You’ve decided you need to blog, now what?

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Blogging guidance for business owners

This will help you with the technicalities of blogging, it will not attempt to guide you in choosing the subject matter of the content.

Why blog? 

Firstly be very clear about what has motivated you to take this step, because if you are not clear about the motivation there is little chance of it being a success.  Here are three of the more successful reasons for blogging:

  1. A blog introduces a more personal aspect to your website, which is otherwise static and stuffed full of informative content, or 
  2. It could help your website rank higher in search result because Google favours websites that have regularly updated content, or  
  3. Both, or either, of the above, combined with the opportunity – you now have the 'all-important' time to devote to it. 

One thing is guaranteed, a blog attached to your website will raise awareness of your business brand. This is measurable. 

Drop of the hat help

There are, most likely, 100s of business consultants in your geographical location who could accomplish the technical tasks of setting up the blog for you, and in a reasonably short time too.  

PBS provides this service and we would be delighted to do this on your behalf. We emphasise that control and ownership of the blog, it's associated hosting, and software registration is entirely yours.  I'll reiterate that all registration procedures are in your name, not ours.  We'll expand on this statement if you wish, via Google Hangout or Skype call.

It is best practice when you choose to work with a consultant that you choose one who is known to you personally, or one whose name has been referred to you via a friend or business associate.  You will need to work closely with the consultant and so it is imperative that you can easily communicate with each other.

On-the-other-hand, jump right in

Instead of handing over control of the project to someone else you might wish to tackle it yourself.  Or you might wish to supervise one of your own staff while they set it up.

Remeber though, that handing the task over to the professionals will cost lots more than if you tackle it yourself.

If you choose to work on this project yourself in-house, the following flow-chart will be of enormouse value to you.  Created by 'SimpyBusiness' it provides a sensible structured outline which is very easy to follow. 

They of course point you to their website from all the live links within the document, where you can buy their services.

If at any stage you answer 'No' to the questions you will be directed to a page on their website where they offer their solution.


Click image to open interactive version (via Simply Business).


As small business consultants ourselves, we agree with 'SimplyBusiness' that the WordPress platform is one of the easiest platforms for a small business owner to negotiate.  The WordPress Content Management System is manageable even for someone with few IT skills.

The Next Stage

When the technical work has been done the next stage is to take the 'bull-by-the-horns' and write the content.  

Shelley Kramer the marketing/digital strategiest, writes about how critical it is to write a blog post that is readable, shareable and discoverable.  She calls her blog post 'The Key to Writing Great Blog Posts', and this comes from someone who does 'walk-the-walk'. 

Good luck and do let us know how you get on, whether you've set up your blog yourself or with the assistance of a consultant,  by leaving a comment in the box below.


Photo courtesy of Fotolia purchased under licence and covered by copyright law.


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Invisible ? Marks

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Willow Rosenberg is it cool to use the interrogative tone all the time?  My response: a great big NO.

Someone reminded me yesterday about that phenomenon where people use inflection in the voice at the end of every sentence, whether or not a question is being asked.

It drives me mad, and it appears I am not alone:

Twitter post asks why do people inflect their voices

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another of my contacts Rochelle, a US Academic working in a university environment, picked it up from the live stream and added:

Inflection question #2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personally I blame the character called Willow Rosenberg played by Alyson Hannigan, from the television series 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer', which was extremely popular with so many youngsters in the 90's.

Well, wherever it originated, let's hope it fizzles out sooner rather than later.

Taylor Mali the talented poet, explains it so well and captures the sentiments

YouTube Preview Image

Incidentally, the person who irritates me so much when she does this, isn't even aware that she does it … there's no hope.  What do you think?


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Dyma Sut Mae ‘Y We’ Wedi Cael Dechrau or How the Internet Got Started

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Amazing Dot ComOnce Upon a Time, on the ancient uplands of Wales it came to pass, that a dyn ifanc (young man)  by the name of Awbrey ap Owain ap Morgan ap Com did take unto himself a gwraig ifanc (young wife) who was known as Dot.

And Dot Com was a beautiful fenyw Cymraeg (Welsh maiden), with gorgeous blonde hair tumbling down her back to a tiny waist, and the longest, most wonderfully formed legs that anyone had ever seen. Indeed, she was often called ‘amazing Dot Com’ or Amazon Dot Com. 

