Posts Tagged ‘home business’

To Pinterest or Not to Pinterest

There’s no doubt about it — interest in Pinterest is on the rise. You’ll see it mentioned all over Facebook and you’re likely to stumble across “pins” from people on message boards. But does it make sense for YOU to take up your pins and start a Pinterest page for your small business?

Maybe. Pinterest already has over five million members, so it’s attractive to people who are working from home or who are starting a small business. But — if you “pin” it, will they come? The answer is “maybe.”

Pinterest is a very visual site — if you’re a writer, you may be out of luck unless you like to hunt down and pin pictures of funny sayings and cute animals or awesome landscape. Photos of interesting (or vintage) clothing seem popular, so people who also use Craigslist to sell vintage garments can use Pinterest to their advantage. Artists and crafters also post pictures of items that they have ready to sell (in, say, their Etsy store) tend to get a lot of visitors. But be aware that a single picture isn’t going to get hordes clicking madly at the link to buy the product — it helps to include a detailed description, along with the price.

Already have a Pinterest account? Want a few more eyeballs roaming past your page? Two working strategies are to repin other posts and to make sure you consistently pin up news about your interests. If you have time and the technology, think about creating a video tutorial that tells people about your home business or comments about something interesting relating to your page. Video is not that common on Pinterest, so you can set yourself apart from others by adding things for them to watch.

Happy pinning!

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Avoiding the Dreaded Business Slump

SyskittyGuest editorial by Patricia Snodgrass

My father, stone mason by trade, didn’t turn his construction business into a fortune 500 company, and chances are you probably won’t either. However, like him, you can still grow a very successful business, if you avoid these five problems that plague nearly every company at some point.

Pitfall #1. Poor time management

If you wish to be successful, whether it being in the business of writing or the business of constructing high rises, then you must plan your business accordingly.   Create a sane, workable plan and stick with it. Generate a list of reasonable reachable goals, then implement them.  A daily goal sheet is helpful in breaking down larger tasks into smaller manageable chunks.

Pitfall #2. Inadequate marketing

One of the basic principles of capitalism states that successful companies are growing companies.  Therefore, good advertising is essential in order to let people know who you are, what your product is and how to find you. Traditional promotions such as television and radio and are good, but you can also reach a greater audience online by advertising on social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as creating online shops that will give your business a chance to grow in a number of areas. And best of all, social media is free, and it’s everywhere.

Pitfall #3. Hiring before you’re ready

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of opening your first business and then hiring before you are ready. Training, bonding (if handling large sums of money) preparing taxes, scheduling, unemployment benefits and insurance must all be considered before hiring someone. Make a plan early on to handle all of these considerations before hanging out that help wanted sign.

Pitfall #4.  Babying your business

We often treat our burgeoning companies like adoring parents. The problem with this is that child prodigies are only brilliant to their doting parents.  In reality, they’re just another kid on the block.


The best way to avoid this pitfall is to get an annual business valuation report from a professional agency.  A valuation report wipes away any glimmer of false hope about your child star and forces you to see things as they are, warts and all.  A valuation will show you exactly where the flaws lie in your business, and from there you will be able to correct them.

Pitfall#5. So much overhead, so little profit.

You can reduce your overhead by following a few simple rules.  You can buy used and recycled office supplies, or recycle what you already have. Develop a co-op with neighboring businesses in order to share advertising and marketing strategies. And most of all, utilize those tax deductions to your advantage.  Your local IRS agent will be more than happy to show you how.



Mark Bowser has a nice little article on discipline (which works well for the home entrepreneur) here: has a good article on surviving business slumps and hard times

Over at, this book had a lot of good reviews from people over 50 — Best home Businesses for People Over 50




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Do Your Business Blog Posts Have Long Enough Tails?

guest post by my friend, author Patricia Snodgrass

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What Do Long Tail Keywords Mean?

What is a long tail keyword?  Do you pick one up at the rescue shelter? Does it require a cat box, food, water, regular grooming? Does your new long tail keyword require spaying or neutering?


The answer is of course, none of the above.  Simply stated, a long tail keyword is a string of specific key words designed to bring better quality hits to your webpage.  Long tail keywords are designed to help searchers find your site quicker and easier.


The average keyword could get lots of hits to your website, but that isn’t going to do you any good if those hits are unproductive. When someone uses a long tail keyword, they are able to find your site because you have what the searcher is looking for. You may not get as many hits with long term keywords, as you would with the average garden variety keyword, but what you will get is people who will be more interested in what you have to say, or in what you are trying to sell.


Lets say you’re looking for a book on how to use keywords more efficiently, but you are as clueless as I am when it comes to talking about adwords, rankings and SERPS. So, you go to to find a book that’s easy to understand, but once you type in keyword  in their books menu, you get far too many hits. You have neither time nor energy to pick through all the books to find the one you want. How do you find the book you’re looking for?


