You’re The Spark

Building a camp fire is much like building a business.

Historians will argue and debate over when and where the first camp fire was built; however the one thing that historians, survivalists, cub scouts, boy scouts, hunters, and campers can agree on is, that to build a camp fire one must follow a process.

I am going to build our campfire today using a tried and true process:

Step One: Prepare the ground. Remove all excess debris, flatten the ground and build a containment wall.

In our businesses we should prepare our ground by making a plan, setting a goal (your containment wall), educate and train ourselves, obtaining the necessary licenses to operate our business, create a business name, create a logo, design and produce basic marketing materials (business cards, post cards, web site, facebook page, etc…).

Step Two: Gather tender. Tender is the smallest and driest fuel you can find. Such as, pine needles, cedar shavings, dryer lint, birch bark shavings, etc…

Tender is your family and closest friends. Tender is your parents, your kids, your aunts and uncles, grandparents, cousins, and your best friends. You’re the spark! Let all of these people know what you will be doing, where you will be doing it, and what you’re selling. These people should be easy to sell to. They should support you and promote you to their friends and to their relatives.

Caution: What happens when the tender burns out? how fast will it take for it to burn out? Anyone that has started a fire knows that tender will burn rather fast and if your not prepared it will burn down to nothing!

Gather kindling: Dead twigs that are no bigger than a pencil. Build this up in a pyramid sort of fashion. It should catch fire from the tender quickly.

Kindling is all the other people you know. Your friends, acquaintances, people you have done business with, high school and college friends, people on your facebook accounts, networking groups. Let these people know what you are selling and where you are working. Send them a card, call them on the phone, and or set up a lunch date.

Caution: Refer to the caution in Tender. Same thing

Step Three: Fuel – (From the Boy Scout Handbook) “Fuel wood can be as thick as your finger or as thick as your wrist. Use sticks that you find on the ground. Gather them from a wide area rather than removing all the downed wood from one spot.”

Your fire should be going well now. All you have to do is keep gathering fuel wood and adding it to the fire. Right? Yes and no! There is still a process. You want to gather wood from different parts of the forest. Don’t stay in one place. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Somedays you will find fuel close to the fire. Other days you will have to go to great distances to find it. The important thing is: LOOK! Wander the forest every day and every day gather the fuel wood! Its there! If you cant find it in a place that you have looked before, explore, take an adventure and look where you have not looked before! – Ron Smith

Keeping Tech SMART

Simple

Measurable

Accountable

Result

Timely

 

WOW!!!  Technology continues to be fluid and ever changing.  There is always something new. Technology moves at the speed of light and sometimes its very hard to grasp, especially when it comes to using technology in our business.

Keep it SIMPLE.  Use the technology that you understand.  If you are comfortable with facebook and know its ins and outs then become even more knowledgable about it, and optimize it to help you achieve your social media goals.  I don’t feel there is a need to use  15 different social medias to market your business.  I feel that over use can and will cloud your goals, confuse your intellect, and take time away from other types of marketing media.

 

Make sure you MEASURE your efforts.  Using technology as a marketing tool is awesome; however, just like any other marketing, it can be expensive.  Make sure that you can measure the results, and know from what sources your growths are coming from.

 

What and how do you make technology ACCOUNTABLE? Don’ t get locked into something that you can not get out of.  As an example: if you are promised 10 leads per month from a web site, and they ask you to sign a contract, have them also state in the contract that if you don’t get 10 leads per month you can get out of the contract.  Typically I avoid contracts all together unless the program is proven (by means other than those from the people selling the product) and they have other clients endorsing their services.

 

Get RESULTS.  <——– This is what it all comes down to.  If your not getting results change what you are doing.

 

Understanding TIMELY. Timely doesn’t mean hurry up (although it could if thats your goal) To get your web site listed in the top of the search engines “Organically” (the free way) can take several months.  To get your web site listed on the top of the search engines with PPC (Pay Per Click) can be almost instant.  Set your time limits for the results you want based on the type of media you are using.

 

Thank for reading and I hope that you all have a great week!

