On the second to the last day of the project I found myself buried in quite a few different projects. From reviewing pitch ideas to offering up advocacy help to sending the press release, I was still focusing on the public relations angle. I was also surprised to see a sudden flux of affiliate income from an unlikely source.
(If you're just catching up with this series of articles, be sure to swing into the ongoing discussion thread at the Small Business Ideas forum. You'll be able to link to each day's article and participate in the discussion going along with it.)
Reviewing the PR Pitch
Now that we had a press release and plans to launch it early on day thirty, Amy Hooker and I started exchanging some emails to go over the pitches that she planned to use when she approached some of the publications that we'd selected from our media list. Amy explained to me that it's important to go above and beyond simply issuing a press release and expecting people to pick it up and write a story about it. Journalists and editors are busy people and they're quite often too buried in story pitches to go out looking for press releases to write about.
That means that it's important to put together a "pitch" to send along with your press release to the journalist that you are targeting. A pitch is a brief note or letter that is designed to pique a journalist's interest in the press release that you are sending them. Think of a "pitch" as a movie trailer that is designed to get someone to commit a bit more time to seeing the whole show.
There is no one size fits all pitch. Different pitches will appeal to different writers and different publications, so you need to come up with a variety of them and send them out accordingly. Among the many pitches that we worked on putting together were one targeting the milk bank angle and one targeting the work at home mom angle.
Human Milk Bank Angle:
Sure, breast milk is best. But what if--due to illness, a premature delivery or other factors--you can't produce breast milk for your baby when she needs it the most? If you're fortunate, you'll be able to turn to a human milk bank in your area. Human milk banks rely on donations of milk from healthy, breastfeeding moms. One of those healthy moms, writer and entrepreneur Jennifer Laycock, is donating not only gallons of her own breast milk to her local human breast milk bank--she's also donating a portion of the proceeds from The Lactivist, a web site that sells irreverent pro-breastfeeding T-shirts. With slogans like 'nip/suck' and 'that's my baby's lunch you're staring at' Jennifer hopes to promote breast feeding and human milk banking one blog entry and shirt sale at a time...
Work at Home Angle:
If you're a SAHM looking for a way to make a little extra money, "follow your passion and take a look at the Web" advises writer and entrepreneur Jennifer Laycock, who's web site TheLactivist.com sells t-shirts promoting breastfeeding and human milk banking. At the end of November, Jen set up a goal for herself--spending no money of her own, could she set up an actual viable business within thirty days? Twenty-six days into it, she's up $247.42, and has already been mentioned in the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. How'd she do it? She'd be delighted to share what she's learned with your readers.
With several pitches in our pocket and a completed press release, I finally checked off a major item on my to-do list and moved on to other projects for the day.
Getting Involved in Advocacy
Since the Lactivist project clearly plays on the heartstrings of advocates, I knew that I was going to have to start keeping an eye on advocacy issues and figuring out how to offer my help to the greater lactivist community.
My first shot at this came when Lactivist reader (and blog-tag player) Jax Blunt dropped me a note to let me know about a UK movement to pass new legislation that would give breastfeeding moms more protection when in public. This news obviously made for great blog fodder, but it also made me realize that I needed to move beyond shirts and add some other products that might work well for rallies and letter-writing campaigns.
That's why I took some time and added breastfeeding advocacy postage pals, breastfeeding advocacy buttons, breastfeeding advocacy bumper stickers and more. I also made note in my blog that I would start selling advocacy items at cost for anyone taking part in a lacativist campaign.
I also decided that since I already had Jax on the line via email that it might be a good idea to pick her brain about some of the publications that I might want to target in the UK. She wrote back with some great feedback that I was able to pass on to Amy to help shape our plans for international pitches. This was also the point at which I realized Jax had been a great online contact almost since the start of the Lactivist project. As I've written time and time again, an essential part of networking is letting people know that they are appreciated, especially when they go out of their way to help you out. So I emailed Jax to see if she'd be interesting in having me send her a shirt. She was, so I did. It cost me $23, but there's no doubt in my mind that the input she's given me throughout the project was well worth the expense. Besides, a walking billboard in the UK couldn't be bad for business.
Affiliate Income Picks Up
Many of the people that are reading the series have sent me emails or posted in the Small Business Idea forums asking why my affiliate revenue has consistently outpaced my revenue from sales of my own products. Others have written asking for more insight into how I've driven those affiliate sales and a few have asked for specific breakdowns of where those dollars are coming from.
The honest truth of things is that I've not done anything at all outside of what I've written in these articles. When it comes to the affiliate income from CafePress, the money comes from two sources. The first, is the actual affiliate banners that I run on my sites. These banners are simply pre-fabricated code from CafePress designed to feed people into the entire collection of baby-related products from all shop owners. The second is really from what CafePress calls 'referrals' which is the money that you earn when someone sets up a shop via your link and then starts to sell their own products.
As of day twenty-nine, the breakdown of my CafePress affiliate income saw about $55 coming from referral sales and about $95 coming from people following the affiliate links I had setup. It was the $55 amount that captured my attention because CafePress pays 5% on referrals. That means that for me to have earned $55, Search Engine Guide readers had to have setup shop and sold more than $1000 worth of their own shirts, mugs and stickers. Pretty exciting stuff!
Even more exciting was the number that was waiting for me when I logged into the Amazon Associates Central to see if I'd earned any affiliate sales from them yet. Despite running a variety of different types of affiliate links in the article series, on the Lactivist blog and on the Lactivist site itself, I'd yet to see any income at all up to day twenty-eight. All that changed on day twenty-nine when I logged in and saw that I'd earned $44 in a single day.
In shock, I clicked through to my earning reports to find out what could possibly account for that much of a jump in a single day. (Amazon pays 4%-6%) Apparently, someone had followed one of my links to Amazon, spent a little time shopping and picked up a Nikon digital camera that goes for more than $1000. The affiliate share of that sale was a whopping $44, giving me more income in a single day than I'd had through the entire project.
All of that is to say that some of my affiliate income, like that generated by linking in to relevant items, has come by skill, but some of it, like the camera money, have come through sheer dumb luck. Isn't that sort of what business is all about though? A little bit of skill and a hefty dose of luck?
Coming up on the final day of the Lactivist project, I see the press release make a great splash on the news search engines, tally up the final numbers and share a variety of offerings designed to satisfy those that just can't get enough of the project.
Jump to Day Thirty.
(Want to read the entire 30 Day article series at once? Download the free 30 Day ebook!)
January 10, 2006
Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.
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