How to Use Your Smartphone to Create Photos for Your Online Business

hunting glyphs-You keep hearing you need to add images to your content. It increases engagement and conversion…It makes your posts more read-able. But who has the time and resources to scour through stock photo websites to find something which doesn’t look, well, so stock photo-y-ish? And besides, they cost money, and often that special photo is super expensive–beyond your budget. And getting out a fancy camera or hiring a professional photographer? Who has the time or money for that? This was my problem too. People complained when I used stock photos. “We want to see you” they’d say. Or a variation “We want to see real photos from your vacation” I have to admit I was hesitant at first. I didn’t want to break down the wall between my personal life and my professional life. But then I found a middle ground. It may not be for everyone, but it has worked well for my businesses and me. I started to use my phone to take photos. I learned that by using something as close as my iPhone I can quickly and easily create images for my businesses. Visual communication isn’t new; we have been doing it since the dawn of time. What’s new-er is the Internet. And it requires different techniques for visual communication than chiseling our message in some rocks. It requires photos, a lot of photos.

Why use photos of your employees, products or services?

One of the best reasons for using photos is that they increase your customer engagement. This is because our brains process visual images faster than words by using different neural pathways. This means that when you include pictures your clients will understand what you are saying faster and be using more of their brain to connect with your content. And it’s not just me saying this. Social media examiner devoted a whole podcast to the issue. Why would you want to use images you create yourself? Using your own images conveys to your client who you and your brand are. You can spot stock images a mile away. Stock photos can’t show people exactly who you are.

How can you create compelling photos without taking too much time?

The simple answer is just start taking photos. Think about your avatar, you ideal client. What would interest them? Make a list of images your ideal client would want to see, or images that will support what you are communicating in your content. When you see something that supports your brand, your content or whatever your ideal client would like to look at– take a photo. In fact take a few, from different angles, so that you’ll have something to work with later. Business Meeting A good example of this is HubSpot. They created a bunch of homemade ‘stock’ photos to help with their marketing. Since HubSpot’s clients are small to mid-sized businesses they simply went around the office and photographed their workers ‘in their natural environment’ – at desks, using computers, working in conference rooms, and using the copier. You get the idea. They photographed their ideal client at work. In less than an hour they created a handy file of ready-to-use photos that they can use for the rest of the year. And the photos are real photos of real employees. This might be a bit awkward if you are still working from the kitchen table. In that case you may want to gather natural images- clouds, grass, ocean views, etc. when you take a walk or on vacation. Look through your vacation photos – do you have any which can be repurposed? Did you see the petroglyphs at the beginning of this article? They were a snap shot I took while talking a walk on vacation.

You can repurpose images into inspirational messages.

You can re-purpose photos into inspirational messages or collages. Your Inspirational Message Here
No body does this better than Melanie Duncan. She often takes photos of her products, her manicured hands and her life on the road to use in her blog or social media campaigns. She then combines them with text to create compelling images. Images that make you say ‘I want to sign up for what you are selling so that I can live your glamorous life’. You couldn’t get that feeling from a stock photo. It’s easy to edit your photos the same way she does– with free on-line photo editing services such as iPiccy or PicMonkey. They have easy to use tools and tutorials to get you started.

There are a few problems with using your phone’s camera.

There are some problems with the camera app and sensor that come with the phone that you should know about. First, the image sensor on your phone is very small: • This means that it takes a small photo; when you enlarge the photo it quickly becomes pixilated and blurry. It’s best to capture what you want in the photo from the beginning instead of cropping it severely afterwards. • The small sensor also makes it difficult to take photos in low light. And forget the flash- it’s even worse. Instead take photos during the day using natural light. Whenever possible have the shadows fall behind your subject, to get the best possible lighting. Often times the app that comes with your phone is inadequate: • The native apps don’t allow you to control light and focus at the same time. These are the two main components of a photograph. (exception to this is the iPhone 6) • Instead use an app such as Camera+ . This app allows you to take photos while controlling the light and focus with a simple touch of your finger. Use it and your pictures will look so much better.

Quickly Edit Your Photos on the Phone

Many Photo apps including as Camera+ allow you to edit your photo quickly. Don’t skip this step, you may be surprised at how much small edits can improve your photos. It should take less than 3 minutes to edit your photos once you learn how to work the app. • Simply open the photo inside the app. • Crop, straighten, and adjust the lighting by taping on the screen. Most apps have presets that allow you to easily see the changes; you can undo them if you are unhappy with the edits. Select the edits that please your eye. There are no hard and fast rules here. • If you want to adjust the mood of the photo, simply try out one of the filters. Once you find the look you are going for save the photo and its ready to be used.

So what are you waiting for?

It’s time to get snapping. You know you need more photos to add to you blog posts, your Facebook posts and your Twitter feed. Now you can quickly and easily get as many photos as you need at no cost! Simply take you photos during your next walk, around the office or other scenes that your customers care about. Don’t’ forget to edit the photos afterwards- so that you have the best possible image. And store in a handy file so that you can access them for your next project. Collecting photos this way helps you accumulate a pile of custom ‘stock’ photos painlessly. Before you know it you will have a folder full of ready-to-use photos– ones that truly express you and your brand. By including custom images in your social media and blog posts you will increase reader engagement. You will set yourself apart from the others. People will engage with the real you.   This guest post was written by Sarah Kohl, founder of Journey Smarts.

Sarah Kohl

Sarah runs the business Journey Smarts, showing people how to travel happier and healthier.  She has a free report: Capturing the Moment With Photos so That Others Can See It The Way You Do, complete with 5 quick and easy tips for improving your travel photos.


Using an Avatar to Build your Tribe Online

avatar_smAn avatar is the single-most important marketing and branding tool that you’re not using.

You may have heard coaches talk about your “target market,” which is another important element in building your tribe online.  But when working to build deep, lasting connections with online customers, an avatar is the more effective tool.

