Entrepreneurship, Tips for Success

Work smarter, not harder: advice?

Wouldn’t life be grand if we could help everyone all the time? I wish it were that simple! Sometimes, I get asked a question that I would love to be able to solve, and I don’t know the best answer to give. It’s either something I haven’t experienced myself, something I had never thought about before, or something I just don’t feel like I have the ability to analyze all angles fairly.

So today, dear Split Aces reader, I’m asking YOU to help me give advice to this ambitious woman on a mission to create a life of freedom in business doing what she loves online. After reading the article, “When What You’re Doing Isn’t Working,” I received an email from a woman asking for advice. I asked her if it would be okay for me to anonymously publish her email on the blog to see if others could help her out, and she welcomed the idea.

Help a girl out, and please share your thoughts!

She would definitely appreciate anything you’ve got to offer, and to be honest, so would I. I would love to know what others think about this, as I’m sure that there are so many people out there struggling with the mentality that there are too few hours in the day and too little money in the bank.

Initial email:


I’d really like to know why all my effort hasn’t paid off.  I get up at 3:30 each morning, blog and work on web stuff, then go to work at 7:30, home at 5:30 in time to do it all again. I clean houses on the side to earn extra, but now an unexpected car repair bill has surfaced today, and I’m wondering why is it that I’m working so hard and not getting anywhere?

I want to work from home, not the cubicle. I want residual income, not income I have to earn scrubbing toilets.  I want a new car, not a clunker.

I’m working on my 2nd website and an e-book that is almost ready to go.  My affiliate marketing techniques are not making that much $$. I’ve earned a whopping $36 one time from Amazon.

– Split Aces Reader

My response:

Thanks so much for responding to the article. I’m amazed at your ability to hustle to make ends meet – it’s actually very inspiring. I read your email yesterday, and I decided that I needed at least a day to come up with a response that may be of use to you.

What I came up with, is that I don’t have an exact answer. I wish I did! I do know, however, that while cleaning houses on the side is certainly a way to keep extra income trickling in, that it’s not going to get you any closer to your real goal of making money online. If your extra side projects are taking away from your ability to accomplish what you’re working toward, then it’s time to reevaluate what you’re doing, how you’re spending your time, and how you’re marketing your brand every single day.

Who are you connecting with? How much are you writing? What is the quality of your writing? Have you reached out to people with your ideal audience about guest posting? How’s it going with your e-books, and how are you going about selling those and spreading the word about your products?

There’s no doubt that you’ve got a full plate right now, and I definitely know how frustrating that can be! Working almost 3 full jobs is exhausting – especially when you feel like you’ve hit a wall and don’t know what to do next.
Like I said in the article, ask yourself every single day what you’re doing to improve your business tomorrow. What can you do differently, big or small, to make an improvement?

Would you mind if I used this email (anonymously, of course) to crowd source some advice for you on the blog? If not, no worries – I just think it may be useful to get some other opinions as well!

Either way, I think you’re incredible for reaching out to me about this in the first place. You know what you want, you see your success, you just need to create that path to get it to the next level. Keep up the great work!

One last email:

Dear Jessie,

I’m elated that you took the time to consider a well-thought out response to me, and didn’t just blow me off as you had every right to do.

I’m very encouraged by what you said. I was talking with a friend of mine just this week, another baby boomer like me, and we are amazed at what your generation is doing, how you don’t accept the idea that an 8-5 job is the way to go, that you design your life on your terms. We see your successes and we want to know the secret! We were raised with a very strict work ethic, so we excel at that. We’re not afraid of work, and when times get hard, we just work harder! We have come to realize, however, that we must work smarter, not harder, and we’re willing to do it… if someone would just point us the right direction!  That’s why I like to read about young people like you and what you’re doing.

We realize the Internet is THE WAY to go, so we’re stumbling around trying to figure it all out and make it pay.

I REALLY, really like your comments about my side projects taking away from my ability to accomplish what I’m working toward.  Ouch, you nailed one of my main problems, and I can see that you’re right.  And the questions you asked about my writing really have made me stop and think. I reached out to one person about guest posting, but that never came about, so I haven’t done anything more in that area, but you make me realize I should pursue it.

I’m going to spend some time chewing on all you said, and try to figure out what I need to do differently.

You have my permission to use my e-mail anonymously or otherwise, however you see fit. I think other baby boomers would be interested in your ideas and guidance!

Now it’s your turn. What would you say to this woman to help her out? How would you solve this issue, and what should she do first? Please share your thoughts in the comments below, and ask around to your friends if you know of someone who may be able to offer good insights, as well! 



11 thoughts on “Work smarter, not harder: advice?”

  1. As far as guest blogging goes, really research your target blogs before hand. Which posts get the most comments/Likes/Tweets? What topics do YOU have the unique expertise or insight to write about that their readers would love?

    Then start leaving meaningful comments on their posts. Bloggers love comments. Don’t just write “Great post!”. Make your comments a sample of how awesome your writing is–a sort of guest post preview with a beginning, middle, and end.

