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Stop Being Known As A Small Business

Being known as a small business is something that you could easily carry around with you until you run your course with your business, and you either sell it or hand it down. For some, being a small business is all that they ever want to be, and to be anything but small business, you have to be prepared to put in years of hard work. But just because you’re not a small business, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to be one of the biggest either. All you have to be is big enough to have employees be making a profit of a nice amount, and for people to actually know who you are. So if this is the point that you want to get to, we’re here to help you. Here’s how we think you can stop being known as a small business, and start making your mark on the business world that you’ve been waiting to do!

Get Your Setup Sorted

So first things first, you’re going to have to think about getting your set up sorted, sot at you can have the right space to grow your business. It’s no good being somewhere that just isn’t working for you, or that wouldn’t suit an up and coming business. So all you have to do is find a property in a location that’s close to you, but a bit more upmarket than what you’re in the minute. The best place to be is where business is bustling. If you were to go somewhere crowded with business, it really wouldn’t matter. As long as it wasn’t crowded with everyone doing the same thing as you, you’re in the right place. You wouldn’t believe how easy it is to make the right connections when you’re in the right place. Then, all you have to do is make sure that you have a cool office set up, on that’s going to attract hard-working employees.

Bring New Roles To The Company

Opening up new roles within your company could be the best thing that you’ve ever done. But we know that it’s not just as easy as saying you want someone to do something, you have to think logically about it. You’ll have the added expense of paying someone’s wages, so you have to be able to bring in that money, and more through the role, if you want it to be worth it. So it could be something like a marketing person, or a product developer or anything that you think is going to suit your business down to a T, and will bring in that all important money!

The Next Big Idea

If you really want to stop being known as a small business, you’re going to have to bring in that next big idea that creates the commotion, and money that you’re looking for. A bigger business is always looking for ways to bring in more products or services, or even just to better the ones that are already there. So get creative, and get thinking about what your next big idea could be!

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6 Ways Smart Tech is Impacting the Office Environment

Smart technology is all the rage. We have “smart” phones, “smart” homes, and “smart” appliances. As smart tech continues to evolve, there’s no wonder that it has impacted the office environment.

Tools such as cordless phones that work with smartphones and intelligent VoIP hubs only begin illustrating the new smart workplace. Behind the scenes, intelligent routers and automated data management workflows provide just a shadow of things to come.

You don’t have to wait for the future to enjoy the benefits of smart tech in your company. Get a glimpse of what’s possible by learning about the following ways a smart workspace can impact your business.

Collaboration

Already, Office 365 and Google Docs have allowed you to work with people around the world to edit documents. Cloud-based file sharing apps enhance that collaboration.

Now, smart tech has enhanced collaboration via screen sharing, allowing multiple people to work together on the same workstation. Meanwhile, virtual reality enables people to work together in 3D spaces to design and build everything from buildings to entire cities.

Most of all, smart collaboration technologies will permit you to draw from global labor pools. As a result, you can access world-class talent while building highly functional distributed teams.

Communication

Smart tech is allowing companies to move away from traditional email correspondence and telephone conversations. Already, consumers have grown to expect to interact with their favorite brands across multiple channels.

Now, you can get communications packages that unify all your communications within a single interface. Tools such as live text or video chat, for example, enable customers to choose how they contact your firm.

Smart technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are now automating communications. Thanks to chatbots and similar tools, you can let “virtual” agents handle basic service requests, saving your human agents for advanced tasks.

Home Offices

Smart tech has dramatically increased the capabilities of home offices. Thanks to the ubiquity of the cloud, you can slash overhead by hiring remote home-based workers rather than traditional employees.

As long as remote workers have internet access, they can connect with the same communications and collaboration tools they would use in your facilities. Your remote employees often show a higher level of job satisfaction and often produce more than their office-bound peers.

Small operations such as home-based businesses can also benefit from smart tech. By relying on innovative cloud solutions, a one-person operation can have the same capabilities as a global enterprise.

