Tag Archives: Employment

Add New Life to Existing Content

Add New Life to Existing ContentSometimes old content on your blog becomes out of date, the details change, posts are too short and to maintain the value of this content writers should really spend time updating them and tweaking the content. It is time to Add New Life to Existing Content. With perhaps thousands of pages, how does one go about updating this content and keep it fresh? This is a huge problem for large and small companies. They may be limited by staff levels and also want to continue generating new and fresh content. We have outlined a few ideas about how to go about this. Make efficient use of your time and still generate new content aimed at your readers.

Add New Life to Existing Content – Approach to Updating Content

One approach is to add to your daily schedule an objective to update content each day. Perhaps you modify one post per day. Bring it up to current specifications and update the information so that it is relevant to today’s readers. If you have thousands of pages, this may need to be done to many files per day. However, you also must be careful to avoid signaling to the search engines that your content is spam by mistake. Our approach is to update no more than five posts each day. Tweaking them here and there, adding a few sentences, correcting spelling and grammar, etc. We also update the Google Adsense code on these pages as well when Google makes changes to their code.

It may take us several years to get through all of the content. However, that is much better than never going through it at all at the same time. We also are using this opportunity to remove links that are no longer valid or perhaps do not align with our content. With Google’s focus on indexing good quality content, we feel that this is another excellent approach to take over time.

Advertise Your Web Sites Content

You need to advertise as well on your message boards, twitter, Facebook, etc. Get your message out there so that readers are aware of what is available and can link to it as they refer content to their friends etc.

A good time to update old content is when the creative juices may not be flowing. No one can write every day and all day. We get tired, we run out of ideas and it is just too difficult. By taking the time to update old content, you are keeping your old content up to date and you just may get some ideas for new posts from your old content. This is an excellent way to help develop new ideas as well since the process of rewriting content or updating it sometimes gets you thinking about ideas that were not covered in the old content. Depending on the topic, this may be an opportunity to create a new post about this new topic and link back to the original post.

Coping With a Change in Employment

Coping With a Change in EmploymentDealing with a layoff, downsizing, right-sizing or just plain being fired is a stressful time for most people. How you cope with a change in employment will affect you and your family. It will also affect how your job search will go for the next job. There will be many challenges Coping With a Change in Employment

There are many emotions at play here and some of them are just plain difficult to deal with. You may be embarrassed at being let go. You may be mad at being laid off and maybe sad or depressed. Your not sure where the next job is going to come from. All of these emotions are at play at the same time. They all add up to a stressful situation. It is perfectly normal to have these emotions. Your family may be going through some of the same emotions on your behalf. They lack information about your plans, why you were laid off and how the family will be able to afford to live without your income.

This is where you have to take the lead and communicate with them. Confidence will go a long way to making them feel better and also being more supportive which in turn will also help you as well. Dealing with a negative work situation and a negative family is sometimes too much to take. be positive and encourage all of your family to be positive as well. This alone will help everyone deal with the situation at hand and also help in the quest for another job.

Coping With a Change in Employment

Men identify themselves through work and if they lose their jobs that identity is sometimes lost unless a new job is found quickly. It is important to also have extracurricular things that are part of your persona to fall back on. Whether it is hobbies or volunteering, that part of your life should not change.

Stages of Excepting Employment Changes

Many people go through several transitional phases before they can really focus on looking for that new position in an effective way. They are:

  • Shock at being laid off
  • Anger at being laid off
  • Depressed that they were laid off
  • Refocus on the positive things about changing jobs

The good news is that once we reach the final phase, we are ready to actually look for a new job. We are adding up the benefits we can bring to a new employer. This includes the value that we can bring to the job and also realizing that this transition is in most cases a blessing in disguise. We can look forward to changing and new challenges. This is the best time to look for a new position. Try to move through the first 3 phases quickly and so you can focus on the positive for your job search.

It is also an opportunity to make that career change that you always had in the back of your mind, but never acted on. Part of coping with a change in employment is realizing that now you have the opportunity to make the changes that you always wanted to.

They say that you should work as hard at finding a job as you did at your job and this is true. Spend 35 hours a week improving your skills, networking and talking with contacts to find jobs that are available. Chat with people who may be able to guide you. In addition, spend time training to learn the latest job search skills.

How do You begin a Job Search

  • Summarize your strengths and how you do your best work. Identify past successes, current strengths; overall work style and personal preferences.
  • Clarify your objectives and prepare a dynamic presentation.
  • Plan how you marketing campaign
  • Building a network of negotiating skills.
  • Be thorough and persistent

Network with like minded individuals, people you trust and value their comments. Test your marketing campaign and networking skills and by all means, keep up with your contacts. Let them know what you are looking for and what you are looking for. This is by far the best way to find out if a job exists. Avoid alienating your colleagues by asking them for a jo. Instead, ask them to let you know if they hear of a position that may be available.



Should I Change Jobs

Should I Change JobsI was recently asked by a friend for some advice about changing jobs and basically starting a new career. I am always a bit reluctant to give this kind of advice. Because you do not want to be responsible for the person who follows your advice. If the  new job does not really work out very well, what then? Should I Change Jobs?

