen did something.

As Shirley Hufstedler said, “If you play it safe in life, you’ve decided that you don’t want to grow anymore.” If you are tired of contributing to the negative trend of coming up with reasons why you can’t leave your safe but ultimately soul-sucking job then do this one small thing. Get yourself a small notebook and label it Trends = Ideas. Then start actively being on the lookout for the thousands of trends that can be the catalyst to your brilliant business idea.

One you have an idea, take a step. Any step. Once you get the entrepreneurial ball rolling, it’s hard to stop. Besides, as Hufstedler put it, “Security is not the meaning of my life. Great opportunities are worth the risks.”


What Does Gratitude Have to Do With Career Change?

Valerie Young and her wonder dog, By Valerie Young 

This article originally appeared in Issue 175 of the Changing Course Newsletter

As I drove alongside the Connecticut River today, I spotted two snow-white swans gliding elegantly atop still waters. I felt so blessed to have been in that place at that time to experience such a serenely beautiful moment. I feel lucky that way… a lot.

I don’t think I happen upon these moments any more than anyone else does. I just “see” them more than others do. I believe that’s because gratitude is so central to both my life and my work. I also happen to believe that maintaining a state of gratitude is fundamental to the process of changing course. Yet, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard another career counselor talk about gratitude as an essential element of career change. Come to think of it, I’m not aware of any career related books that talk about the importance of being thankful either.

I think perhaps the reason you don’t hear a lot of career change agents talk about gratitude is that we’re in the business of helping facilitate people moving from where they are to where they’d rather be. Changing your work and life are by definition all about the future. Gratitude on the other hand is very much about the present.  

I understand that it can be pretty tough to be grateful when what you want is freedom, time, and a deep knowing that the work you do matters, but what you have instead is a soul sucking job that leaves you no time to see, never mind smell, the roses. 

And yet if you really want to make a positive change, I believe it’s imperative to shift from a state of constant yearning for what you don’t have to being mindful of those blessings, however small, that you do have… right now. Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin talked about this concept in their groundbreaking book Your Money or Your Life. They write, “So much dissatisfaction comes from focusing on what we don’t have that the simple exercise of acknowledging and valuing what we do have can transform our outlook.” Said another way, ungrateful people make lousy self-change agents.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that there is a lot wrong in the world. Far too many good people dying in too many bad wars… far too many people losing their homes because of bad loans… far too many people with no job at all. I know, too, that during this holiday season that some of you may be faced with dire circumstances. Yet, “Once we are above the survival levels,” say Dominguez and Robin, “the difference between prosperity and poverty lies simply in our degree of gratitude.” 

Even during my most financially challenging and emotionally discouraging days of struggling to transition from my corporate job to working for myself, I still knew on any given day that I was blessed. I can see. I can hear. I have all my limbs. I am, God-willing, free of disease. I live in relative safety. I have food. I have heat. I have clean water. I have access to medical care. I have transportation. I have friends and family who love me. And I am blessed to have all of you. 

At the risk of going all Oprah on you here, to me living life from a perspective of gratitude is not just an exercise in happy thinking. To me it goes much deeper than that. Melody Beattie described the benefits of gratitude well when she wrote:

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity… It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. It can turn an existence into a real life, and disconnected situations into important and beneficial lessons. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

On the bulletin board at my post office hangs a quote from the Women’s Theology Center in Boston. It reads, “We must go slowly, there’s not much time.” Achieving a dream takes hard work, perseverance, and, yes, time. Yet, life is too short to put off happiness until we have achieved our goal. In other words, with a dream, as with life, the journey is just as important as the destination. 

As you enjoy a drink of clean water, a warm bed or the company of a loved one today and every day, pause and be grateful for what and who is in your life right now. Go after that better future… but also be here now and savor the journey.
 


How Much Money Do You Really Need?

My Two Cents About Teleseminars And Marketing Angst

I’ve never aspired to be a millionaire. Even if that somehow were to happen, I’d give a lot of the money away. I mean how much money does one person need?

Basically, I don’t want to die a poor old woman and I don’t want you to either.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because I spent a long time today talking to two different women who were on the teleseminar with Alex Mandossian and me earlier in December. They had never met and yet they were having a lot of difficulty with the idea of marketing and making money.

