Malik Mack

Malik "Mr. EntrepreNoir" Mack is a serial entrepreneur based in Harlem, NYC. Malik owns and operates a few different companies but finds purpose in helping others develop their companies from the ground up. EntrepreNoir was created to spread that help across the world.
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Top 5 Ways to Monetize Your Blog in 2016

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It’s a mistake to build blogs as products: blogs should be utilized as a means to an end, and not the other way around. It’s rare for a blog to succeed as a standalone business, and even then it’s a steep climb for anyone gunning for this prestige. Oddly enough, you’ll successfully monetize your blog if you employ your blog as a marketing tool.

It’s likely your blog runs like clockwork, with tried-and-tested tricks employed to the fullest. Banner Advertising, Paid Posts, and Job Boards are proven effective, depending on the blog’s nature, niche, and setup. The tides are always turning and thus there are strategies you should prioritize if you want to squeeze more revenue from your blog.

These five strategies transform blogs into marketing tools. The goal is to attract target customers and then lead them to products and services you offer. This presumes your blog is highly relevant to its niche, adding value to its community.

Use Memberships to Monetize Your Blog

This strategy monetizes your blog as a product, but it’s also a promotional tool that cultivates a following. As the blog becomes a recognized authority in the niche, membership and revenue should snowball. The terms may vary, but in the case of monthly membership fees, your blog’s cumulative earnings increase as more people sign up for a subscription.

If your blog is an in-demand resource, you can capitalize on this by offering premium, paid content. Paid subscribers should get what they pay for, though, receiving content of exclusive value.

In-depth Information Products

The blog can also be used as a springboard to sell full online courses. Modern education has gone beyond the confines of universities, with specialized courses now available at niche sites. If you’re an authority on a subject matter, then the right people will pay for your course. This proves to be a very effective way to monetize your blog.

You can sell information products in a variety of formats, in course installments (audio or video), also through e-book releases. The blog will be your promotional tool for these products, with posts aimed to convince readers there’s value in paying for the digital content.

Consulting Services

You’re paid for your personal service, which may seem counter-intuitive to the purpose of many blog products: as passive income. You can’t deny the street credibility you’ll earn by providing your expertise, though. That, and you’re justified to charge higher fees for the service.

Information products appeal to the DIY crowd, but many would rather leave the dirty work to the experts. Double your earnings then, and pair consulting services with the sale of digital content.

Related: 5 WINNING HABITS FOR ALL ENTREPRENEURS

Affiliate Programs

Maximize your reach in the community, and catch the windfall of earnings from your network. In affiliate programs, you earn commissions when people click links on your blog to purchase products from affiliate sites. It’s an easy way to make money, especially if you’re part of an elaborate network.

Affiliate marketing shouldn’t be your bread and butter, though. You barely have control of the transactions, and you have to be picky with the products you promote. Unscrupulous affiliates are like strange bedfellows, proving you guilty by association.

Speaking Opportunities

This requires a different approach to branding, and your target market will include event organizers. No doubt, the reputation you’ll build will culminate into opportunities for speaking engagements, especially if you’re the leading authority in the niche.

You have to be elaborate in branding yourself, extending your reach far beyond the borders of the blog. Consider social channels, email lists, published books, referrals, anything that confirms you’re the go-to resource in the community. In this sense, the blog is promoting you as the product, as a brand and will be a catalyst to monetize your blog.

Your blog should be dynamic and updated; many blogs only pay lip service to the products and service they offer, which explains their inability to bridge the gap between promotion and revenue.

Building a blog can be complicated, often overwhelming. It is often very frustrating work, but you’re better off knowing that blogs are there to pitch what you really have to offer, what your business is all about. Appeal to the crowd, and lead the traffic to the avenues where your wares are sold. Happy monetizing!

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Episode 08 | How The Cut Buddy is Finding Major Success with Joshua Esnard and Pima Mbwana

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BACKGROUND:

Joshua is the Founder and inventor of The Cut Buddy. Pima is the Co-founder and marketing guru of The Cut Buddy. The Cut Buddy is a patented “Do It Yourself” maintenance edge up, line up, and shape up tool that works in conjunction with hair clippers, disposable razors or a straight razor. The company found early success when it was featured by Black Enterprise as one of the top pitches for start ups in 2015.

