Blog Entries

A Writer

What does it mean to be a writer?

I have heard that everyone has a best-selling novel inside, just waiting for release from the prison of the brain so it can romp about on a page, happily entertaining anyone who takes the time to read it.  Uh… okay.  Maybe that’s true.

I have heard that everyone has a story.  That is true.  Most people never get their story out the for anyone else to read.  Many people never even tell their story to someone else.  Why?  Maybe fear of revealing something they deem as terrible from the past.  Maybe the answer is far simpler.  They never took the time.

Life is so busy, it is nearly impossible to find time to write.

I MAKE time to write.  Does that make me a writer?  Nah…. I am a writer because I say I am a writer.

It. Is. That. Simple.

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Photo by Jess Watters on Unsplash
Blog Entries, Mystery Shopping, Writing

My Life

So what have I been doing?

It’s quite simple, really.  I have been working from home and writing and developing my online crochet business.  So let me break it down…

Working from Home

I have a job that I work at a few hours a day.  I am a scheduler with a Mystery Shopping company called A Closer Look.  Plus, I also still do random mystery shops on the side.  Scheduling normally takes 4 – 6 hours a day 6 days a week and consists mostly of emailing, calling and texting existing shoppers and recruiting new shoppers.

Writing

I am still working on my novel that many of you have been reading:  Road of Change.  Do not despair because more is coming soon.

Crochet Business

I have an online craft store on Etsy where I post my crochet creations for sale.  I also post them on eBay although I don’t have an eBay store front… no matter.  I can still post items for sale.

I also post on Facebook’s Trash and Treasure and on Pinterest.

Those tasks take a minimal amount of time compared to actually creating the crocheted items.

Reading and Journaling

Additionally, I still read quite a bit.  Every day.  And I write n my journal.  I make to-do lists and reminders and thoughts and ideas.

Needless to say, I have a pretty full day.  I have found I am busier now than when I was working 40 hours a week at a job I absolutely detested.  Retirement didn’t come quickly enough for me.

Now, working from my office, I have a wonderful view out of a window of a city street, my postage stamp sized back yard that has a bird feeder and bird bath, a chicken coop, rabbits living under my tool shed and a yet-to-be-planted outdoor garden.  I can watch cars, weather, people walking, wildlife, trees and the neighbor grilling his chicken every afternoon when he gets home from work.

I love watching the world go by…

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View out of my office window

 

 

 

Blog Entries, Mystery Shopping

Mystery Shopping is a REAL job

A lot of people have the wrong idea about mystery shopping.  They think it is a scam, a way for someone to collect their private information, multi-level marketing, phishing, or like those paid surveys online that NEVER pay.

Nothing is farther from the truth.  Mystery shopping is a legitimate business that is growing every year.  And, there is good money to be made with mystery shopping.

What, exactly, is mystery shopping.  It is large part of market research.  A shopper poses as a normal customer and “shops” the business, whether it is a retail store, a doctor’s office, an upscale restaurant, a fast food location, or car repair shop.  

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Photo by Mar Newhall on Unsplash

Many business owners, especially those with multiple stores or even national and international coverage, want to know how employees are treating customers.  After posing as a customer, the shopper normally fills out a report, recording observations such as the interaction of employees and customers, and the physical area where the shop is conducted.

Today, customer service is the one thing that will separate the sheep and the goats, so to speak.  Superior customer service defines whether someone will return to that location and most businesses depend on repeat business to stay alive.

Here’s how Mystery Shopping works:

  • A shopper signs up with a mystery shopping firm, normally as an independent contractor
  • The firm posts available jobs on a job board and if the shopper meets the qualifications to do the shop–age, gender, ranking within the firm–they can request the assignment
  • Once the shopper is assigned the job, they read all of the guidelines regarding the assignment.  
  • They go to the location and perform the assigned tasks such as interacting with employees to taking photos of the area
  • Once all the tasks are completed, the shopper then fills out a report including as much detail as possible

The firm will pay the shopper the fee previously agreed upon.  The only downside is a shopper may have to wait 4-8 weeks to get paid.  Knowing that going in, a shopper can make arrangements ahead of time, financially.  Once the money starts rolling in, a shopper can continually make money knowing the money they earned last month will support them while they are doing this month’s shops.