If you were to type in, easy to understand book keywords ad words, you will find the book you’re searching for quickly.  For example, I typed in easy to understand keywords and the Book For Dummies was the top hit. Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords: How to Access 100 Million People in 10 Minutes


In order for your article to receive a high ranking on SERPS, you need to create long tail keywords to sprinkle into your article, so the search engine can “see” you. For example, you are writing an article about bearded irises, but you wish to write about specific irises, like purple bearded irises.  You would sprinkle the long tail keywords ‘purple bearded irises’ into your article along with any other long tail keywords you would like to use.  However, you don’t want to overdo it, otherwise your article will sound weird.  The author must never dilute the quality of their work by adding too many keywords, be they long or small.


Drawing a blank? Try the free keyword tool, Ubersuggest


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Stale Tweets — And How to Avoid Them

I remember when the Internet was simple!

(c) Mel. White 2011

So you’ve been reading all about the magical things that Twitter can do for your business and you keep running across articles on “how to increase your twitter followers.” Of course, increasing followers and KEEPING followers are actually two different things — and most sites that are trying to sell you a “how to” don’t mention the second part of this. So, you just added 20 new followers — the question now is “can you keep them”? If you think they’ll still stay after the 8th tween you’ve sent advertising your product, you’re in for an unpleasant surprise. The only ones hanging around your feed after that are the ones who are going to be blasting ads at you.


That’s not a relationship. That’s two people ignoring each other.


Twitter is all about interacting with others. One of the things that people respond to are posts containing interesting things to read. As a marketer, you can take advantage of many of the article sites around the Internet as a source for tweets on those days when you have absolutly nothing to say. They should be used sparingly on your own websites because Google will “ding” your ratings if all you’re doing is posting reprints on your blog or website. But there’s still a lot of useful advice in some of these old articles — advice that YOUR friends may not have seen and which can be helpful.


Two things that can be used but should be used sparingly are Stumble and quotes. Using Stumble Upon to locate interesting content is sort of a “no brainer”, but that’s something that everyone else is doing as well. Tweeting the Quote Of The Day can also be old hat because folks will after awhile ignore something that’s on autopilot. Instead, look for content that’s unusual or provokes discussion (a comment on a current political situation will always get responses, but you might not like what you get back!) New Scientist is often a source for “wow, that’s weird!” articles as is (of all things) the National Geographic site. TED talks are another good source (if you have followers that love videos or you love videos).


…and there’s always the old standby, “News of the Weird.”   That’s one of MY favorites.


When marketing online (whether it’s fiction books or jewelry or coins or games or anything else), interesting content makes your tweet feed something to pay attention to rather than something to ignore. So, once you’re done tweeting about showing up at Starbucks, find something strange and interesting to comment on. Your “tweeps” will be glad you did!


By the way, here’s a nice little advice article on Twitter in general from the folks at


And this is a very highly recommended book for anyone doing social marketing via Twitter!


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Should you consider podcasting?

Videocasts and podcasts have always been popular on the Internet, and businesses of all types are turning to these channels for boosting business and spreading awareness of their websites. But what about someone who has a tiny home business? Is it worthwhile trying to create a podcast about your products or services?

In some cases, the answer is “absolutely YES!” If your business involves handmade articles — sewing, crafts, food — then even a quick little demonstration video on YouTube or a podcast can bring a lot of attention to your website.

Recordings such as teleconference calls, audio newsletters, and instructional talks are only a few of the opportunities other internet marketers are already using to build relationships and find new customers. Podcasts are convenient to listen to at any time and in a variety of formats, whether via MP3 player, streamed on their computer or burned to a CD. The right podcast will send people to your home business site for many years to come.

An interesting article about podcasting can be found here:

And here’s a useful article on how things to consider in doing a podcast:

And if you’d like a good book — everything you’d like to know about podcasting — the “Dummies” book is a very good place to start:


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Social media — have someone else do it for you?

Syskitty simple internet

(c) Mel. White

With the advent of sites like (where people post about jobs they’ll be willing to do for a paltry sum — often $5.00), many people have taken the plunge and hired others to do some simple stuff — like making Tweets and so forth.


It sounds like a great idea for the overworked microentrepreneur — who’s sometimes working more than one regular job AND trying to get a small home business off the ground — doesn’t it?  The answer is, “probably not.”


And that’s a darn shame, too, because a lot of time folks need some sort of virtual assistant for their business (stay at home moms often need a bit of extra help with their businesses, what with juggling kids and households and everything else and THEN trying to produce a bit of income on top of it.)  While there are virtual assistants out there, the sad fact is that anyone competent is beyond the reach (price-wise) of people with start-up home businesses.


