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"The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible"

~ Anonymous

Tea Time with Liv

Start your website

You have a great idea and want to make money. Maybe this will be your sole income or just a way to make some extra money. Where to start?

Deciding where you're going to host your Web site is extremely important. But there are so many different types of Web hosting options, it can be overwhelming making the choice. If you know what the different types of hosting options are, you can make a more informed choice about what you need. While cheap sounds great, cheap an be the worst thing you can ever do. Before jumping into a cheap option or even free, know what you are getting, get the good and bad from those using the host in question, know what you need.

Many free hosting providers support your free site by automatically adding advertisements to your Web pages through pop-ups, frames, scripts, and so forth. These cannot be removed an can many times take your potential customers to another site. Free Web hosting is limited in some way compared to paid hosting. One way is your domain name. These will look something like www.webhost.com/mywebsite. Some can be long and hard to remember. You can purchase a domain and have it redirected to your given domain name making it easier for customers to remember. While this can be a starting off point or a temporary solution, DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT use these permanently. You need to establish yourself as a legitimate business in the perception of the public eye. While you are your friends may not mind the ads, your customers may. You are not always dealing with those accustomed to WAHMs, costs of hosting, building websites, and automatic ads. Just proceed with caution here.

Standard web hosting is paid service. You pay for a specific amount of server space on a Web hosting system, and they provide you with servers, software, shopping carts, and other features. You will not always have all you need with a web host so be sure you read everything there is to know about a prospective host. Most standard Web hosting providers use a shared system where you are granted say 5GB of space on a 100GB server. Your files are hosted there along with 15-20 other Web sites. You will need to purchase a domain name here and possibly a cart. Some hosts offer pre-made templates while others you need to build from scratch. If you are not tech savvy in the area of design, look for companies that offer web design and know your host. This is important. You do not want to get stuck paying a few hundred dollars for something that is unusable or unreliable.

Here are a few web hosts to look at:

Low Cost options:

Free options:

http://webs.com (formerly freewebs)

http://www.weebly.com (currently researching)


(***While I have listed these sites as options, make sure you do your own research to ensure they are safe for you and your customers)

Also do some research and find others available. There is a plethora of web hosts these days with a variety of options. Compare your needs and what is offered before signing up.

Here are a couple things to keep in mind when starting a website:

1. Know your audience. You have to know who you are marketing to in order to be successful.

2. Be aware of different bandwidth. If your Web pages are frequented by people with slower modems then designing a page that looks best over a T1 is not a successful strategy.

3. Keep your pages short. Long pages are boring and lose a readers attention quickly. If you keep the scrolling to a minimum, chances are your readers will stay on your page and understand what you are offering.

4. Use tables of contents. I read somewhere that only about 10% of visitors go past the first page. If that first screen has a table of contents viewers will click on the links keeping them on the page. It needs to be easily visible and easily understood. No fancy fonts, centered text, or strange colors. Colors in the red and yellows are hard on the eyes. Avoid these. Make sure the background for the table of contents is solid to make it easier to read.

5. Keep images small and simple. Large images and glitter images annoy people. If it takes too long to download, many people will never see it, as they will have browsed somewhere. DO NOT use graphics intended for social networks such as MySpace. These are fun graphics and do not portray the professionalism you are trying to convey. Also do not put up too many images. These will big down the web page leaving your visitor searching for a page that loads faster.

6. Use Web colors. The browser-safe color palette will ensure that most people will see your page and images in the colors you intended. Here is a site to help identify what colors are browser safe and allow everyone to view your intended colors: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_colors

7. Avoid lots of text. People don't read the Web, they skim it. Long pages of endless paragraphs are a waste of time. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point.

8. Don't include your life story. This also includes long paragraphs of why you are a WAHM to stay home with children and pay bills, how you are raising children alone, stricken with a terrible illness, or losing your home. If you sound down and out, you don't not sound successful, therefore you are a risk at being a fly by night company. If you appear to be a fly by night companies nobody wants to buy in fear they are giving money for a product they will never see, buying a product they can never return, buying a product that they cannot return to buy more of. You can include that you are a successful WAHM sharing the products you love.

9. Check your spelling. Bad spelling is not professional and does not convey your attention to detail. Use a spell checker, either in your editor or on-line.You can also open a program such as word to check all spelling leaving you to copy and paste on to your website when completed.

10. Keep all links current on your web page. Check your links often to make sure they are still valid. This includes reciprocal links through link exchanges with others as well as link you have placed to redirect to other pages on your site.