In case you missed it, Alex is the guy who, over a period of three or four years, turned his annual income into a monthly income. The class was about how to use teleseminars to introduce yourself to your audience, educate them about your area of expertise… and yes, hope they see the value in what you have to offer so they will eventually hire you or purchase what you have to offer.

(If you were one of the 637 people who registered for the class but weren’t able to make it or had to hang up early, Alex will be sending the link to the recording later today. If you were not registered for the class but are curious what all the fuss is about go to http://www.ChangingCourseTeleseminar.com.)

Okay So Back To Women And Money And Marketing…

The women I talked to were crystal clear that they want to take control over their lives and either start or grow their small businesses. But they HATE the idea of selling or otherwise promoting themselves to anyone. In fact, the whole topic of making money is a complete turn off.

I get it. I was invited to speak at an alumni meeting last week and when we got to the end I was totally uncomfortable talking about the order form in the back of their handouts. Resistance is a powerful thing and I think we need to pay attention and honor it and understand it.

One of the things you’ll see at http://www.ChangingCourseTeleseminar.com is something Alex put together called, “8 Common Reasons Why You May Resist the World’s Best Teleseminar Marketing Training.” Resistance Reason #7 is:  “I don’t think it’s possible (or it’s too pushy) to sell from my seat as a teleseminar marketer…”

Frankly I think Alex could have said a lot more about this whole issue of not wanting to sound pushy. Bu then I just don’t think he (or most men) realize what a huge barrier this is to women becoming entrepreneurs. But I do.

So For Now All I Want To Say About Pushy Women Is… 

I could (and I definitely will) write a whole article on women and our love-hate relationship with making money and with marketing. But for now I just want to say that it’s okay to not want to be a shady huckster or to feel like you’re being too pushy.

Whether you call it “integrity marketing” as I do or “finding your natural monopoly” as Barbara Winter does, there really are ways to be authentic AND ethical AND help your audience AND make sure you don’t die a poor old woman all at the same time.

I have seen first hand what a powerful tool teleseminars can be to inform people and also to sell without the discomfort of selling. The way I see it, everyone – me included – has their own unique teaching style. This is something that can’t be taught.   Alex’s strength is that he is an absolute expert at THE hardest part of doing teleseminars – namely growing a list from scratch, getting people to sign up for your teleclass, and turning your classes into profitable information products. How you run your class is up to you.   Saturday is the final deadline to get into the Teleseminar Secrets program. It’s a lot of money and you should definitely not do it if it’s going to drain you financially or just doesn’t feel like it’s “you.”

FYI, if you are collaborating or otherwise partnering with someone else on your business, then you are allowed to bring in one associate and therefore you can split the cost with him or her. Just something to think about.

Like I said, I definitely plan to write an article on this topic but if you have some thoughts on women and money and marketing that you’d like to share, I’d love to hear them. Send them to [email protected].

To your dreams,
Valerie Young
Dreamer in Residence
ChangingCourse.com

P.S. If you struggle with the idea of marketing yourself consider this advice I gave to one of the callers today. Imagine your headstone reading, “Joan wrote a book that could have helped so many. Unfortunately, no one read it because she didn’t want to seem too pushy.”


Teleseminars Are a Great Solution for People Who Hate to Sell

This article originally appeared in Issue 174 of the Changing Course Newsletter. 

Do you have a business (or an idea for one) but hate the thought of having to “sell”? Do you love sharing information, resources, insight or knowledge with others? Do you have a message or cause you want to promote? If so, the solution may be as close as your telephone.

Teleseminars make it possible to share your knowledge and experience or otherwise and get the word out about your business to people literally all over the world. All you need is a conference or bridge line and a message, and you can reach ten to hundreds of people at a time.