So what is an avatar, anyway?  Simply put, it’s an imaginary person created to represent your ideal customer.

Let’s take a look at my avatar for The Boomer Business Owner.  His name is Bob, he’s 52 years old, he’s married, has a kid and works full time.

Basic demographic information like this will help you begin to target certain customers over others – for example, you may choose to interact on certain social media platforms and not others based on your avatar’s age, marital status, or employment situation.

Basic facts like these will help you find your customers and hang out where they hang out online.

This is the point where most people stop.  They figure “I’m targeting divorced women in their mid-30s” and leave it at that.

This is the exact point, however, when more work needs to be done on your avatar in order to turn casual online acquaintances into paying customers and members of your tribe.

Bob’s not just 52, married, and gainfully employed.  He’s also exhausted from commuting 2 hours to work each day, fed up with his boss, jealous that his wife spends time working from home, and frustrated that everyone else seems to have an online business but him.

In short, Bob has an urgent problem that needs solving.  Bob is in pain, and he’s at the point where he’s ready – even desperate – to pay someone to take that pain away.

When creating your avatar, take a look at what makes them human.  Beyond the basics, ask yourself:

  • What terrifies my avatar?
  • What gets them excited?
  • If they were to die today, what would they regret the most?
  • What fills them with joy?
  • What do they believe is worth fighting for?

Now, all of these questions aren’t merely an exercise is pop psychology.  The answers to these questions hold the key to everything – absolutely everything – that you’re doing to promote your business online.

Pinpointing your avatar’s worst fear will unlock clues as to how you can help them.  For example, Bob is terrified of technology.  The truth is that sometimes he still gets confused using email, so how could he possibly start an online business?

Since I’ve tapped into Bob’s fear, I can now solve his problem every time I write a blog post, craft an email blast, or interview a guest on my podcast.  Each sentence I write and each question I ask my guests is presented in a way Bob will understand, and serves to ease Bob’s technological fears.




Imagine that you’re going to write a book for your target market. As you begin to think of the different needs and wants of your audience, you become so overwhelmed that you almost decide to quit the project altogether. After all, how are you supposed to cater to the needs of hundreds, thousands, even millions of people?

The secret is that you don’t have to please millions of people – you only have to please one. Instead of writing a book (or a blog post, or a tweet) for your entire target market, write a book for your avatar. Make every sentence a private conversation between you and your avatar alone.

When you create a specific avatar, you appeal to people on a human level.  You connect with their fears, their hopes, their innermost passions.  When you speak to the passions of a single avatar, you inevitably appeal to anyone and everyone who shares those same passions and fears.

The broader your target market, the harder you’ll have to work to connect with your tribe on a soul-level.  Use your imagination and create an avatar who desperately needs and wants what you have to offer.

From there, create everything for them – from the pictures you choose for your website to the fonts you use in your emails.  With every decision you make, ask yourself “What would Bob like?”, or “What does Alyson need?”

But won’t this technique limit you to only certain types of customers?

Yes. But only to the types of customers that are ready to get out their credit cards. You can spend a lifetime chasing after people who may or may not resonate with your brand.

Or, you can create an avatar, target a single person, and watch as your tribe magically emerges all around you.


This guest post was written by Charlie Poznek, The Boomer Business Owner.


Creating a Podcast Platform From Scratch on a Shoestring Budget

LograTuDreamAbout 8 years ago I wanted to write a book about the American dreams of Latinos in the US. For some reason or another I never got around to it. But the idea and the passion for someday doing something about this never left me. The good news is that in the next couple of days I am launching the Logra Tu Dream podcast and online platform to help Latinos achieve their American dream. This is my story of how I developed this podcast and platform from scratch being a total newbie to podcasting and online marketing.


The Inspiration

After living for 17 years in the US I have been deeply inspired by the stories, the struggles and triumphs of many Latinos and their children that are pursuing their dreams of a better life for their families in the US. I saw that many times standing in the way of their dreams was a lack of access to inspiration, mentorship, business advice and tools from successful Latino and Latin inspired role models. I have realized that my mission is to do my part in helping other Latinos achieve their dreams of securing a better future for their families and growing their entrepreneurial businesses.

Then I started listening to podcasts in 2012, sometime in 2013 I started listening to John Lee Dumas Entrepreneur on Fire podcast. I was incredibly inspired by John and the stories of his guests- top entrepreneurs that have overcome failures to achieve fantastic success. I couldn’t get enough of the podcasts. At the time I just started Marketealo my consulting company focused on helping companies navigate and win in the Latin influenced market through innovation, brand development and strategic marketing.

The Entrepreneur on Fire podcast became like my daily dose of entrepreneurial inspiration and fuel. Through it I learned about other great podcasts like the Solopreneur Hour by Michael O’Neal, Lewis Howes The School of Greatness, Jaime Tardy’s Eventual Millionaire and Patt Flynn’s Smart Passive income among others. I became a podcast junkie. The more listened the more I wanted to learn about how to become a successful entrepreneur, how to podcast, how to do great online marketing and how to build wealth. It was like getting another mini-MBA but better as podcasting was much more inspiring, engaging, and actionable for today’s world. I also got to know albeit virtually the different podcaster entrepreneurs really well. They were authentic, hard-working, kind and giving people. The world would be a much better place if they ran the business world I thought to myself many times on my commutes, and my runs when I listened to the podcasts.

Slowly but surely my desire to start my own podcast grew, my gut told me that it was something I could do well and after all I had mission just waiting to be fulfilled.


The Idea

After a few months I decided that I would do a podcast and after some soul searching my passion for helping Latinos and Latinas achieve their American dreams resurfaced with a tremendous force. I knew that podcasting was the perfect medium to accomplish the mission. At that point the idea of Logra Tu Dream was born.


