Tuesday, August 18

We're moving!

We have decided to move this blog to our main domain - http://www.jayrodchicago.com/blog/

Be sure to visit us, bookmark us and share us with your friends. I've had many followers because of blogspot and I'm appreciative. Please be sure to join me at www.JayRodChicago.com/blog/

Monday, August 10

A great site for web traffic

I stumbled across (of course on Stumble Upon) a great website to increase web traffic.

Sure it's about an hour and a half long, but your business' website is worth it, isn't it?


Monday, August 3

The importance of having your website ready before implementing a social media plan

We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression.’ Well, the Internet is no different. Think of it as dating. Let’s say you disperse 200 of your friends to let everyone know you’re available and to take a pamphlet that shows your face and a brief bio (like this would ever happen, but for the sake of argument, roll with me).

Much like social media, these friends can “share” the brochure with their friends and so on and so forth.

You obviously would want your nicest picture, a crisp bio and accurate contact information, right? Well, that’s much like your business’ website and the information that floats on the web through social media.

Thousands of sites are dug, StumbleUpon, reddit, and favorited each hour. If your information is valuable enough, and sometimes just quirky enough, you catch someone’s attention. They click on your story and you have them. Like a fisherman to fish, they’re hooked.

SO, now they’re on your site likely just reading what caught their interest. There are several universal tabs (Home, Contact, About Us to name a few) that many web developers would require for you to have on every page. Is your information valuable enough to make them explore further? Is your website hearty enough to lure people to your “make me a favorite” tab? Probably most importantly, do you have updated information on a regular (consistent basis) that would make them come to your site on a weekly basis without any prompt? That’s the ultimate goal of a social marketer and your business. You want the word out there about your business, obviously a call to action (to generate business) and then the perfect blend of customer service and quality content that will create a Top of Mind Awareness when they need someone in your field.

So in our first example, social media represents your friends and the brochure represents your website. Is your website prepared for the type of exposure social media can bring to it? It’s something every business owner needs to ask themselves before they ask for exposure (embarrassingly) at the wrong time – when they are unprepared.

Monday, July 27

Stressing "On a Dime"

Service Corps of Retired Executives, or SCORE, is an essential part of the lifeline of any business.

In this blog this week, we're focusing on the "on a dime" aspect of the title. SCORE has offices scattered throughout the nation with a ridiculously overwhelming amount of information and experience to help any business owner get their project off the ground and onto the right path.

With the business I'm in, social media knowledge and tips are key. Peggy Corwin is the woman to go to here in Chicago. Her site is amazing: http://pegcorwin.com.

Monday, July 20


Check your site with these free site analysis tools
Before you hurry off to submit your web site to all the search engines and directories, remember to check your web site thoroughly to see if your web site is optimized. There are a number of free web site analysis tools available on the net that will check your site for spelling mistakes, dead links, browser compatibility, html design and loading time. They will also rate your web site on a scale of poor to excellent. Checking your site with these online tools will take only a minute of your time will give you a lot of valuable information about your site.
You know how frustrating it is to wait for a page to load. Most of the time you won't bother to wait for more than 30 seconds or so, and if a page has still not loaded you might think 'To hell with it - I'm going somewhere else'. Another often frustrating problem is to click on a link only to find the following error on your screen: 'The requested URL does not exist'. This is known as a dead link. It could happen by giving a wrong link or by deleting a page that is linked to other pages in your site. And when you see a spelling mistake, your response is probably 'If they haven't checked their own web site for spelling mistakes, are they professional enough for me!' Make sure your web site loads fast and it doesn't have any dead links or spelling mistakes. You could lose tons of visitors if you don't optimize your web site.
Web site Analysis and Optimization Tools
Some of our Favorite Tools
· NetmechanicThis is our absolute favorite. We strongly recommend that you use this tool for checking your load time, spelling mistakes, and browser compatibility. The report generated is concise and easy to understand. You can also use the HTML design report along with the Hit Box HTML report. THIS IS ALSO AWESOME TO CREATE A “SHARE” MODULE ON YOR SITE!!http://netmechanic.com/toolbox/html-code.htm
· Website GarageThis tool offers two extra checks i.e. Link Popularity and Register-It! Readiness. Your load time results may not be accurate as it does not recognize Flash and other plug-ins. http://websitegarage.netscape.com/
· HitboxIf you would like to be cheered up with your web site load time go to Hitbox to get a good report on your load time. You will find that there is a big difference in these results when compared to the other tools. We recommend that you use the HTML design report along with the Netmechanic HTML report to get a good idea of how to improve the HTML design in your site.http://www.hitbox.com/cgi-bin/page.cgi?tools/doc
· BobbyIf you want a strict evaluation of your web site we recommend you use Bobby. If you pass his stringent criteria you can get a Bobby Approved stamp.http://www.cast.org/bobby/ NEXT WEEK: SEARCH ENGINE SUBMISSION

