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5 Tips For Crafting Compelling Subject Lines

5 Tips For Crafting Compelling Subject Lines

Today we are going to talk about 5 tips for crafting compelling subject lines for your emails. The first thing you need to get right when it comes to email marketing is the subject line. If you can’t get your subscribers to open your emails, it really doesn’t matter how good the actual email is.

It’s easy to spend a lot of time crafting a great message and then just slap a subject line on it at the end. Spend some time writing subject lines and see what type of headlines gets you good open rates. Here are five tips to get you started.

Keep It Short

You want your readers to see the entire subject line before they click it. You also want to make it easy for people to scan through their emails. Try to get your point across in 50 characters or less. Pay attention to how your subject lines look on your own devices.

Another great idea is to keep a swipe file of subject lines that grabbed your attention. Even if the emails are on a very different topic, you can adapt them for your own needs.

Avoid “Spammy” Words

Stay away from using any words we all associate with spam emails. Words like “sale”, “discount”, “coupon”, “free”, “limited time offer” and even “reminder” are over used and even if they don’t trigger a spam filter and actually make it to your reader’s inbox, chances are high they’ll get ignored.

Instead, start by using the emails you’re saving in your swipe file and then go back and see what subject lines got the best open rates. Try to analyze why they worked well for your market. Not everything will work well in every niche. Find the types of subject lines that get your readers to open your emails and tweak from there.

Personalize It

While personalizing emails with someone’s first name has been overused in some markets, it still works well for many of us. Give it try and see if it works for you. Don’t overdo it, but use it when you really need them to open the email.

Depending on what data you collect when your readers sign up, you can personalize other things like their location for example. Seeing the name of your state or even city in an email subject line is sure to get your attention.

Pique Their Curiosity

We are all nosy and it’s hard to ignore subject lines that sound intriguing or only tell part of the story. Using “…” at the end of your subject line will also work.

The idea here is simple. You want them to click and open the email to find out what the heck you’re talking about or how the story ends.

Frankly the best tip when it comes to crafting compelling subject lines is to keep a swipe file of examples that got you to open the email.

Stop by my Facebook page here (Kim’s Facebook page) and let’s discuss your subject lines.

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Instagram for your Direct Selling/Marketing Niche

Instagram for your Direct Selling/Marketing NicheInstagram is one of the fastest growing social networking sites. With Instagram, users can post their pictures online with a bit of commentary. The pictures are often taken with a smartphone and uploaded to their account.

Instagram also has several filters, so users can edit their photos as they like. But besides the social networking aspect of Instagram, it’s a great marketing tool that you’ll want to take advantage of.

Some people use the social network as a way to let people build trust in them and get to know them. It’s a way of showcasing your personal and/or professional world. Brands can use Instagram to showcase products and build a following.

But let’s go over a few specific niches and discuss some tips for leveraging this image-based social network and see what you can apply to your own efforts on the site. Many of these niches transfer well into the direct sales and network marketing industries.

Health Niche

There are many ways that you can use Instagram if you’re in the health niche. Fitness pictures are always popular on Instagram – and if you’re in this niche, then you know how important it is that you don’t just talk the talk, but that you show it, too. Pictures offer great credibility for your business. Nothing can beat a before and after picture to show how your products work.

Your pictures don’t have to be about your six pack abs. You can take a selfie as you’re working out. This is a great way to remind people that you take your health seriously and motivate them to work out regularly with the products that you’re promoting.

Some marketers upload photos of their yoga or Pilates poses while others share pictures of their outdoor runs or walks around the neighborhood. The important thing here is to share your love of fitness with your followers.

Also popular on Instagram are photos that are designed to motivate people. These types of images are sometimes called ‘fitspirational’ photos. They inspire your followers to take better care of their own bodies.

When you post these photos, add a short personal message below the photo. These can be photos of you losing weight or of what you’re doing – or products that you’re using to lose weight, and stay or regain your health.

For example, you might post a picture of your healthy breakfast meal with a caption about how clean eating gives you more energy and makes you feel stronger and sexier. You can also post food facts on Instagram.

Pick a food and share its benefit with your followers. You could post a picture of carrots from the produce section of your grocery store with a caption about the fact that carrots are a great source of Vitamin A, which is essential for healthy eyesight.

But you don’t have to just mention foods that are good for your body. You can also mention foods that are bad for your body. For example, you could post a picture of canned meats and share with your followers that processed meats tend to be high in sodium, which cause your body to hold onto excess water, or may increase your blood pressure.

You can also share general health tips. For example, you could take a picture of yourself cuddling with your pet and mention that people with pets tend to be healthier and live longer.

This is a great way to personalize your photos while still delivering useful information to your followers. Your subscribers will often share your images with others who are also focused on the same health issue.

Food Niche

If you’re in the food niche, there are many types of pictures that you can post. You could share behind-the-scenes photos as you prepare your meals. You might want to grab a shot of the grill as you put your hamburgers on or a boiling pot as you add noodles.

You don’t have to document every step of your process, but do take a couple of photos. This lets your followers feel like they’re with you in your kitchen. When you’re finished cooking, snap a photo of your plate before you start to eat. The videos that go very fast are all the rage right now, if they are short enough you can use them on Instagram.

The best food pictures usually have brightly colored foods in them. Carrots, tomatoes, and other brightly colored foods photograph well. You can also make your food photos more interesting by using different plates and props, use your imagination and have fun with it!

You can set your entire table to make your food pictures look really interesting. Before you snap your photo, look over your setting. If you have too many colors, your photo might feel busy and followers may just scroll right past it.

For the best photos, you want your food or food related products to be the focal point. Remember, your place settings should enhance your photo, not detract from it. You can also keep photos visually interesting by trying different camera angles. Most people just take an aerial photo of their food.

A good thing about Instagram is that you don’t have to make your Instagram account about cooking in general. You can narrow it down to a specific niche – like gluten-free foods, cooking for kids, low calorie meals, sugar free desserts, or any other angle that you like.

Don’t be afraid to do this, because many marketers grow their Instagram following a lot faster by narrowing their marketing down to a specific niche within the overall food industry rather than keeping it broad and trying to attract everyone.

Beauty and Anti-Aging Niche

There are many direct sales and network marketing categories that fall into this niche and Instagram is a great tool for marketers that are in beauty or anti-aging niches. There are many different types of photos that you can post and ways that you can grab attention. You can share makeup tips, before and after photos of your skin care regimen, or how-to instructions for hair care.

You don’t have to, and shouldn’t be posting about your products all of the time, you can be sharing lots of valuable tips, motivation, things that your target audience would find beneficial. Just like with the food niche on Instagram, you may have more success reaching followers if you narrow down your niche. You can focus on posting makeup tips for women over 40, anti-aging tricks for men, nail art for teens, or skin treatments for senior citizens. Whatever you do, pick a narrow focus that you enjoy.

Pay attention to what days of celebration are pertinent to your niche, for example if one of your products is hair care, August is National Hair Loss Awareness Month. During this month, you can share tips on how to keep your hair healthy, advice about what to do if you’re losing your hair already, or reminders about which vitamin deficiencies can cause premature hair loss.

Like many other photo apps, Instagram allows you to apply various filters to your photos. These filters can be helpful when it comes to editing your photo. One filter can help darken a photo that was taken in a very bright room.

Another filter can lighten photos or blur the background of your photo. But filters go beyond that. You can adjust the color tone to hide dark circles under your eyes or focus the photo on your lips instead of that acne outbreak on your chin.

Now in the beauty industry, you want to be careful about applying too many of these filters. Followers may distrust you if they feel you’re trying to Photoshop the results of your beauty images.

So if you didn’t edit a photo and want to let your followers know that, use the #nofilter hashtag. That means it’s raw and real, and users are attracted to that.

Travel Niche

Another industry that’s very popular on Instagram is the travel niche. You can post photos of countries you’re visiting or have visited recently. Followers enjoy feeling like they’re on the journey with you, so if at all possible, try to post your photos as they happen.

But be careful here. You don’t want to overwhelm followers with fifteen pictures of the sunset. Instead, pick one great photo of the sunset and post that. Then when you’re having dinner at a lively local bar, post a selfie and share it on Instagram.

Post 3-4 pictures a day, but make sure you space them out, hours apart. This works best because you’ll have followers in various time zones and if you only post in the mornings, then some of your followers will miss your posts.

Keep in mind that there are many different types of audiences that the travel niche appeals to. You want to consider your audience as you post pictures. For example, if you want to brand yourself as a travel blogger who travels with three kids, then post pictures of family friendly destinations or kid-centric restaurants.

Just don’t make the mistake of choosing an audience without a disposable income. Sure, you can grow a following on Instagram of college students that are broke and eager to travel.

But a broke audience means you’ll have a tough time selling them travel packages, tickets to tourist destinations or travel related products. Since your goal with Instagram marketing is to grow a following and earn money, you want to pick an audience that wants to travel and can afford to as well.

When it comes to travel photos on Instagram, keep in mind that you’re selling so much more than the destination you’re at. You’re selling your audience an experience. There are hundreds of followers on Instagram that are looking through your photos and wishing that they, too could experience the freedom and exhilaration that comes from being able to pack and get on a plane right now.

So, what kinds of photos should you post? The most popular travel photos on Instagram are sunsets, beaches, and waterfalls. There’s something about the natural beauty of a place that calls to followers.

Other popular photos on Instagram are architecture, famous landmarks, and animals in their natural habitats. When you post these photos, make sure you include a little bit about them – because your followers will want to know more.

If you share a picture of The Louvre, include a fun fact about it that isn’t well known. Another way to share your adventures is to post pictures about the meals you eat. Every country has a different type of cuisine.

If you’re in Spain, take a selfie with your Torta de gazpacho or meat stew before you dig in. You don’t have to share a picture of everything you eat, but do share a few photos, so that your followers know what to expect in other countries.

In Conclusion

These are just a few suggestions if you are in Direct Sales or Network Marketing most likely what you are selling is conducive to being able to share it with your audience on Instagram. Moreover take your theme and use it throughout your social media platforms. For instance if you are in the health and wellness niche February is American Heart Month there is a lot that you can come up with as a theme for getting healthy and your heart and maybe even pull Valentine’s Day into it as well. And then tie all of your Social Media together so everything is connected and congruent.

Would love to hear your thoughts about themes that you can use in your niche. Stop by my Facebook page at Kim’s Facebook Page.

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Click Triggers: Nine Ways to Get More Click Throughs

The days of just “buy now” buttons are over. We are going to talk about click triggers and nine ways to get more clicks.

Click Triggers: Nine Ways to Get More Click Throughs

Today you have an entire audience that is more savvy, more educated and they don’t have time or money to waste. In order to get people from reading to buying, you’re going to have to understand what makes them click. This means you’re going to need to study your audience more and deeper than ever before. You need to build relationships with your audience.

Here’s how to study them.

  1. Grab their Attention with Headlines – Before anyone clicks to buy, they’re going to have to click through to read your sales copy. The headline is arguably the most important aspect of your copywriting efforts. Without clicks here, you will not get clicks elsewhere. What kind of headlines work best for your audience? The only way to know is to test different headlines to find out what works.
  2. Laser Target Your Copy – You can’t please everyone and you already know that you need to niche down your audience. But, did you know that you should write copy based on who are the active participants in your audience pool? If you write your copy directly to them, your click rate will go up. Pretend you are talking to them across the table having coffee. Make them feel when they are reading your sales letter that it was written specifically for them.
  3. Saving Time – If you can show them that your product or service saves them time in some way, they’re more likely to want to click. But, is your audience interested in saving time? Do you know?
  4. Saving Money – Another click trigger is the idea of saving money. Do you know if your audience is interested in saving money? Don’t assume that they are. Know by testing and asking.
  5. Promises – If near your “Get my free trial” button you place some extra words like “You will learn how to read 20 percent faster,” that is adding a click trigger that might encourage them to click.
  6. Guarantees – Next to your buy buttons you should also make a guarantee such as “No Risk Money Back”. People like it if they have no risk and can try something out without worry.
  7. Facts – Provide them with a fact near the buy button, such as: “Used by over 10,000 successful entrepreneurs.” Then watch the clicks go up. But make sure they are facts and not exaggerations.
  8. Larger Buttons – If you’re not getting the clicks you want, try making larger buttons. The good thing about larger buttons is that you can stop putting “buy now” on your buttons and spell out what they will get.
  9. It’s about Them Not You – Stop using the words “us, “we” and “I” in your copy. Stick with using the word “you” and making it about them, and you’ll get more response.

To find out what works best for your particular audience, do A/B and even A/B/C testing to find out what makes them click. Once you learn what gets your audience active, you’ll know exactly what click triggers to use to make them click.

I’d love for you to stop by my Facebook page at (Kim’s Facebook page) and let’s chat about what works good for you.

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Tips for Planning Content

Tips for Planning ContentDoes creating content make you feel like you want to pull your hair out, or just give up?  Today we’ll talk about tips for planning content, the stress-free way, that will make this task a much easier part of your business. Since it is such an essential part of our business, we definitely want it to be stress-free.

As an business owner, you know that content is one of the best tools you have, and as it is often said Content is King! It drives traffic. It provides your audience with the value and information they seek. It also helps you market your business, products or services. Content is essential for online marketing success. You can achieve greater success if you take the time to plan your content.

What Is Content Planning?

Content planning is simply the process of taking a look at your calendar and deciding what to write and where to publish it. Content planning involves a few primary criteria:

  • When will you publish the content?
  • Where will you publish it?
  • What will you write about?
  • What’s the purpose of the content?
  • What are your keywords?
  • How can you repurpose the content?

You’ll also want to consider how far ahead you want to plan your content for. Many business owners take a tiered approach. They plan large content projects for the entire year. For example, they may publish a report each month. They also take a look at their content on a quarterly or monthly level. However, you want to stay flexible, you may have your clients, customers, and followers, asking questions and seeking information. Any time this is the case, you want to make sure you are providing them with the information. You can always put your planned content on hold and come back to it. It’s always much more important to be of service then to adhere to a calendar that you have. My motto is to be flexible!!

Tips for Planning Content:

If you don’t plan your content or are struggling to plan it effectively, consider the following tips:

  • Use a calendar that gives you a big picture and you can write on. A paper desk calendar is a great planning tool. You can write your content ideas in pencil for easy modifications. Then, if you prefer electronic organization, you can transfer the paper plan to your Google, Outlook calendar,  or your e-calendar of choice.
  • Plan how you’ll integrate your content into your marketing strategy. For example, you could decide that in March you’re going to publish five articles on a certain topic. You’ll also want to make sure this content ties into any season or holiday, or anything that may be going on in your field or niche. You’ll also want to ensure it supports any new products or services that you may be launching. You want to make sure your content has a purpose. It may be simply to drive traffic to your website. Or it may be to drive traffic to a sales page or increase your opt-ins for your list.
  • Leave room for change. The best content plans leave room for inspiration. The greatest ideas often come out of the blue. If you’re a stickler for your plan and don’t allow room to add your content inspiration into the mix, then you’re missing out, and even more importantly so is your audience!
  • Finally, don’t forget to take a look at how you can repurpose your content. It’s not only a great way to get the most return on investment, it can help fill content gaps. If you have been following me for any length of time you know what a fan I am of repurposing content.

When you plan your content, make sure you’re looking at both the macro and micro picture. Make sure you look ahead and take the entire year into consideration. At the same time, plan your content right down to the keywords and topics.

Planning your content for the entire year may take a day or two to accomplish but it’ll save you tons of time down the road. Instead of wondering what you’re going to write on, you’ll have the answers all worked out. Best of all, your content will fit with your other marketing efforts to create a comprehensive business growth plan.

I would love for you to stop by my Facebook page here (Kim’s Facebook page) and let’s talk about your content planning successes and difficulties. I’d love to hear from you!

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How to Set up Your Personal Branding System

How to Set up Your Personal Branding SystemHow to Set up Your Personal Branding SystemHow to Set up Your Personal Branding SystemBranding needs to be consistent and that’s why you need to have a system in place.  Today we are going to talk about how to set up your personal branding system. This includes all of the things you need to do before you start branding as well as routine tasks you’ll continue to perform ongoing. Everything needs to be as efficient as possible. This is how the branding pros do it and you can do it as well. You will save time and headaches if you do this right from the beginning, I say that from experience. But don’t worry it’s not too late to go back and redo.

Be Clear from the Beginning

Write down a statement about your brand’s vision. It should be as short and concise as possible, and should include who you are, what you do, and your promise to your audience. Whether or not you use this as an official statement doesn’t matter; what matters here is just getting it clear for yourself. What do you want people to remember you for? What’s you’re unique position in the market?

Identify Your Natural Strengths

Your natural strengths provide the engine for your personal brand. It’s these strengths that will shine through everything you do. What are you good at naturally without even trying? Discover these strengths and figure out ways to make them work for you. When you know what you do well, you don’t need to be egocentric or fake. Your promises will be real.

Choose Your Tools

Branding is about getting your message in front of the people who need to hear it. The Internet gives you lots of avenues for doing this. These include Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, your own blog, article directories, forums, press release sites, podcasts directories, and more. Brainstorm a list of these avenues for exposure and decide which you’re going to use. You should also devote time to searching out new sites and strategies. Remember while there are many avenues available you don’t need to be on all of them, and you shouldn’t be on all of them. Research your audience find out where they are and that is where you should be.

Create Your Design

Your design features should be consistent. Choose fonts, colors, phrases and images that embody your brand. Take a good headshot that reflects the image you want to convey. Make sure it’s not too close or too far away. Choose other images and templates that you’ll use. Look at some sites and profiles of people that have strong brands to

Create a Schedule

Take all of your routine branding tasks and budget and schedule them. Decide how much time you’re going to devote each day to each task. If you’re not sure what these tasks should be, start with your goal (the statement you wrote to clarify). How can you achieve that? Keep asking yourself ‘how’ until you arrive at concrete tasks that will get you closer to it.

Listen to People

Learn about your audience by getting active on social media and subscribing to like-minded blogs. See what people are sharing, bookmarking and talking about. The better you know your audience, the better you’ll be able to tailor your message to them. You should also sign up for alerts so that you’ll know whenever your brand is mentioned. Keep a careful eye on what people are saying about you. You can do this through Google.

Get Organized

Put all of your tools and resources in one place. Social bookmarking sites are great for this. When you have everything organized, it saves you lots of time and makes your personal branding much more efficient.

The most important thing is to monitor everything you do and look for results. If certain daily tasks aren’t getting you results even after a few weeks, drop them and focus on something else. Whenever possible, split test your images, posts, and offers to see which version your audience prefers. Finally, because things are always changing in the online world, devote some time to searching out new ideas. Stay creative!

I’d love for you to stop by my Facebook page (Kim’s Facebook) and let’s chat about branding.  Do you find anything difficult?  Anything you are stuck on?  Anything that has worked particularly well?

 

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9 Ways to Use Infographics in Your Business

9 Ways to Use Infographics in Your Business9 Ways to Use Infographics in Your Business9 Ways to Use Infographics in Your BusinessThe last few weeks we’ve been talking about using infographics, today we are going to talk about 9 ways to use infographics in your business.

Using infographics is a great way to add interest to your content and to breathe new life into your data. There are so many ways in which you can use infographics if you start thinking outside the box to make your content visual instead of just text based. Try using an online creator tool like Canva (http://www.canva.com/) to make your infographics. There are also many other tools available to create infographics some of which are even free.

Also you can buy graphics like the one I used in the graphic here from companies like the one I use this site: http://bit.ly/kimsgraphics

1. To Describe Your Business – Instead of your typical about page, why not turn the about page into an easily sharable infographic? It’s the perfect information to turn into an infographic using creativity and humor to tell the world about you.

2. When Presenting Research Data – Data can be boring, but not if you find a way to show it in a new way with images, graphic design and creative wording in infographic format.

3. To Show Poll Data Visually – Conduct a poll, and then turn the information into a creative infographic.

4. To Explain a Complicated Topic – Sometimes pictures are the best way to explain a concept that is hard to describe in words.

5. To Compare One Thing to Another – When comparing two different concepts or ideas, using an infographic will help people understand the differences at a glance.

6. To Highlight Interesting Facts – Showing a pictorial of various facts with words and images is a great way to get the information across and help others remember certain facts.

7. When Words Take Too Much Space – Images and words in the form of an infographic can depict more information in a smaller amount of space than other forms of content.

8. To Raise Awareness – Infographics are often shared more than a regular blog post or other forms of content. If you really want to raise awareness about a cause, issue or concern, try creating an infographic to share.

9. To Inform Others – A great way to inform your audience of various types of information is to make it easily digestible in smaller bits, images and bullet points.

Infographics are a wonderful way to encapsulate data and information in a new way. Try taking one informative blog post a month and turning it into an infographic to reuse and repurpose the content in a whole new creative way. You can share your infographics on social media like Pinterest and you can ask other people to share your infographic too.

People are more likely to share an infographic than a blog post because most people like sharing visual data more than text-based data. Not to mention, it’s a lot easier to understand and digest.

I’d love for you to stop by my Facebook page and let me know if you are using Infographics in your business, and if so how. Do you have a way other than the nine that I’ve mentioned here?  You can find me here, Kim’s Facebook page.

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Benefits of Using Infographics

Today we are going to continue talking about infographics, focusing on the benefits of using infographics.
benefits of using infographicsInfographics are a mixture of pictorial, data, and writing that is used to visually communicate information to an audience. Infographics have more potential to “go viral” than other forms of data because they’re fun to look at, get across the information quickly and are fun. There are many benefits to using infographics to spread any message or idea.

They’re Attractive to Look At – Most people are visual by nature. The eye is naturally drawn to colors and images more than text. Plus, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. If you can make a good infographic it will be worth literally thousands of words but take up less space and get more interest than the same information in text format only.

Benefits of Using Infographics

  • Easily Understood by Scanning Quickly – When people read online they typically scan vertically instead of horizontally. This is why when writing content you’re told to include a lot of subheadings and bullet points. An infographic offers the best of all worlds, taking into consideration how people digest content on the web, and how the mind loves interesting images.
  • Can Convey Deep Concepts Easily – There are many concepts that are difficult to explain with words only or images only. Infographics bring together the best of both worlds. If you think about it, a comic strip is a kind of infographic that has been used for years to make people laugh and also explain difficult concepts.
  • Easily Shared – Not only is it easy to share an infographic with a click, but they are also more likely to be shared than text. They are acceptable content on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest.
  • Spread Brand Awareness – If you want to spread brand awareness, having an infographic developed for your “about page” is a really good idea. It will ensure that your visitors are more likely to read it, and understand what your business is truly about when they finish. Encourage visitors to your “about page” to share it.
  • Demonstrate Expert Level Understanding – Creating an infographic requires a deep level of understanding of a topic. If you don’t have that, it will be difficult to create an infographic that means anything.
  • Increase Website Traffic – Since they are more likely shared, you’re going to get more website traffic. Learning to create an embed code can help your traffic go up even faster by giving people permission to embed your infographic into their sites, which people will click on and they will be taken to your website.
  • They Improve SEO – Most people will say that infographics do not help SEO, but the truth is they do. They improve links to your site and offer proof of understanding of a topic, thus increasing your expert status level. And if you add keywords to the “alt” tags, a textual description of the information in the infographic, plus the infographic, it will improve SEO.

Infographics are a great way to repurpose content and make your website fresh, as well as give you good results from social sharing. Because visually interesting assets are shared more often than other types of content, this means infographics are highly beneficial to use for marketing your business.

Would love to hear about your using of infographics in your business. Please stop by my Facebook page and lets talk about infographics.  You can find me here (Kim’s Facebook page)

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What Are Infographics and Why Are They Popular?

While most people know what infographics are, you may not know why they are popular. If you spend much time on the Internet you probably see them everywhere. Today we are going to talk about why they are so popular.

What Are Infographics

An infographic is a graphic way of depicting a story or data in a visually pleasing manner. Usually, they are vertically designed with three or more points of interesting data. Infographics are usually 600 pixels wide and 1800 pixels long. Some people have tried horizontal infographics but they are usually designed vertically because that is how people tend to read things on the internet.

What Are Infographics and Why Are They Popular?Why Are They Popular?

So, why are infographics so popular?

  • We Are Visual Creatures – Humans eyes love to see color, movement, and visual material more than they love to see text. Our eyes are drawn to beautiful imagery, and infographics make it easy to provide that eye candy your audience is looking for.
  • Technology Makes It Affordable – Almost anyone can create lovely graphics and infographics today without professional help. Try using an online app like Piktochart (http://piktochart.com/) or Canva (https://www.canva.com) to make your own infographics.
  • We Process Images Faster Than Text – Think about road signs. If you’re driving down a road and see a sign that indicates falling rocks or slippery when wet, you know exactly what it means in an instant. But, if you have to read the words, these take as long to process as one image.
  • Infographics Help Break Up the Information – Our senses are constantly being bombarded with information and it’s hard for our brains to take a moment and digest everything that is thrown at us. An infographic allows your brain to take a break and digest the meaning of something before moving on.
  • Readers Skip too Much – The truth is, when someone reads your blog posts, they’re likely skipping a lot. People tend to skim vertically on the internet and they miss out on a lot of information that way. If you have something important to convey, providing it in an easy to skim format helps.
  • Color Visuals Draw Interest – Even adding a picture or two to a blog post increases the amount that is read, so it goes to logic that a post full of images and less text will be read more and understood more than a full-on text blog post.
  • It Makes Directions More Understandable – Have you ever tried to follow directions in a recipe without images? It can be hard. That’s why cookbooks often come with lots of pictures and images. It helps us follow directions better. An infographic will help your audience comprehend what you’re telling them better because even better than pictures is text with pictures.
  • Makes Your Information More Trustworthy – When people see images with the textual information, they tend to believe it more and think it is more trustworthy than if they see the text alone.

Infographics are popular for the simple reason that they work well to spread awareness, get links back to your website, and convey an idea in a way that your audience can understand. If you’ve never created an infographic, take some time to think of your story and the points you want to get across before you start. Then go for it.

Please stop by my Facebook page (Kim’s Facebook Page) and let’s chat about infographics. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Top 10 Mistakes People Make Using Social Media in Business

The Top 10 Mistakes People Make Using Social Media for Their BusinessToday we are going to talk about 10 mistakes people make using social media for their business. Most likely if you have been using social medial for a while, and stay current and follow some of the experts you are probably doing a pretty good job at avoiding most of these mistakes.
Social media sites offer a great way to brand your business for free, or almost free. Everybody uses sites like Facebook and Twitter, and many check them daily. But there are some  mistakes that can really cost you and even kill your social media campaign if you’re not careful. Here are the top 10 mistakes you could make.
1. Shameless Self-Promotion
One of the the worst things you can do is use your social media sites as a sales page. People on these sites don’t want to be marketed to. They want to socialize, network and share common interests. If you are selling all the time, people will unfollow you…and FAST. Remember it’s about building relationships.
2. Buying Your Friends
On Fiverr.com and other freelance sites, you’ll find people selling friends for social media sites. It may be tempting to pad your profile with fans, but this is a deadly mistake. In most cases, the ‘friends’ aren’t even real people. It’ll be obvious to the real people who show up on your site. Even though your numbers will be high, remember these people will never interact with you, like your posts, or buy your products or services.
3. One-Way Exchange
When people comment or ask questions on your page, you’ve got to respond. You need to reply to them and make them feel welcome. This shows that you’re an approachable, responsive brand that cares what people think. If you don’t respond they most likely won’t be back.
4. Nothing to Do
What makes a social media site popular is its interactivity. If yours just presents information about your brand and doesn’t give them anything to do there, people won’t stick around. Use the apps and widgets available to make your site interactive.
5. Social Media Neglect 
Maintaining a social media site is a never-ending job. You should devote a little time to it every day. The brands that are most active on social media do the best with them. Carve out a little time and stick it in your schedule.
6. Fighting Words
No matter what anyone says about you or your brand, never be negative or nasty to them. That only brands you as a jerk. Always be considerate, polite and friendly. Keep things positive even when you’d love to give someone a piece of your mind. If someone gets too nasty on your page you always have the ability to delete them comments, if it’s really bad you can ban them from your page.
7. It’s All About Me
If your page does nothing but talk about you, your products and your services, people won’t be interested. You need to find other things that your fans would like and share them.
8. Wallflower
Don’t wait for people to visit your profile. Get out there and socialize. Make friends, spend time on other profiles, and get to know people. You’ll be surprised at what a difference this makes.
9. Inappropriate Comments
Whenever you’re logged in, you need to be extremely self-aware. Everything you say or do reflects your brand. Show your personal side but don’t get too personal. You want to look like a brand owner and this requires a little bit of professionalism.
10. All Over the Place
Stick to things that are of interest to your brand. It’s okay to digress and get off topic once in a while to show your personal side, but for the most part stick to things your fans care about.
The absolute biggest mistake you can make with social media sites is ignoring them altogether. Experts predict that social media sites will become the search engines of tomorrow. To some extent they already are.
I’d love for you to stop by my Facebook page (Kim’s Facebook page) and let me know your thoughts.
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4 Types of Content That People Love Most

4 Types of Content That People Love Most

Today we are going to talk about the four types of content that people love most. These are the four main types of content that you can use to communicate with your audience: text, graphics, audio and video. Each of these kinds of media has its own benefits and drawbacks, with each appealing more or less to different audiences. While you will want to use each type of content, you will need to learn your audience and use the way they enjoy receiving content the most.

Here’s an overview of each of these four kinds of content and how you can use them:

  1. Written Content

Text is by far the most common type of content on the internet. Just about every webpage you see is based on written content.

One of the biggest benefits of text-based content is that it’s very search engine friendly. Search engines can’t understand videos or audios, but they definitely can understand text.

In other words, if you’re running a website with text-based content you stand a good chance of ranking.

It also requires less preparation to create written content. You don’t need microphones or videos, or expensive graphic editing programs, or knowledge to use those programs. You only need your thoughts and to type them. Also, at the time of this writing Facebook is ranking text content higher, but if you’ve been on Facebook for even a short time you know how much Facebook changes.

  1. Visual Graphic-Based Content

The main type of visual content online is shown as infographics. Essentially, these are graphics that contain information in and of themselves.

One of the biggest benefits of infographics is that they are often more entertaining and informative than just text.

For example, if you’re illustrating the history of a war, having graphics that give the big picture of events can explain them far more effectively than just describing them in words. People love infographics.

  1. Audio Content

Now that people can download audio and listen to it anywhere on their iPod or mp3 player, audio content has really taken off.

In the past, audio content had to be consumed in cassette or CD format. That was both expensive to produce and a bit of hassle for the consumer.

But today, people can listen to audios anywhere they go. In the car, on the bus, while walking, at lunch, etc. With the ability to download any audio in just a minute, having content available in this form saves people time and is extremely convenient. Audio content works really well for many businesses. People also like being able to put a voice to your face that they see online. It makes them feel move connected to you.

  1. Video Content

Video content is one of the most dynamic methods of distributing information on the internet. You can put funny clips, informational demos, interesting blurbs, high tech how-tos, personal images – just about anything you can think of.

Video content also has some of the strongest “share culture.” For example, it’s very easy to share videos with friends on Facebook.

A video has a much higher chance of going viral than probably any other form of media.

The only downside to video content is that it does take more effort to produce. You need to shoot the video, edit the video and finally render the video. The whole process could take many hours depending on the complexity of the video, rather than just 30 minutes to write an article.

So, which content format is right for you and your business? It really depends on what kind of information you’re creating and who your market is. There’s no harm in trying all four different kinds of content and seeing which one(s) your audience responds the best to.

Stop by my Facebook page (Kim’s Facebook page) and let me know which is your favorite kind of content to share.

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10 Creative Ways to Use Social Media for Your Business

There are many ways to use social media in your business, today we are going to talk about 10 creative ways to use social media for your business. Social media sites offer a way for people to communicate online and interact with their favorite businesses. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are among the most popular and most visited on the Web, and many people are spending a lot of time online, on these popular platform. So why not be where your potential clients and customers are? Here are ten ways you can use social media to better connect with your clients and/or customers and boost your business.

  1. Improve Your Customer Service

These sites give your customers direct access to you. This gives you a chance to listen to what they have to say and learn how they feel about your business. By being responsive and offering them access, social media works wonders for your customer service. Make sure your responses are speedy.

  1. Manage Customer Complaints

Social media sites let your customers leave comments on how you’re doing. When they complain or criticize your business practices, you not only get valuable feedback, but also a chance to reply and repair your image.

  1. Share Real-Life Customer Stories

Social proof is powerful in establishing your company’s credibility, and social media gives you lots of opportunities to get real testimonials. Positive reviews from your customers can be seen instantly by anyone who accesses your profile or theirs.

  1. Get Your Employees Involved

You can use your a private Facebook page for idea development. Give your employees a platform where they can share their ideas. You can also use it to keep in touch, offering newsletters, updates and employee incentive programs.

  1. Boost Customer Loyalty

You can use your business page to run your customer loyalty programs by offering incentives and rewards. Everything can be done through the site so you don’t need to deal with any more punch cards.

  1. Attract New Business

Your social media presence gives you free advertising on the world’s biggest message board. People can find your page through Web searches and their friends’ profiles. This is a great way to attract new customers.

  1. Get to Know Your Market

Social media makes it extremely easy to get to know your target market. You can find out exactly who enjoys your products and services, as well as find out what else they like. Companies have spent millions in marketing research to gather this information and all you need to do is invest a little time.

  1. Create a Brand Message

Every company has a brand message, like Nike’s ‘Just Do It’. You can use your social media site to communicate this message to your fans and prospective customers.

  1. Connect Everything

By integrating your social media sites with your blog or website, you can generate more traffic and leads. Widgets and apps allow you to link everything together for maximum exposure.

  1. Use Multimedia

Most social media sites have multimedia applications. You can make a welcome video showing what your company is all about or offer a streaming podcast to your customers. These help by branding your company and giving it a more personal touch.

The most important thing to remember about social media is that people don’t use these sites to shop. They use them to socialize, share common interests, and generally hang out. Make your page an interactive place where they can get involved and spend time. This keeps your brand in their mind and whenever they’re ready to buy, they’ll come to you.

Stop by my Facebook page at (Kim’s Facebook Page) and share the creative ways you are using social media.

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 Using Twitter to Grow Your Business

 Using Twitter to Grow Your BusinessAre you using Twitter to grow your business? If you are not using this social media platform to grow you business, I strongly urge you to take a look at it, and consider it.

Twitter users are growing by leaps and bounds, and it can be a great way to promote your business. I just read today that Twitter is growing faster than Facebook. Some may think of Twitter as a big time waster, but anything that truly grows your business is not a waste of time. You just have to learn how to use it the right way, efficiently and effectively.

Today we are going to look at why Twitter can be a boost to your business.

What Makes Twitter So Great?

Twitter is a way for you to get your ideas across to a large number of people quickly. It’s also an excellent way of receiving new ideas from other people. Prospective and existing customers appreciate the personal contact that Twitter provides. Twitter gets your business name out there and generates traffic to your website. And it’s free!

Here are some tips on taking full advantage of Twitter’s benefits for your business.

  1. Get your name out

Most business owners do not like cold calls, and most prospective clients do not like them, either. But Twitter is a way to “cold call” people and introduce them to your business in an easy manner. People will hear about your business who might otherwise never know about it.

  1. It’s all connected

The thing about Twitter is that all users are connected. If one person likes a link you send around, that Twitter user may become a follower, and he or she may then send your link around to his or her followers, and so forth. (It’s called “retweeting” when someone tweets something you tweeted.) The number of people who see the link then increases exponentially.

  1. Helping others

You can gain a reputation as an honest person if you contribute to your fellow business owners. Retweet other’s links that you agree with and like, and do for other tweeters what you would like to have done for you. This builds a good reputation and boosts your business – people are drawn to honest and helpful business owners.

  1. Consider HootSuite

I love Hootsuite. I have a lot of followers, and follow a lot of people, I don’t think I could manage Twitter without HootSuite. It is an application that has a free and a paid version.  You can use to shorten URLs, it helps you search for particular tweets, and also helps you read and respond to tweets. I also use it for my pre-scheduled tweets. I don’t pre-schedule all of tweets, but there are some that I do schedule ahead of time.

  1. Learn about your market

Twitter is a good way to discover trends and stay in touch with the latest happenings in your business market. Use Twitter to find out what’s going on in your market. You can use hashtags to search, and you can also use targeted hashtags for your tweets to be found.

If we’re not connected on Twitter, please connect with me at www.twitter.com/kstarry

 

 

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Five Tips On Improving Your Ecommerce Customer Service

thumbs up premium service chalkboardWe are going to talk about improving your eCommerce Customer Service today. Before you say this doesn’t pertain to me, I’m a service provider, or I’m not eCommerce. I would most likely disagree with you, or say if you are not, you most likely should be. Almost everyone could be and should be selling online. Whether you have people purchasing your services online through PayPal buttons or you are selling physical products, you are eCommerce. Ecommerce has become the primary way many consumers buy products, and I believe many services. Even the hair stylist I go to has a smart phone app where you can book appointments, order products, and pay for services. That being said, this means there’s a tremendous amount of opportunity. There’s also an abundance of competition. You can leave your competition in the dust if you’re able to provide top-notch customer service. Here’s how:

Five Tips on Improving Your eCommerce Customer Service Policies

Make sure your policies are easy to find and easy to understand. Don’t assume that visitors will notice a small “return policy” link in your footer. Instead, consider integrating your policies into your customers’ shopping process. For example, you might include a pop-over box that states your policy, or you might include it in the checkout process. Of course, this is in addition to having an apparent link to your policies on every single page.

Help!

Where do your visitors and potential customers find help on your site? Is there a quick and easy way for them to find answers? Is your contact information available on every page of your site? Is it easy to find? Would your visitors benefit from an online help desk or chat function? If a prospect cannot quickly find answers to their questions, they’ll likely leave your site. Keep them on your site and convert them to customers by making sure you leave no question unanswered.

Be Accessible

We buy from people (and companies) we trust, respect, and like. If you’re not present on your ecommerce website then prospects may wonder why. Include an “about me” page. Also make sure that your contact information is easy to find. Include it on every page and create systems so that each email message or phone call you receive is answered in a timely manner.

