Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Avoid Scam & Junk Sites

Many sites out there promise e-mails worth $50 and upwards. DO NOT join any of these sites as they are designed to take your money without ever giving you a penny in return.
Before you do anything, check out places like PTR Investigator which maintains a list of all these junk sites, and avoid them like the plague!. Use the PTR site to keep updated on potential new junk sites.

Avoid Spyware & Unwanted Software Installations
Some sites can install software silently in the background after you've visited them and you may not realise this until you have rebooted your computer. Avoiding Spyware is never 100% guaranteed, but there are a few things you can do to help yourself prevent this and other malicious software being installed on your machine. Here are some recommended things Windows users should have:

Use Mozilla Firefox instead of Internet Explorer
IInternet Explorer is the biggest browser in the world, but it's also the weakest when it comes to avoiding these attacks, and until IE 7 is released to the general public, steer clear. The ideal is to use a tabbed browser, which will allow you to use several tabs within the same window, making browsing much more organized.
This browser has the capability to stop malicious websites installing software on your machine so is much less prone to getting caught out. It is tabbed and is customizable, so you can make it look more to your taste too.

Microsoft Anti-spyware
This is a tool from Microsoft that offers real-
time protection against websites trying to change things on your machine, as well as catching spyware before it is able to get itself a nest!
Microsoft will throw money at this until it's the biggest around. It's free, and definitely well worth having.

A Good Anti-Virus Software Package

Tips to make money online...

Monday, February 25, 2008

Guiding Principles for Blogging it big and good

Strategy and Vision

Blogs are still just another piece of the corporate communications puzzle (although an increasingly important piece), so spending some quality time thinking about what you want to achieve with your overall communication strategy and how blogging fits into that strategy is a good place for companies to start. You don’t want to use your blog to just pimp your products or talk about press releases. A blog can be used for so much more. Think about the areas where you want to lead the industry and the topics that you want people to think about when they think of your company. Use your blog to become a thought leader in the industry by sharing your expertise on those broad topics that are important and relevant to your company.

Think about who should be blogging on your corporate blog. It is easy to pick your top 5 executives, and give them access to the blog. In some cases, they might be the perfect people, but they aren’t always the best choice when it comes to accomplishing your goals for the blog. Go back to your discussion about your strategy for the blog and the topics that you want people to think about when they think of your company or your products. Who in your company has expertise in those areas? Do you have someone with great ideas? Are there any evangelists or other employees passionate about those topics? If so, recruit those people to contribute to your blogs. Someone passionate and smart, but outside of the senior management ranks probably has more time to spend on the blog and might just come up with some innovative and interesting ideas.

You should also branch out a little into the realm of unofficial / personal blogs. Encourage your employees to have their own blogs where they talk about their areas of expertise.

Having a personal blog has a number of benefits, including giving us an excuse to learn and research new ideas.

Making it Happen

After the initial excitement wears off, it is easy for companies to neglect the corporate blog. We just forget to blog, and before long, no one has posted in a month (or two or three …) In some companies this isn’t a problem. If you already have a bunch of prolific bloggers neglect may not be an issue, but for the rest of you, and you know who you are, it really helps to have someone “in charge” of the blog. This person isn’t responsible for writing all of the content, but they can responsible for herding and nagging in addition to making sure that some specific strategic topics are being addressed on the blog

The Other Details

Blogroll. While the content of the posts is the most important part of the blog, do not neglect the other little details that can make a difference. Make sure your blog contains a blogroll linking to other bloggers you respect; not to have one is really bad form. Link to the people that you read, the other thought leaders in your industry, and other blogs that your employees write in your blogroll. This goes for your personal / unofficial blogs, too. All blogs should have one, and if you don’t want to put it in a sidebar, you can create a separate page devoted to your blogroll.

