Music to Your Wallet: 50 Places to Find Free Music Lessons Online

Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 6:28pm by Site Administrator

Learning to play an instrument can be expensive. The instrument itself is likely going to put a dent in your budget. Luckily, you don’t have to spend tons of money to learn how to play that instrument. The Internet has many websites that offer free lessons for almost any instrument imaginable. For the sake of brevity, this list just focuses on the most popular music lessons available online. Piano So you’ve just inherited your great aunt’s piano and you don’t know how to play? No worries…here are some great places to get started tickling those ivories.

  1. GoPiano.com. Piano lessons for the beginner or someone who could use some review are available here. A handful of lessons are available online with more gradually being added. If you want to order their CD with even more lessons, they request that you provide a donation to cover the costs.
  2. Free Online Piano Lessons. For the beginning student, this site offers lessons to get you started. In addition to these lessons, this site offers suggestions for other places to go for more lessons (not all are free).
  3. Piano Clues. If you want to learn to play the piano, organ, or electric keyboard, visit this blog. You’ll get lessons and tips to get you started and keep you going.
  4. Hear and Play. Learn to play piano by ear with four easy steps. You will need to register to get the free lessons, and not all the lessons here are free.
  5. Pianologist. Devoted to innovative piano playing, this blog gives lessons on a variety of piano styles. Also check out the links to free piano lessons and activities available on the Internet.
  6. GetPianoLessons.com. These ten detailed lessons culminate with an examination to see how far you’ve come. Using a combination of video, text, and photos, these lessons will have you playing the piano in no time.
  7. Sonny’s Piano Blog. You’ll have to scroll through some For Sale posts, but this blog offers free tips and lessons for playing the piano. The video format of the lessons make it easy to understand the topic.
  8. PianoMinds. This blog offers tips and lessons on playing the piano. You will also enjoy the YouTube tutorials this young man offers. Be sure to use the search feature if you are looking for specific topics.
  9. Here’s a useful site–free piano lessons and piano information. Learn about PlayPiano.com’s free lessons on this blog post. Not only can you get information directly from the website, but you can receive lessons by email, too.
  10. Piano with Nicole. While this blog is specifically aimed at teaching youth, there are lots of lessons to be gained by adults too. Don’t forget to visit her links for piano students section for links to more information for both children and adult learners.

Guitar Probably the most popular instrument to learn is the guitar. Here is a sampling of the many websites that offer free guitar lessons. Some are for specific types of guitars while others are more general.

  1. FreeGuitarVideos.com. Over 90 video lessons are available at this site as well as even more text lessons. They also offer premium lessons for a small fee if you want something more than what is available for no cost.
  2. Free Guitar Video Lessons. This guitar lesson blog is updated daily with new lessons. Learn how to play the guitar with a wide range of videos from various sources.
  3. Guitar MX. Learn to play with this site that offers both text and video lessons. Also available is a selection of shareware or freeware software programs to help you learn to play.
  4. Beginner Guitar Lesson Archive. With these eleven text lessons, you will be on your way to learning to play the guitar. As an added feature, you can submit your email address and get each of the lessons emailed to you each week.
  5. Justinguitar.com. Using a combination of text, video, and MP3 files, you can learn the guitar here. In addition to the general lessons, you can also get lessons in blues, rock and metal, jazz, and songwriting. The lessons at this site are free, but donations are gladly accepted from those who can afford to make a contribution.
  6. Jack Grassel Jazz Guitar. Click on the Lessons menu to get a dropdown menu from which to choose your text lessons on playing jazz guitar. Most lessons also come with suggestions for further reading.
  7. Guitar Lessons. These lessons are designed for the beginner and are specifically for electric guitar. You can even sign up for email notifications when new lessons are posted.
  8. Cyberfret. This site offers links to various free guitar lessons on the Internet. Sign up with your email address to receive free lessons, tips, and site updates.
  9. WholeNote. This "guitar community" offers all things guitar and is run by the contributions of the members. Free registration is required to get the full benefits of this community. Without registering, you still have access to tons of lessons ranging from the absolute beginner to advanced or choose specific styles of playing such as rock, acoustic, and classical.
  10. GuitarNoise Blog. Learn a little something about playing the guitar every week with this blog. Podcasts are also available.

Violin, Viola, and Cello These three stringed instruments produce some of the most beautiful musical sounds. These instruments require a lot of practice, so get started on your lessons now with these resources.