Time Management

Modern time management apps can “learn” your behavior and automatically update your schedule, helping you to get more done in less time. Thanks to artificial intelligence and advanced algorithms, smart tech can also help you prioritize your tasks.

Smart time managers can automate employee scheduling across multiple shifts and locations. When you have the right app in place, employees with smartphones can directly enter and edit their availability information.

If you normally use spreadsheets and manual data entry to calculate hours and wages, smart tech can help. Many time management apps will automatically populate your accounting and payroll apps with relevant data, saving time and improving accuracy.

Satisfaction

Call center software can now monitor customer interactions, including voice conversations to tell you when a customer is becoming agitated. Such systems can also assess agent performance and provide training recommendations.

Furthermore, smart tech can help you assess customer sentiment after every interaction by providing targeted surveys and follow-up emails. Similarly, you can use smart tech to identify upselling opportunities that can enhance the customer experience that you provide.

Smart tech can also improve customer satisfaction and retention through personalization. For example, social-media-aware CRM systems can learn about your contacts and use that data to craft targeted email messages.

Security

Thanks to smart tech, you can now exercise greater control over your network, workstations, and other IT resources. For instance, smart routers can proactively monitor network traffic and almost instantly disconnect suspicious activity.

Smart technologies are also improving antivirus and anti-malware applications, helping them to uncover threats before they become fully understood. Soon, intelligent apps will eliminate the need for virus definition databases and their associated updates, further improving your online security.

Smart tech can even improve the physical security of your company. Biometric devices can control access to every section of your facility, helping to reduce the damage caused by thieves and snoops.

 

In conclusion, smart technology is transforming the way people work. By embracing this trend, you and your business can work smarter, faster and thereby achieve a satisfying work-life balance.

 

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Here’s What the Experts Had to Say in “Social Media Marketing: The Movie”

On March 27, I released Social Media Marketing: The Movie. If you haven’t seen the 45-minute flick yet, you should check it out here.

Why did I make that movie? Because I wanted to learn from key experts about the best ways to use social media for business.

I interviewed well-known influencers such as Jay Baer, Michael Stelzner, Brenda Ster, Joel Comm, Mari Smith, Sue Zimmerman, Leslie Samuel, Sunny Lenarduzzi, Viveka von Rosen and Amy Landino. They shared some insights that a lot of marketers might not have heard before.

Here are just a few of the things that the pros had to say in Social Media Marketing: The Movie.

Get Your Priorities Right

“It’s social first, media second, and marketing last.”

That’s what content marketing expert Leslie Samuel told me when I interviewed him.

Samuel says that the biggest problem he sees is that people leave the “social” out of social media marketing. Instead of trying to build relationships, they just try to sell.

That won’t work.

He points out that people go on social media to connect with others and the things they care about. Marketers need to be aware of that when they’re approaching a social strategy.

Samuel tells them to start by asking the following questions: “How can I connect with people? What kinds of stories should I share?”

Then, create a content strategy that’s in line with the answers to those questions.

Samuel also advises strategists to create videos on social media. That’s a great way to stand apart from the competition.

Get Your Priorities Right, Part Deux

I also interviewed Internet entrepreneur Joel Comm. He said that marketers should approach their social media strategy in 4 stages:

  1. Know me
  2. Like me
  3. Trust me
  4. Pay me

Important: they have to go through the stages in that order.

Marketers should start off by using social media as a way to get the word out about their brands. Social media, by and large, is a point of entry at the very top of the sales funnel.

Next, strategists should get people to like them by posting content that others will love and share.

Then, marketers should get people to trust them. How they do that depends on their business models, but social proof and case studies are two great ways to develop trust.

Finally, they should go for the close.

Comm says that once marketers have developed trust, it’s a “very short hop” to land a sale.

Forget About Virality

Comm also had an interesting thing to say about virality.

Whenever people ask him how to produce viral content, Comm said that he shakes his head and tells them that they’re thinking about it the wrong way.

Instead of asking “How can I produce content that will go viral?” people should be asking “What kind of a story can I tell that’s so compelling that people will want to retell it?”

