Interview of Pest Control Guy by SEOinHouse

Jessica Bowman of sent this series of questions to Thomas Ballantyne of Bulwark Exterminating prior to an attempted interview online. The interwebs did not align that day, the recording failed. Not able to find time to do it again Thomas asked Jessica’s permission to take her questions and answer them by blog. Here is the virtual interview conducted by Jessica Bowman and the Pest Control Guy.

Imagine…. Its 8am, Monday morning and you arrive at work to find that SEO traffic has plummeted.  What are the first places you would look to begin diagnosing the problem?

I’d start at my local listings. My business is local search driven. I’d check to see if they were up and running. Then I’d look at my website. Look for errors. Look for bad script. Look at the .htacces, robot permissions, website logs. If that doesn’t solve it, then I’d retrace recent updates to our website. Any glaring mistakes would be fixed immediately. If nothing is glaring then I’d check twitter for SEO chatter on updates.

There are a number of things that can cause your website traffic to drop, or seem to drop. Things like the simple error of removing analytics code, to bigger errors like adding a “NOINDEX” to all of a sites pages. Trace your steps, and the activity of anyone that has access to your site. Look at your own activity and logs before screaming and ranting at the “SEO Demons”.

If you were to guide an enterprise-level SEO on their budget, what would you suggest be in it?

Money. =) … Everything would really depend on the budget and the company. Are they a location based service? Are they a brand that wants an online shopping cart? Do they want more “branding”? You always have to start with an understanding of where they are now and where they want to be. I’d then look at where they are strongest. What service or product are they best at, or best known for? I’d look at what customers most talk about online, both the good and the bad. Then I’d follow with what service or product gives them the best margins. Lastly I’d compare that data to what is easiest to achieve success for online. For example, Nike is best known for shoes. Hypothetically, their Elin Woods Golf Clubs are getting rave reviews. Where do they rank for shoes? Where do they rank for Golf Clubs? Which needle can we get to move the most with the least effort? How much does the effort cost and what is the potential gain?

To put that in a budget bullet point:

  • Online Listening
  • Website Performance Tracking
  • Site Maintenance/Upgrades
  • Content Creation
  • Content Promotion
  • Paid Search

The amount for each of these will vary based on the sophistication of the site and company. Enterprise companies may also have silos between SEO and Paid Search. Break that down. That data needs to be shared. Paid search is an SEO data mine for the digging. The SEO team and website maintenance may also exist in different departments. Restructure that. If the company is not running all of these areas in sync then add that reformation to my budget.

What SEO metrics do you report on to upper management that other in-house SEOs should use as well?

My CEO and I have a close relationship. It really helps to have a CEO understand the value of SEO. That understanding is actually the burden of the SEO, more so than the CEO. Learn to speak in numbers and dollars then your CEO will understand your SEO.

I report on internet marketing costs and how the cost is trending.

I report on the cost per acquisition.

I report on the trending cost per acquisition.

I report on if internet sales are above or below our target cost per acquisition.

I report on total sales marked as “internet” this month compared to like month of the past year.

What metrics do you follow within the SEO team that every enterprise-level in-house SEO should monitor?

Total cost for the team. Total revenues generated by the team. Is it profitable?

Here is the real meat and potatoes, no matter what your boss says is your budget, you won’t have a job if your budget does not produce profits. Granted you have to please the boss. Some bosses aren’t willing to share, or don’t really know. Figure it out. If your average online sale is $10 and it takes $10 to produce that sale you are loosing. If it takes $1 to produce that sale but the margin is only 10% then you are likely loosing.

The other trends are nice to know (website traffic, time on site, pages indexed, bounce rates) but they are all secondary to the big question of “Are we profitable?” That is the real number to know. That is the only number that ultimately counts. “Are your efforts profitable?” You must know this number. You live or die by this number. If you choose to ignore this or if you run from this number then you are running from your job. Tie all of your efforts as closely as possible to profits.


What do you wish someone had told you when you started as an in-house SEO that would have propelled your SEO program to the next level faster?

Make friends and keep learning. Early on in one’s SEO career it is easy to find a single way to win. There are so many ways to win. But believing just because you are winning now that you’ve got it down is a mistake of arrogant ignorance. Humble down a bit and realize that there are others that are winning and in ways you have not yet discovered. Make friends. Keep learning. Keep winning.

What is some of the great advice you learned from other in-housers? How important is it to interact with other in-house SEOs?

I don’t know that I can name any one particular thing that I have learned, there have been so many along the way. Each specific to challenges from different SEO eras. But here goes…

Keep secrets. I personally try keep all the good stuff to myself and I don’t ever share my golden nuggets… STOP. I’m Kidding…like a pest control guy has golden nuggets…

But really, share golden advice in confidence. I can share what I have experienced at Bulwark Exterminating, but I won’t share my friends enlightenment on what Shopzilla, Ebay, or Home Depot experiences. So know who you can trust, and make yourself trustworthy. Because of this, it’s hard to pinpoint some of those golden nuggets that I’ve pick up. Actually they may not even be nuggets they may be gold flakes. But collect enough gold flakes in the friend stream and you can be richer than the guy looking for a gold bar in the public stream.

So yes, sharing with other in-house SEOs is priceless. Tthe ability to reach out and get a general consensus from your SEO peers is a great asset. The collective knowledge of who you know and who you share with is by far one of the best sources of info you will ever find. I rely more on those insiders than I do on any given SEO blog.

