The question of “what plugins should I have on my site” comes up often. Since WordPress is so widely used, the world of plugins is amazing! What is a plugin? A plugin is an extra feature you can easily add to run in the backend of your website to do necessary and sometimes FUN actions!
These are my five top favorite free ones to use.
Social Media Widget. This is a plugin that you can setup so many of your social media icons and profiles under one roof. You can customize the appearance of Social Media icons even uploading your very own custom ones. This is very easy to setup and use.
Facebook Comments. This is a fabulous tool to use to create a social atmosphere to your blog comments. Install this free plugin and the bottom of your blog posts will look like people are responding on Facebook. This one is a bit complicated to setup, but their instructions are pretty good, just follow them step by step.
Quotes Collection. This is a great free plugin that allows you to add scrolling testimonials to your sidebar. It’s very easy to install and setup. You even have the ability to set if you want them static or scrolling in timed intervals.
Audio Player. This free plugin is very simple to install and setup. I use this one frequently when you want a simple audio player to play MP3’s files directly on a webpage. There are some customizations you can make for the stylization, but the overall look is very clean and simple.
Contact Form 7. This is a great free contact form tool. It is very easy to install and takes just a bit of time to setup your first contact form. If you are looking for an easy, simple, and straightforward contact form setup on your website, check this one out.
There are TONS of free WordPress plugins you can install; these are just some of my favorite ones that I seem to always refer to. I would LOVE to hear your favorites! Comment below!
Marketing your business online is so important, and yet so many businesses put this aspect on the back burner as they are doing business. Continuing to market and try new marketing techniques constantly will help keep your business profitable, during times that would normally be very slow. Always keep growing your contact list! Below are my top three marketing tricks you should be doing now.
1. Facebook Ads are so incredibly powerful. You can easily boost an awesome post on your page for only $5! By taking advantage of Facebook Ads you can reach a huge market. Give it a try!
2. Make sure you are enticing your audience by having a compelling and exciting free offer for your opt-ins. Encourage people to want to sign up to your list. What is it that your target audience really wants? Can you create a checklist, ebook, or video series that you can give away to them for free? Don’t wait on this!
3. Utilize free SEO submission sites to submit your articles! This will only take about 5 minutes per post and you are once again casting the net out larger to attract more people, for FREE. Some of my favorites are ezinearticles.com and goarticles.com.
Be yourself always! Whether in creating Facebook ads, posts, your free offer, or any of your emails, people want to know YOU. Think about some of the people that you follow and trust online. You probably really respect and enjoy their personality as well as their knowledge. Use YOUR own language and do what feels right to you.
If these tricks feel daunting to be doing by yourself, then don’t do it alone! Invest in yourself and partner with a fabulous, experienced Virtual Assistant! An experienced VA should have the knowledge to help you grow your email list and guide you to creating a marketing plan that works for you.
This question is asked by my clients often. They have a Facebook, LinkedIn, and/or Twitter accounts and they do not know what to post. This should not be stressful or feel like a chore. Get on your accounts and be yourself. Interact with your followers, fans, friends, etc.
These social networks should not ONLY be used as advertising or “billboards” for your company. Use them as you would going to a networking event. Meet others, ask questions, start a discussion.
The generally accepted rule of thumb for interacting socially versus advertising your business is 80/20. Only use about 20% of your postings and conversations about your business. The reason for this is to create a social network of people that are interested in you as a person, not a faceless business. Create that trust with your friends, followers, etc. but showing that you are interested in them, not only seeing them for dollar signs.
I challenge you this week to spur conversation on your Facebook Fan Page with your followers. Ask a question that is relevant to your followers.
If you feel stuck, contact me today to create a social media marketing plan for your business, which will include a list of conversation starters.
Good entrepreneurs need to be good leaders. Through their actions, which are aligned with what they say, they become a person others want to follow. When leaders say one thing but do another, they erode trust, a critical element of productive leadership and business success.
Here are the top 10 of the dozens of ways to lead by example:
1. Take responsibility. Blame costs you your credibility, keeps team members (and anyone working with or for you) on the defensive and ultimately sabotages real growth.
2. Be truthful. Inaccurate representation affects everyone. Show that honesty really IS the best policy.
3. Be courageous. Walk through fire (a crisis) first. Take calculated risks that demonstrate commitment to a larger purpose.
4. Acknowledge failure. It makes it OK for your associates to do the same and defines failure as part of the process of becoming extraordinary.
5. Be persistent. Try, try again. Go over, under or around any hurdles to show that obstacles don’t define your company or team.
6. Create solutions. Don’t dwell on problems; instead be the first to offer solutions and then ask your team for more.
7. Listen. Ask questions. Seek to understand. You’ll receive valuable insights and set a tone that encourages healthy dialogue.
