January Harbingers

January 12, 2009

Usually the first week of January brings a pile of checks – businesses wanting to pay off things at the end of the year to save on taxes.

That didn’t happen this year. First year ever for me..


Year End Money Flow

January 5, 2009

It’s the first week of January. In normal years, this is the time when lots of early payments come in – customers paying things at the end of 2008 so that they can take the tax deduction.. and if the envelope sits in the out basket for just a few days..

I wonder if it will be the same this year. Will I get as much paid up as I used to? Will the customers let the checks age a few more days before mailing them?

We’ll see.. I hope it’s not a bust because I paid off some things early too – anticipating that I’d have the cash flow to match. That might not work out..


E-Book Sales

January 4, 2009

My E-Books are doing well – running about $200.00 a month in sales.  I expect that to improve of course and one of the things I did to help that process was to hire Men With Pens to design three graphics that I can use as covers and on my website.  Those guys were very easy to work with and the price was very reasonable.  I really like the results and only refused two concepts before getting exactly what I had hoped for.

On the SEO front,  I noticed that these books hit the Google sweet spot for at least some of the phrases I wanted them to rank with, so I’m happy about that.

The graphics definitely improved click-thrus to the sales pages – easily four times more than what I was getting with text links, so I’m very happy about that investment.  Unfortunately, conversions haven’t risen proportionally. It’s only been a few days – could be too early to say, but I probably do need to do a better job on my sales copy..  oh well, there’s always something to work on, right?


Grab the reins – now is the best time of all!

December 23, 2008

By the way,  I just made this “Responsibility and Honesty- watch your back!” post at my APLawrence.com site.  It’s related to Self Employment but I posted it there because I really want some feedback and there are very few readers here so far..

Anyway, on my ride in to the job described there, I was thinking how easy it is to work for yourself today.

Think about reaching customers.  According to Google Analytics, my APLawrence site has seen 2,494,647 Unique Views so far this year.   Imagine what it would have cost to reach that many potential customers before the Internet.  Never mind the cost of producing two and a half million catalogs or letters to mail; just the cost of the postage alone is staggering!

Some years back, I had a national 800 number for the convenience of my customers – phone service has become so cheap today that nobody hesitates to dial any number in the same country – and even International calls aren’t all that expensive now!

Years back, I had to hire an answering service too.   A pager was an absolute necessity. Voice mail and cell phones took care of both those expenses.

This is an incredibly wonderful time to work for yourself!


Sandbox

December 21, 2008

I’m not sure where he’s going with this, but..

http://mark-hayward.com/the-social-media-sandbox/


Attitudes toward self employment

December 21, 2008

You may already use Google Alerts. This is a free service where you tell Google that you’d like to be notified of any new search results that match keywords you enter. I have alerts set for a number of subjects, and one of them is “self employment”.

Alerts on that subject arrive almost every day, and are usually announcements of government programs encouraging or helping people to start small businesses. These come from all over the world, but I’ve noticed that very, very few come from the United States.

That seems odd to me. Small businesses are the very life blood of the U.S. economy. I was listening to a recent radio show about the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, and the strongest current throughout was the lack of small businesses. The mega-corps can of course roll back into New Orleans whenever they wish, but the Mom and Pop stores and services have a much harder time recovering from disasters like this. But it is these small businesses that are what is important, not the large corporations.

Our Congress is frantic over the idea that the large auto makers might fail, but really it’s the small business that matter. Of course it’s true that failure of the big auto firms would affect some small businesses too, but I don’t believe for a minute that Congress really cares about that. They may give that idea lip service, but I think that’s all it is.

The smallest of the small is the self-employed, and that group, although it is a large number of people and growing, is nearly invisible to Government.

I say there a negative attitude toward self employment in the U.S. Does the rarity of Google alerts referencing U.S. news on self employment show that?

This might just be a matter of terminology: reports of similar programs in the U.S. may use terms like “small business” rather than “self employment”, but even if that is the main reason, I think it points out an attitude that is pro-business but not favorable to self employment. The U.S. seems to be strongly in favor of “business” and “employees”, but has negative attitudes toward “self employed”.

Government programs to help the unemployed are common in the U.S. and most countries, but the U.S. seems to steer people toward looking for a job rather than looking for income. This report about
Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors’ Attitudes Toward Self-Employment suggests:

In vocational rehabilitation, for example, even though self-employment is a legitimate option, supervisors may convey or staff may develop the attitude that competitive employment in existing jobs is preferred or that the use of self-employment as an option is discouraged.

On the other hand, the European Commission’s Directorate General Enterprise and Industry conducts a regular survey examining attitudes toward self employment. The results seem to indicate that Europeans are more likely to be afraid of self employment, while Americans have more positive attitudes.

Those are contradictory indications. It may be that the programs of other countries exist and are reported more because those countries realize they need to encourage small business and self employment: perhaps the U.S. has less governmental support because Americans don’t need much encouragement to be self employed?

I think there is evidence of both: American government may have bias toward larger corporations, but American workers are less enamored of that environment. The situation seems to be the opposite in the rest of the world, perhaps because U.S. politicians are less aware of how important small independent businesses are.

If this is true, I have to wonder why.  It seems that European politics is just as dirty and corrupt as it is here so the idea that Congress loves Big Business because that’s where contributions come from doesn’t seem to wash.


Home Office Guilt

December 21, 2008

I see a lot of people using two monitors now.  It’s great to have your main app on one screen and everything else on another.

I’d love to do that. I sometimes DO hook up another monitor, but mostly I sit here at the (relatively) tiny screen of my MacBook Pro.

It’s not so horrible – I Apple-Tab between apps – but I really would like to have two.. or three..maybe more?

But every time I hook the other one up I start feeling guilty about wasting electricity. This is from someone who never turns anything else off for “convenience”.

But all that stuff isn’t staring at me like that monitor does as it defiantly sips power. I can see the printer, but it only has a tiny light. The Verizon router has lots of lights but it’s under my desk. The half dozen vampire plugs ready to service my cell phone, the battery charger, the bluetooth and who even remembers what else are all on outlet bars that could be shut off.. but they are under the desk too.. and when the MacBook sleeps, that little blinking light is surely meaningless, right?

That darn monitor is just too big and bright.  I can’t ignore it, even when it is in power saving mode.

I should put the monitor under the desk. No, that wouldn’t work..