Transparency

Online shoppers are savvy now. They look for reviews, informative content and outside information. You can use technology to provide this information for them. For example, you can create “how to” videos to demonstrate your products. You can use RSS technology to provide links to outside reviews and testimonials, too. Don’t hide information from your prospects; hand it to them on a silver platter – be 100% honest, up front, and transparent.

Security

It is vitally important that customer’s know that your site is secure. Take steps to secure their data and the checkout process. Display your website security measures in the form of SSL certificates to give your customers an extra level of assurance.

Finally, constantly strive to make sure your website navigation is easy for visitors to use. The more user friendly your site is, the better your customer experience. After all, that’s what customer service is about – a great customer experience.

I’d love to hear what you are doing to make your customer’s experiences with you great so they keep coming back, com on over to my facebook page and let’s chat about it.Kim’s Facebook Page. Hope to see you there.

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Ten Do’s and Don’ts of Copywriting

Ten Do's and Don'ts of Copywriting

Ten Do's and Don'ts of CopywritingThere are a lot of things to know about effective copywriting, but today we are going to talk about just ten do’s and don’ts of copywriting.  Following these will help you write better copy. If you put this list near your desk before you write any copy, and follow them, you’ll improve your copy exponentially. The other thing that improves your writing is to consistently do it!

First the Do’s

  1. Know Your Audience –Are you sick to death of hearing this yet? Well, it’s just the facts. You must know your audience so well that you can create audience personas and write your copy directly to them. Don’t make assumptions that you know the audience without studying them. Even if you are part of the demographic, study your audience anyway.
  2. Have a Clear CTA (Call to Action) – Every copy that you write needs to have a clear call to action located in a place where people will see it. It must jump off the page and compel the reader to act. If your CTA is not clear and noticeable, no one is going to do anything.
  3. Use Graphics and Color to Highlight Points –Graphics are your friend when it comes to effective copywriting. If you can use an arrow, or a red circle, or something to highlight words that you don’t want your audience to miss, then you should. Don’t go nuts – make the design clean, but do point out important words and phrases with graphics and color.
  4. Write for Scanners – When people read copy online they read vertically, not horizontally. It’s important that you use different fonts, bold, italics, and bullets along with colors and graphics to create a trail for the eye to follow. If your bulleted words, headline words, and subheadline words are well thought out, someone can get the point simply by scanning.
  5. Explain Benefits over Features– No one cares about the features of your product. What they care about is what it does for them. What problem does it solve, and what solution does it provide to them? If you can’t explain it clearly, you’ll need to give it more thought.

Now the Don’ts

  1. Don’t Write for Everyone –You want to write for a small subset of your entire audience. Just like you had to niche down your audience, you need to actually niche down your subscribers and write for just the portion of your audience that is active.
  2. Don’t Leave Things Unsaid –Say what you mean and mean what you say. Your audience is not going to read between the lines. If your product or service has a particular benefit, say so. If you don’t say so, they won’t know.
  3. Don’t Welcome Everyone –Not only should you stop welcoming everyone to your website, please ditch the flash entry points, too. People do not want to look at one page loading for five minutes, then click a door to enter.
  4. Don’t Use Just One Kind of Content– The days of just using text on your website, blog, or sales pages is over. You need to use multiple types of content such as video, podcasts, graphics, and text to get your point across more clearly.
  5. Don’t Lie and Exaggerate – If you haven’t made a million dollars online yet, please don’t tell people you have or imply that you have. Be honest. Be who you are. If no one has a clue who you are, don’t claim otherwise. The fact is, no one can be you. You are special; you are unique, and you need to simply be yourself. No one else can be you quite like you can.

Following this list will help you become better at writing copy.  Also, practice is another good way to improve your skills. After you are writing for a while go back and read some of your first blog posts, I’m sure you will see improvement in your writing, if you are like me, you may even cringe a little, but feel good about your progress.

If you have any tips you would like to share, I’d love to hear them please stop by my Facebook here: Kim’s Facebook page and share them.

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7 Top Tips for Using Twitter Effectively 

 Using Twitter to Grow Your Business

There are many ways to use Twitter, today we are going to talk about the 7 top tips for using Twitter effectively.If we are not already following each other on Twitter you can If me here:

Twitter is a really great way to socialize and keep in touch, but it can be more than that. You can use Twitter as a tool for various things, from business to advertising, but most importantly to build relationships. It provides a personal link with your customers and clients that may be lacking in the usual online business relationship. Many people disagree, but I have built my best relationship in the online world on Twitter. Here are some tips for using Twitter effectively.

  1. Keep it short

Regardless of what you are tweeting, you’ll want to keep the message short and to the point. Twitter is not like email; it’s more like text messaging to a group. Don’t let your tweets drag on for three or four tweets, Twitter is not designed to be used like that. I think we’ve all been guilty of that when we first started on Twitter. I know I was.

  1. Make a decision

Regardless of how you plan to use Twitter, go ahead and make that decision before setting up an account. If you want to use it for business purposes, determine who your potential customers would be. If you plan to use Twitter for personal reasons, make that decision ahead of time, too. Personally I think Twitter can be part of your social media marketing plan no matter what your business.

  1. Avatar

Choose an avatar that reflects your purpose in using Twitter. A fun picture of your dog in a Santa hat may be great for your personal account, but not for your business (unless you sell dog Santa hats!). You may even want to find a professional to take a picture of you specifically for your Twitter avatar, just make sure the picture look professional, no family vacation pictures here. If you are using Twitter for business purposes then us the same photo that you are using on your other Social Media platforms to stay consistent so people recognize you. People want to know they are building a relationship with a person, and they want to put a face with that person.

  1. Username

The same things apply to a username as to the avatar – make sure it fits your Twitter intentions. Also, make sure it coincides with your avatar so that the two become synonymous. I often recommend using your name if it’s not already taken even if you are using it for business, that way down the road if your business changes you don’t have to worry that your Twitter username does not match your new business name. You may think I’ll never change, I’ll do this forever. You may be surprises how you evolve once you start your business.

  1. Advertise

Twitter offers advertising programs that you can use to boost your business. You can sign up with one of these on the Twitter site. They work by connecting Twitter users with advertisers.

  1. Share links

The brief nature of Twitter makes it a great vehicle for sharing links to websites, videos, and so forth. This can be a quick and effective way to share the newest and latest products or information with your customers. Sharing links for others can also be a way to generate income. You can share your own links, too. But remember you are not on Twitter to sell, sell, sell. Provide value information that other people want to share, and build relationships! Never have more than 20% of your tweets be promotional.

  1. Get a mobile device

Most of your twitter followers are probably reading your tweets on their phone or a mobile device. You’ll want to make sure that you have a device and app that you can use Twitter on from anywhere if you are using Twitter for business.

This is just a brief overview of using Twitter effectively, the best way is to just jump in and Do It and Enjoy.  Have I mentioned I love Twitter!

If we are not already following each other on Twitter you can If me here:

 https://twitter.com/KStarry

Blue bird sitting on rope, singing

Send me a tweet letting me know that you are following me from my blog post, I want to make sure that I follow you back. Happy Tweeting.

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12 Types of Facebook Posts Guaranteed to Engage Your Followers

12 Types of Facebook Posts Guaranteed to Engage Your Followers

To succeed on Facebook you need to build relationships with your followers. Today we are going to talk about 12 types of Facebook posts guaranteed to engage your followers. Facebook is a social media giant. Without a doubt it’s the most popular social networking site in the world, and in the past ten years it’s managed to get billions of people hooked on the platform. There are many different kinds of Facebook posts but here we’re going to look at Facebook posts that will engage people. We always need to be changing what we are doing to see what works to get our posts in front of people who have liked our page. As you know if you are active on Facebook, they are always changing their algorithms that determines what they are showing. Don’t get frustrated. Take it as a challenge.

Let’s take a look at twelve types of Facebook posts that are guaranteed to get people involved.

  1. Like or Comment

Facebook is a very visual social network and one way to get people to engage is to post a picture. The next step would be to put two pictures together either side by side or one on top of the other and ask people to “like” if they prefer the option in one picture or “comment” if they prefer the other option.

  1. Name Y12 Types of Facebook Posts Guaranteed to Engage Your Followersour Favorite

Open-ended questions are one of the easiest ways to drive engagement on Facebook.  Asking people what their favorite movie, band or website is could generate a lot of engagement.

  1. Caption Contest

Finding a picture that looks like it’s trying to say something funny is always a great time to hold a caption contest. Simply post the picture, ask people to add a caption in the comments and if the picture is good enough you should be getting massive amounts of comments in no time.

  1. Looking for Advice

Reaching out for help is a great way to get people to engage with your Facebook page. Asking people what the best way to complete a task such as cooking a food item, building something, training a pet or any other situation that would require input from other people is a great way to drive traffic.

  1. Like If You Do This

This post is almost too easy. Facebook users love pictures, so posting a picture of an activity or something people commonly enjoy and asking them to “like” the post if they enjoy it as well will certainly help you. A great example is posting a picture of ice cream and asking people to “like” the picture if they enjoy ice cream too. Honestly, though, who doesn’t love ice cream?

  1. Nostalgia Posts

Every generation is different and making people feel nostalgic is a great way to engage users. Questions such as “remember when you had to rewind a video tape to watch a movie?” could be a big hit with the right crowd.

  1. What Would You Do?

We as people like to think about what we would do in different situations. Asking people what they would do in certain situations is a great way to get some answers. Questions such as, “What would you do if you had 40 million dollars?” could end up getting you a lot of answers.

  1. Fill in the Blank

Fill in the blank posts are also a pretty easy way to get people engaged. Asking someone to fill in the blank in sentences such as “my favorite food is (blank)” is another great way to get people to interact.

  1. Post a Picture

It can’t be emphasized enough that Facebook users love photos. A great way to get people involved is to have them post a photo of their own. Post a status asking people to post a picture of their favorite vacation spot in the comments and watch how many responses you get.

  1. Recommendations

Need a new website to visit? How about a new book to read or movie to watch? A great way to get people involved is to ask for recommendations and you might actually end up finding something you like.

  1. Name Something without the Letter (Blank) in It

Surely you’ve seen these types of posts before. Someone posts a status or picture asking you to name a fruit or vegetable without the letter “a” in its name. This is a fun way to keep people involved and almost always gets the type of reaction you’re looking for.

  1. Yes or No?

It might seem simple but yes or no questions are an easy way to get people talking. Even the simplest question such as asking people if they like pizza and telling them to respond with yes or no could work like a charm.

As you can see by the examples above, Facebook is highly interactive. You need to constantly engage people to keep them interested in your page and if you use some of the examples above you should get plenty of people talking.

What are you waiting for? Go give a few of these a try. I would love for you to stop by my Facebook page here: (Kim’s Facebook page) and share with me some things that work well for you to get people talking.

 

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What Can You Learn from Your Competition 

Differentiate

What Can You Learn from Your CompetitionWhat can you learn from your competition? With a little research you can actually discover so much about your own business and your audience. Studying the competition takes you out of your comfort zone and puts you into their territory. This will help you learn many things that can help you and your business to improve not only your profits but your products and services too.

  1. Keywords to Use – When you find your competition, figure out what keywords they rank high for. Then determine whether or not these are keywords you want to compete directly on, or if you can identify better keywords to use to attract the same audience.
  2. How to Engage with Your Audience – Watching how your competition engages with their audience can teach you ways in which to improve your own engagement. Identify mistakes and successes in your competition to ensure that you’re covering all bases.
  3. Ways in Which to Differentiate Yourself – By seeing how you and your competition are the same, you can identify more ways to make your business stand out. The more ways that you can differentiate your business from theirs, the better.
  4. Weak Points to Exploit – By completely studying all that your competition has to offer, you can identify gaps in products and/or services for your audience, and then get work filling them. This is yet another way to make your business stand out.
  5. The Best Topics That Elicit Engagement – When watching your competition, which topics of discussion on social media and blog posts get the most engagement from the audience? Is the engagement productive or counter-productive?
  6. Identify Important Niche Influencers – Do they promote affiliates and others within your niche that you can promote too? Will it help if you start offering these products/services and promoting the same gurus? If so, how; if not, why not?
  7. How Much They Charge for Their Products/Services – Knowing what your competition charges, and how they process the payments as well as deliver the products and/or services they offer, can go a long way to making good decisions for your own business.
  8. Identify Your Own Product Gaps – Line up what you offer product/service for product/service with what your competition offers and see if you have gaps in your coverage. If you do, fill them with your own complementary products and/or service.
  9. What Software Works Best – When you try out your competitions’ products or services you can find out what software they use to process orders. Does it work well, do you like it, or does it have issues that can be fixed using a better service?

Using your competition to learn how to improve your business is simple. If you are already part of a niche, or already have a particular audience, find out where your audience goes to get their information and actually order from your competition. NEVER steal or plagiarize but do get ideas on how to make your products/services the best. Once you research your competition, don’t obsess over them, get to work and focus on making the best experience for your clients/customers.

Stop by my Facebook page at Kim’s Facebook Page and leave a comment, do you research your competition to improve your business?  I’d love to hear from you!!

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Achieving a Higher Ranking for Your Blog

Achieving a Higher Ranking for Your Blog

Achieving a Higher Ranking for Your BlogAchieving a higher ranking for your blog, is it something you even think about? Is it important? How can I do it? These may be questions you ask yourself. Do you blog to support your business? Maybe your blog is your business. If so, then a high page ranking would help you grow and profit. This New Year’s consider making your blog your resolution. Strive to achieve a higher ranking for your blog. Grow your profits and your traffic. Here’s how to resolve to achieve a higher ranking for your blog this year.

Step One: Where is your blog right now?

The only way you can set and achieve goals is if you understand where you’re coming from. Take a look at your blog’s current ranking for your identified keywords. What page are you on? Also take a look at your analytics. What keywords do people use to find your blog? This is valuable information.

If you don’t use analytics right now, then consider installing it. Google Analytics is free and it’ll provide a wealth of information. It’ll be difficult to plan and achieve your New Year’s resolution without a means of measuring success. Analytics will help you measure success.

Step Two: Where do you want to go?

Now you might automatically say, “I want to go to number one of course.” That’s a noteworthy goal. However, consider breaking that ultimate goal into smaller, more manageable pieces. For example, if your blog is currently ranking on page nine for your primary keyword, then you may want to first aim for page eight. However, also take a look at your supporting keywords. These generally have less supply and you may be able to reach page one more quickly for these.

Step Three: How are you going to get there?

Once you’ve identified where you are and where you want to go, it’s time to plan. Consider starting with the easiest goal first. For example, if you rank on page two or three for a supporting keyword and are on page nine for your primary keyword, it may be easier to focus on your supporting keywords first.

  • The key to improved page ranking includes:
  • Linking – internal and external
  • Keyword-focused content
  • Tagging and categories

Create a plan for each keyword you want to focus on. Start with your easiest goal. Create an internal linking strategy to support that keyword. Participate in online activities that motivate others to link to blog posts on that keyword topic. For example, social media is great for driving traffic to a blog.

Finally, create more content focused on that keyword. This isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight, so create a plan to accomplish it. For example, write one blog post each week that focuses on your keyword.

Make sure you’re tracking the results. When you reach your goal, celebrate your success. Give yourself a hearty pat on the back. Then turn your attention to your next keyword.

Through a systematic approach you can quickly achieve a higher page ranking for all of your primary and supporting keywords. This time next year you may be the first blog to show up on the search engine listings. To your success in the New Year!

I’d love to hear about your goals for the coming year and if they include any improvements to your blog.  Stop by my Facebook page and let’s chat about them. You can find me here, Kim’s Facebook Page.

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How To Make Offline Marketing Strategies Work

How To Make Offline Marketing Strategies Work

How To Make  Offline Marketing Strategies Work

How to Make  Offline Marketing Strategies Work

If you have been following me for a while you know I usually talk about online marketing, today we are going to talk about how to make offline marketing strategies work.

Over the past few years online marketing strategies have been the top priority of companies in terms of promoting their names and their products and services to reach a much wider audience. Not only is it more practical but it is also more efficient than traditional marketing. However, recently, companies have been re-thinking their ways and putting their attention once again to offline marketing.

Even online establishments such as eBay and Amazon.com have also opted to utilize offline marketing strategies to further enhance their popularity to the greater society. EBay has learned to promote its site in television commercials, and Amazon.com with its radio plugs. As more and more business establishments are revisiting offline marketing, it then suddenly becomes what we may call a renaissance. Many big companies such as eBay uses regular mail to reach their customers.

Know Your Audience

For a business to successfully execute its offline marketing strategies, you first need to remember this simple rule: know your audience. As long as you understand this concept and you are guided with it every step of the way, your offline marketing plans will surely be successful at execution.  Of course this is true for online marketing as well. Know their pain points, what drives them, what keeps them awake at night.

Strategize Your Marketing Plans

When you have finally understood who your audiences are, you can already begin strategizing your plans. For example, if you are going to make a print advertisement, plan the details thoroughly. Make sure that the colors go together and do not fight each other, and that you do no go overboard with using then different font styles that makes it difficult for the reader to read. Make sure that your print ad is attention grabbing as well as easy to understand. Consumers do not want to waste their time on a print ad that is too difficult to read or perhaps too abstract to understand. Think of yourself as a consumer and see if your print ad works for you.

Improving Your Print Ad

Before executing your print ad, you can first do a pre-testing evaluation. This step involves getting a percentage of your audience and giving them the print ad that you have produced. Have them evaluate the print ad and ask for their comments, suggestions and even if they have a negative reaction towards your ad. You don’t want them to sugar coat it. Ask them if the print ad grabbed their attention right away, or if it successfully gave out the message that you intended. Take note of their evaluation as it will be your guide in improving your print ad. With their comments, you can revise your ad and make it better. Since these people are your audience, they should be similar to others in your audience.

After finalizing your design and strategy, you can now execute your offline advertisement. You need to wisely put your print ads in places where a lot of people go and where your print ads can be easily noticed. Since you have taken into account the evaluation of your peers, you are then reassured that these print ads will work well with the greater populace.

As you go on with your other offline marketing strategies, these are the simple steps you need to know in order to make them work. If you are using offline strategies in your business I would love to hear about them please come by my Facebook page, at Kim’s Facebook and let’s chat.

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It’s 2015…Wishing You a Happy New Year

It’s 2015…wishing you a Happy New Year!! It really is hard to believe that it is 2015. It seems as the years go by time is moving faster and faster.  I would like to wish you and your family the very best in the new year.  I also want to thank-you so much for being a faithful reader.  Taking the time from your busy schedule to read what I have to say every week means the world to me, and I value that, and I especially value you. Here is to making 2015 the best year ever working together as a team building your social media platforms in a way that you are engaging with your followers, clients, and customers and building solid and strong relationships with them, ones that you could have never imagined!

Happy New Year

 

I hope you stop by my Facebook page if you haven’t already so we can chat about your plans for your business in 2015.  You can find me here (Kim’s Facebook Page).  Happy New Year!

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How to Create More Efficient Marketing Systems

How to Create More Efficient Marketing Systems

How to Create More Efficient Marketing SystemsDo you have an efficient marketing system in place?  If not we are going to talk about how to create more efficient marketing systems to optimize your sales process. Even if you have a marketing system in place, there may be some things that you are overlooking.

The more you learn about marketing, the better you’re going to become at it – provided you know how to take what you learn and turn it into a system. Every time you do something you will become better if you know how to evaluate success. Here’s how to create more efficient marketing systems.

  1. Understand Your Audience – Never think you know your audience enough. As time goes on your audience changes and becomes more educated. Even if your audience consists of “newbies” to whatever your niche is, the newbies of tomorrow will be more educated than the newbies of today. Keep studying them, and keep getting to know them.
  2. Know Your Product/Service Backwards and Forwards – You can’t hope to explain your product or service if you don’t understand everything there is to know about it. When someone asks you questions about your product or service you should be ready for an answer that fits the person asking. This is how you encourage trust in your knowledge and establish your expertise.
  3. Create Quality Products and Services – When you know your audience, and your products, you’ll be able to create even more amazing products and services that work together. Plus, you’ll be able to create products you’re proud of and will be willing to yell from the rafters about them. The better quality your products, the more easily they will be to market.
  4. Automate Strategically – Use technology to automate and make easier the things you do on a regular basis, such as invoicing, billing, shipping, product delivery and so forth. Anything that can be automated for easier delivery and service should be done. Today technology exists for everything you can imagine. Keep abreast of what’s new so you can implement automation that works for your business.
  5. Systemize Your Marketing Processes – When you find something that works well, add it to your system. That way, you know in advance what to do for any product launch before you’re even done creating the product. If you have a system that works, keep working it for the best results. Don’t reinvent the wheel each time.
  6. Plan in Advance – You’ve heard it before, but here it is again: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Enough said about that. Create a plan and follow the plan, but realize that you can adapt and change plans as you move forward with your marketing efforts or learn new methods or technology.
  7. Outsource to Leverage Other People’s Talents – The best way to make your marketing efforts more efficient is to let other people do the things for which you’re not trained or as talented in. If you stick to your efficiencies and let others stick to theirs, you can make your time and money go farther and create a more effective and efficient marketing system.
  8. Test and Evaluate – Nothing is done until you’ve run the numbers. Business is about people but it’s also about the numbers. In marketing, the results are what count. If you run the numbers you can throw out what doesn’t work, and do more of what does work. That’s the best way to become more efficient.

Creating efficient marketing systems isn’t about being a miser, it’s about finding the best way to market your products and/or services that creates the largest return on investment while also creating the most satisfied customers. A satisfied customer will save you the most time and money in the long run.

I’d love for you to stop by my Facebook page (Kim’s Facebook page) and tell me what marketing strategy you use that works really well.

Happy New Year!

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Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

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Simple Ways to Create Stunning Pins for Pinterest

Simple Ways to Create Stunning Pins for Pinterest

Simple Ways to Create Stunning Pins for PinterestToday we are going to talk about simple ways to create stunning pins for Pinterest. When you first venture onto Pinterest and see all the pretty things that people have pinned, it can be rather intimidating. How can you compete with that as a small business owner? You may even wonder if you will have to hire a photographer and graphic designers to create images worth pinning? Put those fears to rest, it’s easy and if you haven’t ventured into Pinterest I think you will by the end of this post.

Don’t panic. It’s much easier than it looks. Here are some tips that will have you creating stunning pins in no time.

  • Take great photos. You don’t have to have a lot of fancy equipment to take Pinterest-worthy pictures, many smart phones have a camera that takes great pictures. Pay attention to the lighting when you’re shooting, and keep the background free of distractions. For product photos, a solid white background is usually best. If you’re taking pictures of small objects, consider using a lightbox.
  • Edit your great photos. Photo editing programs such as Photoshop can do everything from cropping photos and brightening them up to giving them an entirely different look. A little bit of editing can make a big difference. If you are like me Photoshop it a little over my head and I go for programs that are much easier and cheaper like PicMonkey, it’s very easy. There is a free version and one that costs only a few dollars a month. You can find it at www.PicMonkey.com.
  • Add special effects and text. You can also add special effects and text with Photoshop and most other photo editing programs. If you don’t have any suitable programs on your computer, there are free online photo editors that you can use such as Pixlr, or again PicMonkey.
  • Pin your Instagram photos. Instagram makes it easy to spruce up photos from your mobile phone with filters. You can use a program such as Pictacular to easily share your Instagram photos as pins on Pinterest.
  •  Make use of Pinstamatic. Pinstamatic is a set of Pinterest tools that are free for anyone to use. It makes it easy to create pins in a variety of ways, including taking screenshots of websites, pinning tweets from Twitter and more. You can also quickly create pins featuring favorite quotes and add captions to photos. You can even make a pin of you website if you want to.  I tried it, and here is mine. Here it is: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/160511174194984047/
  •  Generate a meme. You know those funny pictures with even funnier captions that are so popular on sites like Pinterest? They’re a snap to create! Just visit a site like Imgflip or Memecrunch, choose a picture, add a caption and post it. If you want to create something more original, Imgflip also allows you to upload your own images. I really haven’t played much with these two programs as memes aren’t really something I use but I thought I would share them with you in case you use them.

You don’t have to have an unlimited social marketing budget to create great pins for Pinterest. In fact, photography skill isn’t even a necessity. With a little software and ingenuity, anyone can create pins that are worth sharing.

If we are not connected on Pinterest, please come follow me, I’d love to follow you too.  You can find me at: http://www.pinterest.com/kmstarry/  Happy Pinning, and Merry Christmas!

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Growing a Highly Targeted Social Media Following

Growing a Highly Targeted Social Media Following

Growing a Highly Targeted Social Media FollowingGrowing a highly targeted social media following, it’s something we all agonize over if we’re in business and we want to reach potential clients and customers online. We’ve all seen pages on Facebook with thousands…even millions of followers. We’ve seen the same with Twitter and other social media networks. It may seem a little overwhelming if you’re starting with a small following on social media and it may feel like you’re just not going to get anywhere if you don’t have a huge following. But remember it’s really not about the numbers, it’s about the relationships that you are building.  It does you no good to have thousands or millions of followers if no one is communicating with you, or taking it further and buying what you have to offer. If you aren’t building relationships, you will never take it to the next level.

But the truth is, a targeted following on social media is always your best bet. While you should always work toward growing your following, you can still get results from your well-cultivated following. So keeping pushing forward. It’s worth it.

To get you started, here are some tips for growing your following:

Invite Your Website Visitors

When someone visits your website, one of your main goals (if it’s not for them to buy a product or service) should be to get them to join your email mailing list. That way, you can contact them directly over and over again through your list. But another thing you want new visitors and even regular visitors to do is follow you on social media. Having multiple avenues to communicate with your audience is a good thing and allows you to stay in the mind of your prospects.

Include buttons on your site that allow your visitors to follow you directly on your main social media networks. While, it may be tempting to offer up a ton of options and include buttons for every social network you’ve joined, do consider these pitfalls:

– By including too many choices, you decrease your chances of getting your visitor to do anything. The old saying that “the confused mind always says no,” is absolutely true.

– Add to that, when you include buttons for networks you’re not that active on, you don’t provide a very good experience for your followers.

Instead, keep it focused and limit your follow buttons to the networks where you participate regularly. In addition, include invitations to follow you on social media in your blog posts and other content. Don’t just rely on buttons in the side bar…ask them to follow you directly.

Invite Your Mailing List

Sending your mailing list to follow you in social media gives you yet another way to communicate with your audience. Include follow buttons at the end of your emails, but also mention some of your interesting posts inside the emails you send. For example, if you posted a video you know they will want to see, send them to Facebook to view it. Or if you’re online and are available to chat, start a Hangout on Google.

Just one tip…make sure the updates you share are public. While it might make sense to make them private, so people have to follow you to see them, it can be frustrating for your subscribers. After all, your subscribers have ALREADY told you that they’re interested in your stuff and have ALREADY given you their email address. Don’t make them jump through hoops to see your additional content. On a very quick side note, on Twitter if you are trying to build a following don’t make your profile private you are missing out on a lot of potential ideal followers by doing that.

Make Friends in Your Niche

One of the easiest ways to grow your social networking and online following is by making friends with others in your niche. That effect is even more dramatic when you make connections with influential people in your niche. Always spend time on developing meaningful relationship with like-minded people because it has a lot of benefits:

– You can share one another’s content (only with permission and attribution of course)
– You can share ideas and give each other advice
– You can cross-promote products

And we’re talking about meaningful relationships here. Not just simply following someone on Twitter and hoping they’ll notice your @ replies. You need to connect with them directly, meet them in person or offer to help them in some way. Real relationships don’t develop through liking someone’s Facebook status, so do the work necessary to grow your network of friends.

Get Involved and Interact

Even though liking someone’s video on Facebook isn’t going to make you best friends, interacting regularly with people can help you get noticed. Provide useful commentary on content that is complementary to your niche, get involved and be visible. If people can use you, they are more likely to follow you.

Of course, balance this with the important of keeping your schedule and avoiding distraction. Always be very purposeful about your participation and you will reap the benefits.

Remember, Growing a Following Goes Both Ways

Remember, that growing a following through social media goes the other way too. Get people to share your content on social media, so you can drive that traffic back to you. Getting that traffic back from social media helps you grow your list and sell your products and/or services.

Always make it easy for people to share your content. Include sharing buttons on your blog posts, free report download pages just about anywhere you publish content. The easier it is for people to spread the word, the more likely they are to do it.

If you have not liked my page yet, please stop by my Facebook page at Kim’s Facebook page, also please leave a link to your Facebook page so I can return the favor and get to know more about you.

Also, we are offering social media reviews at a savings for the next few weeks to help you get the new year started on the right foot with your social media platforms, check it out here: Social Media Reviews

 

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How to Get More Reader Interaction on Your Content

How to Get More Reader Interaction on Your Content

How to Get More Reader Interaction on Your ContentHow to Get More Reader Interaction on Your Content? If you are a writer of blogs, articles, newsletters, or just about anything for your business, you probably ask yourself that question every time you sit down to write.

Reader interaction accomplishes many things for a website. It helps add user generated content. It also helps pull in more readers. People want to participate and see what everyone’s talking about. It also is a great way to start building relationships and trust. However, getting reader interaction isn’t always easy. Here are a few tried and true strategies for getting more interaction on your articles, blogs, and newsletters.

1. Ask for it – One of the best ways to get more interaction is to ask for it. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing an article or a blog post. Here are just a few questions or calls to action you can include at the end of your content piece:

  • What’s your experience?
  • Do you have any advice on?
  • What do you think?
  • Have you ever…?
  • What’s your favorite?
  • Do you remember when…?

Of course some topics lend themselves to this approach better than others. A blog post on a home cooking site about your favorite soup recipe is likely to get a lot of content. People love to share their favorite recipes. However, a blog post about how to soak lentils isn’t likely to get much feedback unless you ask for advice or information about different soaking strategies.

2. Respond to comments – When you respond to comments you start a discussion. Other people may feel the desire to put their two cents in. If you don’t respond to the comments, then the conversation may stop there. If you want to motivate more readers to chime in and offer their opinion, insight and comments, then always make time to respond to comments. It’s important.

3. Share a picture or video – We’re visual people. When we see a picture that makes us laugh, smile, cry or get angry, we are motivated to comment on it. Sometimes a picture or a video is all you need. It can say more than any article or blog post. However, other times it’s nice to include it with relevant content.

4. Share a personal story – Within the body of your article or blog post, share a story. Take time to share something personal that relates to the content of your article. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or long winded. When you share a story, it motivates others to share their story. You can find yourself learning a lot about your readers and prospects when you use this technique.

If you have a blog, reader activity and comments add credibility to your blog. Additionally, they tend to motivate more reader interaction, links and increased traffic. If you have a theme-based website, then reader-generated content can really help you boost your search engine ranking. Most importantly it is a great way to start building relationships with your followers.

I’d love for you to stop by my Facebook page at Kim’s Facebook page and tell me your secrets for generating interaction with your readers.

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Happy Thanksgiving

Autumn or thanksgiving greeting card with copy space. (artificial leaves)

Autumn or thanksgiving greeting card with copy space. (artificial leaves)

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family if you are reading this from the United States.  If you are reading this from outside of the the United States, wishing you a great Thursday.  I’m taking a break from our normal weekly post.  I hope that you are taking some time to enjoy the day however it is that you enjoy this day.

I would love if you would pray for my mom and keep her in your thoughts. She had a very nasty fall last week while walking her dog and broke her knee, shoulder and two ribs. She had two surgeries last week and is now in rehab for about the next three weeks.

However you are spending the day and the weekend, I wish you the most blessed of days.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Kim

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Black Friday Sale

Our Black Friday Sale Starts Early…

save 50% on all of our eBooks.

Use code: blackfriday at checkout.

Cute christmas birds

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#BEMORE: 77 Secrets To Your Powerful Life

Sandi Krakowski’s #BEMORE: 77 Secrets To Your Powerful Life

Sandi Krakowski’s #BEMORE: 77 Secrets To Your Powerful LifeFor those of you who know me you know it’s usual for me to send out a post other than on Thursday mornings.  I had the pleasant opportunity to read Sandi Krakowski’s #BEMORE: 77 Secrets To Your Powerful Life, so I wanted to tell you about it.

If you are active on Social Media you may be familiar with Sandi as she has over a million followers on her combined platforms, and she is very active on those platforms. She is not shy about sharing her opinions or her beliefs and that is what originally drew me to Sandi.

No matter what you are struggling with in your daily life you are sure to find the help you are looking for in her 77 secrets.

I was very excited to see the five areas that the book is broken down into:

Part One: Be More Connected to God
Part Two: Be More In Tune With Yourself
Part Three: Be More Attentive To Yourself
Part Four: Be More Engaged With Your Community
Part Five: Be More Mindful Of Your World

The reason I was so excited was in the weeks leading up to receiving the book, I was beginning to notice how distracted and not present in the moment I had become. I was always thinking about the next thing, or many things at once, doing multiple things at once, not how I want to live.

As I was reading through these “Secrets” Secret #24 Pay Attention, and not just this one but almost all of them, I thought oh my word, Sandi is writing this book just for me. Then I realized so many of us are so distracted by the world around us that we aren’t living in the moment we are thinking about five things at once, trying to do multiple things at once, trying to do them all well, and at the end of the day we’re exhausted and we don’t understand why. We are not living our lives in tune, attentive, engaged or mindfully.

I guarantee whatever it is that you are struggling with get Sandi’s book, read it, and keep going back to those areas that you are struggling with over and over and you will learn how to win against your struggles.

How do I know? As I said I’ve been following Sandi for a while. She taught me Secret #35 in following her, It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect. I used to be someone who thought I couldn’t put it out there unless it was perfect. What did that mean for me and my business? Well, I very rarely put anything out there because it was never perfect. I learned it doesn’t have to be perfect, do it, give it my best, and put it out there.  My best is better than never doing it at all.

I will be using Sandi’s book as a reference guide in 2015 and beyond for living the life that I want to live and I hope you do too.

When you are picking this book up for yourself, buy a few extra copies for family and friends for Christmas gifts. It’s a great start to a New Year and a New You learning the “Secrets” that Sandi lives in her life.

“To get your copy of ‪#‎BEMORE: 77 Secrets To Your Best Life purchase now! http://www.thebemorebook.com

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Psychology Behind Choosing Right Website Colors

The Psychology behind Choosing the Right Colors for Your Website

Psychology Behind Choosing Right Website ColorsDid you know that there is psychology behind choosing right website colors?  If not you are going to learn about it today.

Did you know that simply changing the color of your copy can change your conversions and sales? It’s true. Color has the power to affect our emotions. This means choosing the colors for your website is not a black-and-white decision.

Matching Your Niche to the Right Website Colors

You want your website to fit your niche and audience, right? Some topics lend themselves to certain colors. For example, if it’s a website about love and romance you might use red or purple colors on the site. Take a look at these popular colors and the emotions they evoke:

Here is a list of some of the common colors and what type of psychological emotion they invoke in people:

RED – Red colors are generally associated with love, passion, romance, danger, excitement, action, and adventure. Red is also a great color if you want to grab someone’s attention. It’s often used in the headline on a sales page. Studies have shown it generated a higher conversion rate than other colors. This is a color that is often suggested to use sparingly.

 BLUE – Blue often represents calmness. It is often used to exhibit a professional image. It’s associated with trustworthiness and success. It’s a symbol of water, purity, and cleanliness.

GREEN – Green often represents money. It also represents sustainable living, health, and nature. Green is another calming color that symbolizes life.

ORANGE – Orange often represents or evokes creativity, celebration and fun.

PURPLE – Purple stands for passion. It’s also commonly used to represent royalty, luxury and fantasy.

WHITE – White is clean. It is simple and it is innocent.

YELLOW – Yellow isn’t a color commonly used on websites. Yellow can cause people to feel irritated or anxious. However, it can also represent playfulness and fun. Many people associate pale yellow with youth.

PINK – Pink is a soft color. It’s also a very feminine color. It’s great for love, baby girls, women’s health and even young girls’ fashion and interests.

BROWN – Brown is an earthy color. It represents simplicity, matter-of-fact attitudes and nature.

BLACK – Black, while it can be dark and mysterious, is also solid. It’s a color that leaves no room for doubt, but it may be a color you don’t want to use too much of.  Many people do use it for the color of their type.

Do the colors on your website presently support the image you want to portray? Do they have the desired effect on your prospects and visitors? If you’re unsure, consider making minor changes and testing and tracking results. Test the color of your headline. Test the color of your background. Test the color of your forms too.

Color has a dramatic effect on emotions. It can motivate, inspire, and touch. Take advantage of the effect color has and use it on your site to help you achieve your goals.

I’d love to hear how you are using color. Come on over to my Facebook page at Kim’s Facebook page and let’s chat about color.

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Do I Need a Website, or Blog, or Both?

Do I Need a Website or Blog?

Do I Need a Website, Blog, or Both?

Do I Need a Website, Blog, or Both?

If you are just starting a business you may ask yourself, do I need a website, blog, or both?  Confused by which is the best choice?  The answer isn’t as difficult as you may think. Here’s how to make the right choice for you and your business goals.

#1 Business model and purpose

Yes, both websites and blogs, particularly a WordPress blog, can support just about any type of business model. WordPress developers have created plug-ins that can turn any WordPress blog into an e-commerce site, a membership site and more. WordPress is the only thing that I use and recommend to my clients, and always dot-org and never dot-com. You can not do business on the dot-com.

Go slow with plug-ins and add-ons you don’t want to add more then you need and you want to use ones that have a good track record. If your business model relies on the publishing of timely information, then a blog is likely better.

#2 Maintenance and time

How much time do you have to devote to the upkeep and maintenance of your business? A blog still relies on consistently publishing content. Despite contrary “rules” about blogging, you don’t have to blog every day. However, people who subscribe to blogs do expect regular installments of new content. You can schedule your posts. However, it does require a bit more maintenance on your end. A website can be left alone for a month or two without any updates, unless you are adding new products or services.

#3 Personality and ease of use

Some of your decision will be based on your personality. What format do you prefer to use? A blog is very easy to update and utilize. You may need help to find, install and set up the right plug-ins. You may also need help customizing a theme or adding a custom header. However, by and large blogs are very easy to use.

