Category Archives: Articles

Does Your Business Have a PULSE?

When visitors land on your website or Facebook page, would they get the sense that there is a living, breathing person running things? Is your website bland or lacking in personality? Would your potential customers connect with your blog and social media content?

Breathe LIFE back into your online presence…Perform CPR (Content  Powered Rejuvenation) and bring your social media back from the dead.

Welcoming Websites

Think about your website as your store or home . . .  you want people to feel welcome and spend time there . . .You want them to leave comments, ask questions, go on a bit of a journey, visit other areas of your store.

Take a critical look at your website and the content. IS it relevant? Does it provide solutions and answer questions your potential clients might have? If you don’t ADORE your own site and enjoy scrolling through it and rereading posts . . . then no one else will either!

Sociable Media

Do your posts reflect who you are, what your values are, and what you do? Is the content entertaining? You need to draw people in, attract followers and make people feel welcome and let them know you are there to solve problems for them and share your insights.

HOW do you do this? Yep, it’s a skill, but you can learn! I’m all about teaching and empowering others to do their own social media, but I do manage platforms and ghost write blogs for businesses if time is an issue.

FACT: Over 75% of people on the internet are using social media, and many turn to their favourite platforms to investigate a business. If they check out your website, is it doing a good job representing you and your products and services?

AND most importantly: Does your web presence answer the following questions RIGHT AWAY?

  • Are you OPEN? . . . Surprising how many businesses do NOT post their hours or have recent info to show they are active and still in business.
  • WHERE are you?…Are you brick and mortar, or online only?
  • WHY should I TRUST you? Are you coming off as amateur, or professional. BE the expert.
  • WHO are you? And WHO is talking about you?
  • WHAT services do you offer, and WHICH problems can you solve for me?

If you have any questions, post below or message me on FB.

Interested in a FREE 30 minute consultation? CONTACT ME.

Social Media Simplified

I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I’m sure most of you feel the same. The online world can be intrusive, fear-inducing, anger-fueling, annoying and often tricks us with lies and exaggerations of the truth. But let’s face it, social media is a necessary tool and can be our greatest ally when we need to reach more than one person at a time. And the channels of social media can also funnel informative, inspiring, engaging, entertaining and educating material our way and help us create connections we would never have been able to make in the “real” world.

I do prefer real, human conversations to cold, static texts; and I would rather have a face-to-face meeting than play email tag or struggle through uncomfortable Skype conversations; but in this busy, hyper-connected world, we need to keep up with the times or throw in the towel and live a hermit life in a mountain cave.

It helps me to relate the online social world to the real world so I have a better understanding of what should be shared through each platform. And it helps to envision the people using each platform as a different audience so I can tailor what I have to say. I spend a lot of time helping other business people succeed on social media, and make connections that count – and I have to continually remind myself of “What” goals we need to accomplish, “How” best to accomplish those goals and “Where” the best place to accomplish them is. It helps me to picture each social media site in the following ways:

Your Website is your storefront and you want people to enter, browse, and stay a while. You attract people there by keeping content fresh with updated blogs and relevant articles and by directing people to your website through social media platforms – where your potential clients and collaborators gather. Provide info that people want to know about – helpful tips and secrets, newsletters, and calendars of events through easily navigable pages and posts.

LinkedIn is an extension of your website – your online resume and brag sheet. It is the boardroom, where you gather with your contemporaries and peers to share ideas, problem solve, meet with potential clients and build on your professional development.

LinkedIn is a tool where you can:

  • Seek out people you would like to work for, work with and mentor.
  • Find your future work and team build by joining groups, commenting and sharing with other LinkedIn members.
  • Offer and request recommendations.
  • Endorse peoples’ skills and thank those who do the same for you.

Like a resume, you are continually adding to it as your business and client list grows. There is a steadiness and a consistency to LinkedIn – it’s a “Club” mentality there and if you are in the club you have longevity and staying power.

Use the first person when filling in your profile, and make sure to fill in as many sections as possible – you never know what might “link” you to someone else.

You should share your advice, tips, blog posts and the same from contemporaries you admire and wish to collaborate with through the post feature so that others can share your posts on LinkedIn and other social sites.

Facebook is the water cooler you all gather around on your break to talk about what you did last night, which video you found interesting and the joke you overheard at the grocery store. Your personal Profile is where you can get a bit more personal, but if you have a business Page, you should be careful not to be too political, religious or opinionated—unless you are a politician, religious leader or looked to for your opinion, of course! It’s where you share your snippets of info, advice and words of inspiration in short, clear blurbs so people can get back to work. This is the place where people get to know the “face” of the business. Be true to who you are and what your business stands for. Tell your story in different ways.

