Mar 27, 2009

OpenSource Content's a wonderful thing

Ahhhh OpenSource. It makes me smile :)

Now I don't use it for my Ring Guard site, because I like to keep it html simple (it works for me), but OpenSource is great for promoting business (or yourself) to the masses.

OpenSource is pretty much a nice bundle of PHP programming wrapped up with a nice red bow. Just like a BIG Christmas gift to the layman with a website.

A bunch of really nice people, who enjoy doing php programming for fun (errrrr - wow) all got together and worked on providing this gift as if they were little elves working for Santa (or builders with Homes for Humanity) . You gotta love them just for that alone!

How does one use OpenSource?

OH MY GOSH it's so easy you're going to love it.

1. Go to an OpenSource website - my personal favorite is Joomla. Check out what templates they have, do they offer what is important to you? Blog templates? Contact forms? Available feeds...whatever you want.

2. If the available layouts fit your needs, then download the latest version. Make sure your host is PHP compatible. I know mine is BecoTech.

3. Unzip what you downloaded and upload it all to your server. If you can create a database in mysql do it (or ask your host to and have them send you the path, username and password)

4. Go through the online set up (step by step in your browser once uploaded).

5. Set the config file (it'll even give you the code, just save it as the file to upload)

6. Delete the setup file from the server and then log into the Content Management interface and start creating the content for your site! Ta Da! Done

7. If you don't want to customize it (or are a bit shy to try) then you can pay someone. I recently customized this Heir Locator site - now we just have to move the new domain to it ( and they can start creating new menu items and content themselves.

OpenSource....I love it!


Mar 26, 2009

I hate when my site is down

Really! I hate it! I really really hate it.

I sit there and wonder. How long has it been down? When it will return? Where does it go? Should I panic? Why are my toes cold (easily distracted i know)?

Am I addicted to my website? Do I depend on it too much...This is bad. I flash back to 16 yrs old sitting in my room by the phone - picking it up every 2 minutes to be sure it's still working.

Maybe my site will be back soon. We all need to have hope. Hope has helped me through past "Page Load Error" times.

Sometimes all you can do is go watch a bear mauling on the discovery channel.

*reloads my site page one more time*

[ Ok, In the time it took me to: take that screen shot, crop it, size it, and upload it to blogger - my site came back up!! YAY!! See! All it takes is a bit of Hope and something to occupy your mind.]


Mar 25, 2009

Getting ready for one of our peak times in sales

Spring is here! Yay! Living in Canada, I wait and wait for the first sign of spring. Not that I mind the snow - it has its place - but I have to admit it's really nice that the snow has melted. I can't believe the image you see was just a few weeks ago (my dogs are VERY happy Spring is here)!

Spring means Summer is around the corner and summer is a busy time of year. It's time to make sure I have enough inventory!

Why is summer such a busy time for ring size adjusters?

  • People begin thinking about how they look in a bathing suit - this means weight loss - which usually means rings start to get loose!
  • People are more active in the spring and summer - swimming, biking, hiking and so one wants to lose their rings when out doing activities (especially when sweat makes our ring fingers slick)
  • Spring love brings engagements! A lot of men are unsure of their mates ring size (and asking can ruin the surprise) I find many male customers wanting a ring guard just in case they got the wrong size. They know their mates will not want to wait to wear their new ring and show it off!

Not to mention all the summer holidays, I find a lot of summer travelers want to ensure they do not lose their rings when away. Especially when going to enjoy beaches and oceans (slippery suntan lotion has filled the beaches with those metal detectors searching for lost jewelry). Make sure you take care when enjoying the summer - a lost ring can ruin someones vacation.


Mar 23, 2009

Looking for all Bloggers who lost weight!

I was reading my previous post about the power of networking and how It can be used for a product like my ring size adjusters. I realized I had not tapped into one of my own recommendations of paying bloggers (or providing a free item) to review your product. hmmmmm silly of me.

What do I know about one of my target groups?

  • Have recently lost weight and find their rings are now too loose
  • They are afraid to size the ring at a jewelry store...just in case (I can say that because I know what it's like)
  • Water retention during the month can cause fingers to swell making rings loose at other times of the month.
  • Some clients have arthritis making rings just "fitting" over knuckles but spin on the finger.

I know this because I have read each customer email and some customers open their lives to you. Especially when they have achieved a goal that they are proud of! I'm glad they email me and let me know how the product has helped them.

