The Next Big Thing in Social Media Is Small

The next big thing is social media is small.

The next big thing in social media is small.

As my friend and mastermind buddy Sarah Bray puts it, it’s the difference between big box stores and small shops:

When I was growing up, Wal-Mart was inevitable. It was just this place you had to go to get basic stuff. You needed it, and you didn’t think twice about how horrible it was. It was cheap and it was there.

But now, we have all these other options. We can shop locally. We can shop online. We can shop at Target. We don’t have to go to Wal-Mart anymore.

I hope this is what is happening with the web right now. That more of us are deciding that the Wal-Marts of the Internet aren’t really what we need, and that we can do better.

Wal-Mart, of course, is Facebook. Or maybe it’s Twitter. Really, it’s wherever you don’t want to be but feel like you have to for the sake of “getting the word out” about your business.

Social media–as a behemoth ready to send you tons of free traffic if only you can crack the code–is all but dead. 

And yet…

Long live social media!

Social media is getting smaller, more organized and less algorithmic, more people-focused and less startup-focused.

What this means for you is that you have a lot of control. Now, you no longer only have control over your content, you have control over the platform because the platform is yours.

You create the space, invite the people, and play in it together as you see fit.

You don’t “go on” social, you  are social.

Sarah is doing this with her own community and virtual co-working space, Gathered. I do this with The Lab.

But you don’t have to go rogue to make this new wave of social work for you and your community.

Live video is also working to create these spaces–within big boxes like Facebook or in small, private spaces like on Crowdcast (my new favorite thing).

With live video, each post becomes a gathering spot. 

It’s fleeting, yes. But it’s also incredibly powerful. When you make an eyeball-to-eyeball connection with 5, 100, or 10,000 people for 5 minutes, you’re doing more good for your business in that time than a lifetime on Twitter.

Live video isn’t the next big thing because it’s new technology or a new tactic for connecting with your audience. Live video is big because of how small it makes our world for a few powerful moments. 

I suspect that more technology will come along and mimic this small world environment soon. 

I spoke with one of the pioneers of online business and social media marketing, Joel Comm, for this week’s episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit.

Joel told me that he sees live video as the thing we’ll be talking about with social for quite some time to come.

If you want to hear more about how live video creates small gathering spots for your community–and how Joel approaches new technology, platforms, and trends in social media, check out this week’s episode.

Click here to read the transcript or listen in to our conversation.

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When “Enough” Isn’t Enough


Sometimes “enough” isn’t enough.

Set the bar for “enough” and, if you fall just a little short, you no longer have enough.

Here’s what I mean:

Let’s say you know that 8 clients per quarter is enough for your web design business. You have 6 lined up with deposits paid, so you announce you have 2 more openings.

You find those 2 new clients and you put them on the schedule. You stop looking.

One of them falls through. They have a hiccup and their plans just don’t work for working with you.

Now you only have 7 clients for the quarter.

Not too big of a deal… but it does represent about $6000 in revenue that you may or may not be able to find a replacement for.

The next quarter, the same thing happens.

Now you’re down $12000 for the year and things start to get tight.

This is what I mean when I say “enough” isn’t enough.

If you plan for just enough, you end up only doing enough to get “enough.”

Any bump in the road on the way to “enough” and now you have, well, less than enough.

That’s no way to plan for your business.

Or, your life.

When you plan to line up 12 clients per quarter, assuming 4 will fall through, the worst scenario you have to deal with is finding a junior designer to take on some of the workload.

That’s, potentially, another $18,000 in profit every quarter.

The other thing that happens is that your behavior starts to change.

You work differently when you’re aiming for a substantially bigger goal. You don’t just try to do more, you try new things.

When you think beyond enough, you fundamentally change how you approach the problem. Doing things differently can get you much bigger results.

That’s just one of the things I talked about with my clients and friends, Kathleen Shannon and Emily Thompson, this week on the Being Boss podcast.

We also geeked out on business models, some of the challenges Kathleen & Emily have faced in growing the Being Boss business, and common mistakes that business owners make that hold them back from explosive growth.

I had a blast recording this interview–it’s a real inside look at my conversations with clients.

