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Help Or The Liberty Bell?

“I’m working on a blog,” my I-haven’t-seen-you-in-three-years-but-I’m-in-your-city-so-let’s-get-dinner-friend, Jess*, mentioned casually.

Ah, the pitch. I wasn’t expecting this from her but it seems that all my friends are doing this to me lately.

The internet has opened up so many ways to make money that everyone thinks it is easy. You can start your own blog, create an ecommerce site to sell products, build software, write and sell books on Amazon, video your way to YouTube fame, sell your pictures on stock photo sites, build iPhone apps, freelance using one of the many services, scam young innocent people out of their money, and about a billion other things.

As an internet entrepreneur, people ask me for help. I get it. I’ve experimented with most of these ideas and have become an expert on a couple of them. If I were someone else, I’d ask me too.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

So I try to help. When people say things like “I’m working on a blog” I ask about 100 questions. Mostly marketing questions because that’s what people don’t consider. They are so daunted by the technology of the web, they never stop to consider basic questions. Why would someone read your blog instead of a competitor? How much time do you want to spend working on it? What do you want the site to look like? Is it blue? Purple? Have videos?How will you get eyeballs on your site? Have you written anything yet?

Most of the responses are “I hadn’t thought of that”. During those questions, I’m really watching to see how you react to see if I will offer help. The person is either firing up to learn or wilting back into the dark shadows of nothingville.

Jess continued, “I stared a blog on XYZ site and am really confused. I tried setting up Google AdWords too but I don’t think I did it right.”

“Have you written any posts?”

“I’ve written about 70 articles so far,” Jess replied. She could answer most of my other questions too and I could see the drive in her eyes.

Nice! Here’s a fired up girl. She’s started on her own, written a lot of content, and is trying to make sense of stuff. She’s taking actions and is lost in the big, bad internet overwhelm.

My response now? “Let me help you! If you want to monetize your site, you really should own your own domain,” I reply.

“How do I do that?” Jen inquired.

“You just have to buy it. They’re about $20 a year if you want a private one. Then you’ll need hosting.”

“Hosting?” Jen looked confused.

I explained, “Yes, hosting is where the files that make up your website live. It’s almost just like your computer but it has special software so that it can share files on the web.”

“Got it. Where do I get that?”

“The same place you get your domain. Don’t worry, I’ll help you get all set up and you’ll be publishing those articles in no time. You’ll need to learn about search engine optimization, called SEO, and some other stuff but just take it one step at a time and you’ll do great.”

So, I helped her buy her first domain name and get a WordPress blog installed with a pretty theme. I also helped her think of different ways to monetize that would be more effective than AdWords. For me, that didn’t take much time but for her, it was a HUGE help.

I love helping people that help themselves. However, I politely say no to anyone that isn’t taking action on their own or can’t come up with intelligent answers to basic business questions. This can be tricky… some people appear to be in action but they really are just fakers. They talk a good game but never take meaningful action. These people make me want to smack them upside the head with the Liberty Bell.

But for the few that get it, I always offer help. It’s overwhelming and scary to start something new. Anything new. From salsa dancing to guitar playing, to the next step in a business. To succeed you must TAKE ACTION.I’ve learned that when I take action towards a goal, help appears in the most mysterious ways. When I’m helping others, sometimes I’m that mysterious way.

*Name changed

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