    Good luck! I love hearing stories about people of all ages and walks of life trying to make a life off the internet. That’s my goal, too!

    Feel free to connect on Twitter!

    1. Hey Sarah! You’re so right that I wish I could high five you in person right now. I like getting comments on my posts no matter how engaging they are – but I loooovve love love comments like this one and the others on this particular article! Thank you x10

  2. Some of the best advice I’ve ever come across is to make sure you’re talking to your customers/potential customers. It’s every easy to get tunnel vision and I know from experience that the products/ideas we offer are our “babies” so it’s hard to let them go even if they’re not working or there’s no actual need for said product/idea.

    This is where talking to your customers is key – ask them about the most frustrating parts of their job or their day – and keep probing from there. Make sure your product(s) are solving a problem and that the problem is painful enough for them to pay for a solution.

    Best of luck to you – don’t give up!

    “I haven’t failed, I’ve found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.” – Thomas Edison.

    1. Hi Chad – agreed. When I first started this blog, I found it difficult to define who I was talking to: am I talking to other marketers? Or am I talking to folks who want to learn how to market? Now that I know it’s the latter, I feel like I’m reaching the right kinds of people – the ones who need help and find my tips useful. Very appropriate Edison quote, too :) Great comment!

  3. The internet offers us tremendous opportunity to reach the world with our business but you are also one of probably billions trying to do so. Blogging is a fantastic way to showcase your expertise, interact with your audience, strengthen your ranking using SEO strategies, and build a following, But it’s just one part of the entire marketing plan. I like what Chad says about evaluating your product. Make sure it’s something people want and need. If it is, then I have a recommendation…

    Reading about your schedule makes me feel so badly for you. Three jobs! Your exhaustion has to be affecting these jobs too, especially the small business because its the one that is producing the least. My recommendation is to stop doing it on your own! I would suggest a weekend retreat and retreat is a deceptive word. I am not suggesting a spa day but rather a work day with focus. For some reason it’s called a retreat.
    To do this, I invite a team of trusted confidants over for a power meeting to help you build your marketing plan. Begin by writing a SWOT analysis and identifying your own and your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. When you decide who to invite on your team consider people who can help you fix your weaknesses and threats and take advantage of your opportunities. Invite a diverse crowd, include your best friend and her teenage children. Include work colleagues that you trust. Reach out to your church if you attend one. Think broadly about who to invite. People who care about you will want to help and others you don’t know very well will surprise you. The different perspectives offered by your team will be helpful. Reach out to a community college and recruit some Gen XYZ and AAs. (Clearly, I don’t know what generation we’re on.) In one day either at your home, a private meeting room or another location, you and your team can build a great marketing plan with actions steps on how to implement it. You will learn why things aren’t working and new things to try. Your plan should include a primary goal, objectives to help you reach those goals, strategies to help you reach objective and finally tactics like social media. It sounds complicated but it works. You can research marketing plan templates or invite a marketing person or student to be on your team to help with this portion, and I think Jessie could help you with this too.
    You’ll be refreshed and reinvigorated. You’ll have to feed your team (nothing fancy) but the end product will be more valuable than anything you can do on your own.
    I hope this helps. Keep us all posted!

    1. Jo Lynn! I think from your very first sentence, you nailed it: The internet offers us tremendous opportunity to reach the world with
      our business but you are also one of probably billions trying to do so.

      Finding outside sources to help analyze your efforts is a great idea, and it definitely helps. Sometimes when you’re so invested in a project, it’s hard to see what others see from the outside looking in. I like your idea of inviting a few people over to discuss and to have snacks n such! Is this something you do regularly? It’s like a book club for biz!

  4. Ah, this is where one has to shift gears from being the manager, or technician, and bolster the role of the entrepreneur in their business. The role of the entrepreneur is to dream, expand and think out of the box in terms of doing less, and getting more done. The technician role will then blossom, making these dreams a reality; if managed accordingly, expansion occurs naturally. This is of upmost importance in any business, for time is the only true currency for all of us.

    1. Doing less, and getting more done – that’s the ideal situation! Building a team is something I am working on now – because you’re very right… time is a true currency. A lot of small business owners try to do it all on their own, and it’s simply not sustainable.

  5. Wow, I am so grateful for these well-thought-out responses to my dilemma and I have to tell you that just to know there are people like you out there who took the time to help a girl out is very uplifting.

    I’ve studied your comments and realize all of you are right in what you’re saying to me. I need to be sure I’m speaking to genuine needs, need to comment more thoughtfully on people’s blogs (as you have demonstrated here), and I need a power planning strategy retreat day! The thought of getting together with like-minded people to strategize really energizes me. I haven’t taken the time to do this, and I see now that it would be a great investment of time toward my online aspirations. So I’m going to plan a day like that!

    Jessie, thank you not only for taking the time to respond to my e-mails, but for taking it to another level so that I could gain even more feedback on what I’m doing wrong and what might be done to turn this ship around. And thank you, Split Aces Readers, for these great insights and ideas. My faith is renewed! — The Anonymous Working Harder but Not Smarter Internet Entrepreneur :)

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