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New American Businesses Aiming at Instant Gratification

Have a business and marketing plan before you open the business

Driven by a cautious return to normalcy in the markets, at long-last signs of life in the residential and commercial real estate markets, and most excitingly positive conditions in “Web 3.0”  technologies like social networking, mobile gaming, and interactive advertising, the 2011 timeframe shows some real economic progress potential. 

This mini-boom as some are already calling it, however is fundamentally different from the one that drove the NASDAQ to absurd heights in the late 90’s leading to the DOT.COM bust, or even the “Web 2.0” social networking hype of 2006-2007.

Here’s why:

1.    Individual Investors, NOT Venture Capitalists, are Leading the Charge. So-called “super angels” – wealthy, technology-savvy high net worth individual investors – and NOT traditional venture capitalists, are now the preferred funding source for the most dynamic entrepreneurs in the hottest technology sectors.
 The reasons for this start with the fact that most VC’s are suffering from that awful business curse that they look for in industries ripe for new entrants – legacy costs. 

Quite simply, VCs have lost so much money for so long that they can only dig themselves out with massive investment wins.

This in turn requires them to put very large sums of money to work in companies with huge, – as in multi-billion dollar – potential exits. 

But the modern technology world is not built for this model of investing. Readily accessible, off-the shelf, open-source development tools COMBINED with the ability to launch a product extremely cheaply via creative social marketing, makes it easy to build a big-time technology company these days without a lot of money.

The result? Most of the highest Return on Investment opportunities need just a little seed or bridge money – sometimes just a few hundred thousand dollars or less – to “ignite” their business models. 

Any favorites? Entrepreneurs that identify over-looked market needs, and then utilize out-of-the box creativity to inexpensively develop and market products and services that address those needs. 

Straightforward, but of course not easy. But in a world of historically low interest rates, significant inflation risk entering our daily lives as we write this and a public stock market still trading on mostly a 10-year flat run, it is by far the best game in town.

2.    Foreigners, maybe more than ever, are investing heavily in U.S. Technology Companies.  Possibly best evidenced by the Russian investment firm Digital Sky Technologies and their investments in Facebook, Zynga, and Groupon, foreign investors more than ever before are placing bets on early-stage U.S. technology companies. This is driven by a number of factors, not the least of which is that the relative liquidity in the world has shifted radically away from the U.S. to the rest of the world.

As importantly, because of the rise of global social networking – Facebook now has more than 340 million non-U.S. members – overseas investors can now connect faster and find more transparency with deals and entrepreneurs than ever before. 
And these investors feel that they can be higher value-added. Both in terms of outsourced development assistance and because the very act of their investing serves as the kind of high-profile validation that used to be the domain of only the most prestigious American venture capital firms.

3.    Exit Strategy. It used to be that investors and venture capitalists looked at a 3 to 5 year exit strategy but these days a quick and early exit is by far the desired and preferred outcome for both the entrepreneur and the investor. The dirty little secret of modern business is that the real money in entrepreneurship is made in SELLING a company, not running it.

Today, the optimum financial strategy for most technology entrepreneurs is to raise money from angels and plan for an early exit to a large company in just a few years for under $30 million.
That’s why investors look for companies with quick and early exit potential and with the smartest angels and foreign investors behind them.

It is natural to the type of business consultancy we’re in with SearchAmelia to often land involuntarily in the role of marketing and sometimes business advisor and I have to admit that it often scares me how many people put their savings, or, worse, take out loans from friends and family without the slightest clue of the formulation of a business plan. Yes, it is encouraging to see that the American Enterpreneural Spirit has lead to the incorporation of some 550,000 new business in the last month alone; my concern is however that statistically 90% of those businesses fail in the first 2 years.

Two reasons. One– Going after a Dream deeply under capitalized and Two: Flying by the Seat of their pants without a Business Plan, a Marketing Plan or a Back Up Plan.
I see too many new businesses take off with enthusiasm, but no allotment for marketing and advertising and even though the Internet has given us a very inexpensive targeted marketing alternative compared to the previous often exorbitant mass marketing options, spending your entire budget on operations, inventory and equipment, without consideration for marketing leads to failure.

Advice to the start up entrepreneur: With a start-up business, your first priority is always finding the optimal selling strategy. The optimal selling strategy is a combination of copy, media, and offer. Your job is to figure out – before you run out of money or patience – which particular advertising message works for you at what price and where. To do this effectively, you have to test all sorts of variables. But the three most important are copy, media, and offer. Everything else is secondary.

The Senseless Fight to Prolong the Demise of Copyrights

There are enough laws on the books to make everyone a criminal.

As the US government is trying to enforce copyrights around the Globe, it should be noted that the copyright proponents have tried the same tricks and rhetoric for well over 500 years. In my opinion, which does not pretend to give a blanket pro or con on the protection issue, I observe however that the Internet is actually re-writing history on the issue. The copyright industry these days is trying to paint a picture that copyrights and trademarks are a birthright of the creator, but that tale is strongly contradicted by the facts of history.

When the printing press arrived in 1453, scribe-craft was a profession in high demand. The Black Death had taken a large toll on the monasteries, who were not yet repopulated, so copying books was extremely expensive.
Obsoleting scribes was not a popular development with the Catholic Church, who tried to ban the printing press with increasingly harsh punishments, up to and including the death penalty for using a printing press to copy books.
“How will the monks get paid?”, they argued to justify this. Still, even the death penalty couldn’t stop the practice of copying, simply because the desire for learning was immense.

Of course, it wasn’t about payment of monks. The Catholic Church on the mainland of Europe, couldn’t have cared less, really. It was really about control over knowledge, religion and culture. The church was well aware that once most of the populace had learned to read, the Church would have lost its controlling grip permanently.

But then England chose a different route. Seeing how even the death penalty hadn’t worked, Queen Mary I needed an ally within the printing industry. She awarded a printing monopoly to London’s printing guild, the London Company of Stationers, in return for being able to censor anything before publication.

The monopoly was awarded on May 4, 1557 and it was called copyright.

This alliance between industry and government worked well to suppress dissent. But then fast forward 138 years and censorship wasn’t really all that modern or popular anymore and as a consequence the British Parliament let the copyright monopoly expire in 1695, causing the Stationers to loose a very lucrative monopoly. They begged, stole and borrowed (and bribed) to get it back for 15 years and eventually, Parliament was persuaded because The printers and distributors complained that nothing would get printed or distributed without a monopoly. (Note how this is very, very different from nothing being created without a monopoly.) But for the first time they suggested that this monopoly originates with the author and be classified as property, so it could be sold to a printer.

That was quite smart because in doing this, the printers killed three birds with one stone. One, they met Parliament’s requirement that there would be no more central point which enabled censorship, so they would reconsider the monopoly. Two, the printers would still have a de facto monopoly as authors would be forced to sell the monopoly to printers, who otherwise would not print. Three, classifying the monopoly artificially as “property” would write it into Common Law rather than case law, giving it much stronger legal status.

The copyright monopoly was re-enacted in this form in 1709, and took effect on April 10, 1710, in the so-called Statute of Anne.

The United States adopted a similar passage in its constitution about 70 years later, but with much clearer justification — that the only legitimate beneficiary of the copyright monopoly is the public.

Fast forwarding to the advent of libraries, the monopolist publishers — now strong in their almost religious belief that they had a right to dictate what people could read — tried to ban the lending of books. People couldn’t be allowed to read without paying for their own copy, they argued. When politicians considered public libraries, the monopolist publishers went stratospherically berserk.

“You can’t let anybody read any book for free! Not a single book will be sold ever again! Nobody will be able to live off their writing! No author will write a single book ever again if you pass this law!”

Parliament in the 1800s was much wiser than today, however, and saw the copyright monopolists’ tantrum for what it really was: protectionism. They decided that the public’s access to knowledge and culture had a greater value to society than a monopolist being paid every time a book was opened, and so, the first public library in the UK opened in 1850. And as we all know today: not a single book has indeed been written since.
Oh, wait. There are more books being written than ever in history. I mean, the argument is as bogus when used today as it was then.

After the copyright monopoly internationalized in 1886, music became more and more interesting. The record industry was invited to Rome in 1933 by Confederazione Generale Fascista dell’Industria Italiana in order to try to corporatize the copyright monopoly a bit further. IFPI was formed during this Rome meeting. Agin the ambition succeeded, with the advent of the Rome Convention in 1961, where the record industry was granted copyright-identical monopolies called “neighboring rights”. One notes here that the record industry’s monopoly is as recent as 1961. Not really the image they paint of historical rights etc..

Currently, the United States is trying to bully every other country to respect the copyright monopoly’s stronger and stronger privileges. They issue a “Special 301 list” every year, which is supposed to be a blacklist of the world’s worst “offenders”. A majority of the world’s population is on the list. Spain and Canada made the list earlier this year, too.

In summary, the battle over who controls knowledge and culture has raged for well over 500 years. The same justifications have been used all through those 500 years. But learning from history, we can see how the choke hold of the Catholic Church was defeated. I am pretty sure the Internet will repeat that course of action against the copyright monopoly today. Teach everybody to share. Make everybody experience what it’s like to have all of humanity’s knowledge and culture at their fingertips. It can’t be unexperienced, just like people 500 years ago couldn’t unlearn to read.
YouTube these days sends us little “warnings” when we upload a video with a well known song in the background. They won’t take the video off anymore however. With millions of uploads a day, enforcement of copyrights will not survive the next 3-5 years, which is why record companies are rapidly going out of business, and touring artists finally are getting paid well in both currency and recognition during their public performances.

