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August 2009

Why I use Typepad for business "blogging"

I've lost count of how often it is asked (anywhere: forums, twitter, off line) which blog platform a small business can best use. Plenty of choices out there: from paid for online software, self-hosted 'free' software, free and hosted by software creator, to small and rather unknown WYSIWYG software.
Typepad, Blogger, WordPress.com (free and hosted by WP) and WordPress.org (self hosted 'free' software) are the four most well know and most used platforms. I always discard Blogger and WordPress.com because of the limits they have - when used as web presence for small businesses - which leaves Typepad and WordPress.org.

As with everything online: you have raving fans for the one and equally raving fans for the other option. This review will focus on my own personal experiences with both platforms and why I recommend Typepad for business owners who want/need an easy to use, SEO ready and quick to edit/add platform.

Why would any business use a blog?

Why would any business use a blog 

So far I've come up with 7 key reasons, see here for the long version

  1. You're in control - always (not your web designer or IT department)
  2. Better Listings On Google (BLOG)
  3. It works in real simple syndication with online directories (RSS)
  4. Notify your prospects/clients of new content instantly (email marketing)
  5. Interact with your website visitors (throught the comment box)
  6. Combine static website and "blog" on one platform (fixed page as 'front page')
  7. Become known as "The Expert" (build trust by publishing good content in abundance)

No matter what type of business you are in, service or products, using a blog (or as I prefer to call it: a dynamic and interactive webpresence) is one of the fastest ways to grow your presence online in a sustainable and none-time consuming way. It depends on the amount of time you want to spend and your knowledge of IT, CSS and HTML which of the two most used blog platforms will suit you and your business best: "paid for" Typepad or self-hosted "free" WordPress.org.

Why Typepad?

Why Typepad 

Let's face it: ....... Read on here (redirects to "1 Plus 1 Makes 3")


MyDish: Social Media + E-commerce = Dragons Den

We like Dragons Den so much we even passed on the second half of the friendly between The Netherlands and England yesterday evening (which ended 2 all).

BBC always seems to leave the best for last - not saying the best investment or idea, just the best "entertainment" or another "first in the Den".

MyDish Carol Savage of MyDish needed an investment of £100,000 to take her sharing website (sharing of recipes in more than one way) to the next level: improved ordering facilities to online supermarkets. Ocado is already in the frame, Asda might be next.

Although the total amount brought in by other angels is already £600,000 and the business "burns" £22,000 a month, the pitch for more - very appropriate when talking about food - did seem to go down well.

But three of the Dragons saw the "next dot.com" upstart which could be copied any day at much lower costs. Deborah Meaden saw something else and focussed on the other functionalities the website would need to become as profitable as the pitch promised.

Shopping online for the groceries of the recipes (advertising and affiliate revenue) which are then delivered home (Ocado) and in the near future planning your whole weekly shopping for groceries online and being delivered to your doorstep (more advertising and affiliate revenue).

Deborah agreed with the potential and offered the money for 15%. Theo then offered an additional £100,000 for the same percentage because he's adement is will take double the money first to get where the MyDish Social Media Site wants to be.

30% was too much for Carol to accept in relation to her other shareholders (who brought in the £600,000) and shook hands with Deborah.

So another first in the Den, another Social Media site in the offering. (Read and/or watch the whole pitch here)

It made me wonder the following:

Whatever happened to "shop local for local food" and Deborah's "green credentials"?


When shipping oversea begins to feel like a voyage around the world in 30 days - we hope

From UK to neighbouring island = definitely overseas To travel to the UK from mainland Europe you'll have to cross the Strait of Dover (English Channel) or the North Sea, depending of your starting point. To travel from the UK to the neighbouring island you have to cross the Irish Sea.

This neighbouring island is divided in two: Northern Ireland and Ireland (Republic) but no matter which one you want to go to, you'll have to cross the Irish Sea.

Beginning August we received a phone order for maintenance product from Belfast area: two bottles of polish and a polish applicator please. No problem for us when the village we live and work in has its own Post Office. Standard parcel delivered within 48 hours, even over the Irish Sea.

