Why you need an electronic subscriber contact list

Don’t be fooled by social media. You need your own electronic subscriber contact list. With tools like Excel, Word and Outlook, it’s free to create a subscriber contact list. But, it’s time consuming. You have to add and remove contacts manually.

Going electronic gives you time to focus on other growth initiatives

Sure. It only takes minutes to keep a small subscriber list updated. When I started The Book Lover’s Haven (http://www.chistell.com) newsletter subscriber contact list, I used Word. Then, I moved to Excel to save time.

My subscriber list grew to the point where it was taking me more than an hour to update the list. At first, I pushed updates out from weekly to monthly. The list kept growing and became more work to maintain. Today, I use Constant Contact and let subscribers sign up to receive The Book Lover’s Haven themselves. It only takes a few seconds.

If you do use a third party subscriber contact list tool (i.e. Constant Contact, Mail Chimp), consider downloading the list once a month or once a quarter, depending on how fast your list changes. Also, make sure that you only add people to your subscriber contact list who requested to be added to the list.

Little is more aggravating than feeling as if someone forced you to do something. Adding someone to your subscriber contact list without getting the person’s approval is forceful. It’s not cool.

Benefits of owning an electronic subscriber contact list

Besides giving you control of your contacts, having your own subscriber list puts you in the driver seat. You don’t have to follow rules set by social media platform owners. You don’t have to compete with other social media platform users. You can determine the best days and times to send direct electronic mail to contacts. Other benefits of creating your own subscriber contact list include:

  • Opportunities to request contacts’ home addresses, so that you can send them printed brochures, catalogs and longer forms of direct mail
  • Send contacts custom designed greeting cards
  • Mail contacts seasonal or birthday gifts
  • Allow contacts to only view certain information (instead of giving them access to everything in your social media timeline)
  • Ship coupon books to members of your subscriber contact list
  • Add telephone numbers to contact lists, so that you can telephone contacts and sing “Happy Birthday” to them or let them know about a great sale that you’re running, etc.
  • Maintain one or more ways to communicate with supporters even if social media platforms close
  • Present marketing or advertising specials to contacts without having to pay social media platforms to get this information in front of contacts
  • Eliminate the guesswork out of whether or not you actually reached a real person. Place security measures on your subscriber list and you can keep bots from adding to your list, lending the false impression that more people are interested in your newsletter, brand or company

    Who knows when or if a social media platform will shut down. If it does, you can wave good-bye to those contacts (unless you encouraged them to subscribe to your personal contact list). Relationships that you have built are too valuable to leave to chance. Create your own electronic subscriber contact list and allow supporters to grow and evolve with you, regardless of what’s going on in the social media world.
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Why you need an electronic subscriber contact list

Why Do Inexpensive Website Hosting Services Cost So Much?

By Eboni Walker

You’ve seen the ads. Website hosting services for as low as $3.99 a month or maybe the ad advertises that you can get website hosting services for $5.99 a month. Sounds like a great deal. Immediately, you start thinking about the money that you can save as a small business operator.

What’s behind these low cost website hosting services?

There are so many things that you can do after you save hundreds on website hosting. Save hundreds of dollars off the cost of keeping your website online and you could:

  • Pay for a robust automated social media marketing service (i.e. Hootsuite, Pardot, SproutSocial, Social Oomph)
  • Get started with email marketing
  • Enroll in online small business marketing training classes
  • Finally get the redesigned small business website that you’ve been wanting to invest in for a year or longer
  • Hire freelance writers to start developing search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine management (SEM) content and analytics
  • Invest in offline direct mail marketing actions like creating and mailing brochures, coupons, newsletters and catalogs
  • Cover the costs to attend targeted industry events like trade shows, conferences and seminars

Here are how low cost website hosting services end up costing a lot

So, believing that you’ll reap these gains if you buy low cost website hosting services, you enter into an agreement with an Internet company. But, one year into using the low cost website hosting services, you receive service renewal emails.

Through these emails, you learn that you have upcoming charges to cover if you want to keep your website up and running smoothly. Examples of these services include:

  • SSL Certificate fees
  • File transfer fees
  • Space fees in the event that you go above a set amount of space each month
  • Domain name fees
  • Security certificate fees
  • Backup storage fees

Don’t pay too much for website hosting services

Some website hosting services providers allow you to pay for services and hosting costs annually. Others will allow you to pay for the services on a monthly or quarterly basis. What most of these companies won’t do is keep the total costs of hosting your website, SSL certificates and all, at $5.99 or less a month.

