How baby boomers can work remotely from the Internet

baby boomer on laptop

If you are a baby boomer, then you face some unique issues when it comes to work. Those of you who have had a job for 20 or 30 years (or more) are usually ready to retire, but aren’t necessarily ready to not work either because you don’t want a lot of free time on your hands or you can’t afford to financially.

Some of you may have even lost your job due to the economic downturn and now find yourself trying to compete with people half your age for a job you really don’t want. What are you to do? Have you considered working remotely?

Baby Boomers and Working Remotely

Luckily, the Internet spans most areas of the globe, allowing you to work from anywhere. You can set your own schedule and create your own routine (allowing you to work around family and other obligations) right from the comfort of your own home.

Additionally, you have built up certain skill sets, which I would argue are 100% transferable to the LiveWorkAnywhere model. This greatly increases your online work options as a baby boomer looking for a full or part-time career.

By 2020, freelancers are expected to make up 50% of the full time workforce.  The number of freelance workers is projected to outpace full-time workers by 2020. The economy is rapidly shifting to a more contingent workforce, with recent estimates by the Freelancers Union of 42 million American independent workers, up from 10.3 million workers in 2005.”  – Forbes

There are several jobs in which you do not have to actually be there in person to perform.  If you had a career as a trademark attorney, for example, perhaps you could transfer your skills to consulting and meet your clients via web and phone.

If you were a sales executive, get rid of the car, use a US-based number and make calls from wherever you live. You can even hire a team to do the majority of the work for you while you focus on client acquisition.

Perhaps there is another service you can offer to your existing client base? Something you can do without even leaving your house. Baby boomers have many online work options, allowing them to live and work remotely.

Telecommuting is not a buzzword, it’s a reality.  You start with your dream and your skills and work backwards to find flexible work that you will enjoy. That’s all fine, you say, but what if you don’t have time to start with your dream? What if you need something NOW?

Transferrable Skills for Baby Boomers Looking to Work Online

If you are in need of augmenting or supplementing your income, there are several online positions you can do right now from home with just a computer. Here is a list of skill sets that are great for remote, online work:

Less specialized:

  • Admin support
  • Bookkeeping
  • Writing
  • Copywriting
  • Proofreading
  • Paralegal
  • Translation
  • Virtual assistant
  • Telemarketing
  • Telesales
  • Blogging support
  • Market research
  • Advertising support
  • Customer Service
  • Medical research

More specialized:

  • IT & Programming
  • Graphic Design
  • Animation
  • Online Sales
  • Accounting
  • Blogging
  • SEO
  • Advertising
  • Technical writing
  • Consulting
  • Patent / Trademark / Legal
  • Medical equipment consulting

So What Are Your First Steps as a Baby Boomer Who Wants to Work Remotely?

This is where the work begins, so here is a step-by-step guide that will make your online work process as simple as possible:

1. Build Your Online Profile

Are you on LinkedIn?  If you are, is your profile current?  How many connections do you have?  You should have at least 500+ so, if you don’t, then you need to get busy. Join groups in your field and network with others. Connect with other baby boomers who work remotely in your field so you can learn from them.

2.  Build Your Professional Profile

What are your skills?  To answer this, simply take your resume and transform it into a business portfolio.  If you were an attorney, for instance, make a list of all of the professional services that you would offer and include some key milestones from your career.  Package yourself to market yourself.

3. Transfer Your Profile

Create a website (there are several ways to make a free website – weebly.com, wix.com, wordpress.org, squarespace.com and Google sites, just to name a few) where you can showcase all of your talents.  If you don’t want to spend time creating and marketing a site yet, then you can at least sign up on a site like Elance.com where you can build your own profile and have them market it for you within their freelancer marketplace.

4. Build Your Routine

Know how many hours you are available, the wage you want to make (be sure to look around so you are price competitive with the market – too low is okay to start, but doesn’t show high quality; too much and you’ll drive potential customers away), and what your monthly revenue goals are. The more you know what you want, the easier it is to create the routine to get it.

5. Get Started

Nothing new is ever easy.  You will be challenged.  But you spent your entire professional career meeting challenges head-on and look how far you’ve come.  You can transfer your skills and create supplemental income or even prepare to hit the road with your new business and be successful no matter what stage of the game you are in – even as a baby boomer.

Tell me – what other questions do you have?  Where should we dig in deeper?

Please leave a comment below.

 

Can I text via SMS? Using your cell phone overseas to text

woman-texting-overseas-paris-liveworkanywhere

To help you understand how to use your cell when traveling overseas (and what it means if you do), I’ve addressed some of my most frequently asked questions so you know exactly what to expect if you decide to keep in touch with family and friends via your mobile phone while on your next far-away adventure.

Questions answered in this post:

Can I Use SMS Or Text Messaging While Traveling Overseas At No Cost Over Wi-Fi?

Usually, to send an SMS or text message, you need to be connected to a cell tower. That’s not always the case though. Times are changing and cell phone carriers are making it easier than ever to stay connected.

For example, T-Mobile has introduced texting and calling over Wi-Fi. This allows you to communicate using Wi-Fi as though it were a cellular connection. You still need to be careful though. Just because you’re on Wi-Fi doesn’t mean your carrier won’t charge you.

