Can Business Consulting Help You Succeed?

Business consulting is not just for large companies and corporations. Small businesses also have to deal with complex challenges on a regular basis that require professional solutions. Therefore, many small businesses have already learned to understand the great importance of business consulting for the success of their business.

Roughly half of small businesses don’t survive their first five years. Professional business consulting provides the professional tools needed to overcome the kinds of obstacles that cause small businesses to fail. For example, bureaucratic and financial obstacles, credit source issues, vague business plans, ineffective marketing strategies, and inefficient work processes.


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Business consulting process for small businesses

When you pay for business consulting, you’ll get advice specific to your success. No more generic, one-size-fits-all suggestions! But you can count on your consulting to cover four main areas:

Financial consulting

You need to ensure you have enough money to look after your staff and your technology. If you have computer troubles, for example, you’ll need to be able to afford to go to computer repair geeks to get back to maximum efficiency. 

Financial advisement takes a hard look at your business’s strengths and weaknesses to build an effective plan to address areas that include:

  • Expense reduction and prevention
  • Raising credit sources
  • Generating cash flow

Strategic business consulting

This is where the critical elements for success come into play. Specifically, your advisors can identify the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities facing you. From there, you’ll work together to define a detailed business plan. A sound plan will help your business realize its full potential and see long-term financial success. 

Marketing consulting

These days, business success is significantly influenced by advertising and marketing efforts. A good marketing strategy is essential. Unsurprisingly, this is a big area for consultants to focus on. Specifically, they’ll help you come up with a targeted marketing strategy for various forms of media:

  • Press
  • Websites
  • Social media
  • Radio

Organization consulting

Not all small business owners have the managerial experience to deal with the complex challenges their business has to deal with on a day-to-day level. Therefore, it is important to focus on building and developing a management toolbox. Of course, even experienced managers can use additional training. But it’s not about the experience; it’s about the application.

By hiring a consultant, you can develop or improve management skills, streamline your decision-making processes, manage time and people better, and become a pro at coping with stressful situations.


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User Experience: The Upgrade Your Brand Needs for 2021

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The strategies essential to a strong digital marketing strategy also play a key role in another aspect of your digital presence: user experience. User experience, or UX, refers to the quality and perception of a person’s interaction with a digital interface. Websites, blogs, apps, programs — these are all types of digital interfaces. With a tree testing tool, you can check how easily users can find what they’re looking for on your site.

Boosting Engagement with Content Strategy

Above all else, content is king. It’s what keeps your readers returning to your site. Quality content also builds your credibility and your relationship with your audience. The more your readers or viewers enjoy their experience with your content, the more motivated they’ll be to keep interacting.

In addition to making the content enjoyable, the way it is presented (the user experience) can affect how users engage. It’s important to regularly evaluate user engagement to figure out how you can do better. When in doubt, you can use A/B tests to check how different topics, tones, and formats appeal to your audience.

Good User Experience = Good Design for Good Content

Don’t forget the importance of good design! It’s not just about making a good first impression. Clean, attractive visuals are easier to navigate. That makes users more comfortable in their daily interaction with your page or tool. This, of course, contributes to better success

Whether you’re in charge of your own user experience design or you hire help, some areas you’ll need to address include:

  • Visual brand identity
  • Intuitive navigation
  • Content value
  • Interactive functions
  • Web page optimization

If you’re new to UX design, take some time to research best practices before getting into it. Don’t worry if it’s overwhelming; there are plenty of UX experts you can hire to give you a hand.

Good user experience improves lead generation 

In the B2B market (business to business), leads are the potential clients of companies that you have in your database. Usually, they’re the people making the purchasing decisions. It’s not so different from the B2C market (business to consumer).

In B2C marketing, the consumer — members of your audience — is your lead. You build a relationship with your consumers. Instead of being a one-time-buyer, they’re loyal advocates of your brand who make multiple purchases over time.

Generally, you build this relationship with an exchange of information with your audience. A user provides you with their contact information, and you provide them with more personalized messaging and offers. Oftentimes, that exchange occurs via email. When people subscribed to your newsletter are ready to buy, the sales work comes into play.


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What You Should Know Before Becoming an Influencer

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Influencer marketing is everywhere. Since the start of the big social media platforms — YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter — influencer marketing has grown into a highly profitable industry. From the outside, it can be hard to remember that being an influencer is a job. And as the industry has grown, so has the job. 

A lot of brands now use industry experts, bloggers, content creators, and celebrities. They can engage with different audiences to better market their services and products. 

By nature of their role, social media influencers have the power to inspire their audience to use, do, or purchase certain products. Their influence comes from their experience, celebrity status, knowledge, or authority in a certain niche. 

Although it takes a lot of work to become a successful influencer, it’s not an unrealistic goal for all. If you’re considering launching a personal brand to become an influencer, there are some things you need to know before you can hit the ground running. 

