The Black Lace Business Model

Tonight I’m running my business from the bed in our guest bedroom. This is where I’m writing this post, planning a class I’m going to teach and generally working on connecting with as many smart, sexy, supportive women as I can. I’m wearing my new Hello Kitty slippers and the leggings and tee shirt I put on for yoga this morning.

Despite my appearance and my lack of a real office, I know that the work I do is no less important or valid than that of suited men in nondescript glass towers. Because I represent the new business model, the entrepreneur, particularly female entrepreneurs who are rewriting the way business is done and what’s considered true commerce.

I’ve been working on refining the keywords for Karen Gordon, Author. These are terms and ideas I want tied to my work. When you type these words into Google I want my writing and teaching to appear, somewhere near the top of your results. I’m still in the process but I’ve got more direction now. Through this process I noticed that the main continuous thread in all my writing is strong females characters. Even future novels revolve around women who live their lives on their own terms.

I support women’s sexuality in my writing–in all forms. I want women to feel free to choose,without fear of social persecution, to be as sexual as they want to be or not be. I’m creating characters who are solid in their feminine power and energy whether they are sharing that with another or enjoying it just for their self.

My heroines are engaged and busy, making bank, making a home or both; they are not wasting time bringing other women down. Drama sells, but my brand is not cheap drama generated by small people. Believe me there’s enough real excitement in raising children or building a business to fill a thousand novels.

I love the idea that married or single, working inside or outside the home, all women can contribute to increasing our value in society. It’s not only the CEO’s and Vogue cover models, but women’s with much quieter goals too who are erasing old stereotypes. My writing, my business is about and for all of them.

I’m still in the process of fleshing out my exact keywords but along the way I started to think about images and the idea of black lace and my geek glasses came to mind. Alone they represent female sexuality and intellect but combined they create a potent mix. Once thought of as opposites, madonna or whore, smart or sexy, mind or body; I now see them as the perfect combination or balance of all that women can be.

I’m going to be updating some of my artwork to encompass these ideas and honing on the keywords that will hopefully bring more smart, sexy, supportive women into my tribe. It’s one of my major projects for 2016.

So what are your keywords? Whether you have a business or not, what words encompass who you are, how you want to engage with the world. Share yours with me and I’ll share mine as soon as I can pin them down. Black lace is looking good though.

 

 

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Is A Bigger Social Media Platform Always Better?

Whether you are publishing a book or launching a business it’s seems like simple logic that you want as many people as possible following your social media. In the emerging e-commerce economy, followers are seen as potential customers. Sure not everyone will buy, but just fact that they showed enough interest to follow you is a sign that they are interested–or it was. A big social media following is no longer a true benchmark of a successful entrepreneur.

Almost as soon as social media was born it morphed from communities of like-minded people into a world-wide popularity contest. Numbers are shorthand for being in demand; a fact that was probably true at first. But like everything in the entrepreneurial realm someone quickly figured out a way to make it look like tons of people were interested in you, for a price, of course. It impossible to miss the people hawking Twitter followers on Twitter. If you’ve posted anything about your business they’ve found you. It’s so easy to increase your number of followers by ten fold. Artificially inflating your numbers looks fantastic if you are trying to convince a publishing company or investor that you have a solid base of potential customers in place. Never mind the fact that most of them do not speak English and have no use for your product.

Fake Amazon reviews are another way entrepreneurs make their social reach and popularity look much larger than it is. These are also for sale and about to become harder to pass off as real. Amazon is cracking down on them because they destroy the public’s trust, they diminish the Amazon brand and the brand of all sellers on Amazon.

I’m bringing this up today for two reasons. One, too many people just opening their e-business get needlessly frustrated when it looks like their competitors or fellow sellers are killing it when in fact they aren’t. It isn’t until you’ve been around for a while that you see that the number of likes, tweets, and reviews you have does not necessarily equal sales. The temptation to buy followers get stronger when you think everyone else is so far ahead of you, especially when you’ve been in business about the same amount of time. But getting anyone and everyone to show support for your business will do nothing but frustrate you in the end.

