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March 9, 2011 / zachfarley

Zach Farley Blog New Home! ZFarls.com

Hey everyone, Zach Farley here. I started this wordpress blog to post some thoughts on new media, community management, gaming etc.  I am going to ditch the wordpress domain and continue the blog here.

Join me at my new “Zach Farley Home Base

Thank you!

 

March 2, 2011 / zachfarley

Busting Through A Wall

I always get the question “I’m totally struggling right now, what is the best way to recover?”

We get into a natural rhythm and when things start to falter we lose our confidence. You don’t feel your creating value or bringing new ideas to the table.  So what if the routine and gameplan you usually follow just are not working any more!

Should you tweak, start over or keep pushing forward?

5 Steps to get your mojo back!

1. Complete 2-3 easy tasks.
This will get you a few small wins so you can remember what Winning (Sheen) feels like! You will have some confidence back!

2. Unplug
If you are feeling burnt out, take a rest from everything. Have a relaxing weekend and since you won before taking a break you don’t have to only thing about your recent struggles.

3. Review
What was working prior that has recently stopped being your go to move? The stressed out feeling can be a warning sign that your headed in the wrong direction so don’t ignore it. Listen and find out why you feel at a standstill.

Often times we are VERY hard on ourselves, if you continue working hard and can break through plateaus it will pay off in the end. Often it takes longer than we would like, but we are all capable of doing great things.

The internet is a great place to view successful stories, however many people don’t win on their 1st idea. You often feel like everyone is doing amazing things and you can’t keep up or don’t have the proper direction. Keep pushing it!

4. Set a new course
Set new goals and work in some new methods for success. You should feel refreshed and ready to attack new work!

5. Have fun
Remember everything you have built up, all the talent you have and how hard you have worked. Human emotions do come in waves, we often don’t realize the peaks but can be crushed by the valleys. Remember why you love your passion and all the hard work you have expended. Get out there and have some fun!

February 16, 2011 / zachfarley

5 Easy Steps To Selling Online!

The 5 T’s of selling online
Building a blog and learning how to grind!
Angle-grinder-sparks_27258-480x360

Topic- You must select a topic you are passionate about. You don’t have to be an expert yet, however you must have the long term focus  to become an expert in this topic. You need an idea and topic that will simply not leave your head and drives you insane day after day at your desk. The thing you would do when nobody paid you too! Then, you start writing down everything you know about this topic.
Once you have crafted enough content and carved out an audience this will lead to…

Trust - Trust Agents When you consistently deliver knowledge/service/ideas that people can NOT receive anywhere else, you will earn people’s trust. The more content you consistently deliver with a transparent goal in mind, the more trust you will earn.
This will trust will help turn your readers into more then just eyeballs, they will become a …

Tribe - Tribes Your consistent message and authority will cause your readers to rally around your idea/message/product because they believe in it. Soon, you will no longer promote your content because your passionate tribe and community will spread the word for you. This helps you focus on your products while listening to what your most hardcore fans desire. You should be developing your products based on their needs and wants.

Translate – Having a community and platform are great, but the purpose behind a business is to make money, otherwise you have a hobby! Offering a solution to people with a specific problem is easiest way to create income. The general concept is easy, but what is the most efficient way to get this done?

Test- Are you simply blogging when podcasting, e-books or quick videos may be more effective for your customers? Do you customers want huge posts once a week or are they looking for quick posts a couple times a day? Keep analyzing your data and feedback to deliver what your market craves.

The best websites never started with a sales pitch in mind! They were started by people who couldn’t find the information they desired. The creators captured like minded people by giving them a limited resource or a place to feel comfortable.
Take that topic that won’t leave your mind and start creating!

January 21, 2011 / zachfarley

Why You Need A Passion!

As far as I can tell, having a passion seems to be the key to life. It has been credited by Napoleon Hill in his time tested books, Parents who say “follow your dreams” and lately by Gary Vaynerchuck who urges you to cash in on your passion!
Fire

So why is having a passion so paramount in helping to deliver success in business and in life?
When you have a passion, you can spend time working and thinking about it for hours at a time. You get “in the zone” and can look up 8 hours later without realizing the time flash. Using your passion as a springboard allows you to learn  other skills without blinking and delivers context to everything along the way!

