Creating an Avatar and Why You Need One

avatarsAn Avatar is a specifically sized image that is either your photo, logo or a graphic that you want to represent you. There is a website that I highly recommend, which will facilitate your Avatar following your email address on anything you post information to, such as comments on blogs, including your own.

The site is http://Gravatar.com.  Create an account, include your desired Avatar, profile pic, biographical or company information and the email address you use to make posts. Now, whenever you make a post, your Avatar will automatically follow your email address, where ever you post – and readers can click on your Avatar to get more information about you and learn where they can find you online. This is a must for driving traffic to your website as you work towards building relationships with other bloggers!

So, what size should an Avatar be and how do you formulate one? Where else can you use your Avatar? Here’s a great article post that will give you all the details … Go to:  How to Optimize Your Profile Photos Across Social Media

 

 

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What to Pay Attention To in Your Branding

To Do ListIt’s the subtle things that make up the background of your content that affect your reader and potential customers the most. If there’s a ton of text without much white space, readers move into a subconscious level of irritation or criticism which can backfire on you. Inserting a graph, an image or keeping your sentences short and breaking up your paragraphs, help to move the reader to a more relaxed state of mind to digest and comprehend your content. Bullet points are another way to get to the point quickly, and with a web-based platform, you can add more content and link it to the bullet so the reader has the option to read more, or just skim. color burstColors play another big role in whether or not trust or value is perceived in the correct way. If your site is about massage therapy and whole healing, the last thing you want to do is to create a red site. Red is an aggressive color and speaks of authority, not safety or calm as blue and green does. In a recent interview with Judith Briles for Author U (niversity) we discuss a few more areas for consideration.

Listen:     YourGuidetoBookPublishingLIVE_2013-06-13

By the way …

Branding is NOT about the appearance of your product, nor is it your logo. Branding is how people feel or think about your product or services. The appearance of your marketing material, products and other visual elements are what create that feeling or thought towards your business.

I felt that they were a trust worthy company and I loved your sense of humor and simplicity.

I think you know what you are doing. Everything was laid out well and was easy to find.

Both comments are from customers who have developed an opinion based upon how they felt when they were introduced to a company website. This is what they will tell others who want to know what it was like to work with that company.

And THAT … my friend … is branding.

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The Basics of Branding and Managing Expectations

Thinking about creating a new website?Are you considering creating a WordPress website and you need a little bit more information about what to focus on?

In this podcast with Judith Briles on the Your Guide to BOOK PUBLISHING we discuss the basics of what you need to know in building your WordPress site and how to identify your branding and manage expectations of visitors.

Do you know what branding really is? (it’s not your logo) How do you get visitors to linger on your website? What is the number one thing you need to know to avoid confusing your visitors?

Listen in …

On the Air

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Categories and Tags

Are you paying attention?One of the confusing issues that clients run into, is understanding categories and tags. It’s very easy to immediately get into too much detail trying to list topics when worrying about SEO (search engine optimization).

To get beyond the fear of not having enough words to trigger better SEO, think of your categories and tags in the same way you’d think of a good, clean, filing system. For instance, the word “State” could be a category, with a child categories of “California”, “Colorado”,  and “Texas”.

Your keywords, or tags, would be, “Denver”, “Los Angeles”, “Dallas”, “Fort Worth”, etc.  In addition to these tags, you would also list what topic was that you were discussing in regards to those categories and tags. If you were a mystery shopper, you’d mention specific malls, clothing items, restaurants, etc.

When the search engines index your website, having good categories and tags makes it clean and more efficient to list the content of your site in a more complete and in-depth manner.

When ever you post your blog,  select your category or categories, add your keywords, then save. When keywords are used often, they will automatically start showing as suggestions below the field that you’d enter a new keyword. Select those first, before you make up new keywords. Having more keywords is NOT the way to attract a search engine. More keywords without strong keywords (that appear consistently) start to look like spam and your site could suffer in its ranking because of this.

Believe it or not, you can lose your readers too, when there are too many keywords listed at the end of each of your blog posts. Your site starts to appear technical and more geared towards search engines than it does for the reader. Having clean, consistent categories and tags helps the reader to find what they need without leading to confusion. It also keeps the visual clutter down!

Here’s a great video I ran across on YouTube from Corey Dolbey on Categories and Tags. Enjoy …

 

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Videos on the Rise!

As is common with most of us, we have a hard time imagining massive changes in the future and how those changes will affect how we interact with one another and how it will influence how we will do business.

Every entrepreneur that is successful, is enjoying that success based upon the fact that alertness and awareness of how things are changing around them, continue to constantly present new opportunities for profits and solving new problems – which present even more opportunities.

The following statistics will clearly prove your Customers are actually looking forward to receiving a Video Email from you.

Do my customers want Video Emails from me?

