Keeping in Touch at Xmas

Nearly Christmas time again and the end of another year – it's amazing how fast the time goes by.

Christmas is a time for family and friends, for catching up with those you haven't seen for a while and for telling others you appreciate them and how much they mean to you. What better way than to send them a greeting whether as a phone call, a letter, a card in the post or an e-card or perhaps a personal video greeting. 

 

Do not be daunted by some of these ideas as they can be fun to make and your sentiments are appreciated by the receiver. Let's start by examining the options: 

If you want to make your own greeting cards, or just want some festive icons to add to emails or web pages, you can get these great Xmas icons free from Mighty Deals – just click on their "Free Stuff" tab. They come in 3 sizes, 64 x 64, 128 x 128 &  256 x 256 so come in very handy for a variety of projects. Mighty Deals also have Xmas stickers free just now – they are on currently on page 2 of the Free Stuff. There's heaps of other graphics in the free stuff as well, so check them out.  

 

Xmas Icons For e-cards with a unique touch, you can't go past Ojolie.com  –  I first heard about Frederikke's cards way back in 2008 (see my earlier blog post for more information) and have renewed my very low priced membership ever since ($12 for one year and $18 for 2 years). I've lost count of how many cards there are available, but there's a wide selection for all sorts of occasions and the great thing is that the membership area keeps track of that cards you have previously sent to the people on your email list there. They have a nice selection of free cards as well for you to try for yourself. Many of my friends have commented on the delightful cards I've sent them, so check them out at Ojolie.com or on facebook.

 

If you'd like a video to share this Christmas, try Animoto – they make it easy to use your own photos, text & even videos to produce a professional looking video message.  You can make a free one of 30 seconds or less with some limitations on the number of your own photos you upload but the cost is reasonable if you want to a bigger project. The free one below was made in about 4 minutes just as a demo.

The compliments of the season to you all. Trish

Make your own photo slideshow at Animoto.

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Low Cost Home Business Income from Affiliate Marketing

There are many ways to earn money online but one of the simplest methods is to use affiliate marketing. Probably the biggest advantages of affiliate marketing is that it is not necessary for a person to own a unique product and the process can get underway very quickly. An affiliate marketer makes money by earning commissions when they recommend and sell other peoples’ products.

The Affiliate Process

There are a number of different affiliate marketing strategies, but here is a good specific strategy that is relatively simple yet utilizes several current sophisticated features. The first step is to pick a niche (a sub-category of a larger category) in which there are numerous information products, such as ebooks, e-courses, or reports, available. A good idea is to pick a popular niche of personal interest and then to check the categories in the Marketplace of Clickbank.com, one of the top information product resources for affiliate marketers. Select a few products in the niche to promote and follow the steps to become an affiliate of each of the products and to gain access to the author’s affiliate tools, emails, images, and banners.

Next, use a keyword research tool, such as the highly regarded tool offered freely by Google, to find some ideas for a website domain name. Then, purchase a domain name from one of the many domain name registrars and select an affordable web host that allows easy installation of a WordPress blog.

The reason to use WordPress is that WordPress offers a huge variety of themes and functionality, and the blog platform will allow one to write interesting reviews and articles. Additionally, there are article directories and private label article sources that offer good articles that can be freely included on the blog site.

Now, select an autoresponder system from among the numerous reasonably priced autoresponders that are available. This step will provide the system for creating a series of emails to be sent to prospective customers and to allow follow up marketing to those valuable prospects.

Next, using the tools provided by the autoresponder company, create an opt-in box that will enable the collection of email addresses from prospective customers. Offer the customer a free e-course or series of reports that will provide free and useful information to the prospect. Research private label rights ebooks in the chosen niche online and use one to create a multi-part email series that can be loaded into the autoresponder and sent to the prospect at regular intervals. The benefit of this step is that in addition to getting the useful information the prospect can also receive a short promotion about an appropriate affiliate product that may interest them.

facebookLastly, open an account with Facebook and create a business page. The business page should reflect the blog site’s domain name. This Facebook page can then be used to offer bits of information, advice, pictures, and fun personal notices. The page can also direct the reader to the main blog site where larger articles and product reviews can be found, along with the opt-in box and affiliate product offers.

One of the great things about this specific affiliate marketing strategy is that once the pieces are in place the strategy can be easily repeated to create affiliate marketing opportunities in other niches, as the old saying goes, rinse and repeat!

Best wishes
Trish

Keeping your Brain Active

Free Gift Membership to “Learning to Earn” see below.

If you’re approaching retirement age and wondering what you can do to enjoy a long and healthy life in your golden years then consider adopting the attitude of a lifelong learner. Most people think of lifelong learning as being confined to academic endeavors however the lifelong learning approach covers all areas of life including spiritual, social, academic and physical.