 

What you should have on your website home page

In business, you only get one chance to make a good first impression, and your company’s website is no different. When customers arrive at your site they should instantly have a clear understanding of who you are and what you do. But statistics show that many small-business websites lack the basics, which puts them at risk of losing a customer with just one click.

The relationship between a customer and a business is based on trust. Is your website customer-friendly? Start with the five things that belong on the front page of every business website.

1. Contact information:

A recent survey by Chantilly, Va.-based local media and advertising research group BIA/Kelsey indicates that nearly 75 percent of small-business websites don’t have an email link on their homepage. And six out of 10 don’t have a phone number.
Minimally, your site should have a clear email link and a phone number. If you have a physical location, consider including the full address with the state and zip code, as well as a map and directions.

2. Images that represent what you do:

If you sell wedding cakes, for instance, the front page of your website should have a picture of one of your cakes. As basic as this sounds, many business sites use irrelevant graphics such as butterflies and family photos, or worse, no graphics at all.
But be mindful of how you display images. Think twice before making them spin or shake or do anything else that can be distracting or irritating.

3. Clear navigation with working links:

The front page of your site should have a clear navigation system either across the top or down one side of the page. The buttons should be clearly marked with words that correspond to the content on your site and help customers quickly find what they’re looking for. Also consider including buttons for shipping options, FAQs and background on your company.

It’s also important to click your links on a regular basis to make sure they all work, or use Google Webmaster Tools to identify any 404 errors. Broken links not only prevent shoppers from completing their orders, they can also make it appear as if you don’t care about your business.

4. An email signup box:

One effective way to encourage customer loyalty is with a regular newsletter. Put a signup box on the front page of your website and offer rewards, such as a discount on a future order to anyone who submits his or her email address. Services such as Mailchimp offer simple ways of doing this.

5. Social media links:

Help customers stay in touch by providing links to your social media accounts right on your front page. Use recognizable icons linked to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or LinkedIn. You can also use feed widgets to encourage instant follow-up as well as social media sharing.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn announced a new feature called Endorsements that gives users a simpler way to recommend their professional connections.

Until now, the primary way to suggest a friend or coworker for a job on LinkedIn has been to go through the process of writing a formal recommendation. Now, with the Endorsement tool, you can simply click the “Endorse” button to recognize one of your connections for a particular skill or skills.

When you look at a contact’s profile page on the social network, you’ll see a list of skills at the top of the page and be prompted to pick which ones if any you’d like to endorse. Similarly, if you scroll down to the Skills and Expertise section of their profile, you’ll have another option to endorse certain skills just by clicking a plus-sign next to each of the skills listed.

LinkedIn will notify the user by e-mail when he or she has been endorsed by someone and these endorsements will be displayed on their profile page. Users still have the option to write longer recommendations as well, but Endorsements may be more popular for more casual recommendations.

In essence, the Endorse button is really just LinkedIn’s version of Facebook’s “Like” button, but geared towards professionals. This is just the latest example of LinkedIn trying to boost engagement on the social network by taking a page from competitors like Facebook and Twitter. Earlier this year, LinkedIn introduced a Follow button for brands, similar to Twitter, and just this month the company rolled out a Facebook-style notifications system to keep track of network updates.

 

Free Phone Calls on LinkedIn:

Farewell, phone numbers. Plingm, the Swedish mobile VoIP app, takes the
innovation lead on smartphone communication and introduces free phone calls
for LinkedIn’s 151 million users. Without a single digit, Plingm users with an
iPhone can call their own contacts on LinkedIn directly.

Across the world, LinkedIn has more than 151 million LinkedIn users. Thanks to
an innovative back-end solution developed by Plingm, LinkedIn users can now
also call and talk to their LinkedIn contacts for free anywhere in the world.

“Mobile numbers are legacy. By using our LinkedIn calling feature, you can
always reach the person you want to speak to even if they switch jobs or
change their number,” says Pandelis Eliopoulos, co-founder of Plingm. “With
the growing use of social media, the possibility to call your LinkedIn
contacts directly without a phone number is a logical evolution of mobile
communication.”