(…if any of my SEO friends read this, Thank You. Sincerly, I thank you for yet another great year)

What is one site you envy and would put in the SEO Hall of Fame? Why?

Facebook. Because they beat the SEO game the day they said “screw you” to the search engines. Any website that can learn to exist without search traffic has won the SEO game. In fact, that is my next game.

Perhaps that is a dodge on that question. There are a lot of great websites out there that win at SEO. I don’t know that I have a particular favorite. Usually the ones that I notice or watch are the ones that I see winning in new ways. I thoroughly enjoy picking through any website that is consistently beating the machines. I learn a lot by simply paying attention as I surf the web.

And I should give credit to Mat Siltala with He has opened my eyes to the possibilities of referral traffic and social media. Having shared with me the percentage of traffic his site gets from search versus social and referral. I am indeed awed on how well diversified his traffic is. It truly is my goal to be able to exist online without search traffic.


About Thos003
Pest Control Guy - Thomas Ballantyne

-Thomas Ballantyne
Director of Marketing for Bulwark Exterminating
Follow me on Twitter —> @Thos003

Thomas Ballantyne works with Bulwark Exterminating. He developed their first site and has moved Bulwark from ranking as a small Phoenix Pest Control company to competing nationally for pest control. He’s spoken at both SMX and Pubcon conferences, as well as other smaller SEO events. He’s also a fan of Avalaunch Media and has used them for some pesty infographics.


How to Work Your Way Out of Corporate America Hell

Yes, this is a post targeted directly at some of my closest friends who are still tied down by the chains of Corporate America. I probably don’t speak to them often enough; it’s not because I don’t like them, it’s simply because each time we meet and begin talking, the conversation turns negative nine times out of ten.

Why is this you might ask?


I personally don’t think I’m a negative guy. In fact, when I worked in “Corporate America” I was given the “Best Attitude” Award…ha ha!

The reason things tend to turn negative, in my opinion (IMO), is because my friends know that what I’m doing as a self-employed entrepreneur is EXACTLY what they want to be doing…but they’re afraid to take the leap from that “security”.


It’s also because, due to the “chains” that have tied them down, there really aren’t a lot of positive things for them to share with me.

In an effort to give you more than just my own biased opinion about self-employment, I reached out to some of the people I look up to in this world of self-employed freedom. Here’s what they had to say:

I worked as a consultant for two years, in those two years I saw my dress sense, hygiene, sleep patterns, health and body go to complete shit. I was working all the time I wasn’t sleeping, and I wasn’t sleeping enough, I would wake up and start working often without showering or dressing, often without having breakfast, never at the same time, I would order in and eat unhealthy foods, and I was almost completely sedentary.

So my advice, have a room in your house that is a dedicated office space. Make sure you wake up at the same time every day and start work at the same time every day, make sure you have breakfast, shit/shower/shave and dress appropriately. Cook your meals, take frequent breaks and go for walks, do stretches, etc.

Do everything the opposite of what I was doing. I was young and learned it the hard way. I was wide-eyed at the prospect of working from home but honestly, you have to pretend you’re not at home so you work smarter if not harder, work in an office space (don’t forget it’s tax-deductible), make sure you don’t let yourself get distracted by kids/wife/tv/anything else.

Muhammad Saleem

To get all of the influential people in his/her life on board with the decision being made. You need to make sure that everyone understands the decision you have made, why you have made it, and that you simply can’t deal with detractors and doubters over the next couple of months/years.

Dave Mink

In the words of Nike: Just Do It – make sure and have a plan though, set goals and work your ass off to achieve them. Leave all fear behind. There is no room for fear in self employment. Network. Use your connections and social media to let the world know what you are doing and how they can help. If you do, you will realize quite soon how much money you were losing by limiting yourself to a 9-5 … Be prepared for trials, but know after much adversity comes much success.

Mat Siltala

  • be out of debt
  • be willing to lose
  • have the funds to make educational “gambles”
  • be smart, if someone can do it better than you, hire that person to do it
  • stay connected with your market
  • be flexible
  • and work with your pants off


Paul Barker

From time to time I get to work with clients who are classic “Corporate America”:

  • They have to asked permission to speak in turn
  • They have to bring in 5-7 people to make simple decisions and get everyone’s complete buy-off
  • They have to use lots of acronyms and corporate “jargon” to sound more sophisticated
  • They use lots of cliches like “Win Win” and “ROI” and “High-Level”

Granted, there may be some “Corporate America” jobs that are to die for. But in my experience and in talking with many others, they are definitely few and far between.

So what can be done?

Gary Vaynerchuk, one of my favorite social media rockstars, shared this advice:

The key concept you have to take away from all of this advice is you have to WORK; you have to WORK; you have to WORK! Continuing to work at your crappy day job and doing your self-employed dream on the side for a while is ok.

But don’t fall into the trap of “someday I’ll take that leap” because that someday may never come.

I took the self-employment leap over a year ago. It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve learned a lot of things.