Now I'm interested in having people review our Ring Guard product on their blogs. If you're interested pop me an email at or tweet me @

Mar 22, 2009

Social Networking for the Online Business

Social Networking seems to be on every online marketers lips these days. I'm not an online marketer but I do have to agree with them when it comes to the value of social networking. As a small online retail business I'll try to explain what social networking means to me and how I utilize it.
  • The best social networking for your business doesn't even come from you. It comes from blogs, comments on boards, discussions, and shared experiences past customers had with you.
Yes that is right! They are out there sharing information...networking socially you can say :)How do I utilize this for my business? By providing the best customer service, admitting mistakes, providing solutions, giving benefits to repeat business and of course providing the product they bought! It's what marketers may call "creating a buzz" by having others talk about your product. How do you know if this is happening? Search your web url in google and look at some of the links - you'll see people sharing your info. Make sure it's positive buzz.
  • If your product isn't creating the buzz you want (or you want more!), or it's a new company with little history on the internet you could pay bloggers to write about or review your product.
Or you could offer a free product in exchange for a review. For instance, my product is popular in the diet community. I could research diet networking groups and blogs - find one that is popular and has a lot of activity on it and make an offer to the blogs owner or members. Know who your customers are, why they are buying your product. Then, understand what social circles they may utilize.

  • Utilize popular networking sites.
Yes, you can go on,,, facebook (running out of breath) and so on. Make your profile share who you are and what you do. Maybe, just maybe one day they will remember you when a friend says....I wish I had a..(your thing here). After all, that is true networking isn't it. And I guess today the internet is the new "Social".

  • I've "dugg" my own site, I admit it :P
  • I use my youtube account to show videos on my site - and benefit from the youtube community
  • Yes I've even written articles on my products, made comments on boards.
  • I even use this blog to link to my site and tell you what I do :)
  • ok ok....I am a errrrr do you call one who tweets? a twit? (I asked but noone responded) Anyways I use twitter, share my online experience with strangers
  • I use facebook pages to offer FAQs and more information on my products.

The results?

  1. 40% of my traffic comes from PPC (pay-per-click marketing),
  2. 40% Natural search results (SEO) and
  3. 20% from refering sites (Social Networks/blogs etc)

The interesting part. The "bounce rate" (number of people who come, and leave from the first page) is lower for social networking then with PPC. That's a good thing. It means those coming do so because it was "recommended" or they were "refered" to me by a contact they had with another site. Half the "sell" is already done for me :)

The other benefit from Social Networking - You're going to learn A LOT from others. So although it is a huge cost in time, the benefits are worth it!

The Birds, The Bees....and the Fly?

Birds do it, Bees do, why can't the flies do it......let's fall in Love!

Beating the Credit Card Crunch!

Credit cards are a necessary evil. 98% of my orders come from Credit Cards and I have to wonder with today's economy how long can that keep up? Luckily some smart consumers are starting to be wise about the cards they use.

I came across a website that is a credit card comparison site that provides users with news, information, and the most comprehensive list of credit card offers on the web. For example if you're concerned about low interest credit cards you can visit this site and compare the rates of the different available credit card companies to find one that suits you best. Be wise about the card you're using and make the most out of the necessary evil we all have in our wallets. Know what's important to you; rewards, air miles, cash back on purchases or instant approvals.

Not only am I concerned about my customers (98% of which use credit cards to purchase from my store) I am also interested in company credit cards and what will benefit me best. Luckily this site also includes articles such as "Best Credit Card for Small Businesses" to provide me with some important "food for thought" when picking a credit card company for my business.

Let's all be smart and beat the credit crunch so we can all stay in business!

Mar 20, 2009

Saturday the NEW Sunday...huh?

If you sell a tangible item online that needs to be shipped then you most likely will join me in changing "The day of Rest" to Saturday.

YES it is true - no more is Sunday considered the day to rest and the day to enjoy your family (or worship your God).

Not if your life revolves around days the post runs. Why? you ask, the post does not run on Sunday? No - but our little shops are running full force prepping orders to go out in Mondays mail. Monday through Friday orders are processed. Saturdays are for rest but on Sunday you play catch up. Such is the life of selling Online. Are you sure you want to do it?

You bring your work every where you go. I recall sitting on a beach in Florida, a big book on my lap, actually MANUALLY hand writing a newsletter I had due for a client the next day. Papers flapping in the ocean breeze, sand stuck to the nib of my pen and a nice square of pale flesh on my lap an hour later (of course the rest of me burnt to a crisp).

Anyways I declare Saturday the day of rest! Take it a lesson from my dogs and just laze about in the sun.

If your selling downloads or memberships then you'll want to visit this site!

