December #MentorMonday Recap
"Good information, good people, good vibes."
I can’t believe it! That was our tenth and final #MentorMonday of 2013! And not only was it our last, but it was our longest session AND the first annual giveaway!
Drink in Hand.
Wear a Headset.
CHECK OUT OUR NEW SPONSORS
BuyDig.com Headset: Maya Williams
BuyDig.com Panini Press: Kimberly Stowers
BuyDig.com Blender: Dominique Clark
WHERE ARE THEY NOW SEGMENT
PCB: It’s been 30 days since you last shared with us about your launch. So now, tell us what your highest of the high was and your lowest of the low over the past 30 days?
M: Well, they were actually on the same day—the first day. It was the highest of the high because of the adrenaline rush from it being the opening day and the outpouring of support from everyone. I opened in the parking lot of the preschool I sub and my wife teach at. I opened there because I figured it would be a “safe location,” a more supportive environment for the launch. Paul was amazing because he sent people out to buy sandwiches to give them to other people!
The lowest of the low was also that same day because I was “woefully unprepared.” I expected to sell maybe 30 sandwiches, a slow easy day, so I didn’t pre-prepare sandwiches. I knew I’d have to do that when things were in full swing, but not for the launch. I had my mom working in the window (she’s never done any customer service). It turned into a bit of unbridled chaos with my mom taking orders faster than I could make them, I’d never used my griddle before…people were waiting way too long for the sandwiches. But it was a lot of fun! Everyone was great, very supportive.
PCB: So if I were to paraphrase [I’d say] you weren’t prepared?
M: Yes, you could say that.
PCB: Now that your hands are dirty (or rather, cheesy) what is the #1 parting advice you’d give for first 30 days of someone’s business?
M: Well, it’s different from the people who have just started and those who are about to start. For the people who are about to start, be prepared! Whatever you think will happen when you’re busy, practice in full—don’t practice for small things. Do everything you think you’re going to need to do eventually.
"…Practice in full—don’t practice for small things." — Em
For the people who have already launched, some things are let downs. Stuff happens, it’s okay, just go from there.
Paul’s Takeaway: DON’T STOP!!
"The key to success is actually not the destination, but the journey. And you get through the journey by showing up every day." — Paul Carrick Brunson
If you missed Em’s story on the last session, watch it now!
MAIN SPOTLIGHT SEGMENT
"The folks that are always trying to help, always trying to support, always trying to add value are the ones that are winning." — Paul Carrick Brunson
PCB: What were you doing prior to The Single Woman, and as you emerge as The Single Woman brand, what are some of the lessons that you could share, especially regarding how you’ve been able to build such a strong social media presence.
Mandy Hale (MH): I went to school for journalism and started off trying to break into the TV business which is not easy by any means, but eventually was blessed to land a position at Channel 2 (Nashville) and worked as an associate producer, then moved on to Country Music Television and that was a dream job for me. After staying with CMT for about a year and a half, the TV business kinda dried up and went away a little bit in Nashville. So I transitioned into public relations and that’s where I stayed until last Summer (2012) which was when I was able to break away from a full time 9 to 5 and do my writing full time.
PCB: Woa! I didn’t realise that. You mean you’ve just been full time as a writer for one year?
MH: Yes, as The Single Woman! It’s been about a year and a half. For a while there, I felt like I was Clark Kent during the day and I would go whisk around in my telephone booth and become The Single Woman at night. So that’s why this is such a topic that’s so near and dear to my heart since I was literally juggling my job which paid the bills and my dream which was what I was so passionate about for three years. And it’s no joke. I’m sure a lot of you know. Any wisdom that I can pass on to that is going through the same thing I love having the opportunity to do that.
PCB: This is great because I would guess that about 90% of the audience watching are moonlighting or thinking about moonlighting—working a full time job. So what did you need to see to show you that it was time to step out on faith?
MH: I guess I should take you back to four years ago because this whole thing started as a New Year’s Resolution and I don’t actually keep my New Year’s Resolutions very often. My resolution was to write more. I was working for a technology company and feeling creatively stifled so I wanted to branch out and start a blog or do something that would really get the creative juices flowing. So it was probably the only New Year’s Resolution I’ve stuck to in my life!
My advice is to set really small, attainable goals for yourself. It doesn’t make it any less amazing to achieve an attainable goal than a huge, massive goal. Set big goals too! But for me, my goal was to start a blog.
I started blogging in January 2010, then started a Twitter page the month after as a way to promote the blog, and it all just kinda blew up from there.
PCB: Why did you choose to brand yourself as The Single Woman as opposed to your name?
MH: At that time, I checked out others who were doing what I wanted to do. For me, it was Mastin Kipp who runs @TheDailyLove. I very much looked up to him and wanted to do what he was doing except specifically for single women. So I wanted to name myself “The Single Lady” because of Beyonce’s song, but that name was already taken on Twitter, so I picked “The Single Woman” and amazingly enough, it was still available. Of course, I do have my own Twitter Page which is separate from @TheSingleWoman so I can tweet my own thoughts.
