Sunday, 24 April 2011

Location, Location, Location – Where Writers do their Best Work

When you’re looking for a home they always say it’s location, location, location.  Well, for me it is the same for writing.

Do your surroundings help or hinder your writing?
I don’t know how reporters at big city newspapers do it.  They usually sit in a wide-open space (the bullpen) surrounded by other reporters typing away trying to make deadline (thankfully the tapping isn’t as loud as it used to be on the typewriters of bygone days)!  Inevitably, there are those who are still hunting down the perfect quote and are talking loudly on their phones attempting to be heard above the cacophony of computer keyboard tapping, conversations and various and assorted ring tones going off throughout the newsroom.  Oh, and the five or six TVs mounted on the wall all on different stations so everyone can see the news that’s being covered elsewhere that they may be missing. 

Is Silence Golden?
I could never be a reporter, as I have always needed a quiet place to write.  So, my hat’s off to them!  I did work at a newspaper in South Florida (the Sun-Sentinel) but that was in community relations, not in news gathering.  I used to stand in awe just outside the newsroom and watch in disbelief that the noise and frantic activity would actually produce a newspaper at the end of the day.  Nevertheless, as I understand it, some people thrive in that type of environment.  As they say, vive la difference!  Thank goodness we are all attracted to different genres of writing. 

Even though I usually need total quiet to work, there are times that I do sit in busy and noisy places just to absorb the experience but I need the silence to help me transfer the experience onto the page.  I may need to revisit the place to refresh my memory of the details but if that’s not possible, I just close my eyes and transport myself back to the place…meditation and deep breathing helps.

Does Varying the Location Help?
The other thing I have discovered about my writing habits is no matter how peaceful the location, if I’m trying to write corporate marketing-type material, I need to be sitting at a desk, with my feet planted firmly on the floor with no interruptions.  However, to write a mental-dump-type blog (such as this) I’m sitting in the lobby restaurant of the Thapae Boutique House in the middle of downtown Chang Mai, Thailand overlooking a little lane-way where, every few minutes or so, a tour truck, tuc tuc or motorcycle whizzes by. I'll be taking a mental picture of this for future reference, for sure!

Now, I should get back to reality (a different one anyways) as I do need to write a fact sheet for an HR company now.  So, it's back to the room so I can concentrate properly.

Do you have any quirky location needs when you’re writing?  I’d love to hear about it.

Friday, 22 April 2011

The Five Biggest Mistakes Business Owners Make on Facebook

I've just discovered DotComDiva and really like what she has to say.  A recent article she wrote called The Five Biggest Mistakes Business Owners Make on Facebook beautifully outlined some of my biggest bugaboos. At the end of the article, she invited any and all to re-post her article so, with her permission, here goes:

The Five Biggest Mistakes Business Owners Make on Facebook
by Elizabeth Southall, April 14, 2011

 Million+ active users and more traffic than Google, savvy entrepreneurs are recognizing that Facebook is now the #1 best place to find new, untapped customers for your business.
If you know what you’re doing, you can quickly generate a large, loyal fan base to market your products and services to.
But violate the unspoken rules Facebook etiquette and not only will you find it tough to retain fans, you could also end up generating a massive amount of negative buzz for your biz on the world’s largest social network (OUCH!).
To help you get the most out of your Facebook marketing efforts, here are five cardinal “sins” to avoid when marketing your business on Facebook:

Mistake #1: Using Your Personal Profile to Market Your Business

As a general rule of thumb, profile pages are for people and fan pages are for businesses.
One of the main benefits of using a fan page for your business is that fan pages are indexed by the search engines, while most personal profile pages are not.
More and more fan pages are showing up in search results Google, Yahoo and Bing search results, which can expose your business to tons of new potential customers who are not on Facebook (wooHOO!).

Plus, if you include your website URL to your fan page bio, you’ll have an inbound link from Facebook (a high-ranking site in the search engines) to your website. This can boost your website’s ranking in Google and the other search engine results even further.
Also, your fan page can grow with you. With a fan page you can have unlimited fans, which is essential if your goal is to grow your Facebook fan base as much as possible. Using a profile page for your business is that you can only have a maximum of 5,000 friends.
(And if those reasons weren’t enough, Facebook specifically discourages using your personal profile for business use. Facebook’s Terms of Service actually state that businesses should use fan pages only.)

Mistake #2: Giving Your Fans the Silent Treatment

Many Facebook fan page owners put in a lot of time and effort into attracting fans… but then never engage them in conversation.
This is a big mistake!
Think of your fan page as a never-ending networking party you’re hosting for like-minded people. Would you invite guests to your party and then not speak to them after they got through the front door? Of course not.
The whole purpose of having a Facebook fan page is to engage and interact with your fans. It’s a social network after all – so go socialize!
In this case, the party is your fan page, you are the host and the mingling is happening on your fan page wall.
When people post comments on your wall, a good host will reply, ask questions and engage. Aim to create a conversation.
Do this and when it comes time to promote your products or services down the road, you’ll find your fans will be much more open and receptive to what you have to offer.