11. Put contact information on your pages. The Web is interactive and you should welcome comments on your pages. Also, if there is a broken link or other problem, your readers can let you know, easily.Websites with no contact information are less likely to be successful if you receive any sales at all.

12.Keep your navigation simple. If your readers can't understand how to get around your site, chances are they won't and will leave without ever returning. Easy navigation is one of the most important parts of your site. If you are not constantly tweaking your site to make it better for your readers, then you are losing them to some other site that is easier to find things in.

13. Avoid excessive ads on your site. While you may feel that the ads serve a purpose, if there are more ads than actual content, your readers will notice and leave. This is especially true for those who setup free websites to hold all your affiliate companies. These are nothing bu ads. And what good are ads if no one is there to read them?

14. Maintain your website regularly. A website with outdated information or errors seems like a site that no one cares about. If you don't care, why should your visitors care? Even if you can't update your site with new information daily, you should strive to update it weekly or perhaps rotate what is displayed on a regular basis. This gives the appearance of a site that is constantly maintained and visitors will be interested in what is new.

15. A big turn off these days is the requirement to give information before accessing a site. While requiring information gives you contact info, but what good is it if the customer does not want to be there? If you require information to gain access to your website, this doesn't convince people to give it to you, instead, they leave and don't return. This defeats the purpose and is a recipe for failure.

16. In your design, keep it unique and fresh. Do not use a template that is used over and over again. Those surfing the web see thousands of sites. It is easy to forget a site if it looks like others. Keep it memorable.

17. Avoid busy backgrounds. While a decorative border is fine you do not want to have a background that is hard to get around or view text. If a customer can't see, they cannot buy.

This list is no where near all inclusive but it gives you a great start at website basics. Your site may not be perfect at first but you can count on it will be ever changing for the life of your page. Go to your favorite big company web pages and see what you like. Take notes and incorporate what you like to see on others into your site. Do the same with web pages you do not like. Notate what you do not like and avoid it.

Always ask others to visit your site and offer constructive criticism. This is the best way to get an honest observation on your website. You know what you think of your site and how to navigate it. Now see if others can.

Don't rush a website. Take your time. A website can take a month or longer to construct properly so exercise patience. Don't rush it or it will look rushed. Make sure it runs smoothly before you take it public. This will avoid any embarrassing situations.

Olivia Vidal
© 2009
So Chic Bag Boutique

No such thing as "can't"

Someone may think I am crazy but I have decided there is no such thing as can't in business. While others may disagree here is why I have come up with this theory. You say you can't start a business because you don't have the money. The solution is to find the money. This is not a can't its a road block you can overcome. Can't is an attitude not an action.

You have a choice in everything you do. Everything can be worked around if you really want to. Its called drive. There is not can't in your drive for success.

Can't is also used as an excuse. While discussing plans to start building a business, one of my friends told me she "can't" do parties. I asked her why. She went on to explain because she has nobody to watch her kids. I asked her what was stopping her from starting with online parties. She could start this way to get a name for herself and gain sales. This would give her start up money to afford a babysitter while having a party or even doing a mommy and me party taking along a friend to watch her kids. Then it became another reason. It is not can't. That is an excuse for won't.

When you say can't, think about why you use this word. Is it unable or is it an "I won't"? Unable means there is a way around it. The man in a wheelchair playing basketball did not say he "can't" play. He found a way to play.

The only thing stopping you and your business success is your attitude. The rest can be done if you really want it to happen. Turn that "can't" into "can" and you will see a big change in your attitude.

Here is my challenge to you. Write down all your "cant's" and why they are. Then write down all possible ways to turn that "can't" into a can. These ways to turn that around may be more than 1 step. Write them all down.

Example: You "can't" pay your phone bill. Solution: You need money to change from "can't pay" to "can pay". How do you get more money? More hours at work, second job, yard sale, etc.

A "can't" to a "can" is not always a one step answer but it can be done.

My other challenge is for 1 week you cannot use the word "can't". Every time you do it will cost you $0.25, $1. If you don't have the money to take this challenge, then it isn't a challenge is it? This challenge cost nothing as long as you do not use the word "can't".

Success isn't easy otherwise everyone would be successful. Success isn't handed to you. If that were the case nobody would be successful. Its not about good or bad luck. Success doesn't come only during good times. It can also happen during the most dire of times. Its all about your attitude and your choice to deem "can't" as the new four letter word.

