A Simple Backup Strategy For Laptop Computers

No matter whether you travel with your laptop or not, a successful backup strategy means having your files backed up in more than one place. You’ll probably start with an external hard drive stored in your home, maybe a drive that you carry around with you, and then back up to the cloud in addition to these areas. This ensures that, no matter what the situation, at least one of your backups will survive.

External Hard Drive

The first part of your backup strategy should be an external hard drive. Make sure it’s as big (though preferably larger) as your laptop’s hard drive, and transfer everything from your computer to the external drive regularly. To make things easier, install an application that’ll regularly update your backup whenever you modify or create new files.

Put your external hard drive in an easy-to-reach location so that you remember to connect it to your laptop whenever you’re at home. If not, you might forget to back it up for a couple of weeks and lose that all-important document you’d been working on for months! You may even want to buy a second external hard drive and store it in a different location to be extra safe.

Online Backup Services

There are a huge range of online backup services available to choose from, starting at about $10 per month. For extra security in your backup strategy, you may even want to sign up to more than one service. All services work differently, but most allow you to download a program to your PC or Mac that’ll automatically check for new or modified files within the folders you specify. Once they’re up and running, these backup tools really are “set and forget”!

Make sure to test any online backup service regularly. Even if you have no need to yet, you need to make sure it’s easy to recover your files to your computer. This will check both the recovery process of the service you’re signed up to, as well as the fact that the backup has actually worked!

There are a few drawbacks of online backup services, most notably the fact that they can use a lot of bandwidth to upload all of your files to their services. The initial backup can also take quite a few weeks to complete (depending on your hard drive size) and the software may use a significant chunk of processing power while it completes. Until you’re sure everything’s backed up online, make sure you have an alternative backup strategy in place, too.

Different Avenues of Self-publishing

Today, due to the advent of digital technology and print on demand technology you have many avenues available to you if you decide to get into self-publishing. Self-publishing takes some self motivation, drive and initiative, but it’s not a difficult process. You simply need to make the choice that you’re going to self-publish, and then take a look at the different ways to do so. You may choose one or more end products and a multitude of projects to get you there.

End Products

PDF eBooks — Many are aware of PDF eBooks, otherwise known as digital publishing. Perhaps you already have an eBook, eReport or two in your offerings. Maybe you didn’t think that you were self-publishing when you offered your eBook or eReport for sale or for free to customers, but you most certainly were.

Kindle eBooks — Not really a new avenue any longer, self-publishing your book to Kindle is a relatively simple process. If you don’t have a lot of pictures, graphs and charts in your book, then Kindle eBooks can be an additional avenue to self-publishing. Simply format your book according to Kindle’s instructions (or outsource it!) and you’re published within minutes.

Print Books — There are a variety of services such as createspace.com, or lulu.com that help you offer your books for print. The service is called Print on Demand, (POD) which means that nothing is printed until someone makes an order for your book. This is a fabulous way to get involved with print books since the initial layout is minimal with no requirement to purchase a number of books to get started.

You can turn any of the following into any of the above:

Info Products — Do you already create information products? As long as they’re original you can move them from PDF to Kindle and POD easily. With some formatting and editing, a proper cover, and you’re on your way to publishing your information products.

How to Books — If you’ve already put your toe into the waters of information products, writing a “How To Book” isn’t really much different. You may need to get more specific, and spell it all out in the book from A to Z, and make a longer book than a typical information product which focuses on one micro topic at a time, but you can easily do that and move toward publishing your first “how to” book in about a month.

Novels — Everyone, they say, has a story in inside waiting to burst out of them. Maybe you do too. Maybe you’re tired of information products and would like to try your hand at novel writing. You can do that if you want to. It’s much the same process. Research, outline, write, proof & edit. Create a fabulous cover. Publish. Market.

Case Studies — An excellent way to get into self-publishing is the case study. You can create a compilation of case studies based on your information products and work. Simply create a questionnaire, invite participants, and let everyone else do the writing for you. Your job will be to collect the stories, proof, edit, compile and string together the case studies to be published in a cohesive manner and create a professional cover, publish and market the book.

