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Review of Copy and Profit Blueprint

This article presents a review of Copy and Profit Blueprint, a course I bought from Neil Stafford, owner of The Internet Marketing Review. Neil has been producing quality information marketing products for over 12 years now, in the Internet Marketing niche, and also in many

Using Internet Marketing Training Course

Bit of a rant today, but the positive message is how I used some training to fix something that made me cross! As an aside: We’ve probably all bought online courses before. It’s one thing to buy them, but USING Internet Marketing Training Courses we’ve

Hosting and Auto-Responder. No Need To Pay Twice

I have been working with my son Russ to set up an additional income stream for him, working online, helping small businesses set up a blog on a combined hosting and auto-responder package. Our site is SystemicsLtd.com – this is the bespoke software company I

Review of WP Stealth Note

If you’ve seen the little box that pops up at the bottom right hand corner of my blog, this is produced by a plugin called WP Stealthnote produced by George Katsoudas, and today I’d like to do a review of WP Stealth Note. George has

Internet Marketing Support Group

One of the services I have mentioned briefly before, is my membership of the Internet Marketing Review support group. I have been a member for so long now that I almost take it for granted, but I shouldn’t as it is such an essential part

Disaster Recovery Plan

Regular readers may have noticed that I have been blogging a lot less frequently of late. What a trial this last few weeks has been! My disaster recovery plan has been tested to the limit, together with my patience. The Disaster…. The unusual bad health

Scottish Independence Referendum and Blogging

UnionJack-mfI’m one of the most non-political animals I know, so when I write about the Scottish Independence Referendum (that happened on September 18th 2014) there has to be a blogging / marketing connection, tenuous as it is!

If you’re one of my UK readers you almost certainly can’t have failed to notice the Scottish Independence campaign that declared its result this morning.

For non-UK readers, in a nutshell (and I DO apologize to serious readers here) Scotland wanted to become an independent country rather than remain part of the United Kingdom.

Yes Or No?

Being British, rather than Scottish, I had no vote in the matter and along with most people I spoke to, I vaguely imagined that there would be a “Yes” vote – that’s to say, a vote in favor of Scottish independence by the Scottish voters, the only ones with a vote.

I presumed this because the only people with whom I had discussed the matter were Scottish people who were very passionately in favor of their Independence, and I assumed their passion and fervor would carry the day. This is no comment at all about the validity of their case as they have some real grievances that should be addressed.

That said, I’ll admit freely that I have always have been in favor of staying a United Kingdom, but my reasons were largely sentimental – nostalgia for happy holidays, beautiful scenery, bagpipe music, haggis, (yes – really), whiskey, salmon etc – and with no logical foundation. (OK – a tinge of greed for their oil!)

Had I been offered a vote on the subject I would certainly have taken the trouble to learn more – but it was just another of those political decisions that would be foisted onto me from “on high” whether I agreed or not.

To present a non-biased blog post, here’s the Independent Scotland website!

Given that I imagined my spending power would be as welcome in Scotland after either a Yes or a No vote, I just watched the debate with interest from the side-lines, wondering how all the myriad practical problems would be handled in the months to come.

For instance, on my next P&O Cruise Sail-away party, would we still be waving Union Jacks – or had P&O been quietly running down their stocks….? You get all the serious questions here!

flags

Wake Up England!

Suddenly, about a week ago, it was almost as if everyone in the UK (who has any clout) woke up and realized the enormity of what could be about to happen.

I started receiving impassioned emails bemoaning the threatened split, Scottish music pod-casts, and invitations to rallies and marches. As if by magic, south of the border we all really LOVED Scotland and were begging “Don’t leave us!”

I “Tweeted” with the rest of them. Finally someone cared what I thought….

Then the “smear and fear” mongering started, with several high profile companies currently based in Scotland leaking the news that they had contingency plans to move out of Scotland in the event of an Independent Scotland.

Not on My Watch!

The Queen was pictured glum-faced in the new-papers, and for once the leaders of our main political parties saw (more or less) eye-to-eye. They could NOT preside over the break-up of the United Kingdom. It would NOT sit well on the CV!

Scottish Independence Referendum Results Statistics

The “just in time” passion and emotion of the marketing campaign fueled an unprecedented 84% turnout – the highest in any election campaign since 1951. Almost 45% voted for Scottish Independence, 55% against.

In the end, the campaign was a close call and the United Kingdom had been snatched from the jaws of its death. It was so close run that when I woke up and heard the results coming in this morning I thought the Independence voters had won and I was sad for what England would have lost.

Then as I “came to” fully I realized we were still United; and I was glad – yet sad for my Scottish friends who believed so fervently in their cause. I hope they will see the fulfillment of the last ditch promises that have been made, and that we truly can be “Better Together”.

Passion and Fear, Marketing and Blogging

Like any good marketing campaign I believe the Scottish Referendum decision was made on emotion – Fear (of loss) and / or “Love” – real or imaginary. When it’s crunch time, logic goes out of the window.

