Sunday, July 15, 2012

I Hate Captcha – Yes, I Really Do!

I was just thinking how time consuming and stupid captchas can be. I was thinking that there must be a better way, so imagine my surprise when I did a search and found I wasn’t alone.  There is actually a Facebook page called, you guessed it, I Hate Captcha. It’s bad enough you can’t read the scribbles, but then there are times when symbols and ‘alienese’ are included.

I understand the purpose, but why make it such a frustrating procedure? Sometimes I get so turned off, I don’t bother with the site I was trying to sign up with. Yesterday, after about 10 tries I just gave up on Stumbleupon. Maybe I will give it another try in the not too distant future, but there are other sites that serve the same purpose. 

Yeah, I know you want to differentiate between computers and humans, but this is what you, the designers, have done:

  • Give me eyestrain - that's not so nice after you hit 35
  • Stop me from commenting on lots of blogs I would to comment on - it's just not worth it after a couple of tries
  • It drives people crazy - I'm just this close to tearing my hair out
I hate spam, but I would much rather deal with it than this ‘pain-in-the-butt CAPTCHA.  All I have to do is delete the spam; it takes me less time and does not frustrate me as much. I know some folks get tons of spam on a daily basis, but the captcha is also preventing interaction with clients and visitors. 

There has got to be a better way to spam-proof websites other than captcha. I can remember seeing questions asked such as why not use a simple calculation, which requires human input?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

What You Can Learn From A Lion: Business Ideas From The Animal Kingdom

This morning as I sat down to write my blog entry for the Ultimate Blogging Challenge, I came up blank. I wanted something fun and useful, but nothing was coming to mind. So, I turned to my favorite source of inspiration, my son Jalen. I asked him to give me a topic to write about. His response was, write about lions.

So here goes my post on lions and what they can teach us in the business world and also about life and living. The first thing that caught my attention is that:

·       They are social animals in their own communities or pride. So how about you – are you social in your community, be it your niche market, work, school, church? Being social doesn’t mean being friends with everyone, but it means putting yourself out there.

How will your business grow if you do not network and interact with people who may be able to recommend you or become a potential client?

·      Have you ever watched a documentary with lions hunting? If you do, you will realize that teamwork is helpful in the hunt. Since they are not the fastest or biggest animals, they need to work together to get their prey. What can you learn from their hunting habits? Have you tried collaborating with others?

Have you been looking for opportunities where your skills could complement that of another professional? As a contentwriter, I have been contacting graphic and website designers to write the content for the sites they create. If you are an indexer, start networking with editors and proofreaders – you just never know when they may have clients who need indexers.

·      Lions are courageous and strong and usually dominate the food chain. Are you strong and courageous enough to take risks and make hard decisions so as to improve your business, financial health or life in general? 

So there you have it. I never thought of learning anything worthwhile from the animal kingdom to apply to business. I guess I was wrong.

                                         From Free FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

Monday, July 9, 2012

Out of the Mouth of Babes

My son will be 8-years old on August 10, and I feel as if he’s the parent some of the time. The statements coming out of his mouth constantly amaze me. Yesterday, I was feeling overwhelmed and he said something that resonated with me. It wasn’t the first time he has done that and it certainly won’t be the last I wager. 

“Mom, no matter what, just remember that at the end of the day, you will be with us, your family. It’s never as bad as you think, you know.” Wow, literally out of the mouth of babes, but it sure did something for me. It got me thinking about business and life. 

Children by Free Digital
Interestingly, that statement yesterday gave me the courage to turn down a project that I thought I needed to do. I was really struggling to come up with a decision…but I realized after that little talk, that it wasn’t the end of the world. So going forward, while it will be difficult sometimes, I need to remember, “It’s never as bad as I think.” In fact, I will be printing that statement and putting it above my computer for inspiration. 

So, I made a business decision after talking to my son – a child. Anyone who has to make a living from writing content or from offering freelance services, knows that some clients need to be fired. They also know that it is a good idea to follow their gut feeling and turn some jobs down.

I survived yesterday and I survived today, and you know what - He is right, it’s never as bad as it seems. So, do you ever get words of wisdom from unexpected sources?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

For Business Success: Stand Out From the Crowd

Sometimes standing out from the crowd is the only way to succeed. In many types of businesses such as article writing, standing out is a MUST! Competition is tough in this business. Even before high unemployment started forcing people to find other ways to earn an income, this business was competitive. To make clients take notice, and more importantly choose you, you have to be different. It’s not enough to be a great writer.  

So how do you stand out from the crowd? These four simple steps are a start:

  1. Make an impact: Make prospective clients take notice when you apply for a job. If you are responding to a request for a quote – make your response stand out. Show that you put some thought into it by making your proposal one that someone will remember. Even if you don’t get that job, you may get another.  
  2. Offer more:  So someone wants you to write an article for them, try to make it SEO heavy or localize the content. One long-term client has been with me for over 6 years simply because I gave him more. I explained what I was doing and the benefits, and I’m now his go-to writer for many projects.                                                                                                           
  3. Be an expert:  Guess what, clients will pay for expertise. Many great writers do not make it in this business. Why? They refuse to learn the technical aspects. They have no idea what SEO or Google Panda are. Never stop learning, it’s as simple as that.                                                     
  4. Be Nice! Yep, this really does work. Say thank you to clients, even when they may not be the nicest. Send a thank you email for a new project you received. Even when clients move on, thank them for the opportunity of working with or for them. They will remember you.  I’ve had clients come back to me years later when they need something done and done right. 

