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    It’s a lazy, sunny Sunday here in New Zealand. My husband and I have just purchased a 4 acre lifestyle block – eeee! – and it is sucking away every moment of free time we have right now. It’s wonderful to be spending so much time outside, doing physical labour, feeling the satisfaction of dirt under your nails and a sun on your arms. I haven’t had such restful sleep in years! We have a lot of work ahead of us before we can even begin to build our dream home, but we’re excited about building our future in this place.

    Since it’s a lazy Sunday, and you might be spending the day thinking about your business and catching up on your Internet reading, I thought I’d link you up to some of my most recent articles for writers and small businesses around the web:

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  • How to Make Money from Selling Handmade

    The handmade movement is booming all over the world, and is becoming a real force in the market. Aimed at countering mass-produced consumerism, “buy handmade” has become a mantra of many disenchanted consumers, and owners of small handmade businesses are benefitting. People want less stuff, and they want to feel connected to the stuff they DO buy – they want to know things are ethically produced, they want to feel as though they KNOW the person who created an object. They’re tired of mass-produced crap.

    But handmade businesses just can’t compete with the prices of goods from China, and the economies of scale for larger companies mean most small business owners are struggling with increasingly small profit margins.

    As an example: two brightly colored wool hats sell in a clothing store for $30. One hat was made in China, shipped to the country and sold to the retailer by a large hat-buying chain for $15. The retailer makes $15 and that hat-buying chain makes $8. The costs of shipping, storage, freight and packaging add up to $7.5 and the Chinese hat maker earns about .50c.

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  • Your Services as Products, or how I earn buttloads of money as a writer.

    I’ve been utterly blown away by the response to my new writing packages. You guys were so enthusiastic I spent nearly every waking moment before we left for Germany creating press releases and writing blogs and talking on Skype at all hours of the morning and night. (That’s the only problem with doing consulting from New Zealand – we’re so far ahead of the rest of you, I’m always having to wake up at 4am to talk to someone. It’s all good, though.)

    I’m still taking orders for new writing packages, but keep in mind I am on holiday. And it’s a real holiday too, meaning I’m not working till I get back to New Zealand on the 16 August.

    Some of you have been emailing asking why I decided to create writing packages. “Surely,” someone said, “you’d be better off sticking with your old services page?”

    After reminding him my name is Steff, not Shirley, I assured him I’ve had a much better response to the packages than I ever did to my “hire me” page, even when I promoted my services quite heavily.

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  • Epic Interrogation with NYT Best-Selling Urban Fantasy Author Jeaniene Frost

    [dropcap]I[/dropcap]’ve got vampires on the brain.

    I blame it the kobo website, who has cottoned on to the fact I like books about bloodsuckers, so sends me daily emails about the latest fanged thrillers. I blame Poppy Z Brite, whose book Lost Souls restored my love of erotic horror, after it had been shattered by the Twilight books (which, to be fair, had a lot of the erotic but not nearly enough horror). And I blame today’s guest, New York Times Best-Selling author of steamy vampire urban fantasy, Jeaniene Frost, for getting my vampire on four years ago with Halfway to the Grave.

    But Jeaniene Frost isn’t just an author, she’s in part responsible for bringing vampires and urban fantasy back into the mainstream, and her legions of fans worldwide (her novels have been translated into seventeen languages) attest to her remarkable ability to write amazing books and get them in front of the people who want to read them. I’m thrilled to sparkling bits to have Jeaniene here today for an Epic Interrogation about how she kicks ass with her creative business:
    Firstly, we’d just like to know who you are, what you write, and what’s new in the world of Jeaniene Frost?
    Thank you so much for having me. I’m the author of the Night Huntress series and Night Huntress World novels, which are urban fantasy romances containing vampires, ghouls, ghosts, demons, and a sprinkling of black magic. The most recent novel to hit the shelves was This Side of the Grave, and my next novel is One Grave at a Time, which releases August 30th.

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  • The Rise of the Personality Brand (and what it means for your creative business)

    [dropcap]L[/dropcap]a Carmina says it best: ” I love every aspect of my work; it feels like play, so I don’t mind the long hours … For example, Sebastiano and I are going to Hong Kong, where we’ll be having “fun” at a Macau hotel-resort opening, cute cooking lessons, and an art fair. But the trip and apartment are sponsored, and these activities are material for paid AOL Travel articles, my blog, and other projects.”