Things I have learned through my passion of John Madden football by EA Sports…

Final Cut Pro – Making video guides, trip highlight packages  and tip videos for our community.
If I didn’t have this drive from Madden, I wouldn’t have anything to edit on Final Cut and spend hours learning, tweaking and creating!

Real World Skill: Once I learned FCP, I took my flip camera on my vacation to California and Las Vegas. I then edited down all the footage into a nice 5 minute video with music. My friends on the trip enjoyed it and it gave us a nice memory from the week!

Website Skills: I started my site by buying a domain and really having NO idea how to build it. The first couple of design’s were awful and even the “blog” style we went with was pretty ugly. The bottom line was learning how to tweak the template, creating good content and building a readership came due to Madden. It would have been impossible had I not LOVED the game and wanted to make a great resource to help people. That was years ago and now creating sites is very simple for me, but thinking back I don’t think I make it without the passion.
Wordpress also falls into this category. We updated our site a few years in and I have fell in love with WP. Between the widgets, plugins, themes, remote access, it is amazing!

Social Media: I am constantly reading up and learning how to best use “web 2.0″ Madden has given me a reason to try all these new tools and platforms to extend my message. Whether its interacting with fans on twitter, creating youtube videos, live game streams via ustream, mailing lists etc., Madden has given me the message! When I read a Seth Godin or Chris Brogan article, I read their words and ideas and think how can I implement them in my community and it gives them great context.

Business: Being in the center of a small business has been a great experience at my day job. It allows me to head home at night and try the ideas in my own context without needing approval or sitting through meetings! I can launch ideas (even bad ones) instantly and always tweak them later which is a huge luxury. I am capitalizing on 20 years of business knowledge and trying them out on my own via my passion.

Next up, Photoshop!
I want to learn Adobe CS5 so bad. The problem is whenever I open it up, I say now what?  I don’t really have a direct need for it. Lately though, I realized that creating banners for my site would be excellent. So, now I have a project in mind and will start researching and making sample ones. I’m sure the first 50 I make will look awful, but since its for something I love, the time will fly!

Not to mention, its a great way to sit in the basement and play video games all day!

What has your passion helped you learn?

January 14, 2011 / zachfarley

Marketing Myth : Keep Making Content – The Rest Will Come Later

I’m always hearing “Don’t worry about the SEO, keywords and links, just keep pumping out the content and it won’t matter”

Now, content is huge, but if your going to spend the time creating it, why not have it optimized to bring you max results?

If your going to work out and expend all that energy, why not diet correctly to not waste your time and energy?

Our first website was absolutely miserable at getting inbound traffic. However, it was our first site ever and it was just a hobby so we kept on writing articles and making a few videos.  The key was talking to a web developer and having him create a new website for us. This instantly did a few things for us.

-Refocused our keywords and site mission
- Helped keep older content relevant and searchable
- Gave us credibility
- Allowed better display of important content
-Easier to integrate 3rd party community building tools

I believe that people who give you the keep creating content speech are trying to help you. However, you should atleast have a plan and strategy for driving more inbound links to your site.

One correlating idea is that people should start saving money for your retirement and put it anywhere, it doesn’t matter. Just start saving! Yes, while starting and maintaining is huge, the whole point is to eventually figure out how to do the most with that money! If you realized all that you could be learning with a few extra hours a week, it could honestly add up to millions over a lifetime.

The 80/20 principal is a good way to get started and over the hump (most blogs, plans, diets) flame out quickly. However, once you have a routine cemented, start optimizing and making the most out of your work!

P.S. – I’m Guilty! The inspiration is from me! We have 250+ hours of content and were not a top page search for our keyword. Once you get here, your gonna stay! However, we need to harness the billions of searches taking place every day.
My strength was my hobby and not the web development stuff so you put it off, but we can be better!

January 5, 2011 / zachfarley

Is Planet Fitness a Scam ?

Ultimately, Planet Fitness is a business (business exist to make money) which is to be understood. In studying their marketing, sales and corporate strategy, you can see how they have grown into a “success”! When you look at the members, there are many underlying psychological theories in play. So, lets take a look at their shady marketing and sales tactics that have led them into becoming one of the fastest growing gym’s in the world.
the road is waiting

In Honor of 2011, here are 11 reasons Planet Fitness is a scam!

1. 10 Dollars a month***?
Planet Fitness has a great marketing campaign along the fact that their monthly cost is just 10 dollars. However, when you look at the fine print, you will see the true cost. They will take an annual fee to make sure you stay “locked in” to your monthly rate. There have been numerous complaints filed and you can hear some of the horror stories here!

