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Changes they are a’coming

Changes are part of life.  We don’t grow if we don’t change and Linda’s Business Blog is now at a new home. I’ve moved to Linda C Smith Fine Art dot com.

Thirty Women Entrepreneurs to Follow-article on Forbes

I’m honored to be included in a list of  “Thirty Women Entrepreneurs To Follow On Twitter,” an article appearing at Forbes.com and written by Natalie MacNeil.   Natalie is a media producer and consultant, specializing in online media and marketing.  I did a blog post interview with Natalie that appeared here this past September.

In her article Natalie says, “… Twitter has been an incredible tool for connecting with like-minded people from around the world….”  And I agree.  I’m not a fast technology adopter, but I do have some marketing sense and I could see that Twitter would have value to business people and entrepreneurs early on.  It’s possible to do quite a bit with just 140 characters…it teaches you economy of thought.

If you remember that marketing is the process of telling everyone “out there” about your products/services in as many ways as possible for people to find and receive information, then you know that Twitter fits in here naturally.

Let’s say you are a shoe company and you are ready to launch a new brand…that you have a celebrity endorsement.  You’ll do all the usual marketing: print, ads, tv, radio, in-store displays, direct mailers.  With Twitter you would have a company account and the day you ship you Tweet: Celebrity Shoe available today! Given that there are tens of millions of Twitter accounts, chances are good some people are going to see your tweets [the term for those 140 character messages].  Also, you’ll want to monitor Twitter for the world mentions of your new product by using one of the Twitter search applications.  Why would you do this?  You want to know if folks are positive or negative towards your new product or if they are even talking about it.  It’s just another tool for your marketing toolbox.

 

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Interesting Small Business Blog Directory

[picapp src=”0228/cab5278d-f076-48ae-add7-9120665e3954.jpg?adImageId=6983905&imageId=232218″ width=”234″ height=”195″ /]I ran across something new (to me) this week while doing my blog reading “homework.”  As part of keeping up with the latest in information for small and home-based business – and just business in general – I “surf” blogs of interest.  I did an interesting journey-of-sorts while surfing last evening.  Kind of like the however-many-points-of-separation game…start here, which leads to there and you find this.  This is how it worked:

  • I began with an initial reading through ProBlogger’s “31 Days to Build a Better Blog” by Darren Rowse.  I’m going through this workbook as an exercise to be a better blogger…makes sense – part of my business plan is continual improvement.
  • Chapter 6/Day 6 is about learning from successful bloggers of the likes of Seth Godin, Liz Strauss and Chris Brogan – as well as others.  I’m a diligent student so I looked up every one of them.  Some I’m already familiar with as you can see by the blogroll to the right.  Well, in one of those articles I was directed somewhere that looked interesting and found myself at the Forbes.com site with an article review of “Small Business Blogs.”
  • In looking through the short list in the Forbes article, I visited the allbusiness.com site – it is rich with articles and blogs of interest to small and home-based business.  While there I noticed an article written by Denise O’Berry, whose tag line was “Just for Small Business.” Some great articles written by Denise here.
  • My next step was one of curiosity. I decided to do a search for small business blogs on Google.  Guess what came up? First was Small Business Blog Directory and second is the Forbes.com site mentioned above.  I went to the Small Business Blog Directory site and was astounded to find that the founder of this directory is Denise O’Berry.  And what a good idea she has in developing a directory whose emphasis is small and home-based business and those who write about these issues.

This was very cool.  I looked over the SBB Directory and decided Linda’s Business Blog just might find a home there, too, so I filled out the info.  I got the email just a bit ago that says my blog is now officially a member of the SBB Directory.  Today you can find me listed on the “What’s New” page.

What is instructive about this exercise is the idea that the internet has now become a valuable repository of information.  You do have to search and categorize and sift and sort to find just what you’re looking for; but you’d have to do that in a public library also.  There is criticism that “just anyone” can put up a blog or website and call themselves experts...but the same is true in hardcover print.  I think the proof comes in the pudding…or so the saying goes.  Either the source and information stands up over time or it doesn’t.

The internet is a rich ground for any small or home-based business owner seeking information, guidance and advice – doesn’t matter what their market niche might be.  The experts are out there.  Experts?  I have 2 definitions:

  • An Expert is someone with grounded experience in “whatever” – having won, lost and generally learned along the way and who comes out with positive gains…these are the business owners themselves
  • An Expert is someone who has studied the efforts of those who experience the “whatever” in all the fields in which the experienced players play…these are the academics

It’s like the art thing:  if you can’t make a living as a working artist, teach.  In both cases, the person has the expertise of the subject.

My advice?  If you are a small or home-based business person seeking information go to the obvious sites first such as:

  • Business.gov“…Business.gov helps small businesses understand their legal requirements, and locate government services supporting the nation’s small business community….Business.gov is an official site of the U.S. Government….”

