Why do I blog?

People ask me that a lot. Actually, they ask me that now more than ever before.

There was a time when they asked me because they wanted to hear about its positive impact on my business. That was back when blogging was hot and new and bloggers were raking in cash. Today, some ask because they aren’t sure that it has any impact anymore. In fact, one person recently asked me, “who still blogs?” (Ironically, they started a blog not long after).

Blogging as a trend is huge but it’s shifting. I wouldn’t say it’s declining but it’s facing changes. People aren’t blogging as often on their own blogs. Many people are still blogging, of course, but many more are abandoning their own blogs for blog-like interaction on a network — like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. These sites have a blog component but they also come “pre-built” with an audience and some useful interaction.

I’m still hired frequently to write blogs for businesses. But I’m even seeing that landscape change. People who are blogging, aren’t blogging as regularly — perhaps their frequency is held back by the cost of hiring a writer or by the push (from Google) to produce better quality posts.

I’m not suggesting that blogging is going away. The internet still needs content and blogging is a powerful interface (both on the creation-side and on the consumption side) to produce content.

So why do I blog here at AaronHoos.com while others are abandoning “owned” blogs and heading to networks?

  • I blog because I love creating content. Some of my content is sold to others (because I’m a copywriter) but sometimes I just want to create content that I find interesting that I want to share with others.
  • I blog because I’m always thinking about business, finance, and real estate. I’m always experimenting and testing and refining. So, unlike other blogs, this blog is not a place where “finished” and “polished” ideas are put. Rather, it’s a laboratory; a place where I can put my thoughts and work through them.
  • I blog because I want a collection point for my business. Not only do I write original content here but I share other content I write elsewhere. It’s not only an easy place for me to store links to things I’ve written, it acts as a portfolio of sorts. It’s a sort-of “adminstrative headquarters”.
  • I blog here at AaronHoos.com because I own the site. I’m a big supporter of putting content elsewhere but I’ve been around long enough to see websites disappear and with it, all of the content that you post. So creating content on an owned site preserves it. (Case in point: This website has posts that go back to 2009 but I’ve been blogging for much longer than that… but on another non-owned site).
  • I blog because I want a record of my thinking. It’s fascinating to go back and look at the evolution of my ideas and my business since I first started blogging here. It inspires me as a measure of how far I’ve come and what opportunities lie ahead.

To this list, I would almost add that I’m learning to blog to share the human side of myself… although I haven’t gotten to the point where I can do that fully yet, because I can be a private person.

What about comments or PageRank or SEO or ad revenue? Well, those are not my priority on this blog. I love getting comments (and feel free to post yours!) but it’s not something I actively seek out. PageRank and SEO is nice but I don’t use this blog as a place for me to generate business so if people aren’t coming here in droves then that’s okay. And ad-revenue is not how I want to earn a living on this blog so I don’t post ads here.

I own other blogs and I use them for business (i.e. for generating leads, acquiring clients, etc.) but this blog is the place where I blog for myself.

I blog because I have an urgent need to write and this site is my release valve.

Can we just stop calling it a “home-based business” please?

I have a number of clients who I write for and most of those clients are distributed all around the world, which means that I can work for those clients from my nice comfy little home office.

But one of my clients is a very big corporation and their head office is not far from my house and when I write for them, I go into their office because I work with a team there. The projects I work on for them cannot be written from my home because it requires secure software and face-to-face meetings with the writing team… and I’m totally cool with that because I love this client and I really like hanging out downtown with all the bustle of downtown activities and shops and restaurants.

So I do a lot of work at home and I do some work at my client’s office and I’m really happy with that mix.

Well a funny thing happened not too long ago: Someone wanted to get together for coffee with me and I told them that I couldn’t get together with them at the time they asked for because I was going to be at my client’s office at the time they wanted to meet. They were befuddled by this and said rather incredulously, “I thought you owned a home-based business”. The person who asked me about my business seemed surprised and disappointed that my business wasn’t run 100% from my house… it seemed like they had just found out that Santa wasn’t real.

And at that moment I realized just how much I hate the term “home-based business”.

As the name suggests, a home-based business is a term that describes a business you run from your home. And believe me, there is NOTHING wrong with running a business from your home! But I think the problem I have is that the words “home-based business” set up a misunderstanding for the aspiring entrepreneur.

By focusing on the “home-based” part of “home-based business”, the aspiring entrepreneur does a disservice to themselves by limiting what kind of business they can actually start: You can run MANY businesses from your home that may not fit the definition of “home-based businesses”. And, if you start a business from your home but you want to grow your business, you may need to explore the possibility of expanding beyond the four walls of your house.

That’s the case with my business. In the strictest definition, it’s a home-based business because I started freelance writing from my home. I have a home-office and do all of my administration and all of my marketing out of that office, as well as the content for most of my clients. But I also want to grow and serve other clients and sometimes the services I provide (such as managing a group of writers employed by my client) requires me to show up at my client’s office for meetings and whatnot. I love running my business and I have the freedom to run it at home or at my clients’ offices — whatever I choose to do.

My business is a business that I happen to run from my home; it’s not strictly a home-based business.

There’s an entire industry of experts and gurus and info-marketers who are making a bundle by selling “home-based business” opportunities to an unsuspecting populace who believe that home-based businesses are somehow different than other kinds of businesses. They’re not.

Consider some really big corporations that started at home: Microsoft, HP, Apple, and Dell were all home-based businesses at some point, because they were started at home (or in a garage or dorm-room)… but they didn’t stay there.

I promise you that Bill Gates, Mrs. Hewlett and Packard, Steve Jobs, and Michael Dell were NOT deciding to start “home-based businesses”. They were just starting businesses that happened to be in their home but which they eventually chose to grow beyond.