How to do it

Download the Plingm app from the App Store and accept to connect with your
LinkedIn account. The app automatically scans and imports all your contacts.
Calls between Plingm users are free, regardless if you are in the same town or
on the other side of the world.

About the app

With the numbers steadily increasing and an impressive consumer rating on App
Store, the mobile VoIP app Plingm combines high sound quality with
user-friendliness. All calls made to other Plingm users are free, regardless
of where they are in the world, and there is no time limit. Calling with this
service instead of a traditional operator will save people large sums of
money, particularly on international calls. At a low rate, consumers can also
call friends not yet using Plingm.

Plingm develops innovative, people-friendly technology that enables people
cost efficient ways to communicate. The company was founded by entrepreneurs
from the telecommunications and Internet industry. Plingm is based in
Stockholm and active in 170 markets. More info on plingm.com .

Google Calendar

Google Calendar has become the standard for Web calendars. It allows you to share any event with others and sends reminders to any device you own. Scheduling events with friends, family and co-workers is a breeze.

You can manage your calendar on any device, as well. Unlike other calendars, you’re not locked down to your email client or a website.

7 reasons to use Google Calendar

Organizing your schedule shouldn’t be a burden. With Google Calendar, it’s easy to keep track of life’s important events all in one place.

1. Share your schedule
Let your co-workers, family, and friends see your calendar, and view schedules that others have shared with you. When you know when everyone is free or busy, scheduling is a snap.
2. Get your calendar on the go
With two-way syncing to your mobile phone’s built-in calendar or a mobile version of Google Calendar that’s made for the small screen, you can access your calendar while you’re away from your desk.
3. Never forget another event again
Customizable reminders help you stay on schedule. You can choose to be notified by email or get a text message sent right to your mobile phone.
4. Send invitations and track RSVPs
Invite other people to events on your calendar. Guests can RSVP to your events by email or via Google Calendar.
5. Sync with your desktop applications
Access your calendar however and whenever you want by syncing events with Microsoft Outlook, Apple iCal and Mozilla Sunbird.
6. Work offline
Know where you’re supposed to be even when you don’t have internet access. With offline access, you can view a read-only version of your calendar no matter where you are.
7. All this is free?
Yep.

8 Email Mistakes to Avoid

These blunders are more than just productivity killers; they will also make you look pretty foolish.

Knowing your way around your email inbox is, of course, crucial if you want to get anything done. But it’s also necessary to avoid making a fool of yourself with silly (and unfortunately all too common) communication mistakes. Here’s a list of the most common email blunders to avoid:

1. Not including the email thread in your reply.

Think about how many emails you receive every day. When you’re communicating with dozens of people a day, sometimes you forget where you were in a particular conversation or what the conversation was even about, right? So it’s nice to be able to skim through the previous emails to refresh yourself before responding. Do your recipients a favor and include the whole thread when responding. Although deleting the thread declutters the email and makes it appear less lengthy, in the end, it just creates confusion for the recipient.

 

2. Not using a professional account.

Syncing your professional account with your personal account is convenient. But when you have this feature set up, always double-check which account you are sending your mail from. Accidentally firing off a message from hottstuff09@yahoo.com will not only raise some eyebrows, it will mean the message will probably wind up directly in your recipient’s Spam folder.

 

3. Not replying to all.

This one is so easy to forget. If the idea is to keep a number of people in the loop, then do exactly that and use the Reply All button. Enough said.

 

4. Cc’ing the world.

Yes, you need to reply to all, but before cc’ing someone into an email conversation, ask yourself if it’s really necessary. Spare that person the gratuitous email if you can.

5. Forgetting the bcc field.

The bcc function is great for when you want to keep someone in the loop but it is not necessary for him or her to be part of the conversation. For example, after someone introduces you to a contact via email, move that person to the bcc field. Also, be mindful of people’s privacy when sending out group emails to various recipients. Not everyone wants his or her email address exposed to a large group of people he or she doesn’t know.

6. Rambling.

Emails should be short and to the point. If it’s something you can’t say in just a few sentences, or you find yourself in a nonstop, back-and-forth conversation, pick up the phone! Overly long emails may end up in the recipients’ TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) pile.