  1. Violin Masterclass. With these Quicktime videos, you can learn all you need to know to get started playing the violin. There is also a section just for children learning to play. Lessons are free, but donations are accepted.
  2. Violin Online. Learn how to hold and play the violin with these text and photo lessons. If you are new to music altogether, you can also learn music basics at this site.
  3. Learningviolin.com. View these eight lessons to get started playing the violin. In addition to the elessons, this site also offers book recommendations for both beginners and intermediate players and a FAQ section.
  4. Folk of the Wood. This site is still uploading all their lessons. Eventually, they will offer lessons grouped by beginner, intermediate, and advanced. For now, beginners can learn how to play the violin with their text and photo lessons.
  5. StringSavvy.com. Get free violin lessons at this website. The lessons have both text and video. Each lesson has a nice follow-up with questions about the lesson and additional homework you can do to enhance the lesson.
  6. 8notes.com. Check this out for free lessons as well as free sheet music for violin. There’s even a beginner’s course in music theory if you need to start at the very beginning. And you can get viola lessons here.
  7. Cello Lessons and Resources. Learn the basics of playing the cello or read about an adult just starting on the journey of learning to play with these handy resources. Scroll to the bottom for links to even more cello resources.
  8. How to Play the Cello. These 19 steps will get you started with how to hold the cello and identify the parts. While this is a great place to start, you will likely need another source to get you very much further with your lessons.
  9. Cello Heaven. This forum offers answers to many questions on how to play the cello. You will also find posts with instructional videos as well.
  10. How to Play the Cello. These fifteen videos will help you with many aspects of playing the cello. There’s even a video on the proper way to clean your cello.

General Music Lessons From music theory to a wide range of different musical instruments, you will find all sorts of free music lessons among these sites. Many of these resources offer multiple types of lessons.

  1. Berklee Shares. This site offers lessons in songwriting, music business, performance, music production, and music education. The lessons are available in video, audio (MP3), and PDF text files. all lessons are designed by the Berklee College of Music faculty and alumni.
  2. Practicespot. In a slightly different approach, this website offers tools, articles, and more to enhance your playing. You can even look up musical terms in their online dictionary.
  3. Gary Ewer’s Easy Music Theory. Take advantage of these 26 free lessons on music theory. Each lesson comes with an instruction sheet, a quiz, and an answer sheet.
  4. Musictheory.net. Enjoy these interactive music theory lessons. You can also use trainers or take advantage of utilities such as a staff paper generator–and it’s all free.
  5. Capotasto Music. This blog features tips for voice, guitar, violin, and ukulele. Click on the links at the right for free lessons specific to guitar, piano, and ukulele and to get free sheet music.
  6. May Music Studio. Learn to play guitar, drums, or piano on this site with free lessons. You can also learn about music theory, songwriting, and download free music software.
  7. Free Music Lessons Online! For now… This blog post tells you how to get free music lessons from YouTube. These lessons are all video-based, so you can actually see how to play the instruments.
  8. Your Daily Music Lesson with Walt. Read this blog for news and music lessons. Also, Walt has a daily Ustream lesson from 6:00-8:00 pm EST. While Walt plays guitar, the Ustream lessons range beyond just guitar and include piano and general music lessons as well.
  9. Top 40 Music Sites. Click on Lesson Sites to find lots of free lessons for a wide range of musical instruments and voice. You can use the search box or browse by category to find what you need.
  10. Vocal Training Warrior. Learn about how to get the most from your voice. Posts on this blog include using differing styles, proper posture, and diction.

Sheet Music Once you start learning your new hobby, you will need sheet music to help you learn. It’s nice to have a variety, so all the following sites offer free sheet music ranging from classical to modern music.

  1. Jaybuckey.com. Get free tablature and sheet music here as well as some free lessons. The focus of this website is on violin, guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, dobro, cello, and viola.
  2. Violinandviola Free Sheet Music. Download PDF files to get free sheet music for violin and viola. Teaching resources are also available for downloading.
  3. The Mutopia Project. Browse by instrument or composer or perform a search to find printable sheet music. With over 1300 pieces of music, you are sure to find something to make you happy.
  4. Werner Icking Music Archive. Find scores for a wide variety of instruments and voice at this site. It’s helpful to read the Introduction to the sheet music archive section before you begin downloading.
  5. The Stringstuff Page. Download free sheet music for stringed instruments at this site. There are also lesson sheets for violin and viola as well as exercise sheets for violin, viola, and cello.
  6. Calm-Down-Corner. This site offers intentionally short piano sheet music. In addition to the free music, you can also receive premium sheet music for a fee that will be emailed to you upon receipt of payment (in Euros).
  7. Piano Passion’s Guide. Take advantage of this comprehensive listing of free sheet music available on the Internet. Just in case you don’t have the correct software to view and print the music, there are links to those as well.
  8. Words and Music. Get free popular sheet music at this site. Download both music and lyrics from artists that range from the Beatles to Bon Jovi.
  9. AllPianoSheetMusic.com. Download free piano sheet music from classical composers. You must be a paid subscriber to access all sheet music, but many are available for free.
  10. PlayPianoTips.com. Get MIDI format hymn sheet music from this site. The files are provided by a company selling music lesson DVDs, but this music is available for free.
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Tips for Digital Entrepreneurs: Better Blogging

Friday, November 30, 2007 at 6:30pm by Site Administrator

Other Reasons for Editorial Calendars
I’ve previously written in a number of blogs about how an editorial calendar can help you stay on track when building a blog full of great content, whether for your business or otherwise. Usually, I’ve looked at the use of an editorial calendar from a mostly self-centric view, about how it helps writers, editors and even ad sales reps. But Maki of DoshDosh has an excellent (as always) article about increasing your readership with an editorial calendar. In the article, he points out that having somewhat predictable content can create anticipation in your readers and thus get them to subscribe. Maki also lays out a long list of the kind of content you can produce.