    If I could be so bold (what? Me? Bold?) I’d say personality branding is probably the biggest marketing innovation brought on by the internet – and, in particular, Web 2.0. Many bloggers have built full-time businesses by embracing the concept of personality branding.

    So what is personality branding? Basically, it’s creating a caricature of yourself that’s saleable. This means, you put yourself “out there” as a particular type of person, you attract readers/viewers/customers who WANT to be the same type of person, and you sell them things that will help them become that type of person. They might be things you’ve made yourself, or they might be things from companies who see

    La Carmina, this week’s Epic Interrogation victim, is one of the best examples of personality branding I’ve ever seen. The La Carmina we see through her blog and her other projects is outgoing, fun, quirky, upbeat, stylish, and an advocate for alternative subcultures the world over. She sells herself and her lifestyle through her TV work, collaborations with companies and her books. But what she’s really selling is her lifestyle (and personal style). Thats why she can make money with adverts on her site.

    The real-life La Carmina is much more complex. She probably has grumpy days, and walks around the house in her pyjamas, and yells when her boyfriend eats all the peanut butter. She’s probably interested in things that have nothing to do with gothic subculture or Japan.

    But you won’t see her writing about any of these things. Why? Because she knows her blog isn’t a personal diary – its business, and insanely fun business, at that. But even though her readers probably don’t realise it, the La Carmina they see on the blog has been filtered with a selective eye. What works with her personal brand is put up – what doesn’t work, is kept to herself. We see the cumulative effect of all her efforts, and we fall in love.

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  • Burlesque, birdbaths and titillating for money: Epic Interrogations with Leda Petit

    Leda Petit is a bit of a legend around my neighbhourhood. New Zealand’s own Queen of New Zealand burlesque, her talents range from tantalizing solo shows to corporate events, group performances and private parties. Leda’s also the sprightly lass in charge of the Auckland branch of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art Group, where young artists (such as […]

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  • Epic Interrogration: Interview with Sam Browne of Findaband.co.nz

    Welcome to the first in what will hopefully be a grymm and epic series of interviews with inspiring creatives. Every Monday, I’ll be posting an “Epic Interrogation” with someone awesome who’s made his or her creativity into a business. We’ll drink cheap beer and talk inspiration, money, promotion, and all that jazz.

    This week, I’m talking to Sam Browne, a kiwi musician and entrepreneur who has created a series of unique websites – Findaband, Findadj and Weddingbands. Sam’s band, Black River Drive, have been doing amazing things here in NZ, but I’ll let Sam tell you all about that, as well as game shows, wine in the evenings, and opening for Bon Jovi!

    Welcome, Sam!


    Firstly, we just want to know who you are, and what you do:

    I started playing music properly when I was 13. but as young as 3 I was pulling pots and pans out of the cupboard to play along to my parents’ music collection (which, happily, is vast). They are not musicians but are music lovers and so miniature instruments appeared soon after – a ukelele and then a tiny drum kit. So the seeds were sown early on.

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  • Building a Blog Following with Clout and Style

    [dropcap]I[/dropcap]f you run any kind of business online, you’re probably attempting to capitalize on the aweosmeness that is blogging. And why not? It’s pretty cool having a loyal following of readers who eagerly await the next update from your life, and constantly send you cool emails filled with interesting facts. But if you’ve just set up your blog, you’re probably wondering how to bring people to it.

    The truth is, if you want to give blogging a real shot, you need to dedicate a YEAR of your life to getting it started. That’s 12 months to write tons of content, find readers, meet other bloggers, and get a real community spirit going. After a year, you should be able to take a step back and look at your blog and say “yeah, I’ve got the hang of this blogging thing.” You can’t simply spam a few sites with your URL and expect to see an instant spike in traffic.

    I know. Odin save me I know. I have received very few “lucky breaks” in my blogging career. I’m under the radar of my A-listers. I’ve never had a link that tripled my traffic overnight. I’ve worked my ass off for every single reader. This shit is hard work, yo.

    So, if you’re blogging away in your little bloggy world, how do you get people to pay attention?

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  • Your Press Kit: Pimp Your Business in the Media

    I write a lot of press kits for Etsy shops, niche websites and non-profit companies, and I can tell you right now, if you want to do something this year to grow your business, and you don’t have a press kit or some kind of media-schmoozing strategy, now might be a good time to consider […]

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