Anyone Can Conduct a Teleseminar… on Just About Anything

Don’t think Teleseminars will work for you? Teleclasses are a great income stream and can be utilized with virtually any business. Check out these interesting markets that are using Teleseminars:

  • Horse Training Secrets
  • Aviation Services
  • Book Promotion
  • Real Estate Q & A
  • Global Warming

As with any business, success begins with finding a topic you feel passionate about. It could be nutrition, the challenges of single parenting, hunting safety, energy conservation, aroma therapy, surviving divorce later in life, urban gardening, traveling solo, baseball trivia – you name it. There really is no end to the topics that can be turned into a Teleseminar.

Some topics lend themselves more naturally to the Teleseminar format more than others. It would be tough, for instance, to teach a motorcycle repair or a cooking class purely by phone. But you could teach a class on how to write and self-publish your own cookbook. Not an expert? Then use your Teleseminar to interview people who are. Then, turn the recordings into a CD set and companion booklet called “Secrets of Canada’s Top Cookbook Authors: How to Write and Promote Your Own Best-Selling Cookbook.”

Or say you create a video series on basic motorcycle repair at home. You could market your product with a free Teleseminar called “The 10 Biggest Motorcycle Repair Shop Scams and How to Avoid Them.” As long as you include valuable information in the free class, your listeners won’t have a problem with you ending the Teleseminar with a special offer to purchase your entire video series.

If you’re just starting out, don’t fall into the dream-zapping trap of thinking you need to have three PhDs or 20 years experience before you consider yourself remotely qualified to be speak on a particular subject. If you have a passion for your topic, I guarantee you already know more than you think you do.

Start by thinking of the three most important things you think people need to know about “surviving divorce” or “safe hunting practices.” Then, for each of these three main points, complete the question, “The three or four most important things someone should know about this point are…” Before you know it, you’ll have a top ten list to form the basis of your seminar.

7 Reasons You Should Seriously Consider Putting On Your Own Teleseminars

Whether you have an established practice, a small business, or are just starting out…

  1. Teleseminars are a great way to get your name out to a larger marketplace and establish yourself as an expert in your field.  
  2. Teleseminars are ideal for people who, like me, hate to sell but love to teach. Informing and demonstrating your commitment to helping others is a great way to build credibility. And being a credible source of information or assistance will ultimately lead people to want to do business with you.  
  3. Teleseminars are a great way to build a list of prospective customers or clients. Once you have a list, you can continue to find ways to share your expertise, educate them about the work you do and what you offer, get valuable referrals, and generally connect with prospective customers and clients.  
  4. Teleseminars make it amazingly easy to create your own information product for future sale. Simply by recording the call, even a free class can be transformed into an ongoing source of revenue.
     
  5. You don’t have to actually “teach” to run Teleseminars. If you have Larry King envy, you can host your own Internet Talk Radio Show and interview top experts and leaders in their field. (Trust me – it’s not as hard as you might think.)  
  6. You can create lucrative joint venture partnerships with other enterprising entrepreneurs who offer products or services that add genuine value to your customers lives. The profit sharing potential here can be enormous.  
  7. Teleseminars are not just about making money. They’re also a great way to promote a cause or otherwise share a message that’s near and dear to your heart.

Experience Not Required

Setting up a Teleseminar is a snap. There’s no need to print up flyers or pay for pricey ad space. Start by promoting your class to your own email list. You can collect payment yourself or through a shopping cart or merchant account.

Technology-wise all you’ll need is a conference or “bridge line.” Once you sign up with a bridge line service, the moderator (that would be you) and your attendees will be assigned a dedicated phone number and pass code which you can send out to your list via an autoresponder.

Then, when class time rolls around, you can hop on the couch (no need to dress up), pick up the phone, push some buttons to get into the call and another to record the class and voila, you’re delivering your message to 10 to 200 or more eager seminar attendees.

There are a lot of bridge lines out there ranging from free to hundreds of dollars per month. Obviously the more expensive bridge lines offer more features, but many of these features are unnecessary when starting out.

FreeConference.com is well known in the industry for offering a free service for up to 150 callers using their Web-Scheduled Standard. They also offer an 800# service with a recording option for a nominal fee. Two other free services I’ve used are FreeConferenceCall.com and TheBasementVentures.com. Normally they work fine but there have been a few technical glitches with each.