Your best option to communicate over Wi-Fi while overseas is to use a third-party messaging app. This will allow you to communicate with your friends and family for free – as long as you’re on Wi-Fi.

Will My Phone Use Data When I Am Connected To Wi-Fi?

It depends. Your phone cannot use both cellular data and Wi-Fi at the same time. Your phone may have settings, however, that allow you to use cellular data to connect to the Internet instead of Wi-Fi when you have a poor connection.

For example, iPhones have a feature called “Wi-Fi Assist”. When toggled, you’ll stay connected to the Internet (via cellular data) if your Wi-Fi slows down.

The good news is, according to Apple, your iPhone won’t make the switch when you’re data roaming. 

How Do I Turn Off My Cell Phone Data So I Don’t Get Charged Roaming Fees While Overseas?

To understand roaming fees, it’s important to first understand what cellular roaming is. 

Roaming is when your phone uses cellular data to access the Internet using a different network than your carrier. Depending on your carrier plan this setting may or may not be included with your plan. If it’s not, and you’re traveling overseas, you could incur some very large fees.

Even if you aren’t actually using your phone to make calls or send SMS messages, many apps use data in the background without you realizing it.

To avoid charges from roaming, you have a few settings on your phone depending on your needs:

  • Airplane Mode
  • Turn off cellular data
  • Turn off roaming

Although turning off cellular data and data roaming will prevent your phone from using data, these won’t necessarily stop phone calls and text messages. To completely avoid these costs overseas be sure to set your phone to AIRPLANE MODE. 

Airplane Mode

The simplest way to ensure you won’t be charged for roaming is to put your phone in Airplane Mode. Airplane mode will prevent you from using cellular data abroad as well as receiving SMS messages and phone calls. Additionally, with Airplane Mode on, you still can enable Wi-Fi which allows you to access the Internet without worrying about data roaming charges. Here’s how to enable Airplane Mode based on which smartphone you have:

  • iPhone– Go to Settings and the very top option is Airplane Mode. Set this to ON and wait for the airplane icon to appear. Then go to the option below it for Wi-Fi. You can set this to ON so it picks up any network that is available; otherwise, just leave it off for now.  Airplane Mode Iphone From Settings

    Additionally, you can simply swipe up from the bottom of your screen and tap the top left airplane icon. If you wish to enable Wi-Fi, simply tap the button below the airplane button and wait for it to turn blue. Airplane Mode Toggle Iphone
  • Android– Click Menu and go to Settings. Under Wireless & Networks, select MORE. You will see that the top option is Airplane Mode. Check the box and wait for the ON button to turn blue.

Turn Off Cellular Data

The next best way to avoid data charges is to completely shut off cellular data. This restricts all cellular data to Wi-Fi instead, keeping you from using data unintentionally for things like emails, browsing apps, and app notifications. With cellular data shut off you can still receive text messages and phone calls, which means if your plan charges you for these, you should just turn your phone to Airplane Mode.

To turn off cellular data on an iPhone go to Settings -> Cellular and toggle the Cellular Data switch to off. Additionally, you can also swipe up from the bottom and toggle the button next to the airplane from green to grey. Turn Off Cellular Data Iphone

On an Android, you have more optionsThere are also tools that allow you to warn you when you’re approaching your monthly limit. You can also choose to use apps only over Wi-Fi.

Turn Off Roaming 

Turning off roaming means that you won’t access other cellular networks when you’re out of your cell phone carrier area. Depending on your plan, you may be able to roam without being charged. 

Better safe than sorry though, it’s good to also put your phone in Airplane Mode when abroad.

To turn off roaming on an iPhone, go to Settings -> Cellular -> Cellular Data Options. Toggle the roaming switch from on to off.

To see how to turn off roaming on Android you can visit here.

(Note: If you do not have a smartphone (i.e. iPhone, Android, or Windows phone) or a phone that allows you to turn off your data and still access Wi-Fi, then you should turn your phone completely OFF while traveling.)

If My Data Is Turned Off, Will I Still Get Charged?

As long as your phone’s data is turned off, then you cannot be charged for any data roaming charges, even with Wi-Fi enabled. You may still be able to send and receive phone calls and text messages. This means depending on your cell phone plan, you might still get charged. To be completely sure you won’t be charged, you should enable Airplane Mode.

In other words, the safest way to use your phone abroad is while you are in Airplane Mode. No carrier fees will apply, and you still can enable Wi-Fi.

What Is The Difference Between Cellular Data and Wi-Fi?

The difference between cellular data and Wi-Fi is that cellular data is transmitted over your cell phone network (think AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint), whereas Wi-Fi data is over a wireless Internet network, such as what you would have when using Starbucks Wi-Fi.

 

Should I Get A Local SIM Card or International SIM Card?

If you’re planning on using your cell phone overseas, it is probably a good idea to change your SIM card. You may also need to unlock your phone. If your carrier doesn’t have an option for extended stays, then you’re going to need a new SIM card. When getting a SIM card for international travel, you have two options:

  • International SIM Card
  • Local SIM Card

While they both have their own benefits and drawbacks, international SIM cards are ideal if you plan on moving around while overseas, while a local SIM card is great if you just plan on spending all of your time in one country. Here’s some more information on both: 

International SIM Card

When you’re planning to travel abroad, international SIM cards are usually the best way to go. They’re best used by someone who is traveling to multiple countries, as it’s difficult to keep track of phone numbers, and data roaming can get expensive.

