Category: small business

Okay Let’s Brainstorm

“Brainstorm” sounds like a hipster word to me. I don’t really know why I think that but I stand by it. It turns out the term was in the dictionary at least a century ago.

Then, the definition of “brainstorm” was “a sudden and severe attack of mental illness”, “a temporary loss of reason” or “a serious error in judgement.” In fact the Oxford Dictionary still supplies those as alternate definitions. These days, a brainstorm holds connotations of something more positive, creative and constructive, usually a group discussion designed to generate ideas.

It isn’t group hysteria though.

Funny though, when someone has an idea that they want to lay on you that is new and unique, and maybe even a bit unorthodox, they’ll probably – perhaps self-deprecatingly – present it as a “crazy idea.”

These are usually the best ideas, probably because they were the result of the person doing a little bit of brainstorming on their own. I’m not saying that every “crazy idea” is a great one. Many of them are just…well, loony ideas. But a really good idea is very likely at some point considered by someone as a “crazy” one. Everything that has never been done before looks crazy to someone. But a lot of things that have never been done before are exactly what a lot of people have been waiting for, maybe without ever knowing it.

You’ve heard that song that goes “what the world needs now is love, sweet love” right? Well what the world may need now is “crazy ideas.” Maybe we need risk-takers. To say we need a “paradigm shift” is a cliche, hyperbolic platitude. Like when people say society needs “change” but without offering any particular plan. Maybe it even sounds like a crazy idea.

So it’s probably worth looking into.

Make World Social Media Day Every Day

Today, June 30th, is in fact World Social Media Day. I don’t know what that means precisely as most of the suggestions for how you can “celebrate” this day are things that people are increasingly doing anyway.

But I’d be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to remind you that if you own a business or are in charge of the marketing for such a business, you have to get serious about social media.

I’d call it “Social Marketing” but that is already a thing, and it’s different.

I am a freelance writer but I’ve always encouraged clients and prospective clients to take my work and unleash it upon the world via all manner of social media and let that wave of influence work the way it does. I find most businesses have a company Facebook page, maybe a Twitter account (or whatever the next big thing is this week) but they don’t always know what to post that is related to the business.

If you post the writing I do for you on your social media, odds are your followers are current customers – people who know your work, who trust and believe in you. When they, in turn, share my post, their endorsement should carry enough weight to inspire a number of the next wave to come see what you’re all about. If they like what they see, they will share the post with their friends. Ideally.

Then they tell two friends.
Then they tell two friends.
And so on. And so forth.

As “World Social Media Day” implies, you can get your message around quite literally the entire world in a day if you strike the right chord with the right people. If you do, well that’s gravy, but all you’ve really got to do is get people in your immediate area to share it with more people in your immediate area, depending on how massive you want to become.

Social media is the ultimate passive marketing, the most effective way to exponentially increase the number of people who hear about you, all with a good reason to trust the endorsement because they heard it from a friend. It is so much more personal than an ad or a local news article written about your business.

Let’s start with a conversation to determine what you need your public to know:

What makes your business so shareable?

What will inspire your followers to turn around and say “Hey guys, you’ve gotta go check this out”?

Think about it and get in touch with me. Let’s go!

When The World Falls Apart, Put It Back Together

About a week before all Hell broke loose and everything started shutting down, I got a new wheelchair which I promptly dubbed “the company vehicle.” I fully intended to be all over town in my chair spreading the word about my business. I fully intended to be too busy for my own good by Memorial Day. Before my state locked down due to COVID-19 I had three different companies that had expressed interest in my work.

Then everything went silent. And rightly so. No one could confidently put a freelance writer in their immediate budget. I don’t know if I adjusted with a great deal of grace, but I’ve kept writing at least.

The events of 2020 have reinforced for all of us the importance of preparation for the unexpected. Actually it has made clear that there is no preparing for the unexpected.

Because it’s unexpected.

That’s kind of its jam.

You don’t see it coming.