And she said to Awbrey ap Owain ap Morgan ap Com, her husband, "Cariad I hate it when you leave me to travel so far from village to village across Wales with your goods for sale, when you could trade without ever leaving me and our cosy Welsh bwthyn (cottage)?"

And Awbrey ap Owain ap Morgan ap Com looked at her as though she were several Welshcakes short of a feast, but simply said, "How, dear?"

And Dot replied, "I will place drums in all the villages,  and drums in between too, to send messages saying what you have for sale, and they will reply telling you who has the best price. And the sale can be made on the drums and deliveries made by Unawd ap Pryderi’s Stallion (or UPS as it was fondly known) – we shall give him a small percentage of each sale for the use of his strong, sturdy horse." 

Awbrey ap Owain ap Morgan ap Com thought long and hard about his wife's enterprising scheme, and finally decided he would let Dot have her way with the drums.

And the drums rang out and were an immediate success. Awbrey ap Owain ap Morgan ap Com sold all the goods he had at the top price, without ever having to leave the hearth of their bwthyn.

To say Dot was a savvy lady was an understatement. In order to prevent the neighbouring Saeson (English) from overhearing what the drums were saying, Dot devised a system that only she and the drummers knew. It was known as Must Send Drum Over Sound (MSDOS), and she also developed a language to transmit ideas and pictures, this became known as Hiraeth To The People (HTTP).

And the young men in the villages around and about Wales certainly took to Dot Com's trading just as the greedy horsefly takes to cow dung. They were called Nomadic Egocentric Rich Dominant Sybarites, or NERDS. 

Well, everyone in Cyrmu glân was in a hyper state of ‘llawenydd’ or joyo (raptures) at the new riches BUT because of the deafening sound of drums across the land no one noticed that a great amount of riches were being partitioned to that place across the vast Pond, by an enterprising drum dealer called Brawd William ap Gates, who bought off every drum maker in the world, 1-by-1. And indeed insisted on drums being made that would work only with Brawd Gates' drumheads and drumsticks!

And Dot said, "Oh, Awbrey ap Owain ap Morgan ap Com, what we have started is being taken over by others." And Awbrey ap Owain ap Morgan ap Com looked out over the Bay of Eynon, or eBay as it came to be known, and he said, "We need a name that reflects what we are." 

And Dot replied, "I’ve got it, let’s register the name Young Ambitious Home-based Owner Operators."

"YAHOO," said Awbrey ap Owain ap Morgan ap Com, “That’s brilliant”.  

And because it was Dot's idea, they named it YAHOO Dot Com. 

Awbrey ap Owain ap Morgan ap Com’s cousin, Glyndwr, being the young Gregarious Energetic Educated Kid (GEEK) that he was, soon started using Dot's drums to locate things all around the countryside, and all over the world.

This was adopted by all the young folk of Wales and they hailed Dot as their Pagan Goddess! 

This activity soon became known as the Goddess' Own Official Guide to Locating Everything (or GOOGLE).

And, the rest is history!

So that is how it all began.

And that's the truth. ;o)

 

Image courtesy of Fotolia.

This story is an adaption of an original Anonymous article that I spied some time ago on the web.


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Sanyo Product Recall Warning

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SANYO Microwave Oven Fault

We have been asked by a business associate to help spread this vitally important information to as great an audience as possible.

We are working in conjunction with VibeTV.tv, along with the UK Trading Standards Department to bring this warning in front of as many Sanyo Customers as possible.

There are still 5,000+ machines still in use in homes in UK and Ireland today.  Watch the Sanyo video warning message recorded days ago to alert Sanyo Customers.

If you own one of these machines you need to contact the Helpline on 

+44 08009 230019 (Freephone) / +44 01923 477351 

Recall Notice for Sanyo Microwave Ovens in UK and Ireland


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Virtual Assistant Sisterhood

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As the song says, "Aint it good to know that you've got a friend ….."

 

Virtual Business Consultants across the globe have the same basic motivation: to help others

Virtual Assistants are a sisterhood of angels

We're always here for you.

Once the basics are done-and-dusted, and we've established which skills/talents you're in need of, we provide a trusted and loyal service to you and we hope that you too become one of our valued long-term clients. 

To quote a cliche "No job is too small".  

Some contracts we've worked on are on a rolling basis and repeat every quarter, others on a monthly basis.  But, if the task you'd like us to work on, on your behalf will only take a few hours to complete, we'll happily do that too.