With an International SIM card, you get a designated phone number, and you can manage your entire account in one place. Additionally, an international SIM card is great because you can get everything set up and ready to go before you even leave – without any language barriers.

Although they can be slightly more expensive than a local SIM card, typically the small increase in cost is worth avoiding the hassle of getting a local SIM when you arrive in your destination.

One SIM Card and World SIM are some of the possible choices you have when selecting an international SIM card.  OnceSimCard

Local SIM Card

Another option if you want to get Internet while overseas and not roaming, is to get a local SIM card with a data plan. Most SIM cards can be purchased at a local gas station, drug store, or, of course, your one of your cell phone carrier’s stores or kiosks.

What Is the Difference Between a Local SIM Card and a Regular SIM Card?

The difference between a local SIM card and your regular SIM on your phone is that, with a local SIM, you will have a local number. This means that friends and family trying to reach you will have to text you on your local number.

For example, let’s say you go to Berlin, Germany and you get a local Vodafone SIM card. Your phone number will begin with “49,” which is the country code. It’s a great option for texting within the city, but not such a great option for contacting mom.

You do have a few options when getting a local plan, though.

  • Buy a phone with a SIM card that you can recharge. These usually start at around USD $20 and you can add credit as you go.
  • Buy an unlocked cell phone and purchase a SIM card. I currently have an unlocked iPhone 7 Plus with a T-Mobile SIM card on the US-based Magenta plan. This means that I don’t have to change out to a new SIM card when I arrive in a new country and I get unlimited data and texting, Wi-Fi calling, and in-flight texting. Plus, if my plan goes over, data doesn’t shut off, it just slows down.This can come in very handy when you would have otherwise been stuck with zero Internet. Also, with the T-Mobile plan in the US, you can call many other countries for only $15 per month, and international texting is free.

Here are some examples of local SIM card providers:

  • Mexico – TelCel (wider coverage) and Movistar (cheaper)
  • Germany – Vodafone, E-Plus, and Telekom
  • USA – T-Mobile, AT&T, and Boost

Can I Use My Phone As A Mobile Hotspot While Overseas?

Most major carriers allow you to use your compatible smartphone to act as a mobile hotspot. You just have to turn your phone on as a hotspot and connect to it via your wireless device. 

However, as of this writing, I carry my mobile phone as a hotspot, as well as carry 2 additional mobile hotspots depending on whether I’m traveling in Europe or in the Americas.

If you decide to use your phone as a mobile hotspot when traveling overseas, be sure your plan includes data roaming, otherwise you’ll be racking up a huge bill.

What is Mi-Fi?

Mi-Fi is a brand name for a wireless device that functions as a mobile Wi-Fi router. Your device may or may not technically be a Mi-Fi device, but the term has become shorthand for any mobile hotspot.

A mobile hotspot will typically work in a wide range of countries. Many of these devices use “virtual” SIM cards that allow you to change regions with just a few buttons.

Does my Mi-Fi work in other countries?

It isn’t enough to simply have a mobile hotspot, you need to be certain that your device is actually going to work in the places you travel. Many countries actually have different service frequencies, which means a lot of devices (even “unlocked” ones) may not work all over the globe. When you purchase a Mi-Fi device, be sure to check how many frequencies it supports. The more it supports, the better it will do on your globetrotting adventures.

Subscription vs. non-subscription Mi-Fi devices

Traditional Mi-Fi devices are non-subscription. You insert your SIM card and the device creates a mobile Wi-Fi network with a password that you can connect your devices to. However, in the last few years, a new breed of Mi-Fi device has become prominent: the subscription model.

Think of subscription Mi-Fi like a hotspot crossed with a global data plan. With these devices, you have the option to swap out the SIM card associated with your global plan and replace it with a local SIM, giving you 100 percent control over when you use your plan data and when you don’t.

What Services or Apps Can I Use While Traveling Overseas To Send Text Messages?

Typically, you aren’t technically sending SMS messages or “text” messages when you have Wi-Fi on and data off, but you can still send text-like messages to your family and friends using services like these.

Even now with Wi-Fi enabled texting and calling, your provider still may charge you the same as for a normal text message

(Note: If you have AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, or a regular T-Mobile cellular plan and you set your phone to Airplane Mode, you will not be able to send text (SMS) messages.)

To text with a family member or friend while abroad, make sure your Wi-Fi is turned ON and that you both have one of the following services on your phones:

iMessage 

This option causes the most confusion and the reason is that if you and five of your friends all have iPhones, you can “text” each other as if nothing ever changed. However, you aren’t actually texting; you’re just using Apple’s messaging service to send correspondence back and forth over a Wi-Fi connection. Therefore, you can only converse with others who have Apple products.