Publisher’s Note: I wrote this article with parts of the content based on an uninvited (spam!) email from one Rick Falkvinge, who titled his article “Obama and the Catholic Church.” I’m not sure if Rick blames Obama for the Global witch hunt currently executed by Homeland Security Departments in charge of copy right infringement, but I am convinced that the title he uses is called Black Hat techniques on the Internet. Did I use part of his article? Absolutely. Should I give him credit? Not really, it was an uninvited email. Copyrights and Trademarks are increasingly Grey Territory, but I feel safe in the assumption that the Internet will ultimately prevail in its Mission Statement to educate the world.

Reputation is Social Media Secret to Success

Personal Branding on Social Media depends on Reputation

Have you looked at your first love in social media lately. Remember MySpace? The first one that picked up on the old “Friendster” formula and turned it into the darling of the early part of last decade. It was a true phenomenon in its heyday and Facebook had no chance in hell of getting between MySpace and its followers. But then in July of 2005, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation bought the social media giant for $580 million. A year later MySpace wrote its 100 millionth user worldwide and continued to grow internationally for another year before the decline set in, eventually being overtaken by rival Facebook on April 19, 2008 and by newcomer micro blogger Twitter a little over a year later.

Today MySpace is up for grabs, down to 500 employees from 1,600 in its heyday and maybe auctioned of in 2011 for an estimated amount between $50 and $200 million. Facebook, that was totally embryonic in 2003, through dangerous manipulations with Goldman Sachs recently is now valued at $50 BILLION. Now remember that it is only less than 3 years ago that MySpace was bigger than Facebook.

In my humble opinion, MySpace (currently ranked 56) lost its target group reputation when NewsCorp bought the Social Media Giant and even though Facebook’s Zuckerberg (currently ranked no 1 website in the world) keeps insisting not to have intentions to take the company public or sell out, Facebook will ultimately go the same route as its former rival, because social media are a new hybrid between a company and a product- called a brandname; and the bell curve of market adoption for brandnames will force its inevitable demise. It’s the nature of the beast.

In the meantime however Social networking is still skyrocketing, but keep in mind that it can also have some rather surprising and nasty side-effects, when you leave your footprints all over the internet. Your profile on MySpace may end up in hands, you’d rather not have it exposed to.

Today was our Bootcamp Day 4; the day everyone wanted to know about Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Of course we first had to discuss certain distinction such as optimization, search angine marketing and social media marketing; the last one inevitably leading to a discussion about the value of Twitter. Besides an extensive instruction pdf. on the merits of Twitter and the future of micro blogging, here is some information to understand about the value of this phenomenon.

Twitters rise and shine

Twitter was launched in July of 2006 and overtook MySpace in late 2009. Twitter is currently ranked number 27th of most visited sites worldwide with an estimated 220 million users. It should be noted that this is a very unflattering number because of all the third party applications that allow you to circumvent the “homepage” of Twitter and thus are NOT counted in the statistics. If counted correctly, the cumbersome statistical data software would probably give Twitter an estimated ranking around 10, highest ranked websites in the world. Invaluable as a research tool and public relation tool, Twitter is now also on the forefront of keeping the globe informed and connected. From natural disasters in remote locations to major political turmoil, Twitter is the first one to report on it and therefore trend setting. The 140 character micro blogs are the essence of future mobile communication.

If I have learned anything from spending the last 15 years in internet marketing, it is that re-inventing your business model on the web is something that must be done every 6 months, else you will lose out to your competitor. The internet technology is growing at such as fast pace that any new groundbreaking start-up has a chance to become the next twitter. There is nothing more true on the Internet than that nothing lasts forever and I can see already 2 or 3 really extraordinary developments that have a similar market approach as Twitter and Facebook, but have moved to the video platform on the “What are you doing?”.

Now this may be a bit early and all bandwidth advocates are screaming “Foul!” but reality dictates that nothing in the technological development stops at the current level of capabilities. There is another striking indicator why the internet has not even touched the mark of its capabilities, Silicon Valley and other techno centers show no slowing down, even in their earnings. Actually companies like Apple, Google, YouTube and Amazon and many more are showing signs of mega growth in revenues, even in these depressed times.

Working out a clear and concise profile of your company and its movers, is the first area of attention when entering the world of social media. Having it on the desktop of your laptop (so to speak) is necessary to move with the rapid growth formulas of social media. There is no loyalty other than staying in front of your customers and building your reputation, no matter which social site does this best.

BUT

Social Networking has a clear behavioral Etiquette, spelling out what you can and cannot do or should not do.

1) Be careful with the information you provide about yourself.
What is good for the goose is good for the gander. It may help you become personal and sign on many friends on Twitter and Facebook or any of the other Social Niche market players, but it is also in invitation for identity theft or worse by those with less then friendly objectives.
Never go beyond providing a city address unless you are living outside of the United States since identity theft is something almost exclusively US related. If you want to know why that is I can only refer you to the paragraphs of the US PAtriot Act that have created that vulnerability. Again… never provide more than a city location. Any Social Network provider asking you for more is doomed to fail, while your information is out there and beyond moving to a different location, cannot be erased.

2) Any social network can be hacked
This is related to “be careful with your personal information”. It’s easy for a good hacker to gain access to all information from a site’s database. Based on the hacked site’s information can often find access to personal accounts at many of the victims’ other financial transaction based services including paypal, amazon, banking institutions and Facebook and MySpace accounts and create a nightmare. Using a single password “out of convenience” is often the culprit Remember that most sign-in websites use the e-mail address as the username while the password is the second security level. If you use one password at one website these hackers with almost 100% certainty will know you used that same password elsewhere where they can do some real damage. now who’s to blame? You can only blame yourself if you don’t use multiple different passwords and…regularly change these passwords. I know it is a pain in the neck but it is the only way to secure your online health.

3) Social networks are NOT sales outlets
Anyone entering the social arena with the boldness of throwing a sales message at you, has violated the purest sense of socializing. Would you go to a party you’re invited to and start handing out business cards at the first drink that is pushed into your hand? So, why do many people think you can do that on the online social networks? Do you really think that you will be ever invited again? Not a chance, neither online or offline. Wait until you are invited to present your business card; the same rule applies online. Build a reputation.

4) People LOVE pictures, but be careful of what you can show and where.
All ad agencies will tell you that Sex appeal sells, right? Wrong, my advice would be to stay away from anything that can be publicly viewed and categorized as “daring”. I’m no prude by all means, but the Internet has a way to cut you out, when you are too much in their FACE.
Alway realize that anything you publish can be copied from your Facebook or mySpace account and end up where you don’t want it to be known. Avoid being stalked by potential predators.

5) Any offer too good to be true normally is.
If you are planning to utilize the Social Networking websites to get a sales message across, be realistic and back it up with proof.
Using social networking to improve your business should be based on realistic, tangible and measurable performance and always disclose that nothing works overnight. In 2008 you could fool people with Feedburner readers by using a fairly simple technique boosting your readership overnight to unheard numbers (that’s not possible anymore since the loophole has been closed, leaving the abusers stranded). Be realistic in your goals since growing a friendship doesn’t occur overnight, but when it starts kicking into viral exposure be sure to be ready to serve up the demand. And that is another mistake that many “social marketeers” make. They create the traffic, the anticipation and then are not ready to deliver.

Social networks can deliver high yield in the efforts you put into them, but it is something that requires attention on a constant basis; you have to work at it and if done correctly, you most certainly will reap the benefits. And once again, always be prepared to turn to the New Kid in Town, if the old act is getting to demanding or cumbersome.

I recently read an interesting listing about Social Media that opened with:

More people are using Social Media as a major channel to do self-branding because reputation is all about word-of-mouth, and social media can generate the positive “word of mouse” if it’s done right. If you’ve ever considered managing your own online reputation through social media, here’s a compilation of 15 advantages

Embrace your Passion
Social Media allows you to embrace your passion and express your identity to a wide audience all around the world.

Share and Engage
Social Media is an excellent platform for community, sharing and connectivity.

Talk Directly
Social Media allows for direct/public conversations with relatively no cost, from any location, at any time of the day

Build and Connect
Social Media allows you to build on your own ideas and connect with new people who can enhance your own thinking.

Share your experience
Social Media allows you to share your stories, market yourself as the ideal job candidate and get your story across honestly and authentically while making a connection.

Express potential power

Social Media allows you to express your own potential power to ignite positive change – in whatever way that may be.

Message to Actions
If you are active on Social Media, you can expose many people to a cause to serve your purpose.

Optimizing the power of connections
People that you’ve make connections with on Social Media are likely the ones who can spread the messages for you too.

Educate yourself
Social Media builds your knowledge base and keeps you up to date on best practices, resources and technology.

Educate Others
Social Media allows you to educate others about your cause/ interests/ profession.

Differentiate yourself
Social Media increases your visibility and helps you to stand out from your peers.

Online Identity
If there is a lot of relevant, compelling content about you online, you are usually assumed that you’re more knowledgeable than someone who aren’t ranked on search engines.

Connect Anytime
Social media can help you connect before, during and after networking events in a personal however non-confrontational way.

Revalue
Social Media can also be useful for workers wanting to reinvent their career into another profile – “people will start seeing you in this role… and by creating links outside your organization you can change your meaning to others.”

Practical advantages

Social Media helps generate business leads, create a new career and cut out the middle man. For example establishing musicians can create a loyal following of fans and no longer need to gain the support of a music label.

See if you can find yourself back in these approaches and if so, dive in head first.

