Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Developing a Membership Site (Part 3 of 5)

This is the third in a five-part series on starting a membership site for your careers industry business. Read part 1 of the series here, and part 2 here.

Quick, what is it about a running a membership site that makes you NOT want to run one? If you’re like most resume writers, the idea of having to come up with new content -- week after week, with no end in sight -- is a major downside.

The majority of resume writers live on billable hours. You get paid for the resumes you write. If you're not writing, you're not earning. I talk to a lot of resume writers who want the dream: Passive income and recurring revenue. A membership site fulfills both goals.

And yet if you run certain types of membership sites, it can feel like a job. You can’t see yourself running off to play on some exotic beach when you need to develop and upload new content at least once a week or more.

One possible solution is to outsource this task. That is, you hire someone else to upload the content every week when you’re not available. But outsourcing comes with its own problems -– namely, you need to 100% trust your service provider to upload the content on time.

So if you haven’t yet developed a relationship with a freelancer (or virtual assistant), you probably won’t feel comfortable leaving your business (and your customers’ satisfaction) in a stranger’s hands.

Now before you toss aside the idea of ever having a vacation while running a membership site, let me give you two game-changing words: Autoresponder delivery. 

You see, with a traditional membership site, all members get the exact same content. So the person who just joined today is going to get the same content this month as the person who’s been a member for a year. Next month, everyone gets the same content again. (This is how my membership site works -- but your membership site doesn't have to be like this.)

Obviously, this doesn’t make sense if you’re running a training site. That is, you want everyone to start with lesson #1 and get the lessons in order. So the person who joins today gets lesson #1. Meanwhile, the longtime member may be getting lesson #50.

The solution? A true “set-it-and-forget-it” model, which you can achieve by delivering all the content using an autoresponder.

Here’s how it works…

  1. You create content for your entire course. So if you have a yearlong course with weekly lessons, you’d create 52 lessons. If you have a three-month course with weekly lessons, you’d create 12 lessons. 
  2. Next, you need to get an autoresponder through a service like or Simply load up your messages into your autoresponder. Set the first lesson to go out immediately after the customer joins the course. Set each subsequent message to go out on a weekly basis. 
  3. Now you create your sales letter and insert your order button (from a payment processor that accepts recurring billing, such as PayPal).
  4. Drive traffic to your site. Here you can use all the usual methods of driving traffic, such as affiliate and joint venture partners, content marketing, pay-per-click marketing, social media marketing, and similar.
  5. Play golf (or whatever). Now the members roll in and your autoresponder takes care of the rest, leaving you free to do what you want! 
Just imagine: You could set up multiple autoresponder-based, fixed-term membership sites. Just set one up, drive traffic to it, and move on to setting up the next one. Rinse and repeat and you'll have both passive income and recurring revenue.

In tomorrow's blog post: Once you've got people subscribed to your fixed-term membership site, don't stop there! You can sell them other membership sites (a graduate-level course, perhaps!), special reports, and training programs. Your membership site can also bring you new resume customers!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Developing a Membership Site (Part 2 of 5)

In Part 1 this blog series on developing a membership site, you’ll notice that I gave an example of an eight-week course. That was no accident.

You see, most people who think of “membership sites” think of content that’s delivered weekly or monthly… indefinitely. Members pay month after month and the owners deliver month after month.

This works fairly well for some types of sites -- and if you have hours and hours each week to devote to creating new content. But if you’re running a training site, your members are going to drift away if you just give them tips and tricks indefinitely. And they might even bail out a couple months after joining, simply because there’s no end in sight.

So here’s what you do instead…
Create a fixed-term membership site. This is a site that runs for a specific period of time, such as 30 days, eight weeks, three months, six months, 12 months… or any length of your choosing.

Tip: For best results, create a step-by-step series as described in Part 1 of this article. 

Here’s why this works…
Imagine if your site went on indefinitely. Someone might join and, after a couple months, quit. That’s pretty normal. But if the course only stretches out for six months, psychologically the customers will feel better if they just remain a member for the entire six months. They want to see it through to the end.

This is actually a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) trick. Simply put, people don’t like unfinished business. That’s why they’ll even read books they don’t like or watch boring movies – once they’ve invested some time into the activity, they want to see it through to the end.

While just creating a fixed-term site created this psychological commitment to your course, you can make the commitment even stronger by building anticipation for the upcoming lessons. That is, from the very first lesson you work on “selling” the other lessons.
  • Build anticipation for the whole course in lesson #1. Your first lesson should include an overview of all the lessons. But don’t just write it out like a table of contents. Instead, write it like bullet points to a sales letter. 
Example: “In Lesson #3, you’ll discover a simple trick that will triple your job interviews!” In other words, arouse curiosity whenever possible.
  • Build anticipation for the next lesson at the end of each lesson. At the end of each lesson you’ll want to include something like, “Stay tuned for next week’s lesson, where you’ll find out the three things you must do to prepare for your job interview!”
  • Build anticipation for future lessons and bonuses periodically. Finally, from time to time, you should remind members of upcoming lessons. For example, in lesson #5 you might remind members of a particularly valuable lesson or bonus that you’re offering in lesson #9. Again, write it like a sales letter bullet, where you arouse curiosity and put forth a benefit. 
The biggest challenge in running a membership site is retaining members.

With a typical membership site, your members may only stick around for two or three months. But you can quickly and easily ensure that more of your members stay around for six months, 12 months, or even longer by creating a fixed-term membership site!

In tomorrow's blog post, we'll talk about how to create a "set-it-and-forget-it" membership system. Develop it once and have it earn passive income for you, month after month, year after year.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Developing a Membership Site (Part 1 of 5)

So you want to start a membership site.

The first thing you need to think about is your niche and your topic.

Now think about this for a moment…

Your goal is to get members to happily pay you month after month for content. Obviously, that means you need to:
  • Over-deliver with quality content. You want your members to feel like they’re getting a steal for the price. 
  • Give your members what they want. If you’re just starting your site, then look at what products job seekers are already paying for -- and think of how you can turn that into a membership site.

But here’s something else…

In order to get your members paying month after month, you need to be able to make them look forward to each upcoming lesson. And the best way to do that is by creating a membership site around a step-by-step process. That is, your lessons teach your members how to achieve a specific result. 