Another service I plan to try out is InstantTeleseminar.com by Xiosoft. There is a monthly fee but this includes recording, event templates, a simultaneous webcast for those who prefer to listen in online (this is a biggie), and a number of other bells and whistles.

If you plan to turn your Teleseminars into information products, invest the money to have the call recorded by an outside service such as AudioStrategies.com. They’re reliable, professional, and deliver the MP3 file within an hour of the Teleseminar.

I don’t want to make delivering Teleseminars sound effortless. Anything you do to advance your dream of changing course requires some kind of effort – period. But the Internet has made the whole process pretty darned easy. And, hey if an avowed technophobe like me can do it…

Imagine Turning Your Annual Income into Your Weekly Income

If you’re even considering getting into Teleseminars, the undisputed leader in the field is a guy named Alex Mandossian.

Alex has delivered Teleseminars with many of the world’s top leaders and authors, including Donald Trump, Stephen Covey, and Mark Victor Hansen and has trained over 13,000 students since 2001. Over the past 12 years, he’s helped his clients generate over $203 million in sales.

Over the past few years, Alex has transformed his annual income into his monthly income. To see his actual numbers – and why he believes his marketing strategies can help practically any entrepreneur do the same – visit ChangingCourseTeleseminar.com

Whether you have a business now or are still dreaming about quitting your job to work at what you love, you won’t want to miss this “Teleseminar Secrets Training.” Even if you have no plans to run a Teleseminar, I guarantee it will forever expand your thinking about turning your gift for teaching into a viable way to make a living.


Tools to Help You Go From Creating Debt to Creating Dreams

Valerie Young and her wonder dog, By Valerie Young 

This article originally appeared in Issue 173 of the Changing Course Newsletter

The traditional kick-off to the holiday shopping season in the U.S. is Thanksgiving. This year ads started popping up before Halloween.

It’s been said that holiday debt is the gift that keeps on taking. According to a survey done last year by Consumer Reports, the average bill for holiday shoppers using credit cards to buy gifts will be $626. The average American household carries $9,000 in credit card debt throughout the year and then holiday debt gets piled on top of that.

A big question for anyone looking to ditch their job and join the ranks of the self-employed is, “How can I afford to change course?” And if you’re drowning in debt, the thought of being able to strike out on your own feels all the more impossible. There are all kinds of books and other programs out there to help you get out of debt and/or create prosperity. Over the last year and a half or so I’ve had the opportunity to cross paths with a number of authorities in the field. Each offers a different take on the money theme… finding it, keeping it, and managing it.

If you need to get your financial house in order before you can change course, here are a few people and resources I believe are worth checking out.

First Things First

I first told you about Joan back in 2006. What makes Joan’s story so compelling is that she spent most of her adult life in a pattern of under earning and compulsive debting. After her two brothers tired of bailing her out, Joan discovered the 12-step program Debtors Anonymous (DebtorsAnonymous.org). It worked she says, for a while.

After building a successful business she once again ended up in serious debt forcing her to close her business and declare bankruptcy. Eight years later, at age fifty-six, Joan relocated to Santa Fe, New Mexico with a mere $200 in her pocket. Losing her business propelled Joan to learn more about her financial dysfunction by digging deeper to untangle the deep emotions and family issues associated with money.

Today Joan uses what she’s learned to help others who are similarly stuck in unproductive money patterns. Her money self-help manual, Building Your Financial Muscles, contains exercises and resources for people who are searching for a way to relieve financial pressures and change the way they deal with money. Joan also offers a number of different audio programs with titles like, “Let Go of the Aloneness” and “Discovering Your Core Financial Issues.” More recently she’s expanded into tools specifically for entrepreneurs with a CD/workbook set called, “Marketing Your Micro-Business.”

Another new addition is a facilitator kit for people who want to run support groups for others struggling to become financially healthy. Right now the facilitator kit costs $89 . If you get ten participants and each pays up to $20 per meeting then you can earn $200 per meeting. To learn about Joan and her unique approach to financial health go to ChangingCourse.com/recommends/prosperityplace

Living Debt Free

Whether you are drowning in debt, or just love the idea of living debt free, you should get to know the work of a fellow named Leo Quinn. I had the pleasure of meeting Leo last June at a workshop I attended in Denver. I discovered over breakfast one day that not only was he one of the event speakers, but with 27,000 loyal subscribers, he’s also a well-respected expert in the debt-elimination field. In fact, Leo had been doing this work long before the Internet boomed.