With iMessage, you can still receive messages abroad while data is turned off. And if you’re in Airplane Mode but have Wi-Fi set to “on,” then you can receive iMessages which appear like text messages but they will be in blue versus green, like this: imessage-blue-versus-vs-sms-text-green-liveworkanywhere

Ultimately, you will not receive the green message when you are abroad and your cell phone data is turned off. So, if you have data turned on and you see green messages – look out! You may be getting charged insane rates. Remember, Airplane Mode – on; Wi-Fi– on.

Google Voice

 This one has been around for awhile and is still quite functional, but not the most popular option. To use it, simply download the Google Voice app, sign up for a Google Voice phone number (free in U.S.), and you can send messages back and forth from that number. They will appear on your phone via the app, allowing you to send SMS messages overseas as much as you’d like!

Google Hangouts may start to soon replace Google Voice, but for now, it’s still a great option and I use it all the time. At the very least, it’s like having a second number on the same phone so you have two options. Give friends and clients your Google Voice number so you’ll always have a local US number for people to text you.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp became very popular when it was acquired by Facebook for $19 billion. To utilize it, just download Whats App, find your friends, and send messages back and forth. It’s not the first of its kind, but it is fairly popular and growing in popularity. If your friends are tech or travel savvy, or if they/you are European, you’ll most likely find them here. It’s a must-have app for travelers or for communicating and texting your friends overseas.

To use WhatsApp (and all the other apps), you must be connected to Wi-Fi.

A kind of fun feature of WhatsApp is that you can send MMS, or picture messages, for free as well – all over Wi-Fi.The images will also automatically be added to your photo album on your phone (at least on iPhone). No more asking your friend to share an album with you and no more having to ‘save image’; it just shows up.

Viber

 Not dissimilar to Google Voice and WhatsApp, Viber takes the best of the two and combines them. Once you download the app, you find your friends who are also using Viber, and you can connect immediately. The nice thing about this particular messaging app is that, not only can you send free messages back and forth inside of the app, but you can also make free calls. Viber even uses your cell phone number as your identifier.

There are a growing number of options for sending messages to family and friends, and these are just a few. For instance, GroupMe is another popular group messaging app that allows you to communicate with a number of people at once (and you can still use emoji!).

For more messaging options while traveling overseas, I suggest you read: Top 7 Communication Apps to Use While Travelling.

How Can I receive SMS Messages Overseas? 

When traveling overseas, you have a few different options for receiving SMS messages:

Option 1 – International plans via US carriers
For most providers, you have an option to use an international plan. Here’s some common providers, and some of the options available for international plans:

T-Mobile:
The T-Mobile Magenta plan is great for short trips, where you don’t plan on staying abroad for an extended period plan. With the T-Mobile Magenta plan, texting and data is unlimited in 210 countries and nations. This plan also also include calling landlines in 70+ countries, or calling and texting to cell phones in 30+ countries. You can check to see what kind of coverage you will have here.

Verizon:
Verizon offers multiple plans for either short or long term international trips international plans depending on how connected you need to be.

If you’re having a difficult time deciding which plan you need, Verizon also has a great guide to help you pick out what plan or upgrade you will need for your travels.

Sprint:
With Sprint, you have free unlimited SMS and basic data abroad with any smartphone enabled plan in 200+ countries. You only have to pay $.25/call while abroad. 

AT&T:
AT&T offers a passport plan for either short term trip or for extended international stays. 

Option 2 – Google Voice Phone Number.

If you’re looking to ditch your cell phone contract, Google voice is a great option. This allows you to be able to send and receive text messages and phone calls via Wi-Fi, making this a much cheaper option. All you have to do is set it up and tell your friends and family about your new phone number.

Additionally, if you’re not on Wi-Fi, Google voice will transcribe the audio so you can read it later. You can use the google voice app to text or you can text via Wi-Fi anytime you’re on Wi-Fi. 

Can I Receive Texts After Airplane Mode is Turned On?

This varies depending on each provider, but as a general rule, anytime you need to have your cellular data shut off for more than 2 days (48) hours, you may not receive the messages sent to you. Each provider will have a unique “retry” period, in which it will attempt to send the message. If the message is not delivered within this period, the provider will stop trying to send the message, and it will be discarded.

Summary Of Texting Overseas:

Just to hammer the main points home –

DO NOT send SMS messages or text messages while traveling overseas unless you want to pay out the nose for them. (Also remember that it’s usually not possible to send SMS over Wi-Fi.)

You CAN receive SMS messages/texts, but you might pay for them. So turn off your cell phone data by putting your phone in Airplane Mode and turning on Wi-Fi.

You CAN receive messages (non-SMS) over Wi-Fi, for free.

You CANNOT send or receive SMS messages (“texts”) via your cell phone carrier when you are in Airplane Mode.

Eventually, we may not even need cell phone carriers to keep in touch but, until then and until you get rid of your cell phone plan, be careful of extra charges when traveling overseas. They’re simply not worth it when you have so many free options available.

Again, just remember that SMS is always associated with your carrier (AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, etc.) and a message can be either a text message synonymous with SMS or a non-SMS text message image, or other form of communication.


What Have YOU Learned about Sending SMS or Text Messages Overseas? What Would You Like to Learn?

Do you have other questions or see anything I’m missing? Please feel free to drop your questions or comments below.