Frugality Shopping Clearly on the Rise

The new trend to be frugal

Consignment Shop buying is cool

Not only has judicious spending become cool, second-hand-store shoppers are coming out of the closet as frugality becomes a top consumer trend for 2011. I already noted in an article yesterday that affluent consumers are spending more these days on merchandise and services that create memories and experiences, the rest of the world is actually becoming more frugal across all income levels. Yet marketers lag a bit behind this noticeable trend that the economic recession will have a lasting impact on certain spending habits. The “new normal” is already coined as a major lifestyle change. And even though consumers in the affluent arenas have started to spend more on travel and luxury kitchen gadgets, the general trend is that even the affluent are looking for bargains and discount stores.

With final 2010 figures published, it turns out that about one third of shoppers during the recent Holiday Season spent less than in 2009, which of course was already a very depressed year in comparison to the bull years. But spending less in this case does not mean buying less; it just means buying at a lower price. And that is where the second hand stores and consignment shops come in full force.

Having spent four days with Retail Therapy’s Brenda Savage, one of our WordPress Bootcamp participants, I have gained a much better insight myself into how this side of retail works. The second hand store has moved from the backyard barn to a boutique style store front in upscale places, yet still feature bargains. Therefore it is good I to make a clear distinction between second hand boutique stores such as Retail Therapy, Fifi’s and several other ones located on Amelia Island versus, for example, many second hand shops in less affluent cities and neighborhoods.

Reality dictates that the consigned merchandise in a comparatively affluent location such as Amelia Island often displays exclusive high-end designer and brand names, not necessarily found in less well-to-do areas of the country.

Consumers are also looking more and more carefully at the sustainability practices of retailers and shopping centers. Sustainability as a movement did not move to the back burner in face of economic challenges and retailers can now expect increasing pressure to buy local and to institute frugality measures.

Lastly there is also a second key consumer trend noticeable which is the growth in mobile Internet use. Retailers need to start looking at their markets through the lens of smart phones and iPads and websites in the near future need apps (applications) that must match storefront product and messages, and vice versa.

Today, one-third of cellphones are smart phones. By 2014, half of all Internet hits are expected to be off mobile devices. Get prepared to catch the customer when he/she is ready to buy.

Website Tune Up Tips for this Year

Website Tune Up Tips

Before starting Part Two of our 4 day Bootcamp teaching WordPress website building and marketing, I looked into some homework tasks for those who already have a website, but realize that it needs a serious tune-up.
Following are some web marketing “check-up” actions you should implement early in 2011 to increase your web visibility, usability, credibility and sellability.

• Homepage Check-Up

The homepage of your website you has on average less than a couple of seconds to make a great first impression. Resolve to make your homepage count. Be sure that it communicates who you are, what you do and whom you serve. This message can happen via your tagline, text on the page, or visually (photos, videos) — or a combination of all three. This critical information needs to be “above the fold,” meaning a visitor does not have to scroll to see it. Example: If you operate in a local or regional market, always have your address visible, the opening text header can spell it out and/or a photo showing your work or location.

Next, ask yourself what you want people to do when they come to your website. This is “the Call to Action” Do you want them to call? Join an e-mail newsletter list? Learn more about your products or services? Donate? Whatever the desired actions are, try using the top right area of your homepage to have your desired call-to-action displayed. The top right corner is a top-viewed location of a homepage that can be used to attract eyeballs and prompt action. If you sell tickets, like for example to a concert, event; if you have a special, discount etc. the top right hand corner is where you want it displayed.

Lastly, make sure your homepage is the “North Star” of your website — a guiding light to steer visitors where you want them to go. You want visitors to get to your site, but also through your site comfortably. Ask yourself: Is the navigation on your site clear? Is it easy for people to find the pages that help them understand the value of what you do? If you have any doubt whether your site is an effective guiding light, ask a target client (preferably somebody who does not use your site who is unbiased, but in your target audience) to make desired actions and watch them use your site. The education you get from simple user experience tests like these will clarify a great deal for you on how to improve your site.

• Attract Interest by Being Interesting

Believe it or not, the “about us” page is one of the most important pages of your website. People vote with their wallets. Help connect with website visitors so they vote to buy from you by adding some “oomph” to this critical page. Stanford conducted the Web Credibility Guidelines study to see what generates trust online. They found that seeing real people behind the organization and highlighting their expertise and credentials are big factors. If you don’t believe me check out www.lilakeimrealestate.com About and learn why that page gets twice as many hits as all other pages combined. Visitors buy when they know, like, and trust you.
Your can increase buyer interest by being interesting! Refresh your “about us” page by sharing the organizational history and show that there are great people on your team. A picture says a thousand words, so adding photos of the people on the team is a small enhancement that can make a big difference. Remember that story telling is story selling. Voice your organization’s values by using the “about us” page to share in a compelling way your story, credentials, and photos.

• Get Searched and Found

Even though Facebook and Twitter are catching up., search engines are still the number one way people search for products, services, and information. Think of the phrases that you want to be searched for and found on; then make sure those phrases are used early and often on your website. You can optimize your website for more visibility in several ways:
1. Titles and Headlines. Example: “About” as the title for a webpage can be easily optimized with a phrase that describes what you do. If you sell accommodations on the beach, make the title to read “About our oceanview rooms on the beach”
2. Meta Tags. Every page of your website needs a unique title and meta description tag — and perhaps meta keyword tag. Your meta tags tell search engines and prospective visitors what each page is about. Title tags should be no more than 50 to 75 characters (including spaces). Descriptions should be no more than 150 characters, and the keyword tag should be no more than 5 to 10 words.
3. Links with Keywords. Have links on your site that point to other pages on your site that have priority key phrases in them. Don’t use Click Here, but try for example “Learn More About our Selection of Previously Used Luxury Handbags”.
4. Local Listings. Make sure your business is listed for free in the search engine local sections. This is a primary place people search for businesses (like the old days of the Yellow Pages). Even if your listing is in these local search engines, go back and make sure your descriptions are accurate and photos are added. This is a great way to boost visibility, especially if you are a locally-based business. For starters here’s where to add your site: 
- Add your site to Google Places
- Add your site to Yahoo! Local
- Add your site to Bing Local Listing Center
5. Check Your Site’s performance. Run your site through Hubspot’s Free Grader tool. The insights and tips you get, are very revealing and helpful.

• Stop Being Anti-Social

Get over being anti-social media, that is! One of the most cost-effective ways to boost credibility, visibility, and sellability is to be a participant in the social web. Think of social media as arms that can further communicate your values by voicing your message on places other than your website. Blogs are a brilliant way to connect through sharing relevant content. Twitter is a form of shorter blogging (and tweets are popping up in Google now for more visibility). Facebook helps create conversation and community. Don’t forget LinkedIn as an “interactive Rolodex” that can help store your contacts. Go back and update your profiles so they accurately communicate your products and services, and make sure your profiles are complete. We learn by doing; the more you test, try, and apply, the more social media will make sense to you and your business.

And last but most definitely not least, take a Sunday morning of and learn how to put videos together, from pictures if you don’t have a video camera and upload these to your youTube channel. The world is visual and that’s where a lot of people spend their diminishing TV hours.

Using the web to support sales comes from an optimized website and diverse online portfolio. Begin to implement these resolutions now!
If you have questions, call or email us. Our second course starts March 7.

Building WordPress Websites in Bootcamp Format

Building a website from scratch

Two days into our first mini bootcamp, all 4 participants have one or more WordPress websites or blogs up and are feverishly populating the sites with relevant base material, pictures and videos and plug-ins. Next week we can spend two full days on optimizing the sites and stories and they will be in business with a website built from scratch. The real interesting part of teaching is the learning part that comes from questions. Questions that dealt with topics Judie and I either have incorporated into our thought process or never even thought about.  It keeps us on our toes. And in the communication process that goes with developing a website it becomes much clearer that while not every business needs a high budget multimedia extravaganza, every business needs an effective and properly targeted audience oriented, easy to navigate representation of what they do and where people can find the relevance.

In the first two days, our “students” have all come to grasp that an internet presence starts with a Plan to prevent them from sinking in quicksand. Because the internet can quickly turn into a time and money consuming waste, if you don’t know where to start and build from a blue print. Here are some tips to follow:

• Start with a plan. If you have trouble putting a plan together than start getting help right then and there. Have your blueprints in detail ready before you start building a navigation. It is easier to move from one template to another when one template does not really work for the story you want to tell

• Be very wary of technology. A well thought out easy to navigate website will ALWAYS outperform the latest technology. If technology gimmicks do not enhance the target audience user experience, they have no place in your site. Dazzling lightshows belong in a disco and their website, but not in a real estate site. Stickiness is, not almost, but always tied into content.

• Get everyone in your organization on board. Why? Feedback is the answer. This is one of the reasons we have split our classes into two double day sessions with several days in between. Our students can now go back and ask for their input. If your receptionist understands the logic of your site you’ve accomplished your first goal. Do what ever it takes but foremost ask your customers to get involved, to give feedback. Don’t rely on “gut” instinct. It’s the second most costly mistake you can make.

• Rotate content. The biggest challenge and a must to accomplish repeat visits. A WordPress site is built in such a manner that new content can be put up at a moments notice. Other less frequent in need of change areas, should still be planned for seasonal updating.

• Always build a website “open ended”. A site that does not allow for easy integration of new content, new offers and/or matching an evolving marketing campaign is an absolute waste of time, energy and yes… money. This is by far the most important reason why a complete flash based website is a waste of money from the start. NEVER ever build a website completely on Flash. It’s closed and the professionals will have to come out again and will tell you: “Sorry but we’ll have to redevelop your site!” while you just wanted to add a new product offering . Don’t laugh, it happens several times a week to us.