Check it out:

This is the Difference Between a 6-figure Business and a 7-figure Business

What NaNoWriMo has to do with the difference between a 6-figure business and a 7-figure business

When Sean and I moved back to Pennsylvania a year ago, he quit his job to pursue his creative interests including fiction writing.

He’d dabbled in writing for quite some time, working on character development or penning short vignettes, but he’d never devoted himself to it. He couldn’t find the discipline to take a single idea from start to finish.

And he knew that no matter how many days he worked on character development or short vignettes, he wasn’t going to end up with a completed novel until he changed the way he was approaching the whole pursuit.

So he gave himself a massive challenge…

…he decided to tackle NaNoWriMo.

If you’re not familiar, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month and it happens every November, right alongside No Shave November (for which he is also a faithful participant). The goal is to write approximately 1650 words every day of the month so that you end the month with a 50,000-word manuscript.

You do it knowing full well that the manuscript will likely be terrible…

…but at least it will be done.

This was going to be a real test: going from a scant 100-200 words per day to 1650 words per day? How could he manage it?

Well, he did. He actually finished early and proudly printed off the entire 50,000+ word manuscript on November 30.

The reason he accomplished it was simple…

He made structural changes to the way he approached writing. He was no longer just trying to get in some writing 100-200 words at a time, he structured his day around achieving the necessary 1600 words.

It wasn’t a matter of time or hustle. It was a matter of design:

  • He stopped writing in a notebook and started writing in a Google Doc.
  • He stopped writing at the pub and started writing in an office.
  • He stopped putting it off til the end of the day and started prioritizing the action first thing.
  • He stopped second-guessing every artistic choice he made and started moving through the plot bit by bit.

These 4 simple changes meant that he octupled his production in largely the same amount of time he was spending on writing before. Not only that, but he actually set a goal and reached it.

Now, you might be wondering what this has to do with the difference between a 6-figure business and a 7-figure business.

Just like with Sean’s success and NaNoWriMo, what separates a 6-figure business from a 7-figure business is a matter of design.

A business that generates 6-figure revenue is rarely an underperforming 7-figure business. 

Just like Sean wasn’t really an underperforming novelist before he tackled NaNoWriMo.

A business that generates 6-figure revenue is one that’s designed to generate 6-figure revenue. A business that generates 7-figure revenue is one that’s designed to generate 7-figure revenue.

Of course, it’s also true that a 5-figure business is rarely an underperforming 6-figure business. A 5-figure business is most often designed to earn 5-figures.

No matter how much you hustle, no matter how much time you devote to it, no matter how many new skills you learn, if your business isn’t designed to reach your goal, it won’t.

What exactly do I mean when I say the “design” of your business?

  • Your prices
  • Your business model
  • The structure of your offers
  • The way you nurture prospects and customers
  • Your campaigns
  • Your team
  • Your brand
  • Your time management
  • Your project management

It all has to work together and be aligned with your goal–no matter what that might be.

There’s a good chance–whether you realize it right now or not–that your business design has had more in common with Sean’s 100-200 words per day than it does with the NaNoWriMo guideline of 1650 words per day.

You’ve been putting in time and energy… but it hasn’t been in the pursuit of a clear objective.

The reason NaNoWriMo’s 50,000-word goal works so well is that it’s easy to figure out exactly what you need to do to hit it. You take 50,000 and divide it by the 30 days in November. Then you make the structural changes to your routine to allow you to accomplish it day in and day out until the goal is met. 

Your business works the same way. You choose a goal and the adjust the design of your business accordingly. 

If you don’t choose, you’ll keep just getting by. If you don’t adjust, you’ll get down on yourself for never even getting close to where you want to be.

Choose a goal (maybe your next goal  is a 7-figure year) and adjust your design.


This week’s episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit. features Melanie Duncan, a serial entrepreneur in both the e-commerce and the information marketing spaces. 

The question of structure and designing your day, life, and business for success were the key themes of our conversation.

If you liked this story, I know you’ll love this episode. Check it out:

And remember…

…just because you haven’t reached a previous goal (say $150,000/yr) doesn’t mean you can’t set a new goal (say $750,000/yr).

Your past performance doesn’t change your worthiness. Nor does it change your ability to design your business to reach a higher goal now that you understand what your effort fell short. When you decide to set that new goal, go big.

