Friday, September 29, 2006

Holiday shop

Since we are on the cusp of the Holiday Season, here’s an all-new Holiday Shop, which can help you with gifts and goodies over the next few months.

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Cool city and state t-shirt shop

Cool site I found today! Everyone can relate to this one!

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Turning visitors into buyers

I found this man’s site while reading marketing tips. He has thousands. Here’s just one of his ideas.

Turn Visitors Into Buyers

One of the downsides of the Net is how hard it is to get visitors to buy what you're selling. Typically 1% or fewer visitors buy. The percentage of visitors that buy is called your "conversion rate."

Imagine if Kmart or Sears got only got one buyer for every 1,000 people who came through the store. Because you don't have to drive across town to get from one web site to the next, consumers are far less likely feel committed to placing an order.

Increase your orders by showing visitors what a great VALUE your product or service is. List lots of benefits the customer will get when they buy. Tell them how your product or service will make their lives better.

Put a link to your order page near the top of your sales copy and another at the bottom. Make sure people always know where to click at the moment they get the urge to buy.

Kevin Nunley provides marketing and copy writing. Read all his free tips at Reach Kevin at or 603-249-9519.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

What's your #1 reason?

Following is from an article my husband wrote for a local newspaper. I think it helpful to online business owners.

The following is a collection of key reasons, based on experience of other business owners, to getting a firm handle on the use of the internet for your business. You might find at least one in particular that bubbles to the surface as an opportunity missed up to this point for your business, and provide just the tool you need to open up a bottleneck currently holding you back from greater success.

Increase Reach – The entire world is your oyster. Not only is the communication network open to the ends of the earth, but today’s translation tables all but totally remove language as a barrier! Transportation companies such as FedX, DHL and others have created global footprints and the ability to ship your product to the far corners of the earth right from your doorstep.

Decrease Costs – Printing, postage, design/layout, time, and inventory are all key components of any print-based project. Cutting any one of these can save substantial sums of money, but with the exception of design/layout which we’ll call equal, the others can ALL be cut substantially using the power of the internet as a distribution channel for brochures, specifications sheets, manuals, procedures, you name it. This alone can save hundreds, or even thousands of dollars for the typical small business.

Increase Speed – In addition to the time savings noted above, the internet can provide the nimbleness you need to respond quickly to changing conditions. New products or services can be explained, viewed and transactions can occur to include delivery in fraction of the time that the traditional development, production and marketing support package took to complete. Products can be introduced and decommissioned instantly as well as featured or put on sale. The cost of mistakes is greatly reduced as well.

Increase Automation – Although I have always remained suspicious of the claim that computers don’t make mistakes, it is tough to argue that automation as part of the sales and fulfillment process is rock-steady compared to the proliferation of human errors related to order entry and shipment. Add to this the ability to receive and process orders while you are sleeping, it’s an experience not to be missed! Labor, accuracy and convenience for your customer lead to increased profits.

Get more for less from your Marketing efforts – Track buyer behavior. See what they look at, in what order, for how long and the various patterns associated with their online experience that is nearly impossible to accomplish in a traditional brick and mortar environment. Money spent for marketing can have an enormous effect on your profitability but whether the effect is positive or negative depends on its effectiveness. Traditionally marketing has been more or less a black box into which you throw money, and then wait to see what comes out. The wait can sometimes take months or even years and it is difficult to understand what to change if the results are not as you expected. With today’s online marketing tools, you can measure marketing effectiveness instantly and, using real-time feedback, make adjustments on the fly. Forget to ask where a customer heard about you? The internet can track online behavior and report it for you in relevant terms that you can act on. Put your marketing money where it works most efficiently and reduce your overall costs proportionately.

The internet certainly doesn’t solve all our problems, provide world-peace, or even let us totally put our businesses on auto-pilot, but take it from those who know from experience, it can greatly enhance our success and ultimately our quality of life when used effectively according to our own specific needs. Now that is worth passing along.

John Geiger, owner of Webmasters ICE, has over five years experience helping small and medium-sized companies and organizations capitalize on the power of the internet through consulting, education, and supporting products and services. His focus and passion is the use of the internet in providing more effective overall marketing strategies and highly measurable levels of marketing success.

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Can't get enough Halloween!