Target the Right Audience with Your Contests

Online contests can be a fabulous way to boost your email list subscriber numbers. However, it can also be a way to get a lot of useless freebie seekers on your email list too. There is nothing great about having a huge email list full of uninterested people who do not want to open your emails, or answer your calls to action. So, aside from building your email list, you want to build it with targeted, willing, wanting participants who want to buy. To do this, you need to ensure that your contest attracts the right people.

It doesn’t matter what type of business you have, online, offline, or what genre the business is in. You need to have people you can contact who are interested in your product. In the marketing world, these are called leads. Your email list is full of leads. Leads who can either be interested in what you offer, or not. Getting the people who are interested is part of the challenge of creating an effective email marketing list.

To get the right people to sign up with online contests your contest needs to solve a problem of your target market. Or, in the case of a contest, potentially solve a problem. There may be people who want to try your products or services but don’t think they can afford it, or don’t trust you yet. Having a contest gives many people the opportunity for them to learn more about you and your product. Even if they don’t win, you’ve got their email address which will enable you to educate them more, and when someone wins they’ll become one of your biggest fans and brag about their winnings to everyone.

The above is why I highly suggest that your contest prizes have something to do with your products and services. You don’t have to give away the very best prize, although that is a great idea to at least give away your top and most expensive product in your funnel along with the rest to one lucky winner, you don’t have to, you can start someplace in the middle of your funnel. But, if the product is not good enough, and is just a freebie that many people use to get sign ups, then it won’t work as well. Make it special and you’ll get more participants.

Combining a contest for potential buyers with a separate contest for your affiliates is another good way to boost your email list with contests. The prize for your affiliates can be something like a free iPad, Kindle or other exciting device. Your affiliates will promote for you like mad if they have a chance to win a prize like that. In addition to the prize incentive give your affiliates plenty of marketing collateral such as graphics, prewritten emails, blog posts, and that type of thing. Encourage them to rewrite the mails and blogs to sound more like them and to avoid duplication issues.

By following the suggestion to keeping the prize targeted toward your audience, offering them something that solves their problems (which all your products and services should accomplish) you’ll ensure that the people who sign up for your email list via the contest promotion are truly interested parties.

Filling the void: Developing a product for your niche market

Every niche market has a need. It’s up to you to figure out what that need is… and more importantly, how to meet it. Begin by asking yourself what need or needs your specific niche has.

* Can the need be met with a product?
* Should the need be met through a service?
* Are there multiple ways to meet the need?

Whether it’s a book, a widget, a consultation or advice, you will have to decide exactly what it is you will be selling before you actually begin selling it!

You should also consider how others are already meeting the needs of your niche market. You will need to research:

* Who your competition is.
* What products and/or services they provide.
* How much they charge.
* Where their website appears on the search engines.

The first question is the most obvious. You need to know who your competition is in order to know how to be better than them. Next, you will need to know what they sell. Will you be selling a similar product or offering a similar service? Or is your product/service idea completely unique?

You will also need to know how much your competition is charging because while you want to offer a competitive pricing structure, you also don’t want to short change yourself or charge too much. Either extreme can deter your customer base.

Finally, take some time to perform multiple searches of keywords for your particular niche market. For instance, if your niche is “stay at home moms who work from home”, then you will want to search keywords like:

* Stay at home moms
* Stay at home moms
* Working moms
* Work from home

You will quickly realize which competitors are utilizing effective SEO techniques. How? By seeing who shows up in the top 10, the first page, the second page, and so on. Focus on competitors who appear on the first and second pages of search results only. Why? Because any one who appears further down the list is not doing a good enough job to be the competition and therefore isn’t much competition for you.

So, once you are familiar with the competition, you can then truly decide which products and/or services you want to offer and which ones of those are worth offering.

There is a common myth about niche marketing that many niches are oversaturated, and to avoid such markets. In other words, rather than competing with hundreds of business, u should choose the path of least resistance by selling something more unique with only a few competitors to reckon with. To be honest, either option can be worthwhile. Why? Because it’s not about oversaturation. It’s about offering added value to an already high-quality product.

Your goal should be to fill the need of your target market with quality products and/or services that stand out from the competition. That is the true key to niche marketing success.