Remember: social media sites are designed for sharing. Most sites have a little button or a link that users can press to share something they enjoy.

So it’s not difficult for people to share content that they want to share.

It’s up to marketers to produce shareable content. Then and only then does that content have the potential to go viral.

Develop a Social Media Content Strategy

“We must stop random acts of Facebook.”

That’s what digital marketing expert Jay Baer told me. He’s spent 25 years in online marketing, wrote 5 books, and now runs a consulting company that helps the biggest companies in the world develop a social strategy.

And what does he mean by “random acts of Facebook”?

He means that marketers need to stop the haphazard practice of just sharing something on social media because they like it.

Instead, he says, they should develop a specific, target-rich social media strategy.

“If you’re trying to succeed,with Facebook for your business, the worst possible way to do that is to add stuff to Facebook when you feel like it about a crazy, random collection of topics,” Baer says. “It simply will not work. You absolutely have to have a set strategy about what you’re putting on Facebook, when, why, and for whom.”

He thinks of social networks as TV shows. By that he means that TV shows come on at the same time every week, they show predetermined content, and they appeal to a specific audience.

Marketers should produce one or more Facebook “shows.” They should share video, customer profiles, and other types of content on schedule. Each of those shares should appeal to a specific market segment.

Wrapping It Up

Of course, the experts had a lot more to say about social media marketing than what I’ve mentioned here. If you’d like to learn more, feel free to check out Social Media Marketing: The Movie.

 

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How to Choose the Right Data Plan for Your Lifestyle

It is the year 2018 and the world runs on data. With LTE, 4G or 3.9G internet speed, the world is literally at your fingertips.

Nevertheless, even with today’s technological tools and capabilities, how much data you use can still be a mystery (even to you). As such, you will always wonder why your phone bills are consistently high, with the costs of the data you used often being the largest percentage of the total amount you must pay.

Selecting the appropriate data plan can help you avoid or cut down the huge costs that you keep getting with data usage. And you can pick the best data plan by paying close attention to your lifestyle first.

Here is how to choose the right data plan for your lifestyle.

1. Figure out where you use data

First and foremost, you want to figure out where you are using your current data. The initial step is to assess your current spending. You may want to check if your carrier offers a bill reviewfeature or service to get accurate month-by-month figures.

Then, over the course of a couple of months (one month isn’t enough time for proper observation as every month will be different), track how much data you are using and for what purpose. These patterns will be different for every person, which is why it is necessary to discern the correlation between your usage and your plan on a personal level.

You must track data used forbrowsing the web, social media, streaming music and videos, app updates and downloads. Also, be realistic with yourself about how much of this data usage could be reduced and performed while on Wi-Fi (see #3).

For example, you might find out that you regularly talk on the phone for hours but don’t often use data at home or at the office. In this instance, you would want to be on a plan which offers plenty of calling time but limits data.

On the other hand, if you tend to use your smartphone as a game console or for regular high-quality video streaming, you will want to choose a larger or even an unlimited data plan.

2. Discern whether you need an unlimited plan

For many people, an unlimited plan is unnecessary as you may find you are paying for far more than you need.

You probably don’t need an unlimited plan if you:

  • Only use mobile data for basic web browsing and email
  • Use the majority of your cell phone data while connected to Wi-Fi (at home or the office)
  • Are not a heavy data user (less than 4GB a month)

You probably do need an unlimited plan if you:

  • Stream lots of high-quality music or video
  • Routinely want to tether your phone’s connection to your laptop
  • Are a heavy data user (more than 4GB a month)
  • Use the majority of your cell phone data while not connected to Wi-Fi

Unlimited plans tend to be much more expensive than those with a monthly data cap. However, exceeding your monthly data cap will most likely lead to added fees. So, if you find yourself frequently exceeding your monthly cap, contemplate upgrading to a more substantial data plan or to an unlimited plan.

3. See where you can make changes

If you find that you are using too much data, before you switch plans, see where you can make smart changes. The most intelligent reform will be embracing Wi-Fias your best friend. Any data you use while connected to Wi-Fi will not touch your monthly data allocation from your carrier.