Growth Hacking is Overrated

“Growth hacking” is a technical term for customer development. Essentially, it involves figuring out what your customer wants without ever having to talk to or interact with them.  How?

By using tools like OptimizelyGoogle Analytics and KISS Metrics, you’re able to learn more about your customer based on a specific set of metrics. These types of programs allow you to discover their likes, dislikes, and interests solely by monitoring their Internet usage and what sites they frequent most.

So, what’s the problem with customer development via growth hacking?

The Problem with Growth Hacking

You can’t growth hack your way into your customer’s mind.  Sure, you may gain a little understanding about them thanks to the software program, but your growth will be faster if you actually keep a finger on the pulse of your customers. How do you do this? By having real conversations with them.

The software developers responsible for creating these types of programs are partially to blame. I’m not saying that they are schmucks, but not all of these growth hackers are worth the beaucoup bucks they’re generally paid.

A large number of software developers (and non-savvy business developers) have the illusion that “if they build it, they will come.” In this case, the second “they” refers to the customers who they expect will adore everything they do and flock to their software simply because it exists.

In all fairness, this way of thinking is not entirely their fault. We fawn over stories of icons such as Mark Zuckerberg with Facebook and dream of being that one in a billion.

However, overvaluing software developers and undervaluing business developers can give software developers a giant ego and false sense of worth. Unfortunately, it is this inflated ego that can drive them to quit projects midway through to pursue their own passions. And, why not? They can, right?

While it’s great for anyone to follow their passion, this is bad luck in these types of situations. Plus, it’s just awful for the teams they leave behind.

Growth Hacking Can Be Good…Within Reason

Personally, I love the concept of growth hacking. In fact, by definition I am a growth hacker. But I also know that you cannot – 100% cannot – grow your company without getting to know your customer face-to-face.

For instance, consider the concepts behind Lean methodology which forces you to GOOTB (Get-Out-Of-The-Building) and talk to your customers. It’s so much better! Why?

It makes your potential customers part of the growth process so you become customer-centric. When you follow Lean methodology, you are constantly putting your product or service in front of them to test their response, giving you immediate feedback that is essential to your growth power.

One way to do this is by signing up for Lean Startup Machine. This is a three-day course designed to teach you the process by which you can learn enough about your customer base to make your business more successful.

When it comes to Lean methodology versus growth hacking, Lean methodology wins every time!

Customers Aren’t Numbers

Customers aren’t just numbers.  They have a voice.  So, hiding behind the numbers and hacking away at code, pretending that you’re staring at a matrix screen that somehow tells you all you need to know about your customer… that’s all bunk.

Your front end sales people have the pulse on your company.  Your business development people actually know what your customers are saying – and they’re worth listening to.

That’s why I believe that growth hacking is seriously overrated and may, in fact, be one of the worst effects of modern tech culture.

What’s your opinion on growth hacking? Do you find it helpful or not? We’d love to know your thoughts!

Life Without a Cell Phone

Life Without A Cell Phone | Live Work Anywhere

From my home wifi, to airport seatac wifi, to SFO airport wifi, to Gogo InFlight, Boingo as backup, to rail Wifi on the BART…

Convince me that I need AT&T.

I’ve been without my phone for several weeks. Other than people asking me why I’m not using my other number, and me not being the best atreturning voicemails (same as always), nobody has noticed. I have an iPhone and use iMessage with friends. I use Google Voice with others. I’m covered.

I’m actually better now at returning calls than I was before. Google Voice lets you READ your voicemails. I know how to prioritize them. They may have spelling errors or some incorrect words, but you get the gist and at the very least a quick laugh.

I never answer my incoming calls anyway. Not usually. Everything I do work-wise is batched and scheduled. Plus, now you can carry around Wifi devices like Roku, Clearwire, and those from AT&T and Verizon. There are also a bunch of other options if you look hard enough.

“What about an emergency?” I hear you say. What did we do 10 or 20 years ago? We found a way to contact the people we needed. Texting with a cell phone can actually create an emergency! Learning to be patient and flexible goes a long way.

Not having a phone can actually help you manage your schedule more intentionally. And it can even help you calm your nerves!

Sent from my iPhone via Wifi

Do you use a cell phone? Why or why not?

6 Tricks to Sell Out Your First Skillshare Class

Skillshare Infographic 6 Tricks to Sell Out Skillshare

6 Tricks to Sell Out your first skillshare class

1. Promoting

If Skillshare already exists in your city….  great!  You can leverage their lists for distribution.

If Skillshare is new to your city or doesn’t really exist yet, ask:

What other business networks exist locally?

What other networking platforms exist where you can post your content?

For example:

  • EventBrite
  • Meetup groups
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Biznik

Be careful of terms of service, but what I did is I pointed the other services to my Skillshare class link.  It’s all extra promotion (and SEO) for Skillshare and they encourage you to promote via social networks.  Leverage what you can, as long as it drives people to Skillshare, it’s a win/win for everyone.

Also, for the first class, keeping the costs low ($15-$25) and the class size low (5-7) will guarantee higher success.  Saying your first class “sold out” with people on the waiting list helps create demand.

The first class is hardest.