When I started selling eGuides on the internet I wondered how I could automate the process without having to learn PHP scripting or understand paypal IPN. I wanted an easy solution to my problem of immediate fulfilment.

I first used a paypal approved firm called payloadz to automate the fulfilment of the file download. FEEs FEEs on top of FEEs! Not only was I paying paypal's typical merchant fees I was also now paying payloadz per download I sold. UGH! Being a small business based from my home meant I had to look at more cost effective ways to achieve my goal.

After much searching and comparing I finally found the perfect solution! A company called Vibralogix. I emailed them to find out more and immediately was answered by Adrian who was able not only to answer all my questions but offered to help if I had any problems with the setup (which they provide an excellent guide that shows you step by step) or hosting issues.

For a ONE TIME cost of $29.95 I was able to set up the php script on my host and fulfill all my orders immediately without paying anything extra (other then paypal's fees of course). for $29.95 you are licensed on one web URL and one paypal account. Additional URLS can be added for a very small fee.

Even when 3 years later I had an issue with the script, all I had to do is email Adrian and he immediately provided me with the help to fix it. Even offering to view the host settings to be sure it was working properly. (THANKS ADRIAN).

They have many scripts that are available for many small online business applications including locking directories for memberships as well as for online business using clickbank or other merchants. Check them out! You won't be sorry!

Mar 19, 2009

Taking the guess work out of file extensions

Have you ever received an email attachment with an extension you never saw before? Or was unsure how to open? I have, and I recently visited a website that offers help to us "file- extension challenged".

Each entry on the site provides information about
  • the file format,
  • its creator,
  • a description of the file,
  • related applications which make use of that file extension,
  • where it is most likely to find this type of file on your computer,
  • as well as what program or editor to view it in.

For example if you receive a file with the extension .ica you can go to the File Extension Library and find out what the file is and how to open it with your Operating System. You can also learn if it is an image or text file.

Most importantly, you can decide if it is an attachment that you may not want to open at all. Some people are still unaware that if an attachment has an ".exe" extension it most likely isn't a picture your granny sent you of her prize rose garden.

The site also offers a free scan if you're unable to open legitimate files, as it may be a result of registry errors or not having the appropriate application installed. Best of all the scan is free (as is the information)!

The Importance of a good Website Host.

I was reminded today of the importance of a good host. For the small online business nothing is more important then the relationship you have with your host. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I know the person to email/call for hosting help by name?
  2. Do they respond by email/phone quickly when there is an issue?
  3. Will they offer to help set you up or show you how to utilize some resources?
  4. Did they send you a Christmas card/email/gift to show their appreciation of your business?
  5. Do they call you with any payment issues BEFORE taking you offline?
  6. Do they treat you more as a friend then an account number?
  7. Can you trust them to provide excellent service to referrals?

I can answer YES to all these questions and more with (Thank you Ilya for your continued help and expertize). No I was not paid to post this. I just wanted to spread the news about a great hosting company with the personal touch. They have a lot of accounts that are worth more than mine yet they take the time to help with any issue and always treat you like their #1 client.

Mar 18, 2009

NetworkSolutions new social networking site

Social Networks are popping up all over the place. Network Solutions has now opened a new social network for the developer and design community called "LinkTogether". LinkTogether™ has everything you need to grow and manage your business. Here is a list of the free resources they offer members:
On the site there are tons of white papers ( authoritative reports or guides that often addresses problems and how to solve them) available to members addressing a wide span of information from DIY vs professional designers to increasing website accessibility. It may be worth checking out if you have a small online business and want to utilize free shared resources.

Mar 16, 2009

What the heck is a Hash Tag ? #lost

If you've been twittering you may have noticed something strange within people's updates. The "#" (pound) key followed by a word or short acronym. These are called "hashtags".

What the Heck is a hash tag you may be asking yourself (as did I).

Hash tags are a way to communicate a updates "subject" or "theme" to others. Allowing them to "search" the subject and see all tweets that highlight or include info on that particular theme. explains how hashtags
were "designed to accommodate the real-time news community". Newsrooms could easily follow hastags to see what certain stories would be about.

Now the twitter community is using hashtags to share info to all interested in a topic. For example #adsense would highlight to others that that twitter profile is posting about google adsense. You may decide to follow that person, increasing their social network with people interested in google adsense.

You may see posts that say "
@wefollow #socialmedia #web #twitter #facebook #humor #internetmarketing #socialmediamarketing #advertising #lol" These posts are letting you know if your tweets include any of the interests that person will want to "follow" your profile - increasing your social network.