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Why We Need to Talk About 6, 7, and 8-Figure Businesses

Why We Need to Talk About 6, 7, and 8-Figure Businesses

Is it all glitz?

Lately, I’ve seen a great deal of pushback against the glitzy promises in Facebook ads or webinars about 6 or 7-figure businesses.

People say they don’t need or want to grow a 6 or 7-figure business. They’re tired of the hype. They just want to figure out how to make what they have… work.

When I started my business, I wanted to earn enough to stay home with my daughter and still drink daily iced lattes. My goal? Maybe $500 per month.

As my first year in business progressed and I quickly surpassed my old salary (not a huge accomplishment), it started to dawn on me that I had created a full-time job.

I had to work at least 35-40 hours a week to maintain the work that was now paying bills. It was working but it wasn’t very exciting.

Soon, I was introduced to people who were earning quite a bit more than I was but had similar businesses, similar experience, and similar audiences. “What was the difference?” I thought to myself.

They had a different goal and, because of that, they had designed their businesses to earn 6 or 7-figures instead of 4 or 5.

What’s the difference?

They didn’t get lucky. They weren’t working harder.

They simply designed their businesses to perform differently. And they believed in their ability (and the business’s) to perform to their goals.

I didn’t know this was possible when I started my business. Sometime in my life, I had arbitrarily assigned myself an earning ceiling around $35,000 (band geeks and religion majors don’t generally earn much).

I initially designed my business to hit that number. When I did, I pushed hard to reach a little higher.

Then I realized that if I just redesigned my business a bit, I could easily hit $120k+. So I did. And I did. I’ve been redesigning it to hit bigger goals ever since and I’ve trained my clients to do the same.

That might sound trite and simplistic. But I assure you, it is not.

Honor what you’ve already achieved.

What I see happen so often is that business owners like you beat themselves up when they haven’t hit the “glitzy” numbers that others have advertised. They don’t recognize—and honor—that they’ve achieved what they designed to achieve.

In other words, there’s a very, very good chance that the revenue you’re bringing in right now is the revenue your business is currently designed to bring in.

Pat yourself on the back. Seriously. Most people can’t get anything off the ground, let alone make offers and sell them to customers they’ve courted with their own two hands (and words). You have already achieved greatly.

Between a rock and a hard place?

Of course, that doesn’t mean you’re at where you’d like to be.

In fact, you might find yourself between a rock (a business that’s paying some or all of the bills) and a hard place (big opportunities or goals that seem just out of reach).

It’s not so much that you or your business is underperforming as that you have a huge opportunity to design it to work better and produce more.

You see, your business is working. If you push harder and harder with the business design you have right now, you won’t make it work more for you. You’ll just be working harder at the model designed to produce what you’ve already produced.

Maybe you haven’t felt like you had the time to market your business properly…

Maybe you wonder how everyone else “keeps up with everything…”

Maybe the Impostor Complex reminds you of all those times when you’ve set a goal and haven’t reached it…

These aren’t personal shortcomings. They’re a result of having a business design that doesn’t match your goals. A smart business design creates time, reduces the amount of effort required of you, makes team-building easy, and makes goals reality.

If you’re going to break through to those sought-after outcomes, you need a new business design.

Would you rather push yourself to make a business work that’s designed to earn $75k per year? Or push yourself to make a business work that’s designed to make $250k per year? Or $1m per year?

It’s the same amount of work. But the work is different and the decisions are different–because the design is different.

Time to commit.

This is why it’s important to talk about 6, 7, and 8-figure businesses. If you don’t know how those businesses work, you can’t design a business that performs that way—nor do you have the information you need to make an informed decision about whether you want to build that kind of business or not.

I assure you: if you want to build a 7-figure business, you can. It’s available to you. It might take you time, research, and experimentation to find the right business design to hit that number. But it’s out there and it is yours if you want it.

Right now, you can choose to work hard at a 5-figure business design or you can choose to work hard at a 7-figure business design.

Yes, people use these numbers to wow you and glitzify you–but under all that is a real need to exposure yourself to something different so you can make an informed decision about the business you want to build.

What will you choose?