And that – dear reader – is how YOUR marketing campaigns will be won or lost. On emotion. Not logic.

As bloggers we too are “Better Together”, so I’d welcome your comments. (Who wants to blog into a void?)

If you’re outside the UK did you even NOTICE all this fervor and passion South and North of the England / Scotland border?

When making purchasing decisions, are YOU most swayed by emotion or logic?

Fake Bloggers Named

Picture the scene, it’s late Saturday evening here in the UK and it’s not been the best of weeks, so I’m consoling myself with a little glass of red wine and doing my final email check before retiring for the night.

Because I use “Blog Commenting” as one of the methods of getting free visitors to my site, I subscribe to the newsletters of several high profile bloggers and we’re regular visitors to each others’ blogs.

They are good writers and publish some interesting and very informative articles – I’ve learned a lot from them. Reading their articles and commenting is a pleasant way to end the day feeling productive.

Then, all at once – shock, horror, my own face is staring back at me from my in-box in the newsletter from Enstine Muki, together with several other bloggers I subscribe to. But what caused my heart to skip a beat was the label – Fake bloggers.

Enstine’s blog is normally one of my favorite “reads”, and I thought he and I had exchanged some interesting comments. I’ve worked hard on my blog and done my best…

So what on earth could I have done to be named on his blog as a fake blogger?

fake-bloggers

Names of fake bloggers here…

I’m not going to repeat what Enstine said about me and my fellow bloggers. You’ll have to read his blog and form your own opinion. True or false?

Enstine Muki names fake bloggers – click here to read it.

The site opens in a new window, so don’t forget to come back here and let me know what you think in the comment box below.

The Value of Blog Commenting For Free Traffic

In case you’re wondering about the value of the time spent on blog commenting, I was recently checking my Google Analytics and the stats showed that the major source of my referral traffic comes from blog commenting.

I even got one fairly nondescript and unoptimized complementary health post on page one of Google and I’m sure it was just because of the number of comments on a fairly controversial topic.

What did you think of Enstine’s article? Do YOU use blog commenting and have you found it helpful? I’d love to hear from you.

Property Rental Rant

Regular visitors to my blog will know I normally write about Internet Marketing, blogging, and starting an online business. So if that’s what you’re looking for – GOOD. There’s plenty of that on the site-map.

Today is a Little Different

Normally I’m placid and easy-going, but every so often something just “gets to me” and I have a rant. Today’s one of those days – and it’s been building up over a few weeks now.

I’m not really sure I should have published this article – because it’s not related to Internet Marketing. In fact it started out as something else, but my fingers just went their own way.

I’m angry and I’m upset. Because I’ve been…

Taken For A Mug Again

The only link to the Internet that I can really think of is “hacker”, loosely defined as someone who isn’t supposed to be somewhere and wreaks havoc. So forgive me the digression please.

No, I haven’t had a website hacked, but a part of my off-line business has been “hacked” and ruined and it’s going to cost £10,000 to put right. So I am cross and I am upset and I really didn’t need this.

Believe me, it’s not just online that softies like me are mugged off.

Being a Landlord in the UK

The background to my rant is that one of my off-line income streams is property rental. Not in a big way by any means. I have a flat I own jointly with my sister and we rent it out.

We didn’t put our savings into a conventional pension. We decided instead to use them to get a rental property to bring us a monthly income, and on the whole it works well – although it’s not the piece of cake that people imagine.

Tenant’s Rights

Yes, there are some terrible landlords out there, and I guess that’s why the UK laws are so heavily weighted in the favor of protecting tenants at the expense of the landlords.

Believe me it’s gone too far the wrong way now.

Three years ago we completely re-decorated and re-carpeted our flat and let it out.

Big mistake – and it was my fault for taking pity on someone in distress – we took on a tenant whose credit rating didn’t check out. But she told us a sob-story about being a single parent, husband left her, and she needed somewhere to live. At the time she had a job and the figures said she could afford the rent on the salary she was earning.

Let’s call her CP – not her initials, but my sister has a “name” for her that I won’t repeat here.

Rent Arrears Mounting

So far so good and CP paid her rent on time for a couple of years. Then she lost her job and got into arrears. Some rent came in occasionally but over time it was less frequently and less money. At the end of her tenancy we asked her to leave, because this is the pension income we have worked hard to provide for ourselves and OUR standard of living was starting to suffer.

In the UK we have a system whereby people struggling to pay their rent get “Housing Benefit” from the government. CP told us her housing benefit was “delayed” and when it came through she would settle up with us. Whether she got it or not I don’t know, but we weren’t seeing it.

We’re not talking abject poverty here. One the few occasions when she granted us access to the flat there were half-opened bottles of wine, flat-screen TV, “music gadgets” – and emails were sent to us from an iPhone. Her car also seemed to need such regular repairs that she couldn’t pay us.

