Archive for December, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

As you have probably noticed, I’ve taken a bit of a break from adding new posts.  The holiday season has been a busy one for me.  But fear not, there will be new posts in the New Year.

I aim to continue to provide useful pieces of information to help you with your home business.  But I guess that’s the beauty of having a home business in the first place…the ability to take time off for yourself when you need to.

So, I hope you all have a great holiday season and you’ll be seeing more come January.

Preparing Your Home Business For Economic Downturns

I am going to start off this post with a story just about everyone is familiar with.  I’m doing this because it perfectly illustrates what I’m going to be discussing today.  And that topic is inflation and how the act of printing money will affect your home business.

The Ant and The Grasshopper ~ Aesop

An Ant was spending a frosty winter’s day drying grain he had collected during the summertime.  A Grasshopper, dying of hunger, passed by and earnestly begged for a little food.  The Ant inquired of him, “Why did you not stock up on food during the summer?”  He replied, “I had no time.  I passed my days singing.”  The Ant then said in derision, “If you are foolish enough to sing all summer, you’ll dance supperless to bed in winter.”

So what does this story have to do with your home business?  It is simply a lesson on being prepared.  If the economy suddenly turns south, are you prepared for it?  Do you need to start planning ahead now to protect yourself?  The answer to that question is, undeniable, YES.  To get some insight into what we are facing, I would recommend watching this 10min video to get an overview, and to opt-in to watch the full 90-min video.  But time is of the essence, as the videos will be coming down at midnight on Sunday, Dec 19th (TODAY).

A quick economics lesson, along with a few charts will help illustrate this point.  There has been something very scary going on in the U.S the last couple of years, and that is the government’s action of printing money.  Not to mention the issue of the government spending much more money than they take in.  Now, if your business was spending more money than it was taking in, you would soon go out of business.  However, the federal government can delay this action simply because they can print more money to pay for their debts.

In fact, with all the bailouts, social programs, and pork recently, the U.S. has printed more money in the past 24-months than in the first 200yrs of existence.  As more money is added to the economy, the actual value of the money decreases.  And as the value of the dollar decreases, it now costs more dollars to pay for items.  This chart shows the amount of money in the system.  Notice the point where we went vertical…right along with the first bailout.

This is known as inflation, and it is already starting to rear its ugly head.  For instance, the price of cotton has increased 100% in the last year.  Grain, oil, metals…all increased last year.  And if people are paying more for groceries, heat, and gas they may be less likely to spend money on your products.  You need to prepare  yourself and your business for this.

Take a look at these next two charts.  They show the price of gold and silver over the past 30yrs.  Notice how the price of both metals increase right along with the increase in the money supply?

GOLD SILVER

Another interesting point to make is the fact that the U.S. Dollar has been the world’s reserve currency for the last several years.  However, as the value of the dollar continues to decrease, this run may very well be coming to an end.  You see, the dollar used to be backed by gold.  However, in 1971, President Nixon took us off the gold standard, turning the dollar into a fiat currency overnight.  And history shows us, a fiat currency has NEVER been able to survive.  What happens if the dollar is no longer the world’s reserve currency?  Or if it fails entirely?  The value of the dollar will go down even further, and prices will continue to rise.  You may think this could never happen in the U.S., but it already is.

Remember the story of the Ant and the Grasshopper?  Wouldn’t you rather prepare for winter by storing grain versus having no grain?  If it is a mild winter, well…then you are still no worse off.  But if it is a bad winter, you are prepared.  This is the time you need to consider a purchase of gold and silver to protect your assets.  Don’t wait around like the Grasshopper.  Prepare now before it is too late.

Again, arm yourself with information and knowledge.  Don’t just take my word for it.  Watch this video to see for yourself the 7 stages of currency, where we are now, and what the future is going to bring.

Using Akismet As Your Blog’s Anti Spam Filter

Spam is something we all deal with.  We get it via email, and as a blogger we get A LOT of it.  I am not immune to it either.  In fact, as this blog has gotten more popular, the amount of blog spam has increased significantly in the comments section.  So much that I needed to implement an anti spam filter to weed comments out.

What kind of spam?

Generally, I have noticed a few methods of spamming in the comments sections of my various posts.  One basic method is to simply insert a generic comment, but then to include some type of link for the posters own personal gain.  Initially, I would go through these comments by hand and remove all links.  But thanks to my great readers, and the overall popularity gain, I just couldn’t keep up with all the comments anymore.

Another method I have noticed is for a single individual to post multiple comments in multiple posts.  Why would they do this?  Because they are allowed to enter a website with their info.  Therefore, they will post multiple generic comments, some having absolutely NOTHING to do with the subject of the post, just so their website can be displayed.

What can you do about it?

As I said, I needed to implement an anti-spam filter into my blog to help deal with these types of comments.  This actually helps weed out the legit comments, the people I want to help, from those who are posting junk to help themselves.  I understand why they are doing it, but spammers are going about it the wrong way.  I’ve stated before, if you want to promote your website you need to do it the right way.  And that is to post good comments with useful information that people want and need.  This I have no problem with.

Akismet

The anti spam filter I ended up implementing is called Akismet.  If you have a WordPress blog, it’s a simple plugin install.  You will also need to sign up on their website to get an API key in order to use the software.  What this does is to review comments for links and generic content.  It also keeps a database of “repeat offenders”, so if those users post a comment, it will automatically be spammed out.

The software actually learns the more it is used.  Which brings up one of the issues with it.  And it is something I just discovered myself, thus the reason for this post.  While the software does learn on itself, it is still just a program.  And it is not always accurate.