I truly hope you choose to stop getting by and start getting ahead with a fresh business design. To help, I’ve created a set of free training focused on guiding you through making simple tweaks that allow you to earn more at a more predictable pace.

Register below to get started or click here for more information.

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You Have to Fall In Love With the “Business Stuff” Too

Jasmine Star, photographer & blogger, on Profit. Power. Pursuit. with Tara Gentile

“I just want to get this business stuff figured out so I can get back to the stuff I actually like.”

I hear that all. the. time.

The thing is, the “business stuff” never goes away. The business stuff is what keeps paying the bills. The business stuff is what allows you to do creative, meaningful work.

And here’s another thing: the business stuff is your job.

Jasmine Star told me, “I am a photographer 20% of the time, and an entrepreneur and business woman 80% of the time.”

Lori Allen told me, “What people think is your job and what is really your job are often two different things.”

If this is the case (and it is), you’ve got to find a way to fall in love with the business stuff.

You can’t just tolerate it, you can’t just push through it.

You have to fall in love with it.

How do you do that?

Start with picking 1 thing about starting or growing your business that you’ve more-than-tolerated, maybe even enjoyed.

Product photography? Getting on the phone with prospects? Making marketing videos? Looking at your numbers?

Create a plan to go all in on that 1 thing.

How would you structure your business differently if you went all in on product photography?

How would you structure your business differently if you went all in on getting on the phone with prospects? Making marketing videos? Looking at your numbers?

Having a focus like that will start making the chemistry happen in other places of your business as well.

Still don’t think you can fall in love with the business side of your business?

Click here to read a very personal story.

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The Incredibly Valuable Opportunity Gap Between Relationship Marketing & Conversion Marketing

The sweet spot is in the gap between conversion marketing and relationship marketing

In digital commerce businesses, there are essentially two schools of thought. For the purpose of this piece, I will call them Conversion Marketing and Relationship Marketing.

Whether a business is in one or the other school is largely determined by the promise the business owner was sold at the beginning of their digital commerce journey.

In Relationship Marketing, the promise is this: you can create content that people love, causing them to love you in turn, and causing them to buy what you sell as a result. You create relationships with people through your digital persona and that relationship builds enough trust to prompt an eventual sale.

This promise is predominantly being sold to life coaches, health coaches, bloggers, brand strategists, career gurus, lifestyle mentors, and anyone tempted to create a clever entrepreneurial portmanteau for their title. It’s being peddled (at surface level) predominantly by beautiful women and the men who adore them.

In Conversion Marketing, the promise is this: you can create content that people are in need of, causing them to click on an ad or message with that content in it, allowing those people to become aware of a product you are selling, and then converting them to a customer over time. You fill information gaps with knowledge (via experience or research), put it in front of the right people, and so precisely fill the need those people have that a certain percentage of prospects will always buy.

This promise is predominantly being sold to niche information marketers, agencies, business service providers, and SaaS entrepreneurs. It’s being peddled by guys who made their first millions selling ebooks to Scrabble-tile jewelry makers and gun-hoarding survivalists.

The building blocks between the two methods are virtually identical. However, the philosophies behind them and the procedure for exploiting them couldn’t be more different.

I predominantly work with business owners in the Relationship Marketing school. I primarily network with and learn from business owners in the Conversion Marketing school. My own business has been built squarely in the incredibly valuable opportunity gap between the two schools.

When I talk to people steeped in either school of thought and introduce them to the “prevailing wisdom” of either, they’re floored. They often don’t even realize the other school of thought exists. This might seem crazy–but it’s true. 

If you want to generate more revenue, grow your business in line with your personal values, and still put a lot of heart and soul into everything you do, building your business in that opportunity gap is the only way to do it.


The core problem with Relationship Marketing is not that it lacks strategic rigor (it does), it’s that liking you isn’t a good reason to buy from you. It relies on manipulating the potential customer into thinking that hanging out with you is in their best interest.

If you wouldn’t charge someone to hang out after school with you to try the newest neighborhood ice cream stand, don’t charge someone to hang out with you online to talk about the latest personal development trend. Liking or hanging out with someone is not a value proposition.