• Be memorable, be better. Reward you visitor with every click. It is all about first impressions. I often hear the question: ”picture or no picture, image or no image” in new content. Well let me put it this way: ALL people have photographic memory because that’s how our brain stores information. A new image on a new page literally guarantees that the visitor will recognize that there is something new he/she hasn’t seen. No new image, and here is the shocker, 90% of the returning visitors will think there is nothing new to report while your ten great new articles are lost to a departing click.

• Competitors. Look at your competitors, study them see if it makes sense what they present, especially if they’re bigger. Source their key words and experiment how you can improve them.

• Remember SEO? That’s what we will tackle on next week’s double day session. It’s a term you heard somewhere, but never really got the gist of what it is supposed to do, other than that it has to do with promotion of your site? Well, trust me, no one will ever hear about it if you don’t talk about it. If your website doesn’t “scream” on your business card, don’t even hand it out. Same for your ads, banners, billboards, leaflets, table cards, promotional T-shirts or stickers and hats. Use all the firing power you can muster up. REALLY… your website URL (address) is more important than your company name, unless of course your website has exactly the same name. And even than, still I prefer to use the URL. Now how about that. So when planning your website (in blueprint still) also plan your website promotion, optimization, submission to industry forums, Google, Yahoo, Bing and then some. Another nifty well worth tip is: If your URL is likely to be misspelled also buy, if it is available, the misspelled version. If you want to thank me that tip, make a donation to the charity of your preference. It’ll be very valuable down the line of time.

• The art of getting search engine ranking. Plan ahead because you need to somehow get in the top ten of your category. If you’re not there you aren’t going to be noticed. Plain and simple. You spend a good deal of money to get the perfect site but now you are waiting around for visitors. Well, welcome to the rest of the world passing you by and you’re going to blame everybody but yourself for not dishing out the money to promote your new street address location. Duh, what where you thinking. You bought a luxury sedan but you don’t want to shell out the money for the gasoline to drive it? It’s going to stay in your driveway and the only one who will notice it is you. This is the third biggest mistake in the online presence.
Promotion is part of your plan and budget. Mix a good balance of organic and paid and experiment to find out what works for you. Put a little money in a PPC account and test keywords and customer reaction.

• Hire a professional or commit yourself entirely to its value and stay up-to-date. Your website is much more than your most important marketing tool. It’s a true company asset. Stop hiring your nephew (unless he’s a pro), or an intern who has dabbled with some free HTML software or Microsoft Frontpage or even free site builder software to entrust them to make you successful? Are you out of your mind? You would never consider hiring the village idiot to become your company spokes person?
Websites are very complex pieces of software requiring an ever increasing level of expertise, notwithstanding the tight integration with promotions and search engine optimization.

I haven’t even mentioned Social Media yet in support of your website success, because that is part of next week’s course. After next week’s sessions we will publish the links to all the websites that were created yesterday and today and let you be the judge.

To Blog or Not to Blog

To Blog or Not to BlogThese days, it seems like everyone has a blog. I thought perhaps it was time for me to decide to blog or not. I have read some clever blogs that I look forward to reading. They have a focus and a subject and are interesting, at least to me and the other people that follow that particular blog.

I am starting a blog ostensibly to channel my creative energy. I hope that I can spark some interest for others as well. At the very least, I will be able to put some of my many thoughts and ramblings down on “paper” to help keep myself sane.

I work for a large title insurance corporation in the recoupment department. Simply, that means that I work to recoup the losses of the company. It is sort of like being in collections. I like researching and figuring out the complicated puzzle that is title insurance.

After 10 years and 3 degrees, I completed school last May. Of course, I am still learning. I feel it is very important to always continue learning. So far, I do not miss being in school, but I do miss writing assignments. That was my favorite part of being in school, writing. If I had to describe my one passion in life, I would choose writing.

I know it is possible, more than possible really, to make a living writing. Maybe someday I will try my hand at that, someday. Maybe writing this blog will give me the confidence to try. There are many websites and even videos that explain how to start a blog and basically they say to pick a subject or topic that appeals to you and may appeal to others.

I am still stuck on this step, but obviously I have decided to blog. I am not sure who I am trying to convince. Now that I have made the choice to blog, it is time to answer the real question… about what?

Selling Art on the Internet

Artists used to have very few places to showcase

This morning I received an email from a good friend and local painter which was short but somehow filled with anxiety. The text was “Just wanted to share this with you. www.paintingsdirect.com.  Don’t know who they were after 10 years? Our business is terrible now too.” Just sharing…good seeing you yesterday. We went to the wine tasting. Not much business there either. Sad…

It’s a common ground emotion my friend shares with a lot of people in these hardship economic times, especially if their income in the “good” years was an portion of what economist call discretionary income, rather than essential spending. My friend is thinking of going full speed onto the Internet to keep some income from art sales going, and understandingly has concerns, after reading the closing statement on Paintingsdirect.com that says: PaintingsDIRECT had to close its business in 2009 as the economic climate made selling art over the internet  increasingly challenging.

Even though I cannot trace back anymore how and what their internet presence was, I detect one accusation and one excuse in this short statement. The accusation is directed at the Internet for not being the magic “easy” solution to their problem and the excuse is abstracted from the economy ,as if it unexpectedly went south without any telltale or warning they could have prevented or prepared for.
The next line on the closing page continues by “thanking the many artists, collectors and investors who made their business possible and believed in them through the years”.

Somehow I sense here that they should have gone belly up during the DotCom bust, as they clearly used investors money for something that can be build relatively easy and inexpensively with little monthly maintenance; most definitely a lot less than their physical overhead suggested by their New York City phone number.

I could have replied to my friend’s email privately, yet I think that a lot of artists in our community are going through the same motions and emotions these days.

I have been making a living on and around the Internet for almost 16 years now, and have a very clear picture how it works and what works. So bear with me while I’m just dissecting some impressions I get from the paintingsDIRECT message.

My conclusion is supported by three observations:
1. Their maintenance page with the message is still up on the Internet, which means that it is hosted at a minimum charge per year
2. The second New York City phone number is for a fax machine, but there is no mention anywhere to an email address
3. They’re still holding on to the domain name, as if to wait and see.

Clearly these folks had (and have) no clue about Internet and Online Sales, nor Social Media, Search Engine Marketing and Optimization, nor apparently did they know how to combine and support their Online Activities with Traditional Brick and Mortar Marketing. If they operate an actual gallery in the City, they were virtually guaranteed of potential traffic, which they apparently did not harvest in a database for newsletters, events, updates, upselling etc.

Potentially the truth is that they simply did not have the drive to find a new direction for art sales and income generation when the economy went bad and so they rather gave up. After all it was only investor’s money.
I can probably write another 2,000 words describing that the Internet was not the culprit, but like they say in my country: “It is easy to find a stick if you want to beat a dog.”

What does art mean to us humans

So instead I would like to write a bit more about art and why I see it as one of the most positive expressions of life. It’s really about expressing aesthetics, a very important part of human existence. Aesthetics is actually a division of philosophy and art can make philosophy… well I guess tangible would be the right word. If one picture is worth a thousand words, then art can visually describe the way you see the world. The kind of art you like can describe the way you think the world is, or should be. A good sense of aesthetics is as important as having a well-developed intellect, in my opinion.

Another observation on art is that no matter how good or bad the times are economically, humans have always placed a high value on aesthetics, even in the worst of times. There’s plenty of evidence the hunter-gatherers of prehistory took time out of their fight for survival to create art, and that has continued throughout history and continues today. This pursuit of beauty is a defining characteristic of what it means to be human. One of the main purposes of being wealthy is to be able to live in an aesthetic environment. Even some of the poorest people in the world strive to be as beautiful as they can and, if they have a place they call home, to own what small pieces of beauty they can.

Really good art distills an intense experience or emotion and I expect the ongoing economic crisis to create many intense experiences for many artists, and consequently may result in some very powerful works of art. Even though it usually did throughout history, I musty admit this is just conjecture on my part. I’m not sure what correlation actually exists between various world crises and great art. One thing however is a sure bet, though; the Greater Recession will put all sorts of art on sale, as belt-tightening cuts non-essentials from people budgets. Artists should be prepared to bring prices for their work down, as lawyers, professionals, real estate agents, doctors and many others have slashed their fees. It is a new world out there and for now it’s a Buyer’s World. As in Maslow’s hierarchy, food and shelter are essential, of course, education and transportation have become major contenders in modern life, but art is also essential – because if you don’t have any beauty in your life, what’s the point?
In my opinion life without beauty would be torture and death would seem like a reprieve, in comparison, but if the opportunity to surround myself with beauty is gone for a while, so be it.

Learning how to use the Internet effectively

What’s “good art” and what is not?

Art in any expression is a highly individualized experience. Having said that, there is a lot of genuine garbage out there masquerading as art – but that tells you right away that there is such a thing as “good art.”  Rest assured I would never tell you what you must see as good art. Only when we share a very similar view of life and what’s important (to us), is it worthwhile discussing art, as it bears repeating that aesthetics is a division of philosophy, so what a person finds appealing usually offers a window into their soul. That means something. Every educated person should cultivate a practical education – familiarity, background, understanding, judgment – in various types of art.
I remember seeing Picasso and Dali as a child and wondered who decided that this was art and proclaimed that these people were talented. I thought their paintings were ugly and way overrated. And then I grew up, learned a lot more about the philosophy of art and realized that these painters had chosen to use their enormous talent to express something that was way over my head, when I was a child.