Monday, July 13

How can Twitter benefit my business?

So, I’ve been getting the question rather often: Have you found any good use for Twitter? Phh. I ask, “How much time do you have?”

So often, we get stuck looking at the big picture. I find this a lot when I review resumes and cover letters. People tell me: “I was only a camp counselor” or “I just worked at a convenient store.” After a little prodding (courtesy of my reporter days), I help them indentify some of the obvious. That job as a camp counselor had you looking out for the health and well being of 25 children. That position at the convenience store had you handling the owner’s deposits and withdrawals for 10 years. Doesn’t that count for something? It sure does.

Twitter is the same way. I’m asked: “How can you get your message across in 140 characters or less?” Hmm. My response: “What’s to say you need to have your message on Twitter? Why not at a blog or your website?” That’s when a light bulb comes on. Twitter for businesses has a variety of great uses.

Take, for example, Ford. Their social media guru sets up discussions with the CEO on a somewhat regular basis and opens it up for the world to ask him questions. Kind of on a big scale, I know, but you get the point.

The key to starting any great social media experience is listening. What are people in your field/people who are your customers talking about? If need be (and the situation calls for it), interact. Follow them on Twitter and 7 times out of 10, they will follow you. Online conversations are much like offline conversations. You see someone at the same function as you, you want to know why they chose to be there. With Twitter, you want to know why they are asking what they are asking and if you could be of assistance.

After listening and taking an interest, use your account to promote “off-Twitter” content. Send a teaser with a link… much like a headline in a newspaper. For example: Chicago’s best food listed here. Did ur fave make it? www.JayRodChicago.com/2016. In 80 characters, I’ve teased the reader and shot them to my website. That’s good once in a while. Do that too much and people will turn your “follow” button off.

Be human. Give some real-life experiences. There’s flexibility with your brand on social networking sites like Twitter, facebook and more. Have fun with it, but don’t get too carried away. No one wants to see their beautician doing a keg stand last weekend through twitpics. Let them know you have a human side, a sense of humor and a family. People are more receptive to those they can relate to.

We have barely scratched the surface here, but I’m hoping you get the picture… even if it’s the little one!

Monday, July 6

Request for cheap computer maintenance from our customers

I’ve been getting several requests for computer information, specifically making your computer work quicker. I did a quick check with a national office supply company to see how much they charge to do something like this and I learned it was $30!

Those of you who know about defragmenting your computer should be astounded by that price. All it takes is a matter of a few clicks and voila – you’ve saved yourself $30 AND made your computer work quicker.

Defragmenting was explained to me like this: Picture a floor filled with various colored marbles – some solid red, some blue, some white and some black – but all blended together. That is the information that your computer stores as you are online. Let’s say we sent a very smart snail through the room to look for a black marble. Since they are all mixed up, it’s going to take him awhile. What defragmenting does is separate the marbles – or information in your computer – into those with common interests (or colors) making it easier for the snail to find the black marble. Now you can picture the room with marble in separate groups of red, white, blue and black.

So as your computer is told to find information that would be in one pile and not the other, after it is defragmented, it will find the information much quicker.

SO, after that lengthy description, let me explain to you how to defragment your computer and save yourself from spending $30 at that national office supply store.

1) Go to computer on your desktop or from your start-up menu, which is in the lower left hand corner of your screen.

2) Right click, with your computer mouse, the C: drive. There should be a pull-down menu that comes up.

3) Left click Properties. From there, a separate box will appear. Click on Tools.


5) Once your defragmenting is done, close the box and enjoy your quicker computer!