Using data for web browsing, chats, emails and accessing the basic version of Facebookwon’t cause your monthly bill to double or triple. But if you keep using it for data-intensive applications such as gaming and streaming music, movies and podcasts, expect your bill to be really high.

An easy way to combat this is to commit to only watching or listening to media that you’ve previously downloaded directly on your device while still on Wi-Fi.  Many apps allow you to download their content to your device, ensuring you won’t require a data connection to watch them later.

Some other ways to reduce data usage: disable autoplay for videos in Facebook and Twitter, enable travel modes for apps, and use the data saver mode in Google Chrome.

4. Understand your deal-breakers

Once you have analyzed your data patterns, do some research. Find out what the different plans offer and take note of their deal breakers.

For example, if you have a large family, you will want a plan that enables several people to stay connected at a budget-friendly rate. If you often travel internationally, you most likely want a plan with free or budget international roaming. If you know that you always stream music on the way to work, a plan that only offers 1GB a month is going to be a deal-breaker.

Again, deal-breakers are going to vary from person to person. As such, be honest with yourself about what you need from your smartphone.

However, any smartphone is rendered useless if you are unable to get a connection consistently. So, while you are choosing the right data plan for your lifestyle, keep in mind that excellent, far-reaching coverage should be an essential priority.

For most people, the idea of switching your phone plan can seem laborious and annoying. But, if you don’t look for new options, you could be missing out on data plans that offer far better value for your lifestyle.

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Future Trends For Workforce Management

As technology continues to alter the corporate landscape, every aspect of the corporate world is affected by change. In some cases, such as with the Millennial generation, it is the way in which technology changes people that forces the corporate world to evolve. Workforce management is a subject that always gets mentioned among the topics affected by the new wave of technological changes. The way in which a company handles its workforce and the manner in which the workforce approaches the tasks at hand are constantly affected by an evolving corporate world.

Educating Managers

Online education is playing an increasingly important role in educating future managers, and that has helped to shape the management degrees of the future. The growth of online education has spurred the creation of more specialized workforce management degrees that are being coveted by companies around the country. More management degrees are being augmented by psychology, technology and communications to help address the specialized needs of the younger workforce entering the corporate world. Online schools are better equipped to handle these changes, and that is why more managers are getting their educations online.

 

Work Environments

The younger generations that are raised by technology have communication needs that differ from previous generations. Open collaboration is something younger workers need, and that means redesigning work environments. The modern office does not have the room filled with cubicles that we have grown accustomed to. Instead, we have open work areas and common areas where people can gather to share ideas. Managers need to learn how to better facilitate the sharing of ideas in these new open work environments if they are going to maximize production.

Personal Communication

Younger workers were raised on technology that discouraged direct communication. Even people who are only feet away from each other will prefer to use text messages rather than talking or even using the phone. Managers who value open communication need to learn how to adjust to this change in thinking that is threatening to significantly diminish personal communication. It is easy for a worker to miss an important text, but face-to-face communication is still impossible to ignore.

Work Schedules

The idea that Millennials and younger generations do not want to work is incorrect. Older generations were conditioned by the way in which information was distributed to become comfortable with a daily work schedule. In the old days, workers read the morning paper before work and then watched the evening news when they got home. The hours in-between were reserved for work, and that was readily accepted by everyone. But now that information is readily available at all hours of the day, the modern worker does not innovate on a nine to five schedule. Managers need to learn how to adjust to how the modern worker treats a work schedule and find ways for workers to be as productive as possible.

The corporate manager’s job is getting increasingly more difficult as technology continues to change the corporate world. Readily available information and the ability to collaborate with a group at any time of the day have changed the way modern workers approach their jobs. Online education and an open mind are the two greatest tools that the modern corporate manager has in their quest to keep workers productive.

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6 Highly Effective SEO Strategies for Small Business

There are more than a billion websites online today, and new ones are being created at a rate of about 500 per minute. The breakneck speed at which online content is being created makes search engines an indispensable tool for finding your way on the web. Conversely, businesses looking to expand their customer-base online have to rely on search engines to drive traffic to their websites. This is where search engine optimization comes into play. To sustain and increase online presence, it is not enough to simply create and maintain a website, and hope that search engine algorithms will do the rest.

