WOOF Round-Up: Origin Of The Unicorn

Here is your WOOF round-up! And this week, it’s a double edition. So doubly enjoy the art, the knowledge, and the etymology.

elasmotheriumWe learned that unicorns were important figures in medieval heraldry, but the origin of this mythological creature could be even older: 50,000 years ago, from ice age Asia. The giant Elasmotherium was related both to horses and rhinoceroses, and had a single large horn on its head (like rhinoceroses today, but with a bigger horn).

It’s certainly extinct now, like all the other mega-animals from the time, but it’s possible that human stories about the Elasmotherium might’ve been handed down and morphed into the medieval and modern ideas of the unicorn.

While you contemplate that, check out the other Words Of The Day:

Monday (June 30): Vitiligo — Skin pigmentation autoimmune disorder in which patches of skin lose their color.  (1989 American Medical Association Home Medical Encyclopedia, Volume Two, I – Z)

Wednesday: Pygo — A root word that pertains to the buttocks. From the Greek πυγή, meaning buttocks, or tail. (1990 Mosby’s Medical Dictionary)

Thursday: To hit the rhinestone bracelet — To leave, to hit the road. (1972 The Queens’ Vernacular: A Gay Lexicon)

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Monday (July 7): Unicorn — One of the most popular and ancient monsters in heraldry. It is usually drawn as a horse with a single long twisted horn, lion’s tail, and the legs and cloven hooves of a stag. (1996 An Heraldic Alphabet)

Tuesday: “At times to be silent is to lie…”  – Miguel de Unamuno (1864 – 1936), Spanish writer (1985 The Great Thoughts)

Wednesday: Tennis — In 1873, a British army officer introduced lawn tennis, which he called “Sphairistike” to the U.S. The game ultimately derives from a European game of the 13th century.  (1995 Volvo Guide To Halls Of Fame)

 

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Could PPC Marketing Be The Small Business Tool You Need?

Which tools and services do you utilize to help run your small business? Social media is a tool that you probably already use, and blogging is becoming increasingly popular.  You may want to think of adding PPC (Pay-Per-Click) marketing to your small business tool belt. PPC marketing has the potential to expand a business immensely by contributing to massive increases in both sales and social media followers.

small business toolPPC is a type of online search engine marketing.  PPC search engines allow advertisers to display their ads on search engine pages.  If a customer clicks on an advertiser’s ad, then the advertiser pays the PPC search engine for the click.  It’s up to the advertiser to monetize that click so that their money doesn’t go to waste.  Should you choose to do this, you’ll advertise your business by bidding on relevant keywords.  Interested customers will then click your ads and be taken to your business site. Here are some of the most popular venues for PPC marketing:

Google Adwords:

Google Adwords is the biggest PPC search engine available.  They have the most leverage traffic-wise, but they are also the most expensive. Adwords is very strict in website and and writing policies, so it is usually not recommended for newbies just beginning to venture into PPC.

Bing/Yahoo:

Bing/Yahoo is an approachable network for beginners that uses a lot of similar methods and interfaces that Google does.  It can be utilized as a good training network with a decent level of high converting traffic.  Bing can be used as a segue for getting into Adwords.

7search:

7search is a cheap network, with clicks costing $0.01 at the lowest.  It is sometimes recommended for beginners because of the lack of regulations on ads and websites.  It’s also very easy to try something on 7search without a huge investment, since the minimum deposit is only $25.  The downside is that because it’s a second-tier network, the quality of traffic is very poor. You will need to blacklist bad subids that don’t convert for your site or offer.

Search engine marketing is an excellent tool to give small businesses a boost in sales, traffic, and customers.  If you want to learn more about other tools to grow your business, like social media or blogging, don’t hesitate to contact us.  We’d be happy to hear from you!









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Two Ways To Build Trust By Blogging For Small Business

If you are a small business owner, you know the importance of building trust with your customers. Gene Quinn, the President of IPWatchdog, puts it this way:

It is far better for a prospective client or customer to come to the understanding that you know what you are talking about for themselves than it is for you to tell them you know what you are talking about directly.

blogging for small businessBut how do you do this when you don’t see customers on a daily basis? How do you let customers discover that you can be trusted? How do you help customers decide that you know what you are talking about? One way is to actively engage in blogging for small business and update your blog with candid and helpful information.

So how does a blog build trust?