Have an idea for a blog here? Text “BLOG IDEA” followed by the idea to 312-515-9459 or you can join the JayRodChicago page on facebook and submit through there!

Monday, June 29


Preparing your web pages with meta tags for effective search engine submission and ranking
Crafting your meta tags is the most important step in Search Engine submission. A meta tag is a special HTML tag that provides information about a Web page. It provides information such as who created the page, how often it is updated, what the page is about, and which keywords represent the page's content. Many search engines use this information when building their indices. The most important meta tags you need to focus on are the Title, Keywords and Description tags. So, lets get right into it!
Step 1: Prepare a list of Keywords and Key Phrases
What are Keywords?
Keywords are words that your customers would enter into a search engine to find your site. E.g. while searching for a web developer you would type 'web developers' , 'web designers' , 'web development companies' , 'web site development' as possible keyword searches.
Guidelines while preparing your keywords
Make a list of your target audiences - This must include all possibilities. Compiling a list of your target audience will help you know what they are searching for in search engines. E.g. Small businessmen, fellow web developers, corporates, professionals. Each of these target audiences will have different needs and interests which you should address in your web site.
While keeping in mind your target audience, make a list of keywords and key phrases that describe your site. Put yourself in their shoes and think of the words they would type in a search engine to find you.
Come up with as many keywords and key phrases as you can.
As in the example I gave above, I would put 'web designers', 'web site development' , 'global web development', 'professional web developers', 'web promotion' ,'dynamic web site development' as possible key phrases.
Use plurals - e.g. 'web developer', 'web developers'
Use important words in different forms - e.g. 'develop web sites', 'web site developers' , 'web-site development' , 'developing web sites'
Don't use the same word more than 4 times. Try using it in different forms instead. E.g. web site, web-site, web sites. Using the same keyword more than 4 times may be considered spamming in some search engines and may cause you to be blacklisted.
4. Keep your keywords meta tag length between 200 and 500 characters.
Step 2: Deciding on your Title and Description
What is a Title and Description?
Title - This is what appears on the title bar when you open a web site. This is also the link you see in the search results page of any search engine.
Description - This is the description of the site (1-2 lines) which appears along with the title in the search results page.
An example of a Title and Description
Title - Web site design and development, DHTML, Flash, Promotion
Description - Developing creative, innovative and cost-effective static and dynamic web sites. We believe in making your business succeed online by expanding your business to the Global Marketplace, find out what makes us so unique.
Guidelines while deciding on your title and description
The golden rule while preparing your pages for search engine submission is that all your important keywords should appear in your title, description and content of your web page.
Make sure that your title and description is populated with your most important keywords. At the same time it should be a 'grabber', as your potential clients will read your title and description and based on that synopsis of your site, decide to click and enter your site. Make sure that they are catchy and grab a person's attention.
Keep your title between 15 and 20 words and your description between 100 and 200 characters.
While preparing your web pages remember to also use your important keywords in your alt tags. Some search engines also index the alt tags. An alt tag is a name given to an image that is used in your site. You can see a sample of an alt tag by pointing your cursor entheosweb.com on this page. In a second you'll see a box appear below. That's the alt tag. Don't underestimate its importance.The next (optional) step in search engine submission is to use free online tools to make sure that your site does not have any spelling mistakes, dead links, HTML and browser compatibility problems. These tools also test your site loading time and give your site an overall ranking. They are very useful and will take only a minute of your time. This will ensure that your site is ready to be submitted to the search engines.

