Small Business Diva

December 10, 2008

Free Digital Photography Guide

Filed under: Recommendations,Tips & Tricks — smallbusinessdiva @ 3:19 pm
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With the great quality of photos we can get from digital cameras many people are now enjoying photography as a hobby, or even taking many of their own business photos.

But do you ever wonder why some shots turn out better than others? Why some have great lighting or texture and others are rather… flat?

While catching up on some reading at one of my favourite blogs, My New Shiny Shoes, I came across this post about a free digital photography guide. And sure enough… it’s totally free. No catches, no gimmicks.  I’ve just downloaded a copy and although I haven’t read the entire guide yet, I’ve already learnt a few tips.

If you would like to improve your camera skills, download your copy now.

October 20, 2008

It’s Time To Spread The Word

Business Mums Magazine

Business Mums Magazine

Throughout October and November the Business Mums Magazine is running a competition. Everyone who helps to Spread The Word about the magazine can enter the competition to win some cool prizes.

The first entry is a video created by Mary-Lou at Groovy Kids Parties that features the magazine – you can see it here on the Magazine’s blog.

Melissa from Business Mums Network has also put together a Top 10 Tips guide that you can download for free. This guide is a summary of all the Top 10 Tips sections that have been in the magazine over the last two years.

If you want to enter the competition, put your thinking cap on and start spreading the word.

September 25, 2008

Do You Know Where Your Words May End Up?

When you write something on the internet – on your blog, blog comments, your website, articles that you publish – do you ever stop and wonder where your words may end up?

Personally, it never ceases to amaze me where my articles end up. I often see articles I’ve submitted to article directories on other people’s blog and websites, and I’ve even seen a couple in business newsletters that I subscribe to (all used appropriately and acknowledging the author, of course).

This week, I discovered that a post by Paul B. Brown on the New York Times Business Blog has quoted the Small Business Diva. Who would ever have thought? (NB: This is a great blog by the way – definitely worth visiting).

Now, would you like to know how I discovered this? No, I don’t have time to spend all day reading through millions of websites/blogs. I subscribe to Google Alerts. All you do is go to Google Alerts and enter the search terms you want to be alerted to, such as your name, your business name or even just an industry or topic that you’re interested in. Enter how often you want to receive email alerts, whether you want websites, blogs or everything, and your email address. That’s it. Simple.

When someone publishes something that includes your nominated search terms, you’ll be sent an email with the details.

Here’s to your success in business,

Donna-Marie

September 13, 2008

Handy Computer Shortcuts – Part 2

Recently I wrote about some handy computer shortcuts that will save you time on the keyboard. As promised in that post, Handy Computer Shortcuts, here are a few more for you to play with:

  • Take you to the start of that line – Home
  • Take you to the start of the document – Ctrl (control) + Home
  • Take you to the end of that line – End
  • Take you to the start of the document – Ctrl + End
  • Create a new document – Ctrl + N
  • Insert a page break – Ctrl + Enter
  • Decrease font size – Ctrl + Shift + <
  • Increase font size – Ctrl + Shift + >
  • To change lowercase text to ALL CAPS – Ctrl + Shift + A
  • To insert a date field – Alt + Shift + D
  • Delete the word before the cursor – Ctrl + Backspace
  • Delete the word after the cursor – Ctrl + Del
  • Double-click to highlight the word the cursor is in
  • Triple-click to highlight the paragraph the cursor is in

Have fun playing with those!

Here’s to your success in business,

Donna-Marie

August 22, 2008

Handy Computer Shortcuts

Filed under: Time Management,Tips & Tricks,Work from Home — smallbusinessdiva @ 11:00 am
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There are lots and lots of keyboard shortcuts that you can use to save time when using the computer. I know some regular readers already use these shortcuts, but I also know there are others who aren’t aware of them.

Here’s a list of the most common shortcuts. These can be used in MS Word but you will find that they will usually work just the same in most other MicroSoft programs and in fact, in many other applications too.

For these shortcuts, first highlight the text concerned, then:

  • Copy – hold down CTRL and the ‘C’ key
  • Paste – CTRL + V
  • Cut – CTRL + X
  • Undo – CTRL + Z
  • Repeat – CTRL + Y
  • Underline – CTRL + U
  • Bold – CTRL + B
  • Italics – CTRL + I
  • Open a Document – CTRL + O
  • Save a Document CTRL + S
  • Print a Document – CTRL + P
  • Close a Document – CTRL + W
  • Select Everything – CTRL + A
  • Help – F1

There are lots more but I’ll share those with you another time. For now, if you’re not used to using the shortcut keys, just pick one or two of these functions that you use often and practise using them. Once you’re familiar with those and remember them by heart, choose another couple and start using those. Before you know it, you’ll be a whizz with all these shortcuts.