Being a Better Blogger
Of course, just having an editorial calendar or a general plan isn’t sufficient. Being a good blogger involves many factors. To wit, Nathania Johnson at Copyblogger offers a look at improvisational acting techniques that make you a better blogger.

Establishing Your Authority, Spread Your Ideas
While you build your skills as a better blogger, you also establish your authority with your excellent content. Chris Garrett offers some tips for how to spread your great ideas and knowledge through blogging.

Sayonnara and So Long
By the way, this will be my last post at Bootstrapper. It’s been simultaneously fun and challenging by degrees. However, my career destiny appears to lie in another type of writing and creating, and I need to move along the closest path for once, after seventeen years of putting off the filmmaking goal. But all those big resource lists written by the Bootstrapper other writers will continue to appear here, as far as I know.

Tips for Digital Entrepreneurs: Link Building and Deep-Linking

Friday, November 30, 2007 at 4:30pm by Site Administrator

If your business relies on an online presence, you’ve probably already considered having a blog for your business website – possibly to boostrap your business with ad revenue. (Though the success of that really depends on your market as well as what you’re “selling”.)

As you probably already know, blogging isn’t about merely writing an article here and there at random. At least, not if you want some success out of the effort. I’ve already written about this a fair bit and don’t want to rehash it. I do want to point out that I believe critical thinking is important for entrepreneurs, especially for any work in the digital domain.

Particularly important to building the value of your website articles is the practice of deep linking, a subject I’ve written about extensively, as part of “link building”, at a number of places, especially Search Engine Journal.

Link building is important because it’s the act of any effort taken to get other “good” websites to link back to your site, especially particular articles. The link building effort also contributes to improving your site’s authority and “relevance” in the search engines for your chosen niche topic.

In a nutshell, the key purpose of good link building in any given article is to offer relevance to the reader. Link to relevant and worthwhile articles – both elsewhere and your own site – and in ways that are preferably seamless.

Whether or not a particular search engine will assign a measure of relevance to your article depends on their own algorithms, but you should still try to cater to the reader first. So when you write and when you link out to other sites and deep link to your own articles, put yourself in the place of the reader. Does the link you’ve used seem relevant to the context of the sentence, the paragraph, the article? Answer that question satisfactorily and you’ll likely be a better link builder.

Stretch Your Goals: 10 Yoga Moves for Productivity

Tuesday, November 27, 2007 at 3:55am by Site Administrator

Yoga has been around for thousands of years and has enjoyed growing mainstream acceptance in Western society in the past few years, even working its way into the corporate environment. Businesses are increasingly adding free or low cost yoga classes as a productivity booster and perk for employees. While it might seem strange, studies done by the National Institutes of Health have found that yoga and meditation enhance the qualities that are most desired in employees, like an increase in brain waves, enhanced intuition, and better concentration, in addition to the alleviation of common aches and pains. With results like that, it’s hard to find a reason not to add a little yoga into your workday. Here are 10 basic moves to get you started.