You see, if you just provide tips and tricks for your members, there’s no sense of continuity. Your members don’t develop as strong of a psychological commitment to staying a member, because they won’t have a need to see the course through until the end.

Now imagine having numbered steps and lessons instead. When someone is receiving lesson 10 of a step-by-step process, they’ve made an investment of time and money into learning the process – so they are less likely to “bail” before they’ve received all the steps.

Let me give you a few examples of sites that teach a specific achievement or result using a step-by-step process:
· 30-Day Plan to Get Your Dream Job
· How to get interviews for almost any job you apply for
· Creating and optimizing your LinkedIn profile
· Using social media (Twitter, Facebook) in your job search

Now let me give you an example of what a 8-week job search course might look like:

Step 1: Articulate your dream job.

Step 2: Identify likely employers.

Step 3: Begin building your network.

Step 4: Update your job search materials (resume, cover letter, networking letter, etc.)

Step 5: Make contacts/target hiring managers.

Step 6: Prepare for the interview.

Step 7: Post-interview followup methods.

Step 8: Success! Negotiate your terms, thank your network, and plan for your first 90 days in the new position.

Notice how each step builds on the previous step.

It starts with setting a job search goal… and ends with negotiating the new job offer.

In other words, if the member completes the steps as the course progresses, he or she should be able to enjoy a specific achievement or result by the end of the course.

Note: The above example is an 8-week course. Naturally, you could easily stretch this out to three months, six months, or even a year or more by creating more steps and more in-depth steps. You could go on indefinitely as long as you kept providing more advanced info as the course progressed.

One final tip…To keep your customers happy, make sure that they are progressing and enjoying results right from the beginning.

Example: If you create a yearlong course, don’t stretch out the process for a year. Instead, give the step-by-step instructions your customers need to experience some type of results immediately (within a few weeks or month after joining) and then provide more in-depth instructions as the course progresses.

In short: Satisfy your customers’ needs for instant gratification while still providing the continuity that will keep them as a member. You’ll learn more about that in Part 2 of this series. 

- And stay tuned for the launch of the Career Membership Sites Made Easy program -- a step-by-step guide to help you set up and launch your own fixed-term membership site in 48 hours or less.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Using Social Media to Maximize Your Content Distribution

When does 1+1=3?

When you can leverage individual efforts to create greater effect. Marketing efforts are more powerful and effective when they work together. For example, if you have a social networking account you probably have social networking buttons on your blog or website. You invite people to share on Facebook, for example, and like your Facebook business page too.

Your content marketing strategy is probably your most important and effective marketing tactic in your strategy. (See last week's blog post about creating a content strategy.) Content, after all, is what drives visitors to your website. It makes sense to blend your content marketing efforts with your social media efforts for a really powerful strategy.

Here are a few ideas or strategies to integrate your content marketing and social media efforts.

1. Linking. Each time you publish an article or blog post, link to it from social networking sites. You can try different approaches to test which works best. Does a straight headline with a link work? Or does your audience prefer a teaser paragraph and a link? Some marketers have found that asking a question works best to motivate click throughs from social networking sites.

2. Publish full articles. Some social media sites provide room for full articles. For example, LinkedIn and Facebook Fan pages both give you room to publish an abundance of content.

3. Include social media buttons on your site and in your content. If you have a blog, there are plug-ins that you can add to integrate social media buttons at the top of each blog post. You can also include a call to action in some or all of your posts. You can include a signature that says, "Like this post? Share it on Facebook."

4. If you're using article marketing to drive traffic to your site, you can link to those published articles from your social media accounts. You can also include a "Follow me on Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn" or whatever sites you use. This helps broaden your audience and your awareness.

5. Use content to grow your social media connections. Each article or blog post should ideally have a purpose. You may want to promote an affiliate link. You may want to drive traffic to your opt-in page. You can also use content to build your social network following. Include a call to action at the bottom of your article or blog post and link to your profile.

There is tremendous potential here. You can also use social media comments or questions to create content for your site. You can also integrate them both into your email marketing strategy too.

Remember that each marketing tactic is more powerful when it is integrated with your other existing marketing tactics. Plan your content. Plan your social networking strategy and then plan how they can work together.

Monday, November 21, 2011

"Not Enough Time to Create Great Content"

Last week, I had a series of blog posts that talked about creating a content strategy and monetizing your content. I heard from a couple of resume writers who said, "I'm so busy writing resumes, I don't have time to create lots of content." Well, just for you, I have 10 ideas to help you when you're either short on time, or worn out from writing resumes and aren't inspired to write a lot more.

1. Glean content from social marketing sites. Presumably you've interacted with other people online. Use those comments you've posted to create a quick blog post or article for your site. Or respond to a question that was posed on social media as a blog post. Add a headline, a few subheadings and tweak it for publication. The result? Quick and easy content.

2. Show some "link love." Instead of writing a full-blown article or post, link to an article or blog post and share your opinion about the content. Invite others to comment too.

3. Compile and quick print. Create a list of resources or links to articles and blog posts on a topic that is near and dear to your readers. For example, you might create a list of the top 10 career sites and link to them.

4. Photo sharing. Share a picture and ask readers to create a caption. Some bloggers actually create a specific day for their photo sharing. They call it "Wordless Wednesday" or something like that. People love to look at photos and you don't have to write a word! (If you're also an artist, you could create a cartoon and ask for captions.)

5. The best of the best. Create an article or blog post recap. Highlight and recap your top blog posts from last month, last quarter, or even last year. Focus on a specific topic to add more value. For example, "Top 10 Blog Posts Getting LinkedIn."

6. Get readers involved. Take this hurried time to create an opportunity. Publish a quiz or survey and gain valuable information about your audience.

7. Read all about it. Grab a news feed or two and share links to industry news or headlines and snippets. You can actually create a weekly or monthly post with this idea. For example you could create an end of the month news update and highlight all the newsworthy things that happened that month.

8. Roll with it. Grab your video camera and create a quick how-to video. A few minutes is plenty to provide good content and it takes less time to create a video for many than to write an article or blog post.

9. Comment Love. Share your favorite comments from the past month, quarter, or year. This shows your readers that you appreciate their feedback and gets other readers involved.

10. Editorial. Grab a headline from the news and expand on it. Share your opinion.

11. Quotable. Share a quote that inspires you, makes you laugh or is relevant to jobseekers. It's a simple cut-and-paste blog post!