Here’s my list of suggestions on how you can take that leap and work your way out of “Corporate America Hell”…

The Hell-Hole Release Formula

  • keep working on your businesses while your at work (or before or after hours if that’s more safe)
  • set specific, measurable, reachable goals and HIT THEM
  • make a list of ALL your contacts
  • make a list of all the special skills you have that you can offer as services
  • set up a freshbooks account:
    • it’s a free invoicing tool that helps you keep books as you do work
    • it also has a timer to keep track of hours you’re working on projects
    • it took me a bit to figure out how to best use it, but now it’s basically something I HAVE to use to keep up on book keeping
    • it will save you money from paying a slimy accountant the beaucou bucks
  • use a tool like to keep track of progress
  • write out what you would LOVE to do if money weren’t an option
  • write out what you’d love to do for work if you could pick one thing
  • learn how to sell, sell, sell
    • EVERYTHING starts with a sale
  • Most Important Tip: go to all your friends who have taken the same path and ask them lots of questions (ie. insurance, accountant, tips, tricks, any partnership opps, etc.)



What do you think?

7 Life-Changing Productivity Tips That Lead to Business Success

In an effort to “practice what I preach”, I was stumbling for ideas last night and came upon one that really hit home.

I’m coming on my one year anniversary of self-employment (November 1st); I’ve learned a lot about myself, my motivation, and mostly about areas where I can improve.

Productivity is “the state of being productive”. (in case you weren’t sure)

One of the things I’ve learned as a self-employed entrepreneur is that there is rarely anyone watching over your shoulder to make sure you get things done. In many ways this can be a relief from the micro-managing manager who wastes more time trying to “catch” his/her employees doing something WRONG as opposed to working on projects that will make his/her team BETTER.

The down side of not having someone monitor your progress is that it can be easy to waste time and not be productive.

Luckily, for the most part, things have gone pretty well for me in this area, but as I read over the article I found via Stumbleupon, many points hit the nail on the head and reminded me that there’s always room for improvement.

I thought I’d share some of my favorite business productivity tips with you in an effort to help all of us be more accountable in our business success.

7 Productivity Tips That Will Change Your Business Life Forever

1. Get Moving!

Sure, it’s important to prepare, plan, etc. but if you never start a project due to “over-planning” and preparation, most times nothing will happen. We must challenge ourselves to take action sooner rather than later. The minute you start acting (ie. outlining your next eBook, listing potential JV partners, sharing your simple idea with a trusted group, etc.), you start getting valuable feedback that will help refine your original idea and move forward with a more informed perspective.

2. “Small Success leads to Big Success!”

This has been part of my “mission statement” since I started online marketing almost 8 years ago. Ideas in our head are generally really big, pie-in-the-sky concepts. The downside is that such thinking makes the barrier to entry – and action – quite high. To avoid “blue sky paralysis,” break up your idea into small, simple action steps (I call these performance goals). Once you’ve mapped out your idea with small action steps, you’ll have loads more insight on how to take it to the next level.

3. Chip Away at Your Project a Little Bit Everyday.

Again, that “small success” every day really will lead to “big success” as your consistent. It’s incredibly important to maintain momentum. It’s just like exercise: when you run everyday, the exercise gets easier and easier. As Jack Cheng argues in a great blog post, “Thirty Minutes A Day”: “the important thing isn’t how much you do; it’s how often you do it.”

4. What’s Your Routine?

Part of being able to work on your project a little bit each day is carving out the time to do so. Routines can seem boring and uninspiring, but – on the contrary – they create a foundation for sparking true insight.  In his recent memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, famed Japanese author Haruki Murakami writes about how a rigorous routine – rising at 5am and going to bed at 10pm every day – is crucial to his impressive creative output. (In a side note: Alex Iskold derives a series of lessons for start-up entrepreneurs from Murakami here.)

I quoted this tip in its entirety because I’m not the best as keeping a consistent routine: I stay up way too late sometimes and have a really hard time motivating myself to get up before the sun.

Any ideas on how to improve in this area?

5. Most Meetings are a Waste of Time.

Few activities are more of a productivity drain than meetings. I saw this first hand as a middle-manager. Just when I was in a good flow and getting things done, I’d get a notice that we were going to have another pointless meeting about some stupid idea. Not only did the meeting get me out of a rhythm, but it also wasted sometimes nearly half the day and rarely did the crap we talked about ever get truly implemented.

If you must meet (and this should be a big “if”), make sure everyone knows what needs to be accomplished from the outset.

6. It’s OK to Say “No.”

When you’re in execution mode, keep in mind that “unexpected opportunities” also mean distraction from the work at hand. Saying no is an essential part of the productivity equation.

Take author Jim Collins for example. His books Built to Last and Good to Great have sold millions of copies. The well-known author is in high demand. Yet, “even though Collins demands over $60,000 per speech, he gives fewer than 18 per year.” If he gave more of his creative time than that, Collins wouldn’t have enough time to focus on the research and writing that yield those bestselling books.

7. Even Productivity Rules are Made to Be Broken.

Yeah, I talked about following a “routine”. However, this tip and the other tips here should only be followed as long as they are working. If forward motion has become impossible with your current routine, try something else. Whether it’s taking a long distance trip, popping into the art museum, walking around the block, or talking to a perfect stranger, make sure you occasionally shake up your normal routine. Many times, breaking the monotonous routine offers new perspective and helps recharge our creative batteries.

What do you think?

Which tip(s) helps you the most?

Are there other suggestions you implement that help you be more productive?

Do You Have (or are you) a SHI@#Y Manager?

Management is all about connecting with the people on your team. So how do you effectively manage a team? With common knowledge, of course.