Finding someone who you look up to is so big in life and for every goal we set in our life, we should be looking at someone who has what we want and who’s doing what we admire, and who’s really sort of leading the charge, and emulating what they’re doing, but also doing it in your own, unique way so it feels true to you.
PCB: So now, let’s go back to the idea of you going from full time for someone else to full time for yourself. What did you see from your blog and Twitter following that told you it was time to step out and do this full time?
MH: Early on, I started to see that The Single Woman was going to be something very special. I saw the reaction from women where they were like “hey, this is someone who’s speaking up for us, who’s giving us a positive voice instead of making single life look like this sad, desperate, pathetic picture that is being portrayed on our TVs and at the bookstore.” That helped me figure out what I was put on this earth to do. Now, how am I going to make that pay the bills. And it took a while, it was a bit of a struggle because a lot of opportunities started to come my way—some good, some really weird…I got a lot of inquiries about reality shows and I actually had a reality show contract at one point, but none of it felt like a gut check, a spirit check. I had to know that before I was ready to take this huge leap of faith, I knew it was going to have to be the right opportunity. And I honestly can’t emphasize how important it is to listen to your gut because not every opportunity that comes to you is for you. So you have to learn to discern.
"…Not every opportunity that comes to you is for you." — Mandy Hale, The Single Woman
Now in hindsight, I can see that had I taken some of those opportunities that seemed so great at the time, it would have really messed with my branding and taken my message in a way I didn’t want it to go and ultimately, would not have been the right step for me.
PCB: Now a lot of us trying to blog are wondering how we make money, generate income. So what was the business model you created for yourself?
MH: I would love to say I have this amazing, killer business model, but a lot of it has been trial and error. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity, so I was like I’m just gonna be ready for when the right opportunity comes my way.
The first way that I sort of monetized my blog was to self-publish an eBook. And it wasn’t easy. I sent out letter after letter to publishers because writing a book was my dream, but I got rejected. I sent out probably 30 or 40+ queries about my book and amazingly enough, even with that platform, the publishers were like “thanks, but no thanks.” So I decided if no one wanted to publish my message, then I’d find a way to make it happen myself. So I self-published. That was in February 2011 and the money started coming in that way.
I still wasn’t ready to take the leap and leave my full time job, but it definitely showed me that I was on the right path. And what that did was not only help me monetize my blog, but it gave me this eBook to then take to publishers and say “look how successful this has been!” and show them I can sell a book.
There are so many outlets out there for self-publishing. It does take a little bit of an investment, maybe $200-$400, but the return you get is so worth the investment because it gives you: 1) a way to connect with your readers, 2) a way to get your work out there, and 3) a way to start monetizing.
PCB: I completely agree! And I would add that it also positions you as a thought leader and that’s very important when you’re trying to establish your brand.
So two quick questions, before opening up the floor for questions. My first is to ask you to tell us about your team because a lot of us don’t realise that when we see one person, we don’t realise there’s a team behind you. So tell us about your team, what does it look like?
MH: That’s the funny thing, there’s actually not [a team]. Thomas Nelson, my publisher, is wonderful and they help me with marketing, PR, etc. so I do have that in terms of a team. But as for The Single Woman Team, it’s “me.” But I’m wanting to bring in an intern soon so…
PCB: If you want to intern for Mandy Hale, start advocating now! And now for my second question. When I started following you, I saw that a lot of it, in my opinion, resonated directly with African-American women. I saw how large your AA woman following was and assumed you were black. It wasn’t until later that I realised you weren’t. So my question is this, why do you believe you’ve been able to resonate across [colour] lines?
MH: When I first debuted my website, there were a lot of people who said, “Oh my gosh, you’re not black, but we love you anyway!” For me, it’s an honour because some of the most spirited, independent, funny, witty, amazing women on the planet are AA women. And the fact that they connect with my message is like the biggest honour of my life. And that’s not even an exaggeration. I absolutely love it! And I think that even beyond that, my message has gone to the Philippines and in South Africa and I’ve never been there….I think the common thread was just that single women didn’t feel like anybody was giving them a voice, like anybody was standing up and saying “hey, you know what? I’m single and I’m okay with it; I’m confident, sassy, and fabulous, and I’m not gonna apologize for my singleness just because you have a problem with it, intimidated by it, and you can’t imagine being happy and while single. ” I feel like women were ready to have someone leading the charge.
"…Some of the most spirited, independent, funny, witty, amazing women on the planet are African-American women" — Mandy Hale, The Single Woman
I didn’t mean to lead the charge, it was sort of an accident. I don’t view myself as this guru or self-help expert; I’m just a single woman. And I’m saying to all of my readers and followers all of the things I need to hear myself. [Women] are able to see themselves in me.