So “preparation” may be a misnomer in this case. The only thing even resembling “preparation” for it is to maintain a state in which you are able to respond even when events unfold that are unlike anything in your experience. It is safe to say 2020 fits that description.

Full disclosure: I have a job apart from my freelance work. I would not be broken were Dailey Freelance to disappear tomorrow. But though I have not had any leads or clients in months, I have not stopped posting on my company Facebook page. And with a few exceptions, I have kept this blog the “weekly” that its name says it is. Because, simply put, it means something to me.

I’ll never be in the shoes of a person who has built a business for 30 years only to see it crash because of the COVID-19 fallout. But I have listened to people who are in that position, and I feel that what they have to lose means infinitely more to them. Because they believed in it enough to make it their one and only source of income. That speaks volumes, I’d say. I am only working my way toward that, right now.

I know we are a nation of people who will hold fast to what we have worked for. Now that we are able to – or soon will be able to – begin rebuilding, we will do so with the same heart and soul we put into our businesses when we first started out.

With a renewed vigor.

With a renewed sense of why we ever opened up shop in the first place.

We don’t agree on how or when or how quickly we should return commerce in America back to “normal” and mistakes will inevitably be made. But one thing is clear:

People are responding to the on-going lock down the way they are because getting back at it matters. The foundations they’ve built their lives upon matter to them. And I have to respect that.

So as we try to bring back some semblance of linear motion in our lives, please, take care of yourselves and your family, but also please, please….you know what? Because it feels extremely appropriate right now I’m just going to leave one of my favorite Red Hot Chili Peppers lyrics for whatever it’s worth:

One, two, buckle my shoe / take care of me ’cause I might be you

Writing For the Sake Of Writing, and For Something Bigger

My mantra is “I’m a writer, and writers write. So I write.” I’m paraphrasing some old advice from a dear friend.

I am a freelance writer but I started this blog just to keep working on my writing chops in between client work. And for a long time it really did give me the motivation to just write for the sake of writing. Funny, but lately I’ve been fighting off a nasty case of writer’s block. It’s hard being a commercial freelance writer when everything is closed indefinitely. So you’d think right now would be the time to get plenty of writing for the sake of writing done.

Alas.

This blog is called the “Dailey Weekly” and I almost never fail to write something here weekly. But last week I did and I’m kind of past my self-imposed deadline for this week too. And it isn’t just writing. I am finding that with many aspects of every day life on hold, it often feels like there is less to talk about. Maybe it is a bi-product of almost the entire news cycle and the monologues of late night talk shows being dominated by COVID-19, and by extension a great deal of our every day conversation being infiltrated by the subject.

Let’s face it. There is a whole lot less “What did you do today?” and much fewer immediate plans being made. That tends to carry over. I would not want this blog to become COVID-19 Central. I wouldn’t subject my readers to it, and I don’t think I could do it to myself either.

But an increasing number of of business owners are now able to get back to work and are trying to maintain a connection to their customers. So I’ve recently decided that going forward, until our economy regains stability, for every piece I write for a client, a part of my fee will go to this “Adopt a Healthcare Worker” initiative in the clients’ name.

For as long as it takes for that stability to come, or as long as the “Adopt a Healthcare Worker” initiative runs, whichever comes first.

Lightening the load for a local health care worker who is carrying a lot on their shoulders right now will make me feel like I am doing something useful to my community. It will re-motivate me to write because I will be doing it for a cause well beyond myself.

I hope you and those you love are doing very well.

The Company Vehicle

I got my new wheelchair last week. It came with significant improvements, which I specifically ordered. I originally told them I basically wanted the Batmobile of wheelchairs, but it seems my insurance wasn’t real keen on that concept. So this will do.

  • I hardly ever use the brakes but when I do need them it is good to have a dependable and easy to use mechanism. This chair’s brakes are a spring activated situation, so a flip of the thumb is all that is needed to lock them.
  • The front wheels are wider than I’ve ever had before. So the many potholes in the sidewalks and roads will be much less of a hazard.
  • The footplate is tucked underneath significantly in comparison to my old chair, making me much more mobile in tight spaces.
  • The frame of the chair itself is minimal, making it much easier to keep clean. Though the existing bars are beefier than the ones on my old chair, the minimalism makes it much lighter.