Which brings up reason number two for focusing on this subject. A social platform in vital to any e-business but one built on false numbers will collapse around you. No matter what you are selling there are great customers out there who will love your product or book. These are the people who buy from you once then with some nurturing, become repeat customers. These are the people who will gladly spread the word about your company, especially if they have had some personal contact from you. But how will you see them if they are lost in the chaotic sea of non-customers you’ve gathered on your social media. If you want to truly build your social platform and grow your business you need to concentrate your time and efforts on your core customers–communicate with them, cultivate them, appreciate them.

I met an author whose first book flew up the charts and became a best seller. I was in awe and jealous. What author doesn’t dream of this? But when she told the rest of her story I was surprised. Her second book didn’t sell nearly as well and she’s written several since. Some sold well, others not, but none matched the sales of the first book. She explained that what the burst of fame didn’t do was give her long-term name recognition with readers. She was the flavor of the month and soon forgotten by many. Instead of being upset by this she is concentrating her efforts on the few key fans who have bought all of her books. Her true success is coming from relatively few true followers who are first in line to buy her new work and spread the word through their social media. “Buy this book because I love it and it’s fantastic,” is a lot more effective than, “Buy my book.”

I’m seeing the beginning of the end for social media numbers being a benchmark for a successful e-company. It’s too easy to buy your way to big numbers and bogus glowing reviews. Investors and the general public are too savvy now. Once the curtain was pulled back revealing the fraud it devalued the real followers and reviews making them all less trustworthy.

It can be difficult to take your focus off your numbers, to stop the addictive habit of checking them all day, believing that they accurately reflect the health and potential of your company. But the good news is that once you do and you turn your focus onto individuals and building relationships with your core customers the entire platform building process becomes much more enjoyable. It changes your perspective from one of lack and fear to one of gratitude and potential.

If you are interested in reading more about developing your e-company by using social media to build relationships I recommend, “Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World” by Kristen Lamb. I also welcome your input and comments. Is your social media plan evolving? How has it changed in the past year or two?

Powerful Introvert Marketing: Collaboration

I don’t know about all other introverts, but I hate being the center of attention. My wedding was torture! I seriously wanted to stop the service and ask everyone to just talk to each other and stop looking at me. So you can imagine how difficult promoting myself is. The idea of contacting people I don’t know but would like to (double whammy unnerving) and then telling them about my writing (triple whammy) then asking them to read it and review or promote it in some way (we’re up to quad whammy now) is crazy hard for me. I’ve done it, but I’m sure I came off as the awkward, quivering fool that I felt like.

I’ve tried all sorts of ways to market my books with some success, but I know I could do better. Ironically, I’ve discovered a way to reach people, the movers and shakers I want to know, and do it in a way that I am completely comfortable with; I can do it with ease when I promote other people.

Twice recently opportunities have fallen into my lap where I wanted to tell the world about someone else’s work and how it influenced me in a positive way.

The first was a very cool lady who calls herself The Suburban Monk. She created the adorable smiling, thumbs-up Buddha statue shown above. I ordered two recently and she accidentally double sent my order (because she is a business owner who truly cares about her customers!) When she realized her mistake she told me to keep and share the extra two. My mind immediately went to doing a giveaway through my blog because I wanted to share my windfall and let others know about my little Syd (that’s his name) statue and how much it makes me smile. So, if you would like to win a perriwinkle or purple Syd, please follow this link to my Facebook page and enter to win him! Tell your friends and family to sign up too. I gotta tell you it’s hard not to smile every time you look at him. He comes in a bunch of cool colors so if you want gold or orange or another color check out her site.

The second opportunity came when an author I love and follow all over social media grabbed on to last week’s post on strong, silent women and added to it. I mentioned Lavinia Collins in my post so she read it (but that’s not why I mentioned her). As a history scholar she then wrote a post on her blog that added to mine. Here’s a link. If you are a history buff or feminist it is a must read. I can’t tell you how amazing it felt to connect with another author and work off each other. For introverts, collaboration feels fantastic. The chance to shine along with another person feels so much better than being alone in a spotlight. My mind is still awash with places I want to share our combined article. I’m stoked to promote it in a way I would never be if it was me alone.

