Author Archives: Felicia Adams

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Learn what it takes to be a successful freelancer

You need to make many lifestyle and attitudinal changes in order to be successful as a freelancer. Some people have the needed traits inherently and some need to develop them. Without the needed traits, it’s practically impossible to succeed as a freelancer. You need to be self-motivated. You need to be highly disciplined. You should be able to work on your own without somebody breathing down your neck to make sure that you meet deadlines. You should be able to work in complete isolation.

Successful freelancer

This Lifehacker blog post features the experiences of a successful freelancer who explains what habits and attributes helped him succeed. Although every lifestyle is unique and what works and what doesn’t may differ from person to person, there are some set lifestyle and behavioral patterns that if followed, give great results. Some of them are:

  • Wake up early in the morning: This point cannot be stressed enough. Fine, there are people who work better at night, but if your profession involves synchronizing your activities with the others, you need to be awake when the world is awake. A typical office begins buzzing at around 9-10 AM. If you expect calls from your clients who might be in their offices rearing to go or if you have some teleconferences scheduled early in the morning, you cannot suddenly expect yourself to get all charged up just when there is a need. So it’s better to develop the habit of getting up early so that by the time the world around you starts working you are already through with your morning rituals and sitting on your desk ready to pounce on the phone the moment it rings. There are also health benefits of getting up early because then you get plenty of time to get some exercise, refresh yourself with a nice bath and have a good breakfast.
  • Set clearly-defined boundaries for family and friends: If you are a freelancer there is a great possibility that you work from home. Unfortunately people who work from home aren’t taken very seriously because everybody has this stereotypical image of a busy and successful person rushing to the office, attending various meetings and simply buzzing around looking very occupied. If you work from home everybody thinks that you can be called up any time and it is okay to barge into your room at the slightest pretext. Set some rules and boundaries that you cannot be disrupted during your work hours unless there is an emergency. Your friends cannot call you to chat. Kids cannot barge into your room to solve a homework problem (they can wait until you have finished your work). You cannot run errands just because someone can shout from another room and ask you to do things.
  • Outsource as much as possible and provide something that others cannot: What is your core business? Is it writing? Is it web design? Is it accounting? Stick to these. Outsource the rest. When you are working as a freelancer you will need to take care of practically every aspect of your work, including hardware and software problems, research, sorting out bills and invoices, marketing, maintenance and whatnot. If you try to manage scores of things you will not have enough time to put in your primary freelance work. Suppose you create websites using HTML, PHP and JavaScript but creating a visual layout is not one of your strengths. Don’t waste time figuring out stuff unless you plan to use it professionally with multiple projects. Outsource the graphic design part to someone else so that you can deliver quality to your clients. In the same vein if you’re spending 2-3 days every month taking care of your hardware and software problems you should better hire someone part-time to do that. You will be amazed at the amount of time you save and the amount of more money you make.
  • Go big on self-motivation: You will be working alone most of the time and there is nobody constantly pushing you, driving you up against the wall or motivating you. You are responsible for tracking your own performance. You have to get up early in the morning despite the fact that you don’t need to punch in your card and nobody is going to bug you if you start your work at 10:30 AM instead of 9 AM. You need to feel constantly motivated in order to stick to your schedules and see your projects through.
  • Don’t neglect essential parts of your life: Just because you want to be a successful freelancer it doesn’t mean that you ignore everything else. Family is important, in fact more important than your work. Maintain a healthy social life. Setting boundaries for your friends and family doesn’t mean that you stop seeing them altogether. Spend weekends with your spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend, the kids, your parents and siblings and your friends. Cultivate your hobbies to keep your mind stimulated. Go watch your favorite movies and games. Work hard, but also have lots of fun.
  • Seem like a business: Have you got business cards? If you don’t, you should. You should also have a branded letterhead. The same goes with a website and a blog – you have them, right? Branding is very important for you.
  • Keep in touch with your older clients: As a freelancer, much of your work comes from your existing clients, and in fact, this is the easiest way of getting work continuously. Your existing clients have already worked with you, they have already seen your work, and they already like the way you work. Basically they trust you and unless you have really messed things up, they would prefer to work with a person they already know rather than someone totally new. So keep in touch with your older clients. Keep mailing them without harassing them. Maintain an active mailing list.

You can read some more stuff in the original blog post linked above.

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How to display file extensions in Windows 8

By default Windows 8 does not show you file extensions. When you want to know what type of file it is, normally the icons do the job but sometimes by merely looking at the icons it is not possible to make out what sort of file you are dealing with. This can be a big problem if the associated program with the file is not yet installed on your computer or laptop.

Take for example a TXT file (text file) and an SRT file (subtitles file). Since normally no program is associated with an srt file it appears to be a text file if you look at its icon. There can be similar other cases when you can get mixed up. Hence it becomes important for you to be able to see the file extensions in Windows 8.

It is a straightforward method.

Click the Start button and from there click Control Panel.

In the Control Panel you will need to find out Folder Options. You can straightaway find it by scrolling up and down or you can search for the keywords in the search bar.

In the proceeding window you come across the following tabs: General, View and Search. You need to click View.

Under the View tab you need to look at the Advanced settings section. Under “Files and Folders” you see a checkbox option “Hide extensions from known file types”.

If this checkbox is unchecked it means Windows 8 is not showing you the file extensions. In order to be able to view the file extensions, you need to check this checkbox.

If you want to make more changes in this section you can click Apply or you can simply click OK and be done with that.

Now if you go to the File Explorer you will see that Windows 8 displays file extensions also.

An alternative method to display file extensions in Windows 8

You can just launch Windows Explorer, click “View” in the top menu and then click the “Options” button. From there go to “Change folder and search options”.

In the proceeding window scroll down to “Hide extensions from known file types”. Check the associated checkbox if it is unchecked.

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How to maintain your energy level throughout the day

There are some parts of the day when you’re brimming with energy and positivity and you want to change the entire world. There are some other parts of the day when you feel so drained and drowsy that you couldn’t care less even if a “global killer” asteroid was heading towards Earth. Why do we go through such phases in a single day? If only you could maintain a good energy level throughout the day you could change your life in half a year, right?. It is difficult, but it can be done. It is not as difficult as it may seem initially, but if you methodically work at it, you can easily maintain your energy level for maximum productivity and effectiveness.

 Energetic throughout the day

Study your energy level pattern throughout the day

You begin to feel drained and low-energy at set intervals. Most of the times, unless there is some big aberration, this routine doesn’t alter. For instance, if you feel like hitting the bed at 11 a.m. (and you’re not sick) you probably feel that way every day. If you feel highly energized at 1 p.m. then the possibility is that you feel great every day around this time. Start recording your pattern in a spreadsheet. Give yourself a couple of weeks. Note down when you feel good and when you feel bad. You don’t have to record every hour. Just record the time when you begin to feel drained and the energy running out of your body. Then record the time when this feeling is over and you are back in business.

Your productivity takes a hit when you lose lots of time. This may begin to affect even those parts of the day when your energy level is good. So despite feeling productive and energized, you may feel depressed and demotivated. Don’t get mixed up with being productive and feeling energized.

Try to get enough sleep

A well-rested body is more energized. Your body requires certain hours of sleep. Are you giving your body those hours? The number of hours may differ from person to person but on an average people need around 7-8 hours of sleep every day. If you are not getting your quota of sleep you will feel tired and sleepy at different intervals. Sudden spikes in productivity and alertness may occur but most of the time you will feel like going to sleep.

Please keep in mind that getting your quota of sleep is essential to maintaining your energy level throughout the day and if this is lacking, no matter what you do, you will feel drained and de-energized throughout the day. Getting enough sleep can be a goal in itself.

Initially, plan your day according to your energy level patterns

This might be a bit difficult if you work in an office and your tasks involve keeping in sync with your colleagues. But if you work on your own (if you work from home, for instance) you can schedule your work according to your energy-level patterns while you make sense of your highs and lows. Remember that it is not the time that counts, but the level of productivity that you can achieve. When you’re feeling driven, motivated and charged up you work really fast. On the other hand you drag your feet when you are demotivated and drained. So don’t try to work when you’re feeling drained. Give yourself some rest so that you feel supercharged after the rest and be more productive. As I wrote above, this may not work for everybody and this may not even be sustainable over a long period of time but while you’re working at maintaining your energy level throughout the day, you can at least start optimizing the time when you’re feeling energized.

Modify your eating habits

The sort of food you eat has a direct impact on your energy level. There are foods that give you energy and there are foods that drain energy out of you. Seemingly healthier foods can have an adverse effect on your energy levels.

When you wake up in the morning try to have oatmeal with milk. This will give you the needed glucose and by nature oatmeal takes its own good time to get digested, giving your body enough time to derive energy out of it and stay away from hunger pangs. In the morning you can also have a cup of coffee but never make caffeine a substitute for a complete meal. You can also include fruits like apple and banana in your breakfast.

In your lunch avoid foods with lots of starch and carbohydrates because you experience an instant spike in your insulin levels and this will consequently drain sugar out of your blood. This sugar is needed by your brain as fuel. In order to slow down food absorption have a good dose of fiber. Extra fiber makes your food pass slowly through the intestines and reduces the level of absorption into the bloodstream. To prevent your insulin level from going haywire, you can have some grapes or apple after your lunch.

Drink as much water as you can. Avoid having aerated drinks as these can cause dehydration and consequently, drain energy out of your body. Water flushes out the toxins and helps maintain a comfortable body temperature.

Counter your homeostatic system in the afternoon

Your body has its own systems to keep you awake and make you want to go to sleep. The circadian clock wants you to go to bed at the end of the day but the homeostatic system tries to make you fall asleep between 2 PM and 4 PM. While your circadian clock continuously tries to keep you awake right till the end of the day, your homeostatic system continuously tells you to go to sleep. When this happens, just go stand in the sun for a while to communicate to your body that it is still day.

Try to maintain a healthier lifestyle

Healthy lifestyle includes eating well, eating a balanced diet, avoiding foods that consume more energy to digest or the foods that cause imbalances in your insulin levels, and exercising regularly. Go for a jog or a swim at least three times a week. Play tennis go to the gym. Participate in marathons. Avoid using the elevator as much as possible and avoid sedentary position as much as possible.

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How to look like a big business while being a small business

To be frank there is no big deal about looking like a big business. In fact, many of your customers and clients may be turned off the moment they know that you are a big business and aren’t the small guy they had thought you were before approaching you. People are normally disenchanted with “big businesses”. Nonetheless, sometimes it matters. Big businesses are considered to be reliable. They supposedly have the resources to get the job done. They are supposed to have worked with 100s of clients and hence, they have the needed experience. They may also have the manpower and the infrastructure required to execute complex projects. This is why sometimes you need to look like a big business even when you are a small business.

Small-business appearing as big business

You are not cheating your prospective customers and clients, you are just helping them cross that psychological hurdle that makes them think that only big businesses can deliver. You don’t have to lie. You just don’t tell them that you are a small business unless they specifically ask. Here are a few things you can do to make your small business look big:

Have a professional website

Small businesses tend to have very mediocre websites and this is the first tell-tale sign that they are a small business not just by size, but also by attitude. Big business websites normally have that look and feel that, despite looking clichéd and simple, instills confidence and experience. They don’t use big graphics and eye-catching font types in order to make an impression, unless these attributes are a part of the overall design. Spend some money and get a professional to design your website. The same goes for your content. There is a reason professional content writers exist.

Create a social media presence that actually acts and reacts

Most big businesses these days have a social media presence but most of them use it just for drab updates. As a small business you have this advantage of being able to directly interact with your prospective customers and clients on 1-1 basis. It might not be possible to personally interact with everybody, but even if you can reply to 50% direct queries, it can give you a formidable social media presence and people will think that you are a big business and you have implied a dedicated social media marketing team.

Respond fast to queries

When people write to you (email, a comment on your Facebook page, a direct tweet) they expect a response within a few hours. Communication happens fast on the Internet and you should be no exception. Your prospective customers and clients shouldn’t have to wait for more than 24 hours in case they urgently need their questions answered. Upon receiving your answers faster they think that you are a bigger business and you have dedicated resources for answering to people’s queries

Outsource as much as possible

This way you can work with a bigger team without employing professionals full-time. Need to design a website? Despite the fact that you can play around with HTML and you have that pirated version of Photoshop you shouldn’t waste your time if this is not your core business. If you outsource this work it will not only improve the quality of your service, your clients will also get better value for money, this in return, improves your reputation. You should identify the areas where you would like to concentrate and outsource the rest of the services.

Provide local numbers to your customers and clients

Do you know that you can provide local numbers to your overseas customers and clients so that they don’t have to worry about dialing international numbers with the help of services like Skype? There is another feature in Skype that lets your callers leave voice messages that you can check later on – this enables your prospective customers and clients to call you and make business enquiries 24×7.

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How to answer the four most important questions in a job interview

The four most important questions in a job interview are mostly:

  1. Tell me about yourself
  2. Why did you leave your previous job?
  3. What range of salary you expect?
  4. What are your future goals – more clichéd: where do you see yourself in the next five years?
Most important questions in a job interview

Most important questions in a job interview

As you can see these are not subject-specific questions, but they do get asked a lot and many people stumble during these questions. Remember that when an HR person is interviewing you, he is less interested in knowing about “you” and more interested in how good you are for the company or the business. You are of no worth if you are an idealist but you cannot contribute much professionally. So let us see how you should answer all the above questions.

Tell me about yourself

This is where you need to sell yourself without ambiguity. He doesn’t want to know how you love your pet cat and how once your poem was published in the college magazine (even if you are applying for writer’s job). What’s more important is, do you have skills that can help you contribute towards the growth of the company or the business you want to join? What qualifies you for this post and what makes you better compared to other candidates applying for the same job? Whenever you are providing answer to this question, always do it in the context of the job and the employer. Talk about your experience and how you can apply this experience to your that job. Keep your answers short and simple, and to the point.

Why did you leave your previous job?

Maybe your previous job sucked. Maybe you weren’t getting the sort of salary you think you deserve. Maybe you were being bullied by your colleagues or your boss. You don’t need to tell all these things. You can talk about seeking new opportunities. You talk about how your priorities changed. You can tell that the company wound up. Talk about the recession that has hit your industry. Again, nobody is interested in knowing what were your personal problems in your previous job. Try not to bitch about your previous employer because this may make your current prospective employer wary of you.

What range of salary do you expect?

Of course you should be compensated according to your abilities, your experience and the value you bring when you join the company. Nonetheless, it helps if you know what are the current compensation packages being offered in the market for the similar post. Do some research and find out what other people with the same abilities and experience are getting.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

Rather than smartass answers the interviewer is seeking to know what you plan to do with the time you spend working in the organization. Talk about the skills you want to excel in. Talk about the difference you want to make. Show your eagerness towards having more responsibilities in the organization. Try to communicate how well you performed during your previous responsibilities.

These questions, as mentioned above, may seem clichéd, but most of the interviewers ask these questions and the basic idea is, aside from knowing about you, is knowing about how you can become a valuable asset to the company or organization.

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How to make your Facebook account more secure by two-factor authentication

Facebook two-factor authentication

Facebook two-factor authentication

Two factor authentication basically means you need to authenticate yourself at two levels. For instance, up till now in order to access your Facebook account, you simply entered your e-mails/username and password. This process doesn’t make your account very secure as, whoever has gotten hold of this information can access your account.

Wondering how someone can access your Facebook username and password?

It is happening all the time if you have been following the news. The more online accounts you have, the greater is the possibility of those accounts being hacked, especially considering the fact that most of us are not online security experts. Most people don’t even know how to define a good password. You may like to read How to create a strong password and remember it.

What if your email account is hacked? You know that your Facebook password can be easily reset if you can access the email associated with your social networking account.

The basic idea is, just having user name and password as an authentication mean doesn’t exactly make your Facebook account, or for that matter any online account safe and secure. You need to activate two-factor authentication. It means you don’t just need the combination of username and password, there has to be another mean to authenticate yourself, for instance a pin or a verification sent to your registered mobile number. For this, Facebook provides “Login Approvals”.

Whenever you try to log into your Facebook account from a device (a different computer or laptop, or a mobile phone) that is not already registered within your account, a login code is sent via text message (a mobile phone number must already be attached to your Facebook account for that to happen) with the verification code. When you’re trying to log in, aside from entering your username or password, you will also need to enter your verification code.