8. Delegate liberally. Encourage an atmosphere in which people can focus on their core strengths.
9. Take care of yourself. Exercise, don’t overwork, take a break. A balanced team, mentally and physically, is a successful team. Model it, encourage it, support it!
10. Roll up your sleeves. Like Alexander the Great leading his men into battle, you’ll inspire greatness in your company.
What are your ways of leading by example? I would love to hear from you below!
Having a Facebook Fan Page is critical for small businesses. Whether you sell physical products or consultant services, utilizing Facebook for your marketing efforts can pay off big time. But there are many Facebook Fan Pages out there that are not utilizing all their space or “real estate” on this page.
Below I am going to share with you the top 4 items you must include on your Facebook Fan Page to get the most results.
1. Use your cover photo area. This cover photo area is a large piece of “real estate” on your page. The dimensions are 851px x 315px. Use this area to either show a great head shot of you and/or your business tagline. You can also use a beautiful, inspiring photo that resonates with you. One that others would be drawn to. Play around with it and see what feels right for you. Make sure you do take note of Facebook’s rules for what can and cannot be in this area. Basically, you cannot tell people about prices or products in this area.
2. Use the smaller profile photo area to show you. People are still accustomed to see a profile pic and the best image to use here is still your headshot. Show yourself and people can relate better to you.
3. Under the images, in the shaded blue box, make sure you have the link to your website. You can see an example of this by clicking here. You can edit this area by going to “Manage”, “Edit Page”. Go to the “Basic Information” section and use the “About” field. You are limited to 58 characters, so make it count! Make sure the very first item in this section is the link to your website. That way people can easily click to your website.
4. Use the new App area strategically. Do you have a freebie on your website? Here is where you are allowed to post that information. Use a program like Lujure , which gives you the ability to create one free page, to hook up a custom area to advertise this freebie and get people to sign up to your list.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, contact me today for a FREE consultation on how I can help you create an online presence.
If trying to maintain balance in your life makes you feel like a tightrope walker, you’re not alone. Most of us have so many demands on our time and energy, life can feel like a three-ring circus. Take this quiz to see how well you are meeting responsibilities, while also recognizing and fulfilling personal needs and wants.
True OR False
1. The only way I can successfully manage my life is to take care of myself physically and emotionally.
2. Nurturing myself enlarges my capacity to help others.
3. I eat healthfully and exercise regularly.
4. I get check-ups, go to the dentist, and take preventative precautions.
5. I set aside personal, quiet time for myself, whether I’m meditating or simply letting my thoughts drift.
6. I experience the gifts of each season: ice skating, sledding, bundled-up beach walks; gardening, hiking, more time outside; camping, swimming, barbeques; harvesting the bounty, gathering wood, spending more time inside.
7. Creativity nurtures me, too. I do what I love, whether that’s cooking, drawing, painting, writing, dancing, singing or another creative pursuit.
8. Reaching out to others enriches my life. I spend quality time with family and friends.
9. Contributing to the world provides connection and purpose, so I give my time, energy and experience where it is most useful.
10. I notice and heed the emotional signals that tell me I’m out of balance: irritability, overwhelm, resentment.
11. If I feel that I’m catching a cold, I realize I may have stressed my immune system with overactivity, so I stop and take care of myself.
12. When I need or want to, I say no to requests for my time.
13. I listen to and honor the requests my body makes for such things as a nap, a walk, green vegetables, hot soup.
14. If I have something planned for myself, I don’t just toss that aside when someone makes a request of me.
15. I’m busy, but I find time to do the things I want to do.
16. I’m happy. I regularly experience well-being, contentment, even joy.
If you answered false more often than true, you may want to take a look at the questions to which you answered false and see if you can incorporate something of its message into your life. Please don’t hesitate to contact me so I can help you create more balance in your business and life.
© 2011 Claire Communications
Blogging. Affiliate Marketing. Network Marketing. What the heck is the difference? Let’s break it all down so you can make an educated decision as to whether or not one of these types of businesses could be right for you!
IMPORTANT: Before you start investing time, effort, money, or energy into any business, MAKE SURE YOU DO YOUR HOMEWORK!
A blog is a breathing website! The content is continually updated and users (such as yourself) are typically able to interact with the author by posting comments under articles. Users can also share information they find valuable by posting the content to their own social media outlets.
Some of the ways bloggers are able to monetize their blogging efforts are by offering space on their webpage to advertisers and sponsors, linking themselves up with Affiliate Programs (we’ll talk more about that later), selling their own tangible products, offering their services for a fee or links to other membership programs – the list goes on, and on, and on!
There are TONS of resources available online that can teach you how to capitalize on your blog. It’s something that can be started off on a part time basis to make a little extra money, and could potentially become a steady stream of income if effectively utilized. Blogging does require effort and consistency on your part – you want to make sure you keep the content fresh so you can keep your target market’s attention. You want them to keep returning to hear what you have to say so they stay in front of, or next to, what you’re advertising, selling, learning, etc.!