Since we are talking about marketing here, lets look at the nitty gritty–will I sell any books because of these two events? Truth–I have no idea and that really isn’t my point. Then how can it be marketing, you say. It is marketing because it’s a chance for me to meet new people and connect with them. I truly believe that people buy from people they know and like. So maybe some of the people I meet through these others will decide to look up my books. I’m listed everywhere as Karen Gordon, Author and hopefully it’s easy to find my books. If not, they may remember me when they are looking for a book in the future or want to recommend one to a friend. It’s not direct marketing, it’s not aggressive, it’s probably the very slow way around, but it works for me. I’m having a fantastic time. I’m juiced up about promoting others and my excitement is genuine. People can feel when you are promoting out of obligation and need, just slogging through it, or doing it with true fun and passion.

What marketing technique is working best for you? Do any feel better to do? Share your experience in the comments.

Be sure to stop by my Facebook page to win your own smiling, happy Syd to put on your desk or nightstand. Mine is cheering me on right now as I pass along the love.

This Ain’t No Rest Home Missy

My kids and I had a conversation about brains yesterday, specifically how our brains are changing. As teenagers theirs are forming new connections and changing like crazy. We listened to a TED podcast that explained how their cerebral cortex is changing and unfortunately my brain is changing too. As a middle-aged woman, mine would like to turn off a few connections and start to relax a bit–to which I reply, “nope.”

By choosing to self publish and become a midlife entrepreneur I’m telling my brain that we will be forming new connections by learning new skills and pushing my creativity to new levels. Some days this plan definitely works better than others. 

Currently I am writing the second novella in an eight-book series that I have committed to releasing in early 2016 (January? fingers crossed). I’m also reading “Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World” by Kristen Lamb and exponentially expanding the underdeveloped social media section of my brain. Whether it’s due to being introverted or just not growing up with social media, I recommend this fantastic book if you, like me, need to decode the strange land of cryptic conversations on Twitter and other social media sites. No matter what type of business you are running this book will help. 

I’ve always been a firm believer in the idea that I’m smarter than the average monkey so I will figure out (usually with the help of a book or YouTube video) anything that confounds me or stands in my way. Marketing my books was falling into that category. And it gets tempting to just walk away. Social media changes so quickly I would imagine it is hard for those in the know to keep up. For me it’s like going after a moving target or a finish line that’s perpetually moving another foot away. But I don’t give up because I’m just too damn stubborn and doing so would be to finally acknowledge that the average monkey is now smarter than me. (That day is coming, I know, but I’m fighting the good fight to stall it.)

Today I’m revealing my new author bio and redesigned website. It seems I’m not the only one in our family who has a relentless push to keep learning. My son Beau has been on a self-taught quest to improve his programming skills and I’m his favorite guinea pig. If you like it and are looking for someone to create a site for you (at amazing small-business friendly prices) you can contact him at Beau@DigiPhreakDesign.com. 

OK, enough pimping my kid. Now for the big reveals, the result of choosing to forestall my trip to the rest home by not resting on my laurels, by firing up all kinds of new creative brain cells. My new author bio:

I was sure I could never be a writer. I grew up too ordinary—a suburban, lapsed-Catholic, Irish, white girl who drank too much beer and kissed too many boys. I wanted to be different, unique; to live my life in some extraordinary place because I was sure that was where all the action was, where the fun was, where somethinginteresting was going on.
Then I grew up (sort of) and discovered something; there is passion and angst in suburbia along with pain and hope, it’s just hidden behind tan and beige exteriors and banal discussions about potty training and tree rot.  I discovered there is an art to reading between the lines and looking for clues, to finding raw humanity in a place designed to hide it.  I’ve always watched and studied people, questioned their motivations and agendas, wanted to know the stories behind their stories. As a writer I tapped into my over-active imagination to create those stories.
I tell the love story of the teens no one remembers at the thirty-year reunion, the ones that stood out to no one but each other. The woman who no one would vote as most likely to succeed but who does succeed by being the same quiet, smart girl they all overlooked. I write about the hysterically silly moments, inspiring wins and crushing letdowns that happen to us all and make everyone’s life extraordinary.
I still live in suburbia and have retained my embedded Catholic guilt. I’ve replaced beer with whiskey and boys with one man, who I kiss often. My life is still pretty ordinary, but my writing isn’t.