Don’t forget the startup fee!

2. The Upsell
With any business, they need to get customers in the door first with that 10 dollar price and then start the upsell. PF clearly looks to diversify their income and they do this by selling other items. If you pay 10/month but then spend another 10 by using their tanning beds, they win. Every time you forget a water and buy one at the cooler at a huge mark up, they are getting more on top of the 10 dollars per month.
The “black card” is 10 dollars more and a very common membership choice. I would love to know the stats of how many “spring for it” Remember, you are uber motivated when you go to sign up at the gym. You are not thinking rationally or month’s down the road. Throw in a free t-shirt, access to other locations and free tanning for 10 bucks more? Why not!

3. The attitude of “its only 10 dollars a month”

In the same vein as college students who slack off because they haven’t paid the tuition bill, the low cost justifies people’s laziness. The student who works extra hours and takes out loans nearly always grinds harder than the trust fund kid who plays video games in his room all day. If you pay more for something, it doesn’t mean it’s better, but you are likely to use it more.

I haven’t gone much yet, but I will someday, its only 10 bucks!

4. Capitalize on the feeling of belonging
People love having things in common with others. “Yeah, I’m a member there!” If your office friend has a membership and you go twice a month with them, why not just keep the membership up. You wouldn’t want to tell them you quit and stopped going there right? You weren’t really “going,” but hey you belonged there and belonging to a gym is cooler than working out anyway.

Last line of PF Mission Statement : You Belong! (For a small fee)

5. Judgment free zone
Really? Because I’m pretty sure your lunk alarm system discriminates against “strong people?” Planet Fitness somehow makes it cool for obese people to walk on a treadmill, yet discourages people who have gotten long term results and are dedicated. Perhaps it is because these people keep coming back and aren’t just a free 10 bucks every month?

6. People LOVE to tell you what a good deal the got!

How much does your gym cost? 80 dollars OMG! I only pay 10 bucks a month!

JD Roth over at  Get Rich Slowly (and Get Fit Slowly) admits to paying almost 200/month to work out at a crossfit gym.  However, in the last year he has undergone quite an amazing transformation. Now, this is a personal finance blogger who has written quite a few posts on frugality. However, frugality doesn’t mean being CHEAP, it means finding value and getting the most out of your dollar. The exercise industry rakes in BILLIONS of dollars a year in just supplements and get thin quick schemes. If you get results, what is that worth to you? Probably more than 10 bucks a month! His main point is cheap things you never use are no bargain!

7. Successful? Get out of here!
People who aren’t winning physically or financially often have negative attitudes. People with a winners mentality see a “rich” or “fit” person and think wow, good for that person. I wonder if they can show me HOW they got fit and if I am on the right path. Negative thinkers, resent these people and either think they cheated with supplements or got the money unethically. In their mind, there is no way that hard work could have factored into the equation. When they come to work out, they get discouraged by seeing success rather than feeding off of it. This is why the Planet Fitness must discriminate against the successful members and keep the “losers” paying.

8. Location, Location, Location.
Remember PF is a business, so they are targeting specific areas and locations where other established gyms have succeeded. My PF came in and undercut a gold’s gym with their strategy and it worked beautifully. Clearly they have researched demographics, market and clients to maximize profits. They have located this specific gym in a decent area with very close access to low income neighborhoods. When a Walmart moves into town and undercuts local business, people flip out. However, PF seems to be off the hook so far!

When a new McDonald’s opens, their franchise fail rate is incredibly low. That is because they are the best in the world at opening locations and understanding stats, traffic patterns and projected sales. They analyze every factor as successful business must. They know who they are targeting and why, rich people don’t often eat at Mcdonald’s and fit people don’t work out at PF.

9. Corporate
Look on the website for a contact form or number to call? Is there a clear way marked to cancel your membership? Voicing a complaint to your local branch is a time waster. The employee’s there are simply cogs in a big corporate wheel. They only know sign up and check in. They can’t help you get up the ladder to someone with decision power.

