4 Steps to Make Your Word of Mouth Advertising Blow UP!

In today’s two minute read, discover 4 Steps to Make Your Word of Mouth Advertising BLOW UP!
(uh, in a good way 😉 )
Heya, Steppers! Ready to do one thing that makes your business better today?
Woudja appreciate tne powerful strategy to make your word of mouth advertising go sky high,
…that makes everything else you’re doing to market your business better, or unnecessary?
Mm. Thought so.
==> Bullet list, first thing in the morn:
  • It’s really, REALLY important to get feedback about your business.
  • It’s critical to get postive reviews as well. 
  • And the lifeblood of new customer acquisition is having glowing testimonials from your existing customer base.
  • Finally, you gots to have word of mouth, dawg. Get referrals, your cheapest and best way to score more business
SO, my favorite Stepper…
Howza bout getting ALL FOUR ^  key pieces of effective word-of-mouth advertising, in one fell swoop?
“Wooohooo!” I hear ya saying. “NOW you’re talking…”
So one of my SS101 marketing clients is a chiropractor. Recently, we sent his patients a four questions survey. As a result he has 48 reviews on Google My Business, Facebook, and Yelp.
That pile of word of mouth advertising happened to increase his profits, even in the middle of a huge transition for his business.
All this because I sent ONE carefully worded email to his customer base, and had him follow an easy step-by-step…
(…and you know I’m all about those step-by-steps, don’tcha Steppers!)
Okay. So here’s how to get a huge pile of feeback,postive reviews, and glowing testimonials:
  1. Buy a gift. In my chiropractor’s case it was an Emerson 50″ HD TV, about $300.
  2. Send an email to your existing customers. Explain you NEED feedback, and that if they take a two-minute, four question survey they get their name in the hat to win the prize
  3. Put this four-question survey in SurveyMonkey (it’s free) and let the games begin!
Oh. At this point it might be good to tell you what the four questions are…
You’ll want to personalize them a bit for your particular biz,  but don’t complicate them.
Stick to just these four questions.
Here ya go:
  • What problem did you first call us to solve?
  • How did we solve it for you?
  • How did it make you feel to have this solution?
  • Can we quote you on that? 🙂 Would you post a review, and/or would it be okay to tell others what you said about our service?
Lookee. Feedback, reviews, and testimonials quick as ya please.
And sometimes this quickie contest leads to new business… referrals… as well.
And, BONUS! Ya might notice that each review/testimonial follows a template.
The perfect “problem-solution-feelings”  format, that lends itself perfectly to your copywriting.
Now, some critics of this method might say that you are paying for reviews.
(Uh, I’m thinking…yeah… soooo…?)
But the plain truth is that while you ARE kinda fishing for compliments, you will get valuable feedback from negative comments too. Which is perfectly fine.
Use that intel with the right frame of mind, striving to improve your service (or in some cases, to weed out problem customers… I’ve done that too). Just know that feedback, both negative and positive is vital to your biz.
Meanwhile, utilize that postive feedback, mmmk..?
Without stretching the imagination you can see that feedback becomes the basis for:
  • Discovering your niche and your USP
  • Testimonials you can sprinkle into your ad copy
  • Reviews that build credibility and visibility to your biz!
Can ya dig it?
Ah, but Grasshopper. Remember that wisdom without action is dead.
Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to use the four questions method to populate your copy.
Word of mouth advertising is both the cheapest AND the most effective way to score scads of new bizness.
But you have to be purposeful about it, or the next guy will run you the h*ll over.
Let me know what you find out about marketing and improving YOUR biz with these simple steps.
Til then,
Keep Stepping!


Install Habits: Increase Success in Business and Life

Welcome back! In the last installment of this series, we visited the phenomenon of “ego depletion”.

Willpower has a limit. No matter how “Strong willed” a person is, there’s a breaking point where he or she reaches for the donuts, or the pipe, or the bottle.

Whatever YOUR weak point is… whether it’s procrastination (guilty!), temper, or your habits will always reveal it.

Now, this post is not going to be concerned with defeating bad habits.

That’s a post for another blog.

Instead, we’ll be going after developing the behaviors you want to have.

Why Install “Good” Habits?

As a serial entrepreneur, I’ve found that only a few key habits really matter to get a business up and running.

Among those habits:

  • A daily ritual of “you” time that refreshes and energizes you before the day’s onslaught of stress
  • A habit of connecting regularly with existing customers about their needs and getting feedback
  • Daily reading through the ads and marketing of people in similar markets (including competitors) to glean ideas
  • Testing every part of the sales process (the ‘funnel’) to detect bottlenecks
  • Tweaking ad copy to anticipate and answer customer’s objections
  • Documenting processes and procedures to save time in the future

Your own business will have its own set of important tasks beside these crucial, basic ones… but the more important thing with ANY task that you as an entrepreneur undertake is this:


So how does an entrepreneur make sure to do the few important things instead of the many urgent ones?

After all, owning a business may seem like one fire after another needs putting out, depleting you of the necessary willpower to do what’s needed every day.

How to Install Good Habits

Every New Year’s Day or right around it, we promise ourselves to do better. I’m going to eat right. I’m going to exercise. I’m going to take that risk. I’m going to… fill in the blank.

But by Valentine’s Day that resolution is a dry husk of nothing.

This is because of ego depletion… every decision we make, even ones that are in our own best interest… COST us something. And at one point or another we just decide the price is too high and give up.

How do we install automatic behaviors that don’t drain the decision-making tank?

How do we “stick” to a habit and make it part of our daily routine?

Introducing  the Tiny Habits Method

B.J. Fogg, a behavioral scientist dedicated to research about forming positive habits has a unique model.

There are three key components:

  1. Difficulty (perceived)
  2. Motivation
  3. Triggers

One obstacle to forming a habit is the target behavior’s (perceived) difficulty.

For example, if you don’t already have the fitness habit… going to the gym seems like an overdue visit to the dentist.

You imagine everyone making fun of you for not being more fit already.

You dread the effort of learning the newest exercise routine.

You think about how sore you’re going to feel… and haven’t even done a single crunch.

B.J. Fogg’s model shows that even with the best intentions, the perceived difficulty makes establishing a new habit hard potatoes.

It’s easy to slip out of the program when the perception is, “MAN! This is gonna be soooo hard.”

The second factor is motivation.

In my case, I recently suffered a stroke. I’ve got to change my diet, levels of stress, and other lifestyle adjustments. The motivation is HIGH.

But in the case of most 48 year old non-smokers in good shape… the motivation to change may not be as urgent.

If your insurance doesn’t think you’re at risk for a stroke, you probably don’t be that motivated to stick with the New Year’s rez.

The third factor is a trigger.

The trigger presents the reminder to do the behavior before it becomes a deeply ingrained habit.

Whether that’s as simple as putting your running shoes in the doorway, or as drastic as having a sponsor for your AA meetings… the trigger to DO a certain something at a certain time is crucial too.

The Fogg Behavior Model “FBM” does a great job of visually predicting whether your target behavior stands a chance of becoming a habit.

What Determines if You’ll be Successful at Starting a New Habit?

SO again: difficulty (perceived), motivation, and a trigger.

Respecting these three factors makes the job of installing a new habit a breeze.

I’ve been using the B.J. Fogg Behavior Model with pushups.

As part of my recovery from a stroke, physical exercise is a must. My goal is to get to 100 pushups, a performance level I enjoyed as recently as three years ago.

The problem is that I’ve let go my level of performance, and need to regain the habit of daily pushups.

The “willpower” method of installing the habit is destined to fail if I try to do too much.

  • Perceived difficulty of doing 60 pushups: HARD.
  • Perceived difficulty of doing FIVE pushups… much easier.

Next, the motivation: I recognize the necessity of being more fit, and know that it will help with my recovery.

Furthermore,  being successful at installing this habit will build confidence that I might be able to install other, just as important behaviors.

Motivation is often expressed as pain.

In my case, the pain of consequences is greater than the pain of change.

