How To Make Money With NLP
15 Ways to Make Money with Neuro-Linguistic Programming
15 Ways to Make Money with Neuro-Linguistic Programming
Copyright 2014 – 2022, Jeff Napier
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Write Books, Websites, Software
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If you’re not familiar with NLP, start here: What Is NLP?
NLP schools generally do a fine job of teaching everything from the basics to very advanced neuro-linguistic programming techniques, but they don’t quite give you what you need to make money with NLP, do they?
So there you are, having taken all the training, and perhaps you’re certified as a practitioner, but you’re not earning money, even though, if you’re like most of us, that was your plan.
The problem has been lack of information. If you knew what is in this online book, you would have found it easy to start in any number of ways to earn a living with NLP. Well, you’ll have the online book now!
This book will give you what you need to know, on levels from the conscious all the way down, in order to make real money with NLP. Have fun and prosper! – Jeff Napier, certified master NLP practitioner
Jeff Napier, your author
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The most common way to make money with NLP is as a practitioner, and the most normal arrangement is to charge clients for individual 1-hour or 2-hour sessions. However, you may not want to do this!
As you’ll soon discover in this book, there are many other ways to make money with your NLP skills. So, if you aren’t comfortable in one-on-one sessions with people, if you’re afraid you won’t do a good job, if you don’t like to be on time for appointments, if you think it will take too long to establish a clientele, if you have up days and down days, then some other alternatives may be better for you. Yet another common reason people will give for not becoming practitioners is about money. If you can charge $250 for a two-hour session, and if you can do four sessions a day, five days a week, that’s only $250,000 per year. Perhaps you’d like to avoid a ceiling like that.
Or, maybe these excuses are all ecology standing in your way of doing what you really want. You might want to work with another NLP practitioner to explore that.
Good, now that’s out of the way, here’s how you can become a successful NLP practitioner as quickly as possible.
First you’ve got to get your license, right? No, you don’t. Interestingly, no licensing or certification is required in the USA, and probably most other countries as well. I do recommend that you get proper training, which generally ends with a certificate, even though you won’t need that certificate. But the training itself, you’ll probably need that. Oh, I’ll admit there may be some people on this earth who have an intuitive knack for this sort of counseling, and who could become good practitioners by simply studying the book “NLP for Dummies,” but that’s rare. And there are those who have taken all the training, but still don’t have enough natural empathy, or perhaps too much empathy, to be effective NLP practitioners. I think it can be learned, but you might rather try what’s in the later chapters.
So, if you feel you’d be a good NLP practitioner, all you have to do is start! What I mean by that is you don’t need to file paperwork, don’t need to rent an office, don’t need to get signs painted on your car (hey, wait a minute!). All you need is your first client.
The first client may be the hardest to get. If you are lucky, a distant family member, a friend of a friend, or one of your fellow students from NLP training would enjoy a session. If it goes particularly well, your first client may tell others, who tell others, and so on. But this is the real world. What you really need is a hundred first clients. Then a few of them will tell their friends, who will tell their friends, and so on.
So, how do you get a hundred clients?
Here are some ideas. Ignore the ones that would bother you, and run with the ones you like.
Print business cards, and hand them out to everyone within reach at all times. If you have a short, catchy phrase on your card, it will cause people to ask about what you do. As you know, once you start a conversation, you have the opportunity to ‘sell’ a session. Using your NLP skills and your heart, you can be genuinely curious about the person to whom you’ve handed a card, and find out if they would benefit from an NLP session. If not, no worries. Perhaps this person will pass your card on to someone who will call you. But if the person can benefit from a session, you don’t have to sell it at all. Just let the person know about the benefits. Oh, it is certainly helpful to have a close – such as “I have Tuesday at ten available.”
As you hand out business cards, it is most helpful to have an ‘elevator speech’ memorized. This is a one-paragraph description of what you do, so when people ask, you have a smooth, confident reply.
It doesn’t take long to hand out cards to your closest friends and associates. So, you may want to take it to the next level. You can attend business mixers, evening talks, adult education classes and so on, so you have a larger circle of people to become your clients.
How about Internet presence? Most people who are practitioners of anything get a website. Most of these websites get three visitors a year, one of which is the practitioner’s mother. You need to do a bit of search engine optimization and some other tricks. Since an effective website is important to most NLP businesses, I’ve devoted a chapter to websites later in the book.
Social networking – you know Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all that, can work wonders, so I have a chapter about that, also.
Phone book advertising doesn’t work very well these days, takes a long time to become published, and costs too much.
If Craigslist serves you area, you’ll find a category called “Services Offered” which like most of Craigslist is free. The problem is that everyone with services posts there from roofers to car mechanics. So, you need to know some Craigslist tricks, which I have also written about in a later chapter.
A bit of local newspaper, coupon and bulletin board advertising works well, but be very careful about overspending. You won’t earn the cost back right away. More about that will be covered in the advertising and publicity chapter.
The main thing you’ll need is patience. If your situation is typical, at first, you’ll think whatever you’ve done for publicity was all a waste. You may spend $500 for radio advertising (not recommended) and get one client out of the deal. But, that client may tell others. And others who heard your radio ad two months ago may eventually pick up the phone and call you.
Even if you didn’t have the knowledge in this book, you could work a kind of magic. It’s called patience. If you keep publicizing – business cards, your website, telling everyone in sight, renewing your fliers on the bulletin boards, whatever, in a year, you’ll start to earn a bit of a living. In five years, you get to charge a lot of money for each session, and turn down any clients you don’t want to work with.
Example: I knew a fellow who became a licensed real estate agent. He found a broker willing to take him on. That was easy, because agents work on commission only, and the more agents a broker has, the better – within reason. He worked, and worked, and it took him almost exactly one year to close his first sale. That was years ago. Now he is a very successful broker.
But, you have this book. Read on. This book will vastly accelerate the process for you.
One of the problems you may face as a practitioner is that many clients don’t talk much about their sessions. Of course you want them to talk you up to all their friends, but it would be unethical to request it directly.
Another problem you’ll run into is that for most of the general public, the prices you need to charge are seemingly high. Whereas a grocery clerk may make $10 per hour, or a nurse may make $35 per hour, you need to charge $60 per hour or more because you can’t work eight hours a day, five days a week like they do. At least not at first.
You may be tempted to discount your services at the beginning. There are two schools of thought on that.
One school says keep your prices high right from the start. You don’t want the public to get the idea that you are working for very little money for two reasons. One is that they’ll assume you are ‘cheap’ because you aren’t very good. The other reason, one that can come back and bite you years into the future, is that people will remember your early pricing. On the other hand, as many business coaches will tell you, there are plenty of people in the world who can afford much more than nurses and grocery clerks. These are the clients you should pursue.
Now the other school says discount to your heart’s content. Even take clients for free if you have to. You can always raise prices later, after you have filled your schedule. In fact, you can balance your schedule against your prices. As your schedule initially fills with people that are paying nothing, you start charging a little bit of money. As your schedule fills again, you start charging more. At some point in the future, you may still have a full schedule, and won’t believe how much each of your clients is paying.
One downside is that people who pay little or nothing for sessions are the worst possible clients! They show up late or not at all, and they don’t get lasting effects as often. That’s because when someone has invested hard-earned money in a session, you can be they’ll be there on time, they’ll pay attention, and they’ll be sure to get results!
The free and low-paying clients are often in a lower economic strata, and most of their friends are also. So, even when they’ve had wonderful sessions, they can only recommend your services to other people who would be free and low-paying clients.
One thing you can do which seems to work quite well in building a practice is to set a good solid price, perhaps $180 per session. However, if you come across someone who doesn’t want to pay that much, you might offer a sort of trade. You give them some of your business cards, and ask them to tell everyone they know the truth amount your sessions. In my opinion, it would be unethical to tell them to ‘sell’ your session, or tell everyone they think you’re great. You want them to tell the truth. Of course, it is up to you to make sure most sessions are so great they’ll want to tell everyone how effective you are.
So, you might have a client who balks at $180. You tell this client something like, “OK, if you’re willing to pass out six of my business cards, and tell people the truth about our session, I’ll do it for $100.” If they still balk, you can decide whether you might offer it for even less, with more business cards, or not.
In selling a session, one thing you can do is ask someone “How much would a session that will do ____ be worth to you?” Then you can accept that amount, or tell them that you can do it for slightly more. You’d fill in the blank with a specific desired outcome. No one wants a ‘session.’ What they want is to become more confident on the stage, get along better with their spouse, stay focused on their work – whatever it is they said they wanted.
And if they haven’t said what they wanted, you haven’t really learned who they are yet. Isn’t it fun to be curious? As you’ve learned in your NLP training, when you talk with people because you are truly interested, when you mirror them, challenge ambiguities, maybe even backtrack some of their words, they are truly honored. It won’t take much effort to discover what they want that you can help with. Then, simply tell them that you can give them that, a ‘well-formed outcome’ and they’ll be delighted to book a session with you.
Or several sessions. Business coaches often sell packages of sessions. One coach, Christian Mickelsen, is currently charging clients $10,000 per month, with a six-month commitment, and getting it. He trains other coaches in how to get clients, and how to charge a lot of money. He suggests people in coaching charge new clients $997 per month. Then, he suggests offering six months for the price of five, at $4985.
He advocates giving a free intake session of approximately a half-hour.
Finally, he says you’ve gotta be ready to take a credit card right away. Close the sale while the client is hot, not after they’ve had time to let the news of what you can do for them fade away. You guessed it, I have a chapter about how anyone can take payment with credit card numbers later in the book.
It is important to have as many ‘good’ sessions as possible at the beginning. To that end, you might like to use the “magical ending” technique discussed at the end of the book.
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Let’s say you feel you are not ready to do full NLP sessions with people. Perhaps your training was skimpy. Perhaps you got all the way through certification as a master practitioner, yet you still aren’t feeling fully competent. You aren’t the only one, not by a long shot! So what can you do? One possibility of many is what I call “Creative Listening.”
This is a simple subset of NLP. The idea is that you have conversations with clients using mirroring, outcome frame questions, backtracking, and respectfully challenge deletion, generalization and distortion, so that they can gain new understandings, come up with their own creative solutions, or feel better about themselves or their situations. By limiting yourself to this kind of conversation, you can avoid all the techniques you may consider more difficult such as anchoring, regression and metaphorical suggestion. In other words, creative listening is easy! But I think you can see how it can also be tremendously helpful, especially to people with family issues, those facing decisions, and people in mild depression.
Creative listening can be done in person or by phone or Skype.
You can charge on a per-minute basis. For instance, you might start at fifty cents or a dollar per minute and once your schedule becomes full, perhaps you can charge three dollars per minute.
You can use the same ways to build a practice as a creative listener that you would to become a general NLP practitioner. Pick your favorites: Local business cards or flyers, Craigslist, a website, and social networking.
No matter what you do to start, you can expect that business will probably build somewhat slowly, but if you are patient, you may find it builds exponentially.
Another option is to join a website such as LivePerson.com. This website is free to join. Once you have signed up and entered some basic information about who you are, what you do, and how much you want to charge per minute, people from the general public can phone you through their computers for instant help. Customers can also communicate through instant messaging if you choose to allow that option. They prepay some money to the website, and can talk as long as their money holds out. They can add more as needed. The company charges a fairly hefty percentage, but takes care of all the financial details for you.
Ideally, LivePerson, and other such websites, would do all the publicity for you, so you could just sit back and wait for clients to arrive. In theory, that will happen just because people browsing the site looking for someone to speak with will choose you from your profile. The truth is that there is a lot of competition. Many of the members of the site are psychics, astrologers and others, even technical advisors. There is an option to pay money for higher placement in search results. I don’t think you’ll break even for quite a while, so you may rather advertise your LivePerson presence (or whatever similar site you use) on your own website, through social networking and possibly other ways.
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One of the best ways to make money with NLP is to teach it. You can make more money faster than with most other NLP incomes.
You can teach on any level. It is very easy to start with local community education centers, offering a beginning course or introduction to NLP. Then, if you’re feeling well-educated enough in NLP, you can teach an intermediate course, an advanced course, a practitioner’s course, even a master course.
You can also offer side dishes. For instance, you might present a course on “NLP and Family Relationships,” or “NLP and Conflict Resolution” or “NLP in the Workplace,” or “NLP in Sales.”
A big advantage with the community education centers is they do all the advertising for you. You can sign up to teach a course, wait for the next semester’s course catalog to be distributed, and you’ll have students. Of course, you can supplement their course catalog with your own local advertising.
Many of the community education centers don’t pay very much if at all. For instance, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes, known as OLLI, which has branches in many communities catering to the retired generation, expects all their teachers to work as volunteers.
This can be leveraged. What you do is teach introductory NLP in the community education school, then offer advanced courses on your own.
You might simply teach out of your home at first. In time, you can rent space in a building, or even have your own dedicated NLP school building eventually.
Reputation is the best school builder. To get started, you can do all the usual things: local advertising, Craigslist, website and social networking.
Just as with being a practitioner, you don’t have to be certified or licensed in any way. This gives you carte blanche, but it also gives everyone carte blanche, so lack of licensing is good and bad.
So what about the schools that offer certification? It turns out they print their own. You too, if you feel qualified, can offer certification to your graduates.
Running your own school can be as simple as having four or five students meeting in your living room, or can be a full institution. Since you can make reasonable money with just a few students, I recommend starting small, and let it grow organically. However, an option is to start larger. You may consider a partnership. I know of one NLP school that is a three-way partnership. There is one owner who runs the office, never actually teaching. Another is the main teacher, and the third partner is a sort of junior teacher, who fills in whenever the main teacher cannot attend.
One of the best ways to get new students is to offer a two-hour free seminar that explains what NLP is all about, and demonstrates some interesting phenomena, such as eye accessing. You can advertise these free seminars locally, plus invite all your current and former students to attend and to bring their friends.
If you like working with children, you might enjoy setting up a ‘school for wizards and witches.’ This might be somewhat like Hogwarts of Harry Potter fame, except instead of teaching potions and spells, you’d teach the magic of NLP. Oh, you wouldn’t necessarily be turning out little NLP practitioners. Instead, you could let the kids have lots of fun, while subtly teaching them higher-quality social interaction through some NLP techniques such as mirroring, and respectfully challenging ambiguities. This might make a great summer camp.
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Imagine a factory or large office in which the workers can make an appointment with an NLP practitioner to work out issues like boredom, toxic co-workers, or family problems. This not only benefits the employees, but the company as well, since an unhappy or bothered employee is going to be less productive than one who is happy. You could be that practitioner.