Here’s to your success in business…

Donna-Marie

July 17, 2008

The Value Of Using Powerful Words

Filed under: Communication,Small Business,Tips & Tricks — smallbusinessdiva @ 2:59 pm
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There is a great post on the Write Powerful Resumes blog about using powerful words  to bring your resume to life.

The example given is excellent:

“There is nothing worse than saying:

– Achieved strong results due to strong ability to assess situations and utilise strong relationship skills.

Even though only two words have been changed, look at how much more powerful and interesting this next sentence is.

– Achieved outstanding results due to innate ability to assess situations and utilise strong relationship skills.”

These tips are not only useful when writing resumes but are also valuable across all types of writing. Within my business I use my thesaurus often. I also have a ‘swipe file’ of suggestions for alternate words and phrases.

It’s amazing how simply changing a few words here and there can make such a huge improvement to the quality of the text.

Here’s to your success in business…

Donna-Marie

June 17, 2008

Helpful Ways To Remember User IDs And Passwords

Filed under: Office Organisation,Small Business,Tips & Tricks,Work from Home — smallbusinessdiva @ 7:44 pm
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Do you get sick of trying to remember all those passwords and user ids? I think I add a new one to the list every single day.

A great piece of software to help store all of these important details – securely – is Roboform. It’s free to download and not only securely stores your user names, passwords and other basic information for filling in forms (eg your name, address, company name), but once they’re stored, with just a simple click or two on your toolbar you can enter your login details for that particular site.

If you’re not keen on installing software on your computer, the girls over at A Good Sort have a great idea for how to manually store your user ids and passwords.

Here’s to your success in business…

Donna-Marie

June 11, 2008

Useful Website

Filed under: Small Business,Time Management,Tips & Tricks,Work from Home — smallbusinessdiva @ 6:10 pm
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Browser Shots is a great website to visit when you want to see how your website is viewed on different browsers.

Simply go to the site… type in your URL… select the browsers you’d like to get an overview of… click on ‘submit’ and wait for a minute or two. You’ll get an overview of how your webpage is seen by user’s of the various different browsers.

Here’s to your success in business…

Donna-Marie

June 2, 2008

Do You Keep Up With Your Blogroll Friends?

Filed under: Office Organisation,Recommendations,Time Management,Tips & Tricks,Work from Home — smallbusinessdiva @ 11:58 am

This is a question raised by Elena at her EP Designs blog – some people have a blogroll list so long a kangaroo couldn’t jump over it… do they actually keep up with those blogging friends? Do they regularly read their posts and comment on them?

Well, I must admit that I’m one of those people. I don’t have all my favourite blogs listed on my blog because there’s just too many of them. And yes, I do like to keep up with them all (although I must admit, never as often as I’d like). 

Late last year I found myself really struggling to keep up with them all, clicking from one blog to another. Then I spent an hour or so and subscribed to all my favourite blogs. If you haven’t already done this, I highly recommend you do. You can use a simple program like Bloglines or Feedburner. Add all your favourites and then just log in there each day or each week. You can see all the new posts since your last visit and read them in one place. If you want to comment on anything, you can easily do that too.

Here’s to your success in business…

Donna-Marie

 

April 11, 2008

Look before you link

Filed under: Marketing Tips,Small Business,Tips & Tricks,Work from Home — smallbusinessdiva @ 2:31 pm
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On Melissa Khalinsky’s blog she includes a post about Links to Your Site, talking about five ways of attracting traffic to your site. I love a comment she includes in her first tip:

“…there are many sites who are happy to do a link exchange. Before requesting an exchange, look at the site closely to see if they do exchange links.”

Great tip Melissa. I would like to add to that by encouraging people to request to link only with RELEVANT sites. I have received so many requests from people to be linked to my site, either a reciprocal link or one-way. Unfortunately, most of these requests come from businesses that have absolutely no relevance to my sites – totally different products/services, totally different markets.

Link away… just keep it relevant and appropriate.

Here’s to your success in business…

March 21, 2008

Truth of Fiction?

Almost every day I receive some sort of email from a well-meaning relative, friend or colleague, warning me about the latest ‘shocking danger’. These warnings range from health issues, scams, computer viruses, safety issues… I’m sure you know the ones I am referring to. What’s more, these emails almost always ask you to forward the warning to everyone in your address book to make sure they’re aware of the potential dangers too.

Do you automatically forward on these warnings?

I don’t.

I go to a fantastic website – Truth or Fiction. You can look up the general topic of the warning email you’ve been sent and nine times out of ten, it will have the exact email in its files. It will tell you a little bit about the email and whether it’s true, fiction or a combination.