Andrea Brown: How did you strike a balance between building your brand and working?
MH: I didn’t sleep a lot. *lol* For me it was like, I’m so passionate about what I’m feeling and I’m loving that I’m able to inspire single women [and] that this is really connecting so really it became like having two jobs. I would do PR during the day, then come home and work until midnight on blogs, scheduling tweets, interacting, etc. So there wasn’t always a great balance, but I do think that when you are truly passionate about what you’re doing, it makes the lack of sleep and everything else worth it. And in the end, hard work pays off. I continued working and knew that if I continued doing what I was doing as hard as I could and putting all of my passion, energy, and creativity into, then I knew, eventually, something was going to break. Just to keep at it.
PCB: So how many hours a night are you sleeping?
MH: I was working 18 [or] 20 hour days when my first book came out. Now with the second book coming out in March, I’ll definitely be a lot more prepared. Now that things have slowed down between book one and two, I get my rest.
Bethany Collins: What process do you use to put your eBooks together and get yourself out there?
MH: I can’t stress enough the power of a platform, whatever your niche is. Before you even worry about writing the book, I would focus on the platform. Because that’s where your sales are gonna come in, that’s where book publishers are going to sit up and take notice. Platform first, then focus on the book.
In terms of logistics, there are a ton of people and companies you can work with… I mentioned Book Baby because when I’ve been researching self-publishing, I noticed Book Baby was sort of an off-shoot of CD Baby, where artists and musicians could go in and create their own CD, so I would recommend looking into that. Do a lot of research and find the company that’s going to offer you the best price for the formatting, editing services, and the most important thing—a company that will feed your eBook to all the most important platforms: Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, iBooks (iTunes).
Then honestly, it was just a matter of promoting the book, finding unique ways to promote the book via Twitter, Facebook, and my blog.
PCB: What is the #1 tip you have for the audience to grow their Twitter following?
MH: 3 Cs of Building a [Twitter] Platform:
CREATE great content. Content is king.
"Be consistently great with everyone." — Paul Carrick Brunson
Mariana R. Silva-Buck: I released my children’s book and did everything on my own and now the books are just sitting in my living room. What is the next step to get the distribution channels, more promotion, and marketing my books correctly?
MH: I can’t stress enough the power of a platform. Whatever your book is about, find that niche of the universe on Twitter, get yourself out there, start to connect with other like-minded people.
The 3 Fs of Twitter Platform Building:
FINDING your niche.
Finding FAVOUR with people of influence.
Every major opportunity that has come in my life and career has happened through Twitter. I got my book deal through Twitter, I got to work with Oprah through Twitter, Paul and I met because of Twitter, every bit of success I’ve had, I owe to Twitter.
Go back to the basics, get on Twitter, do searches for people in your niche and those who are following. Once you get the ball rolling and people talking and retweeting, then you’re getting people invested in your message. That will inspire people to say, I love her Twitter Page, Facebook Page, and blog, why shouldn’t I go buy her book?
PCB: Mandy is just preaching right now! Twitter landed me my book deal. Facebook landed me my introduction to Oprah! Social media is where it’s going right now.
Ashley Franklin: What can we expect from book 2? How is it different from or similar to your first one?
MH: As excited as I was about The Single Woman, I think I’m to the tenth power excited about I’ve Never Been to Vegas, But My Luggage Has. Where The Single Woman was anecdotal, sharing stories about my life to discuss the topics of single life that I feel I’d like someone to talk to me about, I’ve Never Been to Vegas goes deeper into my story. It starts around age 18, it goes through the struggles of career, and love, and life, and personal things that I’ve struggled with like panic attacks and an abusive relationship, and leads to when I started The Single Woman, what inspired it, the early days of it, and stumbling into my great calling in life. I think a lot of women—and men—will connect with the message.
Most people think there’s only one way to happily ever after, but there are a million ways! You just have to be willing to live life on your terms and to just go full steam ahead following your passion, your heart, and never giving up.
Paul poses a question.
The first person to say “#MentorMonday” gets to answer.
You have 15 seconds to answer.
3 categories: 1) Paul’s Crazy Mind, 2) Social Media, and 3) Sex.
If a multiple-choice question is asked, the next person can’t answer it if the first gets it wrong.
Points will be assigned to each question: 100, 200, or 300.
Whomever has the most points wins.
If you strike out three times, you get replaced by someone of the same gender.
Who Won?? The Fellas!!!
For winning the game for the guys, Corlon Evans will receive a portrait with Caronism Photography!
The Awkward Black Chick, Issa Rae, will be joining us for the first #MentorMonday of 2014! It’ll be on January 13th so RSVP now!!
CATCH THE PLAYBACK
If you want to catch up on all the fun, updates, information, and Mandy’s awesome “Single Ladies” dance, then you can watch the playback of the Spreecast now!