We're usually to be found multi-tasking sat in front of our multiple screens with numerous applications working in harmony to bring the best skills to bear on your projects. 

Here's the bit that is really worth-while knowing, should there be something we don't have the skills to tackle, we can zip across to our extensive social network of virtual assistant/consultant sisters and bring on-board the right gal for the task.

It's how we work.  We all work from our virtual office space, whether it's a shared workspace in a rented facility like Desk Den, or a home office set-up, where we're equipped with:

  • access to the Internet,
  • tried and tested skills,
  • a very broad understanding of software applications
  • and not forgetting our joint business experience that would probably fill the BIGGEST of moon craters.

Many of us have been connected in social media platforms for a long, long time now and we know each others strengths and weaknesses.

Here are some of the marvellous, super gals that I have the enormous pleasure to be connected to and I pay homage to them:

Sarah Santacrose based in Lausanne, Switzerland - this is Sarah's professional profile.

Lynne Grey operates her business from Bedfordshire – this is Lynne's professional profile.

Lisa Briercliffe is based near Cardiff, South Wales – this is Lisa's professional profile.

Cerys Hyde, Swansea – this is Cerys' professional profile.

Louise Kiwanuka lives in The Brighton area – this is Louise's professional profile.

Layne Tinsley is based in Sacramento US – this is Layne's professional profile.

Su Butcher, Colchester based Consultant – this is Su's professional profile.

Taryn Wallis runs her business from East Lothian Scotland – this is Taryn's business website.

 

The video was a little homage to one of my favourite singers Carol King.

In this video she gathers some of her musical friends around the piano to join her in one of her classic song: Celine Dion, Gloria Estafan and the wonderful Shania Twain.

I hope you enjoyed watching it with me: I find it's impossible to resist this calibre of talent. 

I hope you 'get' the point about the trust and loyalty that develops between business people. 

In the digital age it is easier for us to forge solid, long-lasting alliances in business because the world has become a much smaller place where communication is possible at the push of a button. 

Tell us in the comments section below about those trusted and solid relationships that you would pay homage to.


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Becoming More Aware of Online Security Begins Here

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Hot on the heels of the LinkedIn breach there's another massive attack on a website database.

 

 

 

Internet security specialists Sophos reported earlier today via their Twitter account @NakedSecurity,  that eHarmony the dating website has been compromised.

And then, later this afternoon this Tweet appeared on their stream:

 

What's all the fuss about passwords, I hear you ask?

Cybercriminals are making 100's of billions of £'s and $'s from this illegal activity. So you can see there's a very strong motivation to do this and they'll go to great lengths to achieve their aim.  And, don't be naive in thinking it's hapazard in it's structure, far from it, this is highly sophisticated involving the smartest tech brains and complex organisations.

I cringe when I imagine what the poor victim of this crime-wave has to endure to get their online lives back on track.  It must be the most stressful and soul-destroying episode in their lives because there will be huge roadblocks to negotiate, especially if they are physically locked out of the device by the criminal.

It can all be avoided if 'lame passwords' are abandoned.  

Clarification of what is not a lame password can be found here in a previous bog post.

Choose to make your PC or laptop more secure sooner rather than later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If losing access to your PC, email, social media accounts, or online banking isn't motivation enough to set up tougher passwords, perhaps this story will provide the 'call to action' that you need.

This appeared in The New York Times online recently:

"Earlier this month, Jonathan Roniger, a musician in Nashville, was frozen out of Facebook and two e-mail accounts by hackers, who contacted his friends and asked for $1,800, claiming to be destitute in London after getting mugged while on a last-minute vacation. At least one well-meaning friend wired money not once, but twice.

Mr. Roniger wrested control of his Gmail account two days after it was hijacked, only to get locked out again by the hackers. After getting back in, he shut down the account altogether and opened a new one. He still hasn’t regained his Facebook account".

Pandora's Box Awaits your friends and family

Another stark fact to take note of: if your PC is hacked all your contact lists will become prey to the criminals.  This is another huge motivation for the criminal, the potential to spread virally from machine to machine is too good to miss.

Contaminated mail sent by criminals masquerading as you, will contain dirty links or attachments designed to invade and capture the machines of your friends and family.  Hey presto the botnet grows virally, hour-by-hour and day-by-day!