Activating two-factor authentication in Facebook

  • Login to your Facebook account
  • Click the Settings icon (that gear icon at the right-top corner)
  • Click Security
  • Go to “Login Approvals”
  • Check the checkbox labeled “Require a security code to access my account from unknown browsers”

If you haven’t registered a mobile number with your Facebook account, Facebook walks you through it. Once this is done, from now onwards, whenever you try to log into your Facebook account from a device Facebook doesn’t recognize, you will be sent a verification code that you will be prompted to enter before you can access your account.

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How to increase the lifespan of your smartphone battery

Increase battery life

Typically a smartphone battery lasts for 3-4 years, in terms of charging, many companies claim that the batteries of their gadgets can be charged 10,000 times. We normally don’t use our gadgets such as smart phones and tablets for such a long time and before their batteries give up on us, we discard them and move on to improved versions. Nonetheless, if you prefer to stick to a single smartphone for many years, you would like to increase the lifespan of the battery so that you don’t have to replace it.

But why try to increase the lifespan of your smartphone battery? There are some couple of good reasons. One is, a battery can be expensive. Second, suppose your phone is outdated, that is you don’t purchase a new smart phone for a few years, then there is a great chance that you won’t be able to get a matching battery for it. Some extra reasons can be such as, you may run out of battery juice at a very critical moment so it should be healthy for as long as you can manage. Besides, the more wear and tear it goes through, less time it works for on a charge. These are a few things you can do to increase the lifespan of your smartphone battery:

Don’t repeatedly let your charge drop to zero level

Preferably you should keep your battery charged more than 50% all the time. Contrary to what people used to believe, you shouldn’t always let your battery run it’s full course before you put it on charge. This causes unnecessary strain and it harms your battery. Charge your battery whenever you can even if it still has more than 50% charge. Ideally, your phone battery should be charged between the range of 40% and 80%.

Can repeated the charging harm your battery? Using your battery to its full consumption is more harmful than charging it again and again.

On the other hand, don’t let it keep charging because this overheats your battery. These days some smart phones come with battery chargers that automatically shut off the moment your battery is fully charged; ask your company if they have one.

Keep your smartphone battery cool

There are many reasons your smart phone battery overheats, like being exposed to hot sun and whether, putting the gadget on the car engine, using it in the kitchen, constantly running resource-hungry apps and games, and such. In fact, overheating can be the worst enemy of your battery.

Use the entire charge at least once a month

Contrary to what I have written above, at least once a month you should use up complete charge of your smartphone battery so that it gets to recalibrate itself. Of course it shouldn’t be done repeatedly because then it can strain your battery, but once a month is fine.

Switch off your smart phone whenever you can

Not going to use your smart phone for a couple of hours because there is no connection? Are you going to sleep and hence going to put your phone on silence? When you are absolutely not going to use your smart phone to the extent of putting it on silence and keeping it stashed away, it is better to switch it off so that your battery gets some respite.

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How to influence someone at the subconscious level

Influence at subconscious level

Have you been trying to influence someone? Influencing someone means getting that person to believing in what you want him or her to believe, and act accordingly. Do you want your boss to give you a promotion? Do you want to convert your leads into customers and clients? Do you want to convert your casual date into a full-fledged romance? Do you want your girlfriend or boyfriend to marry you? In whichever way you want to influence someone, this Forbes article suggests that it is better to do it at the subconscious level, and there are four ways of doing it.

An ability to influence people can be beneficial in every stream, especially in the times of the Internet where you really come across people you do business with face-to-face. It is the influence that enables you to do business with a particular individual.

The importance of influencing people at the subconscious level

The best way to influence people is to step into their shoes, to enter their world, and to let them know that you understand their point of view. You share their agonies and enthusiasm. And not just entering their world, but also providing workable solutions. It is a mix of empathizing with them and solving their problems. Then they begin to trust you.

The above link from the Forbes magazine talks about implementing meta programs to influence people subconsciously. This is basically an NLP (neurolinguistic programming) concept that focuses on various directions of conversational tactics to achieve a particular goal. There are four types of subconscious conversations you can have with your prospect or with your lead and they fall in the range of

  • Toward-Away
  • Options-Procedures
  • General-Specific
  • Active-Reflective

Let’s quickly go through these four types of subconscious conversations that you may use to influence someone.

Toward-Away

Under this category, you either want something or you want to avoid something. If you lean towards “Toward” you use words like attain, get, achieve, arrive, obtain and such words. For “Away” you use expressions like avoid, prevent, consider, evaluate and such words.

The basic idea is, you understand the person, and then use these words accordingly. The person you want to influence either wants to get something, he or she wants to move toward something, or he or she wants to avoid something, or wants to get away from something. You have to use your language accordingly.

Options-Procedures

In these types of conversations you talk in terms of “choice”, “variety” and such for the former and “series of steps”, “processes” and such for the latter. An options person purchases a product or a service for the features and attributes it has. The procedures person talks about how something happened and how it led to something else, and then how he finally purchased something, not bothered much about the features and characteristics.

General-Specific

A person who has a general conversation talks about the overview, the larger goal, the vagaries and details. The person interested in the specific on the other hand talks about exactly what he or she is going to get or achieve.

Active-Reflective

An active person wants the results now. He or she is not interested in waiting and open to further exploration. He or she is not interested in ifs and buts. Either you can deliver, or you cannot deliver. The reflective persona wants to, as the term suggests, reflect before taking an action. He or she will think about it. He or she may also like to consider other options before taking the final decision.

Do these meta programs actually help you influence people at the subconscious level? It depends on how deeply you can understand these attributes and then use them while having conversations with people.

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How to cope with sleep deprivation if you work night shifts

Sleep deprivation

Working night shifts can cause sleep deprivation. Night shifts have become an existential reality after globalization and boom in the outsourcing industry. Before web-based globalization, night shifts used to be a rarity mostly among media persons, law enforcement agencies and other such occupations. Many offices and institutions work 24 x 7 and it means if you are employed at one of such places, you have to put in night shifts when your turn comes. The greatest casualty of working night shifts is your sleep.

Over thousands of years of evolution, our brain and our bodies are conditioned to sleep during night. The darkness in the nature puts our bodies in the sleep mode. Of course modern lifestyle has begun to change this pattern, but overall, the information embedded inside of our genes nudges us to go to bed after dark. What happens if you cannot? You experience sleep deprivation.

This is because while you try to sleep during the day, the rest of the world is full of activity. The nature is active, most of the animals around you are awake, and so are the people. Even if you live alone, your neighborhood is buzzing with activity. Even while fast asleep, your brain is constantly processing noises and activities happening around you. There is no silence, the sort of silence that manifests during night. Kids might be playing outside. Various delivery boys and girls may ring your bell. There might be hawkers on the road. Either in front of you, or somewhere in the distance, vehicles are constantly honking or screeching to a halt, or the drivers are screaming at each other. Thousands of conversations are taking place. Construction work is going on. Someone is playing music. The point is, the ideal condition that you get during night, you don’t get during day. This causes sleep deprivation without you even realizing it.

According to this HiveHealthMedia.com article:

According to Health24, a health and lifestyle website based in South Africa, call center jobs are one of the most taxing jobs in the world, and that 20% of their personnel have difficulties in dealing with the stress they absorb at work. Sleep deprivation is considered one of the major factors affecting agents to suffer from erratic moods, mental inefficiency, and a number of serious health risks.

Ill effects of sleep deprivation

Your body requires eight hours of uninterrupted sleep on an average, although different people require different number of hours. Uninterrupted, here is the key word. If you’re constantly disturbed, knowingly or unknowingly, your body and brain never get rest properly and this exacerbates your wear and tear. Some of the greatest ill effects and health problems associated with sleep deprivation are

  • Memory loss
  • Drastic and sudden weight fluctuations
  • Bouts of sleep paralysis in which your brain awakens but your body sleeps, giving you a scary experience of paralysis
  • Weak immune system
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease causing heart attack, heart failure, stroke or irregular heartbeat

It also affects your judgment, mind-body coordination and even interpersonal skills.

Coping with sleep deprivation

Here are a few things you can do to cope with sleep deprivation

  • Change your job: Get a day job if you can that doesn’t force you to work night shifts. This will immediately brighten up your lifestyle and instill a sense of regularity. Like the rest of the world, you will be able to sleep at night and get up in morning and be a part of the vibrant world.
  • Adopt healthy habits: In case you cannot change your job that forces you to work night shifts, you can at least adopt as many healthy habits as possible. Consume less caffeine and more water to keep you hydrated. Avoid alcohol. Eat more fruits and raw vegetables (I know, I know, all the standard stuff you have come across umpteen times). Exercise whenever you can. The basic idea is countering all the ill effects of sleep deprivation by making yourself more healthy.
  • Create environment for uninterrupted sleep: If you cannot sleep at night, create conditions that simulate night. Make your room soundproof and use dark and heavy curtains on your doors and windows so that it is completely dark inside. You can also try using White Noise – a technique that uses a uniform noise that dominates all the background noises so that your brain gets accustomed to processing just one voice rather than multiple voices.
  • Seek help from your family: Your family must understand how important it is for you to get a good sleep. Just because you are at home and everybody is awake doesn’t mean that they can keep disturbing you with various stuff. Of course you can not completely cut off yourself from your family life, so you will need to create a schedule, with your family’s help. This way you will be able to take care of the other needs of the family while getting a good sleep.
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How to avoid eating healthy foods that can actually be unhealthy

Unhealthy salad

Eating is the most essential part of living and unfortunately, it has the potential to impact you negatively. Unless you are very careful, you can end up eating highly unhealthy food, without even realizing it. With open mind, you will find that even seemingly healthy foods can be unhealthy unless they are prepared with great caution. This article on Reinventing Aging lists some foods that are conventionally considered healthy but in fact can be unhealthy.

  • Salad: It is considered to be one of the healthiest foods, provided your use the right ingredients. These days people put boiled eggs, grated cheese and even oil to render a particular flavor, defeating the entire purpose of creating a healthier intake. Having a salad can be a problem particularly in hotels and restaurants where they garnish it with all sorts of unhealthy stuff to make it look and taste more appealing.
  • Smoothie: Again, there is fundamentally nothing wrong in having a smoothie, but if you’re mixing fatty milk, yogurt and sugar, you are not having a healthy drink. It is better to prepare a smoothie at home and avoid using milk and other fatty stuff. It may not give you the sort of taste you have gotten used to, but if you’re having a smoothie merely for its taste, then perhaps you should either have something else or your priorities are different.
  • Low-fat peanut butter: People normally have low-fat peanut butter thinking that it is less fatty. It may be true that fat is taken out of it, but it is substituted by sugar and other processed ingredients that are equally unhealthy for you.

You can read the remaining points in the original article. When it is not possible for you to avoid these so-called healthy foods, you should reduce their quantity. For instance, there is no need to have a huge glass of smoothie when you can have a cup full of it. Similarly, when salad is prepared in a restaurant, just eat leafy vegetables and leave the rest; it may seem wasteful but it is better than consuming unhealthy foods.

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How to make your morning less stressful and more productive

Productive morning

For most of the people morning is the most important part of the day because it is the beginning, and as the say, if the beginning is right, half the battle is won. I’m not saying living the rest of the day is the battle, but given the challenges we face and given the goals that we have, yes, a day can be a battle.

Some people find it very hard to get up early in the morning and we have discussed in one of the previous posts how you can deal with that problem.

So if you start the initial part of the day with lots of stress and rush, according to this Pick The Brain blog post, the rest of the day can be painful too. How to avoid that? Here are some suggestions from the article as well as from yours truly

Try to be cheerful consciously

This is, sort of, reverse engineering. When you’re feeling good about yourself, you feel cheerful. So why not feel cheerful to feel good about yourself? You can make provisions, like playing your favorite music when you wake up, having a nice relaxed bath (you may have to get up a bit earlier in order to do this), go for little walk, spend some time frolicking with your pet or do anything that makes you happy and content.

Just jump out of the bed

Snoozing is a bad idea. Unfortunately this feature comes in almost every morning alarm smartphone application these days. What it does is, it postpones your alarm for the next 10 or 15 minutes. But sometimes the opposite happens. Since you know the alarm is again going to ring after 10 minutes, you keep putting it on snooze and end up getting up late. Just jump out of your bed and don’t put much thinking into whether you should get up or not. Don’t worry, within 15 minutes you will feel good.

Use multiple alarms for various morning deadlines

The alarm isn’t just for getting up. You can also set multiple alarms for various task-related deadlines. For instance, by seven o’clock, everybody should be out of the bathroom. Breakfast must be over by 7:30 AM, and so on.

Open your doors and curtains and let the brightness come in

Over thousands of years of evolution nature has trained our bodies to wake up as the day goes brighter. This information is written in our genes, so to speak. When you open your doors and windows and let the sunshine come in, it automatically sends a message to your brain that you should be getting up and getting on with the day.

Have your clocks at prominent locations

The culture of having big clocks hanging on the wall is quickly vanishing as more and more people get used to checking their smart phones when they want to know the time. You subconsciously work faster if you constantly see the time. There should be a clock in the kitchen, if possible, in the bathroom, in the living room and obviously, in the bedroom.

Prepare your breakfast

This exercise may be rejuvenating or tiring, depending upon your circumstances. For instance if it is very hot and humid in your area and there is no A/C installed in your kitchen, cooking breakfast might be a big drag, especially when you have had your morning bath. On the other hand, if the weather is cold and it is pleasant in your kitchen, then go ahead, prepare breakfast for yourself and your family.

Lay down your clothes the night before

Arranging your clothes before going to bed can save you lots of time in the morning especially when you have to shuffle around various tasks. Your body will automatically get used to it. You won’t even have to think in order to find your clothes already prepared.

Prepare a bathroom schedule

If your household has just a single bathroom and there are many members in your family, it will be a great help if everybody knows when they can use the bathroom. Of course sometimes there can be emergencies and you may have to reschedule, but normally you can allocate different time frames to different family members.

Quickly revise the objectives of the day

Why should just companies, businesses and political parties set an agenda for the day? You can also do that as a household. It will instill a sense of direction into the beginning of the day. It won’t take very long. Just get all your family members around a small table and quickly revise what each member intends to do for the rest of the day. You don’t have to follow every bit, but at least stick to the general outline.

The key to creating a successful morning is organization. The more you organize, the better is your morning.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to choose the best social media platform for your business

Best social media platform for your business

Man is a social animal, we used to read this in social studies. Social media and social networking websites have taken this concept to an entirely new dimension. Whether you’re communicating with your grandmother or looking for the latest gadget to buy, there is a more than 90% chance you are using one or another social media website in order to carry out the exercise.

So naturally, as a business you would like to be where your prospective customers and clients are. If you go by the advice of the so-called social media marketing experts, you should spread your presence everywhere. For instance, if there are websites like Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Vine, etc. you should have dedicated strategies for all of these.

This Business2Community blog post rightly says that each social media platform enjoys its unique personality and you have to define your strategy accordingly. But if you are a small business with limited budget, does it make sense to target every social media platform? Not necessarily. Spend some time studying individual platforms and see where your target customers and clients mostly spent time and interact with each other. For instance, LinkedIn is considered to be a social media platform for professionals and marketers. Facebook is for casual, non-serious interactions. People with strong, clearly-defined opinions normally interact on Twitter. Google Plus is still in the process of finding its bearings.

Choosing your preferred social media network can be quite challenging especially when there are people everywhere. Suppose you are a web design company. You can never be 100% sure that you will never get a client from Facebook. You can. Similarly, you can also get business from Twitter. In fact, many professionals on the Internet use Twitter Search to find new business opportunities and partnerships. What you have to observe is, from where most of your business might come. And then you should spend most of your resources on that particular platform.

Using Google Analytics you can track individual URLs. You can use this feature to track from where most of your traffic and conversion happens. Define unique URLs for different social media platforms and use them to track individual performances. In a couple of months you will have enough data to make out which can be the best social media platform for your business.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

Can you protect yourself against PRISM surveillance?

All hell has broken loose ever since whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed the secret of how the NSA has access to your every communication under the guise of its surveillance program. Many claim that it is the biggest scandal after Watergate.

The revelation has prompted many people to think about how they can protect themselves against PRISM surveillance. Can the common citizen protect himself or herself against the mighty resources and manpower of the government?