1. When you use your blog to keep people informed, you are communicating that you care. You are also communicating that you know the positives and negatives of your business. When you consistently post informational blogs, you are giving customers the chance to decide that you do know what you are talking about. For example, if you sell cars and post recalls on your blog, or discuss ways to install car seats for better safety, then you are building trust by giving the customer information she needs.

2. When you ensure your blog is accurate, you are building trust. You want to be sure that what you post, even when written by a third party, is accurate. If you make a mistake — don’t worry! No matter how hard you try, there will probably be something inaccurate, or something that someone doesn’t agree with. If there is ever an inaccurate post, then simply correct the error and apologize. That apology builds great trust.

We have some other ideas on how to build trust, just contact us and let’s have that conversation.










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Content Writing Services and the Shutdown of Yahoo! Contributor Network

By Greg Brian

Yahoo! Contributor networkOut of all content writing services, Yahoo! Contributor Network and Yahoo! Voices gave numerously positive opportunities to professional and amateur writers for nine years before shutting down on July 2. I happened to start the online side of my freelance writing career there back in 2007 when it was called Associated Content (created in 2005 by its mastermind, Luke Beatty). It was a worthy outlet for the public at large to contribute articles on anything imaginable and get paid well for it. Those who happened to write there in the first few years of operation were getting $50 an article and making good livings. You also had the beauty of working for an indie company where corporate meddling didn’t bring misguided ideas.

Then the Yahoo! buyout occurred in 2010, and everyone thought the corporate mentality would ruin everything. In the beginning, it actually improved, ultimately giving us wider opportunities. They even had a program that allowed you to write through the Yahoo! Movies/TV banner, which I did for two years. It led to national recognition for me and a mention in The New York Times.

Those were the true glory years, though the “content mill” stigma had always been attached to Associated Content during the Yahoo! transition. Because of this problem, it led Google to essentially punish any sites that resembled a content mill, despite the majority of writers at Yahoo! Contributor Network writing at top level. Google Panda essentially massacred the company to a point where page views dropped to the bottom in the last couple of years.

I experienced that page view drop myself, though it was far different writing through the Yahoo! Movies/TV arm a couple of years ago. Regardless, when that ended and all publishing reverted back to Yahoo! Voices, the views went through periods of being abysmally low.

All of the above is quite different from the world of blogging where you’re given a keyword and assured that the blog is going to be ranked high on Google. Also, with blogs not usually punished by Google Panda, the knowledge that a blog will be found is much greater.

When I started here at BlogMutt in May of last year, I could see that the real future of writing online was going to be blog-writing services. With most businesses realizing the value of a real person writing blogs for them, will blog writing become the primary spot for freelance writers to sustain their careers?

The Future of Blog Writing Services

Everyone who works here at BlogMutt already knows that it’s a top-notch company with a CEO who relates to writers and what they go through. And you can put money down that copycat services will be popping up soon once they realize how successful the business model is in comparison to the content mill structure. The good news for those who need a creative writing outlet is that many businesses want you to be as creative as possible, and even funny. Blogs don’t need to be dry, scholarly pieces that just dispense ordinary information.

I’ve found this out myself and occasionally have some fun when it’s allowable. The only difference is that this is pure ghostwriting, which is something you have to get used to if you’ve had a public writing side. Now that Yahoo! Contributor Network and Yahoo! Voices are gone, those like me who wrote there for a long time now have to be resourceful and realize the game is changing. Ghostwriting and blog-writing may be more lucrative overall, and the public writing side may be just for the lucky few who work for major media conglomerations. Ironically, that public side may also have to be reserved for our own personal blogs.

While other unique opportunities are still out there online, BlogMutt is the best place to work if you want timely pay and a staff that cares about the writers. It’s a business model we have to hope snowballs in all the BlogMutt wannabes that are sure to start up.

In the meantime, it’s back to being a ghostwriter for me, which isn’t bad when you can tell people publicly you write things they may be seeing under other names.

If you want to write for BlogMutt, check out the freelance writer’s page, and fill out an application.

Editor’s Note: This blog is an example of the kind of writing you can get for your blog. The only thing that’s different is that it has the name of the writer. For your blog, you can say you wrote it. That’s fine with us. We’re happy mutts. Click here for more explanation of this series of posts.