I’ve been out of town on a really nice beach break, but back to work now. Trying to get caught up on emails, forums and reading, plus a press release and an article I am writing for the paper about the closing of the Myrtle Beach Pavilion. (Where we were.)

However I’ve found another fun Halloween shop with many many gifts and clothes I think you will like:

Halloween Clothes and Gifts

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Another cute Halloween shop

I’ve been reading online that October starts the big Christmas shopping season, so I thought I’d better get another Halloween site posted first!

I love Christmas, but we rush poor little Halloween and my favorite month, gorgeous October, way too much!

This shop has cute things and lots of choices:

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Information about CafePress

Here’s an excerpt from an article about CafePress I read today:

By all definitions, the model didn't just take off: it soared. now has over 1.2 million stores with 1,000 new stores opening up daily, according to Jain. Revenues went from $1 million in 2000 to an anticipated $50 million or more this year.

Customers of Cafepress can sell their designs on 90 different products from mugs to messenger bags to calendars to T-shirts. The company has over 50 major accounts including March of Dimes, Dilbert, Noggin and as well as strategic agreement with licensors. Most recently, Cafepress launched a partnership with New Line Cinema, which will allow users of the site the opportunity to create merchandise based on New Line's movie "Snakes on a Plane."

Two things jumped out at me. The $50 million of course, but also they consider both the storeowners and our customer s to be customers. I always thought we were partners with CafePress….

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

I really am learning!

Wow! I really am learning! I put the little Blog Ranking button on my blog’s sidebar all by myself!

This was a major step for me!


Saturday, September 16, 2006

Gardening shop

I guess summer really is over! Where did it go? I found this absolutely beautiful gardening shop to get me through the winter until the flowers come back:

Garden Goodies

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Friday, September 15, 2006

Election site shows you who's running where

I was talking to friends at a party tonight about the upcoming elections. I told them I wish we could occasionally just vote everyone out of office, just to send a message and show them we can!

Here’s an election site where you can just click on your state to find out who’s running! It’s pretty neat! Check it out at:

Election Sites

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Breast Cancer shop

October is of course Breast Cancer month. There will be many events, races and other opportunities to wear these t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, buttons and more. Best of all the webmaster of the site is donating all profits toThe American Cancer Society.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Great Autumn and Halloween store

I am such a sucker for autumn and Halloween. Here’s another fun site to shop:

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

State T-shirt site

I found another really well done site today, which amazingly has 14,000 items in it!

Check them out for a great selection of unique and cool art state t-shirts: state slogan t- shirts, girl t-shirts, bar code state t-shirts, vintage state t-shirt: they have a huge choice!


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Understanding RSS

I’m still reading Yaro Starak’s advice on blogging and he suggests educating your readers about RSS. He also said we are free to print his article so long as we reference his site, which is:


It wasn’t much longer then six months ago that I had no idea what these terms were. I understood what XML was because I had read a book about it but I had no idea how it all worked with syndication of content. Just as I learnt how trackbacks work by actually using them I did the same with syndication. I also took the time to read the definitions of the terms and as usual the Wikipedia entries on XML, RSS, Web Syndication and Web Feed are a good place to start.

The Basics

In a nutshell you use RSS (Really Simple Syndication) to syndicate or subscribe to the feed of a website, blog or almost any media content online (not just articles, it can be music, video or almost any digital media). By syndicating you subscribe to the feed of the site which means you do not have to go visit the website to read the latest content. Instead you use feed reading software or a website to read the latest articles. Instead of going to each of your favorite sites individually you can collect all the feeds of the sites (provided they make them available) in one place. The purpose of syndication is to therefore make it more efficient for you to consume your favorite content.

If you are not into the technical side of the Internet your don’t need to know much about XML. It’s basically the formatting language that software and websites use to distribute the content to your feed reader. If you know nothing about HTML then you probably don’t really need to know much about XML either. Just understand that behind syndication is the language XML.
The best way to learn is by practice and example so let me tell you exactly how I use RSS.

Feed Reading Software

At the moment I use RSSOwl, which is software you install on to your computer. Like all software there is a learning curve to using RSSOwl however once you have subscribed to your first feed it becomes very easy. If you get really stuck try the help menu or check the website out for guidelines.