TIP: Make sure your market is targeted and that the products you offer are consistent with your audience. If your blog is about dog breeding, it is not likely that your affiliate auto parts program is going to be a huge money maker!
“Become an Affiliate.” “Affiliate Program.” Ever notice these words at the footer of the website you visit and purchase products from ALL THE TIME? Many companies offer programs to “Affiliates” to drive traffic and sales to a company or retailer’s website, and in return, the company or retailer monetarily compensates the affiliate for the lead or sale. Affiliate Programs vary from company to company: some pay a commission based on converted sales, while others pay for leads and traffic. The commission amount also varies from program to program.
Typically, the company will assign a link that is unique to you, the Affiliate, that can be posted or embedded on your webpage. Banners and images are usually provided as well. When a user on your blog or website clicks on the link, the traffic is driven to the retailer’s external site through the link. That activity can be tracked back to you through your unique link! You may get paid a commission if the prospective lead or customer makes a purchase on the retailer’s website or signs up for an account with the retailer. In other cases, you may get paid a commission just for driving the lead to the site.
Make sure you review all the details of each Affiliate Program as they can vary drastically from place to place. It’s also important to note that in order to become an affiliate, generally you’ll need to have a blog or website to market your links. I’m sure that if you’re creative enough, you may be able to do it without a website or blog, but it would be tricky.
TIP: Do you (or would you) actually purchase the products or services you’re offering on your site? If the answer is “NO,” I would reconsider if it’s something you want on your page or in your community. You should be able to stand behind the products you’re marketing. Even though you’re not technically the vendor, the products and services are a reflection of you because they are YOUR recommendations. If you wouldn’t personally use it, my rule of thumb is don’t attempt to push it on others!
Ok, here’s the one that always seems to confuse people: Network Marketing. Just hearing these two words together can raise the hair on the back of a person’s neck, or cause them to run in the other direction. Why is that? Well, let’s examine.
Often times, the first thoughts that people have when they hear Network Marketing, or Multi Level Marketing (MLM), are “Pyramid Schemes,” “Money Triangles,” “Fraudulent Business,” etc., etc. Maybe they’ve had a bad experience in the past, tried an opportunity that wasn’t suited for them, or have been sold a product that they just didn’t need or really want in the first place. The truth of the matter is that “Pyramid Schemes” are ILLEGAL! The business that your friend asked you to take a look at last week might be a Network Marketing opportunity, but chances are it is not a “pyramid scheme.”
The Network Marketing business model is based on “Word of Mouth” referrals. Rather than staffing an office or call center to market and distribute a product, a company will pay commissions to Independent Consultants for product sales that a consultant personally generates, as well as sales generated by sponsoring new consultants, and sales made by said new consultants. By working with Independent Consultants rather than “Employees,” at tax time the company is able to issue form 1099 to any consultants who earned more than $600.00 that fiscal year. This business model can be appealing to a company looking to keep payroll expenses down, or to a consultant looking to offset their income by having home based business expenses**. **(I am by no means a tax professional, so please consult with your accountant or financial adviser as to the benefits and/or financial details and responsibilities of owning a home based business or operating a Network Marketing company.)
Here is the important part: remember what I mentioned earlier about doing your homework? Well, DO YOUR HOMEWORK! How long has the company been in business? Are they a member of the Direct Selling Association (DSA)? (Side note: It takes a very long time for an application to be reviewed and approved by the DSA. They do background checks and an array of other research before they will approve a company to be admitted into the Association. If the company you are checking out belongs to the DSA, again, chances are they are not a “pyramid scheme.”) Are they rated with the Better Business Bureau (BBB)? What kind of products or services do they sell and what is the average price of the products or services? Is the product something you can see yourself using? There are many questions you need to ask yourself and get the answers to in order for you to make an informed decision. These will get you started on your path to business opportunity education.
If your goal is to start a home based business with a low start up cost and low overhead, a Network Marketing company could be a good fit for you. The hours are flexible and a reputable outfit will provide you with free or low cost training to get you started on the right foot. Most of the time for a monthly fee, the company will provide, host, and maintain several different websites for you where customers can purchase your products or services and watch a video of your business opportunity, with another site that tracks your progress, commissions, goals, events, etc. The prices are generally reasonable considering what it would actually cost you if you were to buy a domain name, create your own website, and have it hosted every month. Don’t forget to check with your financial adviser regarding the benefits of owning and operating a home based business.
Make sure you don’t confuse the word “simple” with “easy.” Many Network Marketing companies are based on a simple idea, but you still have to put in time and effort. You are not going to “get rich quick,” and if anyone promises you otherwise, I’d seriously reconsider joining their organization, and even go as far as to report them to the corporate headquarters. That consultant could just literally be a bad consultant standing in the way of you and a good opportunity. If you think someone is acting inappropriately, let the company know! They should know if their name is being tarnished in the community, and chances are, they will remedy the situation. If you are consistent, patient, and honest, you will have a better chance of being successful in the industry.