I prefer to ask the person a number of questions and point out areas that they should consider. After all it is a very personal decision and it really depends on the situation that person finds themselves in. It is impossible for me to know what their situation really is and how they should respond.

What is the Situation and Should I Change Jobs

First of all it is important to understand the current situation that my friend is in. they work for a private company for the past 20 years, their pension is vested, however they are not eligible to collect a pension yet due to their age. Unfortunately there are situations at the company which has a lot of people upset including my friend. For example on Dec 31 , 2016, any one retiring after that date loses their health benefits. They retire with a pension, but no benefits. They cannot retire until Jan 2017!

The management situation at work is not a positive environment. They are looking or appear to be looking to retire people early and bring on new hires. My friend feels that even though they have fantastic reviews , they may be a target sometime in the next 5 years before they retire to a pension with no benefits.

I also feel that my friend is probably a bit bored and not challenged in the manner they used to be and that means you usually do not do your best work! That is just a human situation and not a criticism.

What are the issues to consider?

  • Salary
  • Benefits
  • Pension into locked RRSP
  • How much, are you penalized in any way
  • Can only withdraw % starting at 55
  • Vacation
  • Sick days
  • New pension?
  • RRSP goes to survivors
  • Must decide how to invest
  • Opportunity to advance?
  • Probability of being tapped to leave current company
  • Are you leaving any money on the table
  • Benefits when you retire from new company
  • Challenge
  • Job satisfaction

Comments about each area mentioned above:

Salary – the new job may mean a drop in pay, but there is potential for upgrading and there are better benefits when they do retire
Benefits – no benefits at the current company vs. benefits  at the new company when they retire
Pension into locked RRSP – Current pension will likely be placed into a locked in RRSP, and collected when they turn 55
How much, are you penalized in any way – Leaving early usually means you are penalized in some way regarding the amount of money you take with you

Can only withdraw % starting at 55 –
percent you can draw at 55 is around 6%
Vacation – Probably will have less vacation since new employer will not want to provide as much vacation to a new employee

Sick days – currently no sick days allowed, while new job provides for sick days automatically
New pension? – What do you need to do to qualify for a pension at the new company?
RRSP goes to survivors – a big benefit of withdrawing pension from existing company is that anything that is left when you die goes to your estate and your survivors, not to the company that paid into your pension.
Must decide how to invest – With a self managed RRSP , you must invest wisely and carefully, this is your retirement

Should I Change Jobs – Opportunity to advance?

What are the opportunities to advance and increase your salary to catch up to were you were ?
Probability of being tapped to leave current job – There is a strong feeling by many people that they will never make it to retirement and will be tapped anyway to leave before their time for retirement is ready.
Are you leaving any money on the table – always the big question. How much money are you leaving. Can you negotiate a better package to take with you?
Benefits when you retire from new company – Never a a 100% guarantee, but then they already know that they will be retiring without benefits at the current company

Challenge & Job satisfaction – go together. Many people like a challenge and will not do well if they are not challenged and their job satisfaction suffers as well. This can be a downward spiral so sometimes it  is a good idea to move on and take that next job!

Finally, always make sure that you have an offer in hand before you make the leap from your current company.  You never want to find yourself without a job in today’s current economy.

Comments about this subject are welcome. Additional ideas and suggestions about what everyone should consider when looking at another job would be much appreciated.

Negotiate Before You Sign

Negotiate Before You SignThis is another post about changing jobs that was instigated by a phone call from a friend who was thinking about changing jobs. You can check out my previous posts – “Should I Change Jobs” and “Leaving a Job, Talk to an Adviser”  and “Handing in my Resignation” which covers those topics. Also some of the things you should consider before making the decision to change jobs. In this case it is negotiate before you sign.

This post focuses on completing all of your negotiations for your new job before you sign your new contract. After you sign, all of your negotiation power is gone. The mantra of this post is always ask in a polite way about items you feel you need or want. The worst that will happen is that the interviewer will say no. There is of course a time and a place to bring your negotiating points up in the process to allow you to gain the most.  Hopefully the following comments and thoughts will help the reader in their quest.

When to Negotiate Details on New Job

There are many opinions about when you should negotiate details such as salary, benefits and perks on a new job. However the consensus seems to be that negotiation starts when you are discussing an offer that may be made to you. Always negotiate before you sign any documents.

Negotiating  salary, etc at an initial interview is not seen as a positive thing to do. No one has offered you the job. You may even turn the interviewer off by making demands too early. Wait until the interviewer has introduced the topic and even then go slow. If you sense that they are reaching closure on a potential offer, now is the time to discuss possible additions that you may be looking for. Note that I wrote discuss, rather than demand. It is all about reaching a compromise that both people can live with. Without being so demanding that you paint yourself into a box that you cannot get out of.

By the time you receive a letter offering you  the job all of the details should have been worked out and the letter should reflect those details. However if there is something missing that you felt had been agreed to, then obviously it should be discussed before you sign the agreement letter signifying that you are taking the job.