  • Yes. 78% of consumers indicated they would “look forward” to receiving any type of email from a business they frequent. (AOL Survey)
  • 66% of consumers indicated an email of any type from an existing business relationship was the best form of customer service they had experienced in their lives. (AOL Survey)

Does email marketing boost sales?

  • 68% of the respondents said they have made purchases online after receiving email. (DoubleClick)
  • “…a discount was the most compelling motivational factor for making an immediate purchase after clicking on an email (70%).” (DoubleClick)

Should I send Video Emails to my existing customers?

  • The odds of selling a product to a new customer are 15%, whereas the odds of selling a product to an existing customer are 50%. (Bain and Co.)
  • Acquiring a new customer costs five to ten times more than retaining one. (eMarketer)
  • Repeat customers spend 67% more. (Bain and Co.)

Can I build my business on referrals?

  • Absolutely, yes! After ten purchases, a customer has referred up to seven people. (Bain and Co.)
  • Customers love “being in the know” with new products or information – especially when it’s informative, entertaining or helpful
  • Video emails can quickly become ‘viral marketing’ tools as they are forwarded to their friends and family.

Instead of being left behind when it comes to moving to a new media – just include it in your current business planning! Videos are here to stay. Our very busy world demands an optimization of our communications. Books aren’t going away – but how we experience them is EXPANDING.

The written book, the audio book, the video book … think of the possibilities!

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The Magical Marketing Power of Videos Online

The old ways of doing business are rapidly changing which makes old, static websites obsolete. As a business owner or hobbyist that desires an online presence along with the ability to earn extra income, a mind-boggling number of tools have entered into our Internet lives.

WordPress is one of the leading tools that continue to keep pace with this ever-changing cyber-landscape. Even though the platform is relatively simple, many people resist making the change because they are fearful of accepting the responsibility of updating their own sites or having the control to change their pages as they need to. Now that control has been placed back in the hands of the business owner many shutter at the thought of yet, “another learning curve” as they learn how to post their own blogs or update pages.

The beauty of WordPress is that any level of student or professional can update their site and do anything from edit simple text to editing code. It’s up to you how much control you want over your site and how it functions.

Imagine bearly knowing how to use email, yet being able to update your own website!

Video tutorials are the perfect solution for beginners and for advancing users. Whether it’s learning how to post your blog on your own website or learning how to create your own WordPress theme – there are tutorials available online.

As a service to my clients, I’ve created quick, easy tutorials on simple WordPress tasks that every user needs to know.  The beauty of a video tutorial is that you can replay, stop, backup, and follow along—something that any student hesitates to bother their teacher with!

You can find these tutorials HERE.

YouTube has hundreds of tutorials on everything you can imagine, including WordPress. Be sure to look there as well, and when you find a tutorial that you like, be sure to subscribe to their channel so as not to lose your place when you want to go back and learn something else.

As a bonus thought, while you are enjoying the free tutorials, notice how people present themselves and their subject matter.  Do you find yourself engaged, or put-off by several seconds of introductory music? What background music did you find the most complementary to your tutorial? Personally, as I noticed my own reactions, I found myself annoyed with music beforehand, but would tolerate it to some degree. It really turned me off if there was a long introduction from the person that was in essence, an advertisement about how smart and qualified they were. (I just wanted to know the information, get in and get out.)

That’s why my videos contain just the basic bits of information that get right to the point. Now, understand that doesn’t mean this is the right way – its just one way, and you may find that you like more of a production in your video tutorial.

Why do I mention this? Because while you are receiving the benefits of someone else’s work, notice the immediate value that providing that video has added to that particular person’s business.

If you are interested in making videos from your desktop computer but don’t have the software, here’s a free software that you can use: http://camstudio.org/ (you’ll notice me using this software in my own video tutorials)

In the WordPress videos, you’ll see me showing you how to do something directly from the WordPress Dashboard. The software is simply capturing what it is that I’m doing (or seeing) on my computer. Do you have a PowerPoint that you wish was a video? Set up your PowerPoint slide show and just narrate it while the recorder captures your desktop presentation and ta-da! You now have a narrated video of your PowerPoint presentation.

Now that you’re thinking in terms of personally providing tutorials – what else can you do with them?

Continue noticing what you like and what you don’t like, such as:

  • Video length
  • Narration, or no narration
  • The “flavor” of the narration (formal or casual)
  • Music or no music?
  • What kind of music?
  • Website address before or after or just in the description of the video?
  • Credits?
  • Edited or non-edited (formal or casual)
  • How does the video make you FEEL?
  • How does the video make you THINK?

Next, think about the delivery of the video. How did you like going to a website to view a tutorial section?  Would this work on your site? Would you want to add a membership site feature to your site where clients would pay a modest fee to access your materials?