Although you cannot fully protect yourself, there are many ways you can make their task difficult. Now, when you think of surveillance, you need not necessarily feel uneasy about it. Unless you are involved with some “out of the ordinary” activities, nobody’s bothered what type of e-mails you are sending and receiving and what sort of Skype chats you have. These activities are primarily geared towards tracking terrorist activities. Nonetheless, they are infringe upon people’s right to privacy. What has bothered people particularly in this case is that the government cannot monitor your communication without a warrant.

The tips shared on this PC World article on how to protect yourself against surveillance drives such as PRISM may not guarantee complete protection, but they may keep you out of reach for a longer period of time. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Avoid using popular web services: It isn’t that popular web services like Google and Bing are easy to monitor, it’s just that the majority of people use them and hence if the government surveillance departments are looking for shady characters, they are more prone to using known and popular services.
  • Stop using smartphones: Smartphones from companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft are being tracked by PRISM.
  • Encrypt your data and e-mails: This might not be easy if you haven’t been keeping up with such technology on a regular basis. The above linked article reviews some tools that you can use to encrypt the data on your hard disk as well as the e-mails you send.
Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to avoid social media addiction

Social media is like drug addiction, in fact in many cases, worse. In conventional drug addiction you know there is something terribly wrong and you need to seek help. Social media on the other hand is considered to be a totally normal activity in which everybody from a teenager to an aged housewife indulges in. According to a recent survey an average middle-aged woman spends 81 minutes every day on Facebook (according to this article in Huffington Post). Every device, every smartphone these days not only allows you, but also encourages you, to log onto this or that social networking website. You constantly want to know what is going on with your friends and followers, and you constantly want to post updates about what’s going on in your life.

A desire to share and socialize isn’t unnatural. What’s unnatural is worrying more about your virtual friends and less about your real friends and family members. Since most of the social media and social networking services are totally free of cost (irrespective of the fact that you have to purchase the devices that you use to hook onto these websites and you also have to pay for the Internet connection) it’s just a matter of going to that particular URL. Most browsers and user interfaces these days give you one-click access to all your favorite social networking websites and plug-ins.

Normally what happens is, you just log onto Facebook or Twitter to check just a single message and before you know you have scrolled through scores of messages and have spent more than 30 minutes checking out cute videos and awesome images. What have you gained? Practically nothing. The chances are you ended up feeling depressed after seeing all those great things being done by your relatives and friends. The above article also references a survey in which 70% of the participants check their Facebook updates the moment they turn on their computers in the morning. Constantly checking messages on Facebook takes a big toll on your time, on your emotions and also your sense of privacy. No wonder many organizations have totally banned the use of social networking websites at their workplaces.

But what if you are self-employed or simply trying to be productive without a supervisor or someone to keep an eye on you? Then you have to self-supervise. If you think you are suffering from social media addiction, you can take the following steps to get some respite and consequently, get some work done.

  • Block these websites while you are working: There are many add-ons and software applications available that allow you to block websites and URLs for a specific amount of time. Most conventional antivirus software applications these days let you add URLs that should be blocked. You can check out FocalFilter that lets you block URLs across different browsers with just a single interface. Of course these URLs are not permanently blocked. You can remove them from the blocked list whenever you want to.
  • Carefully track your time: In the absence of any tracking mechanism it is often difficult to keep track of your time. An application like RescueTime runs in the background and monitors all the websites and applications you spend your time on. This way you will get to know exactly how much time you are spending on wasteful activities such as watching videos and images on Facebook.
  • Assign money to your your time: You must have heard people saying “time is money” and this is totally true. If you are supposed to be working when you are browsing Facebook updates you are actually losing money. You could be spending that time working on your business, your skills and your abilities. Not just these, you could have been doing something that improves the overall quality of life of your family members. So you shouldn’t just track your time you should also assign some sort of monetary value to it so that you can actually calculate how much you are losing by not controlling your urge to check Facebook and Twitter messages.
  • Shift your computer where everybody can see your screen: A sense of privacy also makes us less accountable. At your workplace it is difficult to access social networking websites because everybody will be able to see you (unless you have your own room or cubicle). If your computer or laptop is placed in such a manner that nobody can accidentally look at your screen, readjust it so that everybody can see it. When you’re conscious of the fact that people will be able to see exactly what you are doing on your screen, you will be less inclined to again and again check your updates.
  • Involve another person: Do you know that a person actually hired someone from Craiglist to slap him the moment he started ignoring his work and started browsing social networking websites? Below is the video of the slap.

    Of course extreme situations call for extreme measures, but if you wouldn’t like to go that far, you can involve your partner, or anybody close to you and seek help. Ask to be monitored unexpectedly so there is always a danger of getting caught while wasting your time. You can also decide on a punishment every time you ignore your work and waste time on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Delete your social media accounts: If nothing else works, what stops you from deleting your social media and social networking accounts? Also it may seem like abandoning your phone when all the communication happens via telephones and mobile phones, social networking websites don’t solve any solid purpose. If you want to keep in touch, there are many other ways you can do that. You can call people up, you can visit them if they live in the same city, you can e-mail them, you can have a Google hangout, a you can use something like WhatsApp that allows you to exchange messages and images/videos without crowding your timeline.

Social media and social networking is not as evil as it may seem after reading the above text, but overdose of everything is bad. Take for instance television; whether you realize it or not, it has totally altered social dynamics. Just imagine, before television, people used to have ample amount of time and they could socialize, read books, organize outings and parties and spend lots of quality time with each other. On the other hand, television keeps us informed and we get lots of useful information from it.

Similarly social media empowers us. It only becomes problem when we don’t know when to put a stop to it and focus on our priorities.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to fix your elevator pitch

Have you already prepared an elevator pitch but you think it needs lots of improvement. For an elevator pitch to be effective it doesn’t just have to be succinct, it must also convey the central point of your message in as clear a manner as possible. If you think most of the people cannot understand exactly what you provide and what sort of business you do, after hearing your elevator pitch, you need to sit down and fix it. Here are some quick things you can do to improve your elevator pitch.

Write your elevator pitch the way you speak

As you know, people don’t read your elevator pitch, they hear it from you. Therefore you have to prepare it in a manner you feel comfortable speaking in. Don’t use words and expressions you’re not confident using. Show genuine concern in your sentences. For instance, directly tell the person, “If you don’t seem to be able to save money, I can help you,”, or “Our product increases your workforce efficiency by monitoring their performance on an hourly basis without any human interference.”

Avoid using jargons as much as possible

In day-to-day conversations you don’t use jargons and difficult words unless you are delivering a scholarly speech. When you bump into people in an elevator, you normally interact in a conversational manner. So while you’re talking you don’t use expressions like “paradigm shift”, “cutting edge technology”, “holistic approach”, etc. Similarly, when you are delivering your elevator pitch, avoid using clichés.

Prepay your elevator pitch in multiple languages

This is, assuming you are comfortable speaking more than one language. If you live in a cosmopolitan city where people speak multiple languages it is better to prepare your elevator pitch in multiple languages. For example, if you often come across people who speak Spanish, French as well as English and you are comfortable in all these languages you can prepare your elevator pitch in all of these. Of course they cannot all be your native languages so you can politely explain and later on confirm whether they have understood what you had meant to impart.

Be prepared to scrap your existing elevator pitch altogether

Don’t worry if you have to prepare your elevator pitch from scratch. It should not be an uphill task considering you just have to prepare 1-2 sentences at the most. Remember that no matter how attached you feel to your existing elevator pitch, if it is not effective, it is not useful to you. Writing your elevator pitch from scratch will give you a clean slate and you will be able to focus better on exactly what you want to convey rather than trying to improve something that already exists.

Be prepared to alter your elevator pitch impromptu

You cannot always parrot your elevator pitch. Every person you meet has a unique requirement. So you may have to alter it according to the situation and the individual. So ideally, keep the gist of the elevator pitch with you and let the remaining delivery be natural and based on the moment.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to increase your CTR and improve your SEO by optimizing meta tags

Although many Seo experts these days discount the relevance of meta-tags when creating your webpages and blog posts, they are still quite significant in terms of increasing your CTR and consequently, improving your search engine rankings.

What are meta tags?

In terms of webpages, these are information sections that give the background information about the webpage to the search engines, crawlers, and of course, humans. The most well-known meta tags are: title, description and keywords.

Once upon a time these meta-tags used to be a staple for SEO enthusiasts. Optimize these, they used to say, and most of your SEO problems are taken care of. Later on people realize that the most important thing that you need for better search engine rankings is the written content. Page Rank also gained prominence when Google started using it for ranking websites.

How to improve meta-tags for better search engine rankings

  • Title: Use all your primary keywords to define the title. Make it as convincing as possible. You normally get to use 60-70 characters for defining your title tag so use them judiciously. Normally it should be the title of your webpage (as it often happens with your blog post titles). Don’t stuff your title with keywords because then this can be counterproductive and you may also be penalized. If you have to use your company name in every page title, then you will have to be creative while making one. Remember that it is your title tag that appears almost everywhere as clickable text, whether it is the search engine result pages or on social media. So make your title tag click-worthy.
  • Description: Again, you need to use your primary keywords in the description also. But since it is description, people should be able to get a fair idea of what your webpage or your blog post contains. You are normally allowed to use 160 characters for the description tag. As mentioned above, use your primary keywords to define the strongest point of your webpage. After reading your title it is your description that further convinces people into clicking your link.
  • Keywords: People these days are not sure whether search engines take keywords appearing inside the keyword tag seriously or not, yet, nobody advises you against using them. Again, don’t spam. Include the most appropriate keywords for this tag.

There are many meta-tags that you can use in the header section of your webpage, but the three meta-tags mentioned above are among the most important.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to create a tablet friendly website by increasing its tappiness

Internet browsing by tablets no longer remains a fad. Almost every household these days that can afford a smart phone also has a tablet, whether it is the iPad, one of the Samsung Galaxy options or other brands. With broadband Internet available through Wi-Fi as well as 3G/4G, browsing the Internet comes as naturally as checking your text messages on a regular phone.

Content-intensive websites can be easily customized for tablets, the real problem comes when creating tablet friendly websites for e-commerce. Usability and quick access to critical information is of utmost importance.

The main stress should be, according to this Mashable blog post, tappiness. People should be easily able to tap on the various components of your website.

Purchasing an item can be difficult as well as simple from a tablet. For instance if you’re downloading and installing apps from the App Store or Google apps it is as simple as tapping on the download or purchase button. You don’t have to enter extra information (provided you are already logged in).

A full-fledged e-commerce website on the other hand may involve lots of form-filling and data entry. It may also involve tapping on links and buttons. People have different fingertips and they may find it difficult or easy to tap on your links, buttons and form fields according to the shape and size of their fingertips. Broadly, you can increase the tappiness of your website by incorporating the following:

  • Use bigger fonts for calls-to-action links and buttons
  • Use bigger buttons
  • Make it obvious that they are tappable
  • Use whitespace and padding around hyperlinks and menu items
  • Use bigger side margins for content blocks
  • Increase form field size with enough spacing around them

Read in greater detail on the link specified above.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to retain your existing customers

There are three types of existing customers:

  • Customers who are thrilled with your product or service
  • Customers who are indifferent towards how you performed
  • Customers who would never like to do business with you again

The good thing about existing customers is you have already interacted with them, they have experienced, whether in a good manner or in a bad manner, the way you do business, and the initial distance has been eliminated. Retaining your existing customers is far easier than getting new customers for your business.

Take for instance, Apple. Most of its products are grabbed by its existing customers the moment they are released into the market. And these customers are not just buyers, there also evangelists for its products. The company values its existing customers to such an extent that in case there is a part that has broken or become dysfunctional, they immediately change the entire gadget. In the days of social media and social networking, it is your after sales service to your existing customers that gets you more customers rather than directly approaching new customers.

As listed above, there are three types of customers. The first category is always going to do business with you again and again unless you really piss them off or totally ignored them. So let us discuss the second and the third category.

Retaining customers who are indifferent to you

There might be many reasons for such an attitude among this category of customers. They might be indifferent due to their nature. They don’t believe in brand loyalty. They were neither happy nor disappointed with your product. How do you make these customers do business with you repeatedly?

  • Be there when they need you: As already mentioned above, the way you deal with your customers after you have sold them something can go a long way in retaining existing customers. Customers all over the world have this impression that once they have become a customer, they are less attractive to the company. You have to dismantle this impression by providing prompt support and service whenever they need it. Make them feel as if they’re a part of the family, that they are always cared for. Since they have become your customers, they are very special to you.
  • Offer additional products or services: Most customers that are indifferent to you see no difference in your product and someone else’s product (it can also be services, but for the sake of brevity, let us stick to products). Offer them something extra. Offer them something they cannot get from another vendor. If it is a restaurant, it can be the service or the ambiance you provide, or even some complimentary snacks. If you are a gadget seller, it can be the extra accessories that you can provide. Anything that makes them notice.
  • Keep in touch with them: This should be done without annoying people. Wish them on their birthdays and anniversaries. There are many companies who send gifts on New Year or during local festivals to their customers. You can send them tips and tricks in case they have bought a smart phone from you. Occasionally ask them how you can improve your product and after sales service and what other features they would like in your product. This way they will feel involved.

Retaining customers who haven’t had a good experience with you

Under this category further there might be two more categories: customers were not going to like your business no matter what you do, and customers who somehow ended up having a negative experience with you.

In this category, chuck the customers of the first category out. It’s not worth it spending time and energy on them.

Under the second category, you should reach out to those customers and try to find out why they had a bad experience. Why they were unhappy? Was it something to do with the product, or the after sales service, or the delivery? If possible, deliver them something free of cost to show that you really value them. It is normally very difficult to have a negative feeling towards people or companies who give you something free of cost just to show their appreciation. The fact that they did business with you in the first place means it is nothing personal. They have developed a negative opinion because something negative happened.

New customers are important of course, especially when you want to expand your market and you aren’t going to launch new updates in the near future. But the more you can retain your existing customers, the better will be your customer base. Happy customers that feel cared for voluntarily promote your business.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to use Google Translate to improve your search engine rankings

In order to improve your search engine rankings for appropriate keywords, first of all you need to ensure that Google is successfully able to crawl and index your website or blog. The easiest way of finding that out is using the “Fetch as GoogleBot” feature of Google Webmaster Tools. But what do you do if you are currently not using webmaster tools? According to this article on Search Engine Roundtable, you can use Google Translate to find out if Google can crawl and index your website or not.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to create a profitable blog by setting your priorities right

Blogging, especially profitable blogging, is a highly targeted, focused activity. Since your success mostly depends on search engines as well as user engagement, the moment you lose track of your priorities, the basic focus of your blog begins to get diluted and both people and search engines begin to lose interest in your blog.

According to this blog post on ProBlogger, most of the blogging ventures fail to take off simply because people cannot set their priorities straight. They have no idea of what they are doing and what their actions are going to achieve. They are simply following the herd.

Setting your priorities means knowing exactly what you need to do at a particular time and then doing it. So if you want to experience blogging success, what is the first thing that you need to do, aside from starting the blog?

Although it differs from blog to blog, the first thing you need to do is stand out. What is so unique about your blog? Why should people visit your blog on a regular basis? Why should they share your content with their friends and colleagues? What purpose does your blog solve and how? These are the questions you need to work on as a priority. You need to create something that stands out. You need to be unique. And you need to be invaluable. Provide something that people simply cannot resist, and best, cannot afford to miss. This also means choosing a niche you can serve with conviction and confidence.

Once you have figured out how to be unique, you need to create high-quality content to maintain your uniqueness. And you need to publish that content regularly.

Producing quality content requires you to be able to write well and convincingly. What about your writing? Is up to the mark? If you feel that you need to improve your writing skills, you need to do that on a priority basis. It doesn’t matter if in the process you end up writing less than you would like to, but the first priority must be improving your writing. Lots of content with lousy writing can cause you immeasurable damage.

But with the content you also need consistent traffic, both from search engines and other websites. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn can be a great source of traffic. So can be other blogging and networking websites. For most of us search engines remain the most effective way of generating targeted traffic.

So building traffic must also be one of your priorities. Since it is a long-term process, you don’t need to cram everything into a single day. Divide your priorities into smaller tasks; the trick is, performing them regularly.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to improve your social media marketing with Google Analytics

Google Analytics lets you create custom campaigns and with the help of this feature you can improve your social media marketing to a great extent, according to this blog post on Social Media Examiner.