  • Motivation to recover the power of speech by physical exercise and other habits: HIGH
  • Motivation to be complacent and keep the status quo: LOW

Finally, the trigger.

B.J. Fogg recommends taking an existing habitual behavior and linking it to the desired, target behavior.

In my case… I brush my teeth most days 😉

That’s a perfect trigger.

The formula is: “After I brush my teeth, I will do at least five pushups.”


Now, here’s the deal:

Because I get off top dead center and do five pushups… often I end up doing MORE.

But it’s the (perceived) low difficulty and high reward, coupled with the reminder of the trigger… that gets me doing the habit.

Faithfulness to the habit is the hard part (which we just gave you a hack for persuading your mind to accept)… afterward, the habit keeps you going and hopefully, upward and onward to greater success.

I’m reminded of Jesus’ mustard seed example. He said that if you had the faith of a mustard seed, you could move a mountain.

Well, sometimes the mountain that needs moving is ME.


And rather than doing it one mountain load at a time… It’s easier and more likely to result in success if we start by planting one tiny seed at a time.

Okay, Steppers! Your turn: I want to challenge you to go to B.J. Fogg’s tinyhabits.com site and take the challenge to establish three positive behaviors that will help you in your business and in your personal life.




Tiny Habits to Double Your Effectiveness

Today’s Daily Success Step is “Tiny Habits to Double Your Effectiveness.”

Our behaviors are what determine our success. Yes, luck can play a part… so can the advantages and disadvantages imparted to you at birth. But in the end, it’s about actions that you take repeatedly that determine your outcome.

Every behavior you do can be classified in one or the other of three ways:

  1. Programmed, stimulus/response behaviors
  2. Habits
  3. Deliberate acts, often after careful reasoning and forethought

Now, 1) stimulus/response is how you came from the factory. Put a hand on a hot stove, “OW! That hurts!” Not a lot of delay, no real decision making, pretty predictable behavior.

2)Habits…well, I’ll get to that in a second.

3) Deliberate acts are interesting in the fact that there’s a finite amount of willpower that every human has. Folks that use “willpower” to make and stick to decisions a limited amount of “fuel” to do that.

This is a real phenomenon called “ego depletion“. Get this: if you were offered a tasty treat and refused, that same day you might skip your new class at the gym. Why? Perceived effort.

Maybe you had every intention to start that new workout class, but you used ‘willpower’ to resist the sweet snack. NOW the perceived effort to go to the new workout class is greater.

Because you already consumed some of your willpower juice…  there’s not enough to get you going.

Okay, so how does this impact YOU and your bottom-line profits?

Well, you know that there are a number of tasks that every entrepreneur needs to do.

And it’s like a chain… because EVERY link counts.

As an entrepreneur you know that some things are easy and hard. Some things are fun and some just have to be done anyway. It’s a necessary evil, especially when you’re small and can’t delegate tasks you don’t want.

Here’s where habits come into play:

The stimulus/response thing doesn’t require a lot of decision. You still might face ego depletion there, though… if there’s a tiger chasing you the stress consumes willpower juice same as a really tough decision.

But HABITS… habits don’t consume any willpower points from your available cache at all. It’s… habitual.

SO that’s what I what to encourage you to do: take the most important, profit making actions that depend on you to do and do well, and find a way to turn it into a habit. When you do, you’ll experience a freedom that’s unparalleled.

It’s automatic.

Now, you might need to make decisions now and and then, and that’s a gooood thing. You’re not a robot.

But whenever you really need the willpower juice to make those decisions, you’ll be better equipped with a non-depleted ego.

I dunno who said it, but I read somewhere that a habit is a relic of a decision made long ago.

For the next DailySuccess Step, we’ll look at how to install those habits, so they work for you instead of against you.

See you then!

Keep Stepping,



Side Hustle to Full Time Income, Part THREE: Always Look for the Next Step


Taking your “side hustle” to that hallowed place where it replaces your full time income… is accomplished by a series of uncovering sources of new clients, while doing a great job serving your current clients.

Business books talk about this in theory all the time. Actually doing it has a cumulative effect.

Just stack the work you did yesterday, on top of what you did the day before… by staying faithful moving forward you can eventually build an empire.

Another Report of Mobile Screen Repair’s Progress on Shoestring101

In today’s post, I’ll walk you through an actual, evolving Shoestring business that started with the goal of making an extra thousand bucks a month.  We started it while you were watching… and have kept it going this whole time.

After faithfully following the Shoestring101 marketing principles day after day, it now grosses three, four hundred dollars a day most weekdays. Even more on weekends.

More importantly, this simple business promises to do much, much better than that. Very soon.

Many folks say, “I’ve got twenty years’ experience”, but what they really mean is that they have one year of experience, in which they’ve done the same old, same old thing every year–twenty times in a row.


Step by Step: “Side Hustle” to Full-Time Income

You’ve been watching the story unfold with my screen repair business.

At first, it began as a challenge I took on this very site, saying that I could start with less money than an evening out to dinner and a movie… and turn it into over a thousand dollars’ profit in 30 days.

Getting Off Our ASS and Getting the Word Out

The first iteration of our marketing was to buy signs.

At first we used signs to advertise. Now Google serves up customers without charge---NICE!

At first we used these cheap signs to advertise. Now Google serves up customers without charge—NICE!

Six signs cost $62.66 and we put them in busy intersections.

The fact that we already had a great USP… “We Come To You!”… caused the phone to ring before we had all the signs out.

But our journey didn’t stop there.

Because along the way we figured out how to force Google to send us business for free.

Side Trip – An Accidental Discovery Grabs PILES of Bizness

We learned about all the free online places to post the service: Craigslist, Facebook, Facebook Pages, Facebook Groups, YouTube, Fixr.com, Yelp, Google+, and using Fiverr to post to dozens of free directories.

This led to the accidental discovery of how to get local SEO juice, even when you don’t have a website!

I have a whole article on how to force Google to give you multiple front page listings for free in your local area.

I want you to finish reading THIS post, but by all means right-click on this link to bookmark this other powerful post to read later:

If you have a local business you can’t afford to be without this powerful way of getting on page one of local search results without paying per click.

This ^ was the next iteration for both my screen repair and my martial arts studio: getting leads and clients for FREE from Google.

But that’s not where we stopped.

Finding Barrels of Fish to Shoot: Multiple Customer Avatars

Now that the unpaid advertising had taken over (I haven’t really used any form of ‘paid’ advertising for two years) we started to dial it down to focusing on specific customer avatars:

  • Real estate management companies
  • Realtors
  • General Contractors
  • Roofing Companies

In other articles here on Shoestring101, you saw where I targeted these specific customers.

When a real estate management company started using us as a preferred vendor, I went to Melissadata.com and purchased a list of all the other local real estate management companies. Cost around six bucks… then just a few phone calls later we started to fill our dance card.

So real estate management was one category of client to appeal to. But after enough real estate agents called to get an ugly screen door fixed as a cheap facelift for a house they were selling, we got the picture and started to target real estate agents.

Read on to see the practical application of one of my central ideas

Sacred Cow Slaughter: Business Cards are a Waste of Money

Elsewhere I’ve written about the utter uselessness of printing business cards. A much better practice is to get the other party’s card! True story: Mobile Screen Repair had its first $500 profit day before I ever had biz cards made.

It’s kind of a crapshoot, really, to give someone a card and hope that they’ll call you.

Can you imagine if, instead of getting a girl’s phone number… you just handed her your own contact info? Might work once in a blue moon, fella… but I wouldn’t count on it.

Yes, at one point or other it may make sense to you to have business cards made. But in my thinking it’s one of the last steps in marketing, not the first. Go ahead, make ’em up if it makes you happy… but realize that biz cards are for repeat business, not for getting it in the first place.

Case in Point: Instead of Handing Out Your Card and Hoping

Now, if you want to score business for real… here’s what I advise to do instead of handing out your biz card like snowflakes.


To truly generate new business and bottom line money, get their contact info instead. Leverage THAT into something much bigger. Here’s an example of how that might work:

An agent from “the Platinum Group” asks for my card, says he’ll hand it around at the office.