The Vanishing Housing Benefit

Once upon a time Housing Benefit was sent directly to the landlord to ensure rent was paid and the money was used for the purpose intended. All that changed some time ago, so that the person struggling could “learn to manage their money”. HAH. She managed it OK.20140904_103740

We also started to be concerned about the state of the flat and asked the agent to get her to clean it up. He assured us she had and then she stopped letting him or us in. In English law, I am told the flat is “her home” not “our property”.

The debts grew and there were excuses and sob-stories and lies. Like an idiot I gave her the benefit of the doubt and we didn’t start court proceedings to get her out. About six months ago she told us she had a new job and would start paying again. To be honest, having seen the deterioration of the flat, we felt that if she was content to live there and pay rent it would delay the big renovation costs that we could see coming.

End of Tenancy

Anyway, to cut a long story short she didn’t go, she didn’t clean up the flat, she didn’t pay rent. Finally we flipped and prepared court papers, telling her we would start proceedings if she didn’t go right away. Of course we ended up giving her another month to find a friend who would take her in and someone who would “move” her.

20140904_103711

Her moving out was a farce and she left us with a stack of furniture she no longer has room for that we have to pay to have removed. (Sofa, two cupboards, a bed, broken freezer – just to mention what comes to mind!)

But worse than that the flat is totally trashed.

See that mark on the floor on the left, by the yellow handle? That’s not a shadow. That’s the difference between the carpet that was covered by her furniture and the carpet exposed. That carpet was brand new three years ago, and it was of reasonable domestic quality. It is beyond cleaning and has to be ripped out from every room.

A door is damaged (see above), a new cooker that we put in is totally ruined, burned and will have to be replaced. Our new curtains have been torn. Two wall sockets are smashed as is the central heating thermostat. Two ceiling light fittings broken – I mean what do you do to break TWO ceiling light fittings? The kitchen units are so filthy and battered that we’re ripping them out.

Yes, she lost her deposit, but that won’t go anywhere near clearing up the devastation she has left. And she also owes us a third of a year’s rent.

What Now?

So now we start the mega-clear-out and the estimated costs are of the order of £10,000. Not to mention the fact that the flat will be uninhabitable for at least two months – probably three until a tenant can be shown round and move in. And to add insult to injury the local government insist that we pay council tax while the property is empty.

Yes, we could have taken her to court earlier, but that costs money and takes a couple of months during which time the rent arrears would have mounted. And it’s no use suing her for money she hasn’t got! We just wanted her to go as fast as possible.

My rant is not about the rent arrears. She lost her job. Could happen to anyone – although she seems to have totally abused the UK’s very generous rescue system….. and got away with it.

What is angering and upsetting me in equal measure is that she could totally ruin our property and turn it from a freshly decorated and newly carpeted flat in a pleasant area of NW London, into a filthy hovel.

If I don’t make a lot of progress on my Internet Marketing business for the next few weeks you know what I’ll be doing instead :-(  Getting quotes and supervising the rebuild of our “hacked” flat.

Sorry for the major digression. I had initially intended to write about the “lack of focus” I have been suffering from over the last few weeks, but it’s hard to focus when all this is swilling round in your head.

 

 

Top 100 Blogging Tips For Small Businesses

blogging-81-pxbay
If you are a small business blogger, does the statistic in the image scare you? Credit

If it’s shaken your confidence, you need these blogging tips for small business people.

We’ll start with the two basic skills a blogger needs to escape that 81% trap.

  • Have a good level of writing skill
  • Able to compose / find interesting content or they will soon lose their readers

Everyone makes the occasional grammar and spelling mistake – no-one’s perfect. But in the age of spell-checkers etc there’s really no excuse for multiple errors. They reflect badly on the professionalism of the author.

That’s not to say I don’t read and enjoy some “less than word-perfect” blogs – but the personality of these bloggers must really shine out to make me forgive more than a minimum of errors.

Beyond these absolute basics are tips and tricks that professional writers use to “super-charge” their writing.

Blogging Tips for Writers

I found an excellent post from Liz McGee that shows how: “With just a few writing tricks you can create blog posts that are reader friendly, get attention, hold attention and are more focused.”

There are 8 tips in all – here is just one of them. I think you’ll enjoy the rest too.

Everyone likes examples. They illustrate what you’re describing in a way people can relate to. For instance I wrote a post on how to create an article resource box.  In the post I gave lots of examples that readers could use for their own resource box.  Today it’s still one of my most accessed  blog posts. Credits:

Blogging Tips for Business

It’s not just career “bloggers” who are blogging. Traditional businesses are turning to blogging too, as a way of building relationships with their clients and prospects.

A quick digression to explore why blogging has come to prominence – especially in the light of the above statistic about bloggers!

The traditional marketing playbook is broken. Almost everyone – 91 percent, to be precise – has unsubscribed from email lists. Two-out-of-three people (68 percent) who record TV content do so to skip advertisements (Motorola, December 2012) and, according to DoubleClick, the average click-through rate on display ads is only 0.2 percent. Credits:

That refers to Motorola in 2012 – so neither a small business, nor a recent statistic. What about 18 months on? If a company the size of Motorola isn’t finding a decent return on investment for their adverts, how much worse will it be for small businesses with much smaller marketing budgets?