  1. Mountain Pose: This pose seems simple, but if done properly it should engage your whole body. Start by standing with feet together, hands at your sides, eyes facing forward. Press your heels into the floor and spread your toes while tilting your pelvis slightly forward. Then, raise your chest up and out, but no so much that you look as though you’re standing at attention for a drill sergeant. Lengthen your neck by stretching the base of your skull towards the ceiling while stretching the pinkies on your hand downward. Push your feet into the floor and raise your legs off of the floor. Hold this posture while you inhale and let go on the exhale. On your next breath, raise your arms over your head and hold for the next several breaths. Repeat this several times. This move should help alleviate some distracting lower back pain by making you more aware of your posture, as well as improving balance and self-awareness.
  2. Boat: Give your abdominal muscles a good stretch with this pose. Start this pose by lying on your stomach with your legs together and arms at your sides. Take a breath and exhale while you press your hipbones and pelvis into the floor, lifting your arms and legs several inches off of the floor. Draw your spine toward the floor and imagine your chest pressing outward. Tuck in your chin slightly and extend your torso and legs away from each other. Hold this pose for a few seconds, then relax. Repeat at your discretion.
  3. Table Balance: Work on your balance and concentration with this pose. Start on all fours with your hands directly beneath your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Look downward and make sure to keep your navel drawn into your spine. Straighten and lift your left leg so that it’s in line with your hips. Get your balance and extend your left arm out so that it’s even with your shoulders. Hold this for 3-10 breaths, then slowly lower your arm and leg. Repeat on the opposite side.
  4. Downward Facing Dog: This posture is great for strengthening wrists, which is helpful for avoiding injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome that can make working painful or even impossible. It can also help reduce lower back pain. You begin this posture by getting on your hands and knees, making sure that your legs are hip width apart and arms are shoulder width apart. Inhale and curl your toes under as you would if you were standing on your toes. Exhale and straighten your legs while pushing up with your arms, lengthening your spine while keeping your feet flat on the floor. If it hurts too much to do this, it’s acceptable to bend your knees a little or allow your heels to lift off the floor. Relax back onto your hands and knees after a few breaths and repeat.
  5. Tree Pose: Get a leg up, literally, on improving your balance and mental concentration with the tree pose. Begin by standing straight and tall with your feet together. Pick up your right foot and balance on your left, placing your right foot on the inside of your left thigh. Once you have your balance, raise your arms above your head so that your palms meet, keeping your shoulders down. Hold this for as long as it’s comfortable, or about 30 seconds. Relax, then repeat on the other side.
  6. Wide Legged Forward Bend: Sitting all day without a break can be hard on the body and can lower energy levels. Help counteract the effects of your desk chair with this pose. Start with your legs twice shoulder width apart with feet forward. Place your hands on your hips and slowly bend at the waist while maintaining a straight back. Place the palms of your hands, or forearms if you’re flexible, on the floor and hold the pose. Slowly unfold out of your pose and return to your original stance.
  7. Bridge Pose: Increase your overall flexibility, strengthen your lower back, and open up your chest with this move. It can also help alleviate those pesky energy sucking tension headaches by helping you relax. You begin this move by lying on the floor with your knees bent and your hands at your side. Your feet should be 6 inches apart and pulled in close to your backside. Begin by slowly raising and lowering your tailbone, then slowly take it up one vertebrae at a time until your entire spine is arched upward. Make sure to push firmly into the floor with your feet as you hold this position and breathe deeply. Hold for a few breaths, release, and repeat.
  8. Warrior Pose: The warrior pose sounds tough, perhaps because it is intended to be a confidence builder. It also can help improve your balance and concentration, making it easier to keep your mind on your work. This pose starts in the mountain pose with your feet together and your hands at your side. Then, step your feet 4-5 feet apart. Begin by turning your right foot 45 degrees to the left and turning your left foot 90 degrees to the left so that it’s pointing straight out to the side. Slowly bend your left knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor while raising your arms over your head. Slowly lower your arms until your left arm is pointing straight ahead and your right arm is pointing straight back. Hold this position while concentrating on a point ahead of you for 5-6 breaths, relax, then reverse the pose.
  9. The Triangle: Improve your balance and concentration by trying out the triangle pose. Begin by spreading your feet 3-4 feet apart and keeping them parallel. Turn your left foot 90 degrees to the left and your right foot 45 degrees inward. Next, take a deep breath while raising your arms straight out from your sides. Then exhale and turn your head to the left so that you’re looking down your arm to your fingers. Reach as far out to the left as you can and once you’ve reached your limit, rotate your arms down so that your left arm rests on your calf and your right arm is pointed straight up. Hold this for a few breaths, straighten up and lower your arms to the side, bringing your feet together. Repeat on the other side.
  10. The Corpse: This pose requires of you just what it sounds like: playing dead. This level of relaxation will helps to refresh your body helping you relieve on the job stress and anxiety. Make sure not to fall asleep while doing this one! Begin by lying on your back with your arms at your side and palms facing upward. Then close your eyes and take several slow, deep breaths, allowing your body to completely relax. If you’re having trouble, start with a specific body part and imagine your muscles and skin in that part relaxing. Do this bit by bit until your whole body is relaxed.

You can start practicing these positions before you leave for work in the morning, or try out these simple moves you can do right from your desk during a break. And remember, just like with any kind of exercise, if you have health problems, recent surgeries, or any injuries consult with your physician before attempting any of these moves.

15 Websites and Blogs For a Well-Rounded Entrepreneurial Education

Sunday, November 25, 2007 at 11:00pm by Site Administrator

Here at Bootstrapper, we’ve previously published some pretty large lists of resources of interest to entrepreneurs and bootstrappers. But if you’re time-crunched, you probably can’t read 100 entrepreneurship sites with any regularity. With that in mind, and in no particular order, here’s our shortlist of sites that we recommend you try to read regularly. Taken as a whole, we feel that you’ll get a considerably broad view of business, entrepreneurshp, and career success.

Seth Godin1. Seth Godin. Seth Godin is a respected marketing guru who writes in a very accessible style – both on his blog and in his many ebooks and print books. While he’s not strictly writing for boostrapping entrepreneurs, what he can teach you will be valuable, especially to digital entrepreneurs.



Guy Kawasaki2. How to Change the World. Guy Kawasaki interviews a lot of successful business people as well as imparts his own knowledge. His content is also very evergreen, so if you don’t have time to read his articles one week, you can always catch up later.




Entrepreneur’s Journey3. Entrepreneur’s Journey. Yaro Starak’s Entrepreneur’s Journey has long been an incredible resource for entrepreneurs working either offline or online. And Yaro has managed to prove that a blogger can produce a comfortable income with by working only a few hours a day. As well, he’s leveraged his successes into a number of other businesses, on and offline, including two subscription content sites.