I’ll be able to move very well in it once I master driving the thing. It is going to take some getting used to. I had my old chair for over 11 years. So though it was getting a bit creaky, I had driving it down to a science. I knew how flicking a finger against a spoke, or pressing a palm against the side of a wheel to slow one side down just so, could help navigate certain types of terrain.

With a new cushion and new tires, I’m pretty well set to take on the world this spring and summer. I plan to put on a lot of miles, as I do every year once the weather gets warmer. Especially this year as on evenings and weekends I’ll be pursuing my side project ever more seriously. You see, by day I am a mild-mannered insurance marketing agent. Outside the office, I am a freelance writer.

I ordered my chair painted dark purple to match the logo for my freelance writing business. I call it “the company vehicle” because I plan to put on some significant mileage rolling around my home town, getting to know my fellow business owners and offering my service, throwing some business cards around. You know.

In my work as a writer, I am driven by three things:

  • I am a writer. And writer’s write. So I write. Not only do I have a love for communicating in writing, for crafting a phrase that reaches people, but it is an inexorable part of me. It must be done.
  • A great and ancient lineage of poets and story tellers is represented by my family name, Dailey. That is why I called the company simply, Dailey Freelance.
  • Today is National Wheelchair Day. And though I don’t try to make it the headline, I never shy away from the fact that I am a disabled business owner. It is important to me to represent that because the kind of world I’d like to see, that I’d like to help create, is one in which disabled people are putting their talents and contributions on full display.

So I write. Because I’m a writer. And writer’s write.

Finding Your Life’s Work, Your Legacy, To Echo Through the Ages

My wife and I watched the Oscars last weekend. I’m not real big on the pageantry of it all, or the trophies as a reward for art, and frankly the speeches can get rather inane. Even when the winners try to use their platform to say something of substance. Even so, someone said something that caught my attention.

I wish I’d written it down, but what it boiled down to was that everyone in that room were artists, and as such, they were a part of a lineage that went back to the dawn of civilization.

Inspiring.

Not only did the observation tie each of them to the history of Hollywood (and WELL beyond) and all of its luminaries of the past, but it linked them to each other. Technically what they were engaged in that evening was a competition, but they were one, when it came down to it.

As a writer, I know that I have a sort of “pantheon” of authors, poets, and journalists whose works I consider at least quasi-sacred. I’ll bet if you think about it, you do too. Maybe your luminaries aren’t writers. Maybe they make up the lineage of whatever your life’s work is. Whoever they are, it is nice to be able to see your own work as a part of that particular story.

Some people think it is a cliché and an exaggeration but I think we’re all artists. I don’t think that brushing your teeth or drinking a glass of water or shopping for groceries is art. But whatever your livelihood is…whatever enriches your life…whatever you do to tell the world who you are…whatever your legacy will be…that’s art.

Every one of us has a body of work that is weaved into that same tapestry, that lineage of artists which was mentioned on the Oscars. We’ve been building upon it, adding to it since time immemorial, and we’ll continue to do so.

I’d be deeply honored to use my art to tell the story of yours. If you’re ready to put the story of your business in the spotlight, see my blog’s contact page.

Then let’s do this!

The “Winona” Post

The town in which I went to college and lived for seven years was recently immortalized in a Super Bowl commercial.

Sort of.

Around here, for weeks leading up to the Super Bowl the air was thick with speculation over what the ad was for. We knew actress Winona Ryder had been in Winona, MN (her birthplace and namesake) filming a commercial. Some said it was for “Stranger Things.” Some said it was for Ryder Truck Rental, which, I don’t know, maybe they were opening a branch in Winona and were making a REALLY big splash about it.

The commercial ended up being for Squarespace, a website building company. It also ended up being a bit underwhelming for the locals, because it did not show anything of substance about the city of Winona. There are actually quite a few landmarks and businesses that we are known for, far and wide. There was a several minutes long version of the commercial available online which included some of it, but it wasn’t the same.