But it can also be a mistake for others as well.  I’ve seen several reports about a  certain marketing Guru who recently sent his subscribers his newsletter where he talks about how careful you have to be if you outsource your social media to someone else.   One of the blogs was a commentary on an exchange between blogger and Guru which consisted of the blogger sending along some material and getting an answer — not from the Guru, but from the Guru’s “director of marketing” who explained that the Guru was “traveling” and therefore the Marketing director (who turned out to know nothing about how Guru handled business) was answering the emails.


Another person who had a similar exchange said they also felt miffed that their message (which had always had a personal response from Guru in the past) suddenly was shuffled to the “let the hireling handle it.”


Should this stop you from compensating your best buddy to help promote something with a few tweets or some comments?  No.  Should it stop you from hiring a part-time virtual assistant if you can afford one?  No.  But when you do, you need to announce to the world that this is a part of your new team and carefully consider what role they’ll have, because they do represent your credibility and your image to the rest of the world.

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Niche Business with staying potential — tutorial websites

We all like learning new things, and in this particular business environment where people are looking for small home business ideas that will generate income, one of the untapped resources is the tutorial website. From crafts to math to … just about anything you can think of, there’s someone out there interested in what you have to teach — and this goes double if you happen to have “mad skillz” in certain kinds of programs (like Photoshop, Excel, Gimp, and others.)  I would, however, advise you to NOT make a tutorial involving an MLM product or “how to start in business” — there’s a lot of those out there and you’ll struggle to be seen.

So — you’ve got a glimmer of an idea and you think you might like to start into business as an entrepreneur with a tutorial site.  But before you go racing off to build your tutorial website on tinsmithing (one of my interests, actually), there are several things you need to take into consideration.

Starting Up A Tutorial Website For Fun And Profit

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Bad Financial Times And Entrepreneurship

SyskittyAccording to the University of Maryland, small businesses are beginning feel that they are healthy enough to the point where they’re considering hiring more people.  Some of the more chirpy spins on this article say that it could mean up to 3.8 million new jobs this year and reduce unemployment by over 2%.  That would be lovely for the ones out job hunting who haven’t given up — though the pay scale is likely to be low.  In this economy, many people (like the history teacher who was waiting tables at the restaurant where we ate last night) are ready to work at almost any job that gives them some sort of income.  I’ve seen some self-announced Internet business experts say that this means this year is the perfect time to start a small home business — perhaps by becoming an affiliate or joining MLM.


It sounds lovely.  Makes you want to run out and start a small business, right?


The problem with this logic is that what the news reports mean by “small business” and what most of us think of as “small business” are as different as cats and cows.  To the newspaper or researcher, a small business is something like your little local restaurant.  It has a business address, a business license, pays business taxes, and has employees.  To the rest of us, a home business also is a “small business.”


And therein lies a big problem.  The way you handle a small business is different than the way you handle a home business.


Although I’d love to have six employees here helping me with my writing and art and internet things, the truth is that I can’t pay them.  Lesley (MaaMaw) got to the point where she was able to hire typists for her medical transcription business, but that took several years.  A “small business” (as opposed to a microbusiness or home business) can go to a bank and ask for a business loan.  If I toddle up there and try to apply for one, I’m going to be laughed out of the bank — but only after I get offered a “personal loan.”


The article is right in one way — there’s a lot of people doing small things on the side to try and get through the bad financial times and there will be a lot of these tiny entrepreneurial jobs created to help support families.  I’m not sure what the success rate is on these things (entrepreneurs, as we’ve all found out, often lie about how well they’re doing) but I’d be willing to bet that it’s pretty small.


Most of the time, the problem lies in “you want a business but you don’t have a plan.”  So I’m going to blog about plans and so forth — and if you haven’t gone to the Friends In Business site and read MCA Hogarth’s article about mindset and business , you really should do that.  Meanwhile, I’ll be blogging about setting up a business over the next few weeks (along with websites and other goodies) to help folks who are getting started working from home in a small business figure out where to start and how to start and what to do.

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TED Talk — raise your kids to be entrepeneurs?

I remember when the Internet was simple!

(c) Mel. White 2011

At the bottom of this page is a video that’s fairly popular — Cameron Herold’s TED talk on raising your kids to be entrepreneurs.  Entrepreneurship training has been suggested as a solution to a lot of our problems — underinvolved kids, economy floundering like a big fish in shallow water, huge problems, not enough solutions.  Herold’s idea is that entrepreneurs like himself are the foundation of the world’s economy, play a huge role in innovation, are able to motivate people and get them to do things and that therefore we should teach kids how to be entrepreneurs rather than (in his example) lawyers.  Give a kid an idea how to be wildly successful at something or how to make people pay attention to her ideas or create their own job so they can work at home under their own terms and the kid will start taking an interest in helping society move forward.