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Freelance Work-From-Home Opportunity For Seniors

work from home opportunityWe hear constantly about how challenging the job market is and very few solutions that address the concerns that many of us face finding work. However, once we’re approaching or at retirement age, we may not be as interested in full-time work as we are in finding ways to make a few extra dollars.

Then come the challenges

The problem with trying to find ways to make a few extra dollars as a senior citizen is time commitments.  Let’s face it, few of us want to spend our golden years working on a rigid schedule. We want the flexibility to make our own hours, not be tied down every weekend working, and we want to drop everything and run if one of our grandchildren is having a recital, graduation, or even a sleep-over. The problem with most part-time jobs is this:

  • Weekend warriors: Too often, seniors are tied down with retail jobs that require they work weekends. This is not a good way to spend your golden years, even if you love what you’re doing.
  • Rigid schedules: Let’s face it, after retirement we’re looking for flexibility. Being tied down to working three days a week from nine a.m. to 2 p.m. isn’t what we had in mind when we retired.
  • Baby bosses: How many of us want to spend our golden years answering to someone who is younger than our children? Not too many of us are that flexible, let’s face it!

What if you had the opportunity to take advantage of a legitimate freelance work from home opportunity for seniors? Would you do it? Here are some of the advantages that you’ll find when you find an opportunity that works for you:

  • You set your hours: Do you like working at four a.m., or do you prefer working at four p.m.? Either way, you can take your pick. If you want to work two hours a day, two hours a week, or two hours a month, you can do that.
  • You’re the boss: In addition to setting your own hours, you decide what you want to write about. You can decide to write medical topics, legal topics, or plumbing topics, if you’re so inclined. You can feel free to spread your wings and write about something you know nothing about if you are up to doing the research.
  • You set your own goals: Are you tired of others telling you how much or how little you can do? Don’t let anyone set your goals for you! You can write one post a day or you can write eight a day: the choice is yours.

If you are looking for a good freelance work-from-home opportunity for seniors, you should find out just how much fun we have. It’s up to you how you want to spend your golden years. We’re here to provide the opportunity!

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How To Write From Home: A Battle Plan

copywriterGiven the ease of the “internet commute,” many copywriters now work from home. Just like regular office workers, they find that working from home has its own distinct pros and cons. They’ve likewise discovered that as long as they have a battle plan, each day can be tackled with a fair measure of success.

How to Write from Home:

Step One: Invest in Alarm Clocks. Plural. Put one next to your bed. Put another across the room. Put one in the bathroom and another in the kitchen and one on each individual blade of the ceiling fan. Invest in some of those huge speakers used for the Emergency Broadcast System and rig your alarms to sound through them.

After all, it’s not always easy to get up in the morning if you don’t have a hard deadline to meet, so you should have a plan for getting yourself out of the covers consistently. Short of constructing a complicated bed/trebuchet contraption aimed to shoot you out of bed and land you directly in front of your computer at 8:00am daily (which sounds effective, if a bit dangerous), the multiple-alarm method is your best bet to establishing a consistent start time.

Step Two: Remember to Eat. Most writers have two settings: 1) In the Zone, and 2) Writer’s Block. Which is why when a writer is In the Zone, he often forgets about normal daily functions such as eating and drinking. He’ll sit down to work and wonder why he’s developed a raging headache, only to realize that hours have passed and he’s missed two meals and the sun has set and he has no idea what day it is or what planet he’s on and that an entire pot of coffee has somehow vanished. (Coffee drinking, of course, is ongoing throughout the process, and since the coffee pot is kept within reach of the computer, it can be sustained subconsciously throughout the day, much like breathing).

Regular breaks for eating, drinking, and stretching are important, though, so perhaps you should consider setting periodic alarms to remind you to care for yourself. Not only will this ensure better health and peace of mind, but you will also feel as if you’re getting your money’s worth out of those Emergency Broadcast System speakers by using them more than once per day.

Step Three: Plan, write, re-write, edit, ad infinitumAlthough it may sound like a repetitive schedule, remember that there is great strength in repetition.

As sure as the ocean tides, the rhythms of life can build to an undeniable force of power and beauty.

This is your day. This is your life. 

Embrace it.

 

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Five Facebook Marketing Tips For Small Businesses

marketing tipsFacebook is seemingly ubiquitous.  It has millions of users, and billions of those users “like” things every single day.  It’s no secret that businesses do well there.  So how can you get a slice of the Facebook pie to help sell your products?  Let’s look at some marketing tips to get your Facebook page up and running efficiently.