Taking Action

Once I had an idea that I was incredibly fired up about I knew that in order to make it happen I had to take massive action. It was time for me to put into practice everything I learned from the podcasts. I also had learned that to be a successful podcasters I could not do it alone. I knew I needed to find a community of podcasters and entrepreneurs that could help me to make my dream a reality. That is when I decided to email John Lee Dumas and applied to The Fire Nation Elite Mastermind group. A fantastic group of highly motivated , talented and passionate entrepreneurs. Many of them have very successful podcasts that you can find on the top slots of New & Noteworthy in iTunes. I got to know many of these entrepreneurs and was inspired by their passion, drive and stories. They pushed me to make my podcast launch a reality and shared advice, encouragement, technical knowledge along the way. Without them I would have been totally lost and would not have known were to start.

But with them on my side I knew I would be able to make it happen, my confidence grew as I went from idea to launch in little more than two months. I still have my other business so could not do this full time so I did this on the side, otherwise I would have launched earlier. I can stress enough how important it is to have a community of support like this one behind you to be able to start any venture. It is not only the technical knowledge and advice that propels you it is knowing that other 99 people have your back believe in your dream, and are showing on a daily basis that it is possible and showing you how it is done. This built tremendous confidence within me without which I would have probably not made it. Let me walk you through how I put all the pieces of the podcast platform puzzle together:


Brand Positioning

My idea was very clear from the start I wanted to help Latinos achieve their dream. My target audience was very clear too it was Latinos and Latinas from college age to mid-career age that had an American dream that they were pursuing or wanted to pursue.

The brand idea and target would be the heart and guiding light for my brand. First I brainstormed for a name that would bring this concept to life in a compelling, relevant way with my target audience . From my extensive work in the Latino market I know my target very well. Not only I am in the target but have worked on many marketing and innovation projects focused on them. I know that Latinos and Latinas are bicultural and live both in the Hispanic and Anglo worlds. Spanglish is a dialect they use and connect with at a deep level as it is their dialect. So I decided to choose a name in Spanglish, I came up with the simplest expression of what I wanted to achieve “Logra Tu Dream” which means achieve your dream in English. I chose it as it is a call to action to Latinas and Latinas to achieve their dream and because the Spanglish would connect very powerfully to. I was deliberate about having the word dream be in English as the dream is an American Dream and the Logra tu (achieve your) in Spanish as this represented our Latino roots and drive.

I rushed to get the urls and the all of a sudden I was on my way to make Logra Tu Dream happen. Then I also filled a trademark on the brand to protect it.


Design (Logo and Website)

Once I had a name that loved I started thinking about the logo and the design. I love my Marketealo logo as it uses like a colorful wave form that represents the passion, diversity, colors and flavors of Latino culture. So I knew I wanted to use it if only I could find a way to fit my brand idea.
That is when I enlisted Angelina Villanueva a brilliant Latina graphic designer. I gave her the challenge of integrating the Marketealo wave with the Logra Tu Dream concept. She came back with a number of options one of which I fell in love with:


Simple, elegant , powerful and on brand. Just what I wanted, a logo that represents the path that Latinos and Latinas take towards pursuing their dream. A path that is full of passion, life, family, diversity and color.



I knew I wanted a very visual website so I asked my mastermind group for recommendations and did my own research to find a word press theme that would be both visually impactful and customizable. Many people recommended the Genesis framework for its great performance and beautiful themes. I went ahead with Studio Press for Word Press, and picked the parallax theme that runs on the Genesis framework because it was very visual and different from others I have seen before.
The hard part was figuring out what plug-ins to use to create the experience you want, so I spend a lot of time asking knowledgeable people in my mastermind and doing my own research. The process was painful as I am not technically inclined person but I did learn the basics of how to set up a decent, attractive and functioning website. Check it out here:


For the website design I wanted to bring the brand idea to life in an impactful and very visual way. I came up with the idea of doing a collage of different Latinos and Latinas at various stages of pursuing their dream using a filter with the colors of the logo. This would represent all of the dreams that the podcast would help to reach. Norman Batts a talented infographic designer I had worked with before developed the collage.


Email List Building

To be able to build a list of your audience which is the life-blood of any endeavor. I went ahead used AWeber for the email opt-in and to automate the process to send out emails to provide content and value to my audience. It is a great solution that gives you all the email marketing capability you need for a very low monthly cost of about $19. For the actual opt-in boxes/forms that I put on the website I used Hybrid Connect which offers great flexibility to build opt-in forms and slide-ins that look great and are easy to install on WordPress. I fumbled a bit at first trying to create and install the forms but once you get the process it is very easy.


Social Media

I decided to focus on one social media platform as I have limited time. So I choose twitter as it has been proven to be the best platform to build a podcast audience. Michael O’Neal from the Solopreneur Hour has used a twitter strategy which I am emulating very successfully to drive traffic to his podcast. It consists of tweeting your current and past episodes throughout the day with hash tags of relevance for your audience and episode theme with a link to the episode on your website.


The Podcast

I decided to do all the components of the podcast production myself to learn the process well and to keep to my shoestring budget but I ended up spending way too much time and encountered significant frustration. If I were to do it again I would sign up to Podcasters Paradise . It is the best resource out to there to learn how to create, grow and monetize your podcast. It is run by John Lee Dumas the authority on podcasting and the host of Entrepreneur on Fire the #1 business podcast in 2013 and in my opinion one of the best podcasts you can find anywhere on any category. John is a down to earth entrepreneur that invests tremendously in the Podcasters Paradise community so you’ll get much more than your money’s worth here.

Guests: I made a list of the Latino/a and non-Latinos I wanted to get on the program that I either I knew of or heard/read about that had great stories and a ton of value to offer my audience.

I got feedback from fellow podcasters on the best way to craft an email to reach out to these guests and have a higher probability of them accepting. I crafted an email with the invite that laid out the mission of the podcast, the interview guide, a google form to capture their bio, skype ID and picture . Then I made it easy for them to book a time on my calendar. For this I used Schedule me Onc e which is a great service in which people can easily pick a time on your calendar out of pre-determined time slots you give them. It costs a few bucks a months but it is worth, also there is a new service called calendly which is free and it is great too so I might be switching soon.