Monday, June 22


Courtesy of Entheos...
How do people find you on the Internet? Through words, of course.
Carefully chosen words and keywords will determine your website or web page's rankings on the Search Engines, and will pull visitors to your site.Not just any visitors, but people who want and need your product or service. Targeted Web traffic.
Once they've come to your site, how do you ensure you make a sale?Again, through the right choice of words.
Words prompt people to think, consider the options, decide, and most important, take action.
Words make the sale
What are these words?
Credible wordsIt's important that your web content is believable and sincere. Or you may drive visitors away instead of attracting them.Millions of sites use words that are overstatements or exaggerated claims. Words like "killer apps", "incredible results", "never before", "world-famous", "extraordinary features" and a whole lot more, usually followed with several exclamation marks!!!!! Limit yourself to a single exclamation mark where relevant, or drop those marks altogether.Unless the words above are backed up by research or documented evidence, most of your visitors would discount the exaggerations and feel the claims are untrue. How would they trust you with their money?
Simple wordsUse quality words, information-rich words, yet easy-to-understand words.
Powerful wordsUse keyword-rich and targeted words, designed to bring the right people to your site. This is specially important while writing descriptions and ads to promote your site, writing headlines and subheads, writing words in bold or coloured text for easily scannable content.
Action wordsWords like "Free offer", "Free resources", "Big Discount", "Sale", "Free trial", "Try us out", are powerful action-generating words.
Documented wordsUse research to back up claims of product superiority. Use client testimonials to assure people that you deliver on your promises. If you add links that lead to more information on the subject, your visitor can check out the authenticity of your statements. Quotes from experts in the field you are writing about, add weight to your statements
Thought-provoking wordsHow often have you read a whole article because the headline triggered a whole thought-process? This is a highly effective way to draw the reader's attention. And, as you know, readers are 25% slower while reading on the Web. All the more reason to grab their attention:
with a question in the headline
with a paradox or apparent contradiction in facts
with a bold statement that refutes popular beliefsNaturally, such attention-getting devices have to be backed up by persuasive content that retains the reader's interest or puts forward a different point of view
Persuasive wordsJust like a salesman in a shop or office, your content needs to sell a product or service.The difference is that the Web is a virtual showroom, where you don't have the advantage of using body language like energetic gestures, smiles and a tone of voice that draws and holds attention.Your visitor has the freedom to click out of your website at any time she chooses.The words you use can persuade her to stay, take a tour, look at the services you provide, see what other clients have to say, buy your product or give you a project.
Don't force the saleThe best salesmen know when to persuade and when to withdraw, to let their customers make up their minds whether to buy or not.Sometimes, your customer may check out your site with interest and yet not make a purchase until he has checked out other sites offering similar products. Don't give up! Once his interest is aroused, he may come back to you a week later and buy a product.This is when your response to email or telephone enquiries (so dependent on words) will determine whether he is encouraged to come back or to give up the idea of buying from you.
Ready to get down to business with words that sell? NEXT WEEK: METATAGS

Tuesday, June 16


· shorter sentences, words and paragraphs
· one idea per paragraph
· concise text - half the word count (or less) than writing for print
· the inverted pyramid style, putting the most important point or the conclusion first.
· simple words
· objective language to build credibility, rather than exaggerated claims or overly promotional words like "great", "tremendous" etc.
· bulleted lists
· highlighted text (bold or color, also hyperlinked text) for scannability
· meaningful headlines and subheads, avoiding cute or clever lines
Write better web content. Understand how people (don't) read on the Web

1. Reading on the web is too much work!Reading from a computer screen tires the eyes. People read 25% more slowly on the web than they read print material.That's why, web content has to be 50% shorter than print.

2. Readers on the Web scan text According to a study by usability expert Jacob Nielson, 79% of readers on the Web tend to scan or skim text rather than read word for word.Highlighted text (bold or color, also hyperlinked text) and bulleted lists aid scannability.

3. Readers on the Web are impatient Readers on the Web are in a hurry to get the information they want, and move on.They don't have the patience for obscure and complex text. They don't enjoy scrolling through masses of text either. Since there are millions of alternative websites in cyberspace, they will quickly move to another site if they don't enjoy the information gathering experience on your site. Attracting attention and retaining reader interest is a challenge, specially as you have just
o 10 seconds to grab attention with your web site content
o 55 seconds to develop an understanding of your company or product
To combat reader fatigue, make it easy for your Web users to get relevant information. Put the most important information at the top. Use clear and concise text.

4. Readers on the Web are skepticalCredibility is a major factor in retaining reader interest on the Web. Use objective language, write meaningful headlines and subheads and avoid marketing jargon or exaggerated claims to build credibility. Cute or clever lines could mean that the reader takes longer to get to the main point. Hyperlinks to the sources of your information or to related information also add to credibility.