Copyblogger4. Copyblogger. While you don’t need formal copywriting training, persuasive communication skills go a long way towards business success, especially if you’re a digital entrepreneur. Brian Clark’s Copyblogger shows the way, offering solid communications knowledge by example.



Instigator Blog5. Instigator Blog. If I were forced to pick one business-related blog to read regularly, it would be Ben Yoskovitz’s Instigator Blog hands down. He might resort to lists – which some people don’t like – but his lists are meaty, full of details that impart his considerable business knowledge.




Startup Spark6. Startup Spark. Startup Spark was started by Ben Yoskovitz of Instigator Blog (above), but he’s passed the reins to focus on his second web startup company. It’s been in good hands with various bloggers – currently Shannon Cherry. It’s also the home of the popular blog carnival, Carnival of Entrepreneurs.



Bootstrap Me7. Bootstrap Me. Shawn Hessinger’s Bootstrap Me regularly offers insight into bootstrapping, as well as online entrepreneuring and reviews of the business segment of the blogosphere.





College Startup8. College Startup. You’re never too young to start a business, and during college is an ideal time, what with access to many young, open minds to whom you can pitch your ideas and products. College Startup is aimed at the budding College Entrepreneur.




Business Pundit9. Business Pundit. By all accounts, Business Pundit‘s Rob has a degree in business and really gets indepth about business principles, with a mix of case studies, interviews, marketing tips and much more.





Blogtrepreneur10. Blogtrepreneur. As indicated in the College Startup writeup above, you’re never too young to be interested in business. Adnan of Blogtrepreneur admits he’s still in high school, yet has built a successful blog that focuses on blog/ Internet entrepreneuring. In fact, the blog, which was an experiment in bootstrapping, is up for sale and likely to get a lot of interest.



AOL Small Business11. AOL Small Business. The AOL Small Business website is, as the name suggests, focused on small business, but it has a wealth of articles about successful entrepreneurs of all ages, as well as case studies of startup principles.




BNET12. BNET. The BNET site offers a wealth of business-related articles, including a library, that relate management, strategy, startup and general business principles. True, some of these articles are aimed at medium to larger businesses, but an entrepreneur who blinds themselves to future possibilities is doomed to be stuck in “small” business mode.



Lifehacker13. Lifehacker. The Lifehacker blog, while about productivity, tends towards tips and tricks about using software for work tasks, whether you work offline or online. It’s a must-read for picking up both software and general productivity tips.




Lifehack.org14. Lifehack.org. Lifehack.org is the perfect complement to to Lifehacker. While there is some overlap in the two blogs, Lifehack.org tends towards general life and work productivity tips, not necessarily just about software.




Zen Habits15. Zen Habits. Leo Babauta, a guest on many blogs including the aforementioned Lifehack.org, has achieved an incredible success with his Zen Habits blog. Don’t let the name bother you – it’s not a religious blog. Rather, it’s a blog about simple productivity tips and achieving the appropriate habits necessary for general career success.



True, they’re not all strictly “bootstrapping” sites, but should give you a well-rounded view of business, entrepreneuring, work and life productivity necessary to succeed as a bootstrapper.

[Disclosure: I do have some sort of connection to a few of these sites and bloggers, either in terms of being a friend, colleague or contributor, though that's actually a result of my respect for the bloggers, not the other way around.]

What Do You Really Want To Do In Life?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007 at 8:00am by Site Administrator

Yaro Starak of Entrepreneur’s Journey, whom I often quote/ refer to here, asks what would you do if money did not matter? Have you thought about that, especially in terms of business/ career? Yaro also asks what you’d do if money was all you cared about, and goes on to say that blogging is then a poor choice.

My experience is that a large percentage of people would indicate wanting to do something other than what they’re currently doing. As Yaro points out, some people would say they’d take lots of holidays. Others actually say “nothing.” These are often the people that either haven’t thought about it or are afraid to pursue their dreams.

A lot of people talk about procrastination and GTD (Get Things Done), but I always find I have problems with GTS (Getting Things Started). Something I learned very early in my writing career is that writing about something not only helps you to learn about it but often motivates you to learn even more, sparks a career passion.

That said, if you are in an inbetween stage where you are thinking about a career change and know what you’d like to, blogging can still help you. It might or might not earn you enough to bootstrap your startup business, but it will help you towards becoming an authority in your chosen niche. That in turn might lead to the opportunities you need to launch your startup. With or without revenue, blogging can bootstrap your career.

25 Ways to Approach A Woman At Work And Not Get Sued

Monday, November 19, 2007 at 4:43pm by Site Administrator

It isn’t any surprise that coworkers often find themselves attracted to one another. After all, you’re working in close proximity, seeing each other regularly, and usually dressed more attractively than you would be in a more casual situation. Yet work romances can create a troubling dilemma. Many businesses  have strict rules about what is acceptable when pursuing a romance with a coworker, and for a good reason. Often, there is a fine line between what is harmless flirting and sexual harassment, and underestimating it can cost you your career. So if you want to ask out that cute girl from marketing, follow these tips to avoid landing yourself in hot water.

