Every now and again on the internet, somebody comes out and loudly proclaims that they’re going to let their freak flag fly.

Usually, they communicate this via a sentence with two clauses. The first clause says something freaky, and the second clause says, “and I’m PROUD OF IT.”

Sometimes the something freaky is relatively commonplace. “I like to dance a lot”, for example, or “I watch American Idol.” These are small, simple things that probably don’t affect someone’s desire to do commerce with you.

Sometimes the something freaky is a matter of identity. “I’m gay” or “I’m a Republican” or “I’m a gay Republican.” These are bigger things that can affect someone’s desire to do commerce with you – in either direction. If they share or approve of your identity, it might increase your chances. If they disapprove of your identity, it might decrease them.

Sometimes the something freaky is, well, freaky. “I have four wives”, for example, or “I regularly contemplate suicide”. These things are outside of the mainstream. They might scare or confuse people. They might be illegal, or deemed to be dangerous. These are the things that definitively affect desire to do commerce with you – again, in either direction.

As an internet business owner or personality brand, there’s a lot of internal debate as to whether it’s truly safe to let your freak flag fly.

Can I say I have purple hair?
Can I say I’m into BDSM?
Can I say I voted for Bush?

These are the things we think about.

For some business owners, their freakiness is a critical part of their brand. Yes, they’re an accountant, but they also do roller derby. See? They’re quirky!

For others, it’s an ideological issue. Certain issues about their past or present are key parts of their identities or politics, and they only want to do business with people who share those identities or politics.

But… is it safe?

It depends on your definition of safe.

When some people ask this question, they’re asking, “Will I lose money?”

When others ask, they’re asking, “Will I get attacked?”

When still others ask, they’re asking, “Will I still be loved?”

First, money.

Depending on how freaky you are, and depending on your line of work, yes, you may lose money. If you are flying your flag for legitimate ideological or political reasons, then you’re probably okay with that.

People like me can probably help you find markets that gel with your particular brand of freak, and you’ll probably be okay. But the thing about ideological flag flying is that those who really mean it? They’re usually okay even if they’re not okay. They’re okay with being not okay. Something else matters more.

At the same time, with the right branding, yes, a degree of freakiness can actually gain you money. If you’re the best drag queen web designer in Texas, well, yeah. There’s probably a market for that. That market doesn’t know that it exists yet, but good news travels fast.

Next, physical or virtual safety.

Certain types of freakiness tend to spark violence. Some people get pretty darn angry when they come into contact with politics they don’t agree with. Some people don’t want there to be any drag queen web designers in Texas, or anywhere else for that matter.

In some industries, just being a woman is freaky enough to get rocks thrown at you.

The freakier you are and the more public you are, the more likely you are to get attacked, physically or virtually. If one of your life missions is to stand up and take those attacks so that the world will one day change, I commend and respect you. You’re doing God’s work, and you know it. Thank you.

But if you’re not ready to take on that mantel, you might want to keep your mouth shut and your head down. If you’re freaky and public about it, yup, somebody’s going to attack. If you can’t handle that, be less freaky, or be less public.

Last, love.

There is a prevailing belief in many circles that says that the weirder you are, the better you are. Like Dr. Kelly says – we have a fear of being ordinary.  (Edit: Apparently he got that from Brene Brown.) There are certain belief systems that say that if you’re a relatively normal person, you are de facto a loser. There is a countercultural belief that if we are weird enough, we will be awesome, and therefore loved.

Having purple hair does not make you awesome because to think that would be hairist. If you think purple hair makes you more awesome, ipso facto you think un-purple hair is less awesome. That’s hairism. Not cool. See a shrink.

The blending of business and personal on the internet – in partnership with our old pal social media – has made many people measure the amount they are loved in Facebook shares, retweets, blog comments and, yes, sales.

So if we let our freak flag fly and people say, “You’re awesome” and then they buy stuff? We feel safe. But if they don’t say we’re awesome or they don’t buy stuff? Total identity collapse and reinforcement of every mean thing anybody ever said.

What each of us needs to think about – and think about honestly – is WHY we want to fly that freak flag in the first place.