Most such companies don’t post job openings for an in-house NLP practitioner. In fact, I’ve never heard of one that did. They don’t even realize how much they’d benefit. But if you were to approach the right people at these companies with your idea, it shouldn’t take long to create your own job. And, it will most likely be a high-paying job. We’re not talking $10/hour. we’re talking more like a minimum of $60,000 per year ($30/hour).
Example: I know a fellow who took up the odd sport of juggling. He wanted to teach juggling for a living. He approached the athletic director at the college in his hometown, and the best job he could get was to teach juggling to those college students who were interested for one hour per week. He had four students. But he was patient, and had a good style. In time, he had twenty students, then 200. Twenty years later, he is the athletic director at that college.
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Wouldn’t it be great if anyone holding a meeting, whether it is to resolve a conflict, such as union vs management, or any meeting that would otherwise be chaotic, could hire a mediator to keep the meeting organized? Your NLP skills may make you perfect for the job. This too, is a specialty you’ll have to create for yourself. You can become a mediator with business cards, website, social networking, patience, all the usual ingredients.
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Whatever version of NLP or combination of NLP and other skills you prefer, you might like to consider working entirely by telephone or Skype. Suddenly, instead of a limited local community, you have the nation or the world at your disposal. One of the biggest advantages is that you can specialize. For instance, you might enjoy doing NLP sessions in Portuguese. Or, you might only work as a coach for musicians. You may find that by sticking to a sub-specialty, you get more, higher-paying clients sooner. If you were a coach for dress designers, for example, wouldn’t any dress designer who finds about you, know immediately that you’re the one – the one person who is best suited to her needs?
You might prefer to do it through a website such as LivePerson.com mentioned in an earlier chapter.
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As an NLP practitioner, you have many opportunities in the world of entertainment. On might not think that NLP and entertainment can mix, or should mix, but you may be surprised at what’s possible.
You might develop a stage show in which you use some of what you learned about human nature to amuse audiences. From local stage work, if your show is sufficiently entertaining, you might end up on national television, in a way similar to what Derren Brown is doing in England.
If you can’t access the video directly on your device:
In the above video, Derren uses a number of NLP tricks to trick an individual into wanting something different than what he thought he wanted.
Then there’s street entertainment. You might assume there’s no way that street performing and NLP would mix. I saw a couple of examples that made sense to me.
One was a fellow who set up a telescope after dark in Jackson Square, New Orleans, Louisiana. This is a place where street performing goes on until about midnight. This fellow, however, did not have any skill as a musician, juggler, stilt walker or anything like that. He just aimed his telescope at the moon, and set up an equatorial mount, so it would stay aimed at the moon all night long. He had a little card table, and on the table was a hat and a sign. The sign said, “Look through the telescope, put money in the hat.” Just that simple. We’ve all seen the moon before, but somehow I, and everyone around me, could not resist. We all looked in the scope, and dropped ones and fives in the hat. This guy was making good money while just sitting there reading a paperback illuminated with a flashlight!
One mid afternoon in Berkeley, California, I came across another card table. Here, a fellow had set up two chairs, and a sign that said “$5 for psychic reading.”
Are you getting the idea? You could simply do “NLP readings” or whatever you might want to call it, where you talk to people, and get paid.
If you can pick ‘volunteers’ that don’t mind being heard, and if you are somewhat outgoing, perhaps even funny, you could do it more loudly, make a show out of it, thereby stopping a crowd of passers-by, most of which will put some money in your hat at the end of a ‘show.’ The show would be you talking in a humorous NLP sort of way, perhaps going through an outcome frame, or eliciting an eye access, or doing a procedure like Circle of Excellence or Perceptual Positions with a volunteer. In this case, you could bring two or three bar stools to your performing area, so it obvious that something is going on other than a private conversation.
So, you have two types of street entertainment. In the first form, a single person is your ‘client’ who pays you for a brief consultation. This first form would work particularly well at arts and crafts fairs and renaissance fairs where you could set up a full booth with signs, curtains, whatever you want.
In the other form, you have a full street show, in which you are paid by the crowd to entertain them, much the way acrobats or a magician would perform. This kind of show has three parts. In the first part, you gather a crowd. This is often the most challenging part. The idea is to get a large number of people to come in close enough that you can be easily heard. You also want to captivate them to such a degree that they’ll stay around, while even more people crowd in behind them. This crowd gathering part can be done by bantering with the first few people who show up, or demonstrate something such as eye accessing, or mirroring. I can imagine that you can a lot of fun by exaggerating mirroring and backtracking.
The next step is where you do the actual procedure. If you are doing Perceptual Positions, for instance, you would lead your volunteer through the various chairs (or standing positions) while at the same time, entertaining all the people watching. Ethically, you don’t want to let your volunteer go into a full regression or carry on in such a way that might be embarrassing.
The three perceptual positions
Finally, you collect money. The usual arrangement is to let the people know that you’l be passing the hat a few minutes before your show ends. For instance, you might be about to future pace, but first let them know that money will be expected. This is generally done with a joke or two – some sort of humor. It is also ethically important to let them know that payment is not mandatory. You’ll only be collecting from those who want to pay, because after all, they didn’t sign a contract for you to perform for them. But no worries, when people see others putting money in your hat, they’ll almost all follow suit.
I have seen street shows of this sort run for twenty minutes, then bring in $200 in one, five, ten and twenty dollar bills.
You might have noticed that I mentioned ‘hat’ several times. You collection device does not need to be an actual hat. You might use a bag, box, or anything that can hold money. Hats are the traditional device and convey a message to the crowd that is rather unmistakable.
Location is important. In some places, street performing is downright illegal. In others, you simply need to get a permit first. In others, you need to arrange a schedule with other street performers, and finally, in some places, you can do whatever you want. Unfortunately, in these unregulated places, street performing may not work as well. That can be because there are not enough people passing by, there isn’t enough room to form a crowd, or traffic is too loud.
Some street performers handle ambient noise by using wireless microphones and amplifiers.
If you happen to have any other talents, such as a couple of magic tricks, clowning, or juggling, you might consider mixing it into your street show.
An NLP show isn’t necessarily restricted to the stage or the streets. If you can create an entertaining show that teaches something, typically something about improving social interaction, you can perform in schools. There are national organizations that book tours for school performers, or you can book them yourself. You might start with the schools in your own community. Video your performances, so you have promo tapes to show the administrators at other schools, and you’re on your way.
Network Marketing Consultant
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Chances are at some time in your life, you’ve been asked to buy into a multi-level marketing product. Multi-level marketing is also known as network marketing. Perhaps you had a friend or relative who wanted to sell you soap, vitamins or dinnerware and went into a big explanation of how you can make money selling the product also.
You may not have known how big that business is. I mean network marketing in general. A significant number of new millionaires made their money as network marketers. Not just as owners of the companies but the actual people selling the products.
The general idea is that when you sell the product to someone, you get a commission. No surprise there. But when your new customer then sells it to someone else, you get another commission. And this can go on many levels deep. Imagine if each person in the chain introduces it to only six people:
You sell it to six.
They each sell it to six more, so that’s 36 people.
Each of those six sell it to six more, resulting in 216 more sales.
At the next level you have 1,296.
At the fifth level, that becomes 7,776.
And finally, at the sixth level, you have 46,656 people.
So, let’s say each person buys some stuff, resulting in only a $1 commission for you. That’s $46,656 per month for you, and that’s only from the sixth level!
None of these people are trained in sales, unless they coincidentally got their training in some other business.
Imagine how wonderful it would be for any ‘distributor’ of the product line to help his upper level people become better in sales. Right, it would be worth thousands of dollars.
Do you see how you, with your NLP experience could help people in network marketing become more confident, more successful in closing sales, and more effective in general?
In this line of work, you could have literally one client. That would be a network marketer with a large ‘downline’ of representatives. This person would want you to help each person in the upper levels of the downline become more effective in sales, and it would be worth a fortune.
Most network marketing products are excellent. They have to be, or no one would buy them. And that’s the bottom line. People have to buy the stuff. Without an actual good product, network marketing would be illegal – like a chain-letter scheme. Before you get significantly involved with a network marketing group, you’ll want to check out the product for yourself and make sure you believe in it.
You might also like to consider starting your own network marketing product line – perhaps something to do with NLP. It might be that you sell NLP sessions with various practitioners in advance, or books about NLP, or NLP software. Of course it is better if your product is consumable. Food, soap and that sort of thing work better with NLP, because a major component in the success is having people making purchases month after month. So, how about NLP tea or candies? I have no idea what form they may take, but perhaps you do.
There is a lot of work involved in maintaining a network marketing company. For instance, you need software in place to make payments to all your downline people every month. Network marketing is close enough to some illegal activities such as Ponzi schemes, that you want to check legalities carefully to make sure you’re always in compliance.
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In the same way that network marketers can benefit from NLP, so can car dealers and realtors.
You could approach some dealerships and real estate offices and offer NLP consultation so their sales people will close more sales. The people to approach, and the ones most likely to pay for your service would be the brokers or the dealership owners, not the actual sales force. But, the people you’ll be working with would be the sales people. You might do one-off conferences in which you impart some techniques, or you might arrange weekly sessions with each salesperson in which you help them overcome blocks, become more confident, and ultimately more effective.
Write Books, Websites, Software
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Just as many medical doctors don’t actually practice medicine, but instead are involved in research and writing, you can do the same with NLP.
You might prefer to write books, websites, blogs, or software having to do with NLP.
I have done that off and on for several years. Come to think of it, this book is that very thing, isn’t it?
There’s lots of room for more books, especially in two niche areas. One would be to discuss specific techniques within NLP, and the other is to find where the edges of NLP blur into other pursuits. If you were to write a book all about hypnotic suggestion, regression, or even TD searches, it would probably be popular. If you can write about NLP and Family Constellations (the work of Bert Hellinger), or maybe a book about using NLP in sales, or all about the history of NLP, I think you’ll find readers.
You might also enjoy writing magazine or website articles. Can you imagine an advice column such as “Dear Abby,” but with NLP knowledge? You can be paid directly by the publishers or webmasters. You might consider it profitable even if you have to write articles for free, as long as you can mention or advertise your NLP services or products in the articles.
As for books, today, the elephant in the library is Kindle, the most popular ebook format. Amazon’s Kindle format is where the money is at. According to Amazon, more Kindle books are being sold than all hardcovers. They predict that in the very near future, Kindle sales will exceed paperbacks, and although Amazon won’t come out and say it, many futurists are saying that ebooks will exceed all paper-based books within just a couple of years.
You might be thinking that there’s little money in Kindle, but in fact, because there are no middlemen involved, and no material or production costs in ebooks, the amount the author gets is much higher than in conventional publishing. In the case of Kindle, you get 35% or 70% depending on some options you choose. In the old days, after you wrote a book, you had to find a publisher that would be willing to take the risk of producing it. You might even need to hire an agent to bring it to the attention of the publishers. You might also have lost some control of your book. Your editor, appointed by the publisher, would tell you to remove this passage and rewrite that one. Then, the cover may or may not come out looking like you’d hope. They might even change the title of your book! After all that, the publisher may give you a small advance against sales, but your profit will seldom be more than 25% of the wholesale price that the bookstores pay, and can be less. Subtract from that whatever you have to pay to your agent.
With Kindle, you do everything. You’re fully in charge. With Kindle, every book you write will be published, unless you go outside Amazon’s reasonable rules of acceptability.
And, it’s easy. Just write your book with Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, or even directly in HTML if you wish. If you include images, just zip them up in a file with your text. You upload the file to Amazon and fill in some blanks such as title, and price, create a cover image with Amazon’s free cover creating webpage, and voila, you’re in business.
Not only that, you don’t need to advertise your book. If it covers something new that people are interested in, and if there aren’t many books covering your topic already, people will find it on Amazon, and buy it.
That is, if you’re right on in your guess as to what people are interested in. If you miss the point a bit, just go ahead and adjust the title, description, or maybe the cover image, or write another book, and another, until you get a hit. (That’s what I’m doing).
You can also promote your own book. You can publicize it through your blog, website or social networking. You can buy advertising, although that doesn’t generally work as well as free publicity. The two places that advertising may be cost-effective is with Google AdWords, and with Facebook advertising.
There are some tricks to discovering a Kindle title that will sell. First, use the free Google AdWords Keyword Planner. There, you can enter your proposed title, and see how many people are searching Google for that keyword every month. Google uses the term “keyword” to mean “key phrase,” since most “keywords” are more than a single word. In the case of determining a profitable Kindle title, you want to use the Keyword Planner to check on exactly the exact proposed wording of your title.
Ideally, there will be between 10,000 and 100,000 searches per month for your title. Fewer than that, and your topic may not interest enough buyers. More than that, and you’ll probably find the market is already congested with alternatives.
Once you get a title with the right number of searches, do a search on Amazon for the same title to see how many similar books come up. You may find nothing that addresses the same topic, and if so, you’re in great luck. Or, you may find twenty books. Even that may not be horrible, since people are willing to browse a large number of search results when looking for a Kindle book. They’ll buy yours if your title, description, and cover make it seem appealing. You’d be surprised how many books turn out to be way off topic or simply do not address what the reader wants. The typical Amazon reader is willing to dive quite deep into search results to find a book ‘worth reading.’
A fact about Kindle books that surprised me is how short they can be. When you go to a bookstore, you seldom see a book of less than a hundred pages, unless it is for children. On Kindle, the average book is probably less than a hundred pages. Way less sometimes. In this modern information-rich age, people don’t always want to slog through hundreds of pages to learn something or be entertained. So, you can write a book that gets right to the point. For instance, I wrote a book about eyesight exercises to improve your vision. It is only six or seven pages long. The price is $3.99. Although anyone can get a full refund within a week of buying a Kindle book, just about no one ever does. So, people aren’t concerned about the size of a book. The modern reader is sophisticated enough to know that the information they want may be very concise. On the other hand, a memoir or fiction book ought to be long enough to be satisfying.
With short books, it is important to mention the brevity in the description. You can say something like, “This book covers NLP anchoring in just a few short pages. It gets right to the point, so you can read it in a single session.” This way, people won’t be disappointed after they buy it because they were expecting something larger.
Most NLP topics are not picturesque or easily illustrated, so it is hard to come up with on-topic images. On the other hand, you can puff up a book considerably with generic images of people having picnics, at business meetings, playing chess, or whatever. Even though the pictures have no connection to the topic, they seem to satisfy a primitive part of our brains that wants pictures. You can find pictures through DVD clip art collections that you can buy at office supply stores. Or, you can do a search through creativecommons.org, a website that leads you to images that can be used royalty-free. Many have been released into the public domain (made free without restrictions). Others you can use if you follow the authors’ licensing requirements. These authors usually only want to be mentioned in a caption, possibly with a link to their websites.