That said I’d never pay the premium to own a Picasso; like everything else in the material world, it’s a matter of value, and cost/benefit ratios. It’s like going to a restaurant where price vs food quality, freshness, preparation and presentation, is only one parameter. The others are selection of complementing wines and aperitives to accompany the meal, the decorum, the comfort of seats and table size and last but least the company with whom you dine; all are contributors to a total experience. It is the same with art.

A beautiful painting in the wrong frame, hanging on a wall too small to display, will loose a lot of its attraction.
Many people like things that have a message of some significance, that tells them something about the way the world works. Beyond that I’ve great respect for high technical ability as well; if the artist doesn’t have excellent technical skill, he/she doesn’t make the first cut. But technical skill alone is not enough. There are draftsmen, graphic designers, and commercial artists with excellent technical skills – but they’re not actually artists worth buying, because they don’t make a philosophical statement, they’re not really trying to tell you how the world works, or ought to work. They’re not taking a metaphysical position. They may have a function in providing mementos and memories, but with the onslaught of photographic high quality miniature cameras these day, they will increasingly find difficulty selling their creations.

And to show you how personal art is, I tend not to buy landscapes, or simple portraits – things that could be done better by a skilled photographer and Adobe Photoshop. Which is not to say that a photographer can’t also be an artist, but he/she has to capture reality, as opposed to create it from whole cloth. I also never buy art as a speculative investment, because art prices are, much more than the prices of almost anything else, arbitrary and subject to fashion, promotion, and chimerical opinion.

On the Price of Art

Really the price of art is totally arbitrary. The cost of production of a piece of art in recessionary economic times is the defining starting point to put a price on it. It includes the canvas, wood, paints, special paint on occasion, a frame if displayed in a gallery and the time it takes the artist to produce it. Those costs may vary from a couple hundred bucks to maybe a thousand, depending on the time factor; usually not significant compared to what you pay for it. But when you sell it, it’s all about how badly the buyer wants it.

I also you don’t buy something because you hope a greater fool will materialize at a later point, unless you know exactly who the fool is, in advance. It’s a bit like a poker game: If you can’t pick out the fool at the table in five minutes, then you’re the fool. It’s very dangerous to buy on the “greater fool” theory because it teaches you that it’s almost always much easier to buy just about anything than to sell it.

The price of art, as in most things, is set by supply and demand – van Gogh, Gauguin and Toulouse-Lautrec were starving artists. An art speculator could have made millions buying their stuff when they needed some food or drink.  Apart from that, there are cost norms in the business. For sculpture, unlike painting, material costs are significant, and the artist usually charges a fee equal to the foundry costs.
Here is how it has worked in general through the past centuries; the artist produces and hopes to find a gallery to expose his/her works. The Gallery purely functions as marketeer for the art for which service on average they mark up the artist’s work two to three times.
If you negotiate with the gallery, you can usually get about a third knocked off. That’s especially so if you establish yourself as someone who knows his or her way around the art world. If a gallery doesn’t want to negotiate, a good gambit is to go to a friend who owns a gallery, and have them buy it. Galleries will typically offer a 30% discount to each other as a professional courtesy.

Nothing in life comes without an effort

But with the economy in the dumps, art enthusiasts around the globe look to areas that are depressed. It is an old wisdom that you should not buy where there’s an economic boom going on.
Nobody touches Chinese art now for example or South American. Their economies are “booming”, contrary for example to Zimbabwe where I would buy Shona Sculptures. After the Soviet Union collapsed, tons of collectors swarmed the former Iron Curtain countries in search of inexpensive speculator art. Today the fields have been grazed. Other places that aren’t overly inflated are Cuba and Vietnam and slowly entering that category are areas here at home in the USA. It is a bit like with the inventory in houses we have these days. When the boom was playing havoc with our credit, no-one was interested in spending time on developing a marketing strategy for Europe, Australia or other foreign buyers. Now all real estate companies with one person speaking a foreign language, presents themselves as experts to foreign buyers. The Internet has given them that opportunity – and it works on growing numbers. It works similar for art online.

I have always said that if you’re going to get into art as an art buyer, I think you owe it to yourself to educate yourself in such a way first.
And if you’re in need of maintaining a non-starving lifestyle as an artist, you owe it to yourself to learn how to operate a web presence and understand how the world has changed. Short of that approach you need to contact a Virtual Gallery that will actually work for you or hire a good webmaster.

Forming Strategic Business Alliances

Forming Strategic Business Alliances

Forming Business Alliances

As you grow your business it is important to form alliances with other businesses in the community. No matter what you sell, there is likely a business in Fernandina Beach or Nassau County that sells a product or service that compliments what you have to offer.

For example, CLUB 14 FITNESS helps promote Current Runnings. One is a fitness center and the other sells running shoes. This is a perfect fit!

If you are a restaurant you could pair up with an ice cream or coffee shop.

Do you sell woman’s fashions? Partnering with a hair or nail salon will help your customers complete their look!

Do you sell fishing supplies? Why not find a partnership with a business that has clients just like your own? Perhaps a hunting supply store or a shooting range?

The combinations are endless. As a business owner, you should already know who your customers are and what they are interested in. By offering reciprocal links on your website and business cards or brochures on your counter you are helping your customer by saving them time. When you suggest a business to your clients, you are telling them this is a trusted source who you believe will take good care of them.

Two or more businesses pooling their resources will gain better exposure for your marketing dollars. Think outside of the box and make strategic business alliances work for you!

Creating a Strategic Business Alliance could be illegal if it creates a monopoly so be sure to follow the rules or seek legal advice before entering into any contractural obligation of any kind.

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Talking about a social media hype!

Facebook, the Goldman Sachs Darling

Facebook valued at $50 BILLION? The 20th Century Media World is in uproar? How can a company that is only 6 years old demand that kind of financial respect.? Many still don’t see the emerging picture in media world, is my conclusion.

$50 billion….500 Million subscribers? Maybe not that crazy of a deal, considering that most advertisers these days cannot get a set of eyes for a dollar of exposed advertising. The acquisition of a sale (new customer) is as high as $500 per contact  in certain categories, so $100 per subscriber maybe quite feasible. But the old media world thinks differently.

Facebook has raised $500 million from Goldman Sachs Group and Russian investment firm Digital Sky Technologies, which implies that the social media darling is valued at a staggering $50 billion.

The news media and all those financial reporters who could not find their brains if their fingers were flashlights are outraged. They are comparing it to a new round of the valuations being assigned to Internet companies leading up to the “dot.bomb” crash.
They say that there’s no way a company that relies on nothing more than bits of information – the vast majority of which are summarily ignored by the community that supposedly finds it so compelling – should have a valuation approaching Walt Disney, equal to Boeing and greater than Time Warner.

Guess what? People talk daily about and through Facebook. Don’t know about you but I think I mentioned Disney once or twice in 2010, Boeing probably never and Time Warner, I didn’t even think they were still in business after the AOL shindig.

However, for the sake of argument, I’ll play along and suppose that the $500 million capital infusion is for real and that the $50 billion valuation it implies is correct. Then the question becomes: What does the transaction say about Goldman Sachs, which arranged the deal, and the regulators supposedly overseeing it?

That the 2008 financial collapse on Wall Street in no way shape or form is holding the street back from repeating the scenario that unfolded only a little over 2 years ago. Gordon Gecko is ready for round two.

The structure of the deal

The way I understand the deal is structured, Russian Digital Sky is investing $50 million and Goldman is investing $450 million for a stake in Facebook that they plan to package and resell to investors. That makes Goldman a principal in the deal, which means in very plain terms that they can no longer claim any obligation to the investor (their customer) who bought the other side. It’s important to keep that in mind.

Okay let’s move on to the valuation.

First we should wonder what the Russians are getting for their money, because Facebook is still a private company, which means nothing it does is reportable.

It is clear that that some 1/12 of the world’s population gathers together on the popular social networking site – which now ranks Number One as the world’s most-visited Web site – just imagine the collection of human data that’s stored there, which of course makes Facebook the largest, self-fueled marketing database in human history, 530 million and growing!

Old schoolers, those that still haven’t figured out that we have landed in a new economy, are still holding up signs that question how the giant will ever monetize that traffic? As one pundit said arrogantly: “they face the same old dilemma salesmen have faced since the beginning of time: “How do you convert the “tire-kickers” into buyers.”
Clearly this one has no clue at all that Facebook can virtually turn every faucet of human interaction into a money stream. This person does not understand that if Facebook would ask for a $1 per subscriber contribution, very few of its subscribers worldwide would turn them down. One single dollar, that would mean somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 BILLION in membership fees.

Maybe some of these idiot reporters should come down from their thrones and realize another interesting little aspect of this validation of Social Media.
Yeah, I am talking about Goldman’s involvement. By helping raise $500 million, the firm is doing more than simply pocketing their substantial fees. Goldman is positioning itself for the eventual initial public offering (IPO), which is rumored to be scheduled for 2012.

Would it surprise you to learn if Goldman Sachs has a contractual right to be the manager of Facebook’s IPO. And if that proves to be the case, it would mean Goldman has effectively fronted Facebook $450 million for the privilege of orchestrating the company’s forthcoming IPO – and then gotten its money back by selling its stake in the company off to high-end clients looking to get a piece of the social media giant.

Are the words derivatives or default swaps still ringing in your ears?

Goldman reportedly wants to create another of its “special investment vehicles” – one that would allow a select few additional investors to put as much as $1.5 billion into Facebook. That would mean more fees for Goldman, while also ensuring that it keeps its “investors” outside of the Security and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) public disclosure rules.
Mmmmm does that sounds familiar?
Well…It should, given that special investment vehicles and limited disclosure played a key role in creating the financial crisis that’s still not over and from which Main Street still has not recovered. Never mind the irony that – thanks to a taxpayer funded bailout – Wall Street bonuses are as big or bigger than ever and that it’s already back to business as usual.