I will list possible reasons, from least frequent to most frequent.

First, and least common, is genuine politics or ideology. If it’s truly political or ideological, you might have a need to know that the people you’re working with are your idea of “good people”. They can’t be gay bashers or racists or cat owners or whatever.

In those cases, you must understand that you are choosing to let your ideology take precedence over profit. You are allowed to do this. Yes, you might make more money, and yes, you might make less. You must be okay with that. You’re allowed to influence it – you don’t have to sit idly by and watch the bills pile up. But you have to understand that this is your choice and, yes, be proud of it.

If you think your freak flag makes you hip or quirky or cool, well, you might be right at the surface level. If you are seeking primarily shallow or inexpensive interactions, hip, quirky coolness can lead to a temporary spike in sales. This is also true if you’re selling a relatively competitive commodity. If I can buy what you sell on every street corner, and both price and quality are pretty much the same, your quirky coolness might be a market advantage.

Be aware, though, that if the purchase really matters, people will pick quality over affinity every time. Even other Texan drag queens will buy 100 great, cheap websites from a boring loser before they buy one mediocre or overpriced one from someone “just like them”.

But the most common reason I see for flag flying is simple insecurity. The flyer was hurt or rejected, probably repeatedly. Early life sucked, and it didn’t improve much. They feel oppressed and repressed. In response, they have decided that GODDAMNIT THEY’RE GOING TO LET THEIR FREAK FLAG FLY.

It is important to note that, while this is reactionary, it is allowed. It’s your business. You can do whatever you want. If you want to turn your business into a form of therapy or redemption or activism, that is your right.

But it is reactionary.

If I decide that my Mormon upbringing was too repressive and I respond to that by saying a particular dirty word fifteen times a post, I get to do that. And you get to be offended by it.

If I decide that women aren’t entitled to act sexually in society and I respond to that by dressing in barely more than a bikini, I get to do that. And your wife gets to tell you you’re not allowed to read IttyBiz anymore. (Your employer is also allowed to firewall me.)

If I decide that the world is mean to fat people and I respond to that by becoming a loud weight activist all over my business blog, I get to do that. And you get to find it boring and unrelated.

The challenge that comes with creating a hybrid between business and therapy (or business and redemption, or business and activism) is that it’s hard to prioritize both. It’s hard to serve both masters. Generally, these businesses aren’t very therapeutic, they aren’t very redemptive, they aren’t very activisitic, and they aren’t very profitable.

Bummer, but so it goes.

Here’s the takeaway: If somebody is freaked out by you, they will not trust you.

If they do not trust you, they will not engage in meaningful commerce with you.

And I’m not just talking about those pesky rich, white, Republican males. This is true for everybody. As a species, we are genetically programmed to fear those who are unlike us. It’s in our DNA, and it takes CONSTANT strength, open-mindedness and perseverance to override this reflex.

Yes, the white Republican male is likely to be a little freaked out by the drag queen, but here’s the part that we, the elitist liberal left, don’t like to mention. The drag queen is freaked out by the white Republican male, as well.

The white Republican male says, “Eeew, why do you have to be so out there? What are you trying to prove? What are you trying to hide?” Yes. Yes, he does.

But the drag queen does the same thing. The drag queen says, “Eeew, why do YOU have to be so fake and boring? What are YOU trying to prove? What are YOU trying to hide?”

This is not an issue about freak flags. This is not an issue of politics or ideology. Ultimately, this is an issue about the marketplace.

Anything you do to limit your market limits your market.

Sometimes that creates an amazing polarity that makes you rich like Scrooge McDuck.

Sometimes that creates the lulling melody of chirping crickets and collection calls.

If you want to let your freak flag fly, you won’t get any argument from me. But you have to know why you’re doing it, and you have to take responsibility for the consequences.

About the author: Naomi Dunford started IttyBiz in 2006. In her free time, she likes to… ha! Free time. You’re adorable. Learn more about her here and catch up with her on Twitter or Facebook.