With Kindle, you can have a 70% royalty in many countries if your book sells for at least $2.99, and no more than $9.99 in the US. If you choose a lower or higher price, you can have only a 35% royalty.
Research has shown that the most profitable price for a typical book is $3.99. You can sell more books at 99 cents, but you’d have to sell six times as many to make the same profit. You can sell some books at $9.99, but you’ll sell more copies, and end up with more profit at $3.99. In the case of specialized topics that professionals might feel they need to buy, you can charge much more. For instance, I have a book for bicycle shop owners currently priced at $79.
I keep mentioning Kindle, but there are other eBook brands out there such as iBooks, Google Play, and Nook. What’s up with that? It turns out that something like seventy percent of all ebook sales are Kindle. Kindle has free reader software for every platform imaginable, so you don’t need a dedicated Kindle tablet. You can read Kindle books on your iPhone, your Android tablet, your Mac or Windows computer.
Amazon pays a greater royalty through Kindle than the other brands. Kindle also has what they call a ‘lending program’ that is exclusive. If you sign up for that, you cannot sell the same book in the other markets. The lending program is quite effective. Buyers who sign up for a service called Amazon Prime can ‘borrow’ one book per month at no cost. They can keep the book as long as the want – there is no due date. The Kindle lending library works only on a Kindle device, not on a laptop, Android tablet or iPad. The authors get a percentage of the total Amazon Prime membership. Currently, that’s around $2 per book. Right now, about twelve percent of my Kindle income is from borrows.
Like so much in the electronic world, the ebook market is built on shifting sands. Kindle may not rule the world forever. Right now, 4,000 free books are being added to the Kindle collection every day. Eventually, a large number of topics will not only be covered, but they’ll be available for free. How can you compete with that?
First, if you write in a niche, it may be years before anyone else writes a competing book.
But, the day may come. When that happens, you can make your books free, also. What? That’s right. But what you’ll want to do is put advertisements in your books. You can sell anything from T-shirts to NLP sessions in your books, and so even though the books are free, you’ll still make money.
Blogs and Websites
You may prefer to write a blog or website. For those who aren’t clear about the distinction between blogs and websites, you’ll find that a blog is always website but a website is not necessarily a blog. There, that clears it up, doesn’t it? Kidding. A blog is a website that is a sequential list of entries. These entries may contain text, images, sound clips, videos or interactive things such as calculators or places to add commentary. The big distinction is that blogs are arranged in dated order, generally with the newest entries at the top or the home page, and older entries lower down, or on other pages. Many blogs are updated with new additions daily or even more often. Most blogs do not delete older material. It just keeps piling up, so interested new readers can go back as far as they wish.
One way to monetize your website is to make it a subscription site. For instance, you might create a website about NLP and music therapy. You can have some free material on your front pages. But for those practitioners who can benefit from your more valuable content, you offer a subscription. For $8.95 per month or whatever amount you choose, they get access to your hidden pages.
The more typical arrangement is to give everything away for free. But in the margins around your content on every page, you have advertising. That has the advantage that everyone can read what you have written, without having to pay for it. You can advertise anything you want, but you may find that affiliate programs, such as Google AdSense work better. I’ve written about that in the websites chapter. The general idea is that you get paid every time someone clicks on an ad in your margins, even if they don’t buy anything from the site that’s advertising. You might also contact NLP schools. They make thousands of dollars off each student, and may be quite willing to set up affiliate advertising on your pages.
If you are more of a technical person, you may find great opportunities in creating NLP software. I posted a few things at NLP50.com such as an automated outcome frame tool, and a game to learn eye accessing positions, but there is room for so much more NLP software in the world. For instance, I can imagine a full-screen desktop that would be used when in a session with a client. It will give the practitioner a database to keep track of clients, being instantly able to bring up notes about family members and situations from previous sessions, would display a clock to easily know when to wind up a session, would monitor the billing, and contains a list of specific modalities that you can bring up to remind the practitioner how to perform all the steps in the right sequences.
Astrologer / Psychic / Wizard
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NLP combines nicely with spiritual pursuits. People believe in wizards, psychics and astrologers to varying degrees. Some take the word of these professionals quite literally. They don’t know how these things work, but they don’t care. They just know that they do seem to help them. Others feel that astrology and other pursuits are just metaphorical wrappers for common-sense advice.
In any case, combined with NLP, these pursuits would be unbeatable.
Perhaps you already are a psychic. By adding your NLP skills, you will become much more flexible and useful to your clients. You don’t even need to mention your NLP skills. Just utilize them along with what you already do.
On the other hand, you may be primarily interested in NLP, but have a passing interest in astrology. You may find that if you bill yourself as an astrologer, it gives you many opportunities to practice your NLP. Your clients may end up knowing nothing about your neuro-linguistic programming. All they know is that after talking with you as their astrologer, their lives seem to get better.
By combining your skills with these other pursuits, more doors are open to you.
You can work at fairs and flea markets. You can rent a building and set up yourself as a wizard or whatever specialty you choose. More people may be willing to come to you as a “palm reader,” than as an “NLP practitioner.”
The same is true if you don’t have a hard workplace. You might prefer to work by phone or Skype, or a service such as LivePerson.com, mentioned earlier.
One of the big advantages of NLP is that it is a large, nebulous field. You can bring in all sorts of methodologies, and your clients are perfectly happy when they get the hoped-for results. You don’t have to tell them that you just used some of the ‘work of Byron Katie,’ or that you had them in a light hypnotic trance.
In the same way, being an astrologer, wizard or tarot reader has the same effect. You can bring in the methodologies you feel are right, and through careful questioning, reframing, metaphorical response, hypnotic suggestion, you get the job done, sometimes in a spectacular way.
In these pursuits you get to do something more than simply mirroring or backtracking to bring your clients into the most workable state. You can effect costuming, decoration, even scents, to really become the wizard, psychic or whatever. By setting up a non-ordinary physical world for your clients, you can have a lot of environmental effect to augment your work.
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Life and business coaches help their clients by keeping them focused and inspired. The coach can be a best friend, cheering section, nag, advisor, whatever is needed. You can just imagine how much NLP techniques can help with coaching.
Interestingly, most coaches aren’t trained, at all! They’ve just set out a shingle, and they are good at listening and advising. This in itself can be very helpful to their clients.
Of course some are also experienced in the field in which they coach. There are all sorts of specialty coaches such as appearance coaching, executive coaching, sports coaching, and spiritual coaching. I have heard that figure skaters can even hire a hand coach to help them perfect the movement of their hands during their skating routines.
The typical coaching arrangement is weekly hour-long phone calls. The coach charges anywhere from a hundred dollars to ten thousand dollars per month, with more typical prices ranging from three hundred to a thousand dollars per month. A coach is hard-pressed to handle any more than forty clients. At that number, it is difficult to remember who’s who, who needs what, and what you said to this client or that last week. So it becomes very important to take notes during every session, and to arrange the notes so they are easy to search instantly when you need to remember the client’s website, or the name of a family member. In fact with just one client, good notes is important.
Once you fill your schedule, you can actually take more clients. You can hire coaches to work under you. You can have weekly conference calls with all your clients, and then shorter calls with each individual client. You can offer more online materials, such as a daily bulk email or a blog.
One format that works nicely whether you have a single client or as many as you can handle, is to offer weekly, scheduled half-hour phone calls, plus allow your clients unscheduled calls whenever they need immediate attention. Most clients will not take too much advantage of the unscheduled calls. A typical client may make one unscheduled ten-minute call every other month, even though they know they can call more often as needed. Occasionally, you’ll run into someone who needs something very time consuming – maybe a whole two hours. Unless you are already very successful with your business, you can accommodate that, and your clients will be very appreciative. So much so that they’ll tell their friends and associates about your service.
One of the problems with coaching is that it usually takes several months for the effects to become noticeable. Clients often want to drop out before they’re done. Of course this is one of the fundamentals of coaching – to keep people on track. Because of this tendency, many coaches ask for a six-month or one-year commitment. They often go beyond asking for a commitment. They charge for six months up front.
There are more people who can’t afford coaching than those who can. You’d go broke trying to accommodate people who can’t afford it.
You may want to focus on the people who can afford it. In the United States, one out of every three hundred people is a millionaire.
If you are doing business coaching, you have the advantage that what you do will bring your clients more prosperity, and therefore they’ll be able to pay you more. It is tempting to start them for free or a very low price, promising to charge more when they can afford it. This generally doesn’t work as well as you’d like, because when you don’t charge enough, people will not respect the coaching. If you tell a free client to call you next Tuesday at 2pm, s/he is as likely as not to blow it off or be late. If your client has been paying you $1,000 per month, you can bet the call will come through right on time!
I’m sure you’ve already figured out that business coaching has the big advantage that it can be considered essentially free to the clients. In other words, it doesn’t take much logical thinking to figure out that with your help, they’ll make far more profit than the amount you’ll charge them. So, in a way, it’s a no-brainer to sign up for your business coaching.
Interestingly, many business coaches have little actual business experience. In fact, their only business may be the business of coaching. Ideally, a coach would have all sorts of real hands-on experience. But they can get away with this because the bulk of effective NLP-style coaching is helping people get past blocks, stay focused, and stay inspired. The clients can figure out the specifics on their own.
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Would you enjoy getting together with other NLP enthusiasts in some sort of club or meeting space? How about running an NLP venue?
It might take the form of an evening club where people can hang out, talk NLP shop, maybe over a drink or two or over dinner. Maybe the club would play movies and have other entertainments. The ostensible focus would be NLP, but in reality it might be more of a social club for like-minded individuals.
Taking it a step further, you might host large annual conventions, or set up an NLP hotel. I haven’t fully thought out exactly what that may be, so I’ll leave the details to you.
Another form this notion could take would be a professional environment. Perhaps you could rent a large commercial house or small office building, where NLP professionals are members. Their offices, meeting, and training rooms are in your facility. Your income is from the rent they pay, but of course you can take clients and do trainings out of the facility also.
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With your basic NLP skills, you’d be a great interviewer, wouldn’t you? You can utilize that skill as a researcher, reporter or YouTube video maker.
Taking it a step further, you might be very good at making “living testimonials.” These are video interviews with people who want to be remembered. You ask them questions to get them to talk about themselves, their loves, their accomplishments. The finished product is a DVD that they and their families can keep forever. Well not quite forever. DVDs fade out after 25,000 years. I believe many of the living testimonials would be paid for not by the interviewees, but as gifts to them from their family members.
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PayPal has recently made life much easier for NLP practitioners. They have downloadable software and a little attachment for your smart phone so you can take credit cards. And, it’s free, other than a small percentage charged when you use it. This charge is less than the banks used to charge merchants who dealt with credit cards.
In the past, you had to sign a two- or three-year contract, and pay a machine rental in the neighborhood rental of $35 per month to take credit cards. Now, you just swipe the cards with your cell phone. Or, if you’re dealing with a client by phone, you can enter their credit card information manually into your phone.
The money goes instantly into your PayPal account, which you can then transfer to your bank, or spend it any way you want.
PayPal has some other features that you’ll discover in the next chapter.
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On eBay, you can buy or sell anything from antennae to zithers. Although it is probably not the business you envisioned when you signed up for NLP training, you may find that you enjoy selling NLP-related merchandise on eBay. In addition to things like T-shirts with interesting NLP memes, you could have books and things such as family constellation sets – like chess sets, but with markers representing people.
One product that might work well would be a tablet pre-loaded with NLP material. You can buy new Android tablets starting from around $32 on eBay. You can find a wide variety of links to NLP websites and YouTube videos, and install those links on the tablet. You may also find some free eBooks, NLP software, and other materials you can add. Suddenly, your $32 tablet is a lot more valuable, because it is a dedicated “NLP tablet.”
Imagine the potential for your NLP business if you want to be a practitioner, but most of your clients can’t afford to pay what you need to charge. You can create an eBay business to support reduced price or even free NLP client sessions.
You can also use eBay to bring in new clients. You can sell NLP sessions at full or reduced prices. It is especially effective to sell sessions aimed at specific needs, such as sessions to help people in retail, or supporting people who are related to alcoholics.
One interesting technique is to sell sessions for very little money. For instance, you can auction a session starting at 99 cents. If the session actually sells for 99 cents, the point is to gain a new client, not to make money on that eBay sale. As you know, many clients are repeat clients, but it always starts with a first session.
Yet another way to utilize eBay if you are working by phone so you’re not limited to a local-only clientele, is to list things on eBay that you aren’t necessarily expecting to sell. If they sell, that’s incidental icing on the cake. The main point is to get people to look. While you can’t blatantly link to your website through your eBay listings, you can make people aware of what else you offer through your eBay “About Me” pages. There, you offer your services as an NLP consultant, and can make a link directly to your website. You’d be amazed at the number of people who browse eBay, and who will see your listings.
As a seller, you have a national or even worldwide market, so rare things of interest to only a few people, things that would gather dust on a retail shelf, such as a book signed by Milton Erickson, can sell for a lot of money on eBay. At the same time, the ordinary things such as the book “NLP For Dummies,” sell for the very bottom range of market value. eBay is generally better for items smaller than sewing machines, since shipping charges add so much to the cost of larger items.
Setting up an eBay account is free and easy. You’ll also want to set up an account with PayPal, a money-handling website that is part of the eBay empire and makes life easy for buyers and sellers in well over ninety percent of eBay payment transactions. PayPal takes care of all the credit card processing and payment details. PayPal is also free. All you need to set up eBay and PayPal accounts is about five minutes each, and the usual information, plus a credit card number, and if you have one available, a checking account number.
When an item sells on eBay, the buyer almost always pays through PayPal. The seller gets to keep all the money collected except for an eBay fee, typically around eight percent, and a PayPal fee, typically around three to four percent. The seller then packages the item and sends it to the buyer. If all goes well, and it usually does, the buyer can leave positive feedback for the seller. Feedback is a point that’s positive, neutral, or negative, along with optional ratings on issues such as shipping time and communication, and a comment. The seller too, can offer feedback for the buyer.
So, anyone doing business on eBay can check feedback before committing to a transaction. If a seller has mostly positive feedback, you can feel confident in making the purchase. Therefore, as a seller, you want to treat your buyers well so you’ll get positive feedback.
Feedback isn’t as important as it once was because eBay offers a variety of protections for buyers and sellers. For instance, if you buy a laptop computer, but the seller keeps your money and ships you a box of rocks, you can do more than issue negative feedback. You can contact eBay, and they’ll refund your money – as long as you did everything right. That means to stay within eBay’s normal parameters. If the seller asks you to pay by some means other than PayPal, or if the buyer asks the seller to ship it to a different address than the one listed with eBay, the protection might be circumvented.