Interviews: I conducted most of the first interviews over skype using the Pandora call recording software which is only like $30, it records automatically and it is very easy to use. For the format of the interview I made it to fit my personality and the purpose of the show. I made it kind of informal but with important questions that would get at how successful Latinos and Latinas achieve their American dreams.

Equipment, Editing and Music: I decided to totally bootstrap my podcast so I just bought a good headset with a decent microphone for around $30 some dollars which is not ideal but will work for the first couple of months and then I’ll switch to a better microphone. For music it was all about the music that would reinforce the brand and the tone of the podcast so it had to be inspiring, uplifting and motivating. I went ahead and found a great piece for $30 at a website that sells royalty free music so you don’t have to worry about any royalty payment or anything. I highly recommend doing this you don’t want to pay royalties or get a cease and desist letter from some record label. For editing I decided to learn how to do it myself to avoid editing costs. I did some YouTube research on how to use Audible the free editing tool and started dabbling with my podcasts editing for hours until I got a hang of how to do a decent editing job. I managed to edit my first four podcasts and developed the intros and outros myself to where I was happy with the outcome. It took a lot of time so here is where you might use some professional editing help to get better results and do it much faster.

Hosting, tagging and posting to iTunes: This was the hardest part as it is a very confusing , frustrating and time consuming process which I’ll spare you. This is why I recommend to just join Podcasters Paradise and save yourself a ton of frustration and lost time.


The Launch

My launch process was by no means ideal as there are more powerful ways to get out with a bigger bang if you invest some money in facebook ads, take more time to build a larger social media following (had 400 twitter followers at launch) and do promotions to start building your email list before launch. Again I was doing it on a shoestring budget and I was challenging myself to succeed this way.

I prepared show notes and loaded them along with my podcast feed to the website (after submitting feed to itunes) and waited for iTunes to give me the green flag. Once I got the green flag I shared my itunes podcast link with my mastermind group , my friends, family, guests on the show and on twitter. I asked my friends, family, my mastermind group and some guests for ratings, reviews and subscriptions if they enjoyed the podcast. These three factors comprise the secret iTunes sauce that can get you on the New & Noteworthy lists for 80 days. So it is very important that you try to get as many as you can and try get the podcasts in front of as many people as possible.

If your podcasts gets sufficient momentum in terms of downloads, ratings and reviews then you’ll make the New & Noteworthy lists and you’ll have a shot at making your podcast a sustainable platform if you consistently over deliver value to your audience.


The Results

I was approved on iTunes on April 22, 2014 and I am ecstatic to report that by almost the end of day on April 24, 2014 my podcast made it close to the top of the New & Noteworthy list in the careers podcasts category:

It is a great start but only a great start I will need to deliver consistent value to my audience and promote the podcast effectively and consistently to build a big enough audience to develop a successful podcast platform.

Was it fun?, you bet it is one of the most exciting, challenging yet rewarding things I have done in my professional life. If you are passionate about building a podcast platform and have the determination, the time and the patience to do it you should go ahead as the rewards and professional satisfaction that you can get if you become a top podcaster are outstanding.

Happy Podcasting !


This guest post was written by Arturo Nava, Founder of the Logra Tu Dream Podcast.

Arturo Nava

Founder of the Logra Tu Dream Podcast.

Twitter: logratudream




The PowToon Punch!


 Why use use an animated video?

It captures immediate attention! A little humor goes a long way! It makes people feel good. Animation gets the happy endorphins going. When you can put someone in a fun, happy mood they are open to your suggestions and more likely to buy from you! You have 7 seconds to capture someone’s attention! Blogs and emails are skimmed over. A visually appealing story will grab your audience and keep them engaged! A quick powerful video will help you stand out in a crowd! You will dazzle and delight your audience all in less than 90 seconds! Video marketing is mandatory to getting your message out in today’s market. A PowToon is an alternative to the typical talking head video. It can be used in your arsenal for your video branding. It used to cost thousands of dollars to produce an animated video, you would need a lot of equipment, producers and a studio. Now you can do it yourself or hire a PowToonist to save you time to do it for you!

Who uses animated storytelling videos?

Entrepreneurs, authors, store owners, non profits, real estate agents, landscapers, lawyers, media and educators! A great way to add video content for the camera shy individual. Don’t feel like getting all dressed up to go in front of a camera? Hire a PowToonist to get your message out there! Everyone can benefit from this powerful fun marketing strategy!

Where can a PowToon be used?

Everywhere! It can be used on all social media, websites and emails.  It supercharges courses and business presentations. In the classrooms!

What can these awesome video messages be used for?

A great way to keep reminding people of your brand and mission. Ramp up your credibility! Break through the noise and the clutter! They can be used in a Twitter Tweet! (The first one I sent got top tweet with a real estate#) Start the buzz before you launch your new book, website, product or business. An engaging way to use as an amazing tutorial. Send out a call to action, promote your webinar, use as an optin or add to your Squeeze page.Trying to get someones attention with a boring email? Send a PowToon and get a response! Storytelling is a great way to get your message out. Spice up your boring blog. It will boost your SEO, give you a higher conversion rate. When you have a video you are more likely to show up in the first few pages of a Google search!

This guest post was written by Maureen Murphy, founder of


*Special Offer*  Contact Maureen for a free professional consultation for your captivating, customized Animated Videos!


Maureen Murphy

Maureen recently started producing PowToons for herself and her clients with her PowToon agency. It is a powerful way to get your story out and watch your business EXPLODE!  


