Posts Tagged ‘news’

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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Google Analytics — Is It Worth It?

I’ve seen a lot of posts both pro and con about Google Analytics — the tool from google that is aimed at marketers and shows detailed statistics of a site.  Some people swear by it, some swear at it, and most don’t seem to know it exists.  After reading a number of posts and blogs on this service, I decided to cruise over and take a look at it for myself.

The first thing to note is that you can’t use it to snoop on what other people are doing.  You have to have your own website and you have to be able to insert code into the site (which means that you may not be able to use it on some of the free hosting sites or free blog sites.  Like Livejournal.)

If you have come over to the Dark Side and already have a Google account, setup involves loggin in with your google account and telling it what site you want tracked.  Google walks you through the process and then offers you the code to insert in your web page header.  There are also tools for WordPress blogs  that automate the features.

Like every other analysis tool, it’s entirely possible to spend too much time playing with the pretty charts and numbers and creating reports — meaning you could be spending too much time chasing things that aren’t worthwhile.   But quick overviews can tell you a lot about who’s coming to your site and why.  You can use it to answer “what questions are people searching for when they come to my site?”   You can also use it to answer “who’s sending me traffic” and “what were they searching on?”   Unlike many other tools, this one is free, which is just the right price for beginners.   The pie charts are interesting and the “quick and dirty” view of the top 5 keywords and the top 5 referral sites make it very simple for even the amateur to figure out where traffic is coming from and why it’s there.  It allows you to create campaigns and track them.

So how does it stack up with other website statistics packages?  On a very basic level, it offers the same things I can get from my current webhost’s (Allwebco) data packages. Allwebco’s packages give me up to the minute results, but Analytics has a time delay of several hours to almost a day.  There’s also reports of small discrepancies in the numbers reported by Google and the numbers reported by webhosts.  Comments on Search Engine boards suggest that it’s not really an issue for small sites.

I found some areas of the menu less than intuitive — it was annoying to click on “profile” and be delivered to my public Google+ profile when what I really wanted was the account information and code snippet to place on boards.

I haven’t had a real use for the advanced features and reports, since I’m running information sites and not sales sites.  But it IS a lot faster than signing onto Cpanel right now and pulling up the reports, so I’ll continue to use it.

Want to leave a comment or ask a question? Click here to enter the discussion forum!

What the Tweet? Google drops Twitter


So… fellow bloggers and artists and business people, Google has made a decision that might affect how you’re contacting friends and customers — Google has let their subscription to the Twitter firehose expire.  So it’s not going to continue the real-time search on Twitter.  In a way, I’m not surprised because the amount of computing processing used to find and process the huge inflow from the TweetStream may not be worth the return.  Now that they’ve started up Google+, a lot of questions are rising about what’s going to impact which websites.


Truthfully, this won’t affect most of us.  I don’t look around for recent outrages or gossip to comment on so I can talk about what everyone else is talking about.  It does mean, however, that Tweets aren’t going to do a lot to help your website ranking.  In the past, Tweets could help search ranking.  However, with Google’s latest “Content Is King” mandate, they’ve apparently decided that a zillion tweets from twitter accounts mentioning a website might mean “some marketer is promoting this — ignore this site.”


This WAS a tactic used by some people who wanted to increase their search engine ranking.  However, as with most things, the over-eager ones who are only in it for the money hopped in with lots of spam (and they convinced their buddies that this was the Greatest Thing To Do to get your website to come up in the first place every time someone searched on Google.)


And this move actually turns out to be good for the rest of us — the SEE ME SPAMMING THE QUOTE OF THE DAY WITH A LINK TO MY WEBSITE (etc) folks will go off and try something else.


Should you still use Twitter to help direct folks to your website?  You betcha.  And Facebook and Google+.  One of these will eventually come out on top as King of the Social Media, and you’ll be ahead of the game if you’ve already started using it.


Pretty Websites are More Trustworthy?

Syskitty simple internet

(c) Mel. White

Here’s the latest brain-bending alert:  Content may not exactly be king on the Internet


Yep. All those hard written words probably aren’t as effective as you thought because the new Evil Usurper sneaking in to topple Content off its throne is “Pretty Pictures.”

Images are strongly attractive to people. As a species we are very visually wired (so much so that the “oh! look! video” channels in our brain can totally override a “if you listen to the actual words, the whole thing doesn’t make sense” circuits.) Although an interesting read is a bonus, layout and colors and pictures can apparently distract us from less-than-interesting content — or content that actually makes very little sense.


Anyone who’s lurked on social networking sites for awhile may have already begun to suspect this.  Often you’ll see messages like “OMG!  This just says everything” with a link to some sort of music video.  This is particularly true when someone posts that they’re feeling sad.  Not all of us are wired to appreciate this (my usual mental response is a growly “OMG!  I have six thousand things to do and YOU want me to drop everything and watch this 4 minute video of your favorite song.  How about I don’t but say I do and use that 4 minutes to do something I really need to do.”   But I’m cranky and I’m not a Watcher.  I’m a Doer.)