It Can Strain Your Emotional Well-Being

Serious social media influence comes with emotional pressure. In addition to the strain of maintaining consistency in content quality and frequency, every publicized aspect of your life faces scrutiny.

The role can be lonely. Often times, self-reliance and a thick skin are the only things that can keep you going. Many influencers have shared how their social media brands have contributed to struggles with depression, anxieties, and other mental health issues.

Work-Life Balance Can Get Tricky

Just like every role in managing branded social media, being an influencer is a full-time job.

As an influencer, your life — and how others perceive it — is your job. That requires an active online life. One of the best things you can do: schedule your content. This helps balance your work time and personal time, rather than feeling like you need to be online at all hours of the day. If keeping on top of engaging with your audience worries you, block out some time just for replying to comments and messages. 

Transparency Is Crucial To Influencer Success

You may have noticed it’s not always easy to pick out genuine influencers. Part of the reason is that some people resort to paying for bots and fake followers to inflate their numbers. Some may even endorse brands, products, or ideas they don’t believe in.

As of right now, there’s no official “rule” against these practices. However, they are considered unethical. As we progress toward holding brands more accountable for their messaging and actions, people who choose to engage in unethical practices may face penalties in the future.

The best practices will always be for you to remain true to yourself and your values. Be transparent. Include labels and disclaimers for any sponsored content (such as the note at the top of this post!), as well as anything that could be considered an advertisement. It’s a good idea to consider having an influencer attorney, so you can ensure things are done correctly. 

While being an influencer looks fun and glamorous, it’s real work. And it can be a very rewarding career. But before you start building your brand, start thinking about it as a business.


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4 Blogging Niches You Can Always Profit From

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Blogging can do a lot for your long term career goals — it can be a way to break into the sector you want to work in, or attract attention and gain a following. Best of all, there’s profit to be made. 

Depending on what you blog about, there are thousands of people looking to sponsor or advertise through your website, and you’ll get a cut of every single cent these companies will make. And not only that, but if you get good enough at what you write about, you’ll be considered a specialist, which can lead to a lot of opportunities, which will be another great boost to your bank balance!  

So, in the interest of taking your blogging dreams to the next level, here is a quick list of blogging niches that’ll always be profitable.

Marketing

Marketing, especially digital marketing, is a hot topic of commodity. Everybody’s online, and they all want to know how to draw more people toward their blog, website, or business. And if you have some experience in this area, you have the chance to name your price for dispensing your wisdom. 

Finance

Finance, as you might guess, has a lot of money in it! People will always want to know more about what they can do with their money, and if you’ve got some advice you think people will want to know about, why not create a finance or investment blog? 

The more financial topics you write about, the wider the corner of the market you’ll be able to corner. So don’t be afraid to delve into serious topics, such as CFD Trading, dealing with taxes, getting a bad credit mortgage, and purchasing bonds, etc. The more you know, the better your chance at making a profit, especially when dealing with corporate competition. 

Travel

Travel is more of a soft topic, but it’s a very interesting one to write about, simply because of all the adventures you’ll get to go on. And for the people that can’t go along with you or the people who are thinking of visiting similar places and want to know what they’re like, you’ll be the font of all knowledge for their wanderlust. So, why not capitalize on this? 

Media

You also have a chance to make a good profit off of the film, TV, and video game industries. These are three of the richest industries in the world right now, all worth billions of dollars, and people want to know more about them. Write reviews on the latest releases, garner a bit of a reputation for your critical, comedic, and totally honest conclusions, and watch how your sponsorship opportunities go up and up! 

Yes, some blogging niches will always be more profitable than others, so why not move into sectors like those mentioned above? 


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I Nearly Lost my Only Complete Manuscript Draft

I made a big technical oops with my manuscript. The kind where I kept kicking myself as I found more and more proof that I apparently didn’t do any common sense things. Which is weird, because I distinctly remember doing All The Right Things. And yet disaster was on the horizon.

As this was a series of technical issues, gifs from The IT Crowd feel especially appropriate.

I needed to open an older draft of Thieves to look for a scene I wanted to rework into the new version. This file was totally fine last week when I had it open to pull a different scene. But not today. No, today it was corrupted. And entirely unopenable.

For the last few years, I’ve been working off MS Word files I keep on a flashdrive. Those of you who already know why that’s a bad idea might be asking why I’d do such a thing. Honestly, it’s just a habit. I’ve been working on Thieves since I was in college. Mostly I worked directly on my laptop, but sometimes I’d put it on a flashdrive to work on in a lab or print a few chapters.

Later on, I’d bring the flashdrive with me to work in case I had any ideas. (I tried just emailing myself my ideas, buuuuuut I have a tendency to ignore emails from myself.) I used to just write them by hand in my notebook, but I didn’t want to use a lot of work time on my writing and I type faster than I write. It was just easier to keep the file on the flashdrive. Even though I know that flashdrives are meant for temporary storage, not long-term.

