Why I’m excited to talk at the Altitude Oasis in March 2019 (and how you can get a discount)

Last week, I got the above email, which prompted about an hour of shrill “OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG” from me, both typed and shrieked. See, for the past three years, I have wanted to go to the Altitude Summit, but tickets have sold out almost immediately after launch. Plus, it has always seemed really expensive (which is why I set an education budget for myself this year!).

This year, when I got the call for proposals, I knew what I wanted to talk about: Why goals work for some people and not for others, and how to set goals in accordance with your own goal-setting style so you can actually benefit from goals, rather than just being burdened with the guilt of not achieving what you hoped. (that title was too long, though, so I cut it down)

What is the Altitude Oasis?

It’s a 5-day conference for creative entrepreneurs and marketers who want to understand how to use modern technology and skills to create empowering impact, while following ethical practices.

(my words, not theirs)

Here’s a sample of topics from their blog:

Newsletters Intensive Workshop For Beginners
Advanced Newsletters Workshop
Instagram Growth
Instagram Stories & Live — Trends & Tips
Using Facebook Pages
Strategies for Facebook Groups
Using Facebook Ads
Driving Traffic with Pinterest
Pinterest Promoted Pins
Preparing Photos for Pinterest
Collaborations With Complementary Brands
Marketing through Influencers & Bloggers
Traditional Media Coverage
Trade Media Coverage
Marketing on Local TV
Logo & Web Design
Developing Your Brand Voice
Creating a Brand Style Sheet
How To Be A Good Community Member

Podcasting 101
Podcasting Equipment & Setup
Podcasting Growth Strategies
Developing As An Online Writer
Writing For Other Sites
Coming Up With Authentic Sponsored Content
Creating Positive Communities Online
Using Your Platform For A Good Cause
Writing about Current Events on a Non-Political Site
Writing About Pages
Moderating Conversations on Social Media and Blogs

Shooting Flat Lays
Editing Process — From Capture Through Publishing
iPhone Skills Photo Class
Shooting Interiors
Shooting Kids & Portraits
Shooting Food
Shooting Yourself — Self Timers and Other Tricks
Top Photo Editing Apps
Facebook Live
Instagram Stories & Live — How to Create
On Camera Skills
Capturing Great Video
Video Editing
Building a YouTube Audience
Finding Your Youtube Niche
Video Lighting

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners
Advanced Affiliate Marketing
Finding Your Affiliate Niche
How to Pitch Sponsors
Working With An Ad Network
All About CPMs and Other Display Ad Terms
Book Projects
Launching or Running a Small Online Shop (like Etsy)
Launching or Running a Big Online Shop
Opening or Running a Brick & Mortar Shop
Creating and Selling Email Courses & Video Courses
Creating and Selling Hosted Online Classes (like Skillshare)
Collaborations With Existing Brands (creating a line or a product for someone else)
Consulting or Joining a Board of Directors
Writing/Creating for Other Sites or Brands
Selling Skills You Didn’t Know Your Had
Creating a Media Kit

Accounting Tools & Skills
Payroll Tools
Managing Company Email Addresses
How to Hire or Build a Team
Negotiating Contracts
Getting & Keeping Business Paperwork in Order
Strategies for Managing Your Inbox
How To Pivot
Working Full-Time and Managing a Side-Gig
Leveling Up – How to get the skills to go to the next level
Finding Your Tribe
Starting a Mastermind Group
Getting Investment as a Woman Entrepreneur
Getting Grants as a Woman in Business
Developing Residual Income or Putting Your Business on Autopilot
Selling Your Business and Other Exit Strategies
Career Paths in Social Media

Work Life Balance
When To Quit Your Day Job
Realizing Your Potential
How To Find Your Creative Passion
Overcoming Creative Blocks
Dealing with Negativity Online
Managing Stress
Top Wellness Practices/Trends
Toxin-free Living
Trash-free Living
The Art of Organization/De-cluttering
Tiny Houses