Don't have time to write a blog post or article? No problem. Use one of these ideas each week and you'll keep your readers happy.

Friday, November 18, 2011

How to Create A Content Strategy for Your Resume Writing Business

I love talking about content. My last two blog posts were focused on monetizing your content. Here's a post from last month about writing better content. But maybe I should back up a moment and talk about how resume writers can create a "content strategy."

Do you have a content strategy? Or are you just winging it? You post a blog post when you think of something to write about, and you might have three blog posts in a row, followed by a month of non-posting. Or you decide to engage in article marketing and write 4 or 5 articles for free article sites -- but the key to those sites is quantity. You need to write 10 or 20 or even 50 articles (over time is fine -- one a week is 52 a year!) if you're going to make it a significant source of traffic for your site.

What Is a Content Strategy?
A content strategy is exactly what it sounds like. It's a plan to create, organize, market, and maximize your content. You can plan a week in advance, a month, a quarter or even a year in advance. When you have a content strategy in place, the process of creating content for your blog or website becomes much easier. It's also easier to outsource it when you know exactly what you need.

Here are seven questions to ask yourself when creating your content strategy.

1. Where will you publish your content? 

Now this may seem like an obvious question -- on your blog or website, of course! However, you may also want to guest blog, publish on article marketing sites, and submit content to other newsletters or magazines. Think about where you want to publish your content. Then move onto the next question.

2. What types of content will you publish?

Blog posts? Articles? Reports? Downloads? That's the first question, and then you want to take a look at the formats or styles that your readers respond to. For example, maybe you find that lists are your reader's favorite articles or that they love downloadable checklists. When you know what they like, you can include it in your plan.

3. What's the goal or purpose for your content?

To have extremely effective content, you want it to have a goal or a purpose. For example, do you want to drive traffic to your website? Do you want prospective clients to email you their resume for a review? Do you want to promote an affiliate product? What about driving traffic to your opt-in page to build your mailing list? Create a purpose or goal for every piece of content you create.

4. When will you write your content?

Now that you know what you're going to publish, and you have a goal for it, it's time to schedule it. Some people write all their content at the beginning of the week or month. Others write a little bit every day. It's the same as writing resumes -- you'll find that you have a particular rhythm that works for you. There's no right or wrong way to do this, but you do want to schedule it so it gets done.

5. When will you publish/upload?

When will you publish your content? For example, will you write the content for the week on Monday and publish it on Tuesday? Blogs allow you to upload posts ahead of time and schedule them for publication. If you're using article marketing sites or have a website, then you'll want to schedule publishing time into your day. (It can be as simple as setting yourself a reminder alarm to upload your content.)

6. How can you maximize your content?

Next, plan how you can repurpose and reuse your content. For example, can you tweak the article and publish it in your newsletter? Can you share it on a social networking site? Can you collect articles and create a short report? Plan how you can use your article in other ways to make the most of your time and energy.

7. How will you market your content and use your content to market your business?

Finally, how will you make readers and prospects aware of your content? For example, will you link to it from Facebook? Publish it in your Twitter feed? Will you create a weekly wrap-up blog post or email and highlight your new articles for the week? The more people who are aware of your content, the more readers and traffic you'll have.

Once you get the hang of it, implementing your content plan to promote your resume writing business will be a quick and easy process.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

More Ways to Profit From Your Content

In yesterday's blog post, I talked about how to profit from your content using five easy strategies. With all the time, effort, energy -- and sometimes -- money that it takes to write content, it makes sense to want to earn a profit. The good news is that, with a plan in place, you can profit from your content and build your bank account.

Here are five more ways to profit from content.

1. Affiliate commissions with comparison charts

Comparison charts are charts that essentially compare similar features in several products. You'll often find them for electronics. For example, a comparison chart might compare five different smart phones in five different categories. You might create a chart to compare resume distribution services, for example.

An unorthodox way of using comparison charts might also be to review resume firms (including yours, showing why yours is the best), but becoming an affiliate for the other programs so that if the job seeker chooses another service, you'll still make some income.)

2. Affiliate commissions with resource lists in reports

Do you give away a free report to build your email list? If so, do you have a list of resources in the appendix? And are those links affiliate links? If not, you're missing out on valuable income. You might also include a few affiliate links in the body of the report.

For example, a LinkedIn free report might include links to LinkedIn products, such as this Linkedin Profile Makeover book. (Earn almost $12 for each ebook sold.)

3. Promote your opt-in list with free downloads.

Many audiences love free downloads. For example, you might offer a LinkedIn profile optimization checklist. Optimizing your resume checklist. Preparing for a job interview checklist. Researching a company checklist. The lists can be downloaded in exchange for an email address. It's a great way to build your opt-in list and profit from email marketing.

4. Create a membership program and provide monthly reports

Does your audience respond well to free reports? If so, consider creating a membership site for job seekers where you provide a monthly report. For example, you could create a series of 12 reports on these topics:

  • LinkedIn Profile Development
  • Interview Questions You Should Be Prepared to Answer
  • Interview Questions You Should Be Prepared to Ask
  • Salary Research
  • Customizing Cover Letters for Positions
  • Researching Companies

Charge even a few dollars a month for the membership (or a full-year membership for $15 or $20) and you earn a nice profit. (Note, you can also upsell in the report and offer your organization services or consulting.)

5. Drive traffic to your sales page with free downloads.

Back to those free downloads. You can use them to drive traffic to your sales page. Continuing with the checklist example, you can include a call to action at the bottom of each checklist that sends people to your website sales page where you sell an ebook, those affiliate products, or even your organization services. It's a great way to convert prospects into customers.

Take a look at your target resume customers, your current business model, and the content that your prospects respond to. Find a content monetization tool that fits your niche and start making more money from your content efforts.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How to Profit From Your Content

Content serves many purposes for resume writers. It can drive traffic to your blog or website. It can boost your credibility and authority. It can help build a community of followers. It can boost your awareness and exposure by increasing your search engine ranking. It can also simply provide your readers with valuable information. Finally, your content can also directly impact your cash flow.

Here are five ways you can profit from your content:

1. Affiliate commissions

One of the most basic ways to profit from content is to use it to generate affiliate commissions. And one of the most effective forms of promotional content is a review. People often research online before they make a purchase and if you provide information that helps them make that decision, you're essentially putting yourself in the right place at the right time. When someone is reading product or service reviews, they're already in a buying state of mind.