The only way your posts have life after 15 minutes is to get people interacting on the posts. Ask for feedback or create posts that people will react to and want to share; and once someone Likes, Shares or Comments, the post is shown on more people’s timelines—and the more people who respond, the more people on their friend list will see it, and the Reach of the post grows exponentially. Careful content creation and regular topics like “Tuesday Tip” or “Throwback Thursday” works because people like to know what to expect of your Page and the quality and quantity of the info. If it changes suddenly or contains content that is overly “Sales-y”, people will UN-Like the page. Create Events and Tabs to link to newsletters, sales and coupons. Make your Facebook page somewhere people would want to spend their valuable time visiting.

Google + is a combo between LinkedIn and Facebook. Not as popular yet in some circles, but businesses are getting the hang of it and Google likes it when you are active there so it is important to have a presence on Google+. Posts should be a combo of Facebook and LinkedIn posts. Your space here is a representation of who you are and what your business is all about. Lots of sharing and “+”-ing or “Hi-fiving” going on here. Like Twitter you can put people into groups and follow them to see their posts in your feed. Great place to find advocates for your business.

Twitter contains your random thoughts, nuggets of wisdom and short info blasts. It’s as if your head were made of glass and the whole world has a front row seat to your shenanigans. It’s what is happening right now and the shelf life is mere minutes as the next thought whisks into view. If you have a lot going on, Twitter is the place for people to keep up with you.

Tweets do not live long as they disappear down the page on everyone’s feed as new tweets populate the space. Twitter is a crowded and noisy market and you have to repeat yourself often and be present to be heard and catch the important Tweets that whizz through the space. You need to shout over the other people BUT your info must be relevant and engaging and not just noise or you will be UNFOLLOWED and silenced. This is a good place to organize the businesses and people you follow into groups so you can target specific messages.

By creating my own imaginary world in the social spectrum I have been able to make some sense of it all and be clearer about the type of content I share on each platform. We all do what works best for us.

Experiment with each platform – you might be surprised. I had one client who was strictly on Facebook, and I kept hinting that Twitter might be better for her type of business, but she was wary of it and stayed away. Then one day she emailed me and told me she had given it a try and LOVED IT! She found it more convenient to tweet out what she was doing in between client sessions and send out relevant info as it popped into her head. Sitting down and writing blog posts and creating Facebook content intimidated and overwhelmed her, but she found Twitter was fun! And if something is FUN, it WORKS! So, my biggest recommendation for social media is HAVE FUN!

What is YOUR favourite social media platform, and WHY?

My TOP 8 Writing Tips for Newbies

Here’s a quick Top 8 list of things to help you write anything!


 

  1. Don’t have any distractions (tv, kids etc). This means turn off your email, close all windows (on your computer, dummy, not the ones in your house, although that might be a good idea too.) Okay, scratch the dummy part. You can close all your windows if you want. It does after all get noisy out there sometimes. Come to think of it, that effin bird out there is making an awful racket. Perhaps I will just close mine…sorry about that, had to go out and ask my neighbour to mow his lawn after I’d finished writing this and we got to talking about bedding plants. Now, back to the list. Hey, what’s that buzzing sound? Oh, it’s my cell phone — I have it on vibrate so as not to get distracted.
  2. It is a good idea to have your phone on vibrate…damn! Who is so insistent that they phone right after not getting answered the first time? Do they think I am a bit slow and it takes me a while to figure out my effin phone is trying to get my attention…oh, fuck it, I better answer, it’s going off again… Well, that was an interesting call about why I need to switch my cell service provider. I told her when they can figure out how to schedule the phone calls so they do not occur when I am writing a blog post or when I am in desperate need for the bathroom, they got me for life! When I was in the afore-mentioned bathroom, I noticed my toenails were getting a little long so I got out the trimmers; and of course, then I noticed my legs hadn’t been shaved in a while. Wish I had more time to…
  3. Schedule a specific time each day to write. Even if it is late at night, or early in the morning before work. I have this friend whose husband used to get up at 6 am to write before work. I wonder how he is doing on his book. You know, I really should check online to see if he is on Amazon yet. I bet his book would be really interesting after all that work he put in…
  4. Do NOT get tempted to look anything up on the internet unless it directly relates to what you are writing about. I just spent over $50 and I do not remember exactly what I bought, but it definitely was not my friend’s husband’s book. He wasn’t on Amazon. I should shoot him an email to tell him I checked…Ah, no! Almost fell for that one! Just keep writing, just keep writing…
  5. KEEP WRITING — It is best to keep a document on your desktop to add any ideas to throughout the day so you can expand upon them during your scheduled writing time. Just highlight or delete as you use the content. Ooh, just remembered I had a list somewhere about staying on topic and pruning your work for efficacy and clarity. Hmm, it’s here somewhere…
  6. Stay organized. Just spent an hour browsing through files and getting lost in the mountain of images, photos and documents that do not seem to follow any sort of chronological order, or aren’t arranged in any conceivably organized way. Now I am very despondent. Perhaps a snack to make me feel better.
  7. Okay, no snacking until you finish. You should set a goal (say 500 words or 30 mins or writing if its a blog, or longer if you are working on a novel), and have a favourite snack or bevvy on hand for when you complete. Oh, just remembered, I ate the last of the Goldfish crackers with my red wine last night (thanks, Mandy, for that suggestion — delicious! Just like I had my own wine and cheese party) Anyway, I’ll just pop out and get some nibbles. You know, for when I finish this.