TIP: One of the most critical components to being successful in Network Marketing is this – you MUST, MUST, MUST be able to stand behind your product or service!. Don’t try to sell someone a product or service that you would never in a million years consider trying or buying yourself. You’re getting face to face (or phone to phone, keyboard to keyboard, etc.) with people who know, love, and trust you. Make sure that you do right by your community!
(For more information regarding starting your own home based business offering a recession proof product, click HERE!)
Alissa McDowell is a small office business administrator turned Momtrepreneur. Well versed in wearing many hats, she is currently a work-from-home-mom at “Chez McDowell”. This wife, mother of two, chef, bookkeeper, and housekeeper works part time as a Network Marketer and Blogger promoting a recession proof product in the new economy. Follow her blog at www.alissamcdowell.com for money saving tips, business strategies, and products and services associated with balancing home life with business life. Alissamcdowell.com is a community where ALL entre(and momtre)preneurs can network and share ideas. You can also find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mcdowell.alissa.
I see many small business owners creating a Facebook Fan Page and not know or understand what to do with it. Facebook, as all social media platforms, is to create a community of people engaging in social interactions. Facebook is not to be used as a billboard advertising your company but to engage with followers and create genuine relationships.
Below, I am going to share with you the top 3 mistakes you may be making with your business using Facebook so you can start using Facebook effectively for your business.
Mistake #1: Posting only about your business.
Using your Facebook Fan Page (or profile) to advertise your current blog, specials, or only news about your business will turn people away. Why is this? As I mentioned above, Facebook is meant to be about social interactions. If people feel that you are not sincere and only a “salesperson” they have no relationship with you and will tune out or even unsubscribe from you. Think about it, if you meet someone at a networking event and they only talk about themselves and you feel they are a “pushy” salesperson pushing their products and services on you, do you stay engaged? Do you want to do business with them? Probably not.
The best advice is the 80/20 rule. 80% of your material and postings should be information related only. For example, if you find an interesting video or article, share it and ask a probing question. Ask people to comment or what they think about the video? Remember, it is ALL about social interaction.
Mistake #2: Not answering or responding to posts or comments from other people.
If you are not responding to people’s comments or posts, you are ignoring potential clients and customers. If you are asking a probing question, or someone posts on your wall, answer them or thank them for their insight. This really is just common courtesy. If you are talking to someone in person and they make a comment or ask you a question, it would be rude not to respond, right? It is the same thing on Facebook.
When you respond to people, you are showing them that you are a “real, live person” and not just a faceless company. This is developing your relationship with your followers, who could be potential clients. Also, respond to them in a timely manner. Responding only once per week is a no-no, by then the person who commented has already “checked out”. Within 24 hours is optimal (especially Monday-Friday).
Mistake #3: Not being consistent with your posts.
Are you an occasional poster? Then you are not using Facebook to its full potential. Most people are not on Facebook looking at their newsfeed 24/7. Many will pop on and off throughout the day and night. If you only post once per week, how many people are actually seeing your post? Not many.
I highly recommend posting at least 2 times per day (make sure you revisit Mistake #1 above if you are only posting about your business). Then you are widening the amount of people who may see your posts, so they can respond.
Facebook is a wonderful platform to gain potential clients and customers, especially if you stay engaged with your followers and create a community. Try to think about how you would engage with people in person and use similar strategies. Be yourself. Be real and authentic.
If this seems overwhelming for you, then hire a consultant to help you wade through the Social Media waters. Contact me today for a free, no-obligation phone call to assess your needs and how I can help you stay engaged to your prospects and clients.
With many Virtual Assistants, you pay only for the hours of work provided. You can also pay many a negotiated hourly rate or a total project fee. Also, for a Virtual Assistant you are not paying taxes, as they are typically hired as 1099 contractors, nor are you paying for any health benefits. You are basically only paying for quality service.
Since you are now delegating your tasks to a Virtual Assistant, you have more time to be involved in the building of your own business and not worrying about the daily tasks of your business. Now you can focus on marketing your business.
You are paying for a high quality service from specialized Virtual Assistants. A Virtual Assistant is highly skilled and experienced in their areas of expertise. You can trust that you will receive a high quality with a trustworthy, dependable, and skilled professional.
Now that you have a highly skilled professional assisting you in your business, your Virtual Assistant can find ways to improve the organization of your business. This is their expertise. Your office and business will run smoother increasing your revenue.
Still confused, or unsure if hiring a Virtual Assistant is a right fit for you and your business? Contact me today for a complimentary, no-obligation strategy phone call. We will discuss your business goals and how you can achieve them this year!