5. Readers avoid information overloadIn an average workday, people suffer from information overload . They already have a large number of emails in their inbox to contend with, and several documents to read.They don't want to spend time and effort reading content that they may not find useful.Offer your readers information in bite-size chunks which are easily digestible. Use short sentences, short paragraphs, one idea per paragraph.Use meaningful headlines and sub-headlines which help them nail the information they want, quickly and easily.


Tuesday, June 9

Search Engine Submission, Ranking, Link Popularity and More

Information courtesy of Entheos.com

Web site promotion is the most important step in making your business succeed online. To help you promote and maintain your web site, we hope that you will find these articles, guidelines and tips useful.

Some people mistakenly believe that as soon as a site is on the Internet, the search engines will automatically index their site and people will start visiting their site from Day 1. This is not true. Once your site is live (i.e. uploaded and accessed through the Internet) you need to concentrate on web site promotion. This is the step that will really give you a powerful Net presence. It's easy and it's fun so let's jump right into it.

Let's start with the basics
There are many methods that you can use to promote your web site. But one rule remains the same. Make sure that your web site is 100% ready to be submitted before you begin with promotion. You don't want to give anyone a chance of rejecting your web site and you don't want to disappoint visitors who come to your site.

1. Submitting to Search EnginesThe first and most important method of promotion is submitting your web site to search engines and directories. The webmaster fills out a form that tells the search engine or editor (in case of a directory or site) to visit and index the suggested site.

1. Preparing your web pages - Meta tagsYou must submit your web site only after you have prepared your web pages for the search engines. This means you have to insert appropriate meta tags on all your web pages (keywords, description and title).Preparing your web pages for effective web site promotion leading to high search engine ranking

2. Web site OptimizationFor your site to score high with search engines, you will need to optimize your web site (improve your HTML, load time, browser compatibility and other factors to cater to search engines). Only after optimization should you submit your site.Web Site Optimization - Using Free Web Site Analysis Software to improve your site

3. Finally, it's time to submit! After optimization, it's time to submit your site. We recommend submitting to all the major search engines, since search engines generate approximately 90% of web site traffic. Top search engines have a form for site suggestions. A link to this form can usually be found from the home page; it may say "Add a site" or "Suggest a URL." You can jump to our article which has links to all submission forms and tips on submission, so you don't have to spend hours looking for them.Click here to see a list of major search engines and their submission pages

2. Submitting to DirectoriesOnce you have submitted your web site to all the top search engines, it is time to submit your site to the important directories, like Yahoo, Looksmart, AOL etc. Submitting to Directories is different from submitting to Search Engines as human editors review your site and accept or reject your site according to its quality. Before submitting to Directories, you need to make sure that your site is 100% ready. You also need to carefully follow their guidelines while you submit your site.Click here to read more about submitting your web site to directories.Note: There are a number of free search engine submission tools available but I suggest that the first time you submit your web site, do it manually. And never use these free tools while submitting to Directories. This must be done manually. Don't worry, submitting to search engines is very easy. It's only preparing your web pages with the appropriate meta tags that takes time.

3. Other Internet Marketing TechniquesYou need to know that web site promotion is an ongoing process, as there are thousands of web sites being added every day and the competition is getting tougher by the minute! Most of the sites listed on the search engines are getting lost as there may be 100 -10,000 other web sites in the same field. We all know that most people don't look at more than 2-3 search result pages. The web sites that are not found in these pages are lost in the competition. New promotion techniques are coming out every day to get around this problem. We will discuss these new promotion techniques soon. Some of them are as follows:

1. Link PopularityThis is a very important Internet marketing technique which is rapidly gaining importance. The term "link popularity" refers to the number of sites that are linked to your site. Search engines check your link popularity and based on how popular your site is, give you a higher ranking. Try getting as many quality links as possible to boost your search engine position. Read more about link popularity and ranking high in the search engines.

2. Writing Quality ArticlesGet visitors flocking to your site by writing quality articles. Write articles that are related to the content of your site. Most people come to the Internet for quality information. Articles build your credibility and reputation and your visitors may use your services in the long run. You also get more links to your sites through this method.

3. Publish your own ezine or newsletterEzines (or e-mail newsletters) are the latest buzz for marketing on the Internet. Everyone is talking about how you should publish your own ezine to increase traffic, hits and sales. Popular ezines usually give current information and resources that will keep subscribers informed and updated. Ezines are also a great way to keep in touch with your visitors.