The TED talks conversations about entrepreneurship don’t fall under the “if you start this home business, you’ll make a million dollars” videos.  Nor are they the standard job opportunity training videos.  This particular TED talk sparked some interesting discussions such as “should we teach entrepreneurship in school?”  But amid all the cheerleading was a note or two that said “wait a minute — that’s awfully simplistic.”  One of the comments said, ” We need entrepreneurs as we need inventors, bankers, carpenters and any other profession which products and services we use in our daily life.”  He then went on to point out that we can all be innovators even in ordinary jobs and that we need workers as much as we need innovators.


These talks are always uplifting — they make you feel good and as though you can actually go tackle the problems in your life and the problems of the rest of the world.  If you haven’t seen the TED talks, you will find some of them very appealing to you.  But the most interesting parts to me are the conversations that are sparked after the videos.


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Top 10 Home Business Ideas for 2011 — no change?


Has the idea of home businesses change much in the past ten years?

I’ve been cruising forums recently to check for new home business ideas to write about.  While there’s the occasional very novel idea, in general it seems to be the Same Old Thing rebranded and waved in front of the audience again.  And novel ideas are risky — it’s not something you can just pick up and do unless everything is juuuuuuusssst right — like raising llamas for money.  Yes, you can do that, but unless you’ve already got the farm and maybe a dedicated bunch of people who love llama wool and like llama meat, you’re probably gonna be in a world of hurt if you take that up as a small business.


So what about those top ten home business ideas?  Scott Lindsay had a list that summarized much of what I found:

* Working online writing blog articles and data entry and website flipping – Finding these gigs can be difficult… a lot of people advertise their services on — and folks who need outsource work often find people there to do work for them.  The downside of it is that it’s $5.00 per gig.

* Handmade and Personalized Products – CafePress used to be the big dog in this field, but Zazzle and Etsy are taking up a lot of the share after CafePress boosted its prices.  I’m going to try Zazzle soon — right now I don’t have the time to send out things via Etsy, so I’ll use Zazzle and its order fulfillment service.  The downside here is that you can’t just put up stuff and expect it to go like hot chocolate chip cookies on a cold day.

Green/Organic Products – This is a growing market, as people are looking for things like local produce and environmentally friendly suggestions.  Here the market is probably more offline and local than it is global.

Home Staging – This is one I haven’t tried and seems to have some risk involved — basically you work with clients and get their homes (the ones for sale) ready to show to potential buyers.  There’s an element of interior design here (or so I’ve read) where the “stager” may add furniture or suggest some pieces be replaced or change some pictures.

Financial Advisor – This one was on Scott’s list (and he adds that IF you have the training and experience…) but I’m not as certain that this is a really hot home business.  There are a lot of companies out there with products and big budgets and a lot of salespeople.   I think you’d do better instead to offer people a package to “get your financial records together for income tax season.”  You CAN do taxes for folks — this is something I’ve done — and with the current software like Turbotax, it’s very easy to do.

Cosmetics Consultant – Ah yes — Avon, Mary Kay, and similar companies.   These work if you have the right social circles and if you’re good at marketing or setting up fun parties.

Specialty Foods  – Your kitchen will have to meet some health inspection standards but yes, it’s possible to set up a cake decorating business or a catering business.   Before you go running off to the cake decorating business, have a look at and try to avoid the mistakes (and take inspiration from the good stuff!)

Card Making/Scrapbooking – This was on Scott’s list, and it’s another one I’m not convinced about.  I think the angle here would be to offer to make scrapbooks and albums for special occasions — team up with a wedding planner, for instance.  These things can be a “hard sell” — check your market first.

Cleaning Services – I hate cleaning, myself, and I’m one of those who would pay $15-$20 for cleaning help.  This is one of those “evergreen” businesses — that and babysitting/child care.

Pet-Based Products – Pet photographers and pet artists usually find it pretty easy to find clients.  If you are able to attend craft fairs and so forth, products with sayings like “I love my Burmese Cat” (I do!  And my Siamese cat!) or paintings or keychains or bumper stickers (and so on and so forth) are a very viable home business.  I know a couple of artists who specialize in cat-based art and do very well with it.


One that Scott didn’t  cover, which I think is very viable is:

Adult Daycare – This is another home business that (sadly) has a growing market.   I’ve done some volunteer hospice visitations, myself, and would recommend that if you are interested in this kind of business that you FIRST spend two months as a hospice volunteer.  You’ll learn a lot about what to do and say — and you’ll get good contacts to help you grow this business.  In addition, they’ll help you get the background checks (and a referral that you can use) that you’ll want to have on hand.

You can check out Scott’s take on this at the link below.

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