Archive of ‘This-n-That’ category

8 Ways to Get More Repins on Pinterest [INFOGRAPHIC]

The rapid growth of Pinterestwas one of the big social media stories of 2012 and this exciting platform is continuing to see strong growth in the first half of 2013.

Are you “pinning”?  If so, have you ever wondered how to get more re-pins? 

A new infographic by Curalate breaks down exactly which aspects of images on Pinterest increase engagement, and which don’t.

Check out the infographic below to see how you can improve your images on Pinterest.

 

The-Eyes-Have-It-Curalate-Infographic-copy

Understanding SEO

If you’ve ever uttered the words, “I just don’t get SEO!” you’re not alone.  When I first started blogging, I totally resisted the idea.  I thought I could just ignore it and skate by without really taking the time to fully understand it.

There were already a thousand things I needed to learn about blogging and trying to figure out SEO was like trying to understand hieroglyphs.  I felt as if I could figure those symbols and pictographs out faster than I could understand the proper keyword density for my blog posts.

I decided to go anti-SEO, and my blog suffered because of it.  Then one day, it hit me – if I was ever going to truly succeed as a blogger, I had better accept it and commit to learning how to use it to my benefit.

No matter how much it made my eyes cross, I decide it to keep researching until I figured it out.  I didn’t have the help of a New York  Search Engine Optimization company or any other experts to mentor me through the process.  It was brutal – at first.

But then I discovered various tools that could help me.  I discovered free SEO analysis tools and combined that with Google’s keyword tool.  I found that the keywords I thought I was targeting were completely different from what actually came up in the analysis.

It made me rethink the way I had been writing.  Most times the keywords that I started off with weren’t as optimized as I’d thought.  It was frustrating to find this out, but if I hadn’t taken action in the first place, I’d still be stuck in SEO limbo!

Here’s what to do:  Get Help

The good news is that you don’t have to try to figure it all out for yourself.  You can get help.  If you just don’t get SEO at all, you can outsource the task to someone does.  Obviously, you should proceed with caution and avoid any company that promises first page or first position results.  Take the time to research the company and try to locate reviews from some of its past or current clients.

I wish you the best with your SEO journey, hopefully it won’t be as bumpy as mine.

No Matter How Hard I Try, I Just Don’t Understand SEO – What to do? is a post from: We Blog Better.

7 Businesses You Can Start on a Shoestring

Are you looking to start a new business this  year…but your funds are low? Starting a business on the side is a smart way to get your feet wet as an entrepreneur.  Melinda F. Emerson, known as the SmallBizLady, shares some tips and ideas for starting your side business on a shoestring budget.  She recommends that you first at look at the services and goods you already provide for free to friends and family. “The best way to start a business for less than $500 is to figure out how to get paid for what you love to do,” says Clyde Anderson, a financial lifestyle coach and CNN contributor in Atlanta. “It’s crucial for anyone who’s looking to start a business to determine what gifts and talents they already have and to convert them into an actual business.”

Do you like organizing cluttered garages? Do you make mouth-watering cakes? Do you love to make jewelry? Are you good at planning special events? If you’ve been thinking about starting a business as your next career, now could be a great time to turn one of these hobbies into a thriving small business — even on a bare-bones budget.

Here are 7 cool businesses to start on a shoestring.
1. Baker

Cakes and cupcakes are the highlight of any party, and reality foodie shows such as Cupcake Wars have made baking a popular new business idea. Brooklyn blogger and cupcake expert Nichelle Stephens says you can start a cupcake business for $500 or less, as long as you aren’t trying to open a storefront. “You spend more time than money when starting a baking business,” says Stephens, who shares baking and business tips on her blog. “You need to find a neighborhood where there is a limited number of baked goods available and identify your niche.” Once you get your mixer, the next expense is quality baking pans and cooling racks. Use your co-workers as your test market and promote your business in the groups you belong to, especially if you have children. Other parents are a great potential customer base. Keep in mind it’s illegal in most jurisdictions to bake and sell food from your home. Here’s a website where you can research commercial kitchens in your area.