A website needs to be optimized in several key areas in order to increase its likelihood of appearing as a relevant search result. These include technical, content, on-site and off-site optimizations, and others. Depending on the size of the business operation, investing in each of these optimizations to some extent is proven to have an impact on search engine rankings on services like Google or Bing. Ideally, a company should implement every kind of SEO for maximum effectiveness, but those with limited resources will likely have to choose a few areas on which to focus. The following article will try to give an overview of what these areas are, and how to utilize them properly.

Technical Optimization

Technical SEO refers to the practice of optimizing the design and structure of your website so search engine crawlers have an easier time indexing it. More importantly, search engines take into account technical characteristics when determining search rankings. Technically well-made websites score higher among users than those that are barely functional, which is why search engines rank them higher. Here are two example strategies that utilize technical optimization which any small business can use to improve their rankings.

  1. Focus on speed. According to Google, page load times of 3 second or less should be adopted as the standard for website speed. Anything longer risks lower rankings, as well as increased bounce rates for visitors. To optimize page load speed, websites should be hosted on reliable servers, have a proper load order for various page elements, and compress their images for lower bandwidth usage.
  2. Adapt for mobile. Recent data shows that more users now browse the web on mobile devices than on desktop ones. To reflect this change, Google has announced the introduction of the mobile-first index sometimes in 2018, which will rank websites based on their usability on portable devices first. Optimizing for mobile can be do by implementing principles of responsive design into your website, ensuring that it scales well on different screen sizes, and maintains the same level of functionality.

 

Content Optimization

Content SEO is simply the practice of adapting text, images and video of your website to include relevant search keywords and long-tail answers to popular search queries. Content optimization is an area where most improvements can be made. It can be done relatively cheaply, making it attractive for smaller companies.  Writing quality content involves a no small measure of creativity on the part of the content writers, whether they work in-house, or if they work for a white label SEO service. Two strategies to keep in mind while optimizing content are to follow.

  1. Create Credible Content. The be-all and end-all of content creation is quality. In this sense, there is no difference between writing for SEO purpose, and writing something that meets user quality standards and expectations. Creating good content can be a timely investment, but one that inevitably pays off in the long run.
  2. Promote Content. Creating good content is essential, but further adaptation is necessary to ensure it has marketing appeal as well. There are always multiple ways a sentence can be phrased while retaining its meaning, but some ways are just more common among search engine users. Optimizing content to sound enticing while maintaining quality is not easy, but it can be done with some effort.

On-Site Optimization

This form of optimization has overlapped with the others mentioned above, in that it involves both content and the way it is implemented. Specifically, it refers to all forms of optimization which are focused on the website itself, in contrast to off-site optimizations which are done through developing links from other websites. On-site SEO is broader in scope than technical and content optimization, and as such it involves a variety of different strategies. The two mentioned here are only the tip of the iceberg.

  1. Create a quality user experience. Technically- optimized websites make access to content easier. Well-written content keeps visitors engaged. The two combined create a positive browsing experience, which generates good user feedback, social media sharing, backlinks, and numerous other benefits. All of these factors contribute to search engine rankings, and companies such as Google are increasingly stressing their importance as well. Creating a positive UX is equal parts art and science, but that just means you can use principles of both to your advantage.
  2. Try local SEO. Ranking well on global search engines such as Google is important, but smaller business that target a local market can benefit greatly from optimization aimed at state, regional or municipal levels. Studying local competition, tracking relevant keywords on the level of everyday discourse, and similar strategies can take on a wholly different shape in comparison to their global application. Make sure to use them extensively, if your products and services allow for it.
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Step-by-Step Guide: Building A Small Business Website

Establishing and maintaining an online presence is a necessity of running a business in the 21st century. Without a website, your business is next to invisible to about 3 billion potential customers. That’s a lot of people that could be using your services, if only they had a way of finding out about you online. Fortunately, developing a website for every conceivable need has never been easier than it is today. It is not an exaggeration to say that you can have a website up and running in a just a few clicks, provided you took the necessary preparations.