 

7. Writing unprofessionally.

Always keep a professional tone. That means ensuring emails have proper grammar and are free of slang. Save the “abbrevs” for Twitter.

 

8. Creating unnecessary back-and-forth.

When you’re sending a quick email to set up a meeting, provide all necessary information in the first email. Otherwise, it becomes a back-and-forth conversation that could have been taken care of in one response from each side. For example, if you are requesting a meeting with someone, offer your availability. If you are scheduling a call, provide your phone number.

Which email mistakes do you see people making?

as found on: http://www.inc.com/ilya-pozin/8-email-mistakes-to-avoid.html

Pinterest

Pinterest had an estimated 3.3 million unique visitors in the month of October. While there’s no mechanism for potential customers to buy your products directly from the site, consider the marketing potential: Popular images (with links back to the original source) can get repinned on hundreds of other users’ boards.

 

1. Spend the time
Like any social network, and maybe even more with this demographic, Pinterest.com requires an investment in time. Jason White, who owns Quality Woven Labels, says one key is to build relationships with those who are known for quality “pins” at the site. He says, once these movers and shakers get to know you and your business, they will be more likely to post about your product. White says to focus on the users who get the most likes and repins.

“All of these repins and likes share a common interest, making it easier to take the conversation to Twitter or Facebook to nurture the relationship,” he says. “Like everything else, be real and show your true self. Authenticity is hugely important.”

2. Keep it simple
The main appeal of Pinterest is that the site is exceptionally easy to use. Everyone has a “board” where they pin images that are all the same size. Hana Abaza, the co-founder and CEO of Wedding Republic, says it’s best to mimic Pinterest’s uncluttered aesthetic, so she creates boards that are clean and elegant looking. Each pinned photo includes one link back to her site (you click once to see the pin page, and again to see the source site). Abaza says Pinterest dramatically boosted page views. Through her social media efforts she saw a 75 percent increase in traffic, with Pinterest generating most of that.

3. Connect your physical presence with your online presence
It’s important to connect the dots between a physical location and your Pinterest page. Becca Bijoch does public relations for the Minneapolis store Creative Kidstuff. Often the physical store will feature online ads and Pinterest promotions. Soon the company website will feature Pinterest buttons. So far, the campaign has yielded about 150 extra page views directly from Pinterest and two direct sales. Not astounding, but that’s only after using the site for about 30 days.

4. Make sure your business is a match
This tip might seem obvious, but Pinterest caters to those looking for recipes, room décor, and do-it-yourself crafts. If your company sells power sanders, you might not be a good fit. Quality Woven Labels, which makes tags for custom clothing, has been able to use Pinterest to connect with the perfect demographic: independent fashion designers.

5. Use other social nets to feed Pinterest
The new kid on the block may be getting all of the hype, but existing social networks have one advantage: a vast number of users. Justin Palmer, the online awareness director at Sevenly, a custom T-Shirt shop, says to get the most number of eyeballs his company uses Tumblr and Facebook to point people to Pinterest.

6. Launch a daily pin theme
Sevenly has created a daily pin to promote its brand. The idea is to come up with a catchy slogan that is tied to the organization’s charity work and memorable enough so that the images get re-pinned. The daily themed pins usually lead to repeat visitors. Sevenly also posts a weekly custom-designed t-shirt, which is often re-pinned by other Pinterest users. Bonus: They come back often looking for the new one.

7. Promote more than products
The temptation for any business is to post pins only for products you sell. Giselle Gonzalez is a promoter for Cakestyle, a company that makes wardrobe suggestions for women, and says one key is to post interesting news tidbits, tips, and products from other companies. She says Pinterest users are savvy in spotting a board that is too self-serving and only posts product photos.

8. Follow the big hitters
One of the best ways to raise awareness about your company is to start following the big names on Pinterest. This is the proven method on Twitter: When you follow popular figures, and they follow you back, other Twitter users get the message and follow the leader. Sevenly’s Palmer says it’s important to find out who is “pinning” your products and to follow them to see if they follow you back. Most do, he says.