2. Mobile Notary Public

Despite technological advances, documents such as property deeds, wills and loan papers still require an official signature and stamp by a notary. Some banks and real estate agents have a notary license, but the current trend is using notaries who come to your home or business on call. Setting up this kind of business has strict rules: Most states require you to take a course to learn the notary business and pass an exam, and all require a state license. Check with your state for regulations and costs, and visit the National Notary Association for materials and more information. It’s important to put out the word to friends, family and co-workers about your new notary business. Set up a professional website with search engine optimization so that your business can be found locally. “Pick a niche,” says Dany Victory, owner of mobilenotarypublic.com in Southern California. “I specialize in loan documents, and it’s helped me earn referral customers such as realtors and title companies.” As a mobile notary, your costs are low and there are fringe benefits: You can drive around, meet interesting people and charge a premium for providing door-to-door service. “My income is higher because I charge travel fees on top of the standard notary charge of $10 per signature,” says Victory.

3. Personal Trainer

Many people’s New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, and many of these same individuals are looking for professional help to shed those unwanted pounds. If you are a fitness buff or avid runner, you may be able to make a living by teaching others what you’ve learned. You can be a general fitness instructor or specialize in marathon prep, yoga or Zumba. The first step in launching a fitness business is to become certified as a personal trainer. You also may need some basic equipment such as a portable CD player, exercise ball, stair step and mats. To launch your training business, start by telling your own weight loss story. Don’t be afraid to share your before and after pictures on your website and Facebook page. To find clients, try to build relationships at the gym you already attend. Inquire about becoming a trainer on staff to learn the business. Reach out to friends and colleagues who either don’t have time to go to a gym or feel embarrassed in a room full of people running on treadmills. Fitness enthusiast John Leber of Paramus, N.J., became a trainer in retirement. Leber studied, took a workshop and an exam, and within months got his personal trainer certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). “I worked for a large fitness chain gym for 18 months, and it was like your first job out of college, but after I left that company, my old clients started calling me for services,” says Leber, who is 63.” He specializes in working with clients 50+ and with people recovering from injuries. Here’s more on how to become a personal trainer.

4. Personal Organizer

Clutter is stressful for everyone, and you can make a living helping people get their homes, offices and lives in order. Professional organizing is a perfect business for people with a knack for neatness and developing systems. You can charge hourly or set half-day and full-day flat rates for your time. Not all clutter is the same, so it’s a good idea to choose an area of specialization, such as cleaning out garages, helping people plan for moving or downsizing, or assisting professional women with busy lives. Devise a system for how you will approach new client projects. Some organizers interview prospects; others ask for a tour of the space that needs organizing; some just throw everything on the floor and start from there. Philadelphia-based professional organizer Debbie Lillard, author of Absolutely Organized, wanted to work part time after years as a stay-at-home mom. She launched her business by contacting old friends who were stressed by the disorganization in their lives. She created business cards and flyers and distributed them in grocery stores in affluent neighborhoods. “I wrote a sales letter explaining who might need an organizer and sent it to everyone I knew, which landed me my first clients; from there, it was all word-of-mouth referrals,” Lillard says. Within a few months, she also launched a do-it-yourself website. Lillard went on to write two books about getting organized and shared organizational tips during media appearances, which helped her business grow. Collecting before and after pictures and client testimonials are good ways to promote a business as a professional organizer. For people interested in this business, consider joining the National Association of Professional Organizers, which provides education and training for new business owners in the field.

5. Social Media Marketing Assistant

The social media world is growing, and most business owners don’t have time to keep up. You can create a business as a social media marketing assistant or strategist if you have strong writing skills and a working knowledge of the major social media networking sites. Copy editing skills also are in demand for customers with blogs. Prior experience in public relations and marketing can also set you apart from those who just know social media tools. This business involves helping clients develop a social media strategy, build blogs, and set up Facebook Fan Pages, Twitter accounts, LinkedIn profiles and Google+ accounts. lf you know how to set up and maintain WordPress websites (they’re free), you can specialize in that service and charge a higher hourly rate. Cathy Larkin of Web Savvy PR in Aston, Pa., shows her small-business clients how to make social media marketing less intimidating. She provides strategies and shortcuts to keep her clients up to date online. “The first thing I did was learn the tools; then I picked a niche for the kind of customers I wanted,” Larkin says, “Be willing to work for free at first, just to prove you know what you are doing and get some references.” A low-cost way to quickly sharpen your social media skills is to attend a social media conference such as a PodCamp, which are held all over the country. The key to being successful as a social media marketing assistant is keeping your skills updated and making sure you stay on top of the constantly changing features on the social networking sites.