4. More Internet Marketing Tips Coming Soon! We will continue to update this page so don't forget to bookmark it for your future web promotion endeavors.
After trying out various strategies, tips and tricks given in many promotion sites we've come up with a few important tips and advice that have worked well for us. These tips would help you get a better listing, position and ranking in the popular search engines. They are simple to follow and are guaranteed to give you good results. Lets go through them right now!

1. Quality Site with Quality ContentThe first and most important rule is to promote quality sites. Don't waste your time promoting junk sites. It won't pay off in the long run. This is honest talking here. You must be willing to spend time developing a quality website, if you want your promotion efforts to pay off. The first month you won't do too well but as you keep adding new pages, getting new links and updating your site you will see your hits increasing over the months. Your site will get more traffic as time goes by. Also don't underestimate the importance of small websites. Once they come to your website and they like what they see they will usually link to you with a good review. I can't emphasize enough on building a quality website. If you have a good website you will definitely get a lot of traffic over time. Important Tip: While we are on the subject of content here's a very important tip - Try to come out with something original or slightly different from what your competitors are coming out with. Write articles related to your field of experience and focus it on specific topics. For e.g. If we were to write on 'website promotion', we would have thousands of sites competing with us in the search engines. Whereas if we were to write on 'website Promotion Tips and Advice' we would have a better chance of ranking high in the search engines. Now visitors would come to this page and through this page they may go to our website promotion page or services page. The idea is to write something a little different from the norm to draw visitors to your site. There's no use writing a great article on what others have already written about. It will only be lost in the search engines. I'd like to share a personal experience here. When we first launched Entheos I wrote this entire website promotion guide on very generic and common keywords. I made these great pages on search engine submission, meta tags, link popularity etc. - keywords I was sure people would search for. What I didn't realize was that there were thousands of sites offering what I had written about, as a result of which my pages never came up in the first few pages of search engines. Though they were good pages they failed to bring traffic to Entheos. I then changed my strategy and wrote articles on slightly different topics - like Google Tips 'n' Tricks, Altavista Tips and boy did we do well in the search engines. They got the 1st position in the search engines and resulted in an increase of traffic. I wrote these articles because I just learnt of some new tips after a lot of experimentation and research and I was just dying to share them - the rest is history!
2. Meta Tags While preparing your meta tags don't use generic or common keywords, try to use a combination of keywords and see if you can make them different from your competition. This would give you a better chance with the search engines. Try to come out with something different and you'll probably do pretty well. Tip: The golden rule for effective search engine submission is that all your important keywords should appear in your title, description, content and alt tags of your web page. This increases your keyword density and helps in boosting your ranking with the search engines.

3. Concentrate on the Big Search EnginesGoogle is my favorite search engine so I've really been concentrating on our listing, ranking and links here. Its brought us the most amount of traffic (more than 40 times the other search engines - no kidding!). Google brings in a lot of traffic because it takes keywords from the content as well as the meta tags resulting in a good chance of getting ranked high when searching for unique keywords. Also it gives a lot of importance to link popularity so getting many quality sites to link to yours can get rid of a lot of unwanted competition. Focus on the search engines that are sending you the most amount of traffic - understand their strategies, study their sites, visit forums and get as much of information as you can to tackle them. Contrary to popular belief Excite, Lycos, HotBot, Direct Hit don't send much traffic. Google by far is the Best.

4. Get Like-minded Sites to Link to YouThis is the key to high search engine ranking and
placement. Link Popularity means how many sites link to you. The idea behind link popularity is that other sites will link to you only if you are a quality site offering quality resources. Google uses this concept while ranking websites. Get quality sites to link to you and you will get a good ranking in Google. This is also a great way to bring traffic to your site. Usually sites that link to us send us more traffic than the popular search engines.

5. Be Patient - Traffic increases over timeBe patient. Don't expect miracles to happen overnight. Promotion is a continuous process. You need to continue to update your site, add new articles and resubmit to search engines. Over time you will see your site coming up in search engines, getting better placement and sending you more visitors. Check your ranking every month. Be involved in the promotion process. Check your website statistics to see which sites are sending you the most traffic. Work on getting new sites to link to you. Tweak the pages that are not sending you any visitors.