Ultimately, if you love what you do and you are passionate about it, then it will show. Making your business different is possible – so what’s stopping you from starting NOW!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Blogging: Is There Is An App for That?

It is no longer a cliché to say, ‘there’s an app for that.’ There seem to be an app for just about anything. If you area a blogger, did you know that there are lots of apps, some free, that can make blogging fun and easy. Many bloggers are constantly on the go, and having an app that is as mobile as you make life so much easier. 

Four apps to consider if you blog are:

1.       Awesome Note (+ ToDo)        

One of the reasons bloggers will love this app for the iPhone is that it is a nifty tool for making and organizing list and notes. If you have an idea for a blog entry, you can easily make a note so you can keep track of what you want to follow-up on. This app can be integrated with Google docs, making it easy to write or edit your blog article wherever you have Internet access. The beauty of the app, it’s vibrant colors and graphical calendar, is worth the small one-time price. 

It is hard to believe that this app is free.  EverNote delivers in a big way, enabling great note taking for use later on. It enables the recording of videos and taking of pictures as well. This is one of the easiest productivity tools out there and can help anyone who wants to step up efficiency a notch. With this app, you can store your documents and sync them to different devices such as PC and Smartphones. For even more power, there is a Premium version available, but the free version is adequate for most users. 

3.       SwiftKey X

This versatile app works across platforms. The touchscreen keyboard help make typing a breeze. It analyzes the words you use and can predict what you intend to type and correct misspellings quickly. The intuitive nature of this app helps to save time, especially if you type quickly. The size of the keys also makes it a lot easier to type, which is boon to bloggers on the move. For under $5.00, this app is worth the download price. 

4.       Vigo  

This app is great for bloggers who need to keep abreast of new information whether for inspiration or just to know. This app for the Blackberry is a great new tool for getting RSS feeds for the information and news junkie.  

There are lots of other blogging apps that you can explore to make the blogging process a lot easier. Some are specific to some operating systems or platform while other work great across networks. A comprehensive list of apps of interest to bloggers who use blogger is here

Monday, July 2, 2012

Is Content Still Important for Internet Success?

Most people who tried to start or market a business online are familiar with the mantra, content is king. Fast forward to 2012 and the question is, “Is content still king?” The short answer is ‘yes’ and ‘no’. 

Content will always be important, after all, without content what would your site be saying? Not everyone wants to wait on videos to load. However, content alone is not enough to bring visitors to your site. In the past, you might have been able to post just about anything on your site and still be found and indexed by search engines. This is no longer the case.

To be relevant today, content must focus squarely on quality. This is what Google’s Panda effect is all about. It is all about raising the ranking of sites with the best information over those with trivial offerings. Branded sites or those that cater to a niche are more likely to succeed than generic types.

An important, but not often used way to improve your website ranking is to get high-ranking sites to link to your content. Of course, this will only happen if, yes, you guessed it, you have valuable and informative content. If you are offering a special service or product, make yourself an expert. Know what it is you are doing – become the ‘go to source for all things to do with that product or service’. 

If you are involved with a web content writing or management company, then become the best web content provider you can be. One way to be the best is to keep learning and growing in your area of expertise. Remember that the web is a dynamic creature that keeps changing and you need to keep abreast of or ahead of all the changes. One way to do this is to visit sites that impact your business. I visit Google quite often to read news from the company’s headquarters; this way I know what is happening with one of the biggest influencers of online success. 

So, what do you think, is content still the most important aspect boosting your prospects online?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Blogging for Business Success

It has been a while since I have blogged as I was very busy doing other things, such as revamping my businesses. Granted, I’ve been thinking about starting for quite a while, but decided to begin at the start of a new month. New beginnings are always an exciting time. To top it off, I decided to join the Ultimate Blogging Challenge. I thought that posting a blog a day for the next 31 days would be a lot of fun.

I intend to get one of those nifty, I COMPLETED THE CHALLENGE badges on my site at the end of the month. So, my steps to success in this challenge, just like for business success are:
  • Planning: I’ve started to assign my topics for each day of July. Of course, some days I may end up writing about something else if it is relevant and timely. That is also the way to success, being able to move with the tide when necessary.  
  • I’ll definitely be writing some topics ahead of schedule. Those who make hay while the sun shines can rest when it rains without worrying.
  • I will also be assessing how much traffic the articles I write for this challenge brings to my blog or website. If it is not what I expect or want, I will learn from it and possibly change the focus of the articles.
These days, the need for quality content is more important than ever. As an article and website writing article services provider, I know the value of re-evaluating and re-assessing website traffic to reap online success. Blogging is still definitely a great way to get hits and grow your business online.

July, here I come!