How many of you wish you could paste this statement 1,000+ times on your manager’s door/desk/forehead?

Or maybe you’ve been a manager and wish you would have read this BEFORE you were an A$% to your employees…

Before I share a list of some tips for managers, let me say this: management is not all it’s cracked up to be and here’s why:

  • Salary SUCKS, especially if you’re motivated to hit goals and exceed expectations. Sure, all “salaried” positions are different I’m sure; but a salaried job that has no perks or bonuses for exceptional effort? Come on managers…
  • More hours, more hours, more hours. In my time as a manager, work was something I often took home with me whether I wanted to or not. Deadlines, roll-outs, new launches, whatever – things had to be done before they were really ready to be shared with the world.
  • Most managers are really in “middle management” roles; they most likely don’t have the final say. Tell me about your experience in management – I could be wrong on this one.

Now that I have that off my chest, let’s review 51 of the best tips to help managers be less “SHI@#Y”:

51 No-Brainer Tips to Avoid Sub-Par Management

  1. Only promise what you can realistically deliver
  2. Set clear goals.
  3. Organize a team.
  4. Create milestones.
  5. Keep communication open.
  6. Do it right the first time.
  7. Make sure expectations are clear.
  8. Don’t make your employees come in on days they’re normally not scheduled to work or call them while they’re on vacation.
  9. Don’t play favorites.
  10. Give credit when it’s due.
  11. Don’t micromanage.
  12. Don’t interfere with employees’ work.
  13. Don’t push unreasonable deadlines.
  14. Keep your promises.
  15. Reward hard work.
  16. Provide motivation.
  17. Be open to constructive criticism.
  18. Accept responsibility.
  19. Know there’s always room for improvement.
  20. Explain things simply.
  21. Instruct rather than order.
  22. Include your staff in your plans.
  23. Know your subordinates’ jobs.
  24. Be flexible.
  25. Get regular feedback.
  26. Get the most out of meetings.
  27. Focus your energy on things that matter.
  28. Do your least favorite tasks first.
  29. Make sure employees are well compensated.
  30. Invest in solid technology.
  31. Update when necessary.
  32. Differentiate your products.
  33. Remember that the customer is the boss.
  34. Retain customers as much as you recruit new ones.
  35. Provide effective channels of communication.
  36. Provide effective after-sales services.
  37. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know.
  38. Don’t fight change.
  39. Adopt a predictive managerial style.
  40. Identify the positives.
  41. Be quick to adapt.
  42. Keep an eye on the competition.
  43. Stand up for employees.
  44. Get the facts first.
  45. Lead by example.
  46. Make a difference to your employees.
  47. Gain your employees’ trust and respect.
  48. Be unique as a manager.
  49. Remember that ethics matter above all.
  50. Be on the lookout for new ideas.
  51. Get to know your employees.

There you have it!

Which are your favorites?


Are there ways you can apply these tips even if you’re NOT in management? (ie. running an online marketing company)

What are ways you can help your current manager apply these principles without being looked down on as a “trouble maker” or “negative energy” to your company?

Nate Moller works with businesses who want to improve their online business. For over five years, he’s worked with thousands of companies who are looking for answers in their online marketing journey. Follow Nate on Twitter and become a fan of Moller Marketing on Facebook!

How Important is Reading a BOOK to an SEO Firm?

I’m back!

Yes, it’s been too long since I blogged at DSM, and I’m honest when I say “I’ve missed it…”

I’m re-motivated to share ideas, ask questions, and even call people (and companies) out on their online business stupidity.

I’ll start, though, with a sincere SEO question:

Is reading a BOOK really helpful to an SEO Firm (or freelancer or wanna be)?

To make sure I’ve clarified – a BOOK is just that: paper back, hard-bound, library issued or purchased on Amazon. I’m not referring to an eBook, a list of blog articles or your habitual RSS Reader.

Books – you know – the things that Borders can’t seem to sell anymore. Do real books even exist these days?

Questions about Reading Books

  • What’s the last real book you read?
  • What real book(s) are you currently reading?
  • Was the book you read just for fun or to further your career as an online marketing “guru”?
  • Were you forced to read the book by your company as a PR or HR stunt?


Last night I was going through my Stumbleupon routine and found a great article about reading books. It caused me to ask myself some questions about my habits, the use of my time, and ultimately whether or not reading books would or wouldn’t help further my online marketing career in one way or another.

After reading the article, I came to the conclusion that YES, reading IS important for an SEO. YES, reading a real book WILL improve my online marketing skills. And YES, there are things I can do starting TODAY to get the “real-book-ball” rolling.

I got a lot out of the article and suggest you read it in its entirety; here are some key points I think all SEO’s can use to improve their business situation via reading a real book:

4 Reading Secrets to Help SEO’s Form Good Reading Habits


  1. Speed Reading is the Secret Weapon: Have you ever tried this? I know most of us think TIME is the biggest issue when it comes to reading a book. We’re too busy online all day every day to make time to read – let alone learn how to “speed read”. However, the real idea behind speed reading is that you know how (and when) to speed up and when to slow down. With a few basic techniques you can get a sizable increase on your maximum speed. If you want to learn how to speed read start reading here: Double Your Reading Rate.

