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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Researching InformationTo Develop Your Unique Content

We live in a sea of information. And information overload is an increasingly common complaint. Part of the complaint arises because we get hit with different headlines that point to the same content. So we waste time on things that have no added value. Bummer.

When you email your list or put up content on your site, and assuming you want to generate loyalty, it's necessary that you have content others haven't seen a dozen times elsewhere.

If this makes sense to you, here are some ideas you can use to EASILY generate fresh content with a minimal amount of time and effort.

First of all, think about a subject in which you are interested. Let's say it's horticulture. Now if you're not aware of it, let me put you in the picture. Most people do web searches from Google's home page and stop there. Not at all creative. Not at all digging for information from which to develop original content.

So let's go exploring...

1 - Google has lots of tools besides just web searches. They let you check the news. (http://news.google.com/) As of this writing, there are 1,680 news items listed by Google on the word horticulture. Bet you could easily do a summary of some of these articles and create your own content. But let's not stop there.

2 - Google also has "groups." (http://groups.google.com/) These are folks who like to discuss *your* subject. So now you can go even farther. Look up horticulture in their groups. Now this information is potentially gold. Why? Because you can see what it is about horticulture that lots of folks are interested in.

Think you might be able to do a little research and come up with a free or even a for-profit report that gives them what they want?

Check out Google's other tools, too. You can even get research info from universities through Google. Start here: http://www.google.com/intl/en/options/

3 - Next method: Do this search (keeping in the punctuation as written):

+horticulture +free +filetype:pdf

As of this writing, Google shows 196,000 hits for this query. What you get here are free downloads in pdf format about your subject.

Now you can't simply copy and use it as your own information. You have to create your writing in your own words. But there's no law that says you can't summarize what you find in other people's works. To make the point, you could even call your work something like: "Survey Report: Latest from the Horticulture Front!"

4 - Go to Alexa.com. Do a search on your subject, in this example, horticulture. It provides the exact same results as Google because it's powered by Google. So why bother, right? Wrong. Because Alexa *does* provide value added information.

When you do the search, you don't want to click the link that takes you to the listed site. Instead you want to follow the link that says "Site info." When you do this, you'll find a section called: "People who visit this page also visit." This can be very valuable because it potentially shows *what the marketplace is interested in.* This can enable you to tailor your information product to what people want.

These are just some of the easy ways to branch out your explorations and find gold to weave into golden braids.

Golden searching... :)

Monday, June 12, 2006

Tips to Setting Boundaries: Making Your Office Your Own

One of the great American dreams is being able to quit a 9-to-5 job to start building a work at home business. More and more people are making their dream come true. But before you quit that job and set up your home office, there are a few issues to consider.

On the plus side, part of your home and related expenses are tax deductible. It's convenient to work while your kids are in school and then be home for them when they walk through the door in the afternoon, and let's face it, not having a boss to answer to is a major plus.

But it's not always the ideal situation. Starting a business from home isn't always easy on families. There are many issues that will affect your family. First and foremost are financial issues. Will you be able to handle the hit to your wallet when you don't have a steady paycheck? If this is an issue, consider working your business part time while holding down a full down job.

It takes a very dedicated person to work from home. There are always distractions to overcome such as the unexpected visits from family members who think you have lots of free time because you don't work a "real" job. It also seems like telemarketers prefer to call in the middle of the day, and don't forget the neighbors dropping by to see if you'll babysit while they run errands. It's very important to let family and friends know your working hours. Tell them in no uncertain terms that your business is your income and you need to block out regular working hours. Also let them know when you are available.

Along those same lines, it is crucial that you explain to your own family that, although you are home, you are not always available to them. This can be confusing to kids. Set some basic rules for them to follow. Let them know your work hours and tell them you expect not to be disturbed. But occasionally, surprise them by quitting early and doing something fun with them!

Here are a few basic rules that will help you and your family handle the new working situation.

* Make sure everyone knows not to answer your business phone. This will save you in a number of ways. You'll be sure to always get your messages. Kids are never good at getting all the details. You'll create a much more professional business image if you answer your own phone.

* If you're children are typical kids, they will want to "borrow" your office supplies. Give them their own office supply center elsewhere in the house! Otherwise, you'll start losing your much needed supplies.

*Set a work schedule at the beginning of every week and post it in a prominent spot so family members can check your schedule to see when you will be available.

Though these issues can and probably will arise, working from home is still the American Dream for many people. Learning to set, and more importantly, enforce boundaries for family, friends and clients will make your business less complicated.

Internet Business

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Myths and Misconceptions About Starting an Online Business

Are you trying to start an online business? Are you overwhelmed with the many online business programs available or concerned that you'll lose money by investing in them? While many offers sound too good to be true, there are some very good ones available - but how can you be sure? Learning to read 'between the lines' will better prepare you for what's really involved.

Here are some common phrases used to promote online businesses and what they really mean:

#1 - Simple & Easy

Simple and easy depends on who's speaking. A doctor may tell you it's only a 'simple procedure' but that doesn't mean that you should attempt it yourself.

Many online businesses ARE simple to operate. If you understand how it works you will be amazed at the simplicity - but getting to that point will require time and experience. You may just need to try a few to get a 'feel' for the business before deciding which one is easiest for you.

Those who have learned from experience can look back and see how simple it COULD have been if they'd known what to do all along. Finding a trustworthy guide can be a great assistance to your business efforts.

#2 - Anyone Can Do This

Sorry - starting a business of any kind is stressful and requires a learning curve. If you are attempting an online business out of desperation or the belief you will make easy money you will face enormous obstacles. On the other hand, if you are truly seeking a business you can learn, work at and make a living from, you will find something online that fits your needs.

Studies of successful business people concur that those who make it have common qualities of persistence, patience and desire. These qualities are essential when trying to start an online business - do you have them?

#3 - Turnkey

The term 'turnkey' use to mean that a business was set up and ready to go. You will find the term in business classifieds where the new owner can just step in and start running the business. Unfortunately some marketers use the term to suggest a business is fully automated - that there is no work involved. There is always work involved.

If the business really is turnkey than you will begin work right away because it has already been set to go. If you want an automated business you will have to do the work to make it automated. Either way, nobody is going to give you an automated, turnkey business that makes money - they had to do the work, so why would they share it?

#4 - It Won't Cost Anything

You absolutely CAN set up an online business with no money, but be prepared that a combination of no money and lack of experience will stifle your efforts immensely.

Most individuals who start or run a business with no money have learned how to make use of the best free techniques through experience. They have paid their dues by trying businesses that cost money. They have spent time in and around their industry or market and they've been able to see where they can cut costs.

If you are prepared to spend a LOT of time researching before starting your business you may be one of the few who does it right the first time. For most people though, expect to pay something towards your online business education before seeing results - you just can't buy experience.

Online business obviously has its share of work involved, but finding the right one has enormous payoffs many people are willing to sacrifice time and money to achieve. Running your own business is satisfying and can give you more time to do what you really want to do in life.

Creating a successful online business is within the grasp of nearly everyone who is prepared to stick to it. Face the task of starting your business with realistic expectations while continuing to dream big and you may just surprise yourself!

Internet Business