  1. Ask her to lunch. Lunch is a relatively harmless request, as business associates often get together for lunch to discuss work related issues. If you’re nervous or want to be extra careful, invite along a few other coworkers.
  2. Send her emails. Sometimes emails can be a low-pressure way to ask out the object of your affection at work, and she won’t feel like she has to give you an immediate response. Just be careful what you write–emails are often monitored, and any inappropriate emails will likely be saved for your dismissal interview.
  3. Include other coworkers. If you’re afraid to risk it all and ask her out one-on-one, try inviting her out with a group of coworkers. You’ll still get to spend some time with her away from work, but there will be other people around to ease any potential awkwardness.
  4. Only ask once. If you’ve asked her out and she said no, don’t press the issue. Repeated attempts at getting her to go out with you will make her uncomfortable and definitely cross the line to harassment.
  5. Give non-threatening compliments. One way to show your interest in a female coworker is to pay her compliments. You just have to be careful about what you say, as there are many things that could be taken in the wrong way and could sound inappropriate. One way to do this is by giving a compliment accompanied by a question such as "That’s a nice University of Whatever scarf. Did you go to school there?" That way, she won’t feel pressured to respond to your compliment, and you’ll get to know a little more about her.
  6. Walk with her to meetings or out of the building. Make the most of your travel time through the building to spend time with the woman you’re interested in asking out. It’s an easy way to approach her and it’s unlikely to make her feel uncomfortable because your walk has a terminal point.
  7. Arrange outside of work outings. You won’t seem like a creep if you ask her to come along on company outings outside of work, and in fact, if she’s new you might even score some points with her for making her feel included in the group.
  8. Keep your distance. While you might get away with getting touchy feely when approaching a woman at a bar, at work you should keep your distance. Don’t invade her personal space. Instead, express your interest through your face and body language.
  9. Tell her jokes. Jokes can be a great way to get her to let down her guard and think of you as a person, not just her coworker. Just be careful to keep the jokes clean to avoid upsetting her or any other coworkers within earshot.
  10. Bring her coffee. Provided she likes coffee, this will be seen as a sweet, non-aggressive gesture. If you’re lucky, you could turn a one time gesture into a daily coffee date.
  11. Only approach those who are not your subordinates. It doesn’t matter how attractive your subordinates might be, they should be off limits if you want to avoid future trouble. Even if you spark a long-term relationship, if it goes sour you could become subject to complaints that you used your status as leverage.
  12. Make excuses to stop by her desk. Walking by her desk every once in awhile or bringing some papers over to her can be a good way to break the ice and give you an opportunity to ask her out.
  13. Keep it casual. If you do ask her to go out, make sure it’s something that isn’t too intimidating. Try asking her to get coffee or dinner before asking her out to come over to watch a movie.
  14. Be her friend first. Before you take the leap to asking out a coworker, get to know her first. You may find out that while you thought she was cute, you two don’t really have much to talk about. Of course, if you do, you’ll have a much easier time asking out someone you’re already friendly with.
  15. Send her a meeting invitation. Why not get cute about it and send her a meeting invitation through her email? You can keep things casual with a simple catch-up lunch meeting if you want to see how interested she is.
  16. Ask for her help on a project. You can often approach a coworker you don’t know particularly well by asking for her help on a project. You’ll get her help and a chance to talk with her that you might not have otherwise had.
  17. Take breaks together. Invite her along on your afternoon snack run or trip to the water cooler. If she says yes, who knows, she might say yes to dinner and movie.
  18. Use work as a conversation starter. An easy way to break the ice with a coworker is to joke around or talk about work. You can share a laugh about how sweaty your boss was at the meeting or how awful the coffee is in the break room. You’ll be bonding, but in a way that’s appropriate for the office.
  19. Leave her outs. If you want to ask out someone from work but you aren’t sure of her interest in you, make sure you leave her an out when you invite her on a date so that she doesn’t feel trapped or made uncomfortable by your request.
  20. Get her opinion. If you work closely with the coworker you’re interested in, try asking her opinion on something you’re working on. It’ll let her know you value what she thinks and later on, you can ask her opinion on more personal matters as well.
  21. Gauge her interest. Whether you ask around the office to see if she might be interested or just read her signals, don’t pursue a woman that doesn’t seem to be into you. While this is a good rule to follow in general, it’s especially true for the office.
  22. Save her a seat. One way you can show interest in a woman at work without being too pushy about it is to save her a seat at your next meeting or conference. It’s a nice gesture and you’ll get to sit by her the whole time.
  23. Ask her questions. You’re unlikely to face any lawsuits for trying to get to know a coworker better, unless of course you start quizzing her about her personal life or dress sizes, so take the opportunity to ask her questions and get to know what makes her tick. It will make it easier to ask her out later.
  24. Maintain eye contact. This is a good approach to dealing with women at work, as it shows that you are interested in what they are saying. It also makes it clear that your eyes aren’t wandering to places that are inappropriate.
  25. Just ask. Sometimes the best way to approach a woman at work is to just do it. That way, you’ll know right off the bat if she’s interested or not, and you won’t be tempted to say or do things that she might find harassing if she’s not interested.