Now, most folks would give him a handful of cards and stop there.

Instead, I asked for HIS card…

….”liked” the brokerage he works for on Facebook…

…giving me the ability to instant message with their social media person…

…which invited me to come in and put flyers into the personal mailbox of each of 45 agents.

Some of which I was able to hang and chat with…

…and guess who made it into the company’s “Trusted Vendors” little black book? 😉

Now when an agent has the screen problem… that I can solve… they look me up in their own book.

Does that beat the living snot out of handing a single agent my biz card, yes or no? 😎

Yet Another Customer Avatar

In January this year, you wouldn’t think I would be busy repairing screens.

But a general contractor was doing a lot of repair work for an apartment complex after a hailstorm. Roof, paint, even plants needing replacing.

Oh, and screens.

After doing 120 screens in the first week of January, we figured we just might be on to something with this working for general contractors thing.

So again we hop over to Melissadata.com and get a super-affordable list of general contractors to call on and offer our services.

More than Lather, Rinse, Repeat

So, my very favorite reader… Seeing a pattern here?

We haven’t just been sticking with the “one year’s experience, repeated twenty times”.

Instead, we’ve been striving to find new and creative ways to find lots and lots of customers, while continuing to use the old ways as well.

We’ve been expanding iterating and evolving the process of finding customers.

Or making it easy for them to find us.

So what’s the next big step for Mobile Screen Repair, the pet project of Shoestring101?

Leveraging Relationships: The Next Big Shoestring Step

SO to tell you the next iteration that mobile screen repair will undertake… I’ve got to tell you two quick, seemingly unrelated stories.

First: one of my screen repair customers asked if I had a ladder, and would I be happy to help him replace the “window bead” that a hailstorm recently damaged along with the screens?

I agreed and he showed me the trade. Not hard, really: just pull out the old window bead, use it as a template to cut and shape a new length of window bead, and snap it into place.

Oh, you don’t know what “window bead is?”

S’ok. Neither did I.


window_bead_repair_colorado_springsHail Damage to Window Bead Repaired $10

So, it’s this stuff that surrounds the outside of a window.

Remember how I told you we discovered a way to get free Google juice and get listed multiple times on the front page of search results for local business?

Well, it doesn’t do you any good to have a kickass system to qualify for keywords… if you don’t know what keywords customers would even use.

SO at first, it seemed that a side service by Mobile Screen Repair was not gonna happen.

Okay, end of first story. Here’s a second:

Another customer told me that just a few weeks before a big hailstorm, he’s on a golf course… and meets the fella that owns the roofing company …the one that happened to refer me.

That roofer gave my customer a business card (wait.–maybe this will undermine my ‘no biz card needed’ assertion earlier– awww, too late) and promised him a 5% referral fee if he got any business for him.

Anyhoo, immediately following the hailstorm… our hero, my customer, goes up and down the street in his (fairly affluent) neighborhood and scores the roofer 21 jobs!

The roofer honored the 5% commish agreement.

That put tens of thousands of dollars into my customer’s pocket.


A Tale of Two Stories

SO these two stories were the germ of my next big move for Mobile Screen Repair.

On the one hand, I’m thinking to expand from just repairing hail-damaged screens into repairing “window bead”… but dunno how to qualify for something most folks wouldn’t search for…

On the other, I’m thinking how awesome it must have been for my customer to pretty much drop a name 21 times and get a five-figure payday out of it.

When the confluence of these ideas hit me.

Since getting new biz from the internet is a breeze for me, due to the hacks I’ve learned…

…and since at least one roofing company (that I already happen to work with!) seem to be okay with a finder’s fee…

….why not simply qualify for the keywords, “hail damage” and grab both markets?

To quote His Sheldon-ness:


The Next Big Step for this Shoestring Stepper

Stepper, that’s my next big gambit.

Not shabby for a business we started (while you were watching) for $62.66.

I don’t know how this idea for growing it to the next step will perform… if at all.

I DO know that keeping your ear to the ground and looking for ways to leverage your business relationships is the way to keep growing.

Who knows? Maybe soon Mobile Screen Repair will be the Mobile Hail Damage Team or some such.

Or this idea may fail miserably and I’ll have done a bit of work, qualifying for keywords but without a payoff.

Awwww, durn.

Either way, you heard it here first.

Whaddya think, guys? Will this strategy of directly grabbing customers that have a need for hail damage to be repaired, and funneling referrals to other professionals work? Or will it be a gi-normulous flop?

Leave me your thoughts in the comments section.

Til my next report,

Keep Stepping!


Side Hustle to Full Time Income, Part TWO: 10X Your Business

Use Shoestring101 Techniques to 10X Your Business

So, as ya might know, one of the businesses that I document here on Shoestring101 is a come-to-you window screen repair service. I started it as part of a 30 Day Challenge to go from 0 to $1,000 per month.
$1,000+ profit (we took $1195) in the first month is a good proof-of-concept. Of course, the low four figures per month isn’t how you quit your job; but 10X your business and now we’re talking. You can read about this side hustle’s inception here, and its first five figure month here.
One of the reasons we were able to grow this little side hustle into a full-time income was using the Shoestring101 principles and techniques. Today’s post is about a recent application in the screen repair biz of the Shotgun/Laser technique.
Today’s the day I drop off my marketing message. I’ll let you know how it goes in the weeks to come.
(Whaaa? You say you DON’T KNOW the Shotgun/Laser technique? Do you hate puppies?
Go to this blog post immediately after reading this email and  learn to easily 10X your business)
So here’s how the story goes:
A recent client that called me was a Realtor; the sale of his client’s home was being held up.
The home inspector wouldn’t pass it until the screen door got fixed.
What would a normal businessperson do?
  • Show up; do an excellent job, charge a fair price.
  • Give the client a stack of biz cards, say, “Thanks, and please refer me to your friends”
  • Rely on chance and that guy’s good will to promote their business for them
What does a Shoestring101 kind of guy do instead?
He employs a variation of Shotgun/Laser technique:
  • Show up; do an excellent job, charge a fair price.
  • Get a biz card from the client, find out what you can about him
  • …and use that intelligence  to reach every single one of his buddies, on purpose.
Hey which one of these approaches do you think will get you more paying customers?
So here’s what happened.
  1. Showed up, did a great job.
  2. Got the Realtor’s card.
  3. He works for “The Platinum Group” Real Estate Agency.
  4. “Liked” The Platinum Group on Facebook.
  5. Now I can message whoever is in charge of their sosh media!
Here was the message I sent:
Chat Conversation Start
MAY 3RD, 4:59PM
Hello! Message for admin: Are you the appropriate person to contact about getting this message to the rest of your agents? One of your agents, (NAME) recently used my service, which is on-site window screen and screen door repair. Often a home inspection turns up this problem. Let the sale move forward by handling this detail in one call. 719-360-9559
MAY 5TH, 11;37AM, 4:59PM
Hello. Thank you for your message. If you would like to bring brochures to our office we would be happy to distribute them to our agents. We have 45 mailboxes. Thank you and have a good day.
Whaddya think, Stepper?
You know that most bizzes grow their base by repeat and referrals.
But it’s okay to build your business on purpose, too… eh, whaaaat?
In the first few sentences of this blog post I promised the Shotgun/Laser technique could 10X your business… and that’s by no means an exaggeration.
Let’s see how I justify claiming that you can multiply your business by TEN, just by employing the Shotgun/Laser technique:
SO I showed up, solved my client’s problem by fixing the screen door. That’s $49 in my pocket, took $3 worth of material, and about 15 minutes to finish the job.
Imagine if I had handed my Realtor client five business cards. Assuming that the stars align and he does remember to give them out to others in his office, that’s still only four or five potential clients I’m reaching.
But you just saw my invitation ^ to put my marketing message directly into the mailboxes of 45 agents.
And each of those agents stands to have at least one sale this year… that’s being held up at inspection… because of a stupid screen door or window that needs repairing.
The minimum service call that we do is $49. Two weeks ago my son and I did screens at a house totaling $505, but let’s use the minimum numbers here:
Say that of the 45 Realtors that get my letter, only one in four give me a call, ever.
And each of those eleven Realtors only needs me for the $49 service, and they never call me again.
That’s $49 X 11 = $539 worth of business.
All this for sending one text…
…making 45 copies of my sales letter…
…and hand-delivering it to The Platinum Group when I’m in the neighborhood.
How’s THAT stack up next to “Here’s some cards… will you please hand them out to your friends?”
Snicker, snicker.
Now I know that printing up some business cards is one of the first things most folks THINK they need to be in business. I say it’s one of the last.
Truth be told… I actually didn’t even have cards made for my screen repair business until after we were doing $500 profit days.
No joke.
Kurt, this is only one out of piles of variations on the theme of Shotgun/Laser.
If you haven’t read my book or any of the articles I’ve done on it, you and your business deserve to know how you could be doing 10X as much business, with very little or no advertising expense.
D’ya think it might be worth your while to explore that teeny tiny detail?
If you think chasing your tail and spending piles of money to get just a few paying customers is for the birds, and want a silly-simple fix to 80% of your marketing problems,  go to this blog post immediately to learn more about the history and application of the Shotgun/Laser technique.
Oh… and take a jacket. You’re about to learn how to “make it rain!”
Keep Stepping,