Websites can be trickier for some. That being said, many website developers and design software make the user interface quite simple. You can modify pages and add content without needing to learn or understand a design language.

#4 Goals

Quite often a blog and a website work well together. A website sells. A blog drives traffic and brands the business. A blog can speak to a niche within your niche. For example, General Motors has a main website. They also have a blog that is basically car talk. It’s for car enthusiasts and its run by a head honcho at GM. He loves cars. The blog helps brand General Motors and it connects prospects and customers to the business. It builds a community.

Before you make a decision about whether a blog or a website is right for you, consider these points.

  • What’s the purpose of your site?
  • What will offer the best customer experience?
  • What will be easiest for you to use and maintain?
  • Finally, what will best help you achieve your goals?

WordPress has really changed over the past few years, and you may very well find that you can do everything you want including selling right from your blog, and not even need to worry with having a website. Do your research and decide for yourself.

Have any questions about what is best for you?  Stop by my Facebook page at Kim’s Facebook and let’s discuss it. To your success!

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The 7 Best Practices for Content Curation

Spotlight on Best Practices Words Great Concepts Successful Idea

The 7 Best Practices for Content CurationLast week we started talking about the Content Curation Craze. Today it’s about the 7 best practices for Content Curation. Content curation is all about providing your target market with the information they’re looking for and adding value to that content at the same time. It isn’t difficult to do successfully, as long as you follow these seven unofficial guidelines.

  1. Tune into Your Market

Successful content curation doesn’t mean finding content that interests you (although it might mean that incidentally). What it means is choosing content that your readers will find useful or intriguing. Start by understanding your readers and what they’re looking for online, information-wise. The better you know their interests and needs, the better you’ll be able to deliver the most relevant content.

  1. Follow Other Curators

The best way to learn any skill is to imitate those that came before. Follow other content curators and see not only what kind of information they share but how they go about doing it. You can learn a great deal about sharing content and engaging readers by simply paying attention to the methods of the experts.

  1. Choose the Right Tool

There are many good tools to help you deliver content to your readers. In fact, there are too many. Resist the temptation to bounce around among different tools. Instead, choose one that you like and that does what you need it to do, and stick with that one. Spend some time shopping around, reading reviews, and checking out free trials.

  1. Add Value

Don’t just present the content as-is. Always add some extra value to it by commenting on it, giving it your own spin or opinion, or even contradicting it and creating some controversy. A post that starts off with, ‘I found this article online and I totally disagree with it,’ can get others commenting and giving their two cents.

  1. Quote Articles

When you refer to an article, don’t just put a link to it. This makes your readers follow the link, which is extra work for them and also leads them off your site. Instead, include a snippet or quote so that your reader doesn’t have to go anywhere to get the gist of what the article says. Then they can make an informed decision as to whether they want to read further.

  1. Use Your Mobile

It takes a great deal of time to search out content and that means more hours of sitting in front of the computer. When you’re out somewhere and you have a little time to kill, this is a great opportunity to surf around and find great content. Use your mobile and whatever mobile apps you find that help you save and share content.

  1. Mix It Up

Don’t just present the same type of content. Mix it up. Rather than just curating articles and blog posts, share videos, infographics, resource sites, and podcasts as well. By curating content from as many different sources as possible, you’ll make the learning and reading experience more interesting both for your audience and for yourself.

Always check out your site from the reader’s point of view to see if it’s truly providing value. Is it better to read your posts or just go straight to the source? Put yourself in their shoes and you’ll understand what you need to do to add value.

If you need content curation assistance please contact me at KMStarry@gmail.com.

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The Content Curation Craze – What’s It All About?

The Content Curation Craze – What's It All About?

The Content Curation Craze – What's It All About?

Today we are going to talk about  the content curation craze, and what’s it all about? Content curation is all the rage right now and it has quickly become one of those Internet buzzwords. Many of the Web’s top bloggers are expert content curators. But like most Internet buzzwords, it’s only half-understood by most people.

What Is Content Curation?

Content curation means pulling together content from various sources and presenting it to the reader in your own unique way. It may be easier to understand content curation by defining what it is not. Content curation doesn’t mean presenting a list of stories or a weekly roundup of links. It’s definitely not a simple cut and paste job where you rip off content from someone else.

The idea is to take the information available and make sense of it for your readers. It starts with carefully sifting through all that’s out there and selecting the best items that would interest your readers. You then put this content together into an easy-to-digest format that tells a story, making it relevant, valuable and memorable.

Why Curate Content?

The content is already out there for your readers to enjoy, so why put it together for them? This is the key to good content curation – it’s not just a pile of information. We’re inundated by a deluge of information every minute of every day. The Internet is wonderful because of this, but it leads to overwhelm. Everyone has to sift through all that’s out there to find what they’re truly interested in reading. A good content curator does this for you, and builds a following of loyal readers as a result.

How Content Curation Helps You

One common misconception about content curation is that it’s an easy way out of content creation. Since you’re pulling together content from different sources, this offers a shortcut to writing it all yourself. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Actually, like the content you write yourself, the content you curate can help you establish authority and create a connection with your readers.

Think of it from the reader’s point of view. Your blog or website is a source of the exact information they want on a regular basis. It saves them from having to do their own sifting online. Over time, they come to see you as a go-to source for their information. They see you as a knowledgeable expert in your field. An automated program that uses keyword algorithms to suck up content from other sites won’t do that.

If your content is relevant and helpful to your readers, they’ll keep coming back for more. It doesn’t matter to them whether you’re the actual content creator or not.

Curating content should be taken just as seriously as creating your own content from scratch, but one of the advantages of this approach is that it is easier and more cost effective than writing your own content or hiring a writer. It’s just a matter of understanding your readers well and choosing the right content.

If you need assistance with content curation, please contact me at KMStarry@gmail.com.

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Do You Know the Difference between HTTP and HTTPS?

Do You Know the Difference between HTTP and HTTPS?

Do You Know the Difference between HTTP and HTTPS?Do you know the difference between HTTP and HTTPS? Did you know there was a difference? Why should you care?

The internet is used by just about everyone these days and by now you’ve probably realized it has a language all of its own. There a few basics that everybody knows but it’s always good to educate yourself to make sure your information is secure.

You’ve most likely surfed quite a few websites in your time and noticed that all of them either start with “HTTP” or “HTTPS.”

Do you know what these acronyms stand for? You may not think there’s much of a difference between the two, but the difference is actually quite significant.

What Exactly Is the Difference?

For those of you that don’t know, “HTTP” stands for “Hyper Text Transfer Protocol.” It’s simply the protocol that’s used which allows you to communicate with other websites. The acronym “HTTPS” stands for “Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure.”

Sites that use the “HTTPS” acronym are encrypted. That means they will keep all of your private information such as credit card information, passwords and other personal information from being stolen by hackers or other people with devious intent.

When accessing or transferring information by “HTTPS”, the only parties which can access the information are the client and the end server.

The two most common types of encryption layers are TSL (Transport Layer Security) and SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). This technology is referred to as a sort of digital trust to make consumers feel safer when exchanging their personal information. In order to use this type of encryption layer, a server must have a public key certificate which is verified by a third party.

Where Is HTTPS Used?

You may not know it but you most likely use “HTTPS” every single day. This technology is used for banking sites, log-in pages and anywhere else you might use your personal information. Even social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter must use “HTTPS” to protect your information. You should never put personal, financial information on if the “s” is not there.

How to Know Which Sites You Can Trust

The internet is a big place and for every trustworthy site out there, there’s ten more that aren’t so trustworthy. When making purchases or giving up personal information it’s always a good idea to look out for the “HTTPS.” If it doesn’t have that acronym in the web address you probably shouldn’t be providing any personal information to that site.

It’s also worth taking a few minutes to research the reputation of the websites you’re using. If the site is a company or brand you’re unfamiliar with, look them up to make sure that they’re safe – because in the end a few extra minutes of research could save you a lot of frustration down the road.

Just remember, when using the internet be sure to keep your eye out for two key things: the “HTTPS” and some sort of certificate such as TSL or SSL. There are a lot of people out there on the internet with bad intentions but by taking a few minutes to read this, you’ve taken a big step in the right direction. Always remember to educate yourself so that you can protect yourself, and keep your eyes open.

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9 Types of Facebook Posts for Engagement

9 Types of Facebook Posts for Engagement

9 Types of Facebook Posts for EngagementToday we are going to talk about 9 types of Facebook posts for engagement guaranteed to generate engagement with your followers. Facebook is a social media giant. Without a doubt it’s the most popular social networking site in the world, and in the past ten years it’s managed to get billions of people hooked on the platform. There are many different kinds of Facebook posts but here we’re going to look at Facebook posts that will engage people.

Social networking is all about interacting and building relationships. It doesn’t happen overnight but the goal is to have your followers interacting with you and what you are posting.  Let’s take a look at twelve types of Facebook posts that are guaranteed to get people involved.

1. Like or Comment

Facebook is a very visual social network and one way to get people to engage is to post a picture. The next step would be to put two pictures together either side by side or one on top of the other and ask people to “like” if they prefer the option in one picture or “comment” if they prefer the other option.

2. Name Your Favorite

Open-ended questions are one of the easiest ways to drive engagement on Facebook. Asking people what their favorite movie, band or website is could generate a lot of engagement. Just make sure when asking questions, it is something that takes short answers.

3. Caption Contest

Finding a picture that looks like it’s trying to say something funny is always a great time to hold a caption contest. Simply post the picture, ask people to add a caption in the comments and if the picture is good enough you should be getting massive amounts of comments in no time.

4. Looking for Advice

Reaching out for help is a great way to get people to engage with your Facebook page. Asking people what the best way to complete a task such as cooking a food item, building something, training a pet or any other situation that would require input from other people is a great way to drive traffic.

5. Like If You Do This

This post is almost too easy. Facebook users love pictures, so posting a picture of an activity or something people commonly enjoy and asking them to “like” the post if they enjoy it as well will certainly help you. A great example is posting a picture of ice cream and asking people to “like” the picture if they enjoy ice cream too. Honestly, though, who doesn’t love ice cream?

6. What Would You Do?

We as people like to think about what we would do in different situations. Asking people what they would do in certain situations is a great way to get some answers. Questions such as, “What would you do if you had 40 million dollars?” could end up getting you a lot of answers.

7. Fill in the Blank

Fill in the blank posts are also a pretty easy way to get people engaged. Asking someone to fill in the blank in sentences such as “my favorite food is (blank)” is another great way to get people to interact.

8. Post a Picture

It can’t be emphasized enough that Facebook users love photos. A great way to get people involved is to have them post a photo of their own. Post a status asking people to post a picture of their favorite vacation spot in the comments and watch how many responses you get.

9. Yes or No?

It might seem simple but yes or no questions are an easy way to get people talking. Even the simplest question such as asking people if they like pizza and telling them to respond with yes or no could work like a charm.

As you can see by the examples above, Facebook is a highly interactive website. You need to constantly engage people to keep them interested in your page and if you use some of the examples above you should get plenty of people talking. What are you waiting for? Go give a few of these a try. Stop by my Facebook page and tell me which are your favorite.  You can find me here Kim’s Facebook page.

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5 Ways Your Business Can Distinguish Itself from the Rest

Distinguishyourself

5 Ways Your Business Can Distinguish Itself from the RestWhen it comes to starting a business it’s certainly a challenge. Getting your feet off the ground and establishing your brand is no easy task, but it’s not impossible either. Today we are going to talk about five ways you can distinguish itself from the rest.

In order to get some attention in the business world you need to think out of the box and find a way to set your business apart from the rest of the pack. There are some simple things you can do to achieve this, and we’re going to take a look at some ideas that will help people identify your brand.

1. Know Your Audience
First, and foremost you have to know who your audience is. You don’t want to be selling car parts to someone that’s looking for gardening supplies. Identify your audience. What are they looking for? What do they need? What other things besides what you’re offering are they interested in? It’s rare for a business to be in tune with the needs of their audience nowadays. Knowing who your audience is will go a long way when it comes to building your brand.

2. Build a Presence on Social Media
The online presence of your business will always be important when it comes to building your brand. Be interactive. Get people involved. You don’t have to be on every social media site there is. Find where your customers are and be there, and shine, by interacting and building relationships.

3. Create a Unique Website
Social media presence is a must but a lot of businesses sacrifice a presence on their own website in order to keep up with their social networks. Don’t do that. Your website is the digital equivalent of a business card and you don’t want to neglect it. Create or hire someone to create a website which is unique and interactive. Social media is a great way to get people involved but your website should be a direct portal to your business, consider it the hub of your business.

4. Write a Press Release
A press release is something so simple that could help you see big results. Putting out a press release about your newest product or service and distributing it to local newspapers and other forms of media can build hype and get you attention. This is your chance to talk up your business and get some eyes on what you’re doing.

5. Use Video Marketing
Commercials are a classic form of advertising but they can be extremely expensive. A modern alternative to a TV commercial which is often overlooked is video marketing through a platform such as YouTube. You can film a commercial or other type of promotional video for little money and reach millions of people by promoting it online. Make sure you use it on all of your social media platforms you are on, as well as your website.

When it comes to marketing your business, the sky is the limit. Don’t make the same mistakes that others do. Make sure you distinguish your business by covering all aspects of marketing – both conventional and unconventional. Give these a try and don’t be afraid to experiment. Stop by my Facebook page and let me know what you are doing that is outside of the box. I’d love to hear from you.  You can find me here: Kim’s Facebook Page

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Tips and Ideas to Repurpose and Reuse Your Content

Tips and Ideas to Repurpose and Reuse Your ContentHappy October.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure where this year has gone, but it sure is flying by. Today we are talking about one of my favorite topics, tips on how to repurpose and reuse your content that you already have.

Content is an investment. You spend a lot of time writing it. You probably also spend a lot of time planning and researching it. It therefore makes good business sense to make the most of your investment. When you repurpose and reuse your content, you maximize your return. Here are five tips and ideas to repurpose and reuse your awesome content.

#1 Build it up – Gather articles that fit together nicely and create a report or and eBook. You’ll want to add an introduction and a conclusion. You may also need to add some transitions and polish the content to fit a cohesive theme. To monetize the content, consider adding affiliate links where appropriate. You can also include the occasional product or service promotion for your own business.

#2 Break it down – If you have existing reports or eBooks, then they’re perfect to create articles and blog posts. You have many options here, too. You can simply pull apart segments to create articles. Add an introduction and conclusion paragraph and you’re ready to publish.

For example, if you have a “how to” report with ten steps and ten pages of content, you could create an article that’s a much abbreviated version of the report. List the ten steps with a one or two sentence explanation. You could also write a “three things you need to do to…” article. In fact, with ten steps you could write three of those articles.

#3 Republish old content with updates – Often evergreen content isn’t as evergreen as you hope. The world moves quickly and most industries are constantly growing and changing. Take a look at your “evergreen” articles and blog posts. How can you refresh them with updated content?

#4 Partition eBooks – This method is similar to breaking down reports to create articles and blog posts. You can break eBooks down into reports, articles or blog posts. In fact, you can get quite a lot of content from an eBook. Take a look at the eBooks you’ve purchased or written and brainstorm content ideas. Of course never-ever copy other people’s work, just use it to get your brain working.

#5 Group reports – If you’re looking to create a new information product, consider grouping them to create an eBbook. You’ll want to organize the reports in a logical manner. You’ll likely also need to add an introduction as well as a conclusion. Transitions will be necessary and you can add some nice graphics. Add checklists, worksheets and lists to add value to your eBooks and reports for extra value.

Repurposing your content is a smart business strategy. With each new piece of content you create, consider how you might be able to use it in the future. Content is essential for online business success. Make the most of your efforts and maximize your content and time to the fullest.

I’d love for you to stop by my Facebook page and tell me your favorite ways to reuse your content.  You can reach me here: Kim’s Facebook page.

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Staying Educated in Your Niche

Staying Educated on Your Field

Staying Educated on Your NicheNothing ever stays the same. If you think about how fast technology has changed our environment over the last 20 years, you’ll realize how imperative it is to stay educated in your niche. While your niche can remain your forte for years to come, what it looks like today will barely resemble what it will look like in just a few years. Think about it; no one is producing VHS tapes anymore, but no one has stopped watching movies. Our tools change not our passions.

Attend Industry Events

Whether online or offline, it’s important to surround yourself with people who are in your industry and your audience. The more you can learn from others, the more you’ll be able to stay ahead of the learning curve regarding your niche. By surrounding yourself with movers and shakers, you won’t be caught off guard when people want WordPress websites instead of HTML static sites. Instead you’ll see what’s coming around the bend. When you people realize that you do see what is coming instead of being five steps behind they will seek you out.

Follow the Right People

On one hand you want to follow your audience so you know what they’re up to, but you should also follow your competition and the leaders in your niche. Even if you’re a leader yourself, being involved with other leaders can help you stay ahead of the learning curve because you’ll be able to keep your ear to the ground. Try spreading out your associations because people tend to get caught up in a clique without realizing it.

Get Certified

Whether accredited or unaccredited, certification can often impress your audience. Research the accrediting authority to ensure that whoever is doing the accrediting is well known and respected in your niche before taking part. Also know whether that matters to your audience. When it comes to certain software, the software developers themselves may offer certification and if they do, that’s an important certification to pursue.

Perform Regular Keyword Research

Even if you’re not a writer, or a search engine optimization (SEO) expert, conducting regular keyword research can expose you to new industry terms and information that you might not otherwise be exposed to. Consider at least a quarterly study of the keywords that are popular within your niche to stay ahead of your competition.

Read Books

Even if your specialty is highly technical, you can read a lot of books in your area to stay educated. Check out free books on Kindle to help you find important books being written today about your niche. Even historical books can help you understand your niche better in terms of where it’s going and where it’s been.

Take a Course

Many colleges and universities offer courses online today that you may not have seen in the past.  In many cases the tuition is lower than local universities and colleges, and you can often do it to fit your schedule.

Teach Others What You Know

Sometimes the best way to stay ahead and educated on your niche is to teach. When you teach something you tend to study harder. It will force you to know what is going on within the industry in a more organized and productive manner. Teaching also solidifies the information within your mind better. That’s why history professors seem to remember everything. It’s not that they have photographic memories; they just tell the stories repeatedly and it finally sticks.

Track Industry Trends

Using Google Alerts and searching the internet, you can stay up to date on industry trends. You can also find trade publications, magazines, and newsletters that will help you understand what is happening in your niche. For instance, in the USA there is Small Business Majority which is a group that can help members understand how tax laws, health care laws, and other issues affect how they do business.

Link to Small Business Majority – http://www.smallbusinessmajority.org/

Continuing education, whether formal or informal, is the key that will keep you ahead of the rest. As long as you stay educated in your niche, you will have a long career and successful business working with the people you love and doing what you love. I’d love for you to stop by my Facebook page at (Kim’s Facebook) and tell me about the things you do to stay current in your field/niche.

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Writing Copy for Social Media

Writing CopyWhen you are writing content for your different social media platforms, do you just write one article and post the same link everywhere? Did you know that when writing copy for different platforms, it’s important to take into consideration the mood of the social media network as well as your audience. The standards for email copy, website copy, and social media copy are different and there are things you should think about before you write the copy. Not only that, you don’t want to put the same copy everywhere. You may have the same followers on multiple platforms. You want to be innovative and fresh on each platform that you are active on. Here are some questions to consider.

  1. What Platform Rules Exist? – Each platform has its own rules that you should keep in mind before you create the copy for that medium.
  2. Should Your Content Be Short or Long? – Each social media platform requires different lengths of content. As you know, with Twitter, you only have 140 characters to get your point across. With Facebook you have a bit more space, as with others. On your blog you technically have unlimited space. So consider which social media you’re writing for before you write the copy. Of course unlimited space doesn’t mean get carried away and write a novel, your readers will get bored and hit the delete button.
  3. Is the Platform Buttoned-Up (Liked LinkedIn) or More Free Like Twitter? – Some platforms are more serious and professional. That means that sharing that picture of the cat hung up in the blinds might not be a good idea on LinkedIn, whereas sharing it on Facebook might be fine if you can relate it somehow to your business.
  4. Should You Use #Hashtags or Keywords? – Even Facebook has got with the practice of using hashtags, but is it appropriate to use them on every platform? Probably not. Using them too much may show that you’re not that creative after all.
  5. Is the Platform Visually Based? – Yes, it’s true that Twitter is trying to be more visual, as is Facebook. But, Pinterest and Instagram still lead the charge on being visual. Those two platforms would not do well with just a text-based update. You should consider that prior to creating the content.
  6. What Is Your Objective? – What is the point of your update or share? Do you know what you are hoping to achieve? Do you have a well thought out, specific, numbers-driven objective in which you can measure results?
  7. Should You Include a CTA? – You should always include a CTA (Call To Action), but how you do it on each social media network is what’s important. What type of CTA would tick off your audience? Avoid those.
  8. Is Your Copy Sharable? – A really important factor for social media copy is whether or not it’s shareable. Shorter, visually oriented, relatable content is better to post on social media when you want it to be shared.

Creating copy for social media is different from writing keyword-rich articles, just like writing blog posts is different from writing keyword-rich articles. As you create your content strategy, these differences must be apparent to you in order to achieve success.

Stop by my Facebook Page here (Kim’s Facebook Page) and let’s chat about how you vary your content, or maybe where you get stuck on trying to make your content different for your different platforms.

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Nine Great Ways to Turn Your Facebook Fans into Paying Customers

Nine Great Ways to Turn Your Facebook Fans into Paying Customers

Facebook is a great way to promote your business as it allows you the opportunity to reach literally billions of people with the click of a button. The goal of any business is to make money but to do that you have to convert your fans into customers. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds, though. Here are nine different ways to maximize the potential of your social media following.

1. Offering a Free Product If They Like Your Page

Everyone likes free stuff and this is a common practice when it comes to Facebook. Offer your customers something free if they like your page, such as promotional material like an eBook or anything that relates to your business. This builds trust and trust builds sales.

2. Discounts for Fans

You want to reward your fans for keeping in touch with your page, so give them something special. Discounts that are exclusive to the people who like your page make your fans feel that they’re getting something that isn’t available to everyone, which motivates them to buy.

3. Give Them an Inside Look

No one wants to think of a business as a faceless entity. Give people an inside look into your operation and the people behind it. Showcasing the fact that your business and its employees are human will help people feel more connected to you.

4. Get Testimonials from Customers

When it comes to promoting a business, there’s no stronger way to do it than by word of mouth. Facebook pages have an option which allows your customers to leave reviews on your page. Make sure to implement this because a few positive reviews could help you see a big increase in your customer base.

5. Hold a Contest

Contests are always a good way to get people involved. Get creative with it. You need referrals, so ask people to refer their friends to your page and give the person who refers the most people some sort of reward. If you are holding a contest on Facebook, may sure you follow Facebook rules.

6. Get People to Interact

A Facebook page that is just constantly talking about the business side of things can get monotonous. Don’t be afraid to go off topic from time to time and get personal with people. Start conversations and get people talking. The more they interact with you, the more they will trust your brand.

7. Build an Email List

Social media marketing is a great way to promote your business but it can also be used as a way to incorporate other forms of marketing such as an email list. Encourage people to sign up for your email list by promising them deals which will be exclusive to members of the list. Make sure you follow through and offer those discounts. This is really a topic for another newsletter. I can’t say often enough how important it is to build your list, Facebook, Twitter and your other social media sites could be gone tomorrow and then so would the followers.

8. Create Content They Can Share

Your Facebook fans can be your secret weapon when it comes to promoting your business. Using them to promote your business for you is a great way to get new customers. Be sure to create content that your fans can share in order to attract new ones.

9. Promote Events

Don’t be afraid to get face to face with people. Organizing an event for your business or becoming a part of an event which is already taking place is a great way to get to know people. Use your Facebook as a way to meet people in real life by encouraging them to attend an event which you might also be attending.

When it comes to promoting yourself on Facebook, there are plenty of ways to do it. All of the methods above are great ways to create loyalty between your fans and your business. There’s guaranteed to be something in this list that gets you results, so try these ideas out and discover what works for you.

I would love to hear your favorite ways to get your fans to interact on your Facebook page. Stop by my page here (Kim’s Facebook page) and let’s chat.

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How to Use Audio on Your Website

Using Audio

Have you ever thought of using audio on your website? I know I’ve been giving it a lot of thought, and know I need to be more than thinking about it, I need to be doing it. There are essentially two paths you can take – you can use audio as a product in your catalog or as a marketing tool.

Product Creation – Audio lends itself to many profitable products which you can sell or give away as a thank you or bonus, for example:

  • Email training courses, workshops, and seminars
  •  Tutorials
  • Podcasts
  • Guest interviews

Marketing Tools – Many of the above items, which are mentioned as products, can also be used as marketing tools when they’re given away as freebies or thank yous. In addition to the above, here are some other possibilities for using audio in your marketing strategy:

  • Product reviews
  • Personal message
  • Sales content
  • Viral marketing
  • Testimonials
  • Advertisements

Audio lends itself to a attracting more of your ideal clients. Often times people will listen to video before they will read.  When creating your content strategy or looking to the future, begin using audio in your product catalog and to market your business. In addition to using video on your website, you can also use it on your social media site, give it a try! Then watch your business grow.

Stop by my Facebook page and let me know how you are currently using video in your business, or how you would like to use video.  You can find me here: Kim’s Facebook page.

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7 Email Design Trends to Watch

It’s important to stay on top of email design trends and other factors that can aEmail Conceptffect how well your email marketing performs. Email design isn’t just limited to what’s in the inbox. It includes your call to action, what landing pages you send your customers to, and more.  Here are seven trends to watch:

1.  Email Is More Visual – Today, due to faster internet technology and smartphone technology, you can make your email messages more visual than ever before. You can included images and even video, making the email that much more interactive and interesting to the viewer.

2.  Responsive Design Is a Must – It’s more than just small screens, it’s all types of screens that your customers are going to use to view your email marketing messages with. Therefore you must engage in responsive design that allows your messages to respond to the viewer your customer is using.

3.  Optimize Subject Lines – The first thing that your viewers will see is the subject line of your message. You want it to be accurate as to what’s inside but you also want it to cause the reader to need to click to see what’s inside.

4.  Branding Is Essential – All the wonderful email newsletter templates that autoresponder and newsletter software provides is great, but it’s important that you think outside the box and up the ante by personalizing your newsletter. Even if you’re sending text-based newsletters and information to your subscribers, consider your brand and the elements that will make your email stand out from others. It could be the template design, but it could also be the return email address that brands your email newsletters.

5.  Use Advanced Personalization – Consumers are savvy and learn fast. They realize that you are using a software program to personalize their email message with their name. They know this because everyone does it, and you asked for their name and it shows even if it’s misspelled. Use other advanced methods of personalization with better market segmentation so that the message is more personal – and not just the greetings.

6. Focus on Real World Design – If you know, from reading the metrics, that most of your readers tend to click on links “above the fold” because they are reading emails in the preview pane, then you also know that you must put your most important information right on top. Design your messages to reflect how people really view and interact with your email messages.

7.  Develop a More Connected Writing Style – Many email marketing messages lack style. Most of them really do seem like a robot wrote them. Let your personality show through in your email marketing messages so that the consumer can feel connected to you like a real person. Email marketing messages should read like a personal letter to a friend, not an article in a magazine. Even if you have thousands, or ten of thousands on your list make your reader feel like they are the only person getting the email, that it was written just for them.

Designing email messages, along with anything that your reader clicks through to see, with real world users in mind, will help you overcome issues related to different screen sizes and technology used to access email. It will also make your email look current which will help your list members take notice.

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Three Simple Rules for Great Website Content

Content is KingframedWant to write great website content but you’re not sure how? There are only a handful of things that differentiate great content from not so great content. Learn to master these few tactics and improve your content.

#1 Write conversationally

Conversational content is content that is written in a friendly tone. It’s almost personal – as if you were writing your article, blog post or report specifically for the person reading it. The best compliment you can receive from someone is for them to say, “Gee I though that was an email just to me, I didn’t know you sent it to your entire list.” Conversational content is written using informal language.

Conversational content often breaks a few grammar rules when it makes sense. For example, you might write an incomplete sentence. For impact. You might use ellipses…

…to create effect and to draw the eye through your article.

Make sure when you break grammar rules that there’s a reason for it. Breaking them just to break them is – well, maybe fun and a bit rebellious, but doesn’t really serve a purpose.

#2 Embrace your personality and voice

Your personality and voice are one of your biggest assets. They help differentiate you. They help you create and strengthen your brand. If you’re sarcastic naturally, then your content can and should be sarcastic too – when relevant and appropriate. If you’re sentimental then your content will reflect that. It’s much easier to embrace your personality than to fight it. And it makes great content.

If you try to fight against your personality your writers won’t connect.

Study the content and writers you like and read often. How do they share their voice and personality?

#3 Make sure your content is easy to read and understand

We’re talking about formatting here. Some people tend to get a bit carried away with formatting. There are so many underlined, bulleted, and bolded words that you’re not sure where your eye is supposed to go. Instead of enhancing the reading process, it makes it more difficult. It’s distracting, and even if you have great content, it probably won’t get read.

Simple formatting is best. Simple formatting may include bold or underlined subheadings. You might have either bullets or numbers but probably not both.

Pay attention to the content you find easy to read and the content that seems distracting. Is there too much formatting? Not enough? When the article isn’t easy to read, what would you do to fix it? What would make it easier to read?

Learning a few simple web content strategies can help you generate the results you’re looking for. You’ll receive more incoming links. You’ll receive more readers and traffic. And you’ll likely receive more customers. The better your content, the faster you’ll be able to grow your business. To your success!

Please stop by my Facebook page here: Kim’s Facebook page, and let’s discuss what your stumbling blocks are for writing content.

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Tips and Ideas to Repurpose and Reuse Your Content

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Do you look at the content you write as an investment? If you don’t, you should. You spend a lot of time writing it. You probably also spend a lot of time planning and researching it. It makes good business sense to make the most of your investment. When you repurpose and reuse your content, you maximize your return. Here are five tips and ideas to repurpose and reuse your content.

1. Build it up – Gather articles that fit together nicely and create a report. You’ll want to add an introduction and a conclusion. You may also need to add some transitions and polish the content to fit a cohesive theme. To monetize the content, consider adding affiliate links where appropriate. You can also include the occasional product or service promotion for your own business.

2. Break it down – If you have existing reports, then they’re perfect to create articles and blog posts. You have many options here, too. You can simply pull apart segments of the report to create articles. Add an introduction and conclusion paragraph and you’re ready to publish.

If you have a “how to” report with ten steps and ten pages of content, you could create an article that’s a much abbreviated version of the report. List the ten steps with a one or two sentence explanation. You could also write a “three things you need to do to…” article. In fact, with ten steps you could write three of those articles.

3. Republish old content with updates – Often evergreen content isn’t as evergreen as you hope. The world moves quickly and most industries grow and change regularly. Take a look at your “evergreen” articles and blog posts. How can you refresh them with updated content?

4. Partition e-books – This method is similar to breaking down reports to create articles and blog posts. You can break e-books down into reports, articles or blog posts. In fact, you can get quite a lot of content from an e-book. Take a look at the e-books you’ve  written and brainstorm content ideas.

5. Group reports – If you’re looking to create a new information product, consider grouping them to create an e-book. You’ll want to organize the reports in a logical manner. You’ll likely also need to add an introduction as well as a conclusion. Transitions will be necessary and you can add some nice graphics. Add checklists, worksheets and lists to add value to your e-books and reports for extra value.

Re-purposing your content is a smart business strategy. With each new piece of content you create, consider how you might be able to use it in the future. Content is essential for online business success. Make the most of your efforts and maximize your content to the fullest.

If you have other ways that you repurpose or reuse your content I’d love to hear from you, just come on over to my Facebook page here (Kim’s Facebook Page) and share them with me.

 

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Recycle Keyboard with frameWhen I’m busy, one of my favorite things to do is to bring out some old (but great) content and let it make the rounds again. After all, I worked hard on creating that content and if my readers responded well to it, it’s worth sharing it again.

For example, I’ll be taking a week off in September and if I run out of time to write some of the four blog posts that I write weekly, I’ll dig through some old posts to find a gem that is relevant to what we’re talking about today. It might be a blog post, a report or even an email that I sent out previously.

I do this for a few reasons:

• It’s likely that I’ve gathered plenty of new readers that haven’t seen this useful resource and it’s new information for them.

• Even for those who followed my work back then, not all of them would have seen the content, so sending it out again, gives them something fresh they haven’t seen before.

• It’s a refresher to those who may have seen the content before. Plus, when I reintroduce the content, I try to add something new and valuable to make my readers think on why the information is important.

• If you’re like me even if you read it before, you may not remember it.

Look back at previous content you’ve created. Which posts got you the most thank yous, replies or comments? Could you reintroduce that to your audience and give them even more value?

If you’ve got content, you want to bring out again, here are a few things to do:

• Review it to ensure the information is still up to date. Add any extra information that you think will be of interest to your readers.

• Tell your readers why you’re bringing it out again. What takeaways do you want to share or what feedback have you received about the content?

• Share it with your mailing list, post it on social media, allow your affiliates to brand it and more.

• For extremely successful content that leads to product sales, consider setting up a pay-per-click program to generate even more business.

Good content is meant to be shared and re-shared. You’ve probably got some gems in your archives, just waiting to be shined and shown again.

Another way to re-share your content is to re-share old blog posts on your social media platforms.  I do this regularly and get good feedback, especially on twitter, because I tend to get more new followers daily there then my other platforms.

I’d love for you to stop by my Facebook page and share and you re-share and re-purpose your old content.  You can find me here: Kim’s Facebook page.

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New Service

NewService25

We are pleased to announce a brand new service.  We are offering graphic quotes to help you gain exposure and engagement on your social media platforms.

Studies show that you receive more interactions with pictures and graphics, and people love quotes.  So we’ve combined to two.  We offer:

They will be changed on a regular basis so you will be able to stay well stocked.

Go here to see samples and purchase details:

www.StarryNightTraining.com

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How to Stay on Top of Your Social Media Efforts This Summer

In previous posts, I’ve talked about answering emails being a huge distraction, but there’s a bigger distraction lurking about 24 hours per day and 7 days per week. Yes, I’m talking about social media. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest, it’s easy to get sucked into the virtual social world. Who hasn’t checked into Facebook to check to see if there is anything that needs to be answered and find an hour has passed and we are someone’s page we don’t know looking at family pictures of a family we’ve never met.

While there can be plenty of benefits to using social media for your business, it’s important to evaluate the time you spend on social media. As I mentioned above it can be easy to get carried away and waste time. As a general rule, social media shouldn’t require your constant presence. Think about it, your website doesn’t need your constant presence to thrive. Neither does your mailing list, but it sure can bring in a lot of profit. Why should social media take over your working day? If you’ve got yourself into a trap where social media does require your constant presence, it may not be your most effective marketing strategy and you may want to reconsider how you’re participating. Once you’ve figured out how much time you really need to dedicate to social media, it’s much easier to come up with a plan to keep up with things in the summer. Here are a few approaches you might take:

• Schedule Social Media in Down Time: I mentioned this a few posts ago, but if you’ve got limited time to work in the summer, keep that time focused on your core business activities like email marketing, content creation, product development and promotion. Use downtime to catch up on tweets and work on your Facebook Page.

• Share Responsibilities with Your Business Partner: If you have a partner in your business, create a schedule that helps make sure social media is covered while one of you is busy. Also, having both of you participate creates even more interesting experience for your followers. If you have an older teenager you mHootsuiteay be able to enlist their help during the summer and use it as a learning experience for them.

• Hire an Intern or Social Media Assistant: If you don’t have a partner, and your budget permits, there’s still no reason you can’t hire a helper or have a small social media team. Make sure you set up a very detailed and clear social media policy so that anyone posting on your company’s behalf knows exactly what’s expected. I would recommend that you never have anyone post as you.

Preschedule Your Updates: You can also automate your social media using a tool like Hootsuite or any other service you prefer. You can preschedule your updates, but make sure you drop in  to keep the conversation going and respond to comments. I use Hootsuite because I find it easy and inexpensive.

Whatever approach you take, it’s important to realize that social media is simply a small part of your business and it should be managed accordingly. Scheduling your time, enlisting some help and even automating some of your social media can help you achieve the right balance. I’d love for you to stop by my Facebook page and let me know if you have some of your social media automated, have a staff, or maybe one person to handle your social media. Just go here: Kim’s Facebook page.

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Even if you’re away from the computer a lot in the summer, there’s no reason why you can’t keep generating plenty of traffic to your website. Put things into place now and there’s no reason to face a slow down while you’re gone.

Here are a few ways to achieve ongoing traffic to your business.

Use autoresponders: If you’re going to be away from your business for a while, make sure you schedule emails to go out to your subscribers regularly. You can use email to drive traffic to your blog posts, articles and product offers.

Blog_publishingPreschedule blog posts: Just like with email, preschedule blog posts to publish while you’re away. If you have an RSS feed and email subscription for your blog, your subscribers will automatically be notified when you post something new.

Schedule social media or hire an intern: Don’t let your social media presence die while you’re away. You can preschedule updates using a tool like Hootsuite, but try to check in and respond to any comments when you can. Or consider hiring an intern or have a trusted colleague keep things fresh in your absence. We’ll talk more about this in my next blog post.

Enlist the help of guest bloggers: Guest bloggers are a lifesaver when you’re away. Not only can they provide your regular readers with great content in your absence, they can also let their audience know about their guest post…bringing fresh traffic to your site.

Get affiliates activated: Keep things going by getting affiliates to take action. Consider running a sales contest or another promotion. Just make sure that you have someone handling any questions they may have and providing the support they need.

Search engine optimization (SEO): While search engine optimization can take time, it is a tremendous source of ongoing free traffic. Put SEO techniques into place and you’ll bring new visitors to your website every single day.

Pay-per-click advertising: A more sure thing than SEO (but more expensive), pay-per-click advertising can generate a nice steady stream of traffic as well. Just make sure to set a budget to your campaign, so you don’t go over your budget while you’re gone. It’s also a good idea to check in on your campaign every few days, just to make sure everything is on track.