Not for us.

To be fair, to the rest of the country it was just an ad about a website-building company with a marginally famous actress in it. As far as they were concerned, the town called Winona could have been totally fictional. But there were people in Winona watching for that commercial to see the places they drove by or visited regularly. Some may not have known or cared what Squarespace is. I didn’t.

That dichotomy kind of mirrors how, on Super Bowl Sunday, some are totally indifferent toward the actual game but are absolutely engaged with the halftime show, or vise versa.

That is the fine line you walk when trying to reach your audience, whether you are advertising or marketing. You’re not talking about a million-dollar spot during the biggest TV event of the year, but the same principle applies.

– Do you want to put your products and services in the spotlight?

– Do you want to showcase your staff and the company’s personality?

– Do you want to cover a spectrum of current events relating to your company’s industry to demonstrate your company philosophy?

If this dilemma sounds like your life as a business owner, check in with Dailey Freelance. We can work together and find a good mix of content in order to reach out to all of the various subgroups of your audience who are interested in what you do for one reason or another. We can reach out to them all. It is strategic, and it is not a perfect science. But I think we can cover a lot of ground without watering down your message.


Super Bowl Week Reflections of a Fair-Weather Kansas City Chiefs Fan

When I was a little kid I had this irrational delusion that the Kansas City Chiefs were some unnaturally powerful football team. I feared them. This was in the mid-late 1980s when, back in reality, Kansas City had a losing record almost every year. I honestly don’t know where the notion even came from.

Then, in the early 1990s when suddenly they were an actual perennial playoff team, I began to root for them. This was the era of hand-me-down legends for the Chiefs’ roster. Joe Montana. Marcus Allen. Others. They became my secondary “favorite team” and I thought for sure they’d make their way to the Super Bowl. My tertiary favorite team was the Philadelphia Eagles, for equally hazy reasons. I always hoped to see the two of them face off in the big game, but looking back this would have resulted in some messy and unnecessary internal conflicts, so I’m glad it never happened.

I was always lukewarm about Philadelphia anyway. The Kansas City Chiefs repeatedly let me down all throughout high school. By the time I went away to college, I had stopped caring what they did too. They aren’t even my secondary favorite now. The Saints are. I actually rooted against Philadelphia in the Super Bowl one year!

This Sunday the Kansas City Chiefs will play in the Super Bowl for the first time in my life. I was actually kind of hoping they would face the Green Bay Packers, which was a moral conflict on another level, being from Minnesota. I justified it by saying that I was rooting for a rematch of the first Super Bowl, not the Packers themselves.

You know…for history’s sake. Yeah.

The funny thing is, after years of growing disinterest in what the Chiefs were doing, it is hard to revel in their success without feeling like I am being a bandwagon jumper-onner, or a fair-weather fan at best.

I know I still can root for them. If they win, I can smile at the team I thought so highly of so long ago finally making good. But I know their victory would be all the more sweet had I never stopped following them. A good friend of mine has been a Chicago Cubs fan for over 30 years, and when they won their first World Series in 108 years in 2016, he basically told me he could die happy now.

I’ll smile if “my Chiefs” win, but it won’t give me that sweet, life-affirming culmination of years of faithful fandom that it could have been.

I guess what I am saying is never give up on your dream. When you see it through to the end, I am sure it will be all the sweeter for you. Even more so because it will be something you achieved yourself, a moment that football fandom can never really give you, no matter how good your team is.

Enjoy the game.
Go, K.C.!

Watching For Deer

A few days ago my wife and I were on the road in some slushy winter weather. She was driving, I was in the passenger seat. Off to our right there were probably six or seven deer. Traffic has been a little nuts lately in that area, so I didn’t say anything. I let my wife drive.

Normally I would point out deer to her. In fact, growing up, if anyone in my family looked out the window and saw even one deer, they’d shush everyone and we’d watch the deer until it was gone. My dad would even take me, my brother, and sister out driving around solely for the purpose of looking for deer.