Negotiate Before You Sign – Alternate Solutions

There are many ways to solve issues and that is what negotiations are all about. An example of a colleague centered around vacation. The new job only offered 3 weeks vacation. However my colleague had been receiving 6 weeks vacation due to seniority with the current company they were with.

They knew that asking directly for 6 weeks vacation was going to be a non starter in this situation. However  they still expressed their concern about losing so much vacation on moving to a new job. Note that it was an expression of concern and not a negotiating demand.

The Human Resources person recognized that this was an issue for someone who was senior and brought a lot of experience to the job. They could not offer 6 weeks paid vacation, but what they could offer was the opportunity to reduce the salary by 10% and take an additional 6 weeks off fully paid at the lower salary rate. This was in addition to the regular paid 3 weeks vacation. Although they would be paid for 12 months, the pay rate would be 10% lower than the negotiated salary. For some people this is a definite win win, while others may feel they really need that 10%.

The point of this section of this post is that there are many ways to solve issues and create unique solutions. If you do not ask you may not be made aware of them.

Be Prepared for Negotiations At All Times

This is so important. You may find yourself negotiating during an interview when you did not expect it. Or you may receive a phone call from someone at the company you are considering after your first round of interviews. Rather than bring you in a second or third time, they may decide to complete final negotiations right there on the phone.

The point is you never know when you will be asked to consider a proposal. So you should always be ready. Know what you need to have. Know what you would like to have, and know what you are willing to compromise on. Be ready to negotiate the best deal you can at the time. Once you have said yes verbally and on paper, that is pretty much it. Unless you want to risk losing that particular opportunity! If you reopen negotiations after they were closed, it usually means that both parties can re-negotiate the agreement. Overall it is a bad situation to be in.

Comments are welcome about your experiences, do’s and don’ts etc. Anything that will assist our readers in their quest for better and more interesting jobs are welcome.

Handing in My Resignation

This is another post about changing jobs that were instigated by a phone call from a friend who was thinking about handing in his resignation and moving to another job. You can check out my previous posts – “Should I Change Jobs” and “Leaving a Job, Talk to an Adviser” which cover those topics and some of the things you should consider before making the decision to change jobs.

Handing in My Resignation – Do Not Burn Bridges

This post is focused on handing in your resignation, once you have done your homework and have made the decision to leave your current job. There are many ways to resign, however, the bottom line is that you never want to burn any bridges. In my experience, I have found that over the years you work with many people in many different companies and functions. Over the years you work with these same people many times even if you change jobs. You never know when good contact, a friend or a colleague can help you with a project, or the next job.

Handing in My Resignation – Be Professional

Always be professional, especially when you are handing in your resignation. Wait until you have a firm offer from the new company and then turn in your resignation to your boss. The personal touch is always best. By that, we mean to set up a meeting and do it in person or over the phone if they are in another city. Then provide the written signed letter of resignation. Keep your letter short and to the point and provide a final date, which will indicate your last day.

You should also extol the virtue of the company, the colleagues, and your experience and learning at your old company. Never say anything negative in your letter or even verbally. This is all part of networking, not burning bridges, and keeping your relationship professional!

How Much Notice Do I Need to Provide

The amount of notice varies a lot depending on the local laws, the company, how you feel about the company, even the level you are at within the company. If you are trying to maintain excellent relationships, giving a longer notice so they can find someone to replace you and you can transition to may put you in good standing over the longer term. Some people will bounce back and forth between companies a lot. Keeping a professional flavor to the relationship is always the best approach.

Some companies are very concerned about security and this really depends on company policy as well as the type of job you have. Some companies will accept resignations and walk you to the door because they are so concerned about security issues, while others will take advantage of the last few weeks to learn as much as possible from you. Whichever occurs don’t take it personally, it is just business and company attitudes about the security of information.

Being Nervous, Feeling Like You Are Letting the Team Down

Many people have a professional and nonprofessional relationship with their teammates at a company. If you are working on a project you may feel that you are letting the team down by leaving. You may even feel that you are letting the company down if they have treated you well over the years.

Sure some people will be disappointed that you are leaving and will be sorry to see you leave. Your boss may even be upset. Not because it is you that is leaving, but because he or she now has to replace you and find someone to fill in for you.

Members of your team, even your boss will be happy for you especially if you are leaving for a better situation. Whether it is better pay, less stress, more benefits or even a more interesting job, they will be happy for you. They might even be a bit envious and some will want to stay in touch so that they too can follow you, especially if they can improve their financial situation.

So bottom line, don’t be nervous and don’t feel guilty about handing in your resignation.

Say Nice Things

Before you leave as well as after you leave, always say nice things about the people and the company. No one wants to listen to a negative tirade about how bad it was at some other company. You never know when it might come back and cause you problems in future jobs, future sales, or future relationships.

If a job, company, or colleague is really not that great, then do not say anything at all. People will still get the message, and you will not be blamed as being negative or worse sued for libel.

There are some situations that are just not tolerable and this situation forces you to leave. If it is illegal, then you really should do something about it. Regardless you want to get as far away as fast as possible from this situation. Avoid being caught up in something that is really not good for your career and/or even freedom.

