When the mandolin makes an appearance…

tony shepherds mandolin

Yep when the mandolin comes out I know it’s my subconscious telling me it’s time to think about writing that new product that’s been bubbling under the surface for a few months :)

Small and twangy, straight to the point.

No unnecessary frills or flourishes.

Slightly painful but incredibly rewarding.

At least that’s what I HOPE my product will be like…



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Stripping back your business for fun and profit!

tony shepherd strips in public

Lately I’ve only been working a couple of hours a day.

Communicating with my groups and clients, writing blog posts, buying traffic, instructing outsourcers and concentrating on email marketing can be done in a few hours, usually in the early morning which is when I work best.

I’ve done this by either dumping some processes entirely and outsourcing the rest using Odesk or Freelancer.

I’ve found that this back to basics approach gives me TONS of clarity.

So not only am I getting more done, I’m more creative, more focused…

…and the end result of that is that I’m working fewer hours for more profit.

It’s not that I’m doing that much MORE than I was when I was working 8 hours a day- obviously I’m doing LESS…

…it’s more that I’m doing the RIGHT things.

Focusing on the essentials in my business

It all came about by me looking at where my online income came from and found (as you’d maybe expect if you know Pareto’s Law) that the bulk of my income came from 20% of the things I did.

So with initial fear and trepidation I dumped much of the other stuff and concentrated on the systems and processes that brought the most money into my business (not including partnerships and outside businesses)

I then took those processes back to bare bones so that I did the essential, creative stuff myself (like producing content, emails, ideas) and outsourced the rest.

You’d be surprised at how much ‘stuff’ you simply don’t need – how much is fluff and maybe only actually adds a few quid a month to your bottom line but takes much more FROM you in terms of work, stress and management.

Having a tribe of people you can easily communicate with, having some degree of rapport with them, having something to offer them and giving them access to you if they need support.

The rest can be outsourced if you want to keep it and dumped if you don’t.

Frees you up to be creative, to work on your other projects and to maximise the profits yet minimise the time you put into your core business.

Quite therapeutic too – like cleaning out the garage or weeding the garden :)



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Are you brave enough to be different?

be different and get rich

We all want to be different…

Most people are offended if you say they are ‘just part of the herd’

So why, in reality are we really so AFRAID of actually being different?

As a society we’re a bit freaked by people who step outside the boundaries

If you don’t believe me think about someone with cancer who chooses not to accept chemotherapy as treatment.

We might think they’re crazy or have a death wish or are being ‘selfish’

It’s rarely considered that they might believe that it’s not the best solution and have their own ideas about treatment.

In fact some of who who have been through this dreadful disease or have family members that have might even be angry that  I’d mention something like this in a blog post.

And what about people who homeschool their kids?

Are they hippies?

Or preppers?

Or some other kind of weirdo family?

Maybe it’s not a big issue until you learn that some companies won’t employ homeschooled kids.

Just a gentle reminder not to do things differently or a legitimate reason because they don’t have a recognised high school diploma regardless of what other education they embark upon?

 

Look at this list issued by the Department of Homeland Security in the US

This list ‘qualifies a person as a potential domestic terrorist':

>>Expressions of libertarian philosophies (statements, bumper stickers)

>>Second Amendment-oriented views (NRA or gun club membership, holding a CCW permit)

>>Survivalist literature (fictional books such as “Patriots” and “One Second After” are mentioned by name)

>>Self-sufficiency (stockpiling food, ammo, hand tools, medical supplies)

>>Fear of economic collapse (buying gold and barter items)

>>Religious views concerning the book of Revelation (apocalypse, anti-Christ)

>>Expressed fears of Big Brother or big government

>>Homeschooling

>>Declarations of Constitutional rights and civil liberties

Dunno about you but I’m ‘guilty’ of three of those.

Stepping outside normal these days isn’t just eccentric, it’s bloody dangerous.

Take online business as another example.

If as an internet marketer you earned £40,000 last month online from home, and happen to mention this to (for example)  bank teller that you earned more than their YEAR’S salary the chances are you won’t be believed.

But many of you reading this know for yourselves that it’s true.

Stepping outside the norm again.

If you tell someone your professions – accountant, teacher, office clerk, cable installer or whatever then most people have  a rough ides of what your salary is.

Some are higher than others but on the whole they’re ‘normal’ salaries.

If you earn this amount in a MONTH yet look like a normal person (no Porsche or yacht) then people start to wonder about you – are you a criminal or into something iffy?

They think it’s not normal…

The thing is, in online marketing it’s the people who step outside the norm that make the most money

We’re drawn towards techniques that are ‘new’ or ‘different’ because we instinctively know that doing things differently  results in different results.

Not ALWAYS better, but often so.

If you’re involved in business, different is usually better.

But if you’re working a ‘normal’ job, being an internet  marketer – being different – doesn’t seem quite right or fair.

