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What is RSS?

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and it’s an easy way to stay up to date with the posts from your favourite blogs and websites.  The information is a news feed that is fed directly to you via a reader so you don’t miss a thing.

You will see that many blogs have a distinctive orange icon like this one somewhere on their pages:

Alternatively they might use an icon like this one.  XML refers to the file format that the feed is sent in:

Both icons show that the site has a RSS feed that you can subscribe to.  Some browsers will also show a tiny orange RSS icon in the URL bar, too.

The feed is then sent to your reader which converts it from XML into something you can read.  You might use Feedburner, Google Reader , My Yahoo or one of many other readers available for free.  Most readers give you the option of having the posts sent straight to your inbox or smartphone, too, which might be even more convenient.

The good thing about RSS feeds is that you don’t have to remember to go to your favourite websites anymore because they come to you.   If you need to pay attention to news reports for fire or emergency warnings, or closely watch information related to your business, RSS feeds save you a lot of work.  It sends you the information as it is released.

As a business owner you should make it clear that you offer the RSS feed from your site and make it easy to subscribe to.   People don’t always come to your site intentionally.  When people find you because they are looking for the product or service you offer, you don’t want to lose them when they move on.  In fact, they probably don’t want to lose you either.  The RSS option will help them remember you.

An RSS feed will keep you in touch with the information that is important to you and it makes content easily shareable.  That’s the whole point of syndication, isn’t it?  Make it work for you.

Cheap does not always mean better

One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is focusing on price and not on value.  They do it when working out how much to charge for the goods or services they provide, but also when they are sourcing support for their businesses.

Why is it a mistake? 

Price does not always equate with value and cheap does not mean better.

How often have you heard of people buying articles from overseas only to have to rewrite them, or pay to have someone else do it?  What about the business owners who bought backlinks to their websites so they could boost their page rank, only to be slapped in the recent changes to Google’s algorithms?  They all lost money but more importantly, they lost time and took their businesses’ backwards.

Just because something is cheap it does not mean it’s good for you or that it will do the job you want done.

I have learnt that the only way to grow your business is to invest time, money and energy into it, and take the organic and authentic path forward.

If you are investing in a service or business support, look past the price. 

  • What experience does the supplier have?
  • What other businesses has he or she worked with?
  • What do you get for your money?
  • What time frames can he or she offer?

Recently my client sacked her Personal Assistant and hired me even though my price was higher.  On the surface it looks like a bad business decision but what she found was that I completed the work in less time than it took the PA and I achieved better results.  My client ended up by paying no more than she had paid her PA but had a significantly better outcome which made her money.

Price does not always equate with value.  Look at the results you need to get and find the person who can deliver.  That’s value for you.

Is your WordPress site kept up to date?

Wordpress WebsitesRecently one of my clients asked me if it was necessary to bother with each WordPress update that comes through. If your website is built with WordPress you will have noticed that updates can sometimes arrive quickly, one after the other. Is it important that your site is kept up to date?

In a word, yes, it is vital that your site is running the latest version of WordPress and any plugins that you have installed. Your site’s security depends on it.

Dre Armeda, co-founder of Sucuri, an Internet security software system said “One of the biggest contributors to malware attacks is running outdated software. In fact, it accounts for more than 70% of all the cases we see at Sucuri.”

As with any other software or online system, old versions of WordPress and plugins can have security flaws. How would you feel if your site was hacked or compromised? More importantly, how would your clients feel?

WordPress is a highly efficient system. Each new version brings improvements in security and functionality which make it safer as well as easier to work with. To get the best out of your site, all of your plugins must be updated every time a new version is released, too. They work hand in hand. An out-dated plugin can still introduce security weaknesses even if you are using the latest version of WordPress.

As an added security measure make sure that your hosting provider is running the most up to date systems, especially PHP and mySQL. These systems allow you and your clients to interact with your website. Each release brings improvements in security as well as to the way it supports your website processes.

I encourage you to back up your website regularly. Don’t rely on your web host to do this for you. A backup lets you create a copy of your site and your important data in case something goes wrong. If you have a copy of your site, you don’t have to worry if the server crashes or your web host disappears. You won’t lose the site or any of your content.

Most people remember to update their site content but many leave the “behind the scenes” updates to be done when they “can find the time.” Keeping your WordPress installation backed up and secure is vital and should not be overlooked.

We have a range of packages available to ensure your site is backed up and secure. If time is a problem for you, contact us for more information about what we can do to keep your site safe.

Are you ready for Facebook Timeline?

The new look timeline will be on your Facebook page by March 31st whether you like it or not. As you’ve probably noticed, it looks a lot different to the current layout but it brings some huge advantages with it.

Here is a summary of the more significant changes Facebook Timeline brings:

New cover image

What a great opportunity to catch the attention of potential clients.  You can’t include things such as contact information or a call to action, nor can you ask people to like your page.  Instead,  choose an image that speaks straight to your client.  Have a look at one I created for Leadership HQ.  It shows what they do and catches the eye but doesn’t break any rules.

New apps

Once you had a series of tabs down the side.  Now you have 3 apps at the top, just below your cover image and space for more hidden below that.  The apps give you a big opportunity to market different aspects of your business because, with the exception of the photos app, they can be moved and rotated around.  You can highlight the things that are important to your business as they happen – special events, sales, free reports, whatever you need to show.  Unlike the cover image, the apps can be branded with your logo or colours, and more details business information.

Landing Pages

The loss of tabs means that your landing page has to be treated differently.   While you can no longer set a default landing page, you can take advantage of the unique URL that every app has.  Turn one of your apps into your landing page and use its URL as the link whenever you want to send people to your page.  Instead of using facebook.com/page name, you’ll use facebook.com/page name/app_1234lotsof numbers.

Pinned posts

Do you have something important that you need to share with your followers?  You can now “pin” a post to the top of your page and it will stay there for 7 days.  Use it to share promotions, event details and anything that needs your follower’s attention.

Use your milestones

Milestones don’t just have to relate to the date you began the business.  They can be used to spotlight milestones like the release of a new product line or a business expansion.  They allow you to show off your achievements.

Private Messages

Fans are now able to send you messages directly through your fan page.  What a great opportunity to build a deeper connection with potential clients.
Timeline looks radically different to the old layout but once you get over the initial shock, you’ll see that the new look page actually benefits your business more than ever before.

Is your inbox empty?

Mine is!

I recently watched a webinar of Gihan Perera of egurus.biz, called “Managing the Information Overload”. It has inspired me to become super organised when it comes to my inbox.  My ultimate goal: to keep it empty.

So far, so good!  There are a few ways I have achieved this. Here are some:

1. Rules

I have created a series of rules for regular emails so they are automatically distributed to relevant folders. I’ve done this for my regular emails, such as social media notifications.

2. Folders

All emails are stored in folders which have been carefully categorised.

3. Blogs instead of enewsletters

This is the biggest one for me. I have unsubscribed from many enewsletters and just subscribed to the feed through Google Reader. It saves clogging up my inbox and everything is there for me when I am ready for it!

4. Set times for emails

I now have set times to check emails daily, one being first thing in the morning!  I make sure my inbox is empty. Things that take less than a few minutes are dealt with then and there. Longer tasks are filed and attended to as required. It also helps me focus on the task at hand and not “what’s next?!”.

Do you have trouble managing the enormous number of emails you receive on a daily basis? Even if you take one of the steps listed above I’m sure you will regain some control!