There are other feed reading software programs out there and a Google search for RSS reader will bring up many options. I tried three different programs and stuck with RSSOwl because it was free, light weight and functional for what I wanted. There are prettier and more functional feed readers out there and I’ll leave it up to you to choose your favorite.

Web Based Feed Reading

With a standalone software feed reader like RSSOwl you have to be on the computer you installed the software to in order to have access to your feeds. Because of this limitation many people choose to use a web based feed reader and the most popular is Bloglines. Bloglines works much like feed reading software except because it is entirely based on the Internet you can access your syndicated feeds online from any computer connected to the web. You can also share your feeds with other people or search other people’s feed lists to see what is popular.

Subscribing to a Blog

To continue with my example…of course I subscribe to my own feed, the RSS of this blog. At the top right corner you will see an orange RSS link button. To subscribe to my feed all you do is copy and paste that link into feed reading software or a web based reader like bloglines. You may also have to name the feed and strangely enough this feed is called “Entrepreneur’s Journey”. The RSS feed link for this site looks like this - - and if you click it you will get the XML output of this blog. That’s the stuff I told you about that you don’t really need to understand, but take a look by clicking the link if you are interested. Note that I use a special third party service called FeedBurner that adds extra features to my feed output and most importantly it provides me with statistics on how many people subscribe to my blog.

All blogs will have a link, which you can subscribe to. It might be called Atom, or RSS, or simply Syndicate, but they all do the same thing. The reason there are so many names is because there are different standards to create web syndication services (much like the old BETA vs VHS video format competition). At the moment it appears that RSS is certainly winning the standards war so you will mostly see the orange RSS links everywhere.

Syndication is for More than Just BlogsBlogs certainly started the syndication craze but it is well and truly breaking out now. I wouldn’t call it mainstream just yet since not many people know how to use it but most of the big web companies are making subscription feeds available for almost any content. Chances are if you are reading an article from a big site you can subscribe to a feed that distributes those articles. Just look for that RSS symbol.

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Friday, September 08, 2006

givitup adds Halloween section

I added a Halloween section last night. It took forever! I linked to 7 different store sections that I really like with really wonderful Halloween apparel and gift items. It was fun and I think I might do the same thing for Christmas.

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Cute Toddler store

I stumbled across a really really nice store today I thought I would share:

This is what the owner says about it: At Toddler's Place you'll find oodles of cute and colorful kids, toddler, and baby T-shirts, creepers, bibs, hoodies, sweatshirts, and other apparel items as well as tote bags for babies and kids! You'll also find a great selection of holiday items, birthday T-shirts and buttons, as well as some very cute room decor items! We have the best of the best from various Cafe Press stores, and items will be added to the same shopping cart which saves on shipping!

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Everyone space not for everyone!

I haven’t been impressed with Friendster. I keep putting classified ads on and they look good, but I never get any hits from them, plus I haven’t figured out if I can add my blog (and how!) So I thought I would work on Everyone Space.

I had basically joined and put my name and picture on it several months ago and then never had time to work on it. When I went back today I had 11 friend requests with very nasty looking pictures! I denied them all, tried to put up one ad, which didn’t take, and got off the site with the intention of never returning.

I do not recommend

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Octoberfest Stores

It will be October before we know it! And one of the things I love about October is Octoberfest! My husband and I lived in Germany the first three years we were married and went to Munich every year. I am sharing a link to some sites that have wonderful Octoberfest apparel and gift items. Time to shop!



Sunday, September 03, 2006

I learn how to add feedburner

It took me half the evening, but I finally added the feedburner symbol to this blog! Someone please comment and correct me if I have this wrong, but I wanted RSS feed and blogger uses Atom. Plus I wanted the little button so people would see it and think to feed my blog to them.

This is apparently the brand new universal icon (no more RSS button) and I have combined the RSS feed and the Atom feed.

Anyway, it’s done, even though I don’t entirely understand what I did! The icon is the orange button to the right. Please feel free to use it!

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Saturday, September 02, 2006

The life of an internet business owner

I’ve been collecting emails from Yaro Starak for a couple months with the idea I was going to really work on my blog and also be more prepared for launching my Christian blog. (which I am pre-writing on Word right now.) I have finally made the time to start reading and I wanted to share one of his posts from Entrepreneur’s Journey about becoming an internet business owner. He wrote it about a year ago and still gets comments on his site:

Are you considering the life of an Internet business owner? Well before your eyes gloss over with dreams of endless free time and images of sitting on your couch with your laptop clicking away earning you thousands let me show you the reality of the situation.