Then do some research on blogs that give good help and tips – find them through such blog directories as:

And, of course, do internet searches on your own.  The information is out there and, just as at a public library, you have to go in and sort and look.

 

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The value of having a blog on your business website

I think the time has come for home business owners to consider having an internet presence if they don’t already; and at the very least -but most important – should be a webpageSimply put a webpage “…is a document connected to the World Wide Web and viewable by anyone connected to the internet who has a web browser….”

Couldn’t be simpler, right? It’s akin to putting up a roadside sign promoting your business.  In the real world the roadside sign lets people who don’t normally travel in your neighborhood know your business exists.  If the sign is a good one, the sign will tell you what the business’ name is, what the business is about [produce, auto parts, tax preparation], where the business is located [address, phone number],  and when the business is open [times/days of operation].

Your webpage roadside sign can tell passersby the same information plus much more.  It is the signage that introduces your business and it is the front door.  The web traveler who finds your business webpage will be able to see on the “home page” all the pertinent information much as the roadside sign does, but it also invites the person into the business.  Your site could be informational only, such as the example of the company for which my brother works – Delegata, or it can be its own storefront, such as the Oakland Chocolate Company.

I think one good addition to a business webpage is a blog. Again simply put, a blog is an ongoing, chronological conversation between the author and the reader.  Simply put.  So why have a blog on your business webpage?  Some of the value points include:

  • Interaction with customers and prospective customers – if you allow the comments feature on the blog posts, you can get feedback from your readers; be aware some of it might be negative, but all feedback has value.
  • Staying engaged with your business – having a blog on your business website brings you to your site on a regular basis; I think the value to that is (a) it allows you to keep the page(s) updated and (b) lets you see what your customers and readers see…over time you may want to tweak the site for better accessibility – always remember that there is global competition out there.
  • Product info and product/customer stories – you can use your blog to give customers/users helpful information about the products in a fuller way than simple catalog-like listings can give.  You can also relate helpful stories (the positive ones) that customers send you – sometimes a customer comes up with a unique use for a product that is worth sharing.
  • History of your business – people like to know the origins of a business – who started it, why and where; also, perhaps the history of the products or aspects of the products themselves.  Two really good examples of this are an interesting website I found while researching ancient mosaic art, Mosaics in Greece that has a page giving the history of mosaics…it’s short and sweet; and one at the Winsor & Newton website which has quite a bit of historical information.
  • Added value: a blog is a great place to give your customers and prospective customers added value such as: a) ideas for use of products – this could include recipes or hints and tips; b) industry trends and other information.

There is one caution about writing a blog – be careful of making unsubstantiated claims about your products or services.  A silly example: you have a home-based business selling vitamins.  You are an independent distributor and have a webpage to which you added a blog.  In a post you make claims for your vitamins, like they “cure” disease.  Unless you can provide research data and other “official” proof, making this kind of claim can get you in hot water.  My advice is to stick with the warm fuzzies about your products.  Rather than making claims, tell your readers why vitamins are important.  Give your readers information about nutrition and the benefits of taking care of yourself.

If you don’t have a website, you can get one at online sites such as GoDaddy.com – which by the way, has its own blog.  You can design your own site or hire it done.  Learning to blog just takes a bit of work.  One good resource is ProBlogger.com.

A tip: once you get your business webpage established and start your blog, “Twitter” each post…it will drive more traffic to your blog and more people will learn of your business.

 

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Writing for Technorati-that’s new and so is it

The new Technorati still has some bugs to work out, but it looks promising.  I’m excited to announce that I’ve been accepted as one of their writers…people who write articles on their favorite topics either just for Technorati or to be seen there first – before it appears anywhere else.  My first exclusive-to-Technorati article was published over the weekend and can be found here.  As I do on this blog, I will be writing articles about business, small business and home-based business.

Don’t know what Technorati is?  According to the Technorati Blog, dated October 14, the new T is a “…re-launch of a wholly new Technorati.com. Technorati was founded to help people find great blog content….” When I first discovered it about two years ago, I understood it to be a blog directory – a place to use much like an internet search engine, to find blogs to read in categories of my choosing.  And so it was.  Then I also discovered Alltop, which also is a terrific directory: “…The purpose of Alltop is to help you answer the question, ‘What’s happening?’ in ‘all the topics’ that interest you….” It has a cool feature where you can have a page that lists blogs and sites that you like to read.  My Alltop page is here.

As I’ve said on my “About” page on this blog, I believe information is key and it is very helpful to have sites such as Technorati [the new] and Alltop and other blog directories that help you sift and sort the millions of blogs and words to find what you need.  Everything new has bugs and fits and starts…so I’m hoping that blog readers and writers everywhere will join me in having patience with the New Technorati as it gets its beta version off the ground.

George of my jungle

George of my jungle

Speaking of having patience…George, my 5-year old Amazon parrot insists upon “helping” me this morning!  He likes to “shop” on my desktop to see what he can snatch…today it ended up being some green sticky notes.

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