A word of warning

Scams do exist.  Never pay to get a shop assigned to you.  Firms pay YOU and not the reverse.  Never agree to cash checks for a firm or to send money to a foreign address on behalf of a firm.  A legitimate firm will NEVER ask you to do this.  Before agreeing to shop for a firm, look them up online.  Read what others have to say about them. Read the reviews that shoppers post about the firm. Are they fair?  Do they pay on time?  Do they find reasons to NOT pay a shopper?  

Spending a little bit of time researching will save you a lot of heartache later.

Blog Entries, Writing

Why Your Content Should Pack an Emotional Punch

When you’re writing content online, you can write it in such a way that it sounds very factual and impersonal. Or, you can write in a way that really packs an emotional punch.

By and large, most small publishers will do better with the latter approach. Of course, if you’re starting a website like Wikipedia or WebMD you’ll probably want to take on a professional tone. However, if you’re a smaller website looking to gain traction, you’ll want to aim to engage your reader’s emotions.

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Photo by Aman Shrivastava on Unsplash

Why?

It Makes People Remember You

People browse dozens if not hundreds of websites every day. Most websites fail to draw their readers in emotionally.

How many websites do you visit each day that gets you to laugh, gets you to feel touched or gets you to get angry about something? How often do you feel like a website is talking directly to you and your problems and that they understand where you’re coming from?

These kinds of websites stand out. There’s a reason why YouTube videos of shocking clips, funny clips or touching clips tend to get passed around a lot. They make people feel something, and that’s memorable.

It Gets You More Links

Content that evokes a lot of emotion tends to get linked to a lot more. Naturally, people are a lot more likely to want to share or endorse something that really got them riled up.

It gets more shares on Facebook and gets more retweets. In other words, it has a higher chance of getting passed around immediately, but also has much stronger long-term potential.

Develop a Stronger Reader Relationship

Finally, emotional content will help you build a much stronger bond with your readers.

People reading your content will feel like they can relate with you, as opposed to feeling that you’re just an objective website on the internet.

This translates to people coming back more often, to a more lively community around your blog or business and finally to more loyal buyers and customers.

As an added benefit, people will also want to partner with you more. If they can tell you’re really passionate about something or that you have a way of being able to move an audience, they’re likely to want to invite you to speak at their events, do teleseminars for their audience and in general open up their customer base to you.

There are many benefits to creating content with an emotional punch rather than just factual information. Adding a dose of personality is great for just about any small to medium sized business. Unless you’re trying to build an encyclopedia-type site, try to make your website as emotionally engaging as possible.

Blog Entries, Writing

Why Content is Still King

Long before the internet was invented, the defining axiom in print was that “content is king.” Today, where online content dominates print content, many of the world’s top SEO and web marketing experts still say that “content is king.”

Why is this the case? That even after decades, no matter the medium, content is still the crux of good marketing?

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Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

It’s What Builds Loyalty

Businesses aren’t built on first-time visitors. Companies like the Wall Street Journal don’t make most of their money from people picking up their papers for the first time.

They make money from people who’ve read their content and then decided it was good enough that they either want to purchase again or subscribe to a subscription. If the business had to get a new customer every time in order to get paid, they’d all have gone under by now.

Yet many online publications approach their business that way. Instead of focusing on repeat visitors, they focus on optimizing for search engines so they get more new customers.

At the end of the day, however, the really famous and successful blogs like Huffington Post or TechCrunch ultimately still get most of their traffic from repeat visitors. Yes, search engines love them – but their businesses would be a fraction of what they are today if they didn’t have great content.

The Evolution of Search Engines

For many years Google and other search engines have worked towards making their search results pull up better and better results. They want people who search on their engines to find the best content possible in relationship to what they’re looking for.

As search engines get smarter, marketers who focus primarily on marketing tactics rather than actual content will die away.

Google has proven this repeatedly by continually downgrading the importance of low-quality links and upgrading the importance of usage statistics and other metrics to actually measure the content of a website.

If you build your website around great content while having a decent understanding of basic SEO, your site will flourish. If you put all your attention on SEO and don’t pay much attention to your content, you’ll always be trying to stay one step ahead of the search engines.

The Ability to Sell High Ticket Items

A low quality content website might be able to sell $0.20 clicks via AdSense. But a high quality website could sell $5,000 DVD sets by the hundreds.

Having great quality content allows you to build a relationship with your readers. That relationship allows you to sell any number of things to your readers. From high end items to recurring memberships to one on one coaching, it all starts from having high quality content.

In the long run, only content that really helps people is going to succeed. Content that doesn’t do so is likely to get downgraded more and more as time passes.

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