LinkedIn: Maureenmurphy


How to Manage Your Virtual Staff The Proven Way


Managing Your Virtual Staff

When you begin in the online business world, you do it all yourself.
Then you hire some help with the notion that you possibly might not have enough work for them to do. Then business snowballs and suddenly you have a general VA, writers, web designers, accounts and tax, SEO teams, eBooks, affiliate programs… It can all become a big mess very quickly if you are not on top of it all! The key element is to have a system in place. This is your virtual machine and you can only achieve true virtual freedom if your machine ticks over just fine. Most of the work can be handed over to your general VA, but you still have to be involved. It is your money after all.


How to Manage Various Types of Virtual Assistants

When you have made the decision to hire multiple virtual assistants, they will most likely have a specific set of tasks related to their roles. These roles and tasks may overlap or be entirely independent of one another. The important thing is to delegate their tasks according to their strengths. Having multiple virtual assistants can make your business run very efficiently, provided your time is not spent micro managing your virtual staff. It is advisable that the most qualified, experienced or longest member of virtual staff assumes the role of manager or supervisor. Rather than spending your personal time delegating tasks, assign this task to one VA. This VA will delegate assignments and ensure that each person is performing to high standards and meeting deadlines.

Utilize project management software (such as Google Calendar, Snag It or Dropbox) to eliminate confusions and miscommunications: the information will always be available online.  Project management is necessary, but can be complicated by an army of staff. It doesn’t matter how big or small your projects are, handling every aspect of it can be tricky and time consuming. When you have multiple people working with you to complete your projects, it can be challenging making sure everyone knows what to do and how to do it along with reaching deadlines, which is why this role should be assumed by a VA.


Provide Work in Increments

Many business owners make the common mistake of micro-managing staff. This can be detrimental to the business as your focus is distracted by the small details your staff should be taking care of. Provided the overall assignment is completed to a high standard and on time, your virtual staff should not consult you regarding every detail of the project. Schedule a meeting with your head VA ahead of any important project where any issues can be straightened out in advance. Encourage them to ask questions ahead of time so they have an understanding of what is expected.  For ongoing assignments, promote the idea of saving any non-emergency or non-priority issues until your next scheduled teleconference or Skype call. With practice, this process will become more and more effectual.


Utilize Efficient Communication

Thanks to the various modes of communication now, we can stay in contact with people very easily. In addition to e-mail and Skype, we have texting and instant messenger as efficient and fast facets of corresponding. This is a great way for virtual assistants to ask a quick question or bounce an idea off of you. This also helps maintain a working relationship and keeps you accessible. Although this constant stream of communication is great, it can also have adverse effects as you find yourself being constantly bombarded with questions. Limit checking e-mails to twice per day, or have a certain period during the day when you will be available to answer any questions which are not urgent. Obviously, if there is a pressing problem, this should be resolved as quickly as possible. Otherwise, a short team meeting once a day should suffice for any queries and updates on the progression of assignments.


What is “Cloud” Technology?

Gone are the days where there were hard copy files of projects. We now have “clouds” thanks to information technology geniuses where we can retrieve a file from a virtual file cabinet for easy access. This allows file sharing easy and creates efficiency among virtual assistants and employees. Each employee should have a unique login and password for security purposes. Utilize the latest technology and embrace it as an essential tool for your business.

Treat your VA like an in-person employee by providing them with a detailed job description.  There are ways to set guidelines while at the same time allowing your virtual assistant the liberty to work in their own way. Ensure that VA’s understand the importance of meeting deadlines, and outline repercussions for repeated poor performance.

If you recognize consistent poor performance or mistakes being made repeatedly explain that this behavior is unacceptable and outline the repercussions for recurring failure to perform. It is also very important to praise your VA for outstanding performance, particularly if they are meeting targets. Employees who feel they are not rewarded for their efforts may become disillusioned with their position, and their performance will suffer as a result.


Final Thoughts

When you first hire a VA, it may be beneficial to do random spot checks on their work, and check over their progress on a daily basis. If they are aware of your expectations of them, they should meet them during the initial period of employment. Once you get the ball rolling and begin to hire more additions to your team, make sure you are training your general VA along the way. This will mean you can pass over your tasks and achieve virtual freedom with you team. As  your business develops, so will the numbers required to manage and run it. Have systems and processes in place to ensure that from hiring through to completion of a project, your staff know what is expected of them and how they will be rewarded. Things can be a little hectic when you manage a big team but the job title of every true entrepreneur is really just ‘project manager’!


This guest post was written by Chris Ducker, founder and CEO of Virtual Staff Finder and Location63.

Chris Ducker

Chris Ducker is a successful entrepreneur, blogger, and podcaster known for his thought leadership about building businesses and lifestyles that thrive with virtual teams. His highly-anticipated book—Virtual Freedom: How to Work with Virtual Staff to Buy More Time, Become More Productive, and Build Your Dream Business—is available now from all major book sellers. Learn more at



Coming soon to the Internet Business Handbook is a book review on Chris’s book.


3 Hidden Truths – Starting Your Online Business


Have you been thinking about starting your own online business?  Once the very thought of it comes along, it seems like a new friend suddenly popped into your life as it takes on a form of its own.  Every day, you’re thinking about it here and there.  It’s very exciting!

new biz idea map


Starting an online business has so many wonderful benefits; I highly recommend it to anyone thinking about it.  Today more than ever, there are so many incredibly free valuable resources to learn about getting it started.  You can listen to podcasts on iTunes in the Business category, watch and learn about it on YouTube, read a near endless supply of books on the topic, ask others, and of course “Google it”.

Great news for all future online business owners, there’s more free information available than anyone could possibly consume to learn how to start their own business and launching it on the web!

Are you ready to start you own side business soon?!

I listened to countless hours of podcasts, read books, watched many on YouTube share their excitement and know how, and of course I “Googled it” like crazy to learn about this and that to get started.  There are powerful themes from all this outstanding and valuable information including specific steps to take and tips galore.  Again, I highly recommend consuming it.