Take Your Side Hustle to Full Time Income, Part 1

side hustle to full time income calculator

I got an email from one of my Subscribers: “I have a side income  and a full time job. I would love to just do my business, but can’t afford to ‘quit the day job’… yet. How do I take my side hustle to full time income?”

This Subscriber has a small biz on the side and it’s doing okay… but not near enough to live on.

But that’s a happier situation than you might think…

Congratulations, dawg. You got past the most important hurdle: “validation”.

validate to side hustle to full time income

“Validation” – proof of concept for a business- is the hardest part. After this it’s kinda like lather, rinse, repeat to scale from side hustle to full time income…

Validation is the stage where you determine if a business idea can actually make any money. You do this by actually attempting to make sales and figuring out what works.

So guess what. THIS post is NOT going to be about validation. You can find examples of that in three places here on Shoestring101, or go to my very favorite work on the subject: “Will it Fly?” by Pat Flynn.

Who’s Talking About How to Take Your Side Hustle to Full Time Income?

There are plenty of resources encouraging people to start their own business. Think 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris, or The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau.

And there are countless other resources teaching how to manage an existing business, better. For example, The E-Myth by Michael Gerber, or Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch.

But there aren’t many guides for navigating the no-man’s land in between… the exact, clear steps to take the aspiring entrepreneur from:

more orders than you can handle to scale side hustle to full time income

More orders than you can handle will scale your side hustle to full time income. It’s a problem, but a much BETTER problem to have than no orders

“Hey, cool! Somebody actually bought one of my widgets!”


“Holy Order Fulfillment, Batman!

…How am I ever going to deliver all these dang widgets?”


Too often, great ideas die on the vine because the entrepreneur has the “side hustle” up and running… but can’t afford to take the leap from part-time to full-time.

If he (she) quits the “day job”, there will be too much demand to pay the bills, and too little time to get up and running from side hustle to full-time money. It’s a lot of stress when you have a choice between growing the biz and paying the rent… so I recommend the following steps if you think you’re ready to go full time:

Take Your Side Hustle to Full Time Income, One Step at a Time

SO you’ve started a small biz venture and it’s making a little  bit of money. You can’t afford to “quit yer day job”… just yet.

BUT..! You don’t think it’s possible to grow your business to the point that you can live off it alone, without devoting full-time effort to it, either.

Catch-22… or is it?

The first step to freeing yourself of being a wage-slave and becoming your OWN boss is to determine what that really looks like.

Begin with the end in mind. Start with your goal, working BACKWARDS to take side hustle to full time income

Begin with the end in mind. Start with your goal, working BACKWARDS to take side hustle to full time income

Depending on what stage of life you’re in (full-time student, single, newlywed, new parent, kids and a mortgage, empty nester, retiree) there are different challenges facing you, time- and expense-wise.

You’ve got to take your target income and work backwards.


  • all the expenses of producing your widget or delivering your service…
  • and how much you’re able to sell it for…
  • you’ve got to crunch the numbers and arrive at how many customers you’ll need

After you have your “Freedom Number”, it’s simply a matter of working on your self-sustaining marketing funnel.

We’ll talk about that ^ in Part Two of this little series.

So,  compute your “Freedom Number” first. Fortunately, I’ve got a little tool that does just this. It’s called the Side Money Blueprint Freedom Calculator and it’s FREE to folks on my email list.

side hustle to full time income calculator

The Freedom Number Calculator will tell you how many customers you need to quit your day job.

In case ya missed it, ^ that was just one more bribe erm, REASON to join the SS101 email list. Run, don’t walk… okay, click and get yourself added. Then ping me by replying to one of my emails with “Calculator” in the subject line and I’ll send it to ya free.

Take Your Side Hustle to Full Time Income the RIGHT Way

Lots of folks would love to monetize their hobbies and interests to the point that the hobby pays YOU, instead of the other way around. And it is possible.

But there are hazards.

Having done this (taken a side hustle to full time income) three times, with three very different kinds of businesses, in three different decades

…I’m going to say something that may not seem obvious to the entrepreneurial spirit. Here it is:


Please. <====!

Going from part-time to full-time is really very simple once you understand a few principles about scaling your marketing and delivery. But without responsible accounting and money handling you can get yourself into serious trouble.

Hear the voice of experience:

It’s very tempting to look at all the money coming in and think that it’s, um… YOURS.

keep money separate after you take side hustle to full time income

Make sure that you and any partner(s) you have understand to separate business money from personal

Wife #1 didn’t get this. Check it: in the late 90’s, with over $13K/month coming in (and only $4K in expenses), I still had a car repossessed. This is because we didn’t communicate effectively with each other, and because money that wasn’t ours got spent before we even got it… making mess upon check-bouncing mess.

You HAVE to understand that gross does not equal net, and understand it on a GUT level.

And any partner of yours needs to understand that too…

The conflict over this was one reason for the failure of my first marriage. My ex-wife didn’t understand that five figures a month coming in was not a license to spend, spend, spend. And I didn’t understand how to make her understand, so I took her name off all the checking accounts.

This factor was a big one contributing to the end of my first marriage. And, yes, I might have handled things much better… not pointing any fingers because  three end up pointing back at me.

But, my point for you is that if you start making booo-kooo money, but don’t have the tools or mindset to manage that money properly, it will be nothing but trouble for you.

So start learning NOW to handle it when you start getting big paydays.

The best way to do this is to plan to take a salary from your business equal to what you’re bringing in now from your “day job”, at least until you have 3-6 months of expenses saved up.

THEN it might be okay to negotiate a raise to your level of lifestyle.

I tell you, if you leave this step out and you’re broke now… you will STILL be broke… only ‘broke at a higher level’… when you start raking in lots of cash.

Learn discipline and don’t spend all you make. The business money is separate from the personal money, which you pay yourself in the form of a salary… until you are BEYOND “stable” and finally thriving! Then it could be time for a vacation- a PAID-for vacation (no borrowing! save for it instead).

And don’t forget about taxes.

Okay. Rant complete.

Next Step to Take Your Side Hustle to Full Time Income

Make it rain. With the right application of marketing, message and media you can scale your part time side hustle into full time income

Make it rain. With the right application of marketing, message and media you can scale your part-time “side hustle” into full time income

Okay, so I’ve cautioned you to:

A) Start at the end… your desired income… and work backwards to find out how many customers you’ll need to scale to full-time, and

B) KEEP your fuh-reakin’ business money and personal money SEPARATE.

I think now it’s safe to give you the next step:

C) Decide what kind of customer you want more of.. and find out where they’re hangin’.

If you’ve been side-hustling for a while now, you have probably come across at least one sweetheart client. A customer that buys easily without trying to talk you down in price… is a pleasure to deal with good, honest feedback but no whining complaints… is ecstatic with your product or service… gives you raving testimonials… and refers you new customers.