[Bots reside on computers as a part of an invisible network which remains in contact with its creators, and can be reprogrammed to carry out different tasks, as well as be altered to avoid detection. Internet providers have usually tried to stop malware infections by handing out free antivirus software to customers. But antivirus software needs to be updated frequently to spot the newest viruses. Customers often forget to make the updates. Even if they do update, bots change identifying features, or signatures, so rapidly that it makes the antivirus software installed on a home machine ineffective. ~ Provided courtesy of Comcast].

If you have been affected by a security breach would you kindly comment below and let us all know just how devastating this event can be?  My thanks to you in advance.


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Phishing Attack to watch out for in your mail box

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Don't be fooled by scams like this phishing attack on a mail box.
WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!
Don't make the mistake that could cost you dearly.

This is not a genuine email.

This is a scam which is intended to trap you into clicking on the attached zip file.

When you do you'll infect your computer.

You'll have a serious, serious problem with virus attacks.

If you receive a message like this in your inbox you should take a screenshot of it and send it to your police department – every police department in the land has officers who deal with E-crime like this.

When you have shown this to the police, then delete it from your mailbox.

DO NOT CLICK ON ANY LINKS WITHIN, OR ATTACHMENTS.


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Promoting your services: directed at small business owners

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Tell the story of your product by creating a promotional presentation using slideshare™

No matter what type of business you run, whether you own

  • a Construction business,
  • a Hairdressing Salon,
  • a Nursery School;

or on the other hand you might be

  • an author,
  • a tailor,
  • an online marketer,
  • or a voice-over artist, ……..  the list goes on!

A visual presentation will help to reach your target audience, and has far, far more appeal than delivering line-upon-line of textual material.

The key to great presentations is in grabbing the attention of the audience from the outset.  This is what Sean D'Souza means when he talks about creating dissonance:

"The dissonance of the idea has forced their attention. Now that you've got their attention, you’ve got to gently massage your message into it."

The basics of creating an engaging presentation are outlined on our sister website, Virtual Assistants in Wales, and it provides tips and hints on how you might go about creating such a presentation to a live audience.

But don't forget you can deliver that powerful message with an online presentation which can sit on your website's 'Services' page.

Here we want to show you a tool that you might use to great effect for this purpose. 

The slideshare presentation platform:

SlideShare 101

 

View more presentations from Amit Ranjan

The Basic version is free and will provide you with an excellent starting point enabling you to make exciting presentations.

Later if you enjoy making presentations so much that you plan on making regular promos, then the Silver Account will provide you with the ablility to make unlimited uploads with no ads on the content. 

Additionally you may use up to 10 videos in the content per month.  That is more than enough power to the pound for a starting point, and all for just $19 per month.

You'll be asking yourself "What's the value in using presentations?"

If you answer 'Yes' to any of these scenarios, slideshare will be of assistance in helping to solve the problem:

  • My brand doesn't get enough exposure
  • I can't get my message out to a wide enough audience who need my product/service
  • My brand doesn't stand out from the crowd

Integrating a slideshare presentations in your digital marketing will help to solve those problems.

  • Share your presentations with your social media community via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc to ensure your content goes viral
  • Deliver the presentation directly to your list of customers/clients via your newsletter – this will spread your message further than you imagine because people share good things with their contacts list
  • Pump it up to pack a punch! Include audio (MP3) in your presentation, add a video within a slide, tailor the visuals to meet the need of mobile users, combine it with ZipCast (groupchat feature)  to make the greatest impact of all.

Pack extra punch with the addition of Zipcaste in your digital marketing presentations

 

Have fun with creating your own slideshare™ presentations.

Here are some of my favourites:

  • Artwork by Richard Ramsey  Images often speak louder than words
  • Managing your Google Calendar by John Robinson Slideshare is a great place to find tutorials
  • Fluid Web Typography by Jason Cranford Teague  Seminar Presentation at SXSWi 2010
  • The Funny Side of Getting Older by Stonesriver  Reminder to make each day count

There are so many more I could add ….. I wonder if one day I'll be making one of yours my favourite.  Send me a link to them via Twitter @GowerBizAngel ;o)


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Building a garden office space and securing it

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An office in the garden

 

This type of office in the garden is highly desirable to me. I'm considering moving my working space outdoors so that I can enjoy looking out onto a haven of inspiring plants, shrubs and wildlife.