Yet, there are a few hidden truths that were merely whispered once within the sea of information to start your own business.  Even magnifyingglassafter swimming in the vast sea for over year, well I was caught off guard by these because frankly they really weren’t either mentioned or highlighted.  I’m still all for anyone jumping into the friendly waters, however carry these 3 hidden truths with you going in as if it’s your life preserver; at least until you learn how to swim in these new deep blue waters.


Hidden Truth #1: It’s a Lifestyle Change

It’s going to take time, plenty of your time to get this started.  Though you can literally start your business within a week, the reality is it takes months for it to really take hold.  That includes many hours of your time every week.  At least 20, though it could be 30 or more during the initial 4-8 weeks.  Then it will require a steady minimum 20 hours, though again be prepared to spend more.

clockUnless you had an extra 20-30+ hours per week completely free, you will need to make an adjustment in your lifestyle in order to accommodate the time necessary to get your online business up and heading in the right direction.  Think about what you will swap out of your life to make room for your new, exciting venture.

What’s going to take so much time?

Well for starters you will be fine tuning what the purpose of your business is, defining the exact type of people you will be serving, the domain name & name of your business, colors, mission statement, logo, tag line, and product(s) and/or service(s) for starters.

Then there is your platform, in other words your home base which is your own website.  Though you can literally get yours up in less than 15 minutes, that’s merely the first baby step.  You will be spending hours, days, and potentially days getting it shaped up by yourself.

There is the marketing side too.  You’ll need to have a free opt-in in order to attract your audience to be incented to sign up to receive it by providing their email?  Naturally you will create your opt-in.  When it comes to social media, it’s not nearly enough just to be “out there”.  You need to be interacting, engaging in social media.

These are just for starters and take time, lots of it including time spent learning about them as you go.  For there is only so much you can remember during your initial investigation while surfing the web, tuning into podcasts, reading books, and YouTube views.

Be prepared to commit the time necessary to get it up and running with these initial areas and put in the hard work to make it happen.  It’s well worth it!


Hidden Truth #2: Embrace Technology

The good news is you do not ever need to write a line of code to get your online business started and thriving.  However, at a minimum you will need to get comfy with technology and proficient with products such as WordPress for your website and blog.

You need to roll up your shirt-sleeves or be prepared to “lose your shirt” financially paying others to take care of that end.

If you are one of those people that claim you are “not technical” nor want to be, then you’ll be fine as long as you have about $5-$10K for starters.  Though if you are fine welcoming learning the basics of building your website, then it will practically only cost you pocket change to get started.

The old saying “Time is Money” rings true for an online business.

browserSince getting your website up and running in good shape does not require any programming, you can definitely do it.  The learning curve to do so depends upon your technical aptitude.  Today, it’s easier than ever to get your website up and looking sharp using the 100’s of free or premium themes available, let alone sites like Square Space and Shopify that offer you the ability to simply do some configurations.  However even with any of these, it will still take embracing technology.  As simple as they make it today, they all still have their own learning curves to get things set up.  Having your own website isn’t as simple as “set it and forget it” by any stretch of the imagination.

Best to simply let go of any anxiety and resistance to not being a “technical person” and instead embrace this new, amazing world that offers so much that can ultimately lead you to being a proud business owner.  This is a key to your initial success, because it typically takes months before you will receive substantial income from your new journey.  Even if you do have the extra money to pay others, it can become disheartening spending a chunk up front for months without much or any income to become profitable, let alone just to offset the expenditures paying others to deal with the technology.


Hidden Truth #3: Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees

When it comes to an online business, at first money doesn’t grow on trees.  Rather money grows slow and steady like a tree.

Though there are plenty of successful, viable online businesses, they typically take time to generate serious income.  What’s my definition of serious income?  It’s income worthy of paying your rent or mortgage at the least, at best it’s affording you a better lifestyle beyond that.

moneyTake the minimum viable approach to creating your business.  This is not ground-breaking news, though a hefty reminder because it’s easy to quickly spend a lot of money, creating for your business, before you have a customer.  Best to first ask around, others that would be ideal candidates for your new products or services, to see if they would buy them before you build them.  Heck, if they offer to give money upfront in order to secure a better price or first delivery, then better yet.  It’s surely not wise to invest money to build a big inventory of products that you have never sold before.

Income typically takes time for online businesses when first starting.  Sure, there are exceptions to this rule.  They are few and far between.

Once you have the idea for your new business, think about how you will monetize it and make a plan for how it will be marketed and sold.  It’s not a real business until someone is paying you.

Sure, you can sell a $1.99 eBook within the first day of launching your business.  However plan to have a viable business generating income worthy of your lifestyle, anything else is just a pocket change business.  Building a viable business to generate this level of income will take months, at least 6 though likely closer to 12.

Note – While on the topic of financials, if you are going to partner with someone, even your best friend create a legal agreement.  This way neither of you will be burned should one or both of you decide to go in different directions down the road.  No sense in starting a business only to wind up losing all kinds of money because you partnered and there was no clear understanding of who is entitled in this regard.


Summary: Timing is Everything

Did you sense a theme in starting your online business?  It’s timely.  However in time all your persistence, patience, and hard work will payoff handsomely.

My experience is that many Internet marketers are providing huge free value as well as having tremendous paid programs or products you can benefit from while starting your online business.  However they don’t mention or at least emphasize the timing factor much or in some cases not at all.  Though their programs and products are usually very helpful and valuable, when jumping at these shiny objects too soon and too often, they will be collecting virtual dust; in some cases never to be used.


Proceed ahead in starting your online business when you’re ready to make the commitment in time as it folds in as a new area into your lifestyle.  Don’t be afraid of technology, most of it is user friendly.  Like learning and using most technology, exercise persistence, patience, and hard work and it will become your new best friend as it saves you more time and money in the long run.  As you work towards monetizing your business, the fruits of your labor will come through in time and grow.