After eight years, I’m finally changing things up. :)

Next month, we’re significantly changing both the pricing and the structure of one-on-one sessions. I’m moving over to a longer-term, intensive model of coaching and strategy work.

This means that, as of June 1st, we will no longer be selling hourly, a la carte consulting. We’ll be working with clients at a three-month minimum package, and due to the intensive nature, the price is going way up.

What This Means For You:

Up until June 1st, you can still buy consulting at current rates and structure. For example:

  • 1 session is $225.
  • 6 sessions is $1215. ($135 discount)
  • 12 sessions is $2295. ($405 discount)
  • 24 sessions is $4590. ($810 discount)

You can use your sessions however you want. You can come in twice a month, once a week, or just schedule your sessions whenever you need them. For a frame of reference, you could use 12 sessions for weekly calls for three months, or every other week for six months. You could use 24 sessions for a once-a-week call until around the end of the year. In all cases, you have 18 months to use your sessions, and you do not need to schedule them now.

Custom payment plans are available. Let us know what you need and we’ll do what we can to make it happen. We are remarkably creative that way.

If you already have sessions in the bank, you are safe. You can use them just the way you used to. Any new sessions you purchase between now and June 1st can also be used just the same as they always were. Links for new sessions are at the end of this email, and you can get in touch with the ninjas to find out how many sessions you currently have.

What To Do Next:

If you would like to lock in one-on-one time before the change, you have two options.

1. You can go to this page and reserve hours instantly. You can pay via PayPal, credit card, or debit. (E-checks are fine.) Once you pay, you’ll get an intake questionnaire, a scheduling link, and contact information for questions and such.

2. You can set up a no-charge call with me to answer any questions you have. I can tell you if I can help in your weird situation, or we can figure out how many sessions will get you where you want to go. We can also talk about budget issues, or arrange a payment plan. To do this, fill out our contact form and say, “I’d like to set up a call with Naomi” or similar, and the ninjas will get you scheduled.

Naomi DunfordIf you have any questions at all, just get in touch, and either the ninjas or I will take good care of you. We’ve been doing this for a long time – no question is too small or too weird. :)

Thanks for being a reader, and I hope you have a great day.

xx
ND

About the author: Naomi Dunford started IttyBiz in 2006. In her free time, she likes to… ha! Free time. You’re adorable. Learn more about her here and catch up with her on Twitter or Facebook.

Launches are fun.

(OK, that’s not true. Launches are lucrative. When you look back at them, you say, “Wasn’t that fun?” and you think it was fun because something good happened at the end. This is very similar to childbirth.)

Making money while you sleep is also fun.

(Fine. You’re right. I suppose that’s not really true either, because you’re sleeping when it happens. I don’t know why you have to be so pedantic about this. Sheesh.)

On this topic, one of the questions that I get asked most frequently is the following:

“Can’t I just put it in my store and have people buy any time they want?”

The “it” they are talking about is their thing. Their course, their ebook, their membership program, their whatnot.

Can they avoid the whole scarcity debacle and say, “BEHOLD! My thing!” and put it in their store and leave it there forever?

Let us discuss this today.

First, a brief definition of terms.

The types of products we are talking about today are ones that, theoretically, could be taken away. If you’re putting a novel into the Kindle store, you are obviously not going to make it available for 10 days and then take it away again. If you are introducing a new line of soap, ditto. So what we’re talking about are things like information products, courses, membership sites, and the aforementioned whatnot.

If at any point during the reading of this article, you look at me quizzically and say, “Uh… why would I take it away?” then I am not talking about you. You may continue reading because I am smart and funny, or you may go away and come back tomorrow where there will be something new to read here.

For the purposes of this article, we’re going to take some liberties with the definition of both “evergreen” and “product launch”.

In this article, when we say “evergreen”, we do not necessarily mean that the offering will be permanently for sale, or has no timely elements. For the purposes of this article, when we say evergreen, we mean:

“Once this thing is out in the world, the general public can buy anytime. They can buy today, they can buy tomorrow, they can buy four months from now. At least for the foreseeable future, I have no plans on taking this thing away.”