Conflict of Interest

Can we talk about conflicts of interest for a minute? According to the one page investment profile Goldman sent to its wealthiest clients, “GS Group may at any time further reduce its exposure to its investment in Facebook without notice to the fund or investors in the fund.”

If that’s not a conflict of interest, I don’t know what is, as this clause would allow Goldman to hedge or trade against the very same clients it’s now putting into the deal. That, in turn, means the firm can exit or burn the house down without warning!

Oh yeah and than the small print which further states that the content of the offering “is not guaranteed as to accuracy or completeness.” Maybe that’s why there’s another line near the very bottom that advises potential clients: “Do not contact Facebook.” News flash: I would. But then again, I would never get an invitation from Goldman Sachs to even be considered for an investment in Facebook.

The game on Wall Street is still the same. Goldman Sachs pays $550 million in fines to settle charges of securities fraud related to mortgage investments last year while pocketing $13 billion in the process of selling said mortgage investments. The SEC is happy with the “monster” fine and Goldman Sachs smiles as they pay $550 million (a 4% finders fee in their calculation) to happily start with the next shenanigan.

We already knew that the pigs are still wearing lipstick and now French kissing the government regulators, who either still have no clue what is going on, or are happy to be Wall Street’s prostitutes at a 4% commission.

The Power of Words that Stir Emotions

Wordpress and Social Media are the immediate future for growth

After a year of mixed blessings and some very painful setbacks and losses, there is nothing that gives more balance of lasting value than the creative power of expressing an emotion so beautifully as it is done in this award winning video, which in time and space nevertheless is plagiarism. The essence of the Story of a Sign, whether it won an Award in Cannes Film Festival or should be banned as plagiarism, is that it proves once again that mankind can be moved if the right words touch the musical strings of the heart.

After seeing this video I felt that I needed to identify with the story of those poor people in a small town in Alabama who have lost everything because the pensionfund they had contributed to all their life while working for the city, ran dry more than a year ago. Their golden years have turned into cold misery and their homes have turned into cardbox shelters.

In another conversation this morning I learned second hand from an FDIC official that 2011 will possibly see a horrendous increase in bank closings around the nation, because of the alleged fraud with the missing real estate foreclosures on the bank’s balance sheets. So far this year the FDIC has closed 157 banks across the country, just a dozen short from the anticipated final total. The FDIC ran out of money to cover our deposits a long time ago and is borrowing to cover from the Federal Reserve, who is printing more money to cover the debt. Well it does look like we’re trying to lift ourselves up by the handle while standing in the bucket.

In inconsequential front page news today I learn that 84 year old Hugh Heffner, Mr. Playboy himself, is getting married to a 24 year old, and I have to believe it is love, because 30 years ago I promised myself never to judge again. I guess I won’t say what I think, and hope that nobody considers that judging!!

The old man in the video reminds me of my clochard friends in Paris so many years ago when I spent a lot of time there on business. And the young man, albeit much better looking than I ever did, reminds me of myself with my corporate 3 piece suites and Delsey and Samsonite briefcases in the late 70s, strotting proudly and self confident, handing favors and ideas to the less fortunate. So it seems at least.

I left corporate soon after, before I turned 30, moved across the Atlantic and started painting my own roads less traveled. No safety net, no security. I did it by doing what the young man in the video does, by being creative. I helped building and selling companies, spent 20 years sailing and working around the Caribbean Islands, to finally land in one of the best places I have ever lived. Being creative is the essence in being happy. But having the guts to strike out and lay your own road down, is your choice, yours only.

Creatively helping people in need is essential to happiness and while watching this video I felt compassion for all those boomers and retirees who feel that the rug of comfort has been or will be pulled soon.

I saw my friend Ric, who had lost his comfort and nest egg in the 2008 crash, build himself back over the past year, by applying what had brought him his comfort in the first place: creativity and guts.

I have one advice if you feel your future is threatened: re-build your future on the Internet. You have all the experience of a lifetime in your backpack; pick out what you know and liked best and learn to control your own future.
I can put you in control of your own future inside of 5 days.

The story of a sign is strong and effective marketing. The power of the written word is mighty, if you know how to get it exposed to the right people.

5 Days in January WordPress Website Building Bootcamp

Dates: Monday January 17 – Friday January 21, 2011
Location: Amelia Hotel at the Beach – Boardroom
Objective: Reserve and build your own WordPress e-commerce website and be in business by the end of the week.

Cost:  $995 per person; $1,650 for 2 people from the same company. Register by December 24, 2010 and get domain name registration and ONE year hosting free.

Fee includes: All course materials, coffee breaks and lunches, domain name and one year hosting (if paid by December 24-midnight)

Information:  Johan Ramakers Phd., (904) 310 6153 – publisher@searchamelia.com
Judie Mackie – judie@searchamelia.com

Description: In the course of 5 days we will look over your shoulder as you reserve your website domain, learn how to build the navigation and populate the WordPress website, organize and implement the search engine optimization aspects, set up the social media presence and take the website “live” for you to control your online future and manage and grow your business.

Program
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Day One

Morning:
1. Introduction
2. Make laptops internet-accessible
3. Download Safari browser
4. Define domain name; reserve domain name and hosting plan with Hosting company
5. Go into cPanel set up and organize manager URL

Afternoon:
6. Go into WordPress to choose and select theme templates*
7. Set back-end user/admin access
8. Define objective(s)/ targets / mission
9. Work up website navigation

Day Close

10. Q & A fine-tuning

Homework (a) Find Visuals and (b) Write content outlines based on navigation *

Day Two

Morning
1. Check on status of all URLs
2. Prepare content for all navigation: (a) Pages, (b) Categories, (c) Posts
3. Set: (a) Visual Formats, (b) Forums, (c) Plug-ins, (d) Widgets, (e) Columns

Afternoon
4. Start uploading main navigation
5. Double check formats
6. Complete explanation of WordPress bars and how they work
7. Set up email accounts with signatures

Day Close

8. Q & A fine-tuning

Day Three:

Morning
1. Double check all domains
2. Work up social media accounts: (a) Facebook, (b) Twitter, (c) LinkedIn, (d) YouTube, (e) RSS, (f) Google Account (incl. everything- maps/view/alerts/adwords/keywords etc),
3. Attach SHARE network to website

Afternoon
4. Set up PayPal Account **
5. Shopping Cart navigation
6. Evaluation

Day Close

6. Q & A fine-tuning

Day Four:

Morning
1. Triple Check: (a) All links, (b) navigation, (c) sizing
2. Image optimization
3. Maintenance Blog Schedule, Social Media Toolkit and spreadsheet
4. Feedburners/ email campaigns, email database harvesting
5. Constant Contact- never better – newsletter

Afternoon
6. “Ranking” secrets/ coding secrets
7. Free research tools to help ranking, competition research, keyword duplication
8. Learn how to Build video with photos and upload to youTube/Vimeo for website distribution
9. Launch and start Search Engine submission process

Day Close

10. Q & A fine-tuning

Day Five (half day):

Morning
1. Complete start of the day session – write and publish a blog story; promote the entire Social Media Circuit
– do intermediate ranking checks on Google, Bing and Yahoo with keyword alterations
2. Building an email data base
3. Final Question and Answers session

Follow Up: On Wednesday January 26 from 6 – 8 pm there is a closing follow up for Q and A

* Asterix indicated entries include instructions and requirements that will come with the registration instructions.

There is only seating for 15 positions on this course.

The Course will be given by: Judie Mackie – Editor, Search Amelia; Johan Ramakers Phd. – Publisher Search Amelia
assisted by Lawrence Mackie and Jessica Livingston.

NOTE: If you’re not yet ready, you may occasionally watch Real Econ TV. You may find it useful, informative, sometimes even entertaining… and yes it might even help you avoid falling in a hole or two.

So Many Roads

Learn how to face the fear of change with confidence

Every pundit who claims to have an opinion, and all of them do, advises you to stay put these days when life’s advancements call for a change. Too uncertain out there, stick to what you got, count your blessings, better one bird in the hand than two in the bush: you know the warnings. Let me be clear up front: Individual change is not necessary, because survival is not mandatory – nobody can force you, not yet at least.

I have always been of the opinion that when you have loaded up your brain and your backpack with life’s essential experiences, you need to start opening doors and you don’t stop until you leave this earth, which is supposedly the door to a grand finale. So for me, rejecting change creates decay. Opening doors to different views, opinions, cultural experiences, education, technologies let’s you embrace life in its full potential and move forward..

Victor Frankl said: “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves”. Henry Miller had a very graphic view on the fear to change when he proclaimed: “The man who looks for security, even in the mind, is like a man who would chop off his limbs in order to have artificial ones which will give him no pain or trouble.”

Growth is the only evidence of your life.

Just two weeks ago, the Hurley’s, Jeff Malone, Mike, Ric and myself went to see what Huffington Post this week called: “The best guitarist you have never heard of”; Joe Bonamassa. In an earlier story about this evening, I stated that Joe has finally found his perfect back up band. And then yesterday I get the news, that inimitable drummer Bogy Bowles is saying goodbye to Joe and after 5 years of roaming the world, he is casting his professional future in a different direction. No difference in style or clashing personalities here, – Bogy and Joe are the nicest people you will ever meet -, Bogy just opened another door and is ready to move on to the next stage of his life.