In fact, you could easily spend several hundred dollars a year to keep your website up and running. You’ll pay more if you invest in every marketing plan that a website hosting company emails you about.

A lot of these marketing plans are administered by third party companies or affiliates of the website hosting services provider. Think long and hard before you believe promises that affiliates make. Just because these affiliates are linked to a website hosting provider that you trust doesn’t mean that the companies’ marketing plans will get you hundreds or thousands more website visitors a month.

As with any marketing plan, seek company referrals. Read company reviews. Definitely measure the results of the marketing plans if you do decide to invest in them. If you don’t measure the results of marketing plans, you could not only spend hundreds a year to a website hosting services provider, you could end up throwing money down the drain.

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Why Do Inexpensive Website Hosting Services Cost So Much?

Personal Goals – Stop Thinking Others Are Better Than You

woman face

Picture by Bruce1ee (Wikimedia Commons)

For years, I had this nagging thought that I had somehow, in hidden ways, given my power to others. It may have been a carryover from childhood, the time in life when we look up to our parents, seeing them as giants, larger than anything else in the world.

Are you holding yourself back?
It took decades of introspection to recognize what I was doing. Although I was no longer a child, I continued to see others as being more powerful than I was. A manager at work, a pastor, a teacher, a politician, a coach, a professional athlete, a celebrated entertainer . . . the list went on. In my perception, these people had something that I lacked.

They knew how to pull the threads of events in the world together until they came out on top. Me. I just knew how to keep trying. I was really good at not giving up. But, I’d not once grabbed the brass ring. Instead, I always finished a tad above the middle.

Hidden thoughts, hidden beliefs that I had created, were holding me hostage. Why did I feel safer buried in the middle of the pack? What was this belief preventing me from doing? Could this belief hold me hostage long or effectively enough to keep me from fulfilling my destiny, to keep me from doing what I came into the world to do?

It’s time to wake up and let the illusion go
The answer began to reveal itself during the 2016 election. I saw that I was waiting for someone else to make decisions that would greatly impact my physical experience. I felt that I had absolutely no power to inject myself into those decisions. I just had to wait and see what another person decided would happen to me indirectly.

Fortunately, something in me was tired of walking that path, and my eyes started to open. There are no special people. No one has inner access to anything that everyone doesn’t have inner access to. We have different interests, but we all have access to the same good.

My response to the awakening is to let my voice be heard at local and national levels. My response has also been to finally accept that I can take giant steps forward. I really can advance in thought and in tangible ways. And I don’t have to wait for another human to green light me or give me permission to fulfill my destiny. I don’t need anyone’s signature of approval on my life.

If you’re reading this article, you could be dealing with the same thought lies. You could be practicing self-deception the same way that I was. You also might not know that you’re lying to yourself, especially if you work hard, are persistent and resilient.

Signs that you might be lying to yourself
Not quitting doesn’t mean that you’re heading in the right direction. Don’t worry. I had to learn that lesson too.

Whether you’re starting a business, struggling to believe that you can start a business or doubt that you can actually grow your business into a profitable enterprise, it’s time to spot thoughts of self-deception. It’s time to find out if you’ve been lying to yourself for weeks, months, years – decades.

Signs that you might be lying to yourself include:

• A nagging feeling that you are living small
• Feeling that there is something over your head, the same way you’d feel if you were in a box with a lid on it
• Believing that another person or other people have more power over your life than you do
• Talking yourself out of doing things that will get you noticed
• This unexplainable feeling that you are going in a circle
• Curiosity as to why someone else is succeeding and you’re not – this curiosity isn’t jealousy, it’s an open pondering as to what is causing this
• A sense that you should be doing and achieving a lot more than you are

Don’t put the brakes on self-awareness and awakening
To avoid exploring the issue of self-deception more, you might:

• Become exceptionally busy (just work, work, work)
• Develop a fear to focus on (e.g. you’re going to get laid off, your car is going to break down, a sickness becomes the center of your life, your partner is going to cheat on you or leave you)
• Zone in on someone else’s life and ignore your own (e.g. you try to fix an adult child, lover, colleague, friend)
• Have another child
• Get married
• Take it as your responsibility to figure out the world or life in general (this is a good way to get on a merry go-round that never stops)

Each of these steps could be a way to chew up your time and energy so you won’t explore self-deception, including the specific ways that you keep lying to yourself. You might even take on a victim role or decide to be someone’s hero.

Either of these choices will keep you busy, that’s for sure. But, if the inspiration behind these actions is fear, they will also keep you stuck. Busy stuck. Busy staying stuck. How’s that sound?