What kind of things can a resume writer review?

Become an affiliate for these products and you can earn commissions. (Amazon's Affiliate program for books, Clickbank for interview prep products and other services.)

2. Build your list with free report

Email marketing is still one of the best ways to make money. Anyone who signs up for your email list is a pre-qualified prospect. By signing up they've said, "I'm interested in learning more about your resume services or your career coaching services." You can create a free report to build your email list. For example, you can give away the "Questions You Should Ask in An Interview" report that was October's Pass-Along Materials from Give away the report and build your email list.

3. Sell ad space in your newsletter

Speaking of email marketing, if you have a print newsletter or ezine (e-newsletter), consider selling ad space in it. It's a great way to earn a few extra dollars. And in the meantime, while you're drumming up advertisers, you can hold their place with AdSense ads. Get your readers accustomed to seeing ads in your ezine and make money on click-throughs.

4. Drive traffic to your sales page with informative articles on article directories.

Write informative articles and publish them on article marketing sites. Make sure to include a call to action at the end of the article that drives traffic to your sales page. For example, it might say "For a free resume review, visit (Link)." You'll convert many of those click-throughs and increase your profits.

5. Boost credibility and opportunities with ebooks.

Publishing is one of the best ways to increase your credibility in your niche and become recognized as an expert. As a society, we often turn to published people for advice, insight, and their products or services. Publication establishes you. Consider writing an ebook or creating an information product. The sales you generate will boost your income and youíll also drive traffic and sales to your website.

There are a lot of ways to make money from content. We've only really scratched the surface. Take a look at your business model and use one of these ideas to grow your income.

Monday, November 14, 2011

How-To Guide to HubPages

Last week, I wrote a blog post on "Using HubPages to Build Visibility as a Resume Writer," and I received a few emails from resume writers who wanted to know more about how to do this. So here's your "how to" guide.

HubPages are essentially free web pages. As a "Hubber," you sign up for an account and begin creating your hub pages. It's a lot like creating a blog. However there are many differences too. To be a successful hubber, there are a few keys to success.

What is your hub going to be about? Who will read your hub and why? You may need to do a bit of research at this point. The more specific your hub topic, the better. For example, a hub page on resumes is too general. However a hub page on federal resumes will probably be more successful.

The secret to attracting loyal readers and followers is to appeal to a niche topic. Become the expert on that niche topic and provide a wealth of information. (Most resume writers considering using a HubPage already understand the value of niche markets when marketing your services online, so I'm preaching to the choir a bit here.) Consider doing a bit of keyword research during the planning phase as well. Use a free online keyword tool to help you brainstorm a niche. Then use the information provided to choose a niche topic that has high demand.

Plan how you're going to monetize your hubs too. The way most hubs make money is through AdSense, so keywords can be important. They also make money with affiliate marketing or to promote products you sell on Amazon or eBay. (I covered this topic in more detail in the original post.)

The foundation of a hub -- in fact, the foundation of any online website or blog -- is content. In the case of most hub pages, that means articles. Create a content plan so that each hub page you create has a specific purpose, goal, and topic. Make sure the goal and topic match your monetization choice. (Meaning: are the topics you're choosing ones that will attract advertisers interested in reaching this audience -- or, in the case of affiliate programs, are you writing content that will complement the products you're promoting?)

For example, if you're going to drive traffic to resume writing books on, then the topic of the hub needs to be relevant.

Inform and Entertain
Writing style is important to the success of your hub pages. You don't need to be an exceptional writer; however, your content does need to be interesting and valuable. Share your personality. Write conversationally. And use interesting headlines and subheadings to attract attention. People rate, share, and print your hub pages. The more interesting and valuable your content is, the better your hub pages will perform. (Photos and images are another way to add interest to your hub pages.)

Finally, if you have more than one hub page, link to your other hub pages to create flow. For example, if you have a hub page on KSAs, you might want to also have a hub page on how to use the USAJobs website. And another on how to analyze federal job postings for keywords. Link and group the pages for better results.

HubPages can be a good way to make money online. They're free. You can write on topics you love and know. And you can share your information with the world, building your visibility as a career industry professional at the same time.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Create An Interesting Logo for Your Resume Writing Business

I'm married to a graphic designer. So I'm accustomed to looking for -- and recognizing -- great design. Many years ago, when I started Resume Writers' Digest, I was the go-to source to check with before new resume writers named their resume business. My database of more than 4,000 resume writers was a good resource for checking to see if a business name had been taken.

With the advent of the member directory, I'm now getting a window into great resume writing business logos. Whether you have a free or paid account on, you can upload your business logo as part of your directory listing. (If you're not a member of the site, or you're not logged in, you can't see the business logos. But log in as a free member and you can see them!)

An interesting logo is often one of the keys to brand recognition. It's great if someone can see your logo and immediately feel connected to you and your resume writing business. That's tremendously powerful -- especially because the job search and seeking out a resume writer are intensely personal experiences. Making an emotional connection with your logo can immediately build interest, excitement, and trust. Almost every resume writing business can benefit from creating an interesting logo. Here are some tips and strategies to help you do just that.

Consider the career services industry. The first thing to think about when you're creating a logo is that the images, colors, and fonts you use all need to be relevant to our industry. Creativity is one of the hallmarks of being a resume writer. So is professionalism. Please, please don't use Comic Sans font in your resume business logo! Just as an IT management company shouldn't use Zapf Chancery as their font, your resume business shouldn't use something as boring as Times New Roman in yours!

Also consider images and graphics. Logos connected to writing tools, paper, and writing implements make sense. Check out these logos:

Attention Grabbing
Your logo will ideally grab your prospect's attention immediately -- in a good way. There are shocking and sometimes awful logos that grab your attention. However, generally that's not the goal. You want to make a strong positive impact. Eye catching simply means that it stands out from the other logos in your industry and on your website and marketing materials.

Here's my business logo. We selected the color to be eye-catching. And the image of the light bulb evokes creativity and inspiration.

Here's the new logo:

He also did a vertical version (for use with Facebook and Twitter):

Consider how your logo will look both online AND offline.

Easy to Read 
You might think this would be an obvious element to an interesting logo. Yet many logos are downright difficult to read. There are many factors that play a role in readability. They include the font and also the font size. Also, the background color and the color of the lettering are important. For example, yellow lettering on an orange background could be very difficult for most people to read.



