Archives for December 2010

Make Maximum use of the Christmas Break

Image representing KashFlow Software as depict...
Image via CrunchBase

Ahh, Christmas! That time of year when people with jobs get some time off and people with their own businesses get to focus on some of the important stuff. Usually because there are less demands from customers, staff and random callers trying to sell you a new mobile phone tariff that will save you a gazillion pounds a year.

It genuinely is a great time to reflect on what you’ve done this year and what you can do better next year. One of the areas that’s often neglected during busy times is the administrative and procedural side of things – there’s always something more pressing to do than get a system in place that lets you invoice quickly and gives you an insight into the numbers that sit behind your business.

A few years ago you’d have been forgiven for using the excuse that all of the software available to you is too clunky, confusing and designed for accountants instead of business owners. It was the excuse I used for a long time before I decided to do something about it and write my own accounting application. That grew into KashFlow which is now an award winning and very popular accounting system used by thousands of small businesses all over the UK.

Besides ease of use and free support, one of the other things that set KashFlow apart from the likes of Sage and Quickbooks is the fact that it’s web-based. This means you can access it from anywhere with an internet connection. You never need to worry about backups or installing upgrades and your colleagues (or accountant) can access it at the same time as you and see the same data.

Web-based software, (or “Software as a service” or “Cloud Computing” or “[insert latest buzz word]) has become hugely popular over the last couple of years and there is now a wide range of tools you can use to improve the efficiency of your business in 2011.

Perhaps over the Christmas period you can find some time to check out some of these great applications, many of which are free.

MailChimp – Email marketing
MailChimp is a great email marketing system that even a monkey can use. You can load it up with email addresses from a spreadsheet and/or put a sign-up form on your website. It also integrates with Facebook and Twitter. Even if yo’ve got no immediate plan to start sending out an email newsletter or similar, it’s worth getting something like this set up sooner rather than later so you can start building a list of email addresses for when you are ready.
For more information, see www.mailchimp.com

DropBox – File backup and remote access
When did you last back up your data? Ever needed to access a file but it couldn’t as it’s on a different computer? DropBox neatly solves all of these problems for free. It synchronises folders on your computer to the cloud and to other computers. There’s even an iPAd and iPhone app so you can access your files on the move.
See www.dropbox.com

To Do Lists
I used to keep my To Do lists on scraps of paper. That quickly got unwieldy. I now use ToodleDo, a free tool for managing To Do lists – and yet again, it has iPad and iPhone apps. There are a number of similar tools, many free. So have a look and see what one suits your needs best.
www.toodledo.com
www.tadalist.com
www.rememberthemilk.com

Paymo – Time Tracking
Don’t guess how much time you’ve spent on a project – know the exact answer to the second. Paymo is a popular free tool for tracking your time
For more info, visit www.paymo.biz

KashFlow – Accounting and Invoicing
I can’t write a list like this and not include KashFlow. You’ll be amazed at how easy this accounting software is to use and you don’t have to pay a penny to try it out. There’s a full two month trial available which includes full email support. Support will be available all over the Christmas period, including Christmas day itself (I’m doing it that day!). So go to www.kashflow.co.uk now and register for a trial.

Duane Jackson is MD and Founder of KashFlow Software Limited, a company he started after struggling to find accounting software designed for mere mortals.
The London-based company is chaired by Lord Young of Graffham, has 20 staff and close to 10,000 customers.
On the rare occasions that he’s not working, Duane is at home in Brighton with his wife and two young daughters.

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SEO for 2011 – one day only special offer!

We know that a lot of you want SEO, and we know that funds are often tight at this time of year, so for ONE DAY ONLY we’re offering a massive 50% off our Bronze SEO Package.

What do you get?

Our Higher Google Listings service does exactly what it says on the tin – helps you to achieve higher listings within the Google search engine.

Includes:

  • Initial keyword research
  • Initial optimisation
  • Ongoing optimisation when needed
  • Submission to Google and ODP
  • Weekly reporting of placements
  • Regular ideas, hints, tips and recommendations
  • 10 keyphrases
  • Minimum 6 month contract

Usually this package costs £499 setup then £100 a month, but for TODAY only we’re offering it at just £249 setup and then £50 a month – a massive 50% saving.

There are only 5 places available so be sure to get yours booked now by paying the setup fee in Paypal (below) – then we can be ready to get started in 2011!