Purchase newsletter ads: Find some on target newsletter publications and purchase a couple of ads each week while you’re away. Most publishers will allow you to choose when your ad will run, as long as spaces are available. That will bring you a steady stream of traffic, even though you’re nowhere near your computer.

Clearly, keeping the traffic going takes some work and preparation, but when you take the time to do it in advance, you can keep that traffic and business flowing steadily, no matter where you are.

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How to Outsource on a Budget…Really

outsource redIf there’s been a common theme to my series of making it through the summer, it’s that you need to outsource. Trying to perform each specific task for your business works against your productivity for many reasons. Here are just a few of those reasons:

  • Performing small tasks gives you less time to do more important business building activities like planning and marketing your business. 
  • Doing the job of several people (admin assistant, bookkeeper, accountant, marketing manager and more) means it’s difficult to do any one thing well.
  • You are working harder than you need to and you sacrifice your health and well-being by working so much. 

Many business owners tell me they simply can’t afford to outsource, but in my opinion, you simply can’t afford NOT to.  The interesting thing is that the more you outsource effectively, the more you can leverage your own time to earn more money. So not only is outsourcing a time saver, it’s a money maker too.

If you are on a budget, start by outsourcing just a few tasks or hire a virtual assistant (VA) for an hour or two each week. If you aren’t familiar with what a VA is, it’s simply an assistant that can perform a variety of business tasks. They aren’t an employee, so you don’t have to pay salary or benefits. Plus, they work from their own home or office, so they don’t need to come to your place of work.

To decide what you should outsource, consider a few things:

  • What necessary tasks drag you away from business building activities? For example, answering emails and performing customer support are usually the first things that I recommend people outsource. They are important tasks, but they can be a distraction from actually growing one’s business. 
  • What tasks do you really not enjoy doing? You will always be more productive in your business if you focus on the things you like to do.  If you don’t like writing articles, hire a writer to write them. If you don’t like crunching numbers or doing taxes, hire an accountant. 
  • What tasks are you unable to do for your business? If you don’t know how to make graphics or do programming for your business, hire the appropriate people. Sometimes the learning curve required just results in frustration and it’s simply easier to have someone else take care of those details. Some of those harder tasks are things you may learn over time, but there is no sense in stressing yourself out and slowing down your progress because you’re trying to do everything yourself. 
  • If you consider your hourly worth, which tasks could you hire someone to do more cheaply? Many of us do work that greatly reduces our hourly worth in our business. If you focused only on high level tasks (like email marketing, planning and other marketing tasks), what would your hourly worth be? Probably a lot higher than it is now. If you put your hourly worth at $25, $50 or $75 per hour and you can hire someone to do tasks at a lower rate than that, you should probably hire them. 

Again, there’s no need to jump in over your head and hire people to do everything you don’t like or can’t do, but you’ve got to make a small start. Just hiring an assistant to answer emails for 2 hours per week, or schedule some of your social media posts in HootSuite will free you up like you wouldn’t imagine. Yes obviously, you’ll get an extra 2 hours per week…but email and posting on social media can be a huge distraction and taking that off your to do list means you can be far more focused on everything else. Once you see the results of your first hire, begin to outsource a bit more at a time.

Keep it going and keep growing.

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17 Things You Need to Test Regularly

 

Sometimes we think we can do things in our business, set it and forget it, unfortunately that is not true, not if you want to be successful. The entire point of copy-writing time to evaluate redis to boost sales. Even if you write copy with the objective of getting more newsletter sign-ups, the entire point is still to boost sales. But, how do you know if what you’re doing is working? You’re writing, and hiring, and writing some more – but do you even know if all the work you’re doing is paying off? The best way to know is to test, test, test. Here’s a list of things you need to test regularly.

1. Your Headlines – How do you know a particular headline works over another? You conduct an A/B test. Make two slightly different headlines and send each headline to half your list. Which performs better?

2. Your Offer – If you’re not sure about your offer, try testing more than one offer. Like the A/B testing mentioned above, only change something small, and send each to half your list. Or if it’s a sales page, put both up, and see which performs better.

3. Your Copy Format – Are you considering where the reader is reading the copy? If your audience is reading on a mobile device, is the copy format effective? How do you know? Test it.

4. Snippets of Your Copy – If you have a long sales page, you can take snippets of the copy and reuse it on social media or other places to see what the response to the words are.

5. New Products – This doesn’t mean create new products, but test out new products such as project management systems, social media marketing automation, email marketing programs and more. Stay on the cutting edge by regularly spending a small time testing new products.

6. Graphics – Are your graphics the right graphics to use for your particular audience? If you’re not sure, conduct more A/B testing. Change nothing but the graphics and see how it affects conversion rates.

7. Functionality – Of course, you should test how your websites function. Does the checkout process run smoothly for your customers? Is something hanging them up along the way to prevent making a purchase?

8. Audience Responsiveness – Are you posting your heart out on Facebook but no one is responding, even though people are reading? If you’re not sure why, ask them.

9. Accuracy – Your copy should be well studied to be accurate. Don’t post false information either on purpose or by accident. Check your sources and check your facts.

10. Complexity – You don’t want things to be too hard for your reader to understand. If you’re using too many big words, change them to small words. Speak directly to your audience, not over them.

11. What’s in It for Me – Remember the fundamental test for effective copywriting. It doesn’t matter what platform you’re posting the copywriting on; your audience wants to know what’s in it for them. If the copy doesn’t answer that, start over.

12. Double Entendres – Sometimes double entendres are okay, but sometimes they can be disastrous. Be very careful with accidentally posting something that really means something else, especially if it’s controversial or dirty.

13. Spelling – Yes, spelling matters. Even on Facebook.

14. Sequence – If you post something that has a sequence, such as creating a recipe, or steps to accomplish something technical, does it flow in the right order? Ask someone who knows nothing about the topic to read it to test if it works or not.

15. Clarity – One of the most important aspects of copy-writing is to ensure that what you are trying to impart to the reader makes sense. You don’t want to accidentally offend someone with your words. Read and re-read, and have others read for clarity.

16. Above the Fold – No matter what medium you’re putting your copy on – whether it’s print, webpages, or social media, the important stuff needs to go at the top, or you need explicit directions to scroll down to read more.

17. Originality – Is the copy original? There are a lot of ways to test this out such as with Grammarly or Copyscape. You want your words to feel familiar to the reader, but you don’t want them to be copied.

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fa9b7948-77b6-41d1-8fd7-af21d02da7e8In an ideal world, we would go on vacation, leave the laptop at home and never give business another thought. Unfortunately, we don’t live in the ideal world. For most business owners, going on vacation means having to tote the laptop, iPad or other digital device. However, just because you bring it, doesn’t mean you have to have it attached to your hip. Here are some tips that might help.

Choose Your Device

The important thing is to have the device that works best for you. Laptops can be large, but smaller devices like netbooks, iPads or other tablets may not have the full functionality that you’re looking for. On the other hand, using a smaller device might make it easier for you to get less distracted by work and simply do what you need to do and get offline.

Accessing Your Documents

If you don’t bring your usual computer, you can still have easy access to the documents you need. You can use a popular service like Dropbox.com, but you will have to load the files you need ahead of time. Using an automated backup service that ensures that you can access ALL of your computer files, even the ones you didn’t think you’d need. Both services also include mobile apps for a variety of platforms, so you can access your stuff from a variety of types of devices.

Do Work Ahead of Time

When you know you’re going to be going away, get super focused and get a lot of your work done ahead of time. There’s nothing quite as motivating as knowing that you’ll be going on a fun vacation when all the work is finished. You can pre-write emails, blog posts, product promotions and get a lot of your work done ahead of time.

Plan Your Device Time

Just like when you’re at home, you should plan your work time while you’re away. Sure, it’s not always possible to know what will be happening every moment of your vacation, but the better you can set your work schedule, the more likely you won’t let work time take over your vacation. If mornings are most convenient, set aside an hour or two in the mornings to get things done. When I work on vacation, I like getting up early and working while everyone is still sleeping.

Get Help with Communication and Customer Support

Having to worry about customer support or answering emails can be the kiss of death to just about any vacation. Hire a virtual assistant (VA) or someone to take care of the daily communication, so you can relax and only work on things that are absolutely necessary.

Plan Your Wifi

Wifi is available in many places, but it’s not everywhere. Find out which destinations will have wifi available to you or consider purchasing a wireless card through your cell phone provider, which can make it easier to get connected wherever you can get a cell phone service. Or many mobile phones can be toggled with your computer (either through USB or Bluetooth) and you can use your phone’s connection on your work device.

Keeping the balance between work and fun can be challenging, but if you plan ahead, things will be much easier. One thing I mentioned in this post was hiring a virtual assistant or someone to help you with correspondence. In my next post, we’ll be talking about outsourcing, even if you’re on a budget.

Hope you have a Happy and safe Independence Day if you live in the United States.  Hope this information is timely in being able to enjoy your long weekend.

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Summer Marketing Ideas: Holidays and Observances

Holidays and ObservancesLast week we talked about drumming up business in summer and I encouraged you to think about what’s on the mind of your customers to create your summer marketing plan. Well, today’s post goes perfectly with that. Holidays and observances are a great way to tap into what’s happening in your customers’ lives. Some holidays are widely celebrated and some observances are a bit quirky and fun. Either way, they can all be great for blog post ideas, creating product promotions and more. The little known and quirky can be really fun and draw a lot of attention.

Here is a list of holidays and observances in summer, I’m sure if you do a search on the Internet you can find many-many more and even ones that would fit great with your business.

 

 

July Holidays

1st – Canada Day
4th – Independence Day (United States)

Hot Dog MonthObservances:

Hot Dog Month
Vehicle Theft Prevention Month
Social Wellness Month
Family Reunion Month
7th – Global Forgiveness Day
11th – World Population Day
11th – Cheer up the Lonely Day
15th – Ice Cream Day
3rd Monday – Get out of the Doghouse Day
2nd week – Freedom Appreciation Week

5-holidays-observances-cAugust Holidays

1st Monday – Provincial holiday in Canada, excluding Quebec

Observances:

National Smile Month
1st Week – World Breastfeeding Week
1st Week – Simplify Your Life Week
3rd – Watermelon Day
6th – Fresh Breath Day
8th – Happiness Happens Day
9th – International Day of the World’s Indigenous People
12th – International Youth Day
13th – International Left Handers Day
25th – Kiss and Make up Day

September Holidays

1st Monday – Labor Day (United States, Canada)Labor Day.
11th – Patriot Day (United States)
Sunday after Labor Day – Grandparent’s Day (United States)
17th – Constitution Day (United States)

Observances:

National Arthritis Month
Ovarian Cancer Month
Self-Improvement Month
National Courtesy Month
13th – Positive Thinking Day
19th – Talk Like a Pirate Day

Get creative…have fun with it. Think of how you can use these holidays for your social media updates, videos, blog posts, product promotions, email newsletters and more.

I’d love for you to stop by my Facebook page at: Kim’s Facebook page and tell me how you use holidays and special celebrations to promote your business.

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When Business is Slow in Summer: Think Seasonal

Is your business as slow as a snail in the summer? Or maybe you have other slow periods and business is booming in the summer. A lot of people tell me that their business slows down in 4-slow-businesssummer. And unless you sell vacation packages, swimming pools and water wings, I suppose it can happen. But here’s the thing…all you need to do is what those travel agents and swimming pool sellers do to get things revved up for summer. No, you don’t have to sell vacations and pools, but you do need to understand what your customers are thinking about in the summer months and cater your marketing to that.

A few questions to ask yourself:

  • What are your customers’ worries and concerns in summer? Are they concerned about the safety of their home while they’re away on vacation (perfect for home alarm and monitoring companies)? If you’re in the B2B market, are they worried about having time to get their work done in the summer? Grab a piece of paper and a pen to write down every worry you can think of and how it relates to your business.
  • What are they busy doing? When you know what your customers are doing and what’s on their minds, you know how to speak to them.
  • What would they rather be doing? While we’d all love to be out lazing about on the beach, most of us probably aren’t. What do your customers really want to be doing, but can’t (but possibly could with the help of your product or services)?

Coming up with a summer marketing plan doesn’t require any magic or genius skills, but it does require some thought. Take the time to jot down your answers to the questions above and things become much clearer. When you know what’s on the mind of your customers, it’s much easier to deliver exactly what they want.

Please stop by my Facebook page at www.fb.com/kimmstarry and let’s chat about how you combat your slow times in your business.

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Igniting and Engaging Your Audience

A key element to building your business through social media is engaging with your audience. Posting for the sake of posting won’t get you where you want to go. The????????????????????????????????????????? goal is to capture attention and motivate people to not only become part of your business community but to also become lifelong customers. This requires both seizing attention and then retaining it.

Let’s take a look at strategies to both ignite and engage your audience on social media.

Identify the Trigger Points

The first step to engaging your audience is identifying the types of content that they respond to. You’ll need to perform a bit of research and testing to accomplish this. You can use keyword searches to start. Using hashtags and your own analytics you can determine the popular topics and the content that draw people to your website.

Once you know what they’re looking for, try various content formats, topics, and headlines to identify the material that generates attention and creates conversation and clicks.

Create a Strong Platform

Your audience wants to know what to expect from you. Your platform should ideally support your brand and your voice. That being said, you can be creative with your platform. For example, you can use your social media profile to provide a daily tip for your readers. You can share commentary and make your platform one that is primarily editorial. Identify what your audience wants and how you can offer them value, and then format a platform around that opportunity.

Invite Conversation

One cannot engage others without asking questions and inviting feedback. Whether you publish polls, ask for opinions, seek advice or incite controversy and start a dialogue – the goal for social media is to motivate your readers and followers to get involved. This requires a call to action. Tell your readers what to do next. If you want them to answer a question, ask them to answer a question. If you want their opinion, ask, “What’s your opinion?”

Finally, be sure to test and track your efforts as you learn and engage. Track the posts that people really get excited about. Track the material and links that generate the most clicks. And by all means track the material that results in conversions. The more you know about your audience, the more you can provide them with the right material – the material that not only provides value but also encourages them to become an active member of your business community.

I would love for you to stop by my Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/KimMStarry and let’s chat about your favorite ways to make engagement happen.

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Lost and Found: Here’s Your Motivation to Keep Business Going This Summer

Just a short post for you today because I don’t want to keep you from getting your work done!

Summer should be about enjoying yourself, getting outside and hopefully getting away from it all. Of course, most of us don’t have the luxury of avoiding work all summer long. Sometimes, we’ve got to roll up our sleeves and get busy, but it’s not always easy if you work from home. I’m sure just about any home or Internet business owner can relate, so here are some tips to stay motivated this summer.

Work hours are your friend: We talked about this in the avoiding distractions post, but it applies here too. When you know when you’re supposed to work, you’re more likely to do it. If you leave your days wide open and think you’ll squeeze work in somewhere, it’s less likely to happen.

Focus on what you like doing: There’s nothing worse than dreading something on our to-do list. Not only do we procrastinate from getting that one thing done, but it can hinder our motivation to do anything at all. Always focus on what you’re good at and enjoy. Hire others or take on a partner to do the things you hate, or are not good at, but they enjoy and excel at. I’ve never understood why some people love the techie stuff, but I’m so glad that they do.

Set summer goals: While you may not be working as hard in the summer as you do other times of the year, do set some goals for yourself. Set daily, weekly and monthly goals. Make them challenging, yet attainable and outline the steps you’re going to take to achieve them.

Reward yourself: When you accomplish a goal, give yourself a reward. Whether it’s a camping trip, a weekend away or simply an iced tea on the patio, everyone likes to have their work appreciated. Appreciate yourself!

Give yourself a break sometimes: As entrepreneurs, we can be pretty hard on ourselves. We try to pack so much in, create ridiculously long to-do lists, but it’s not really necessary. Always re-evaluate your work plan and adjust it to make sure you get the most important things done.

I guess the real lesson here is to know where you want to go and how you’re going to get there. Always have a plan, but be prepared to adjust it where necessary.

Of course, if your motivation has gone down because business has slowed down, we have another problem. We’re going to talk about reviving a slow business next week.

Have a great weekend.  In the meantime, stop by my Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/kimmstarry and tell me your tips for staying motivated.

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Mobile devices

I don’t know about you, but as a business owner it’s very important to me toMobile devices be organized, have everything in one place and have it easily accessible.  That is just what you get with Office 365 from GoDaddy. It is an all-in-productivity solution that helps you work from anywhere.  You can work from your computer, tablet or phone, at home, from your office or anywhere around the world. Even if you don’t have your own computer or device you can log in from anyone’s computer or device to get your work done.

You can access your Microsoft files from anywhere. Say you’re away from the office and your client has an urgent need but you don’t have computer or device with you?  No problem all you need is a computer and you’re in business taking care of that client need.

Something else I find of great value, I don’t know about you but I love having the suite of Microsoft products and want to have the latest version.  However, it seems like Microsoft is constantly updating their programs, and that gets expensive. Using GoDaddy it’s a small monthly or yearly fee and your programs are always up-to-date.  I absolutely love that. Along with staying up-to-date, they also offer their great customer support which you do not get if you make your purchase from Microsoft. You also don’t have to take up all that space on your hard drive with programs, and don’t have to worry if your computer crashes. GoDaddy takes care of all of that.

Even if your domain is hosted by a company other than GoDaddy you can still take advantage of Office 365 through GoDaddy to receive that awesome custom support.  If you are hosted through GoDaddy it’s a very simple one-step proprietary set-up.  It takes only one step to connect your email to your domain.  GoDaddy has made it easier than ever for your business, no matter how small, to look professional and work efficiently, from anywhere.  If your site is hosted by a company other than GoDaddy there are a few extra steps for set-up but it is so easy that even I could do it, and I’m probably one of the least tech savvy people around. I didn’t even need to ask my husband to help;-)

If you are like me and like being organized, work from home, or anywhere you like, looking professional is a must, and want to have the most up-to-date programs with fantastic customer support, in case you ever need it, go check out Office 365 from GoDaddy.  I think you’ll love it too!

http://www.godaddy.com/ and click on Email and Tools

P.S. It’s even on sale right now!

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Stay Focused2

Stay Focused2Summer should be about enjoying yourself, getting outside and hopefully getting away from it all. Of course, most of us don’t have the luxury of avoiding work all summer long. Sometimes, we’ve got to roll up our sleeves and get busy, but it’s not always easy if you work from home.  I’m sure just about any business owner or mom can relate.  Over the coming weeks we are going to talk about how to get through the summer enjoying it, and still have a thriving business.  It is possible!

The distractions may be the nice weather, having the kids home from school and the desire to just be out camping or even sipping drinks with friends on a patio. Especially after this past winter, depending on where you live, many of you lived through a brutal winter and it just feels wonderful to be outside in the sun. You may have a friend who is a teacher with summers off, and you can’t just go off and do everything with them that they would like, that is okay, remember September will be here before you know it, and you don’t want to be rebuilding your business because you totally neglected it over the summer. Even though summer can be great fun, I have learned to set my limits and turn off the distractions as needed.

Here are some tips for you…

  • Set your work hours: It’s business organization skills 101, but it’s an important aspect to staying focused. If you set your work hours, not only will you know what’s expected from you, but so will your friends and family. Take out the calendar and figure out what will work for you from week to week, so there is no confusion for anyone, including yourself. 
  • Reduce your work hours (if you can):  If you work 5 days a week the rest of the year, you might consider whittling down to 3 or 4 in summer.  Even if we have the best intentions, we’ll always find ourselves looking out at the beautiful sunshine, thinking about how we’re like to be out there too.  Give yourself a break and just don’t work so much. You can achieve this by cutting down your schedule (for example, don’t blog as much), doing a lot of work ahead of time or hiring some help. 
  • Plan your work week, in detail: Don’t overload yourself with tasks, but  make a list of items that absolutely need to get done and put them on your schedule.  If you know what you need to do each time, you can motor through those items each day and perhaps you can even knock off early if you complete your list quickly. 
  • Plan your vacations: Just like you should plan your work hours, plan those vacations ahead of time. Knowing when you’ll be in town and out of town, will help you plan your work better and get all the necessary tasks done before you leave. 
  • Try multiple short trips away from home: While there shouldn’t be anything stopping you from taking an extended vacation, if it does cause you stress or you don’t have the help you need while you’re gone, try a few short trips. A few days away here and there can be a whole lot of fun and can reduce the overwhelm when you return to your computer. 
  •  Limit personal social media to down time: While social media is vital for business, make sure you don’t get caught up in personal use when you are trying to work. Keep personal social media use outside of working hours.
  •  If you have kids, get them busy: There’s no reason kids shouldn’t have fun all summer long. Get them involved in summer activities in your local area. Whether it’s summer camp or activities at the local library, there’s always plenty to do. And send them OUTSIDE to play often. If your kids are young and need supervision, consider organized activities or swapping babysitting favors with your neighbor. 
  • Again, if you have kids, get them involved in the business or their own business: If  age appropriate get them busy working with you or on their own business. There are plenty of business tasks that children can handle and what they do will certainly depend on their age and abilities. We’ll be talking more about summer business ideas for kids in a future post too. 
  • Turn the phone off: If you don’t have to answer calls from clients or customers, turn your phone off while you’re working. That means no text messages or personal emails too. If you do have a business line that you need to answer, don’t give that number to your friend who keeps trying to get you to head to the beach or a patio to sip margaritas. 
  • Outsource more: It’s been mentioned before and I’ll have plenty more tips in future posts, but you’ve got to get help for your business. It doesn’t mean you have to hire employees or people need to come to your house, but running everything yourself means being chained to your business all the time. At minimum, you should have a virtual assistant that can help you with administrative tasks, keep you organized and can handle most of your business communication.

Keep the fun in summer, but don’t sacrifice fun for productivity. If you’re organized and focused, you can most certainly have both. Now, I admit, being focused can’t come without a whole lot of motivation and that’s what we’ll be talking about next Thursday. In the meantime, I’d love for you to stop by my Facebook page at www.fb.com/kimmstarry and share your secrets for staying focused and motivated.  Have a great weekend.

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How to Improve Your Headline Writing Skills

Women's hand writing2Did you know that your headline bears the heaviest burden? Whether you’re writing content or copy, the headline that you write literally determines whether or not someone will continue reading. In fact, many marketing experts say that the headline does 80% of the work of any piece of content.

Your headline has the job of capturing attention and motivating someone to continue reading the rest of your article, email, blog post, or sales page. If the headline doesn’t work, your content may never get read. It makes good sense then to take the time to improve your headline writing skills. This effort will pay dividends.

1. Learn from the experts. The first step to improving your headline writing skills is to start paying attention to headlines. Take note of the headlines that grab your attention. Review the headlines that attract tons of shares, views and visitors on other websites. Also pay attention to the headlines that sink like a bag of bricks. Why are they terrible and how could you make them better? I like looking at magazines, Oprah is one of the best.  Check out some of the headlines in magazines that are in your niche, or ones that people that are in your niche would read.

2. Practice. You know that adage that practice makes perfect? Well, it’s not quite true. Perfect practice makes perfect. Spend time copying the experts. Write their headlines down. Many copywriting classes and writing coaches actually recommend writing copy word for word over and over again. It ingrains the concepts into your mind and helps you embrace them completely. Take it a step further and begin adding your own voice to the headlines you’ve copied.

3. Embrace headline formulas. Yes, there are headline formulas. They utilize the types of headlines that frequently capture attention and effectively draw readers into the copy. The formulas generally utilize numbers. For example, 10 Tips to Help You Look 5 Years Younger Today. They also make promises, arouse curiosity, and appeal to your prospects emotions. Learn the formulas and use them. If you are making promises about your content, make sure that you deliver, better yet over deliver!

4. Test, Track, and Tweak. Pay attention to how your readers respond to your headlines. What articles receive the most feedback or clicks? What articles are shared the most or linked to from other sites? These are strong indicators that your headline is working. Use simple analytics to test and track your headlines.

Headline writing is something that even the best writers can improve upon. Take a look at your headlines. Are they working for you? Could they be better? Spending time fine tuning this skill can help you better reach your content and business goals.

P.S. Check out our new addition to our eBook training site this week.  It’s FREE.  Anatomy of an Email That’s Worth Reading.

  http://www.starrynighttraining.com/anatomy-of-an-email-thats-worth-reading/

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Lesson Number Six: You Play Better with a Coach Who Knows the Game   Coaches matter. In fact, a so-so team can be taken to an unimaginable level based solely on the coach they have. Coaches serve many roles for a baseball team:

  1. They see the big picture. A catcher or first baseman may see the game only from their limited perspective; the coach sees everything on the field and how all the pieces fit together.
  2. They have the wisdom of experience. The average coach has lived through more games than the average player, and they’ve seen things that some players haven’t. They bring that experience to the team.
  3. They are invested in the outcome, but they are in it for the long haul. Just as kids can’t see past the end of the school year, players sometimes can’t see beyond the end of the season. The coach can put things into perspective.
  4. They inspire. Because they care deeply about the players and the game, they are able to connect with the team in a way outsiders cannot. (If you have any doubt of this, just check out some of the famous “locker room” speeches from great sports movies such as “A League of Their Own.”)
  5. They get you in shape. No one WANTS to do stadium steps or run wind sprints, but the coach knows that these unsavory exercises are what’s needed to whip the team into shape.

Just as you’ve never seen a winning ball team without a coach, you’d be hard-pressed to find a winning business person without a coach as well.

A business coach can perform many of these same roles that a baseball coach does. They can help keep things in perspective, guide you from their experience and wisdom, help you think past the next fiscal quarter, and motivate and inspire you to move forward. They know what needs to be done, and in what order, so they keep you from wasting time and energy on unnecessary tasks.

The best coaches get personal satisfaction in helping you succeed, so choose wisely. Find a mentor with a history of successes not just on the field, but as a coach as well. You wouldn’t want a baseball coach who was still reliving his glory days as a Major League fielder and felt in competition with the players on his team; you also don’t want a business coach who feels threatened by your success.

Ask around for recommendations; the list of talented Major League Baseball coaches is short, and the best candidates come from referrals. The same is true in the business arena.

Please stop by our eBook store for eBooks that can assist you in different areas of your business: www.starrynighttraining.com

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Netiquette Tips

Netiquette Tips

Netiquette TipsWhen you’re new to the internet, it’s difficult to know what you should and shouldn’t do. In our daily lives the rules of etiquette are a little easier to understand; after all we deal with them everyday. However, the internet may seem a whole different world to someone just starting out.

If you’re new to the Internet or maybe not sure what to do, we have some great netiquette tips to help you navigate your way through this whole experience.

1.  Don’t use all caps. Have you ever seen someone TYPE LIKE THIS, or perhaps you’ve done it yourself? On the net, typing in all capitals equates to shouting. Which means you probably won’t want to type in this manner unless you really do intend to shout at someone – avoid all capitals otherwise. In my opinion if you intend to shout at someone you should probably skip making the comments.

2.  Introduce yourself. If you’re new to a forum, it’s proper netiquette to first introduce yourself before jumping into the conversation. This is probably the same thing you would do if you were at a party or meeting someone for the first time. Log into the forum and briefly introduce yourself. This isn’t really the time to give your whole life story. Just tell people a little about yourself and NEVER give a pitch what services or product you could sell them. Keep it upbeat and light and you’ll make a great first impression.

Once you’ve done that, slowly start contributing your thoughts and insights. Do take care though; no one likes a know-it-all and you certainly don’t want to go in “all guns blazing” as you may offend more regular members of the forum. Slow and steady is a great pace to progress in; with time you can contribute more and more.

3.  Remember when you are writing it’s not the same as being in person. If it is possible that you may be taken wrong, you can always use those ever-popular emoticons (though proceed with caution, more on that later) and add expression to your writing. You can do this by using italics or bolding certain words. You can also add a little humor at the end of certain messages and a few positive comments along the way. These “positives” will replace your body language and stop your message from appearing dry or tactless.

4.  Don’t overdo it. Using tons of smiley faces or exclamation marks, capitals, bold, etc. may make you appear scattered and a little over the top at times. You wouldn’t want to appear like this at a party. Imagine someone saying everything in an overly excited way or shouting and jumping around with a huge grin on their face, you certainly would make a certain impression of this person, right? And not the impression you wanted to make.

It’s also important to think about what you’d like to say before you say it. Try to keep your messages brief and your sentences short and to the point. A long, drawn out message is difficult to read and understand, particularly as you don’t have the body language to go along with it.

5. Give as much as you take. This is another very common-sense rule to life and it also applies on the net. I like to try and give more than I take. Don’t abuse a forum by constantly dropping in and asking questions or telling people about your website. Sure, you can do all of these things but in a moderate way. Take the time to answer other people’s questions or to contribute a few nuggets of your own wisdom to the group. And above all, remember to treat people like you’d like to be treated. If you act in an inappropriate way always selling you will most likely be removed from the forum.

Even though the rules of the net may seem foreign when you’re just starting out, it’s a matter of common sense. You’re a nice, polite person in your everyday life so simply extend that to the internet. Stick to being polite, kind, helpful and friendly and people will be drawn to you and you may make some great friendships and business acquaintances.  If you wouldn’t say something to someone it person then don’t say it online just because you don’t have to look them in the eye.

Stop by my Facebook page and let me know if you’ve come across any situations that you weren’t sure how to handle.  www.fb.com/kimmstarry.

 

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Lesson Number Five: Ignore the Hecklers

Have you ever watched a professional baseball game and seen an athlete just go off on a fan in the stands when the fan went just a little too booing baseball fanfar in his taunting? It’s not a pretty sight. And no matter how abusive the heckler was, the athlete is the one who ends up looking bad. Right or wrong, the assumption is that athletes are expected to rise above the crowd, not allowing the taunts, jeers, and comments to get to him. After all, the athlete is getting paid; the fan isn’t.

This situation is similar to what businesspeople face. You’ve heard the phrase, “The customer is always right, even when they’re wrong.” That means that you sometimes have to bite your tongue and move forward, even when an objective observer would say you were “right.” Here are five reasons you should always take the high road:

  1. You gain karma. Putting positive energy into the universe will bring positive experiences back to you.
  2. You never know what’s happening behind the scenes. The person screaming at the center fielder may just have found out he has colon cancer and is venting his fear. The person sending you a nasty email may have just found out her daughter is suffering from epilepsy. Giving others an undeserved helping of grace might help them when they need it most.
  3. You can’t really “win.” With customers (and heckling fans) you never win, even if you “win.” Don’t get into a spitting contest when squashing them like a bug will just make you look bad.
  4. You won’t waste time or energy. Some people are just grumpy, looking for some place to blow off steam. Fighting back only fuels the fire. Direct your energy where it can be put to best use.
  5. Your mom was right. Remember when she told you that the people talking behind your back were just jealous? A lot of times, that’s true. The fact that people are aiming their squirt guns your way is a sign that you’re succeeding, and the more you succeed, the more it will happen.

Yes, it’s hard to ignore the hecklers. But here are some ways you can block out the jeers and taunts:

  1. Imagine them as little children. If a two-year-old was throwing a tantrum, you’d treat them with more compassion and less anger, so imagine them that way.
  2. Breathe deep. When you think you’re being attacked, it’s easy to fall into that “fight or flight” response. Breathing deeply helps clear the adrenaline from your body.
  3. Bring in a third party. If a response is required and you cannot answer without anger or emotion, have an objective third party answer for you. Many business people outsource their customer support email for this particular reason.

Your time and energy is precious; invest it where you’ll get good things in return.

See you Next week when we talk about Lesson Number Six: You Play Better with a Coach Who Knows the Game.Until then have a great weekend.

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Making the Most of Your Website or Blog

Making the Most of Your Website or BlogChances are you’re putting a lot of time, energy, and effort into your blog or website. Are you getting the results that you want? Are you achieving your online business goals? If not, you may not be making the most of your website or blog.

Test, Test, and Test Some More

The best way to make the most of your website or blog is to test what works and what doesn’t. There are many different things you can test and ways to test. Test headlines, test calls to action and test different content formats.

For example, your audience may respond more energetically to video content than they do to print content. Or maybe they prefer reviews over “how to” articles. Testing is the only way to know what your audience is responding to. Once you know, then you can adapt your strategies and tactics. Split testing is often the easiest method to test.

Analytics

Analytics are almost a website or blog essential. They tell you who visits your site, how long they stay there and what pages they navigate to. Analytics can also tell you the organic keywords used, or the link used, to find your website. Google Analytics is a free tool that makes it easy to create an account and then literally cut and paste a piece of code into your site’s code.

Just cutting and pasting code isn’t enough, though. You need to also review the analytics and base your strategy and decisions on the information. For example, if you find out that the majority of your visitors come from the south then you might create more content, promotions, and offers that appeal to that region.

Facilitate Engagement

If you’re not encouraging participation, comments, and interaction then you’re missing out. Create systems and opportunities to connect and allow conversation. Blog commenting is a start.

However, the posts need to ask questions and motivate responses. Even more, you want to reply to comments in a thoughtful manner that motivates more comments and feedback. Plug-ins that create forums, chats, and social media participation are another means to facilitate engagement.

To make the most of your website or blog, you want to create a stronger connection with your audience and visitors. By testing, using analytics to track the results, and by creating opportunities for conversation, you’re able to take your site to the next level. It strengthens your relationships with your audience and helps increase traffic, opt-ins, as well as conversions and sales.

Please stop by my Facebook page at Kim’s Facebook at let me know what you are doing that is working well to encourage interaction with your readers.

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Lesson Number Four: The Better You Do, the More Fun It Is

Lesson Number Four: The Better You Do, the More Fun It IsSome might say that professional athletes have the best job in the world. They get paid to play a game that millions of people only dream about doing! They spend the day in the sun, with thousands of fans screaming their names and wearing their jersey number. How cool is that?

It is pretty cool – but only if you’re winning. If you’re in a hitting slump or your team is in the midst of a losing streak, suddenly, the sport you love isn’t that much fun. And of course, the converse is true: The better you’re doing, the more fun it is!

Translate that to the business arena. When you’re in that golden space where every product you release is a hit and your customers love you, everything is fun. But when your bank balance is hovering near the red and every phone call is another unhappy client, everything seems like a chore, including the tasks you usually adore.

It is possible to make a mental shift. In fact, it’s imperative that you do so. You can’t afford the luxury of a negative attitude, so here’s how to make things more fun when it all seems to be going wrong:

 Focus on small successes. Did you meet a tough deadline, get a nice thank-you email, or release a new product? Recognize and celebrate these achievements, however small.

  1. Downplay the bad parts. Remind yourself that everything seems worse when your attitude is bad. Give yourself a reality check: Was the tone of that call from your partner as negative as you thought, or is your poor mental state coloring your perceptions?
  2. Choose to believe. As the famous author and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl wrote, “Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.” You have the right and the obligation to choose your attitude – so why not choose a positive one?
  3. Do what you love. If you truly love your business in a broad sense, then the little annoyances (like emptying the garbage!) are just part of the overall mission. In other words, the more you love the big stuff, the less the little stuff matters.

No professional athlete lasts long if they don’t have mental toughness that allows them to continue on, even when times get bad. As a businessperson, you need to cultivate that same mental toughness in yourself.

Next Thursday on Lesson Five, we’ll talk about Ignoring the Hecklers.

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Creating a Productive and Healthy Office Space

messy-organized office

You spend a lot of time in your office. So, your space should be not only inviting but also energizing, healthy and creative. One way to do this is by simply creating a positive flow of air and mood throughout the space.

Here are some quick and easy tips:

#1 – Keep the air flowing. One thing you don’t want is stale air in your creative space. Regularly open windows at to allow a clear path of air to flow through. It’s important to keep the air flowing even during the winter months. You don’t have to open your windows very much to get a good flow of air – a little will do. Or you may want to have a ceiling fan if open windows is not an option.

#2 – Keep the office green. Plants do a lot more than look attractive. Having plants in your office space will help reduce the static energy in the air. This is energy that comes off computers, telephones and other electrical outlets. Green leafy plants will help reduce the amount of toxins in the air and help you breath easier.

#3 – Keep things natural. The more natural materials you can use in your office space the better. Opt for natural wood, stone and paints where possible. The key is to reduce as many toxins as possible in your office. Go for simple renewably sourced products. When decorating, opt for a “greener” eco-friendly paint that doesn’t release toxins into the air.

#4 – De-clutter often. I don’t know about you, but I can’t work if my office has clutter. Keep your office space tidy and neat. If you don’t need something, find a good home for it. A clutter-free office space may also help you think clearer and more creatively.

#5 – Add feel-good items. This is totally up to what makes your feel good, just remember not too much of a good thing it your office space will become cluttered.  Add these sparingly without cluttering your space for a feel-good vibe.

#6 – Balance your color scheme. Colors can set a mood instantly. Blues, greens and yellows (yellow in moderation) can create a creative, airy, light mood – perfect for offices. Reds and oranges are fiery and may be a little too bright for most office spaces. Having said that, if you’re in a very dynamic, creative type business this may just be the color scheme for you.

Take a little time to look into colors to see which make you feel good and will create the mood you’re after.

Creating a healthy office space doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s simply about creating a more relaxing, happy, energetic space. When you walk into your office and instantly feel good you know you’ve achieved just that.

I’d love for you to stop by my Facebook page, and tell me what are the favorite things in your office.  Kim’s Facebook page.

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What Baseball Can Teach you About Business: You Have to Swing to Get a HitToday it’s lesson 3 on How Baseball is like your business.  We are going to talk about “You Have to Swing to Get a Hit,” something we all know, but may not always do in our business.

It was little Steve’s first season in Little League Majors. He was only 10, but he was facing pitchers two years older and 20 pounds heavier than he was, and it showed. Being a smart, if not big, kid, he figured he’d play it safe. He knew that even though they were much more experienced than he was, many of the pitchers couldn’t throw consistent strikes. If he just stood there and didn’t swing, maybe he’d get lucky and get walked. His first time up to bat, it worked. After three balls and two strikes, the pitcher threw a fourth ball for a walk. He was on base, and he even managed to score a run when the kid behind him hit a home run. His strategy worked so well, he decided to try it again the next time he was up. This time, he made it to a full count again, but the sixth pitch was a called strike, and he walked back to the dugout for an out. Still, he was one for two for getting on base. The next inning was about the same — he stood there as three straight strikes went right by him. He was out again. Still, scoring one run in his first Little Major League game wasn’t too bad — was it?