An interesting logo doesn't need to be complicated. In fact, visually complicated images are often ignored. Simple, strong and clear logos tend to perform much better than trying to convey a complicated message.

Brand Image
Also consider your brand image. Ideally your logo will match your brand image. For example, if your resume writing practice focuses on federal resumes, then you will ideally choose colors and images that support that brand. It wouldn't make sense to go with a gray logo with black lettering in this case.

Finally, an interesting logo is memorable. Think about the logos that are forever embedded in your mind. Coca Cola, McDonalds, Nike, Google, Harley Davidson, MTV, Gucci, Target, and Starbucks are all memorable logos that you can probably envision without too much effort. These logos are simple, memorable and they relate to the companyís brand and personality. In fact, they contribute to it.

You can create your own logo with a little time and effort. There are very useful design programs online. If you're struggling to create your own business logo, consider hiring a professional. (But not my husband ... I've got plenty of projects lined up for him to work on!) Having a logo designed for $100-$300 can be a great investment in your business.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why I Can't Recommend Tony Beshara's Book, "Unbeatable Resumes"

Today's Reach Personal Branding Series Interview call was with Tony Beshara. I now regret mentioning his free teleseminar, "The Changing World of Resumes" on the event listing, or further promoting it on my Resume Writers' Digest Facebook page and Twitter feed.

First off, I guess I don't understand why William Arruda would select Tony as a guest for the interview series. Resume writers -- and career coaches -- have been some of the most loyal proponents and brand ambassadors of the Reach Personal Branding system. Yet in Beshara's book, "Unbeatable Resumes," he specifically denigrates the work of resume writers:

I personally don't know a lot of resume writers who would choose a functional format for their clients. Occasionally, yes. Chrono-functional formats can be useful. As resume writers, we understand the #1 principle that Beshara communicated on the call: The purpose of the resume is to get the interview. We write resumes that will accomplish that purpose. That's our only objective. If our clients don't get interviews with the resumes we wrote, we're not going to get many more clients, are we?

We know that. We design resumes that get past the 16-year-old temp named "Jennifer" who is the resume "screener." But we ALSO write resumes (and cover letters, dammit!) that get READ by hiring managers. Beshara said that the average American company has just 16 employees. In those companies, the hiring manager is often the business owner...or one step removed.

Resumes are like car ads in magazines. They're designed to capture your attention and deliver the 'benefits' of experiencing the car (or candidate) in person. The point of the magazine ad is to get you in the door for a test drive; the purpose of the resume is to trigger an interview.

Would THIS "Unbeatable Resume" get your client an interview?

I mean, I get it. Recruiters have different needs for a resume from hiring managers. Beshara even admitted as much on the call. But he's doing a disservice to job seekers with his "Unbeatable Resumes" platform -- because the reality is: You can tell job seekers all you want that they need to quantify their accomplishments on the resume (On the call, he put this as, "Stories sell, but numbers tell.") -- but most of our clients are really good at their jobs, but not so great at writing about it. That's a fact.

That's like giving me a book on "Refund-Winning Tax Returns" and expecting me to do my own taxes. Just because I have the knowledge of how to do it doesn't mean I can do it effectively ... or want to (or that it's a good use of my time!).

Some recruiters have a chip on their shoulder about career coaches and resume writers. They say, "We only get paid when we place the candidate." Beshara thinks resume writers should be compensated the same way:

But the reality is, recruiters screen out dozens -- sometimes even hundreds of candidates -- who they won't work with, because they don't fit the mold (or, as Beshara put it in the call, they are a "risk").  Resume writers and career coaches take the time to work with these folks and help them position their skills, experience, and accomplishments more effectively. Yes, we get paid to do that. We are performing a service for them. (Bashara isn't a pro-bono recruiter, is he? He gets paid for what he does too, because it provides a benefit for his client, the employer.)

When we help a client get a $50,000 a year job, we might get $500. (The average resume cost was $509.36 in the 2010 Resume Writers' Digest Industry Survey). If Bashara helps a client get a $50,000 a year job, he might get $10,000 (20% recruiter commission).

I guess most of us are a bargain, then, if we're helping our clients get an interview -- much less a job -- for "double the asking price" (of the resume) or, in other words $1,000. How about resume writers who get their clients interviews but only charge $150, or $200? That, in a word, is "unbeatable." (It's also not a strategy for making six figures a year, but I digress.)

To be fair, Beshara did have some good "resume 101" basics that he shared on the call:

  • Resumes that are read online are read completely differently than resumes read in print.
  • The resume needs to communicate who you (job seeker) worked for, what you did, and how well you did it.
  • Prospective employers are looking for a clear definition of who the job seeker worked for (with 7.5 million business establishments out there, you need to tell them what kind of company you worked for).
  • The initial resume "screener" is usually trying to screen out candidates, not identify the "perfect" candidate.
  • "People are looking at your 'risk factors' on the resume as much as they're looking at your qualifications." (Risk factors include switching jobs too often, not switching jobs often enough, job gaps, and being out of work for longer than 7 months.) (Why 7 months, and not 5 months or 6 months, he didn't say.)
  • "The best way to secure an interview is to pick up the phone and call the hiring manager."
  • "Sell the best attributes you can on the resume."

Good advice. A lot of it is the same advice we give our clients. The difference is, we help them figure out how that translates into an interview-winning resume. From what I've heard of Mr. Beshara, and read in his book, his resumes are designed to make his job as a recruiter easier... not necessarily help the "average" job seeker develop a document that will secure the interview.

Is this the type of document that will capture attention in a stack of resumes?

Not in my opinion.

Ultimately, I can't recommend "Unbeatable Resumes" because it's not a great book.
And because it has a foreword by Dr. Phil. (That should have tipped me off right away.)

But mostly because it doesn't value the work that a professional resume writer can add for job seekers -- and I don't recommend books that denigrate our profession.

Guest Blog Post: Marian Bernard on "Feed the Media: How to Get Publicity for Your Business"

This guest post is contributed by Marian Bernard, of The Regency Group. She attended the "Feed the Media: How to Get Publicity for Your Resume Business" teleseminar I taught on Nov. 9. Here are her notes, for your enjoyment.

How to Get Publicity for Your Business

(notes from teleseminar delivered on November 9, 2011 and transcribed by Marian Bernard ...