If you’d like to see my redesigned site you can click here

I welcome feedback on both so I can keep growing as an author. I’d also love to know what you do to keep your brain active. My kids are trying to sell me on gaming to sharpen my brain. Thoughts?

Where the Smart, Sexy, Supportive Women Are

I had a revelation about tribe when I read the above quote; I can choose my own tribe. By using the internet I can chose the five (or more) people who I want to spend the most time with. 
The more I thought about this the more powerful the idea became. I started thinking about who I would want to hang out with every morning as I started my day. Danielle LaPorte was the first who came to mind. She’s a cool combination of smart business sense and sexy spirituality and I could really benefit from having coffee with her every morning. So I subscribed to her her daily Truthbombs (and you can too,here) and followed her on Pintrest and Twitter. Now she’s in my tribe. Boom, done!
I liked this idea and I was on a roll. Who else did I want in my tribe? Who’s thoughts did I want filling my head? Faith Popcorn, brilliant futurist? I subscribed to her newsletter and followed her on Facebook. Boom, done! Now I’m looking at my days with a savvy eye on the future. 
I didn’t have to stop there. I wanted more smart, sexy, supportive women in my tribe so I spent time seeking them out. Here’s a hint…they hang out together. My latest favorite podcast is Pushing Boundaries with T&A. I’m soaking up their ideas on women in general and sexuality in particular. They are a sociology geek’s dream. So, not only did I follow them, I followed the trail of the people they follow and followed along (are you following me here?) I spent hours finding a lot of women I would love to spend more time with and now I get to. 
I may never meet some of these women in person (but then again I might). My point is that whether I do or don’t I can benefit from surrounding myself with them. As I grow as an author and a person these are the women who’s ideas I want filling my head. I want my email inbox, Pintrest page, Facebook feed, and Tweets to be full of insights, cheerleading, sensuality, and spirituality.  The key is making a conscious choice about who you have in your tribe, deciding who will influence your view of the world based on where you want to go and who you want to be. 
I invite you to take a look at your influencers–who are they? What’s their message? Are they pointing you in the direction you want to go? Are these the people you want in your tibe? 
If you found this post helpful I’d love to be part of your tribe of supportive women. I post information about my writing, but also focus on the image of women in the media and women supporting women in business. You can follow my blog and find me on:

or my webpage: KarenGordonAuthor.com 

The Best Social Media Sites for Introverts

I’ve outed myself before and I’m going to do it again. Hi, I’m Karen. (This is where you all say “Hi, Karen” in unison). And I am an introvert. I’ve been one my entire life, but I’m really just beginning to grasp what this means in my life. 

The first step was admitting I was an introvert. Seriously. There are still those who know me who might question this because I’ve done such a great job of hiding it from myself and others for so many years. Let’s face it, being introverted is socially unacceptable. Introverts are seen as the death of the party, the non-team players, the people you have to work really hard to get to know. 

So you would think that the proliferation of social media would make reaching out or being reached out to so much easier. In a way it does but while some social sites make our lives easier others make us want to dig deeper into our caves. And within each site there can be some areas where we shine and others we avoid. So, where can you find introverts on social media? (and why would you want to?) Let me start with the first question.


Pintrest is the most introvert-friendly form of all the social media sites. It’s all about pinning/sharing things that are about you, but in a round about way. No one expects you to post personal photos or specific personal information. It also doesn’t require you to be present to participate. You can pin anytime of day or night and the info you pinned doesn’t disappear quickly. The most fantastic feature is the search bar which allow you to find others who’ve self-identified as introverts. The first time you find a page of memes about being introverted you know you’ve found home.

Despite it’s name Instagram can work well for introverts. The trick is to follow people who post exciting pictures and information and never post anything yourself, ever. I’ve found lots of my favorite shows, movies, celebrities, designers, etc. on Instagram and I give them hearts for their efforts often. This is a great medium for people with exciting lives and people, like me, who are happy to stand on the sidelines and cheer for them.  
 