Questions? Drop me a line to nikkipilk@gmail.com

Are you in one of these categories and want some free promotion?

A Christmas market in Clifton Mill, Ohio, Unit...
Image via Wikipedia

The fantastic Ezine Articles has added more categories to it’s article website – we’re big fans of article marketing here at NP, as they’re a great way to increase credibility and backlinks, and spread the word about your business.

So, if you’re in one of these categories, get writing over the Christmas break and start 2011 with some great free promotion!

(Can’t / don’t want to write your article yourself? Let us write it for just £30!)

ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT

  • Arts-and-Entertainment: Body-PiercingsArticles about/concerning Body Piercings, Earrings, Nose Rings, Belly Rings, Body Piercing Materials and Tools, Body Piercing Shops, Piercing Prohibitions and Taboos, Body Piercing Jewelry, History and Risks.
  • Arts-and-Entertainment: Filmmaking-and-Film-Editing – Articles about/concerning Filmmaking, Cinematography, Movie Making, Audiography, Filmmaking Schools and Courses, Film Production, Film Editing and Directing, Screenplays, Development, Pre and Post-Production, Independent Filmmaking, Tools and Equipment, History, Sales and Distribution, Cameras and Popular Filmmakers.
  • Arts-and-Entertainment: Painting – Articles about/concerning Painting, Painting Techniques and Guides, Painters, Oils, Watercolor, Acrylic, Brushes and Canvases, Elements, Media, Digital Painting, Styles and History.

AUTOMOTIVE

  • Automotive: Buying-Selling-AuctionsArticles about/concerning Auto Auctions, Local and International Auto Auction Dealerships, Repo and Police Auctions, Salvaged Auctions, Repossessed Auctions, Pricing, Condition and Inspection.
  • Automotive: Car-Detailing-Customization – Articles about/concerning Auto Detailing, Car Valeting, Body Kits, Interior and Exterior Detailing, Cleaning, Polishing and Protecting, Restoration, Engine Detailing, Car Accessories, Auto Detailing Supplies, Tips and Service.

CANCER

  • Cancer: Brain-CancerCancer articles pertaining to the brain. This may include: Brain Tumors, Metastatic Tumors, Uncontrolled Mitosis, Anaplasia, Invasion or Infiltration of the Brain, Metastasis, Medulloblastoma, Ependymoma, And Low-Grade Glioma, Glioblastoma Multiforme, Oligodendroglioma, Diagnosis and Treatment and other related medical terminology.

COMPUTERS AND TECHNOLOGY

  • Computers-and-Technology: ProgrammingArticles about/concerning Computer Programming, Coding, Designing and Debugging/Troubleshooting, Programming Language, Software Engineering, Modern Programming, Programmers, Requirements Analysis, Software Architecture, Software Testing and History.
  • Computers-and-Technology: Registry-Cleaners – Articles about/concerning Registry Cleaners, Windows Registry, Advantages and Disadvantages, Registry Damage, Recovery Capability, Utility Software and Best Registry Cleaners.
  • Computers-and-Technology: Spyware-and-Viruses – Articles about/concerning Spyware, Computer Viruses, Anti-Virus Software, Anti-Spyware Software, Adware and Malware, Scareware, Keyloggers, Privacy-Invasive Software, Spyware Effects and Behaviors, Computer Surveillance, Cyber Spying, Employee Monitoring Software, Remedies and Prevention.

FOOD AND DRINK

  • Food-and-Drink: BBQ-GrillingArticles about/concerning Grilling, BBQ Grilling, Broiling, Electric Grills, Gridironing, Charcoal Kettle-Grilling, Sear Grilling, Charbroiling, Sauces, Marinades and Rubs, BBQ Grilling Tips and Techniques.
  • Food-and-Drink: Cooking-Supplies – Articles about/concerning Cooking Supplies and Cooking Utensils, Baking Supplies, Outdoor Cooking Supplies, Cookware, Bakeware, Pots and Pans, Ovens, Microwaves, Toasters, Dutch Ovens, Griddles, Pressure Cookers, Kitchenware and Cutlery.
  • Food-and-Drink: Vegetarian-Recipes – Articles about/concerning Vegetarian Recipes, Vegetarian Cuisine, Vegan Recipes, Veganism And Fruitarianism, Tofu and Tempeh.