A certain image has been promoted of the Internet business owner. It’s often glorified as the great dream, leaving your old job, with the long hours and annoying boss in exchange for a flexible lifestyle that you are in control of.

Well let me tell you - it’s all true!

Well sort of. It’s not by any means easy to do and you lose many things you might have not realised you valued in your old secure job. Let me point out the things you lose that you might want to think about before quitting your job.

1. Say good bye to a reliable and predictable income.
No job is 100% secure and there is a good argument that being in control of your income via your own small business is more secure than a job (you’re not at the risk of downsizing etc) however it doesn’t feel like that, especially when you start out. Even the oldest most established business cannot be certain sales will keep coming. From week to week you go up and down and are never sure when or where your next sale will come from. You can have great months and bad months and the only constant is unpredictability. A steady pay cheque feels a lot more secure than the ups and downs of your own business.

2. Your business is your life.
When you leave work you leave work. Most small business owners live and breath their business so they don’t ever really leave work. Now I’ve got it pretty good at the moment because I love what I do and I don’t *have* to work much though I choose to work online a lot. That being said I am trapped to checking my email day in and day out, 24 hours a day, which is not ideal. Chances are when you start your business you won’t be working 9-5 or even 8-6. Early on you will most likely carry the show and until you can justify hiring others your hours will be long and you won’t have a weekend. However if you are smart, set realistic expectations and remember life is a balance, then running your own business can definitely be less work than a normal job, if you choose it to be.

3. You may never make real money until you sell your business.
An unfortunate situation in many small businesses is that the owner often doesn’t make much more than an average salary, sometimes less. Now if you are evaluating starting a small business based purely on financial rewards then you might want to change your assessment criteria. Many small business owners don’t make a big windfall until they sell their business and often by the time they are making the sale they will be using the money for retirement. Although it is also true that the only way to become really, really wealthy, besides inheritance and lotto, is by starting your own business.

The reality is that only a small percentage of businesses make their owner really wealthy, the rest stumble along earning an average wage. Of course many of those business owners earning an average wage love their lifestyle and only work as hard as they want to. Running your own business has the greatest potential to make you rich and may never make you rich, but here is the important part, your own business is very likely to make you a happier person if you keep your goals simple and aim for lifestyle over riches. Anyone can get rich but the contented people are rich without material wealth.

4. There is no superannuation, paid leave or sick leave.
You may not think about superannuation very much but it’s nice to know that when you have a job your employer is planning for your future by contributing to your superannuation. As a business owner your employer is you and besides looking after your employee superannuation you are also in charge of your own retirement. This is an added worry that you don’t have when you are working for another business.

Having time off is a concept not familiar to many business owners. Being paid when you have time off is like a dream for a business owner. There are some common myths about business owners working 7 days a week even when sick. If you do things right your business should still function without you when you need time off because of illness or even if you dare to take a holiday. However that being said most business owners find themselves as the most critical wheel in the business system and if you remove that wheel things fall apart. The important skill to learn is that the business owner should work on the business, not in it, but that’s easier said than done and especially early on when funds are tight it’s very like you will be working in the business. Don’t expect a paid holiday.

5. Workmates
There are no work mates for the solopreneur. You can hire employees that may hopefully become friends but the dynamic is always you the boss and them the employees. If you have been used to working in a busy, lively, talkative office full of peers that share the same perspective as you, with Friday afternoon drinks, group functions and shared time complaining about the boss — you can kiss all this goodbye.

Okay, that’s not entirely true. Things are definitely different from working in someone else’s business but I’ve seen many small businesses that have great working environments. The difference is as the boss you have to create your own socialisation. You can do this by creating an amazing business culture where all employees are mates and the office is like a party that happens to get work done too. Of if you do not require employees then it’s your job to make sure you don’t turn into a lonely home based business bum. This means flexing your socialising muscles and organising events with other business people (if that’s whom you like to associate with), making sure you stay actively involved in groups and clubs and that you leave the home office now and then to interact with real live people. Much like everything else with running your own business, you are in charge of your social life too.

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