Business

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ChicagoWebSupport.com launches with levels of WordPress support and maintenance

WordPress support and maintenance is quite a bit of my ongoing business, whether it’s “de-hacking” a compromised site or simply optimizing and protecting it. To be honest, WordPress maintenance is not the highest priority on some organizations’ long list of to dos, and yet it’s a popular target for hackers. So what’s a website owner to do?

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Lisa GhisolfChicagoWebSupport.com launches with levels of WordPress support and maintenance

Friday picks: Top takeaways from #SXSWV2V

This was a tough post to write. Coming back late last Thursday night from SXSW V2V, the premiere event in Las Vegas from SXSW, I’ve been bubbling over with ideas and motivation. Like the Austin version, there was so much going on, and so much to see and do — and I wanted to see all of it. Unlike Austin, the relatively small size (1500 as opposed to 30,000 registrants!) contributed to a friendly, welcoming vibe. Here, some things that I gleaned from all that time.

1. Be mindful in your social media. I was unhappy with a pricey swag bag from an event, that ended up including very little. The response to my disgruntled tweet? A “sorry” with no response to my follow-up question, and another tweet thanking me for having a great time. Clueless, anyone?

No one is perfect, but treat people with some respect, especially if they’ve invested in you (and ostensibly, your brand). I had previously signed up for this organization’s website, but I’m going to deactivate my profile. There are far more organizations who appreciate the individual.


2. Create more collisions. Downtown Vegas is undergoing an amazing renaissance with quite a bit of thanks going to Zappo’s Tony Hsieh. His idea of “colliding” conversations that enable fruitful ideas and partnerships is amazing, and from meeting a few of the downtown entrepreneurs this past week, I can see the effect it is having on the downtown Vegas economy and its people. It’s positively inspiring, especially to someone who works alone most of the time!

3. Celebrate your achievements. From Tech Cocktail founder Frank Gruber, it’s important to celebrate your achievements, even the smaller ones. It’s easy to get bogged down in the minutia of the everyday grind, but taking time to acknowledge your wins makes it much easier to push forward.

4. Be selfish. As Micah Baldwin of Graphicly said in his talk, “You are not your company. Be selfish.” In short — take care of yourself, because very often, we are our company. And we need to be in good shape to keep it going.

5. Always be learning. In my sessions with my mentees, I was so impressed with the energy and options they saw. It’s a problem so many of us have: We have so much we want to do, but where to focus? My feeling has always been that you do what makes you money and in your spare time (great concept anyway!) work on your passion projects until they can become the focus.

But overall, I was inspired by their eagerness. It reminds me of where I’ve been and where I want to be — and keep striving for.

 

Kudos SXSW V2V! I was honored to be a part in 2013, and can’t wait for next year.

 

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Lisa GhisolfFriday picks: Top takeaways from #SXSWV2V

Friday picks: Copyright and protecting your content in WordPress

Protecting one’s images and text online is an important topic, and one I tackled at my Chicago Creative Expo WordPress talk in March.

Stolen work

What makes this most relevant is the story of Noam Galai (see it on The Stolen Scream), whose image (a screaming self portrait) has been stolen countless times across the globe. He even submitted it to Getty Images, only to be rejected, but a replica was being sold on its site! Frankly, you can’t be too careful.

No system is foolproof, but there are steps you can take to better protect your content.

Copyright and protecting your content

One of my favorites for searching down copies — and a fun one at that — is TinEye. Taking a Google photo of Michael Jackson as an example, I did a search for similar images. The results were thousands of the same photo plus those “most changed.” This isn’t surprising for a celebrity photo, but if you’re concerned your images are being reproduced without your permission, it’s a fast and amazing engine.

Next up is WP-Copyright Protection. For most browsers, it disables text and image copying (i.e., no selecting or right-clicking) and  keeps your site out of an iframe (another way to grab content). Sort of an all-in-one, it’s effective and lightweight. It’s my favorite free plugin to prevent right-click downloads and copying of text.