So, when traditional marketing methods are failing to deliver, the smart business person looks for another way to attract and engage their clients.

Blogging Tips For Small Business

It’s said that a prospect will need exposure to your marketing message at least seven times before they trust you enough to buy from you. But, instead of having seven low conversion adverts that appear briefly and then are gone, how much more pleasant to receive an interesting newsletter (or in our terms, blog post) into your in-box, with a subtle call to action / special offer embedded?

And remember that newsletter will stay online to attract customers for the rest of its life.

One successful “product” blogger is Tanya Burr. Tanya uses her sumptuous blog to attract millions of viewers with their opinions about beauty and cosmetics products.

The beauty, fashion and lifestyle blogger and vlogger trained in make-up and worked on beauty counters in department stores, but would record YouTube videos after work, using it as a creative outlet to play with all her products. Credits: Beauty bloggers reveal their secret tips to business success – The Guardian

Another top tip is to stay newsworthy, with posts use relevant and trending keywords.

Here’s what the Business 2 Community blog has to say:

Stay on top of the news. If there is any news brewing in your industry, you want to comment on it. That way, when consumers take to the search engines to look for information about that development, your blog will be among the results.  Credits: 10 Tips for Blogging Success – Business 2 Community (blog)

Blogging Tips From Bloggers

In addition to those using blogging as a secondary aspect of their business – for example Bob the builder posting DIY tips – there are bloggers whose sole aim is to make an income from blogging.

To clarify – Tanya and Bob (above) were running their business first, then added on a blog as a marketing tool. Bloggers such as myself decided to earn an income online and chose blogging as their primary marketing tool.

Among this category of bloggers, my favorite tips are from:

Harleena at Aha!NOW: 5 Basic Steps To Create Your Own Blog

Carol Amato: 5 Tips To Improve Your Blog Visitor’s Experience

Enstine Muki shows: How 15 Top Bloggers Make Money

Tim Bonner has a whole series of: Blogging Tips Shared

And a lady who always over-delivers: Adrienne Smith with 60 Blogging Tips

Did I Miss Your Best Blog Tips Post?

I’m bound to have missed out several great bloggers – so apologies in advance, and just know that when I next read your blog I’ll be kicking myself and thinking – oh no, I missed out xxx.com.  So, do us ALL a favor, and if you have one, leave a comment linking to your own “best blog tips”.

Failing that, please comment and share which of these tips is the most important for a successful blog.

Do YOU Want To Make Money Blogging?

On first sight, this looks a bit of a negative post – but let’s think positive.

With so many failing bloggers, given time, they’re going to quit. Not this week, maybe not this year. But they will quit.

YOU, on the other hand, have persistence and the drive to learn to become a successful blogger.

Follow the tips above and rise above the 81% of bloggers who make less than $100.

Top 100 Blogging Tips For Small Businesses

So, did you count them and find exactly 100 tips?

Duh – you spotted my “fib”. Some of them are double-counts and there weren’t exactly 100. Far more, thanks to Adrienne!

But you know what it’s like….. I had  to have an eye-catching title :-)

My Comment Authors in August 2014

In the middle of August I produced a blog post about the My Comment Authors plugin, created by Enstine Muki. In those two posts you can read more about how the free WordPress plugin can help YOUR blog.

At the bottom of this post is the output generated by the plugin – and I will be emailing those who kindly commented on my blog to thank them for their engagement – and hope they’ll be returning :-)

August Written Off

I’m producing this post and emailing my comment authors a little before the end of August because – to be honest – I need a quick post for this week as August has for me been a bit of a write-off work-wise, online AND offline!

I had a lovely couple of weeks holiday in the early part of the month, and pre-scheduled a few short posts to “hold the fort” while I was away, then I was back for about a fortnight and playing catch-up, hoping for “normal service” to be resumed to ALL clients – only to receive a rather worrying phone call from my 90+ year-old parents which sent me into a panic, dropped everything and made the 5+ hour trip to spend a few days with them and check on their health.

The most important thing is that “medicines have been adjusted” and TLC administered so they’re feeling brighter now and after a few days stay I drove back yesterday (another 5+ hours) to try and go into catch-up phase two.

The less important thing is that I am behind with everything else – paid and unpaid, including blogging.

Mum and Dad have no Internet in the house, but I was able to connect my laptop to my phone Mum_n_Dadand approve/reply to a few comments but it was so slow I could have cried. Furthermore, I managed to use up my entire month’s phone allowance in about two hours of blog-commenting PLUS a Skype call to my son Russ in Spain so that my parents could see his family – especially the babies who they haven’t seen for four months now.

To see Mum and Dad’s faces when they saw the little ones was well-worth the Internet usage, but obviously another thing to add to my ever expanding “to-do-list” is looking at better off-site Internet access.

What I have is normally perfectly adequate, but then it’s fair to say I don’t stray far from my home wi-fi.

Is “Everyone” Online Yet?

Brief aside… We tend to take for granted that “everyone” is online these days, but it is NOT so.