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Episode 07 | Heal Your Company with Business Doctor Latoya Westbrooks

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BACKGROUND:

LaToya Joy Westbrooks is the CEO & Founder of Westbrooks Consulting Group. Westbrooks Consulting Group, is a professional agency specializing in customizable business services including business formation, operational support, project management and more for small to mid-size businesses. Latoya likes to describe herself as a “business doctor”. She examines businesses, determines what needs to be fixed and then executes!

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5 Reasons Why Tumblr Is a Goldmine For Traffic

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Businesses have everything to gain from an expansive network. Online, one of the perks of the modern internet is social media, a free-for-all platform for everyone to showcase anything. It’s difficult to imagine a time when businesses were handicapped by location; everything is connected nowadays, and anything can be sent, shipped and electronically transferred worldwide. It is good business sense to take advantage of social media, and there are platforms ideal for building a community and client base. Of these ideal platforms, Tumblr is often neglected, though, in favor of popular sites Facebook, Twitter, and even Pinterest. You’re actually sitting on a gold mine of traffic with a business tied to Tumblr, you just need to know how to dig.

So how does an off-kilter community like Tumblr help your business? There’s potential for massive traffic that you can funnel into your business blog. This platform is more than its quirky community of memes and gifs. Here are five reasons to convince you Tumblr means business, good business.

Re-blogging

Re-blogging is exponential. This alone should convince you to get into Tumblr. Other social network sites have similar features: Facebook users share posts, Twitter users re-tweet. But unless the posts go viral (for unexplainable reasons), the chain of reposts is usually limited to a small sub-community.

Re-blogging is one of Tumblr’s definitive features. Even if your blog only has a handful of followers, all of your blog posts are streamed into their newsfeeds. You only need to catch the attention of an industry heavyweight, and your post will be re-blogged in exponential chains and cycles, ad infinitum. Traffic to your business blog will spike if it’s strategically tied to a Tumblr blog.

3rd Party Social Media Sites Integrations

It’s easy to establish six degrees of separation to Kevin Bacon in social media. Where everything is connected, it would be a shame for your business blog not to tap into this potential.

Gain more traction by connecting your Tumblr blog to popular social media sites. In case you’ve already built a strong foundation on Facebook and Twitter, then a Tumbler tie-up makes perfect sense. Social bookmarking sites like Digg and Reddit are also worth your trouble.

The Best of Both Worlds

Make no mistake, you’ll have to contend with a fast-paced community on Tumblr. It’s also a visual platform with a short attention span. You have to sustain activity to remain relevant, unlike in a formal and curated business blog.

Tumblr is a great way to spark interest in your business. It’s also a platform to engage your client base, potential and current. Every client lead you get is a gold nugget panned, especially in a saturated market.

Tumblr Explore Page

Featured blogs on the Explore page receive massive spikes in traffic. Your Tumblr blog should have a reputation and following in the community, enough for fans or friends to recommend your blog to the site admins.

Tumblr also brings in organic traffic into your business blog, sparing you from even considering click-bait and paid campaigns.

Compliments Your Business Blog

It’s true there’s plenty of weird users on Tumblr, and this also applies to all the social networking sites. Seedy users have their niches, though. Your account should be anything but weird.

Your Tumblr blog is a storefront for your business, and having a blog that reflects your company page is a serious boost of credibility, especially to untapped communities on social networking sites. Tumblr offers a wide variety of custom themes, but simple and straightforward is still effective, so long as content is consistent and relevant.

Tumblr may not be as well-rounded as Facebook or as focused as Twitter, but its many unique features offer up opportunities to untapped traffic that you can’t afford to pass up on. If your business is yet to join the community, then now is a good time to jump in and get both feet wet!