Many buyers do not know about the eBay buyer protection, or don’t trust it. For them, the seller’s feedback is very important. As a new seller, you might want to build positive feedback quickly. One way is to buy a few inexpensive things. You get feedback as a buyer. But most sophisticated eBayers know the difference between feedback as a buyer and seller, and will want to see your seller feedback. Therefore, you can also start your eBay business by selling some inexpensive things. Perhaps you have some old CDs or DVDs laying around the house. Sell them quickly, and get your feedback.
From this point forward, let’s pick a sample item, and discuss it as if it is something you really have on hand and will sell on eBay. The item is Frogs Into Princes, a paperback book written by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, published in 1979.
The most important trick to selling on eBay is knowing what to sell, since many items have too little value to sell online. It turns out eBay has a tool for determining value. So let’s look up Frogs Into Princes.
At the top of almost any eBay page is a search field. You can enter “Frogs Into Princes Bandler.” Today, there are nine copies for sale, ranging in price from $15 to $32. The prices and quantities will vary from day to day.
So far, we have learned that it seems to be a somewhat valuable book, but we don’t really know how valuable. These auctions haven’t closed yet. Will anyone actually bid? How high will they bid? Let’s find out.
To the left of the listings, you have a column of refinements you can click, to limit your search based on condition, category and other things. In that column, click More Refinements. . . then Show Only. Check Completed Listings then click the Go button.
Now you’ll see a list of items that closed during the past thirty days with the prices marked in red and green. Items marked in red mean the item never sold. It may have been an auction that ended with no bids, or the seller may have pulled it off the market. Items with the prices in green did sell. Today, I see that six copies sold during the past month, ranging in price from $9 to $45. The $9 copy is is a poor one, all tattered and underlined. So, the Frogs Into Princes book is worth selling, don’t you think?
Grab your camera and take a few pictures. eBay will allow for up to twelve free photos for each item you list. The first one will appear as a thumbnail – the little image to the left of a listing when shown in a group of similar listings. So, it should probably give an overview image of the book. It’s best to photograph items against a solid color background, so they are easy to see. I often use a red background, so if there are many similar listings, mine will stand out. You might also prefer a bright blue, green or yellow background. This is only a small advantage, so a white, even a wood-grained background is fine too. Strive for clear focus, and medium to very slightly higher than normal contrast. In the case of a book, shadows aren’t much of a concern, but with non-flat items, you’ll want to make sure shadows don’t obscure important details or make the thumbnail image hard to figure out. I use ordinary household lamps, with my camera’s color correction set to ‘auto.’ You might also experiment with color settings of ‘incandescent’ or ‘indoor.’ I use two lamps, one on either side, and slightly behind me and my camera,
Next you might take some other pictures, such as of the back cover, and maybe the table of contents pages.
Does your book have any flaws? If the cover is dog-eared or stained, maybe a close-up of the flaw would be a good idea. When selling on eBay it is very important to clearly note flaws both photographically and in the text description. You don’t want negative feedback, and you don’t want to refund someone’s money because they were disappointed.
One common ‘flaw’ with books that’s worth noting is signatures. More often than you’d imagine, there is a signature on one of the first pages, and the signature is from the author. A signed book can be worth a small fortune if the author is well-known. To be fair, some authors sign everything in sight, or aren’t well-known and in that case, their signature doesn’t significantly affect the book’s value.
From the top of the eBay home page, you can click Sell, then Sell Your Item. You are given a field in which you can enter what you have, and eBay will give you matching categories. In the case of this book, it is easy. You can simply enter the ten-digit or 13-digit ISBN number that most published books have. Or you can browse to pick a category. Books | Nonfiction seems the most likely category, since this is a nonfiction book. But an option might be a category such as Everything Else | Weird Stuff, for unusual items.
For DVD movies or music CDs, enter the UPC code found just under the barcode on the back.
If the item’s ISBN or UPC number is in the eBay database, a template listing will come up, with title, number, brand name, model number, and such details already filled in.
Now it is time to edit or enter a title. This is not usually the place to be creative. You want to enter exactly what buyers for your book are searching for. So it would probably be “Frogs Into Princes Grinder & Bandler, 1979.” If there is room left over, you might pitch your book a bit. If it is in excellent condition, you can say so: “Frogs Into Princes Grinder & Bandler, 1979, Excellent Condition.”
Then you get to enter details such as listing the flaws your copy has, the publication year, a condition category, and some other things. Definitely enter the ISBN if you’re not working from a template, or if it isn’t a book that you’re listing, enter a model or part number if one is available.
Then you get to upload your photographs. Below that, you can enter a description. For a book, if you have already entered condition notes, such as “minor yellowing, slightly dog-eared” then a description is not usually required. You could give a synopsis of what’s in the book, but most book buyers already know what they want. If you’re selling something else, like a hat, you can describe it and pitch it to the best of your creative ability, keeping in mind that superlatives can actually hurt sales. So you might say something like this about a hat: “Size 7-3/8, hat in a vibrant purple. The brim measures 14 inches in diameter. The material is felt. Very slight shiny wear along the top edge that can’t be seen from more than five feet away. This hat was worn by people who felt sure of themselves in the fifties, and it still has that effect today. This is just the hat for a confident and stylish resident of the modern world.”
There is no limit to how long your description can be. That doesn’t mean your description has to be long. Getting back to Frogs Into Princes, no description at all is adequate. However, you could state something like, “I found this book fascinating, and so I took a 1/2-hour break to study it. A half-hour doesn’t really do it justice. A couple of full-time days would be more like it. I don’t really want to let it go, but you’ll probably enjoy it even more than I did. You will find this collectible, out of print book from the early days of NLP is quite informative.”
Keep in mind that an overly optimistic pitch like this doesn’t really help most products, so if you value your time, you might limit your descriptions to the basic facts.
As you are working your way down the page, you’ll see options that cost extra money such as sub-title and Gallery Plus. Most of these options have no effect on sales, but do generate extra income for eBay. Don’t worry, they have plenty of money already, so I recommend that you do not select any enhancements that cost money.
Now, you get to choose whether to sell it as an Online Auction item or Fixed Price, also known as “Buy-It-Now.”
If you have an item that’s rare or collectible, and it is possible that two or more people will want it no matter the cost, then Auction is the way to go. You can start the bidding at whatever price you choose, and then decide if you’ll let the auction run for 1, 3, 5, 7 or 10 days. If after that time, no one was willing to pay your minimum price, you get to keep it, or try selling it again. If only one person in the world wants it, it will sell for the minimum price that you set. On the other hand, two or more people can get into a bidding war.
I listed an old wooden radio with a starting bid of $50. At the end of the first day, the price had risen to $200. When the seven-day auction closed, the high bidder ended up paying me $1,200 plus shipping. This is a bit unusual in that the price went to $200 on the first day. Many experienced auction buyers wait until the last minute to bid, feeling that if they bid too soon, the higher price will only encourage other bidders. Taking that a step further, there is software that will bid on the buyers’ behalf at the last possible moment.
On the other hand, you might have an item that is common, and many copies are available on eBay. This might be better sold as a Fixed Price item. You can set the price at, or slightly below the other ones currently being offered, unless the condition of yours is better than the others. Fixed price items are more likely to sell because many buyers don’t want to play the auction game. They want an item as soon as possible, and they want to know for sure that they won the transaction. They don’t want to wait a week to see if their bid was sufficient.
Another advantage with Fixed Price is that you can save money. It costs around thirty cents (US) to list an auction item on eBay, but as little as five cents for a fixed price item if you have an eBay store, which I’ll cover in more detail a few paragraphs from now.
To get an idea about which items do best as Auction, and which are most often sold as Fixed Price, you can look again at Completed Listings, and see which were offered as Auction and which as Fixed Price. You can also study how other sellers handled shipping charges, and which categories they listed successful and unsuccessful items in. You can click on any item to drill in and see the pictures and read the description to figure out what the seller did, and whether it worked well – made money – or not. From there, you can even click on statistics on the seller to find out what kind of feedback the seller has, what other items the seller is currently selling, and what items the seller has actually sold during the past 30 days. This last test – seeing what else a seller has dealt with, can be invaluable in figuring out what you might want to sell.
To give you another view on Fixed Price versus Auction, imagine that you have two copies of the book Coaching With NLP For Dummies. One is a regular copy in good condition. The other has been signed by the author,
Kate Burton. There are twelve other copies for sale, but none are signed. So which one will do better sold as fixed price, a which is a better play for an auction?
Another example: You have a Swiss army knife that you’ve seen a hundred times before. There are six of the same model on eBay already. That would be fixed price. On the other hand, what if your knife has an engraved handle with the famous NLP saying, “What stops you?” Right, auction!
After some more choices on the eBay page, you get to decide about shipping options. You can have the buyer pay a shipping fee in any amount you choose, or you can include free shipping. Free shipping may make some items feel less costly to the buyers, but most are sophisticated enough to know that the shipping cost is absorbed in an inflated overall price. So, I generally go with an added shipping charge – charging slightly more than the packaging material and actual shipping cost. If the shipping price is too inflated, you may lose sales and get negative feedback.
You often see things like laptop computers listed for a remarkably low price, but a high shipping price. For instance, a MacBook Pro, that would normally be $2,000, is being sold for $500, but the shipping fee is $2,500. I believe the seller thinks he can trick someone into buying that laptop. But will the hassle and negative feedback be worth the ‘trick?’
You can figure out shipping costs at the major shipper websites. For instance at USPS.com (the United States Post Office), you can enter package weight, dimensions if needed, a specific shipping service such as Priority Mail, and figure out how much an item will cost to ship. Don’t forget that it will cost about a buck on average for a box and packing materials, unless you use the free Priority Mail and other envelopes and boxes supplied by USPS.com. It’s pretty much the same for UPS and Fed Ex. USPS tends to be a bit less costly for items under two pounds (1 kg) in weight. In time, you may want buy a postal scale. Make sure to get a model that goes to at least 20 pounds (10 kg). When I started out, I had a five pound scale, and was constantly frustrated at having to guess the weights of six and seven pound packages. What’s the best source for a scale at a good price? Right, eBay!
Keep in mind that when you just ship an occasional thing on eBay, you can take all the time in the world to develop your own packaging out of old cardboard boxes and junk you have in your garage. But as you start shipping five or ten items a day, you’ll want to spend some money on consistent packaging materials to save valuable time.
Also keep in mind that some things are really hard to ship. A bicycle will be much harder to package than you can imagine, until you’ve tried it once. Not only that, a bicycle usually surpasses the maximum size that the Post Office and UPS will allow. This reduces your shipping options and raises your cost. For fragile items such as glass vases, double-boxing is best. Pack your vase securely in a box, as if it had to survive a run-away conveyor belt, falling off the back of a truck, and an angry delivery person. Then, put that box in a larger box, with at least an inch (3 cm) of padding all around.
If you live near a fairly large population, you can sell large items that are not cost effective to ship. You might have a ‘special NLP chair’ that’s only worth $50, but the shipping cost would be another $100. So, shipping it is not a viable option. Instead, you set the shipping arrangement as No shipping, local pickup only. People in your area may bid on the chair and come by your place to pick it up. This severely reduces the number of people who are likely to want it. Occasionally, for a particularly valuable item, people will drive a thousand miles to come get it. This happens with antique tractors, for instance.
eBay has a program called Global Shipping for US sellers. For most categories of items, you can click a checkbox, and Global Shipping will be allowed on your listing. If someone in one of the qualifying countries (not all countries are supported) buys your item, they pay an amount that’s more than the shipping charge you’re asking. You are reimbursed the same as if you were shipping to a US customer. You are given an address of a building in Kentucky, where your item is packaged with all other packages currently going to the same country and shipped in a big lot. Once it arrives in the receiving country, it is then mailed to the buyer using the best local transportation company. This saves the buyer money, and makes your life much easier. Otherwise, you’d have to figure out a price for the non-USA buyers, and fill out a customs form for each item you send. You’d also be responsible for refunding in the cases of lost packages, which is unfortunately common in overseas shipments. eBay takes care of all those things for you with Global Shipping.
When you list an occasional item on eBay, you pay thirty cents (US) for a fixed price listing, plus closing fees when it sells. If it doesn’t sell in a month, you’ve lost thirty cents. You have the option to keep it listed for another 30 cents. You can imagine that for a thousand items, this would start to add up.
The answer is eBay Stores. A store subscription costs from $20 to $200 per month. You can save a bit with a long-term contract, but it is not required. At the basic store level ($19.95 per month), you can list up to 150 items for free – no insertion fee. At the highest level, you get to list 2,500 items with no insertion fee, and after that, each item is only five cents. So, you can keep thousands of items listed month after month for a few hundred dollars per month. Once you have thousands of items, a mere few hundred dollars in listing fees will seem like an excellent deal. Stores give you some other advantages. Your listings that are similar to what others have can be promoted higher in eBay search results. You can have a ‘presence’ on eBay, with webpages specifically dedicated to your store. You get some special features, such as the ability to run a sale across all, or selected portions of your listings.
Once you have a store, you get to use a section of eBay called Selling Manager Pro. With this, you can change prices of up to 500 items at a time, as well as many other bulk and individual adjustments. Let’s say you want to add Global Shipping to all your items. Just a few clicks, and they are all changed. With a store, you can organize your items into categories, include descriptions and pictures of your place of business, if you wish, build an opt-in email list of buyers and browsers, and some other tricks. With an eBay store in which you sell NLP (or non-NLP) merchandise, you can then advertise your services as a phone-based NLP practitioner, coach, or whatever service you provide. Circling back around, you can even sell pre-paid sessions on eBay.
Having sold over 20,000 items on eBay, I have found that eBay and PayPal are good, responsive, reliable companies. I’ve also heard all sorts of rumors that PayPal does this ‘evil’ thing, and eBay does that horrible thing. None of these rumors have proven to be true for me. If you have a store on eBay, they offer additional options in support, including as much free support by telephone as you’d like.
I have found the best way to get the most profit out of common, non-collectible items, is to use Fixed Price with what I call a reverse auction. I start the prices of everything way too high, then, lower the price by one percent per day using Selling Manager Pro. A few people will buy things at the way too high price, especially if there are no others like mine currently available. Most others will buy them when the price falls to market value. If something just doesn’t interest anyone in the world, the price continues to fall until it hits a chosen minimum and finally someone is willing to buy it. This is not a good thing for items which have good value, but are seldom purchased, but for common merchandise, reverse auctions is a profitable technique.