In this article, when we say “launch”, we do not necessarily mean the first-time release of a brand new offering. For the purposes of this article, when we say launch, we mean:

“This thing is not available all the time. There is a window during which it is available for purchase or registration. At the end of that window, availability will be taken away, either forever, or for a while.”

So, to recap. Evergreen means “buy whenever”. Launch means “there is a window and it closes”. Got me so far?

OK. Now let’s look at why people like each option.

People like launch because, when it works, it’s a whole lot of money at once.

People like evergreen because, when it works, people buy all the time.

Launch = holy mother of God, that’s a lot of money!

Evergreen = look! money dripping in every day! ka-ching!

Now let’s look at why people DON’T like each option.

People don’t like launch because:

  • It’s a lot of work.
  • What about people who don’t buy at launch? What if people don’t have the money at launch? What if they’re on vacation? What if they’re at the hospital with their mother getting her hip replaced? What if they need some time to think?
  • Isn’t launch exhausting?
  • What if it doesn’t make any money?
  • Launching seems like something you can suck at.

People don’t like evergreen because:

Blah blah blah, drippy drippy drippy WHERE’S MY BIG PAYDAY?

Still with me? OK.

Ready for me to tell you what to do now?

Awesome.

There are three reasons to put this category of product out into the world.

  1. To make money. Ideally, lots of it.
  2. To add to your general feelings of comfort, security, well-roundedness and stuff.
  3. To provide credibility to your brand for other reasons. (Speaking, coaching, etc.)

If you are in category 1, you have two options.

  • A: You can launch it and take it away, either temporarily or forever.
  • B: You can launch it at a discount and put it in your store, evergreen, for a higher price.

If you want money, there is no non-launch option.

You know how they say, “Put it in your store and you’ll make money every day”?

Or, “If you only sell one copy a day, you’ll make $Blah,blah,blah a year”?

This, like communism, works on paper but not in practice.

The reason people buy during launch is because there is a good reason to buy during launch. There is a reason to buy right now. Even if that reason is “look at this shiny object, perhaps I will part with some of my money now”, there is a reason to buy RIGHT NOW.

That is what drives the majority of sales. Not in launches, not on the internet, but in life.

Take away the reason, you take away the sales. Boo.

If you are in category two, you also have two options.

  • A: You can lightly launch it at a discount and put it in your store, evergreen, for a higher price.
  • B: You can just stick it in your store and link to it every now and again. (You could also buy ads.)

In this case, a mini-launch is nice because it brings in a little money at the beginning, but more importantly, it draws attention. Then all those people who are going to be buying while you sleep? They will now be aware of the product’s existence, thereby increasing the likelihood they will buy it while you sleep.

(I am still looking for a way to get people to buy while THEY sleep.)

This option works particularly well for lower priced products. If your product is $50, this can work.

If your product is $2,000, I wouldn’t recommend this, UNLESS you’re planning to slash the price on Black Friday or something. Then everybody looks throughout the year and says, “Gee, $2000. I sure wish I could afford that.” They put pictures of you and your product on their vision board and when you put it on 50% off sale in November they say, “See? Manifesting works!” and give you a thousand dollars. Yay!

One thing to remember, though, is that if you do this, you MUST have a link on your navigation bar that is called Store, Shop, or Products, and this product must be there. You can’t have it on a random page. You would think this would be obvious. You would be wrong.

If you are in category three, you can do whatever you want.

It doesn’t matter because you don’t care anyway.

BUT! If you are heavily invested in selling your coaching, mentoring, servicing, speaking, or interpretive dancing, you might want to avoid a launch. When you don’t really give a hoot if they buy the product since you’re only doing it for the cred, a launch draws attention away from what you’re really trying to sell. Boo.

Ready for the Executive Summary?

Great.

If you want money, you launch.

If you want the coziness of occasional drip sales, you go evergreen.

If you don’t care, it doesn’t matter.

There. Wasn’t that easy?

 

About the author: Naomi Dunford started IttyBiz in 2006. In her free time, she likes to… ha! Free time. You’re adorable. Learn more about her here and catch up with her on Twitter or Facebook.