Feel free to leave comments and suggestions about this post, handing in resignations, changing jobs, etc. Our readers will benefit from constructive helpful comments.

Leaving a Job, Talk to an Advisor

Leaving a JobOur last post was about a friend of mine who was contemplating leaving a job that they had been at for over 20 years. There are all kinds of issues to consider in making this kind of decision and we listed some of them in the post – Should I Change Jobs.

This post is more focused on what should I do when I change jobs about the pension money that is given to us when we leave a job. In Canada, you are not just handed the money, instead, the law requires that these funds be placed in a locked-in RRSP which you can only gain access to at age 55 or later. Even then you can only take out a certain percentage each year, around 6.5% initially. There are some laws that let you transfer some of the funds to a regular RRSP at a later date.

Leaving a Job- Talk to a Financial Adviser

This is where you need to get really serious about your retirement planning. You are leaving a company, they are giving you the vested amount of your pension and it will be locked into an RRSP. How should you invest it? What risk should you take? What are the regulations about withdrawals? There are loads of questions such as this which only someone in the business working every day on these subjects can really help you with.

Find a good financial adviser, who knows what they are talking about and is not just trying to sell you stocks and mutual funds. In fact, it is a good idea to interview several before making a decision about where you should place your investments.

Talk to friends, business associates, and professionals. Don’t just take one answer because it sounds good or they sound really confident. You need to collect as much information as you can and make your own decisions about what is right for you.

Even this post and blog is only one source and we blatantly will tell you that we do not have all of the answers. Each person is different, has different requirements, and different goals. Investigate and make the most informed decision you can.

Once You Have Made a Decision, Monitor Your Investments

This is so important. You cannot just make your investments and then walk away without tending to them on a regular basis. Treat your retirement plan and investments like a garden. It needs regular care, weeding, and watering.  So does your retirement RRSP.

Weed out the poor performing stocks, mutual funds, and any other investments you may have. Evaluate your risk tolerance. Invest in new growth investments, and collect dividends and interest on a regular basis. Pay attention to the investments. Never place it all into one stock or mutual fund, diversify and avoid high-risk investments unless you can afford to lose it all.

Meet with Your Financial Adviser

Starting a new job is always stressful, and leaving a job is also stressful. Just look at the issues to consider that we discussed in the previous post – Should I Change Jobs. However, this will pass. You will get settled into the new job. Get to know the people. Learn what you need to learn. Perform at a level that meets the needs of the new organization you moved to.

Once this period is over, and it should only last 3 to 6 months at the most, set up regular meetings with your financial adviser. Review your investments and assess the health and income that you are receiving from your investments.

This is so important and most advisers will initiate these meetings as well. However, if they do not do this, then you need to take the initiative. Meet with them on a regular basis. Review your statements. Make sure that everything is invested in a manner that meets your needs.

In summary, when you have answered the question – Should I Change Jobs – the next step is huge in the sense that now you are responsible for managing your retirement fund and making sure that you have enough money to retire and live the quality of life that you need and want.

Comments about this post are welcome as are ideas and subjects that we may not have considered.

Making Money off Blogging

Making Money off BloggingThis is a re-post of an article I read on Market Watch about Making Money off Blogging. It is re-posted here in it’s entirety. We posted this article here since many of our friends wonder about what Adsense and blogging is all about and why would I spend so much time working on something like this. It is foreign to the entire concept of going to an office, getting a paycheck and not working for your self. I thought that maybe they would see this and understand a little bit more why I blog:

Jan. 12, 2011, 12:01 a.m. EST

Making Money off Blogging

Successful bloggers describe how they made a go of it

By Marty Orge

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Blogs are an ever-growing presence on the Internet, but can you make money in this crowded field? Certainly, some people do, and a big part of their success is choosing the right topic to write about — and then sticking to it until the audience, and advertisers, come.

There were 126 million blogs on the Internet in 2009, the most recent figure available, according to Pingdom.com, which tracks Internet growth. Some provide a healthy income for their authors.

Start with passion, and the money will follow, said Joel Comm, a new-media marketing strategist in Loveland, Colo., and author of “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays.”

“Niche is the way to go, and micro-niche is even better,” Comm said. “To be successful with a blog you need to find your passion.” Successful bloggers want to write about whatever they’re passionate about, he said, even if they don’t get paid.

For example, if you love dogs, there’s a niche. “I’m partial to Yorkshire Terriers,” Comm said, “so I could blog about Yorkies, defining my niche even more,” he said. “Find a topic where you can display your knowledge and become the blogging expert about it.”

Not always about the cash

For Neal Schaffer, who earns $100 a month from blogging and gets 20,000 visitors each month, it’s not about the money. Blogging is a way to attract potential clients.

Schaffer is president of Windmills Marketing in Newport Beach, Calif. He blogs about social-media strategies for professionals and businesses at WindMillNetworking.com.“Because I built a trustworthy relationship, people reading my blog are ready to purchase services I offer. Blogging is free advertising for my business,” he said. “It is in my consulting and speaking business where I make a living.”