You’ve more than likely also picked up a troll or two 😉

Now it’s time to do two things:

  1. Build an “Avatar“… an imaginary profile that’s a composite of your favorite customer(s) ever
  2. Conduct a survey of all your existing customers to find out exactly how they found you, what they love about your business, and most importantly how you can reach more of them

This ^ is market intelligence, which will help you design both your message and your medium for the marketing campaign that will take you to full time income: your self-sustaining funnel.

I’d love to tell you what questions to ask in that survey, and what a self-sustaining funnel is and how to construct one (both online and offline), but, uh…

…just look at the time.

We’re 1400 words into this thing and I wouldn’t want to ramble, now would I? 😉

Watch this space. On May 1st we’ll unpack the “Avatar” idea and show you examples of self-sustaining funnels. Imagine advertising for free… or even getting PAID to advertise… unleashing a supply of leads only limited by how many you can serve at a time.

side hustle to full time income calculator

The Freedom Number Calculator will tell you how many customers you need to quit your day job.

Meanwhile, subscribe if you haven’t already to my daily, military-grade marketing tips and ping me on email to send you your “Freedom Number Calculator”.

Keep Stepping,


Free Local Listing for SEO? Take a “NAP”

local free listings for small business

In this crackerjack good, no-fluff read you’re going to find out how to spend just $5 and five minutes to get dozens of free local listings, pointing Google juice back to your local business and putting YOUR business on the map.

Free Local Listing is Important to YOUR Bottom Line

In this day and age it’s nearly as important to let robots know about your biz as it is to advertise to humans.

Google takes its cue from dozens of local directories when it’s deciding who belongs on the front page. One of the FIRST ways that happens is by creating a lot of references about your business on other websites.

Both humans and Google use these references to find what they’re looking for. And now, since most of these ways of getting listed are free, to stay competitive you MUST cast your net as wide as possible.

Free Local Listing Method #1

If you have lots of time on your hands, you can go to each of these directories and enter your information by hand.

local free listings for small business

Twenty directories for local free listings. Your area or your biz may require others

I do recommend that you visit each of these, whether you begin free accounts or not, so you can get a feel for what each provides to its users.

If you do visit and create accounts with each of these fellas, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Your Business name
  • Business owner’s name(s)
  • Your Business physical address. This can be your home address as well
  • Your Business phone (some folks use multiple numbers. Don’t do this, it can bite ya)
  • Business e-mail (again, ONE email. We can set up tracking other ways)
  • Website Address (don’t forget the http:// part)
  • Description (BEFORE you enter this, see the Five Steps to Your Killer USP post on this site)
  • Category of business
  • Company logo
  • Keywords (see Get Found on Google Locally: Front Page, ZERO Ad Spend)
  • Payment Methods Accepted
  • Hours of Operation

If you’re going to do these by hand, I recommend that you get all the above info on a Word doc or some such, then go around to each of the above sites… copy and paste. It’s very important for your name, hours of operation, etc to be exactly the same across the board.

Free Local Listing Method #2: The LAZY Man’s Method

I’m the resident lazy man around here, so for repetitive tasks like these I use Fiverr.

Here’s a fella you might wanna look into:


He’ll also populate a Google Places for ya, if you give him a gmail password (it doesn’t have to be your main one, and you can change the password right after).

Habib ^ will give you some 30 free listings, and a report of each one that he visited.

Worth the fiver(r) if you’re asking this kid.

What to Expect from Free Local Listings – Good and Bad

Let’s go with BAD first.

Any dog owner that uses postive reinforcement training knows that “nothing in life is free”… so while these listings don’t cost you anything dollar-wise… they will paint a big target on your back that says “SELL ME ADVERTISING”.

You can expect that the Yelp mafia will have you in their sites, leaning on you for paid upgrades. Don’t fall for the ‘enhanced listing’. Their rep is what they want to protect, not you. If it’s ever even a HINT of a choice between their ‘unbiased’ reputation with free users and their loyalty to their paid advertisers… they won’t go your way.

Also, sure as the sun… the SEO gang will be calling your business number, pretending to be reps from Google but really shaking you down for monthly fees to “improve your listing”.

Ignore these, I can tell you how to get your local business on page one, multiple times, for free.

Okay. Now the good.

You will have cast wide your net of possible routes of contact to your business. If you’ve got a good USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and brief but clear description of what your business does for a specific target audience… when a member of that audience happens across your listing they will call.

That’s money in your pocket, without spending on advertising. Well, without spending more than five bucks if you went with option #2 above.

You can also expect lots and lots of Google Juice… multiple references to your website from local directories really raises the roof as far as your cred with the robots goes. If the message is consistent across the board for what your business does for people(signalling “relevance”), having multiple inroads to your site will skyrocket your standing in the local search results.

MORE Stuff to Know and Things to Expect from Your Free Local Listing

Okay, gang… this post is unfinished. I’ll come back with more spit and polish but for now it’s important to get this vital info to you as it is, broad strokes only, warts and all.

See something I’m missing here? Suggest an improvement? Gotta question? Leave a comment below and I’ll personally email you when we update the post. Thanks Steppers! Bye for now.

Keep Stepping,


Kick-Ass Low Cost Marketing for Small Business: the “Shotgun/LASER” Technique

Effective Low Cost Marketing: The Shotgun/Laser Principle

In the quest to drive costs down and profits up, low cost marketing for small business is a must. About thirty years ago I discovered a principle that worked  with (uh, obviously) OFF-line advertising.. which translates to even greater results with marketing your small biz online.

I thought that you might appreciate knowing the dang near MAGICAL marketing principle that’s taken each of my side businesses from “Proven Concept” to a FULL-time income.

Effective Low Cost Marketing: The Shotgun/Laser Principle

Effective Low Cost Marketing (on a Shoestring!): The Shotgun/Laser Principle

So in today’s post I’m sharing a video I made for the Side Money Blueprint community that details the Shotgun/Laser technique.

Beside having a badass name, the Shotgun/Laser Principle can be used LOTS of ways… with online marketing, offline marketing… or even in a hybrid approach.

Most recently, I was able to use the principle to leverage info I got from some free online ads… into a wildly profitable direct mail campaign.

There’s no room for that ^ particular story in this short blog post… I wanted to get straight to the Shotgun/Laser Principle so YOU could start using it today.

But if you watch the video at the bottom of this post it goes into detail about how I took some free ads… used the intel gained from them to buy a highly specialized mailing list for under $6.00 TOTAL… and added hundreds of dollars daily profit to one of my campaigns.

Why Master this Principle of Low Cost Marketing for Small Business?

Lots of folks start small bizzes and make a little bit of actual money with them.

But not knowing this particular principle, they try and try… but never get to the mother lode of ENOUGH paying customers coming in with cheap enough ads… to really make a living.

In the Side Money Blueprint course, we get into all the details. But the general concept is enough to help most biz owners multiply their income.

So I’ll share the Shotgun/Laser Principle with you here and now…

Shotgun/Laser: the Low Cost Marketing One-Two PUNCH

Basically, the Shotgun/Laser technique is a two-step method.

First, we use a super cheap (or my FAVORITE variety of cheap: FREE!) ad that goes out to lots of people, to shake out just a few customers.

Low Cost Marketing Shotgun Approach

The “Shotgun” approach to advertising isn’t very efficient by itself. But the intel you get from that will show you where to focus your LASER.

High volume, low quality.
That’s the Shotgun.

Then, with the intel gained from that initial blast, you focus in on just the right kind of customer, with just the right kind of message.

Low Cost Marketing with laser focus

Once you know WHERE to point it, your Laser is much more effective

High quality, low volume.
That’s the Laser.

Most biz owners experiment with all kinds of advertising. The savvy ones measure the results and stick to what seems to be workign best, but there’s a better way.

Some biz owners use the “Shotgun Approach” by itself, putting out generalized campaigns designed to appeal to the largest number of people. Their ads are measured by the thousands in impressions.