Copyright Proof says it has “teeth” and only protects your posts with a digitally signed, time-stamped copyright notice (if you don’t claim authorship, it’s not yours!). It also provides licensing and is more of a deterrent, providing a badge for your site. But, it also provides one free image takedown per year service via the DMCA — otherwise it’s a paid service.

Watermark Reloaded is a customizable watermarking plugin that works directly in WordPress—hence no marring of your originals. There are a lot of watermarking plugins out there so it’s more a question of what you find easiest to work with.

Any favorites?

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Lisa GhisolfFriday picks: Copyright and protecting your content in WordPress

Friday picks: Personal assistant apps

I’ve always been a fan of good lists, like Brit + Co. In that spirit I’m introducing a series of Friday blogs on my favorite tools, plugins, apps and tips.

 

I’m fawning over three particular personal assistant apps this week. I had a heck of a time finding a decent task app that could also be a bit CRM and project manager AND look good (and I’ll get to that one next week) but I’ve always been doubtful of the PA apps. How can an app really help me?

As it turns out, it can help quite a bit. My favorites are Osito (no longer available in the US iTunes store) and Donna, and I’m still crossing between them till one gets the better of the other. My third is EasilyDo, which brings in the social component. Osito and Donna are only for  iOS, but I can easily see their use expanding.

I did try Google Now, which was useful, but didn’t fit my exact needs. We all have our own quirks dictating  how useful an app will be, and for me, much of that lies in meetings and traffic.

More than a calendar

Each reminds you of your appointments — but better than a calendar, they assess current traffic and tell you when to leave for your appointment (when that comes up for a conference call it’s just… odd). If you do have a conference call, each asks  if it can dial in for you.

If you have a “usual” home and work address, it alerts you to the best time to leave to beat traffic.

All allow you to email,  call or text colleagues if you’re running late — but only if you put the person’s full name in there. If someone doesn’t show, their contact info (via your phone book) is available for the same treatment. And directions are pulled from Google Maps or Apple maps, depending on which you prefer, directly from the app.

Mostly, I love Donna because it appeals to my designer sensibilities.

Predictive intelligence

Osito’s marketing says it relies on “predictive intelligence” — and though it has all the features above, it excels in travel and weather.

Your air travel info is updated on the fly, pulling data from your email. And weather updates are uncannily precise, telling you to the minute: “It will begin raining in Chicago at 12:55 pm.” Even meteorologists can’t do that.

Osito didn’t overwhelm me on design, but it’s clean and clear.

EasilyDo is more social

EasilyDo is rather cool for connecting to your Facebook or other social network (or just email) and scheduling personal greetings and even gifts from you. They’ll even tell you how much time you saved by going through their app rather than doing it yourself (is it accurate? Hmmm…).

It scans your contacts and prompts you to update or merge them, a nice service I tired of with Plaxo a while ago. Easily Do is very graphic and you feel as if you’re accomplishing something — even if it’s just bday greetings.

 

Some of these features may not seem noteworthy if you aren’t traveling (by any mode), but they’ve saved me from overly-long meetings with alerts, and pulling important data when I failed to do so. For free apps, I’m more than sold.

I’m waiting to see what others like Jini and Sherpa (only on Google Play) will do — but some of those frustrating tasks? Are now a memory, as long as my phone is charged.

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Lisa GhisolfFriday picks: Personal assistant apps

Mentoring at SXSW V2V

 

I guess spending almost 10 years at anything makes one a bit of an expert — if in persistance (…if not entrepreneurship, business, finance, law, networking, marketing…)!

 

And SXSW V2V agrees! I’m incredibly excited to be a mentor at the inaugural fest in Las Vegas, NV, August 11-14, 2013.

 

English: This is a picture of Tony Hsieh, CEO ...

English: This is a picture of Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is SXSW V2V? Like the Austin SXSW, there will be keynotes (I’m excited for Tony Hsieh‘s), plenty of educational marketing, startup and tech sessions, along with a variety of mentors to counsel on your ideas, projects, portfolios, pitches, startups, and aspirations. I haven’t even gotten to the parties yet.