 

1.  Post At Regular Times

You’ll want to post often to keep people coming to your page for fresh content.  Choose certain times of the week you want to post and try to stick to those times to be consistent.  If you can, find out when the most popular Facebook browsing times are and tailor your posting schedule appropriately.  You can do special days, too.  For example, you could have a chat with fans every Monday night.  Spice things up and have fun with it so your visitors and customers will, too.

2.  Engage With People

Your customers like to be involved, so chat with them, and hold competitions and giveaways.  Talk with customers about your products and what they like or dislike about your services.  Start conversations and ask followers how they feel.  Get their opinions for possible improvement so they’ll feel as though they’re helping with your business.  Create liking or commenting contests and provide winners with incentives and prizes.  These rewards encourage people to participate and make it easier for them to share their opinions.

3.  Analyze Your Customers

Take a good look at your customer base and think about why your products and services appeal to them.  Get to know your target audience or ideal customer and what makes them tick.  If you learn more about your audience, you’ll be able to find where they hang out and get more quality customers to your page.  Facebook provides statistics about the people visiting your page, so make sure you take advantage of any stats they offer.

4.  Cross-Promote

Make sure you link your other business-related sites to Facebook as well.  Post a link to your main website and if you have a blog, share your posts on your page as well.  This cross-promotion can help get all your customers together and help them find you on all your different sites and outlets.

5.  Use Limited Time Offers And Specials

People always like to feel that they are getting a good deal.  They also don’t want to miss out.  Create urgency by letting the first people to comment on a post have a limited edition coupon or something of value.  Customers will participate more if you market your page correctly, so offer special editions to make certain sales valuable.  You can also use holidays for specials, especially since the seasons put people into the buying mindset.  Create scarcity and people will be more likely to act.

Think about your customers and remember to market towards their interests and get feedback from them.  Distinguish your brand by providing quality content on anything with your business’s name on it.  If you want more information on how to provide value with blogging and social media, feel free to contact us.  We’d be happy to answer any questions you have!









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Why You Should Buy Blog Posts

buy blog postsGoogle can be a fickle partner. When they started rolling out algorithm updates, many websites suffered from slower traffic, less buzz around popular subjects, and in some cases, search engine rankings in the hopper.  In order to bail out of the mess left behind in the wake of Panda and Penguin updates, many SEO firms took shortcuts. In some cases, these shortcuts have led to lawsuits, as in the attorney who filed suit against their SEO company.

Google has repeatedly told businesses who want higher ranks in the search engines to provide good content, valid links, and real traffic. They frown on fake links, poorly written content, and purchased traffic.  So what is a business to do to get either into Google’s good graces, or back to their good graces?

It’s simple: you should provide real and quality content on your site. Not sure how to write it yourself? You can buy blog posts from a high-quality service.  Blog posts should be written for your blog based on a few premises:

  • Providing useful information: Anyone can sit down and crank out 400 meaningless words. However, well-written posts that provide helpful information from a prospective client’s viewpoint is not as simple.
  • Keyword rich without keyword stuffing: We’ve all seen the posts that have the same keywords stuck in a 300 word piece over and over again. Oftentimes, this is because someone is working with a foolish formula that might have worked a few years ago, but doesn’t work so well anymore.
  • Steady stream of new content: Content has been and will always remain king on the Internet. After all, once a prospect has read your blog post, you need a reason to get them back to your site, right? How do you accomplish that? Simple: You post a new blog post and you keep doing posting, week after week.

Why buy blog posts?

You get the content you need to keep Google happy, you get relevant information for your prospects, and you free up your time to do the other things that keep your business humming along. Not to mention the fact that having writers who are interested in your business also means content will be approached with a fresh set of eyes every time. You get a steady stream of good content.

It is easier than you think to find good content: contact us today and find out what we can do to help you get great content on your blog.









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Creative Bloggers, Get Inspired!

creative bloggersIf you’re a creative blogger, you can write about whatever strikes your fancy. And some people thrive that way. Igniting your writing spark may simply mean enjoying a cup of coffee and whipping out your computer. But if you need a little extra help from the muses, here are six tried-and-true paths to inspiration.