How to Host a Successful Event Effortlessly

Hosting events is a great way to boost your income as well as expand brand awareness. If you enlist the right people to work with you on organizing and planning the event, and you understand your audience you’ll be able to create an event that is a money maker on its own, but is also a money maker later.

Know Your Objective — Do you want to sell more widgets, books, coaching, or something else? Do you want the event to be the main money maker? What are you trying to accomplish for yourself by having an event and what will your attendees get out of the event? What’s in it for them and why are you the one to do it?

Define What Success Means to You — Before you can determine if your event is successful or not you need to define what success means to you for this event. Is having a large turnout imperative? How about after event sales of books and / or services? What will make the event worth it to you?

Create a Working Budget — It’s true that most of the time you have to spend money to make money. Therefore, create a budget and work out what exactly has to happen for you to break even on this event. Remember to include all aspects of the event such as various technology, the venue, and marketing.

Create a Workable Schedule — Give yourself time to plan, organize and market your event. Schedule the event 60 to 90 days out so that you can plan effectively. Many factors go into creating a good schedule for your event including the venue, what time of year it is, and what days of the week and times are best for your particular audience.

Understand Your Target Audience — It’s important to know going in, who your audience is so that you can create a topic that will excite them. Who do you want to come to your event? If you know who you want to come, you’ll be able to tailor make the event just for them. Plus, you’ll know exactly who you want to invite to speak at your event.

Market Your Event in Multiple Ways — Most marketing starts with your website and your blog today, but don’t discount other methods too such as radio advertising, newspaper ads and you can even include flyers and posters. You want to start well in advance creating buzz for your event. You can do this even before you have the theme, topic, or date by including your audience in some of the choices by sending out polls on social media and your email lists.

If you want to start hosting events as a new revenue stream in addition to the other products and services you offer your audience it is a very lucrative thing to do. It takes just a bit more planning than other products but the difference really pays off in the end. The money you can make hosting successful events is only part of the perks, because as awareness of your brand spreads you’ll continue making more money long after the event is over.

Keyword Density

Keyword density is the amount of times keywords appear in your website content. Too high, and your keyword density has the ability to hurt your search engine rankings. But too low, and your keyword density will have an equally detrimental affect.

The key to keyword density is to attain a delicate balance of valuable content with keywords carefully, creatively and casually woven throughout in order to maximize your SEO efforts while maintaining a high level of legitimacy and quality for your customers and site visitors.

A good rate to shoot for when trying to achieve a perfect balance of keyword density is to ensure that roughly 3% to 5% of your website content is driven by keywords. Any less than that and your ranking may fall. Any more than that, and your site may be flagged.

So, how exactly do you tackle this keyword balancing act? Let’s take a look at an example of a sentence that effectively and casually applies a keyword (“website design”) as part of website content:

“Our firm specializes in quality website design with a focus on branding, SEO and customer acquisition.”

As you can see, the keyword is inserted without force and offers substance. Now, let’s take a look at a poor attempt to include a keyword within website content:

“Our website design firm specializes in quality website design with a focus on branding, SEO and customer acquisition for website design.”

The keyword is clearly forced, is not easy to read, and will most likely be flagged by search engines and what they consider to be “keyword loading”. In other words, the search engines “think” that you may not be a legitimate business and are only out to acquire site visitors rather than actual customers. This will not serve you well.

Trying to weave keywords into your site content in an organic way can be a difficult process. A good way to do this is to actually write each page first without trying to consciously include your keywords. Then, once you have a draft complete, go back and review the content and see if and how many times your keywords appear. You may be surprised at how often you actually use your keywords in a natural way. If not, then look for opportunities to insert your keywords in places where they will appear natural, even if they weren’t.

For example, let’s say you need to insert the keyword “website development” into the following sentence:

“Our firm specializes in quality website design with a focus on branding, SEO and customer acquisition.”

You might consider adding your keyword in the following way:

“Our firm specializes in quality website design and website development with a focus on branding, SEO and customer acquisition.”

Not all instances are this cut and dry, but if you are creative and can take some time to think outside the box, you can and will become an expert at keyword density, and just how little and how often to make it work. Remember, balance is “key”.