 

Why Vegas? The downtown tech scene is growing by leaps and bounds — think Zappos for just a start — and this post gives some other great reasons this event is just the beginning.

 

What are the sessions about? “The goal here is for a less established professional to have a chance to ask career-related advice from a well established professional.”

 

How do you sign up for a session? “Attendees will be invited to sign up for Mentor sessions before SXSW V2V begins (this interface will go live closer to the actual event).”

 

I can’t wait to see you there — and stay tuned for info on discounted badges.

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Lisa GhisolfMentoring at SXSW V2V

What do clients care about?

The owner of a small printing company had been in business for many years. He recently called me asking for help creating a marketing plan. During the conversation, I asked what prompted his request, and he related that a fairly large prospect had recently visited, but that, try as he might, at the conclusion of the visitor meeting, he knew he had not convinced that prospect to do business with him. The Owner was frustrated and we scheduled a meeting to talk further.

As I approached his storefront, I noticed a large banner declaring, “Ask about our new large format capability!” During our meeting, the owner showed me the beautifully crafted capabilities brochure that he had shown his visitor and wondered what about it was lacking. After all, he had great service, great people, integrity, and even a brand new large format printer capable of printing up to 44” wide and virtually any length!

It’s tempting for business owners who are passionate about what they do to want to tell the world about what they do. But that’s exactly the issue; prospects don’t necessarily care what a supplier does (e.g. prints on a large format printer), nor do they necessarily care about the features of a product (44” x any length). A prospect cares about what’s in it for him. Capabilities and features might be interesting to some, and, in fact, do have a place in a marketing message, but the customer cares most about how he will benefit. I have found that the easiest way to translate capabilities or features into benefits is to ask yourself: “What about this capability is important to my customer or prospect? Or, why would my prospect care about this feature? What does the customer actually receive or experience because of this?”

In the printer’s case, I asked him why a customer would care about new large format printer capability. If he put himself in the customer’s shoes (or asked his clients directly – but more on that in another article) and asked what is the real benefit here, what would be the answer? What is the customer actually buying? Phrased that way, the obvious revealed itself – when they look for large signage or banners, his customers are buying the ability for prospects to see the sign or banner from a great distance! Customers who are interested in B-I-G signage and banners want to make a B-I-G statement to people who would not otherwise be able to see it. They rarely care how it was printed or what the exact dimensions are, but they do want something visible from far away. Once you know the real benefit, you must convey it very clearly and overtly. Interestingly, the printer took this observation to heart, as, the next time I was in the area (across the parking lot), the banner outside his store read, “People buy with their eyes! Increase your traffic with eye-popping banners that can be seen a mile away!”

[This article was written by Sharon Joseph of Spectrum Consulting Services, Inc. Since 1996, Sharon has helped small and medium-sized businesses grow. Identifying your benefits is one important piece of creating a marketing message. If you have comments, questions, or would like to set up a no-obligation meeting to discuss your business or marketing plan, please contact her atsharon@spectrumconsultingservices.com.]

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Lisa GhisolfWhat do clients care about?

Small business advice: Tips to better run your business

January 1, 2005.

What are your business resolutions for 2005? For most people, it’s to grow a business, or maintain current clients, with which, of course, Gizmo can help. Here are seven other thoughts. Feel free to share yours!

Delegate. You’re not a one-woman or one-man show, so consider delegating your responsibilities. You are the expert in your industry, but that doesn’t mean you should continue to focus your efforts on things best left to others—this includes marketing, legal matters, even purchasing office supplies! You may save money and learn something in the long run.

Plan ahead. It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day operations of our businesses, but that doesn’t mean we should stop planning. Take some time on a regular basis—you may find weekly, biweekly or even monthly works for you best—to search out new opportunities, read an industry magazine online, attend a seminar or revise your business plan. It’s always better to plan when business is up, rather than when it’s down.