I was pretty sure I’d saved some backups. After all, the draft I wanted to open was the one I had printed and bound to give to beta readers a few years ago. It was a full, complete draft! Ready for people to read! A pretty important draft that you’d think I’d have saved in lots of different places.

Nope. At least not any place that made sense. Not on my desktop, not in my writing folder, not even on my external hard drive. Could it have been in an email somewhere? Probably. I sent it to a friend to format for the bound printing at the very least. But I haven’t organized that email in eons (ahem, 653 unread emails as of this morning…), and I’m prone to bursts of DELETE ALL THE THINGS YOU DON’T HAVE AN IMMEDIATE NEED OF.

In the end, in a stroke of irony, Facebook saved the day. (Since, you know, I JUST deleted the app from my phone.) I’ve sent a friend several drafts and portions over the years through Messenger.

The only challenge was finding the right draft; there were seven of the old version.

Chances are there is a copy that I uploaded to Google Drive. There was a time when I thought writing it directly in Google Docs was a smarter idea so I could work on different computers. But I had a lot of issues with wifi connections, so an offline approach worked better.

Of course, now that I’m home all the time, there’s really no need for my files to be so portable. And at least now I did do All The Right Things and ensured there are multiple copies in multiple places. But even if all that somehow fails to prevent this from happening again in the future, I did save one of the bound copies for myself.


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PR Nightmare: How To Handle A Bad Response on Social Media

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Businesses are often heralded as masters of social media. Some companies are able to make advertisements feel like valuable content for their customers. As a small company, this can make it seem like social media is quite easy to use. However, it’s not always as easy as it looks.

Mistakes on social media don’t have to be disastrous for your brand. The way you handle the crisis shapes the outcome.

An Honest Mistake

People respond better to an apology than denial. One blunder brands sometimes make: posting content that receives backlash, and then deleting it to pretend like it never happened. Releasing a statement that explains your honest intent is a much better way to handle this. Every mistake is a chance for users to give you feedback about how you can improve for the future. Of course, some people will respond badly to this, but you can limit this by working hard to make sure that your statement sounds sincere. 

Make Positive Change

Racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination run rampant around the web. Some of it is intentional. And some of it is the result of ignorance, learned behaviors, and a lack of personal accountability.

When someone tells you that you’ve acted or spoken offensively, “agree to disagree” and “can’t please everyone” are not productive approaches. You can’t discount what other people think when they see your content just because it’s negative. Rather than pushing back and deflecting the blame elsewhere (“people are overly sensitive these days,” “they’re just a snowflake,” “it was obviously a joke, so there’s no problem”), showing that you’re making positive change is the way to solve an issue like this. But you can’t just play lipservice and be a performative ally. You have to do real work through your posts, business practices, or the events/causes you decide to take part in.

Another positive change you can make is to work with an online reputation management agency to boost and improve your personal and business brand. Mistakes happen and you have to be willing to put in the work to turn your situation around for the better. The experts can help you take control of your online reputation and ensure a successful outcome where people trust you again. It’s all about repairing the damage that has already been done. After that, implementing new strategies will ensure you can strengthen and improve your reputation over time.

Getting Some Social Media or Legal Help

Social media issues can often snowball out of control. Small businesses often struggle to make sure they are taking the right steps. Of course, you don’t have to tackle an issue like this on your own if you look for the right support. Legal firms like Elitelawyermanagement.com have the experts on hand to help with PR nightmares. This sort of service can get expensive with big issues, though this can be worth the money if you’re able to get out of the hole you’ve been caught in.

Getting a bad response to a post doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Some companies are even able to turn this sort of thing to their advantage. In most cases, though, simply being a good business person will be enough to keep you out of trouble.

Amanda’s personal recommendation: pick up a copy of Social Media For Writers. Besides being an invaluable guide for writers and nonwriters alike, the second edition has a section dedicated to crisis management. Another inexpensive learning resource is Likeable Social Media. (These are affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase. While clicking these links won’t cost you any extra money, they will help us keep this site up and running! Please check out our disclosure policy for more details.)


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Why I’m Happy I Deleted the Facebook App

Taking Facebook off your phone almost sounds like a crazy thing to do. Bonus crazy points when you factor in how much of my career depends on being active on social media. But I didn’t get rid of my account. I just deleted the Facebook app. And I’m much happier because of it.

To be fair, I’ve barely used Facebook on my phone in the last few months. I mostly use it on my computer. Normally I delete apps I don’t use much, but Facebook was different. I knew I’d probably need it sometime, probably for work reasons. There was no harm in just letting it sit idle on my phone until I needed to access it.

Except it wasn’t idle. Even though I kept adjusting both phone and in-app settings, it wouldn’t stop sending me notifications. “Someone is going live right now!” “That person you met at a conference 6 years ago and haven’t spoken to since is having a birthday today!” “Friends have responded to events in your area!”