The Biggest Secret in Time Management

You can’t manage time. It’s that simple. There is no such thing as managing time. Time is a limited resource. What you can do is find out where you are allowing time suckers and wasters to use up this limited resource in an unproductive manner. This is more self-management than time-management. I bet right now you can write down at least five activities that you do each day that are unproductive and can be classed as Time Wasters. Let’s try:

* Unfocused Internet Surfing
* Personal Phone Calls
* Personal Online Chatting
* Playing Online Games
* Dealing with Spam emails

I bet you can name more things that you do each day that are just simply complete wastes of time. I’m not saying you can’t do all these things during your day, but these are not tasks that you should do in the name of your business. They should be tasks you do on your personal time. With issues like spam emails, there are tricks and tips that you can do such as using a separate Gmail account when you sign up for newsletters, Google alerts, etc… and outsource tasks associated with that so that you only need to read the most important emails. Additionally, keep your business and personal email separate.

Start tracking your daily activities so that you can see where your time wasters are. You can use a spreadsheet, a time clock of some kind, or a piece of paper, but it’s important to track every moment of your time during the day for about a week. Once you’ve finished tracking your time for the week, go through and highlight the time wasters. Next, identify items that can be outsource. Now, identify items that you need to do yourself. Separate the items you will do yourself between business and personal time. Divide further into money producing activities and non money producing activities.

Once you have your list, set goals to help you manage the use of your time in a manner that is most productive. By changing your own behavior, you will feel as if you have more time in every day. You will feel more accomplished if you make a list of daily goals, marking off each task as they are completed. Goals should be very specific and include exactly what needs to be done, who will do it, and how it will be accomplished and by what time. By being very specific about goals, you’ll be more likely to achieve them.

For some people, it helps to attack one issue at a time, working toward a full time management system within a month by eliminating one or more time suckers and wasters each week. Changing your behavior slowly with an end goal in mind regarding managing your time well will result in a new attitude about the time you spend doing various tasks. Increasing your productivity will feel terrific and while you can’t actually gain extra time in your day, you will feel as if you have accomplished this impossible task by freeing up time you used to waste in which to be more productive.

Using Direct Mail To Attract Website Traffic

Direct mail campaigns don’t always have to be about selling something. They can simply be another way to get the word out about your online business, to build awareness and branding recognition and to drive more visitors to the company website.

However, as online business owners already know, competition is fierce when it comes to website traffic. People might find you but they might also click away before they bookmark the page. Think about your own bookmark list; do you ever go back to those pages? Probably not so but you need a simple process for using direct mail to bring traffic to your site and getting them signed up for your email list.

Luckily this is not a complicated process!

Step 1: Create a dynamic direct mail piece. Use color images, colored paper, vibrant font colors, or some other eye-catching element so the recipients don’t throw your piece away.

Step 2: Create a special web page just for those who are receiving this postcard. This is called a landing page which usually offers something for free in exchange for the recipient’s email address. Print the website URL prominently on the postcard so it’s not missed.

This page should include some sales copy to really convince people you have the solution they’re looking for and it should also include your email marketing opt in box, which creates your prospect list.

Step 3: Email your prospect list on a regular basis and develop this relationship. If your prospects know, like and trust you as a real person as opposed to some mystery figure, they will eventually buy from you. Past customers are the easiest people to sell to because they are already aware of your customer service and product quality.

Step 4: Create a different direct mail campaign for this same market segment. Remember, it’s rare for people to respond to the very first mailing. Usually it takes 6-7 times of seeing your offer before they make a move so consider these follow up mailings as reminders.

Step 5: Create a new landing page for each campaign. This might seem like a lot of work but it’s the easiest way to track which postcards your visitors are responding to. The sales copy and the offer don’t have to be different, it would simply be a change to the website URL.

Rather than taking down the first landing page right away, it’s wise to keep it active for a period of time after the campaign has mailed. You never know who has tucked your postcard away and will pull it out 6 months later. For those latecomers, you still want to have an active landing page and offer, otherwise they might think you’re unprofessional or have gone out of business.

Using a direct mail campaign for an online business is just another way to expand your marketing reach, especially if you want to target local customers. The same direct mail strategies used for brick and mortar businesses hold true but instead of selling something, entice your customers to claim their free gift from your website.

Membership Sites – How Do I Start?