9. Selective curating
Pinterest caters to those who love to “curate” or weed out the good from the bad. Presenza, a custom clothing designer, finds unique products beyond their own offering and pins them. The company also uses key phrases on their board like “made in the USA” and “defining confidence” to help define the brand.

1. Use it as a Virtual Store

 

By pinning its products on boards organized by upcoming holidays and popular categories,Michaels has created a simple, visual way for customers to browse and shop on Pinterest. Better yet, every single page on michaels.com has a “pin it” button, so customers can easily pin items or ideas they see on Michaels’ website to their own boards.

If you don’t have a physical product, try pinning the services you offer or the articles you’ve published, with a link back to your website. And always make sure the page you pin has a photo on it!

2. Give an Insider View of Your Company

Take a look at The Frisky’s Everyday Style Pinterest page—how cool is it that we get a sneak peek into what their employees wear to work each day? Here’s what’s even cooler: Those outfits get put out there in the Pinterverse, and pinned all over with a link back to The Frisky. Get customers and pinners excited about your company by sticking up photos of your employees, the fun company events or parties you throw, or your amazing office space—and aim to show off your brand and what you stand for while you’re at it.

3. Hold a Contest

 

Homes.com recently launched a contest by asking their followers to create a “Pin it if You Love It” board with at least 10 of their favorite homes pinned from homes.com. Once a user created her board, she was entered to win one of five home improvement gift certificates for $250. Contests are a great way to get users engaged and participating, which can quickly have a ripple effect across the Pinterest network as people share their contest submissions with all their followers.

Tip: If you hold your own contest, create a special hashtag for people to add to their pins so that you can easily track who’s entered.

 

4. Showcase Your Portfolio

If you’re a photographer, artist, graphic designer, or in any other highly visual field, this one’s a no-brainer: Use Pinterest to show off your work samples or your portfolio. You’ll attract potential customers or clients, plus inspire others in your field.

 

5. Get Customer Feedback

 

Daily Grommet has created a board where anyone can pin a product he or she likes, with the possibility that the product will be featured on the Daily Grommet website in the future. Doing this, Daily Grommet gives itself a head start on predicting upcoming trends, seeing what sort of products its customers are looking for, and tailoring its future offerings accordingly. After all, when it comes to asking someone what they want, a picture often says 1,000 words.

 

Ready to start pinning? Remember one thing: it’s called social media for a reason. Take the time to pin a couple of times a day, so you continuously show up on your followers’ feeds. Also make a real effort to interact with your community, balancing your own pins with repinning, liking, and commenting on other users’ posts as well. Take Etsy, for example. While it has a few boards promoting various products sold on Etsy.com, it also has boards that are simply for its followers’ enjoyment—no sales act required.

 

With the right strategy, your products or services will be front and center in the screens, and the minds, of your audience. Happy pinning!

 

Need to score an invite? Let us know in the comments—it’s a much faster process if you receive an invite versus self-applying And tell us—what successes have you had using Pinterest to help promote your business?

 

 

Anatomy of a Web Address

You’ve seen them everywhere, even on some state license plates.

But what does all those http’s and .com’s mean.

Here’s the website that I referenced for the following information:

Below is a simplified explanation of what makes up a web address:

First of all, the official computer name for a web address is URL
which stands for: Universal Resource Locator.

Here’s a sample URL:
http;//www.pepnet.net

http:// stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol and that basically tells the computer that we are looking to
“Transfer” “Hyper Text” (a webpage) from the internet to your computer.
When typing a web address into Internet Explorer you usually don’t even have to type the “http://”
because the computer assumes it.

www stands for World Wide Web which is the body of software rules and protocols that make up what we know of as the internet. Just about every webpage you’ll ever view is a part of the world wide web.

.net is a an example of a “top level domain name

 Other extensions:

.edu

educational site (usually a university or college)

.com

commercial business site

.gov

U.S. government/non-military site

.mil

U.S. military sites or agencies

.net

networks, Internet service providers, organizations

.org

non-profit organizations and others

Because the Internet was created in the United States, “US” was not originally assigned to U.S. domain names; however,
it’s used to designate American state and local government hosts, including many public schools, and commercial entities,
e.g., well.sf.ca.us. The domain .ca represents Canada, unless it’s followed by .us, in which case it represents California.