To start awakening from self-deception, read books that explore self-deception and lies that we tell ourselves that are written from a research or scientific standpoint. Meditate and practice awareness. Don’t just sit still or practice deep breathing. Recognize when you might be lying to yourself.

As a note of caution, start and end each day with a word of truth. If you have to, stand in front of a mirror and tell yourself, “I love you.” Tell yourself that you are perfectly made; the real, true you is perfectly made. Your True Self can lose nothing or be harmed. Your True Self is forever cared for, safe and blessed.

Continue to practice awareness and self-honesty. A journal is a great tool to use to track your awakening journey. You’re going to learn a lot about yourself, especially as the lies that you believed were true about you start to fall away.

Keep going.

It could take years. But, IT’S WORTH IT!!!!

Your false self may kick and scream and fight.

Keep going.

Welcome to the Great Awakening!

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Search engine optimization tips

By Avery Baxter

SEO Search Engine Optimization graphic

Search Engine Optimization picture by GoogLiction at Wikimedia Commons

The best search engine optimization tips lead to more sales conversions. Testing landing pages, social media pages, video channels like YouTube and Vimeo and blogs are a must if you want to find out which design, marketing and advertising approaches yield improved results.

You can do this by building two to three landing pages to announce the same product or service. Lay product headlines at the top and right side of one page and top, middle and left side of another page to see which leads to the most sales or prospect contacts.

More prospect engagement tips

Prospect contacts come through free educational guide downloads, newsletter subscriptions, giveaway signups, coupons and other strategies that require visitors to your website to provide you with their contact information (i.e. name, email address) to receive free information that the prospects find valuable.

Keep in touch with prospects who take the time to share their valuable contact information with you. After all, search engine optimization tips bring you more visitors. Customer relationship building is critical to convert these people into paying customers.

Get more website, blog and social media visitors

So, how do you get more visitors to your website, blog or video channel? Integrate your search engine optimization efforts. Create a search engine optimization tips calendar. Items to include on the calendar are:

  • Dates that blog posts, landing pages, images, videos and social media posts will be created and published
  • Social media pages that optimized content will be published at
  • Keywords that will be used in weekly or monthly optimized content
  • Dates that you will run analytics on published content. Of all search engine optimization tips, this one is key. You must measure the results of your efforts to know which tools and strategies are worth continuing. This is not a time for guesswork or magical thinking.

Add the same keywords to videos, blog posts, social media posts and images on a weekly basis. Link each piece of content back to one to two of your websites. Success at this requires that you get clear about your organization’s mission.

What are the top three benefits that people will definitely receive if they do business with you? Will they save money? Will they become healthier? Will they shorten the time it takes to complete a routine chore? Will they be entertained in a memorable way, the type of entertainment that educates, inspires and enlightens?

Search engine optimization tips and tools

Choose search engine optimization keywords that align with your mission and value proposition. For example, if you sell car seat covers, you could choose keywords that highlight car accessories, car detailing products or car seat covers for leather seats. These search engine optimization tips do more than attract visitors; these search engine optimization tips build brand.

Looking for keyword search tools? Try:

  • Google Adwords Keyword Search – https://adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner
  • Keyword Tool (it’s free) – http://keywordtool.io
  • Word Tracker – http://www.wordtracker.com

If you’re looking for search engine optimization tips analytic tools, there’s:

  • Google Analytics – https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1308617?hl=en
  • Facebook Analytics – https://www.facebook.com/help/336893449723054 (run a Facebook ad, and you can view more social media analytics)
  • Web SEO Analytics (not a free service) – http://www.webseoanalytics.com/free/seo-tools/web-seo-analysis.php
  • Woo Rank – https://www.woorank.com

    As you can see, search engine optimization tips take clarity (an absolutely clear vision), planning, measuring and time to implement effectively. The goal is to get and stay in front of your target audience. Help your target audience find you, then engage them to increase sales conversions.
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Search engine optimization tips

Signs That Your Marketing Promos Are Not Working

It’s easy to find companies that offer marketing promos. By marketing promos, I mean written content marketing, videos, social media posts and podcasts that are developed with the primary intention of driving traffic.