2. Build Interest

Tip: “seed” a few people in the class.  Nobody likes to be the first person to book the class.  People who are passing by and think the class looks interesting are more inclined to come if they see that others are also interested.  This validates your class concept and gives social proof, which is a must for the first class particularly.

Create a few promotion codes and give them out to friends and influencers.  Having 2-3 influencers in the community you’re targeting on the list will guarantee that your class will fill up.

Be sure to post the class a few times before it begins, for example:

  • 2-3 weeks prior make the first announcement
  • 1 week before the class, post on a day where your target audience will be most active (have your seeders planted by this stage)
  • 2 days prior make a post about how excited you are about the class to continue to build excitement
  • the day of (for those last-minute attendees)

3. Create Networking Opportunties

Potential students are likely looking at the profiles of those who signed up.  Having people who have interesting profiles helps because the potential students are going not just to learn but also to network and to create a network around a similar subject.  Encourage the students to meet other like minded people in class.

4. Focus on Great Copy:

In your class description:

  • what is it you’re teaching and why?
  • what will the student walk away with?
  • how is it applicable to them?

Don’t use tech terms that nobody will understand.  But don’t be a used car salesman either and play buzzword scrabble.

> You’ll learn: 

In this section, instead of saying

“how to use social media to grow your audience” (very generic and non-unique weak promise)

try

“how to increase your Twitter following to 1,000 quality followers in the next 30 days”  (realistic target, high quality, great ROI on class)

> You’ll walk away with:

Make sure these are practical skills.  The student should see themselves having actionable items immediately from this course.

  1. a twitter account (if you don’t have one already)
  2. the knowledge and tools to go from 0-1,000 twitter followers in 30 days

> About the Teacher:

Next, they want to know why you are qualified?  Have you done this?  Why you?

Self-promotion is SO hard but it’s necessary.  Students want to know and believe that they will walk away with the tools and knowledge to do what you did – this creates a WOW factor and will help also drive attendance.

5. Select a Great Location

Having a great location, one that resonates with your audience, is also key.  If you’re talking about tech issues to a tech crowd and you plan to meet at planned parenthood, it’s probably going to affect the turnout.

Remember, you are still selling your skills and a new class.  If you hold it at a reputable location, your credibility increases.

6. Connect with Students

This is less about filling seats, now, and more about quality.  You want to build value.  Send the students an email, a survey, take an interest and interact prior to class.  Tailor your content to the needs and interests of the eager learners.  They want to learn and they are taking time to come see you.  Give them so much value that you feel like you’re getting ripped off.  They will walk away feeling like they got their money’s worth and then some.

The result?

Powerful endorsements and “street cred” on Skillshare.  Your next class, while still following similar principles, will be easier to sell and you can increase the size of your class, and price.

At least that’s what I did.

FreeConferenceCall.com to Launch StartMeeting

FreeConferenceCall.com launces StartMeeting

I’ve been using FreeConferenceCall.com and FreeConferencing.com to connect remotely with clients.  I have been happy with my service from FreeConferencing and had switched from Webex after testing it.

But, I was wondering how FreeConferencing was planning to monetize with all calls and conferences being free and zero advertising… but today I found out how – with a sister company called StartMeeting.  A premium service for audio and web conferencing.  I haven’t checked it out yet but I am confident that, based on their track record with me, it will deliver.  I’ll let them tell you about it below.  If anyone has experience with StartMeeting, can you share your experience?

Premium Services from FreeConferenceCall.com

It Took a Conference Calling Company to Get Screen Sharing Right:
StartMeeting Offers Conference Calls or Conference Calls with Screen Sharing

StartMeeting.com LogoFreeConferenceCall.com has launched a sister company, StartMeeting, to allow you to Share Better at a fraction of the cost! StartMeeting is a new audio and web conferencing service that incorporates state-of-the-art features including screen sharing; easy-to-use meeting recording; and a customizable online Meeting Wall.StartMeeting is offering customers the audio and web service for significantly less than similar services. Prices for screen sharing start at $19.95 per month for a 50 participant capacity. This is compared to $39 for 15 participants at GoToMeeting and $49 for 25 participants at WebEx.For more information, visit www.StartMeeting.com

Features:

  • Cloud-Based Recording: User-friendly simultaneous recording of screen sharing and audio meetings, and files can be shared via Facebook and other platforms (Windows and Mac).
  • Synchronized Audio Conferencing: Reservationless calls include toll, toll-free, and an integrated high-definition VoIP platform — all with a dedicated access number.
  • Dedicated Meeting Credentials: Unlike some other audio/web services, hosts are given exclusive credentials to set up their meetings that never change.
  • Screen Sharing: Unlimited screen sharing of content. Subscriptions are offered with 50, 200, 500, and 1,000 participant capacities.
  • Meeting Wall: Customize it with colors, logos, profile pictures, and upload files or links that support the online meeting (without emailing the documents to participants).
  • Audio Web Controls: Mute, lock, identify or disconnect a caller; enter lecture mode (one-way communication); and hold Q&A Sessions with participants.
  • Enhanced Audio Features: Customize hold music and a greeting for participants entering the conference.