Domain Codes

State

.ca.us

California

.nv.us

Nevada

.tx.us

Texas

Other countries have their own two letter codes as the top level of their domain names —

although many non-US sites use other top-level domains (such as.com):

Domain Codes

Country

.ca

Canada

.de

Germany

.dk

Denmark

.jp

Japan

.il

Israel

.uk

United Kingdom

.za

South Africa

 

.html
hypertext markup language
.html is an extension you will commonly see on websites as you are surfing around.

.php  Hypertext Preprocessor
Php is a widely used scripting language that is used to create interactive document, often on the Internet.

.bmp bitmap
Bitmap images are uncompressed images.

.jpg or .jpeg     joint photographs expert group
Jpegs are standard compressed format images used on the internet.

.gif graphics interchange format

Ftp – File Transfer Protocol
Ftp is a common way of transferring files across the internet. To the normal user using a direct Ftp, one cannot distinguish between a http download and a ftp download. Ftp servers use a way of arranging the files in folders, just like your hard drive is organized.

Https hyper text transfer protocol (secure?)

https is basically an encrypted version of http. It is used by servers to secure things such as credit card orders so they cannot be intercepted and stolen.

 

  • BYTE: A byte is a storage unit for data. “K” stands for Kilobyte which is 1024 bytes. “MB” is Megabyte which is a million bytes, and “GB” is a Gigabyte, which equals 1000 Megabytes.
  • CPU: This stands for the Central Processing Unit of the computer. This is like the computer’s brain.
  • MAC: This is an abbreviation for Macintosh, which is a type of personal computer made by the Apple Computer company.
  • OS: This is the Operating System of the computer. It is the main program that runs on a computer and begins automatically when the computer is turned on.
  • PC: This is the abbreviation for personal computer. It refers to computers that are IBM compatible.
  • PDF: This represents the Portable Document Format which displays files in a format that is ready for the web.
  • RAM: This stands for Random Access Memory which is the space inside the computer that can be accessed at one time.  If you increase the amount of RAM, then you will increase the computer’s speed. This is because more of a particular program is able to be loaded at one time.
  • ROM: This is Read Only Memory which is the instruction for the computer and can not be altered.
  • VGA: The Video Graphics Array is a system for displaying graphics. It was developed by IBM.
  • WYSIWYG: This initialism stands for What You See Is What You Get.  It is pronounced “wizziwig” and basically means that the printer will print what you see on your monitor.
  • USB: The Universal Serial Bus is used for communications between certain devices.  It can connect keyboards, cameras, printers, mice, flash drives, and other devices.  Its use has expanded from personal computers to PDAs, smartphones, and video games, and is used as a power cord to connect devices to a wall outlet to charge them.
    VR: Virtual Reality simulates a three-dimensional scene on the computer and has the capability of interaction.O:-)  angelic smile
  • 😎     big-eyed smile
  • :-X     big kiss
  • :-{}    blowing a kiss
  • :.(      crying face
  • :->    grinning
  • 😐     indifferent, bored
  • :-))    laughing
  • =:-)  punk
  • 🙁     sad face
  • 😀     shock or surprise
  • :-r  sticking tongue out
  • B:-)  sunglasses on head
  • :-||   very angry
  • :-><  puckered up to kiss
  • 8-|   wide-eyed surprise
  • 😉     winking
  • :-O     yelling

Square – a payment processing method

http://squareup.com/

Accept credit card payments anywhere with your iPhone, Android or iPad. Download the free Square app to get started.

2.75% per transaction – no monthly fees!

MailChimp

EASY EMAIL NEWSLETTERS:

MailChimp helps you design email newsletters, share them on social networks, integrate with services you already use, and track your results. It’s like your own personal publishing platform.

You can have up to 2,000 email addresses and send 12,000 emails a month, for the free account.

Great templates to use.

Sign up box for your website – names go directly into your database.

Import existing names into program.

http://mailchimp.com/ 

css.php