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Hello all, hope that business is going well (or will be going well).

I wanted to just post an introductory entry about me and my endeavor and some of the questions that I have - feel free to respond as you want to, praise and criticism are equally accepted.

I'm starting a business called Graduate With Success which is based a lot on the model that Dan Miller has going except I'd like my greatest effort to be as a speaker.  I've got several products (a book, a manual and a couple of video series) that eventually will be made available to the public and a couple of products that I am developing for teachers.

Quick summary of GWS, I believe that we have become so grade-centered in this country when it comes to academics that we have completely forgotten the purpose of education.  We're so stuck on "Graduating With Honors" that we don't consider the ramifications of what that goal actually means - in that graduating with honors (while impressive) is a goal attained and has very little to do with any events after that.  Graduating with Success however is a term that is focused on what happens after graduation in that the education learned is used in order to achieve a career.  I've developed a system whereby high school students can get a jump start in that process by "focusing their dreams into careers through education" and I am looking to deliver that message to high school students.  However, in order for this system to work well, parents need to be just as involved in this process so I have created 2 presentations - one for students and one for PTA's, churches, civic groups...etc.  Both presentations are Christian based messages though I can remove the scripture for "public assemblies" and still be just as effective.

Quick Bio, I'm a bit of a jack of all trades person when it comes to media production.  I've been a broadcaster doing high school and college sports events for 15 years, I've also been a freelance web designer and I've worked as a media producer for the marketing department of a Division I university.  I have also taught for 2 years in a private Christian school (which is where this system was born) and in a few months I will receive a masters degree in education.  I've had the ability to do almost all of the jobs that I dreamed of as a child in my almost 38 years and so I feel uniquely qualified on this subject.

Last Friday at 2:22 in the morning, I launched the GWS website to the world so I'm just getting started and looking to grow.  With that, here are some of the main questions that I have in my own path.  Please don't feel like you have to reply to all of them, I'm sure I'll bring them up in Forums or Groups that I get into.

1. Generally speaking, people wouldn't identify me as a leader or someone that people are drawn to.  I recently sent out a few blasts on my Facebook account to all of my family and friends asking them if they might join my mailing list just so I could have someone on it to get started.  One person did (out of 125).  I've bought books on blogging and I'm on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.  I'd love to have guest posts, but I only get about 4 pageviews a day (after promoting a few entries on Reddit) so I can't promise any visibility.  My target market online is women with teenagers.  Are there any methods that you have seen that help in just getting some early traction when starting a blog/web based business?

2. I've been a broadcaster and a teacher so speaking in front of people comes pretty natural to me (after 15 years of doing it). Given the fact that I will have a masters degree within my speaking topic (if that means anything), I'm wondering where I can price myself amongst the other youth speakers out there.

3. And finally, (probably something that everyone goes through at the beginning), getting a masters degree means that I will get a masters degree and the credibility that comes with it.  It also means that I am financially depleted to the point that I need to get a job - my wife's income will not support the both of us and I've been out of work since July 1.  Knowing that some speaking gigs (especially at schools) are during the day and some will require some degree of traveling, how have some of you sustained financial solvency when a speaking job and a traditional "real" job conflict?

Thanks for reading this abridged version of War and Peace, I promise that subsequent entries will be shorter.  Again, hope everyone is doing well and if my experience as a multimedia producer (audio/video/print/web) can be of service for your endeavors, please let me know.  You can find some of my work at www.billpriestley.com and I'm very giving with advice if you think my opinion might be worth an inquiry (not that I'm trying to sell myself here, I just wanted to report the areas that I can best contribute to 48Days.net).

Best wishes in business,

Bill Priestley - Graduate With Success

www.graduatewithsuccess.com      Twitter: bpriestleyGWS      Tumblr: bpgws.tumblr.com

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Comment by Karen Putz on September 28, 2012 at 4:16am

Just saw your post this morning-- love it! I got to know you more and where you're coming from and going--plus you gave the reader something to look forward to. Way to go!

Comment by Bill Priestley on September 27, 2012 at 7:28am

Hi Karen, thanks for posting.

The site is brand new and there's really nothing that will draw people other than the blog entries so far (I publish three times a week) so I'm just trying to promote individual entries at the moment.  That spinning flash animation (at some point) will hold video too so I can promote myself on a more personal level.  I am working on a product that I hope I am going to finish today and then I will start promoting in in the next week - a career manual for teens, which eventually is going to be the product that establishes my unique selling position.  I don't think that the target market is too narrow though - there are 30 million women that come under that designation in this country - I get 1% of them to buy the manual (or even if their kids buy it), I'd be WAY more than completely fine with that regardless of if I get one speaking gig.

Just getting started with the blog, I wanted to establish why I am doing what I am doing, but yes, stories of my experiences are on the way!  In trying to get speaking gigs, I also have to make sure that principals and AP's know where I stand on certain issues because they would be the ones that would hire me to speak at schools.  There are a lot of frayed nerves and stress in the educational community right now due to "higher standards,"  No Child Left Behind and the Common Core initiative and I have to be sensitive to political issues like testing, parent trigger laws, teachers' unions...etc.  Unfortunately, that's the way it is in education right now.

And I'm fortunate because the dreams I have yet to make happen don't completely rely on someone else's approval or permission.  I just have to have the time to get around to doing them (writing a musical is next on the bucket list - regardless of if it gets produced or not).

Thanks again for posting, hope things go well for you with your speaking business and book writing!

Comment by Karen Putz on September 27, 2012 at 5:46am

Hi Bill!  I'm like you, a jack-of-all-trades and I'm learning how to narrow that down to do what I really want to do.  Given all you've shared here, it seems like your target audience (women with teenagers) is too narrow. Of all that you wrote above, I was drawn most to this:  "I've had the ability to do almost all of the jobs that I dreamed of as a child in my almost 38 years."  You might want to start around this-- share your stories and experiences.  What were some of the best experiences and why? What were some you dreamed about but weren't able to make happen?

When I landed on your site and post, I wasn't really sure what I would be able to get out of it as a reader.  Hook your readers with a story each time-- make sure they walk away with a nugget of something from every post.

I'm in the same boat as you-- working to book more events as a speaker and launching my Passion Coaching biz. I'm sub teaching in the meantime, working another part-time job and writing books like crazy.

Here's to a great journey ahead!

Comment by Bill Priestley on September 26, 2012 at 8:09pm


Excellent idea concerning homeschools!  I had not initially considered that group because it just seemed to be so splintered.  But I do have a strong connection to a group in this state which could be a big break.  Thanks so much for bringing that to my attention.  I just became a member of Speak it Forward so I'll be commenting there when I can.  Thanks again!  BP

Comment by Mike Kendrick on September 26, 2012 at 6:40pm
I'll pray for you on this new endeavor. Have you considered marketing to the homeschool community? There are co ops and forums everywhere for homeschooling and most parents are very intentional about career paths following graduation. I have had a lot of success with music lessons by being specific to homeschool families. I also aspire to have a successful speaking business. Kent Julian's group, speak it forward is a great hub for the business side of things there. Join there and jump in. God's richest blessings to you and your family!
Mike Kendrick

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