We’ve been in isolation since March. For most of that time, social media has been a constant companion. All these notifications went from annoying to a sudden urge to delete the Facebook app — at least temporarily. But I still didn’t pull the trigger right away.

Letting Go of Feelings of Obligation

Back in September, I had my first inkling of “maybe I don’t need to be on Facebook as much anymore.” My page has never been a huge source of traffic, and it’s always been a chore to deal with. That page is the whole reason part of my brain insists I “need” Facebook. But since it sparks anguish instead of joy and I’m not getting much from it, I started to wonder if I should get rid of it.

Cue a moment when I was listening to Tee Morris’ Twitch stream. I don’t remember when exactly it came up, or if isolation has been harder on me than I realize and I’m now just hallucinating Tee’s voice whenever I think really really hard about social media (At least my brain is nice enough to hallucinate friends?), but I distinctly remember a brief chat about Facebook pages not being as all-important as they once were. At one point, I believe he mentioned not spending as much time on his page as he once did. I remember looking at his page content and thinking, “Huh, now that looks like a much more reasonable example to follow than some other writers I know.”

Real or hallucinated, I felt like I’d been given permission for my Facebook page to suck. And by extension, stop stressing over it if it wasn’t working for me.

I still have my Facebook page, as well as my personal account. But I wasn’t in the habit of using my page from my phone in the first place. So with that imaginary obligation gone, not much kept me from deleting the app.

The Social Dilemma on Netflix

We watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix a couple of weeks ago. The first thing that struck me wasn’t all the specific data Facebook gathers on its users. It was how much of my career in digital marketing relied on using that data.

Figuring out how to get someone’s attention on social media and make them engage. How to get that person to return to a blog over and over. Understanding your target audience demographics to mold your content around their interests. The entirety of search engine optimization practices.

All marketing is based on psychological manipulation to convince people they need to buy a product. But The Social Dilemma pointed out something I hadn’t realized. Our attention is the product. That’s why so many small businesses and entrepreneurs with small budgets are crushed by Facebook’s algorithms for organic and paid reach.

As disturbing as the documentary gets at points, it didn’t scare me into deleting my Facebook app.

It Explained Why the Facebook App Annoyed Me

During one scene of the dramatized narrative that helps illustrate the topics being discussed, we watch an anthropomorphized algorithm come up with “nudges” to get a young man to open his social media apps. These nudges were notifications trying to hook him. One was an alert that a girl he knew (either his ex or just a girl he liked, I don’t remember) was now in a relationship. The algorithm picked this nudge because of how much time he had previously spent visiting her profile and going through her pictures.

I suddenly understood why, even though I turned off notifications, I was getting so many updates about people I hadn’t thought about in years. Because Facebook understood I wasn’t using the app as much as I used to. It was looking at times I’d been more engaged with the app and trying to use similar circumstances to encourage me to engage that much again. You know, like I did when I was a teenager.

Since Deleting the Facebook App…

In the two weeks since I deleted the app, my phone has been blissfully quieter. Not only that, but I’ve been spending less time on my phone. Even if I wasn’t interested in Facebook’s notifications, looking at them usually prompted me to open a different app.

I also set aside an hour to open Facebook on my computer and purge some of the people and pages I follow. It’s embarrassing how many remnants I found of the early days of going around liking all these dumb, very specific pages, like whether or not you eat the end pieces on a loaf of bread. (I do, by the way, if that’s important.)

The fact is there isn’t ever anything happening on Facebook that I need to look at whenever the app tells me to. And as long as I’m staying home at all hours, there’s no reason to have Facebook in my pocket the whole time. I’m hoping in the long-term that this will reduce the negative mental health effects social media causes.


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How to Advertise Your Brand in a World Gone Mad

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Knowing where to position your brand in an environment of changing technological and philosophical trends is a massive challenge. Almost no sector or industry remains untouched by modern controversies, large or small. Who should you side with? Should you pick a side at all? Maybe it’s an easy choice — until you think about your brand. How does choosing a side affect you and your advertising choices when you have a business to run? 

The bad news is it’s tricky business no matter what. Below are methods you can use to advertise your brand in a world gone mad. At the very least, these ideas are good practice for when you’re getting started with marketing yourself as a brand.

Don’t Assume The Public Is With You

If you and your brand can’t take the hit of losing customers because of your views, a neutral position is a relatively safe choice. The exception, of course, being human rights issues. There’s no excuse for being on the wrong side there.

These are divisive political times. Just because the people in your immediate circle of relationships share the same views, the rest of society won’t. 

Create advertising that appeals to your target audience and doesn’t alienate any of them. Most businesses need to sell across the political spectrum. If you (ahem, your business) appear to favor one group over another, you could wind up losing revenue and handing clients over to a competitor with more neutral advertising. 