Watching someone earn £2,000 from sending out two emails to their mailing list in three hours doesn’t seem fair if you have to work an entire month crawling through dark wet tunnels on your hands and knees to install sewage pipes.

The thing is…

…it’s not internet marketing that’s not fair.

It’s society.

Because it makes it difficult to be different. 

It’s not for the faint-hearted though…



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Why getting up in the morning can be a pain or a pleasure

tony shepherd yawning

It’s a yawn by the way – in the pic – not some kind of medical attack or martial arts move.

It was early this morning when I took this – not quite light – and it’s quite normal for me to be up before anyone else.

I love this time of day and I can’t ever see myself having a lie-in past 9am ever again!

Not always been that way though

When I was working my 9-5 I had ‘THE alarm clock’

You probably had something similar. A sound or tone or beep or whatever that you dreaded.

I dumped my ancient radio alarm clock a couple of years ago but before I did I tested whether it still worked so I knew if it was recycle time or tip time.

I triggered the alarm and those memories of dark, cold mornings getting up to do I job I hated came flooding back.

I wonder if pre-industrial revolution our ancestors found it any easier getting up when it got light and going to bed when it got dark?

My point is that when you work from home with your online business you don’t have the same time constraints (unless you choose to set them for yourself)

If you have coaching calls you can work them around your personality – maybe start them at 11am or in the evenings or some other civilised hour.

And it’s little things like dumping the horrible grating beep of your alarm clock that’s the great thing about having a home based online business NOT the money or the flash car or the business class travel.

It’s being able to wear what you want. If you think you can do that most of the time try going into your office job wearing jeans and a T-Shirt that says ‘F*ck Capitalism’ on it – or wear a suit to your forklift driving job and see how long it takes them to refer you to a doctor.

It’s being able to go to school plays in the middle of Tuesday afternoon, or go for lunch or to see a film with your partner on a whim one Monday.

It’s feeling like you are your own person again. It’s feeling human.

That- for me – is the real gold of an online business…



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Why repairing your dishwasher is vital for your mental health

bastard dishwasher from hell

We have the bastard dishwasher from Hell…

That’s not how it was advertised in the shop obviously.

And it breaks down every few months.

It cost us around £150 and we’ve had it YEARS.

It’s older than one of our children I think.

So common sense screams to me ‘Buy a bloody new one’ and to be fair sometimes my wife screams the same thing.

We can afford a new one obviously, and even where we live you can get one delivered and installed in around 48 hours for a small extra charge.

So why won’t I buy one?

Well the problem is that when it first packed up it was less than two years old.

Out of warranty but annoying enough for me to be stubborn and refuse to buy a new one when it had broken down so quickly after purchase.

So I went online and to my lasting surprise I learend how to fix the bastard.

With this particular model there is a fault where the base fills with water, triggers a trip switch and needs manually draining before it will start working again.

And when I fixed it I felt like Tarzan.

So now when it buggers up and I can see that the problem is the same one, I fix it.

Takes a couple of hours but leaves me feeling the same way I feel when I chop wood, or fix the car or put shelves up.

It’s not cost-effective.

In those hours I could create something online that would bring in much more money than fixing a fault costs.

More than enough to buy a new one and get some bloke to install it.

BUT THAT’S NOT THE POINT…

The point is that we all need to ‘do’ things now and again.

Real things that are a throwback to earlier times when things weren’t so disposable and people could craft things with their hands.

Yeah I know it’s romanticism and it’s easier to dump the old one and buy a new one.

But I think it’s a mistake, and not just from the ‘disposable society point of view that older people seem to rant on about in pubs.

I think creating things, art, manual labour, music, artisanship and repairing are vital for our spiritual and mental well-being.

There’s something that feels intrinsically wrong with disposal. If you’ve ever thrown away an old wobbly kitchen table or a wheelbarrow with a broken strut you’ll maybe know what I mean.

Throwing away something that someone created doesn’t feel quite right, even if it was created by a machine in a factory.

Hippy shit absolutely.

But some of you will know what I mean.

Even recycling doesn’t quite hit the spot because you don’t SEE for yourself what happens to the items you recycle.

So I spend quite a lot of my time away from the PC doing things like that – stacking logs, cutting wood, digging over the veggie bed, even changing the nosepads on my specs for some I bought on Amazon for £1 (I know), brewing my own beer (coming soon) and weird little bits of stuff that make me feel like a human being.

Dunno why it helps calm my soul, but it does :)

We’ve got four dining chairs that are on their last legs and won’t make it through Christmas so rather than taking them to the tip or freecycling them (they’re so wobbly it’s not fair to inflict them on someone else) I’m going to spend a few hours chopping them up to burn to keep us warm over winter.

(Yeah I know we could just switch on the central heating but let me have my romantic ideal eh?)

That’s proper recycling.

They’ve supported my fat arse for years and now they’ll keep me warm chopping them up AND when I burn them.