His most popular program is called “How to Own Your Paycheck Again.” Just to be clear, if you are not able to pay your bills or are teetering on bankruptcy, this is not the program for you. Leo specializes in working with people who want to get rid of their debt so they can live on less, retire early, or just generally spend less time working and more time doing the things they want to do. Personally what I like about it is that you can take the money you would have used to pay your credit cards or mortgage and apply that to your new business.

Normally “How to Own Your Paycheck Again” costs $97. But when I called Leo for this article he offered to extend a special $50 discount for Changing Course readers when you order before November 21st. With an iron-clad money-back guarantee you have nothing to lose but your debt. Learn more at ChangingCourse.com/recommends/leoquinn

Goodbye Boss, Hello Kids

“In the middle of difficulty,” observed Albert Einstein, “lies opportunity.” Some of the best opportunities often originate from problems – either yours or someone else’s. One of the all too common problems that savvy savings expert Darlene Arechederra saw was that of two-income families in which one of the parents (usually the mom) wants to stay home with the kids but can’t afford to. Knowing that nothing is impossible if you know what you’re doing, Dar developed a self-help program called Goodbye Boss, Hello Kids.

For the same reason my site is called Changing Course and not Jump off a Bridge, Dar talks about the need to create a transition strategy, or a “bridge” as she calls it, from where you are to where you want to be – which in this case is home with the kids. A few of the lessons working parents receive in this 10-minute a day course include Finding Money to Grow Your Coming Home Account, Eliminating One of the Biggest Expenses for Working Women, Strategies To Help You Come Home Sooner, and How Bosses and Co-Workers Can Speed Up Your Journey Home. Learn more at AffordtoStayHome.com.

Creating Money for Your Small Business

What if you don’t have kids or just want to escape your job-job to work at what you love? Well, in addition to helping her clients to “unearth potential home business ideas that make their heart sing,” Dar also helps future home business owners create the money they’ll need for their cottage industry or home business. (Fast Track members be sure to log into the Money Matters section of FastTrackHeadquarters.com to find Dar’s “5 Must-Know Secrets to Creating Money for Your Dream” in the current Money Matters e-Tip. It’s a must read for anyone who needs to find the money to jumpstart that great business idea.)  

I came to know Dar when she enrolled in my 2006 Outside the Job Box Career Consulting Certification Program. Initially I was fascinated by her expertise in helping women specifically and people in general become financially savvy enough to jumpstart a small business. But what really intrigued me is that Dar is an introvert training for a career in a field you would think would better suit someone who is more outgoing. But like a true entrepreneur, Dar has turned what some might consider a challenge into an asset by specializing in working with other introverts! She even has a free blog called CreativeCareersForIntroverts.com. Now how smart is that?!

Journey to Abundance

Finally there is Fast Track Your Dreams member Kamin Bell. Kamin started her professional career as the U.S. Navy’s first female African-American helicopter pilot. She then went on to become a Mary Kay Sales Director and consultant. From here Kamin transitioned to having several small business ventures, the most recent of which is to publish her first book, Journey to Abundance. Kamin sent me a review copy in September and I was genuinely impressed. Using the true story of her own financial ruin, fear, and crisis of faith, Kamin takes you along with her as she discovers the abundance and prosperity God wants for us all. Whether you are Christian by faith, or simply feel guided by a Higher Power as I do, you can not help but feel enriched, encouraged, and informed by Kamin’s story and by the thought-provoking exercises she has designed to set you firmly on your own journey to abundance.” As part of the book’s pre-release Kamin is giving away a free chapter KaminBell.com/abundance

There are many paths to financial well-being and prosperity. As we move into this period of holiday spending take some time to be mindful of the role that money plays in your life. If excessive giving will put you farther into debt perhaps this is the time to realistically assess your finances, your dreams, and how your relationship with money may be serving or undermining your goals of changing the course of your life.


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