Guts Not Grades

Guts Not Grades | Live Work Anywhere

Having a startup is about conviction. The most appropriate synonym that comes to mind when I think of entrepreneurs and startups is resilience. I compete with Ivy League grads for business who, disturbingly, many people look at in awe. Book knowledge and street knowledge are very different things. But, beyond knowledge are instincts and guts. Two things that can’t be taught.

I believe there is such a thing as “Startup DNA.” A startup is like a newborn baby. It needs nurturing.

People tend to get hung up on titles and labels. They mean very little, especially in the beginning when building a product. The product matters, your early customers matter. Not quitting matters.

It’s difficult to see the view from the top of the mountain when you’re climbing uphill and the top is hidden in the clouds. But, entrepreneurs know deep down inside that if they keep at it, keep climbing, eventually they’ll see the clouds clear (and return, and clear, and return, etc etc until they reach the top).

People have said entrepreneurs are special in the sense that they are illogical, unreasonable, or downright insane! It’s true that an entrepreneur is unique. Most people aren’t interested in extreme sacrifice. They would prefer to be comfortably led like sheep. The job of the entrepreneur is to convince the sheep that he/she isn’t crazy for thinking differently. There’s a process that takes place to get to that point that involves many sacrifices, overcoming doubts and challenges, and infinite bouts of courage.

As with dealing with a sick baby or trudging uphill when you’re exhausted, it’s not about running when things get tough.

Some people are cut out for startups; many are not. There is an excitement, even a cool factor, that people get caught up in. But when the hard work kicks in, 50% drop out. When there are tough days or funding is running low, the strong are separated from the weak, and the last one standing are the ones with conviction.

The true test comes when things are difficult.

Giving yourself a pseudo0title to get attention or to get into certain events or companies doesn’t actually change your DNA into that of a startup person. Skipping a night out with friends or a family function, even with all the pressure and guilt, to hit a deadline, is true dedication.

This is what I mean by necessary sacrifice:

“The workload of a start-up is ridiculous. It’s really not healthy. For eight years of my life, there were very few waking moments that Tripod did not completely consume. I rarely returned the phone calls of good friends. I routinely missed important family gatherings. I couldn’t keep a steady girlfriend. To put it plainly, I didn’t have enough time to maintain the sort of normal relationships typically associated with the human race.”

Bo Peabody, Greycroft Partners, in his book Lucky or Smart

I couldn’t have said it better myself. If you ever wonder if the daily grueling grind, the ups and downs, the mental anguish, the ramen noodles, the amazing days followed by crushing defeats, if all of it is worth it… take a look at Bo’s story. Are most people willing to stick around for EIGHT years, with few friend or family interactions? It’s up to you. I won’t lie, it wears on you. You question things—a lot. Sounds borderline insane, but it takes guts.

There has to be a balance, don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge believer in “sharpening your saw” as Stephen Covey says. Too much for too long causes productivity to diminish relative to time output. But what I am saying is that you have to have the chops to handle it.

A final great quote from Chris Dixon, CEO of Hunch, and active angel investor:

“It’s a cliche, but early-stage startups are really all about the people. Had you taken any company I’ve been involved with and drawn a straight line extrapolating forward, I don’t think you would’ve seen why it was an interesting company… what ends up happening is that the environment changes, you discover flaws in your original concept, and good entrepreneurs adapt and change. The only way you would’ve seen it is if you’d understood the passion and the guts of the people involved”.

– Chris Dixon, quoted on Founder Collective

Passion and guts.

I’ve had business partners, developers, salespeople, interns, clients, deals, and so on, come and go. Recognizing that this ebbs and flows, that startups are in a constant state of flux, is the key to overcoming the bad days and learning resiliency. Behind every cloud is a silver lining, after every crushing defeat is a rewarding accomplishment. You have to have the guts to keep going.

What do you think it takes to run a successful startup?

Cell Phone Contracts Will Be a Thing of the Past

Ditch your cell phone! Your cell phone plan, that is. (Pay attention AT&T, the world is getting even more connected)

One of the most challenging things about traveling is avoiding international roaming on your cell phone. Why can’t the phone companies all just get along? As soon as I cross the border from Seattle to Vancouver, I’m be forced onto another cell network and forced to pay double the price.

I’ve been starting to use my Google Voice number more often, which uses a Seattle-based area code. It’s currently forwarding to my cell phone, but it takes a message and sends me an e-mail if I’m not available.

I open the Google Voice app on my phone or via web browser and find the voicemail has been transcribed to text!  It’s not 100% accurate, but I get the gist.  If I want to hear the message, I just hit the play button.

Pretty great stuff! It means I no longer have to pay an expensive telephone bill.  But Google Voice only lets you forward to another US number. What if I’m out of the country and I can’t forward to my cell phone?

The best solution I’ve found, if you want to be “in the office” and not force someone to leave a voicemail, is to purchase a Skype online phone number. For $60/year and 2 cents/minute, I can be making and receiving phone calls to and from any US number from my own US Skype number.

Even for business lines at Beer2Buds, we use RingCentral. RingCentral allows you to get a toll free number and fax for $100/year. You can forward your number and/or any extension to a cell phone, Google Voice or Skype number.

My last AT&T phone bill was nearly $200. For around the same price, even though it’s less convenient (you need Wifi), I carry around a Clear modem for when I need to contact someone. Even if there’s no wireless but there is 3g/4g, you can still be “connected.”