The simplest way of achieving this is assigning customer campaign tags to the links that you share on social networking websites and elsewhere. This feature can also be used to track your AdWords and other PPC campaigns.

But why do you need to monitor your social media marketing campaigns?

Analytics give you an in-depth insight of exactly which social networking website is sending you more traffic and how much time people spend on your website from that particular source. You can also track the performance of individual updates. For instance you post a link from your website on Facebook on a particular date and at a particular time. You want to see how much buzz that update was able to create not just in terms of getting likes and comments on Facebook, but also sending traffic to your website. In the absence of a custom tag all your analytics data tells you is how much traffic Facebook sent you. But with a custom tag you can find out exactly how much traffic a particular update generated for your website.

Custom campaigns also provide you the usual data that comes with every other campaign such as from which region of the world most of your clicks came, for how long people stayed on your website, from which page they left your website, and so on.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to charge what you deserve as an independent entrepreneur

Do you think you’re undercharging but you are afraid of increasing your rates because you think that your clients won’t be able to afford you? You are not alone in facing this dilemma. And the problem is with the mindset, according to this article in Inc.com.

Most of the entrepreneurs facing this difficulty are underpaid because one, they don’t realize their full potential, and two, they underestimate the paying abilities of their clients.

To be fair, we should be paid for the value we bring to the table. You have the experience, you have the knowledge, and you have access to the tools to execute the project magnificently. You should be paid accordingly. If your clients cannot afford you, then maybe you are targeting wrong clients. And if you think your clients can pay you more but still they’re not eager to, maybe your services are not up to the mark, and you have to work more in that area.

Everybody wants to get a good deal. Nobody wants to pay you more than they can get away with. No matter what excellent services you provide, if they can pay you less, they will certainly pay you less. So in order to charge what you want to charge, you need to find out whether someone can replace you are not. This doesn’t necessarily have to depend on your talent or your abilities, it depends on many factors. But the moot point is, can you be easily replaced? If you cannot be replaced, you can charge more.

After this, can your client do without your service? If yes, again, maybe you’re not targeting the right clients. If no, then you can insist you be paid more.

I don’t mean to say that you charge unfairly. In every field, at every level there are market rates. The sort of services you provide, the sort of expertise and experience you bring in, command a price accordingly. It depends on your track record. There are lawyers people don’t want to hire, and there are lawyers who charge more than $100,000 for every appearance and people still want to pay them. They know what is at stake.

How to charge what you deserve

  • Calculate all the expenses you incur: As an independent entrepreneur most of the resources you use are your own, most probably. The office space, the computers, the software, the communication equipment, the traveling, research, electricity, and other sundry expenses, everything goes from your pocket. You should add that to the cost of the project while preparing the quotation.
  • Get a sense of value you provide: How well do you make an impact? Once you have delivered the project, how does it perform? Are your clients happy? Are they eager to vouch for you? How much is your best client eager to pay you for your services?
  • Calculate the premium for your uniqueness: Businesses don’t hire people, they hire the service. How much are they ready to pay for the uniqueness you can deliver? You will have to do some research. In your realm, how do normally people work? What do they do to get more work and perform better? How much do they get paid? Is this something you like about them that you would also like to introduce in your own service?
  • Excel in your field: This is the best way of charging what you deserve. When you have made a name for yourself, when you have a reputation, people are most eager to pay you what you ask for.
  • Network all the time: The more people know you, the better are your prospects. When you limit yourself to just a few clients, they are in a better position to decide your rates. On the other hand, if you know more people, if you have more clients, and if you are being approached by new clients all the time, you have more choice. You can risk a few clients in favor of those who want to pay you what you really deserve.
Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

Blogging tips from the pros

You can take blogging tips from the pros seriously because, well they have become pros because of their knowledge as well as their qualities. Success requires determination, an ability to do the right thing at the right time, setting your priorities right, and lots of perseverance. And this is what the pros have. A blogger on Social Media Examiner spoke to 21 top experts and compiled a list of highly useful blogging tips that you can use on your personal as well as professional blog. Here they are:

  • Treat every blog post as a product: It also means treat every visitor as a customer. You’re basically selling your content and via it, the idea contained within. When you publish a blog post you are trying to deliver something to your visitors. If they like it, if the appreciate it, if they share it among their own friends, it means they have bought it. When you treat every blog post as a product you will be more careful of what you publish on your blog.
  • Produce your own videos and images for your blog: Are you constantly embedding images and videos into your blog posts? The general tendency is getting this sort of media from external sources. It might reduce your work, but it doesn’t give you real benefit. You can make a real impact as well as generate more traffic when you create your own videos and images that are totally unique to your blog. Even search engines prefer unique videos and images rather than those picked from here and there. With the onset of websites like Pinterest it’s all the more important that you create unique graphics that are not available somewhere else.
  • Published only your best content: Well, it doesn’t have to be this way always. When you are constantly worried about only publishing your best content you are not natural with your audience. There should be a mix of top class content as well as average content. But then it does mean that you purposely produce mediocre content, constantly.
  • Always mind your targeting: Always right for a particular audience. For instance, there’s a big difference between writing for web designers and writing for people who are looking for web designers – this can make or break your business.
  • Publish interviews and webinars on your blog on a regular basis: Interviews and webinars are a great way of attracting people to your blog. Suppose you interview a famous blogger: he or she will mention the interview on his or her blog and he or she will also tweet about it. He or she may also seed a lively discussion surrounding your interview.

Read the remaining points in the original blog post.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to create Pinterest images people like and share

Pinterest, as you may know, is an image sharing social networking platform. Recent news on various websites claim that Pinterest is growing faster than Facebook and Twitter in terms of getting new user registrations as well as sending direct traffic to websites. Therefore, if you have no clue of what Pinterest is, it’s high time you spent some time figuring it out, and if you know it’s importance, it’s high time you included it in your overall content and social media marketing strategy.

Just like any other social network, your success on Pinterest depends on engagement and participation. On Twitter, when you post a message, the more people re-tweet it, the wider audience it gets. The same happens on Pinterest. When you are posting images and pictures on Pinterest you are “pinning” them. So, re-pinning is like re-tweeting. When people share your images, they re-pin them on their boards and this is how you get attention from multiple quarters.

Pinterest success is all about getting the right information with images, according to this blog post on Social Media Examiner. This makes sense: most of the images in isolation may not make the right impact. You have to mention the context especially when the image is not self explanatory. If you are posting an infographic most of the relevant information is contained within the image. But if you are posting images that cannot be understood without additional content, you should put some text inside the image. Here are a few things you can do, according to the above-mentioned link, that will make more people like and share your images on their own Pinterest boards:

  • Use relevant labels when posting images: Labels help people understand what your image is about. Most of the times Pinterest automatically derives labels from your image names (good reason to give explanatory names to your image files) but even then, use proper labels.
  • Use boards to organize your images: The name of the board can give you a fair idea of the sort of images it contains. Suppose you have created a board for you latest strips to a Mediterranean destination. So whatever photographs you post over there, will naturally be of those Mediterranean destinations.
  • Embed descriptions within your images if possible: Without spoiling the original image, you can easily open it in an image editor and embed some text on it with small hints regarding what the image is about.
Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to know that it’s time to become an entrepreneur from a freelancer

Is there a great difference between an entrepreneur and a freelancer? It depends on the perception. It also depends on the way you run your business. Entrepreneurship certainly commands more respect compared to freelancing. Being an entrepreneur means you are running a business instead of randomly taking on assignments and getting paid for them.

When you’re working on your own (you are self-employed) you are not simply doing projects. While doing the actual work you also have to constantly promote yourself and network. You manage your website on your own. You do blogging. You network with people on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You are constantly creating content to establish authority and project yourself as an expert. You’re taking care of your finances, bookkeeping and probably also filing your returns.

Here are a few things, according to this The Next Web blog post, that can turn you from a freelancer to an entrepreneur:

The scale of projects begins to get bigger

In terms of client profile and cash flow your projects become to get bigger. Instead of providing just a single component (web design, content writing, logo design, etc.) you also begin to act as a consultant and start charging accordingly. You don’t just handle one aspect of the project. From commencement to execution to implementation, you take control of procedures and resources. Consequently, you don’t get paid as an individual, but as a business.

Your business actually has a name

You are no longer selling your services as an individual, but as a business – you have a name for your business (something like XYZ Consulting Services). Although people know you personally but instead of you they are actually dealing with a business. They are invoicing your business, and not you, and you too are charging as a business and not as a person.

You begin to outsource work to people or begin to employ them

As you undertake more complex assignments, you cannot handle them on your own. You need to work with more people, whether you’re simply outsourcing your work to them, or giving them full-time employment.

You have a well-defined plan of growth

You no longer survive from day-to-day or month-to-month. You’re having long-term plans. You have a clear vision of how you’re going to start from point A and reach point B. You have a marketing plan. You know where you are going to get the needed resources. You have developed enough expertise.

Is it necessary to term yourself as an entrepreneur rather than a freelancer? Again, it depends on your perception. There is nothing wrong in being a freelancer for the rest of your life. As long as you are happy, content, and making a good living, it doesn’t really matter. But if it matters, being an entrepreneur is far more rewarding than being just a freelancer.

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How to sell 1 million self published books as an independent author

Becoming a successful author can be one of the toughest tasks to achieve and it is more difficult if you have decided to become an independent author. Being an independent author means you straightaway sell your books without working with a publisher or an agent. How is it possible?

The Internet.

Websites like Amazon.com allow independent authors to straightaway publish and sell their books without involving agents and publishers. Again, how is it possible? It isn’t magic, it is simple hard work, persistence and a bit of strategy.

Writing in itself is hard work. It is harder for people who are employed and are writing whenever they can. It means cutting down on everything else, sometimes even family life. Whether you like it or not, really enjoy it or not, you just write without making excuses. You write everywhere, and any time. You don’t wait for the perfect moment, awesome scenic surroundings, or the silence of the nature. Whether you are in a toilet, on a train or sitting inside a cafe, you keep writing.

As an independent author who has decided to self publish his or her books, it’s not just writing that gets the job done. You also need to deal with the business of publishing and promotion (conventionally this is handled by the publishing company).

Digital publishing makes it easier to publish digital books, but in order to sell them you need a presence on the Internet. You need to constantly interact with your prospective readers, while writing, and even when you have published. You can achieve this by maintaining a highly active blog and keeping the buzz alive on your social networking profiles such as on Facebook and Twitter.

This blog post on Copy Blogger chronicles an enlightening journey of an independent, self published author who put aside the conventional wisdom and charted her own path. As an independent author, being a writer wasn’t enough; she also had to keep her audience engaged. On her own she had to decide her publishing platform and take all the risks. Listed in the blog post are the qualities needed to reach the place that she eventually reached as an independent author.

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How to build an effective content marketing team

As more and more businesses are fast embracing content marketing as their primary form of online advertising and promotion, building an effective content marketing team can be a highly critical business decision. If you are a small business and if you have lots of time at hand, you can spend the extra time you have with you creating content for your website or blog. But if you are a big business and you want to publish lots of high-quality, relevant and topical content you will need a team of content writers.

The best way of going forward is, according to this Copy Blogger blog post, knowing the full scope of your marketing effort. As I have already mentioned above, if you are a small business there is no need for you to hire a content marketing team unless you have lots of money to invest and really big plans. On the other hand, if you are a big business you can easily afford to assemble a highly effective team.

Assembling a team of content writers and marketers isn’t as easy as it may seem initially. It is not just about hiring low-cost writers from developing countries. Although there is nothing wrong in getting lots of cheaper content that is also of good quality, you will need a mix of expertise and labor, just like in any enterprise.

Content marketing isn’t just about publishing lots of content with great speed. You have to understand your audience and you need to produce content according to the channel you are using. You will need a good mix of high-end and low-end content – low-end doesn’t mean low quality, it means you can get fairly well-written content from low-charging writers at great speed.

While creating your content marketing team you will need to know what sort of content you’re going to produce, publish and market:

  • Blog posts and guest blog posts
  • Expert articles for your own website as well as other websites
  • Press releases
  • Online forums content
  • White papers and case studies
  • Infographics
  • Content curation
  • Social media and social networking

All these channels require a certain amount of expertise and you will need to assemble a team accordingly.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

Resources and networks you can use for guest blogging

According to this Search Engine Journal blog post, guest blogging is the best way of getting link backs without earning the wrath of Penguin and Panda Google updates.

What exactly is guest blogging and why is it beneficial to your business?

Guest blogging is writing for other blogs as a guest blogger. When you write for other blogs, they don’t pay you, but in lieu of your effort they include your link in the resource box. Since most guest blog for reputed blogs the value of links coming from them is also higher. Of course guest blogging makes sense if you are trying to promote a link, such as a website or a blog. Getting paid for blogging is not guest blogging.

Guest blogging on your own can be a bit difficult because you would like to put lots of effort into ineffective activities. The best way of going about it is compiling a list of the top 50 blogs you would like to target for your guest blogging efforts. They won’t accept your blog posts immediately unless they are of very high quality and extreme relevance. So prior to offering your blog posts, you will need to establish a communication channel with the blog publishers. This can be done by regularly leaving good-quality comments on their blogs and engaging with them on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, etc. Once they are familiar with you it will be easier to approach them with your guest blog post.

If you don’t want to spend that much time on individual blogger (just imagine being friends with all the 50 bloggers), you can find guest blogging opportunities using one of the forums and directories listed and reviewed in the above-mentioned blog post. A good thing about these directories and forums is you can search guest blogging opportunities by keywords, traffic and subject.

Using these forums you can not only find guest blogging opportunities for yourself, you can also find guest bloggers for your own blog.

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How to engage more with your email list subscribers

Are you publishing an email newsletter from your website or blog? Do you feel that you aren’t engaging enough? Anyway, what does this exactly mean? In order to understand this you need to figure out why in the first place you send out your email newsletter to your list subscribers?

E-mail marketing image

On the Internet email marketing is the oldest form of reaching out to your target audience. It is older than social media, it is older than blogging, and it is also older than PPC campaigns and banner advertising. Despite various changes happening in the field of Internet marketing, email marketing still rules the roost. Just browse through your inbox and you will see how many marketing emails you get on a daily basis. But to how many do you respond? It won’t be surprising if the answer is none.

This is because you aren’t being engaged properly. Just imagine, if you don’t respond much to the marketing e-mails that you receive, how do you make sure that people respond to YOUR e-mail marketing campaigns? You need to engage them constantly.

Why you need to engage your e-mail list subscribers

E-mail marketing doesn’t just involve sending routine e-mails to your subscribers. It is a relationship building activity. If people aren’t exactly running over each other to grab your offers, you need to keep them engaged so that when you have something really exciting to offer, they are eagerly waiting for the opportunity. If you don’t regularly engage them, they will consider every e-mail of yours as something not worth caring for. Here are a few things you can do to engage your e-mail list subscribers:

  • Offer highly valuable content: They subscribed to your e-mail updates because they were really looking forward to receiving something highly valuable and useful (unless they subscribed merely to download an e-book or some other digital offer being made in lieu of subscription). Keep that promise. Always send them high-value content so that whenever they open your e-mail they are really excited about what’s inside.
  • Encourage them to contact you: Most of the e-mails contain non-responsive content that just lies there. There are very few e-mails that really talk to you. Encourage your list subscribers to give you feedback, ask you questions, and even ask for help in case you can provide it.
  • Run competitions and contests: Nothing excites people more than competitions and contests, especially if they can win something they really want. If you can afford it, keeping a prize that is really worth the effort, for instance an iPad, or something similar. Individual competitions and contests can last for multiple e-mails so that you can really build up the excitement.
  • Occasionally send personal e-mails: Develop a personal rapport with your subscribers by sending individual e-mails occasionally. Suppose you have found something really useful and one of your subscribers can really be benefited from it. Although it won’t be possible for you to know this, but in case you do, do send that information individually. Later on you can also let it be known through your main newsletter. This will significantly increase your goodwill among your e-mail list subscribers.
  • Engage them over social media: Online marketing these days doesn’t work in isolated chunks. You will come across same people via e-mail, blogging and social networking. Engage them everywhere.
Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to cope with Hurricane Sandy as an entrepreneur

Infrastructure has been ravaged and businesses have been hit badly with Hurricane Sandy. The damage isn’t just direct and physical, lots of business is lost by people’s inability to do business. So how do you cope with such situations as a business or as an entrepreneur.