The good

  • Helps you identify profiles that share your interests
  • Helps increase social networks allowing you to reach more people
  • Allows you to search tweets that may interest you even though they are not on your "follow" list.
The bad

  • There seems to be no site that explains what the acronyms mean so unless they are general you may never know what they mean.
  • They can look messy and confusing making people skip them altogether.
  • They take away from the "human contact" that most joined twitter for in the first place. To "share" with their friends what they are up to.
The Ugly

My opinion is if hash tags take over twitter the average person may feel #lost and #confused and just #leave altogether.

Mar 15, 2009

Blogging for Profits! Who said talk was cheap?

In this day of Social Networking I have to wonder how advertisers would jump on the band wagon. The face of online advertising is changing, pay-per-click search engines (such as google and yahoo) will no longer be as important. Why? I'll tell you.

The Power of Social Networking!

I recently found myself doing a search on a specific company on google. When the results pages came back I found myself skipping "sponsored ads" and company website links all together.

What was I looking for?

I wanted to find sites of regular folk who had a "run-in" or "personal experience" with the company I was searching. I wanted to read about their experience, see how they rated the company. I found discussion boards, blogs, facebook notes, myspace stories, even twitter tweets. All providing information on the company, products and customer service - from the honest average Joe with NO connection to the company. Or so I thought!

But, those online advertisers are on the ball! They recognized the power of social networking and developed a way to benefit from them. How? Pay-Per-Posts! That's right! Paying bloggers to "review" sites and products on their blogs, in their facebook profiles and even in their tweets!

Blogging for profit - what a nice idea for the future of online advertisers and social networkers.

Bloggers interested can sign up here - Who ever said talk was cheap?

Mar 13, 2009

Excellent tool to promote yourself, business or blog

I learned another lesson today in a round-about way. I was doing my regular copy right infringement search (found another one!) and re-stumbled over

I say "re-stumbled" as I have been on the site years before and signed up but had never really followed through (yet). You bet I did NOW!

It's an excellent way to promote yourself, business or blog. I stumbled on it in the first place when I noticed was gaining high ranking in some keywords on google search.

Today I followed through at last and wrote my first "How to" article for the site (by the way did I mention you can get paid as well).

So...what did I learn?

Sometimes crap (copy right infringement) is needed to grow flowers (free promotion utilized)

Mar 12, 2009

Interest-based advertising...interesting

I recently received an email from google about interest-based advertising. Interest-based advertising will allow advertisers to show ads based on a user's previous interactions online.

The email states:

"To develop interest categories, we will recognize the types of web pages users visit throughout the Google content network. As an example, if they visit a number of sports pages, we will add them to the "sports enthusiast" interest category."

Question "well how?". Answer "Cookies"

Google adsense publishers will drop crumbs into the computer of every person who clicks on an ad on their page . Publishers will have to inform their visitors of this new "interest-based advertising". How many clicks do publishers feel they will get with the following statements:

  • Google, as a third party vendor, uses cookies to serve ads on
  • Google's use of the DART cookie enables it to serve ads to your users based on their visit to your sites and other sites on the Internet.
Google does however allow users to opt out but the damage is done if you ask me. I don't see the benefit to the user. For me it's too much that even my "interests" will be free for google to exploit.

However it is interesting in a Orwell "1984" sort of way.


Mar 9, 2009

I always wanted to try "Mystery Shopping"...

Ever since the 80's when I had a job at Shell (a gas station for those of you who are not familiar) and I "won" a check for $25 for good service I was intrigued - Thanks mystery shopper!

I remembered thinking "somewhere, out there...there is a job where you shop...I want one"

Some 20-odd years later, I thought I'd give it a try. There are many Mystery Shopping firms out there. Some are total scams BEWARE but others are totally legit. I'll update you of course on the choice I made and if it went well later but first here's some info:

  • If you're asked to pay for mystery shopping info - BEWARE
  • If your offered high pay to do a shop - BEWARE
  • If you are made to purchase the forms or the items you're shopping beforehand - BEWARE
  • If your asked to "shop" for large money orders - BE EXTRA AWARE!

Signing up for a Mystery Shopping program can be scary - especially if they require you to send them picture ID (IE Drivers lic.), people are worried of scams and identity theft.

I signed up for one (after researching many and checking out the company info)- I do my first shops in 2 weeks so I'll be able to let you know if I found it worthwhile, as well as which firm I joined. No use saying yet, I'd hate for people to run out and sign up only to find out later I found out I was scammed!

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