Get Your Brand Out On The Street

The online marketplace is jam-packed with companies trying to make a name for themselves, even without the COVID-19 crisis. Everyone wants to move their businesses onto the internet because of the uncertainty of in-person interactions. 

The real world, though, is still here. And the companies that figure out how to utilize its resources best will thrive once the lockdowns and shutdowns end. 

Flowcode has some exciting ideas on this subject. It wants to see more QR codes on in-person advertising, providing new digital marketing channels, bypassing other competitive areas, like organic search for website traffic. In theory, it should be cheaper for brands to get traction via this method than through conventional means. 

Funny Advertising Doesn’t Offend

One of the positives of the changes we’re living through: the long-overdue hard look at offensive statements and content we’ve pretended is funny. Unfortunately, a great deal of racism is ingrained in our culture. Sometimes it’s deliberate. Other times, it’s an act of ignorance that spurs a drive to do and be better. When communicating as a business, a higher focus on sensitivity can be the difference between success and failure. 

Ideally, you need to find timeless, politically, and philosophically neutral ways to lighten the mood. It reminds everyone that life isn’t as bad as they think it is. Lidl does an excellent job of this, playing on the fact that Lidl sounds like “little.” Other companies show humor on social media in a way that doesn’t look forced or make too strong a statement about our society’s current state. 


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5 Easy Ideas to Boost Your Mental Wellness

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Improving your mental wellness is a great personal goal. Whether you’re feeling fine or struggling right now, most of us could all do with paying closer attention to our health and wellbeing. What works best for you may take some trial and error; there’s no one-size-fits-all method. To get started on boosting your mental wellness, consider any of these five ideas.

1 . Define Your Stressors

If you’re looking to improve your mental health, it helps to define your stressors. When we understand what stresses us out, it becomes far easier to create workable coping strategies. Whether you’re stressed out by work, relationships, or personal issues, take some time to figure out your biggest triggers. Doing so is the first step toward mental clarity.

2. Journal Your Mental Wellness Journey 

Starting a journal is an amazing way to improve your mental wellness; there are so many wellbeing benefits, including:

  • Express yourself honestly, without judgment (you don’t have to show anyone what you write)
  • A therapeutic way to get difficult feelings off your chest
  • An outlet to express gratitude and write happy memories
  • Brainstorm your goals and work on strategies for progress
  • Organize your thoughts and tasks if you struggle with motivation

The simplest way to start a journal is to purchase a journaling book and check out some journaling techniques online. (I like a plain, cheap composition notebook personally.) If you prefer a digital version with some guidance, try apps like Reflectly or Journey.

3. Add the Right Supplements to Your Diet

When we’re stressed, we need the right wellness healthcare supplements. There are many options to try whether you’re looking to improve your immune system, regulate brain performance, or boost your mood. For a few supplements to de-stress, consider the following options:

  • St John’s Wort: This supplement is made using a yellow-flowered plant of the same name. It is very popular with those who suffer from anxiety or stress. The active ingredient hyperforin works by interacting with our nervous system, producing a calming sensation.
  • Passion Flower: This flowered plant is the perfect supplement for both sleep and stress. You can also buy passionflower in the form of herbal tea.

4. Start a Regular Yoga Routine

To improve your mental health, yoga is the best exercise you can do. As well as the physical benefits, yoga helps you to become calmer, ease symptoms of stress, and practical mindfulness. To start a yoga practice, try using applications like Daily Yoga or Glo. These tools cater to plenty of different levels, so are perfect for both beginners and advanced yogis. Whether you do your practice in the morning to help wake up, in the afternoon when you need a break, or in the evening to help you sleep, consistent yoga practice is good for the mind and body.

5. Make Small Changes for a Mood-Boosting Diet 

The foods we eat have a huge impact on our mental health. When we eat a healthy and nutritious diet, we are far more likely to feel energetic, happy, and sleep well. What’s more, many foods have direct mood-boosting effects. For a few options, start off with these:

  • Fish: To boost your mood, fish is one of the best foods you can eat! Several studies suggest that consuming fish can raise endorphin levels and improve cognitive function.
  • Spinach: Spinach is another super healthy mood-boosting food, full of antioxidants and nutrients. When you eat spinach, you’ll reduce oxidative stress in your body.

Mental Wellness Resources

If you are in need of support, education, and resources, there are a number of emergency mental health hotlines available. Some of these resources are listed below. If you or someone you care about is having thoughts of suicide, call 911 for immediate help.

Please note: The information on this page is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice, or as a substitute for the medical advice of a physician. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your health. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Site.


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Spies in Disguise: A Secretly Delightful Surprise

Featured image “Spies in Disguise,” 20th Century Fox. Source.