Schaffer uses Google AdSense and affiliate marketing programs. Google offers AdSense, which delivers ads, free to site owners and bloggers. Payment is usually based on how many visitors come to the site or click on the ads. Affiliate marketing programs pay bloggers when visitors click on their proprietary ads.

Praveen Puri

is a financial and software blogger in Aurora, Ill., and author of “Stock Trading Riches.” He earns an average of $250 a month from four blogs, including Simple-Trading-System.blogspot.com and unix-simple.blogspot.com.

“I make about $50 from selling my books on my blogs, $10 from Amazon affiliate sales, $140 from sponsored posts through PayPerPost.com, Blogertise.com and SocialSpark.com, and $50 from selling paid links directly to advertisers,” he said. “I work on my blogs about 16 hours a week.”

Long hours and minimal income don’t deter Puri. For him, blogging is like a hobby. “Most hobbies cost money,” he said. “With blogging, I’m enjoying a fun hobby where I’m actually making more than I have to pay out.”

Puri said his blogs also help him gain credibility as a source on Unix programming and financial investing. And he does want to see a bigger payoff from his blogging. “There is the hope that I will eventually make a breakthrough where one or more of my blogs or posts go viral and exponentially create a big audience where I could make more money.”

Marc Matsumoto,

a New York-based editor and publisher of the food blog NoRecipes.com, said he makes $1,000 a month in blog ad revenue and gets 160,000 visitors to his blog a month.

But his blog serves as the gateway to other income. Matsumoto said he has gotten paid recipe-development jobs for periodicals, books, and packaged-goods companies from his blog. “I’ve also gotten paid food-photography gigs primarily for packaged-goods companies. Almost 100% of my leads come through my blog,” he said.

“I work 40 to 50 hours a week on purely blog-related activities,” he said. “I left a job as a marketing executive three months ago to pursue the blog and work on it full-time. A blog is a portfolio piece that helps you build your brand and secure other work.”

Blogging for real money

Nick Veneris is chief executive of Xomba.com, an online writers community. Writers post original content and share AdSense revenue.

“Our users made a total of $45,000 last month, so, yes, Google ads do pay,” Veneris said. Xomba shares AdSense revenue 50/50 with writers, with some individuals making $1,000 to $3,000 a month. According to Veneris, topics that pay the most are technology, retail sales and shopping, entertainment, health and business.

Meanwhile, Marc Aarons said he earns $2,000 a month after two years of blogging about mobile broadband on Mobile-Broadband-Reviews.com.

“Ninety percent income is from Google Ads,” Aarons said. “They work.” The Atlanta, Ga.-based blogger spends two to four hours a day on his blog, “with a morning commute to the kitchen.”

Aarons credits his success to hard work and transparency. “Hardly anyone is willing to support you, let alone hand over any money to you, without transparency,” he said, referring to being up-front and clear about advertising relationships.

“For many people who’ve had some level of success on the Internet, transparency has usually been a big part of making that happen,” he said

Always Provide Value

Also, successful bloggers must first provide value, Aarons said, and make money later. Doing so builds the trust and creates the relationship that’s necessary to build an audience. “You want your visitors to search for you, find your message resonating and stick around because you solve problems for them,” he said. “That’s the name of the game.”

New-media marketing strategist Comm agrees. “It’s all about bringing value to the conversation. What do your readers want? If all you think about is making money, that’s putting the cart before the horse. Bring value to your blog first. That’s the only way to make money.”

Carving out a micro-niche

“It’s important to know your niche and to continuously feed a blog or website when the subject is hot,” said Talya Schaeffer, founder of the blog CyberBlackFriday.com, which features online Black Friday sales.

Schaeffer’s research showed Black Friday-related searches begin in September and end right after the event. Schaeffer saw the trend unfold and watched as it intensified in November. “I updated the site frequently with the latest Black Friday deals this holiday season and generated $4,000 between October and November using Google AdSense and affiliate programs with retailer websites,” Schaeffer said.

Frugal-minded web surfers have helped Chelsea Rustrum earn $10,000 to $12,000 a month with her website and blog FreeMania.com.

“My audience is mostly moms between the ages of 25 and 45 who are interested in saving money, trying new products free of charge and printing coupons for items they buy anyway,” she said.

Rustrum publishes FreeMania.com in Santa Cruz, Calif. “I’ve also recently worked out of Florence, Bali and Thailand. I can work anywhere, all I need is my laptop and a stable Internet connection.” She monetizes her blog using Google AdSense, Commission Junction and Hydra Network.

Sending Out Newsletters

Along with blogging three or four times a week, Rustrum also sends out emails to 150,000 subscribers. “My priority at this point is building a community that is engaged and social, which will naturally result in more visitors and more time spent on the site. The more unique, high-value content I can offer, the better.”

Rustrum said that, to be successful, bloggers must figure out what they are good at and what they are passionate about — and then blog about that. You need a clear vision. “Don’t start out with the intent to build a blogging empire,” she said.