Sidebars. Spend some quality time thinking about your sidebars. Add items that make it easy for people to find older content on your blog: search, tag cloud, recent posts, popular posts, etc. Don’t forget to include links back to other key parts of your website including information about products, press releases or other news, and events where people can find you. Include some fun stuff in the sidebar, too (Flickr photos, twitter posts, etc.) Don’t let your sidebars get too cluttered, but do make sure that you include helpful, relevant, and interesting content in them.

Analytics. You will want to know how many people read your blog, and exactly what they are most interested in reading. Make sure that you install some kind of analytics package; for example, Google Analytics is free and easy to embed. This will tell you where your visitors came from and which posts they are reading. You can use this information to determine what people are most interested in. Don’t forget to also pay attention to your RSS feeds for those people seeing your content in RSS readers. Do not use your blogging tool’s default RSS feeds as your primary blog feeds. Always run them through a service that provides more information and statistics about who is reading your blog. Feedburner is a great (and free) tool to get more information about the people subscribing to your feeds.

Hopefully, these tips will help a few people make their corporate blogs even better. Keep in mind that you will make mistakes along the way. Learn from them, keep writing, and continue to make incremental improvements.

Corporate blogging is a complex topic, and there will never be one magic formula that applies to all companies.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Web freelance writing opportunities

Before the internet age, freelance writing was an almost unknown profession. Access to information on any subject was limited to books, periodicals and magazines, and communication was often slow and dependent on the pace of snail mails. But with this burgeoning new medium, flying solo as a writer has become an attractive option. As an independent professional, you get to be your own boss and enjoy all the advantages it entails; or, you could even do it part-time.

Here are a few of the opportunities open to you if you are a good wordsmith and can sell your talent to the right markets:

Web Content Writer: This is an entry-level position that can easily be found by trawling the web for freelance job sites, forums and blogs. While it does not pay much initially, it is a great way to create a writer’s portfolio with articles that have been credited to you. You can take it from there to break into higher- paying job markets like magazine features and newspaper columns.

Being a web content writer can get you lucrative ghostwriting opportunities, not to mention positions like those of a telecommuting researcher or a writing assistant for publishing houses. You could end up as a travel, health, fashion, automobile or entertainment writer, to name just a few general categories. Each category has a spectrum of opportunities all its own.

In addition, becoming a web content writer paves inroads into creating and monetizing websites. Many web writers either launch websites and blogs of their own on niche subject areas, or partner with a website owner for this purpose. Done well, this could be a great way of generating revenue.

Blogger and forum poster: This could be an interesting niche, which is not very high-paying but may help build a network of clients, fellow writers and editors. A lot of websites are looking for knowledgeable writers to post regularly on their blogs and forums, because that is a great way of bumping up web traffic and marketing products. Once you have a specialized niche for blogging though, you can write for established and well-paying organizations.

Copywriter: If you have a way with words and feel confident about persuading someone to buy a service or product purely on the basis of your write-ups, then you could create your own well-paid gig as a copywriter. A copywriter creates hard-hitting material which can be used for marketing purposes in the form of online web content, newsletters or press releases.

Resume writer: There is an increasing demand for professional writers who specialize in creating targeted, well-presented resumes. If you feel you have a knack for human resources as well as writing, this could be the calling for you.

Technical writer: If you have an engineering background or are simply fascinated by all kinds of technologies, procedures and products, you could become a technical writer. You could happily spin out tutorials, procedures and product reviews and get paid to do it.

Freelance writing can be more than just a meal ticket. It has the potential of becoming an enjoyable and rewarding profession in its own right. If your day job frustrates you or you simply want some extra income, take the plunge and write your first article or blog post today.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tips for Dealing With Your Editor

Despite the fact that you may spend 4-14 hours per day typing away in isolation, writers don’t live in a vacuum all the time. Once you break into the freelance writing world, one of your main contacts is likely to be editors. These are the people that dole out assignments, accept finished work and likely provide direction. It is in your best interest to proactively manage the writer-editor relationship. Here’s some simple ways to make sure you’re doing your part.