1. Lie in a flowery meadow. Allegedly, Douglas Adams, creator of The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, would lay in a field of flowers because they spoke ideas to him, though some have argued that the drugs he consumed are what made the ideas flow. In any event, perhaps skip the mind-altering substances and just let the flowers do their job. Unless you’re afraid of bees.

2. Sit in a bathtub of apples. According to legend, G.M. Mallie, author of Death of a Cozy Writer, sat in a bathtub of apples to get her inspiration. It must work, since Mallie’s book did win an Agatha award.

3. Join a writer’s forum and unwind. This is probably the most effective way to hone your creative skills. Fellow writers are usually happy to offer advice and ideas. Reach out to those writers in a community that you find helpful.

4. Sit on a mountain. This requires a little bit of mettle and the opportunity to travel to a convenient location. But the clear mountain air and stunning vista may be what you need to clean out the proverbial cobwebs in your brain.

5. Spend time with family and throw ideas around. In the popular TV show House, the puzzle-loving doctor, Gregory House, insists on always having another doctor to bounce ideas off of. Take the good doctor’s advice. Your family will not be afraid to tell you when you have a dumb idea, and they might see things from perspectives that are entirely different from yours.

6. Go to a place similar to your subject for inspiration. Go to the source location. Here at BlogMutt, writers often go to the website for the company they’re writing for. Viewing the thing you are going to write about — in person — may help you reconfigure nascent ideas you’re still working on.

There are probably thousands of ways to get inspired, and finding your inspiration may be as simple as a trip to the grocery store. Just remember, you have to clean all those apples up to actually use the bathtub later.

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Four Social Media Mistakes Small Businesses Should Avoid

small business social media mistakesSmall businesses are jumping on the social media bandwagon in droves—and with good reason.  Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are booming right now, and more of these sites are popping up daily.  There’s much to be gained by getting your business on social media.  You can find more customers, increase your sales, and gain networking opportunities for possible collaboration with other businesses in the future. And you have too much to lose by not getting involved.

But how do you navigate the social sites without gaffes that cost you customers?  There are good and bad ways to do social media marketing.  Let’s look at some common mistakes you should avoid when starting on social media sites.

1.  Unprofessional Photo

Your business page should be professional.  After all, if someone is on your business page, it’s safe to assume that business is what they’re interested in.  Use a photo of yourself with wide open eyes and an energetic smile.  You want to appear engaged and ready in your picture.  If you decide you want to use your company’s logo for the profile picture, you should make sure that all text is legible in the smallest thumbnail sizes of the specific social media site you’re using.

2.  Poor Grammar

Using incorrect grammar is an extreme turn-off for customers.  It sends the message that your company is sloppy and not meticulous in its dealings.  Customers will worry that you will make mistakes and offer bad service if you use incorrect grammar.  If you make too many mistakes, customers will even start to question the legitimacy of your business. Take the time to proofread your posts and profile to catch any errors you may have made.

3.   Making Questionable And Socially Unacceptable Statements

Businesses are viewed as leaders and are expected to uphold standards of integrity.  If your business says things that offend people, you’re going to lose customers.  Avoid topics that could cause controversy, like race, politics, and death.  Instead of tuning in on the negative, try focusing your posts on positive solutions to problems and ways to offer better service to customers.  Don’t complain—customers expect you to provide actionable help and support, not empty negativity.

4.  Posting Information Not Related To Business

Keep the personal information on your personal social media profiles.  Your business page is only for things business-related.  It’s unprofessional to mix your personal life with your business matters.  You should share lots of relevant content, though.  Post a financial article you found useful, share updates on your services and products, or link to a blog post you wrote.  Give people a reason to follow you on social media.

Social media marketing isn’t just about improving your business.  Market your business of course, but don’t focus your efforts solely on that.  Work on providing valuable content to customers so people will want to support your business.  Branding is essential to your business, so be sure to utilize the tools available to get the word out about your services.  If you would like more information on how to use social media or blogging to enhance your branding, don’t hesitate to contact us.  We’d be happy to hear from you!

 

Note from Scott: When I read this post I found that I didn’t agree with it. For instance, I think it’s fine to have information on your blog that’s not related to your business. It shows you have wider interests and are human indeed. So, why run the post? Well, I just wrote recently that a good marketer MUST run posts that they hate to reach the widest possible audience. (OK, I wrote that.) Anyway, it still sounds like good advice to me. – Scott










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