Other biz owers use the “Laser Approach” all by itself… with one-to-one sales presentations and consultations. This has a higher percentage of closes, IF you’re in front of a qualified prospect.

What almost NO biz owner knows is that there’s a scientific way to virtually GUARANTEE yourself success… by properly

combining these two, very different approaches.

10X-ing the Results of Your Low Cost Marketing for Small Business

My first encounter with the Shotgun/Laser principle happened when I was nineteen years old, making a little side money with a lawn care business.

Marketing that biz was TEDIOUS, lemme tell you.

Because the pretty flyer my artsy friend put together was great at selling lawn care… but only if the prospective customer was a goodone.

By “good”, I mean that the homeowner was at the magical intersection of:

  • Loves a well-cared for lawn;
  • Doesn’t wanna care for it himSELF… and
  • Has the money to pay me.

If any of those qualities were missing, the flyer didn’t do a thing.

Effective Marketing on a Shoestring with Venn dynamics

My best friend Venn. The three-way intersection defining the ideal target client for lawn care. Click to embiggen.

I learned to stay away from neighborhoods that had really crappy lawns. If the folks there didn’t care about their lawns, I wasn’t going to convince them to start caring.

That left the neighborhoods with NICE lawns. But, funny thing…

No one left a sign out front saying, “A retiree lives here. I LOVE doing every single thing with my lawn myself.”

I also missed the signs saying, “I’d pay you to do my lawn for me, but we’re stretched a little thin. I don’t have the money to pay you. So I do everything myself.”

So the TEEEEEEEDIOUS method of going door to door was wearing on my partner and me.

Yes, we did shake down some bizness, but the going was slow. Seems that almost every door I knocked on, the answer was no.

Here was the problem: our flyer was a LASER. And a laser is a powerful tool, but not one that lights up everything… just the ONE thing you’re pointing it at. We could only hand one flyer to one customer at a time.

If that customer had any of the three qualities missing… loves his lawn, doesn’t have time, but does have money…

…it wouldn’t matter how good my flyer was, or how good of a pitch I gave.

We still wouldn’t get the sale.

SO here’s what we did instead of killing ourselves giving flyers to folks that didn’t want ‘em. I placed an ad in The Thrifty Nickel, a classifieds-only newspaper that went out all over Colorado Springs.

The "Shotgun" Blast isn't meant to be my ongoing advertising... just REVEAL where I should be aiming the Laser!

The “Shotgun” Blast isn’t meant to be our ongoing advertising… but we use it to REVEAL where we should be aiming the Laser!


We got some phone calls, but truth be told… it was kind of disappointing.

Only three customers.

Aaaand… we had spent about twenty bucks.

shotgun approach low cost marketing for small business

Shotgun Blast is seen all over the place, but only a few respond. THIS is where to aim the LASER

But then..!  We noticed something.

All three phone calls came from the same neighborhood… and two of them were on the very same STREET.

With the Thrifty Nickel Ad, we had found a neighborhood where people were more receptive to lawn care.


So while my partner did one lawn, I went and down the street with my flyers and scored seven(7) more jobs.


Steppers, do you see how combining these two advertising methods worked out here?

The Shotgun [by itself] saved us from bloody knuckles, knocking on doors all day long before we found the “right” neighborhood.

And the Laser [by itself] worked extremely well, but only if we happened to be in the right neighborhood.

We could have continued doing “okay” by using either method all by itself

But COMBINING the two methods ROCKED the HOUSE!

That very day, passing the flyer up and down the street we scored SEVEN jobs. And in the days to come we scored several more jobs in that area, by flyer and by referral as word started getting around.

It didn’t take a lot of paid advertising… because the paid advertising revealed where to go with the lower cost ads, our flyers.

In a nutshell, that’s the Shotgun/Laser technique I discovered with OFF-line advertising almost 30 years ago.

The More Low Cost Marketing for Small Business Changes, the More it Stays the Same

NOW using this principle is easier than ever with both online and offline marketing.

low cost small business marketing efficient and effective

The Shotgun/Laser Principle can multiply your bottom line results faster than ever before in today’s social media marketing dominated world

The “Shotguns” of days past were classified ads, radio and tv spots, carrier-route mail. They took days, sometimes weeks or more ( the effectiveness of yellow page ads were measure year to year).

But now… a “Shotgun approach” Craigslist post or Facebook ad takes minutes to put together and hours to get the results.

The “Laser” of a phone call or one-to-one presentation has been replaced by text messaging, private messages and webinars.

Stepper, would YOU like to get up to speed on this age-old marketing principle… and how to se it TODAY to multiply your bottom line income?

I teach classes on how to really kick tail with this idea, updated for the 21st century with social media, email, SEO, et cetera.

Kurt, Where’s that Low Cost Marketing for Small Business Video You Promised?

So you’re probably wondering about the “greater detail” in the video I mentioned at the beginning of this email. The one where I showed how some intel we got from the “Shotgun” approach led to me buying a super-targeted ‘snail-mail’ list for under $6.00… and added hundreds of dollars per day to my bottom line profits?

It’s pretty awesome. We do not one, but  three case studies of the Shotgun/Laser technique in action, each of which catapulted a small, side business into a respectable full-time income!

I was keeping this strictly for my Students in the Side Money Blueprint community, but decided the info was too good to keep to myself. SO here’s the video, 34 minutes in length.

If you watch it, my only request is that you set aside a half hour and watch the WHOLE thing, and also leave a comment and/or share it with a business owning friend that could use a shot in the arm. Here ya go:

This video is only one of the teachings from my class, Side Money Blueprint.

I developed the Side Money Blueprint for folks that don’t mind doing a little work… but are FRUSTRATED that their side business idea isn’t generating the income they know it could… if they could just find where all the great customers are hiding out!

The Shotgun/Laser principle is just one of the keys that thousands of business owners like you have used to take their “side hustle”… to a real income-replacing business.

low cost marketing for small business: the Side Money Blueprint

Low Cost Marketing for Small Business: The Side Money Blueprint can 10X YOUR Bottom Line

To register for the double-your-money-back guarantee class, click here.

If not, keep coming here for free general marketing principles and maybe I’ll win you over after you start making a pile of moolah!


Keep Stepping,


Business Owners: This is the Next Thing You Should Do

copywriting with clarity clarence

In this blog post: a “dirty” secret about how to make more sales and profits in your small business, just by making a few tweaks to what you’re probably already doing.
By the time you finish this quick, low-calorie blog post (take ya three minutes, yo)…

…you’ll know I’m right.

A few tweaks will make you a bigger pile. Invest about three minutes with me and see if you agree.

Ready? Here we go:

We all crave clarity. That’s the reason you read this far in the first place, isn’t it?

I didn’t try to come up with something clever or super-official sounding for the title….

…just said, “THIS is the next thing you should do.”

And it worked.

Proof positive: you’re reading the post now, silly.

And I’m delivering on the implied promise in the title. I believe that learning to use the right words to get your clients to take the right actions… IS the next thing you should do.

Effective business communication is what you need to make more money.

Finn is confused. A confused mind says "No!"

Finn is confused. A confused mind says “No!”

And “effective business communication” means being clear.

Clear about what benefit your client will have, if they do business with you.

Most small biz owners wouldn’t have a big problem telling people what it is that they do… IF they were explaining it to a friend, or someone they just met.

But sit ‘em down to WRITE an AD… and they go into what I call business-zombie mode.
Here’s a true-to-life example that I borrowed from the “Kopywriting Checklist”:


Zombie Kurt. You've infected me with your boring-nesssssss....

Zombie Kurt. You’ve infected me with your boring-nesssssss….

“We are a full-service agency started in 2003 committed to satisfying our customer’s business needs by creating custom conversion utilities. We strive to specialize in ecommerce driven products and have extensive background in the subject spanning 15 years of experience. Our specialty is the current trend toward mobile applications…”



Wake me when it’s over. I still don’t know what this guy does and if it relates to me.


clarity clarence copywriting

A little clarity goes a long way for Customer Clarence

“Nice to meet you. What do I do? So, if you own a Shopify store, I created this app that basically can double your sales in under a week. G’head and download a free trial on your phone… check it out!”

