WOOF Round-Up: Cosmetics In The Ancient World

Welcome to your weekly WOOF round-up, wherein we compile all of our words from the day, from the dictionaries of the day, into one handy compendium for your edification and pleasure.


Nefertiti rocked the black eye paint in ca. 1370 BCE Egypt.

We learned a little bit about eye makeup in the Old Testament, and that it wasn’t looked upon favorably. In fact, we still use the term Jezebel, who is mentioned as having painted her face, as both a contemptuous appellation for a woman who is immoral, and as a friendly, jocular nickname for a woman who is not immoral, but who is pleasingly outrageous, only considered immoral by outdated standards.

Today, a person who would like to paint her eyes and brows can buy her cosmetics from Sephora. But where did ancient makeup come from?

Both ancient Egyptian men and women used kohl, a black compound made from a combination of materials, including lead, which was applied to the eyes with a stick (should I be looking forward to Sephora’s “Stick Application” line next season?).  Both ancient Greek men and women used olive oil on their skin, and women mixed charcoal with olive oil for their eye makeup. They also used rouge and foundation.

But it wasn’t just the Old Testament writers who took umbrage with women in makeup. Xenophon’s Socrates, in the “Oeconomicus” (on household economics), argues against a wife who:

“…covered her face with white lead, so that she would seem to have a paler complexion than she really had, and put on thick rouge, so that her cheeks would seem redder than in reality, and high boots, so that she would seem taller than she naturally was.” 

Meretricious Jezebel!

The woman’s husband has a chat with her, and in the end, Socrates, the husband, and the wife all agree that it’s deceitful for the woman to wear makeup (gee, another charge of deceit against a woman in the ancient world. Thanks, Eve!):

You might successfully fool someone outside the household by this kind of deception, but insiders always get caught when they try to deceive one another. For they can be found out when they get up in the morning before they have time to prepare or they are caught out by sweat or put to the test by tears and exposed completely by washing.”

To sum up everything, Socrates concludes, “Women who sit around pretentiously ask to be categorized with the women who use make-up and deceit.”

While we have different standards for what is considered deceit in the modern world, are there any conventions you can think of that are similar today? Perhaps some criticize people who opt to have plastic surgery because it’s unnatural, in the same way that Socrates and the Old Testament brethren stodgily censured cosmetic makeup in the ancient world.

Monday: Überbrettl — Cabaret, floor show, night club (German). (1950 Dictionary Of Foreign Words And Phrases)

Tuesday: Lobster Trick — In journalism, skeleton staff which works the shift taking in late night and early morning hours, after the last edition has gone out. Also called “dog watch,” “graveyard shift,” and “night side. (1982 Longman Dictionary Of Mass Media & Communications)

Wednesday: Laura — The name for a monastery where the monks live in separate hermitages around the church. From the Greek Λαύρα, meaning  “passageway.” (1965 Maryknoll Catholic Dictionary)

Thursday: Eye paint — Black eye makeup which was applied to the lashes and brows to make the eye more pronounced and protect against the glare of the sun. In each of the Old Testament passages where it occurs, the person using it is to be censured (e.g., Judah, personified as a harlot, was seen wishing to appear beautiful to her lovers, and “enlarge” the “eyes with paint.”) (1987 Eerdmans Bible Dictionary)

Friday: Cicerone — A guide who explains the antiquities and chief features of a place. From the Latin orator, Cicero, whose eloquence the guides were thought to have had. (1935 Webster’s Daily Use Dictionary)

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Hot Marketing Tips For Small Businesses

Marketing is an essential part of any business plan or strategy.  Without a marketing plan in place, how will people know about your business? Let’s look at some tips to help you improve your small business marketing skills.

marketing tips for small businesses1.  Do Freebies.

Generally, disposable income is limited and potential customers are more likely to hold onto it if they aren’t familiar with your brand and services.  No one likes to spend money to try something new and have it disappoint them.  Take away that anxiety and let people have free samples or trials of your products.  This is a great way to get people through the door so that they can get a sense of what your business offers.  And if they really like your services, they will probably keep coming back as a loyal customer.

2.  Ask For Referrals. 

Your current customers can be a great help to you.  Ask them to refer you to friends, family, and other people they know.  If you’ve pleased your customers with great service, they’ll be more than happy to recommend you.  Don’t worry about it being awkward or pushy to ask. Most people actually enjoy helping you since you provided them with a great product or service.

3.  Get Your Networking On.

Businesses need to network to gain long-term success.  Many business owners have a misunderstanding about networking.  They expect immediate gains and when that doesn’t happen, they stop networking and say it doesn’t work.  But you have to be patient.  Networking isn’t a quick fix. It’s a strategy that works in the long run and will keep you afloat in the future with a steady stream of customers.  The key to networking is to get involved in your community and area.  Don’t focus on making sales while you network, just relax and enjoy the company of others.  Get to know people, ask questions, and help with community functions.  This will give you a solid reputation and build a brand of trust for your business.