That being said, building a website from scratch can be difficult if you have no clue where to start. To bring you up to speed on what making a website entails in practical terms, we have made a concise step-by-step guide for you to read.

1. Determine the Purpose of Your Website

Think of your website as a storefront. It’s the first thing your customers are going to see before deciding whether to conduct business with your company. And in order to design a proper one, you first need to answer two basic questions: 1.) What is your main line of work? and 2) Who is your intended audience? Having a clear answer to these questions is a necessary preparatory step for figuring what kind of website is appropriate for your specific business needs. Always keep this information in mind when making practical design decisions, which we will be talking about in the rest of this guide.

2. Decide Which Tools to Use

Now that you have an idea on the purpose of your website, it’s time to dig in into the technical details. The first thing to consider is whether you want to build everything from scratch, or use a website builder service. The first option at the very least involves using HTML, CSS and JavaScript, the three cornerstone web technologies. Going this route means you are either proficient in coding, or are willing to hire a professional, which might be too expensive for smaller businesses. The alternative is to use a website builder service, which offers more user-friendly design interfaces, built-in themes and a host of customization options for every need. Be sure to look into different website builder options to find the optimal one for your particular needs, if you decide to go with this route.

3. Choose and Implement the Right Design

Whether you are using pre-built tools, or doing everything yourself, the next step is to figure out what your website is going to look like. Start by making or choosing a template, then keep adding the necessary elements such as menus, buttons, navigation bars, social network plugins, etc. Make sure that everything fits together both aesthetically and functionally. Each element of a website should be designed in such a way to draw attention to the service your business is providing. Keep in mind that mobile browsing is now the dominant way of surfing the web, so optimizing your website for portable devices according to principles of responsive web design is no longer optional. If you feel your design still has room for improvement, consider hiring a professional web designer to give it an extra touch of class at the end.

4. Add Relevant Content

Once you are satisfied with the general look and feel of the website, the next step is to populate it with content. This involves text, images, video, custom illustrations, etc. The goal is to make sure that visitors can find the information they need in order to decide whether or not to use your services, starting from your landing page. Quality content is ultimately what determines the fate of your website. A poorly designed website might turn-off a lot of visitors, but one lacking in relevant content will appeal to no one.

5. Optimize for Marketing

Marketing optimization is something you should take into account during each step of the process of building the website. That being said, once you have your design and content in place, it becomes possible to further fine-tune your website for maximum impact and discoverability. Site design involving bright contrasting colors, asymmetrical layouts, and bold typography is predicted to be popular in the coming years. As for content, optimizing your search engine rank through tactical keyword usage and link-building is something every business needs to do in order to stay ahead of the competition. Before settling on SEO strategy, take some time to get acquainted with coming SEO trends. Keeping up to date with what’s hot in the world of digital marketing is a key step in future-proofing your website.

Conclusion

Building a professional-looking website used to be something only big companies could afford. In recent years however, the availability of powerful consumer-grade tools has allowed smaller businesses to compete on equal footing. By following the steps we have outlined, you will be well on your way in staking your claim in the digital frontier.

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What To Do With Your Rewards Points?

For any company, keeping the employees and customers motivated and happy is crucial. By keeping employees and customers happy, companies can yield maximum profits and increase loyalty. Now, the question beckons: how can companies keep customers and employees motivated and happy. Today, there are a number of ways to keep customers and employees motivated and happy including using a rewards points program. What are rewards points and what can they be used for? Let’s take a look.

A way to increase loyalty, a points program gives points to your customers and employees for a variety of things. Employees can earn points for maintaining safe practices, hitting sales goals, minimizing their sick days, landing a new account etc. On the other hand, reward points are given to customers who frequently make purchases. With the points they earn, employees and customers can purchase a reward of their choice.