My 90+ year old parents are actually still running their own business and get very frustrated by being told to look things up on “www” all the time. Obviously any business – even my parents’ business – really SHOULD have Internet access, and I have offered to set them up a laptop, but at their age they can’t be bothered with the hassle of it. And there are days when I understand exactly what they mean :-)

I showed my Dad my holiday photos on my laptop and he said he could see the value of it – it kept his lap nice and warm! He’s a very astute business man and can haggle with the best of his off-line network of local suppliers and tradespeople but “www – you can keep it”!

Less understandable is a friend of mine in her 40s, also with no PC / Internet / email. Again, offers to help have been politely ignored.

My offline work, which earns me far more than my online work, is for clients some of whom have no, or a very limited Internet presence, and the work I do for them has no relation to the Internet. They do business face-to-face and are happy that way. These small businesses have full order books just from word-of-mouth and no plans to change it.

So NO – many people and business are still NOT online – yet. Those who do want to make the change (not everyone!) can become our customers! No doubt many readers here can help out those people who want to start a small business online.

Apologies for my brief musing, and back to the point of this post which is…

Thanks to My Comment Authors

Total Comments on this blog in August 2014

23 comment authors with 98 comments in the month of August 2014


Enstine Muki
6 comments

Edward Thorpe
5 comments

Jan Kearney
4 comments

Adrienne
4 comments

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Essential WordPress Plugin: P3 Plugin Performance Profiler

I’ve recently read a selection of useful Essential WordPress Plugin blog posts, including the ones below. They are in memory order and please forgive me if I have missed your particular post!

I make no apology for including the 2013 lists from three of my favorite bloggers, because some plugins are just “ever-green” and if you’re a new blogger, better learn about them sooner rather than later!

However, one plugin I personally find very useful, and was missing from some – but by no means all – lists was:

P3 Plugin Performance Profiler

It’s a free plugin, created by GoDaddy and its stated function is to:

See which plugins are slowing down your site. Create a profile of your WordPress site’s plugins’ performance by measuring their impact on your site’s load time.

I’m afraid I’m a bit of a “plug-in-aholic” (thanks to Jan – above for coining this term) and every so often I have to have a bit of a prune, in which case P3 Plugin Performance Profiler is just the ticket!

“Borrowing” from the GoDaddy description, here are the features that I find most useful:

  • Scan option shows an easy to read “Runtime by Plugin” pie chart that displays the relative run-time for each plugin. If a plugin takes up a large slice of the pie, then it takes a long time to run relative to other plugins. Within the “Current” tab, you will find
  • Detailed Breakdown shows the absolute run-time of each component, including your theme and the WP Core
  • Simple Timeline correlates each visited URL with the recorded run-times for core, theme, and plugin. Hovering over the data point shows the exact URL of the page.
  • The Advanced Metrics display an overview of the scan.
  • Send email summary of the report.

The History tab lists the previous scans of your site allowing you to view or delete them.

Here’s a sample chart from P3 Plugin Performance Profiler.
p3-results

It’s obviously too small for you to see details, but that’s not the point because YOUR results will definitely be different from mine.

The only way for you to evaluate the results from this plugin is to install it and give it a try!

Running P3 Plugin Performance Profiler

When you install the plugin you will find it under Tools in the WordPress dashboard. Make sure you are on the “Current” tab, and then click “Start Scan”

You have the choice of:

  • Auto-scan – which is fairly obvious and what I use. It takes just a few minutes and you have to stay with that same window open. Go make yourself a quick coffee if this is too hard!
  • Manual Scan – Probably for more advanced users. Click the links and pages of your site, and the scanner will analyze the speed and resource usage of all of your active plugins.

Maybe this isn’t a plugin you would want to keep active on your site all the time – although its own results don’t flag it as a “big drain”!

However I’d certainly keep it in mind if your blog starts slowing down. (I just ran it now to check out the functionality to describe in this post and the results pointed out a big OUCH for me to look at!)

Updating My Kindle Book

Banned From Worldwide Trading

One of the themes of this blog is charting the ups and downs of my online business – and just before I went on holiday I had a definite slap in the face when my supplier banned me from trading worldwide:-(

In case you missed the post about the setback in my complementary therapy business, here it is: click here. The post, and the web-pages I had to change as a result of the ban were put together in haste because I was off on holiday in days and didn’t want to leave my temporary assistant with complications.

The one job that remained, which I couldn’t get done in time, was updating my Kindle book. Originally it gave details of how anyone in the world could make payment by PayPal and post me a hair sample. I would arrange for the test to be done and then I would return the client’s results by email.

Of course all that has changed now.

Outsourcing The Kindle Update

It was ages since I originally did this and I had completely forgotten the steps in producing a Kindle book. I’m really busy with my offline business, AND my coaching program with Neil Stafford, so the last thing I needed was a diversion to try and remember how to produce a Kindle book and cover.

It’s probably a piece of cake to many of my readers, but I can sense when I’m heading for what I call my “overwhelm mode” and it’s not good for me. So I decided to take my own advice and pay for a bit of out-sourcing.

