Friday, 26 June 2009

Our guest blogger this week is James Long - author of our latest title, 'The Lowdown: Blogging for Business.'

Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it. Let's do it. Let's start a blog.

Today, even the biggest businesses - online and offline - have blogs, from Coca Cola
to Google. The point of these blogs is simple: to invite conversation with any and all customers that find them.

Google actually has multiple blogs for specific interest groups, such as developers and public policy groups. All their blogs are listed on the Google Blog Directory. Google, like other large corporations, have the resources to create and run blogs tailored to talk to multiple interest groups. Another example of this 'segmented' approach to blogging, which I give in
The Lowdown: Blogging for Business, is the BBC News website, which has a variety of subject area blogs.

But what if you're just a small business, newly online or perhaps online only, like Creative Content? Finding the time to run just one blog in amongst everything else you need to do can be a stretch. So what do you really need a blog for? And how can you get one up and running in the right way, as quickly as possible? These are the big questions for entrepeneurs looking to extend their reach online that I believe are answered in
The Lowdown: Blogging for Business. (Erm, excuse the hard sell there, but an author's gotta eat, ya know!)

Ali and Lorelei's 'The Lowdown on Creative Content' blog is a perfect example of the right thing to do to help your new business reach as many customers as possible online. They've positioned the blog clearly as an inside look at 'starting a business in an economic downturn' and linked the blog to their leading branded product, The Lowdown series.

If you read back (and follow the blog) you'll find out more about the people behind the business and the highlights and hard times (few and far between, I hope) of
building Creative Content into a thriving digital publishing business. - James Long

Friday, 19 June 2009

My business partner - how we met

Many people ask me how Lorelei and I got to know each other and then end up starting our own publishing company.

I first met Lorelei when I took over the role as Audio Publisher for a big multi-national publisher based in London in late 1998, at an audio publishing Christmas Party and I can vividly recall that I was hosting the party but did not actually know a single guest who was attending.

As a result I spent most of the evening pouring glasses of plonk, handing round canapes and directing people to the loo and was hiding in the kitchen from the horror of it all when Lorelei came in. I recognised her immediately as I had often listened to her reading the audio versions of the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich whilst travelling the length and breadth of the UK in my previous job as a Sales Manager.

We soon got chatting about her work, my new job and our mutual devotion to cats!

Throughout the next ten years we often met, either at publishing parties or through work assignments and gradually, in that terribly British way, we meandered through acquaintanceship to colleagues through to becoming friends.

We really got to know each other much better when we worked together on a charity quiz event and I was struck by how incredibly well organized and focused she was. These personality traits were part of the reason she was the first person I contacted about my idea for starting up an audio publishing company.

I’ve known and worked with many “colleagues” over the years but the question “what would you look for in a business partner?” was a new one to me. You need someone with drive, energy, enthusiasm. But you also need someone who listens to your views and ideas and who understands the true nature of a partnership and who celebrates, encourages and nurtures that.

I am sure now that I recognized these qualities in Lorelei over the years we’ve worked and socialized together. We complement each other in many ways and we both recognize those “no go” areas that can make or break such a crucial business relationship.

Of course, it also really helps that she is great fun to work with and that we really make each other laugh too!

What qualities would you say are most important in a work mate? - Ali Muirden

Friday, 12 June 2009

First train to Blogsville!

Wow! My very first blog entry!

I’ve been avoiding it. Who needs more e-stuff to do, right? Between emails, checking how our titles are doing on Audible and iTunes, seeing what’s new on YouTube, website maintenance, researching ideas for new titles, creating endless Word and Final Draft documents, shopping on eBay and so on, I spend loads of time online as it is.

Add to that Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and now blogging ... I swear, this chair is coming with me when I stand up!

But we’re publishing a new download title this month – ‘Blogging for Business’ by James Long – and we thought it was time to practice what we e-preach, and start a blog of our own. We believe James when he says that blogging is ‘a great idea to enter the online discussion about your field.’ He’s particularly persuasive when he says, ‘Look - you wouldn’t stand around at a trade fair while potential customers were in a rowdy group opposite and just watch them having a great big energetic discussion, swapping business cards and showing each other photos of their kids and inviting each other to parties – no! You’d step over to join them, and make sure you were handing out as many business cards as you received. Well, that big group of jolly customers is everyone on the web, and your blog is the way to step into the circle and join in.’

So we’re joining in! Ali and I have learned a lot while producing ‘Blogging for Business’ – and we’re going to try to apply those lessons in the months to come. We hope you’ll let us know how we’re doing! - Lorelei King

And we’d love to know what you think about business blogging in general: Do you blog for business? If so, how has blogging helped or hindered? Do you think it can make a difference in tough economic times?

Friday, 5 June 2009

Is there ever a right time?

There’s no denying that times are tough – falling sales, growing unemployment, doom and gloom merchants predicting even worse times to come could dishearten the most intrepid businessperson. But what if you have an idea that just won’t wait?

You could say that throughout my career I’ve been preparing for one of those “light bulb” moments you usually only read about. To be fair, my light bulb moment was more of a flicker - a bit like one of those new eco-friendly ones - that came gradually over several months in late 2007 as I watched with growing interest the surging increase in sales of audio books via digital download.

I realized that this was a market that was only going one way… up!

This could be the perfect opportunity to start my own business and throw off the yoke that is the commute to London. I didn’t want to wait.

I asked my colleague and friend Lorelei King if she was interested in coming on board. She said she knew a good idea when she heard it and immediately said yes. We decided what publishing areas we wanted to focus on: specially commissioned content from experts in the fields of business and self improvement..We got to work and less than 3 months later Creative Content was registered at Companies House.

Spending these past few months sourcing our launch titles, getting contracts with our distributors and dealing with what seemed like millions of official forms has been so rewarding. It’s been great fun to learn new skills, and to put to good use all the knowledge I’d picked up about publishing in the last 27 years.

Maybe we could have chosen a better time to launch a new business. But the current climate has forced us to be creative and frugal and to really think through our decisions – which is not a bad thing even during an economic boom. No-one can predict what the future holds – but I enjoy myself so much every day when I go to work and I don’t have a single regret. It was worth the wait! - Ali Muirden

Tell us what you think: If you have a business idea, is it best to wait for optimum conditions, or to just dive right in?