 

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6 Surefire Tips to Spruce Up Your Business Plan

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A good business plan is a moneymaker. With it, you are able to convince a lending institution or investor that your business is worth taking a risk. The business plan is also the blueprint for your commercial strategy. Times change, and your plan may need to be amended to reflect new conditions. It shouldn’t be a problem because a business plan is rarely carved in stone. You can take some very proactive steps to be sure that your business plan reflects your current needs and any possible new direction.

Take a Look at the Deadlines

Your plan should have deadlines for activities. These may have changed since the first draft and you can readjust them forward.

Review the Goals You’ve Created

These cannot be independent of each other. The goals you have in the business plan should complement each other and interconnected in such a way that the success of one goal has a positive impact on another.

Have You Included Your E-Commerce Store

When you first wrote the business plan it is possible, you did not have an e-commerce presence established. Once you have set up your shopping cart on the web, it is a good time to revise the your plan to reflect the impact you expect cyber shopping to have on your business.

Review the Social Media Section

If you are not aggressively using social media for your business, you need to start doing it right away. The use of social media ought to be an integral part of your plan. Potential investors and lenders are going to be looking for that because it shows whether or not your business is staying up with the competition.

Put Your Business Plan on Slideshare

You can put at least the highlights of your business plan on a Slideshare presentation for Internet view. This idea is bigger than you think because of LinkedIn’s connection. LinkedIn owns Slideshare, and the former is the largest B2B social media network. You can use your LinkedIn account to attract investors and offer them the chance to view your plan without any problem.

Schedule a Review of Your Business Plan

Once you have spruced up your business plan you should schedule periodic reviews. This could be once a quarter or twice a year. The audit allows you to look more carefully and objectives and where your business plan is taking you.

This should not be an historical document. The business plan has to be a living entity. Fine-tuning it on a periodic basis is perfectly acceptable, and you can send updated copies to those places where you have submitted the earlier editions. Working on your plan is the same as doing some maintenance work on a luxury car. You want this business tools to be running efficiently and providing the kind of information you hope will gain the interest of investors and banks. Think of the whole thing as a tune-up job on that vehicle, which is driving you to the higher profits you would like to have.

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3 Tips to Grow a Tech Business without VC Funding

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In our current start-up environment, it’s common to find entrepreneurs focus their attention solely on fundraising. The reasons are obvious since the amount of capital a business obtains dictates how fast the business can scale. Plus there’s no crystal ball that predicts how long it takes to raise funds. No matter how important fundraising is, the decision to obtain funds is not that simple.

Some successful entrepreneurs find ways to raise the necessary funds without resorting to the usual way of raising venture capital. One method to do so is allowing your business to fund your company’s growth. By using the recurring revenues generated by your business, you can reach significant grown in the course of one year alone. You, too, can create a scalable platform minus outside capital help.

Tip #1 Sell a Product Early

When introducing a product to the market, many business owners place too much focus on perfection. Have you ever heard of the phrase “paralysis analysis”? This is what happens when entrepreneurs put too much priority on perfection—they don’t get the proverbial ball rolling.

When you expedite the availability of your product to the market, you can begin to create revenue much earlier. Bear in mind that the early product version doesn’t have to represent the whole picture of your long-term business vision.

Plenty of entrepreneurs who follow this approach end up improving their product as they move along. Your product will eventually go through an intensive evolution process and it will scale according to market needs.

Another advantage to this approach is you will be able to request feedback from your customers. As you launch the succeeding versions of your product, your customers will be impressed to see you kept their feedback in mind.

Tip #2 Capital-Efficiency is Key

During your early years, expect to keep an eagle eye on your cash flow since you will have to spend only where your precious funds are needed the most. Do prioritize the sales of your most valuable product instead of expensive research and development. You’ll also be expected to cut costs where non-essentials are concerned.

Even when you’ve reached a better financial standing, do maintain a similar efficient method. For example, during the first few years of sales, your sales people can sleep at friends’ houses or the cheapest hotel you can find when they travel to close a deal.

Tip #3 Always Negotiate

When it comes to funding, turning to VCs is not the only route at your disposal. Negotiate solid payment terms with your customers and you will be able to fund your business’ needs and achieve sustainability in the long run.