What would it be like if you had a series of tutorial videos and visitors could subscribe to them for them to be delivered straight to their inbox without having to hunt through YouTube for them? This allows you to build your database of names for future marketing – and this database is direct to your target market who value the information you are providing, or they wouldn’t have subscribed!

Now think in terms of educational or motivational videos. Begin with free and build your database, then introduce or up-sell to video products that your customers purchase and have delivered directly to them.

Did you know that by the year 2014 videos are expected to represent 90% of our Internet communication and represents over $50B in expected business? Even Amazon is already accepting video reviews as an option instead of written reviews.

What would you rather do, read emails or watch a video? Think about it! How would video revolutionize your newsletter? Your online products? Video blog? Online conferencing?

The opportunities are endless now to not just make simple tutorial videos, but to communicate to a worldwide audience in real-time and through videos with web-conferencing (which can be recorded and repurposed as a video product)

The opportunities are endless for us now as we enter into a whole new world Online of communication and interaction. Nothing builds a relationship with your audience like personally interacting with them face-to-face except with a video.

Call me to brainstorm the possibilities for your specific product, book topic, or service. In the same way that I graphically record conference sessions, I gather information and resources to visually communicate your business to others.

Contact me for a FREE ½ hour consultation.

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Fearless Blog Posting

What is there to fear?No need to fear making blog posts! They are as easy as sending off a quick email to a friend. Your blog is an extension of yourself and your thoughts. You know things that others would like to know – and this is the place to share those items.

If you are a small business, posting blogs online builds trust and great customer relationships with the people you provide services to.

If you are an author, people get to read and relate to you in real time when they subscribe to your writings. Posting blogs is a fantastic way to build anticipation and excitement for the book that is about to roll off the press (and allows you an opportunity for pre-pub sales) or for that book you have in mind that you’d like to write. Fans love being “in-the-know” and will share with others in regards to your next book as well as cheer you on in your journey.

You can make your posts as short as you like or as long as you like. However, a word to the wise … blog posts are best used as sound bites – and your longer posts will be received better if you post them in a PAGE and list them as an article.

You can add a video to your blog, images and mention other blogs for variety. Pasting a quote into your blog with the quote tool will add visual variety when you don’t have an image or video to share.

The more you post on your blog, the faster your site will be found by search engines and seen as a viable resource for information in your area of expertise.

Go ahead – dive in and start writing!

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FREE Stuff That Makes Snappy Sites and Happy Visitors

I'm all earsA site that contains a lot of text, statistics, and boring information won’t catch the attention of your busy visitors who are seeking value in the blink of an eye.

Just as the snap of fingers catches attention, so do sites that invite the visitor to interact, be entertained, and build relationships. Your website is a tool – and an extension of you.

Whether a novice or a person who has enjoyed an online presence for years, it’s time to upgrade your approach if you haven’t already. The tools I’m going to share are just a small handful of tools that are available for free and which are easy to get started with.

FREE = Free is awesome, but there’s always a price, so expect win/win situations when it comes to partaking of the hard labors of designers and programmers worldwide. FREE usually means that your tool will carry some branding of the creator of the tool, and may or may not have additional advertisements to navigate around.

Some are free to use, but if you are selling products, or making money from them, there’s usually an associated fee that will be taken in order to pay for the service you are using.

Many free tools are still worth using – especially when you are just getting started. You can always upgrade later.

UPGRADING = When you upgrade, expect either a one-time fee, a yearly membership or even monthly memberships. To know whether or not this is justified, think in terms of any investment, which is asking yourself the question, “What is the return on my investment?”

If you are paying a $20 monthly fee, for one thing, a $39 monthly fee for another, and four other services that require percentages or additional fees – are you making more than that in sales per month to justify this cost? If not, don’t despair, because you can still use the services and tools for free.

Sometimes these services are the bare minimum or have a limitation on usage per month. That may serve your purposes just fine. If not, then make sure that whatever service you upgrade – will pay off in the long run. (Check out if there are any free trials that you can utilize too)

Here are some of my favorite “handy” tools. Some you already know, others you may not ..

  1. PAYPAL = If you don’t have a way of collecting payments by check or credit card online, PayPal is a good start. There are small fees taken off of transactions and a percentage of sales. http://PayPal.com
  2. JOT FORM = Jot form is super easy and intuitive to set up and use. The free version limits you to a small number of respondents. Upgrade for a small fee for unlimited submissions. Vital for Book Launch days! http://jotform.com
  3. SLIDESHARE = Do you have a PowerPoint that you’d like to share online? Upload it to Slideshare and embed the resulting “SlideShare” into your blog or website pages.
  4.  ANIMOTO = A similar service to SlideShare, Animoto creates a short video from your photos that you can share online with music or audio. http://animoto.com

Have fun exploring these few services and feel free to share with me, in the comment form below, any other services you have found that you find extremely helpful. Happy Snapping!

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