Some ways that these companies drive traffic include:

  • Creating dozens (if not hundreds) of blog sites
  • Publishing hundreds of articles or blog posts a day
  • Starting dozens of podcasts and embedding them on high traffic blog directories
  • Posting comments on high traffic media outlets
  • Designing dozens of social media pages across a wide range of social media platforms
  • Sending out hundreds of social media posts daily, often dozens of times an hour using social media automated marketing tools
  • Building dozens of websites around specific branded themes
  • Establishing their own subject specific snail and email contact lists
  • Interviewing on high traffic online and offline radio and television stations
  • Running low cost targeted ads on media platforms that put them in front of the very people who are most likely to find value (feel that they need) marketing promos

Consistently engage in the above actions yourself, and you’ll see an increase in traffic at your website, blog, podcasts and social media pages. You’ll also spend a lot of time on marketing, leaving you less time to devote to product and sales development.

Make sure that marketing promos lead to sales

Which is where companies that provide marketing promos come in. If you’re still reading this article, you’re probably looking for new ways to generate website, social media or podcasts traffic. But, think about it.

That’s not what you really want. You don’t just want more traffic. The goal is to gain more sales.

You didn’t go into business and come online to give yourself an ego boost. Profits and growing revenues are key.

If you’re not careful, this same intention could make you look like a sucker. How?

Who’s zooming who?

While it’s often a fact that companies that provide marketing promos engage in several, if not all, of the aforementioned actions, it’s not necessarily the case that those actions lead to increased sales for you. Think about it.

If the same several hundred or thousand people have a footprint at a marketing promos company’s blogs, websites, podcasts, newsletters and social media accounts, and these same people are clicking on links that lead to the company’s customer sites, it’s highly unlikely that these people are really paying attention to what they are clicking on. It’s like asking a thousand people to click on 300 links a day.

Facing marketing facts

How much attention do you think those sites are really getting?

Worse is the fact that some marketing promos companies use bots to drive traffic. It’s reached the point where entrepreneurs with minimal marketing experience suspect bots are used as part of marketing efforts.

Thing is that bots may drive tons of traffic to your sites, but that traffic is not included in organic traffic stats. So, how do you know if marketing promos are working?

Signs that marketing promos are effective

Signs that marketing promos may be working start with sales. Don’t just rely on analytics that marketing companies provide. Are you getting more sales since you started a marking campaign?

If the sales related to the marketing campaign continued at their present rate (i.e. 50 sales a week), does it make sense to continue the campaign? Also:

    • Do you see an increase in video channel subscriptions or do you only see an increase in traffic to a particular video that you’re promoting through a marketing company? If people are really interested in the video, you should see an increase in channel subscriptions.
    • Are the numbers of your newsletter subscriptions going up?
    • Is the amount of engagement at your electronic newsletters and other forms of direct mail improving? Examples of improvement in this area include more clicks on links that you embed in your newsletters and an increased number of newsletter shares.
    • Are influencers in your industry reaching out to you with interview or commentary requests?
    • Is your company website experiencing more clicks and are visitors staying at your website longer, checking out more pages, products and services that you offer?
    • When you compare month-over-month and year-over-year visitor analytics for your business, have one or both sets of numbers improved since you started the marketing promos?

More signs that marketing promos are effective

  • Has traffic to other areas where you have an online presence gone up? When people are truly interested in what you offer, they search for more information on you or your business. They want to know more about you.

Traffic alone isn’t enough to tell if marketing promos are working. Consider the type of traffic that a marketing campaign is generating. Is it bot or organic traffic? Are the people who are visiting your links through a marketing campaign employees of the marketing firm? Or are these people really interested in your products and services?

The top sign that marketing promos are working is an increase in sales that’s directly linked to the marketing campaign. Other signs include deeper consumer engagement. Again, examples of deeper consumer engagement are more people clicking on newsletter links, more shares and social media questions and comments.

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Signs That Your Marketing Promos Are Not Working

How to get paid on time as a freelancer

By Avery Baxter

As a new freelancer, the tough part is finding and securing client contracts. If you’ve been following us at Write Money Inc., you know that MediaBistro, Journalism Jobs, Upwork, Simply Hired, Craigslist, Freelance Writing Gigs, ZipRecruiter, LinkedIn, Twitter (yes, Twitter!) and professional associations are great places to find freelance work. Set up job alerts to avoid having to search through hundreds of jobs a day.

Those steps help you secure client contracts. Except for Upwork, the freelance job sites don’t help you to get paid. That’s up to you.

Good habits let you get paid on time as a freelancer

Getting paid on time as a freelancer may easily also be the second toughest part about being a freelancer. There are no automatic payroll deposits coming your way as a freelancer. What won’t stop are your bills. You need to get paid on time.