“It sounds cliché but I truly believe if you write about something you’re passionate about the people will come. And when the people come, the advertisers will come,” Rustrum said.

As chief executive of SheFinds Media and publisher of SheFinds.com, BrideFinds.com and MomFinds.com, Michelle Madhok has built a web and blogging empire, earning $1.3 million a year.

Madhok started SheFinds.com in her apartment in New York City in 2004 and made about $30,000 a year. She worked 70 hours a week. Her niche worked and traffic and sales increased each year. By 2008, “we were doing about $500K in sales,’’ she said. “This year I’m working 50 hours a week and we’ll gross $1.3 million and get more than 1.2 million visitors to the sites.”

Transparency — it’s the law

Whether earning $1,200 or $1.2 million a year online, today’s bloggers are careful to be transparent about advertising income. There are two reasons for this openness, said Lorrie Thomas, chief executive of the online marketing agency WebMarketingTherapy.com in Santa Barbara, Calif.

The first reason bloggers are open about advertising income, Thomas said, is because most blogging income comes from online ads and links to affiliate advertisers. Thomas said bloggers are open about their advertising stream of revenue because they want to attract even more advertisers. High earning sites attract new advertisers.

The second reason bloggers strive for transparency? In 2009, the Federal Trade Commission updated the FTC Act of 1980 — specifically, the guidelines for consumer endorsements and testimonials. The FTC mandated that bloggers disclose clearly on their sites if they are getting paid in free products, affiliate revenue or online ads. Failure to follow the FTC guidelines could result in a cease-and-desist order.

Marty Orgel is a freelance writer in the San Francisco Bay Area.

How to become a Popular Website

Popular WebsiteEvery small business owner loves the exposure and sales that having a website that’s a daily destination for consumers can generate. But getting people who are your potential customers to visit on a regular basis can be a challenge. Especially if updates are infrequent. Or all you have to offer is the occasional monotone press release or product announcement. How do you have a Popular Website?

Thankfully, building a website that’s “sticky” enough to keep customers engaged and coming back doesn’t have to require investing thousands. Or reinventing yourself as the next online media empire. All it takes is a little elbow grease and personal touch. Plan regular updates that entice your readers and customers to return.Each strategy is designed to keep your customers coming back. Also make sure you establish goals and objectives for the activity. Then measure the results to ensure you obtaining the results you are aiming for. Follow established SEO (Search engine optimized) design criteria while building your web site.

Connect and communicate to Become a Popular Website

Make no bones about it.  Blogging should be an essential part of any modern website. After all, a few clicks is literally all it takes to post updates in real-time around the clock. Creating a steady stream of new products and sales that promises something new and exciting with every visit. Better still, professionals at all experience levels have the capability of readily doing it. The practice also helps put a personal face on your organization, shining the spotlight on the individuals behind it.

However, to really captivate an audience enough to keep them returning, take note. You’ll also need to provide content that’s dynamic, unique and offers measurable informational or entertainment value, plus speak in a language that all can understand. In short, the occasional pre-approved sound bite from the HR guy or gal won’t cut it. Rather, you need to address audiences like you’re having a normal conversation. Provide content with meaningful substance to the reader.

Making-of articles, features detailing how to get more from your products, partner profiles, project diaries, step-by-step how-to guides, interviews with notable personalities or internal stakeholders. All present compelling ways to connect with audiences while also keeping them interested and informed. Provide ample incentive to keep coming back.

Bottom line, the content needs to be frequently updated and aimed at your customer or clientele.

Emphasize community building

As social media insiders well know, creating a sense of community around your website is one of the most powerful tools for engaging and ultimately enthralling prospective fans. But doing so doesn’t simply mean throwing up a sponsored message board then leaving it to stagnate. Or e-mailing customers sporadic newsletter updates that regurgitate existing material easily found elsewhere.

Rather, you have to encourage discussion and actively take part in conversations by dedicating internal time and resources. But also make customers feel as if they truly have a voice in the discussion by listening to their concerns. Respond and source feedback at every opportunity. Implementing programs that recognize and reward valued contributors is also vital. Create fan-based initiatives that allow community members to contribute and share ideas, concepts and creations of their own.

Even simply giving enthusiasts the chance to submit designs for your next fundraiser’s logo or arranging times where they can chat with top execs to provide input on upcoming ventures won’t just engender goodwill. They’ll also excite and empower a legion of amateur brand ambassadors. This can be an essential source of free ongoing updates and constructive conversations. Which will both attract users to and keep them enamored with your site.

Design for mass distribution

Sharing is good–even more so if you’ve got a message worth spreading and it winds up in front of millions of eyeballs. As such, you should be not only updating your website with unique pieces of content (surveys, research reports, custom editorial clips, guides to solving common problems, unique looks behind-the-scenes, etc.) designed to grab viewers’ attention, but also making everything from blog posts to pictures, photos, PDF documents and videos shareable, embeddable and ready to be commented upon or re-tweeted via social media platforms.