Beauty may not be everything, but it carries a lot of cachet.  Dr. Brent Coker claims that attractive people are seen as more trustworthy (which could explain why women, as they age, tend to feel that society dismisses them more.)  He created a tool called ‘Webreep’ (which isn’t free, by the way) to help take a look at websites and what people think of them.  He found that they will stay on a site longer if it’s visually interesting — but — if folks can’t figure out how to find the information they want quickly or if it takes too long to load, then they’ll leave quickly.


You can check the details out at the link below.  I’m gonna go tweak the site a bit…

Prettier websites gain trust Science Alert.

Click here to leave questions and comments at our discussion board!

And the winner is…? Really???

Well, how about them apples?

My husband convinced me to switch to Firefox after YEARS of being a diehard Internet Explorer user.  It wasn’t laziness– I like the layout better and liked some of the functions.  But Firefox was loading faster than IE and I switched.

So it surprised me when an independent test lab (yep… I checked out to see if they really WERE impartial) said IE does a better job at blocking malware than the other browsers:

To anyone in the tech sector, this is interesting but not always surprising.  Hackers and malware writers always go for the “top dog” — hence they spend time writing code for Windows (because fewer people use Macintoshes, fewer still are running Linux, and if you want to do damage, you go after the popular stuff.)   So right now, Firefox is probably the #1 target of malware.  The European Union is reporting a lot of problems with malware, and this is the reason for the lab inquiry:

Elsewhere in the report, they say that people running non-updated browsers of any sort are at risk.

Soooo…. I may switch to IE, and I’ll certainly update my browser addons!

Click here to leave questions and comments at our discussion board!

For more on business, inventory, and mindset, see our article by MCA Hogarth on how to get down to doing business:

I swear on my pet’s grave…

A Note to the Gentle Reader — Sysadmins weren’t born yesterday.

A Blog Commenter wrote:

Hey, I couldn’t find a contact form so I hope you don’t mind me posting here. Wow, I had a great idea for your interesting little blog :) . I’m an internet marketer and I spend a lot of time making and reading blogs like The FriendsInBusiness Blog: Recommended Reading all day. I used to just waste my energy making a few bucks here and there from google adsense but i found something SO much more powerful and better. I SWEAR ON MY PET’S GRAVE I MADE $351.76 $$CASH$$ yesterday just 3 days after modifying my blogs. Can you imagine how floored I am? Here is where I learned all my tricks: http:(GOSH, IT’S A LINK TO AN AFFILIATE PROGRAM ON ‘RECOMMENDED TRICKS’ FOR MAKING A LOT OF MONEY FROM THEIR BLOGS!) Just giving your site a look I can tell you’ll probably pull in a few hundred bucks a month extra if you modify just a little code. I hope that it serves you well and you have all my blessings. Cheers!

So here’s my “Bulk Reply” comment to ALL FIVE of those folks.

Thank you for your copy-and-pasted comments which are showing up on blogs all over the blogsphere.

Yes, dears, I’m totally surprised you made any money yesterday since you’re all running around and typing the same thing in the comments section to this blog — and probably every other blog you found. And by the way, other affiliates of your program have sent the exact same message to the webmaster’s email. You guys were probably the only people to fall for this.

Here’s a hint for you — any blog where the owner is paying attention will nuke any message with an affiliate link. They know that these comments a) don’t attract traffic, b) only serve the poster’s purpose, and c) detract from the blog’s quality in the eyes of the reader.

Syskitty Mel.

So — one of the tactics that people have been trying (for years) is getting traffic to their sites by responding to other blogs. This isn’t evil and can be a good practice IF you follow some rules that the “gurus” seem to have forgotten to tell you (either because they don’t know or because they DO know and they’ve forgotten or they DO know and they want you to come scrambling back when you don’t make any money or get more followers.)

  • Pick an APPROPRIATE, RECENT BLOG ENTRY to comment on.  If the thing is over a week old (on a site where the blog is updated several times a week), don’t bother.  Don’t blather on a blog post that has nothing to do with your site (don’t go “oh gosh, that just reminds me of my scuba diving gear at THIS site” when the blog post is about Ham Radio Equipment.
  • Contribute to the discussion.  Your site is there because (presumably) it’s one of your interests.  Add something to what’s being said (a “loved this, passing it along to my readers” is okay as long as the link you show in your website has something to do with the topic of the blog.
  • Be charming.  The copy-pasta blog quote up there is amusing… that’s one thing going for it.  But it’s also a blatant sales pitch and it’s not linked to YOUR blog.  How do we even know you HAVE a blog?
  • Make it original.  If I get suspicious, I’ll check a sentence or two from your reply.  If I see it posted on 500 other blogs, YOUR post will go into the trash.
  • And make sure that the guru/affiliate program you’re getting your advice from actually has some sort of track record.  For all you know, it’s some 15 year old from Muleshoe (a real place, by the way), rewriting stuff he’s picked up from sales copy and occasional forums and has never actually tested his own advice.

And no more swearing on pets’ graves, eh?  That’s just totally in bad taste.