After the game, the coach went over everyone’s batting average. Joey was a little surprised when the coach read his name aloud and said, “Zero.” Zero? How could you have a “zero” batting average? Hadn’t he scored a run? His coach saw the confusion and hurt on his face, and after the treats had been handed out, he pulled the little boy aside. “Coach,” said Steve. “I don’t understand. How do I have zero?” The coach put his arm around Steve’s small shoulders and leaned in close. “Son, you have to swing to get a hit.” You have to swing to get a hit. Those words reverberated in Steve’s brain. Maybe it wasn’t enough to get on base just because the pitcher threw balls. Maybe he did have to take a risk to get in the game. You know how the story ends – the next game, Steve went in there swinging. Over the course of the season, he hit some, he got out some, he missed some. But he never forgot his coach’s wise words: You’ve got to swing to get a hit. The same is true in business. Sure, you can score every once in a while because your competition is so bad that customers will choose anything else. But to really be a superstar and make something happen, you’ve got to get a hit. And to get a hit, you have to swing. It’s as simple as that.

Are you swinging, or just standing there?  If you are not putting yourself out there in front of your clients/customers what are your waiting for?  Start right now, today.  Don’t wait until tomorrow, because if you keep putting it off you’ll most likely never put yourself out there. Your customers/clients are waiting for you, and they need what you have to offer.

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Internet Marketing Concept BlackboardSocial media marketing is, or should be, at every stage of your sales funnel. The very first aspect of social media’s involvement in your sales funnel has to do with your website/blog. This is of course connected to all the various social media such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and so forth – depending on your niche and the interest your audience has for a particular social media. Remember it’s about building relationships with your clients/customers/patients.  You want to build the like, know, and trust factor with them.

No matter which type of social media you’re active with, social media marketing assists with every aspect below:

1. Awareness – Using social media marketing is a great way to bring awareness to your brand. You can use a multitude of different ways to do this, from posting more updates to buying an advertisement.

2. Community – Social media is a great way to bring a community feel to your brand. This can work before a purchase as well as after a purchase. Bringing your buyers together, or group members together, forms a community that can advocate for your brand to others. Thus, increasing sales.

3. Engagement – Using social media to engage and interact with others is a great way to improve sales. The engagement with the audience is something that everyone sees; customers and future customers. The interaction that is observed will influence others when choosing to do business with you.

4. Influence – Social media can act as a way to prove your influence and authority. The number of followers or likes that you have, as well as the amount of interaction that you have on your social media accounts, will help those who are just become aware of you to trust you faster. This then encourages sign-ups and purchases.

5. Leads – Social media makes it easier than ever to get more leads for your products, services and ideas. It also makes it easier to covert those leads to buyers because of the interaction that you can have. Once you make a connection with a potential buyer and they connect with you in a trusting manner, it’s that much easier to move toward conversion.

6. Nurture – Social media enables you to nurture new relationships as well as old ones. Whether someone is just a prospect or an actual customer, using social media to communicate, stay connected and answer questions is a great way to improve relations.

7. Conversion – Having active social media marketing campaigns at every level of your sales funnel, from initial lead capture to sale and after, improves conversions exponentially.

8. Loyalty – Social media can enable you to create a loyal following of customers who will sing your praises to those who have not become converts yet. The more you have, the more you’ll get. Plus, you can keep the relationship going – thus keeping customers that much more loyal.

9. Deals – Social media is a great way to tell the world about your deals. This is true whether the deal is for a new customer or a current customer.

As you can see, no matter where someone is in your sales funnel, social media should play an important part in capturing leads, all the way to encouraging multiple purchases from converted customers.

 

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Lesson 2 of What Baseball Can Teach you About Business: Play All Nine InningsThe last lesson taught us the importance of not letting one bad pitch, inning, or game ruin your season. This lesson is an extension of that , not giving up too soon, and also not getting comfortable in what appears to be an easy win. Nine innings includes 54 outs, hundreds of pitches, and dozens of plays. Thinking at the bottom of the first that you don’t have a chance to come from behind is a mistake. One Little League team in our town overcame a 13-point deficit at the bottom of the sixth inning (they play six innings in Little League) to come back and win the game. At the pro level, just a few years ago the Colorado Rockies scored nine runs in the bottom of the 9th to win 12-9 over the St. Louis Cardinals.  What if they gave up? Stories of business comebacks are no less rare or impressive. Target came back from near-obscurity to take on discount retailer Wal-Mart. Apple was almost belly-up when Steve Jobs returned to re-invigorate the company. Vans shoe company was limping along until it became the footwear of choice for a generation of skateboarders. Comebacks happen, even in the ninth inning, and beyond. You may have to change course in your business but don’t give up. Of course, the reverse is true. For every comeback kid, there is a losing team. The story of the Rockies’ win could be turned upside-down and told as a cautionary tale of the Cardinals LOSING in the ninth inning. IBM, apparently entrenched as the “safe” choice for computers, couldn’t hold its own and is now a shadow of its previous self. Companies getting too comfortable in their role as market leader are a dime a dozen, and their stock might be trading for little more than that.  This may be what happens when you don’t change course, get to comfortable, aren’t forward thinking and staying up with the times.  Social Media is a great example of that.  Companies that are not willing to embrace and be active in Social Media will most likely be left behind to those who are willing and are using it. The lesson for small businesses is obvious: It ain’t over until it’s over. Whether you’re struggling mightily to stay afloat or you think your business is set on auto-pilot, take heed. Anything can happen, and that’s why the game has nine innings. If the outcome was certain, we could all pack up and go home at the bottom of the first. Don’t become too discouraged by an apparent loss, and don’t become too comfortable with a certain win. A change of pitcher, or a change in the economy or market conditions can work in your favor or against you. A new customer can change the whole game, as can a new competitor. You never know what the other team has up its sleeve.

Playing all nine is synonymous with doing your best, even when defeat, or victory, seems certain. It is the mindset of a winner, who knows that losing an inning, a game, or even a season doesn’t mean much when looking ahead to next  year. Every day go out there and give it your best no matter what your circumstances are.  Always have that end goal in mind with everything that you do! Next Thursday we’ll discuss Lesson Number Three: You Have to Swing to Get a Hit.

Please sign-up for our FREE weekly newsletter at the top right of this page and receive our free eBook on how to Use Hashtags and other Tools on Twitter.

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Top Marketing Tips for New Business Owners

How to Get Attention Newspaper Headline ExposureAll marketing should be done with the idea that you want to build brand awareness, while earning attention and making connections and building relationships for the future. In this way, when you actually advertise or try to sell something to your audience, they already feel as if they know, like and trust you.

Create a Marketing Plan

Your first step toward marketing a new business is to create a marketing plan. A marketing plan will include the following:

* A short description of your company
* Your mission and goals
* Your core money-making focus
* Where you are today within the market
* Who your competitors are
* Who your target market is
* The marketing mix
* The strategy and tactics you plan to use to reach your audience
* A schedule to implement
* Your overall budget

It’s important to do this because without a plan, you far less likely to wind up at the destination you hoped you would.

Create a Marketing Strategy and Tactics for Each Channel

If you plan to have a marketing mix of a website, a blog and social media along with offline marketing such as TV advertisements, radio and newspaper, you need to write it all down and create a special strategy and tactics for each. Your marketing mix offers different ways to reach your audience as it should, but they can’t all live together in the same individual strategy, and your tactics will be different for each channel and sub channel.

For example: Your Facebook marketing strategy, while it falls under social media marketing, will not look the same as your Twitter strategy or your LinkedIn strategy, because they’re as different as a nightclub and a barn.

Be Realistic about Your Budget

If you, like most small businesses, have a small marketing budget, it’s important to focus on what works. In this case, social media and online marketing are going to be more effective for your business because it costs a lot of money to get involved with TV advertising.

If you cannot do something right, don’t do it. It will end up a waste of time and money. The same goes for pay-per-click advertising. You can do Facebook ads that work for as little as $10 a day.

Create an Awesome Website

Don’t skimp on your website. Today, you can make an excellent website without much knowledge using  WordPress. You can even hire someone for about $500 dollars to build a good website using WordPress as long as it doesn’t have too many bells and whistles like forums, membership options, and shopping carts.

So be realistic about that, too. If you need those things, spend the money that needs to be spent to ensure the website works. Many businesses fail before the get started due to a bad website.

Finally, create and open social media accounts. Fill out the profiles all the way – include pictures, include information. Stay consistent across your social media with professional pictures, and bios.  You don’t need to spend a lot of money to have your pictures taken when you are just starting out, but you don’t want a picture of you at the beach or with your pet, just a professional looking head shot. Remember, this is sort of like a resume for your customers. If you hide who you are, and aren’t “real,” they’re going to ignore you as if you aren’t even there. You want people to learn about your business so be yourself, be likable, and be trustworthy and accurate in your representation of your business.

 

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Lesson 1: It’s a Long Baseball Season and What it can Teach You About Your Business

Lesson 1: It’s a Long Baseball Season and What it can Teach You About Your BusinessWith April almost over baseball season is in full swing.  Over the coming weeks we are going to talk about what baseball can teach us about business and life. Today we are going to kick off our series about what baseball can teach you about business and about life.  We are going to start off talking about about “It’s a Long Season.”

The Major League Baseball season stretches from April to October, and includes over 160 regular league games. And that doesn’t include pre-season scrimmages or playoff match-ups. With each game lasting approximately two and a half hours, that’s a lot of time on the diamond! What happens in the first inning of the first game in the pre-season has little bearing on who the pennant winner will be. The season lasts a long, long (and some say TOO long) time. By the time the season wraps up, the average batter has been in the box over 500 times. Sometimes they get a hit, but more often, they get out. But that first time up to bat doesn’t set the tone for their season that is unless they let it. Business is the same way. While any one “pitch,” customer interaction, or promotion may seem of the utmost importance, and it is, in that moment, however in the overall scheme of things, it is only one piece of a larger mosaic. Yes, great players play hard every pitch, but they also know how to pace themselves and shake off a missed strike and move ahead.

In your business, you need that perspective. Yes, you want to hit a home run each and every time you are at bat, and you want to make a play every time the game comes your way, but chances are you are going to flub a few easy pop-ups, and miss a few easy strikes. That is just the nature of the game. Sometimes, your perfectly crafted sales page does not convert. Sometimes, an unhappy customer remains unhappy no matter how hard you try to fix the situation and please them. Sometimes, a great product doesn’t sell well. Sometimes you can figure out why, while other times you just have to let it go and move forward, realizing that you will have hundreds of other interactions and opportunities to make your season a winning one.

To put things in perspective, the best hitters in baseball typically have a batting average of around .300. That means every ten times they get up to bat, they fail to get on base seven times. And these are the best of the best! Even the venerable Babe Ruth had a lifetime batting average of only .342. On a team level, most clubs are striving for a winning season, this meaning they win more than they lose. That should be your goal too, to win more than you lose. And when you do lose whether it is clients, accounts, mailing list subscribers always dust your cleats off and try again. The only time you truly lose is when you quit, when you don’t try again.

Please come back next Tuesday where in Lesson Number Two: Play All Nine Innings. 

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Social media sites offer a great way to brand your business for free. Everybody uses sites like Facebook and Twitter, and many check them daily. But there are some deadly mistakes that can really cost you and even kill your social media campaign if you’re not careful. Here are the top 10 worst mistakes you could make.

1. Shameless Self-Promotion

By far, the worst thing you can do is use your social media site as a sales page. People on these sites don’t want to be marketed to. They want to socialize, network and share common interests.

2. Buying Your Friends

On Fiverr.com and other freelance sites, you’ll find people selling friends for social media sites. It may be tempting to pad your profile with fans, but this is a deadly mistake. In most cases, the ‘friends’ aren’t even real people. It’ll be obvious to the real people who show up on your site.

3. One-Way Exchange

When people comment or ask questions on your page, you’ve got to respond. You need to reply to them and make them feel welcome. This shows that you’re an approachable, responsive brand that cares what people think.

4. Nothing to Do

What makes a social media site popular is its interactivity. If yours just presents information about your brand and doesn’t give them anything to do there, people won’t stick around. Use the apps and widgets available to make your site interactive.

5. Social Media Neglect

Maintaining a social media site is a never-ending job. You should devote a little time to it every day. The brands that are most active on social media do the best with them. Carve out a little time and stick it in your schedule.

6. Fighting Words

No matter what anyone says about you or your brand, never be negative or nasty to them. That only brands you as a jerk. Always be considerate, polite and friendly. Keep things positive even when you’d love to give someone a piece of your mind.

7. It’s All About Me

If your page does nothing but talk about you, your products and your services, people won’t be interested. You need to find other things that your fans would like and share them.

8. Wallflower

Don’t wait for people to visit your profile. Get out there and socialize. Make friends, spend time on other profiles, and get to know people. You’ll be surprised at what a difference this makes.

9. Inappropriate Comments

Whenever you’re logged in, you need to be extremely self-aware. Everything you say or do reflects your brand. Show your personal side but don’t get too personal. You want to look like a brand owner and this requires a little bit of professionalism.

10. All Over the Place

Stick to things that are of interest to your brand. It’s okay to digress and get off topic once in a while to show your personal side, but for the most part stick to things your fans care about.

The absolute biggest mistake you can make with social media sites is ignoring them altogether. Experts predict that social media sites will become the search engines of tomorrow. To some extent they already are. Sign up to each new social media site that comes along because it might be the next great branding opportunity.

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4 Types of Content That People Love Most

4 Types of Content That People Love MostThere are four main types of content that you can use to communicate with your audience: text, graphics, audio and video. Each of these kinds of media has its own benefits and drawbacks, with each appealing more or less to different audiences. While you will want to use each type of content, you will need to learn your audience and use the way they enjoy receiving content the most.

Here’s an overview of each of these four kinds of content and how you can use them:

1. Written Content

Text is by far the most common type of content on the internet. Just about every webpage you see is based on written content.

One of the biggest benefits of text-based content is that it’s very search engine friendly. Search engines can’t understand videos or audios, but they definitely can understand text.

In other words, if you’re running a website with text-based content you stand a good chance of ranking.

It also requires less preparation to create written content. You don’t need microphones or videos, or expensive graphic editing programs, or knowledge to use those programs. You only need your thoughts and to type them. Also, at the time of this writing Facebook is ranking text content higher, but if you’ve been on Facebook for even a short time you know how much Facebook changes.

2. Visual Graphic-Based Content

The main type of visual content online is shown as infographics. Essentially, these are graphics that contain information in and of themselves.

One of the biggest benefits of infographics is that they are often more entertaining and informative than just text.

For example, if you’re illustrating the history of a war, having graphics that give the big picture of events can explain them far more effectively than just describing them in words. People love infographics.

3. Audio Content

Now that people can download audio and listen to it anywhere on their iPod or mp3 player, audio content has really taken off.

In the past, audio content had to be consumed in cassette or CD format. That was both expensive to produce and a bit of hassle for the consumer.

But today, people can listen to audios anywhere they go. In the car, on the bus, while walking, at lunch, etc. With the ability to download any audio in just a minute, having content available in this form saves people time and is extremely convenient. Audio content works really well for many businesses. People also like being able to put a voice to your face that they see online. It makes them feel move connected to you.

4. Video Content

Video content is one of the most dynamic methods of distributing information on the internet. You can put funny clips, informational demos, interesting blurbs, high tech how-tos, personal images – just about anything you can think of.

Video content also has some of the strongest “share culture.” For example, it’s very easy to share videos with friends on Facebook.

A video has a much higher chance of going viral than probably any other form of media.

The only downside to video content is that it does take more effort to produce. You need to shoot the video, edit the video and finally render the video. The whole process could take many hours depending on the complexity of the video, rather than just 30 minutes to write an article.

So, which content format is right for you and your business? It really depends on what kind of information you’re creating and who your market is. There’s no harm in trying all four different kinds of content and seeing which one(s) your audience responds the best to.

If you need help with writing content check out our eBook at www.Starrynighttraining.com on 10-Steps to Killer Content for Marketing.  It is an easy 10-Step Plan for writing content.

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10 Ways to Brand Your Business Using Twitter

10 Ways to Brand Your Business Using TwitterTwitter is a social media and micro-blogging site where you send out short ‘tweets’ to all of your followers. With over 500 million tweets going out every day among its 240+ million users, your business needs to be there. Here are 10 ways to use Twitter to brand your business.

1. Follow the Experts

Find experts in your field and follow their tweets. This shows your followers that you know what’s going on in your industry and you can also learn how to market yourself on Twitter by watching what they do. It’s amazing how many experts will interact with you, and you can even build a relationship with them.

2. Be a Subscriber

Don’t just subscribe to the experts, but also to anyone that’s active in your industry. Twitter is the only social media site where users often follow more than they’re followed. Follow lots of people and comment on their tweets.

3. Mark Favorites

When you find a tweet that you’d like to save for later, you can mark it as one of your favorites by clicking on the little star. Your followers can see your favorites listed on your profile. Your favorites list shows everyone a bit about who you are.

4. Ask Questions

Get discussions going on Twitter by asking questions. They don’t have to be anything earth-shattering but can be about anything. Just throw them out there and let your followers respond. You not only get some activity going, but also learn valuable information about how your target market thinks.

5. Comment on Links

When you like something you see online, you can tweet it. It gives you the option to comment on your links and you should always do this. Just sharing without saying anything about it doesn’t do anything for your branding; it only directs people to the link.

6. Make it Personal

People want to know about your brand but also they like to learn about you. Sometimes, it’s good to tweet something purely personal as long as you don’t do this too often, or go over the line and get too personal. Twitter users love these tweets and they’ll show the human side of your brand.

7. Post Pictures

You can post pictures on Twitter and you should be doing this often. Choose pictures that are related to your brand and take your own photos showcasing your goods, your employees or the way your business works.

8. Value and Relevance

Whenever you get ready to post something, ask yourself these two questions: Is it relevant to my brand? Does it provide value to my followers? There are lots of tweets that don’t deliver either relevance or value, so make sure yours do.

9. Don’t Self-Promote (Too Much)

Once in a while, it’s alright to show off your products and services, but don’t be the type of user who shares it every time something good is said about your brand anywhere online. Focus on benefiting your users and not yourself.

10. Make the Most of Your Characters

Since Twitter only allows you 140 characters in your tweet, you need to learn the art of concise writing. Check out magazine and newspaper headlines to see just how much you can pack into one short sentence. And make sure you use a url shortener so that you don’t waste precious characters. If you want your tweets retweeted, make sure you don’t use the entire 140 characters.

The most important thing to remember is that Twitter is supposed to be enjoyable. While you should be professional and realize that everything you do reflects on your brand, whenever possible offer something that’s just plain fun. Show your sense of humor and be personable. Twitter is all about human interaction and that’s what Twitter users want to see.

If we are not following each other on Twitter, come follow me and introduce yourself: www.twitter.com/kstarry.

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Reason #10: You Don’t Think You Can 

“We all talk to ourselves. A major key to success exists in what we say to ourselves, which helps to shape our attitude and mindset.”  Darren L. Johnson

Reason #10: You Don’t Think You Can When it comes right down to it, there’s only one real barrier that will keep you from achieving anything you set your mind to, and that’s this: Your belief in yourself. If you don’t honestly believe you are capable of achieving your goals, your chances of doing so are very limited. And by the same token, if you honestly believe you CAN achieve your goals, there’s nothing that can stop you.

Many of us grew up with a limited sense of self-esteem and self-confidence. We constantly doubted our ability to do anything, from cross the street by ourselves to get a date. While this could spring from overprotective parents, who just wanted to protect us from the big, bad world, it resulted in lack of confidence that carried over to our adult life.

The only way out is through. The only way to build self-confidence is to do things you are nervous about. That means talking to strangers in line at the grocery store if you’re hoping for a career in direct sales, or posting some of your poetry on your blog if you’re interested in becoming a writer. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

There is no shortcut to self-esteem or confidence. No one can give it to you, which is where so many of the school programs aimed at enhancing kids’ self-perception go wrong. It must be earned, the old fashioned way, through risk and reward.

The great thing about confidence is that you can start small. If you want to complete the Ironman Triathlon, you don’t have to start at Lake Placid. Instead, you can run around the block and swim a length of the pool. Then you run a mile and swim two lengths, and bike home. You build and build and build, and while you’re building your muscles, you build your confidence. You know you can swim two laps because last week you swam one and a half. You know you can sell $500 in a week because last week you sold $400. You know you can get three customers because you have two right now.

Sometimes you may fail; you only make it one and a half lengths, or you only sell $467 in a week. But by looking at where you’ve come from and how far you’ve gone, you know that the next step is within your reach. And when you feel that in your very soul, you will be unstoppable. There is no obstacle or challenge that will be too large for you to overcome, because you know you can.

In Conclusion

After presenting ten different reasons you aren’t where you want to be, it’s my intent not to overwhelm you with information, but to inspire you. Maybe you’ve identified only one reason you’re stuck where you are; maybe you saw yourself in all ten! In any case, I hope that you are prepared to make some changes to move yourself forward.

It doesn’t take huge movements to make progress; in fact, sometimes the biggest results come from the smallest actions, like giving up sugary soda, or making one more cold call at the end of the day. It’s the repetition of those small acts over time that brings about huge results.

I hope that after finishing reading these posts over the last few weeks you have some clear ideas of changes, small and large, that you can undertake right now, today. I wish you only the best, and I look forward to hearing from you about those changes, leave me a note or email me.

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10 Tips for Using Pinterest to Brand Your Business

How to Use Pinterest to Brand Your Business – 10 TipsPinterest’s website says that it’s a ‘virtual pinboard.’ Many people call it ‘Picture Twitter.’ You create boards and pin pictures to them. These boards are fully customizable and you can share them with your friends.

Pinterest has new users every day and is now driving tons of traffic. It’s new, but like all social media sites, it offers powerful branding opportunities for your business. Here are 10 tips on branding your business with Pinterest.

1. Don’t Just Pin Your Products

Don’t only make pinboards for your products and services. Make boards for all things related to your business. For example, if you offer interior decorating, give them boards with colors schemes that are commonly used in the industry. Make boards with unique content your followers will like or find informative.

2. Make Friends

Seek out popular Pinterest users and make friends with them. Post on their boards and they’ll post on yours. The site is still new, so a little bit of networking can get you into the ‘in crowd.’

3. Add a Pin Button

On your profile’s ‘Goodies’ page, you’ll find a Pin It button that you can download and put on your site. This allows other Pinterest users to automatically pin your content with just one click.

4. Choose Niche Categories

People find your board by searching for niche categories. Choose as many diverse categories relevant to your business as possible so that you’ll show up in lots of searches.

5. Show Your Business Inside and Out

GE did wonders for its branding by creating a board devoted to how they create products from the factory floor up. If you create a board that showcases the process of doing what you do, this gives your customers a peek inside your business.

6. Engage Your Audience

Ask for opinions and comments on your boards. Pinterest allows you to reward the most useful answers with a discount or giveaway.

7. Crowdsource

Ask your customers to take a picture of themselves with your product and pin it. They’ll tag you in the pin and you can then repin it on your VIP board. Several companies have used this branding strategy very successfully to gain more exposure.

8. Daily Themes

Create a theme and launch a new pin each day. This is a great branding strategy because it gets people to check back with you every day to see what you’ve posted.

9. Me + Contributors

This is a really nice feature that allows your followers to contribute to your boards. It’s a wonderful way to get them involved directly with your business, which in turn helps with your branding.

10. No Self-Promotion

Avoid any kind of self-promotion. This will destroy your brand on Pinterest. It makes you look like you’re just there to make money off of people, and Pinterest users aren’t into that.

Before you get too active on Pinterest, keep in mind that the audience started out as young, adult women. Topics like recipes, interior design, clothing, and do-it-yourself crafts are huge. Topics that don’t appeal to this demographic aren’t, although this is gradually changing. Make sure that there’s a matching market for your brand on Pinterest before you invest too much time.

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Reason #9: You’re Scared of Success

“Action is the foundational key to all success. “
Pablo Picasso

Reason #9: You’re Scared of Success

Susan wanted to go back to school after her twins had left for college to get her law degree. She wasn’t worried about being the oldest one in her class. She wasn’t worried about keeping up with the studies. She wasn’t even worried about taking the LSAT. Here’s what worried her:

“Who will take care of my dogs if I go back to work full-time? They’re used to having me home all day.”

This talented, vibrant woman was willing to put the imaginary wishes of her dogs three or four years from now, before her own desire to become a lawyer. Something else had to be going on!

A little digging showed that the dogs were just a convenient excuse. What she was really worried about was upsetting the carefully crafted balance she and her husband had stuck in their married life. He was the breadwinner; she was the homemaker. If she did something different, she wasn’t sure how he would respond. What if he left her? What if the friendships she’d cemented over PTA bake sales and field trips and Little League games couldn’t weather the change from stay-at-home mom to career woman? What if she lost everything she’d built her life upon?

Susan was afraid of success. Actually, it wasn’t fear of the goal itself, but of the byproducts of achieving her goal. The domino effect of making one change in her life – going back to school – might be more than she could handle.

If you find yourself not doubting your abilities, but feeling anxious about pursuing your goal because you’re not sure what will happen if you do, you may be like Susan. And it is a legitimate concern. Change often begets more change – more than we bargain for. But there are ways to prepare for it.

  1. Talk to the people closest to you. Share your fears about the changes in your relationship that might happen as a result of pursuing your goal. You may be surprised to find that they don’t care one whit whether you’re dressed in blue jeans or a three-piece suit; they just want to know they’ll see you at Bunco once a month.
  2. Be honest about your concerns. Don’t misplace your anxiety about your marriage onto your dogs – or your kids.
  3. Realize that change usually happens in increments. Yes, going back to school will be a radical change, but the subsequent adjustments in relationships will be more gradual. You will have time to talk about them and discuss them.
  4. Work with a coach or other expert. Coaches are trained in managing change, and will be able to help you predict some of the other secondary adjustments that may result.

Yes, things will change. But not all change is bad; in fact, you may find that your life in every area ends up better than you had ever hoped it would be. And that the dogs don’t miss you all that much anyway.

The next time we’ll discuss:  Reason #10 You Don’t Think You Can.

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Social media sites are networks where people interact with each other. They use them to hang out, keep in touch with friends, share interests, network and even find The Top 10 Reasons You Should Use Social Media to Promote Your Brandjobs. For your business, it’s not a question of if but when you should start using them. Your business needs to be social and here are the 10 reasons why.

1. Everybody’s There Already

Social media sites have hundreds of millions of users, and in the case of Facebook over a billion, and not that is not a typo that is over a billion. A handful of them are among the most visited websites on earth. A large number of users check their profiles daily to see what’s going on and they’re growing in leaps and bounds. If you’re there, you can be in front of them every day.

2. Excellent Branding Opportunities

These sites put you in direct communication with your customers and clients and there’s simply nothing better for branding your business. Your customers can have a personal dialog with you.

3. Listening Stations

Social media also offer wonderful market research opportunities. Message boards, updates, groups and reviews allow you to find out exactly what your target market likes and doesn’t like. You can use these resources to get to know them and better create products and campaigns.

4. Lead Generation

You can use social media sites to get more customers. People will see your posts and hear about you from their friends. Plus, you get global reach 24/7 not only to your followers, but to their friends, and their friends, and their friends, you get the idea.

5. SEO Benefits

Profiles, updates and other social media content appear in search engine results pages and often rank quite high up. This is one of the biggest ways that people will find you on social media. You also get backlinks coming into your site from your social media content.

6. The Personal Touch

Your social media presence and interactions with your fan base give your business a personal touch. That’s what so many companies are lacking today. People like to know who they’re buying from. It puts a face on your business.

7. Easy Promotion

Social media sites offer the easiest way to reach everybody who might be interested in your sales and promotions. With one update, everyone you’re connected to knows instantly when you have a special offer.

8. Rewarding Customer Loyalty

You can use social media sites to reward your customers’ and clients’ loyalty by offering exclusive discounts and freebies that are only available to them.

9. A Ready-Made Platform

There’s no need to create a new website when you can simply make a page. On most of these the social media sites, it takes only minutes to sign up and get started. Not only is it easy, but you also get the built-in SEO benefits of using their already popular website.

10. It’s Free

You get advertising, marketing and branding tools at your fingertips without paying a dime for them. Social media networking is a dream come true for businesses.  You also have the option for low cost advertising on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, where you can strategically target your market.

Before you get started, it’s important to have clear goals. What do you want to do with your social media presence? What action do you want your followers to take? Stay focused on these goals and devote some time each day to building your social media presence. I can’t say it enough daily consistency is key.

Stop by my Facebook page (Kim’s Facebook page) and share with me your favorite way or platform to use social media to promote your business.

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Reason #8: You’re Scared of Failure

“Failure is success if we learn from it. ”  

 Malcolm Forbes 

Any coach can point to a handful of clients who seemed to have all the talent, resources, and determination in the world, Reason #8: You’re Scared of Failurebut for some reason, they were never able to reach their goals. They talked the talk, and walked the walk – for a while. But suddenly, they disappear into the sunset, becoming just a distant memory.

In my experience, it’s fear of failure that keeps these people stuck where they are, despite their resources and skill. They somehow figure that they’d rather be where they are, safe and sound, then venture out into the unknown and possibly not succeed that which they’ve set out to accomplish. They come up with every excuse in the book as to why they can’t do such-and-such:

-It’s too cold.

-It’s too hot.

-Everyone knows you don’t start (fill in the blank) in the summer (or winter, or fall, or spring).

-They need to take another class.

-They need to get their office ready.

-They need to wait for their youngest to start kindergarten, their oldest to start college, their husband to die, their wife to get well.

There’s always a reason why now is not the right time – but the real reason is that they’re simply afraid of not being able to make the grade. And then who knows what would happen if they (gasp!) failed?

Ironically, it’s the fear of failure actually causes them to fail! And they’re still alive, stuck in their little shell. So I guess failure wasn’t so bad after all, was it?

When working with people who have a fear of failure, sometimes direct questioning is the best method to get them to recognize their obstacle:

If not now, when?

If not you, who?

If you have this goal on your heart, then it’s there for a reason. You may be the only person who can bring that particular goal to reality in the exact way you dream of. If you don’t do it, no one will!

The truth is, there is never going to be a perfect time to start. And the truth is, you’ll likely have some stumbling blocks along the way. Everyone does. But you have to reach a point where staying where you are and never unwrapping your dream is more painful than any risk of misstep or failure. Then, and only then, will you be prepared to move forward. And I bet you’ll find it wasn’t anywhere near as scary as you thought it would be.

The next time we’ll discuss:  Reason #9: You’re Scared of Success

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10 Creative Ways to Use Social Media for Your Business

10 Creative Ways to Use Social Media for Your BusinessSocial media sites offer a way for people to communicate online and interact with their favorite businesses. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are among the most popular and most visited on the Web, and many people are spending a lot of time online, on these popular platform. So why not be where your potential clients and customers are?  Here are ten ways you can use social media to better connect with your clients and/or customers and boost your business.

1. Improve Your Customer Service

These sites give your customers direct access to you. This gives you a chance to listen to what they have to say and learn how they feel about your business. By being responsive and offering them access, social media works wonders for your customer service. Make sure your responses are speedy.

2. Manage Customer Complaints

Social media sites let your customers leave comments on how you’re doing. When they complain or criticize your business practices, you not only get valuable feedback, but also a chance to reply and repair your image.

3. Share Real-Life Customer Stories

Social proof is powerful in establishing your company’s credibility, and social media gives you lots of opportunities to get real testimonials. Positive reviews from your customers can be seen instantly by anyone who accesses your profile or theirs.

4. Get Your Employees Involved

You can use your a private Facebook page for idea development. Give your employees a platform where they can share their ideas. You can also use it to keep in touch, offering newsletters, updates and employee incentive programs.

5. Boost Customer Loyalty

You can use your business page to run your customer loyalty programs by offering incentives and rewards. Everything can be done through the site so you don’t need to deal with any more punch cards.

6. Attract New Business

Your social media presence gives you free advertising on the world’s biggest message board. People can find your page through Web searches and their friends’ profiles. This is a great way to attract new customers.

7. Get to Know Your Market

Social media makes it extremely easy to get to know your target market. You can find out exactly who enjoys your products and services, as well as find out what else they like. Companies have spent millions in marketing research to gather this information and all you need to do is invest a little time.

8. Create a Brand Message

Every company has a brand message, like Nike’s ‘Just Do It’. You can use your social media site to communicate this message to your fans and prospective customers.

9. Connect Everything

By integrating your social media sites with your blog or website, you can generate more traffic and leads. Widgets and apps allow you to link everything together for maximum exposure.

10. Use Multimedia

Most social media sites have multimedia applications. You can make a welcome video showing what your company is all about or offer a streaming podcast to your customers. These help by branding your company and giving it a more personal touch.

The most important thing to remember about social media is that people don’t use these sites to shop. They use them to socialize, share common interests, and generally hang out. Make your page an interactive place where they can get involved and spend time. This keeps your brand in their mind and whenever they’re ready to buy, they’ll come to you.

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Reason #7: You Lack Stamina

“Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure. “
George Edward Woodberry

Take a sprinter on a long run with a marathoner and you’ll notice something: The fastest man in the world isn’t so fast Reason #7: You Lack Staminaonce you get past the first 10 miles. The marathoner, who started out at a more moderate pace, slowly overtakes the sprinter who has trained himself for short distances. It’s the classic tale of the tortoise and the hare.

If you tend to start out with a bang on a new idea or project, only to get discouraged when you hit that mental “wall” around mile 13, you may be out of shape. And while you may be banking on becoming the next overnight success, you need to know that:

  1. The true overnight successes of today become the one-hit wonders of tomorrow, and
  2. Most overnight successes were many years in the making.

Look behind virtually any rags-to-riches story, from Susan Boyd to Zappos, and you’ll see that years went into the preparation for their time in the limelight.

If you see yourself having trouble with your stamina, it’s time to work on building your endurance. Here are some exercises to help you:

  1. Track your progress. Often progress is so incremental that you can become discouraged before you hit your goal. Write down the successes both small and large and review them regularly to remind yourself that you are making progress. You may even want to make a large visual representation of your goal and track your progress towards it, just like schools put up huge thermometers to show how much money they’ve earned towards their pool fund.
  2. Pace yourself. The marathoner knows that going out as fast as possible in the first mile is usually a recipe for disaster. Yes, you’re excited about your new venture, but keep some of that excitement in reserve. You may feel like staying up until all hours working on your business plan, and while that’s great, don’t expect to be able to maintain that level of commitment for weeks or months on end.
  3. Cross-train. Find other activities to give you a break from your main focus. You just might find that time away from your goal refreshes and energizes you, and keeps you from burning out. Even if it’s just an evening a week, make sure you take mini-vacations.
  4. Find a partner. Partners are great whether you’re heading to the gym or working your way through med school. Sometimes an outside commitment is needed to help you stay accountable and stay on track. Having someone who understands the challenges you’re facing can make all the difference between giving up and going on.

While a sprinter can be in great physical shape, most goals require a long-distance mindset. Remind yourself what the tortoise knew: Slow and steady wins the race.

The next time we’ll discuss:  Reason #8:  You’re Scared of Failure

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How to Get Everything Done in Your Day

How to get everything done in your day?  That is a question you may ask yourself often.

Does the idea of completing your “to do” list every day sound impossible? For many people, their “to do” list is so long they need a How to Get Everything Done in Your Daylegal pad to make their list. The result is a never ending list and missing that feeling of accomplishment. Instead, with a few quick tips, you can end your day feeling satisfaction, and like you’ve accomplished something. Here’s how:

Step #1 Make a List

If you haven’t created a habit of making a daily, weekly, and monthly “to do” list it’s time to embrace the habit. This system of organization helps you track everything you need to accomplish. It ensures you stay productive and efficient. And let’s face it, it’s much better than starting your day with a head scratch as you try to figure out what you need to focus on first.  I always like to make my list at the end of my work day for the next day, so I can start my day focused, and know right away what I need to work on. Of course you need to stay flexible because things are always changing. Do whatever works best for you, if it’s paper that if fine.  If you’d rather use an app on your phone, tablet or computer that is great too.  If you don’t use what works best for you, you probably won’t stick with it.

Step #2 Prioritize

Now, taking a look at that list you made for your daily, weekly, and monthly tasks, rank them in order of priority. What are the most important tasks for your business? What tasks can you, and only you, accomplish? What tasks will help you grow your business, make money, and thrive?

Step #3 Eliminate

Now this may sound dramatic but it’s important. Chances are there are items on your task list that just don’t belong there. Either they can be:

Accomplished by someone else – Outsource or delegate tasks that take too much time, don’t fit into your schedule, and don’t directly affect your income.

Automated – Embrace technology! There are so many tasks that can be automated. For example, bill paying. You can automate your bill paying and save yourself hours each month.

Delayed – How many of the tasks on your list really need to be done right now? For example, you might have errands and chores on that list. Chances are they can be saved for the evening hours or for the weekend. Or you might be able to buddy up with someone and swap errands. They go to the office supply store and buy items for the both of you and you head to the post office and handle the shipping for the both of you.

Flat out eliminated – How many tasks on your list can simply be eliminated? Chances are there are at least a few. If you struggle with this, try letting go of one task. Just get rid of it and see what happens.

To stay focused I have a kitchen timer that has become one of my best friends in my office.  Set it for an hour after closing down social media and email, turn off the ringer on the phone and just work without any interruptions. I also diffuse essential oils in office which also has helped me stay more focused while I work.  If you are easily distracted and lose focus find the things that work for you.  For me it’s starting my day with the list, my timer, and my oils.

Finally, as you take a look at your shorter daily task list it’s important to keep the items in order of priority. Focus on the most important, and profitable, tasks first. Then focus on the lesser tasks once you’re finished. You’ll find that your days are much more productive. You’ll finally get to enjoy the feeling of throwing away that daily task list with a sense of satisfaction.