Summary tips for speed reading:

  • Use your forefinger to follow the line on the page. This focuses your vision onto a specific part of the text.
  • Practice reading books faster than you can comprehend. This isn’t actual reading but it will make you familiar with using your finger and slowly increase your maximum speed.
  • State your purpose before starting to read. This will allow you to focus on information you need and reject information you don’t.


2. Carry a Book Wherever You Go: I’ve started doing this, although I’m not addicted to reading yet and would rather “people watch” than stick my nose in a book. However, “…gaps of a few weeks without any reading material means several less books you can read each year. Worse, time spent without a book breaks down your reading habits so it can be harder to start again.” As SEO’s, we travel from time to time, we take mass-transit to appointments, and occasionally we go on vacation. If we have a book with us, this good habit can begin to form. Otherwise, we are simply wasting time between appointments. Some of the people I look up to most in the business world are those who are avid readers of all kinds of books (not just business books).


3. Stop Web-Surfing! For me, this basically means go on a “Facebook Fast” and stop checking ESPN MLB Standings :) (By the way, did you all see that the Yankees are up 2.5 games in the AL East and have won 6 in a row?) If I were to add up all the time I “waste” dinking around on Facebook and reading articles about baseball and other sports on ESPN, I would have probably already read 25-30 books this year. How do you waste time? Can you use that wasted time to read a bit more?


4. Create a Book “To Read” List: Yes, there are great marketing books out there. Yes, there are even up-to-date SEO and Social Media Books out there. Search for them on Amazon and make a list. Create an “Online Marketing Book Club” and read books together and then meet to discuss them and share ideas (depending on who you’re with I guess). What are books you’d like to read but haven’t yet? Here are some of mine:



What do you think about reading a real book?

Do you think it’s good for SEO companies to be reading books about their industry (or about whatever else)? Why or why not?

What books do YOU recommend?

One thing that wasn’t discussed is audio books – have you ever tried those? I personally am too scatter-brained and haven’t seemed to get as much out of listening to a book while doing other things.

Nate Moller works with businesses who want to improve their online business. For over five years, he’s worked with thousands of companies who are looking for answers in their online marketing journey. Follow Nate on Twitter and become a fan of Moller Marketing on Facebook!

VIDEO: Can a Non-Techie Person Really Succeed with an Online Business?

Well, can you?

Do you really have to be a computer wiz to be successful with an online business?

I speak from first hand experience – you DON’T have to be a born “brainiack” or a computer programmer to run a successful online business.

To give you some inspiration before I tell you how to get the ball rolling, check out this “motivational speech” from a 5 year old:

“Everybody, I know you can believe in yourself…you will get the hang of it, I know. If you keep practicing, you can get better and better at it…Thumbs up everybody for rock and roll!”

You just gotta believe and give a thumbs up and…VIOLA, you’ll be successful.

Oh how I wish it was that easy and “turn key”. Unfortunately, in most cases, IT’S NOT so don’t be fooled to think otherwise.

Running an online business takes hard work. It takes patience. It takes failure. And it takes more patience.

But the best news is, you can do it! Yep, I’m talking to YOU. And here’s how in five simple steps:

The Five Simple Steps to Success with an Online Business

Step 1: Start with something you’re passionate about


As some of you know, my first website was built in 2004 with the help from Mat. I still run that site today selling clogging shoes and taps to people all over the world. Has it made me a million dollars? No! But it makes money and has taught me so much about what it really takes to run an effective online business.

I’ve been clogging since I was 6 years old and have been all over the world. I know lots of people in the clogging world. Yep, there are actually a lot of cloggers out there. The passion I have for clogging and business have gone hand in hand as I built this ecommerce website. Not only did I expect to succeed from the start, but I knew I wouldn’t give up because I was using a website business as a way to stay involved in something I already knew a lot about.

Take Away: Don’t chase after the hottest selling product online. Most likely you don’t know ANYTHING about it and there are millions of “competitors” trying to ride the same short-lived trend.

Step 2: Begin making connections with your target audience even BEFORE you officially launch your website


This may sound a bit odd, but connections are what it’s all about. About 4 months ago, a friend and I decided to follow a trend. We jumped on the Jimmer Fredette band-wagon and created a website. But before we did that, we started reaching out to some of our contacts. We made a list of people we knew that may help us get in the right doors.

About 3 weeks ago some of those connections really paid off as we were able to have an official photo shoot with the Naismith Player of the Year Jimmer Fredette. Our connections helped us get officially licensed to sell Jimmer Fredette T-shirts and are opening doors every day. Often times, business is not about WHAT you’re selling, but more about WHO you’re selling to. The more you can start making contacts, getting feedback, and building business relationships, the quicker you can start moving product when the website is officially “open for business”.

Take Away: It’s never too early to start making connections and sales. Ask questions, take notes, and the deliver what the client wants.

Step 3: Don’t be afraid to ask what seem like stupid questions


My motto since I started teaching other people how to start an online business has always been “There’s no such thing as a dumb question except the one you don’t ask.” Even though some questions leave me wondering if the person has really even thought through things, I still stand by this motto. If you don’t know something, ask someone that does. It’s a good idea to look for answers too, but from my experience, I’d rather ask a few questions from people who know and get the answer right away than search around, find an answer, test it out, find that it doesn’t work, and finally give up and ask someone later on.

Take Away: Let go of your pride and ask the experts in your field. Not only will this help you achieve your goals quicker, but you may form a contact that will help you get to a new level you hadn’t imagined.