Aim for monthly pre-payment terms whenever possible. Take it a step up and negotiate for quarterly prepayment terms. And if you can close a deal with annual prepayments, you know you’re on the right track and your negotiating tactics are winning. You can also try offering discounts to customers in exchange for better prepayment terms.

We don’t mean to say VC funding is not an ideal method. What you need to keep in mind is that the traditional route of VC funding is not the only path you can take. When you discover creative ways to make your organization sustainable on its own, you open up a myriad of options that will allow your company to grow by leaps and bounds.

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Episode 6 | Charm Your World in 3 Words With Ryan Rucker

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BACKGROUND:

Ryan is the CEO and co-founder of Charmer. Charmer is described as “a fun, easy way to describe your friends and experiences in 3 words.” Charmer aims to make long, ineffective reviews shorter, more simple, more social, and more mobile. Charmer is combining mobile messaging with reviews with companies like yelp garnering a 1.6 billion market cap.

An app store launch is scheduled for January 18th.

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Understanding Where Millennials Spend Their Time and Money

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Move over, Generation X, the millennials are here and it’s their time to shine in this age of powerful smartphones, lightening fast Internet speeds and a whole new way of connecting with loved ones and businesses.

At a recent EventBrite event in Los Angeles, Julia Hartz, one of the founders of the company, explained how nascent technologies are changing the way we experience social events. Hartz also discussed how this new generation of millennials are spending their two most valuable resources: time and money.

Accessibility More Valuable Than Ownership

Hartz explained that this generation of young people value the accessibility of products and services they care about. They don’t care to own as much as they care being able to access certain things. For example, look into the popularity of services like Airbnb where clients can sign up for short-term rent versus buying property or being locked in a long contract.

Zipcar is another great example. People want to rent a car versus buying one—bypassing the need to pay monthly fees and maintenance costs. Other noteworthy examples of accessibility versus ownership that are attracting the attention and money of millennials are Montreal-based Bixi and Boston-based Hubway.

Online Shopping More Popular Than Ever

Teens don’t fear the Internet, that’s a given. What’s surprising is that most of them actually prefer to shop on the Internet versus buying stuff in brick-and-mortar stores. In a study published by Piper Jaffray, their semi-annual report spoke of this spending habit of millennials.

One thing worth mentioning, though, is that Gen Y prefers to shop on websites that also have physical stores, versus shops that have a purely Ecommerce presence. Another shopping habit of millennials is they love to conduct their purchasing through their smart phones. Teens also like to interact with their favorite brands via social media, making a strong social media presence all the more relevant if you want to reach millennials today.

Social Causes are Given a Priority

Today’s young generation loves brands that are involved in social causes. They prefer to purchase items from companies that promote a brand that appears authentic and worthy off their valuable money and time. Brands that portray an image as being in line with the millennia’s’ values are preferred. You’ll find teens today wearing clothes from brands that advocate a social cause. This is because Gen Y members want brands that truly represent who the teens are as individuals.

One great example of this type of brand is Shop Jeen. The brand has ad campaigns that feature the digital age and has a theme that shows there are no boundaries. A millennial founded the company so you can bet this brand knows what it’s talking about. Shop Jeen’s exaggerated and whimsical style resonates significantly well with today’s generation.

Gen Y is a generation that doesn’t like operating within boundaries. Gender today is seen in a completely different light. If you want to tap into the mindset of today’s generation, make sure you have an open-mind and your marketing efforts must reflect this mindset.

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3 Reasons Why Setting BIG Goals can be a Catalyst for Major Entrepreneurial Motivation

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Almost everyone will readily agree that what we accomplish is a result of our motivation level. Yet plenty of people who claim they want to be successful talk the talk but fail to walk the walk.

Sure, it’s plenty of fun thinking of the money you can make, or the fame to be achieved, but most people balk when faced with the reality of hard work. Entrepreneurs feel passionate when a new idea comes in but when execution time is up, many fall by the wayside. If you think a great idea is all you need to be successful, you’re in for a nasty surprise.