4.  Maintain A Blog.

Try your hand at blogging—it’s very much like online networking.  Blogging can help customers learn more about your brand and stay up to date on your products and services.  Often, people will go online first when they hear about a new business that interests them.  If you have a blog, those customers will have a chance to hear directly about your products and will most likely want to try your services once they get more information.  Blogging is also an excellent way to establish your brand as a leader and authority in your field, as it showcases your expertise and provides customers with value.

Don’t neglect your small business marketing plan.  Getting the word out about your services will connect you to people who need and enjoy your business—people who are more than happy to support you.  Contact us if you have any questions and let us know if you need help with your blog.  We’d be happy to help you get started!

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Small Business Blogging Tips To Keep Readers Coming Back For More

small business tipsYou’ve heard about ways to market, post, and generate good content to attract readers, but when it comes to keeping readers, you can always learn something new.  Here are some small business tips to keep readers coming back to your blog and your site, again and again.

1. Enable Comments.

  • Show appreciation for the interaction of those commenting by responding.  Readers feel appreciated if you respond to their insights, and it’s a great way to have a personal connection with your readers.  It’s amazing how many blogs have comments with no feedback from the blogger or postmaster.
  • Make sure the comment section provides an easy way to post.  Your choice is between a free comment section and a membership.  Free comment sections have a user name, email address, optional web address, and space to comment.  Some offer CAPACHAs.  If you choose to require a sign-in membership, make the process simple.  Lengthy information turns off readers.
  • Comment on other blogs.  Comment on blogs that you read.  It shows that you are interested and active, and might even encourage other bloggers — and their followers – to visit your site.

2. Remind Readers About Your Site.

  • Write a newsletter.  Newsletters send your blog to your readers’ inboxes, with links that lead straight to targeted areas on your site.
  • An alternative to newsletters is an RSS feed.  RSS feeds are located on feed websites, custom home pages, or in browser feeds, where readers can peruse at their leisure.

3. Connect The Dots.

  • A series focuses on one topic stretched into several parts.  Let readers know when the next in a series is coming, and link the previous parts in the newest post.  If anyone misses a part in the series, she can click on the link to catch up.
  • Wrap-ups remind the viewer of what happened this week, the past two weeks, or the past month.  Incorporate the best blogs into the post and provide links to them.
  • Designate one day of the week to be a special day.  Post an infographic, photos, comics, podcasts, fun quotes, or answer reader questions.  Readers will look forward to that day for the latest content.
  • Similar articles are ones that relate to the ones you’re reading.  Inform the reader of other articles that are worth viewing at the bottom of every article.  Label it as “you may also like,” or something similar.

If you haven’t thought about these strategies, incorporate them into your blog now.  For more information on blogs, contact us.

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Blogging For Tax Services

By Curt Smothers

Blogging for tax services requires somewhat of a scaremongering mindset. When it comes to paying our taxes, most of us do so more out of fear of the IRS than patriotism. Coupled with the scaremongering is the absolute need to spy on the enemy’s playbook, which is the over 10,000 pages of the tax code from Hell.

The IRS, who wrote the code to begin with, administers, adjudicates and has powers of enforcement, which makes it a collection agency on steroids. What can they do to you if you don’t pay up? Everything. They can take your money and your property, and what they can’t confiscate outright, they can lean on with a lien.

blogging for tax servicesA lien is a big brown smudge on the title to your home or other real property. Try to dispose of the property or get a loan or more credit, and the lien is the equivalent of an IRS auditor yelling, “Not so fast!”

Then there’s the other L-word, which is the levy. That’s where the IRS can confiscate your bank accounts, garnish your wages, divert your accounts receivable if you own a business and even go after the cash value of your life insurance policy for the money you owe in back taxes. Those back taxes also grow in size because of interest and penalties.

See what I mean about scaremongering? In the previous explanation about liens and levies, I barely scratched the surface of what powers the IRS has to collect taxes for the voracious beast the federal government has become.

So the key to blogging successfully for tax services is taking the dry, structured language of the IRS procedures manual and writing about it in a way to get the attention of tax procrastinators. It is totally reality based, because when you owe the IRS, you can hide, but you can’t run forever.

The tax service is in business to help people get their lives back in order and settling up with the IRS. Contrary to popular opinion, the people at the IRS are approachable and are willing to compromise and work out a time payment or even partial forgiveness of the debt. They realize – and the tax code is written accordingly – that crippling a tax payer financially doesn’t get money flowing in.

On the other hand, if there’s fraud involved, the IRS doesn’t hesitate to call in the heavy hitters of their Criminal Investigation Division. It’s like that old Far Side cartoon, where the shark says to the castaway floating on a raft: “Look, why don’t you just give up and let us eat you. Otherwise, there could be a feeding frenzy, and no one wants that.”

If you’re looking for bloggers who know about tax problems, solutions, and options, contact us. We know of one or two who used to work for the IRS. We don’t know if they are reporting their BlogMutt earnings as income, but this writing service operates on the honor system, just like the IRS – except they have auditors.