When I saw the trailers for Spies in Disguise in 2019, I decided right away that I could wait to see it until it popped up on a streaming service. That was, of course, back in a time where it was safe to go to the movie theater a few times a month. It turns out the trailer I saw the most was the least accurate representation of the story. That trailer sold the story as a straightforward spy romp with the unexpected element of going incognito as a pigeon. Entertaining, action-packed, and possibly boring.

But the more accurate trailer I found promises something better: a hilarious spy-flavored misadventure with an underutilized take on the theme of good vs. evil.

By now, it’s well understood that good villains are characters you can sympathize with. You don’t agree with their actions, but you understand why they felt driven to take them. Assuming their motivations are more complex than “I want money and power,” that is.

But the villain of Spies in Disguise isn’t just understandable. He’s cut from the same cloth as the hero, Lance Sterling (Will Smith). If the story was told from the villain’s viewpoint, we’d root for him as an antihero.

What keeps us from doing that at first blush? Our instinctive assumption that Americans=good guys and anything that sounds east-European=bad guys. That and Walter Beckett (Tom Holland). He’s a young gadget designer with a passion for developing non-lethal technology that borders on ridiculously cute.

Both Lance and the villain live by the same code: “When someone hits you, you hit them back harder.” When the villain mentions the personal harm it caused, setting him on a path of terrorism and revenge, Lance dismisses it. It’s just part of the job; all business, no sympathy.

It’s Walter’s insistence that a better world requires a better response to threats than violence that highlights Lance’s hypocrisy. He could have just as easily been the villain himself.

This is my favorite approach to good vs. bad. So often, we see heroes say and do things we would normally see villains do. But we accept it without question because the lens of storytelling tells us they are the hero. This is just the necessary evil one has to do for the greater good.

For all the family-friendly antics of Spies in Disguise, it has an amazingly mature theme I wish I saw more often. As of this writing, the film is available to watch on HBO Max. But if that’s not the streaming service for you, you can always watch the short animation Pigeon: Impossible, which served as loose inspiration for Spies in Disguise, and is available for free on YouTube.


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Six Ways to Make Your Website Visible Online

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One of the hardest things to do is get a good placement in the search engine results pages. From Google and Bing to Yahoo and more, being prominently visible in search engines is key to getting your business in front of customers and making your brand more credible. 

Online visibility is essential to being a modern business. We’ve put together six tips to get those search engine results pages to sit up and take notice of you!

Get Google Search Console Registered

This is a free service for your website, and all you have to do is submit your sitemap to Google for indexing. The sitemap tells search engines you exist. You can also use Search Console to check who is linking to your website and ensure there are no crawl errors with your site. It can even tell Google there are different versions of your site for other countries. To ensure you are using the right keywords, a technical SEO consultant can fix your site and get you where you should be.

Use Google MyBusiness

You want to appear geographically online — especially when people are searching for your business and location. This verifies to Google that your business is located in a specific area.

Even if you aren’t location-restricted, Google MyBusiness allows you to connect with potential customers directly through the search engine itself. You can also track engagement whenever people click on your profile to call, book an appointment, or take other actions.

Improve Your Upload Speed

As more people use smartphones and laptops to browse online content, being visible also means being accessible. You need to make your site load as fast as it can across all devices. To do this, minimize the number of HTTPS requests on your site and only use images that offer your site value so it doesn’t slow the site during loading. You can also get the right page speed insights to know whether things are too slow!

Be Visible with Targeted Keywords

You need a combination of long-tail and short-tail keywords to ensure your website will rank in search engine results pages. Speak to your SEO expert to know what your keywords would be that are best to use!

Create Backlinks To The Site

It’s not enough to have page titles, meta descriptions, and URLs. You need to add links to give your website some authority and show people you know what you’re talking about. You can do this with outreach services, blog tours, or asking people you know whether you can add their site as a backlink!

Follow Google’s Advice for Being Visible

Google knows what it’s talking about when it comes to being visible. so when it offers free advice — take it! You want to improve your ranking and there are plenty of free tools on Google that will tell you how to do it. 

Your website needs to be seen — use these tips to get you started and then move forward from there.


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How to Keep Readers Engaging with Your Blog

Please note: This is a contributed post. View full disclosure policy.


It’s not enough to post blog articles and expect audience engagement anymore. There may be a flurry of interest in a new post that soon dies off, leaving you with unappreciated content that still has value. To get people engaging with your blog, brand, or website, and to improve the chances of them subscribing to your email newsletter, consider the five ideas below. 

Give readers lots of ways to connect 

Calls to action are very important if you want to run your blog successfully. That means increasing your subscriber list and hopefully improving interactions with your blog or business. This grows the community you started and opens up possibilities for your blog.

Giving readers many ways to subscribe has its pros and cons. Not everyone is on every platform; offering a broad range of options increases your potential reach. But what does everyone need for any kind of social media account? An email address. That’s why building an email list and offering a newsletter is a recommendation you see everywhere.