Artist Installations
Movie Screenings + Panels, featuring woman-led projects
Concerts and Performances
Runway Shows

Why You Need to Know About Blockchain
Telegram -The Important Social Media Platform You Haven’t Heard Of
Cryptocurrency Overview
Voter Registry
How Bloggers and Influencers Can Wield More Political Power

It was the above list that made me realize I absolutely must go this year, whether or not I was accepted to talk at the event. And yes, there are practical courses that help with almost every aspect of creative business, but there are also more than 2000 attendees who are creative, empowered, incredible, awesome, driven individuals (mostly women), and the idea of connecting with an army of brilliant people like that was just too much to resist.

Plus, in Palm Springs at a fancy hotel? (I’m staying at The Riviera) Hell to the yeah!

I bought the $850 ticket just a couple days before I found out I was accepted (they gave me a refund on my ticket, bless them).

Why I think this conference is worth it

Right. So, I paid $850 for my ticket (before they refunded it) because I knew it was going to be worth it, no matter what. I knew that with the hotel and travel and everything, the cost of the conference was going to be about $2200 (if I include the reduction of my billable hours for Mozilla, the cost of the conference is more like $3500).

If I wanted to go (and make a successful pitch to Russ for me to go), I had to be sure I’d make at least $3500 from the lessons I learned from the conference, just to break even. Which sounds like a lot.

But look at those above topics.

  • If I get a $10k grant because I took that workshop on “Getting Grants as a Woman in Business,” it has already doubled my investment.
  • If I can create more free time and make more money because I took the workshop on “Developing Residual Income or Putting Your Business on Autopilot,” then I get more time, and what’s more valuable than time? (nothing!)
  • If I can learn to be better organized and be satisfied with less stuff because I took the wellness courses on “The Art of Organization/De-cluttering” and “Minimalism,” then I will have significantly simplified my life and built systems for saving money.
  • If we launch an affiliate marketing program and get Outlaw Soaps into the hands of thousands of new customers because I attended the “Affiliate Marketing” workshop, then we have fundamentally shifted the direction of our business!

Any of these workshops could boost our business and more than make up the investment of time and money, not even considering the incredible relationships I’ll make while I’m there.

We support you!I always try to surround myself with interesting, creative, driven people, and this is the conference for people like that. It’s like professional-oriented Burning Man, but with indoor plumbing and office supplies (both major selling points for me)!

Should you go?

If you’re reading this, I really do hope you decide to come!

Do a cost evaluation for yourself like I did. Is it worth it? What are you giving up by deciding to go? What do you stand to gain from attending? What would you learn? Are there other places to learn these things? What style is best for you?

If you decide to go, I’d love to hang out while you’re there!

They gave me an affiliate code so you can save $50 on a ticket (and I get a kickback, 100% of which is being funneled into books to bring to the event and give out for free).

Here’s the registration link to the Alt Oasis, and if you use the code YOU-NICORN when you check out, you’ll get the $50 discount.

Hope to see you there!

How to survive panic attacks

Fear is a ridiculously insidious thing.

“But it’s all in your head,” as the saying goes … well, that may be true, but inside our heads is the absolute worst place for it, because we can’t escape!

It’s like that moment in the movie when you realize the killer is inside the house.

Grant Cardone (and maybe others, but he’s the one who I first heard it from) says FEAR stands for False Events Appearing Real. Basically, your mind creates scenarios that feel like you’re about to be eaten by a tiger, but in actuality, there’s only the slimmest of possibilities that you’ll really be eaten by a tiger (or face any other mortal danger).

This time of year – and I’m not exaggerating here – I feel like I am constantly having a heart attack. Like, a real, honest-to-God heart attack.

The first few times it happened, I wasn’t sure what was going on, and I was pretty sure I was actually dying. I wrote a couple of my entrepreneur friends on the third day asking, “Um, is this normal? because… it can’t be normal.” But now I know it’s just end-of-November,-beginning-of-December panic attacks.