NEXT WEEK: Writing for the Web & Words that sell!

Monday, June 1

Ins and outs of public relations

· Hire www.JayRodChicago.com for all of your public relations needs. (You know I had to plug myself here.)
· OR, if you live in the Chicagoland area, take a continuing education course I’ll be teaching this fall at an area community college. Check back at www.JayRodChicago.com to find out when and where! It’ll be a course on “Writing for Media.” Check the syllabus on the web site.
· Learn about your local media: newspapers, online news services, the AP, TV, radio, bloggers and more. Sending simple press releases (written only the way a 10-year professional at JRC can do : ) will help you immensely.
· Keep TOMA in mind. No, it’s not an ancient secret code, it stands for Top of Mind Awareness. There are some arguments of how to define TOMA, but the confusion came from (in my opinion) advertising people who changed it to “Top of Mind Advertising.” TOMA, the way I understand it, is keeping your name in front of people at least seven times in a given period. If you’re going mild (like on a listerv of friends), seven times a year is sufficient. If you have a BIG sale in a month, seven times in front of customers during that month is a great idea. I think the advertising people changed TOMA to 12-15 times a year, but remember, that was because they had to sell advertising from businesses more than seven times a year!
· Learn about affordable advertising ideas like mobile marketing, facebook and myspace ads, and last minute print ads. Ads on phones are becoming more popular and are the “in” thing.
· Don’t be a pest. Reporters hate that.
· Ever say “no comment” to a reporter seeking comment. There’s always something to say, even if it’s “My attorney is handing the matter now. I hope this issue is addressed quickly.” Then talk to them, not too loosely, off the record. It establishes a relationship and you’ll need them when the news CAN come out, whether good or bad.
· DON’T handle emergency crisis news yourself. Have an employee who got caught doing something illegal? Don’t handle media calls yourself. You can use www.JayRodChicago.com for stuff like that, or your attorney, but DON’T handle it yourself and don’t settle for not commenting. Trust me, it looks horrible.
· CC a reporter’s editor, publisher and a group of people if you have a concern about something they wrote. If you have a problem with them, address it with them first. If it is not resolved, then let them know you will go to a higher authority. Usurping a person with the power of the pen is never recommended.
· Get business cards, brochures, a radio or web commercial (both of the latter provided by www.JayRodChicago.com : ) They need to have your web address, e-mail address, phone number, name and whatever brand you have created for yourself.
· SEO, or search engine optimization, is a MUST. What that does is when a person searches online for “freelance writers in Chicago” on a given search engine, I want them to find www.JayRodChicago.com. So, I get into the construction page of my web site and I change my site title and metatags to reflect keywords that people search for. Do a Wikipedia search for SEO, and it explains SEO pretty well. Do your best not to hire someone to do SEO. What I’m told, it’s a scam to get great money to do a simple task. You can do it yourself.
· Once you’ve set your keywords and your web site is 100 percent complete, go to www.google.com and www.yahoo.com and request that they do a site map on your site. What that does is send a “robot” through your site, pulls keywords and text from your page and files them on their search engines. They will only do this when your site is COMPLETELY ready, so get it ready and request that it be done before you have your HARD LAUNCH. (more about that below)
· Acquire e-mail addresses and use them responsibly (especially if they are your friends’ e-mail addresses). Know the law about sending business e-mails, too. They require you to send an “unsubscribe” message on the bottom of your message. If you don’t, you can be in trouble.
· Learn about www.MailChimp.com. It’s a mass e-mailing site that costs little, but will pay off. You may think: I can send out a few hundred e-mails myself from my OWN e-mail address. Here’s my advice: DON’T! If you send a bunch of e-mails from your site (we’re talking hundreds to your MySpace or facebook friends) your administrator (google, yahoo, msn, whoever) will red flag you as someone who may be sending junk mail out there and automatically throw it in people’s spam box. YOU DON’T WANT THAT! MailChimp will send up to 100 for you for free. You want more? Pay about 3 cents per parcel. Pretty affordable!
· Have a soft and hard launch of your web site. A soft launch allows your friends and family to point out quirks and problems with your site. A hard launch is for the public. Typically, they should be about two or three weeks apart.NEXT WEEK: SEARCH ENGINE SUBMISSION & WEB SITE PROMOTION TIPS!