Membership sites are a great way to create a mainly passive form of income. Once you have your membership site up and running, you just need to keep it updated with fresh content. Setting up a membership site can seem a little intimidating, however. Just take it a step at a time and you’ll soon be ready to launch your new site and get on with the business of making money.

The first step in creating a membership site is making sure you have an audience who is ready to join. Like all types of content sales, you need to find a target market hungry enough to want what you have and willing to realize they need to pay for it.

Search out your market as you would any type of content product. Start by choosing a topic that either you have experience in or have a strong interest in. Do some keyword research to be certain of your market. Use Google’s keyword tool to find out how many people are doing daily searches for your niche. Next, spend some time doing a little research to see how many other membership sites are already operating in your chosen field. Just because there is a little competition in your field, doesn’t mean you should pick another topic. Competition can be a good thing- it gives you a benchmark to work toward and beat! However, if there are a lot of heavy hitters in your market, you need to know you’re in for a challenge. Your best research can be done by joining a few membership sites and checking them out from the inside. Mind you, you still need to create your own content and fresh ideas, but you can see what is popular and what isn’t, which can help you choose topics and features in your own site.

As you look at different membership sites, take note of the special features they use. One of the most common features is the forum. A forum gives site members a dedicated space to discuss ideas, share information, ask for help and interact in a number of ways. Forums will also allow members to send private messages to one another. As the site administrator, you will set the rules for the forum, as well as interact with the members yourself. It’s usually a good idea to keep forum rules to a minimum, although you will want to notify members of the rules against spam. You will also likely want to set some ground rules regarding tone and etiquette. While a forum is only as good as its diversity, members should agree to a policy of mutual respect and avoidance of abusive remarks.

You can also use your membership site to sell additional products and resources to your members. Choose these resources wisely. Your members are already paying to participate in your site, so be careful not to push other products too heavily. Instead, consider setting up a resources section members can check out at their own leisure. Choose only high quality products that offer a good value to your members. You don’t want to violate their good will or trust or you will find yourself losing members.

These steps are obviously just the beginning of creating your membership site, but they are an important beginning. By starting out in the right way, you have a much better shot at ending up where you want to be- at the top of your market, making a great income from your membership site.

Internet Marketing and Pre Launch Strategies – Using Blogs to Create Demand

Blogs are a great way to market your business, but they are also an excellent way to handle prelaunch marketing for information products. Blog posts can really get people interested in the new product you are getting ready to offer. The objective is to create a demand and generate an interest. Blogs are a great way to accomplish this. They allow you to write informally. You can put all kinds of media applications in them and they can be optimized to bring in additional outside traffic through a variety of sources.

Blogs can be used for a variety of purposes. On a personal level, they are often used as a way to keep friends and family updated on the various happenings in your life. On a business level, they become a powerful tool. They can be used to optimize content, which in turn attracts business to your website and ultimately increases sales.

Blogs can also be used as a way to let customers know what is happening with your business. It becomes almost like an interactive newsletter where your readers can comment and share ideas with you. This is where blogs become one of the more powerful tools for prelaunch marketing applications.

Most blogs generate a reader list or have a way of notifying subscribers of when new information is posted. The first step to creating a blog that is going to attract attention is the title. It should be something designed to attract attention and encourage people to visit the blog to read about the info product you are offering.

The blog post itself is just as important. Once you have the reader’s attention and you’ve encouraged them to come to your blog, you want to keep them engaged. You can do this through a number of different ways, but the best way is to provide easy to read, informative content. There are several ways you can accomplish this. You can start out with a simple single post introducing your information product, what it is, when it will be available and its basic benefits.

You can also create a blog series, which is a series of posts on the topic covered in the info product and mentions the product in each post. The series should also contain how the product can assist the person reading it, either by providing additional information or providing the related convenience or service. The language should be easy to read and bullet points are often welcome additions to these types of posts.

These types of posts should also be kept to half a page at the most. Paragraphs should be small and designed to highlight rather than provide extensive information. Blogs are a great way to inform your existing customers and readers about your info products and what they can look forward to, as well as provide a great marketing tool by helping you to optimize content and bring in traffic from outside sources. These posts can be placed in more places than just your main blog. It is not uncommon to post to a variety of services to increase your marketing range.