HEALTH AND FITNESS

  • Health-and-Fitness: EczemaArticles about/concerning Eczema, Psoriasis, Dermatitis, Dry Skin, Skin Rashes, Atopic Eczema, Behavioral Approach, Infantile Eczema, Eczema Diagnosis, Therapy, Treatment, Inflammation, Prevention and Cures.
  • Health-and-Fitness: Hemorrhoids – Articles about/concerning Hemorrhoids, Piles, Stools, Bleeding Hemorrhoids, Internal and External Hemorrhoids, Hemorrhoids Symptoms and Causes.
  • Health-and-Fitness: Holistic – Articles about/concerning Holistic Approach, Holistic Healing, Holistic Healing and Medicine, Confirmation Holism, Gestalt Therapy, Synergy, Holistic Healers, Ayurveda Medicine, Chinese Medicine, Herbal Remedies and History.
  • Health-and-Fitness: Nursing – Articles about/concerning Nursing, Pediatric Nursing, Optimal Health and Quality of Life Recovery, Nursing Science, Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Registered Nurse (RN), Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Registered Nurse First Assistant, Practice and History.
  • Health-and-Fitness: Spa-and-Wellness – Articles about/concerning Spa and Wellness, Spa Health, Spa Fitness, Bathing, Sauna, Steam Bath, Body Wraps, Facials, Waxing, Manicures and Pedicures, Best Spa and Wellness Resorts and Hotels, Destination Spa, Hot Springs Resorts and Day Spas.

HOME AND FAMILY

  • Home-and-Family: Adolescent-CareArticles about/concerning Adolescent Care, Pediatrics, Pediatrics Medicine, Pediatricians, Children’s Hospitals, Child Life Specialists and Neonatologists.
  • Home-and-Family: Woodworking – Articles about/concerning Woodworking, Woodworkers, Cabinet Making, Wood Carving, Lath Art, Saw Pits, Woodturning, Fire Hardening, Woodworking Projects and Supplies, Tack Cloth, Woodworking Benches and History.

INVESTING

  • Investing: Gold-Silver – Articles about/concerning Investing in Gold and Silver, Gold and Silver Coins, Prices, Stocks, Bullion, Gold Bars, Exchange-Traded Products, Investment Strategies, Technical Analysis, Taxation, Derivatives, CFDs And Spread Betting.

PETS

REAL ESTATE

  • Real-Estate: Agents-Realtors – Articles about/concerning Real Estate Agents and Realtors, Real Estate Brokers, Landlords, Commercial Realtors, Buyer’s Agents, National Association of Realtors (NAR), Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), Trade Associations, Code of Ethics, Buyer Brokerage, Agency Relationship, Listing Contracts, Real Estate License and Training.

RECREATION AND SPORTS

  • Recreation-and-Sports: SquashArticles about/concerning Squash Sport, Squash Racquets, Fives, Handball, Professional Squash Association (PSA), Popular Squash Players, Squash Courts and Equipment, Strategy, Tactics, Rules and History.

REFERENCE AND EDUCATION

  • Reference-and-Education: Standardized-Tests – Articles about/concerning Standardized Tests, Design and Scoring, Educational Assessments, Norm-Referenced Tests, Evaluation Standards, Preparing and Studying for Standardized Tests, Advantages and Disadvantages, Different Types and History.

TRAVEL AND LEISURE

  • Travel-and-Leisure: Hiking-BackpackingArticles about/concerning Hiking, Backpacking, Tramping, Trekking, Bushwalking, Hiking and Backpacking Gear, Travel and Food, Winter Backpacking, Flashpacking, Hiking Trails, Geocaching, Orienteering, Long-Distance Trails, Scouting, River climbing, River Trekking or Mountain Stream Climbing, Skills and Safety.
  • Travel-and-Leisure: Staycations – Articles about/concerning Staycations, Staycationers, Stoliday, Holistay, Daycation, Day Trips, Vacations Close to Home, Staycation Ideas and Tips, Benefits and Risks.
  • Travel-and-Leisure: Travel-Planning – Articles about/concerning Travel Planning, Green Travel Planning, Workplace Travel Planning, School Travel Planning, Road Trip Planning, Travel Planners, Transportation Planning, Travel Behavior, Personalized Travel Planning, Travel Blending, Travel Tips and Advice.
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Can you dance? Would you like to take part in a Flashdance?

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

One of our newest clients. Living the Dream, are looking for dancers to take part in Flashdances-at the Galleria Shopping Centre in Hatfield, Hertfordshire and at St Pancras International Station in London.