While revisiting the process there was one thing I’d been promising myself…

They haven’t exactly flown off the shelf – and someone told me it was because my cover was “rubbish”. Looking at the old cover, I could see what he meant! So I decided to reinvest some of my profits in an improved cover.

hair-mineral-analysis-kindle-2014-07.blogHere are the steps I took:

  • I had the Kindle cover shown on the left designed for me using a lady from Fiverr.com
  • A friend from Neil Stafford’s Internet Marketing Review recommended one of his personal contacts to do the Kindle formatting for me. He did a good job, quickly, and for a very reasonable price.
  • His work included validating it for errors as per EPUB guidelines and checking its appearance on Adobe Digital. He did the work quickly and fixed one minor glitch very promptly, so I will certainly use him again.
  • I then updated the book by going to: http://kdp.amazon.com/
  • I selected the book I wanted to update, clicked on “Actions,” and then “Edit Book Details” and there were detailed instructions for uploading my updated book.
  • Finally I clicked on Save and Publish.

The book was now marked as being in a “Review” process – which I expected might take a long time. However, very quickly I got an email back asking me to confirm that I had world-wide rights to the material. They seemed to have found my ebook online and were presumably checking I hadn’t pinched it from that.

After I confirmed my right as author, final approval was fairly fast.

Overall I think it probably took about 12 hours before my uploaded changes were visible – which I was warned about.

So that task has been put firmly to bed, and it’s been a useful learning curve for when I add more products to Kindle. Neil is a firm believer in re-purposing your work on more than one platform.

The Future of This Service?

To be honest, having lost my world-wide customer base I think I’m going to let it slide, other than any UK sales, ebook sales or Kindle sales that happen to come my way.

It was a useful learning curve and I found out about:

  • Producing an information product – eBook and Kindle
  • Taking payments on-line
  • Setting up a website
  • Then a blog
  • And an auto-responder

These were important stages in my learning curve – and I made a decent profit from it. But now it’s time to move on.

  • It has been an example of a lesson I NOW understand, but didn’t when I first started out. Have your OWN product, don’t be at the mercy of any supplier :-(
  • In the original post I described the problems caused by the manual steps the process needs. When I was tied to my home by other commitments that wasn’t a real problem. In the last year life has changed for me and I am more free to please myself.
  • Russ and his family probably have a better Internet and technology setup in his place in Spain than I do here, and I want to be free to spend more time with them – not waiting for clumps of hair to drop through the letter box!
  • I’m trying to spread myself in too many different directions and I want to focus on my coaching with Neil.

So, with thanks for the memories and the lessons, this service won’t have much more of my attention.

Nevertheless, I hope that the steps I took in updating my Kindle book will be useful to others.

Facebook Scheduling Solution

Last week I was disappointed that my Facebook Post Scheduling fell apart over my holiday, and I asked if anyone had any of their own favorite tools.

Initially people mainly mentioned the ones I’d already tried, so I asked in a support group I belong to. Click here to learn more or take a trial. As usual, someone came up with answers and I hopped off to try them out. In the end I chose one that was recommended in the support group AND in a comment to my original blog post, by Jan Kearney.

The application I chose to take forward is Buffer. Before I tell you a little about it, let me remind you that Facebook dislikes automated posts, so do use with caution. However, I’m not sending too many automatic posts, and I spend more time on the site interacting. So hope they’ll be a little forgiving of a one-woman-band’s time pressures.

How To Use Buffer

With Buffer I can easily share great pictures, videos and links across my Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, Pinterest and other networks on my computer or mobile phone.

For my own particular requirement I am able to set up scheduled posts for times when I’m away or busy on other projects.

Below is a screenshot of the Buffer Dashboard. Down the left hand side are my social accounts, and across the horizontal are the functions.

buffer-q

Having added your social accounts down the left hand side you select the account you want to work on, then select the required functions from the top of the wide pane. (Some are only accessible to higher monthly cost plans.)

Each social account has a “Queue” of posts waiting to be made, and also a tab of Suggestions – interesting posts you may, or may not, wish to share. When you click on the Add for any displayed Suggestion it will be added to the queue for that account and shared according to the schedule which you define on the schedule tab. You can just add posts one after the other and then, if you wish, Shuffle the queue randomly – for instance to mix up posts that you added sequentially from separate sources.

Buffer Weekly Report

My “weekly” report (below) was emailed to me showing me the stats below – which aren’t at all bad considering my “week” only consisted of a couple of days. There were also more detailed stats which I won’t include for fear of making the image too big. However those stats showed that ONE of my 13 Tweets got 499 of those ReTweets.

buffer-report

 

Buffer Across The Web

The fun really starts outside the application. I have added a “Bufffer” tool to my Firefox browser, so when browsing the web, if I see a post that’s of interest, I click the Buffer tool and can add it to the queue to be posted when more convenient. No more trying to remember where I saw an interesting post – I can just store it in my queue for later viewing or posting.