When it comes to corporate assets, the tendency–especially among hyper-competitive start-ups–is always to tightly hold and control. But often, the more powerful strategy is to design pieces of content with the specific idea in mind of seeding them throughout the user community, as it’s a great way to build brand awareness. Beyond heightened exposure and additional media mentions, using your website to disseminate unique, specially branded pieces of content can also lead to improved search engine optimization results through a larger number of incoming links. And, more important still, generate heightened word of mouth surrounding your homepage, letting countless potential readers know exciting things are happening there on a regular basis.

Focus on value

Exclusive specials, contests, promotions and timed discounts can all be powerful drivers of website traffic, especially in these cost-conscious times. By offering direct bargains and rebate programs on both an ongoing and sporadic basis through your online headquarters, you can keep customers’ interest piqued, and generate additional sales. These marketing programs become even more valuable when coupled with Facebook, Twitter and other social marketing tools, which have the potential to help news spread like wildfire online.

Just make sure that the only place such bargains can be found is on your homepage, and be consistent in terms of the pages to which you drive this traffic, to establish in shoppers’ minds the importance of regularly checking a certain destination. Similarly, establishing relationships with key bloggers and members of the media can also help reinforce the message, as can a regular series of e-mail or newsletter updates designed to inform current and prospective buyers. Customers get to save on purchases while you benefit from enhanced publicity and heightened sales, creating a win-win situation for all.

Use targeted demonstrations

Special membership options, premium subscription packages and frequent buyer programs can all prove great incentives. Services that you freely give away are often just as important as those that you reserve for more exclusive clients. Whether you’re looking at offering complimentary computer virus scans by having users visit your homepage. Or roviding a suite of free continuing education resources. Perhaps simply hosting an archive of complementary, corporate-branded webinars on software engineering can be part of your plan.

Providing helpful services or information at no charge that solve pressing, evergreen problems. Or answer important questions can all serve to generate a steady source of online traffic. They may provide a ready supply of leads to up sell on premium services. Sometimes you have to give in order to get. It may seem counter intuitive, but ultimately, the practice makes a ready way to demonstrate your organization’s capabilities to a potentially lucrative client base. While also giving them a taste of the benefits to be had by partnering on more advanced or long-term services.

Small Animal Traps

Small animal traps for pests such as groundhogs, raccoons, squirrels, and even skunks can be humane and safe for the homeowner as well as the animal you are trapping. There are some interesting areas that consumers should be aware of if they are planning to employ a small trap to catch something that has been bothering their landscaping or gardens.

Small animal trapSmall animal traps come in various sizes, however, the one we bought was about 12 ” by 12″ by 36″ made out of wire mesh and needed assembly which was not too difficult. This particular small animal trap has a trip platform on the floor of the trap which when stepped on causes the door to slam down trapping the animal inside the trap. Any bait should be located at the far end of the trap so that the animal has to go far enough to step into the trip platform locking them inside. These are pretty easy to use and have a handy carrying strap located on the top of the trap for ease in carrying the small animal trap.

We purchased the small animal trap at Home Depot initially to trap several raccoons that had invaded our attic( more on that later), however, they can be used to also trap such animals as groundhogs and skunks or rabbits. I am not sure I would want to trap a skunk, since it is a bit tricky to open the door of the trap to let the animal out and who wants to get sprayed by a skunk!! Some people will place poisoned food inside the trap, however, we do not recommend that. It is a hard way to die and really is animal cruelty.

Small Animal Traps – Trapping Raccoons

Raccoons in the atticThe raccoons had invaded our attic so we thought the simple thing to do was to trap them, take them out to the country and let them go.  Well, we were able to trap the two young raccoons easily enough. There were two babies that were now old enough to travel and did not know the ways of the evil world and were easily lured into the small animal trap. We placed the trap on the roof near the entrance to the den and within a few hours trapped one after another.

The Parents are Smart

The parent raccoons were another matter. They obviously had experience and may have learned from the plight of their young, however, there was no way they were going to go into that trap. I tried peanut butter, cooked meat, vegetables, etc. We fed them a balanced diet, yet they would not go into the trap. In fact, they also stole the food. They are really smart and were somehow able to reach the food without tripping the trap door.

I even spread peanut butter along the far edge of the trap inside. They would reach through the side of the trap and scrape off the peanut butter as much as they could. But they definitely were not going to go inside that small animal trap. So I thought ok, the holes in the wire mesh of the trap are just large enough for the raccoons to put their paws through to get at the food I had placed in the trap. I bought smaller chicken wire and wired it to the outside of the trap where they were placing their paws.

Well, it worked in terms of the raccoons not being able to get at the food. However, they still did not enter the small animal trap. This was a real dilemma and I had spent $100 purchasing this trap and having no success. Well, it turns out that I was wasting my time. Even if I had been able to get rid of the raccoons, there are many dens in the area meaning there are more raccoons living in our neighborhood and once ours left more would just move in. After some research I found this to be pretty common.

If the Trap Will Not Work, What Were We Supposed to do

I was forced to abandon my trapping and call in the experts. They explained to me that the really only efficient way to get rid of them is to install a one-way door over the entrance to the den. Wait for two months to make sure the parent raccoons and the young have left. Then replace the trap door with permanent heavy gauge wire mesh to keep them permanently out. The two months seem like a long time. However, they are probably gone after two days and the experts are just making sure there are no callbacks.

