Archive for March, 2014

Using Pinterest to Boost Your Business

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

I’m excited to publish my first guide on Accel.io, a unique online marketplace for Smart Guides. Freelance writers create “actionable, interactive content designed for people who want results and world class processes.”

Accel.io is passionate about delivering better content experiences to readers, helping content producers create more engaging and dynamic content, and creating a strong, symbiotic relationship between these two groups.

I hope you’ll check out (and review) the guide here: How to Market Your Business on Pinterest.

Want to Be More Successful? Paint Your Home Office

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, freelance writer, or telecommuter, working from home means spending a lot of time in your home office. You probably make sure that it’s organized and quiet, but aesthetics are often put on the backburner for many home office workers—so it might surprise you to learn that a fresh coat of paint can improve your productivity.

Why wall color matters

The colors that surround you affect your mood, energy levels, and job performance. According to interior designer and therapist Christa O’Leary, “Our bodies react to color on a physiological level. The color red stimulates our appetite and increases our heart rate. The color blue has a calming effect on the nervous system.”

In addition to these human-wide reactions, colors also have a personal effect. You may consciously or subconsciously associate a color with a certain person, location, or event—and that, in turn, affects your work habits.

Choosing the right color for your home office

The color you paint your office walls should be based on the effect you need on your work. As a basic guide:

  • Blue colors and shades affect your mind
  • Yellow colors influence your emotions, ego, and self-confidence
  • Red stimulates your body
  • Green colors and shades affect your essential balance (mind, body, emotions)

The intensity of the color also has a strong influence on your state of mind. Bright, strong colors serve to stimulate the areas they effect, while paler shades with lower saturation produce a soothing effect.

So, for example, if your work involves stimulating your mind (such as accounting), you might choose to paint your office blue. However, it’s a common misconception that blue is best for creativity—yellow works better, as it can make you more optimistic.

Red can be a counterproductive color for a home office, as it stimulates your body to do something physical. And finally, if you paint your home office green, you’re likely to enjoy a calming and reassuring sense of balance—so if your work is stressful, such as customer service, this may be the color for you.

Bonus tips for painting your home office

Paint color is important, and using the right accent colors can be even more beneficial. While red is a poor choice for the main color, red accents can help you stay bold and confident—a good selection for salespeople or negotiators. Placing yellow accents in a primarily blue room can produce an overall calming effect with energizing focal points.

The type of paint can also matter. Glossy paint tends to generate higher energy, while flat paint can create a soothing environment. It’s a good idea to use environmentally friendly, low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint, especially in a room where you’ll be spending a significant portion of time.

How long has it been since you’ve painted your home office? What colors would you choose?

5 Great Tools Google Offers for Freelance Writing Businesses

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

These days, any small business looking to succeed must have a functional, stable website. But for busy freelance writers and other small business owners, creating and maintaining a website can sometimes fall to the bottom of the to-do list—in fact, nearly half of small businesses don’t have a working website.

This is a huge mistake that will cost you business. Andrea Faville of Google says that up to 97% of U.S. searches performed on the world’s largest search engine are for local goods and services. If you’re not online and findable, with a user-friendly and intuitive website, you’re missing out on the #1 way your customers are looking for you.

Fortunately, Google wants to help small businesses succeed. They offer a number of tools and features that enable you to compete with larger companies and establish a strong, customer-friendly online presence.

Free website builder, web hosting, and more

Google maintains a website called GYBO.com (Get Your Business Online) for small businesses. Here, you can register a domain name, create a great-looking and functional site with easy-to-use website builders, and have your website hosted online—all free, for up to a year.

GYBO.com also offers a series of free, interactive video tutorials that cover everything from the basics of getting a website up and running to creating mobile-friendly websites, and much more.

Affordable, real-time document creation and collaboration

With Google Apps for Business, you can create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations; access your files from anywhere; share and collaborate in real time; and get email addresses for your domain—all for as little as $5 a month.

This service is an affordable and feature-rich alternative to Microsoft Office, which provides the same functionality—and in some cases, better features—for a lot less. And what small business wouldn’t want to save money?

Hang out with your customers online

Making personal connections with customers is crucial to boosting conversion rates. Google makes that easy with Google+ Hangouts for small businesses. You can place free one-on-one or group video calls to talk with key customers, hold team meetings for geographically diverse staff, offer seminars and Q&A sessions, and more.

Improve online marketing strategies with analytics and trends

With so much data flowing across the Internet, analytics are critical to online success. You need to know things like how many visitors your site attracts, where they’re coming from, what they’re looking at, and what makes them leave—or what converts them to customers. You can learn all this and more for free with Google Analytics.

For further improvements to your marketing campaigns, look to Google Trends (also free), where you can search trending terms over time and apply them appropriately to your strategies.

Showcase the quality of your small business

It can be hard for online customers to distinguish reputable businesses from not-so-great ones. Trust and a good reputation are essential for any small business, especially online. Google can help you gain consumer confidence with their Trusted Stores program.

A Trusted Stores badge from Google assures visitors that your website will provide them with a great experience. To qualify, you’ll need to have good customer service, shipping rates, and online reviews for your business. You can apply for a Trusted Stores certification here.

With so many powerful and free tools from Google, it’s almost impossible for your small business website to fail. Which features will you sign up for? Share your thoughts in the comments!