The free version would probably be adequate for most small businesses, but it only allows one Facebook page, I have two – one of which is rather neglected. So I upgraded to the lowest priced paid version – about $10 a month. This gives me additional social accounts and a longer queue for each. The paid version also lets you add your favorite feeds (up to 15) onto each account. There are also “Business” versions that give access to more accounts and team members, plus more detailed analytics.

Finding Targeted Content

One slight criticism is that – with only a little use so far – the daily Suggestions put forward by the application seem slanted towards social media and marketing blog posts, which is fine for my “online business” Facebook page, but not for my complementary therapy page. This is a minor gripe, because I come across enough pages in my general web and Facebook browsing to be able to add them to my queue for posting or scheduling when I choose.

However, not long after I started using Buffer I came across an excellent blog post that introduces the content discovery tool Swayy. Read the blog post > Finding Buffer Content. The improvement of Swayy over Buffer is that you can request topics matched to your audience

Remember - it’s best to just store posts in your buffer queue then post them manually to Facebook.

New Floating Social Bar Plugin

Finding Buffer also helped me to locate the new floating social bar that you’ll now see on my blog. You’ll note that it has a Buffer icon. Feel free to click it and see what happens :-)

This is social sharing bar I’d envied from a distance for a while, so it’s been a bonus to find that it’s from Buffer. (It’s called Digg Digg and it’s free if you prefer it to whatever you are currently using.)

When I click my (or anyone’s) Buffer icon on the social sharing bar, I can add the post to my queue for later sharing on whichever social account I choose.

Buffer’s Support Desk

Out of interest I was introduced to Digg Digg by Buffer’s help-desk which turned out to be one of the best support experiences I’ve had in a long time. Fast, friendly and answered all my questions, even as a free member. That may not sound a lot to ask for, but it’s surprising how few deliver on any of the three, let along all of them. This was a big influence in my decision to upgrade to the paid version. Click here to try out Buffer.

Facebook Scheduling Solution

And those, for the moment, will be my Content Discovery and Facebook Scheduling tools.  At the moment there is no affiliate program, but if anyone joins from a free account (which has a limited queue – 20 I think), you get extra space in your queue. This doesn’t help paid members like me, but it’s a useful tool and I’m pleased to introduce it to you. I hope this has been useful and do let me know in the comments below if you try either of these tools.

My Comment Authors Plugin

A quick post today as I’m still playing catchup after my holiday – but I couldn’t wait to tell you about the My Comment Authors Plugin developed by blogger Enstine Muki, whose informative posts have been adding no end of information to my blogging knowledge. (And he’s a thoroughly nice guy too!)

My Comment AuthorsThis is a free WordPress plugin that you can download and install on your blog in the normal way, and then you can customise it under “Settings” in your WordPress dashboard.

What is the purpose of My Comment Authors?

This is such a clever idea. What it does is very special for those of us who understand the importance of building a blogging community. Here are the highlights from the WordPress.org plugin directory:

  • Generates a list of your comment authors for a chosen month of the year.
  • Then creates a blog post to thank them for commenting on your blog.
  • Emails them (optionally) to thank them, which encourages them back to your blog.
  • For those who are more active, you may choose to give them a dofollow link on the list by setting a certain number.

How many times have you found an interesting blog, left a comment, intended to come back for more posts, but forgotten? Sorry, I do it all the time, it’s so easy to do!

When I received Enstine’s email thanking me for my comments I returned to his blog, and in turn that reminded me of several other interesting bloggers whose posts I had read. I have since re-visited their blogs too, and had the benefit of their comments on my posts in return. Yes, it IS time-consuming, but I’m afraid there’s just no shortcut to learning and building a sustainable business online.

Don’t Download My Comment Authors Until…

… you have read Enstine’s blog post about it. I haven’t done it justice in the brief notes above!

My Comment Authors version 1 from Enstine Muki – Read this first

And – I can’t keep up with him – he’s responded super-quick to feedback from other bloggers and come up with even more features in version 1.2 (at the time of writing, but knowing Enstine goodness knows how many enhancements there may be by the time you read this).

Version 1.2 from Enstine Muki – Read this second :-) LOTS more features added

I can’t wait for the end of the month to try it out. So to see how it works and be on my list of commentators (and Enstine’s) please be sure to leave a comment on my blog and on his. I’ve already set up a reminder on my calendar.

Couple of Asides

As a computer programmer myself, I was really interested in the insights I gained into what goes into writing WordPress plugins. It’s certainly not something I plan to do myself, but it was interesting.

Second aside (sorry) if you’re not sure of the value of comments, well – neither was I. Until a fairly nondescript (but controversial) post on one of my health blogs found its way onto page 1 of Google because it had attracted a bunch of comments from people who either agreed or disagreed with my opinion! I hadn’t promoted that post at all. Google obviously just liked the fact that real people were making relevant comments.

What Now?

So – please drop me a comment below to let me know you are getting your copy of the My Comment Authors plugin, then grab the plugin, thank Enstine on his blog (he deserves it) and USE it!!