My minimum price is $9.95. I feel like anything less simply does not pay for the time in photographing, listing, storing, packing and shipping it, as well as handling the occasional emailed questions that might pop up.
So what’s with the people selling things for a dollar or less? Some are depending on the shipping price to make up the difference. Someone may sell a collectible coin for 99 cents, but then charge a $5 shipping fee. Their profit is in the difference between the $5 and the actual cost of shipping, which may be less than a dollar.
Still, that doesn’t explain all the super-cheap stuff out there. Why would someone sell a pack of guitar strings for $1 with free shipping? I don’t know! But I have some theories:
1. To some sellers, it is better to sell items than give them or throw them away. They are seriously interested in recycling to the best of their ability.
2. Some people live rent free in trailers behind their parents’ house. They ship with all recycled materials. Their merchandise came from dumpsters, house cleaning, or other free sources. To them, a dollar is a windfall.
3. Sometimes children may be responsible for the low prices. Under a parent’s supervision, a child may run an eBay account, and be willing to sell an old X-Box game for pennies, just for the instructional thrill of participating in eBay.
4. Sometimes, it is a mistake. The seller didn’t realize that an auction would actually close at the opening bid. The seller may have been dreaming that someone would bid $50 for his fossilized trilobite, but no, the only interested buyer got it for a buck.
5. There is one situation in which you could profit by selling things for a dollar on eBay, and that is if you include a business card or brochure with each item you ship. If you are selling related things, such as books about NLP, then you might be able to book sessions when people who have purchased your books see your brochure in their package. You may have to go a step further in order for this technique to be effective. You may have to offer something such as an intake session for a deep discount or for free. It’s well worth it if you are a coach, since each potential client who contacts you will probably stay on for a year or more and will be worth thousands of dollars.
With certain merchandise, people are less likely to buy something online that they can’t touch, hear, smell or feel. This kind of item is harder to get realistic bids on.
This is especially true of musical instruments, because most people would like to hear their sound quality. One trick if you happen to sell instruments is to link in a sound recording made from the instrument you’re selling. Taking that notion a step further, if you’re selling something like a camera, you might show a picture that was taken with that camera. selling a computer? Show something enticing on the screen of the computer.
Buying on eBay
The experienced eBay buyer often gets fantastic deals. Once the things arrive, you can sell them on Craigslist, through your own retail store, on consignment, or in some cases, you can put them back on eBay at a profit. A good example of that is books about NLP, especially the ones from the late 1970s. Books by Bandler, Grinder, and Erickson, especially, can sell for a lot of money. Sometimes not. It all depends on how many copies are currently available. You can list your collectible NLP books at a high fixed price, and just wait for the market to shift, as it inevitably will. Among collectibles, a book that you bought last month for $10, might bring $46 this month.
There are two good ways to buy on eBay.
The way you’d expect, is to win auctions. When something comes up that you’d like, or more specifically, something that you think you can make a profit on, perhaps a photo of the early days at UCSC (University of California at Santa Cruz, where NLP was invented), you can study the listing a bit.
First, you can see whether others like it have sold in the past thirty days on eBay, and how much money people paid. As I mentioned earlier, you can just enter the item in the search field at the top of almost any eBay page, then select “Completed Listings” from the options at the left. Items that have their prices shown in red didn’t sell. Perhaps the auction ended with no bids, or the seller found a local buyer. Items in green did sell. When looking at green completed listings, make sure to factor in the shipping charge. For example, a steamer trunk that sold for $100, really cost the buyer $270, when you add in the $170 shipping charge.
That tells you the eBay price, but eBay prices are often depressed compared to what a person who can actually touch, hear, or smell an item, such as a local craigslist buyer, is willing to pay.
You might check Amazon.com and elsewhere to see if there are current price guides for the kind of items you focus on. I have an acoustic guitar price guide that I have referred to from time to time. Old price guides will mislead you, so make sure to get current ones.
Look at the item’s pictures and read the description carefully. Are there any photos that ought to be there but aren’t? For instance, if you can’t see the corner of a painting, it might be because the seller is hiding a defect in the corner. Descriptions can be deceptively worded, not clearly letting you know that parts are missing, or the item is misbehaving in some way. One thing that is seldom discussed, but can be important, especially for items with cloth or leather components, is the odor of mildew or cigarette smoke. You can contact the seller with questions that the description left unanswered.
In the rare case that the photos and description are clear, yet the item that arrives is unsatisfactory, the seller is responsible. If the seller won’t make good on the deal, eBay has buyer protection – a kind of insurance – to back you up. In the worst case scenario, assuming you played by eBay’s rules, within the permitted time frame, eBay will refund your entire purchase price. Still, you may have to package and ship the item back to the seller at your expense. Let’s quickly examine two examples:
You purchased a Dell Studio 17 laptop, but instead got the smaller and less valuable Dell Studio 15. Nowhere in the listing did it say you’d be getting the 15-inch model. In fact, the listing’s title specifically said “Dell Studio 17.” If the seller won’t cover you, eBay will.
You purchased a beautiful sweater, but it has a serious cigarette smoke oder. The listing doesn’t mention anything about the smell of the sweater, and you didn’t ask. I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing that due to the ambiguity of the situation, eBay may not cover you.
Feedback can be a good indicator for a buyer. If a seller has almost 100% positive feedback, and a lot of it, you can pretty well trust that all will be well. If there is some neutral or negative feedback, you can drill into it and see what happened. Some negative feedback is just crazy. There is a small percentage of people who are not quite sane, and sometimes this results in inappropriate negative feedback.
In a recent case, I bought a laptop computer that was slow to arrive. I knew that I might expect that, since the seller had three negatives in the past month, all were about having taken more than a month to ship the items. I bought it because I wasn’t in a hurry, and I knew eBay Buyer Protection would cover me if it didn’t arrive at all. It did arrive in a reasonable amount of time.
In another case, a seller had two negatives in the past month. In both cases, he took parts out of the laptops before shipping them. In my opinion, that’s just plain weird, but on eBay, you’re dealing with everyone and anyone, so this kind of thing can happen. Needless to say, I didn’t buy that person’s computer.
There are two best ways to buy things on eBay.
The first is exactly what you would expect: You can bid on items being auctioned, and if your bid is higher than anyone else’s, you’ll win. Auctions can run 1, 3, 5 or 10 days. You can bid any time you want, and you can bid as much as you’re willing to pay. Even though your maximum bid may be quite a bit higher than the current price, your actual bid is only one increment up from the current high price. Increments are generally a dollar in the USA. So, if an item has been bid up to $78, and you enter a maximum bid of $150, your actual bid will be only $79. But, if someone then offers $80, your bid goes up to $81. Because almost everyone offers maximum bids in excess of the current price, the price can suddenly jump as the automated maximum bids duke it out. If the current high bid is $79, and the other person’s maximum is $140, then as soon as you offer $150, your actual bid goes to $141.
Everyone believes it is best to bid at the last possible moment. This way, people won’t see that others are interested, and the casual buyers are less likely to bid. You can watch items’ bids grow during the last minute. It is kind of fun to see, unless you are one of the bidders. You’ll see a porcelain vase go from $20, to $22, to $35, to $91, to $148, all in the last few seconds. Some bidders are actually sitting at their keyboards physically clicking their mice at the last possible moment. Others are using “sniping” software that will bid for them, based on rules they have set minutes or even days before.
Occasionally, items that were set to end in the wee hours of the morning will get fewer bids. Items that are only appealing to a few buyers, none of whom have been watching eBay lately, may close at the minimum bid, or no bids at all. Items that are imperfect in some way that you are willing to accept can be good deals. This is especially true if you can repair things like computers, cameras, clothing, or musical instruments, and know exactly what’s wrong with an item being offered. One of the best ways to get things is to find items that are not properly described, or even misspelled. What if you search for “cammera?” You may find a very good camera that no one has bid on, because when other potential buyers entered “camera” it didn’t show up in their searches. This is especially true if the “cammera” is also listed in the wrong category. I once saw a guitar listed under fountain pens. However, the eBay search engine is very intelligent. When you enter “cammera” it may show you a list of all cameras. Conversely, if a seller has called his thing a gituar it may show up in guitar search results. I believe most searches start with a keyword, not a category search, so again, there’s a bit less power in looking for things that are misspelled.
The other way to buy, and one that’s more consistent, less stressful, but also less exciting, and perhaps less profitable, is to find “Buy It Now” listings that are too low. A seller unloading his old student-day stuff might not realize that a Native American artifact originally owned by Milton Erickson may be worth hundreds of dollars, and list it for $25. This happens more often than you’d guess.
The problem is that there are other dealers also looking for undervalued collectibles. So, the listing may last only fifteen minutes before someone snaps it up. The professional fixed price buyer has bookmarked eBay search results sorted into just the right criteria, and checks the pages several times a day. For instance, the saxophone buyer may be looking in “Musical Instruments | Woodwinds | Saxophones,” with settings for “Fixed Price Only” sorted by “Most Recently Listed First,” and a price range under $200. The same buyer may have another bookmark on “Musical Instruments | Woodwinds | Flutes” and a maximum of $150. She may also have entered “-wood -wooden” in the search field, to exclude all the wooden flutes.
Did I say snapping up Fixed Price offerings is less stressful? Maybe not. When you see something that just came up, you’ve got to quickly read the description, check the pictures, check the shipping charge, check the seller’s feedback, then maybe check a price guide, and see if you already have too many of the item in your inventory, all before someone else buys it. But this can be fun, right?
By specializing in a very narrow niche, you can learn what buyers want, how much they’ll pay, what condition or attributes must be present and so on. I don’t personally know NLP-iana collectors, but I’m guessing there are people out there who would love to buy any reasonable thing you can get your hands on. Better yet, if you can invent something people need, you can sell it over and over again, perhaps hundreds of times per day. How about an NLP board game, something like Monopoly, but entirely different? I’ll let your imagination fill in the blanks.
Advertising and Publicity
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It is easy to buy advertising. There are many salespeople who would love to have you advertise in their newspaper, in their phonebook, their website, or on their radio or TV station. If it doesn’t bring the results you expected, they’ll just tell you that you didn’t buy enough advertising yet. They’ll tell you people need to hear the same message over and over. But you do need to buy some advertising, right?
Did I say, “buy” advertising? I meant “get free publicity.” Just about any form of advertising that a practitioner just starting out can afford will be entirely ineffective. Yellow pages ads are the worst. You end up paying a lot of money per month to the phone company, or a phonebook publisher, and get little effect. People don’t use phone books any more. They use the Internet. So you’ll want a website. It can be a simple one-page affair. All people want is your contact information. You can do some search engine optimization (SEO) tricks, discussed in the next chapter, to get people to your webpage. If you’re in a city with a dozen other similar businesses, they’ll all have their own websites, and without search engine optimization, you might be 13th on the list when people google your town name and specialty.
You can do more to boost a website in search results, but you may not have to. Remember that most people using the Internet to find a practitioner will already know your business name, and what you do. They’re just looking for your phone number. You can bring in new clients through a website in a few ways, but it is perhaps more work than non-website ways to bring in clients.
So, when it comes to paid advertising, almost nothing works for a small business. Good free publicity, on the other hand, can change things overnight.
You may be thinking I’m talking about sending press releases to the local newspapers, radio and TV stations announcing that you have a new business or have added something to your business. That can have a small effect. Much greater is to do something newsworthy, meaning, something positively eccentric.
I mentioned this to a bike shop owner, and he said, “Oh, like give away free water bottles printed with the store logo?” He didn’t get it. Better is to sponsor something unique. Sponsoring a compelling but unusual free entertainment event, or offering a half-hour of free consultation is a start. Getting clients to wear your custom printed T-Shirts is a step in the right direction. Then, they will hopefully tell friends to do business with you. That will have a small effect, but it is not newsworthy, and it really isn’t free, because you have to pay for the T-shirts. I’m talking about something newsworthy. Let me give you an example.
Customers of an old bookstore in San Francisco used to complain from time to time because is was sort of dark in there, especially in the deeper shelves. That gave the owner an idea. He held a special sale. All books were 1/2-off. But, the sale ran from midnight to 1am one night. And, he turned all the lights out. At the door, all the customers were handed flashlights. That not only made the news, but it is still talked about today, 20 years later. After reading the story, thousands of new customers visited the store, mostly because they were curious about how dark it really was, that people were complaining.
At another bookstore, some college students created an art project. Their idea was to rearrange all the books, not by subject and title, but by color. Shopping there during that time may have been tedious, but all sorts of people came by to see it, and no doubt many of them came away with books they would never have noticed normally. (After two weeks, the same college students put all the books back in subject and alphabetical order.)
So, what kind of positive eccentricity can you think of for your NLP business?
As I mentioned, having at least a basic website is important for most businesses. Fortunately, a one-page site is sufficient for most, and easy to create. You can do positive eccentricity on a website as well. We’ll talk a lot more about websites in the next chapter.
In the days before YouTube, a guy who’s business was repairing Apple computers uploaded a little video to his website that showed him dropping a PC and a Mac computer off a six-story building. Both crashed to the sidewalk. The Windows computer was smashed to bits, but with the aid of trick photography, the Mac had only a couple of scratches. That was a fun video.
Then there’s the old fashioned way, business cards and flyers. Putting business cards in everyone’s hands who comes your way can build a business slowly, but surely. Of course, giving them something more interesting such as a keyring tape measure, or an interesting hologram will be more effective. A computer tutor can give out business cards that have a chart of the common [Ctrl] (or [Command] on Mac) keyboard shortcuts.
[Ctrl] + [A] = Select All
[Ctrl] + [C] = Copy
[Ctrl] + [F] = Find
[Ctrl] + [V] = Paste
[Ctrl] + [X] = Cut
[Ctrl] + [Z] = Undo
So what kind of NLP information could you put on the back of your business cards?
For local businesses such as an NLP practitioner or trainer, putting something on all the local bulletin boards can surprise you. You’ll get more business with no cost. Bulletin boards at laundromats work well, because patrons have to spend idle time waiting for the wash. You might think that laundromats attract low-end clientele – those who can’t afford their own appliances. This is true, but they also attract a higher-end clientele. These would be customers who have to wash blankets bigger than their home washer can handle, or people who are waiting for their home machine to be repaired, or – I hate to say it – people who will wash rags in a public machine because they don’t want to mess up their own machine.