We were also surprised to learn about the bylaws of our city and many others. They prevent the trapping and removal of raccoons. You can trap them, however, you can only legally take them a couple of blocks away from your house. Really, what good is that going to do? They will just return the next night and move back in. Also, other raccoons in the area can tell if a den is occupied or not. They will also move into the vacated den. So I had to agree that the best approach is to install the one-way door. Keep them permanently out of our attic.

They Left Quickly

They were gone in a matter of days. During the next winter I could track on our roof where they had attempted to re-enter without success. So I count Damage to roof by raccoonsthis as a successful exercise. One word of caution, you must allow the young to get out. The parent raccoons have been known to tear holes in the roof while trying to rescue their babies. Always make sure they all can get out. Who wants a dead animal stinking up their attic anyway. Yuk!

I was able to resell the small animal trap using Craig’s list. I did not get the full price of a new one. However, I was able to recover some money that I had spent. If you do decide to purchase a small animal trap make sure that it is a humane trap. Also that it is of solid construction. If you are successful in trapping a raccoon, these animals fight. They will claw and spit in an effort to get out and defend themselves

How to Get Rid of Raccoons

Getting rid of raccoons is not easy. There are lots of deterrents on the internet that supposedly will tell you how to get rid of raccoons. Very few of them if any actually work. For example moth balls do not work , nor does the urine of dogs, wolves or other animals. In fact all that they do is smell up your house even more than the raccoons do. We tried all of these solutions when we had raccoons in our attic and believe me they did not work! We have an entire raccoon web site devoted to this issue. Check it out once you have read this post.

Raccoons in Suburbia

How to Get Rid of RaccoonsDo not buy all of the things that are advertised on the internet or even in the hardware stores. In fact, traps are not even worthwhile investing in. Most urban raccoons have seen it all. They have lots of enemies ( Humans) and have learned to avoid traps. We tried for a week and were only successful in providing them with food. Somehow they were able to get the food out without getting trapped in the humane trap.  They are smart! In addition in some cities, you are only allowed to take the raccoons less than one half mile away. They would be back the next night! This is why most pest removal companies ( at least the good ones) will recommend that traps are not the solution to your problems with raccoons.

Raccoons are used to urban smells and so urine from other animals, loud music and moth balls just do not work. They totally ignore these things and you are just wasting your time and money.

If you catch a raccoon in a humane trap and take it 10 miles away, another family is ready to move in. There are from 20 to 50 raccoon families per square mile in urban areas. Some areas have even more than that and they are always looking for a vacated den. Raccoons can tell whether a den is occupied or not. They are a social group, traveling in families from one den to another and typically will have 4 or 5 dens to choose from.  Your house is just one home of many in the area.

How to Get Rid of Raccoons

Raccoon family in the atticSo how to get rid of raccoons? The experts will tell you that first you must wait until the young ones are ready to travel outside the den. Mature raccoons are very loyal their young. In fact the young will stay with the parents until the next set of pups come along and then they are pushed out on their own.  If you block the entrance to the den in some manner, the parent raccoons will do just about anything to rescue their young including   tearing your roof apart trying to get back to their young. Even if you are successful in blocking the parents and they do not find or create another entrance, you will be faced with the  decomposing bodies of the young pups which will only increase the bad smell in and around your house.

Roof Damage from RaccoonsWait Until the Pups are Older

The correct approach as much as you may not like it, is to wait until the young pups are mobile and leaving the den on a nightly basis.

Once the young ones are ready to move outside of the den, install a one way trap door with heavy gauge wire that is strong enough to block any raccoon. This is the best and permanent method to get rid of raccoons from your home. Pest control companies will be able to properly install a one way trap door.

Once you are sure they are gone, remove the one way trap door and replace it with the same heavy gauge wire mesh. Screw nail it into the roof and the joists so their is no way for them to get in. Also block all other potential entrances so there is no chance for the raccoons  to get in from some other entry point. Use the same heavy gauge chicken wire to block these other entrances.

Caution About Repairing Raccoon Damage

Once you have figured out how to get rid of the raccoons, be very careful with repairing any damage caused by raccoons.  You will need to inspect the attic to assess how much damage has been done to the insulation and attic vents. Breathing the dust from dry feces can cause organ damage and death. The attic can be very hot, especially in the summer. The heat dries out anything that might be in the attic including raccoon feces or raccoon scat. In the dry air of your attic, these feces will break down. They turn into floating dust particles when disturbed and   float in the air for you to breath. Always wear a mask to prevent any exposure to these particles.

If you are uncomfortable doing this work yourself for obvious reasons, hire professionals to clean up the attic. Make sure they are aware of the situation so that they can protect themselves with the appropriate equipment. It may cost a bit more, but at least you will be safe and healthy. Be prepared replace the insulation and the air vents over the soffits if there is a lot of damage. For more information about raccoons, click here.