Better, yes?

If you happen to own a Shopify store, this fella is your lobster.

​And you know it. Right away.

So again… Back to why you decided to read this post in the first place. It was the power of the right words.

“THIS is the next thing you should do.”

So, reader… what DO you need to do next?

If you own a small business, what you need to do is audit every single dang thing you have out there in print and online that’s intended to sell your business.
And change it to something that will actually sell.

Make it clearer, using this simple template:

[result your customer wants] + [timeframe you can deliver it] – [objection]

That formula will do for now. Then make your ‘call to action” extremely obvious:

“To [get this benefit], [take this action].

That ‘action’ could be call now, click here, sign up…. you get the idea.

If a person that reads your copy can actually get the benefit you are promising, and they actually want it… guess what?

You don’t have to be cutesy, clever, or speak in business-zombie mode.

But your clear communication will work. You’ll get more customers, more sales, more profits. If you just tweak a few things about how you communicate what your business for people.

Hey, wouldn’t it be great if someone was teaching a class on this sort of thing?

​Teaching small business owners how to make more sales… just by changing the way they communicate about their products and services?

Good news for you my friend.

This is just one of the segments in my upcoming webinar this Saturday.

I’ll be teaching [how to make $1,000 more monthly profits], in [the next 30 days], even if [you don’t know a thing about marketing].

This webinar will give you the power… to get your customers to take action!

[To make more sales and profits in your small business], you’ll want to [click right here and register for this free class].

Hah-ha.. wink, wink. See what I just did there?

Teaching the principles by example. Socrates ain’t got nothing on this kid.


I’ll see you on the other side, Stepper… the first ten folks to register from this email get a surprise gift. You could be one of ’em if you act quickly.

Keep Stepping,


Side Money Blueprint Copywriting amd Marketing Class

Side Money Blueprint: Add $1,000/Month to Your Cash Flow in 30 Days, Even if You’ve Never Owned a Business

P.S. This groundbreaking two-hour webinar is titled Side Money Blueprint: From 0 to $1,000 Monthly in 30 Days, Even if You’ve Never Owned a Business. It was originally designed to help “wantrepreneurs” to finally start their own biz.

But… I’ve surveyed about 50 of the people that are already signed up to come this Saturday and have found that a surprising number of them already own businesses, but need a shot in the arm to get more clients!

That’s okay, the principles we’ll be using Saturday apply both to start-ups and fire-ups. So if you are already running a small business, and an extra $1,000/month would make a difference… it’s certainly doable with these same techniques you’ll get in this two-hour class.

OH! and if you were thinking of coming but the time doesn’t work out for you, REGISTER ANYWAY. The recording will be available for two weeks.

Okay, talk soon. See you on the webinar.

Shoestring Marketing Strategy for Non-Profits

clean water

Hello Steppers! Today I’m writing about using a Shoestring marketing strategy… for non-profits.

Shoestring101 is known for helping folks start a business, or revitalize an existing one with new sales… but spending NO or LOW dough to get the results.

But lean entrepreneurship isn’t just for business.

shoestring marketing for non-profits Ennu Rita

Ennu Rita loves single mamas

These ideas aren’t just useful to make a pile of money for yourself… It’s possible to use today’s Shoestring101 marketing strategy to raise money for your favorite non-profit causes as well.

Why I Use Shoestring Marketing Strategies for Non-Profits

If there’s any ‘business’ that needs to be lean, making use of all its resources without spending unnecessarily, it’s the not-for-profit variety. So any way we can add fuel to the fire without burning up capital is a welcome ‘marketing’ strategy.

Recently, my wife Sabrina and I became “advocates” for a village in Uganda. It’s a cooperative of about thirty single mothers and their families. Many of these moms have been abandoned by their husbands or widowed. Others have children as the result of rape or even human trafficking.

But they are all beautiful mamas in search of a better life for themselves and their children.

We’re teaching them how to be self-sufficient; they learn modern gardening techniques… raise dairy cows and egg-laying hens… build viable shelters… and pump clean well water.

Beauty4AshesHeaderThis is through a Christian ministry called Beauty For Ashes Uganda, though single mothers from all walks of life are welcomed into family.

But while we are teaching them to be self-reliant in a very male-dominated society, these ladies do have some immediate needs: medical, shelter and food, school fees for their children. In Abokoro (our village) those needs are urgent.

So here’s what an “advocate” does. Sabrina and I donate from our own incomes to help support the village, yes. But the real juice comes when we are able to recruit others to help as well.

An “advocate” is a voice for the village (as opposed to the Village Voice 😉 ) to invite others to learn about Abokoro and consider donating to this worthy cause.

Why lean entrepreneurship principles for non-profits?

The necessary evil that most ministries and non-profits face is fundraising. Often, monies that could go to the people they’re intended to benefit… need to be funneled back into the ministry for “advertising”.

Otherwise the ministry could wither and die from a lack of ongoing curation of supporters.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

You don’t have to “spend money to make money” in a business… and neither do you have to take money to raise money for a non-profit.

So how do we go about recurring lots and lots of people to donate… without incurring costs that could and should go to the Villagers’ support?

How do we employ the Shoestring marketing strategies for non-profits?

Simple. Sabrina and I use Shoestring101 principles to reach our “target market”, then build and deepen our relationship with others that feel as strongly as we do about our particular cause.

For-Profit Marketing Principles Build Support for Non-Profits

In another post here on Shoestring101, I analyze Noah Kagan’s whirlwind business model in which he kicked off a bona fide business and drove over $3,000 worth of sales, $1,000 of which was profit… in just 24 hours.

No joke. EVERY aspiring biz owner should check it out.

If you’re interested in starting a “real” side business

(not so-called internet marketing, where you make money on the internet by teaching people to make money on the internet, wink wink)

…I suggest that for inspiration you check out Noah Kagan’s “Sumo Jerky” post.

Also, consider checking out the post on this site, Another Case Study: Five Steps to Five Figures to see how I used the Shoestring101 principles to take a capital investment of $62.66 and build a real local business operating at about a  $10,000 monthly profit… while you were watching.

But I digress.

Before I send you off to read how Noah and I were able to build respectable incomes very quickly from humble beginnings… stay here a minute and read how those same principles can be used to build a support base for your favorite cause.

Shoestring Marketing Strategy for Non-Profits Step ONE: Identify

A saying that you’ll find all over this site is that it’s EASY to make money: all you need is

1) access to a thing of value and

2) a way to communicate with folks that value that thing.

The thing of value is the act of feeding, clothing and sheltering hungry mamas. I want to find those awesome folks that care about that. We just need a medium: a way to communicate.

So for today’s example I’m going to use Facebook as the medium, although almost any platform… digital or no… can be used with the same order and number of steps.

How to Use a Shoestring Marketing Strategy to Build Your Non-Profit

Here’s a step-by-step progression that I’ve used with Facebook to curate support for Abokoro, “my” village in Uganda:

First, I’ll simply put up a post of one of our byooootiful ladies or their children, or both.

Shoestring Marketing Strategy for Non-Profits

Recent project by Beauty For Ashes Uganda: wells drawing clean drinking water!

At this time, I’m not trying to ask for anything. I just want to see who appreciates the post. That’s all.

Kind of like how Noah, when he was building Sumo Jerky, just pasted up a picture of some jerky and said, “Any of y’all like jerky?”

Again, right now asking for support is kind of “like” repellent; I would rather see my post shoot to the top with a lot of likes than to make an impassioned plea for support at this time.

Just wanna get some exposure… I don’t post about all the deets or ask for money just yet.

What we do want is to find out who is sympathetic.. “likes” our particular cause… and begin a conversation with them.

So after putting up a picture showing the most recent story or result that Beauty For Ashes Uganda is getting… I watch for who “likes” and shares the post.