Bulletin boards at natural food stores work especially well. I’m not quite sure why. Bulletin boards at diners, quick-change oil places, and elsewhere can work well, too. The best kind of flyer is one that makes only a few quick points, because too much text is hard to read. The best flyers have little pull-off tabs at the bottom with your name and/or what you do, and your contact info, generally your phone number. You might want to have full-page and half-page flyers, since many bulletin boards are too full to accomodate full pages. When space is very limited, you can put several business cards fanned out under a thumb tack, indicating to people it is OK to take a card. For this use, the cards ought to have large text that’s easy to read at a distance. There’s a color called “Solar Yellow,” that’s very bright and sometimes used for cards and flyers. It is a bit loud for sure, but in a jumble of white flyers, it gets noticed.
Sometimes people will tear off a tab on each of the flyers they put up. This is to make the general public think there’s interest in what they flyer advertises.
You may feel that flyers are too primitive, or that putting cards into peoples’ hands is too limited, but the results may surprise you.
Websites That Work
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Just about any business will benefit from a website. In fact, some businesses can be entirely websites, such as my NLP50.com website.
There are now several places where you can create your own website by simply cutting and pasting or entering text, dropping in a picture or two, and click an OK button. Blogger.com and Tumblr.com come to mind. However, if you want to take advantage of all the ideas below, you might want to learn some basic HTML, or just hire someone to help you with the optimization parts.
Whenever you hire someone to help you with a website, make sure to maintain all access. You don’t want the site on some guy’s server. You want it on a big national company’s server such as Godaddy.com. Because, what if your webmaster goes broke, leaves town, or has an argument with his wife and shuts down his server?
It is very important to get all passwords associated with the site. You don’t want to have to hire the same webmaster over and over again for each little change that you could eventually make yourself, or pay someone else to make for you. I can’t tell you how many times, I, as a business coach, have had to tell business owners (kindly), “I told you not to trust that webmaster.”
The most important thing websites need is visitors. There are three main ways to get visitors.
1. Buy advertising. That mostly doesn’t work. Or more specifically, with enough money you can buy visitors, but that would be fewer visitors than you would need to pay for the advertising. I think it was Pets.com that was famous for that. Right before the big tech crash of 2000, this company had a popular website. It turned out that the company had spent millions of investors’ dollars on advertising, and their revenue was far below the expenditures.
There is one form of advertising that can work for many businesses, especially local businesses. That’s Google AdWords. You can sign up for an AdWords account for free. Once there, you bid on keywords. They should actually be called “key phrases” because most keywords are more than one word. Let’s say your keyword is “Life Coach San Francisco.” You may find that your closest competitor has bid $4.13 per click on that same keyword. You can bid $4.14. Then, your ad will show up at more websites, and closer to the top of the paid side of Google search results, than your competitor. So, your ad is then shown on random websites. Well, not random. Targeted. This means that if someone has a website that has to do with life coaching in San Francisco, your ad – and your competitors’ ads – will show up on that site. Or if no one has a site about life coaching in San Francisco, then you’ll show up on websites about life coaching, and other sites about San Francisco. When someone clicks your ad to go to your website, Google takes $4.14 from your account. You can adjust maximums, and all sorts of other settings so that if it runs wild, you won’t go broke. You can do things like change your keyword to “Life Coach San Rafael (a small city on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge), which may not cost anywhere near $4.14 per click.
AdWords works particularly well because it is well-targeted. Google’s automated software does a good job of making sure your ad shows up on only the most relevant sites, and with only the most relevant search results.
Think about the results: If you’re charging your clients $500 per month , how much would you pay to get another client? Each client would be worth thousands of dollars, right? So what’s $4.14 compared to that? Not everyone who clicks through to your website will sign up for coaching, but the ads are well-targeted, so a good many will sign up. Especially if your website is well-designed, which we’ll talk about in a minute.
2. SEO – Search Engine Optimization. You can do some simple things to make sure your website shows up near the top of search results in Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines. We’ll talk mostly about Google, because it is the elephant in the room. My guess is that at least seventy percent of all searches are done through Google, with the remaining 30 percent handled by Bing, Yahoo and many lesser search engines. Then too, if you make a website that works well with Google, it will work pretty much the same with the other search engines.
Google ‘ranks’ pages based on how closely parts of the page match the keyword people are searching for, and on how many other websites link to a page. The first aspect, matching elements of the page to the keyword is easy. The second is more work and takes longer to achieve, and may be less important.
By the way, don’t let anyone tell you they have a magic formula to get top ranking. There are hundreds of companies out there willing to take your money for search engine optimization that is all smoke and mirrors. What you are going to read in the next few paragraphs is the heart and soul of search engine optimization. Oh, there are some complicated schemes that might bring a marginal increase in results, but these companies that promise the sky do not deliver. That’s guaranteed.
So, if people are searching for “life coach San Francisco,” all you need to do is put that phrase in the page title – between the <title> tags, and in the< It can be helpful to have a page filename that also matches the keyword, such as www.mywebsite.com/lifecoachsanfrancisco.htm. Google says that as of October 2012, having an exact match page name is no longer significant. However, I have noticed that if you have an exact match domain name, such as www.lifecoachsanfrancisco.com, Google seems to index your page – include it in their search engine listings – within a day or two, rather than within two to three weeks.
So how many people are looking for “life coach San Francisco?” It would be important to know that, wouldn’t it?
As of now, 260 people per month are entering that keyword. How do I know? I used the Google AdWords Keyword Planner. It’s free when you sign up at adwords.google.com. Signing up for AdWords is also free. It only costs money if you place a bid on a keyword. You can enter any potential keyword, and it will show you how many people are searching for that. It will also tell you how much AdWords bidders are paying for the keyword and some other interesting information. It will then offer a list of related keywords, in case you find there are already too many websites optimized for your keyword.
Once you are on the AdWords home page, select the “Tools and Analysis” tab, and then “Keyword Planner.” Once that’s in front of you, select “Search for new keyword and ad group ideas.” Enter a keyword in the “Enter Your Product or Service” field, the scroll down and click the “Get Ideas” button.
You’ll see an interesting list, but that’s not the list you’re looking for. Click the “Keyword Ideas” tab. Now you see information for your specific keyword – data about the people who have entered exactly your keyword into Google, and below that, you’ll see a long list of suggested keywords based on what you entered.
So, the next step is to see how many people have already optimized websites for your keyword. Bad news, sort of: Many people have optimized sites for “Life Coach San Francisco.” When you simply enter that keyword in the Google search engine, several sites come up, some which have the term in their titles, descriptions or <H1> tags, but only a few seem to be doing it in all four.
As you may know, you can see the source code of any web page by right clicking (or [Ctrl] and click on a Mac) and selecting “View Page Source” in FireFox, or from within a context-sensitive menu on other browsers.
So if you are offering life coaching in San Francisco, you could be the top page in Google search results, and most of 260 people a month who are actually looking for a life coach would click through to your website. Gosh, that could bring you 10 or 20 new clients every month! So many that you could raise your rates and pick which clients you want to take on.
If many websites already used your keyword, there are still some things you can do. You can change the keyword a little bit, checking the Google AdWords Keyword Tool and actual search results, until you get something that has enough people looking, and isn’t highly optimized. Maybe “Life Coach Berkeley” (a nearby community) or “life Coaching San Francisco,” or “NLP Coach San Francisco.”
You can optimize for more than one keyword. If you have a local business, you can make a whole bunch of similar web pages each focused on one area, or put several area names in your tags. For instance, “Life Coach San Francisco, Concord, San Mateo, San Rafael, Sausalito.”
If your business is national or international, such as a website designed to make money by itself leveraging Google AdSense, or perhaps offering NLP coaching by phone, then you might use a keyword that addresses a range of similar interests, like “NLP life business coaching coach mentoring.” Of course you wouldn’t put such a non-poetic name in the visible portions of your page, but you get the idea.
Next on the list is backlinks. This thickens the plot a bit. If a thousand websites have added links to your page, Google puts you higher in search results than someone who may actually have better on-page SEO, but fewer backlinks.
This is another place the charlatans go crazy. They tell you they have all sorts of ways to get instant, automatic backlinks, for only $39.95 per month. . . They also tell you that backlinks are essential. However, with a well-selected keyword you can usually ignore backlinks and still end up with lots of hits.
Don’t fall for any of that snake oil. Much of what they do, when they do anything at all, is pure spam, and in the end, may weaken your position with Google. You don’t need to pay money for backlinks, and you don’t need to do spammy things to get them.
Besides asking webmasters to add a link – many will, without cost, just because you asked, you can trade links, as long as you don’t mind adding a reciprocal links list to your site. Better yet, you can post in newsgroups, forums, discussions. You can answer questions, or ask questions. At the end of every single post, you are allowed a tag line in almost all forums. Your tag line can contain a few words about what your site is, plus an actual link to your site.
Not only will these be noticed by Google as backlinks, but some real people will actually click through, bringing up your visitor count organically. The trick to not spamming is simple: Contribute legitimately to the discussions in which you participate. You can answer questions, postulate theories, bring up analogies. If you don’t know much about a subject, it is completely OK to ask questions, as long as you are not selling ‘expert service’ on your site on the very subject of which you’re asking questions.
What’s wrong with spam? Besides the fact that you’re interrupting people, and diluting the value of bonafide discussions, Google has become quite smart about spam, and actually penalizes a website in search results if the backlinks are of low quality.
One of the best sources of good backlinks is social networking, which will be covered in the next chapter. Social networking can work so well that you may not need SEO at all.
Once you’ve built or updated your website, you can let Google know it’s there. This is especially important if no other websites link to it yet, otherwise Google has no way to know you’re out there, because Google finds websites by investigating links from other websites, crawling the entire Internet every two weeks or so, link by link. However, you can expedite the process through “Fetch as Google” a simple, free and easy-to-use part of Google Webmaster Tools.
If all goes well, you can have a hundred visitors within 24 hours of building a new website.
Once you’ve got at least a handful of visitors coming to your site, you can do some more things to make sure it works.
If you can provide some useful content or positive eccentricity, then people will tell people who will tell people. Your site can go viral. Take a look at hamsterdance.com. Especially take a look at the “Hamster Classics” and then “Interactive Dance.” This one dance page is similar to how the whole site originally looked.
It seems a computer science student made a one-page website as a thesis project. All it did was show lines of cartooney dancing hamsters with some background music. That was in the late 1990s, when it didn’t take much of a website to excite people. There was something about the cuteness of hamsterdance.com that caused everyone to email everyone else, and it went viral almost instantly. Millions of visitors came. The creator saw the potential, and quickly added more pages and advertising to the site.
It will take more than dancing hamsters to impress people these days, but if you can do something sufficiently amusing, or informative, you win the game!
Another example is Crayola.com. There, you’ll find quite a few interesting and interactive things for children. People come to the site because there’s something useful there.
Yet another example is a website where you can buy an antenna for specialized electronics. The site has many charts with just the information that radio designers need, so of course this site is where the radio people go to when it is time to order antennae.
Your author has made several such sites. One of the more interesting sites is www.worlds-worst-website.com. Its sole purpose is to cause people to tell people, who will tell people, and so on. I have never done any SEO with the Worlds Worst Website. This site has functionality and eccentricity.
Once you’ve got a site that gets visitors, you want to direct their time there. It would be a shame to build a large visitor count, then have all your visitors become confused and leave the site without satisfaction. Or more to the point, you want them to do something that satisfies you, also, like buy your product or service. Think of your webpage, or your website, as a funnel. The top is wide. Lots of people spill into your site. The funnel narrows, directing people downward. Or more specifically, it holds their interest. Someone told me the average web page visitor stays one and a half seconds, unless something catches their interest in that time. The funnel eventually directs them all through the spout. The spout is the action step. What do you want people to do? Click the “Buy Now” button? Give you a phone call? Email you? Set up the page to have this effect.
You should have a compelling title, or short bit of text in the upper left corner, since that is where most people look first. The purpose of this top left item is not to sell something, but merely to cause them to feel that your site is worth focusing on. To have them become invested in your site enough to stay on the page and read more, perhaps click through to other pages on your site. Finally, at the bottom of every place they might go within your site, you have your action step – the button to click, the phone number to call – whatever you want them to do. During this process, you may also want to convince them that your site is so excellent they should tell all their friends.
One thing you almost never want is links away from your site. In this book, I can tell you about crayola.com, because you already bought the book. I don’t need to sell you anything. But if I did, I would not risk losing you to Crayola. Besides, I think I’ve got your interest by now. Hopefully, I have you well on your way to starting or improving your own NLP business!
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There’s a super-effective trick with the social networking sites that can bring you hundreds of new clients, but which is oddly left out of most discussions of social networking. I’ll tell you about it after a brief introduction and ‘how-to’ in case you are new to the whole phenomenon.
The Big Three
The big three social networking sites are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Some may argue that MySpace is one of the big ones also, but I think it was more than it is now. There are hundreds of others. And then, there are sites that you may not think of social networking sites, but have interactive features and can be used for social networking. These include Tumblr, YouTube, and even eBay.
For this discussion, we’ll just focus on the big three. There’d be little sense in putting much effort into ‘lesser’ sites when the same effort on one or more of the big three will yield ten times the results.
Let’s start with Twitter. The main concept is that anyone can enter messages at any time of up to 140 characters in length. You can also attach pictures, links and videos. But the core of Twitter is these little messages, called tweets. What in much of the Internet world might be considered spam is perfectly fine on Twitter. In other words, stating tiny little trivia about whatever interests you, as often as you like, is perfectly fine.
Amateurs use Twitter to tell you they hate today’s homework, Jane wore the wrong dress, the boss said something insane, Frank just took a picture of his malamute – you get the idea.
Most communication of this type happens among people who have decided to follow each other. For instance, if you start following Barack Obama, you’ll get his tweets about the things that interest him – health care politics, international relations, and so on. When he writes a tweet, only those who have chosen to follow him see his messages. In his case, millions of people are following. But unless you are the President of the United States, not that many people will follow you.
Here comes a big trick with Twitter: You can incorporate hashtags into your tweets. A hashtag is a word or phrase that starts with a number sign. Phrases consisting of more than one word are compounded, like this: #BillyRayCyrus. When you put a hashtag in your tweet, anyone who has elected to see all messages about that subject will see your message. Now, rather than the three people who are following you, suddenly thousands may see your message.
If you pick something too common, no one will be following because the number of tweets are simply overwhelming. For instance, if you do add a #BillyRayCyrus hashtag, chances are few people will react because there may be thousands of tweets about her every day. On the other hand if you pick something too specialized, there’ll be no one who cares. Something like #BandlerTurtlesAllTheWayDown – just isn’t going to bring results. But if you use a hashtag that some people are going to be following, magic can happen.