Olivia Vidal
© 2009
So Chic Bag Boutique

Marketing your business

In this time of recession many WAHMs and small businesses are seeing the decrease in sales. Some unfortunately are seeing sales stop completely. While it is discouraging you can still be successful. It takes work. If you were properly marketing your business prior, the added things you need are not going to be a strain. You may have to add an extra hour a 2 a week. Some will add more. The harder you work, the more benefits you enjoy.

When marketing your business it is far more than just telling everyone about your business, giving them a link, and watching the sales come in. If you do this you will never get your business off the ground.

First thing everyone in business for themselves, whether you are a consultant or a business owner, are business cards. Even if you are strictly doing online networking you will come across someone offline who is interested and needs your product. While I am not a big fan of less than professional cards, you can print these yourself on heavy card stock or order free ones through places such as Vista Print. Even if you start with an option that is easier on the pocket I highly recommend you move to a better quality business card. These speak volumes at your attention to detail and quality.

When you are out at the store, in the Dr's office, waiting for an oil change, how many conversations do you over hear? How many times you wish you had a card. While getting my nails done I was talking about makeup. Another woman getting her nails overheard the conversation and brought me her card. Ever leave a cashier that was exceptional? Did you ever leave them a card and tell them to call you and how you needed more team members like him/her? When someone asks for your number this is when you give a business card. What about those restaurants that offer free giveaways when you drop in your business card? I never just drop one in. I tuck it in on the side facing those outward so anyone walking up will see the card. Leave a business card with a tip. I was recently eating at a local restaurant where the table at the entrance has business cards from patrons visiting. As I left I placed a stack of cards on the table. I was playing pool at our local billiards establishment where they had bulletin boards in the bathroom and mini billboards on the back of the bathroom stalls. Management placed my flyer on the bulletin board and I contacted the bathroom billboard company.

Thinking outside the box is easier than you think. How about those waiting rooms with magazines. Ever see the opportunity to donate you own with a label on the front and back saying "Donated courtesy of xxxxxxxxx", a pocket for several business cards tucked on the first page, add in a brochure to the middle or even a catalog.

How many of your children have classroom newsletters? Many of those are teacher sponsored. Ever thought to negotiate a small ad in that newsletter while you take on the sponsorship of that newsletter? That is money back in the teachers pocket for other classroom needs. Visited the local boys and girls club? How about the local ballet school, cheer leading or gymnastics gym? They need sponsorships at some point and even fundraisers. Same with private sport organizations.

How many parades come through your town every year? Maybe just once for Christmas or as many as every holiday. You can dress up your truck or even a borrowed truck to advertise during a parade. Toss our wrapped candy with a label wrapped around it containing your information. Have someone pass mom and dad mini flyers with a coupon.

Utilize Youtube to promote your business. Be yourself and give a little blurb about who you are and your company. Show a product or 2 and why you love them. This is just like talking to your customer one on one. Leave the self consciousness at the door and don't over criticize what you look like. Its you they are looking at not something else you are trying to be. A webcam is n easy purchase with great options for $30 and under. These can take video as well. Once you uploaded that video to Youtube, upload to MySpace, Facebook, and anywhere else that allows video uploads.

I love the plant deals I find at Walmart and Lowes. You can get the small 5" pots for $5 or less. Many times you can take this one plant and turn it into 3 or more. Their palms are a great for this. Replant them in new pots, wrap colored cellophane with a ribbon around the bottom, attach a thank you note with a business card and brochure or catalog. This is an instant thank you gift to hand deliver for party hostesses, first time customers, or loyal long time customers. Even just recognize your customer's birthday with a cute and simple plant.

Everyday is an opportunity, every door that is closed can be opened, every person is a potential lead to a sale. Keep your eye open and look at all sides. Look outside the box and see where you can shine. Avoid the ordinary and do the extraordinary. This is when you will truly be successful.

Olivia Vidal
© 2009
So Chic Bag Boutique

Advertising Highjacking

First thing many ask is what is advertising hijacking? This is what I call it when someone posts a thread on a message board or different social groups (such as Yahoo groups or Google groups), and another comes in from the same company and offers the same thing or a different special trying to get sales or recruits off someones post. This happens often in chat rooms as well.

Example of this is: I am offering you 20% off your entire order of wonder widge books and if you sign up now. Another person, maybe even my own upline, will ask could share such and such if the host doesn't mind. The idea is out there, the answer is yes so they do not have conflict or appear rude, and the offer is announced. This is the case where the other is making the sale or recruit not the host no matter how it was intended. This is advertising hijacking.