Lifelong learning is based on an attitude of constantly growing and evolving in various areas of your life. The old saying that whenever anything is not growing it is decaying could be just as true for us as humans. No matter what a person’s age there are great benefits to be gained by challenging yourself in the different areas of your life, physical, mental and self-deveopment.

Physical challenges must be appropriate for your level of fitness, but regular exercise of some kind will leep your body healthier and your brain healthier too. Mental challenges do not have to be academic study, they can be a new hobby or interest, a new caring or chrity venture, more involvement with family. The most growth in personal development will come when you take on something that is currently outside your comfort zone (nasty words those, aren’t they? How we love to stay in our comfort zone, even when it isn’t all that comfortable really).

Lifelong learners live by the motto “you’re never too old to learn” and this attitude is a big part of the reason that people who approach life with this mindset are seen to perhaps live longer but definitely enjoy a better quality of life – is the so-called law of nature known as the “use it or lose it” true?

It does seem to be the case that those who are considerably inactive develop mobility problems as they age, whereas those who are quite active do not develop these mobility problems. A similar effect takes place with anyone who takes no part in any mentally challenging activity or pursuit. After years of mental inactivity

Read more

Share Folders Free with Dropbox

A very useful tool I use, mainly for backing up online and sharing files within my own network , but it has the potential for much much more is Dropbox. Yes, there is an upgrade option, but you can use the free version very well. There is also an option to get more free storage space when someone you tell about Dropbox signs up.

So what does it do?  It lets you share your files and folders with others by sharing an existing folder on your PC or creating a new one to share. Once you add other members to the folder, it will appear in your friends or colleagues own Dropbox just as it does in yours. Any changes made to the shared folder’s contents will appear instantaneously to everyone who is a member of that folder. You can create a folder in your Dropbox folder just as you would anywhere else on your hard drive.Can you see the potential in this?

There are two ways to setup Dropbox, as a local application or online. The procedure is pretty much the same either way.

Read more

Affiliate Marketing – some thoughts and ideas

Affiliate Marketing – what exactly is it?

Put simply, it is process where you as the affiliate sell or promote someone else’s product or service and you receive a commission for your efforts. Affiliate Marketing is usually considered to be the lowest cost business model when starting an Online Business, and as such is the most popular method with many newcomers to Internet Marketing. The owners or licence holders of the product you promote can be called authors, publishers, merchants or other different terms, depending on whether it is a physical or an information product that you are promoting and how the commission payments are organised.

This business model can take many different forms but are commonly called Affiliate Programs. You join the affiliate program a merchant is using to sell a particular product you are interested in promoting. The most common types of programs are as follows:

  1. Pay per click – each visitor you send to the merchant’s site will earn you a commission.
  2. Pay per lead – each lead you send to the merchant’s site will earn you a commission.
  3. Pay per sale – commission will be paid by publishers for each sale made at his website or on sites such as clickbank or paydotcom.

Each one of the above methods returns a certain payment for delivering the click, lead, or sale. By far the largest number of businesses utilizing this model work on a Pay per Sale system. There are hundreds of affiliate networks that you can join where the owners of the site have numerous publishers registered so you can choose products & promote them without have to join up to all the separate affiliate programs. Examples of such sites are Commission Junction, Clix Galore, Clickbank, PayDotCom and Click2sell.

Many Internet Marketers will guide the beginner into Affiliate Marketing because it is considered to be the cheapest and simplest business model to get started and develop, especially when all the marketing tools such as a web sales page, promotional emails, articles, press releases etc are provided by the publisher.

Your main costs will be in the promotion of the product or service. All costs associated with the product, sales page, delivery, after sales services, as well as merchant services set up and costs, will be paid by the merchant providing the product.

When starting your Internet Business through affiliate marketing there are five steps to follow:

  1. Find your niche market which shows enough demand as well as a reasonable supply, as well as one that would support future business growth.
  2. Find out what the market is searching for in terms of solutions to problems, or a product/service for which there is a shortage of supply or even a deficiency.
  3. Research the available affiliate products and services for something that will fill the deficiency or fix the problem.
  4. Promote the product by every means available to you.
  5. Although this is not necessarily essential, owning your own website can increase your methods of promotion, but more importantly it allows you to pre-sell the product before redirecting them to the merchant’s sales page.

The final item regarding your own website needs serious consideration as it will be the best way towards developing and growing your business and to start creating an opt-in list of targeted potential customers.

Creating a trust between yourself and your customers, as well as your partners, is of prime importance to your business. This trust will serve you well as your customers will gradually consider you to be their expert in this niche and they will take your recommendations and buy.

To help build this relationship of trust, give value to potential customers by offering something useful to them for free. The more value you give them, the more they will be inclined to make purchases from you at a later date. Do not think for one minute that without it you will be able to succeed in affiliate marketing or any other type of business if you do not build a relationship of trust with a list of potential customers.