How accurate is accurate?

I had noticed the number of comments on my blog had gone from over 150/day to 0.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  At first, I had just assumed the first couple of days were a fluke.  But after a week of having not one comment, I had to assume something was up.  What Akismet will do is to automatically flag comments as spam and drop those comments into your spam folder.  This I did not know.

As such, I am now going through the spammed comments looking for valid comments.  Akismet calls these, “Ham” or “False Flags”.  What you can do is to declare comments as “not spam”.  They will then be moved into your comments section for approval.  So if you have posted a comment recently and have not seen it shown up, this is why.  And I apologize.  It will take some time to go through the rest of these comments, but I am hoping it won’t take too long to get caught up.

So keep this in mind if you end up using this software for your own anti spam filter.  It doesn’t just get rid of the comments…you will still need to go through them and decide if they are spam or not.  What I am hoping is that the software is smart enough to learn when certain comments are not spam, and will begin to spam out less comments as a whole.  If not, I’ll be forced to look for something else.

Tips On Blog Advertising

Blog advertising is essential to the success of your blog.  You might put out the greatest information in the history of blogs, but without blog advertising, who’s going to know about it?  You need a way to get the word out.

Some may go the route of paid advertising, but I can tell you from experience, this doesn’t always give you the results you are looking for.  Especially when you are first starting out.  The best bet is to look for ways to promote your blog for free, or to capture the interest of the search engines.

Social Media

Right now, this is the most efficient way of blog marketing.  What you want is for your blog or article to go “viral”.  Meaning, it is shared among countless numbers of people via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.  As people share your information, others will hopefully share it with their lists as well.  The secret here is to create articles which are both informative and useful to many people.

Videos

YouTube is the 3rd most popular website on the internet right now.  If you are not using videos to promote your blog, you are behind others.  Not only does is allow people to associate your blog with a person, but the search engines love videos.

Personal Branding

Going hand-in-hand with videos, when people visit your blog you want them to feel as if they know you.  Posting a video greeting will help accomplish this.  Give an overview of what your blog is about.  People are more willing to watch a video than to read text.  And if you are putting out enough videos, you will soon become something of an “internet celebrity”.

Be Active

Search engines take notice of how often you post to your blog.  If you only post once or twice a month, it’s going to affect your SEO ranking.  So try to post a minimum of twice/week.  Three times is possible.  Daily would be best, though not always possible.  Even I run out of ideas to blog about.  And don’t forget about the people leaving comments on your site.  Interact with them.  Make your blog a place where people can not only get vital information, but also where they can socialize with others sharing their same interests.

Waste Not, Want Not

Try not to go overboard on the size of your blog posts.  As I said earlier, people will spend more time watching a video than reading text.  But if you are only using text, keep the post to around 500-600 words.  Anything more and the reader may lose interest.  If you tend to have longer articles, break them up with subheadings so your readers can easily scan your article for useful information which pertains specifically to them.

The Right Way And Wrong Way To Post Comments

Posting comments in blogs and forums can be a great way to promote your business for free.  But, it can also be harmful and a waste of time.  What do I mean?  That’s what this post is about.

The correct way to post comments is to add value.  Stay on topic with the blog post or forum content.  Reply to the comments of others.  Essentially, you want to engage in conversation and provide good content and helpful information.  The same as if you were writing a blog yourself.  Think of it as a mini post.

Now, the wrong way to post comments would involve simply promoting your own website.  Or posting a comment which is generic, completely off topic, or does not provide helpful information to others.  You see, if you are only there to promote yourself or your website, people will see right through it.  That, and your comment or forum post will probably be edited or completely deleted.

So don’t waste your time or the time of others.  Simply post comments which are helpful to the writer and other readers.  You will be a better person for it and you will help to brand yourself as a helpful person.

Job Security Through A Home Business

Last month, I had discussed the Top 5 Home Business Advantages.  I want to spend the next couple posts breaking these down individually.  The first reason was, Job Security.  And obviously, with the way the economy is currently, this is a fairly hot topic.  So let’s start there.

This issue of job security is a concern of many people.  Companies are cutting back their work force in an attempt to stay in the black.  Then there is the issue of outsourcing overseas.  Suffice to say, there are many reasons why you may lose your job.

So the next question you have to ask yourself is, do you want that possibility hanging over your head the entire time you are employed?  Always wondering when the next layoff will be, and if you will be affected?  You probably feel as though you do not control part of your life.

If you think about it, there are 24hrs in a day.  And you spend 8 of those hours (or more) working.  That’s 33% of your time, every day.  What would happen if you did lose your job due to it being outsourced?  Do you have enough money stashed away to last you until you found another job?  Would you even be ABLE to find another job in an acceptable amount of time?

The answer is to look at creating multiple streams of income.  The concept is similar to investing in the stock market.  The rule of thumb is to diversify your portfolio so you spread out your money over several stocks, rather than having ALL of your money in just one stock.  Why?  Because if that one stock were to decrease in value significantly, you stand to lose a lot of money.

The same principle holds true here.  If you only have one source of income and you lose it, you could be in some serious trouble.  However, if you have MULTIPLE sources of income, you stand a much better chance of weathering the storm.

I’ll give you another reason for getting involved with a home business to gain more job security.  If you start a home business, are you going to lay yourself off?  Of course not.  You are working for yourself.  So job security is built right in.  The only risk would be if the company you join goes out of business.  Which is why it becomes VITAL to do your research and make sure the company you are looking at is stable and positioned to continue growing.