Remember that none of these tips are foolproof–every person has their own comfort threshold and some might take offense at things of which others would think nothing. Stay smart, and who knows? Your office romance might blossom into something more.

Bootstrapper’s Cascading Cashflow Case Study

Tuesday, November 13, 2007 at 11:45pm by Site Administrator

Bootstrapping - cascading cashflow engines

It’s true that some niches are more monetizable online than others. But what if you are not an authority in one of the more lucrative niches and can’t afford to hire someone? Being a generalist, I tend to fool myself into believing I can write about anything, but there are only a few niches that I can write about with a level of passion – which is key for a successful blog, but not necessarily a static site.

Now if you’re in the position that you feel your knowledge is not that monetizable, you still have a few options. I’ve been exploring a business model I like to call “cascading cashflow engines”. It is all theoretical, but applicable both online and offline. The gist of the whole exercise is to leverage what you do know into distributed projects that will collectively raise enough capital for your true startup goal. Applied to online publishing, this is an alternate financing method than blogging for startup money.

Cascading Cashflow Business Model:
Basically, I start with a few small projects that I can manage or can find volunteers for. The revenue for these projects (whether websites or something else) is used to fund the next level of projects. These second-level projects usually have some hired help – freelancers. Part of the revenue from the second-level projects is recycled, in hopes of producing more paid work for other people. The rest of the revenue is used to fund some third-level projects, which might have half-time or full-time people.

The revenues keep cascading down the project levels until there’s enough capital generated to launch the real startup goal.

Previous Entrepreneurial Mistakes:
Again, I’ll emphasize that this is a theoretical business model. I’ve been exploring it for years, but I made some serious mistakes before:

  1. Didn’t focus on a few areas of interest.
  2. Overcommitted resources and had to stop short, making collaborators angry.
  3. Bought too much equipment too soon. That is, I didn’t really bootstrap and suffered stunning financial losses as a result.
  4. Didn’t consistently apply kaizen.
  5. Didn’t take on partners (couldn’t find suitable ones).
  6. Over-relied on credit cards, and not even business cards with good rates.
  7. Didn’t plan to pay contributors/ hires a share of net monthly revenue.

Summary:
I’ve rectified these problems on what might be termed my third phase of entrepreneuring, which is currently purely online, as a digital entrepreneur. I’m also replicating the successful online business models of some of my colleagues/ partners who are earning between $5-50K/month. I’m also exploring, with partners, web mashup tools and subscription sites.

While all this doesn’t guarantee success, early indications are that the success will come over time, now that I’ve learned from previous mistakes. My cascading cashflow engines will be harnessed over the next three years, in hopes of producing enough capital to bootstrap a film production company (complete with funding of my entry into film school). I know. I don’t like doing things the easy way.

Career Choices: Follow Your Passion?

Friday, November 9, 2007 at 6:30pm by Site Administrator

For those of you with unfulfilled entrepreneurial dreams, there are a couple of blog posts I recommend reading. Jon over at OnMoneyMaking says don’t do what you love. He thinks that’s stupid. He obviously had a lot of foresight early in life because he started building his resume at around nine years of age. And the result was that despite a college degree in English, all his other activities scored him a six-figured salaried job upon graduation.

Ryan over at College Startup reflects on Jon’s article but disagrees with him about not doing what you love:

… in my honest opinion, the resources and infrastructure are now in place so that anyone, anywhere, with enough passion, can do exactly what they want and still hit 6 figures within a few years.

I’m a long-time freelancer but also raised “old-school” in the sense that you have to follow some career to be safe in life, to pay the bills, raise a family, have a mortgage, etc. After following the rules and being repeatedly thwarted in my career success (sometimes through self-sabotage), I figure that without a family or mortgage, I really have nothing to lose by following my passion. That is, my original passion, filmmaking – the one I forgot all about while trying to raise money for it the past sixteen years.

The conservative approach is to “do what you have to make a living.” The liberal approach is to follow your passion and make it work. My long-time thinking is to follow your passion, if possible. Just don’t be afraid to make detours if necessary, to survive, and don’t forget your passion, during the detour.

Fact is, the Internet has made it possible (but not necessarily probable) that you can make a living online, whether from blogging as a niche authority, having an online publishing business, software development, e-commerce or some other means. The question is whether you can find your passion, because that’s what I feel you need for online success.

Bootstrap Your Career With Blogging: 7 Tips

Wednesday, November 7, 2007 at 5:30pm by Site Administrator

Entrepreneuring might not commonly be referred to as a “career”, but it is as far as I’m concerned. Over time, I’ve met some very interesting bootstrappers. Some of them raised the capital for their businesses – including restaurant chains – through the oddest means – including selling drugs or even writing romance novels. Now that’s not to say you should do either, heaven forbid, but maybe you can find some creative way to generate funds for your entrepreneurial career.