IMPORTANT STEPS

Consider dance lessons to make your wedding day extra special.

I expected to be the center of attention on our wedding day, and wanted to be able to dance with my new husband and look good doing it. My fiancé did not share this vision and was certainly not comfortable with the idea of dance lessons. This bothered me a little bit at first but I shook it off, knowing that our guests would not expect Fred and Ginger; they just wanted to share our day and as long as we could shuffle back and forth, it would be good enough.

I had taken ballroom lessons with my brother, Joe, when we were kids. He was a year younger and I guess he had always looked up to me. We enjoyed our lessons together and regularly took home gold and silver medals from various competitions. Our mother laboured over our costumes, sewing on sequins until I could barely lift the folds of satin and lace to get the dresses over my head.

Boy, did we look good together though, our arms locked in position, backs arched and heads turned gracefully. I felt like a princess, twirling around the dance floor, the faces of spectators a blur of colour around me. Joe was always happy to let me boss him around; I never truly appreciated his patience.

It was when puberty kicked in and I outgrew my brother in height that our partnership came to an end. We had always been close growing up, but without the dancing, we began to grow apart. We both missed our camaraderie but never found much time for one another during the difficult teen years.

It was when we were in our early twenties that we found our friendship again. Both in need of a roommate, we decided to move in together. As we helped one another load our belongings into the basement suite, we reminisced over pictures dug out of boxes that showed us in our ballroom attire, hands clasping medals, our faces lit with joy. It wasn’t long before we were pushing aside the couch on Saturday afternoons to practice our favourite samba routine.

This was the way that we bonded; the subject we had in common. We could both converse easily about the steps, the pace of the music, and the memories of our competitions.

The brief time as roommates allowed us to know one another again, but this time as adults and friends. Joe was a kind and considerate brother. He cooked soup for me when I was sick and offered to help with various parties that I hosted. We had lots of fun that year. It was a time I remember fondly.

When I met my future husband, I was excited for everyone to get to know him, especially Joe. We fell in love fast and within a month were talking of getting married. I moved out of the basement suite, and Joe took another roommate. I never looked back, caught up in the wedding plans and focusing on bridesmaid dresses and photographers. My life again was caught up in satin and sequins but Joe was not a part of it this time.

And so the big day arrived, and everything seemed perfect—until the dancing began. My husband and I got through the first dance, swaying to the music and smiling at one another as family snapped pictures. I knew my sweetheart couldn’t wait until the song was over and I felt some regret that I had not urged him to try a lesson or two. It may have helped him get through this uncomfortable moment.

It was when we were headed back to our seats that I noticed the video camera focused on us. My smile broke as I realized how awkward we would look on the dance floor. I had not admitted to myself until now how truly important it was for me to have my love of dance be a part of my special day. If I could have rolled back time, I would have explained to my fiancé how I wanted to have one dance in my beautiful dress—one moment to feel like a princess again. He would have understood and we could have taken some lessons. Now it was too late.

A couple of dances later I was over my regret and enjoying watching all my friends and loved ones in each other’s arms. I was standing on the edge of the dance floor, clapping in time to a fast song, when the music suddenly switched to a slow waltz. I was perplexed for a moment until I noticed Joe heading toward me, his hand outstretched and a sly smile on his face. With a flush of feeling, I took his hand as he led me to the center of the floor. Everyone stepped smoothly out of the way as our waltz began. I saw my wonderful husband smile and wink as he watched us skim across the floor in perfect time. My eyes overflowed as my brother, my friend, whispered, “I’m not only losing my sister—I’m losing my best friend.”

I knew then that remembering the steps wasn’t important; it was the people who danced with you through life who should be remembered.

First Impressions: Dining Out

The Cactus Club Café’s warm and cozy entryway included a bank of seating in front of a wall of flickering flames reminiscent of chats with friends around the fire pit.

We were welcomed immediately and seated quickly as we had planned ahead and booked a table. The hostess was relaxed and efficient even though the restaurant was close to capacity. Our table was lit softly and felt intimate, though we were surrounded by groups of happy families and people enjoying their fine dining experience.

The waitress was knowledgeable when asked about the types of alcoholic beverages, and offered suggestions that were helpful in selecting an entrée from the tantalizing menu.