Mistake #3: Posting at All Hours of the Day and Night

The whole purpose of your fan page is to get your message in front of as many fans as possible and to get them commenting on it, hitting the Like button or sharing it with their Facebook friends.
If you post a status update on your fan page in the wee hours of the morning or super late at night, it doesn’t matter how good your update is…
Chances are the majority of your fans are not going to see it!
Atlanta-based Vitrue, a company that manages social media marketing for hundreds of high-end brands in a range of niches, recently released some excellent data on the best time of day to publish status update on your fan page.
After comparing stats from 265 Million fans from the hundreds of Facebook fan pages they manages, Vitrue noticed that status updates made anytime before noon get an average of 65% more engagement than status updates made in afternoons or evenings.
(Again, Facebook engagement means shares, likes and comments from your fans on your status updates.)
It seems that most people like to check Facebook in the morning, most likely over a cup of coffee at the office before the day gets busy.
Makes sense, right?
With this in mind, your best bet is to post your most important status updates (limited time offers or special promotions, for example) before noon so that the majority of your fans will see it and engage with it.

Mistake #4: Posting Text, Text and More Text

Posting text-only status updates day after day is kind of like serving the same thing for dinner over and over again. Even if what you’re serving up is delicious, repetition gets boring!
To keep your fans interested and engaged, mix it up by posting a combination of text, pictures and video.
More data released by Vitrue reveals that status updates containing pictures usually get 54% more fan engagement than straight text posts. Video posts come in second, getting 27% more engagement than text posts, with text posts coming in last out of the three.
So to get your fans commenting on, liking and sharing your content, include pictures, graphics and other eye candy in your status updates and include them often.

Mistake #5: Promoting, Promoting, Promoting

One of the reasons that Facebook is such a fantastic place to attract new customers is because the social network is such an open, friendly place.
Most Facebook users are on the site to connect with friends and, as a result, you can market here without encountering a lot of the buyer’s skepticism that you’ll find elsewhere online.
That said, unsavvy business owners who relentlessly post promotion after promotion on their fan pages will quickly find their fan count dwindle.
Annoy your fans with too many offers and they can choose to hide your updates or simply “unlike” your fan page altogether.
To avoid this, observe the 80/20 rule in your Facebook marketing efforts.
80% of your status updates should offer no-strings-attached value to your fans in the form of tips, advice or friendly banter.
Once you’ve built up a relationship with your fans, you can talk about your products or services the other 20% of the time.
When used properly, a Facebook fan page can be a very powerful component of any successful, revenue-generating business.

And Here’s Something Else…

If you’d like to learn the secrets to attracting a legion of loyal Facebook fans who will eagerly line up to buy your products or services and rave about your business to all of their friends… YOU’RE IN LUCK!
Right now, you can SAVE $100 on my “1000 Fans in 10 Days” Facebook marketing boot camp for business owners – but hurry, this special discount expires soon. Get all the details and sign up for the course here:

Award-winning Internet entrepreneur Liz Southall teaches women around the world how to start and grow profitable passion-based freedom businesses that make a positive impact. Get her FREE guide "10 Free Ways to Grow Your Facebook Fan Base FAST" at

Note from Anne:  I have no affiliation with Liz and her company and will not benefit in any way should you decide to purchase any of her products or services.  I simply liked her message and decided to share it with you here.  

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Book Review: Should I stay or Should I Go? The truth about moving abroad and whether it’s right for you, author Paul Allen

For those of us who are already expats, the memories of making that first move may have faded but Paul Allen’s book, Should I Stay or Should I Go? is a gentle reminder of the sometimes anxiety producing moments that culminate in the decision to make the leap.  Often times the opportunity comes as a result of a job offer (as it did with my husband) but sometimes you might just be yearning for a change but don’t know where to begin. 

Allens’ book is the perfect place to start for those with the spark that hasn’t quite been ignited yet.  Or, even if you have selected your first expat destination, it helps you step back, take a deep breath and think about all the details of planning your move, taking advantage of those who have gone before you. 

Should I Stay or Should I Go? gives a broad overview of some of the most popular expat destinations to fan the flames of your imagination.  Allen is a freelance writer and journalist from England who moved to New York and then on to Spain in 2003 where he settled happily (and warmly) into expat life.  He shares his personal experiences and also brings in advice from other expats along with loads of statistical facts, interspersed with humorous, sometimes hair-raising anecdotes from expats around the world. 

He shares a selection of websites and resources for you to delve into as well, providing top tips from a slew of experts, checklists, thought-provoking and soul-searching questions.  It all leads to his main point that planning is critical along with a firm commitment to your new home.

“That initial gush of wide-eyed joy will dissipate as daily routine sets in,” says Allen.  “And, as it does, aspects of this new society will grate, so be prepared.”

In an interview he conducts with expat career coach Megan Fitzgerald, she agrees with Allen and says, “Research tells us that writing your plan and steps down, exponentially increases your chances of taking action and realizing your goals.”

Step 1: Read Should I Stay or Should I go?…I wish I had before I moved!  It would have helped a lot.

If you have any nightmare “I wish I had known” stories, feel free to comment on this blog so “newpats” can learn from all of you and avoid sinking into the same quagmire.