Step 4: Don’t be afraid to fall on your face (aka FAIL)


If anyone tells you that running a business is not that difficult and that their business has been perfect with no pitfalls, THEY’RE LYING. Seriously. All businesses make mistakes. The ones that are most successful are just better and learning from their mistakes quickly and making the necessary adjustments so they don’t repeat the same mistake over and over again.

All new businesses have the possibility of not working out. However, those same businesses also have just as much chance to succeed if they are following the other steps we’ve already talked about.

Take Away: Expect Success! Know that failure will come but do your best to recover quickly and not repeat the same mistake over and over again.

Step 5: Celebrate the “Small Success” – it will lead to “Big Success!”


This is my mantra for my business: “Small success leads to Big Success!” And it does. I still remember the first sale I ever made online – it was a pair of worn out jeans that sold on eBay for $0.99. I remember thinking “Wow! I actually sold something…” That first small success has led to some pretty substantial “Big Success” that I would have never even seen had it not been for the mindset that every small success will lead to bigger success – I just have to duplicate what’s working.

A classic example of this concept is with our city league softball team. We’ve been playing together for about 3 years now. We have always had about the same team and played in the same division. Our name pretty much sums us up – “Basura Blanca” which is Spanish for “White Trash”. We haven’t ever really had “sluggers” that could hit the ball out of the park whenever they wanted. We’re not the youngest or fastest either. But this year our captain started something that I feel has improved our team dramatically – he started recording our stats for hitting. To many, this may mean nothing, but to most of us who grew up playing some form of competitive sports, it has turned on the competitive juices. We talk about our hits, we post our stats on a Facebook Fan Page, and we give each other a bad time if we count a fielders choice or an error as a base hit. Anyway, the point is this – by monitoring our “small success” we’ve all focused on hitting for AVERAGE and not just for power. By doing this, we’ve 10 (or 20) runned almost every team we’ve played this year. And trust me, none of us is getting any younger. To me, this is a PERFECT EXAMPLE of the power of monitoring and recording small success – it leads to big success, even in old men’s softball. :)

Take Away: Record your small successes in a business journal or on a blog and review them often. Not only will this help you SEE the progress you’re making, but it will lead to big success sooner than you think. Sharing them with others can also be helpful to hold you accountable.

How do you plan to use these simple steps to speed up the success of your online business?

Are there steps I’ve left out that have been beneficial to your success online?

Thanks for sharing this with all your friends and family!

Nate Moller works with businesses who want to improve their online business. For over five years, he’s worked with thousands of companies who are looking for answers in their online marketing journey. Follow Nate on Twitter and become a fan of Moller Marketing on Facebook!

The Only Part of HR I Like Is…

Hmm….I’m still trying to think of an appropriate answer for the title of this post.

I guess in the world of entrepreneurs, ANYTHING is appropriate from an HR standpoint.

HR Questions:

  • What is the purpose of HR?
  • What does it actually stand for?
  • Do HR people really have to be so anal retentive?

In my world these days the only HR I really like to see is when it’s a stat next to a New York Yankees box score! Unfortunately, lately, the HR next to the Yankees stats haven’t been there too much either.

Last night I was going through my nightly routine of stumbling and reviewing shared articles and ran into this classic about the IDIOTIC practices in HR. Just reading this article caused me to reminisce about the miserable days of working in “corporate America” and answered a few of my HR Questions from above.

Read this awesome rendition of a classic HR WTF:

This morning, I had to deal with one of our HR secretaries, and it was déjà vu.

When I first started to work for this place I was in HR. I had passed my interviews and was doing paperwork as part of the hiring process. The HR secretary and I had the following conversation:

Her: Can I have the phone number of the consulting company where you worked for the past 6 years?
Me: I was self employed. I am the owner and sole employee of the consulting company and I would be happy to answer any questions you have.
Her: No, I need to call to verify!
Me: …But you’ll just be calling me.
Her: I have to call — what’s the number?
Me: The number of the office is [my cell number].
(note: I’m standing 2 feet directly in front of her. She dials the phone and I answer.)
Her: Hello — this is Paula from Initrode Global, calling in reference to Snoofle’s employment.
Me(both into the cell phone and to her): I know, I’m standing right in front of you.
Her(into the phone): Could you please verify the dates of Snoofle’s employment at VirtuDyne, Intelligenuity and Initech?
Me(reading from my résumé that is laying on her desk in front of her): VirtuDyne: a1 to b1, Intelligenuity: a2 to b2, and Initech: a3 to b3.
Her: Great, thank you! *click*
Me(directly to her): …Did you not notice that you were talking to me right here in front of you?
Her: I know, but I have to call to check these things.

At this point I walked away, wondering if the rest of the company would be just as WTF-y.

What Can We Learn from This HR #FAIL?

  1. In order to be most effective, companies have to adapt to their environment.
  2. Following “company policy” letter-of-the-law can be a huge waste of time.
  3. If you ever have a slightest urge that a company is “WTF’y”, leave as soon as you can.
  4. did a survey about HR and here’s what they found:

1) Companies hire inexperienced and unqualified people to handle HR, but expect them to perform at higher levels than they are qualified.