In the last week of August we received a phone order from the Dublin area: two bottles of polish and a polish applicator please. I went to the Post Office again where James told me the astonish news it had to go "Overseas". The Irish Sea I said, I know my geography.

That was not what he meant. "Overseas" = International standard parcels

A) that costs 160% more!
B) takes between 3 - 5 delivery days to Ireland (Republic) according to Parcel Force's website

However, yesterday my Dublin area client called: where was the parcel? Trying to check the parcel online with the tracking number gave the following message: not available for this service (International Standard Parcel).
On the phone then to Customer Service (select 1 for.. 2 for... 6 for all other enquires = 6. Select 1 for.... 2 for.... 6 for all other enquires = 6. Select 1 for... 2 for.... 4 for all other enquires = 4) where I finally managed to explain the situation to a real person: shipped on 27th of August, 1.5 week later still no sign of the parcel - where it should "only" take 3 - 5 working days to cross the Irish Sea.

A very bored sounding customer service employee then told me it can take up to 30 days (that is a whole month!). When I asked why their own website stated 3 - 5 working days for Ireland (Republic) with International Standard Parcel I was told that was "only" an indication and should not be taken face-value!

Don't take me wrong, but does the Irish Sea stretch to enormous proportions when you ship something with the International Standard Parcel service?

(The best part of Parcel Force webpage on Ireland was the first sentence:
"We are in the process of rolling out our new improved international products to all customers."
About time too!)

Let's just hope this parcel is not on its way to turn into a Phileas Fogg adventure.

Update 18.08.09: received a phone call from our Dublin area client yesterday early evening - yes, our clients can even call us after normal working hours: parcel had arrived! (Turned out it was delivered 4 doors further down the road but no notification card was left behind at clients address.)
So, all's well that ends well, it seems.


Are you using Email Marketing? Then read this!

Email Marketing Dynamite - Ed Rivis In June Ed Rivis announced his soon to be launched new book: "Email Marketing Dynamite".

"E-Mail marketing is the #1 most critical tactic any business can perform online. Pound for pound it’s also reported to be the most effective tactics any company can perform in terms of ROI (Return on Investment).

All the biggest companies use it to generate extra sales, revenues and profits - so if I have a ‘mission’ at the moment, it’s to get a lot more small business owners using e-mail effectively."

If there is anything I can totally agree with, it is his mission. Our own retail businesses thrives on web marketing which includes - of course - email marketing.

Ed has asked (through his own email marketing campaigns in combination with his blog) if he could interview various small businesses about their experiences with email marketing: what effect it has had on their business success or even survival. I had the pleasure of talking to Ed for almost 1 hour as one of the interviewees.

You can subscribe to the pre-launch news of his new book - which, and I'm sure of it, if it is anything like any of Ed's other products and publications, will show/teach you how you too can effectively implement email marketing to grow/sustain your business in any economical circumstance.

First step: preregister your interest and profit from the opportunity to buy his book for only P&P the minute it is released.


Pass it on: 25 Words of Wisdom x 37

Last week I joined in to the 25 Words group writing project Liz Strauss had launched.

Liz has now - as she always does after a project like this - compiled a wonderful painting of words presentation (see below).

25 Words Of Social Media Wisdom Project
View more presentations from Liz Strauss.
Pass it on: click embed on the presentation

Contributors:
Courtney Chowning
Liz Strauss
Claire Druga
Karin H
Christa Miller
Suzanna Stinnett
MaryS (one of my favourite 25 Words)
Liz Hover
Writer-Mommy
Tim Tracey
bobjones.nl
AppFail
Regina Lark
Summer Huggins
ANDI
Anna
Karen Putz (another of my favourite 25 Words)
that damn redhead
Tim Bursch
Niro
Tracy Fox
Joseph Crockett
Jen
Lorraine Ball
Ike
Dave Haber
Tre~
Jim Storer
Rebecca E. Parsons
Sheila Scarborough
Jim McGee
Francie
nerdmuffin
Julie (can relate to these 25 Words too)
Avil Beckford
Glenda

Pass it on.