Monday, May 25

Getting started and re-discovering your current brand

Now is a GREAT time to get into owning and marketing a business – unless, of course, you’re pleased with where you are at and what your company stands for. I wasn’t. (Read “The Story” on www.JayRodChicago.com/the-story)

So, where do you begin? During this recession, anything is possible! Discover what are the things you are good at and what you love doing. There’s a certain fire – a confidence – inside of you that is needed to start up what you’re wanting to do. Whether you’re buying a business from someone, looking to start something up on your own or looking to make a few extra dollars, this is for you. Here are a few basics I came across while exploring the idea of creating www.JayRodChicago.com. All I ask is that you link to my site from your web site (even if it’s facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, a personal blog or web site or your company’s web site. It GREATLY helps my SEO (which is something you’ll learn about later in this lesson.)

· Research your business as if you were creating a business plan for a bank (even if you’re not). Google “sample business plans” and take it from there. You probably don’t have to get as detailed as most do in the financial aspect, unless, of course, you ARE doing it for a bank. Then do it.
· CREATE A WEB SITE. It may seem intimidating and expensive, but it is NOT. I didn’t know jack about designing a web site. I didn’t want a cheap-o looking “BLOG” type. I wanted a reputable web site. After all, I was going after thousands of people to check the site out and see if they found my services of need to them. I found a friend,
www.chrismowder.com, who told me about www.squarespace.com. THE BEST ADVICE HE COULD HAVE GAVE ME. With just a basic knowledge, I was able to create a website on my own and save thousands of dollars! Their support team seems to work 24 hours a day and help me with EVERYTHING!
· Create a brand. You may think: “I’m only working out of my house. Why do I need a brand?” Trust me, you do. Think of some of the brands you know – Pepsi, Microsoft, BP or even the local day care. They all have brands. You think of something, whether you realize it or not, when you see their name, their symbol or hear their name. In this day and age of social networking, think of how many of your friends have “brands.” What do you think of when you see their pictures? Their laugh? Their voice? Sense of humor? Smile? See, we all have a personal brand. Your business needs one. (See my don’ts for what NOT to have in a brand).
· Set up a PayPal account at
www.paypal.com. This is a fast, convenient and easy way to receive payment for your services and or products.
· Go cheap on a web site. Cheap web sites look like what it is… a cheap web site.
· Brand your name. REMEMBER: This is under DON’T, as in DON’T BRAND YOUR NAME. In hindsight, I don’t know if I’d do my name differently. I learned this lesson AFTER I bought the
www.JayRodChicago.com URL. The reason: What if you’ve had enough of the business? Sick and no longer want to work for it? Or my favorite: It’s gotten so big, you want to cash in and get out? Now your name is attached to it! You’ll find throughout my site a couple of references to JRC and that’s why. JRC can stand for Jay Rod Corporation or Jimmy Rollins Caligraphy for all I care once I’m out of it. www.JayRodChicago.com was chosen because of its ring and an easy jingle (to the tune of Sweet Home Chicago… go ahead, sing it. JayRooood-Chicago. I know, I like it too! However, not all of us were blessed with a “jingly name,” so get creative when you create your brand.

· Research chambers, associations and trade shows and spend some time getting out there! You could have the greatest service in the world, but if no one knows about it, you only have the greatest service in the world… that no one knows about. Spend the time to get out there and meet people. Trust me, it’ll pay off.
· Become an expert on what you’re doing. Blog about it. Submit your blogs to those association web sites that I told you to find in the first bullet point. Go on “how-to” web sites (such as
www.ehow.com), make a few bucks and submit a “how-to” about your area of interest. Also, join www.HelpAReporter.com, a.k.a. Help a Reporter (dot) com. This is a universal list of sources and specialists in various fields. It gets your name out there, which is what you want, right?
· Join
www.Jobvana.com, www.LinkedIn.com, www.facebook.com, www.myspace.com and if your skills are mobile and can be done with the use of a computer, join www.elance.com and www.ifreelance.com.

· Sit back and expect people to find you after you’ve spent a bunch of money on advertising or promotions. Remember, you only get out of something what you put into it. In other words, if you put a BUNCH into your business, you’ll get a bunch out of it.