And despite feeling like I’m going to die, I have somehow failed to die for the past four years.

Panic attacks are not fatal.

It’s OK to be uncomfortable. It’s OK to have panic attacks. It’s OK to be scared.

It’s OK to feel paralyzed…

… as long as you remember that you are not literally paralyzed. You can still move. You can still walk. You can still write. You can still make calls.

“But I’ll be so much better at it when I don’t feel like I’m dying.”

Yes, that’s probably true. You may absolutely suck at it because you’re freaking the fuck out. But the only way that you’ll get better at it while you feel like you’re dying is by actually doing the thing while you feel like you’re dying.

But you’re not dying. You’re living.

Because life is sometimes scary. And to people like me (us?), our body sometimes has inappropriate physiological responses to fear… specifically, panic attacks.

But we have to remember that this truly is just an inappropriate physiological response. It’s not real. The only thing that’s real is the effect of not doing the thing (which is likely something like not getting the sale, not making the product, not writing the blog post, or whatever).

And that’s something to be afraid of.

I’m not telling you that panic attacks or depression or anxiety doesn’t exist — I’m absolutely never going to tell you that, since I know how real they are — but I am telling you that sometimes you have to force yourself anyways, because retreating from that scary thing has more real-world bad effects than the False Events Appearing Real.

Have you successfully overcome FEAR? Share how you did it, so that we can all get better at it!

Banished from the Kingdom: Why Google sends some sites into the frozen tundra of not-first-page

“Where’s the best place to hide a dead body?”
“On the second page of search results!” – Old search engine optimization joke

It’s a testament to Google’s accuracy that few people ever will see the second page of search results, because the perfect result is usually right at the top.

In an effort to give searchers (their customers) the most interesting and relevant results, Google updates how it decides which pages are most relevant. This is done automatically. An algorithm “reads” the pages (including the code) and ranks it. When someone searches for keywords, the search result pages show the most relevant results at the top.

Periodically, Google changes what they think is important, and the SEO (search engine optimization) world is shaken to its foundation with alarm and stories of people being banished from the kingdom (the first page!).

Their sites have violated some Google rule, and Google has punished the offending company.

For example, in a recent Google update, sites without mobile-friendly pages were banished. Google decided that so many people browse pages on their phones, that it’s a universally bad experience to have non-responsive (responsive = mobile-friendly) sites.

So how can you keep up with these updates and avoid being punished?

Google wants to provide the best possible experience to anyone who is using their site, and part of this is providing the absolute best results.

Google’s robots (also called spiders) read pages in certain ways, and understanding those ways is helpful, but not necessary.

The important thing to remember is that Google is just trying to provide the coolest experience to their customers.

It’s not personal. You don’t have to “game the system.” You just have to provide relevant, interesting, updated content, in a format that is pleasing to readers, and Google will take care of the rest.

Ok, so there you have it.

If you’re interested in learning more about search engine optimization (aka SEO) from me, I happen to have a course on SEO for small business (lookit that!). I personally love SEO because it’s half magic, half sleeves-rolled-up nitty gritty.

Google itself has tutorials and resources that are (mostly) updated with the most recent news.

How to sell to 122,000 times as many people as you do today (and totally not worry about the competition)

I was trying to make an infographic to show how many more people you could reach by making your online presence stronger, and I came up with this:

(see bottom of article for numbers used)

I was trying to show the relative size of your market if you’re selling in each of these places. Pretty neat idea, right?

Except the size of the customer base of “friends and family” and “farmer’s market” were so small that they don’t even register on the infographic.

Why confine yourself and your business to such a small pond?

If you’re like most makers, you didn’t start your business to become an internationally distributed power-brand. You enjoyed making something, you made it well, and people loved it, so they bought it from you.