Of all the employee recognition programs and customer loyalty programs that exist today, points programs are the most effective one. Extremely flexible programs, points programs can reward many different types of accomplishments. Moreover, they allow the people with the rewards points to pick a reward they want. As mentioned above, a points program is one of the best ways to motivate employees and improve performance. In short, employee rewards points encourage employees to improve performance and increase productivity.

Now, if you’re someone with the rewards points then you need to know this: you can do a number of things with the reward points you’ve accrued. You can spend them or save them up or use a combination of the two. The points programs allow you to earn a range of rewards including a vacation, extreme adventures, jewellery, electronics, event tickets and gift cards. With so many options, figuring out what to do with the points you’ve earned can be confusing.  You can trade the points for cash, book a vacation using them, transfer them into other loyalty programs, buy an item with them or use them to purchase gift cards.  This includes the myriad of frequent flyer programs available to you. In this case you may have multiple awards points accounts, where you are able to combine them for greater purchasing power.  You can use the frequent flyer points to get a discount on future travel or upgrades to your existing travel plans.

For businesses, a rewards points program is an investment. A scalable and flexible recognition program, a points program can help you to keep your customers and employees happy and motivated. The points program is a great way to motivate the aforementioned people as the points earned by them through the program can be accumulated, redeemed, or saved for even bigger rewards. In short, a points program is one of the best ways to increase loyalty and grow your business. On the other hand, rewards points are a great reason for customers to continue buying from a company and employees to continue working for it.

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GUEST POST: Becoming a Freelance Writing Consultant

Freelance Writing ConsultantIt is estimated that 34% of the U.S. workforce is made up of freelancers. Many freelancers have found ways to go from gig to full-time work, while others stay part-time while juggling other responsibilities. What typically differentiates a freelance writing consultant from early career freelancers is that these consultants typically already have experience in their field. The consultant will then use that knowledge for the benefit of their clients.

The current freelance economy is thriving, and is made up of 53 million U.S. workers. Becoming a freelance writing consultant is a great option for those seeking to supplement their existing income and expand their writing experiences. This can include doing typical freelance work, ie, “I assign you a project and you complete it,” but can also involve offering career advice and professional guidance.

The simplified process is as follows:

  • Market your best skills
  • Successfully complete projects
  • Build momentum through positive feedback
  • Consistently hone your skills

Say for example that you’re a editor by day for a book publisher and you’ve been doing this for several years. To someone who is just starting out writing and editing, your professional expertise can be valuable…and lucrative. Whatever skills you possess or unique talents you have on your side, you can advertise these in order to gain clients.

If you’re pursuing freelancing on the side of a full-time job, it can be difficult to maintain motivation unless you break any cycles of procrastination. Being a self-starter is a required trait to be successful as a freelance writing consultant. In addition to building up your reputation, succeeding as a freelancer will help you build the confidence you need to persist even when times are lean.

There are several ways to go about offering your services. You can use freelance marketplaces like Upwork, network through LinkedIn, build your own website, or do some combination of these three. Whichever method you use, the important thing is to present yourself professionally and demonstrate your skill set. This isn’t a passive process however. Networking is necessary if you want potential clients to discover you. As you successfully complete projects and help your clients achieve their goals, positive word-of-mouth will help you build momentum.

A challenging yet rewarding aspect of owning your own consultancy is the administrative upkeep necessary. Running your own business means you must take care of your own taxes, invoices, and the rest of the paper trail. Fortunately there are many helpful resources that will teach you how to do this and even offer sample templates that you can adapt for your own purposes. Before tax season rolls around you’ll want to have all your financials in order. Keep meticulous physical or digital records, and ideally back-up those files. Though if the worst happens and the digital dog eats your homework, you can often still recover that data from failed storage devices and hard-drives. Be thorough and document everything, or back-up your files on cloud-based programs like Google Docs or Spreadsheets.

Thriving as a freelance writing consultant is hard work, yet the freedom and experience you can gain is often worth it. You don’t need to be a world-renowned expert to share your abilities and make a difference in the lives of your clients. Put your best foot forward, always keep improving your skills, and you’ll be well on your way to establishing yourself as a professional writer. Like Hemingway said, “let them think you were born that way.”