Before you automatically forward those ‘urgent warnings’, have a quick look on Truth or Fiction.

Here’s to your business success…

February 18, 2008

Using the ‘net to Improve Your Business

Those of you who are in Brisbane may like to come along to the next Business Growth Session where Heart Harmony’s Ingrid Cliff and myself will be running a practical workshop on just a couple of the many online techniques you can use to improve your business.

You’ve probably heard about SEO, affiliates, etc… Ingrid and I will focus on two of the lesser known methods that can have dramatic results on your visitor numbers and page rank. Best of all, they’re really simple – almost anyone can do them!

The Business Growth Session is on Monday 3rd March, 2008 in the meeting room at Chermside Library. BOOKINGS ARE ESSENTIAL! Full details are available on the website.

Here’s to your business success…

January 16, 2008

A brilliant idea for laptop users

Recently I met Karin Bryer who runs Global Innovations. One of the products she supplies is this PORTAnoteBOOK (as well as PORTA-Books). This nifty gadget is ideal for resting your laptop on and has many benefits including being ergonomically friendly and helping to increase airflow (thus reducing the heat build up). Plus, it has built in storage space.

At such an affordable price I know I’ll be getting one.

Have a look at this video for more info or visit Karin’s site.

Here’s to your business success…

December 27, 2007

All women blogging carnival

Filed under: Bits & Pieces,Tips & Tricks — smallbusinessdiva @ 1:31 pm
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Anne at My Day Off is this week hosting a fantastic All Women Blogging Carnival, with lots of great posts about pets, health and beauty, money, shopping, family and heaps more.

Blogging carnivals can be a fantastic way of ‘meeting’ more bloggers, attracting visitors to your site and building worthwhile relationships, not to mention learning about all manner of things! Best of all, there are carnivals to suit everyone – business, craft, women, pets, various hobbies and special interests.

So what are you waiting for? Start searching the blogosphere to find carnivals that you can participate in.

Here’s to your business success…

November 26, 2007

The Power of Samples

Filed under: Marketing Tips,Small Business,Tips & Tricks,Work from Home — smallbusinessdiva @ 4:09 pm
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Another great, low-cost marketing strategy is to give away or show samples of your products or services.

In one of my recent posts I mentioned the divine promotional chocolate bites I bought from Moments in Chocolate, individually wrapped with my logo and contact details on them. When I saw the website for these I thought they looked good; I might be interested in ordering some… one day. But when I received some free samples, that was it! I was hooked and ordered straight away.

If you want to increase your marketing efforts, think about ways you can offer samples of your products/services.

Sometimes it’s not possible to give a sample of your work. For example, Etched in Memories (a business that creates exquisite pieces of jewellery, keyrings and name tags with your special photos, words or design expertly engraved) recently posted about their samples. It’s not practical for them to send free samples of their creations but they do offer a samples page on their website. Perhaps this is something you can do?

Etched in Memories Sample

You could also consider offering a 30-minute consultation for free or a report, guide or booklet.

November 23, 2007

7 ways to get the most from your advertising dollar

Filed under: Marketing Tips,Small Business,Tips & Tricks,Work from Home — smallbusinessdiva @ 5:21 pm
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Let’s face it, most traditional advertising doesn’t come cheap. So how can you make sure you get value for your money?

Here’s a few tips:

  1. Know who you are marketing to and where you will find them – what publications do they read? Where do they shop? What TV shows do they watch?
  2. Follow the AIDA formula – Attention, Interest, Desire, Action… that’s what you’re trying to create in your ads.
  3. Know the purpose of your ad. Do you want to educate people about your product/service, sell products, attract people to your website? Know what the aim is before you design your ad.
  4. Your headline should include your main selling point.
  5. Where possible, include your USP – Unique Selling Point; what is it that makes you different from your competitors?
  6. Sell the BENEFITS of your products/services, not the FEATURES.
  7. Make it easy for people to respond to your ad – include clear contact information.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to creating advertisements that sell. For some more ideas, have a look at the articles on my website.

November 14, 2007

How do you send large files over the Internet?

I am often asked how to send large files over the Internet as quite often there is a size limit or timeout limit on general email accounts, particularly if you are using a standard home-usage account.

I love two companies – Send This File and You Send It for this type of thing. Please note: I don’t get any commission for recommending these companies, I just do so because I love the service they provide.

They work much the same way. Basically, you select the file you want to send, click a couple of buttons, then your file is uploaded to a private area on their site and they will email a message with a download link to your selected recipient/s. The recipient of the file will receive this email saying that their file is ready for download; they click on the link and download the file. Easy!

This is fantastic when you have a file containing lots of high quality graphics, audios or videos.