As an NLP practitioner you can really leverage tweets because you can write unique and interesting tweets all day long. You can write about NLP techniques – of which there are hundreds, plus thousands of variations. Better yet, if you have clinical experience, or even relying on practices from your NLP training, you can relate specific cases. Of course, you don’t want to mention names or be too specific in order to protect your clients, but you can talk about the person who hated her mom, how your client overcame a suffocating fear of pillows, the piano student who suddenly went from average to brilliant – you get the idea.
First, they’ll get your message, and perhaps go to your website to learn more about what you’re doing. Then, if your tweet is compelling, they may start following you, so you can speak to them even in ways in which you can’t incorporate effective hashtags. Finally, they may tell their friends, mentioning you or your website, or at least your tweets, in their own tweets to their friends (called retweeting).
Can you do the same thing in Facebook? You bet. Hashtags work almost the exact same way. You can even link Twitter and FaceBook together (and even several other social networking sites), so that when you post a tweet on Twitter, it also shows up in your Facebook activity.
Facebook has a concept called Groups. There are thousands of groups. These are just what you’d think: People with a similar interest ‘subscribe’ to a group, where the photos, messages, videos, and links are all about the topic of the group. For instance, there are more than 4,000 in a group about juggling. There, you’ll find posts about jugglers who have appeared on television, pictures of people juggling three, four, five and more objects, how-to information, and more.
The magic of Facebook groups is that you can subscribe to a group and post messages that will be seen by everyone in the group. Unlike Twitter, you don’t have to depend on people searching for hashtag terms, and you don’t have to already have made friends with thousands of people. Just post in an appropriate group, and you can have hundreds, even thousands of targeted visitors to your website within hours.
Just like the rest of the world, you don’t want to spam groups. You can’t subscribe to a group about orchids, and post about inexpensive Rolex watches. Well, actually you can, but you’ll probably be banned from the group. Besides, it is just plain not nice. Spam weakens a group. Have you ever seen a group that has lost the spam war? It’s disappointing. You might want to read about a vegetarian diet, but every post is about weight-loss products. As a group is dying, you see nine out of ten spam posts, and have to sort through them to find a little bit of good stuff.
But you can post on-topic material, and leverage your presence in the group. You might find a group about Manchester United. There, you can say whatever you want about the other soccer teams. The Manchester fans in the group will love you for it. Then, at the bottom of your post, you can have a signature line, complete with a link to your website. In fact, you don’t even need a signature line. You can add links to posts – as long as they aren’t wildly off-topic. You don’t even have to do that. Many people will wonder who you are, check your profile, the links you have posted there, and so on.
It is better to stay nearly on-topic, even with your signature and links, if you can. If your specialty is working with musicians, you can find many music groups in which you can participate in a valid way, and receive targeted visitors to your linked websites. For instance, if you post in a guitar group, you’ll get guitar players coming to your musicians NLP website. Many of them will because they are interested in everything ‘guitars.’ If you post a link about playing guitar in a CD collectors website, even if your text is a valid on-topic post, few people will actually click the link.
Let’s say you’ve found the paydirt. Perhaps your business is coaching bodybuilding athletes. You find a bodybuilder’s group, a weight lifter’s group, and a body culture group. You can’t just post over and over again that you’re offering NLP support for bodybuilders. What you do instead is offer bodybuilding trivia, post technical information, state that you just read a biography of The Mighty Atom, that Leonardo da Vinci put on exhibitions as a physically strong man, and so on. You can answer questions that you’re qualified to answer. You can ask questions if you’re not an expert. You can ask controversial questions which will sometimes keep an active discussion going for weeks. With all this stuff on your wall, you can become something of an authority on the subject. By simply participating in a natural and appropriate way, you’ll bring many visitors to your website and end up trading many violins!
Finally, we have LinkedIn, known for its membership which is mostly entrepreneurs and upwardly mobile corporate professionals such as managers and department heads. This is your clientele! LinkedIn works very much like FaceBook complete with profiles and hashtags.
Google also has something called “Groups” but it is not the same as Facebook groups. This is an extension of Usenet newsgroups.
In the early days of the Internet, before the WorldWide Web took off, there was another division called Usenet, also known as Usenet newsgroups. Usenet still exists, but most modern Internet users are unaware of it. There are more than 100,000 newsgroups, covering a huge variety of topics. A newsgroup is a list of messages by individuals. You can click titles to read messages, answer messages, and post new messages. It is a lot like email, except every message is addressed to the world at large – anyone who wants to subscribe to the groups. Just like email, messages could have files, attached. Most of the time the files were pictures. In the past, you had to download special software, and put up with funky free access, or pay money for a subscription in a ‘newsreader’ service to gain access. Now, Google has made it much easier. Anyone with a Google account can go to groups.google.com and participate. The messages show up in your web browser – no special software required. There are two major differences: Google doesn’t support attached files. With Google, it’s just about text messages. And, there are even more groups, in addition to the Usenet groups.
So, if you want to publicize something, you find appropriate groups, post messages, and add a tag line at the bottom of every post. Or, in some groups, you can blatantly advertise. Of course the ones you can advertise in directly don’t have much valuable content. They are often called “spam traps,” I experimented with some, such as alt.test.test, and alt.announce, misc.forsale, and sure enough, there are a number of people just idling around there who will read pretty much anything interesting, and click through to see what you have.
Let me give you a concrete example of how you can use Google Groups. Actually, you can use this same technique in Facebook groups, on Twitter, and even on YouTube.
I wanted to publicize an idea about bike safety. I found a group called ba.bicycling. After reading a few messages, I figured out that the group is about bicycling in the San Francisco Bay Area, a place I have lived. There is a popular bicycling road that goes out to the rural edge of west Marin County called Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. It is dangerous because it has no shoulders, blind curves, and trees casting mottled sun and shade, making visibility difficult at times, especially since it heads due west into the sunset in the evenings. So I said so. I created a brief post stating that Sir Francis Drake was dangerous, and exactly why. At the bottom was a link to my bicycle safety website. You’ve gotta remember, I just told a bunch of bicycle lovers that the place they like to ride is dangerous. That was very controversial, just as I thought it might be, and so I was able to keep the discussion alive for a week. On the first day, 400 people came to my website. By the time the discussion died out, 1,000 visitors clicked through. And, these were exceedingly targeted customers – the very bicycle advocates I wanted to come to my site. My site was actually of international interest, but I happened across a Bay Area newsgroup, and remembered the problem on Sir Francis Drake, and so was able to make my little splash.
You may be pleased to know there is a group called alt.psychology.nlp.
YouTube is another great website that you can use in a social networking sort of way. People love videos, especially ones that explain something or eccentricities. Right in your video, you can include links to any site you want. YouTube even gives you ways to monetize your videos directly. Let’s say you have done something weird enough that it goes viral, like this one:
For those of you who are reading this on a device that can display web pages, you can click the picture to see the video. Otherwise, you can go to this link to see it on another device: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItZyaOlrb7E.
The drummer is Steve Moore, known as The Crazy Drummer. When this was first uploaded to YouTube, it sat around for two years and got only a few hits. Then the name was changed to “This Drummer Is At The Wrong Gig.” Suddenly, it went viral. As of today, it has been viewed more than 23 million times.
If that were your video, you could have YouTube supply advertising within and around the video. Their advertising is linked to Google AdSense, which is no surprise, since Google owns YouTube. AdSense places context-sensitive ads automatically. Ads will be displayed that are related to the subject matter, (probably “drummer” and “gig”), and also to what the viewers have shown an interest in. For instance, Google must be hip to the fact that I have been interested in Dremel and Foredom tools lately, because these are among the ads I see. Or, you could embed your own links.
Interestingly, the quality of a video is not nearly as important as the content, or the subject it addresses. Many successful YouTube videos were shot with cellphones, and not edited very much, if at all. But what all the successful ones have in common is that they do something people want to see. They are informative or eccentric.
And there are the other websites. You can post photos or artwork on DeviantArt.com, Pintarest.com, PhotoBucket.com, you can make interactive blogs on Tumblr.com or Blogger.com.
In these websites, or any social networking or similar websites, memes can be effective.
A meme (pronounced ‘meem’) is a unit of information that carries an idea from person to person almost in the way that genes carry physical traits from generation to generation. Shortened from the Greek mimeme, which means “imitated thing,” the term was coined by Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist, in 1976. Modern memes can be a written phrase, an image, an animation or sound clip.
Bumper stickers might be considered typical memes. Remember the one that had a picture of a golfer and said, “Don’t drink and drive. Use a 7-iron.” Hopefully, this meme made driving a little safer.
It’s easier to create memes these days. You can just upload a little something to Tumblr, Twitter, Google+, you name it. And if your meme is successful, everyone will share it with their friends and associates, and soon, your meme will be seen by millions. A typical image meme would have a photo or drawing, and a bit of text. There are no standards – yet. Your meme can be any size, any of the standard Internet formats – .jpg, .bmp, .gif, or .png), and of course it can contain anything you want. All you do is make your meme, including a link to your website or whatever you want to convey, upload it somewhere, set back, and watch the business roll in. At least that’s the idea.
It would be pretty hard to make a text-only meme. The closest I came is this: “If all the toilet paper used in America was on one giant roll, we’d be unrolling it at 7,600 miles per hour, roughly ten times the speed of sound.” This could be uploaded to some trivia websites, or into various groups on Facebook, along with a link to whatever I’d want to link.
The problem is that text memes will tend to get separated from their links when people spread them around. So, the answer is imbed the text and link in a picture, so it is the picture that gets passed around, not just a line of text. Besides, the picture may enhance the concept of the text.
You can also make video memes, with or without sound. They have the advantage that they more completely involve the viewers. The downsides are that they take a bit more effort to produce, they don’t run consistently in all environments, and people have to sit and watch them before they get the entire message. In this information-rich society, the attention span is said to be one-and-a-half seconds. If your animated meme doesn’t catch people in that amount of time, it isn’t going to be an effective meme.
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I thought you might like to know about a couple of Craigslist tricks that are important to many kinds of NLP businesses.
If you have a practitioner or trainer, or offering any sort of service business, I have a tip for you farther along in this chapter, but let’s start with merchandise business ideas on Craigslist.
If you buy and sell things, great opportunities exist in the space between Craigslist and eBay. You can often buy things for less on eBay than they can go for on Craigslist. That’s because people often will not trust things they can’t personally see and hold before buying. This is especially true of musical instruments, since people want to play them, to hear them, before they commit. Then, you can sell these same things at a profit locally on Craigslist to people who you will let see and hold them. These people are also more likely to buy locally because they can have their items right away. Many folks don’t want to wait a week or more for their purchases to arrive. Others don’t really understand and trust eBay, and would rather pay cash to an actual person.
On the other side, people who are moving out of town, don’t want to pack and ship things, and who want immediate cash will sell things for much less then they would be worth online. They can’t get the full value for these things, because the market is limited to the local community. So of course you can come along, swoop these things up, and list them for a profit to all the national or international buyers on eBay.
First, let’s talk about a couple of tricks for selling things on Craigslist.
When you list an item for sale on Craigslist, it scrolls down the list as other people add the things they have for sale. In a busy community in a busy category, such as Computers in Seattle, your ad can scroll out of sight within a few hours.
So, here’s what you do: Every couple of hours, add a different item. Let’s say you are selling used clothing. You can put up an ad for a sweater at 1pm. Then at 3pm, you can put up an ad for a pair of pants. Then at 5pm, a jacket, and so on. Each one of these ads carries a link to your website, saying something like, “much more clothing available at mywebsite.com.” You might even have thumbnails for your other clothes at the bottom of each ad. This is not spamming, because every ad is for something different.
As you may know, with Craigslist, you are welcome to ‘renew’ an ad every 48 hours. This means that your ad will reappear at the top of the list. So, after you’ve built up a sufficient number of ads, you can start renewing them, one at a time, every couple of hours, so you always have something near the top of the list.
The other trick, which I already alluded to above, is that you can have a website that has a larger list of your inventory. Every one of your Craigslist ads can link to your website. It seems to work well to have a vertical table on your website, with thumbnail images of each item on the left, descriptions to the right, and prices to the far right. I used to do this with bicycles, although you could do it with clothing, musical instruments, computers, furniture, or whatever you want. I kept an inventory of about 18 used bicycles and each was pictured on my website until sold.
I have to admit I didn’t stay up to date with posting on Craigslist. I usually only managed between one and three ads per day, and skipped some days altogether. This was because my bottleneck in the bicycle business was getting bikes, not selling them. Unlike most many other product lines, all except high-end bicycles are too big to buy profitably on eBay – due to the shipping cost, so I had to depend on a local market. And there too, I have to admit, I could have done things to purchase more bikes locally, but had other business interests at the time. Still, I sold 20 bikes per week with an average profit of $75 to $100. So this could work the same way for your business. After doing it for three months, I moved on to other pursuits, but during that time, strictly from craigslist exposure, my bike inventory website had received over 20,000 unique visitors.
When an item sells, it is appropriate to delete it from Craigslist as soon as you can, but I think it is better to leave the listing on your website for a day or two, marked “Sold,” leaving the price visible. When people see that your business is active, an unconscious impulse causes them to want to buy something ‘before it’s too late.’ It also keeps browsers coming back. They want to watch the activity, and eventually when they need an item, or have a friend that does, where do you suppose they’ll look?
One of the best ways I could have increased my purchasing of bicycles at the time would have been to keep an ad active in the “Items Wanted” section telling people that I buy used and broken bicycles. This would have the added advantage that my wanted posting would also link to my website, so people who see that I want bikes, will also see I have bikes, in case they are upgrading, or looking for a bike for any reason.
The impact of such listings grows with time. Several months later when Fred, who doesn’t need a guitar, hears that Jenessa wants a guitar, he’ll remember the ‘guitars wanted’ ad on Craigslist, and direct Jenessa to the linked guitars-for-sale website.
And of course, on your website with your list of items for sale, you can mention that you are also a buyer.
One of the best ways to let people you’re buying things on Craigslist is to let them know you’re selling things. Whereas you could post multiple similar ads such as “Cash paid for sweaters,” “I buy name brand bluejeans,” and “I want your quality used clothing,” this verges on spam, in fact it pretty much is spam, in the “Items Wanted” category. Not only does spamming make a mess out of a good category, and is unethical, and will probably get you a bad name, but Craigslist users will probably get in the habit of flagging and deleting all your ads.
A much better approach is to sell things in the proper “For Sale” category. In each ad, you also happen to mention that you buy things. Of course, you can have a single ad announcing that you’re buying in the “Items Wanted” category at the same time. You might be able to expand in the items wanted category if you are careful. You could run an ad that you are buying upholstered furniture on Monday, an ad that you are buying wooden furniture on Tuesday, and an ad that you are buying office chairs on Wednesday.