One, this should never have been asked in front of everyone. Two you should never hijack a party hosted by another, thread posted by another, or directly follow with the same add right behind someone who has posted already. Who will actually say no in front of everyone? The answer is always yes forcing that person to allow you to advertise and reap the benefits they are working so hard for. You may say the other can say no but would they really want to say in front of everyone no don't advertise during my party? Even if they want to say now they feel forced to agree so no is not an option. It suddenly changes the mood of the party and the guests will make a decision on how they feel about the person or persons in questions and also the company.

If you were having a home party for your business would you allow someone else to offer your guests a different special if you order or join under them instead of you? Of course not. They are in your home and you would consider this act rude in your home. Nobody would ever dream of doing this. So why is this happening in so many circles on the internet?

Many feel they are helping rather than hindering in these cases. Your intention may be there but how it is seen can be another story. The one hosting is the one to make all sales announcements, offerings, specials. If you want to assist, have a discussion in private. Never in public. Reason is you may be causing others to feel the host is unknowledgeable, unable to assist them, a company they do not want to do business with because they allow their representatives/consultants/affiliates to conduct themselves in a way that is not favorable.

Thankfully this has yet to happen to me but I am seeing this everyday. This is not an uncommon practice. This is becoming the norm. There is nothing wrong with healthy competition. Just remember one word in that phrase - healthy.

Before you post an ad following another in a group or message board thread, during a party that is not yours (including shameless plugs for another product), think about a couple things:
Will this give me more sign ups?
Will I profit from this directly?
Would I do this standing alongside another for the same company/product in front of an actual customer?

This is all about stepping on toes. If you wouldn't appreciate another do the same unto you, don't do it. It makes for bad networking relationships. You need these in the business world especially online. If you take part in anything similar you are losing not only an ally but you can be damaging the confidence resulting in lower team sales and that affects your bottom line.

There is always someone watching. While others say there is nothing wrong with it outwardly, they may be saying to themselves how rude and decide at that point to either not buy from that company no matter the actions or just not buy from you. Don't allow them the opportunity to think ill of you or your company. Even if just one has this enter their mind it can spread like wild fire. Negative reviews and experiences are announced loudly and news spreads quickly. Positive reviews and experiences are quiet, less profound, spread slowly if at all.

Give them reason to announce to all how wonderful and excited they are to use your product proudly. As the say goes you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

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Less is more

The more companies you join the more money you make right? If you offer a little bit of everything giving your customers a one stop shop, why would they go anywhere else? The more I can offer the better, right? Um, no.

The idea sounds great and may even work for a short time but soon you will find it is overwhelming to keep up with. It is almost impossible to keep up with product knowledge when you are part of so many companies.

Some start a free website and place all their banners there because of course customers want to go to a website and see several products only to be redirected to make multiple purchases. Customers shop online for convenience.

Sending them away from your site is the best way to lose a sale. They have to remember to go back and click on your link to give you the commission sale. If they only remember the company name they are most likely to type in the web address and not your website.

If you are going to join more than 1 company, do your research. Have you tried the product? Have you ordered from the company before? Do you believe you have sell the product? Are you willing to put in the time and effort into building the business or just plan to show a link from time to time?

If you do the research ahead of time you will find you will eliminate companies up front for various reasons. Never join on a whim. Join because you will be committed.

If you are going join more than 1 company write down how you can partner and work the businesses together. Find their common ground. If you join a company that sells food storage and want to join another then a company that sells food mixes is a natural partner.

Before you join multiple companies check each company's policies. There may be clause that will prevent you from joining with other companies including selling side by side. If you can't sell side by side what is your plan to promote and build each individual company effectively?

I recommend 20 hours per week per company. If you are properly building each business, can you honestly devote 20 hours per week per company? If you have 3 companies, that is 60 hours per week, 8 1/2 hours per day, 7 days a week. Can you keep up? No not spend a total of 20 hours for all companies. Cutting corners will only make for lazy work. Lazy work will in turn give a failed business.

Before you say you don't need that many hours, are you making enough money to cover your rent or mortgage each month? If not, why?

So think about it ahead of time. Are you with too many companies? Cut back. What companies do you spend most of your time working. If you do not spend much time with a company other than share a link once in a while, cut that company. If you have not ordered or use the product, cut that company. If you only joined for a friend and really not passionate about it, cut that company.

The more quality time you devote to your business, the more it will grow into a business you are proud to say you have part of.

Olivia Vidal
© 2009

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