Good, well-meaning people fall into this trap. Every time I see a sales page that’s focused on helping you speak your truth or live your best life, I know that trap has been sprung. If I can’t tell how your product aligns with a customers’ true need or goal, the effect (whether intentional or not) is asking people to hang out with you for a price.

Another big problem with trying to be likable so others buy from you is that you end up changing yourself and your choices to appear more aligned with what your perceived audience likes. This does not necessarily mean just making your hair blonder, your waist thinner, or your yoga mat cleaner. It also includes becoming more vulgar (if that’s your schtick—and there are more than a few of those folks out there), becoming geekier, or telling everyone how much you don’t GAF precisely because you really GA a lot of Fs.

You were attracted to this form of marketing so that you could just be yourself and, instead, you find yourself becoming someone else. Of course, “being yourself” isn’t marketing. Being yourself is being yourself—something we should all be able to do regardless of the ROI on who you are.

Finally, likability doesn’t scale. You will get people who will buy from you just because they like you. Often, you’ll get people to buy from you just because you bought from them. But in the end, if you’re not delivering something people actually need, your offers will peter out and you’ll be forced to find new ways to get the same people to pay to hang out with you.

With incredibly few, unreplicable exceptions, if you see someone who has predominantly marketed themselves or their business on their likability factor that has scaled to mass volume, you can bet they’ve put some serious money, strategy, and analysis into that success.

Have you fallen into any of the traps of Relationship Marketing? Here are some things you might have thought over the years that indicate you have:

  • I can’t email my list any more than this because they might not like me and unsubscribe.
  • I don’t want to write good headlines for my blog posts because people will think I’m just like those other guys.
  • Everything I’ve done so far has been really organic, if I try to get strategic now people will probably leave.
  • I shouldn’t need to advertise—people should just be naturally attracted to what I’m creating.
  • I’m not going to use a popup because if people like my content, they’ll find a way to subscribe.

The truth is that there have been times when I have said or thought these things too. However, because I study Conversion Marketing, I know that each of these things is proven—over and over again—to increase ROI, customer satisfaction, long-term growth, brand awareness, and more.

But let’s look at Conversion Marketing more closely.


For our purposes, I’m going to define Conversion Marketing—also known as Direct Response Marketing—as the practice of using analysis and metrics to understand a market, create to their specifications, and scale. 

There are a number of problems with pure Conversion Marketing as well. The first is that most people selling to aspiring success stories in this space are selling a formula or proven procedure for results. It can seem like making $10k every night while you’re asleep is just a 5-step process away.

The thing that’s so seductive about these processes is that there is a lot of good information and strategy behind them. You can learn a lot by immersing yourself in one of these formulas. However, the wholesale execution of that same formula will likely not bring about the promised results.

This is because the creators of these formulas discount their own knowledge and understanding of the markets they’re selling to and, also, other people’s formulas. As an example, Ryan Levesque—creator of the Ask system—has made millions of dollars in unusual niches following the survey funnel system he teaches. However, when it came to a mass launch of a digital program based on the marketing system itself, he chose to incorporate Jeff Walker’s video-based Launch system into his campaign.

Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this. That was a brilliant approach to the campaign. However, I would bet that more people were paying attention to the quiz and funnel parts of the system than to the way he adapted his own process to better fit his needs.

Another problem with Conversion Marketing is that it tends to teach that data can tell the whole story. Your page views, CPC, CPL, conversion rate, survey responses, etc… show you exactly what to do next, if only you know how to correctly interpret and manipulate the information at hand.

Data does tell you a great deal about your next moves, especially (and this is a huge caveat) when it is the right data interpreted the right way.

However, there is a reason that big businesses with giant marketing budgets and access to incredible amounts of data are hiring anthropologists at an increasing rate:

People are data, too.

For every click, for every lead, for every conversion, there’s a person there. They have fears, desires, goals, and a distinct worldview. The best marketers care about those things beyond the numbers. They know that each customer’s unique experience must influence the way data is interpreted. 

Have you fallen into the traps of Conversion Marketing? Here are some indicators:

  • You (or your team) spend more time parsing spreadsheets than talking to customers.
  • Your offers are full of low-hanging fruit.
  • You make decisions about campaigns or products based solely on data.
  • A/B testing is the only way you decide what works.