Provide calls to action with content 

As mentioned, calls to action are very important in improving your blog or business engagement. At some point, while engaging with your content, readers want to know where to go and what to do next — check Palmetto Publishing for independent writers, for example. Think of your blog narrative as a highway with different signposts. Every so often, you want to flash a sign up to let them know where they are and what’s coming next.

Make a good first impression

First impressions are just as important online as they are in real life. Visitors to your website will take a look around. They will look at the tags, the categories, the about page, and they will quickly decide if your content is for them.

Even a subject that’s interesting for a reader might be unsuccessful if you don’t seem organized, personable, or knowledgeable. Make sure you have a nice profile picture and description. Choose your theme to reflect the subject, and organize your pages so they are easy to navigate. 

Foster engaging opportunities 

You won’t increase engagement with your blog, brand, or business through blog posts alone. You improve interaction with your blog by offering incentives (such as content of value they don’t have to pay for) and creating communities. Introduce activities into your blog and create social media communities to interact with your audience. This way, you build value into your blog or business and make it more relevant to search engines. 

Link your posts and provide social proof

An excellent way to keep people on your page and reading your content is to interlink your blog posts. If you write about a subject relevant to a previous post, then link to that post! This adds to the relevance of your content and makes it more likely the reader will sign up.

Another top tip is to add social proof to your blog. What have others said about it? Does it have any star reviews or ratings? Anything that someone has said about your blog that’s positive can count as social proof.


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6 Ways to Take Advantage of Social Media for Business

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Social media is essential for businesses because it can do so much and reach so many. For businesses to drive traffic to their website, improve leads, and invite potential customers to buy a product or service, a social media platform can be a great opportunity to stand out. Here are six ways to take advantage of social media for business.

Find The Right Social Media Channels For You

When it comes to social media channels, there are so many available with more seeming to pop up every day. However, not all channels are best for your business. Some are built around video content while others focus on more long-form, text-based content. It’s worth understanding and comparing the strengths of each platform to pick the right ones. 

The last thing you want is to waste your time on platforms that don’t work for you. To start, explore the social media channels available and pick one or two that would really benefit your business. In general, the more you’re on, the better. That said, it shouldn’t be your goal to be on every platform. If you enjoy producing video content, then Instagram, YouTube, and Twitch should be at the top of your list. Otherwise, Twitter and Facebook might be more useful.

Build Your Social Media Strategy

A good strategy is essential to progress. If you’re unsure where you want your social media channels to go — or your business for that matter — then you’ll struggle to achieve the goals that lead toward success.

Set up your social strategy by determining the type of content you create and your publishing frequency. Pay attention to what your audience wants and experiment with different campaigns to see what works and what doesn’t. A lot comes down to what’s timely and trending; keep an eye out for this when building and revising your strategy.

Start Creating Content 

To get an audience, you have to create content for them. And gaining their loyalty requires consistency in content quality and publishing frequency. Lots of your followers will enjoy interacting with and consuming the media you produce. Some may even look to download your posts and clips to pass along or emulate themselves. Go to this URL to find out how they’d do this!

If doing it all yourself is intimidating, you might consider outsourcing your content creation. Not all business owners have the time to do it regularly. It could be helpful to hire an agency or marketing company. They can take on the responsibility of producing content and promoting pages, links, etc. to further drive traffic.

Make Interactive Opportunities For Your Audience

What social media can provide people is the opportunity to interact with the companies and brands they like. Having a more personable relationship can be more rewarding. It might just be the difference between them buying once from you and making multiple transactions.

When it comes to interactive opportunities, you can create polls and ask questions on your Instagram Stories. Or you can encourage your followers to comment on content to participate in giveaways and various product/service launches.

Ask your audience what they want and start directing even more of the content with their ideas in mind.

Try Out Live-Streaming

Live-streaming on social media is growing in popularity. It’s an opportunity to offer an authentic, unedited live connection. When it comes to live-streaming, look at what different social media platforms offer and which ones have an interested audience. For example, Tiktok has a live feature that could be fantastic for behind the scenes content of product launches or reveals.

Additionally, many podcasters do a live-stream of their show on Twitch. Then they later release the cleaned-up recording alongside their show notes.

Think about how you could make a more involved experience by showing them things they wouldn’t have otherwise seen. As mentioned, having more interactive and personable experiences creates excitement and love for your brand.

Build A Consistent Brand Image

Brand image is one key to being recognized by other potential customers. Branding needs to stay consistent across all the platforms so there’s no confusion when people go between different platforms. Try to find the gaps in your business and don’t be afraid of a refresh or update. Even long-established companies find a stagnant approach to their brand image can get a little stale after a while.

Look at what other companies are doing when it comes to branding. Check out what your competition is up to and how you can learn from them. With your social media channels, you can show off your brand’s fresh coat of paint and renew interest.