More details below:

They are going to be amazing events and will be so much fun to be a part of!!  We are aiming for 60+ dancers for the Galleria and 100+ dancers for St Pancras.

DANCERS– You  need to be 13-25 and have had at least 2 years dance experience and can pick up choreography well. If you can only perform in one Flash dance that is fine – make this clear when you fill in the form to sign up.

You will only be required for a couple of rehearsals before Christmas (see schedule below).

SIGN UP (see below)- DEADLINE 17th DECEMBER!!!!!!!!

FLASHDANCE PERFORMANCES

GALLERIA PERFORMANCE – Wednesday 29th December 12-4pm

ST PANCRAS INTERNATIONAL PERFORMANCE – Friday 31st December 8am-2pm

FLASHDANCE REHEARSALS

Rehearsals to learn the choreography
Sunday 19th December 1-4pm – Beaumont School, St Albans
Tuesday 21st December – 2-4pm – Beaumont School, St Albans
The choreography will be the same for both perfomances, ideally you will need to attend both, however if you cannot attend these dates please sign up anyway as we will be putting a private video on YouTube of the choreography for you to learn.

However, EVERYONE will have to attend the rehearsals the night before each Flash Dance you will be performing in. NOTE – rehearsals are free.

Rehearsal for Galleria Flashmob
Tuesday 28th December – 8.30-9.30pm – at the Galleria, Hatfield.
Everyone required to attend this if they want to perform at the Galleria the next day.

Galleria Performance
Wednesday 29th December 12-4pm
Performances start around 1pm, every 45mins/1hour. 4 performances throughout the day!

Rehearsal for St Pancras International Flashmob
Thursday 30th December – 5-7.30pm – Beaumont School, St Albans
Everyone required to attend this if they want to perform at St Pancras station the next day.

St Pancras International Performance
Friday 31st December 8am-2pm
First performance at 9am, next at 1pm. Finish by 2pm latest. So you will all be back in time for your New Year’s Eve parties!!

T-SHIRTS – All performers will be required to wear a Living the Dream t-shirt. It has to be a pink, purple or blue 2010 t-shirt not one of the old ones. T-shirts are £6 (proceeds to Teenage Cancer Trust). You will need to bring the money for this at the rehearsals. You can tell us what colour/size you want on the sign up form below. If you already have a 2010 t-shirt you do not need to buy another one.

TRANSPORT – For the Galleria rehearsal and performance you will need to make your own way there, if you drive there will be free parking passes. For the St Pancras performance we will hopefully be able to cover everyone’s train tickets. We will let you know nearer the time.

FILMING – We will be filming the event and putting it on YouTube, Facebook and our Website. If you know anyone that is a budding young film maker age 13+, please put them in touch as we need a big team of camera crew to work with sweet HD cameras at St Pancras International.
The event at St Pancras International will have a lot of media attention, newspapers, radio and the BBC and ITV are meant to be coming to put us on the news. So hopefully… you will be on TV!!

HELPERS/PARENTS – If you aren’t a dancer but still want to get involved, we will need helpers at both Flash Dances to hand out flyers and collect money for the Teenage Cancer Trust. We also need some parents to chaperone at St Pancras and help look after groups of performers on the day. Please get in touch with me if you would like to help!!

Interested? Sign up at Living the Dream!

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10 Tips for Managing a Virtual Team

Image representing Skype as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

A guest post 🙂

When working from remote locations first came onto the scene in the 1990s, the greatest challenge was present by telecommunication technology, which has been completely resolved through the power of the internet. What remains is the challenge of demonstrating productivity and cooperation without visible proof. Most people who choose to work from the comfort of a home office rate somewhere between odd and eccentric. Those creative personalities do not conform to the typical 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. work hours that drive most American businesses. While the most important deliverable is project completion, the human element cannot be forgotten in the course of managing a virtual team. Consider these ten aspects of team life when striving to get the best results with the lowest frustration levels for everyone.

1. Expectations – With every project in any industry or discipline, there is a client who is paying for the product that will come out of the efforts of the team. Spend time with the client to make sure the major players understand the nuances of working with a team that is spread across multiple time zones. That customer may never see the faces, but there are ways to build confidence that the work is being completed. If there is a management structure over the project team, there is another set of expectations that must be managed. Communicate openly and never allow a silent void to be filled with negative assumptions. The team will have expectations of the other two players and must be able to openly express their own stake in the project.