You can sign up for a free account to trial both these companies and for many, the free account is all you’ll need. However if you find yourself wanting to use the service more and more, there are various upgrades that may be more suitable.

Check them out now… once you’ve tried them, you’ll use them wherever possible!

October 6, 2007

How important is it to spell correctly?

Filed under: Bits & Pieces,Tips & Tricks — smallbusinessdiva @ 12:25 pm

I’m usually all for accurate spelling of words so I found this really interesting.

I cdnuolt blveiee that I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd what I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch sdtuy at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in what oerdr the ltteres in a word are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is that the frsit and last ltteer be in the rghit pclae.

The rset can be a taotl mses and you can still raed it whotuit a pboerlm. This is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the word as a wlohe.

Azanmig huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

September 28, 2007

10 ways to improve your audio recording quality

A few days ago I posted a blog about transcription – what it is, who uses it and in what circumstances.

An important thing to keep in mind is that the cost of having your recording typed up into document format varies greatly but as a general rule, the better the quality of your recording, the more affordable having it typed will be.

There are so many things you can do to improve the sound quality of your recording, things such as:

  1. speaking as clearly as possible
  2. making sure you are talking somewhere with little, if any, background noise (interviewing someone in a cafe setting is absolutely disastrous)
  3. do a practise recording first to test your volume settings and the positioning of your microphone
  4. avoid background noises such as dogs barking, telephones ringing, heavy traffic. If these noises occur or one of the speakers needs to cough or sneeze, pause speaking and, if necessary, repeat the last few words
  5. spell any difficult words, particularly names
  6. be aware of shuffling papers and clanking glasses/coffee cups while recording. Even though you will hardly notice the sound, the microphone will pick them up and it makes it more difficult for the transcriptionist to hear the words
  7. where there is more than one speaker, identify each speaker clearly
  8. avoid speaking over the top of one another and interrupting. In a group situation, the group leader should ensure that only one person speaks at a time and if necessary, ask speakers to repeat their comments made while others were talking
  9. speak loudly enough to be heard
  10. ensure that you have spare batteries for your recording device before you start recording

As a final note, I always suggest that people find a transcriptionist before they begin recording. Any professional service will be happy to go over these types of suggestions to ensure that you get the best possible quality recording, which will in turn make their job quicker and easier, thus costing you less $$!

September 23, 2007

Do school holidays and work-at-home-mums mix?

School holidays have just begun here in Queensland. I posted this on my personal blog early this year and it got some great feedback, so I thought I would share it with readers of the Small Business Diva too.

My baby is now in his teens and at high school (boy, I feel old saying that) so it’s really no more difficult to work when he’s home all day. In fact, I enjoy being able to sleep in a bit!!! In my case, the occasional, “Muuuuum… I’m hungry,” is dealt with by a simple reply of, “There’s the kitchen,” while pointing in the general direction of said kitchen. If he’s getting something yummy I’ll often follow up with, “I’ll have one too while you’re there,” or “Put the kettle on for me would you Darl?”

Okay, so I have it pretty easy, but it wasn’t always this way. He was little once – many, many sleeps ago – and I often have young nieces visiting for the holidays or, at one stage, young foster children here. School holidays always remind me of how difficult it can be juggling the ever-professional-business-Mum with Mum-of-kids-on-school-holidays.

I found the most important way to survive these times was to BE ORGANISED. To start with, mark the school holidays in your diary in advance and try not to schedule too many appointments during this time.

There are lots of ways you can involve your littlies in your business – help packing orders, sticking labels or stamps on envelopes, simple sorting. I also made a habit of keeping a miniature desk and chair near my desk, along with a toy phone and some simple stationery items (espcially a stapler and a hole punch – they love those!) That way the kids can be creative while playing ‘pretend’ workers too. I also kept my old computer at a desk in my office and my son would sometimes sit up there ‘doing his work’ with me. Of course, his work involved software such as MS Paint, PrintMaster Gold (card making – lots of graphics in that one) or a couple of Sesame Street games.

If you need to run errands, time these around your child’s needs so they are not tired and grumpy.

Where possible, try to arrange ‘kid-sharing’ with a friend or relative. On one day, you can look after their kids and just spend the day with them. The next day, the other person has the kids and you devote time to your work. Alternating outing days with home days can help reduce boredom too.

Try to avoid getting caught up with work for too long at a time. Kids may get resentful and play up just to get your attention. Where possible, alternate time with your kids and time in the office.

The most important thing is not to be too hard on yourself and your expectations. Remember WHY you’re working from home in the first place. In many cases it’s because you want to spend more time with your family (working in your slippers in just a bonus ).

What are your tips for balancing work/family during school holidays? I’d love to hear them.

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