Eventually, some switch flipped and you thought, “You know what? I could do this for a living.” And – VOILA! – you started a business!

And you started dealing with things like costs, and the economies of scale, and your business grew and grew, and then you had to sell a certain amount now that you’re depending on the income and you’ve made all this investment…

… and then someone local moves in a couple booths down from you, and you see other people going to their booth at the farmer’s market, and GAH HOW COULD THEY?

It bothers you, of course, because there’s scarcity.

There are only so many people coming to your market, and so many dollars to go around. So if someone spends money over there, they’re not spending money with you.

Online, people are spending $294 billion. That’s what the new-age gurus might call “limitless abundance”

In 2015, 200 million digital shoppers spent an average of $1,700/person.[3]

If you’re feeling frustrated with your local sales, don’t just feel frustrated and rue your competition, walk yourself to a bigger pond.

And this particular pond doesn’t require any schlepping at all. Heck, you don’t even have to change out of your pajamas on most days.

Consider these stats (provided by this source):

Only 28% of U.S. small businesses are selling their products online.

60% of adult Americans are happy to know they won’t have to shop in a crowded mall or store.

Almost 20% of U.S. retail sales come during the Christmas shopping season.

The average U.S. shopper expects to spend $718 on holiday gifts.

41% of independent retailers rate social media as a “very effective” marketing tactic.

44% of online shoppers begin their product search using a search engine. (find out how to best show up in search engines in my “6 Weeks to Search Engine Superstar” class)

91% of eCommerce retailers saw a lift in their search engine rank thanks to social referrals.

(As a side note, your success on Amazon will be greatly bolstered by your search engine optimization skills, since Amazon is pretty much just a gigantic product search engine).

Whether you’re online already or are just getting started, you can build your business with some quick and easy online marketing. Sign up for my newsletter to get updates about classes, tools, and more.

cup of awesome skills

Potential Customers:
Friends and Family: 700
Farmer’s Market: 20,000 (generously)
Etsy Shoppers: 25,000,000 [1]
Shopify Shoppers: 35,000,000 (guess)
Amazon Shoppers: 244,000,000 [2]

[1] Source: http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/amazon-statistics/
[2] Source: http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/etsy-statistics/
[3] Source: https://www.nchannel.com/blog/retail-data-ecommerce-statistics/

Lots of people supported me and said they loved my product, but where’s the $$?

“I don’t get it! All my friends said they thought my idea was great, but I launched and I’ve had basically no sales. WTF?” – Countless discouraged entrepreneurs

Any new venture is terrifying, and those of us who have the blessings of supportive friends and family often make the mistake of believing friends and family will become paying customers.

Sometimes friends and family do become customers, and that’s great (because birds of a feather flock together, and people want to be supportive, God bless ’em), but it puts incredible strain on friendships if you expect (and maybe even kind of demand) that your friends support your venture.

I have seen it, and it isn’t pretty.

That’s why things like marketing, press, and search engine optimization are so critically important to start right away

If you hope to have a business, you absolutely can’t lean on your friends and family to be your customers. You can make it available to them, but availability and pressure are very different energy.

The key is to cultivate a relationship with customers

If you’ve done your market research and you know the customers are out there, you have to set your business up in a way that will reach your (future) customers. You have to find people who love your product not just because they love you, but because they truly just love your product.

In fact, Facebook even penalizes businesses whose posts don’t get a lot of click-throughs and comments, so if you just beg your friends for a ton of page “likes” without any strategy, that can actually hinder your marketing efforts.

The world is mindblowingly vast, and millions upon millions of people are searching for products, services, and experiences that resonate with them. Is yours one of them? You have to get in front of those people so they can find you!

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.” – Chinese Proverb

All these things take time, money, or both. But you have to start somewhere, and sometime.

If you’re a new business just getting started, you may not have yet traversed the muddy bog of getting strangers to buy your products. It isn’t as difficult as you might think. Stay tuned for my small business marketing tips.