10. Overcrowding : Great post from Shoemoney about oversell
So if PF has 50 cardio machines that can be used at once, it will still sell as many membership’s as possible. If they can fit 100 people in the gym, they won’t ever cap there sales. Remember, they expect you to quit and be lazy!
They run into a unique problem around Jan 1st. The place is an absolute mob scene. There has been no parking from 5-8 pm at my location since everyone has “resolved to be better” this year. Awful tough to work out when you can’t find a place to park.
This is just one more barrier for people to overcome. Before leaving their house they think, do I really want to go battle the crowd rather than being excited for their workout. They justify their laziness by saying well I probably can’t get a treadmill for 20 minutes or someone is already on that machine, I can do it next time. By March, most people will have given up and the gym will be back to a manageable crowd, and PF is still getting “just 10 bucks a month”
“Nobody goes there anymore, its too crowded” – Yogi Berra

11. Bare minimum
No Classes, Low Weight Machines (No strong people remember) minimal guidance, no sauna/steam etc.

Your getting some free weights, cardio and circuit machines. FREE PIZZA THOUGH!
Having free pizza on the Monday January 3rd was quite a scene. Remember that everyone is coming back STRONG in 2011! Back into a routine after work, eating better and focused. They walk in the door and the entire place reeks of pizza. Fresh, hot and delicious. Now, I know these people were done eating junk food 2 days ago, BUT… they are already at the gym, why not have a slice or two. They are paying for it anyway! For the people who refused to eat it because they set goals and weren’t compromising after 1 day, it was distracting to smell it the whole time. Same reason that alcoholics don’t hang out in bars, too tempting.
Now, I’m not saying “fit” people can’t enjoy a slice from time to time, but 2 days after new years I think alot of honest resolutions went up in flames.

Final Thoughts: I am not saying Planet Fitness does anything illegal with your account or information. They seem to be honest in that sense, however make sure you understand your sense of value. Don’t become a sheep who thinks they are getting a good deal behind the 10 dollar a month guise. There is a reason this company is exploding onto the scene. They have a forumla that works.

Lastly, when a small business starts it seems to have a mission of purpose to help people get better. Yet, when it starts to expand to 2,3,5 shops it loses a little of its luster. The owner is spread out and now focused on making sure things run smooth rather than baking fresh bread every morning. Recent companies like Five Guys, Upper Crust Pizza and Planet Fitness have become so operational in their management (the only way to run big companies) that all employees are cog in a machine. The attitude that made these companies great and gave them the opportunity to expand are gone and replaced by corporate mantras and handbooks.

Healthcare organizations are often criticized for being profit oriented business who care about dollars over patients well being. Yet, when you look into most big business, its is rare to find one who truly cares. While people are outraged that Healthcare companies do this, other industries get a free pass.

I think we need to look past the purple and yellow and really think if Planet Fitness is ultimately helping or harming its consumers and how they can do better. You will almost always make more money if you are inspiring and helping your members be great, rather then using them as a monthly withdrawl device.
Either way its just 10 dollars a month I guess!

December 29, 2010 / zachfarley

Tackling Old Problems

I originally called this post tackling new problems, hopefully you tackle them when they are still new, rather than old!

We have our main site domain (blank.com) with forums hosted at forumotion. For a year know we have been  considering making the forums show up under forums.blank.com so that we can earn the traffic. We were unsure of how exactly to do this and the lack of insight was PARALYZING. Every time we thought about it, it was a struggle, we just kept coming up with excuses as to why it was unable to happen. Or why it would be nice, but it didnt “really matter”
Pipes + Wires

We asked our site guy if he knew and said he would look into it, but a year later we were will strapped with the issue. Finally, I said enough. I’m not sure why or what caused the change, but I resolved to doing it myself. Nobody cares about you building your own company more than yourself. Even though you might not be the website guy, you might have to jump in and get your hands dirty.

1. Googled the issue – Found an FAQ on it
2. Quieted the room down and took a deep breath, TV off! Read the FAQ 10 times until in made sense, even read it out loud.
3. Asked myself what the worst that could happen was. Crash the forum or site for an hour or two, nothing critical.
4. Tried one thing, didnt work, re-read and made an adjustment to get it working.
5. Made a few additional site changes to reflect the update and even learned something new in the process.

Total Time – 12 minutes.

WHY did I allow something that could be fixed in 12 minutes to be wrong for over a year? 1 full year saying “that would be nice, but I’m not sure”. I am happy that I got it working but it made me realized how important routines are and why you need to reflect on them sooner rather than later. Not sure if it is the New Year where everyone resolves to changing up their routine or what, but something clicked.

Don’t let the fear paralyze you when tackling a new problem!

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