Oh and I almost forgot to mention—SMS is such an integral part of my business life. With Google Voice, you can also send AND receive text messages! And you don’t pay $19.99/month like you will with AT&T.

This is a text message I got today that popped up on my phone from Google Voice.

The world is becoming more connected. The cell phone giants will have to start playing fair or the growing VoIP services of the world will be the dominant players, which is already starting to happen.

Digitize Everything! How to Simplify Your Life by Going Digital

Digitize Everything! How To Simplify your Life by Going Digital Live Work Anywhere

This is a follow up post to my posts about 4boxes, Dropbox, and Google Apps.

One of the most surprising facts is that even in the digital age, many individuals have drawers, cabinets, and shelves filled with technologically obsolete items such as, CDs, DVDs, photo albums, and others. So if you belong to this category, first and foremost you can rest assured in the knowledge that you’re not alone. However, if you’re looking to make a change nonetheless, to simplify and become more mobile, it’s time to go through those old photos, CDs, and other types of analog items and convert them into a digital format. The easiest way to downsize today is by DIGITIZING everything!

CDs became mp3s.  DVDs can now be streamed by using a Netflix or iTunes account. So why not digitize and minimalize? Not only are these items outdated but they also take up a lot of space. So transferring the data from such devices to digital mediums can also help you de-clutter and stay organized. Even if you don’t want to cut down on the number of things you actually own, it’s easy to streamline things. 

However, as you begin the process to digitize everything and minimize “things”, remember it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work it may seemingly involve. But you don’t have to be. LiveWorkAnywhere has got you covered with these simple but effective tips on ‘How to digitize your life”.

CDs and DVDs

You can import CDs into an iTunes Library. Then back up that library using Dropbox. Then do the same with your DVDs. Transferring the contents of CDs and DVDs into your digital library will be easy. However for cassettes and records, a little more effort would be necessary. If it’s too much for you to handle, consider getting professional help. You can then donate all the physical media to Goodwill (if they’re still accepting these types of media!), or get money for them using CD Exchange. Think of the amount of space you’d be creating in the process. Moreover while you’re digitizing everything, you also get the opportunity to reconnect with some old tunes – added bonus! 

Photo Albums

How to digitize your life? The answer is simple: digitize your photos! While all photo albums are precious, especially those dating back to those times when Smartphone cameras were not in use, are even rare. So why not scan them to transfer them into a digital form that is not prone to fading, tearing, yellowing, or scratching, as paper-based photos are? The best part about scanning is that it’s easy to do.

Using a service like ScanCafe, you can have your photos scanned into a complete digital format. Use services such as Picasa, Lyn, or Flickr. Lyn offers great desktop-based photo management for Mac OS X but it’s a paid service after the initial free 15-day trial period. However if you’re looking for free service, then even Facebook can be useful in showing photos online efficiently. My suggestion, however, would be to always have a backup on a file storage service (like Dropbox), then select and showcase specific photos online.

Using a photo management program like Picasa or any other not only allows you to neatly organize your photos but also helps put them in one easy location from which they can be easily retrieved and viewed. And you can share them online with friends and family whenever and wherever they may be based. 

To-Do Lists and Notes

How to digitize your life, especially your professional life? If you want to make living and working from anywhere a reality with Live Work Anywhere, digital to-do lists, post-its and other notes can help facilitate your transition. Imagine having all your work-related notes accessible in a digital form that you can access from anywhere! 

No matter where you’re based geographically, all you have to do is switch on your PC or tablet to get started with your scheduled tasks for the day. Traveling someplace? Or feel like working from a café? Or perhaps you’d like to move your work desk outdoors for a day – to a park maybe? 

Use digital managers like Evernote, Zenkit To Do, or any other to-do management program or app – there’s a plethora of apps to choose from, based on your specific goal – to organize your pending tasks and keep track of your progress.

It feels great to simplify and digitize your life and of course another benefit is that everything stays with you, no matter where you are in the world. Additionally it just makes everything so much easier to share with your near and dear ones and life so much easier to enjoy!

Also by digitizing your life you minimize and clear clutter, which is very rewarding – and allows you to get up and go more quickly! 

How are you planning to downsize this year?

Google Apps and Why They Rock

Because everything I do has completely morphed to online.  I haven’t lost a file, thanks to Dropbox, and with Google Apps have been able to:

  • Create and Share Company Documents
  • Maintain and Share Spreadsheets
  • Create a mini-CRM system
  • Connect a Domain Name from GoDaddy and create company email account
  • Use Google Sites to create company wiki pages to manage daily operations manuals, sales sheets and employees, human resource and legal documents, and the list goes on and on

Google Apps makes it possible for you to truly run your business from anywhere.  I use Microsoft Word and PowerPoint to create documents sometimes, but as often as I can and especially for collaboration, I’ll use Google Apps.  I post my MS docs, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoints into my Google Site wikis.

When traveling, from any computer, you can be instantly working and collaborating online.  I’ve tested this in Argentina, Hungary, Costa Rica, and all over the US.  By slowly switching everything over to Google Apps and Dropbox, your files will be completely mobile!