Now mind you, these guys are making a lot of money these days and they have worked hard to get there – Joe’s 18 wheeler says it on the sides: always on the road. Their talent and accomplishments deserve that recognition, which also leads them into the league where they never have to worry about job security. They are simply so good that even if the economy would scale back to 30% of what it used to be, they would still do very well. Obviously this selected percentage is arbitrary and in no way reflects what I feel the economy is doing.

I would share my last sandwich with Bonamassa, for the pleasure of just listening to him play. Even though it will be a missing link in the Joe Bonamassa band, Joe is the first one to understand. He himself wrote and performed “So Many Roads”, an invitation to change and personal growth.

Godspeed Bogy, I’m sure we’ll catch up with y0u again. Enjoy Joe and Bogey playing “So Many Roads” in this video I put together several years ago.

On July 3, 1958, Alfred Perlman wrote in the New York Times: After you’ve done a thing the same way for two years, look it over carefully.  After five years, look at it with suspicion.  And after ten years, throw it away and start all over. My observation is that even though Perlman was entirely right in his advice, his time frames had not taken into consideration the arrival of the Internet. Talking about change!!

Yesterday my wife asked me, if we could adopt this little 18 months old puppy in Alabama, which has had a short and miserable life, losing his first family to a house fire and his second human friend to cancer. I looked at the picture of that mutt puppy and said yes. My previous adoption concern of already having a 3 year old Snorkie, who is fantastically set in his ways, disappeared with that one look in the little pup’s eyes. Time for me to stop worrying about changing the status quo. Fortunately (for the puppy) within minutes of telling the shelter in Montgomery Alabama that we would take the dog, message came back that Puppy had minutes earlier found a good new home with a family in Mississippi and there was a long list of inquiries.

The internet has changed our lives almost entirely, and those of us who contribute and follow technological advancements, know that the change has just begun. There are thousands of doors to open, look inside the room and match what we see with our individual needs and desires.

Comfort doesn’t like Change

People who have reached comfort in life and work, are usually dead set against change and in the past could wing themselves through life in a manner they adopted as “their” lifestyle. I cannot blame them for taking that attitude. However, no one can deny that we are currently on a roller coaster ride in human history; the first one started with the invention of the printing press more than 500 years ago, which allowed mankind to become more widespread educated; the second one started with the Industrial Revolution which allowed mankind to become more widespread prosperous and the third one started with the Technological Revolution which is allowing mankind to become widespread inter-connected.

Francis Bacon said: Things alter for the worse spontaneously, if they be not altered for the better designedly. In other words if you do not design the template for your life with an openness to change, things will spontaneously get worse. And I’d like to ad that the arrival of the internet will speed that process up a thousand fold.

Fear for change is normal, but as my friend and motivational speaker  Keith Cameron Smith says : ” Most people do not know whether change will be positive or negative when it first presents itself.” For the comfortable among us, change is a threat, but for the truly confident among us, change is an opportunity. People who are insecure resist change, people who are confident embrace and welcome it. And confidence is a result of preparation and hard work. Confidence is working on yourself. Confidence is the benefit of  proving yourself to yourself. It is knowing you can handle whatever comes your way. Confidence is knowing you can do whatever you choose to in a world that offers changing options with massive opportunities.

If you think that life is handing you lemons, don’t make lemonade.

Become a chef and use the lemons as an important ingredient to the creation of new dishes. Experiment and learn, so that the opportunities of change, whether the change is good or bad, will become your playground.

5 Days in January Bootcamp

We are holding a 5 Day Bootcamp between January 17 and 21 at the Amelia Hotel at the Beach that will teach you to be in control of your internet presence and benefit from the changes the internet is exposing our world to.

We have a few seats left for people that never want to depend again on an outside “webmaster”, whether it is their son’s room mate in college who builds websites in his spare time (oh we can tell stories!) or a qualified webmaster professional (we have been doing that for 16 years now with hundreds of websites under our belt).

Yes

• it is a full 5 days of 9 to 5 learning, but those 35 hours will not only save you a great deal of time and money, it will decidedly increase your earning capacity and confidence that you will benefit from the changes.

Yes

• the cost of $995 dollars may be a bit steep for some (although most other are 5 times more expensive), but it includes one year domain registration and hosting for your website, all course materials, and..lunches and coffee breaks

Yes

• we are our own competition by teaching you how to become independent from us, but we see the rapid changing world of internet commerce that’s upon us and if you can maintain and update your own website(s), we can move your and our efforts towards mobile connectivity and have our entire local area benefit from increased business.

Remember: It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive and prepared to change.


WordPress Website Building Bootcamp Program

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Day One

Morning:
1. Introduction
2. Make laptops internet-accessible
3. Download Safari browser
4. Define domain name; reserve domain name and hosting plan with Hosting company
5. Go into cPanel set up and organize manager URL

Afternoon:
6. Go into WordPress to choose and select theme templates*
7. Set back-end user/admin access
8. Define objective(s)/ targets / mission
9. Work up website navigation

Day Close

10. Q & A fine-tuning

Homework (a) Find Visuals and (b) Write content outlines based on navigation *

Day Two

Morning
1. Check on status of all URLs
2. Prepare content for all navigation: (a) Pages, (b) Categories, (c) Posts
3. Set: (a) Visual Formats, (b) Forums, (c) Plug-ins, (d) Widgets, (e) Columns

Afternoon
4. Start uploading main navigation
5. Double check formats
6. Complete explanation of WordPress bars and how they work
7. Set up email accounts with signatures

Day Close

8. Q & A fine-tuning

Day Three:

Morning
1. Double check all domains
2. Work up social media accounts: (a) Facebook, (b) Twitter, (c) LinkedIn, (d) YouTube, (e) RSS, (f) Google Account (incl. everything- maps/view/alerts/adwords/keywords etc),
3. Attach SHARE network to website

Afternoon
4. Set up PayPal Account **
5. Shopping Cart navigation
6. Evaluation

Day Close

6. Q & A fine-tuning

Day Four:

Morning
1. Triple Check: (a) All links, (b) navigation, (c) sizing
2. Image optimization
3. Maintenance Blog Schedule, Social Media Toolkit and spreadsheet
4. Feedburners/ email campaigns, email database harvesting
5. Constant Contact- never better – newsletter

Afternoon
6. “Ranking” secrets/ coding secrets
7. Free research tools to help ranking, competition research, keyword duplication
8. Learn how to Build video with photos and upload to youTube/Vimeo for website distribution
9. Launch and start Search Engine submission process

Day Close

10. Q & A fine-tuning

Day Five (half day):

Morning
1. Complete start of the day session – write and publish a blog story; promote the entire Social Media Circuit
– do intermediate ranking checks on Google, Bing and Yahoo with keyword alterations
2. Building an email data base
3. Final Question and Answers session

Follow Up: On Wednesday January 26 from 6 – 8 pm there is a closing follow up for Q and A

* Astrix indicated entries include instructions and requirements that will come with the registration instructions.

For more information and special offers you may contact: judie@searchamelia.com or publisher@searchamelia.com or call Mon – Fri between 4 – 6 pm Tel. 904 310 6153

The Evil Twins Resistance and Procrastination

Procratination and Resistance

Two of the biggest enemies in life are the twins Procrastination and Resistance.  Every personal idea and desire that comes around in our lives, will first find these Twins in its path.

Are you being confronted with great opportunities, like a great job offer in another country or another state? The chance to finally build and own your own company? The chance to travel where you’ve always wanted to go, or an invitation to become partner with someone you deeply admire?  Procrastination, the firstborn twin, will initially try to postpone your action, while Resistance, the younger of the two, will throw everything but the kitchen sink at you to stop you from doing what you want. Resistance may come in the form of parents, friends, neighbors, congregation, bank tellers, supermarket cashiers, mailman, sport club members or anyone else who thinks that they should have a legitimate impact on your decision-making process, by the virtue of the minimal social relationship they have with you, of course.

Procrastination will manifest himself – yes he is decidedly male – on a very personal level. First he’ll drop hints and whisper that it’s really not necessary to take action right this second, that tomorrow or even next week would be fine. Procrastination is essentially a villain, behind the scenes, the escalating factor behind every major problem in your life. He sways you to ignore initially-small issues, ones that could have been taken care of with a quick phone call or note, and is the culprit behind the unfolding massive drama by avoiding action.

Procrastination, however persuasive, knows though that he is the weaker one of the two. His twin sister, Resistance, is much more persistent in her evil nature as she follows us in every footstep of our lives.

As a side note, I have written about this issue many times using different metaphors and expressions, like “When My Ship Comes In” and “The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions.” (If you’re interested in reading critical issues explained via metaphor, try A Hole is Just a Hole or Beware of Financial Mine Fields).  Never forget, that evil twin, Resistance, will not hesitate to squarely put your spouse and children against you, making you feel like an egotistical jerk without a social conscience or care in the world. She is the Chair woman of The Committee of Jerks in my Head.

I know because I’ve fought Resistance many times in my life. In the beginning, victory was hers quite often, but as I got older – and wiser, have you – I became more persistent and recognized the pattern of her attempts to seduce, or even force me against my wishes.

I recognized that she didn’t hesitate to recruit even those closest to me and my happiness, and especially turn them against me in matters of prosperity and financial independence, undisputed cornerstones for a fulfilling and happy life.

Sure, during the course of a long life, authority tried to silence me, the religious rebuked me, leaders and teachers have attempted to sabotage me, my own heart turned against me on many an occasion, my birth family sought to hold me back when I decided to leave a blisteringly prosperous corporate career for an uncertain future across the Atlantic in the Americas and, on the occasions when Resistance won, my own mind would always be able to find a comfortable excuse to drown the pain.