This Inc.com article suggests, stay in touch even when the doors are closed. What does that mean?

It means being there for your customers and clients even when they are unable to do business with you. You can provide them all the help they need within your capabilities. For instance, tech giants like Google and Amazon provided their computing power to keep the users informed and well connected. Similarly Twitter and Facebook launched separate sections so that people can coordinate rescue and evacuation.

As an entrepreneur you need to cope with such disasters on multiple levels. If you have been directly hit then obviously you will be figuring out how to minimize the loss. If you are not directly hit but a big chunk of your consumer base is located at an area that is hit by the storm, you need to be there for them in whichever capacity you can manage. Remember that this is not a business and PR opportunity for you. Just be there. Just provide all the help you can.

Many businesses that provide critical and time sensitive products and services used Twitter and Facebook to keep their customers and clients informed. They continuously Tweeted whether their services will be available during certain days or not and which of their shops and retail stores were closed. They also used their wider reach to spread public service information such as the availability of various health centers and rescue numbers.

This is also great opportunity to show your human side. Engage your customers and clients on Twitter and Facebook. Encourage them to talk to you and share their stories and experiences.

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How to earn respect as a professional

Respect is the greatest attribute you can earn as a professional. In the field of business and management when we talk of respect we don’t mean elderly reverence, what we mean is a feeling of trustworthiness and reliability. When people have trust in your wisdom, when they know where you stand in terms of your core values and when they know that you are going to be around in the time of need, respect and trustworthiness follow.

Earning respect as a professional

But respect needs to be earned. You don’t inherit it and you don’t just come across it. According to in, these are the following qualities you must develop in order to earn sustainable respect as a professional:

  • Be yourself: Artificiality is easily detectable, especially to those who seek authenticity and trust. Don’t try to be something or someone you are not. Every individual is unique and that is the beauty of our existence. We all have inherent qualities and flaws — what makes us different is how we channelize them productively. When you don’t act authentic it reeks of insincerity no matter how innocuous the act is. If you cannot be sincere about you, how can you be sincere about delivering a product or a service? Not being authentic means you are trying to pretend and this eventually begins to percolate into your other dealings too.
  • Be attentive to others: Develop a sense of curiosity. Pay close attention to what the others are saying and try to understand their point of view. We feel close to people who give us an ear and show interest in what we have to say. Don’t just pretend to listen to people. Carefully listening to others also adds to your own knowledge as you get to learn different perspectives.
  • Mind what you’re talking about: This is very important at workplace where rumor-mongering is very common. When somebody shares his or her secrets with you he or she expects that they will remain with you. You immediately lose respect the moment you start revealing confidential information to others. And you’re not just losing respect of the person whose secret your revealing; you are also losing respect of those people (whether they realise it or not, and whether you realise it or not) to whom the secret is being revealed. So learn to be discreet.
  • Develop unique qualities: It is slightly same as being yourself but those people who carry unique qualities and original insights are more respected than those who simply parrot existing knowledge.
  • Be helpful: As a professional and even as a management leader your primary aim is to help others grow and achieve their goals. This might sound like a selfless service but it is not because eventually you are earning great respect and this respect is a formidable professional asset.
  • Set clearly-defined boundaries: Always being ready to help doesn’t mean you don’t have boundaries. As mentioned in this blog post on how to learn to say no, you need to know when to say yes (and help people) and when to say no (and politely opt out or direct them to another source). Keep in mind that your objective is to empower people but not to make them dependent upon you.
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How to increase your website traffic with Twitter

Twitter is a great social networking tool and you can also use it to increase website traffic to your website. Of course for this you have to establish an impressive presence on the social networking website but along with that it also depends on how you portray yourself and leverage all the features and attributes of the website. Given below are a few things you can do:

Create a uniquely defined profile page

Your profile page on Twitter would be something like http://twitter.com/yourtwitterhandle. Using your settings first of all you can create a custom background for your Twitter profile page and you can use this background as a branding tool. There are many services available on the Internet that charge you a fee and create a custom profile page but even if you create a simple image file (that can cover the entire screen in the background) with your logo or website header it will be sufficient. Along with that, whatever is your Twitter handle, use a proper name whether it is your business name or your personal name.

In the bio section properly define what you do and don’t try to be esoteric. Most people try to be funny, mysterious or even purposely weird on their profile. Avoid that. Use this section to properly explain what you do, what your business is about and what motivates you to serve people. Also put your website URL in this section.

Be as useful as you can be

Unless you are interesting and useful nobody is going to follow you or pay attention to what you say. You won’t be able to increase your website traffic through Twitter if people don’t pay attention to your tweets. And you don’t always have to tweet about your business and your website. When you come across something interesting, something useful and something newsworthy on the Internet post it and share it with your followers. This way people will retweet your updates and this will further get you more attention.

Engage influencers on Twitter

Influencers are people with thousands of followers and whose every second tweet gets hundreds of retweets. These people don’t follow others easily (some of them do, but most of them don’t because this may crowd their timelines) so it may take some time before they start following you and paying attention to your individual tweets. But somewhere you’ll have to start. Start responding to their tweets. If they ask some question or need some information try to provide it before anybody else does. Remember that you’re not sucking up to these people; they did the same things before becoming known.

Use hash tags to get further exposure

Many people use hash tags on Twitter to follow threads of interest. They might not be following you but the might be following the hash tag you have associated your update with. When you do that your update appears on their timeline and this way you can get more exposure for your updates. So participating in discussions with trending hash tags certainly gets you more traffic.

Use the Twitter button on your own website or blog

In order to get more traffic from Twitter you need more followers. This means using every possible opportunity available to you to increase the number of followers and one thing that is totally under your control is your website. Make it easier for people to follow you by putting a Twitter button on your website or your blog.

Promote your Twitter handle

Put your Twitter handle on your author profile whenever you are submitting articles and blog posts at other places. Also publish your Twitter handle on your visiting card as well as letterheads and other stationery. If you advertise in newspapers, magazines and television prominently display your Twitter handle so that more and more people can follow you.

These are a few ways you can increase your website traffic via Twitter. Like any other platform, in order to get genuine visibility you have to create a vibrant presence where people actually pay attention to your updates.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to build trust according to Richard Branson

Your business cannot survive if your customers and clients don’t trust you. They carry out business transactions with you only because they trust you to deliver what you have promised.

But how easy or difficult is it to build that trust? People don’t just start believing you the moment you start interacting with them or promoting your business. In the beginning it can be especially difficult. And according to this Q-A with Richard Branson published in entrepreneur.com, you need to build trust among your customers and clients as well as your suppliers, distributors, business partners and also your employees.

First of all, according to Richard Branson, you need to stand out. If your prospects cannot distinguish you from everybody else around you, how can they single you out? This is more so important if there is already an air of mistrust. Supposed you represent a business marred by individuals who never deliver what they promise. They muddy the water for everybody, especially well-meaning business people like you. It’s not your fault, but you will need to convince your prospects that you are different. You will have to walk an extra mile in order to stand out.

How do you stand out? One, by performance, and two, always remaining in a positive limelight. Perform well. Deliver what you have promised, and whenever you can manage, deliver more than what you have promised. It doesn’t mean you are bending backwards (sometimes even have to do that), but it means conveying to your prospects that you really care for them.

Since there are very few businesses that actually go the extra mile to accommodate their customers and clients, the mere fact that you are doing that will help you stand out in many instances. Remember that these days we live in a highly connected world. Your prospects are continuously exchanging words with each other through social networking and social media websites. Whether they have good, bad or mediocre experience with a business, they immediately share their opinion with each other, and considering that many of these opinions and exchanges show up on search engine result pages, it is more important that they are positive rather than negative.

Aside from that, you also need to continuously engage people in order to build trust. You have to be in their consciousness when they have to make a purchase. Again, with social media it has become extremely easy, although time-consuming, to engage your prospects. Get involved in the ongoing discussions. Express your opinions and provide help wherever needed.

Building trust is a long-term process. When you start a new business it should be an integral part of your overall approach. Large business empires are built on the foundation of trust.

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How to make sure your email campaign messages reach the inboxes of your recipients

The biggest problem faced by email marketers is that a majority of e-mails never reach the intended recipients, whatever are the reasons, and there are plenty.

successful email marketing campaign

Want to run a successful email marketing campaign? Aside from creating great campaigns in terms of content and layout, you also have to make sure that people actually get your messages. How do you ensure that? Given below are a few things you can do.

Build a permission-based mailing list

Do you have a mailing list for your upcoming email marketing campaign? Did you “acquire” it or build it yourself? The most effective form of email marketing is done by building your own email list, and that too, permission-based mailing list. What is that?

Permission-based mailing list means people give you permission to send them your messages. This is complete opposite of spamming. This way, your e-mail messages are not consigned to their spam folders. Permission-based email marketing should be double opt-in. Again, what’s that?

When people subscribe to your e-mail newsletter, they submit their email address. You shouldn’t accept their email address as it is. Your subscription system must send a confirmation email and only when the prospective recipient confirms through that confirmation email, he or she should be included in the mailing list. This way you make sure that they actually want to hear from you on an ongoing basis.

Let your recipients know how to white list your e-mail ID

Just to make sure that the email service they are using (Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail, etc.) hasn’t blacklisted your email ID, before they subscribe, quickly educate them on how to white list your email ID. Individual e-mail services have their own methods of white listing email IDs and they are easy to locate.

Use a reputed email marketing service

Reputed email marketing services have very strict rules to deter spammers. Choose services like Aweber, MailChimp or Constant Contact (just to name a few) for your email marketing campaigns.

Use non-spammy language

There are many email filters that are programmed to trash email messages containing particular expressions and words (become rich, earn money fast, Viagra, etc.). Avoid hyperbolic language as it is immediately blocked by most of the email services. Use natural language and be as realistic as possible.

Focus on quality

If you want more and more of your recipients keep receiving your messages and opening them, you need to deliver them what you have promised at the time of subscription. If you have promised them valuable tips then provide those tips instead of business offers. Your email messages must add value and not increase noise. A couple of times it is fine, but if you start sending unrelated messages they will mark your email as spam and henceforth they will never hear from you.

Stick to a schedule

The email messages of your email marketing campaign shouldn’t be too much and too less. If you have promised to send just a couple of messages on fixed days of the week, stick to that. Unconsciously people expect your messages on Wednesday if you have told them that you will be sending your mails on Wednesdays. If you keep altering your schedule they may get mixed up and end up blacklisting your email ID.

These are a few things you can keep in mind to make sure that your email marketing campaigns reach the inboxes of your recipients.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to be more creative by removing creativity blocks

Do you believe that creativity is a natural gift? That it only belongs to a few fortunate people? You may like to rethink on this, according to this thought-provoking blog post. The writer of this blog post believes that just like any other skill, creativity can be taught, and you can train yourself to be creative.

You can be more creative by developing a habit of being creative. This requires “out of the box” thinking on a day-to-day basis and not only when it comes to bigger, “game changing” ideas. Even the way you send e-mails to your customers and clients can be crafted and sent creatively. You need to look at problems and solutions just from another angle.

The problem with our brain is that it loves status quo. Once you get into a habit the brain doesn’t want to leave it. It prefers to remain in a rut no matter what hardship it causes you. This is how the brain is, and it is up to you how you deal with it.

On the other hand, there is also this interesting concept of neuro plasticity. It means with repetitive tasks, brain can be rewired. The habits that you have gained can be easily gotten rid of and new habits can be acquired and gotten accustomed to. So even if you’re not used to working out of the box, you can train yourself to do so.

You can start this by exercising creativity on smaller tasks, let us say, arranging your table. What creativity can you apply to arrange your work table?

Similarly, if you want to write an article don’t just focus on the entire thing; focus on a single sentence, or even a single word. The same goes for a new web design you might be working on. Start randomly. You don’t always have to be linear in your thinking. Want to work on a novel or story? Why not begin with the end and then create the entire plot leading to it? Why not simply start a paragraph in the middle of the story and from there move left or right (or up or down, according to the way you write)?

Most of our habits are wired around bigger things and this is why creativity blocks are caused. When you start thinking on micro levels you will discover new realms of creativity that you have never experienced before. Creativity, as mentioned above, doesn’t have to pre-exist. It doesn’t have to be a natural talent. It can be cultivated. You can develop a habit of being creative. You just have to be in that mode.

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How to conquer and control stage fright

Fear is a natural rejection to being exposed to danger, according to this article in Entrepreneur. When we were living in the wilderness fear alerted us against the dangers lurking in the darkness or behind the rocks and prompted us to take preventive measures. Going on a stage and speaking to an audience or giving a performance is the same thing. You are not going to be attacked or anything, at least not physically, but you are certainly exposed to instant scrutiny, sometimes harsh, and this is what you fear. This is called stage fright.

No matter how confident we are in our personal lives, as soon as we know that scores of eyes and ears are focused on us, paying close attention to what we’re saying and what sort of body language we have, and then drawing conclusions accordingly, we are stumped.

It is same as working on a narrow wall that is many feet high. Draw a narrow column on the ground and you can easily tread upon it. The probability that you may lose balance and fall down many feet below and die or injure yourself eliminates your ability to walk comfortably on the narrow wall. You feel stiff. It’s hard to move. You can’t even balance yourself. Knowing all these psychological as well as physical reactions to imminent danger, you decide against the exercise, in this particular case, rightly so.

But in the case of stage fright most of the fear is imagined, and hence it can be easily conquered by altering your thoughts. You need to focus on the positive rather than the negative. This is not just a pep talk advice, it actually works.

According to the writer of the article, our brain gauges a situation according to the questions it asks. For example, when you are on stage, your brain starts asking, “Are they going to dislike me?”, “Are they going to laugh at me?”, “Am I going to give a very bad performance?”

If you are giving a presentation in a class or in a conference you may ask, “Are they going to ask very difficult questions?”, “Are they specifically going to ask the questions I might not know just to stump me?”

Since such questions represent a search for dangers, they automatically trigger preventive reaction inside your brain and your body. Your brain doesn’t want you to be in this situation and hence it stiffens your body, makes your movements unnatural, and strains your voice.

So if these questions are triggering negative reactions, why oppose them to yourself? You are basically speculating on things that have not even happened. Instead, focus on questions that are totally unrelated to your situation, or even if they are related to your situation, they are not about your vulnerability. You can ask something like, “Did most of these people have a proper breakfast before coming here?”, “I wonder how I can help these people today with my performance.” and so on.

Instead of focusing on what you cannot do, focus on what you can deliver. Think about how desperately your performance is needed.

You can also turn the worst-case scenario in your favour. Assuming you’re not going to be as impressive as you should have. What is your fear doing? It is making you look more bad than you usually are. Fright never makes people look good. So by worrying too much you’re making matters even worse. Even if they are judging you harshly, even if they are going to pose tough questions, fear and apprehension will only make matters worse.

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How to stop worrying about time and focus more on actual work

Are you constantly being chased by time-based deadlines? If you are, you’re not alone. The majority of people in this world are driven by time rather than the tasks they are supposed to complete. As a result, we are constantly running out of time. We never seem to have enough time This has a negative psychological impact and eventually it begins to affect our performance.

According to this blog post titled “How to stop time“, the writer, rightly, insists that instead of focusing on deadlines we should focus on the actual work at hand. Instead of being ruled by time we should be ruled by our tasks. When you’re ruled by time, it becomes the most important thing. But is it the time that is more important or the work you are doing? The key, according to the post, is shifting from a time mindset to a task mindset.

Actually this is not something new. What it says is, instead of focusing on the deadline, focus on the work at hand. This would involve segregating a bigger task into multiple smaller tasks and then focusing on those particular tasks and completing them with single-mindedness. Studying for school exams is a good analogy: when you’re studying you are constantly thinking about the year-end exams. As the human nature is, since the exam time appears faraway we don’t focus on studies unless the time has arrived, and when the time arrives, often it’s too late. As a result, we have to slog and then as a result, we underperform.

Instead, if you can focus on studying rather than preparing for exams, you will not just give your exams quite relaxed, you will also be better prepared and hence perform well. If you study throughout the year (it is not as difficult as many imagine) you retain more and you actually acquire knowledge instead of mugging it up.