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Reason #6: You Lack the Skills

“Belief in oneself is one of the most important bricks in building any successful venture.”  

 Lydia M. Child

Reason #6: You Lack the SkillsSomeone can know academically how to remove an appendix, but you wouldn’t want someone to take a scalpel to you who had never been trained, no matter how many books they’d read and videos they’d watched. There can be a big gap between knowledge and skill, and that may be what is holding you back.

Once you’ve identified what you need to learn, the next step is to try it. Skill can only be developed in one manner: Through practice. You can’t create a top-notch video until you create a bunch of not-so-great ones. You can’t cook a gourmet meal until you create a bunch of so-so ones. You can’t give a standing ovation-worthy keynote speech until you give a few snoozy ones. You can read, study, learn, and learn some more but until you actually try and refine your skills, you’re not going to get better.

There are a couple of misconceptions that hold us back from putting our knowledge to work:

  1. We think we need to “know it all.” The problem with gaining knowledge in today’s online world is that there’s no end to what we can learn. There’s always another class, blog post, video, article, or guru that we can consume. Solution: Pull the plug. Remind yourself that you cannot have perfect knowledge, and that is okay.
  2. We think knowledge is better than practice. In fact, the opposite is often true. Practice, as the old saying goes, makes perfect. There’s no substitute for picking up the golf club and swinging it over and over again, but that practice could very well substitute for reading another book on hitting the perfect drive.
  3. We fear imperfection. We somehow think that “everyone else” is perfect and never falls down.  This is so false; anyone who has mastered something, from making money to baking a cake, went through failure first.

Sometimes, the only solution is to get out there and try. Publish the first blog post. Send in the first article. Sing the first song. Refinement comes through practice, and there is no shortcut to mastery. You can read as many books as you want, but true skill will only come with trial and error.

The next time we’ll discuss:  Reason #7:  You Lack Stamina

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How to Set Better Business Goals

How to Set Better Business Goals

Do you reach all of the goals you set for yourself and your business? If not, there may be a very real reason why. Perhaps the goals you set weren’t the right goals. Or maybe they just need a little tweaking. The following tips are going to help you with how to set better business goals.  Using the above S.M.A.R.T. formula above is always great to keep in mind when setting your goals

#1 Make Them Heart-Pounding Good

If your goal doesn’t excite you, it’s not a good goal. You won’t feel motivated to plan for success, let alone follow through on your plans. The end result is an unachieved goal. Instead, look to create goals that make you feel motivated and excited. Your heart should pound with a bit of anticipation. And if the goal frightens you just a little bit, that’s often a good sign. It means you’ll be challenged. Challenging goals are more fun to attain than those that seem easy or dull.  I have a quote on my computer screen, I have no idea where it came from but I look at it often and I believe it, “Your Gold is Hiding Where You Are Afraid to Go.”

#2 Get Into the Nitty-Gritty Details

Vague goals are not only difficult to achieve, they’re hard to evaluate too. How do you know when you’ve achieved success? When you’re creating goals, be specific about what you want to achieve and how you’re going to achieve it. For example, do you want to write a book this year? Great. When will you publish it? When will you have the outline completed? Who will edit it? How many pages will you write each day? Get detailed with your goals and your plans. I started doing that this year, and it’s making a difference in how much I’m getting done.

#3 Grab Your Crystal Ball

One of the keys to setting better goals is to look both at your past successes and failures and to look at the future. When looking at your past, assess the goals you achieved and the goals you didn’t quite reach. Dig deep to uncover why some goals were easier to attain than others and make adjustments to your future goals based on what you discover.

When looking forward, try to envision yourself having achieved your goal. What does success look like? What does it feel like? How does your life and your business change as a result of your success?

Goal setting seems easy, yet it can be a significant challenge to set good goals for yourself and your business. Keep your goals in line with your vision of your future and what success means to you. Use the past as a stepping stone and learning tool and create specific goals that excite you.

Also, we’d love if you would sign-up for our free weekly newsletter that will provide you with tips to help you grow your fans and followers, positively impacting your bottom line.  We will keep you informed of the newest trends and happenings in the industry.  Please sign-up today by filling out the form on the upper right-hand side.

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Reason #5: You Don’t Really Want What You Think You Want

“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.”  Thomas Jefferson

  • Everyone wants 2.4 kids and the white picket fence… right?
  • Everyone wants a vacation home in the mountains… right?
  • Everyone wants to look like Jennifer Aniston or Brad Pitt… right?
  • Everyone wants to run their own business and be their own boss… right?

A portrait of a young beautiful woman having am idea over white backgroundWRONG! When it comes to dreams, one size most definitely does NOT fit all. Our dreams and goals are as individual as we are, and adopting someone else’s goals as our own can feel like wearing someone else’s shoes: It looks okay to everyone else, but to us, it feels awful and gives us blisters.

There are thousands, if not millions, of people out there striving for the wrong goals. Wrong not because there’s anything inherently bad about them, but wrong because the goals they’re aiming for are wrong for THEM. There’s the med school student who loved her accounting and finance classes in college…but set any thought of being an accountant aside because her mom and dad are both doctors. There’s the successful salesman who would really love to chuck it all and teach English, but he’s making too much money and only a crazy person would throw away a six-figure paycheck. There are frustrated dentists, bakers, and candlestick makers. There are frustrated sheep farmers, personal trainers, bail bondsmen and police officers. Frustration knows no geographic, socioeconomic, race or religious boundaries. The only way to know if the goals you’re aiming for are the right goals is to figure out if they are your heart’s desire.

Sometimes it takes some detective work to peel back the layers of societal and family expectations to get at what YOU really want. There are clues all around you: If you fall asleep dreaming about something, wake up thinking about something, and find yourself perking up whenever you meet someone doing what you’d like to do, you’re on the right track. Meanwhile, if you  find yourself calling in sick to that six-figure job “everyone” would kill to have, then you may be in the wrong place…for you. So what do you do if you find you’ve been chasing after the wrong dream? You readjust. You find ways to move your current life closer to the one you really long for. Maybe that means getting up an hour early to work on your mystery novel. Maybe it means spending your weekends teaching art to inner city kids. Maybe it means volunteering to do taxes at the senior center. Take a small step and see how it feels. Then take another, and another, until you know deep in your heart you’re on the right track. If you are, the momentum will carry you forward.

The next time we’ll discuss:  Reason #6: You Lack the Skills

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Innovative Ways to Use Your Phone to Grow Your Business

Innovative Ways to Use Your Phone to Grow Your BusinessDo you have an iPhone, or any Smart phone for that matter? Are you using it to it’s fullest potential in your business?  Today we are going to talk about Innovative Ways to Use Your Phone to Grow Your Business. If you’re like many Smart phone users, you access it for a variety of personal uses. If you are a business owner hopefully you have discovered helpful business uses. You probably use the GPS to find your way to appointments. Maybe you use a financial application to stick to your budget. You might even use a note-taking application to track ideas. However, chances are your iPhone is underutilized. Most of these apps are for the iPhone, just search and see what is available for your phone, I bet you are amazed.

#1 PayPal

PayPal offers an iPad application that lets you not only receive instant notification that you’ve received a payment, you can also request payments. Speedier cash flow helps you make faster business decisions. A client pays and you can immediately get to work communicating with them and providing your product or service. Better customer service grows business.

#2 Financial Planning and Organization

Applications like Roambi Analytics can help you stay on track of traffic and sales and provide real time information. It integrates with Salesforce, Google Docs, Excel and so much more. Numbers (cost $9.99) and MicroStrategy are two other applications that help business owners stay on top of their business information.

#3 Project Management

There are a myriad of project management applications that can help you keep all of your communications and files in one secure location. OmniFocus, Redbooth, and Podio are just three of the dozens of top-rated project management tools. Some of the applications cost; OmniFocus (cost $19.99 iPhone, $39.99 for iPad), Redbooth (free), and Podio (free). However, unlike most online project management services you don’t have to pay a monthly fee to use them.

#4 Business Meetings

Fusebox, FaceTime, Skype, and Cisco WebEx Meetings are all applications that you can use to hold business meetings on the go. You can chat in your car, on the beach, or from the top of a mountain – as long as there is a Wi-Fi or cellular data connection, you’re able to hold a face-to-face meeting with clients and prospects. I especially like Fusebox, one of my clients uses it all of the time, it is inexpensive and very reliable.

#5 Content

You can use your iPhone to create podcasts, videos, and even written content. With a few adjustments to your WordPress settings you can even blog from your iPhone. And if you don’t blog, you can use applications like iWriter and PlainText to create documents. Use Dropbox, a cloud computing and file sharing application, to send the documents to your other devices and computers.

If you’d rather dictate, check out Dragon NaturallySpeaking and create your content with your voice. You can email the recorded and transcribed documents to yourself and use them when you’re ready. FrameArtists lets you make infographics to share on social media sites.

Promptware lets you turn your iPhone or iPad into a teleprompter for when you are recording videos, and it’s free.

Finally, let’s not forget about the power of research and organization. Applications like OneNote and Evernote help you organize your research and take notes on your abundant business ideas. Your iPhone is a veritable business bonanza. It can help you stay abreast of new information, keep tabs on your company, pay bills, send invoices, create content and stay organized – all this fun in the palm of your hand.

And we haven’t even talked about how easy it is to keep your social media up=to-date and stay in touch.  That is a whole blog itself.

Please come over to my Facebook page at:  Kim’s Facebook page and tell me what your favorite app is.  I’d love to hear from you.

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In an ideal world, we would go on vacation, leave the laptop at home and never give business another thought. Unfortunately, 6-laptop-vacation-bwe don’t live in the ideal world. For most business owners, going on vacation means having to tote the laptop, iPad or other digital device. However, just because you bring it, doesn’t mean you have to have it attached to your hip. Here are some tips that might help.

Choose Your Device

The important thing is to have the device that works best for you. Laptops can be large, but smaller devices like netbooks, iPads or other tablets may not have the full functionality that you’re looking for. On the other hand, using a smaller device might make it easier for you to get less distracted by work and simply do what you need to do and get offline.

Accessing Your Documents

If you don’t bring your usual computer, you can still have easy access to the documents you need. You can use a popular service like Dropbox.com, but you will have to load the files you need ahead of time. Using an automated backup service that ensures that you can access ALL of your computer files, even the ones you didn’t think you’d need. Both services also include mobile apps for a variety of platforms, so you can access your stuff from a variety of types of devices.

Do Work Ahead of Time

When you know you’re going to be going away, get super focused and get a lot of your work done ahead of time. There’s nothing quite as motivating as knowing that you’ll be going on a fun vacation when all the work is finished. You can pre-write emails, blog posts, product promotions and get a lot of your work done ahead of time.

Plan Your Device Time

Just like when you’re at home, you should plan your work time while you’re away. Sure, it’s not always possible to know what will be happening every moment of your vacation, but the better you can set your work schedule, the more likely you won’t let work time take over your vacation. If mornings are most convenient, set aside an hour or two in the mornings to get things done. When I work on vacation, I like getting up early and working while everyone is still sleeping.

Get Help with Communication and Customer Support

Having to worry about customer support or answering emails can be the kiss of death to just about any vacation. Hire a virtual assistant (VA) or someone to take care of the daily communication, so you can relax and only work on things that are absolutely necessary.

Plan Your Wifi

Wifi is available in many places, but it’s not everywhere. Find out which destinations will have wifi available to you or consider purchasing a wireless card through your cell phone provider, which can make it easier to get connected wherever you can get a cell phone service. Or many mobile phones can be toggled with your computer (either through USB or Bluetooth) and you can use your phone’s connection on your work device.

Keeping the balance between work and fun can be challenging, but if you plan ahead, things will be much easier. One thing I mentioned in this post was hiring a virtual assistant or someone to help you with correspondence. In my next post, we’ll be talking about outsourcing, even if you’re on a budget.

Hope you have a Happy and safe Independence Day if you live in the United States.  Hope this information is timely in being able to enjoy your long weekend.

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Reason #4: The People Around You Don’t Support You

“I know where I’m going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be.  I’m free to be what I want.”  Muhammad Ali

In the last section, we discussed lack of resources, including lack of support. In my experience, that is the biggest obstacle for people reaching their goals. Isolation, or even downright discouragement, can thwart even the most dedicated individual. To put it bluntly, you need a cheering section.

Few people like change, especially change they don’t ask for or control. Those closest to us in our everyday life have a vested interest in keeping things, including you, the same as they’ve always been. After all, if you lose weight/get out of debt/get a new job/start a new business, what does that say about them?

Reason #4: The People Around You Don’t Support YouThere will be three groups of people in your life:

  1. Those who are avid encouragers. They get up early to go to the gym with you, find magazine articles on starting your own business, and offer to house-sit while you go to a conference. These people are golden!  They are your cheerleaders.
  2. Those who don’t get it and don’t talk about it.They watch from the sidelines, scratching their head, as you start eating green, talk about SEO or autoresponders, and wonder what you’re up to now. They won’t actively discourage you, but the fact they don’t even ask about your latest accomplishments can leave you feeling bereft and slightly depressed.
  3. Those who are out to make you fail. That sounds harsh, but it’s true; a certain group of people will not want you to quit smoking, or find a new job. They like things just as they are, and they take it as a rejection of them and their choices if you succeed. Note: Unfortunately, these are often the people who are closest to us.

The solution is to minimize your contact with those who discourage you, and maximize your contact with those who want you to succeed. Avoidance can be tough if you happen to be married to a discourager; this is when you’ll have to make a decision about what’s most important in your life, maintaining the status quo or reaching your dreams.

If you need more supportive people, you can find them! Here are some resources online to track down like-minded individuals:

  • Meetup.com. Type in your city and your interest and find other small business owners, organic farmers, or model train aficionados.
  • Yahoo! and Google Groups. Search for others who are interested in the same types of things you are.
  • Twitter. Search by hashtag (#) for your area of interest.
  • Facebook.com. Tons of pages on everything from mothers who run to pet groomers.

One other way to find supportive people: Find a coach! A personal trainer, a business coach, a dietitian, there are tons of experienced professionals who can help get you where you want to be. The benefits of their experience can save you time and money as you pursue your dreams.

The next time we’ll discuss:  Reason #5: You Don’t Really Want What You Think You Want

 

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Seven Tips to Help You Create Great Content for Your Website

Seven Tips to Help You Create Great Content for Your Website

Website/blog content can be anything such as written content, images, and any other data that you choose to add to your website.  Having top content on your sites will prove to be a great marketing tool and will also attract potential customers. Today we are going to talk about seven tips to help you create great content for your websites.

Here are some really simple tactics that will help you create the content you desire for your website.

1. Write with clarity and simplicity. Simply put, write the way you would speak. Make sure your written material is created in a conversational tone. Don’t write in such technical or complicated language that your visitors will have difficulty comprehending the information you are trying to relay to them.

2. Show your visitors something; don’t just tell them. The written word is powerful, but becomes even more powerful when you include things such as testimonials or customer feedback on your website. This lets viewers know that others have tried your product or service and have given their input related to their experience in dealing with you.

3. Make sure your content is relevant. For example, if you have a website where you are marketing or selling pet supplies, you don’t want to include content that isn’t relevant to the type of business you are doing. Relevant content will help potential customers find you on the web and if they see your content is worthy, you can just about bet they will return to your website just to see if you have added additional information.

4. Surprise your customers with something unexpected. It really doesn’t matter what you do as long as you do it in a way that relays a “wow” factor to your visitors.

5. When writing content, always bring your personality and voice to it. Show your passion for the product and/or services you are marketing and let that passion shine through your writing. If potential customers and current customers realize that you have passion, they will be much more likely to show an interest in your product or services.

6. Give information when writing. Your content needs to be educational and informative. Avoid writing sales pitches. No one wants to visit a website full of sales pitches and leave the site knowing nothing more about your product and/or service than they had before they visited.

7. Spell-check and proof-read all of your content before publishing. You do not want to present your visitors with a website full of grammatical errors and misspelled words. Take time to manually check for any errors rather than just using spell-check. It’s better to double and triple check for accuracy.

The main thing to remember when writing is to make sure you are using your own tone, your own voice and your own style. Visitors will get accustomed to this and as they return to your site, this is what they will be looking for. Don’t try to be someone or something that you aren’t. Personalize each written piece so that it is your own and can be identified as such.

Having great content that lets your personality and knowledge shine through will help you get the results you are looking for.

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Reason #3: You Lack the Resources

“Great emergencies and crises show us how much greater our vital resources are than we had supposed. ”   

William James

Reason #3: You Lack the Resources

Have you ever watched a show like Clean Sweep, Trading Spaces or The Biggest Loser and said to yourself, “Of COURSE they can lose weight/clean out their clutter/redesign their home. They have a team of experts at their beck and call!” Well, while not everyone, and in fact, very few of us can have Oprah’s dietitian, Jillian Michaels for a personal coach, and an interior designer to rework our home, we do need to find and use resources to help us achieve our goals. If we find ourselves stymied on the way to success, we just might be experiencing a lack of resources. Resources fall into several types. Let’s look at each one and discuss ways to get the resources you need to get where you want to go:

Monetary: Usually, when we think we don’t have the resources to complete a goal, we think it’s a monetary issue. It’s true that some goals take cash, but most of the time, we think of money as the solution to all our problems. While it can definitely help smooth the way, there are other methods to getting the resources we need besides purchasing them. For instance:

  • Bartering. Trade your expertise for someone else’s services. If you’re looking for a personal trainer, swap your Internet marketing skills for her training.
  • Borrowing. One of the biggest disadvantages to our geographically disconnected world is the inability to borrow from each other. But why not reconnect with your neighbors? Someone may have a car they’re not using and would be glad for you to use it to get to your night class across town.  Someone else may have a summer house on the shore and would be happy to let you camp out there for weekends in the winter to work on your book. You won’t know until you ask.
  • Renting/Timeshare. Pretty much anything you want or need, from a horse to a car to a ski house, can be available for a timeshare or rental. Go online and google your desire and see what comes up.

Time: Time may be even more of an issue than money when it comes to reaching your goals. We often say, “I just don’t have the time!” when we mean, “It’s just not important enough to me right now.” The truth is, we all have the same number of hours in the day. You don’t have any fewer hours than the person who’s out there training for an Ironman, or staying up late to work on her new business idea. If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way.

Support: Our cheering squads are resources, no doubt about it. And while the people closest to us may not understand why we want to build a log cabin in the woods or start a summer camp for disadvantaged ferrets, there are people out there in the greater world who would gladly cheer you on. All you have to do is find them. There really are no valid excuses when it comes to lack of resources. Put it this way: Whatever you think your excuses are, someone else in a tougher position than you has already found a way to achieve what you want to achieve. You can do the same.

Next week we’ll talk about: Reason #4: The People Around You Don’t Support You.

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10 Common Blogging Mistakes

10 Common Blogging Mistakes

If you are new to blogging you may feel that it is overwhelming. Today we are going to talk about ten common blogging mistakes, that will help make blogging is fun and easy. With this handy list of the most common blogging mistakes you can avoid them with ease.

  1. Not being original – Many people are hesitant to be themselves online. Yet your personality is what will attract attention and readers. Don’t hesitate to be who you are.
  2. Not giving credit where credit is due.  If you use information or ideas from anyone, ask permission, and give them credit. It doesn’t weaken your content or your credibility, in fact, it enhances it. And not sourcing your material can get you in trouble legally, and you don’t want to be in that position.
  3. Not responding to comments – If you don’t want comments you can set it so you people cannot leave them. I would not recommend setting to no comments, instead I would recommend setting up spam filters. I recommend that you keep comments open and respond promptly.
  4. Giving up too early – Blogs aren’t going to achieve instant success overnight. This is why it’s so important to enjoy what you’re blogging about. Eventually, with enough care and attention your readership will grow.
  5. Not posting enough – There’s a common rule that says you have to blog every day. You don’t have to blog every day. However, if your readers don’t hear from you for a week or two, they will forget about you. Keep them happy. Keep them visiting your blog. Publish often. I always recommend blogging twice a week.  Studies indicate Monday and Thursday mornings are the best time to post.
  6. Not having a well defined topic – What are you blogging about? Make sure that your topic is not only apparent but also narrow. For example, instead of blogging about dogs, blog about miniature dogs. Or make it an even tighter niche and blog about breeding or training miniature dogs. The more specific your niche topic the easier it’ll be to attract a following. Although this is highly recommended I have great difficulty with this one.  But the pros do highly recommend it.
  7. Not choosing a topic that you can sustain – If you choose a topic that you’re passionate about, you can write every day year around and not lose enthusiasm for your topic. Choose a topic that’s not so interesting to you and you’ll be lucky to hammer out a blog post a month. It’s just not going to work.
  8. Having too many Ads – Make sure your blog is content focused. Advertisements are fine. However a blog that’s 90% ads and 10% content won’t attract a loyal following.
  9. Forgetting value – People will read your blog because it is: informative, entertaining, or educational. In short, they’ll read it because it offers value. Make sure your posts regularly offer value.
  10. Not promoting your blog – Get out and promote your blog! People won’t find you as quickly if you don’t shout it from the rooftops. Comment on other blogs and use your blog URL when you register. Participate on social networking and become a guest blogger. In your guest blog bio, link to your blog address.

Blogging really is a great way to connect, make a profit and grow a business. Avoid these ten mistakes and you’ll achieve blogging success much more quickly and easily. Wishing you much success!

If you have any questions, or have tips or tricks that work for you on blogging or anything in social media, please stop by my Facebook page and leave a comment on Kim’s Facebook.

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Reason #2: You Don’t Have a Plan to Get from Here to There

It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” 

Eleanor Roosevelt

“Success Mindset: The Top Ten Reasons You Aren’t Where You Want to Be – YET!”…Reason #2You can know specifically what you want to achieve, what it looks like, and when you want it…but without a plan, you’re like a vacationer planning to go to Paris who forgot to buy his plane ticket. Whoops!  It’s ain’t gonna happen.

The next natural step after determining WHAT you want is laying out a plan for getting it. Where many people make mistakes is assuming that having a plan is an all-or-nothing proposition: They need to have a carefully scripted path from A to B, and then on to C and D, with no unknowns, and no changes.

Not so! In fact, ask any visionary who’s achieved anything of merit, and they will say that the path they thought they were going to take wasn’t what ended up happening. But they’ll also tell you that knowing the first few steps and committing to them were critical to their success.

Take someone who wants to lose weight. They know what they want to weigh, and they’ve decided to try Weight Watchers combined with walking 30 minutes a day. That’s all they need to get started because it gives them the next steps: To sign up for a meeting, attend the meeting, and begin walking.

What they can’t anticipate, though, is the weather. Or pizza night with the girls. Or the fact that they seem to be having trouble losing weight on the prescribed plan after a few weeks of success and need to shake things up a bit.

Situations change; that’s a given. Rare is the plan that is laid out in excruciating detail on Day One and followed without adjustments. You have to be prepared to make changes along the way, but you also have to know what “the way” is. Without any plan at all, you are a victim of your circumstances, not knowing what’s going to move you closer to your goal and what’s going to take you farther away.

So after you’ve set your end goal in living color, figure out that one next step you have to take. Trust that when you take that step, you’ll see the next one and the next, forward to success. You’ll know when you need to move left or right, but only if you move until the point you see ahead of you. Sometimes it’s only in retrospect that the whole path is clear, like Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs strewn behind them.

The next time we’ll discuss:  Reason #3:  You Lack the Resources

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Seven Great Tips for Effective Twittering

If you want to be an effective Twitter user and really take advantage of Twitter’s benefits, it’s not necessarily enough just to sign up with a Twitter account. You need to learn how to use Twitter in order for it to help your business. Here are seven great tips for effective twittering.

Seven Great Tips for Effective Twittering

1. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is an application that can help you make your Twitter experience more streamlined and focused.  It can also be used to manage other social media platforms.  I use it daily, and I can’t image managing social media without Hootsuite or some other program like it, some people like TweetDeck.  Check out different programs evaluate them, and see which is the best fit for your. Some of them are free, some cost, and some have both a free and paid version.

2. Search relevant terms

Type in keywords and do a search on Twitter. The keywords will be related to your business. Then see what’s going on out there in the realm of your particular business or market. It can be very eye-opening to see what the “buzz” is in your chosen field. And you can glean good information on your chosen terms and topics.

3. Follow the HashTag

A “hashtag” is a topic with a pound or number sign before it (#). These are often worth clicking on, because you may find a large number of people who contributed to that topic via Twitter. The more ideas you have access to, the better.

4. Research prospective clients

Before speaking with prospective clients it’s good to read through some of their tweets.  It can help give you a feel for their business

5. Don’t be “all promotion

Do not send out all promotional tweets.  In fact I recommend to send many more tweets of tips, quotes, and such then promotional tweets.  If you are always promoting your products or services at best your tweets won’t be read, and your risk being unfollowed.  People do not like to be sold to all of the time.

6. Set up an effective profile

Your profile is important. Your prospects may not know anything about you except what’s stated in your profile  Make your avatar (picture that appears with all your tweets and on your account) is up-to-date and professional. Make your information brief and concise, but it still needs to give thorough information. Put a clickable link to your website where they can get more information, or to your business Facebook page.

7. Be yourself

It can be very stressful to try to maintain an artificial profile and presence! From the beginning, don’t be afraid to be who you are – there is no other you, so your personality may well be the unique aspect that makes your business stand out!

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It’s about your mindset…Let’s talk about it!

It’s about your mindset…Let’s talk about it!As we start the second month of 2014 already are you thinking about whether you are on track for accomplishing your goals for this year?  One important thing to look at is your mindset. Is you mind where it should be?  When you look at your life, you may be miles away from your goals and dreams – so far you wonder if you’ll ever get there. This gap can be especially frustrating when you feel like you’re working hard to move forward. Unfortunately, just “working hard” doesn’t assure success. There are a lot of other elements and factors that determine how far you go and how close we come to achieving the life you imagine. We are going to discuss ten factors that play a part in holding you back from your dreams. If you can surmount them – or even a few of them! – your efforts will be supercharged, moving you past obstacles that formerly held you back. Sometimes we use dreams and goals interchangeably. In reality, they are very different things: After all, a dream is a goal without a deadline. But since the principles here are equally applicable to goals AND dreams, I may use them as synonyms. Let’s get started…

Reason #1: You Don’t Know What You Want

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” Jim Rohn

Before you can get anywhere, you need to know where you are going. It sounds simple, but when it comes to life goals or dreams, it’s not so clear. We think, “I want my business to be a success,” or “I want to be happy.” But ask 100 different people to define success, or what makes them happy, and you’re going to get 100 different answers. That’s why when it comes to getting what you want, the first step is to decide…specifically -what you want in your life. Not in generalities, but in specifics. For instance: NOT: “I want to be skinny,” but, “I want to wear a size 10 and have my BMI, blood pressure, and cholesterol in healthy ranges.”  You may even want to define what those healthy ranges are for you. NOT: “I want to be financially secure,” but, “I want to be debt-free and have $100,000 in the bank by the time I’m 50.” NOT: “I want a new job,” but, “I want a job that allows me to work flexible hours from home, making $X (you define X) an hour, using my administrative and business management.” Specificity is critical in goal-setting for several reasons:

  1. If you only have a general idea of what you want, you can only get a general idea of how to achieve it. It’s like driving: If you know you want to drive from San Diego to Philadelphia, you have a general idea of how to get there, you may end up in the Schuykill River or on the wrong side of the tracks. But if you want to see the “Rocky” statue in front of the art museum, you can fine-tune your approach to get yourself exactly to the point you want.
  2. Being specific saves time. You will intuitively be able to sort through opportunities that are presented to you and know immediately whether they are in line with your goals or not.
  3. Being specific helps your mind create a vivid picture of what you want. Once your mind can picture it, it’s much easier to achieve it.

If you’re having trouble specifying your dreams, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What does it look like?
  • How will you know when you’ve made it?
  • When do you want to achieve this goal?
  • What does it feel like, taste like, smell like?
  • What would a day in your dream life be like, from the time you get up until the time you go to bed?

Write these answers down and revisit them frequently to see if they’re still true, and to remind yourself of what you’re working towards. The next time we’ll discuss:  Reason #2:  You Don’t Have a Plan to Get from Here to There.

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What to Share And Where to Share It!

The year is still fairly new.  Many of us are accessing where we are, and where we want to go over the coming months and What to Share And Where to Share It!the next year.  There are so many Social Media platforms out there it can be very overwhelming and you can be left wondering what to share and where to share it.  I think the five we are going to talk about today and the most important to look at, not necessarily participate in all of them, but think about and if you are not active and consistent in at least two or three, decide which platforms best fit your business, and make this the year that you start building relationship using Social Media.

The nice thing about working online and in social media is that you can reshape your plan as you go along. So don’t worry about having your target market and unique positioning engraved in stone. It’s not necessary as you will find that even if you have it figured out now, your audience and their needs change over time. And if you’re smart, you’ll evolve with your audience.

So with all that in mind, let’s look at our big 5 networks to see how you can fit in.

Facebook

This is a pretty visual social network with a lot of possibilities for sharing. Images and video do well, and while you can share text, you might find that if you add an image to your text, you’ll get more views and responses to your status update.

Facebook also offers the ability to poll your audience which can be a lot of fun for participants and enlightening for you. You can also share your company history through the Milestones feature, keeping in mind what would interest your audience most.

Facebook offers pretty in-depth analytics and gives you plenty of clues on which content does well and which type of content doesn’t. Use these analytics to figure out how to hone your presence.

The one thing that I highly recommend is that if you are currently are doing business on your personal profile page is to stop immediately and start a business page.  I believe that there will come a time when those doing business on their personal pages will lose their pages.  I sincerely believe that Facebook at some point will pull the plug on those doing business on their personal pages.  I’m not saying to never talk about your business on your personal page.  I am talking about those who are using their personal page as a business page.  You are missing out on all of the advantages of the business page.

Twitter 

Twitter is a more text-based social network that requires you to be succinct in your sharing, as you only have 140 characters to make your point. You can post images and link to videos, but users will need to click through to view them.

One of the biggest opportunities with Twitter is to use their @ replies and RT (Retweet feature). Place an @ before a username, allows you to communicate directly with users on Twitter and can pave the way to new connections. RT allows you to share someone else’s useful update with your audience, which is another way to foster goodwill among likeminded users.

Google+ 

Google+ is another visual network with a lot of images and, in particular, videos being shared.

While using Google+, definitely take advantage of their Circles feature, which allows you to categorize your contacts in any number of ways. This allows you to keep friends and family separate from business contacts. It also allows you to categorize your business contacts as well. For example, you can make circles for your customers, affiliates, mastermind groups and more.

One of the most unique opportunities at Google+ is Hangouts, which offer a group video and/or audio chat. It’s perfect for brainstorming groups, planning and getting to know your audience better…so take advantage.

Pinterest 

As you probably know, Pinterest is the  most visual network of all because it is simply a collection of images. Videos can also be shared, but as of now aren’t being used nearly as often as images.

Images that you share on Pinterest should be categorized appropriately and include a description that adds to the user experience. Choose images that are visually striking that make people feel like the item in the picture is in the same room as them. You can add links back to your sites.

LinkedIn 

Your approach to LinkedIn should be that of an information sharer and connector. Connect people who should know each other and offer help through groups and answering questions. For LinkedIn, the key isn’t in the number of connections you make, but the quality of those connections so put your focus there.

As you can see, each network is a little bit different. A lot of people attempt to use social media integration tools that simply broadcast their updates across all networks, but this is a short sighted approach. While I do encourage the use of social media integration tools, it’s important to use them wisely.  You don’t want to only be broadcasting through these tools, the key to social media is interacting and building relationships.  When you do that the business will come.

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Jumping From Idea to Reality

Jumping from Ideal to RealitySometimes one of the hardest things to do is to take a whisper of an idea, or a mishmash of many ideas, and bring at least one of them to fruition. You have an idea, maybe many ideas, but you just simply cannot stop the noise in your mind long enough to actually make your ideas happen. Jumping from idea to reality is really more like hopscotch than jumping from point A to point B like you do in the long jump. You need to make a lot of small jumps to get where you’re going.  If you are like me coming up with ideas isn’t as much a problem as seeing them through to completion.

Get Super Focused

It’s important to get your idea down on paper and become very clear about what your idea is. The truth is, you can keep an idea spinning around in your head for years without ever coming to any conclusions that will make your idea a reality. Once you get focused on your idea, you have to stay focused and see it through to the end.

Develop Your Plan

Write down everything that needs to be done to make your idea a reality. Do you need to research the feasibility of the idea? Develop a prototype? Set up the infrastructure? What exactly do you need to do in a broad sense to get your idea to reality? Write down each component of your idea that needs to be done.  Maybe you are going to offer a free teleseminar to showcase a new product or service, and you just have to develop a plan for that.

Create the Steps

Once you have a broad overview of all the deliverables from developing your plan, it’s time to create the steps to make each aspect become reality. For instance, in the above you could come up with the following: Write a Business Plan, Build a Website, Rent Commercial Kitchen Space, Perfect the Recipe, Test the Recipe, Get licensed. Then make step-by-step instructions for yourself (and others) to get these things done in a timely manner. Maybe it’s even easier than that, maybe you want to write an eBook, or offer a Webinar.

Get the Help You Need

Even if this is your idea and no one else’s, often times getting help gives you the real motivation to bring the idea to reality. You can get help in the form of actual partners, or you can hire employees or contractors to help you implement your plans. You may also need a lawyer, or expert within the area of your idea to help you navigate the laws. Most communities have small business incubators and other help available either free of charge or for a very low cost. Again, sometimes it’s much easier then needing a lawyer, an other experts, maybe it’s getting a friend as an accountability partner so you keep moving forward and don’t back out.

Take Action

Organize all steps created in chronological order. Then simply do first things first. Jump in order from one thing to the next. As one thing is finished, move on to the next until one day, you will be done and your idea will be reality. Remember, time moves forward whether you take action or not, so you might as well take action.

By getting clear in your mind about what your idea really consists of, the plans you’ll need to make and the steps you’ll take, with the right help your new reality will be the full implementation of your awesome ideas. One idea at a time.  For those of you that know me you know I wrote this for myself as much as for you.

Go out there and make it happen, because there are a few things that are certain, if you don’t someone else will.  Also, if you don’t you will end up at the end of 2014 right where you are now!

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How to Write Better Tweets

Twitter is now part of everyday life for many who are in business and even those we are not. The media uses it to stay on How to Write Better Tweetstop of news and gossip. Businesses use it for research and improved customer service. And the average consumer uses it to connect, learn, share, and laugh. As a business owner, learning how to write a great tweet can help you drive traffic, increase awareness, and connect with your audience. So today we are going to spend some time talking about how to write better tweets.

#1 Know Your Audience

You only have 140 characters; spend them wisely. Make sure you’re writing tweets that your audience cares about. For example, many fiction writers make the mistake of writing tweets for other writers. Their readers don’t care if they wrote a chapter today. Their readers care about the characters and the story. One popular self-published author tweets as his recurring character rather than himself. Much more interesting for fans and readers!

#2 Test Approaches

There are a few proven approaches to tweets that get action. These approaches range from asking questions to using numbers. For example, “How do you organize your refrigerator?” or “10 tips to organize your refrigerator,” are both tactics that are used successfully. Test different approaches to see which ones your audience responds to.

#3 Provide Value

You’ve undoubtedly seen the people who post link after link after link. There’s no substance to their posts. They just want you to click the link. Don’t make this mistake. Always, with any type of content, remember to provide some type of value. Pique your reader’s interest and provide useful information, entertainment, or insight.

#4 Be Personal

Twitter is a social media site. While providing value is helpful, it’s also important to make connections. Try to scatter relevant personal (but not too personal) tidbits throughout your postings. For example, continuing with the refrigerator organization topic, you might include a photo of your newly organized refrigerator.

#5 Hold Something Back

The goal is to motivate people to click on a link or take some sort of action. If you give them all of the information in your tweet, they don’t have any need to click on your link. Tease them with a tidbit of information and motivate them to click. For example, “Tired of finding rotting food in your fridge? 10 Tips to organize your refrigerator. LINK.” This tweet identifies a problem and promises a solution.

Finally, get your readers involved. Retweet their tweets. Ask questions and answer their questions in your posts. Twitter is a social site and by engaging your followers you’ll show them that you’re interested in connecting, not just selling.

If we are not already connected on Twitter I’d love to connect with you.  You can find me at: @KStarry. Happy Tweeting.

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Motivation and Goal Setting

Goal setting concept - business woman touching screenIf you knew that you could achieve anything you wanted to, maybe get that job that you always thought was slightly out of your reach or start that business that you always dreamed of, be a better mom, or lose that weight that would be amazing wouldn’t it?

I felt the need to write about goals because for the first time ever I am having a hard time with goals for the year. I know, I hear you it’s almost the end of January. When I worked for the Navy we had to do yearly goals and objectives and boy where they hard.  You wrote those things and you thought you were stretching yourself beyond your job as far as you thought you could and you had to stretch what felt like 1000% more. They were way beyond your job, and they were never anything you could hope to accomplish during your workday for sure. When I started my business I took having goals into my business every year and they were always specific and I tried to make them attainable, but definitely not as challenging, even though I always achieved those goals and objectives working for the Navy, I chose not to put that much pressure on anymore, running a business comes with enough pressure;-)

So, always keep the goal positive. Focusing on a negative energy will prevent you from moving forwards. Focus on what it is that you actually want, the outcome you desire.

Goal setting improves performance when:

– Goals are Specific 

– Goals are Measurable

– Goals are Attainable 

– Goals are Relevant

– Goals are Timely

In order to stay motivated, try doing the following:

1. Identify your Values, Beliefs and Desires

What is important to you motivates you. This simply means that if you assign a value to something important, you are more likely to do what action is required to reach the goal.

People’s goals and desires grow from their values and beliefs.

Make a list of your values, beliefs and desires. Take time to think about the interrelations of the items.

The list should be a source of motivation and must help you achieve goals you have set.  The quality and depth of your motivation is directly related to your commitment. You must be sure that you can live up to reach the goal you have set. To me there is nothing worse to reach the end of the year and not meet goals and expectations.