6. Jewelry Designer

People like handmade, one-of-a-kind jewelry, and this hobby is a good choice for a home-based business. Settle on your signature style or specialty — whether you’ll create pieces with bead design or design molds for silver and goldsmithing or stainless-steel items. Then you need to name your business, create samples, produce high-quality photos and start developing marketing materials. Patricia Miller, owner of the Velvet Box in Flint, Mich., got hooked on the craft while helping a friend with her holiday jewelry orders. Miller launched her own business with small orders for bracelets, and then she began doing home shows. Later she created an online shop at Etsy.com, which makes it simple for crafters to display and sell handmade goods. “Ninety-eight percent of my business has come from repeat customers and word-of-mouth referrals,” says Miller. Jewelry sellers also should look into setting up booths at craft fairs, flea markets and community events. Try partnering with local art galleries, hospitals and boutiques to sell higher-end pieces in your catalog. Don’t forget to wear your own jewelry everywhere you go — you are your best advertisement.

7. Image Consultant

Are you the person everyone stops and says, “Wow, you look great! Can you go shopping with me?” You are not just a trendsetter; you also may have the skills to be an image consultant or visual branding specialist. “Both women and men need to present their very best to the world. I help people reinvent and update their look,” says Tracey Reed, who runs a Philadelphia image consulting firm, Tracey Evelyn Beautiful You. “I do everything from color analysis to make-up lessons and personal shopping.” If you want to start a business as an image consultant, you need to have an understanding of color basics, textiles and clothing silhouettes. Reed, who has a master’s degree in theater make-up and costume design, suggests taking courses in color theory and retail merchandising to sharpen your skills. She started out in the beauty business as a licensed aesthetician and later expanded her services to include wardrobe and image consulting. Potential clients include professional women too busy to shop, brides-to-be who want makeovers, and men who want to sharpen their images to get ahead at work. Having a personal network is key to building your initial clientele. Set up a blog to share style tips, and then use Facebook and other social media to attract new customers. You also can use your website to post special packages, share testimonials and feature before and after photos of clients. It could be your best sales tool.

All of these are great businesses to start, but keep in mind that you still need a marketing plan and business plan to get your fledgling enterprise on track. Start with a free version of business plan software at enloop.com to get rolling and later invest in a business plan course at a small-business development center or local community college. Business plans help make sure your budget and costs are something you can measure as your new business grows.

Do you have other great startup ideas for under $500? Please share your comments.

Melinda F. Emerson, known as the SmallBizLady

Melinda F. Emerson, known as the SmallBizLady, is an entrepreneur, professional speaker, small business coach and the author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months. In 2010, Forbes magazine named her as one of the Top 20 Women for Entrepreneurs to Follow on Twitter.

Time to Set Goals for 2012

 

It’s that time … time to set goals.  Start thinking about where you want to be by the end of 2012. 

 Why are goals important?  In business, they’re everything.  If you don’t know where you want to go, you’ll never get there … or, well, you get the picture.  More to the point, you’ll just wander around, stumbling along, drifting from one day’s pressing moment to another, putting out fires and getting nowhere. Without goals, if you do achieve anything of value, it will be by chance, pure luck.  Most of all, you can end up putting out a lot of time and effort for very little return

Goals help ups focus and expand our limits. They give us direction.

John Ingrisano, owner of The Freestyle Entrepreneur blog, share some easy tips to help create and achieve your goals:

  1. Decide what you want.  Take your time.  Better yet, take a few days away from the office/work just to ponder what you really want  to achieve in 2012.
  2. Keep the list short.  In fact, the fewer goals the better.  You do not need a two- or three-page list.  That can become distracting in itself.  Instead, imagine having just one or two rock-solid goals.  For example, how about this one?  “I will unlock the secret of seminar sales and become one of the top ten trainers in my organization by December 31, 2012.”  Imagine concentrating all your efforts on that one goal.  Can’t lose.    
  3. Make them yours … not your spouse’s, not your father’s, not what you think someone else wants of you.  If you answer to boss, work out your goals together.  Do not just sit back and have the boss tell you your goals.  That will not work.  They must be yours.  What do YOU want to achieve in 2012? I once decided that I should have a goal of becoming a multi-millionaire within two  years.  It never felt right, and, as it turned out, it was the longest, most miserable two weeks of my life.  No, I did not achieve my goal in two weeks.  It took me two weeks to realize that the goal of money was not what I wanted.  It did not motivate me.  I realized that I wanted the things money could buy, not the money itself.  So, I retooled my goals.  
  4. Make them lofty, so you have to stretch a bit, but not so high that there is no way you can achieve them.  Challenge yourself; make yourself break a sweat.  Remember that goal  above about becoming “one of the top ten trainers”?  Well, why not shoot for the Number One spot?  Again, why not?  Somebody has to be there.  Why not you?   
  5. Make them specific.  The more specific, the better.  A general goal would be, “Get in shape.”  But a specific goal would say, “Get in shape by joining a health club and working out 3 days a week, and losing 20 pounds within two months.” 
  6. Make them measurable.  They need to have numbers, as in:  “I will make three sales a week” or “I will increase my gross sales by 15% by the end of 2012.”  If your goal is just to “increase sales,” well, good luck; that is not measurable. 
  7. Make them attainable.   In other words, they must be realistic.  No, this is not a contradiction of the fourth goal above, which is to make your goals lofty.  But they must be realistic.  For example, if you are a soft blob today, a lofty but realistic goal may be to run a marathon by the end of next year.  (My brother did in it three months, though the first one nearly killed him.)  However, the goal of winning a marathon, of taking the number one spot, may be too much for one year.  Save that one for year two or three.  The problem with setting goals that are pie-in-the sky impossible is that they are in fact self-destructive.  Not only will they be almost impossible to achieve, but they will discourage you from trying.
  8. Make them timely.  Do not set a goal that takes 40 years to achieve.  Set goals that can be met within 12 or 24 months.  I like to have three levels of goals:  short (30 days), mid-range (30 days to six months), and annual goals (achievable by the end of a year).  I also have long-range goals, such as retirement by age 65, but these are outgrowths of smaller, shorter goals.  The point is that they must be timely.  Otherwise, you are setting yourself up for failure.  This also anchors them within a timeframe. 
  9. Translate your goals into daily activities.  Break up your goals into bite-size pieces.  Example:  Let’s say I want to become a top trainer.  That may mean, as one activity, that I need to observe each of today’s top ten trainers at least once during the coming year, so one activity may be observe one a month, starting  in January.  Another activity may be to rehearse and train one hour a day, five days a week, to perfect my skills.    
  10. Focus only on the things you want.  The idea of goals is that they are exclusive.  Do not get sidetracked doing non-goal-achieving activities.  Concentrate exclusively on the things that will get you where you want to be.      

10 Fabulous Ways for Women Entrepreneurs to Stay Motivated

Running your own business is a lot of work and sometimes it can be hard to stay motivated. We all have days that we feel inspired, on track and powerful and we also have days that we want to crawl under a rock and ask ourselves what was I thinking… why in the world did I go into business for myself?

Here are some great ways to stay fabulously motivated as you grow your business:

  1. One of the most important things you can do is focus on your vision for your business each morning. Remember WHY you started your business and WHY it is so important to you.
  2. Re-connect with the excitement you had when starting your business. Let the feeling of endless opportunity soak through your body, then harness that feeling to move you throughout the day.
  3. At the end of each day celebrate what you have accomplished, even the smallest task. Keeping a positive attitude about yourself and what you have accomplished each day goes a long way to keep you motivated.
  4. Read, Listen and Watch. There is nothing like a great affirmation, quote, book or fabulous song to get you reconnected and motivated to move forward. In a slump half way through the day? Throw on one of your favorite songs and dance around for 5 minutes.
  5. Educate. Be willing to continuously educate yourself. Continually educating yourself builds self confidence and equips you with the knowledge needed to build your business.
  6. Surround yourself with high energy, positive people. The excitement and positive energy of others will rub off on you and get you just as excited about your business.
  7. Keep your space organized. Having a messy office space is a quick energy zapper. Before the end of the day straighten up and prepare for the next day by prioritizing your most important tasks to get done.
  8. Join a networking group. The right group will keep you inspired, motivated and can be a great place to share and support each other through issues and problems.
  9. Take time for yourself. A key factor in losing motivation is not taking time for you. It is easy to get wrapped up in business and lose yourself, but it is vital to your success that you take time to enjoy down time that is just for you.
  10. Judge yourself on the progress you’re making and not by the balance in your bank account or by the word success… What is success anyway? It is the continuous progress you are making.You are an amazing person. Cherish yourself in all that you do and the value you have to offer to others. Believe in yourself and keep moving forward and your vision will come forth.

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