I'm sure some bloggers are going to dislike this post but, we're all part of the social media food chain in some function or another. As a budding mompreneur-not-quite-social-media-maven-not-blogging-enough-not-doing-anything-quite-the-right-way, right now I'm probably in the lower echelon of the chain and so this post is for all of you out there like me slowly climbing your way up.
I'm starting to get a lot of ads directed at me because I'm out there on FB joining groups, googling 'how-to's', etc etc and so a lot of sponsored posts come my way proposing to do exactly what I need done. I own an online business and I admittedly sometimes am completely lost as to how to go about doing something. BUT I've really come a long way. From shunning social media and being 'that mom' who quits FB for years to protect her children and save time to being 'the other mom' who's posting to instagram and shooting flatlays in the garage....it's quite a miracle I'm at where I'm at.
Starting out, I was really tight with spending because I was endeavoring to make money, not become a consumer of self help and business resources, so I tried to look anywhere for free help on all the things you need to do to get a business going: instagram, facebook ads, pinterest, snapchat, crowdfunding, public relations, SEO, etc. I was taking shots in the dark because I was focused on free resources and they are hard to come by because those people who 'have the goods' realize that their goods are worth $ so they only give the bottom shelf advice out and the top shelf stuff they save for those who are willing to pay. Fair enough.
This sort of effort gets not great results and can become frustrating and its at those times when the targeted ads start coming your way. 'How to grow your social media presence in 10 minutes a day', 'how to make 10k a month in residual income.' 'how to run a successful drop-ship business,' 'how to get your products featured in holiday gift guides,' 'how to get a celebrity to endorse your product for free.' Once you click on the sponsored ad, there may be a webinar scheduled for a time of the day that's usually somewhat inconvenient, at noon or at 2 pm in your time zone and it's a long webinar and it's conducted live (or so it seems). If you sign up for the webinar, you get to sit through about a 30 min general presentation and then a 60 min follow up of a very heavy handed pitch towards joining a training that is also heavily discounted for a very short period of time. The webinar will also feature Q & A and a give away at the end to ensure you're still there at the end to opt into the deal being offered.
There is a similar approach in some FB groups where people will create a group, run FB ads, get ppl to join and get the group number to several hundred members. The owner purports to be there to help you in what you need but they also control the group (some do not control the group as much) and moderate posts. In the group there will be some help given and people can ask questions and others can answer, but the information is not consistent and not very high quality instruction. After some time, the group owner then offers an opt in for a training where they give you everything you need to know to succeed and give you membership into a more exclusive group.
Not all webinars or trainings are bad - but you can't just go and watch every webinar and then pay for every opt-in - it's just too time consuming to do every training and it's expensive! I watched a super long webinar by some guy in Australia who literally crawled out of bed to do a webinar for 100 people or more and he kept on blowing his nose and clearing his throat and I didn't get why he did not get more prepared for the webinar but then his cost to do his training was around $800 and had promises to make you a social media star.
Even though his 'regular cost' of his course was much higher, that is a very very insane amount to pay and if you're really at the bottom of the social media chain, do you think paying that much would even make sense at that point? You might not be able to deliver the goods to even make it worth it at all! Meaning, apart from following all the strategies they give you, there is ONE KNOWN technique to any social media that if you could just do and do nothing else right, you would still do decently. That piece of advice that we all know is 'POST AWESOME CONTENT.'
But posting awesome content can be a mystery to many of us and because we all do such different businesses, what is awesome content for one is not awesome content for another. I can't simply post inspirational quotes all day to build my business whereas some people...that is all they need to do! No training is going to help you with this predicament. And so, if you aren't quite there yet, i.e. if all your cylinders aren't firing, youre not taking good photos or not often enough or aren't posting things that are relevant to your audience, you can practice techniques all day long and still get nowhere.
So, as I said - it is still good to glean the free content and it is still good to get as much as you can from the webinars because they are giving you free advice if you're available to receive the advice. BUT what if you do not have any money and yet you are such a sucker for offers that are timing out? Should you even sign up for a webinar if you know you might get suckered into something you can't afford? Some of us are purists and so if we sign up for a free webinar, just for the sake of sticking to our guns, we will not pay a cent at the end.
Well, here's my two cents on what you can do if you're as described above: take the webinar - in fact, even sign up for it and watch it later if needed (there is a short window where you can watch the replay). BUT go into it seeking only to glean the free stuff. Write down all the free advice given, even if it's too general and not that helpful. THEN write down any 'hints' at what the paid course will cover. Typically they will try to give you every nugget of the training offered in the paid course so as to show you how exhaustive the course is.
When it comes to the offer part, switch over to something to get your mind off of the offer - or go load the dishwasher or something. When it comes to the Q&A, this is where you can get a lot of helpful information - take prolific notes here because often many of the techniques covered in the training are almost all but given away in the Q&A. They typically do an opt in somewhere in between the pitch and the Q&A and they also sometimes do a drawing at the end AFTER everyone has opted in. Then if you win, they will refund the $.
I know you're asking now 'well, but what if the training is affordable and reasonable and it seems that it will save me a lot of time?' If this is the case and the training is around $100 or less, and you can afford it, go for it! It might save you a lot of time if you want everything spelled out for you and it also gives you some community to participate in to ask further questions - especially if you thrive on structure, spring for it - $100 is worth your sanity.
But, what if you simply can not afford another cent spent but you need the help?
Well, what I've learned from doing a handful of these trainings is that
-online courses are very intuitive - the things taught to you have been learned by doing by the instructor. Because they learned by doing, actually almost ALL of the advice is deducible and is logical - for that reason, you can treat their techniques like a multiple choice question - state the answer to the question and then infer the elements that led to the answer. For instance, if in the webinar, it says 'we will teach you how to make a great call to action to gain more subscribers to your blog.' There is no how to there but you already know what they will teach - write it down and do a little research - chances are you will find a wealth of information to help you to do just that!
Here's 10 tips to use in making your decision to opt in or not:
1. be wary of lots of extra freebies (most of them can be found free elsewhere)
2. be wary of upsells - sometimes the basic model is all you need
3. google the features that are being advertised to see if those are of value to you
4. sit tight and do some research before opting in
5. don't feel the urgency pressure - if you miss the deal, they will do another one in a week or two
6. take notes during webinar and do some research on any hinted-at practices
7. search and post in forums asking for more details on such practices
8. look at the price being offered -is it affordable? is it going to make it difficult to bounce back from?
9. search for competitor products at lower prices and check the reviews
10. if it's affordable and it will save you a lot of time trying to find a workaround, spring for it! they might have a money-back guarantee if you're dissatisfied.
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Always A Parent is my blog about parenting, business, entrepreneurship, pregnancy, and motherhood. MULTIWEAR® is my product design business selling products for busy moms, nursing and breastfeeding moms as well as diaper bags and gym bags.
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