Take Responsibility.
Despite the editor’s role in your writing, the writing is still your job. Turn in the most flawless work you can. Seek answers to your own questions. Find and use the best research and resources available to you. In this way the editor is like your boss: make their job as easy as possible, and they’re likely to return the favor.

Understand Where They’re Coming From.
It is the editor’s job to protect the final product, whether that product be a magazine, a website or a company’s marketing materials. The editor isn’t out to get you- he/she is out to produce the most perfect final product possible. Understanding the editor’s job will go a long way toward making your job more pleasant. Accept their feedback, make the revisions and get on with your life. No one wins a power struggle!

Communicate. . .And Do It Well.
This is probably the number one thing a writer can do toward making an editor-writer relationship work. Understand the editor’s needs, the company’s needs and the product you are providing. Procure all the information you need to do your job well. Ask questions, listen for answers, and take direction well. These are all part and parcel of communicating with your managing editor.

Incorporating these simple strategies into your relationships will help you to work well with your editor, resulting in a positive experience for both of you.

Top 6 Rules for Networking

1. Include Everyone You Know on Your Network

When it comes to networking everyone you know can be a useful contact. While someone may not be directly involved in your field, he or she may know another person who is.

2. Be Willing to Ask for Help

In order to get help you have to ask for it. Don't be shy. If you need advice call someone on your network.

3. Be Willing to Give Help

Your network doesn't exist only for your benefit. You should be willing to offer your help to others as well. So, if someone on your network asks you to speak to his nephew about your job, you must be willing to do it. If you hear news that someone on your network can benefit from take the time to share it.

4. Don't Use Your Network for Only Job Hunting

Many people have the misconception that networking is only for job hunting. They attempt to utilize it only when looking for work. Well, guess what? If you only get in touch with your contacts when you are looking for work, your network may dry up. Not only that — your contacts may come to know you as "that person who's always looking for a job."

5. Keep in Touch With Your Network Contacts

Check in with your contacts every now and then. Find out what they're up to and let them know what is happening with your career. It will be much easier to track someone down after not talking to them for a couple of months than it will be after being out of touch for a year or longer.

6. Thank Your Contacts for Their Help

When one of your contacts gives you advice or provides you with a job lead don't forget to send her a thank you note. You can use email to do this.

Submit flawless, polished documents

You need to submit flawless, polished documents, but the demands on your time are great and lead to typos and regular “oops” moments. The solution? Create a revision system and stick to it. Here’s a sample.

  1. Start Beforehand. The secret to consistently catching your mistakes is to know exactly what those mistakes are. Begin by setting aside a document, Blackberry memo screen or even a simple notebook in which to note recurring mistakes. Doing this gives you a self check list, which we’ll revisit in a moment.
  2. Use Technology. Immediately after you finish a document, run a simple grammar and spell check. I’m not advocating a complete dependence on these methods by any means, but use them to catch the most glaring of mistakes and typos.

Walk Away. Now, I know (trust me, I know) that you might not feel that you can afford the time to walk away.

But it’s necessary. In a pinch, you can start working on your next project, but in reality it is best to clear the air for a bit.

  1. Use Your List. Remember the list you’ve been making for the past couple months [mentioned in point: Start beforehand]? The one we referenced in step #1? Now is the time to get it out and start checking. I’ve even known some writer to format their list with checkboxes, make multiple copies, and keep a cache of them ready to go.
  2. Do a Read Aloud. You’ll want to either read aloud yourself, or use software designed to read your words back to you.
  3. Get a Second Opinion. I like to have an up and coming proofreader on retainer to provide my second set of eyes, but in a pinch, a spouse or cube mate works just as well.
  4. Print It Out. My last step is always a final read over with a hard copy. In fact, I often change rooms in order to complete my last revision. By mixing it up and getting out of your comfort zone, you can jog your brain enough to find that one last elusive little typo.
That’s it. Of course not every system is right for every writer. Find what works for you, and stick to it!

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