Every Morning is a Brand New Day

Procrastination and Resistance have a sibling they secretly call “the student sister”, but in reality, we call her Good Intentions .
When you wake up in the morning, for that first moment, Good Intentions puts a blank sheet of paper in front of you and in a melodious voice she reiterates that it’s a brand new day, a day that gives you the chance to sculpt or re-sculpt your life into what you want or have wanted it to be. Then, she gives you the chance and choice to write down your desires, with either an erasable pencil or a permanent marker.  She even shows you how to unravel past mistakes if they stand in your way of accomplishments. Good Intentions, however, will only reveal herself in that first enlightening moment of each new day, when none of your thoughts have yet acknowledged the insecurities, chaos and confusion created by her evil twin siblings, Resistance and Procrastination.

Good Intention let’s you plan that brisk walk or hour at the gym that helps build your health and expose you to knowledge and self confidence as instruments to accomplish your dreams of financial independence. Financial independence allows you to turn your back on Procrastination and Resistance with dignity and self respect.

And that brief moment gives you a choice and a chance you best grab, before Resistance opens the curtains just to show you that it’s storming and nasty outside and you’d better reconsider your plans. As Resistance attempts to lure you away from your dreams, you can either believe that again you won’t be going to the gym or take that walk or make that move towards your own financial independence, or you can take the permanent marker from Good Intention’s hand and sign yourself up for Our January WordPress Website Building Bootcamp.

If you do, you will score a major victory over the Evil Twins. Not that they will stop bothering you. They can’t. It’s their nature. But they will have lost their power over you. You’re now in command of your own future.

Sometimes a Hole is Just a Hole

Don't drop in the hole

I try to learn at least one new thing everyday, whether it is a skill or just an anecdote or a new fact about something I had no clue about. Today I learned a bit more about the undercurrent in the American economy that lets true entrepreneurs expose a good amount of bravado in face of the down times.

It was a very educational session. After going through an archive of great pictures, I found some 2 dozen that display courage and knowing how to avoid potholes on the road to success. The synopsis: Sometimes it takes a respectful distance and sometimes it takes courage and luck – but it always takes a solid knowledge, pulled from the right sources, to accurately locate the holes in the road ahead.

Real entrepreneurs with bravado are a good thing. It’s like they’re saying, “I choose not to participate in that recession thing that is going around.” Although that may sound a bit arrogant and self serving, it is the right attitude to have, especially if you don’t want to get caught up among the whiners. There is a lot of opportunity out there; you just need to take action and know how to avoid the holes, those avoidable negative circumstances that absentminded individuals easily fall into. You also need to be willing to set priorities that require committed action.

The best way to avoid these holes is to know where they are and to not be afraid of them.

The following video may be a bit extreme for some, though for others, it should clearly illustrate that great accomplishments come with great dedication and effort. There’s something in certain people’s entrepreneurial DNA that makes them afraid to look down. They would rather follow the herd, preferably residing somewhere near the supposed “secure center”, in the hope that the luck of the draw will prevent them becoming a victim of a deep fall. Many don’t even see the drop-off coming.

Especially around this time of year, I seem to get into conversations at parties, many of which center around friends who keep telling me how lucky I am to have gotten rid of my properties in 2005. Well, I have news for them: It had nothing to do with luck and everything to do with knowing where the holes lie.

When people ask me how I knew, my answer is consistent: I follow the financial news and assume that 99% of it is total crap aired by anchormen and women who get an industry-crafted script to read right after it’s pushed in front of them.

When the news came through last Friday, that the dreaded unemployment numbers went up from 9.6% to 9.8%, the media immediately came out with damage control to rationalize the increase in unemployment rate as seasonal effects. I call BS.

In the same week that Wal-Mart announces the 51% multi-billion dollar acquisition of a South African retail chain (the Giant’s first step onto the African continent!) and Pepsi brings $5.8 billion to Moscow for the acquisition of a Russian juice maker, news tells us that those markets have surpassed the profit potentials of ‘good old America’. (And that trend is unstoppable, as is the exodus of jobs.)

Smart people realize that this means menial jobs have no future here, in America. Smart people read between the news lines and realize that future business plans can no longer count on the return of an endless availability of easy credit. Smart people realize that we are at the beginning of a magnificent paradigm shift where America’s role is to market and distribute what the world produces.

Magnum Internet Companies such as Amazon, eBay and even Wal-Mart don’t get their news from a misguided media reporting on topics they know nothing about. They don’t buy the daily BS that comes out of the Tubes. These mega-size businesses have already figured out that it would be a formula for disaster.

They have embraced the Internet as it points out the future. Facebook proves it everyday by yet breaking new records.

HERE IS THE DEAL

If you are a smart regional entrepreneur, you may want to check into our Bootcamp Called “5 Days in January”. There you will learn how to build, manage and maintain your own WordPress Website, starting the morning of Monday, January 17 and walking out Friday, January 21, 2011 with a complete online business – a website that embraces the future and disregards the past. (Forget your brick-and-mortar business with huge overheads.) Best of all, this workshop will teach you where the holes are and how to prevent and circumnavigate potential disasters most commonly associated with Internet small businesses.

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5 Days in January WordPress Website Building Bootcamp

Dates: Monday January 17 – Friday January 21, 2011
Location: Amelia Hotel at the Beach – Boardroom
Objective: Reserve and build your own WordPress e-commerce website and be in business by the end of the week.

Cost:  $995 per person; $1,650 for 2 people from the same company. Register by December 24, 2010 and get domain name registration and ONE year hosting free.

Fee includes: All course materials, coffee breaks and lunches, domain name and one year hosting (if paid by December 24-midnight)

Information:  Johan Ramakers Phd., (904) 310 6153 – publisher@searchamelia.com
Judie Mackie – judie@searchamelia.com

Description: In the course of 5 days we will look over your shoulder as you reserve your website domain, learn how to build the navigation and populate the WordPress website, organize and implement the search engine optimization aspects, set up the social media presence and take the website “live” for you to control your online future and manage and grow your business.

Program
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Day One

Morning:
1. Introduction
2. Make laptops internet-accessible
3. Download Safari browser
4. Define domain name; reserve domain name and hosting plan with Hosting company
5. Go into cPanel set up and organize manager URL

Afternoon:
6. Go into WordPress to choose and select theme templates*
7. Set back-end user/admin access
8. Define objective(s)/ targets / mission
9. Work up website navigation

Day Close

10. Q & A fine-tuning

Homework (a) Find Visuals and (b) Write content outlines based on navigation *

Day Two

Morning
1. Check on status of all URLs
2. Prepare content for all navigation: (a) Pages, (b) Categories, (c) Posts
3. Set: (a) Visual Formats, (b) Forums, (c) Plug-ins, (d) Widgets, (e) Columns

Afternoon
4. Start uploading main navigation
5. Double check formats
6. Complete explanation of WordPress bars and how they work
7. Set up email accounts with signatures

Day Close

8. Q & A fine-tuning

Day Three:

Morning
1. Double check all domains
2. Work up social media accounts: (a) Facebook, (b) Twitter, (c) LinkedIn, (d) YouTube, (e) RSS, (f) Google Account (incl. everything- maps/view/alerts/adwords/keywords etc),
3. Attach SHARE network to website

Afternoon
4. Set up PayPal Account **
5. Shopping Cart navigation
6. Evaluation

Day Close

6. Q & A fine-tuning

Day Four:

Morning
1. Triple Check: (a) All links, (b) navigation, (c) sizing
2. Image optimization
3. Maintenance Blog Schedule, Social Media Toolkit and spreadsheet
4. Feedburners/ email campaigns, email database harvesting
5. Constant Contact- never better – newsletter

Afternoon
6. “Ranking” secrets/ coding secrets
7. Free research tools to help ranking, competition research, keyword duplication
8. Learn how to Build video with photos and upload to youTube/Vimeo for website distribution
9. Launch and start Search Engine submission process

Day Close

10. Q & A fine-tuning

Day Five (half day):

Morning
1. Complete start of the day session – write and publish a blog story; promote the entire Social Media Circuit
– do intermediate ranking checks on Google, Bing and Yahoo with keyword alterations
2. Building an email data base
3. Final Question and Answers session

Follow Up: On Wednesday January 26 from 6 – 8 pm there is a closing follow up for Q and A

* Asterix indicated entries include instructions and requirements that will come with the registration instructions.

There is only seating for 15 positions on this course.

The Course will be given by: Judie Mackie – Editor, Search Amelia; Johan Ramakers Phd. – Publisher Search Amelia
assisted by Lawrence Mackie and Jessica Livingston.

NOTE: If you’re not yet ready, you may occasionally watch Real Econ TV. You may find it useful, informative, sometimes even entertaining… and yes it might even help you avoid falling in a hole or two.

Black Friday is Over, Next is Cyber Monday

Black Friday is Over, Next is Cyber MondayBlack Friday is over, now we have Small Business Saturday and another popular holiday shopping day is Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday is known as the Monday that follows Black Friday. In a shop.org press release in 2005, Cyber Monday became one of the busiest online shopping days of the year and online retailers will be displaying their discounts once again this year.

Our local Hometown Sears is getting into the action and said, “This was actually a fairly good business day for Fernandina last year. Lots of folks don’t want to deal with all the people on Black Friday, so they hold out for the online specials Monday after Thanksgiving.”

Here are a few popular sites www.bestcybermondaysales.com, www.cybermonday.com and www.cybermonday.net where you can shop online for the best deals on items on your holiday shopping list this Monday.

Other local businesses should plan online specials for Cyber Monday. In a world where you can literally buy and ship anywhere, there is no reason not to market your products to those who prefer to shop online and add to your bottom line.