Another example is writing a book. There are many people who want to write a book and become a published author but never actually get down to writing because they think it will take up lots of time and effort. They’re constantly worried about the end. Rather, they should focus on the particular piece of writing they want to do. For instance, just focus on the paragraph you are writing. Forget about completing the book. Concentrate on giving your best in the paragraph you’re writing. Once you have completed that paragraph, move on to the next paragraph. Similarly, concentrate on the particular chapter rather than the entire book.

This way of working can help you in every walk of life.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to hide the right-hand side ticker alerts in Facebook

Ticker alerts on Facebook (on the right hand side) are really annoying to some people. Facebook introduced them in one of the latest design changes. If you are wondering what I’m talking about on the right-hand side of your main Facebook page the top column is full of the latest updates and likes from your friends and all Facebook pages that you have liked. This column is constantly being updated and sometimes it can be annoying to focus on things that you are doing on Facebook.

Although there are many browser extensions in Firefox and Google Chrome that you can use to hide or disable ticker alerts this would be an overkill especially when you can do it by simply clicking this icon:

hiding Facebook ticker

A good thing about using the inbuilt Facebook icon to hide the alerts ticker is that you can easily unhide it by simply clicking the icon that now appears in an inverted position.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to get a productivity and energy boost in the middle of the day

Energy Boost

Getting a productivity and energy boost in the middle of the day can considerably improve your output, whether you work for yourself or in an office. This is the time when you begin to feel drained and tired and your brain gets slow. A sudden bout of exercise can increase your blood flow and send more oxygen to your brain.

Remember that your productivity and energy level are directly related. And they are related from both the angles. When you feel productive you automatically feel energetic and vice versa. Productivity is something that is not in our hands due to various reasons, but energy level is something that you can control by timely exercising.

Productivity and energy boost with exercise

According to this article on fitness repeated studies have shown that regular 2 ½ hours of exercise in a week (it doesn’t mean that you have to exercise 2 ½ hours everyday) can considerably improve your productivity over a long period of time. Low intensity exercise such as walking, slow jogging, walking up and down the ramp or even yoga can reduce sluggishness and rev up your energy level.

It also says that a moderate cardio exercise can give you a two-our creativity boost immediately after the workout session. Another study has shown that there is a 5-10% improvement in cognitive function in those who go to the gym and exercise regularly.

But how do you exercise in the middle of the day to boost your productivity and energy level?

You don’t need long stretches of physical activity in order to feel energised. A quick round of the staircase can give you ample amount of activity. Cover a couple of floors with quick steps to pump in blood into your heart and also to your brain.

Another method (Don’t Do It If You Have Some Heart Condition) is having an intense workout for just a minute. Don’t do it with a full stomach. Go to an empty patch around your building or wherever you can find it. For 1 minute run as fast as you can and then stop to catch your breath. Remember that you have to stretch your limits otherwise it won’t be of any use. After a couple of minutes run again as if you have to run for your life, for 1 minute and then stop. Do this for 3-4 times and you are done for the day.

Productivity and energy boost just before you begin to feel sluggish

We all know what are our sluggish periods during the day. If you have been observing yourself and if you are concerned about maintaining your energy level throughout the day, you must be worried about a particular patch of the day when you don’t feel up to the mark. Let us say it is 2 PM. So set an alarm at 1:30 PM on your phone and then go for a brisk walk. In the beginning you might not feel the change, but gradually as your body begins to assimilate the benefits of regular exercising at that particular time, you will feel improvement in your energy level as well as productivity.

In the end, don’t overdo. Normally this is our tendency. We begin something with great enthusiasm and we overdo. Then we have a negative experience and then develop a negative opinion about a positive thing. For a sustainable productivity and energy boost during your sluggish hours, you will have to exercise consistently for at least a week before you begin to feel the change.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to carry out link building activities with free alert services

Link building is an integral part of SEO. Major search engines like Google give weightage to what sort of websites link back to you and according to the authority they enjoy (Page Rank) they add positive points to your rankings.

There can be automatic systems for link building but normally they are not very fruitful and 99% of the cases they might even prove counter-productive because the search engines might think that you are trying to spam your way around. So the best way of getting inbound links to your website is doing it manually, personally approaching webmasters and bloggers and present to them mutual link building opportunities.

But how to find the right webmasters and bloggers? It will be tedious to search every day (because link building is a regular exercise). Neil Patel in his latest SEOMoz blog post suggests using various free alerts services available on the Internet to find the niche you’re looking for. That’s a very good suggestion, because people who would like to link to you must be talking about either you or your field of expertise.

Haven’t used alerts yet? Many regular bloggers use alerts to get blogging ideas and news alerts and one of the most used alerts services is Google alerts. Just go to the website, and enter the search term or the expression for which you would like to receive alerts. You enter the expression and the e-mail and whenever Google finds content satisfying the expression you have submitted, it mails you the link. You can visit that link and access the content associated with that expression.

Google alerts screen

As you can see above, and as Neil has amply explained, there are various modes of search terms and expressions you can use in order to receive just the alerts you’re looking for. In the very near future we will have a blog post on how to create advanced search criteria in order to refine your results on Google.

Since lots of conversation regarding your subject and also your brand takes place on social media and social networking websites, you can also create alerts on Twitter and Facebook.

If you use services like Hootsuit and TweetDeck to manage your Twitter account you can easily create a separate column dedicated to your search term and whenever somebody posts an update around that search term, it also appears in your column.

You can get more information in the actual blog post at SEOMoz.

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How to handle criticism as a blogger

As a blogger criticism is going to be a part and parcel of your everyday life. It can be because you really suck at what you do or think, or you simply represent a unique point of view that does not find resonance with many of your readers. Whatever is the reason, people are going to criticize you one way or the other and you will have to learn to handle criticism in a good way.

Why would people criticize you as a blogger?

Some people really mean well and some are simply trolls having nothing better to do, so you will need to differentiate. People who criticize you just for the sake of criticism are simply minor irritants although they can create a toxic environment for you and you may have to moderate their opinions, at least on your own blog (you cannot do anything about them if they bitch about you on other forums, blogs and social media profiles).

But people who criticize you because either you deserve criticism or they have a point view of their own need to be taken seriously and they deserve your attention. This is also because they are also taking your opinion seriously and going to extra lengths to engage you and trying to change your opinion (which further means that it matters to them that you change your opinion and see their point of view too).

This blog post on Problogger presents a practical guide to handling criticism as a blogger. In fact the same guidelines can be applied on various aspects of everyday life because you may encounter criticism anywhere. According to Darren you can handle criticism the following ways

  • Accept and embrace criticism as it is: Criticism is a reality and you cannot escape from it. As a blogger you are routinely expressing your opinion and whenever one expresses his or her opinion criticism is bound to be there because there are going to be many people who will have a different opinion than yours and would like it to be known to you vociferously. So just accept it.
  • Learn to differentiate between useful and useless criticism: As already mentioned above, some people mean well when they criticize you, some people don’t mean well, and some criticize simply because they want to annoy you. The last category shouldn’t be taken seriously but the previous two should be considered with some thought and responded to accordingly.
  • Make positive use of criticism: Since not all criticism is bad you can use criticism as a constructive feedback (no matter how it is represented). Use negative comments to improve your blog. Try to think from the perspective of people who were throwing criticism at you. After all they are taking pains to point out what you should do in order to better your understanding and consequently, your blog content.

You can read the remaining comments on the blog.

First most, never take criticism personally because it can be very hurting and even discourage you from working on your blog. On the Internet there are no personal enmities (in 99% of the cases) and people are being nasty simply because it is easier to be nasty on the Internet. So whenever people criticize you, put your emotions aside and then go through the comments.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to increase your Facebook fan page engagement

There is a reason why you create a Facebook fan page for your business, organization, consulting business or for yourself: you want to engage your followers and friends. If you’re simply posting the regular, non-interesting messages and links on your Facebook fan page, and if nobody responds, you aren’t solving any purpose.

Beyond doubt Facebook is a force to reckon with when it comes to generating targeted traffic to your website or blog. And sometimes people don’t even need to generate target for a parent website, they run their entire affair via their Facebook fan page, for instance, there are some celebrities that sell their branded products straight from their Facebook fan pages. According to this AdAge article the magazine Cosmopolitan got more traffic from Facebook compared to Google.com in a particular span of time. Although the degree of attention that you get from your Facebook fan page depends on your business and your target audience, if you have a page over there, the fundamental purpose of that page is to engage your audience.

What exactly is engagement?

When you “engage” your friends and followers, you interact with them rather than simply talk to them. When you engage, you don’t simply use the platform to disseminate news updates and product releases. You post messages that encourage your friends and followers to respond. You ask for their opinions. You talk about stuff that interests them rather than perpetually talking about your company and your brand and how great your products are. You offer them useful information. When they have a problem with your product or service, you immediately offer help or assistance. The moot point is, your friends and followers on Facebook should feel like talking to a person rather than an indifferent entity. They should look forward to your updates and interacting with you.

This blog post on Social Media Examiner explores 5 ways you can increase engagement on your Facebook fan page, viz.:

  • Post content that really interests your audience: Your friends and followers on Facebook can’t always be interested in knowing about your products and services. Additionally, you cannot maintain a positive buzz simply by always being excited about your offers. Of course you have to use your fan page as a platform to disseminate information about your business, but in order to keep them interested in you, you should also occasionally talk about day-to-day stuff that concerns them, for instance how they can save money or how they can perform certain tasks in a better manner by adopting particular habits, etc.
  • Post content that is relevant and topical: Is there a cyclone hitting somewhere? Is it too much cold or too hot where your customers, clients and friends live? Talk about the weather and share with them your own experience. Is there a football match going on? You can talk about your favorite games, your favorite players.
  • Encourage people to share your content: Sometimes when you need something, all you have to do is ask people. If so if you want your friends and followers to spread your message around, give them tools and buttons to share your content without much hassle.

Read the remaining points on how to increase your Facebook fan page engagement, and much more, in this blog post.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to smoothen or refine JPEG images

JPEG is a great photo and image format and most photography devices such as cameras and phones save photos in this format. But the problem with JPEG is that sometimes distortions, tiling and artifacts crop up, spoiling the beauty of the photograph. These distortions may creep in due to various reasons but in order to make your photographs look better, you need to get rid of them.

Although not all JPEG photographs can be smoothened or refined, some of them can be, given the right tools. This how-to-geek article tells you how to improve your JPEG images.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to sign in to multiple Gmail accounts at the same time

There was a time when you could sign into multiple Gmail accounts by opening different tabs in the same browser. One sign in wouldn’t affect the other. Due to some reason Gmail and Google accounts don’t support this ability. In order to sign into one account you first have to log out from the account you are already signed in. But there is a workaround.

First (presuming that you have multiple Gmail and Google apps accounts) signout from all accounts. Then decide which is going to be your primary Gmail or Google apps account and sign into that account. Then make sure that you are in the inbox and not some other application like Google Docs and Google apps. At the top of your Gmail inbox webpage screen, you can see your current e-mail ID and the down arrow icon at the right of it. Click on it and you get the following screen

Sign in to multiple Gmail accounts

As you can see, you have to click “Switch account”. You get the following pop-up:

signing-into-multiple-Gmail-accounts-2

As you can see I have already signed into multiple accounts (I have blacked them out because I don’t want to share my personal information here). In order to sign into another Gmail account you need to click “Sign in to another account…” and you are then taken to the usual Gmail sign in screen. Sign in to the account and that account is added to your list of signed and accounts. After this, all you have to do is click on your e-mail account in the first graphic mentioned above, and in the proceeding pop-up, click the Gmail account you want to check. The problem with this is the moment you sign out of one account your signed out from all the accounts.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to reset auto increment number in MySQL table

In MySQL tables auto increment keys are normally used to relate multiple tables to each other so that the data existing in multiple tables can be logically presented. In most of the cases, the auto increment field is, as the name suggests, automatically generated. Normally what happens is, as you enter a new row the value of the auto increment field is implemented to the next highest number automatically. For example, if the highest value that your auto increment field contains is 483, the next value is going to be 484.

It is advised that you don’t play around with the auto increment field or key unless it is absolutely necessary. Since this key is used to relate various tables, one mishap, and your entire database schema may collapse. So be very sure that you really want to reset your auto increment field number. Anyway, why would you reset the auto increment number in a MySQL table?

Suppose you needed to delete a particular set of records and a particular number of keys in this particular table are already being used by another table. So if you delete data in this table and re-enter it, your auto increment number will be starting from the highest number that existed prior to the deletion. You don’t want that. You want the number to again start from the actual sequence. Difficult to understand? Let us go through a numeric example.

Suppose there is a table called “mtable”. The highest auto increment value in the key field is 360. You enter some records and by the time you’re done, the highest value in the auto increment key is now 483. You have related these keys to another table. Then you realize there was some mistake in the data you entered and you need to delete all the data you had just entered. The problem with this is, when you enter the data again after deleting it, the highest value in the auto increment field is going to be 483 and not the original 360. Since you’re basically entering the same data with some changes, you would like the auto increment counting to begin from 361 onwards and not 484. For this, you need to reset your auto increment value in your MySQL table, and this is how you do it

ALTER TABLE mtable AUTO_INCREMENT=360

Now when you again start entering the old data, the auto increment will start from 361 and not 484.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to copy table rows to another table in MySQL

MySQL is perhaps one of the most widely used databases in the world especially when almost all free source content management systems and blogging platforms heavily rely upon MySQL. If you are a self publisher or a blogger there is a great chance that you’re dabbling with MySQL.

You can copy rows from one MySQL table to another using a condition or you can copy the entire set of rows. In order to copy rows from one table to another MySQL table both the tables must have the appropriate columns in order for the operation to execute successfully. Let us assume that you have a “table1” and “table2” and “table1” contains some information about certain cities and you need to copy information pertaining to one single city into “table2”. This is how you use the MySQL command:

INSERT INTO table2 (restaurant_id, restaurant_name, restaurant_location) SELECT FROM table1 restaurant_id, restaurant_name, restaurant_location WHERE restaurant_city=”Honolulu”

That’s it. You can use this MySQL command to copy table rows from one table to another. You can easily customize this command according to your individual requirement.

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How to get new clients as a freelancer

Your success as a freelancer primarily depends on how many clients you can get for your business. Your freelance business doesn’t just hinge upon your ability to deliver, people need to know about you and they need to be convinced of your reliability.

Talk to different freelancers (successful freelancers not occasional ones) and you will notice one common trait: they continuously promote themselves and their businesses using various channels available to them. It doesn’t necessarily mean advertising constantly, it involves being visible at strategic locations and being known as someone who can deliver.

Aside from turning in assignments as a freelancer, in order to get new clients you have to allocate some of your time to this activity. Listed below are a few things you can do to keep on getting new clients for your freelance business:

Have an active presence on the Internet

This means having a website, a proper website, not one of those sub domains hosted on free-website building websites. If you don’t have an exclusive domain name booked and hosted for your business people are going to say, well, if this person isn’t confident enough to even invest in a domain name and a little bit of hosting space, can we trust him or her? If he or she doesn’t believe in his or her business, how can we believe?

So therefore, in order to establish a credible presence you must have a credible website for your freelance business. On that website you can either remain in the background and just promote your business or you can promote yourself as a brand. And this shouldn’t be just a one-page website. It should have a well-written homepage, an “about” page and a page that talks about your services. A person planning on doing business with you must get as much information as possible from your website. The layout of the website should also be professionally designed. It doesn’t have to be extraordinarily high-flown, but it should be neat and clean and properly arranged.

Have a blog for your freelance business

A business blog these days is as much important as your primary website if not more. In fact there are many freelancers who merely have a blog without having a website, although this is not a good strategy because on a blog information appears in a chronological order and this might confuse a person unless he or she is hell-bent upon doing business with you (and hence would go to the trouble of digging out the needed information). A blog lets you communicate your thoughts on a regular basis. It also conveys to the prospective customers and clients that you haven’t vanished somewhere after hosting your website; you are constantly there and building quality content for your visitors.

Make sure the theme of your freelance business blog is centered around your business and you are not using it just as a personal diary. Leverage your business blog to highlight your expertise and your knowledge. Continuously write about the various issues concerning your business and the business of your prospective clients. Solve problems as much as possible and encourage people to interact with you through your blog. Continuously publishing relevant posts about your business has an additional benefit: it improves your search engine rankings by improving your keyword density.