The food—a perfectly rare Angus Beef sirloin with seasonal vegetables, and a platter of butternut squash ravioli with shrimp that melted in the mouth—satisfied completely our desire for a quality meal. We left the restaurant envious of the people waiting for a table, knowing the treat that was in store for them.

The Writing On The Wall

Written in red their protest stands,
For the Gods of the World to see;

Voltairine de Cleyre

I have watched with amusement the signs of battle between city and youth; the stalemate that represents the futility of the fight. I write of the cement barrier on Laburnum, on a turn before it meets with Latimer. For the past year I have watched the changing face of it, imagining the sparring of spray cans and grey paint. One week, it will be emblazoned with graffiti, the next criss-crossed with tracks of freshly rolled-on institutional grey. It must be very frustrating for both parties — seeing their work attacked and inversely erased from sight. I wondered if there would ever be an end to it. Perhaps the city has a surplus of grey paint and they are not all that fussed about the situation. Somebody has a sweet regular gig out of it. You have to really love painting though.

I have recently come across two ideas that may ease this dispute toward some sort of resolution. The St. Albert Gazette printed an inspiring and green solution to this type of problem (article: Backyard vines sprouts city program http://www.stalbertgazette.com/article/20110903/SAG0801/309039972). Citizens planted vines and greenery to beautify a cement sound barrier and reduce traffic noise, but I think this would also work to discourage graffiti from sprouting.

Another idea is inspiring and creative. Graffiti programs in many major cities celebrate artists and diversity by allowing certain walls and buildings to be a palette for communication and sharing. Organized groups plan and paint beautiful murals that represent the culture in the area. I would love to round that corner on Laburnum and see a piece of art painted by the students from the schools in the area. It would put a smile on my face and pride in my heart. Until then, I will just shake my head and watch for the next lashings of paint.

Start Your Day The Protein Way

Studies have shown that protein gives you the best start to the day.
Processed cereals are full of sugar and added vitamins, and let’s face it – they are boring!
Try something different for breakfast once in a while and notice how you feel throughout the day compared to when you ate cereal for your first meal.
Get out of the rut where you have typical ‘breakfast’ items every morning and give your body the best fuel – you will get more done and not be distracted by sugar highs and lows, and not feel hungry mid-morning.
Try some of these morning meal plan ideas:

Monday: Superpower Sandwich – whole wheat english muffin or toast with scrambled egg ( zap in microwave with bacon bits) add slice of cheese, lettuce or spinach leaves and slice of tomato
Tuesday: Smoothie Smash – throw in a blender fruit (berries, peaches, banana, etc), yogurt, milk, flax seed, if you feel daring – add a dash of spinach or khale, maybe some honey to sweeten
Wednesday: TNT BLT’s -(Turkey ‘n’ toast/ bacon lettuce tomato) zap a couple of pieces of turkey bacon in the microwave and place between whole wheat toast, add lettuce and tomato
Thursday: Eggsational Omelette – ham and peppers and cheese – OH, MY!
Friday: Awesome Oatmeal – cook up some rolled oats – add some honey or maple syrup to sweeten and throw on frozen or fresh blueberries, and ground nuts

To plan ahead: try making mini quiches on the weekend and freezing them – they take seconds to warm up in the microwave and instant superpower! Also try eating leftovers from the night before – they would usually be packed with more protein than most other breakfast foods and are easy to zap and eat. Other protein packed breakfast ideas would include toast and nut butter (peanut, hazelnut, almond), yogurts, cheese and deli meats, bagels with cream cheese and salmon, any fish (fresh, smoked or tinned), try make ahead macaroni tuna salad with cheese cubes and sprinkle on some flax seed – just get creative and share ideas for great daystarter meals.

Willie and Kate: Should we celebrate?

The royal couple

As a proud Canadian who was born and raised in jolly old England, I have been asked a few times if I am excited about the upcoming royal nuptials.

I suppose I should feel some residual national pride, but my instincts lean more toward the practical. My day to day life will more than likely be completely unaffected by the events of April 29th, 2011. Had I been invited, I am sure I would be exhibiting an excitement bordering on hysteria.

There have been much more important events in the news that should capture our global imagination and I wonder if we are wrong to focus the world’s attention on a wedding. On the other hand, the world may enjoy a break from hearing of natural disasters, terrorist action, and political debate. We all need to stop and celebrate the joyous events as well as bemoan the calamitous ones. I confess that I have become a news hater lately.  I feel that all that is being reported is the negative in the world.

I may not be excited, exactly, but I am no doubt going to be turning the channel to watch the royals and their pageantry parade through my living room and life. The temptation to be witness to such a positive event may affect me a little more than I am willing to admit. I certainly will not be alone. I will hopefully feel more connected with the world on Friday and it will be a relief to cheer on something instead of reaching for the remote.