Now that you grabbed this life preserver, you’re ready to dive in headfirst and enjoy a smooth and sometimes bumpy ride that will eventually provide new views and experiences that will greatly enhance your life.  Now that you know the waters ahead, you are prepared for a successful journey.  If you’re like me in the beginning, you may have lots of questions.  Please do post them here, I will be delighted to answer them for you so your ship can set sail!


This guest post was written by Dean Patino, Founder of  Top 5 Percent Income.

Top 5 Percent Income help “people raise their income level substantially by sharing the proven, honest methods Top 5 Percent Income professionals use to achieve it.”  They do this by providing a short video tip of the day, a weekly podcast and an informative blog.


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Genesis by StudioPress



Genesis, is a two part theme.  It consists of the main “parent theme” underneath with the “child theme” on top. The “parent theme” provides the main functionality of the site, while the “child” theme allows design customization without touching (and potentially messing up) the framework underneath.  

Genesis is my theme of choice and used by over 101 000 people and there are good reasons for this.  I worked this out the hard way, initially using an alternative premium theme by a different company and it was only after changing to Genesis that I learned just how easy WordPress can be.

Genesis is very easy to use, it looks great and they have lots of child themes. All the child themes can be customized it make your website truly  fit your brand, with no coding knowledge needed.

So there are five main reasons why I love the Genesis Framework by StudioPress, and it would be a great choice for you too:

  1. Search Engine Optimization.  The SEO of WordPress is great; but the SEO of WordPress with a Genesis theme is even better.
  2. Mobile responsive.  These days, with a significant number of people accessing the web on smartphones and tablets, a responsive website is imperative.  There are a large number of highly responsive child themes.
  3. Highly customizable.  Genesis makes it easy to customize your site, exactly as you want it.
  4. Fast.  Genesis has very clean, lightweight code, creating very fast loading times.  Loading time has been shown to be significant to whether people stay on a site.
  5. Support.  Genesis has great support.  So, when you buy Genesis not only are you given access to a beginners guide, tutorials and a community forum but access to a responsive support team too.

There are other reasons why Genesis is a great framework, such as the great security features.


Child Themes

When you buy a theme for the first time, you buy the Genesis Framework and a child theme.  Later, if you choose to buy a different child theme, perhaps for a different website, you only need to buy the child theme, you do not need to buy the Genesis Theme Framework again.  This makes it much more affordable with many child themes only about $20.

There are a large array of child themes, so how do you choose the one that’s best for you.  Here are a few ideas to help:

  • Choose one that is highly responsive.
  • Choose one that is designed for the type of website you are building.
  • Choose one that looks most similar to what you want your website to be.
  • Look at the demos of any theme you are interested in on the StudioPress site

If you are still confused, why not try the StudioPress theme chooser?


A great deal

As a valued reader of my site: If you choose to buy the Genesis framework using my affiliate link below, then as a thank you I will give you access to some great WordPress training videos to help you on your journey.

Here is how to take advantage of the deal:

1. Buy the Genesis Framework.

Genesis Theme Framework for WordPress

2. Forward the “Welcome to StudioPress!” confirmation email to

3.  Enjoy Genesis and your bonus tutorials.





The first website I wrote was written in HotDog using HTML code.  What that means in everyday language is – it was written a long time ago and my knowledge and skills were very out of date.  So when I started an online business, I had the choice of learning a lot of programming or finding an alternative.  As I was still working two jobs and had a busy family life I decided on the second.  I had heard of WordPress, but didn’t think I had the time to learn it, so I used SiteBuilder.  What a mistake!  It was very limited in what I wanted to do, in was non-responsive (not mobile friendly)  but the main reason that I decided I needed to change was that the SEO was terrible. vs

WordPress is a publishing platform, used by millions of websites,  that makes it easy for anyone to publish online. It comes in two flavors: the fully hosted, and the self-hosted version available at There are many reasons why, I believe that as an online business you should look at self hosting your own WordPress site and not use  By hosting your own WordPress:

  • You have complete control of your site.
  • No limitation on themes.
  • There are no limitations on including ads or affiliate inks (ads and affiliate links are not allowed on
  • There are hundreds of plug-ins and widgets that you can download to extend the functionality of your site, including commerce related plug-ins such as shopping carts.
  • You are free to upload any files that you require (on you have no ftp access).

So while can be a good choice for the non-business blogger, for a business is much more suitable.  As this is a site for online businesses; this article will look at only.

There are several Content Management Platforms out there- So why WordPress?

Over 60 million people use WordPress for the websites.  What makes WordPress such a good choice? The best thing about WordPress to me is that, without any customization it has excellent SEO which can be further improved with plug-ins. Secondly, WordPress is highly customizable so that you can design your website just the way you want to, with the functionality you require.  There are literally hundreds of WordPress plugins available that extend its functionality and thousands of themes, many free, which change the look and feel of the site. WordPress is very simple to install.  Most web hosts have a one-click installer and some now have specific WordPress packages where WordPress comes pre-installed.   WordPress is very quick to get up and running.  This site was set up in only a couple of hours – and I had never developed a site in WordPress before.

The Dashboard

The Dashboard is the first screen that you can see when you log into your site.

You can always return to your dashboard by clicking “dashboard” on the top of the main navigation menu on the left.  The dashboard gives you an overview of your site and allows you quick and easy access to your sites contents.  The dashboard is highly customizable. The dashboard screen presents information in blocks called modules.  When first set up, the main dashboard screen contains five modules: At a Glance, Activity, Quick Draft, WordPress News, and Welcome.  All of these can be moved about using drag and drop, deleted and others added.  At a Glance tells you how many pages, posts and comments you have as well as what version of WordPress you are running and what theme you are using.  Activity includes the upcoming scheduled posts, recently published posts, and the most recent comments on your posts and allows you to accept, reject and reply to them.