2. Real deliverables – Just as a team that sits in the same office has assigned duties with measurable results, the virtual team must have concrete tasks assigned to every member. When one member is given intangible projects, negative assumptions will surface regarding the contributions of the one member. Even the leader will be assumed to be superfluous if the team does not see the true benefits gained from the leader’s contributions. Every person must be engaged in active work tasks that are visible to the team.

3. Right players – Some leaders have the incredible privilege of assembling a team from people who have worked together for years, but that happens once in a lifetime. For the rest of us, team members will be added without any background knowledge. If at all possible, find out if any of the players have the reputation of being the team mole. There are brilliant people who work strange hours and magically do amazing things, but no one ever sees them. On a virtual team, this type of player can drive everyone crazy if the rest of the players cannot complete their own assignments because of the impact of the mole. Choose people who communicate freely and offer updates without being prodded.

4. Basecamp – This relatively new piece of software is based on tasks and milestones, but every person updates their own status within the software so that everyone can see the progress. Collaboration and communication are the goal of this little gem, and the software is easy to learn and incorporate into the team processes.

5. Skype – When a team is spread across four time zones and may only work together four hours of the day, make sure one of those hours is spent face to face between at least a couple of the members. A simple webcam can be connected to each computer and Skype can make an old fashioned conference call into a great time of getting to know other teammates.

6. Teamviewer – Nothing is more difficult that helping a remote teammate with an uncooperative computer. Without having to install any software, the person who knows how to fix an issue can access the rebel and correct the issue while the teammate learns something new. Desktop sharing and online assistance are only two of the many functions of this software. Customers can look at a screen in their location and see a demonstration of the completed work on the remote team member’s computer.

7. Google Docs – In the days when email was the only way to share a document with the rest of the team, multiple copies that were not synchronised sprouted from multiple sources. A central repository was only a dream, but now with each person able to write to a central location, the project documentation can be updated without wondering who has the most current copy. Security is maintained without concern for intruders, but the people who need access can easily read what the team has produced.

8. Minimise meetings – A virtual team is made up of the best producers available for the project, and most of these types will openly groan when a meeting is announced. Work on their specific tasks is most important and meetings detract from productivity. Protect the team from any non-essential meeting and avoid more than one meeting in a workday.

9. Team blog – For easy communication, set up a blog that is for open communication with minimal editing or moderation. Confine access to the immediate team and never allow the customer to see the blog entries.

10. Status report – Require every team member to offer a detailed status report at the end of each week. This exercise is a good professional discipline that allows each person to remember where they left off on Friday and take the weekend off.

Whenever a virtual team must be assembled to complete a project, spend your time improving morale and making each team member’s life easier. Anything that would be done within the traditional office setting must still be completed but through completely different means. Remote work is simply a different work location.

James is a UK based analyst and writer who writes detailed reviews of printer consumables as well as analysing printer ink supplies at one of the UK’s leading suppliers to businesses, Cartridge Save.


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A Common Misconception about Email Marketing

no spam!
Image via Wikipedia

A guest post from Emily Goodyear

Email Marketing = Spam

The biggest misconception that we in the email marketing industry have to deal with is that all email marketing material is spam, junk and rubbish. The marketing industry is one of the biggest employers in the UK and email marketing makes up a significant proportion of this. The DMA continues to monitor best practice guidelines and membership is a good measure of reputable companies in the industry. Cowboys that fail to adhere to white hat techniques tarnish the reputation of companies that strive to maintain direct marketing regulations.

The key to email marketing behaviour is OPT-IN ONLY. There are three main strands to this rule.

  • All data must actively opt in to receive promotional material.
  • There must be clear places on the top and bottom of all emails to allow subscribers to opt out if they so wish.
  • If subscribers do wish to opt out, they should be able to do so and then never receive marketing material from you again.

Consumers so often sign up to websites in order to receive discounts or something that they want at the time but they forget that they’ve done this or quite possibly don’t realise what they have signed up for in their haste to get something in return for it. This is something that email marketing companies need to bear in mind; not all consumers sign up with a full understanding of what they will receive.

Email marketing companies should make it as easy for the consumer as possible to either click through to the result they are after, or to opt out of receiving email campaigns. Placing opt-out buttons at the top and bottom of emails ensures that the option to do so is clear and simple to carry out.

After all the hard work of gathering data and building a varied database of consumers, it may seem contradictory to make it easy for consumers to remove themselves from your list but long term, the benefits are far superior.