The difference between advertising and public relations
  • Advertising (marketing) is what you pay for; by contrast, public relations / publicity (promotions) is free
  • With advertising (as well as radio and TV) you have complete control of the message
  • Resume writers complain that they don't have control over the final "publicity product"; it's virtually guaranteed that something unrelated to the interview may be asked

How to identify what is newsworthy and what will get you media attention
  1. Is it interesting to the media's target audience? 
  2. Is it timely? (e.g., the role of New Year's resolutions and the job search)
  3. Have you established why YOU (as opposed to someone else) are the person to interview for that story? (e.g., could I be interviewed because a local layoff is taking place?) Will it benefit my business to be interviewed? 

Other "interview-relevant" topics: 
When people falsify information on their resumes / digital dirt / when I earn an award / when I host a free teleseminar (or webinar) on job search topics / when I partner with another business or organization / when I reveal industry and employment scams (e.g., Bernard Haldane) / I can make career industry predictions and comment on trends / offer feedback on LinkedIn (and Facebook) and how they impact the job search / when I speak at a conference or event / a news release that debunks job search or 1-page resume myths / sharing a tip sheet / every time unemployment numbers are released (either trending up or down) / every time a major employer in York Region closes down / conduct surveys and release results (e.g., contacting the local employment service and recruiting firms, and asking for their worst interview anecdotes)

· I can compile statistics and assemble a fact sheet. When such "hot topics" resurface, I can contact local reporters

How to build your media list and how to target effective contacts in the news media
  • Journalists seek out industry and subject matter experts
  • Journalists ask people they know for ideas or they call upon people they already know

Strategy to get noticed: 
I can connect with - and follow - journalists and primary contacts via Facebook and LinkedIn
  • Conduct research to determine what publication(s) my target resume writers read; e.g., newspapers, free weekly newspapers, influential local blogs, trade publications, association newsletters. I can also do a Google search for radio and TV - Greater Toronto Area
  • Identify which media outlets will be relevant for the stories I am pitching
For example:
o Newspaper: "Business" or Career" section
o Radio: Talk format ... contact the News Director, the actual Host of the program, or their Producer
o TV: Local news stations which feature consumer segments (e.g., how to help jobseekers avoid fraudulent opportunities) ... contact the Assignment Editor or a Consumer Reporter

· Create and update a media list (Marian has one!) every month or two

· Increase your visibility on line (e.g., through and [or is it] ) to make yourself more "Google-able"

· Add a "Media / News / Press" tab on my web-site to store a media kit; I can also post media releases that I wrote

Media Training 101: Top things you need to know when working with the media
  • When speaking to the media, you want to come across as confident, approachable, authoritative, and knowledgeable. You are the expert; that is why the media is interviewing you. The message is the key!
  • The media plays an important role in reaching prospective clients. Three-quarters of a local audience is watching TV news; 54% listen to talk radio; and although local newspaper circulation is declining, it is still a viable option
  • The only thing you have complete control over in an interview is YOU; i.e., what you say, what your message points are, and what you want to convey
  • There is a way to bring the interview message back when the topic strays: "The person who is interviewing you directs the questions and topics, but the interviewee has 100% control over the answers" 
  • Write out key points ahead of time; e.g., "Although the national numbers are bad, the local numbers are ..." Script your 2 / 3 / 4 key message points ahead of time so you can discuss them conversationally

Print interviews: Think in terms of sound bites because responses can be edited down:
  • Be concise (do not ramble on)
  • Stay on topic (have a focused message in mind)
  • Use positive language and don't restate negatives
  • Reroute off-topic banter back to the relevant topic
  • For print interviews, it IS okay to say, "I don't know that, but I'd be happy to get back to you. What's your deadline?" 
  • There is no such thing as "off the record"
  • Ahead of time, prepare at least one quote that you hope will appear in print

Tips for TV (a very visual medium):
  • Prepare how you look as well as what you say
  • TV can suck the energy out of you; to counteract this, "dial up" your enthusiasm a notch or two
  • Maintain at least a slight smile on your face; practice in front of a mirror
  • Lean forward about 15 degrees to avert the prospect of appearing heavier than you are
  • Get review and feedback from friends on your TV appearance
  • What to wear (and not)? Don't wear shirts with busy patterns. Women should never wear tight-knit sweaters because it's difficult to hook up a mike to. Notice what the anchors are wearing the next time you tune into TV news

Interested in getting media attention for your resume writing business? Buy the "Feed the Media: How to Get Publicity For Your Business" teleseminar recording and transcript (just $5). (Bronze members of -- you can get this recording/transcript for free as part of your membership. Check out the Expert Interviews Series section of the Paid Member Resources.)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Using HubPages to Build Visibility As a Resume Writer

How to Build a Successful HubPages Link 
HubPages are essentially hosted web pages. As a "Hubber" you write and publish pages. These pages are essentially articles or long pages of content on a specific topic. For example, you might write a page on how to cultivate your job search network.

HubPages are great tools for building your visibility as a resume writer -- they are well-indexed using Google -- and you can also make money from your content. (Signing up for HubPages is free.)

The key to success on HubPages is to write great content. How do you know if it is great content? Well, HubPages has measures in place. These measures include the ability for readers to:

* Tweet
* Like
* Vote up
* Vote down
* Share
* Print
* Follow

Many of these elements contribute to what's called "hub karma." You essentially earn points for quality content. As your points increase, so too does your linking power.

The HubPages Linking Tool
HubPages offers a very useful linking tool. This tool gives you suggestions to the best hubs to link to. Link to other hubs and you boost your hub karma. Additionally, this linking strategy can also motivate others to link back to you. Thus, linking can generate traffic and ultimately it can help boost your HubPages profits.

When choosing to link to other hubs, keep your readers and audience in mind. Only link to other hubs that are relevant and valuable. For example, if you have a hub page about interviewing, linking to a hub that talks about how to change your car's oil filter just doesn't make sense. It's not relevant or helpful to your reader. However, a link to a hub page about career assessments would be relevant and helpful.

What About Back Linking? 
Many people use HubPages to link to their existing businesses. They use it, or try to use it, as a promotional tool. HubPages has very strict rules about self-promotion and will penalize you if you're simply using your hub to promote another site.