Volunteer. Share your expertise or product with a needy group; you’ll get a write-off and great exposure, and they’ll get your much-needed work. People always remember where they got a break…

Promote your business often, and consistently. Check out how your logo is represented on your web site, your stationery, your marketing materials: Is it the same throughout? Differing looks confuse viewers [is this you, or your competitor?] and confuse your brand. Update your web site as often as you can, with success stories, expert tips and articles and fresh design elements.

Take time out for yourself, and let your employees do the same. If you or your coworkers are overworked, it’s not a good recipe for furthering your business. Schedule some downtime in every week.

Reevaluate. Take stock of your current marketing and networking efforts, and drop what’s not working for you. What can you do in the new year? Keep reading Gizmo Notes, and give us a call if you need some suggestions.

Visit a new networking group. One of the best networking tips I’ve ever heard [which I can’t place the source of; maybe you can?] advised one to join or visit six different types of networking groups if you really want to be seen: Two for your specific industry or job, two for general networking, and two in industries that have nothing to do with what you or any of your clients/competitors do. You never know where that next great lead or friendship may develop.

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Lisa GhisolfSmall business advice: Tips to better run your business

New Year’s resolutions

This past January, I came up with a list of business resolutions for the year. I’m going to recap them for the coming year—with some of what I’ve learned! Feel free to share your thoughts with our readership!

Delegate. You’re not a one-woman or one-man show, so consider delegating your responsibilities.You are the expert in your industry, but that doesn’t mean you should continue to focus your efforts on things best left to others—this includes marketing, legal matters, even purchasing office supplies! You may save money and learn something in the long run. UPDATE: This still holds true. There are great resources out there to get your business running, and they may save you money in the long run [I’ve had several clients reprint materials with me because I can guarantee quality and their original pieces were done poorly—and expensively!]

Plan ahead. It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day operations of our businesses, but that doesn’t mean we should stop planning. Take some time on a regular basis—you may find weekly, biweekly or even monthly works for you best—to search out new opportunities, read an industry magazine online, attend a seminar or revise your business plan. It’s always better to plan when business is up, rather than when it’s down. UPDATE: I, myself, have fallen into this trap more than once. When you’re too busy it’s easy to forego networking and marketing activities. Now, I always have a stream of marketing materials going out and appointments lined up. I also always ask new clients where they found me and thank my referral sources personally.

Volunteer. Share your expertise or product with a needy group; you’ll get a write-off and great exposure, and they’ll get your much-needed work. People always remember where they got a break…UPDATE: I’ve realigned myself with organizations who follow missions I believe in and that make me feel better about volunteering overall.

Promote your business often, and consistently. Check out how your logo is represented on your web site, your stationery, your marketing materials: Is it the same throughout? Differing looks confuse viewers [is this you, or your competitor?] and confuse your brand. Update your web site as often as you can, with success stories, expert tips and articles and fresh design elements. UPDATE: Soon I’ll launch a new web site with more articles, links to resources and more, since my web site has proven to be a great marketing tool. I’ve also found that my new marketing materials are quite well-received and give me the confidence to come out ahead of other small design firms and one-person shops.

Take time out for yourself, and let your employees do the same. If you or your coworkers are overworked, it’s not a good recipe for furthering your business. Schedule some downtime in every week. UPDATE: I’ll always prescribe to this one! ‘Nuff said!

Reevaluate. Take stock of your current marketing and networking efforts, and drop what’s not working for you. What can you do in the new year? Keep reading Gizmo Notes, and give us a call if you need some suggestions. UPDATE: I have evaluated my advertising avenues and reallocated resources to those that worked best for me. I’ve also dropped associations that were drains on time and money and spend more time getting involved in more supportive, engaging ones.

Visit a new networking group. One of the best networking tips I’ve ever heard [which I can’t place the source of; maybe you can?] advised one to join or visit six different types of networking groups if you really want to be seen: Two for your specific industry or job, two for general networking, and two in industries that have nothing to do with what you or any of your clients/competitors do. You never know where that next great lead or friendship may develop. UPDATE: I’ve benefitted from many different networking groups, creating new business relationships and friendships along the way. 

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Lisa GhisolfNew Year’s resolutions