Affiliate Marketing

If you’re interested at all in making some money with your computer, as a sideline or as a serious business, you probably already have a good understanding of what affiliate marketing is all about and you may already use it, however there are a number of other readers who don’t know what it is and would like to understand how the process works.

Affiliate marketing is a partnership between two business for their mutual benefit, a win-win situation and is basically the process whereby one business recruits a network of smaller businesses or websites, known as affiliates to drive targeted traffic to the website which contains an offer to sell something.

The process works in two ways as you can be the person having an affiliate program, in which case you pay each of your affiliates when someone they refer makes a purchase or, the other side of the process is that you can be an affiliate for someone else, so that you are finding buyers for his product or service and you are paid a percentage commission for your work. There is nothing new in this concept, it’s just like the travelling salesman of old transitioning to the internet.

The beauty of this process for the beginner internet marketer is that you need very little start-up capital, you don’t need something of your own to sell and you don’t have to worry about ad copy and links for your marketing as they will be provided by the advertisers. You can even start without having your own website, by sending emails, writing articles or reviews for e-zines, article directories, off-line publications etc.

To get referrals who purchase, you need to concentrate on an audience that has some interest in the product or service you are promoting and then focus on important points like how the product can make something in their life easier, faster or more enjoyable. You can also stress what the product saves them from as people will do almost anything to get rid of some problems, such as having pain. In other words, point out the benefits this product would bring to your reader and not the features of it.

There is plenty of information on the internet to show you exactly how to get started but if anyone is interested an having more on the subject in this blog, post a comment below with a few details of what you’d be interested in.

How to Make A Great Flyer

Flyers are a great way to advertise something for yourself, for an organisation you belong to or for marketing both online and off. There’s no need to be a genius to create a great one, either; if you have some basic tools and follow these guidelines, you’ll be able to design your own flyers in no time.

1. MICROSOFT WORD – Begin with a basic software program like Microsoft Word or Publisher. Open up the program, then look under “File” then “New” to see if there are already existing flyer wizards for documents or templates. If so, start there and adjust one to suit your needs.

2. COLOR – First take a look at your project budget. Is there room for full-color printing of hard copies to distribute? If not, don’t worry. Regular black ink on colored paper produces nice looking, professional flyers. Coordinate the paper color with a theme for the month, like green paper for St. Patrick’s Day or red or blue for the 4th of July.

3. TEXT / FONT – Don’t have too many different fonts, text sizes and styles in one document. Just choose a couple of complimentary fonts and sizes. For ideas on which to use, start a collection of flyers that are stuck on your door, around your mailbox and placed on your car’s windshield. Search your favorite industry web sites for ideas, too, by looking at their online documents for downloading. Print them out and check to see what you link and don’t like about them.

4. PULL TABS – Add pull tabs to the bottom, so that if the flyer is placed on a bulletin board, passersby can pull off a tab and take the info home with them. Check the Help menu for directions. Basically you add a wide text box along the bottom portion of the flyer. Then you insert one row of columns. Click on the first column and write what you want to say – not much fits here so take care! Maybe use your URL or website address and phone number. The text will run horizontally like normal, reading from left to right. So what you do is highlight it and click on “Format” from the top menu, then “Text Direction” do make it run vertical and fit in your tabs. Do the same for each tab.

When you’re finished, print flyers for local distribution or email to others to print as needed.

For business building, you can also turn the document into an Adobe .pdf file to distribute online. Upload it and include links to it in your emails and forum posts. Attach the pdf to emails when you know recipients accept attachments and can take a look, too. Reach out online and off with great looking flyers and grow your business one step further!

Computer Crash! Prevent Loss of Your Valuable Data

Have you ever had a computer crash and all your data was lost?

Most likely your computer’s hard drive failed & this happens more frequently than we’d like and for all sorts of reasons. Another major risk to your data is fire, flood or theft. The following strategies will help you to protect and recover your data.

Although the software files for the programs that run on your computer is also data, you don’t need to back that up as it is easily recoverable from the installation disks you received when software is purchased.

The data that we will focus on is “user” data specifically, the data that you create from the software programs that run on your computer.

For example, if a word processor is used to create a document or a letter, the word processor provides functions to save this data. The data that is created and saved through the word processor is “user” data. Most programs will create and save data somewhere on the hard drive.

There are many kinds of user data that are usually stored on the hard drive, do you have some of these?

  • letters you write in a word processors
  • flyers / posters for your clubs
  • business cards
  • spreadsheets
  • greeting cards you’ve made
  • accounting data from a money management program
  • picture files
  • music files
  • video files
  • email and email addresess

This is not a complete list, but to give you an idea of what you might have created and could lose if your computer crashed or in a fire or theft. Most people do not pay enough attention to this basic fact about computer systems until it’s too late. Don’t let this happen to you!