However, you can use other sites to promote your hub page. For example, you can link to your hub page from your Facebook or Twitter account. You can also link to your hub from your blog or website content. Again, like any incoming links, the more relevant they are to the topic being discussed, the better. And search engines love relevant links. When a hub page has many incoming links from other sites, it ranks better on Google. That means more people see your hub page and you make more money.

In fact, social networking is an integral part of HubPages. Every reader has the opportunity to like your content on Facebook and tweet or share. You can build a community of followers on both social networking sites and HubPages, and generate positive linking karma for more traffic and more profits.

Making Money From Your Hubpages
There are four main ways to monetize ("make money from") your HubPages. The first is through Google AdSense. When readers click on the ads on your HubPage, your Google AdSense account is credited. Don't have an AdSense account? It's easy to sign up. (And you can place AdSense ads on your other content pages -- for example your website or blog. Just be mindful that if you don't change your AdSense settings, you're going to be advertising a lot of other resume writing services on your blog or HubPage!)

The second way to make money from visitors to your HubPage is through integrating Ebay and Amazon modules into your page. Because most careers industry professionals won't be promoting products on their HubPages (in the same way someone writing about collecting Star Wars toys would, for example), your best bet is the Amazon module. You can recommend relevant careers industry books, and when someone buys from your link, your Amazon Associates affiliate account will be credited. (Personally, the most I've ever earned in a month from Amazon was around $5, but my sites don't get a lot of general jobseeker traffic either.)

The third way to make money from your HubPage is through affiliate marketing services. You can sign up for affiliate programs (for interview training services or career assessments or other job search-related products) and you'll make a commission whenever someone purchases one of these products using your affiliate link. (If you want to learn more about this, visit the "Expert Interviews" section on (available to Bronze members) and download the recording and transcript of my teleseminar, "Building Affiliate Relationships to Grow Your Resume Business." (In this 63 minute program, you'll learn the five things you need to make affiliate relationships work, how to find and establish affiliate relationships, what products and services NOT to sell, and how much you can realistically earn from affiliate relationships.)

The fourth way is to get readers to purchase your career industry services! Including your contact information on your HubPage is a great way to allow your HubPage reader to turn into a real business customer!

Opportunity To Stake Your Claim
There aren't too many resume writers using HubPages yet -- these are two I found:
Patty Inglish
Marye Audet

HubPages are another tool you can use to build your prospect's ability to "know, like, and trust" you. Give it a try!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Are You A Top Performer In Our Industry?

I was just listening to a teleseminar featuring Mike Brooks (which is my father-in-law's name, but this particular Mike Brooks is not my husband's dad) on the topic of "Selling Secrets of a Top 20% Producer." The audience for this teleseminar was financial services professionals, but I wanted to share a couple of tips with my audience on this blog, my fellow career services professionals.

The first tip that he gave is actually the one that inspired Resume Writers Digest back in 1999:
"Study what the top producers in your industry do -- and then do those things."

When I started the Resume Writers' Digest newsletter more than 10 years ago, it was because I had questions about how to manage my resume writing business -- and be more effective in the work I do with clients -- and I wanted to learn from the best in the business. Over the years, that has included information from the likes of Wendy Enelow, Louise Kursmark, Jan Melnik, Susan Whitcomb, Janice Worthington, Alesia Benedict, Jay Block, Don Orlando, and literally hundreds of other resume writers who have shared their best practices, ideas, and strategies in articles, blog posts, teleseminars, and at conferences.

Brooks' second tip is "Be prepared to work hard AND smart."
This is a given for those of us in the career services industry. There are definitely ways to work "smarter" in this industry -- like choosing a niche (so you're not constantly having to learn new industries as you serve more and more clients), developing worksheets and other information-gathering devices (that you can either have clients work with directly, or that you use to guide your information collection efforts), and tying back into principal number one, learning from others in our industry.

He also recommends you "know your numbers" -- that is, tracking your activity and progress each day. For resume writers, this can be tracking a couple of metrics:
1) Number of calls/inquiries/quotes each day
2) Number of new projects booked each day
3) Dollar volume of projects completed daily
4) Daily expenses related to the operation of your business
5) Amount of time it took you to write the daily projects

But it was this piece of advice that struck me as the most useful for resume writers:
"Leads never get better; they only get worse."

Many of us resume writers are "social workers at heart" -- meaning, we look at helping our clients as a service more than as a business (sometimes to our own detriment). So how many times have you answered the call from a prospective client who had a sob story to tell (recently unemployed with a wife and four kids to support, or has been out of work for six months and has run out of money, or just graduated from college with $35,000 in student loans and no job prospects) -- and they want us to help them for free, or a reduced price. I've had my share of these calls. And while you can certainly help these folks (and I've helped some myself), it's important to remember that people need to invest in themselves. If they don't, they won't value the advice you give them, or be as motivated to make it work.

Even if they're not a sob story, you'll find yourself struggling with some prospective clients initially ... but you won't trust your gut about whether or not they're a good fit for working with you. Top performers understand that it it in THEIR best interest -- and their CLIENT'S best interest -- to work with the clients they have the best chance of helping be successful. These are clients who need your service, can afford your fees, and will commit to making the most out of working with you.

In their desperation to get business, many resume writers (me included, at times!) will hope that any possible "red flags" they encounter when talking with a prospective client will miraculously "go away" once the prospect commits to working with them. But what bothers you about a client in the beginning will always become a problem in the end.

  • The client who asks for a discount will be the ones that take the most time. Or if they don't take the most time, they materialize as a "Pain In the A$$" (PIA) client in another way -- requesting endless revisions, or second-guessing your work by showing it to everyone and anyone they know in the hopes of getting the magical feedback that will make the resume "work" for them. (Never mind what you've already told them -- if Aunt Susan says the resume needs an objective, then they want an objective on there!)  These are the folks who don't invest in themselves (in their professional development or their job search) and consequently, they second-guess everything, and because they don't believe in themselves, they often don't believe others, either.
  • The wife who calls for the husband because he's "too busy" but she promises you'll get to talk to him once you start on the project, that he'll "make time" ... but that never happens. I've had this happen to me a couple of times, and I've developed a personal rule that I will only work with clients who call me directly -- not spouses or parents. It's fine if the parent or spouse wants to pay, but I'm not going through a third party to figure out the job objective or write the resume.
  • The client who doesn't know "what they want to be when they grow up" -- this often materializes as a phone conversation that goes something like this. Me: "So, what kind of position are you targeting?" Prospect: "I don't really have a particular job in mind. I just need a resume." Me: "Okay, but in order for your resume to be effective, you have to help the prospective employer understand how you will perform in that specific job." Prospect: "If they hire me, I'll show them I'll do a great job." Me: (silently) Ugh. 