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Running A Successful Home Business

More and more people are turning to the prospect of running a business from home. Because of the global pandemic, it is now a more viable and attractive prospect for many people. If you’re thinking of starting your own home business, then you need a plan to make it as successful as possible. These are some of the things you can do to set up your home business for success.


Please note: This is a contributed post. View full disclosure policy.


Start With A Great Idea

To succeed with any business, you need to be led by a great idea first and foremost. As long as you have a great idea you are passionate about, you’ll bring the right kind of positive, goal-getting energy to the table. It has to be something you know in your heart is really important, and which you can focus exclusively on for at least 30 hours a week. If the idea doesn’t absolutely get you moving straight away, you might want to rethink it before you do anything else.

Find Entrepreneurial Inspiration

Early on, it’s a great idea to find an entrepreneurial idol to follow and learn from. There are so many different kinds of entrepreneurs who work from home and run successful businesses, whether it’s someone like Emma Glover or someone you might think of as more of a traditional style guru.

Whoever you take inspiration from, make sure you look at how they approach their business. Look for ways you can apply their strategies to your work. This can be an excellent source of guidance on what to do in your own home business, and it could make a huge difference.

Separate Home & Home Business

Although you work from home, you are still going to have to find a way to separate home from work. There are a lot of ways of doing this, but one of the most important is to simply ensure you have a specific part of the home that you do the work in.

If you don’t have the space for a whole home office, take any space you’re comfortable working in — your kitchen table, the couch, a blanket fort — and create “office hours.” During those hours, that space is only for you and your work.

With these ideas in mind, get to work on your home business and see if you can’t make a success of it.



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8 Reasons You Need Images in Your Blog Posts

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If you have a blog, you should already know that content is king — what you write on your blog can make or break it. However, imagery is a vital component of success. Your readers don’t want to struggle with reading and digesting your content. They want to understand it quickly and easily to decide whether your blog post is of any value to them. Images are a great supporting tool that takes your content from bland to engaging.

According to the Social Media Examiner report, if a relevant image is paired with a piece of information, people retained 65% of the information three days later, compared to only 10% of information retained without an accompanying image. When it comes to images, using them throughout your blog articles can improve their overall look and performance.

So, you now know they need to be there, but what else do you need to know about adding images to your blog?

Put yourself out there

Your readers want to know who you are. A photo of yourself will help readers identify more with you. It also gives you more credibility by showing the real you. Styling blog posts, such as “How to get my look,” will benefit from real photos of the real you, establishing authenticity and honesty

Pictures are prettier than words alone

Quality images — whether they feature you, your dog, your growing list of books to be read, or a scenic country view — are pleasing to look at. The idea is for your readers to have a good time on your site, right? Adding images to your blog posts helps create a “story” with your content. They can also help people retain information, especially if you write about a confusing or complicated topic.

Increase social media engagement

According to the Search Engine Journal, blog posts thatcontain images receive 94% more views, tweets containing images are retweeted 150% more, and Facebook posts with images receive three times more engagement. If you want more people reading and sharing your blog, images are a must. 

Images encourage us to keep reading

When people are faced with large, intimidating chunks of texts and long paragraphs, it can really put them off the article altogether. If they think an article is never going to end and see text going on forever and ever, then they’ll stop reading.

However, a few images here and there break up those long pieces of text to make your content more digestible. Your readers won’t even notice how long a post is because your images keep them visually stimulated and interested.  

Boost SEO with images and alt text

If your blog goals include monetizing your content or growing a bigger following, then SEO is key. If you add your primary keyword(s) to your alt text on your images, you can boost your SEO significantly. Search engines continuously crawl all the text within your blog article — even the alt text. Good SEO strategy includes adding your keywords to every photo.  

Draw your readers in

The first thing people see when they open up a blog post is your featured image. This is the image typically displayed when a blog is shared via social media (unless you overwrite the sharing settings). Because of this, it’s important to choose a featured image that represents the topic of your blog article well. This grabs the attention of the reader before they even read the headline — the more attention-grabbing, the better. 

Add a touch of fun

Using funny images can make your blog more fun or lighthearted. If your post topic is more on the complicated or neutral side, a touch of humor or whimsy can encourage people to read all the way to the end.

If they feel appropriate to your brand and your content, you can go a step further and add GIFs. Sure, the video-like motion adds another element of visual stimulation for your readers. But who doesn’t appreciate a well-placed GIF? As a bonus, your taste in using GIFs creatively is another way to showcase your personality in your content.

Good images clarify complicated content 

If you write about something technical, complicated, or neutral (a more polite way of saying it might be a little dull), words might not be enough. Screenshots are excellent for explaining how to do things and showing examples alongside your explanations. Additionally, infographics, tables, and charts can add color and style to important data and facts.  

For access to an endless selection of amazing images, consider signing up to a stock photo site. Or if you’re looking for something more original, then grab your camera and take a few lessons on how to take some top-quality pictures for your blog.



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