The survey showed that most people enter HR without being qualified for the job. Companies hire people to be HR Directors who have no higher education, certifications or experience – then expect these people to be strategic partners. According to Hammonds, “In a knowledge economy, companies with the best talent win. And finding, nurturing, and developing that talent should be one of the most important tasks in a corporation. So why does human resources do such a bad job — and how can we fix it?” The answer is for organizations to hire the best HR talent and to invest in educated, certified, experienced HR professionals.

2) Companies do not invest in HR as they do in other departments.

The salaries for HR may be “commensurate with experience”. The survey shows that very few HR people make any where near 6 figures – in a 6 figure world. Over half of the participants have been in HR for more than 10 years. Half of the HR respondents have a PHR, SPHR, GPHR or other certification. There seems to be no distinction in pay between those highly qualified for the job and those minimally qualified for the job.

3) Many small to medium size companies have HR people that are strategic partners.

Most of the HR participants believe that they are strategic partners. It would be interesting to ask their CEO’s and management team’s opinion.

What are YOUR thoughts on HR?

Is it really needed? Why or why not?

Nate Moller, a self-employed entrepreneur, has been teaching clients how to start an online business for over five years. He’s worked with thousands of companies who are looking for answers in their online marketing journey. Follow Nate on Twitter and become a fan of Moller Marketing on Facebook!

Why Business Plans Suck for an Online Business

A month ago I was in Arizona where I got a sun burn from swimming in the pool without wearing sunscreen.

Just last week I was looking outside and watching the snow glisten off the top of our fence.

Tomorrow, it will probably be 70 degrees outside.

My question to you:

Have you ever actually changed travel plans or family activities based on what happened with the stupid Ground Hog?

I sure hope not!

I’ve decided that Ground Hog day is a scam and I’m wondering what is the hidden agenda behind this stupid holiday. Any ideas?

This weather rant doesn’t have much to do with the title or content of this post, but hopefully it gets you thinking about BUSINESS PLANNING and causes you to ask yourself the question “Who really is in charge of planning out my day?”

There are a few reasons I want to share information on business planning with you today:

Reason #1 – Many newbies to the world of online marketing think about “Business Plans” and it scares them so bad that they never move forward.

Reason #2 – A business plan isn’t what it used to be, especially for an online entrepreneur who has to deal with an ever-evolving world of Google changes, Facebook flops, and Twitter Success Stories.

Reason #3 – I’ve realized through the school of hard-knocks that if you “fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Luckily failure is an important part of success, but the most successful people I know recover from their failures pretty quickly.

Reason #4 – One of my favorite online entrepreneurs, Brian Clark, had some great feedback about business plans that I agreed with 100%.

First question then:

Does an Online Entrepreneur Need a Business Plan?

Here’s what Brian Clark thinks about business plans:

I’ve never written [a business plan].

With the kind of businesses I start, that are 100% powered by online marketing, it’s a little bit different.

Doing a business plan is not really helpful…

You don’t really need any outside money to get rolling.

That doesn’t mean you don’t do business planning.

Setting projections is really kind of a waste of time, though.

You’ll notice that Brian said business plans are not very helpful. However, he also said that it doesn’t mean you don’t do business planning. So what does he mean?

Personally, I’ve never written a formal business plan either, but I do practice “business planning” in the form of goal setting: I write Outcome Goals and Performance Goals.

What’s the difference between Outcome and Performance Goals?

This is a question I had as I did research about setting and achieving goals as a self-employed entrepreneur. Of course, like you, I want outcomes: results, money in the bank. But before that happens I’ve realized that I have to take the necessary steps to get everything in place. This is where “Performance Goals” come in to the picture (aka “Business Planning).

Here’s an example of how I “business plan” with performance and outcome goals:

Outcome Goal: Make $100,000 this year with my online business.

Let’s break it down:

  • To make $100,000 this year, assuming I start today, Thursday, March 31st, means I have 9 months.
  • $100K / 9 months = $11,111.11 per month
  • $100K / 39 weeks = $2,564.10 per week
  • 39 weeks X 5 business days = 195 business days
  • $100K / 195 business days = $512.82 per day
  • $100K / 3 Quarters = $33,333.33 per quarter

Notice that there are lots of different break downs you can do. One is not necessarily better than the other, the point is to create an accurate picture of what it’s going to take to hit your outcome goal.

By doing this break down I can actually see what it’s going to take on a day to day basis, a week to week basis, a quarterly basis, etc. if I want to achieve this financial goal of $100,000 by Dec. 31, 2011 (assuming I start today).

Now I have to ask myself this important question:

“How much control do I have of that outcome – to make $512.82 per day?”

If you’re answer is “I don’t know…” that’s not necessarily the wrong answer.

However, I’ve come to the conclusion that there ARE things I can do every day that will improve the likelihood of hitting these specific goals.

What are they?

  • Phone calls
  • Emails
  • Weekly or daily promotions
  • Testing different wording strategies
  • Client feedback and referral systems
  • Offline marketing
  • Joint ventures

The list can go on and on. But look at this list:

“How much control do I have of [these] outcomes?”

All the control!

AND, how much control do I have of keeping track of what I do on a daily basis?

All the control!

I can set a goal to make X amount of phone calls today and send Y amount of emails to my database. Then, after doing these things, I can monitor my progress.

Maybe today I called 20 people and 5 of them purchased for an average of $50. That means 25% of my contacts purchased something and I made about $250 today. If I contact 50 people tomorrow I have a chance to sell to 12.5 people for about $625 in sales.