Try to remain active on social networking websites as much as possible

As a busy freelancer it might not be possible to spend hours every day posting messages on Facebook and Twitter and replying to various discussion threads, but choose a time and be active on these platforms. You can also use LinkedIn as this website is exclusively for business networking. Many freelancers these days get lots of work while interacting on various social networking and social media websites. You can also use your profiles to solve your customer or client problems and raise awareness about your capabilities. You can also use Google . Read how you can create a Google business page for your freelance business.

Publish a newsletter for your freelance business

Although you share lots of ideas through your blog not everybody prefers to visit your blog. A majority of people still prefer to receive updates via e-mail and if you are not reaching out to them you’re missing a big chunk of the market. You can use e-mail newsletter services like Aweber and MailChimp to not only manage subscriptions, but also produce and send first-class e-mail updates and newsletters.

Attend conferences, meet-ups and workshops

These places can create lots of business opportunities for you because they brim with business-oriented people. Don’t forget to take a big pack of your business cards with you. If you can manage you can also present a paper or speech and this will immediately help you gain lots of recognition.

Write a book on your expertise

Writing a post on your business is perhaps one of the best ways of establishing your authority because even in the times of blog publishing (where almost everybody becomes a writer) publishing a book is still a big deal and it is going to remain so for many more years.

Write for different websites and blogs

Writing for blogs other than your own is called guest blogging and this has a great potential of getting you massive exposure especially if you can manage to publish your blog over a highly popular blog in your stream. It’s not just the exposure that you get on that blog, highly popular and rated blogs have greater chance of their content being pushed onto social bookmarking websites like Digg and Delicious and they also enjoy massive following its on Twitter and Facebook.

Use PPC marketing

All the methods mentioned above don’t cost you much money but this one. Nonetheless, it is a great way of getting new clients as a freelancer. It is not possible to rank well or gain traction over social networking websites immediately and you will need some initial push. If you are not providing a highly competitive service than it won’t even cost you much. Of course, if you’re providing something like SEO or web design (just to name a couple of them) you might have to shell out lots of money per click. But until you can make a presence for yourself this can bring you lots of business.

So these are a few things you can do to get more clients as a freelancer? What more do you do? You can share your thoughts in the comments section.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to create multiple inboxes in Gmail

You can create multiple inboxes in Gmail if you want to manage multiple e-mail accounts using a single inbox. What’s the benefit of creating multiple inboxes in Gmail?

Although we have multiple e-mail accounts for a particular reason, it can help you save lots of time if you can receive all the messages from your various e-mail accounts in a single inbox. The different e-mail accounts don’t necessarily have to be Gmail accounts, but they should have an ability to forward incoming messages to your this particular Gmail account (where you are creating multiple inboxes).

In order to create and manage multiple inboxes in Gmail, first of all you have to enable multiple inboxes by first going to “Settings”

Gmail settings icon

On the screen, click on the “Labs” tab and scroll down to “Multiple inboxes”, select “Enable”, scroll at the bottom and click “Save changes”

On the “Settings” screen another tab appears by the name of “Multiple inboxes”. Set up one of the panel boxes to search for the e-mail ID that should be redirected to your newly created inbox (theoretically the inbox hasn’t been created yet).

Setting up multiple inboxes in Gmail

Create a new label and name it appropriately. This new label will be used as your newly-created inbox title.

After this you must create a filter. Filters in Gmail allow you to automate certain tasks that are repetitive but you cannot avoid doing them. They mostly follow a pattern so they can be easily automated.

Go to the same old “Settings” screen and click the “Filters” tab. There, create a new filter.

In the “To” box enter the email account ID that you want to receive in the new inbox.

Creating filter for multiple inboxes

Then create a filter in the next screen that auto-archives the incoming message, removes it from the inbox and attaches the newly-created label to it. This way all the messages from that e-mail account will be auto archived and they will appear in a separate inbox.

Creating filter for multiple inboxes

Of course in order to receive e-mail from the other e-mail account you need to first login to that e-mail account and set it to forward all the incoming messages (or according to the filter rules you can create under that account) to this particular e-mail account where you are creating multiple inboxes.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to use Google+ page to your advantage

Google+ page for business advantageGoogle+ is rapidly creating a worthy opponent to Facebook. Aside from offering almost all the features that Facebook offers, now Google+ also allows you to create branded pages that you can use to promote your business, personal brand and even a political ideology. A few days ago we discussed how to create a Google+ page. Now let us explore some ways you can take advantage of your Google+ page for the benefit of your business or brand.

Create an appropriate Google+ page profile

Right information and representation always matters especially on the Internet when people hardly know you (no matter for how long they have been your “friends” and followers on various social networking websites). It is very important that when you’re creating a Google+ page you create a profile that fully communicates what you stand for. Use your business logo or a header as a profile picture, use the right title (preferably the title of your business), and enter all the information the Google+ page creation interface asks you while creating the page.

And appropriate Google+ page profile also helps the right people to connect to you. This further makes your Google+ page updates more effective.

Add a Google+ 1 icon to your website or blog

You can encourage people to follow your Google+ page by clicking the icon on your website or blog. If they already have a Google+ 1 account and are logged in you can either encourage them to add your Google+ page to one of their existing circles (or create a new circle and then add your Google+ page it) or 1 it.

Reach out to people using Google+

The most obvious advantage of having a Google+ page for your business is that you can reach out to millions of people already using Google+ . It is actually same as taking advantage of your Facebook fan page. You can create hangouts where you can invite people for a lively interaction using text, voice and video chat. Of course you can also share your business news and other important stuff concerning your business with people following you through your Google+ page. Just like any social networking presence, through your Google+ page too the primary focus must be to constantly keep in touch with people who have connected to you via your page.

This will be an evolving blog post as more and more material on Google+ pages becomes available. Do pitch in your own suggestions regarding how you can use your Google+ page to your advantage.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to follow the best SEO strategies

SEO is not just about getting higher search engine rankings and getting lots of traffic from search engines, the basic tenant of following the best SEO practices is generating targeted traffic. The best SEO practices don’t involve targeting the search engine algorithms, they involve targeting the actual people who are going to use the search terms that enabled them to find your website or web page as soon as possible. Listed below are some of the best SEO practices you can follow in order to get targeted traffic to your website or blog:

  • Define your niche and stick to it: SEO is all about targeting and focusing. The more you expand your subject the less is the amount of targeted traffic you are going to get. For example, a blog on SEO must contain lots of content on SEO rather than different esoteric topics that may catch your fancy. Having lots of content about Android phones is always going to generate more targeted traffic than content on gadgets also featuring Android phones.
  • Decide your keywords keeping humans in mind: Although it is the search engine algorithms that do the fundamental number-crunching and decide how your pages are going to rank according to the various keywords, ultimately the keywords that are used by your human visitors are the ones that matter the most. Focus on them. Interact with your visitors and ask people around what keywords or search terms they would use in order to find your product or service and then create content using those keywords.
  • Take your content really seriously: Regularly publishing high-quality content targeting your core audience is one of the most important ingredients of the best SEO practices. Primarily it is your content that draws traffic to your website or blog from various sources. But merely drawing traffic doesn’t give you business. That content also needs to convert and this is where it actually counts. It doesn’t matter if you can attract 20,000 visitors every day if only 5 of them do business with you (it’s another matter if those 5 can generate enough revenue for you to sustain). For good SEO practices, quality content is a must.
  • Focus on your social media and social networking presence: Everybody and his or her grandmother are on Facebook and in many cases also on Twitter. And many more are constantly uploading videos to YouTube. In fact, many TVs these days are shipped with YouTube streaming abilities. So social networking and social media isn’t going anywhere, it is going to grow. This is the reason why search engines are taking content on social media websites damn seriously. So whenever you are creating posts for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Tumblr, keep in mind that these might show up on search result pages of various search engines.
  • Create page titles using your primary key phrases: This is a point that needs to be stressed upon again and again. It is disputed how important page titles are for your search engine rankings, but they definitely make a big difference. Page titles containing keywords definitely rank better than those containing other words.

So these are a few best SEO practices that you can implement in order to generate tons of targeted traffic from search engines and elsewhere. If you have more SEO tips to share please share them in the comments section.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to increase the conversion rate of your blog

improve-conversion-rate

Are you constantly wondering how to increase the conversion rate of your blog? What exactly is conversion rate in the context of your blog? This is the first thing you have to figure out before beginning to work on increasing its conversion rate. What would be the right conversion for you? Is it

  • Increasing ad revenue?
  • Increasing your affiliate sales?
  • Building a community around your product or service, or brand?
  • Getting you more gigs as a speaker or a performing artist?
  • Getting lucrative book publishing contracts as an author?

So you can very easily see conversion means different things to different people. So first of all if you want to increase the conversion rate of your blog you have to figure out exactly how you define conversion for your blog.

But whatever is the definition of conversion for your blog there are some standard steps that you can always take to improve its rate. They are…

Maintain the focus of your blog

Once you have recognized your audience stay focused on it. It takes lots of effort to generate an audience and you wouldn’t like to dilute it by publishing ambivalent content. If you are publishing a web design blog decide whether you want to attract web design customers and clients or you want to attract people who want to learn web design, and then stick to it. Don’t mix your content and don’t try to attract both types of audience.

Encourage conversations on your blog

Conversations are very important for the success and hence conversion rate of your blog. The more people stay on your blog, the more people return to your blog to participate in conversations, the better is your conversion rate. Normally, people who just visit your blog to read your latest post and then go back, never to return, don’t contribute to your conversion rate. It’s the people who come to your blog repeatedly that matter. Ask them questions, provide them answers, address them personally, visit their blogs and leave comments there, and act as a bridge between different visitors in order to prompt them to talk to each other. Remember that blogging is mostly about conversations.

Use call to action

If you don’t ask them to do something, they don’t do it, most of them. If you want them to click on your affiliates links and purchase the products you are promoting, then ask them to do so. Highlight the products and services you are representing as an affiliate and make sure your visitors don’t miss them when they come to your blog. It is all right to use expressions like “buy now”, “subscribe”, “purchase”, etc. if you really believe in the quality of the product or services you are offering.

Create compelling content

This, actually should be the first point because without content there is no audience and consequently no conversion rate. People come to your blog to consume content that you publish, they don’t just come there for the heck of it. So provide them what they are looking for and you will keep them coming to your blog again and again. All blogs with high conversion rate are known for their good quality content.

Promote your blog regularly

With every kid on the block running a blog too much noise is generated every day and people should be able to hear you distinctly. One way is to publish exceptionally well-written content and the second way is market your blog using free and paid services. You can market your blog and improve your conversion rate by visiting targeted blogs and interacting with people over there, offering to write guest blog posts for more successful bloggers, taking steps to increase your search engine rankings, engaging people on various social media and social networking channels, and encouraging them to subscribe to your RSS feeds and e-mail updates. You can also invest money in Google AdWords and Facebook ads.

Well, these are some basic methods you can use to increase the conversion rate of your blog and increase its earning potential. Do share your own opinion in the comments section below.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to develop a successful mindset

In order to be successful in life you have to develop a successful mindset. But what exactly is successful mindset? It means thinking like a person who knows he or she wants to succeed and he or she also knows what all it takes to be successful in life.

Success begins with a successful mind. It’s your mind that makes you successful. So how do you develop a successful mindset?

  • Only those fail who try. Just think, can you ever fall if you never walk or run? The same can be applied to failure. People who have a successful mindset are not deterred by failures. They take their failures as learning opportunities. Whenever you are aiming for bigger things in life, keep in mind that failure is as much a part of life as success. In fact most of us have to go through successive failures. Those who keep trying eventually succeed.
  • You need to excel in order to succeed. Can you provide something that people desperately need and nobody, or very few people can provide it? One of such things is expertise. Whether you want to be a successful business person, a politician, a player or a performing artist, give something people crave for, excel in that. People with a successful mindset realize that and prepare accordingly.
  • Health is actually wealth. Of course if you remain healthy you save on medical bills, but aside from that, when you are healthy your mind and body are in sync. You are always alert and motivated. Lack of particular nutritions are known to cause depression and fatigue. Many countries remain backward because people over there either cannot afford, or don’t realize the value of healthy food. The same goes for exercise. Proper and regular exercise detoxifies your body and keeps you alert. People with a successful mindset know the value of healthy mind and body (for optimized performance) and take good care of them.
  • Always be ready for opportunities. Are you ready when opportunity knocks at your door? All people with a successful mindset do. If you want to develop a successful mindset then don’t wait for opportunities. Create your own opportunities, be where opportunities are, and always be prepared when you come face to face with an opportunity. 99% people who “fail” (quotes because it’s a perception) do so because they’re never prepared when they actually get an opportunity.
  • Focus on the performance, not the outcome. If you obsess over your “success” there is a great chance you won’t. If you want to develop a successful mindset then focus on giving your best. Enjoy what you do and give your best without worrying about how much money and fame it brings you. Call it a jinx but most people who succeed do so by focusing on the process rather than the outcome. Those who are constantly worrying about success rarely succeed.
  • Develop a routine. In order to develop a successful mindset it’s very important you develop a routine. When you develop a routine it’s easier to organize your tasks and schedule various functions. Have a set time for working, calling it a day, eating, sleeping and getting up.
  • Be in the company of people with a successful mindset. It doesn’t mean you fly half way across the globe to meet or stalk successful people. Read about them. Watch their videos. Attend conferences and workshops. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook and if possible, exchange emails with them. Most successful people have a very positive and outward outlook and they love to share their experience and wisdom with likeminded and aspiring individuals.

In order to develop a successful mindset you need to have a positive outlook towards yourself and the world around you. Wake up in the morning and think about all those great opportunities that await you. Everyday is a new beginning, no matter how bad the previous day was.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to create great HTML emails

HTML emails can be a great way of reaching out to your prospective customers and clients as they are more interactive and you can pack in great information with effective visuals. There are many email marketers that advise you against using HTML emails because

  • The recipients may think they carry viruses or spyware
  • HTML emails are often heavier than text emails
  • The visuals can confuse your customers and clients
  • If the images don’t load they may get a distorted version of your otherwise exceptionally well-prepared message

These are well-grounded apprehensions but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send HTML emails. With evolved spam filters and ever-increasing bandwidth people are growing less and less touchy about receiving HTML emails.

There are some time-tested guidelines for preparing effective HTML emails and newsletters:

  • Mind the width. An HTML email doesn’t equal a web page. Go ahead and create liquid HTML email layout as long as it doesn’t distort your email. A safer thing to do is decide what minimum and maximum width keeps your HTML email best looking and then keep your width accordingly. Different email clients have different sizes of windows and email reading areas.
  • Use inline styling. You should definitely use stylesheet definitions to style your HTML elements (fonts, background colors, etc.) but use inline styling like <p style=”background-color:#c0c0c0; margin-bottom:5px;”> instead of using an external stylesheet. If you user is checking his or her messages without an Internet connection or if somehow the link has a problem it will destroy the entire layout of your HTML email.
  • It’s OK to use tables. The practice of using tables for creating HTML layouts is disliked by contemporary designers as they mostly prefer DIV-based layouts. But that’s alright. For preparing HTML emails you can use tables for creating your layouts as not all email clients and applications are good at interpreting exact DIV dimensions, whereas tables are easily recognized.
  • Use images sparingly. Images need to be fetched from an external link — just as the stylesheet file mentioned above — so in case they don’t load or if embedded image display is disabled in the recipient’s email client then your message may get lost, especially if most of your message is in the form of images. Use text as alternatives and besides, using colors and fonts you can create great HTML emails even without images.
  • Test your email on various platforms. People use different email clients — both web based and desktop — to access their daily dose of emails and they may have different ways of formatting the same layout. Spend some time testing your emails on different email clients, operating systems, and even different devises.
  • Eventually, it’s the message that counts. Really, what gets you the real deal is your email message. Have you got something really great to offer? Then present it with compelling text and a subject that makes people open the message immediately.
Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to make money writing online

Earn money writing online

Image Source Lif…

You can easily and definitely make money writing online if you write well and if you know the right places to write for. In fact there are numerous opportunities online for newbie as well as experienced writers. Whether you are a journalist or a copywriter or just general writer, as long as you write well and express yourself compellingly, you can earn lots of money writing online.

What are the options available for earning money online?