Think about it – is it better to market to a smaller number of responsive, interested recipients that will consistently engage with your emails and even provide information about their spending habits and behaviour, or to a huge list of recipients who will get annoyed by your consistent messages, not click through and start to have a negative (as opposed to neutral) view of the brands you represent?

==

Emily Goodyear is the PR & Marketing Officer for email marketing specialists, WRM-Media. WRM-Media offer marketing lists internationally with the majority of their business in English speaking countries, particularly the UK, US, Australia and South Africa. The majority of their 24 million email addresses are collected from websites: www.Who-Remembers-Me.com, www.WRM-Surveys.com and www.WRM-Dating.com.

WRM-Media data is available for list rental and Emily is able to guest blog for blogs relating to email marketing, SEO, Analytics and other relevant topics.

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Make blog posts look better with Zemanta

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Image via CrunchBase

We’re all short on time, and one of the things that bugs me the most when I’m rushing to get a blog post out (and I blog for a fair few clients as well as myself!) is having to source images, put links in the post, and generally make it look spiffy.

So I was delighted to come across Zemanta a couple of months ago, and can honestly say it has saved me so much time it’s unreal.

As I type a blog, Zemanta suggests links for me, has a gallery of photos and pictures (along with copyright attributions) I can choose from, and even suggests tags for me! The list of ‘related articles’ at the end of this blog post was suggested by Zemanta too!

It’s free to use,  and comes as a plugin for your browser (Firefox only, it seems) – just plug and play! I use it on WordPress and Blogger blogs, but it also works on other platforms, including Ning (although it’s not fully supportind on Ning).

If you struggle to make your blogs look good, hate sourcing and attributing pictures, and need a bit of help, I’d highly recommend Zemanta – go check it out!

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Ghost blogging – should I use someone else to write my blog?

An image of a cartoonish ghost.
Image via Wikipedia

It’s an argument that comes up time and time again – is it ever acceptable to have someone else write your blog posts? Of course, our answer is a resounding YES, as this is a service that we provide to many clients, but why does it have such a bad rap?

Let’s face it, we all outsource various things at various times – here are just some things I’ve outsourced recently:

  • House cleaning – I don’t have time, so I hire a cleaner
  • Fixing my car – I don’t have the knowledge so I pay someone to do it
  • Designing graphics – I’m not a designer so I contract someone else to do it
  • Accounts – need I say more?
  • Basic admin tasks – my time is better spent on other things

No-one slates me for outsourcing those things, do they?

But when it comes to ghost blogging there seems to be a very definite line – you either love it or hate it.

Those that hate it say it misleads the reader, it can never be as good as a blog written by the business owner, it’s untruthful, and many more negatives.

Those who love it see that it frees up their time, ensures that their blog is updated regularly, gives them extra content when they don’t have the time or ability to write, amongst other things.

So why the hate? Done properly, a ghostblogger speaks for the company – so not misleading. If the business owner or marketing manager isn’t a prolific writer or isn’t comfortable writing, a ghostblogger solves a problem for them and makes their blog look good at the same time. Untruthful? How? When we blog for people we agree the things that can and can’t be said, agree a schedule of blogs, and make sure that what we write is the opinion of the company we’re writing for, whether or not it is our opinion is irrelevant.

With over 50 blogging clients, it’s a part of my job that I love, and one I’m proud of, especially when I see blogs we have written being Tweeted, Facebooked, Socially Bookmarked and more.

Ghostblogging shouldn’t have a stigma attached to it – ghostbloggers perform a service much like a copywriter or a PR person – and in these busy times outsourcing your blog management to someone else can be a much needed weight off your mind.

What springs to YOUR mind when the word ‘ghostblogger’ is used?

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They know your name – So what?

Every time I go to a networking event (and I go to a lot!), I obviously spend some time telling people there what it is that I do.

And invariably, someone will sit there listening, then a smug smile will start to spread across their face. They wait until I finish, and I know what they’re going to say;

“I don’t need your services. I’m already number one in Google”

I take a deep breath, as always, and say “That’s fantastic! What are you number one FOR?”

The smug smile is replaced by a slight look of bewilderment.

“FOR?” they query.

“Yes” I say, “What do people type into Google to see you in the number one spot?”

Their brow crumples, they look around a bit, then they look at me with almost a look of pity.

“My company name…” they say, the tone of voice and ensuing gap leaving me under no illusion that they wanted to add the word “stupid” to that sentence.