The numbers won’t always be perfect every day, but by keeping track of my progress (what was working, what didn’t seem to work), I can then duplicate my successes more and more and more (and hopefully eliminate the things that aren’t working)!

The Business Planning Take Away

If goals are based on outcome and outcome only, motivation may be super high at first; but,  as we achieve the initial goal, the benefits of further achievement at the same level are reduced and motivation will decrease.

Sometimes we don’t have complete control of how much money we make on a given day, week, month or year. If we set goals that we have control of, our mindset and motivation are not going to be in the hands of others. There’s nothing worse than failing to achieve a personal goal for reasons beyond your control such as bad business environments, poor judging, bad weather, injury, or just plain bad luck. Goals based on outcomes are extremely vulnerable to failure because of things beyond our control.

True business planning in the online marketing world is different than traditional business planning.

Setting goals you have control of and keeping track of your progress is critical to your overall success!

Brian Clark’s podcast really confirmed my belief that business plans in their traditional form are a big waste of time.

What are your thoughts on business plans vs. business planning?

Nate Moller, a self-employed entrepreneur, has been teaching clients how to start an online business for over five years. He’s worked with thousands of companies who are looking for answers in their online marketing journey. Follow Nate on Twitter and become a fan of Moller Marketing on Facebook!

$70k in New Business from one Press Release?

I had a dream conversation with a new client today. I often don’t hear the results of my client’s success or lack thereof. To be honest I didn’t expect this one. The business owner lives out of the country. When we announced programming classes he held in the US. I knew that he didn’t get a lot of response.

I wrote a press release and even though no one came to the classes, people found him.

Here’s a bit from the conversation:

Client: We’ve developed a second class following the success of the first one so I want to announce it.

Me: Was the first class successful?

Client: YES!

Me: tell me about it…what made it so good?

Client: 70K worth of business

Me: and how did they find out about the class?

Client: They found out via OUR press release!

I was a bit surprised! My new press release book is out and it has the techniques I’ve used to help clients like this. I’m especially loving 247-pressrelease and as always PRWeb (depending on the level of service you want/need).

I quote Dream Systems Media’s own Mat Siltala on the book cover (he’s a famous speaker and social media ninja 😉 :

“When you finally understand the power of press, and what it does for branding, reputation, link building, traffic and conversions for your business, it will be all you think about. Gaining links to your site via a press release is one of the most powerful forms of link building today. SEO is all about content and links. The more trust and authority you have, the more links. How do you get more trust and authority when you are brand new? You create it yourself, by getting the word out about yourself (via press of course). But it’s not just for new web sites. I have been marketing online businesses for over a decade, and marketing with press is still one of the main strategies I still use after all these years!”

I’m now a Kindle addict and if you are too, you can also get the press release book on the Kindle. Stay tuned for a book contest.

Rather Then Reinvent The Wheel, Perfect It

Don't Reinvent The Wheel - Perfect It!

I had a great conversation a few days ago with a programmer friend of mine who works for a major company (but wants to be working for himself). We were chatting about business, Internet business, making money and particularly about how to find products to sell online. My friend made an interesting comment that struck me me so much that I wanted to write a post about it.  I am doing my best to remember his exact words, but more or less, here is what he said:

I am just having a hard time figuring our what kind of a business to start that has not already been started.  I mean, do you think I could really create a product that would sell online?

We then went into a huge conversation about creating that “amazing”, “never been done before” invention, and I told him I wanted him to start thinking about business in a different way, and what he could possibly create online with this different way of thinking.

To often like my friend, people think they need to reinvent the wheel, but that is not needed.  You just need to figure out a way to perfect it.  No pun intended here, but speaking of wheels, when I bought my Tahoe, it had standard ugly wheels on it, but then soon after I went and purchased some custom 22 inch AKUZA rims, and put on it. This is just one quick example of someone taking an existing idea and making money with it.  I am the perfect market for this kind of stuff because I like to do things that will make my vehicles stand out, and look even better.  In this case, rims have already been invented, but someone felt that people would want custom looking rims that make your vehicle look better.

More Examples:

You have other examples like the inventor of the Little Giant ladder, and the guy who made the battery life tester for Duracell.  Batteries and ladders have already been invented, but these people made millions on their enhancements to these inventions.  You don’t even have to think of this as perfecting an existing product, you can think about perfecting an existing business.  Lets say you want to start a landscaping company, even though there are many landscaping companies already out there in your local area. 

Here’s an idea

You need to do a better job online then every other landscaping company (your competitors) in business in your local area.  I have noticed most every single landscaping company around me where I live has no online store front.  So for the people like me, who look for information online, there is huge market and potential right at your finger tips.

You see?

You are not having to reinvent the wheel, or coming up with some huge new idea – you are just taking what is already out there and doing a better job at it.  When you are thinking about starting an online business, keep this is mind.

In conclusion:

So to my programming friend, I gave him the suggestion/example of taking advantage of cell phones, like Blackberries and iPhones, creating custom applications and programs that would allow people to do more with them.  When you think about how much money the iFart app has made, its just (no pun intended again) gross!  Just with that one suggestion the light went on and he already is working on an iPhone app that I think is going to be a game changer.  I will use it for sure!

Got something to add?

Got any examples or ideas that you have come up with, or can add to this conversation to make it better?  Let me know.  This blog gives comment luv, and links back to your latest posts for taking your time to participate!