2. Do a Self-Assessment

Do an informal assessment of your existing abilities. Have a reflection on what you know about yourself. Be honest with yourself.  Underestimation or overestimation of one’s abilities could set yourself up for failure.

All goals should incorporate these common attributes:

A. Realistic – Goal setting should be realistic. The goals set should be based on your existing abilities and circumstances.

B. Possible – Remember not to establish goals that would make the realistic, unrealistic.

C. Flexible – Always anticipate obstacles along the way and learn how to move around them.

D. Measurable – Have a time frame so you would know if you have reached your goal.

E. Under Control – Remember to set your goals based on your own values and beliefs. Target goals where it is possible for you to control the outcome.

3. Role of Personal Circumstance – You should be in a position to be able to act on the goals you have set. Failure to consider your personal circumstances would impair your motivation and goal setting.

Changing circumstances always influences goals. If your circumstances change but your goals don’t adapt it could undermine your motivation.

Redefining goals is very important to remain motivated and stay on the path to success.

4. Breeding Success 

Personal circumstance, motivation and goal setting affect the outcome of success.

If you failed to reach any of these steps, your motivation will diminish, you would fail to work up to your abilities, and this would dampen your chances of success.  Goals and objectives were one of the hardest things that I’ve done in my long career both as an employee and in business.  But boy as they were accomplished it felt so good.  So, this year as I write this to get myself back on track as a refresher I hope that no matter whether you are a homemaker, mom, employee or business owner, however you spend your day that you have goals, or some kind of plan for your life. Blessings!

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How to Generate Traffic When You’re Away from Your Office

How to Generate Traffic When You’re Away from Your OfficeIt’s always important to generate traffic to your site.  Today, we’ll talk about how to generate traffic to your sites when you are away from your office. Even if you’re away from the computer for vacation, there’s no reason why you can’t keep generating plenty of traffic to your sites. Put processes into place now and there’s no reason to face a slow down while you’re gone, that is long lasting and puts you into the rebuilding mode when you return.

Here are a few ways to generate traffic when you’re away from your office:

Preschedule blog posts: Just like with email, preschedule blog posts to publish while you’re away. If you have an RSS feed and email subscription for your blog, your subscribers will automatically be notified when you post something new.

Schedule social media posts or hire an assistant to schedule posts.  Don’t let your social media presence die while you’re away. You can preschedule updates using a tool like Hootsuite, but make sure you check in and respond to any comments.  If you cannot check in, hire someone to keep on top of your social media presence.  You can post that you will be away but your assistant will be handling things.

Enlist the help of guest bloggers:  Guest bloggers are a lifesaver when you’re away. Not only can they provide your regular readers with great content in your absence, they can also let their audience know about their guest post…bringing fresh traffic to your site.

Search engine optimization (SEO):  While search engine optimization can take time, it is a tremendous source of ongoing free traffic. Put SEO techniques into place and you’ll bring new visitors to your website every single day.

Pay-per-click advertising:  A more sure thing than SEO (but more expensive), pay-per-click advertising can generate a nice steady stream of traffic as well. Just make sure to set a budget to your campaign, so you don’t go over your budget while you’re gone. It’s also a good idea to check in on your campaign every few days, just to make sure everything is on track.

Purchase newsletter ads:  Find some on target newsletter publications and purchase a couple of ads each week while you’re away. Most publishers will allow you to choose when your ad will run, as long as spaces are available. These ads will bring you a steady stream of traffic, even though you’re nowhere near your computer.

Clearly, keeping the traffic going takes some work and preparation, but when you take the time to do it in advance, you can keep that traffic and business flowing steadily, no matter where you are. If you do not take steps to keep traffic coming to your sites while you are gone you will find yourself rebuilding when you return espeically if you will be away for an extended period.  No one wants to be rebuilding.

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How to Get Your Groove Back

It can be difficult to find that productive groove you once had. I know I’ve always thought of myself as a motivated person, productive person. As last year was drawing to a close and I was looking forward to 2014, I didn’t feel that usual excitement and planning for a new year, I couldn’t even think of what goals I wanted to set for the new year. Have you ever found yourself there?

It happens when you’re dealing with burn out. It also occurs when you’re coming back from a vacation or time away from your business. So how do you find that productive groove? Where do you find the motivation and the enthusiasm to get back into the swing of things?

1. Choose Just One Small Thing and Focus on It – One of the reasons it can be tricky to get your groove back is the feeling of overwhelm. There may be a long list of tasks that need to be accomplished and looking at that list just makes you feel like going back to bed. Rather than trying to do everything, choose one task and focus on that task.

It may be something as simple as cleaning out your email box or as tricky as planning a new product launch. The act of focusing on one task makes everything more approachable. You’ll likely find that as you delve into the task you get your groove back. If not, then choose one task tomorrow and the next day and the next until you are feeling back to normal.

2. Set Aside A Little Time – One of the things that non-business owners don’t really understand is that when you’re self-employed and own your own business, you’re always at work. You wake up thinking about your business and you go to sleep thinking about it. It can be a little claustrophobic. While it can be a blessing to work from home there can also be a feeling of never getting away.

3. Stop Overthinking It – There’s a good possibility that you’re putting too much pressure on yourself to get back into fighting form. Rather than letting your thoughts work you into a frenzy, stop thinking about it and just do it. Seriously, sit down and start working. Perfection isn’t expected, production is. Release those limiting thoughts and get back to what you do well.

4. Faith – This is personal, for each person. For me it is huge. It helps a lot to spend more time in prayer, I love our home church where we worship every week, but I found that spending the day listening to Pastors that you can find online while work has been very beneficial at helping me recharge.  I love Joyce Meyer, Pastor Rick Warren, and Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church, and of course praise music.

Getting your groove back is often setting the intention to put one foot in front of the other and to trust that you’ll get it back. Taking small steps and being kind to yourself is a good start.

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Why and How You Should Tweet Your Blog Posts

One way to use Twitter is to share your blog posts with your audience. It’s an important way share your information with Why and How You Should Tweet Your Blog Postsyour followers. Here are some tips on why and how you should tweet your blog posts:

Keep The Headline Under 140 Characters – Remember that if someone is going to retweet it, it works better if your original headline is shorter than the allowed number of characters. This enables the person who is retweeting to leave your entire headline but include their own Twitter username. So when it’s said you have 140 characters think instead that you have about 120 characters for your post.

Make The Headlines Keyword Rich –– Headlines of all blog posts should be interesting. If you use a plug-in which Tweets your blogs automatically the headline may not be good enough to receive the attention you desire. Ensure that your headlines catch the eye and are relevant to the post for the best results. Oftentimes, while automation can be fun, creating your own headlines for the tweets is better.

To Build Your Brand Recognition – You want to stay in the forefront of your follower’s mind and sometimes that is easiest done by sharing your blog posts. Your blog posts on your website should be targeted toward a particular audience, relevant, interesting and engaging.  If they’re all that, your followers will be glad you reminded them about your blog post via a Tweet. Your name will be kept in front of them, and they’ll remember you for it.

To Communicate With Your Community – Blog posts can be very interactive in nature if you always ask a question or ask the community to do something. You can get great feedback and conduct awesome research via blog posts using Twitter to get the blog post out there.  Once your Twitter followers go to the blog post they can comment on it, take the poll, leave feedback, and also retweet it to others if they find it interesting enough.

To Promote Your Products & Services — While you do need to be cognizant of over promoting on Twitter, it is okay of course to promote your products and services via Twitter.  The trick is to be aware of who is following you, speak directly to them, and promote something that is useful to them.  What types of products and services do they want and need? Promote that!

Because It’s Fun – The fact is, Twitter is fun. You can do it relatively quickly, and get a nice response from it each time. You should enjoy sending and receiving Tweets because it really is like a large never ending party. Like an after hours Chamber of Commerce party that you can go to any time of the day without having to dress up. If you went to a party and you just wrote a new article, or a book, you’d tell people right? Well Twitter is no different, as long as you’re not spamming, people appreciate your good news.

One last tip –  if you’ve been writing posts for a while, don’t just tweet your new posts, posts older posts too.  I’ve been doing this daily and I’m getting more response and feedback then when they were originally posted.  I love that.  Remember you have new people following you everyday that did not read that content before.  Also, old followers may not remember it, and may appreciate it as well.

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How to Find a Goal Setting Balance

In the world of business and personal productivity there’s one word that you’ll hear repeatedly – goals. Especially this time of year.  It’s important to set goals because that’s your guideline for success. It’s your line in the sand. You can say, “When I achieve ____ I’ll be successful.” Goals are a necessary element of both short term and long term success.

How to Find a Goal Setting BalanceHowever, it’s completely possible to have too many goals. You can have dozens of personal goals. You may want to drink more water, exercise more, meditate more, and get out with friends, save money and so on. These goals tend to naturally fall to the wayside and you find balance because you focus your attention on the goals that are priorities for you.

Business goals, on the other hand, have a tendency to stick around. If you sat down right now and made a list of all of your business goals, chances are you’d have a list of dozens of goals. For example, you may have daily productivity goals, monthly traffic and sales goals, and quarterly or annual growth goals. All of these goals can cause serious problems not only for your personal mindset and happiness but also for your business success.

When you have too many goals, you lose focus on the goals that matter. Instead of being able to put 100% effort into priority goals, each goal gets 10% of your attention. It shouldn’t’ be surprising then when you struggle to achieve your goals, right?

But you can’t let go of all of your goals and choose just one. A successful business is a series of strategic goals and action based on those goals. So how do you find balance?

1. Evaluate Progress and Results – Take a look at your goals and evaluate them based on which goals are actually working for you. There may be some goals that you’re working on that have very little return on investment. Consider setting those goals aside. You don’t have to let them go completely. However, you can put them aside and save them for a time when you can make them a priority.

2. Evaluate Based on Potential – Which goals have the potential to generate the biggest results for your business? For example, a goal of growing your email list may be more powerful than the goal to increase your search engine page ranking. Generally, qualified prospects are worth more attention than trying to find new prospects to market to. Set aside the goals that may not have the most potential right now. Remember, you can come back to them later.

3. Evaluate Based on Time and Resources – Do you really have the time, energy, and resources for a particular goal? Take a look at your existing business goals and determine the amount of time, money, and resources you need to achieve it. Is it a realistic goal to have right now? If not, set it aside.

By weeding out some goals, you’re able to make the most productive goals a priority. You can then devote your complete attention to achieving that goal. Most goal setting experts recommend focusing in one goal at a time. You create a pattern of success by systematically achieving your goals. In business this isn’t always possible. But you can devote your attention on the goals that matter right now.

My husband and I started on The Daniel Plan this week, it’s a 40 day plan to get on track for eating and exercising to carry us through the year, and hopefully the rest of our lives.  I really like the word Plan over resolution.  So often we make resolutions in the New Year and within a few weeks we feel like we’ve left them go and it makes us feel like a failure.  I think with a plan we can feel like we are setting a road map to success.

I’d love for you to stop by my Facebook page and tell me what you are doing this year to end 2014 where you want to be.  Stop by at Kim’s Facebook Page.

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Growing Your Highly Targeted Social Media Following

Growing Your Highly Targeted Social Media FollowingWe’ve all seen pages on Facebook with thousands…even millions of followers. We’ve seen the same with Twitter and other social networks. It may seem a little overwhelming if you’re starting with a small following and it may feel like you’re just not going to get anywhere if you don’t have a huge following.

But the truth is, a targeted following is always your best bet. While you should always work toward growing your following, you can still get results from your well-cultivated following.  So keeping pushing forward. It’s worth it.

To get you started, here are some tips for growing your following:

Invite Your Website Visitors

When someone visits your website, one of your main goals (if it’s not for them to buy a product) should be to get them on your email mailing list. That way, you can contact them directly over and over again through your list. But another thing you want new visitors and even regular visitors to do is follow you on social media. Having multiple avenues to communicate with your audience is a good thing and allows you to stay in the mind of your prospects.

Include buttons on your site that allow your visitors to follow you directly on your main social media networks. While, it may be tempting to offer up a ton of options and include buttons for every social network you’ve joined, do consider these pitfalls:

– By including too many choices, you decrease your chances of getting your visitor to do anything. The old saying that “the confused mind always says no,” is absolutely true.

– Add to that, when you include buttons for networks you’re not that active on, you don’t provide a very good experience for your followers.

Instead, keep it focused and limit your follow buttons to the networks where you participate in regularly. In addition, include invitations to follow you on social media in your blog posts and other content. Don’t just rely on buttons in the side bar…ask them to follow you directly.

Invite Your Mailing List

When writing to your email list include follow buttons at the end of your emails, but also mention some of your interesting posts inside the emails you send. For example, if you posted a video you know they will want to see, send them to Facebook to view it. Or if you’re online and are available to chat, start a Hangout on Google.

Just one tip…make sure the updates you share are public. While it might make sense to make them private, so people have to follow you to see them, it can be frustrating for your subscribers. After all, your subscribers have ALREADY told you that they’re interested in your stuff and have ALREADY given you their email address. Don’t make them jump through hoops to see your additional content.

Make Friends in Your Niche

One of the easiest ways to grow your social networking and online following is by making friends with others in your niche. That effect is even more dramatic when you make connections with influential people in your niche. Always spend time on developing meaningful relationship with likeminded people because it has a lot of benefits:

– You can share one another’s content

– You can share ideas and give each other advice

– You can cross-promote products

And we’re talking about meaningful relationships here.  Not just simply following someone on Twitter and hoping they’ll notice your @ replies. Real relationships don’t develop through liking someone’s Facebook status, so do the work necessary to grow your network of friends.

Get Involved and Interact

Even though liking someone’s video on Facebook isn’t going to make you best friends, interacting regularly with people can help you get noticed. Provide useful commentary on content that is complementary to your niche, get involved and be visible. If people find your information useful, they are more likely to follow you.

Of course, balance this with the importance of keeping your schedule and avoiding distraction. Always be very purposeful about your participation and you will reap the benefits.

Remember, Growing a Following Goes Both Ways

Remember, that growing a following through social media goes the other way too. Getting people to share your content on social media, is easy if they find it interesting and useful.  It will help drive traffic back to your sites. Getting that traffic back from social media helps you grow your list and sell your products.

Always make it easy for people to share your content. Include sharing buttons on your blog posts, free report download pages and just about anywhere you publish content. The easier it is for people to spread the word, the more likely they are to do it.

More Advice Coming in the Next Couple of Posts

Obviously, the most important key to gaining and retaining your following is to be interesting and useful. These are huge topics that deserve some discussion of their own. So we’ll be talking about just that in the next couple of posts. Next up, we’ll examine how to be interesting by understanding your target market and really getting a grasp of who you’re talking to. Then we’ll talk about being useful and providing something unique that others in your niche don’t. When you master that, it’s much easier to grow and nurture your following.

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Don’t Know What to Write About…How to Find Ideas Quick!

Don’t Know What to Write About…How to Find Ideas Quick!If you write for any reason whether it’s a blog, newsletter, whatever you are writing…then you surely have suffered the dreaded “writer’s block.” It can be difficult to constantly think of ideas for new blog posts or newsletter articles especially if you post on your blog regularly. (Which you really need to be!!) Here are some ideas for finding things to write about when you feel like you have run out of ideas.

If you are in an industry that changes a lot this makes blogging much easier.  Your readers may not have time to keep up with all of the industry changes, and you can quickly become their go-to person for timely up-to-date information and changes all in one place. This can bring you a lot of loyal readers.

You can also include posts on your blog about new products or services you are offering, specials you may be having, and any other news about your business.  Good content should be posted much more often then selling.  You can really gauge a lot by your unsubscribe rate.  If you increase your selling in your blog posts and your unsubscribe rate is going up, I would definitely be dialing the selling back.

You can use a service such as Google News to search for news stories that relate to your business.  For instance, if you are a virtual assistant, perhaps you can find an article about the increasing number of companies that are using a VA’s services.  If you are in direct sales, you may find a news article explaining the benefits that a career in direct sales offers (which would make a great recruiting tool if you are expanding your sale’s staff.)  You can post your thoughts or feelings on the news item and include a link to the original article.

If you are a regular reader of a blog and the author recently posted something you found very interesting, let your readers know.  Some of them may be readers of the other blog as well.  This can spark a lot of discussion and traffic on your own blog.

One of the main reasons to have a blog is to give your readers a glimpse of yourself. Every post doesn’t have to relate directly to your business.  You can blog about a particularly busy day you had and include your favorite crock pot recipe.  The people who read your blog may be very busy business people as well and can appreciate the fact that you too are struggling to get everything done.  Although for me personally I wouldn’t use strictly personal posts regularly.

You can also give reviews of products and services that you have personally used.  This is a great way to monetize your blog as well.  For instance, if you recently tried a product and loved it, find out if they have an affiliate program.  If so, sign up for it and write a blog post about how much you loved the product, including your affiliate link.  If you are going to have affiliate links on your blog just make sure you have a disclaimer and make sure you are covered legally.

When I first started blogging it was kind of like exercising, something I know I have to do regularly but something I really didn’t enjoy.  Now I find I am enjoying more and more the time that I set aside each week to write.  In the words of Denise Wakeman, “Blog On.”

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It’s a Wonderful Life: Never Underestimate the Power of Tribes

It’s a Wonderful Life: Never Underestimate the Power of Tribes

The next time I write it will be 2014.  That is hard to believe, at least for me.

One of the most memorable Christmas movies of all time is Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life,” starring the incomparable Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. It’s the ultimate feel-good movie, perfect for anyone who’s ever wondered if their life holds meaning.

It case you’ve never seen the movie: George Bailey, played by Stewart, is on the verge of collapse. His small building and load company is on the verge of bankruptcy, the mean rich man in town is poised to swoop in, and though he has a house full of adorable kids and a gorgeous wife (Reed), there’s never enough money to go around. George decides his family and business would be better off without him. On the brink of suicide, he’s saved by a fledgling angel, Clarence.

Clarence goes on to show George what his life would be like if he’d never existed, and the sight ain’t pretty. By seeing all the people he’s touched, George realizes that he has created a strong network of love and support – he’s created a tribe. And it’s this tribe that pulls together at the end of the movie to give back to George, helping him out of his current difficulties.

The lesson to you should be obvious: Your tribe can, quite literally, save your life. You should be building not only a viable business, but a community – one that supports and cares for each other. If you’re just out to make a buck, don’t be surprised if no one leaps to defend you or lend you a helping hand when things go bad. And they will go bad.

You can get “slapped” by Google. You can get your PayPal account frozen. You can get hacked, robbed, or plagiarized. It happens.

But if you have friends like George’s, you’ll have a whole team of folks on your side. But one thing to remember: George had friends he’d created just by being a good guy, doing the right thing at the right time, not worrying about what was in it for him. He stood up for what was right and shook hand after hand, even when it cost him personally.

He didn’t build this community by selling junk or automating his Twitter feed or spamming everyone. He did it the old fashioned way: By caring.

Some business techniques never go out of style.

I hope you and your family had a Merry Christmas, and wishing you abundant blessings in 2014.

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How To Use Evernote To Organize Your Content

Do you create a monthly content plan? (If not most likely you should be creating some kind of plan, maybe you do it weekly.)  A content plan is an organized list of the articles, blog posts, newsletters, emails and other business content  How To Use Evernote To Organize Your Content you’re going to publish each month. It includes keywords, publication date, purpose/goal, and audience information.

Content plans are extremely helpful to integrate your business strategies. However, they can become overwhelming. There’s a lot of information to track and keep organized. One great tool to help you organize your content plan is Evernote.

What is Evernote?

Evernote is a system that enables users to capture information and store it in one place. According to the developers, “Our goal at Evernote is to give everyone the ability to easily capture any moment, idea, inspiration, or experience whenever they want using whichever device or platform they find most convenient, and then to make all of that information easy to find.”

You can capture web pages, photos, hand written notes, recipes – just about anything you can imagine, you can collect in Evernote.

Using Evernote for Your Content

Evernote allows users to create Notebooks and to tag each note with searchable keywords. This makes content planning, creation, and research extremely efficient. With Evernote you can:

Store content ideas – blog posts and headlines that you read online can be stored. You can also take notes on each idea and store them with the link. For example, maybe you’re planning a series of blog posts on creating the best pizza crust. You might add various recipes to your notepad labeled “pizza crust content” or “July 2012 blog post content.” You can also add your notes to each pizza recipe note you include.

Store keyword research – you can also add your keyword research to each month’s content plan. All your relevant ideas and keywords in one key location.

Content – have you ever been out and about and had an idea for a blog post or article? You sit right down, grab your notebook or smart phone and start writing. Then what? With Evernote you can add it to your content file and you’re good to go.

Content research – in addition to content ideas, you can store your content research including sources and references in the same location you store your content. It makes it very easy to find everything you need.

Images – Evernote also lets you store images. If you’re collecting images for your blog posts then you can keep them in the same folder with your content.

Evernote is free. They also offer a premium version that allows users to add others to their account. It also provides more storage space, the ability to use your info offline and many other beneficial features. It’s just $45 a year or $5 a month. If you struggle to consistently plan your content or you haven’t found a good organization system, consider Evernote. It also works on mobile devices so you can always have it with you.

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The Little Drummer Boy: All Gifts are to be Honored

The Little Drummer Boy:  All Gifts are to be HonoredFor the rest of the year we are going to be talking about how your favorite Christmas movies can be applied to your business and your life.

Even if you haven’t seen the animated special, you’ve probably heard the story or the song. But here’s a recap if just in case you haven’t: The three Wise Men and the shepherds are heading to see the Baby Jesus, and the little drummer boy comes along for the ride. He is embarrassed when he has no gift to offer the newborn Savior.

Finally, he learns that his only skill – playing his drum – is enough.

Maybe you’ve felt this way: You take a skills assessment or strengths finder, or ask your friends and family what they turn to you for. The answers are less than stellar. Instead of being a powerhouse leader, or an inspiration, you come up as a great administrator, or… the Drummer Boy equivalent of today, a good listener. What are you supposed to do if you’ve got skills as, say, a babysitter or folding paper airplanes? Can you possibly make a business out of that?

Well, the short answer is, yes, you can.  Whatever your skill, there is a market for it. Follow these tips to make sure you find your business home:

1. Don’t underestimate yourself. So you can imitate cartoon voices. Big deal. No one will pay for that…. Or will they? Sure they will! For presentation narration, video games, films… you name it. If you have an above-average skill, someone out there will pay for it. If you doubt this, go to Fiverr.com and take a look at the kind of things people are shelling out money for.

2. Get yourself out there. Standing in the back of the crowd, quietly tapping on your drum, is not going to do anything for your visibility. You need to put yourself in front of people who can help (if you get nervous, just think back to the Little Drummer Boy. If he could approach Mary, the mother of Jesus, you can probably get up the courage to launch a podcast or website).

3. Hone your craft. If your skill really is folding paper airplanes, then make yourself the very best paper airplane folder out there. If you are skilled at cleaning toilets, then keep your finger on the pulse of the toilet-cleaning industry and be a leader in that space. Just because you’re naturally gifted doesn’t mean you can coast; you must keep making yourself better and better.

When you have a gift, it is truly that – a present bestowed upon you. It is your responsibility to make the most of it and share it with others.

Stop hiding your light under a basket, get out there and shine and make 2014 your best year ever, I know you can do it!

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Clean Your Desk!

“A Clean Desk Is the Sign of a Sick Mind.”  ( plaque seen in gift store)

Clean Your Desk!No matter what pithy plaques say to the contrary, every good teacher knows that effective learning starts with a clean slate, a clean desk, and a clean page – and the same is true for business people. According to experts, Americans waste almost 30 minutes a day – 180 hours a year – looking for misplaced items. If your hourly wage is $20, that’s $3600 a year! I would wager that there are many things you could do with an extra $3600 or 180 hours this year.

One of the first steps to getting organized is eliminating the clutter, and one of the first places you should tackle is your desk. Here’s a six-step approach to streamlining your workspace:

1.            Set aside some time. The scenario you want to avoid: getting elbow-deep in the organizing process, only to have to dump it all back in the drawers and boxes because you have to stop to finish a report, host a webinar, or pick your kids up from school. While how much time you need will depend on the size of your space (and your mess), a good rule of thumb is an hour for a desk, bookshelf, or file drawer.

2.            Pull it all out. Even though it will make a gosh-awful mess, the quickest and easiest way to start your organizing process is to clear out the drawer, shelf, or desktop. Strip it down to the studs and wipe the surface free of dirt, dust, and stray paperclips. Then you’ll have a fresh surface to work from.

3.            Sort. Sort the items you pulled out into categories, such as paper, writing implements, books, manuals, etc. As you are sorting, toss any obvious offenders, such as scraps of paper, broken items, outdated receipts, etc.

4.            Decide. Choose how many of each item you need – pens, blank notebooks, etc. – and then toss, recycle, or give away the rest. Trying to decide what you need to keep? Think about what you have space for, as well as what you’re likely to use in a reasonable amount of time. You might have room for seventeen replacement cartridges for your printer, but will you use it all before you upgrade to a new printer?

5.            Organize. Replace the items in a logical manner – printing supplies near the printer, business books on a single shelf, computer manuals near the computer, etc. Also think about keeping the most frequently used items in the most accessible place, and less-frequently used items in more remote locales.

6.            Maintain. Unfortunately, organizing is not a one-time event; you must set aside regular times to file paperwork, clear the counters, and take out the trash. Even just five minutes at the end of the day is sufficient to keep a handle on pile build-up.

 Organizing is a great way to start your fall. It will help you get a grip on any new needs you have, as well as remind you of tasks and projects awaiting your attention. You’ll be ready to tackle whatever comes your way with a clean desk, and a clean mind

No matter what pithy plaques say to the contrary, every good teacher knows that effective learning starts with a clean slate, a clean desk, and a clean page – and the same is true for business people. According to experts, Americans waste almost 30 minutes a day – 180 hours a year – looking for misplaced items. If your hourly wage is $20, that’s $3600 a year! I would wager that there are many things you could do with an extra $3600 or 180 hours this year.

One of the first steps to getting organized is eliminating the clutter, and one of the first places you should tackle is your desk. Here’s a six-step approach to streamlining your workspace:

1.            Set aside some time. The scenario you want to avoid: getting elbow-deep in the organizing process, only to have to dump it all back in the drawers and boxes because you have to stop to finish a report, host a webinar, or pick your kids up from school. While how much time you need will depend on the size of your space (and your mess), a good rule of thumb is an hour for a desk, bookshelf, or file drawer.

2.            Pull it all out. Even though it will make a gosh-awful mess, the quickest and easiest way to start your organizing process is to clear out the drawer, shelf, or desktop. Strip it down to the studs and wipe the surface free of dirt, dust, and stray paperclips. Then you’ll have a fresh surface to work from.

3.            Sort. Sort the items you pulled out into categories, such as paper, writing implements, books, manuals, etc. As you are sorting, toss any obvious offenders, such as scraps of paper, broken items, outdated receipts, etc.

4.            Decide. Choose how many of each item you need – pens, blank notebooks, etc. – and then toss, recycle, or give away the rest. Trying to decide what you need to keep? Think about what you have space for, as well as what you’re likely to use in a reasonable amount of time. You might have room for seventeen replacement cartridges for your printer, but will you use it all before you upgrade to a new printer?

5.            Organize. Replace the items in a logical manner – printing supplies near the printer, business books on a single shelf, computer manuals near the computer, etc. Also think about keeping the most frequently used items in the most accessible place, and less-frequently used items in more remote locales.

6.            Maintain. Unfortunately, organizing is not a one-time event; you must set aside regular times to file paperwork, clear the counters, and take out the trash. Even just five minutes at the end of the day is sufficient to keep a handle on pile build-up.

Organizing is a great way to start your fall. It will help you get a grip on any new needs you have, as well as remind you of tasks and projects awaiting your attention. You’ll be ready to tackle whatever comes your way with a clean desk, and a clean mind

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How a Christmas Movie Can Help You in Life And Business Elf: Enthusiasm Is ContagiousA couple of years ago a wrote a series of posts over the holidays that I had a lot of fun with on lessons we could learn from Christmas movies to use not only in life but in our business too.  I thought I’d share a few of them again this year, something a little different.  I hope you enjoy them.

Take a six-foot tall adopted elf named Buddy (played by Will Ferrell) who wants to find his birth father, make that father the prickly James Caan, and throw them together  in the midst of New York City and see what happens. Buddy wants a warm and cuddly family reunion; his father Walter wants nothing more than to make this newfound son disappear, preferably with a pair of cement boots on him.

Ah, but this is Christmas, so not only does Buddy convince his new family that syrup tastes good on everything; he also wins the heart of his stepmother, half-brother, and the cynical Jovie, his new love. And yes, Walter eventually sees the light.

So business owners, here’s your business lesson from Buddy the Elf: “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”

So… what if you’re not Santa? Buddy would tell you it doesn’t matter. Enthusiasm is catchy. No one is going to be more excited about your business, your product, your podcast, your class, your blog than you are.

Sometimes we feel a little hesitant to show our enthusiasm. It can be risky to show how much we care about something. But if we don’t show our passion, we’re not going to convince anyone else to follow or act on our recommendations.

I’m changing this paragraph from the original post, because well I feel led to do so.  I am a Christian and share that with no shame, however, I would rather hope that I more so share it by how I live my daily life, not quite sure what that has to do with Elf, but I just felt led to share that;-) I hope that it shines through in how I run my business, post on my Facebook page, my Twitter page, and how I interact with all of those I know and don’t know. I also hope that you let your beliefs and convictions shine through in your life and your business.  SHINE!!

Here are a few tips to be like Buddy the Elf without going over the top in the sales department:

  • Be honest. Don’t sell or promote something you don’t believe in. It never works – people can tell, and you’ll damage your reputation.
  • Be yourself. You may be the understated type who isn’t going to jump out of a helicopter a la Richard Branson to promote your latest business venture. You don’t have to be! (One Richard Branson is enough for this world.) But do show your energy in a way that is natural for you.
  • Be realistic. If you promote every new thing that comes down the block, or have a new solution du jour, pretty soon no one is going to listen to you.

The best way to be successful in life and in business to be honest, caring about your customers, be you!

I hope that you are taking time to reflect on the true meaning of this season.  Until next week.  Kim

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How to Build a Social Media Plan

ow to Build a Social Media PlanToday we are going to talk about How to Build a Social Media Plan and how easy it is if you don’t already have one in place. Many business owners have a scattershot approach to social media. They may have a page on Facebook and a profile on Twitter, but their links and posts are random and disorganized. Social media can be an important marketing strategy. However, like any marketing strategy it’s more powerful when there’s a plan in place. Here’s how to build your social media plan so that you can, and will, follow through.

Step #1 Identify a Goal

What do you want to accomplish with social media? Do you want to drive more traffic to your website? Do you want to build your email list? Do you want to sell more products or services? Do you want to reach more prospective clients?

There are dozens of potential goals. Choose one goal to focus your attention on. It doesn’t have to be an overwhelming or complicated one. Choose one that makes sense for you and be specific. If you want to reach more potential clients, how many? If you want to drive traffic to your site, how much do you want to increase your traffic by?

Step #2 Choose Your Tool

Which sites do you want to use to achieve your goal? Chances are you already have profiles on the big players in social media. You may want to start with the sites you already have a following on. However, take a look at your page or profile. Does it support your goal? Can you improve your page or profile? Take those steps now.

Step #3 Plan Your Interaction

This is a big step and it can take some time to complete. There are two parts to this step. You’ll want to identify a time that you interact online each day. For example, maybe you want to spend 30 minutes on social media each day. These 30 minutes will be spent connecting with others, commenting on posts, sharing information, and building your following.

The second part of this plan is your content plan. What information will you share, how will you share it, and when will you share it? For example, maybe you’ll share infographics once a week and links to your recent blog posts once a week too. Finally, you’ll want to plan how and when you’ll create your social media content.

The last step is to follow through. This means scheduling time to plan content, create content, interact and assess your progress. You can use a number of automated tools to help you with all of these steps. If social media is part of your business marketing strategy, make sure to plan it so that it’s easy for you to follow through.

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Twitter, Are You the Kind of Follower You’d Follow?

Today we are going to talk about Twitter, and are you the kind of follower you’d follow?  I manage followers through a program called ManageFlitter (www.manageflitter.com.)  Recently when I read a post from a friend about Fake Followers Twitter, Are You the Kind of Follower You’d Follow?it got me to really think about it.  I absolutely love Twitter interacting with as many people as possible there. I try hard to keep my Twitter account filled with people who I can interact with not people who haven’t been on Twitter for six-months, or are only spamming when they Tweet.

Manage Flitter breaks down followers that we may not want to be following into these categories:

Not following back: If they are not following you back no chance of interacting, unless they start following you.

No Profile Image:   You know this look, the egghead. I hate to say it, I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but if this is you, you are seen as a spammer. This may be the furthest thing from the truth, but it’s all in perception.  So, if you have an egghead as your profile picture, as soon as you are finished reading this, change your picture.  If you have been out of school for 20-years, don’t make that picture your high school graduation picture.  Make it a recognizable picture of you.  If we ran into each other at an event I’d love to be able to recognize you. It’s the first step to building trust and relationships.

Non-English:  As much as I love people from around the globe, if you can’t speak my language, and I can’t speak yours we can’t communicate.

High Ratio:   These are people that follow a higher amount of people then follow them back.  I’m not sure why that is a problem.

Talkative:  As long as it’s not spam, and sell, sell, sell to me that is what Social Media is about, interacting, and well that has to be done through talking.

Quiet:  Well, that is going to make it harder for me to interact with you and build a relationship, but there is hope.

Are You the Kind of Follower You’d Follow?

I have pretty many followers so I like to keep it under control by deleting some, and I do it on almost a daily basis. These are the ones that I will delete…and why:

Inactive: I always go to the Inactive followers. These are people that have been inactive for 30 days or more.  If you’re not on Twitter, tweeting and interacting there is no way we’re going to build a relationship.  That’s easy.

Fake Following:  This is another that I will delete.  I don’t need the spam.  If you are only spamming you are not into relationship building.

No Profile Image:  These I will also look at deleting, they will often also fall under another category like Fake Followers or Inactive.

Not Following Back : I also will delete followers that are not following back if I’ve been following them for a while.  If I’ve followed them for a while and they are not following back, chances are they won’t.  For me it’s not about numbers, it’s about being able to interact with as many people as I can building relationships along the way.

Note of Caution:  Check with Twitter Terms of Service before you start deleting followers. Accounts are limited to a certain amount of activity daily for both following and unfollowing, and you don’t want to violate those terms.  You will find your account suspended, and you don’t want that!

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Happy December

I took a week from writing this week, but I wanted to wish all of our U.S. readers a Happy Thanksgiving weekend.  It’s hard to believe that 2014 is just a short month away. Hope your first week of December gets off to a great start.  Happy December!

Blessings,

Kim

Happy-Decemberlights

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Writer’s Block? Top Tips for Finding Topics

Writer’s Block? Top Tips for Finding TopicsWriter’s Block?  It’s not uncommon for content creators to hit a block wall when trying to come up with ideas on topics they can write about. Knowing this may happen to you somewhere along the line, it’s best to arm yourself with resources that can help you overcome the times you encounter “writer’s block.”

First and foremost, start by looking around at online forums, blogs and various communities that contain popular topics. Use some of those topics as ideas and use it as a useful tool to help you come up with topics for your own content. If this particular topic is being discussed on someone else’s site, why not create an informative article or blog post on yours?  Of course never-ever copy content.

Check out popular websites that provide the most recent up-to-date news in your niche. These site usually get a lot of visitors. Finding a topic and using that topic as an idea for website content is a great way to draw some of those interested visitors to your site.

Encourage visitor interaction on your blog and/or website. Having a forum where people can have conversations about given topics is a great way to let visitors be part of your community, but it will also give you an idea of what your viewers are interested in.  Listen to what they are saying.

“How-to” topics and instructional content are both subjects that seem to attract readers. If you think about it, there are many times people will use search engines to find information on “how-to” do something or guidance on specific topics they are interested in.  How many times do you “Google” that?  I don’t think there is ever a day that passes that I am not Googling something.

Social media is another great way to see what the booming topics are. People talk about so many different things on a day-to-day basis. These particular types of sites are generally very busy and have tons of activity. This could possibly be one of the most useful resources you may find because of the amount of ongoing activity.  Ask questions on your own Social Media.

I keep what I call a Swipe File of ideas that I come across and if I feel stumped for what to write about I go to that file and go through it and I’m never lost of an idea.

Finding topics to write about really isn’t that difficult, but remember that your content needs to be more than just an interesting topic. The content needs to contain useful information for readers and it must be interesting enough to capture and keep their attention.

Always keep your eyes and ears open and listen to what people are talking about, what they have questions about, what they have problems with, what keeps them awake at night, and those are your topics.

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How to Generate Traffic When You’re Away from Your Office

How to Generate Traffic When You’re Away from Your OfficeIt’s always important to generate traffic to your site.  Today, we’ll talk about how to generate traffic to your sites when you are away from your office. Even if you’re away from the computer for vacation, there’s no reason why you can’t keep generating plenty of traffic to your sites. Put processes into place now and there’s no reason to face a slow down while you’re gone, that is long lasting and puts you into the rebuilding mode when you return.

Here are a few ways to generate traffic when you’re away from your office:

Preschedule blog posts: Just like with email, preschedule blog posts to publish while you’re away. If you have an RSS feed and email subscription for your blog, your subscribers will automatically be notified when you post something new.

Schedule social media posts or hire an assistant to schedule posts.  Don’t let your social media presence die while you’re away. You can preschedule updates using a tool like Hootsuite, but make sure you check in and respond to any comments.  If you cannot check in, hire someone to keep on top of your social media presence.  You can post that you will be away but your assistant will be handling things.

Enlist the help of guest bloggers:  Guest bloggers are a lifesaver when you’re away. Not only can they provide your regular readers with great content in your absence, they can also let their audience know about their guest post…bringing fresh traffic to your site.

Search engine optimization (SEO):  While search engine optimization can take time, it is a tremendous source of ongoing free traffic. Put SEO techniques into place and you’ll bring new visitors to your website every single day.