Don't ignore the red flags! As Mike Brooks says, "Do what the top 20% do. As soon as you hear something that triggers your intuition or that gives you that sick feeling in your gut, stop and ask the tough qualifying questions."

Taking the advice in this blog post will help lead you closer to being one of the top performers in the career services industry.

Monday, November 7, 2011

"Getting Started With LinkedIn In Your Job Search"

For the past month, a good deal of my time was consumed developing the November Pass-Along Materials content pack -- a special report on "Getting Started with LinkedIn In Your Job Search." This 41-page guide enables resume writers and career coaches to brand (put their name on) a step-by-step user guide for clients to help them set up their LinkedIn profile.

LinkedIn currently has more than 120 million members, and they are adding new members at the rate of two new profiles per second. That's amazing.

You may be asked this question by job seekers: "Why do I need a LinkedIn account in addition to a Facebook profile?" As LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner put it in an Oct. 4 interview with Charlie Rose, "Why do you need an office when you have a house? Or why do you need a suit when you have sweat clothes?"

LinkedIn's purpose is "Connecting talent with opportunity on a massive scale," said company co-founder Reid Hoffman in the Rose interview. What else is a job search except "connecting talent" (your client) with opportunity (the ideal job)?

As resume writers, we know our clients should be on LinkedIn. But we also know that the majority of them don't know how to get on there -- or what to do once they are! (Have you read Jason Alba's excellent book, "I'm On LinkedIn, Now What?" If not, you should!)

Having a step-by-step guide for clients to help them develop and enhance their LinkedIn profile can be a valuable resource. You can provide it as an incentive to sign up for your mailing list. (I just recently uploaded a bonus -- 35 tweets you can use to promote your free LinkedIn report.) You can edit it to remove the very basic sign-up information and leave the information about importing contacts, joining Groups, participating in Answers, and following Companies and give it to clients who have purchased your LinkedIn profile development or enhancement services. You can use the report as a script and handout for a LinkedIn workshop, teleseminar, or webinar -- it's a great "getting started" guide. Or you can break it apart and use it on your blog in a series of articles on how to build your network on LinkedIn.

The "Getting Started With LinkedIn In Your Job Search" guide will only be available until Dec. 5 in the Paid Member Resources section. After that date, I'll make it available for sale on Resume Writers' Digest's Store, but the cost will be substantially more than the $10 you'll pay to get it now on (Plus, your $10 also gets you access to "Resume Writer's Online Marketing Guidebook: A 21-Step Guide to Taking Your Resume Business Offline to Online," which retails for $14 itself on the Resume Writers' Digest store. You'll also get access to the complete back issue archive of Resume Writers' Digest, Expert Interview recordings and transcripts, and much more.)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

How to Select The Best Clients To Work With

All too often, I talk to resume writers who are struggling with getting clients. My top advice for every resume writer is to establish a niche and become known as a specialist -- you're actually more likely to get more business by being a specialist than a generalist. (And yes, your niche doesn't have to be limited to a specific industry -- it can be geographic specialization, or specializing in career changes, or being an expert in return-to-work jobseekers.)

As a resume writer, you'll likely have moments when you wish you had turned down a client. Sometimes it's difficult to know if a client is right for you. Being able to choose the clients best suited to work with you ensures you have a more successful business. It makes sense -- yet resume writers get into trouble when they don't know themselves well enough, or they don't trust their gut.

Here's some strategies to help ensure you're picking the best clients to work with.

Know Your Strengths
Sometimes a client project doesn't go well simply because it's not suited to your strengths. For me, that's working with military transition clients, and IT professionals. Believe me, I can write for both types of clients -- but I don't like to, and that's the big difference. When you're writing for a type of client you don't enjoy, the project will likely be a constant challenge. You'll work harder and longer to complete it and end up essentially lowering your hourly value. Yet when you work on a project that speaks to your strengths, you finish on time, the client is happy, and you earn a loyal customer. (I love writing sales and marketing resumes, for example. They energize me, and I have hit quite a few "home runs" writing these types of documents for clients.)

When you're writing for clients in industries that are difficult for you, your work is a struggle. Clients that suit your strengths don't adversely affect your morale. You're able to maintain a positive mindset. This is key for long-term success.

Know What Your Ideal Client/Project Looks Like
Write down what your ideal clients and projects look like. What makes them good projects or clients?
For example, do you prefer working with specific industries? With individuals at a particular level of the job search -- i.e., entry-level vs. C-level? For those who are staying in the same industry, or career change? For those who are employed and looking for a better job, vs. those who have been unemployed for a while? (I don't know many resume writers who enjoy writing for chronically unemployed folks. It's a tough gig.)

As for projects, do you prefer writing just resumes, or do you like also writing the supporting job search documents -- cover letters, thank-you letters, letters of introduction? Do you enjoy helping clients develop or enhance their LinkedIn profile? What other services do you like to provide -- career assessments (DISC?), interview training, salary negotiation coaching? Do you like writing resumes from scratch vs. doing updates?

Make a list or create a paragraph description of what types of projects you like and perform well on. Then, when you have a choice to take a job or to pass, you can refer to your list to help you decide.

Take a Look at Your Schedule
Sometimes it's easy to say yes to a job even when you don't have the time to get it done properly. The result is that you either get very stressed and feel burnt out, or you complete the project but it's not your best work. Make sure you have the time and energy to complete any project you commit to. It can be difficult to say no to a project, especially when you want to earn clients; however, saying no may be the better decision. (Consider partnering with other resume writers and making referrals for projects that aren't a good fit. A 15% referral fee is standard in these arrangements.)

As a resume writer, it often takes time and some few hard-learned lessons to learn which jobs are the best ones to take and which to pass on. Don's hesitate to say no. All clients are not good clients. You'll find the right ones. You'll find great clients. You'll learn to identify the PIA (pain-in-the-a$$) clients. I've learned a couple of things that are my signals for a bad client -- like a wife calling on behalf of her husband. That may work for you, but I've found those clients are a bad fit for me.

Work hard, know what you want from clients, and select the best clients for you to work with.