But it isn’t just a Midwest thing. In the movie “Stand By Me” which takes place in Oregon, in one scene Gordie is off on his own in the woods where he sees a deer. The older, narrator Gordie says “It was on the tip of my tongue to tell [his friends] about the deer. But I didn’t. That was the one thing I kept to myself. I’ve never spoken or written about it until now.”

Sure, deer are beautiful and graceful, and they are the largest mammal most people in America will likely ever see in the wild. But the way Gordie made such a point about never having talked about it to anyone, and the way that I’d watched the animals as a kid with such reverence even if they were just pacing around the yard, it seems like seeing a deer is nearly a mystical experience.

We all have those things, those experiences, those moments. Maybe, like for Gordie, for you they are deeply personal. I am grateful that he shared his, because as mundane as it was, it revealed that some things can be both mundane and mystical. For many, all things are both. But we all have certain things that stand out above the rest for us.

In my freelance writing I try to bring out that bit of wonder in the everyday, the magic in the mundane, or if nothing else, just that everyday stuff my clients do which is fantastic. I hope I can bring that to life for you.

Would You Rather…? A Business Owner’s Dilemma.

Remember when you were a kid and you played that game where you had to decide, hypothetically of course (hopefully) whether you’d rather wrestle a tiger or…I don’t know…like, eat a bike?

It was called “Would you rather…?” and it was supposed to present you with two equally unpleasant experiences but you had to decide which one you’d rather do. You know, for fun.

Now that we’re grown, we are presented with real world dilemmas like that sometimes. If you own a business and are under a time crunch, while I certainly hope that none of your responsibilities are comparable to fighting a tiger or eating a bike, you may have to decide whether you want to prioritize writing your promotional and marketing materials, OR:

  • Customer service – Often you’re the face of the company. You’re at the front desk. You’re greeting customers at the door. You’re answering the phone. It’s the most constant of all of these things. While you may be able to get in some writing between calls or customers, you won’t be able to give it the focus it requires.
  • Training – I’ve been a supervisor for a small company and spent hours periodically training small groups of new hires. You want to take the time to do it well so you don’t have to do it again. Probably sooner than later. You balance the desire to train them well with the desire to be fully staffed.
  • Maintenance -Little things will come up that you’ll have to take on whether it be changing a light bulb, fixing the office toilet or unclogging a sink. All of these things need to be attended to in the moment, and take up a part of your day.
  • Human resources and “the books” – If you own a small business you may be the person who does payroll, and pays the bills. You probably do the math to figure out how much you need to bring in just to “keep the lights on” and what steps you need to take to make it happen.
  • Legalese – There is a lot that a business owner has to know in order to cover their own backs. Any legal issue that comes up will fall squarely in your lap.
  • Scheduling and taking appointments – Whether it be clients coming in to do business, interviewing potential new employees, or maybe even local media interviews, a small business owner often has a lot of slots filled on their daily calendar.

And then:

  • Social media – Keeping your company’s social media up to date can be just as time-consuming as marketing/blogging. But it is also something that business owners tend to take overly seriously. Social media should be regular but it doesn’t always have to be directly about what your company makes or sells or the service it provides. It can be fun, off the cuff, and doesn’t have to take up too much time.

This is a service that Dailey Freelance does offer, though most business owners prefer to do this themselves.

  • Advertising – if you’re a small business this may involve nothing more than calling the local newspaper and telling them what you want your ad to look like. Maybe they handle the rest. But putting out the right message is a consideration that takes time.

This is very similar to the blogging service provided by Dailey Freelance, except that with your blog, you publish the content yourself. You have control over it. You own it. It’s just a matter of whether you want to take the time to write it yourself or hire a freelancer.

As the owner of the business, each of these things are of more immediate concern to you than blogging. But that doesn’t mean that blogging is of less importance. The more and more digital the market place becomes, the more essential this type of marketing will be. Why not hire someone who has the time to craft great, effective messaging for you?