Remember, the key is “prevention” and in order to prevent loss of valuable data you must be prepared, so let’s look at some basic backup plans.

Option 1: Save your data to CD or DVD disks
This is by far the cheapest option and a very good approach to securing user data, especially if you don’t have too much. All that is needed is a CD or DVD burner and some blank disks, which cost very little these days.

When using this option, make two copies so that one of the copies can be stored off site, to protect you against fire, flood & theft. Another reason is that a CD or DVD backup can also become corrupted & it’s better to have two or more copies.

Option 2: Use a memory stick (USB stick)
This will cost a bit more than option 1, but USB sticks are getting cheaper & cheaper all the time, and holding more data as well. One advantage is how small they are and easy to carry around. I bought a waterproof one when they first came out for my client’s data and was very glad I did so, as it went through the wash twice and still worked fine! (I did have other backups though & I still use that drive today!.)

Option 3: Consider having two internal hard drives, especially if you have a lot of user data, especially big pictures or music files.

Most home computers generally all come with only one internal hard drive, which stores both software and user data. This means that this one single hard drive is experiencing a lot of wear and tear. Every time a program is launched it’s being accessed. Every single function that the operating system invokes will likely hit the hard drive etc. This heavy wear and tear can eventually lead to physical failures.

Also, many viruses are designed to hit the operating system & if the user data is on the same physical drive as the operating system, then it can be severely impacted by viruses as well. The disadvantage of this method is that it doesn’t protect you from fire, flood or theft, etc, but it is probably the easiest way to automate backing up your files.

Option 4: Attach an external USB Hard Drive to the system

With the price of hard drives getting much cheaper, this is another really good option. By attaching an external USB hard drive to the system, special backup programs can be installed and scheduled to run over night. There are many cost effective backup programs available. Some will be built into your operating system and others are available free – search on the internet and you’ll find plenty of options. The advantage of the external drive is that your work is still physically separated from the main hard drive and can be taken off-site with you.

Option 5: Online backup service
The services are fairly inexpensive (typically about $5 a month), and the best ones won’t noticeably slow down your PC use or Web browsing (after the initial large upload, at least). They also encrypt your data before, during, and after it’s been sent to industrial-strength servers. There are no discs or USB drives to worry about, either. The service can start processing and uploading files automatically on a schedule or in the background when there are enough free cycles available.

How often should you make backups?

This really depends on what your data is. If you are only using your computer for emails and writing letters, perhaps once a week is sufficient. When you’re doing work for someone else, it’s wise to keep doing incremental backups as you go, every ten minutes, every hour perhaps. It’s a decision you need to make for your personal circumstances. I personally do my backups before I go away from my work area and every night. The main thing is, remember to DO IT!

Summary

  • You need to backup your user data in case of computer crash or fire or theft
  • Back-up frequently, as often as needed to make it easy to restore your work to where you were
  • Use at least two different methods
  • Keep one copy of your backup data away from the computer (prevent loss if fire or theft)

Hopefully this helped you become more aware of the importance of your data and the need to back it up.

The options presented here are the very same methods used by many highly experience data processing centers and can be easily adopted by the average computer user. The most important point to remember is that good planning for potential disasters is the best protection against loss of valuable user data. You may not think of it this way at first but the user data that you accumulate on your computer takes time to build up and acquire.

If you value your time then you’ll value your data. Your data has a lot of value. So why not take a few simple steps to protect it.

Let Them Know When You Change Any Details

Today I received a very important message about keeping up to date and how not doing so could be very costly to you in the long term.

I was reading John Thornhill’s blog tonight and he mentioned that many of the emails he was sending out promoting other people’s products were dead links!

Maybe you can relate to how stupid this is if you imagine you have a bricks and mortar shop selling socks and the guy in the shop just along the road sells shoes. Now, you’ve got this arrangement where every time someone buys a pair of shoes at his shop, he tells them that you sell great socks and recommends you go and have a look. Wouldn’t this help you make some sales? Sure it would!

But what if they came along to you and you didn’t have any socks – you decided it wasn’t worth while anymore, or you couldn’t be bothered, you decided to sell handbags instead – whatever reason – wouldn’t you let the guy selling shoes know? Explain that socks weren’t very profitable these days & ask to do a deal about handbags? I’m sure you would – apart from being good business sense, it’s plain good manners.

But, you don’t bother telling him – how do you think he’d feel when he found out? A bit peeved? Probably. Likely to send any more business your way? I don’t think so. Have you helped your business? NO.

Having affiliates who send you referrals is just the same as the arrangement between the shoe seller and the sock seller. It’s a business arrangement and you need to communicate any changes that occur.

So check your sites and your links and make sure they’re up to date. You work hard to win traffic, especially targeted traffic; it’s a crime to let such referrals go to waste. I’ll be checking mine, too. Thank you John.