Shoestring Marketing Strategy for Non-Profits Step TWO: Dialogue

Here’s the next step after getting a little interest: I send a short thank-you to everyone that “liked”, commented, or shared the post. It goes something like this:

Hey there Shelley! I hope everything is going just amazing for you. THANK you for “liking” my post about Abokoro Village. Would you like to see more stories? I can send you a link.

Notice that at this point I’m not gushing about how important this work is (though it is), how much the villagers need prayers and help (though they do), or how much I want Shelley to become a Villager (though she could!) I just want to start a conversation.

How to Contact Sympathetic Followers for your Non-Profit

Here is how I get PILES of these messages out in short order:

Now, the clean water post above got 36 likes. there’s a little snippet that says Nicole Rose, Lynae Thompson, Kelly Sigfrids, and 33 others like this.

  1. By hovering over 33 others, I get a drop-down list of “likers”.
  2. By clicking on 33 others I get every single liker by name and profile.
  3. By hovering over each individual name, a dialog box comes up telling me if we’re friends already and prompting me to send a pm (private message).
  4. I click on that, write the first message personalized to “Shelley”… but then copy the message.
  5. After sending to the first, I hover over the next name, follow the pm prompt, and CHANGE the first name to the person I’m writing now.
  6. Lather, rinse, repeat. After doing this a few times it becomes a rhythm.

Voila! 36 messages sent out thanking folks that liked my post… and asking, would they like more..?

If Shelley writes back, and Bill, and Mark, and Josephine… I can have several pm boxes going at the same time, helping me  spread the word.

Shoestring Marketing Strategy for Non-Profits Step THREE: Deepen

In these conversations I have one objective: to get my liker to the next step!

I’ll ask a few, prepared questions:

Would you like a link to the Beauty For Ashes Uganda website?

Would you like to know more about how to get involved?

Also I’ll be responding to questions:

“How did you get involved with this?”

“How can I help?”

Now, though I do have a few prepared answers, it’s not strictly about canned statements and automation. I do want to have meaningful conversations and meet people exactly where they are.

But when you get a lot of the same questions, it’s good to be ready with good answers to those questions. I have a few prepared lines, but I’ll modify them according to who I’m talking to and how our conversation is going.

Next Steps for Marketing Your Non-Profit on a Shoestring

Some folks that I’ve sent only the first message to want to jump on board immediately.

Others might need a bit of coaxing.

Still others will decline, either because they don’t think they have the money or time, or that they are already committed elsewhere. But they almost always wish me well with the ministry.

So here’s how it goes:

Those that are ready to roll, I’ll send a link to the donor website with instructions… but also ask them to coffee if they live near me.

Those that need a bit of coaxing, I ask to coffee.

Those that decline, I say,

“Hey thanks for liking the post though. Every bit helps when I’m trying to get the word out. Would you consider sharing the post?”

They may say yes, or may even ask how to do that:

“You just click ‘share’ on the bottom right of the post and then it goes out to folks you know. Don’t worry, I’ll monitor the post and handle any questions that come up about Beauty for Ashes Uganda.”

Gaining Commitments for your Non-Profit: Even Deeper Conversations

By asking my friend to coffee, I’ve opened the door to discuss how they may know more about my non-profit.

And they know it.

So I don’t beat around the bush. I’m kind of blunt. I don’t ask if… I ask how they will want to be involved.

Shoestring Marketing for Non-Profits Mama plus Kids

Ugandan single Mama plus her kiddos

After a few minutes of catching up if we’re old friends, I’ll open up my laptop right in the coffee shop and take them to the Beauty For Ashes Uganda website.

After explaining the medical needs program… the school fees for children… the mosquito net initiative… the dairy cows and egg-laying hens… the entrepreneurship training for single moms… and the “Become a Villager” option…

…it’s GO time.

I don’t ask,

“Would you like to donate?”

…which has a yes-or-no possible answer. Instead it’s

How would you like to be involved today?”

Then smile and shut up.


And almost always, walk them through the steps on the computer screen. We get out their debit card right there and everything.

So far everyone that’s agreed to coffee with me has also become a Villager, or more.

(A Villager is either, well… a Villager living over there in Uganda… or stateside it’s a donor that’s committed to giving $23 per month to match the average monthly income of one of our single mothers.)

Some folks have gone the extra mile and given one-time or recurring donations to specific programs.

For example, one young lady I met with that loves animals gave dairy cows.

Another that is involved in the medical field here in the U.S., gave toward medical needs in Uganda.

My mission is to match people with their mission. What they are most happy to support.

Shoestring Marketing Strategy for Non-Profits Step FOUR: Follow Up

Finally, after recruiting folks to help with this most worthy of causes… the care, feeding, and education of widows and orphans… the job isn’t anywhere near done.

We’ve got to follow up with these helpers and let them know about the difference they’re

Shoestring Marketing for Non-Profits Brandi Lea and Lucy

When Villagers from two continents collide, it’s HUG TIME!!


Beside the general “Beauty For Ashes Uganda” page on Facebook, Sabrina and I also post in a group page on Facebook called “Abokoro Village”.

This shoestring marketing for non-profit strategy costs: ZERO dollars, but a bit of time must be invested to keep the page updated.

This lets us stay in touch with our stateside Villagers as well as our Villagers in Uganda. We all get to contribute posts and share news.

The Final Shoestring Marketing Strategy for Non-Profits

This final shoestring marketing strategy for non-profits is to create a culture that celebrates sharing.

We (Sabrina and I) like to encourage Villagers to share posts that we put in the Abokoro Village page and on our  personal Facebook walls.

We “like” and share with each other… and that gives Abokoro top of mind awareness with our stateside Villagers.

It also encourages them by example to multiply our efforts in getting the word out.

Shoestring ‘Marketing’ Strategy for Non-Profits SUMMARY:

So here’s a quick rundown of all that we’ve covered above^:

Post images of your non-profit’s work with just the purpose of getting a few likes at first.

Establish personal contact… private message,

then link,

then appointment,

then ask to refer others.

Go deep, not wide at first.

Then lather, rinse, repeat.

Stay in touch with your donors.

And ask them to share as well.

Bingo! You’ve learned to promote your message,Shoestring Marketing Strategy for Non-Profits Checklist
for those who need it,
to those that care and can help.

How YOU Can Help

Finally, no good blog post would be complete without a “call to action”. Usually, in most blog posts this is an invitation to:

Comment on the blog;

Provide your email address for deeper content;

Buy a product.

But today may call to action is to consider sending a one-time, or even ongoing support to my village in Uganda.

Shoestring Marketing Strategy For Non-Profits: Join Our Village!Here are the instructions:

  1. Go to  the “Join Our Village” page on Beauty For Ashes Uganda.
  2. Select “One Time” or “Recurring” donation.
  3. On the “Purpose” drop-down menu, choose “Abokoro Village”
  4. Complete with your debit card information.
  5. Print out a receipt for your taxes; BFAU is a 501(c)3 organization

An alternate way to support Beauty For Ashes Uganda is to make your Amazon purchases on the “Smile.Amazon” site.

If you already buy stuff from Amazon, here are the steps:

  1. Instead of straight-up Amazon.com, go to smile.Amazon.com

    Shoestring Marketing Strategy for Non-Profits Amazon Smile

    smile.amazon.com. Choose “Brandi Lea International” as your charity and your Amazon purchase will benefit widows and orphans in Uganda

  2. Sign in with your normal account information. If it’s stored on your computer or phone this should be automatic.
  3. Just under the search bar, look for the “Supporting” prompt. This will
  4. Choose or search for  “Brandi Lea International”. Brandi is the founder Beauty For Ashes Uganda
  5. Make whatever purchase you were gonna make in the first place. Amazon will send a percent of your purchase to the charity of your choice… in this case you have chosen Beauty For Ashes Uganda. Thank you.
  6. Just remember to go to Smile.Amazon instead of plain vanilla Amazon. Save it and anything you buy will accrue a percent toward BFAU.

Okay, Steppers! Thanks again for making it to the bottom of another blog post. If you have questions about how to apply the steps I’ve outlined above to YOUR special cause, write me in the comments.

Keep Stepping,