While I’ve publicly admitted that my own websites/ blogs don’t earn a lot of money yet, I believe they could. (Most of my income is from freelancing.) I feel that with the right niche, you could bootstrap your entrepreneuring with bloging, if it’s your sort of thing. I don’t mean publishing a blog for your business. I mean blogging as a means to raise capital for the business you’ve been dreaming of.

Challenge
I’m making it sound easy, and it’s not. To make it work, there are a lot of things you have to do right, in synchrony. I’m also assuming that you have the ability to communicate clearly most of the time. Far too many bloggers do not communicate well, then wonder why no one reads their blog. Communication skills are important in business, as well as for blogging.

  1. Pick a good niche. Find a monetizable niche known to have high ad CTR (Clickthrough Rate). This is the lynchpin factor. Without the right niche, you’re better off working over time or raising money some other way.

  2. Be visible. Write anywhere from 5-20 posts per day, with word count/post decreasing as quantity increases. The more you write, the more search engine traffic you’ll bring in, provided your writing is entertaining/ engaging/ informative (depending on niche).
  3. Develop your own voice. To keep readers coming back, develop your own voice in a niche.
  4. Experiment. Try different post styles (see below) until you find something that works for your niche.
  5. Persist. Trying for a month or two and giving up isn’t going to take you anywhere. It might take a few months for your site to draw regular readers and/or search engine traffic.
  6. Be informed. To pull off an authority blog, you need to know what you’re talking about. If you don’t know, learn. This of course requires a chunk of time for research.
  7. Promote. Use social media sites to promote your site and your best posts. This takes time and effort, something non-entrepreneurs tend not to want to spend.

Those of you balking at this advice, please leave the room now. It comes from someone who has concrete proof – in impressive monthly income – that this publishing frequency works – especially 10+ posts – for specific niches.

Approach
In addition to the points above, you have to take the right approach to the actual writing and research. Obviously, the more time you can devote, the more likely you’ll make this work.

  1. Start by writing small summary posts and apply the principle of kaizen to improve your writing. (Read this first if you’re starting in a niche that you know little about but want to learn.)

  2. Expand your knowledge so that you can summarize it succinctly in your posts. It’s actually harder to express the same information in fewer words, and takes knowledge of your subject.
  3. Add illustrations/ images/ videos, if suitable for the niche. Start with Flickr and YouTube, then expand your “sources”. Pay for quality pics if you have to, when you can afford it.
  4. Don’t dawdle. If you have an idea for a post, write up a summary. If after brewing it in your head for an hour, you have nothing else to say, post what you have then write an expanded post later. (Just make sure the summary is coherent.)
  5. Space out publishing. Some niches require that you post all day long. Wake up early, if you have to, and beat each busy period: morning, noon, evening by publish before those times, not during. (Of course, your time zone matters, depending on who your readers are.) What you don’t want to do is write 20 posts and publish them all in the same 30 minutes. Try to publish 1-5 posts per period, but with at least 10-15 minutes between any two. This is a necessity for staying visible in blog directories and search engines.

Post Style
Your post style is another important factor and depends on the niche you’ve picked. If you’re not sure, experiment. I’m doing that in a particular niche, where I have several partners and hired bloggers. These are small experiments, but should prove valuable. Here are the parameters:

  1. Voice: neutral or opinionated.
  2. Links, internal: with or without.
  3. Links, external: with or without.
  4. Images: with/ without.
  5. Word count: micro (25+), short (50-100), medium (200+), long (400+), or tome (600+).
  6. # Posts/day: 1 to many.
  7. Video: with or without.

The number of posts per day that you “should” do depends highly on the niche. However, generally speaking, the more content you have, the more often search engine spiders visit your site, thus improving the chances of lots of traffic. That’s a very nutshell explanation, but some niches absolutely require 10-20 short posts per day for a blog to be a success financially.

Of course, the more posts you do per day, the shorter the posts should be, if you are expecting to gain blog feed subscribers. It’s also less tasking to write 10-20 posts per day if they’re shorter.

Summary
The entire point of this exercise is not to blog about your business – which in this case hasn’t been launched yet. The point is to explore a possible means of generating startup capital to launch your startup. You can use a pseudonym if for some reason you don’t want to use your real name.

My colleague who earns five figures per month swears by most of the above information. As for niches, well, i’m not going to give away all my secrets just yet. However, if you’re clever and do a bit of hunting, you’ll figure out which niches I’m hedging my bets in, along with partners.

I have my regular freelance work that pays my bills. I’m hoping that my experimental blogging/ publishing will also help me start up my photography once again – possibly enough to pay for equipment and a live/work studio – pay for my entrance into film school, and then generate capital for when I do make movies. The double benefit is that I’ll already have a few of my own vehicles for advertising my films.

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