WordPress Themes

The theme of the website affects not just how the website looks, but also the functionality of the site.  The theme, itself, is a collection of files, called template files. There are about 10 000 themes, of which nearly 2000 are free and the rest are premium.  How to choose the best theme for you can be bewinldering.  I talk more about, my choice of theme – in the article on the Genesis Framework.  Here I offer a few things to consider when choosing a theme.

  1. Graphical design.  Most inexperienced people will choose a theme entirely on how it looks – and this is important.  Your website is the “home” of you business on the internet and your is an integral part of your personal brand.  People really do judge books by their cover and businesses by the look of their website.  So, this is a primary consideration.
  2. Responsiveness.  That means that it displays well on a range of devices including a desk top computer, laptop, tablet and smartphone.  It is estimated that 40% of time spent online is done so on a mobile device (20% if you count only smartphones) and this number is growing.  Yet, less than half of all websites are responsive.
  3. Functionality.  A website must be able to do what you want it to.  If you want to set up a portfolio site, then a newspaper / information theme is probably not the best choice.
  4. Degree of Flexibility.  Some themes are highly customizable while others are very restrictive.  Often the more restrictive are easier to use, while the most flexible more suitable for a more advanced user.  Compromise may be the key.
  5. SEO (search engine optimization).  SEO allows you to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs).  This is obviously pivtal in bringing traffic to your website.  While WordPress has great SEO, some themes are more SEO friendly than others.
  6. Navigation.  How does the menu system work and is it located where you want.
  7. Support.  Once bought, is there any support for the theme or are you left entirely on your own.  Is there documentation to help, a forum or training information provided?
  8. Regular updates.  This in one area where premium themes tend to do much better than free themes.  There are normally two main WordPress updates a year and so it is essential that themes are regularly update to ensure that they work with the latest edition of WordPress.

Once you have chosen your theme, you need to install it.  To do so go:

  1. Download your chosen theme, to your computer (unless you have chosen to use one that automatically comes with WordPress).
  2. In your WordPress site go to the main navigation panel on the left.
  3. Go to appearance > themes.
  4. Click “Add new”
  5. Click “upload”
  6. Click “choose file”
  7. Find the .zip file on your computer and click “open” (or double click file)
  8. Click “install now”

Now customize your theme to create the ideal website for your business.


Plugins and Widgets

A plugin is an application that extends the functionality of WordPress. It is a tool that is visible only to the site admin and does not interface with the public in any way.  The uses of plugins include: SEO optimization, custom form managers, site map generators, social media, stats, eCommerce and more.  Plugins can be added, activated or edited from the main navigation panel.

Widgets add content and features to your sidebars and other widget specified areas such as the footer.  Widgets include sign up forms, features pages, post archives, images, calendar, category list, search, arbitrary text or html and more.  Widgets can be accessed from a link on the main page of the dashboard or the “Appearance” tab of the main navigation panel.  Widgets can be added to the site by dragging and dropping to the desired widget area.


Further Training Videos

Clearly WordPress is much more complex than the brief introduction given here.  In the article on the Genesis Framework there is a generous offer to gain access to further WordPress Training Videos.




Workflowy is a list maker.  There are lots of to-do list applications available – so why Worksflowy?

Workflowy has many advantages, that makes it an ideal productivity tool for the entrepreneur.  It is incredibly simple.  Simply makes bulleted lists.  The lists can be nested, and notes added.


To give an idea of the simplicity of Workflowy and its interface – here is a screenshot.


Workflowy lists are searchable.  Tags can be added, such as #urgent.  These can then be used as search functions.  For example, if I organize a guest post with Michael Kawula on networking, I might tag the entry #networking #guest blog @Kawula.  

One of the most important considerations for me when adopting Workflowy, was that it is completely usable across multiple platforms.  As a web-based app, the data is always up to date and the same whether you look at it in Windows, Apple or Android.  Further, it is useable as an app when there is no internet connectivity and will automatically sync when you are next connected to the web.

Workflowy lists, and sections of lists can be shared.  This can be useful when collaborating on projects.

The final benefit of Workflowy is that it is free.  There is a pro version, but the free allows 500 items a month which is plenty for most.

The only downside of Workflowy for a to-do list application is that there is no option to add due dates.

If you would like more information on Workflowy, I have embedded a number of videos below.  Enjoy.









Scapple is a mind-map and note taking software.  It is made by Literature & Latte, the people who made the highly respected Scrivener.  Both Scapple and Scrivener can be downloaded for a free trial.

I have never been someone that finds mind mapping useful and originally looked at the software as a useful program for making resources for my students. Scapple is both incredibly simple and flexible.  It is this flexibility that makes it so useful for a whole array of applications.

Scapple has been compared to a blank sheet of paper or a whiteboard.  Scapple allows the user to put notes, images and connections on this paper and arrange as they find helpful.  To give you an idea, I used Scapple to outline the features of the Internet Business Handbook.  This is what I came up with:


Scapple works by:

  • double clicking anywhere to insert a note.  This can be repeated and the notes arranged by dragging and dropping.  Some people use Scapple, in this way as a virtual brainstorming platform.
  • drag one note to another to make a connection.  The note will spring back, to the original position and a connection, with a dotted line, made between them.
  • hold down the alt key (option and command keys on a Mac) while you drag to create an arrow between the notes.
  • images and external text can be pasted in.
  • double click a link to add a note between the two linked notes.
  • borders can be added to notes, as well as colors.  Custom note-styles in the format menu are easy to make and delete.  If you have a number of notes that you want formatted in the same way, then select all of them before formatting.
  • URLs  in Scapple are clickable.

Once finished the Scapple document can be exported in .pdf or .jpg forms.  

So, Scapple is a quick, powerful tool to organize your ideas.  However, care must be taken not to spend too much time making your mind-map a masterpiece.  Your masterpiece should be your product not the mind-map you used along the way.

Why not leave a comment about how you use Scapple or any tips that you have found helpful?