Measured against customer interviews and research, any of these tactics is a win. But used on their own, the growth of the business is severely limited.


As I mentioned earlier, I’ve built my business straddling the divide between these two schools of thought. The dirty little secret of digital commerce is that so has anyone else who’s made good money online doing something they love.

The beautiful women (and the men who adore them) who espouse the benefits of Relationship Marketing are paying close attention to their conversation rates, cost per clicks, paid traffic campaigns, and survey result spreadsheets. The guys selling to the Scrabble-tile jewelry makers and the gun-hoarding survivalists send personal emails to customers and get on the phone for in-depth research.

Don’t believe me?

Note: None of these references are an endorsement or a disavowal. They’re just references.

Derek Halpern talks about how he conducts phone interviews in this episode of Smart Passive Income.

Danielle LaPorte talks about how GTFL (Grow the F*%&ing List) is the top priority of her business (just after self-expression) in this episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit.

Kimra Luna spends massive amounts on ads and talks about it on Rick Mulready’s podcast.

Brian Clark and team give a weekly masterclass on the intersection between the two schools of thought every week on the Digital Entrepreneur podcast.

When you combine the best of Relationship Marketing with the best of Conversion Marketing, you discover an incredible opportunity. You can be human and run your business with smart practices. You can be data-driven and relationship-focused. You can optimize for profit and maximize for loyalty.

Now, there’s not some vast conspiracy here (that I know of—and I think I would have uncovered that by now). What happens is that you get yourself into an information silo as a business owner or aspiring entrepreneur. You only listen to the Marie Forleos and you don’t realize there’s a whole other school of thought; or, you only listen to the Frank Kerns and you don’t realize there’s a group of people doing things entirely differently.

The popular kids in each of these schools of thought, however, are not siloed. They’re networking with each other. They’re finding out what’s really working for who and why. They’re trading best practices and opening up about their standard operating procedures.

This is the real lesson here.

You have to talk to people who do things differently to get better at what you yourself do. Any information silo in your business will hurt your long-term growth and eventually damage what you’ve worked so hard to build.

After reading this post, your first step is to step out of your information silo. You’ll need to introduce yourself to some new ideas and some different ways of thinking. There are resources for this linked below.

Some of these ideas will absolutely challenge you. Your assumptions about what’s important about the way you create content, offers, and relationships may be upended (no matter what school of thought you find yourself in now).

Remember to keep your personal business values front and center. That doesn’t mean that you ignore information that doesn’t make you feel comfortable or validated. It means that you objectively weigh whether what you perceive as a guiding principle of your business is based on what you truly believe or based on what you’re hoping to avoid to stay comfortable and safe.



Copyhackers blog with Joanna Wiebe and family
Being Boss podcast with Kathleen Shannon & Emily Thompson
Perpetual Traffic podcast with leaders from Digital Marketer
Startup Chat podcast with Steli and Hiten
Creative Giants podcast with Charlie Gilkey
Social Media Marketing podcast with Michael Stelzner
Of course, I’d like to suggest my podcast, Profit. Power. Pursuit., too.

Beyond breaking out of your information silo, I want to give you a set of challenges to complete so that you can start to position your business in the opportunity gap, too.

1) Choose 3 metrics to start tracking on a daily or weekly basis. Make them metrics that actually indicate the potential for sales (i.e. Facebook Likes are not a good metric but things like email subscribers, sales page views, or ad click through rate might be).

2) Get on the phone with 3 business owners this month who do things differently than you do. Don’t just compare notes with your friends–make friends with someone new. 

3) For at least 1 month, regularly use content from 3 new sources (I find podcasts to be the most helpful for this–but blogs work, too) outside your comfort zone.

4) Talk with at least 3 of your best customers this month to find out how they’re doing right now. Get curious about them–not how your business relates to them–and ask open-ended questions about their situation.

Just like with any opportunity gap, positioning yourself in it takes intentional behavior and new habits. These 4 challenges will help you do just that.

In the end, remember there’s always more to the story. Whether your mentors or favorite bloggers are in the Relationship Marketing school or the Conversion Marketing school, dig a little deeper on everything they say or write. Ask yourself why and how what they’re talking about works. That’s the ultimate marketing hack.