 

Facebook is slightly less introvert friendly, but still not too intimidating. The best feature is connecting with people you already know in a no-pressure situation. You can see vacation pics, note when their kids reach major milestones, etc. Your friends and family might notice your lack of posts but that depends on how out of the introvert closet you are. I definitely fall into a category called “lurker” which is people who only read and almost never post. It’s hard to explain to extroverts how long it takes me to decide on a topic, compose a post, find a corresponding photo (preferably one I’m not in) then remember to actually create a post. I cannot fathom the idea of randomly throwing up a bunch of pics of me and my friends at the beach (but I enjoy everyone else’s).

Then there’s Twitter. I feel like an elderly Luddite on Twitter. It’s fast paced communication of small bits of highly encrypted information. And it’s a game of volume–the number of followers you have. I’m constantly encouraged to follow my friends and have them follow me. OK, that’s ten or twenty people, who I already communicate with in other ways… It took me a while to catch on, but I have found one benefit to using Twitter. Writers love it (many of whom are introverts). They post links to their writing. I post links to mine and voila–I’m being social from the relative calm and safety of my office. 

So, question number two; why would you want to find introverts on social media? The best answer is because you are one and you would like to find like minded individuals but they are, like you, prone to not go out and be found. It’s a misconception that introverts don’t like people or are shy. Most of us are actually dying to meet others, especially others like ourselves. We would just like to do it in our own way–no pressure, indirectly, at our own pace. 

I hope you found my guide helpful and if you did I’d love to hear from you in a comment…only you probably won’t, because that’s another thing introverts are not likely to do, comment. But we are big on sharing so if you think this article would be helpful to your introvert friends then please pin, post, share and tweet. Thanks.

Do You Feel Pushed Into Social Media?

I’m not sure if it’s a generational thing or an introvert thing, but I have to admit, I’m just not that into social media. There, I said it. I feel a little better already for confessing that I’m an introverted, 50-year-old library geek who loves to write and read books, but struggles to come up with one thing to say about them (even my own) when I’m on social media.

Even before I self-published I wasn’t exactly drawn to Facebook or Twitter. It wasn’t that I didn’t see the appeal for others or understand the potential reach of these sites. It was more a case of feeling like the fish out of water or the round peg in a world of square holes that kept me from joining in. For me, and other introverts, there is no notion of wanting to share the minutia of my day or invite people I’ve never met into my world. As an author this is doubly true because quite often my world is completely imaginary, all in my head, and subject to constant rearranging until I get a feel for a strong character or story that is ready to be typed into existence. I think all authors wonder if they would be committed if we were required to share what’s really going on in their heads.

Which brings me to my hairdresser (big leap, I know, but stay with me). Mid coloring she shared that everyone in the shop was highly encouraged to use Instagram to build their clientele. We empathized about feeling awkward posting pictures of our pets and food or sharing details about our family life worldwide, but that’s the way it’s done now. Even employees who aren’t self-employed are being asked to open up and share with potential clients. 


I want to tell the world about my books. I’m proud of my work. I’m just struggling with a way to do this that feel genuine and comfortable for me (and fits in my almost-nonexistent budget). I’m already starting to gravitate toward Pintrest and my natural love for it makes using it for my business so much easier. When I connect with someone on there it’s usually due to a genuine shared interest. Maybe this is due to the fact that I’m a pretty typical Pintrest user. According to both Ignite Social Media and Digital Marketing Ramblings the average pinner is a middle-income, very active mom (nailed me). It’s not as easy, but I’m finding my way on Twitter and Goodreads too.  Both feel like a version of LinkedIn for self-published authors, a place to go for tips and support, a hang-out for the less-corporate types. 

The other ironic benefit of social media has been not feeling as alone in my alone-ness. Introverts find each other on social media by opening up and talking (and laughing) about how difficult and strange it feels to open up on social media. I would love to hear from more introvert entrepreneurs. I know it’s against your nature, but take a minute to comment and let me know you are out there and the social media that is working for you.