Not sure there’s a point to this post…



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Overcoming cynical prospects in the MMO niche

overcoming objections internet marketing

If you’re selling to the ‘make money online’ niche you’re going to hit some obstacles.

Possibly the biggest of of these will be skeptisism.

Your prospects just won’t believe it’s possible to make ten grand a month from their kitchen table.

It is of course, but it takes some work, even more commitment and a lot of dedication – at least to get started.

I’ve found that the best way to get around buyer disbelief is simply to put any ‘selling’ on hold and to try to help them  as much as possible.

But that in itself throws up new challenges.

What helps one person might hinder another.

How do you know HOW to help people?

One person might benefit more from making a dozen mistakes and learning from them (like me), while another might make two
mistakes and quit because they think they’re a failure.

Likewise some people might ask yo to sell them something that you know won’t work – but if they don’t get if from you
they’ll just buy it from someone else.

What do you do in that situation?

For me the answer has been just to show people what has worked for me.

I can’t tell anyone for definite that using Instagram as a marketing platform works or not because I’ve never done it.

But I can for sure tell (and show) people that Ebay, Facebook and Twitter work well for online marketers because I’ve done it myself successfully.

Basically I’ve found that if I try to help people by showing them business techniques that I’ve actually used myself and  made money from, things work out pretty well.

I also feel confident of what I’m teaching, and I know the subject inside out – there’s no guesswork or theory.

I’m not saying it’s a perfect solution, but it’s the best one I’ve found yet.



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Give away your best content for free if you want to be successful

give away your best content for free

Share your secrets.

It’s the best way to make money.

Many online marketers keep the things that work to themselves.

This is a big mistake because if you want to find success you SHARE your stuff.

After all you’re positioning yourself as an expert right?

If you visit a well-know gardening or cookery blog you don’t expect to read about the stuff you already know

You want to know that little trick about how to get your pork rind crispy and sweet, or how to use copper wire to protect your leeks from snails.

You read their content, admire them as experts THEN you buy the book, or the DVD box set.

But so many internet marketers are tight-arses with the information they know works.

Sure, put some (but not all) of your best stuff into your products and sell them.

But at the same time freely give away some of your best stuff too, on your blog, in interviews, on webinars and in your free reports.

Remember these top chefs, gardeners, property developers and all the dudes who have their own TV series don’t just make their income from selling books with their best info…

… they also consult, mentor, endorse and recommend other products to the huge following they’ve built by giving away good, solid information.

The more good stuff you give away, the more successful you’ll become.



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11 months since I got my banjo…the results…

Well it’s the hardest bloody thing I’ve ever (tried to) learn to play.

So far anyway.

Seriously toying with the idea of bagpipes next but can see that ending in divorce/violence

So here’s a very quick 25 second clip of my banjo playing to date, because many people have asked how I was getting on with it

PS I can’t speak and play at the same time so a few laughing grunts is all I can manage, along with a look of concentration that could easily be mistaken for bowel trouble and/or trapped wind.



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Log store is full again…

tonyshepherdlogstore2

…and all feels right with the world.

Had my dodgy tooth sorted.

Sorted out an iffy tyre on the car

Found an outsourcer who specialises in converting ebooks to Kindle format for one of my niches

Just made a cup of green tea and bought in plenty of wine yesterday

It’s sort of…nice…when everything feels (briefly) settled

Only lasts a while of course until the next list of jobs appear – but that’s why life is never boring…

 



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My pay as you go card for online purchases

tony shepherd pre paid card

I use a pre-pay card for a lot of online purchases.

This is one card I use. Nothing to do with Apple – I just took the pic on the top of my Macbook lid.

There are loads to choose from out there depending on where you live and what you do online.

Not the big stuff or for business use, but for purchases where I prefer to do damage limitation should anything go awry.

For example:

1. Letting the kids buy apps, films and games for their tablets. They’re good kids and totally trustworthy but sometimes in-app purchases and play store / istore purchases can be a bit deceptive and not clear as to what is being bought. Having a pre-paid card for these means they can only spend what’s on the card

2. Offers from various online companies, internet marketers and trial purchases. I use my pre-paid cards to enrol in 30 day trials, $1 offers and the like, some of which can be notoriously hard to cancel. If they make me jump through hoops to cancel a trial, or worse, if they’re downright dodgy they can’t keep billing my card if there’s no credit to bill

3. Ordering on internet sites where something flags up as being slightly dodgy. Usually I’m wrong and I have to say that over the years of using credit and debit cards on the internet (and I use them a LOT) I’ve only to date had ONE instance of someone using my credit card details. They bought a number of computers before I sussed it out and the bank cancelled my card. It was a lot of hassle getting the money back though.

So I’m a big fan of pre-paid cards where you can just fund (for example) a couple of hundred quid to it from your bank account at the start of the month and if something goes wrong that’s ALL you can lose. I’m not saying it’s a nice thing, but I’d rather do that than someone get access to a credit card with a limit of thousands.



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