  • You can have a writing business. Are you good at communicating well through the written word and writing for businesses and organizations? Then you can have lots of writing gigs. For this first of all you need an online presence, for instance, amrithallan.com. Amrit has been providing professional content writing and online copywriting services for more than 7 years now (now it’s 2010 and he started back in 2003). He not only writes himself he also outsources work to different writers. Of course it takes lots of effort and time to setup your own writing business online and you should be prepared for some real hard work.
  • Find work on freelancing websites. You can use freelancing websites like vWorker.com, elance.com and various job boards available all over the Internet. Most often you need to bid for the projects and you may end up working at very low rates due to heavily competitive (and sometimes rediculous) bidding.
  • Write for other blogs and website. There are lots of websites and blogs publishing tons of informative content and they are constantly looking for writers that can write well. This is an easier option if you can research, find information and then write it and customize it for the online audience.

Making money online by writing for other blogs and websites

Below we mention a few websites and blogs that share revenue with their writers and you can earn money by writing for them.

  • HowToPlaza. Well, our own website publishes content on a revenue sharing basis. In fact, although it’s a new website, we’ve already started making some money by constantly writing for it. The revenue is shared on the 60:40 — 60% revenue goes to the writers. Currently you need to have an active AdSense account in order to participate. After signing in your submit your AdSense ID for content and start publishing informative how-to articles (like this one) and 60% of time (whenever people visit your pages) the ads are shown with your ID. So the more you publish, the better are your earnings.
  • Demand Media. They are perhaps, right now, the biggest publishers in this category. Some claim they’re publishing more than 1000 articles everyday. You find their content mostly at eHow.com. Once you have signed up with them you can choose the available topics. Once you submit your topics they are reviewed and once they are accepted you get paid. This has its pros and cons. The pros are that you get paid once no matter how many people visit your pages and click on the ads. The cons are that even if your article becomes a hit and keeps making money for the website, if you get $10 per article, you’ll only get $10 for that article (even if it makes more than $200 or even $1000 for Demand Media).
  • HubPages. At this website you create pages according to your interest, called hub pages. You can create as many pages as you feel like. Again, the ad revenue is shared on 60:40 basis and you can use different advertisement sources such as AdSense, Ebay and affiliate programs. You should have your own Ids with these programs though.
  • Associated Content. One of the oldest content publishers involving revenue sharing model. It was recently bought by Yahoo for around $100 million.

Are you aware of some avenues that writers can use to earn money writing online? Please share them in the comments section.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to read online content offline

Although connectivity is available practically everywhere in the civilized world there might be instances when you need to read online content offline. If you’re wondering how you can access online content if you are already offline, this is not what I mean.

There are many utilities and software tools that allow you to save lots of online content offline so that you can go through it when you cannot connect to the web. It’s almost like accessing the actual website. But actually you can use your everyday tool to make this possible.

The first tool is of course, your browser. You can simply save an entire page — including images, scripts and even flash animation — into a folder and later on access it by double-clicking it: you don’t need to be online to access that page. Almost all the browsers let you save either the entire web page or just the text part of it.

There are some software applications that download the entire structure of a website — every link and image as they reside on the original website — and save it on your local drive and then you can browse it just as you browse the original website. One of such applications is HTTrack — both Windows and Linux versions are available. Personally I feel this can be an overkill and you should save the entire website offline only on rare cases.

Some note taking applications can also be used to store online content for offline reading. Evernote [read how to take notes online] for example is a great application for storing random pages. Select an entire page, copy it to the clipboard, and just paste it into Evernote and it appears there as it is. A good thing about using Evernote for offline reading is that you can synchronize all the content you have saved on various computers so that you can access them from anywhere.

Like Evernote there are many other applications that allow you to save random text both online and offline.

You can also email your web pages to yourself using ToRead. It installs a bookmarklet on your browser (you’ll need to submit your email the first time) and whenever you want to email yourself the text simply click the bookmarklet when you are on that page. The entire text of the page is emailed to you. Although you may wonder how you’ll access the material offline? Gmail allows you to access your emails offline — go to the Gmail Labs section to activate the feature.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to treat common ailments with food

Foods that cure common ailments

Most common ailments can be treated with food that you find lying around in the house or in your refrigerator. It’s all about what to eat for what ailment.

Ailments are caused by deficiencies of vitamins, minerals, salts and other nutrients. They are the ways our bodies tell us, OK, I need this otherwise I’m going to cause lots of this sort of pain. So you should know what ailment is caused by what deficiency and what food can help you get rid of that deficiency. Please notice that the food-based treatments mentioned here are no substitutes for expert medical health. You should immediately go to a doctor if the ailment doesn’t go even after eating something.

Here are a few common ailments that can be alleviated or cured by eating the right food

  • Acidity. It is the most common ailment (although it can get serious sometimes) and you mostly get it either by not eating on time or by eating too much acidic and spicy foods. When you don’t eat on time the stomach still release acids that break down the food you eat and this causes acidity. Acidity can give you lots of acidic burping, pain around the lever and chest areas and sometimes a sharp, unbearable headache. You can get relief by drinking a glass of chilled milk although drinking milk can be a bit difficult when your stomach is upset. Water melon is a great food when you have acidity. Eat it as much as you can and it should bring you relief within a few minutes. You can also have banana or cucumber. You can eat other fruits but just make sure they are sweat and not sour, and must be juicy.
  • Migraine headache. Migraine headache can be caused by stress and also by deficiency. The pain can be triggered by hormonal changes or by consuming alcohol, stale cheese, mono-sodium glutamate, too much caffeine or chocolate and many other factors. Fatty fish and fish oil contain long-chain omega-3 fatty acids that may lower the body’s production of prostaglandins — hormone-like chemicals that can cause inflammation and pain, inducing migraines. You should also eat foods rich in calcium such as spinach, broccoli and milk, and also foods rich in magnesium such as spinach, garlic, Oatmeal and wheat.
  • Fatigue and tiredness. This can be caused by excessive work, less sleep, emotional upheavals and lack of proper eating. This doesn’t only affect your performance it also makes your body vulnerable to many common and uncommon illnesses. Oatmeal is considered a super food so have it if you can access and for added boost you can also sprinkle some flax-seed on your bowl of Oatmeal. You can also have cereal with yogurt and fresh fruit. Since carbohydrates are a primary source of energy you should also try to eat foods rich in carbohydrates, such as bananas. Have a balanced diet throughout the day and you can easily keep fatigue and tiredness away. Avoid having drinks and foods that give you instant energy boosts like ice cream, caffeine and cold drinks.
  • Bad breath. Bad breath can be caused by unhygienic lifestyle and stomach disorder. You can read how to get rid of bad breath http://www.howtoplaza.com/rid-bad-breath-halitosis.
  • Anxiety and stress. These can be caused by emotional circumstances as well as by nature of foods and drinks you’ve been taking of late. You can cure anxiety and stress by having a rich diet of Oatmeal, flax seed, foods rich in Vitamin C, fish (they have omega acids), nuts and herbal tea. You can also have lots of water as it detoxifies your body and makes you feel fresh.

Read more at Fitness Magazine.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to save money by using open source software

Are you spending tons of money on commercial software for business and personal use? You can save lots of money using open source software. Our entire group of blogs is managed by open source software whether we’re using

  • Operating system
  • Word processing and spreadsheets
  • Email management
  • Image editing
  • Accounting
  • and whatever else needed to manage a small business

Why use open source software

Using open source software doesn’t necessarily mean using cheap, low-quality software. Of course commercial software comes with lots of extra bells and whistles, but they are just that, bells and whistles. For true performance you can really depend on open source software.

Some of the benefits of using open source software are:

  • You don’t have to pay license fee to use them
  • You can tinker with the source code and customize software to your own specific needs
  • You never have to pay when you upgrade
  • Open source software does not require expensive hardware upgrades
  • Online support is easily available
  • Open source software keeps you safe from proprietary restrictions

9 open source alternatives of your everyday software applications

  • Ubuntu. It is a Linux based operating system and can easily be the best Windows alternative. It is totally GUI and some claim it’s even easier to use. All our current writers at HowToPlaza use Ubuntu. You can easily download the ISO image, burn it on a CD and install it on a non-Windows partition. But we’d advise do it with an experienced person because you may end up formatting your hard-disk and losing all your data. You can read how to install Ubuntu 10.04 on a USB drive http://www.howtoplaza.com/how-to-install-ubuntu-10-04-on-a-usb-drive. A good thing about installing Ubuntu is that once you are through with the installation, pretty much everything you need to work is already installed.
  • OpenOffice. It is one of the oldest MS Office alternatives containing all office applications like word processor, spreadsheets, presentation and database. It may not look as cool as, say, MS Office 2010 but it is a lot less resource hungry and you can immediately download it and start using it. It is available both for Windows and Linux based systems.
  • Thunderbird. Are you a big fan of Outlook? Then you’ll definitely like Thunderbird, a Mozilla foundation desktop email client that pretty much does everything a contemporary email application must do.
  • GIMP. Do you think Photoshop for you is an overkill? Then you must give GIM a try. It’s an advanced open source image editing tool. Although there are many Windows-based free image editing utilities you’ll need to rely on GIMP if you decide to switch over to Ubuntu from Widows. Read how to use GIMP like Photoshop http://www.howtoplaza.com/how-to-use-gimp-like-photoshop.
  • PDFCreator. You can create PDF files from any program that allows you to take printouts. No need to purchase the expensive Adobe PDF creator.
  • GNUCash. It is a free source small business accounting application. It helps you manage your personal and business accounting.
  • FileZilla. Need to upload and download lots of files from an FTP server. FileZilla FTP client is a free source utility that you can use to connect to your FTP server and manage your files and hosting. For instance if you are planning to install WordPress under your domain you’ll need FileZilla to upload your files.
  • VLC. VLC plays pretty much every video codec and media format. It is available for almost all operating systems.
  • Audacity. This free source software is for recording sounds. It is an advanced as well as basic recording software — depends on what you are trying to achieve. You can record sound using your standard microphone and you can also record streaming audio. The recorded files can then be exported as mp3 files.

These are not all the free source applications you may need in order to manage your everyday tasks but these are fundamental functions that you perform through your PC on a daily basis.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to teach your kids to save money

Teaching kids how to save money

Image Source: Kenwilcox

Kinds, they say, are your future, and anything you teach them affects what shape your future takes. Since money can be a big part of yours and their future, you need to teach your kinds how to save money from an early stage. Saving money doesn’t mean not spending money on essential stuff like food, shelter, clothing, education, medication and fun. It just means not spending money when you don’t need to.

When it comes to saving money it’s never too early. We live in financially unstable times and in fact, all times are unstable if you’re not careful about spending your money. Even millionaires go broke when they don’t know how to save their money. So as soon as your kids learn the concept of counting, tell them about money and how to save it.

Tell them it takes money to get new toys, games and foods

There are many parents who want to keep their small children away from the dirty words of money, which is a mistake. There are many kinds who believe food comes out of the refrigerator and mom and dad bring the toys. Take them along when you go out shopping and pay in front of them. It’s not that they’ll immediately understand what’s going on, but at least they’ll be exposed to the concept of having to pay for things.

Explain them why you need to work and earn money

Almost every kid knows that mom or dad, or both, have to go to office or to work. Tell them why you do it everyday. Tell them when you work you get paid and then you can use this money to buy different things like food, milk, electricity, gas and toys. Tell them when they grow they too will have to earn money.

Encourage them to save

They don’t have to do it all the time but for some toys or games you encourage your kids to save money and then buy them. You can help them by giving one unit yourself for every unit saved by them. This will also act as an incentive. For instance, if a toy costs $10 you can tell your kid to save $5 and then you can add $5 from your side and let him buy the toy. Gradually as the child grows you can reduce the percentage of contributions from your side.

Involve them in financial planning

As your kids enter their teens you can involve them in your household financial planning. Every month you sit down and allocate funds to different monthly expenses like mortgage, medical, school fee, food and nutrition, entertainment, pets, etc. Seek their advice. Ask them what is important and what is not. Let them write down list of things you need every month and how much you can spend on them. If your kid thinks that buying an expensive video game is important than buying milk, don’t oppose him immediately. Figure out a way you can buy both milk and the video game by prudent financial planning or by saving money from his weekly allowance.

Help them differentiate between needs and wants

Food is a need, candy is a want. Similarly, school fee is a need, a video game is a want. Help your kids differentiate between them. Be careful though: something that you feel is a want may be a need for them. Instead of rejecting their opinion outright, let them save for wants while you provide for the needs.

Help your kinds track their savings

Create a new spreadsheet in Excel or in GoogleDocs and encourage them to enter whatever they’re saving. It’s very exciting to see the amount of money saved increasing with every new addition.

Encourage them to open a savings account

All kids like doing things the grown ups do, including banking. Take your kids to the local bank and help them open savings account. Many banks offer special categories for kids. They’ll not only be more inclined to save money there, it’ll also be a bit difficult to retrieve money casually.

Let them make their own decisions

At a smaller scale it’s not dangerous to let your kids decide how much they want to spend and how much they want to save. Just let them face the results. If your kid needs to save $20 to buy her favorite doll she can either do it in a month, or in two months — it all depends on how much she is eager to save.

Explain to them the concept of credit cards

You should avoid using credit cards in front of your kids, but if you have to, explain to them how it works. It’s not magic money. Tell them that you have to pay extra for using a credit card. Tell them what credit actually is and tell them they should avoid it as much as possible.

Convey to them not everything costs money

Your love and care for them doesn’t cost money. There are some things like love, friendship, character, values and traditions cannot be bought with money.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to keep your promises

Do you keep breaking promises and wondering how to keep them even when you don’t consider yourself a deceptive person? Some people — compelled by their own behavior or by reasons beyond their control — just cannot keep promises, and after a while they develop a reputation. They can lose friendships and they can lose the trust of their loved ones.

An inability to keep promises is not always a character flaw. May be you making commitments all the time that you are not able to see through within reasonable means. May be you never learned to say “no” whether at work or at home. Nonetheless, if you want to keep promises, as always, first of all, you need to accept and realize that there is a problem. Something or the other happens and you are not able to keep your promise. To lessen the impact:

  • Acknowledge the fact yourself
  • Communicate it to the person you making a promise to.

But will people stop counting on you if you tell them you cannot keep your promises? Depends on how serious the matter is. If you promise to pick your kid up from school and if you have terrible history of not keeping your promises then of course you cannot be depended upon as this is the questions of the child’s safety.

Read more at PickTheBrain.

Home » Articles posted by Felicia Adams

How to protect your dog from summer heat

Worrying about how to protect your dog from summer heat? This is a season to spend lots of time outdoors playing with your dog, but since dogs don’t sweat they don’t have an efficient system to handle heat. They easily get hot and are prone to getting a heatstroke even after a small walk in the sun.

Dogs often cool themselves off through their nose, tongues and paws so dogs with smaller snouts like pugs and bulldogs especially feel the heat in summers. The signs of a heatstroke in a dog are:

  • Confused behavior.
  • Excessive panting
  • Heavy bags under the eyes
  • High temperature
  • Vomiting
  • Bluish gums and tongue

You can take small, regular precautions to protect your dog from summer heat.

  • Don’t spend too much time under the sun. If you want avoid summer heat then stay away from home. You can either remain indoors or play under shades. If you have to go to a park then play where there are lots of trees.
  • Keep fresh, cool water always available. Dogs tend to drink lots of water in summer so keep the bowl filled all the time.
  • Let him have a splash. Get a plastic pool and let your dog frolic in it. Dogs love to play in water and this also keeps their body cool. You can also visit the nearby pond. In fact many neighborhoods these days are coming up with specialized swimming pools for dogs.
  • Trim the fur. You can trim down your dog’s fur to make it lighter and let the air flow freely. Heavy fur is good for winter but it can trap lots of heat in summer.
  • Don’t make your dog walk on hot surfaces. In summers roads and pavements get unbearably hot and dogs have extremely sensitive paws (in fact dogs can sweat through their paws).
  • Never leave your dog in the parking lot. Many dogs die of heat strokes when their owners leave them in the parking lots. Parked cars can quickly get burning hot even if you have rolled down the windows because of their metallic bodies.
  • Keep your dog in shade. If your dog lives outside of your house then make sure the dog house has lots of shade around it. You can move the dog house to a cooler place or you can repeatedly sprinkle lots of water around it.

Small, daily steps can keep your adorable pet safe from scorching summer heats. Dogs are sturdy animals, but there are many varieties that require some extra protection from heat.