Back from Holiday To Facebook Scheduling Problems

The best part of being my own boss is that I can take my holidays when I want, without having to ask anyone’s permission.

The worst, of course, is that the work that needs doing over that period won’t be done by anyone else. So I have three options:

  1. Leave it undone
  2. Pay someone else to do it
  3. Schedule it in advance

Having spent a lot of time establishing a consistent and regular routine I couldn’t bring myself to adopt option 1, so I used a mixture of 2 and 3. Also a business colleague and I have a mutual self-help arrangement to do some daily task for each other when one of us is on holiday.

So, after all the planning and the extra work of preparing to go away, I finally switched off for a my first EVER two week break. (No-one ever believes me on that, but it’s true!)

Back From Holiday – How Did It Go?

sail-away-homeAnd now here I am again – back from a beautiful cruise holiday. Two weeks cruising the Baltic on my favorite P&O ship Arcadia. Pictured here is the scene from our “Sail-away” to return home to Southampton after visiting:

  • Stockholm
  • Helsinki including a delightful visit to Unique Lapland, complete with husky ride
  • St Petersburg (with an overnight stay when we went to see Swan Lake)
  • Warnemunde (in the former East Germany)
  • Copenhagen
  • Skagen (Norway)

The scenery was fantastic. I had no idea Russia had so many beautiful buildings and treasures. The weather was just unbelievable. I took heavy jumpers and cardigans and a raincoat and umbrella – all came back untouched.

dessert-webHere’s a picture of just one of the yummy desserts we enjoyed. We weren’t FORCED to eat them, of course, but it would have been rude not to!

And finally, there’s me – relaxing outside the Vordgaard Castle in Denmark having NOT seen their resident ghost!

It was great to get away from the keyboard – although Matt reckoned I was getting keyboard-withdrawal symptoms because I was sending him more texts than usual!

Relaxation Enforced!

So why the enforced keyboard absence? Well the one draw-back of the otherwise excellent facilities on the Arcadia is that Internet access was about 50p per minute. OUCH. In this day and age? And having tried it on a previous voyage, all I can say is that it was so slow it cost me about £8 to download a day’s worth of spam emails.

warnemunde-2014-08-04It shows how much I must like P&O’s Arcadia if I will deprive myself of Internet for a two weeks. My travel companions were pleased I managed to stay away…. I don’t THINK they were stalking me to check up!

So how did I manage to tear myself away? Plain and simple – a good spell of preparation beforehand.

  • Blog posts written in advance and scheduled for forward posting (I cheated and used some videos so I had less to write)
  • Broadcasts scheduled for sending to my email lists by my auto-responder
  • Tweets – I use Tweet Old Post (a free WordPress plugin) that tweets old blog posts at pre-defined intervals.
  • I could have left Tweetadder running, but the UK weather was so hot I was seriously concerned about leaving my PC on with no windows open to give it ventilation

All the above went to plan.

Facebook Post Scheduling

You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned posts to my Facebook pages. That was the only part of the plan that fell apart. I’ve previously tried a couple of approaches to automating these and never really struck the right balance.

The traditional school of thought is that you shouldn’t automate Facebook posts, and in an ideal world that’s right. However, like most sole-entrepreneurs I live a busy life and occasionally like to take a holiday, so I prefer to have some background posts going out and supplement these with manual posts I share from other people’s pages / profiles.

Facebook Scheduling Software

Here are some of the tools I’ve used in the past. Where prices are quoted, these are correct at the time of writing, and I have selected the most affordable level for a home business.

  • I used the free version of PostPlanner for a while which I liked. However when I ran into problems, quite understandably there was no support, and so far I haven’t felt confident enough to stump up for the paid version at $29 a month.
  • I bought a software package that was supposed to schedule to pages but it just clean didn’t work (for me – I guess it must have worked for some people!) At the owner’s suggestion I upgraded to the higher paid level and still couldn’t get it to work so the owner finally lost patience with me – not that he’d ever shown much patience, and I’d waited almost the 7 day guarantee period to get a response to my support email. I note there have been updates since then, and I’m running on a new PC, so I may try and resurrect that one again, having paid for it!
  • My best success was RSS Graffiti. Again, the free version served me well for a time and then “things unraveled”. However, at $5 per page per month for the pro version, this is a front-runner in the candidates for my business.
  • Another candidate I like the look of is Postradamus – and although that’s an affiliate link, it’s not mine! There are simple ways to monetize your posts (e.g. via Amazon), but at $29 per month I’m not yet sure….
  • Last but not least, I shall be re-evaluating HootSuite – maybe the best known of all the Facebook scheduling tools. I remember when I first looked at HootSuite I thought it was expensive at $14.99 per month – but I’ve long since given up my “free blogging” aspirations so $14.99 is “looking good”.

So – over to you!

Do YOU use any automated solution for posting to Facebook pages? Do you use any of the above, or any others?

If so, please tell me what you think to them. I’d love to hear your experiences before I make my final choice.

From: Joy Healey

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