A first step to get paid on time as a freelancer is to write specific terms into client contracts that outline your pay rate and when payment is due from the client. For example, you could state that payment is due on the 5th day of the month. Set competitive rates. Organizations like the Editorial Freelancers Association, Contently and Writers Digest and NJ Creatives publish freelancer job rates.

Factor in your freelancing work experience and relevant training and certifications when setting rates. Don’t low ball yourself. You deserve to be paid according to your skill level comparative to average and competitive market rates.

Work with clients who have a reputation for paying freelancers on time. If a client falls behind in payments, contact them and ask when you can expect payment. There may be instances when clients don’t have the money to pay you on time, especially if clients haven’t received payment from their customers or if sales have dropped off.

Make getting paid on time a team effort

Make contact with clients in writing so you will have a paper trail. Pay attention to your gut. If you get the feeling that a client is having cash flow problems, consider reducing the amount of work that you complete for that client. The last thing that you want is to spend time on work that you may never get paid for.

Another way to get paid on time as a freelancer is to reach out to other freelancers who work for the client who’s been late in sending out payments. Ask these peers if they’ve been paid. If they’ve been working with the client longer than you have, ask them if the client has a habit of paying freelancers late.

Band together and reach out to the client as a team. You could also copy other freelancers on emails that you send the client requesting payment. As a last resort, be prepared to go to small claims court to receive payment.

You could also ask the client to return all work that he has not paid you for. Make it clear to the client that she is not to use the material in any form now or in the future.

To avoid having your freelance gigs shut down because a client hasn’t paid you yet, keep a roster of 10 or more clients who you work for. Search for freelance jobs daily. Again, remember to set up job alerts to save time. Continue to learn and expand your skill set, as this can help you to attract new clients.

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How to get paid on time as a freelancer

Home office tax deduction mistakes

By Rhonda Campbell

An increasing number of Americans are working from home or telecommuting. Yet, everyone doesn’t file home office tax deduction expenses that they’re eligible for. Business mileage, home office furniture purchases and business entertainment costs are just a few home office tax deduction expenses that people don’t take.

Keep up with telecommuting and home office changes

It’s good to see employers and customers accept that you don’t have to work in a large office to be creative, develop products, hold conference calls or complete many other work functions. Early in my working career, it wasn’t that way. Workers were expected to commute into the office Monday through Friday, and this was after computers and the Internet were the rave.

Surprisingly, the increase in the numbers of people working from home is in the “employer for-profit” category. Global Workplace Analytics reports that since 2005, the work-from-home population (not including self-employed workers) has grown by 103%. From 2013 through 2014, the population of people working from home grew by 56%.

It’s also surprising that only about 22% of self-employed people worked primarily from home. Self-employed home-based businesses that are incorporated grew by 18.7% between 2005 and 2014. Some of the highest percentages were for the numbers of American workers who would like to telecommute part-time. A whopping 80% to 90% of workers prefer to work from home part of the time. Talk about a sweet setup.

Home office tax deduction write offs you may be eligible to take

To qualify for a home office tax deduction, you must regularly use a portion of your home exclusively for business. Working on the living room sofa or at the kitchen table generally doesn’t count. You may also qualify for a home office tax deduction if your home is a principal place where you conduct business. The IRS says, “If you conduct business at a location outside of your home, but also use your home substantially and regularly to conduct business, you may qualify for a home office deduction.”

If you work for an employer, you could qualify for a home office tax deduction so long as you don’t rent a portion of your home to your employer and you use a portion of your “for the convenience of your employer”. Types of deductions that you could qualify to take follow (This list is not all inclusive. It’s advisable that you check with your accountant or the IRS before taking a home office tax deduction.)

  • Storage of home office business products
  • Daycare expenses (this applies if you use a part of your home to operate a daycare)
  • Rent or mortgage (You could qualify to deduct a portion of your rent or mortgage. The amount that you could qualify for is generally related to the percentage of your home that you use exclusively to conduct business in.)
  • Utility expenses
  • Healthcare premiums (If you’re self-employed, there’s a good chance that you pay for all of your health insurance yourself. You may be able to deduct these expenses.)
  • Business mileage (The amount that you could deduct per mile can change. Check with the IRS to get the most current business mileage rates.)
  • Marketing expenses
  • Office supplies
  • Tax preparer fees
  • Licenses and regulatory fees
  • Business related hotel and travel expenses
  • Business liability insurance premiums

Keep receipts and detailed records of each home office tax deduction that you take. Keep these records for at least seven years. Not only is it a good record keeping tactic, keeping good records could help you to discover ways that you can save on overhead, reducing costs and raising profits.

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Home office tax deduction mistakes