If you are offering a service as an NLP practitioner, trainer or coach, there are a couple of problems. First, you can list only in the “Services Offered” category, which fewer people see. Oh, they may be better targeted, but still, few people browse that category. The other problem is that it is difficult to post multiple ads in the Services category.
The only way you can post multiple services without spamming is to break your services down to specifics and advertise each one. For instance, if you a general coach/practitioner, you can post an ad for NLP sessions, another for business coaching, and yet another for life coaching. That’s three ads, isn’t it? But that’s awfully close to spamming, and probably not enough exposure. So here’s the plan:
Now that you’ve read this book, you have a good idea about how to buy and sell things at a profit. I’m going to suggest you dabble a bit in used items, even if that is not your primary business. If you like books, buy a handful of interesting books and put them in your garage or whatever. Now, you can put ads in the Books section of Craigslist, doing the tricks stated above. But your objective isn’t to sell books, although that could be a good income on the side. Your ads are there mostly to present the links to your website where you sell the services that you offer. If you don’t really want to mess around with buying and selling, you can keep your prices too high. The point is that people looking for used items are often the same people who want coaching, sessions, or what you offer. This is where they’ll be, in Items for Sale, not Services Offered.
Finally, on Craigslist, you’ll notice that there are forums at the left side of the home page. You can participate in those forums. You can teach what you know. You can answer questions. You can ask questions about what you don’t know. But at the bottom of every posting, you can have a low-key link to your website. Keep in mind that some of the forums are national, so you’ll want to notice that before you post a link for local service or large items for sale.
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When considering a partnership, you want to look for someone who has what you don’t have. Starting out with a partner who has the same strengths and weaknesses as you, means something won’t be covered. That’s a recipe for disaster. Generally, the three ingredients that a partnership (or an individual) needs are time, experience, and sometimes money. There’s a fourth ingredient – one that all partners need, and that’s enthusiasm. You absolutely don’t want to start something with someone who is not enthusiastic about the idea.
Before forming a partnership, carefully assess your partner’s personality. Will you be able to get along with this person? How about in cloudy weather? Is the person lazy? Does the person have shoddy ethics? Is the person obstinate? I once saw a bicycle shop almost destroy itself because one partner of the three who owned it suddenly decided that they needed new wall-to-wall carpeting just a few months after starting the store. That would have cost $10,000. The store had a painted concrete floor that was just fine. I think any objective person would agree that carpeting was not a top priority in that situation. But, he couldn’t be talked out of it, and the partners nearly came to blows. Finally, the two other partners bought this fellow out, at an inflated price that took them years to recover.
In another retail store, a partner got evicted from his apartment, and decided to live in the inventory storage area, against his partner’s wishes, leaving little room for the business, and violating the local zoning ordinance. This fellow would do things like wake up, and walk out among customers in the showroom at 11am, unshaven and shirtless. Nice partner, eh?
In putting together a performing group, whether it’s a duo, trio or a large band, all the members must have enough interest in the project that you can be absolutely sure they’ll show up at gigs on time. They must also be the sort of person who won’t embarrass the group by showing up drugged or drunk, or say inappropriate things on stage, or when mixing with the audience. You also need entertainers who are in alignment with your group’s philosophies and performance style. Finally, a band member must have ego and emotions sufficiently in check to avoid damaging the band’s potential as a group. All this is necessary, in addition to being an adequately skilled entertainer.
Partnerships can be just the ticket for many NLP businesses. For instance, you may be a great practitioner, but not all that great about bringing in new clients, scheduling and billing. Wouldn’t it be great to have a partner who is good with business but doesn’t want to do the actual sessions? Or maybe it’s you who doesn’t want to do sessions, but are good with running an office and enthusiastic about NLP. Both of you might be quite happy with this arrangement.
Or perhaps you love to do trainings, but don’t want to do all the things necessary to run a school. Or maybe you feel too shy to do the trainings, but love interfacing with students and enjoy bookkeeping and all the background tasks an NLP school requires.
If you’re going to consider a partnership, think about all the things that might go wrong with your perspective partners. Do not mention the idea of a partnership to any of your prospects until you are absolutely certain. It is harder to burst their bubble after you’ve created it, than before they know a partnership is possible.
Family members can be the best, or the worst! I think you know what I’m talking about. A grandfather-grandson (or grandmother-granddaughter) partnership can be wonderful with the right people. I’m sure you can think of several successful family performing groups such as the Trapp Family, Jackson Five, and the Haygoods.
In a retail setting, families can get away with some things that normal employee-employer relationships cannot. For instance, an uncle may own a store, and may have a 14-year-old neice operate the cash register for an hour a day after school. As a partner, she can be paid less than an adult would need and expect. At the same time, she is learning business skills and social interaction.
In another example, you may have a brother on disability with multiple sclerosis. During good times, your brother can help in the shipping department, and really enjoys being useful. Your brother can be a limited partner. During bad times, the brother is not required to come to work. During the good times, you can spend your time on inventory management, but during the bad times, you work in the shipping department.
Of course, arrangements like these, are legally fuzzy, so you’ll want to check your local laws first. If you’re working with someone who is receiving government assistance of any kind, you want to carefully check the legalities and limits. For instance, you may discover that a person in a certain situation can earn up to $1,500 per month, but the amount earned must be deducted from disability payments. Or, perhaps someone can earn up to $300 per month without needing to report it. Or, in a more lucrative partnership, your family member, friend – whoever your partner is, may be in a perfect position to blow off government assistance entirely, earning a living from your partnership.
Here’s a look at another common but unfortunate scenario: Let’s say you have a brother who has been in jail twice for drunk driving. He’s unemployed again because he came to work too hung-over. You might think that if you offer this brother of yours a partnership, it will help him. Wrong! You must, absolutely must, consider partners for their strengths, not their weaknesses, if you intend to succeed. And if you don’t succeed, it will not help your brother in the slightest. It will probably make his lack of self-esteem worse.
How many partners should you consider? The minimum number you can get away with. If all you need is someone with repair skill, a good drummer, or someone who can do the trainings, then one partner is sufficient. Additional partners means that the profit is split smaller. It also means it is harder to make decisions. Larry Page and Sergei Brin have been very successful with Google. When it came time to make decisions, they had a brief discussion, came to a consensus, and moved forward.
On the other hand, I knew of an organic restaurant that had 17 partners. One of their specialties was waffles. They had one waffle iron, and so customers had to wait up to 45 minutes for their orders in the morning. The 17 of them had a meeting to decide whether they should buy a second $30 waffle iron. The meeting, argument really, ran until after midnight, and they couldn’t come to a decision. In fact, it was weeks before they could all figure out that $30 was a reasonable price to pay for another waffle iron to satisfy their breakfast customers.
Once you’ve sorted out who your partners are going to be, you need to state some things up front. Is one going to be a silent partner? If so, how silent? How will various kinds of decisions be made? For instance, the person who’s just about sign up a new client probably shouldn’t have to place a phone call to another partner if the client wants a ten percent discount. What happens as the business grows? Do you add more partners? Do you hire employees? How do the partners decide on new employees?
In summary, all the terms of partnership need to be discussed. More than discussed. You want the major points in writing, and a contract signed by all partners.
The very most important clause in that contract will be an escape hatch for each partner. What happens if the business loses money? What happens if a partner becomes sick or dies? What happens if two partners can’t stand the sight of each other after a while? Escape clauses need to be fluid. For instance, if a partner wants to leave early on, his value in the business is worth far less than after five years. These escape clauses must be manageable, so that it is truly possible to make changes in the partnership as needed. For instance, a very bad escape clause would be that if a partner leaves, the others have to immediately pay her $500,000. If a good escape clause and other such situations are all spelled out in writing ahead of time, all will be well in these eventualities – or at least as well as it can be.
Another consideration in partnerships is your own personality. Take me, for example. I can’t stand having to share my decisions with anyone. I have always had to have full control. I’d make a horrible partner unless I was allowed to run the show 100 percent.
There’s also an ego component. I love being able to say, “I own this.” For me, it would be miserable to say, “I own a portion of this.”
So, on the opposite end of the partnership spectrum we have sole proprietorship. The individual doesn’t have to defer to anyone before making major decisions. 100 percent of the profit goes to the individual. That’s huge, even with just two partners. Let’s say that the profit of a business is $60,000 per year. That means that an individual takes home $60,000. But two partners owning the same business would only get $30,000 each.
Getting back to the original question, what if you don’t have the time, experience or money to start a business on your own? There is another
very simple answer. Start something evolutionary. Do you really need a person to run the office, or just an answering machine? Do you really need second coach, or can you just raise the prices and take fewer new clients? Start something that you can manage, and let it build as you gain experience, money, whatever you’ve been needing.
The Sure-Fire Millionaire
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As I indicated in the last chapter, partnerships are expensive. I mean really expensive. I’m not saying don’t get partners, I’m just saying you should consider expensive options carefully, weighing them against potential profit.
For instance, you might think the decision to buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks is simple – just do it. But what if I tell you that cup of coffee will cost you $42? Would you still buy it?
Let me explain. If instead of that $3 cup of coffee, you put the money in an investment such as a mutual fund, and leave it there for twenty years, it will, on average, turn into $42. I knew a fellow who understood this so well that he made millions of dollars, yet he worked for nearly minimum wage.
When I met him, Brian was 48 years old. He had retired with several million dollars two years earlier at age 46. When he was 26 years old, he got a job for Sears, driving a van, and repairing washing machines and driers in peoples’ homes, which pays just a bit more than minimum wage.
At one home, Brian met a couple who told him that he ought to ‘pay himself first.’ He asked what they meant, and it sounded like a good idea. So every week, he took 25 percent of his paycheck after taxes, and put it in a savings account. Then whatever was left went to rent, food, and fun. That wasn’t very much, but he wasn’t making very much in the first place.
Week after week, Brian kept it up, until he had $10,000 in his savings account. He knew he’d have to learn something about investing. Even though he didn’t feel like learning about that, he went to the library and started studying up – this was before the Internet. He learned about mutual funds, municipal bonds, money market accounts, and even some things that didn’t begin with “m.” He moved the money from the savings account into better investments.
Brian was content with his job at Sears, and not really qualified for anything else. He kept ‘paying himself first’ year after year. In fact, in the first years, his investment fund grew frustratingly slowly. Yet, early on he remained what you might consider painfully careful about spending money. He could certainly have purchased a 35-inch TV, or even a 60-inch TV, but he knew how much that would actually cost. He felt his 21-inch TV was just fine, considering the bigger picture.
He learned to buy only the best car he could buy with cash – no payments. At first, this meant he had to keep his old car a few years longer than he might have.
He couldn’t really impress people with material goods. (He did impress people with his common sense.) He couldn’t buy fancy clothes. It had to be Wal-Mart, and only when necessary. Sometimes he bought clothes at the thrift stores. After twenty years, he retired. He can now have pretty much anything he wants. He dresses well. He travels when he wants. Brian has a new Jaguar that cost $88,000, paid with cash, of course. Now, he can really impress people with material goods!
I think you can see that Brian was patient. Patience is a wonderful attribute in business. Just about any business you start, if you are patient, if you are willing to accept the occasional setback, grow it slowly, stay interested, you’ll be successful. Maybe even beyond your wildest dreams!
The Psychology of Making Money
Here’s another little story about patience in business. Steve was a science-fiction writer. Or, well, he wanted to be. He figured that if he could co-write with the big names in science fiction, he’d succeed. He pitched ideas to Larry Niven, Robert Heinlein and other big names in science fiction, and some of them accepted the idea of co-writing with him. For eighteen years, he wrote with these famous writers. One after another, the books flopped. The publishers would pay a small advance, then no royalties came in. To make ends meet, he taught English at the local college. Eventually, Steve’s name became poison in the industry. No one would co-write with him any more. All these great writers knew that if they wrote a book with Steve, it would fail.
Out of desperation, he wrote a book by himself. It became an international best seller.
Now, eighteen years is extreme. I tell the story only to illustrate patience. For you and I, just a few months can seem like years. But if you can stick it out those months, you’ll probably see some level of success. Even if your success is slow, you can stick with it, and eventually you’ll have your major success.
Also, note that the story didn’t go the way Steve figured. He thought he had to co-write. Turns out, a little adjustment made all the difference. Don’t force your story to go the way you figure. Allow for some flexibility. Look around the edges of things. See what you can experiment with. See what you can change. Have fun. You’ll do fine. Better than fine!
You probably heard about the three gold miners in California. They staked a claim where they were fairly certain they’d hit a big vein, and dug. And dug. And dug some more, but no gold. Finally, they gave up, selling their mine for nearly nothing. The new owners started digging. They went three feet (1 meter), and hit the biggest gold vein yet found in California.
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Often at the end of a session I’ll offer a hypnotic suggestion:
Don’t be surprised if in the next few days something magical comes from our discussion today.
This can be surprisingly powerful. First, it keeps the client wondering, or looking back, over the next few days – looking for that magical surprise. So, it keeps it fresh in their minds, giving the session more time to do its work.
This can be especially useful after a weak session, in which the client ordinarily would have not expected much.
As you may know, the word don’t has the opposite effect. It is as if it is a command to do. So, they’ll be looking for their own metaphors or isomorphic relationships that match the session in some way.
They usually do find that ‘something surprising.’
A Little Hypnotic Suggestion
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Now you have everything you need to start your own NLP business. If there’s anything I haven’t covered in enough detail for you, you’ll find what you need among the eighteen billion pages of the Internet.
So all you have to do is start.
Ah, but for most most people, that’s the rub, isn’t it? There’s something comforting about procrastination. Being defocused isn’t so comforting, but something wants to keep us defocused, doesn’t it? Yet we know how to stay focused when we really want to. No one can explain the mechanism, but you know how to stay focused. Right? Perhaps you can think back to a time when you were surprisingly focused.
Now, think back to when you first started learning NLP. And look where you are now with NLP! Were there times along the way when it was difficult? Were there times when you considered quitting? But there were also times when you progressed, weren’t there? And looking back, it wasn’t that hard, was it? Where would you be today, if you hadn’t started, and eventually pushed forward?
You may be delighted to discover it is exactly the same with an NLP business. If you can find a way, however you may find that way, to become sufficiently motivated to start, and remember in whatever way you know how to stay motivated and focused, you can become as good in your NLP business as you are in NLP itself. Go ahead. That’s right – one little step at a time. . .
What’s today’s step?
Enjoy and prosper! – Jeff Napier