Please introduce yourself.
I’m Traci Gregory. I do Social Media consulting for companies and for PR firms. I work to help them establish an internet presence across social media platforms and to understand how they can develop their ‘tribe’ or community.
How did you get into internet marketing?
I started working on the internet in 1999, developing a financial services website for mortgage banking and financing large blocks of securities. At that time there weren’t a lot of small mortgage companies on the internet and it was sort of an outrageous thing to do. I spent about $15,000 on software and web hosting and took three months to build my first website. I got to the top of the search engines relatively quickly and started generating a good income within about six months.
It is much more complicated today and much more competitive. With that website, I never bought advertising, never did mailers, I was the antithesis of a mortgage banker in that I didn’t do any of the things everyone else was doing to generate business. Mine was all coming in over the internet. And I had a very sophisticated client base, mega-jumbo loans of several millions of dollars; stock loans in seemingly unbelievable amounts. Very different landscape then, than now!
That business grew to about $250K annually before the financial crisis of 2007, which cut my income in half. I didn’t really like the business when the money was good . . . when the money disappeared; I decided to do something else.
I’d been on Facebook since Zuckerberg decided to allow adults, I had college and high school aged children who’d been on it for years, and I wanted to know what it was all about. At about the same time I started switching my websites to the wordpress content management program because they were so much simpler to manage than creating each page in Dreamweaver.
And I was fairly early into Twitter because it was called a ‘micro-blogging’ platform, and I had decided blogs were the next big thing.
The switch to social media as a career was one of those serendipitous evens – I was giving everyone I knew advice on how to do blogging, Facebook, Twitter and get the attention they wanted, and an acquaintance who owns a Public Relations firm asked how much I charged to consult. He actually said, “I’m willing to pay you to think.”
I told him $100 an hour, and he said, “Done. Book me for three hours Saturday.” And I was off!
What are your most successful projects?
Facebook constantly makes changes to the way they will allow company pages to be developed and to interact with people.
The biggest change they made was a drastic change in the coding language allowed, and the new iFrame applications were really daunting. And they did it on a pretty short leash. They made the announcement in February of 2011 that on March 11 the FBML everyone was used to was gone. People in my line of work were in a panic, they had no idea how to approach the new applications.
A friend of mine, an Internet Marketer specializing in local SEO suggested I write an instructional eBook on the Facebook changes. He’d been asking everyone what they were going to do, and I was the only one who had a plan and could put it into action. I’d learned the new system.
He convinced me to write it (that took a couple of weeks ) and I wrote it in about 4 days. It has very explicit instructions, and is heavy on screenshots, because moving around in Facebook really isn’t the easiest thing we’ve ever done.
I listed it for sale in a private forum for Internet Marketers. It hit $13,000 in sales in just less than six days. It is still selling fairly steadily and I’m now revising it for sale on my website, because I get a tremendous amount of traffic for that subject.
What are the biggest challenges for your business over the next couple years?
Like any business there is the constant need to network and recruit new clients. It is hard for me to juggle sales and production, and I now have a team of people to whom I outsource specific jobs.
I have some excellent writers here in the US and in the Philippines who do incredible work. They write blog posts, press releases, and articles for syndication for me and my clients.
I have a programmer in Romania who I call on for specialty items in websites that may be beyond my reach or simply too time consuming for me to stop and do.
I have one crew who does social bookmarking for me and my clients on sites like Digg, Reddit, etc., and another crew who does backlinks.
I’d really probably rather do production than sales, but if I don’t, who will? I do enjoy the creative side, though, much more than sales meetings and phone calls. So my biggest challenge is to keep generating new business and overseeing the production of the business that I have.
And where do you see the best opportunities?
For me, the best financial opportunity, and the one that takes me away from sales meetings and phone calls is in eBook production and sales. When you consider $13,000 for a 30 page eBook with NO production costs, the idea of doing that once a month is not only a nice income, it is a pretty good job! But again, I’m juggling sales, production, and now writing eBooks, so they aren’t coming at the rate of one a month.
I read just this week that 28 of the 100 top e-books in Kindle Store are self-published; 11 of them are in the top 50 sellers. And 26-year old Amanda Hocking sells 100,000 copies of her books every month. (http://www.businessinsider.com/amanda-hocking-2011-2) Even at $.99 a copy, you’re looking at $100K a MONTH.
Is there anything you would do differently?
I’d prefer to work fewer hours, less late nights, less weekends, but this business is still in the building stages, and until I’m making a million dollars a year in eBook sales, I’m going to have to maintain this pace.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Write what I know. People want to hear it.
What are the most valuable hints you would give someone who is just starting out?
Work really, really hard.
Pick a subject and stick to it. You can’t specialize in everything. Pick what you’re good at and refine it, polish it. Sell it!
Be yourself. Don’t posture as something or someone you’re not. Write in your own voice and don’t copy other people’s work.
Be meticulous with spelling, grammar, punctuation.
And, work really, really hard!
Any secrets hands-on information you can share with our readers (e.g. great website, book, training, source …)?
I read a lot – four or five books a week, so I have LOTS of recommendations on books. The absolute best I’ve read on Social Media is The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media, Blogs, News Releases, Online Video, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly, by David Meerman Scott. Next would be The Millionaire Messenger: Make a Difference and a Fortune Sharing Your Advice, by Brendon Burchard, and I highly recommend Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story by Peter Guber.
If you want a good grasp of the decision making at Facebook, you should read The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World, by David Kirkpatrick. FB isn’t spending millions of dollars to build a place for us, they want us there for the income we’ll bring them. And anyone working hard to get the most out of Facebook needs to know it isn’t about us, it is about them.
What are your preferred information sources about the internet marketing world?
I read the Facebook Blog (!) and the developer news bulletins they post. Mashable, HubSpot, tons of review sites on blogging, social media, email marketing. The really, really good advice comes from websites that sell a service, like AWeber, Traffic Geyser and MarketMeSuite. It is in their best interest to see that you are successful, because the more successful you are, the more successful they are. But their advice is very, very good; and their products are very, very slick. I use all three.
Anything else you would like to point out?
Reto, I’m so thrilled to do this interview with you; it has made me think, reflect, and decide I need to chart the rest of 2011 a little more specifically than I’ve done so far. We’re already in the second quarter of 2011 and we should all have a working blueprint for a successful year.
And I want to make sure I get a copy of your book! You must let me know when it goes on sale!
I’ve sent by separate email a photo of myself, and a shot of the cover of my e-book (which will be available on my website by the end of the month)
My website is http://tracigregory.com
My Facebook is http://facebook.com/tracigregoryagency
My twitter is http://twitter.com/tracigregory