Seeing the Big Picture and Setting Goals

Nobody can achieve success without having a vision. How will you know you’re on the right path when you don’t even know where you’re going? A concrete vision gives you the main motivation in everything you set out to do.

Vision on its own, however, is nothing but a dream. Almost everyone has a vision of being successful. To turn this abstract concept into reality, you need goals.

Locke/Latham Theory

Some people use the SMART method when setting goals. This method calls for creating goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, results-focused and time-bound. It’s a classic that works for plenty.

Keep in mind that there is no “one size fits all” approach to goal-setting. If you want to achieve your goals and the SMART technique hasn’t been working for you, there’s something known as the Locke/Latham theory, a theory designed by Professor Edwin Locke (University of Maryland) and Professor Gary Latham (University of Toronto)

The Locke/Latham theory states that individuals who have attainable yet difficult goals accomplish more than people with easier goals. The goals involved are either directional or accuracy goals.

Directional goals are goals that folks attempt to achieve without comprehending the specific steps required to achieve the desired results. What happens then is these goals become more motivational. Accuracy goals, on the other hand, require people to meticulously plan each step to figure out the best way to achieve their goals.

To put it simply, the bigger your goal, the more motivated you tend to be. The SMART method works when people know how they’re going to move from one spot to another. This isn’t all that realistic, however, since life can throw us lots of curveballs. The Locke/Latham theory claims you’re better off with a challenging goal and work yourself towards it.

The Gift of Ambitious Goals

People are more motivated with massive goals. They push us harder. It’s human nature to want to test ourselves. When a team of people decides on a big goal, they expect it’s going to be difficult so these people tap into all their creativity, energy and ambition to reach said goal.

Take a pen and paper and write down your big goals. Decide to reach it and you can overcome obstacles that stand your way. That’s the beauty and magic of humongous goals. You know challenges are inevitable so when they do arrive, you’re mentally prepared. With small goals, we tend to get frustrated when bumps appear on the road because we expect the path to be easy.

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Understanding The 5 Steps of the Business Sales Funnel

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You are starting up a new business and you have the expertise necessary to provide high quality results. It is quite possible you do not know anything about sales. This is understandable if you’ve never done it before, but sales is the most critical part of business success. The sales funnel is a description of the process you go through from making the first contact all the way to a final transaction. If you notice a picture of a regular funnel it is wide at the top, and narrows significantly in stages to the bottom. There are five steps along the way.

1) The Lead

This can be a total stranger and a group of leads is quite large. You can narrow this group down a little bit by going with qualified leads who meet certain criteria that you have (e.g., age demographics, people generally interested in your line of business, etc.). It is your decision as to whether or not you want to pursue a given lead.

2) A Prospect

The funnel begins to narrow as you deal with prospects. The people who have a specific interest in your offering and are open to communication. You can nurture the relationship with contact and providing information of value to the prospect. This can lead to the next step in the funnel.

3) Qualified Prospect

This is an even smaller group, but it consists of those don’t just have an interest in your offering, but a need for it. If you have successfully provided information, the qualified prospect can see the possible value in what you have. Qualified prospect also has the wherewithal to make a sales decision. This is a delicate part of the sales funnel. You are close to getting a sale, but it could fall apart if you are not careful.

4) A Committed Customer

At this stage there is at least a verbal understanding of the sale. The details, including contract, delivery, and payment, have to be worked out. This is a very detailed area of the funnel. If you have a standard contract as well as a payment procedure to present, it makes things much easier.

5) The Transaction Itself

The sale is made and what remains is the follow-up administrative activity.

Each part of the funnel is something that you need to be aware about. Just as a real funnel, it narrows and it means that the number of final transactions is much smaller than the leads you start out with. You should be studying those methods by which you can operate the funnel as efficiently as possible. You must also keep in mind, along the way a lead or prospect can be lost unless you are careful. Not every lead is going to result in a final transaction and you do need to cultivate qualified prospects so they become committed to making a deal. This is really all part of the process of running a business effectively. In the beginning you will be responsible for all of this, but gradually your business may grow to the point where you hire an account executive or contract with a sales representative. You will be better able to work with either as you become more informed about the processes of the sales funnel.

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