And that’s what you should do, too. If you want to start a business, destroy your notion of finding a “home-based business” and instead focus on finding a prospective client base with a pressing need that you know how to solve. Then start up your business from the comfort of your home and serve that clientele. And if you choose, you can grow your business beyond that.

Financial fiction review: ‘Top Producer’ by Norb Vonnegut

Love financial fiction? So do I. And I review them for you!

In this post I’m reviewing…

Top Producer by Norb Vonnegut

Financial fiction meets crime fiction: Read how a top producer uncovers financial fraud.

OVERVIEW: The story is about Grover O’Rourke, a “top producer” at an investment bank. His best friend, Charlie Kelerman, owns a hedge fund and is killed (rather dramatically) at a social gathering. Kelerman is very successful but after his death, Kelerman’s widow approaches O’Rourke with some alarming news. O’Rourke tries to help the widow but takes on more than he bargains for.

REVIEW: I was a little skeptical when I started the book. It opens with Charlie’s death which was pretty dramatic to the point of being tawdry. I actually put the book in the stack of books to return to the library. But then I picked up another book by the same author and read some of the reviews for Top Producer. They were glowing enough that I picked up Top Producer again and continued reading. I’m glad I did. The story finished well (if not predictably) and the book was immensely readable after those first couple of eye-rolling chapters. The characters were not overly complex but were still entertaining, with my favorite character being the homosexual hairdresser who is a former Delta-Force operative. Top Producer read at a quick pace and I found that I couldn’t ever read just one chapter. (I confess that I occasionally ignored my work just to hammer through a couple of chapters!). This is a crime thriller from the perspective of a financial advisor. So in some ways, the main character seems to be along for the ride rather than a true “actor” in a financial story, although he helps the police solve the crime.

FINANCIAL FICTION QUOTIENT: For readers who like the world of finance, big money, and investment bankers, there is plenty here. Along with the main storyline, we read of O’Rourke’s efforts to sell to a new prospect and protect his existing clients from a fellow advisor at the firm who is looking to steal his client away. Finance concepts covered run the gamut from basic (bond prices), intermediate (SEC regulations and ponzi schemes) to advanced (hedging techniques like zero cost collars). Vonnegut does a pretty good job of explaining everything. I gave the story a Financial Interest score of only 3/5 because the finance is interesting and pretty consistent throughout the story but it’s really a financial crime thriller and the main character is more of a detective than a financier.

SUMMARY: Although I found this book to be very entertaining, I like reading financial fiction for the financial details and big money gambles and there weren’t a lot of that in here. But there was enough financial meat to still find this book very satisfying.

Find more financial fiction reviews here.

If this is your idea of marketing, you’re doing it wrong

Blog comment spam. Totally hate it. You hate it too. We all hate it.

Except for the loser that wrote this…

This gigantic piece of crap is basically a template that a blog-comment-spammer will use to write slightly different from one blog to another — basically saying nothing but saying it differently enough.

The fact that THIS showed up in my blog comments betrays 3 things about the person:

1. They are stupid enough to think that this type of commenting actually works
2. They are stupid enough to post this incorrectly — perhaps they couldn’t work the software that is supposed to automatically piss bloggers off post it for them.

It warms my heart to think that they put in some effort but won’t get the results they were looking for.

I’ve only posted an excerpt but it was originally 2000 words longer.

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Brutal.

Deal with the one thing you’ve been avoiding. Do it now.

We all have a list of stuff to do. And if you’re like… oh… everyone else in the world, you probably don’t get all of your to-do’s done in the day. Some get done and some don’t. I’m like that. I imagine you might be like that too.

So we end up with new daily activities the next day but we also carry-over activities from the day(s) before.

Some of those tasks get done shortly — if only a day or two after being carried over.

But you probably have one or more tasks on your to-do list right now that are old. Maybe a couple of days old. Maybe a couple of weeks old.

Guess what. You don’t want to do that task. For whatever reason, you’ve stared at that task. You’ve carried it over day by day by day by day. Every day it was an option to do and every day you chose not to do it.

Frankly, you’re lying to yourself every single time you write that to-do onto your list. You’re tricking yourself every day into thinking that something will change. It won’t.

Hey, I’m not judging you. That happens to me ALL THE TIME.

We make time for the things that are important to us. Why is that task not important to you?

Maybe you tell yourself that the task is important (after all, you are carrying that task forward every day) but you aren’t starting it for some reason. Perhaps the task seems too big for the time you have available? Perhaps you’re not exactly sure how to start? Perhaps you’re waiting on something from someone else?

You don’t realize it but those really old carry-forward tasks can weigh you down. So deal with it right now.

DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT RIGHT NOW

Today is Friday and it’s just past the middle of January. We’re near the start of a new year and why should we keep lying to ourselves? That task, as it stands now, is not going to get done… is it?

So here’s what I want you to do. (Don’t worry, I’m doing the same thing). Deal with that task right now.

Do 1 of the following 2 things:

  1. Cross it off your list. I put this first because apparently the task hasn’t been important enough to do or you would have done it already. So cross it off your list and see what happens. Does the world end? Likely not.
  2. Work on it for 15 minutes. Take time right now, for the next 15 minutes, to work on this. I don’t care what you do but set your timer and sit down and work on it. Don’t screw around. Don’t start after supper. Do it now. Fifteen minutes isn’t that long but I think you will be surprised at how much you can do in that time. And you might have to carry it over to tomorrow but you’ll have started on it and you’ll carry it over with a greater sense of clarity and purpose… and the renewed promise that it will be crossed off your list soon!

C’mon. Do it now. You’re reading this blog post and thinking about a specific task. So deal with it!