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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Blogging For Ecommerce Will Help You Sleep Better

It’s late at night and you’re wide awake, thinking about the performance of your online business. You’ve researched the market, your pricing is competitive, and you sell high-quality products.

You take payments through all of the top payment-processing companies. You may even have a great website. You probably even spent money for the best design and SEO. But the fact remains that orders just aren’t showing up in your inbox, and you can’t figure out why.

Is this a familiar scenario? What else can you do to drive sales through your site?

It’s Time To Write

Believe it or not, blogging for ecommerce is a way to drive repeated sales to your online store. No, this doesn’t mean you need to monetize your blog, or charge a fee to read it. You have to use writing as a form of marketing.

Think of your ecommerce blog as an opportunity to present your company to the world. If you could have five minutes to tell your potential customers anything (besides “Click here to buy!”) what would you say?

You might say, “This is why you should buy from me!”

Guess what? Customers want to know that answer and they will come to your page to find it.

Using Blog Content To Drive Traffic

blogging for ecommerceA blog on your ecommerce site doesn’t just help customers find the pre-sales answers they are looking for. It also helps your site reach the customers who are searching for you.

By using keywords in your blog, you will help those people find you easier when they search online. Do you sell polka dot socks? Using the keyword polka dot socks in a blog about the latest sock fashion trends will help the entire polka-dot-loving, sock-wearing community locate you. This is pretty useful if your website title and business name has nothing to do with polka dot socks.

But I Sell, I Don’t Have Time To Write!

This is the case for many small businesses. Lucky for you, there are blog writing services, like BlogMutt, that employ bloggers who have knowledge on a variety of topics. These writers create blog posts specifically for you.

You simply provide BlogMutt with the topics you’d like your blogs to be about, and a little bit about what you want your customers to know. Then, our writers will write content for you.

When you’re ready to stop losing sleep, contact us and let us fill up your blog. We will make sure you have something great to say, even if it is about polka-dot socks.

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Un-Retire Yourself With Work-At-Home Freelance Jobs For Retirees

By Carol Rucker

freelance jobs for retireesIf you are senior enough to be a retiree, you probably already know that the “new” concept of working at home is actually an old corporate tradition. But you might be surprised to discover that the new tradition of online work-at-home freelance jobs for retirees could be the perfect way to earn extra cash and maybe even un-retire yourself.

Decades back, very few steady careers offered a work-at-home option. Unless you were an insurance investigator, a salesman, a writer–oh, and unless you were a man–you probably nine-to-fived your way to retirement just like everyone else.

You might still harbor vague jealousies of phantom co-workers. Those were the employees you rarely saw because they were either on-the-road or working at home. They occasionally slipped in and out the office, but only for mail pickups, staff meetings, and company car safety checks. Admit it. You always wished you could have the same work freedom they did. Freelancing can give it to you.

Technology has expanded the work at home experience

If you were lucky enough to be one of those old school corporate home workers, you may have dialed up clients on a rotary phone, sorted piles of papers at your kitchen table, and used a Daytimer to track your life.

Only writers (and women) did their own typing back then. Home workers dictated reports and correspondence on a recorder or a phone dictation system. Office transcribers typed them into finished documents.

As a retiree, you’ve witnessed the forward leap through technology that helped make working from home a universal trend. With computers, tablets, smartphones, and wireless internet access, employees and freelancers can work anywhere in the world. Cloud computing eases work submission, collaboration and feedback. It lets skittish managers monitor work product in real time.

Everyone works on a keyboard, so you have to do your own typing. But that small concession can open up a new world of freelance opportunities. And if you really want to dictate your work instead of hunting and pecking on a keyboard, transcription programs can turn your spoken words into documents. It can be like having your own office support staff.

Benefits for workers

When corporations embrace the idea of letting freelancers do the job on their own terms, workers become more productive. When you work at home, you have choices.

  • You decide what work you do.
  • You decide how much and how often you work.
  • You can schedule work around personal activities and commitments.
  • You can avoid the expense and wasted hours of endless commuting.

Employers benefit as well

The study “Does Working From Home Work?” by Stanford Professor Nicholas Bloom, discusses the benefits to open minded businesses that choose to hire home workers.

  • Productivity increases due to the elimination of workplace distractions.
  • Workers are happier and less likely to quit.
  • Attrition rates decrease.
  • Businesses save the cost of office space and furniture.
  • When freelancers do the work, businesses also save on salaries and benefits.

It’s not for everyone

Working at home doesn’t work for everyone. But if you’re a retiree with a lifetime of getting the job done, it could be for you. As with any new set of skills, there’s a learning curve. But you can usually earn while you learn. To thrive as a stay-at-home worker, you need only call on your history of professionalism, motivation, and self-discipline.

Read the information here if you’d like to know more about work-at-home freelance jobs for retirees.

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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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)


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 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 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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