Also known as the place I write words.

The internet is full of discount and open source graphic designers who promise quality work for cents on the dollar. They offer $50 “high quality” logos, web site design for $300, even stock business card or brochure designs that allow you to input your info on a ready-made template for less than half the price you would pay a professional designer. If you’re trying to cut costs, these discount designers seem like a smart choice.

But when it comes to graphic design, the old adage is true: You get what you pay for.

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Photo Credit: Creative Commons

Many “experts” will tell you, if you maintain a blog you need a Facebook fan page for that blog. It makes your blog social, allows readers to connect outside your blogging platform and will increase your reach and readership immensely. These “experts” will tout the benefits of social media (connecting with readers), tell you that every professional blogger has a fan page, and urge you to set one up if you want your blog to be successful. After all, a “real” blogger has a Facebook fan page for their blog.

However, most bloggers never reap those benefits. Increasing blog readership and community takes more than just setting up a Facebook fan page and posting links. It takes work. Hard work. It takes knowing your audience, determining the answers to these eight questions and  boosting your social media platform. It takes having purpose, a schedule and making your page social.

When trying to determine if you need a Facebook fan page for your blog, consider the following:

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Determining which social media platforms are appropriate for your business can be daunting, especially when new sites pop up on a consistent basis. Where do you invest your time? Where do you invest your money? Which ones will capture the essence of your business the best and allow you to connect with your clients the most? The possibilities are as endless as the number of social media sites available.

Meant to be more comical than helpful, the following chart will give you a basic overview of how the most popular social media sites are perceived among the general population:

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Photo Credit: Robert S. Donovan (Creative Commons)

When it comes to social media marketing, many businesses assume that starting a Facebook page or Twitter account and periodically posting information is enough. Social media avenues become nothing more than an information dump or, worse yet, just another method of spamming one’s clients.

Consider making the following changes to boost your social media platforms:

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Photo Credit: Thomas Cunningham (Creative Commons)

When businesses embark on creating or developing their brand, most focus on graphic communications: assets such as a logo, fonts, color scheme, picture and advertising layout, web design, business card and brochure design, all in an effort to develop a consistent look-and-feel for their company. The reasoning stands that creating a brand that embodies the mission and personality of a business is of utmost importance.

What many businesses do not realize, however, is that a brand is more than a graphic representation of their business; it also includes the experience one has with the business. Everything from the speed and politeness of the customer service department to the quality and availability of their products down to the friendliness of their staff all combine to create their brand.

A brand is an experience, not just an image. Putting resources and energy behind developing the graphic portion of a your brand is important, but you should not fail to develop your most important branding asset: your employees.

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Every business has at its disposal a variety of marketing avenues, everything from newspaper advertisements and billboards to a web site and social media. Some businesses rely mostly on word of mouth, while others are putting their message out in every avenue possible.

The mix of print, digital, word of mouth, referral and loyalty programs, newsletters, coupons, radio and television commercials make up that business’s marketing strategy.

While there are an unlimited number of ways to market your business, they all fall into two main methods: innovate or react.

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Your business card is an important tool to market your business. It provides potential and current clients with all your pertinent contact information in one location and allows you to keep your brand in front of them. It sticks with them. Most potential clients will hold onto your card, even if it’s just long enough to input your information into their computer’s address book.

A well designed and executed business card can make a lasting impression. However, many businesses struggle to come up with an ascetically pleasing and informative business card. They tend to do one of three things:

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Photo Credit: Sean MacEntee (Creative Commons)

In a world where smart phones give us access to email and the internet whenever we want it; where apps and web sites are launched regularly with the promise of getting us organized; where there are seminars and conferences about how to be more productive, it seems we’re still struggling to get stuff done.

The reason? Distractions.

No sooner do you sit down with the intention of tackling your to-do list, then a Tweet reply comes through. Then an email. Followed by a text message, phone call, Facebook message, another email, a chatty co-worker or family member, another email, another text, lunch break, and then the cycle starts all over again.

Our increased connectivity has killed our productivity.

As someone who works primarily from home, I have had my fair share of distractions. The following tips are things I have done to eliminate distractions and increase my productivity:

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Whether you work for a corporate conglomerate or just recently started your own freelance business, chances are at some point, you will need to prepare a proposal. A potential client contacted you about your products or services, are considering working with you, but want some details on what you charge and what you offer and you are left needing to prepare a professional proposal.

Google doesn’t offer much help. Search the words “client proposal,” proposal” or “quote” online and you will find a plethora of tips, ideas and samples ranging from a single, static sheet with standard costs, up to a twenty page booklet giving you a history of the company and bios of every employee.

The task can seem daunting if you have never prepared a proposal.

You want to come across as professional and provide the potential client with everything they need, but on the other hand, you don’t have the time to develop or print a 20 page booklet on your company.

Every business is different, and you will need to find what works best for you, but an informative proposal should include the following:

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Photo source: Creative Commons

When the majority of people hear the word “brand,” they immediately think you are referring to a company logo.

McDonald’s has spent millions of dollars to brand the infamous “Golden Arches.”
Nike has the swoosh.
Adidas has the triple stripe triangle.
Starbucks has the Siren.

Show any person pretty much anywhere in the world those logos, and they can tell you the name of the company. That must be their brand, right?

A brand goes far beyond a logo or picture or icon. It encompasses the experience customers have with your business.

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