Our log-cabin office work spaces will contain 1000's of pounds worth of expensive IT equipment so don't forget to keep in mind the security aspect of this project at every stage of the planning and execution. I'll say more about it later.

Create an extra room in the garden for your private office space

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I've decided where I'll position mine, and exactly what the project will entail. Here's the long and the short of it, it might help you to make up your own mind about whether to take the plunge and get your very own work den in the garden.

You can't deny the appeal of being tucked away from the demands of family life. The guaranteed peace and quiet is an attractive option don't you think. Well all this sounds marvellous to me, and I can't wait to make this happen.

This is an approximation of where my log-cabin office will be positioned in my garden. The front will face towards to house which is to the right in this photograph. 

I can see it in my mind's eye, it'll be a wonderful feature offering additional living space.

This is approximately where my log cabin will be positioned

The completion of a garden project to erect an outdoor office space will depend largely on weather conditions, if one lives in the UK.

I expect weather permitting it will progress along these lines:

  • Remember, you just can't turn a blind eye to the Planning Permission. This set of guidelines gives a general perspective, but check your local authority planning rules.
  • Decide on the location taking full consideration of the need for a power supply to feed the office: I'm fortunate because I already have external power in the garden, so it simply demands that I redirect a cable to the chosen location.  Another essential aspect to give consideration to is the range of your WiFi signal. Use a Repeater or Antenna to extend the signal to the garden office space.
  • Excavate the site: hire a specialised earthmoving vehicle and driver.
  • Create the level concrete base.
  • Prepare the wood: although the timber has already been treated it will benefit from another coating of preservative. This will take quite some time to do, so the building could be ordered and delivered well before the excavation takes place.

The Build

First, pray for fine weather!

Plan a BBQ Party for friends and family and invite them to help you with the build. It would be marvellous if your family/friends network included a professional builder but if not just 'wear-the-hat' yourself and do some research about managing such a project.  I found great advice here. ** It is recommended that you have a planning meeting with your team of helpers before hand so that everyone knows the task assigned to them, and what the task entails. Assign people tasks according to their strengths.

On the day of the build play some up-beat music to keep the folks all happily working to target, something like this perhaps:

"There's plenty of time to sleep when we die". ~ Adam Lambert

 

  • Add extra insulation to walls and roof space if you feel this is needed. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere as I do, this definitely makes sense. It's easy with a twin skin design* just fill the space with the insulation material. If you are going to indulge in portable heating for the extremely cold winter months, you don't want to let all that expensive energy escape through the walls and roof of your little piece of paradise. A portable halogen heater makes sense.        * Log cabins made by Southwest have great twin skin designs.
  • Hire an electrician to fit the office space with adequate socket points for all your equipment.  Don't forget a socket point for the kettle, which ideally would be placed near a window so that you can let all the steam escape.
  • Move all your gear into your new garden office! Sit back, have a cuppa and look out onto your beautiful garden before returning to your work-desk which is now situated in the fabulous surroundings of your log-cabin office.

The approximate cost of the project

I have been quoted between £1,200 and £1,500 for the groundwork including the concrete base, which needs to be 10 sq metres for my purposes. If you choose to lay paving stones on the surface of the concrete around the log-cabin, the cost could be in the region of an extra £500+.

The log-cabins on my list for consideration are:

  • 3m x 3m £2054.10 inc VAT & delivery or
  • 4m x 3m £2302.56 inc VAT & delivery.

The security issues associated with erecting a log-cabin office work space

 

  • Is the construction of the log-cabin strong and durable enough: will it resist an attempt by an intruder to break down the door, or smash through a window for access to your expensive kit sitting inside? (Here's a thought, fit blinds and remember to close them when you leave the office).
  • Take the precaution of making sure all garden tools and implements are locked away out of sight so that an intruder does not have access to something which could be used to make the job of breaking in that much easier.
  • Check that the perimeter fencing is robust and deters opportunistic intruders.
  • Fit tall, solid gates which cannot be scaled by an intruder.

This video covers all the general security points that need to be considered by everyone concerned with keeping their property safe.

Thanks to Homebase for this video.

Are you tempted to build your own log-cabin office? Do you have any pointers that would be of use to me before I undertake this project?

Head to the comments section below and leave your advice, or click one of the buttons on the top right of this page to connect with me via Social Media, and tell me what you think of my idea. I'd be very pleased to hear from you.


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Cost effective support for agile businesses everywhere