Pay-per-click advertising:  A more sure thing than SEO (but more expensive), pay-per-click advertising can generate a nice steady stream of traffic as well. Just make sure to set a budget to your campaign, so you don’t go over your budget while you’re gone. It’s also a good idea to check in on your campaign every few days, just to make sure everything is on track.

Purchase newsletter ads:  Find some on target newsletter publications and purchase a couple of ads each week while you’re away. Most publishers will allow you to choose when your ad will run, as long as spaces are available. These ads will bring you a steady stream of traffic, even though you’re nowhere near your computer.

Clearly, keeping the traffic going takes some work and preparation, but when you take the time to do it in advance, you can keep that traffic and business flowing steadily, no matter where you are. If you do not take steps to keep traffic coming to your sites while you are gone you will find yourself rebuilding when you return espeically if you will be away for an extended period.  No one wants to be rebuilding.

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Can Processed Foods Lead to Food Sensitivities?

Can Processed Foods Lead to Food Sensitivities?

Anyone can be sensitive to a food. Eating spicy food may do it for you or dairy products, as you probably know for me its gluten. The result is a bout with gastrointestinal problems that you would rather avoid, or a long list of many other ailments. But, could the culprit be processed foods?

The Skinny on Processed Foods

The jury is still out on processed foods. Some say that they are better for you, such as microwave meals pushed by Lean Cuisine and Weight Watchers. Others say that they are packed with unhealthy things that can lead to buildup of toxins in the body as well as feeding the “fat” epidemic that is common in this country. Comfort has led to compromised health. It’s up to you whether you want to put them in your body and feed them to your family.

One thing that is not disputed is that processed foods are not fresh. Fresh foods contain nothing besides what is native to the type of food in question. Buying from local growers helps ensure that food has not been altered in a lab or through chemical means.

Processed foods need preservatives to increase their shelf life. This doesn’t only apply to microwave meals but anything prepared for you ahead of time: cakes, pies, cookies, cereals, box prepared foods and etcetera. If you are eating gluten-free mostly foods that you want to eliminate from your diet anyway. Read the labels to see what we mean.

The Skinny on the Body

The body was not designed to process certain food ingredients.  Processed foods contain other manufactured ingredients used for things like color, flavoring, preserving and texture. These substances are food-grade but that doesn’t mean that they are body-friendly. Consider the following:

  • Sweeteners (sorbitol, sucralose)
  • Anti-caking agents (cellulose in shredded cheese, for example)
  • Thickeners
  • Emulsifiers
  • Bulking agents

These all have different names on the label so it is important to read and become familiar with them. Although a very small percentage of food intolerance is related directly to food additives, that doesn’t mean that you might not be in that category. Some are sensitive to dyes used in food coloring or the salt like preservatives like sulfates and sulfates. Many children are sensitive to red food dye.

Avoiding the Potential Problem

Although most people are sensitive to either dairy, yeast, gluten or some form of sugar, there is no reason to compound your problem. When choosing processed food, weigh the pros and cons of your choices. Can you eat the same type of food fixed from scratch? What are the other alternatives to choosing that processed food?

Try to choose all natural food ingredients and prepare food at home. This way, you know what is in your dishes and, if sensitivity symptoms arise, you can find the offending ingredient a bit easier.

If time is an issue pick a day of the week, and cook and freeze ahead, it’s my opinion our bodies were not designed to digest artificial ingredients.  Are you reading labels of the foods you are buying, I’d love for you to stop by my Facebook page and give me your opinion. (Kim’s Facebook page)

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How to Take a Gluten-Free Vacation

How to Take a Gluten-Free VacationWhenever you’re are living with something like Celiac Disease or gluten intolerant it may be a little more challenging when traveling.  You can overcome that challenge by simply planning ahead.

 You can still go on vacation and enjoy great meals and snacks without worrying about what you’re eating or dangerous cross-contamination. All you have to do is prepare yourself for travel so that you can enjoy your vacation and eat well at the same time.

You can also rent a home at your vacation destination this is often times cheaper than staying in a hotel and eating out.  It is also more comfortable, and there are many reputable companies online where you can make the arrangements.  Camping where you can cook your meals is also another good option.

If you are going to be eating out, then first, arm yourself with a list of restaurant chains in the area that you’ll be visiting so that you know which ones offer gluten-free options. You can go online (before you leave for vacation) and search “gluten free restaurant chains.”  You can also have an app on your phone such as “Find Me GF.” Then check out specific locations and information on their gluten-free offerings since menus can vary from franchise to franchise. Many popular chains offer lots of great dishes that are gluten-free. Among them are:

  • Applebee’s
  • Arby’s
  • BJ’s Brewhouse
  • Bonefish Grill
  • Boston Market
  • Burger King
  • California Pizza Ktichen
  • Carrabas Italian Grill
  • Cheeseburger in Paradise
  • Chick-fil-A
  • Chilis
  • Chipotle
  • Denny’s
  • Five Guys
  • Hooters
  • In-N-Out Burger
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken
  • O’Charley’s
  • Olive Garden
  • On the Border
  • Outback Steakhouse
  • PF Chang’s China Bistro
  • Red Lobster
  • Red Robin
  • Subway
  • Uno Chicago Grill
  • Ted’s Montana Grill

This is only a small sample, and that’s good news! For a quick bite at a fast food spot, Wendy’s and Chick-Fil-A has gluten-free menu items. Check their websites to see where they’re located at your destination or (if you’re driving) along the way.

Some grocery chains post wheat and gluten-free food lists. You’ll want to check out what supermarket chains are in the area you’ll be in, so that you can know where to shop when you need a few supplies for snacking or making your own meals if you won’t be dining out.

Another great idea is to bring along a supply of gluten-free food bars to use as an emergency. These are a lifesaver when you’re at the airport, or stuck somewhere without a snack.

Two of the most well known brands for gluten free snacks are Bumble Bars and Lara Bars. They can be purchased online or at some retailers. Ener-G Foods produces a great line of single serving gluten-free cereal packages and packets of gluten free bread (2 slices per pack).

Armed with your list of restaurants that offer great gluten-free items, your supermarket list, snack bars, cereal and bread packets, you’ll be more than ready to take a vacation and never have to give a moment’s thought worrying about what you’re ingesting.

Instead, you can sit back and enjoy yourself, bask in the sun, or ski down a powdery hill and be secure in the knowledge that you have the eating part of the vacation handled and won’t have to worry about your nutrition.

Please go to my Facebook page at Kim’s Facebook page and share your tips for having an awesome vacation and stay on your gluten-free eating plan.

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How Gluten Interferes with Weight Loss

How Gluten Interferes with Weight LossFor some individuals, gluten can pose a serious health problem. For others, it is a sensitivity, but can still wreak havoc throughout the body. Gluten is typically a protein that is found in foods made from wheat. The inability to digest food inside the small intestine due to an extreme sensitivity to gluten is what will typically cause Celiac disease.

While Celiac disease is the worst-case scenario for those individuals allergic to gluten, other individuals may still have sensitivity where it causes IBS, migraine headaches, fatigue, possibly even contribute to inflammatory diseases, and many other varied symptoms.

Gluten can wreak havoc in your weight loss goals, as well. If you have not heard, a gluten-free diet is all the rage these days, especially in the world of celebrities. It is believed that gluten interferes with weight loss. Here are a few thoughts on how gluten interferes with weight loss.

It is believed that gluten sensitivity can be the cause of the body holding onto excess water and, therefore, water weight gain that you simply cannot get rid of.

It is also believed that gluten causes belly bloat to aggravate because of the sensitivity to this protein.

Some studies have shown that eating wheat may cause your body to over generate higher levels of insulin. Insulin is the hormone responsible for moving sugar from your bloodstream to the cells of the body. Higher levels of this insulin can cause your body to hold onto fat around your stomach, which is known fondly today as belly bloat.

It stands to reason that if your body has quite a bit of insulin circulating around, then the process of low blood sugar can result.

Of course, if you have low blood sugar and feel hungry, your first instinct is to grab something to eat. Some of the easiest and fastest foods are those with gluten, for example a bagel or a slice of pizza.

Doing this research made so many things that have been going on with my body for years make sense.  If you have some of the symptoms mentioned, and the doctors cannot figure out a cause for them, and you can’t lose weight no matter what you try, seriously give some thought to trying a gluten-free diet for a month and see if you feel an improvement in how you feel, and if you reap the side benefit of losing some weight.  Even if you’ve tested negative for gluten-sensitivity many people test false negative.  If you’re feeling bad it’s definitely worth a try.  I’d love to hear about your story, come over to my Facebook, and share with me. Kim’s FB Page

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Re-energize with a Stroll

Re-energize with a StrollDo you find yourself off track with your fitness goals?  I know I have the last few weeks.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to wait until the New Year to get back on track.  The fall is a fantastic time, to either get back on track with your fitness goals or get started with new goals.  If you’re on track with where you want to be…Congratulations, and keep up the great work!

For many, the season for long summer days and sweltering heat has passed. The days are becoming shorter and the temperatures are dropping. Since we live in Florida, we have to wait a little longer for the cooler temps. As you wind down from a busy summer you almost instantly have to gear up for the holidays. It can be exhausting!  A crisp, autumn stroll is a great ways to catch your breath and re-energize.

Perhaps you live in a part of the country where the summer temperatures were oppressive. You’re looking forward to the cooler breezes that arrive with autumn. You may also be eager to see the beautiful changes in the foliage and the knowledge that soon the holidays will be here.

Now is the perfect time to get back on track with your health goals that were set aside for the warmer months. If you have school-aged children, they are back in school, and settled into that routine. Isn’t it time to get back outdoors and take care of you without waiting for the New Year? You can do that now by enjoying reinvigorating walks in the crisp, autumn breeze.

Take advantage of the new season by making new goals that can have a huge impact on the remainder of your year. Recommit, re-energize and refocus with the following steps:

  • Make a decision to spend time outdoors this fall. Get the family together at least once a week to go for a stroll at a local park. You can also look for hiking trails which will enable you to get more of a workout than simply walking. Don’t let excuses get in your way. Make a commitment to spend time exercising out in nature and stick to it.
  • Begin now to set in motion specific habits that can carry you through the holidays. If you start walking now, you can also start being more careful about what you eat. And, even though the holidays will soon be here, you can be strong and choose healthy foods rather than the normal foods served during that time.
  • Enjoy your time in nature. Cooler temperatures make it easier to enjoy yourself. Kick up the leaves and listen to them crunch under your feet. Feel the crisp, cool air that can make you feel more alive and energized than you may have felt in a while.
  • Take a camera along with you to take pictures as you stroll through the park. The scenery in the fall is breathtaking with the leaves turning from green to gold, orange and red

If you feel like you’re stuck in a rut, the fall months are the perfect time to get out of it. Not only will you feel refreshed, you can greatly influence the rest of your year. Make the choice to spend as much time outdoors as you can. Find a park to stroll through or hiking paths that will be more challenging. The point is to get into nature and feel re-energized with a crisp, autumn stroll. ENJOY!!

There are plenty of reasons to enjoy the autumn months. I’d love for you to stop by my Facebook page and tell me what is your favorite thing about fall.  Kim’s FB Page

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Healthy Benefits of Fall Weather

Healthy Benefits of Fall WeatherFall has always been my favorite season.  Although since we live in Florida it takes a little longer to arrive.  Fall starts this Sunday, September 22. In many parts of the country you may be seeing cooler nights, and maybe the kids need a jacket when leaving for school in the morning.  Before we know it the leaves will be changing, and the beautiful colors will be everywhere along with that wonderful cool crisp air.

Everyone knows there are health benefits to the summer months because of the sunshine and all the fresh produce. But did you know there are also healthy benefits of fall weather, as well? You may be surprised to find that, even though there may be more allergens from weeds, autumn is a wonderful time of year to enjoy the outdoors and start new eating habits which lead to an improved lifestyle. Here are a few reasons why experts agree the autumn weather has healthy benefits, too.

Cooler weather brings about higher levels of the hormone norepinephrine, or noradrenaline, in your body. Norepinephrine is associated with pain suppression as well as the fight or flight reflex which provides much needed energy during times of stress.

You’ll also recognize the benefit of having fewer disease-carrying insects in the cooler temperatures. Mosquitoes and ticks will be dying.

Being outdoors in the cooler weather can also help bring mental clarity. There’s something special about the crisp air of a fall morning. It wakes you up, invigorates you and makes you feel like you can take on the world. Use the early morning hours to exercise outdoors and you’ll have the benefit of burning calories and clearing your mind to help you have a great day!

While some plants make people feel miserable due to allergies, they don’t have to keep you indoors. There are fewer allergens in the fall because there are fewer plants blooming. Most fall allergies are related to ragweed, pollen or mold. In most cases these can be treated with over-the-counter medications, or better get, Essential Oils, and shouldn’t keep you from spending time outdoors.

You will also notice the wonderful array of fruits and vegetables that are available in the fall. Think about the different varieties of apples that you may not find during other times of the year. You will also find carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, squash and seeds of all kinds available at either the farmer’s market or grocery store. It makes sense to stock up on root vegetables which are chock full of concentrated energy.

There are plenty of reasons to enjoy the autumn months. I’d love for you to stop by my Facebook page and tell me what is your favorite thing about fall.  Kim’s FB Page

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You Are What You Eat

You Are What You EatYou Are What You Eat:  Gluten Free Diet Recipe
If you have a food allergy it is important that you avoid those foods.  This is because an allergic reaction may not only trigger other negative physical conditions within the body, but in some cases they can be life-threatening.  For example, if an individual is allergic to eating peanuts and eats peanut butter cookies they may have an allergic reaction to the peanuts found in the peanut butter that was used to make the peanut butter cookie.

Another prime example of a common allergen for some people is gluten.  Often gluten is used in a variety of cereal products, it is in pasta, bread, and many other products that we eat every day.

What Is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein which is comprised from two particular ingredients.  Those two protein ingredients are gliadin and glutenin.  These two proteins are held together through the use of starch and formulate the protein product known as gluten.

Often, the gluten is mixed with other grains that are from the grass family.  Examples of those types of grains can include wheat, barley and rye.

The value of adding gluten to these types of products is that it is an additional source of nutritional protein.  This is significant as generally the gluten is added to products that aren’t generally high in protein. This process helps add protein and aids in the overall nutritional process.


Products Containing Gluten

There are many products on the market today that have gluten added as part of the ingredients to the product.  Additionally, most of those products on the market today that contain gluten are products that are manufactured from grains such as wheat, barley and rye.

For example many bagels contain gluten.  This is an important ingredient because gluten creates the chewiness.  In addition, most other types of bread contain gluten.

A Variety Of Gluten Free Diet Recipes
However, it is important to note that some individuals may not tolerate gluten.  This is because they may have an allergy or intolerance to this substance.  In addition, some recent studies have indicated that there may be a link to other maladies when an individual is allergic to gluten.  Some of those maladies could include celiac disease, constipation, bloating, bone or joint pain, itchy skin, lesions, and the list goes on.  I recommend if you are feeling bad, and you have seen a doctor, and there doesn’t appear to be a cause, try removing gluten from your diet, in a few weeks if you are starting to feel better, you most likely have an intolerance to gluten.

There are many options available that are gluten-free and more becoming available everyday.  You can find good recipes online, you can remake your recipes replacing the ingredients that you use with gluten-free ingredients.  I have found it pretty easy especially since I am feeling so much better.

In addition, you can see a nutritionist who is knowledgeable in eating gluten-free..  Often a dietician can provide a variety of gluten-free diet recipes or help the individual prepare a gluten-free diet menu.

One other important fact to remember when looking to prepare gluten-free diet recipes is that the ingredients themselves used to prepare the recipe must be free of this ingredient.

I’d love for you to stop by my Facebook page and talk about your favorite gluten-free products, recipes, problems you experience eating gluten-free.  Kim’s FB Page

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3 Way Smoothies Can Help You Lose Weight

3 Ways Drinking Smoothies Can Help You Lose Weight  Losing weight isn’t easy. It takes perseverance, hard work and a determination to change old habits. It also takes a willingness to make better choices when it comes to what goes into your body. Adding smoothies to your diet is a great way to help you get into a healthy eating habit. This article will show you three ways drinking smoothies can benefit your weight loss plan.

Smoothies Make You Feel Full

One of the biggest ways smoothies can help you lose weight is because of the fiber. When you blend fruits and vegetables for a smoothie they don’t lose their fiber content. That means your smoothie is packed full of fiber. A smoothie rich in dietary fiber helps you feel fuller – sometimes for several hours. Tip: the thicker the smoothie, the longer you’ll stay full. So load your blender with plenty of raw vegetables and fruit to keep your hunger away.

Smoothies for Breakfast

You can’t skip breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day, even more so if you’re trying to lose weight. As mentioned, smoothies are packed full of fiber and help you feel full longer. Because of this, it’s a great way to start your day out on the right foot. You get a full tummy and a nutrient packed meal. Choose ingredients carefully to include plenty of healthy fats, good carbs, and protein to feed your body a balanced diet and to help boost your metabolism. A nutritious smoothie in the morning offers many benefits when it comes to weight loss.

Use Water Instead of Fruit Juices

Most smoothies will call for some form of liquid, such as milk, water, and fruit juices. Fruit juices can be high in fructose, sugar, and calories. In this case, your best bet is to skip sugary fruit juices and replace them with water instead. You will avoid the extra calories, and if you struggle trying to get in your eight glasses of water a day, using water in a smoothie is an easy and tasty way to help increase your intake. I will often use coconut water, much lower in calories than fruit juices and a high source of potassium.

Lots of Variety

It’s easier to lose weight when you have variety and lots of different food choices. If you eat (in this case drink) the same thing day in and day out, you’re going to get bored and will be a lot more likely to just stop trying. That’s the great thing about smoothies – there are so many variations to choose from. You can play around with lots of different ingredients to come up with your own creations and keep from losing interest in this healthy food.

Sweets That are Good for You

If you’re worried about having to give up the sweet stuff, don’t fret!  There are so many options out there to still enjoy some of that sweetness – just in a healthier, smoothie sort of way. The sweet treat you crave now comes from whole fruits and berries. Apples, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, oranges, kiwi, and watermelon are a few of the yummy choices you’ll be able to add to your smoothie to get all the nutrition and fiber along with the sweetness. You may want to drizzle in a bit of raw honey. It only takes a drop when you’re using a mix of delicious fruits and berries. Love raw honey in our smoothies.

Smoothies are a delicious way to enjoy fresh, wholesome ingredients. But, smoothies are also a great way to lose weight. Gather some fun smoothie recipes together and start your healthy weight loss program today. I’ll be helping you with that in the near future!!

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5 Health Benefits of Smoothies

5 Healthy Benefits of SmoothiesI love starting out my day with a smoothie.  They are easy, nutritious, and they taste great.  If you have a hard time getting your kids to eat fruit and vegetables they think they are drinking a milk shake.

As more and more people begin to take charge of their health by changing their eating habits, smoothies are becoming more popular. And it’s no wonder – the health benefits you can get from just one smoothie a day are remarkable. In this article, we’re going to look at just five of the many health benefits you can get from drinking smoothies. Let’s jump right in.

Antioxidants

Fruits, berries, and vegetables all offer a tremendous amount of antioxidants. Since smoothies are made up primarily of these foods, you have an antioxidant powerhouse right there in your blender. Antioxidants are an essential part of a healthy diet to fight aging and illness. Studies have shown that antioxidants actually may help lower the risk of some cancers.

Nutrients

Just as fruits, berries, and vegetables are an easy way to get antioxidants, smoothies are also a quick and easy way to get your daily requirement of vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients. While taking a multi-vitamin is good, it’s better for your body to get nutrients naturally through whole foods. A wide variety of nutrients are found in different fruits, berries, and vegetables, as well as other ingredients in your smoothie. With a blender full of these nutrient rich food, it’s like having a multi-vitamin in a tasty drink.

Healthy Start

We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But, a lot of people skip it because they feel they don’t have enough time to make something to eat. That’s why smoothies are a great alternative. Not only are they quick and easy to make, they are perfect to grab and go. Aside from all the nutrients your body will quickly absorb by drinking a smoothie, it will help keep you away from foods that are too tempting when you let yourself get hungry by skipping breakfast.

Digestion

Smoothies that are made with plenty of fruits, berries, and vegetables are a wonderful way to help ease digestion and the elimination process in your body. When you blend raw produce in a smoothie, you don’t lose any of the natural dietary fiber content. Fiber is an important part of keeping the body regulated to eliminate the toxins.

Energy

Smoothies are an easy way to boost your energy naturally. They are rich in ‘good carbs’ which is what the body needs for fuel. The slow-burning sugars provided in good carbs keeps the metabolism going along smoothly all day. These good carbs will also help you focus and stay alert. If you find yourself feeling a little slow in the morning, jump start your ‘engine’ with a smoothie. If you find yourself feeling an afternoon slump coming on, recharge with another smoothie.

As you can see, smoothies are a quick and easy way to give your body the nutrients and dietary fiber it needs, as well as a natural energy boost. Smoothies definitely qualify as a Super-Food with the added benefit of being delicious, too!

Watch for my free eBook coming soon with recipes for smoothies that the whole family is sure to love.

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Healthy Breakfast Ideas

Healthy Breakfast Ideas

Last week we talked about my favorite app for tracking your daily calories.  That is just part of the battle to eating healthier. Another part is finding the time to prepare healthy foods. It’s just way too easy to stop at a fast food restaurant on your lunch break and grab a hamburger and fries. It’s just as easy to pop in a frozen pizza for dinner when you come home after a long day. So, how can you better ensure that you are going to have the time to fix a healthy breakfast?

As you probably know, they say that the most important meal is breakfast. Therefore, it’s important to learn how to prepare a healthy breakfast. Mornings are generally the busiest for most people since they’re getting everyone ready for the day. This is probably why pop-tarts are so popular. However, these lovely little pastries are high in calories and low in nutrition, meaning you’re going to be hungry in just a couple hours after eating them. So, how are you supposed to fix a healthy breakfast when you’re so busy?

Quick Healthy Breakfast Ideas

  • Fruit: Fruit is one of the quickest breakfast foods available and the best part is that it’s healthy! Whether it’s a banana, apple, orange, grapefruit or some other type of fruit…its healthy and going to give your body the right kind of nutrition. Plus, it’s low in calories! Oh, and did I mention that you can grab it on your way out the door? If you want to give the fruit a little something extra, buy the individual sized cups of peanut butter and bring for dipping. You can also cut a few slices of cheddar cheese to eat with the fruit too. The one thing to keep an eye on is how much sugar you are eating, your MyFitnessPal will do that for you.
  • Fruit Smoothie: Really great if you’re really on the run in the mornings.  I’m working on an eBook now with some great recipes.
  • Oatmeal: Oatmeal is an incredibly healthy breakfast option. Not only is it quick and easy to prepare, but it’s filling too. If you don’t like your oatmeal plain, then add a little brown sugar and a banana for a little extra flavor. Oatmeal can literally be fixed in about 5 minutes and eaten in less than 10. That only requires you to plan an additional 15 minutes to your morning routine (if you don’t like to eat while you get ready).  Also, you can make oatmeal in your crockpot starting it the night before and making enough for more than one day.  Love it.
  • Egg Muffins: I shared a recipe a couple of weeks ago for a delicious egg muffin that you can make a big batch of on the weekend, freeze, and pop in the microwave for a quick weekday breakfast.
  • Muffins:  Whether it is the Carrot-Banana Muffin recipe below, or your favorite muffin or bread recipe, it is a good quick breakfast.  If you are gluten-free there are lots of great recipes out there.
  • Breakfast Risotto:  This also can be cooked on low in the crockpot overnight, great with apple, a little cinnamon, nutmeg.
  • Egg Crockpot Casserole:  Again, this can be started at night before you go to bed, cooked on low, and add your favorite ingredients.

Losing weight is a great goal, but remember that the key is learning how to eat healthy. If you incorporate the ideas mentioned above into your daily routine, then you will be off to a great start! And, it’s also important to note that learning how to eat healthy is something that takes time.  So, take it easy on yourself during the first week or two as you get used to the new routine. If you have a bad day, it’s okay…just start over the next day!  In the coming weeks we’ll talk about using your crockpot and great snacks to help keep you on track.  Have a great weekend!

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My Favorite Weight Loss Tool

One of the main reasons people have trouble with losing weight is because their schedules are so busy. It is hard to find the time to fit exercise in and then there is the issue of planning your meals and going grocery shopping.

My Favorite Weight Loss ToolBut all of that is about to change with the introduction of mobile weight loss trackers. These weight loss trackers are becoming increasingly popular as it is so easy to add in your current weight. You can track your meals and track which food groups you are eating from. Mobile trackers are a great way to see if you are eating too many carbs or not enough protein.

Weight loss trackers can be set up to send you daily reminders of what you need to achieve that day. You can easily customize your goals and add your favorite exercises.

My favorite one is MyFitnessPal.  I love it. It is helping me to lose weight, where in the past, no matter what I tried I just could not get off.  I thought I was eating healthy.  I was for the most part.  However, much to my surprise I was eating so much more sugar then I realized.  I eat gluten-free so I eat a lot of fresh produce.  I have to admit I favor fruit over vegetables. I never realized exactly how much sugar, even though it was natural sugar, I was consuming in a day.

It has a database of thousands of foods that you eat, you can add your own.  If you are eating something that has a bar code on it, you can just scan it and it will give you all the information you need.  I never thought I would be counting calories and grams of this and that, but MyFitnessPal makes it so easy.  And did I mention the app is free.  You can also link apps such as a pedometer, squats, sit-ups etc to it and it will automatically deduct the calories that you burned for the day from the calories that you are allowed to eat.

It is great for accountability, you can friend your family and friends and encourage each other along the way.

If you are having trouble losing weight, and have a smart phone, I definitely recommend MyFitnessPal as a great tool.

I’d love for you to stop by my Facebook page and post tips that help you lose weight, or keep in shape, Kim’s Facebook page.  Wishing you the greatest of weeks!

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Gluten-Free Baking

Gluten-Free Baking

When you first try to bake gluten free you may easily run into a few problems. There is more to baking gluten free products than just changing from one type of flour to another. Gluten free flour works differently and this has to be taken into account.

Gluten is a protein found in flour that has a sticky substance to it, it binds your ingredients together. Along with containing binding properties gluten works to keep your cakes and cookies moist. Many cooks often complain that their gluten free cakes and breads are too dry!

One important feature to note about gluten free flour is that it is heavier than traditional flour. For this reason you may find baking with this type of flour easier to achieve if you weigh your ingredients instead of measuring them out.

You will also notice that gluten free flours tend to absorb liquid more quickly, so increasing the amounts of liquid is recommended.

Replacement Flour Choices:

Potato Starch – this is wonderful to use as a thickening agent for sauces and soups. When using in a baked recipe only use half the amount.

Tapioca Flour – this flour produces a great texture and is suited for breads.

Corn Flour – use for pancakes, waffles, muffins and cornbreads.

Soy Flour – this flour contains high amounts of protein and fat. It also has a nutty flavor and is suited for baking brownies, cakes with fruits and nuts and for any product where you want a smooth texture.

Cornstarch – you may already use this and it is best suited to be used for thickening sauces, gravies and soups.

Brown Rice Flour – contains tons of nutrients and has a nutty flavor. It is perfect for making cookies, cakes and breads.

White Rice Flour – has a very fine texture and doesn’t have any unwanted flavors. You can use this flour mixed with other flours such as brown rice or even almond flour.

Almond Flour – use this flour when making your holiday treats that need a wonderful almond flavor.  Again used this mixed with other flours to reach the desired quantity for your recipe.

When using new flours you will need to experiment and make note of how your cakes, cookies and breads turn out. If they require more flavor try adding brown rice flour or even almond flour. For moister baked goods then use a little more liquid or include applesauce or yogurt in your recipe.

If your cakes or breads don’t turn out quite right, don’t despair you can always turn them into breadcrumbs!

I’d love for you to stop by my Facebook page and post your baking tips for gluten-free baking, or even things that you found that didn’t work, Kim’s Facebook page.  Wishing you the greatest of weeks!

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Eliminating Sugar From Your Life

Eliminating Sugar From Your LifeGiving up sugar might be hard for some people, eliminating sugar from your diet is a good thing!

Yes, sugar does taste good but it also contains fats and huge amounts of calories. Not good for anyone wanting to lose weight! Sugar is addictive and you will find that the more you eat, the more your body will crave sugar. Your body cannot handle all this sugar and will store excess sugar as fat. This fat shows up on your hips, thighs, buttocks and stomach.

As well as food cravings sugar is responsible for making you feel tired. If you eat too much sugar you may find that you wake up tired. You don’t feel refreshed at all. You can get rid of this tiredness but eating more sugar but then the cycle starts over again. You feel better from the sugar high but your body crashes leaving you feeling extremely hungry and fatigued.

So how do you break this cycle? Well the obvious way is by eliminating as much sugar as possible from your diet.

Cutting back on soft drinks, processed foods, crackers, muffins and cookies is a good start. You should also be careful about choosing fruits which are high in sugar.  If you are trying to lose weight only eat one or two pieces of fruit per day.

People who eat high amounts of sugar have been found to have high triglyceride levels, plus their good (HDL) cholesterol levels are low. Low HDL levels are a cause for heart attacks.

The amount of sugar that you can safely eat is around 8 teaspoons per day, or 100 calories for women and 150 calories from sugar for men. This amount of sugar can be found in one can of soda! The best way to eliminate sugar from your diet is to take one step at a time. Start by replacing those soft drinks with herbal tea or water. Water will actually help flush out toxins from your body and jump start your weight loss efforts.

Start eating regularly and allow yourself small snacks in between each meal. Sugar is known to curb your hunger quickly, so not allowing yourself to suffer from those hunger attacks is key. By keeping your body full with nourishing healthy foods you can overcome your sugar cravings within a few days.

If you do decide to quit sugar totally the first two to three days will be the hardest to get through. Your body will crave something sweet so make sure you have snacks such as nuts or berries on hand to eat.

Stress is another cause of sugar cravings and if you find yourself wanting to eat when stressed then it is time to deal with the cause of your stress. Taking the time to find out the root cause and handling it is the only way to remove stress from your life.  As well as making you crave sugar stress can cause all kinds of health issues including heart attacks and death!

My husband and I gave up drinking soda a few months ago.  I still miss it, but I won’t go back to drinking it again.

I’d love for you to stop by my Facebook page and post tips on how you gave up sugar, or problems you are having trying to get it out of your diet, Kim’s Facebook page .  Wishing you the greatest of weeks!

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Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th of July
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy, safe and blessed 4th of July.  I’m sure for many of you it is a long weekend of celebrating and family time, while others of you may be working. I hope however you are spending this holiday weekend you take time to reflect and be thankful for all we have here in the United States, and keep those that serve and have served to keep us free in your prayers.Next week we’ll get back to talking about gluten, and oils and all of those great things that keep our body healthy.

I’d love for you to come over to my Facebook page and me how you are spending you holiday Kim’s Facebook page.  Wishing you the greatest of weeks!

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The Paleo Diet…Exactly What is it?

The Paleo Diet...Exactly What is it?

Have you heard of the Paleo diet but wondered what it is?  Me too. When I began cutting gluten from my diet it was something I wanted to learn about.  When I researched, this is what I learned:

The basis of the Paleo diet is that it follows what humans used to eat before the agricultural revolution came about. The Paleo diet encourages dieters to eat natural ingredients including tons of fruits and vegetables. Foods your ancestors used to grow for themselves. The foods which are recommended are:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Lean meats
  • Seafood

All of the above foods are high in soluble fiber, antioxidants, phytochemicals, omega 3, monounsaturated fats and foods which have a low glycemic level when it comes to carbohydrate levels.

You can eat these lean protein sources along with unlimited amount of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The Paleo diet recommends that you avoid the following foods as much as possible:

  • Refined sugars
  • Refined grains
  • Saturated fats
  • Trans fats
  • Salt
  • Processed foods
  • High glycemic carbohydrate foods

All of these foods are known to cause obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular problems. They have also been linked to many other health related diseases.

If we dig back into our history books a little you will discover that when our ancestor’s reached 60 they suffered from very few diseases. Yes many people did not even make it to 60 but that was due to the high instances of people being killed while out hunting.

Our ancestors ate off the land, they grew their own fruits and vegetables and raised livestock for slaughter. They did not eat processed foods and it was uncommon to see many overweight individuals. Plus of course their lifestyle kept them busy all the time. They were active and very healthy people.

One concern that many people have when first starting the Paleo diet is the lack of calcium. Everyone thinks that they need to consume tons of dairy each day to promote healthy bones and prevent osteoporosis.

You will still be consuming calcium while on the Paleo diet, you will just be getting your daily amount from different sources. Instead of drinking milk and eating cheese you will be getting calcium from your fruits and vegetables.

Our body needs to balance the amount of calcium it receives daily. All foods are processed through our kidneys and this is where bone demineralization takes place.

When you eat foods which produce high amounts of acid in your body, the kidneys force out excess calcium and other alkalines.

The acid producing foods which we consume too much of are hard grains, cereals, cheese and salty foods. Acid must balance with alkaline which is found in fruits and vegetables. So when you increase the amount of these good alkaline foods your body will balance its calcium level. What all of this means is that you won’t become calcium deficient.

If you follow the guidelines to the Paleo Diet you should start to lose weight, sleep better and have more energy. So, it may be a lifestyle that you want to look at.

I’d love for you to come over to my Facebook page and tell me what you think about the Paleo diet. Kim’s Facebook page.

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Are You Gluten Sensitive?

Are You Gluten Sensitive?

People struggling with gluten intolerance or a gluten allergy often suffer for years before discovering the source of their bloated gut, hair loss, diarrhea, fatigue and a long list of other symptoms. Many times doctors do not detect this problem.  For me I found my problem myself.  I suffered for almost three decades undiagnosed.

Thanksgiving last year I got to the point I knew I had to find relief because my irritable bowel syndrome symptoms had escalated and my entire body ached so bad it was difficult to work, and concentrate.  Quite by accident while doing research for a Social Media client I came across information about gluten-intolerance and I had every single symptom but one, and that was because I had a hysterectomy in my late 20’s.  After Thanksgiving I went to work at removing gluten from my diet.  Without gluten the diarrhea that I frequently suffered from had all but disappeared unless I would eat something with gluten.  Migraines headaches that plagued me since my teen years multiple times a week are now very infrequent.  I am still working on getting my body healthy, and learning new things every day.

I have learned that many chronic diseases that millions of people suffer from actually are a result of a sensitivity to gluten.  If you suffer from fibromyalgia, arthritis, migraines, chronic pain, allergies, asthma, and many other chronic diseases that are escaping me as I write this may be a result of an intolerance to gluten. It is definitely worth a try to eliminate gluten from your diet for a period of time and see how you feel.  The wheat we are eating is not the same wheat that our grandparents ate.  It has been manipulated and re-engineered a process that is beyond my comprehension.  I decided not to research that part of the puzzle, knowing that is enough I don’t need to understand it, at least at this point.

Many people that are tested for gluten sensitivity will test false negative so the most accurate way to determine if you have an intolerance to gluten is to eliminate it from your diet and see how you feel.  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.  It’s really not that difficult especially if you are feeling bad, change your diet and notice every day you are feeling better and better.

A gluten-free diet does not have to be difficult, and it can include a variety of foods that will keep dieters from feeling deprived.  By taking the time to follow a few simple guidelines, you will find the process relatively simple. If you have any questions about going gluten-free stop by my Facebook page at Kim’s Facebook page and let’s chat.

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How and Why to Ask for a LinkedIn Recommendation

How and Why to Ask for a LinkedIn RecommendationIf you are on LinkedIn then you are familiar with Recommendations. Today we are going to talk about How and Why to Ask for Linked in Recommendations. This is not to be confused with the Skills and Endorsement section, which I believe is overused and misused. This feature has become diluted because of it’s overuse, in my opinion.

How and Why to Ask for Linked in Recommendations

When you observe anyone’s LinkedIn profile you realize it looks a lot like a resume. Essentially that is what it is. However, it has one advantage over a resume. Your LinkedIn profile is always growing and changing, almost like it’s living. This means that as it changes and grows, your connections will also change and grow. One of the most important aspects of your LinkedIn profile is the ability to not only ask for recommendations but also to have them show up directly on your profile for potential connections to read.

Ask for the Recommendation Properly

There are right ways and wrong ways to ask for a LinkedIn recommendation. LinkedIn offers a template but it’s best if you send personalized recommendations. Only ask for recommendations from people for whom you’ve worked and who can truly offer something good about you.

Remind Them of What You Did for Them

Be sure to remind them of what you did for them in your request to help them remember. For example, if you helped them build their email list from 200 to 1500 subscribers, remind them of that, as well as the dates that your work occurred. This will help give them a frame of reference with which to write your recommendation.

Recommendations Give You Credibility

Asking for and receiving recommendations give you credibility. The more you can get that are well-written and that describe the kind of work that you can do, the more likely you are to impress people who see your LinkedIn profile, and the more likely they are to trust that everything you say is factual.

You Can Use the Recommendations Elsewhere

When someone gives you a nice recommendation, send them a thank you message. Inside the thank you message ask them if you can use their recommendation as a testimonial on your website. Then you can create memes with your customer’s quote about you to share with others.

Send Your LinkedIn Profile Link to Others with Confidence

When you have your LinkedIn profile fully filled out with references listed under each job that you list, you’re going to feel a lot more confidence sending it out to others when you’re interested in a position or bidding on a contract.

It Looks More Professional

Having professional recommendations on your LinkedIn profile automatically makes you look more professional to anyone looking at your profile. If someone is willing to make good comments about you from current and former positions on LinkedIn – publically – they have a really positive effect.

Getting LinkedIn recommendations on your profile are easy to obtain, just ask.  Most people that you ask aren’t going to refuse to do it. Do ensure that you only ask people who are other professionals, who can truly vouch for your work ethic, and with whom you’ve really worked – and you’ll be glad you did.

I’d love for you to stop by my Facebook page (Kim’s Facebook page) and tell me if Recommendations on your LinkedIn profile have been an asset to your business.

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