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GUEST POST: Treat Your Writing Career Like A Small Business

david-kirby-quote

Aspiring writers are a dime a dozen. As a writer myself I meet many like-minded individuals with dreams of pursuing a career writing full-time. Instead of treating it like a career, they instead view it as a far-off event that may or may not ever arrive. People like this aren’t convinced that they can make it happen, and might be living a self-fulfilling prophecy of literary underachievement. Today is the day to change that.

Fake It Till You Make It

If you want to become an Olympic sprinter then you need to run practically every day. It takes copious amounts of time, blood, sweat, and self belief. Writing is the same way. Don’t just aspire to become a successful writer – write consistently and fake it till you make it. There’s nothing wrong with being casually committed to the craft like most writers, but if you ever plan on living off your writing…being like most writers isn’t good enough. A better mindset to have is to treat your career like a small business

Once more with feeling: Treat your writing career like a small business. You’re the face of your company and your own best advocate. Do yourself a favor and take the steps that will enable you to succeed. That means consistency, documentation, and professionalism.

You Deserve To Be Paid

Try to recognize that your words are your product and worth payment in exchange for others reading them. A sort of culture has developed where people taking writing for granted. We consume news, editorials, reviews, and all manner of written content online constantly and for free. Somewhere along the line the public decided that since they consume it for free, it wasn’t worth anything. There are too many online publications that refuse to give their regular contributors a dollar, choosing instead to repeat the tired refrain of ‘publicity’ when there’s very little of that too.

Over time I’ve come to see that our writing only has as much value as we place on it. From the first moment you plant yourself in front of the keyboard you should keep the frame of mind that your writing is worthwhile and worth being compensated for. If your goal is to get publicity, then by all means accept it as payment. Otherwise remember that free content has its purposes but alone doesn’t put bread on your table. Getting paid does.

Get Help From Your Friends

It’s important to surround yourself with allies who are actively pursuing similar goals. Small business conferences and writing seminars are both great environments to cultivate your fighting spirit. You’ll need it for the road ahead – the name ‘small business’ already tells you what you can expect. It’s small and it will take time to grow. Seek out mentors that can help you gain a foothold in your niche. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make mistakes as long as you keep trying. Successful friends and teachers are guide posts that light your way. You won’t be able to duplicate their success immediately and that’s OK. I know quitting your day job tomorrow to pursue a life of pure bliss writing reviews of Bonanza re-runs sounds great, but that’s a long ways off. You have to earn it first. Writing as a business is not and has never been a ‘get rich quick’ scheme. This is a multifaceted process that requires your full effort. Don’t forget that you have friends that can help you on your journey.

Master Many Skills

Recognize that as a jack or jane-of-all-trades, your business is never just writing. You’re responsible for writing, sure, but you’re also responsible for promoting yourself and managing the small yet important financial details. You have to factor in the accounting side of running a small business or working as a 1099 freelancer. Navigating tax laws as a small business owner can be tricky, especially when taking into consideration tax credits and deductions. Small businesses often have narrow margins and you must take care to save money at every opportunity possible. Along the way perhaps you’ll also design your own logo or even design your office space. Having friends to help is good but you must also develop your own skills.

Believe In Yourself First

I think it all begins with a fundamental mindset shift from freelancer to business owner. Viewing yourself as a freelancer only can feel too much like being an employee or a tumbleweed that rolls from town to town in search of work. Instead, think of and treat yourself as a sole proprietor that sells quality goods (your words) and services (your expertise) to customers, no matter how big or small. It’s all part of how you market your work and it begins with empowering yourself. You’re the baddest in the west and you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.

You’re not the drifting gunfighter that roams from saloon to saloon in search of work. Give yourself more credit, because in many ways you’re the saloon itself. Gunfighters, wranglers, and farmers from all across the state come to your establishment in search of opportunities and a good drink. You’re a jack or jane-of-all-trades: tough, skilled, and with friends to boot. Seize your writing career today by treating it like the business it’s always been. 

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