I take a deep breath…

And then it begins – the argument as to why being found for your company name isn’t the most fantastic thing in the world.

Let’s think about it guys:

Scenario 1.

You meet someone out and about, and give them your business card. They pocket it, find out more about your company and decide they may want to get in touch with you.

6 months later they’re at their office, and thinking “I really need to speak to that nice chap John, from that company that made handmade greetings cards. What was the name of the company? Oh yes, ‘John’s Handmade Greetings Cards’ “

Off they toddle to Google, type in John’s Handmade Greetings Cards, and hey presto! You’re number one, they get in touch, and all is well with the world.

Of course, they could also have gone to their business card holder / box / drawer / corner of the room, and found you that way. The fact is that they already knew you and your company name, so it was easy to find you.

Of COURSE you should be number one for your company name – by default this should be the case, unless you have a very generic business name.

So, Scenario 2.

You meet someone out and about, and give them your business card. They pocket it, find out more aout your company and decide they may want to get in touch with you.

6 months later they’re at their office, and thinking “I really need to speak to that nice chap John, from that company that made handmade greetings cards. What was the name of the company? Oh God, it’s on the tip of my tongue. Now I know he was a lovely guy, and I know what his company did, but for the life of me I can’t remember his company name. Now where did I put his business card?”

Now let’s say they can’t find your business card. Not to panic – the internet will come to the rescue, right?

Off they toddle to Google, type in “handmade greetings cards”, and they find….

What do they find? Not your site. Because you’re happy being top for your company name.

They find your competitors – and lots of them. And someone else gets the business.

Imagine another scenario, where the person searching has never even met you, heard of you, thought of you, and most definitely hasn’t dreamed of you.

Are they going to be searching for your company name? No.

Are they going to be searching for your products? Yes.

If you are only ranked highly under your company name, will they find you? No.

So what can you do?

Right now, take a piece of paper and a pen. Split it into two halves – one half headed “Where” and the other “What”.

In the “Where” part, write down the areas in which you work – eg Leicester, Milton Keynes, Northampton, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire.

In the “What” part, write down what it is you do or provide – eg “SEO,search engine listings, internet marketing training, site reviews”

Thos things now form the basis of the type of search phrases you want people to find you for:

  • internet marketing milton keynes
  • internet marketing training milton keynes
  • site reviews northampton

etc.

Now check if your site is findable for those phrases. Not sure? Visit our site at www.nikkipilkington.com and apply for our free report to find out.

If your site can’t be found for the services and products that you provide, then you are missing out on visitors, and therefore on business.

Being found for your company name is good – but it’s only a start. Think of all the people that know who you are. Now think of all of the people that don’t. Which is the larger category? And in that case, who should you be targeting?

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Buying Facebook 'likes', Twitter 'followers' and 'fans'?

Get 10,000 fans / likes for just $100

5,000 unique Twitter followers for just $50

Buy your way to the top!

Just some of the headlines of email we’ve received in the past week.

Then there are the potential clients that approach us asking if we can ‘buy fans or followers’.

Well the answer is a resounding:

NO!

We can see why it seems a great idea. 10,000 people listening to your message, all added to your account within a week or so – before you know it you’ll have sales coming out of your ears, right?

WRONG!

See, think about it. How many of those 10,000 will be REAL people, waiting to read your message and interested in what you sell? The chances are, not many.

And how many alerts will you be triggering with your super fast growth? Probably lots – Twitter is renowned for closing down accounts that grow so rapidly, as it’s the classic hallmark of a spam account (which, incidentally, yours pretty much is once you start buying fans and followers instead of building your fanbase organically).

We know, it seems like a great idea – hardly any money gets you a huge potential audience.

But we’ll put it to you that if you think this is a great idea then you’ve not quite ‘got’ the idea of Social Media Marketing – it’s not about broadcasting to a huge audience, it’s about attracting the right kind of fans and followers, building your audience gradually, interacting with them and developing credibility.

Having 10,000 fans or followers is great (our own @nikkipilkington has 11,000+, built organically) but it’s not a short cut to untold riches, and it doesn’t mean you’re going to sell loads – it just means you bought a list that’s probably as useless as the $50 link campaign you considered buying last summer – and probably just as dangerous, in terms of the likelihood of being banned from Facebook or Twitter.

Have you bought followers or fans? Would you? We’d love to hear your opinion of this practice in our comments section below.

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