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Friday, March 31, 2006

Help Me Get Organized...


I started writing a post the other day about organization. Eventually, it will get finished. But, in writing it, I started thinking of the layout of this Blog.

I think putting the navigation at the top of the sidebar was a good idea. However, in doing that, I found out how disorganized my blog really is. I am closing in on 200 posts that I have written and of course many are related in one way or another.

Something I see all the time on the Blogs and Websites I visit is they all have categories for previous articles. Since I use Blogger, there is no way I have found to list posts in that manner. The closest is having Articles in Previous Posts or Archives.

Neither is really a good way to let visitors view anything in particular they may be looking for. As an example, if you wanted to see my posts on the Basics you would have to go all the way back to October. How would you know where to look?

I know that most of those other sites use different Blogging Platforms, But I still think at this point that I really need to improve navigation on this site.

The only way I can think of to improve navigation with various posts in particular categories is to create separate posts for links in the various categories. This will be the hardest and most time consuming way of doing things. (It's even hard to explain).

So, if any of you are familiar with the inner workings of Blogger and have a way of setting up a Category List, please let me know. If not, I will just have to do it the hard way.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Consider Ad Types


Ad Placement may not be the most important thing to consider when you choose an Ad for your site. You must make sure they fit your page and style.

Recently, I took the Chitika E-MiniMall ad out of the prominent position of "Top of Page". I replaced it with an AdSense link ad. The results were immediate, and did not detract from the secondary ads at the end of the posts.

The reasons for making this decision are many, but the main consideration was there were so few clicks on the ads. The type ads displayed also was a major factor. Most all of the ads were related to computers and components, as the choices for Work at Home products are very limited. It was time for a change.

On this type of page, it seems the more information I can provide the better. If the ads are placed correctly and are relevant to the subject of Working at Home on the Internet, the CTR increases.

Your considerations should be similar. Depending on the type of site you have, Chitika may be a good choice, ie a Tech site could do well with Computer ads or a Health and Fitness site with Vitamin ads.

You may consider AdSense as your primary advertiser if your site is based more on information. Since AdSense will use keywords within posts to determine the type of ad shown, this may be your best option.

As I have said many times, in many posts, don't be afraid to experiment. Most importantly, don't be afraid to change if something doesn't work for you.

I have provided a list of the advertisers I have been affiliated with in the links below.

Related posts:
Ad Placement
Using Ads on Your Blog or Website
Advertisements

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Feeling Guilty for Taking Time Off


I thought about just taking the day off today. The first really nice day in a couple of weeks. It has been cold and miserable since I posted about a similar day a few weeks back.

Then, I started to get this guilty feeling, like I was abandoning my post. I really do need to take some time, and I know it, but still have all these things that need to be done.

I tried pre-writing posts as suggested by all the Professionals, but when I write them, I usually post them right away. I have been writing ideas down with a few sentences on which direction I should go in the post. But, what made sense yesterday, doesn't always translate well today.

So, I thought I would share this New Wall I have hit in the Grand Scheme of Working at Home.

It's not writers block, I have plenty of subjects to write about. It's not that I haven't worked hard for 6 months without a day off. It's not lack of projects that need to be done. There are more than enough things to keep me occupied.

It's Spring Fever... It hits around this time every year. Can't help it, Spring is my favorite season. So, after I finish this post, I will dig out the lawn furniture, rake the lawn and not feel guilty for doing it.

Related Posts:
Refresh Your Mind
Overcoming Isolation

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Conform or Change?


When you view a Webpage or Blog, you expect to be able to find what you want right away. You don't want to have to look all over the place to find the next page in an article or something else that is important to you.

When you look at a page, do you think of how you would like it set up for your own personal navigational needs?

Even though there is no real standard, there is a reason that there are such things as templates and other pre-set ways of doing things. 79% of visitors stay less than 5 seconds. That being the case you have to get their attention right away. If not, they will be gone before you know it.

How do you get people to stay longer? You will have to conform to some of the standards that have been found to work by others. Place things you think are important to the reader where they will see them. As I mentioned in the post on Ad Placement* you will probably want to place links and navigation in the same areas as well.

How you get around the fact that there is only so much room in the prime "real estate" of a page is something that only comes through experience and/or advice from more experienced people. Place things you want the visitor to see first in the primary spaces.

As Jesse said in his advice to me in Critique of My Website** you want to make navigation around your site as painless as possible. You may have to use up some of the space you wanted for something else, but it could be worth it in the long run. If people can find what they are looking for they will stay longer.

One of the reasons that some people are more successful than others is they conform to some of the proven ways of page setup. Surf the net to view other sites you know are successful, they don't have to be the same type business. If you use some of their set up practices, they may work for you as well.

Another is they experiment. Most of the more successful pages you see are always experimenting with new things, layouts, ads. So don't be afraid to experiment yourself, and if you find something that works for you, don't be afraid to change.

Referenced Posts:
*
Ad Placement
**Critique of My Website

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Monday, March 27, 2006

How Do You Judge Success?


Everyone judges success differently. This is a small list of questions you may want to ask yourself to determine how successful you feel you are. After all, you are the one who has the final say in how successful your business really is.

Success is determined by...

Making money from your site?

Sure it is a good thing to make a living, but once you attain a certain level of income, money seems to be less of a motivator and more of a burden. If the only reason you do something is for the money, are you ever really satisfied?

Being recognized by your peers?

If you need approval from others to be satisfied with your work, do you consider yourself a success if there is none forthcoming? It is nice to get recognition, but it shouldn't be the only reason to continue what you started.

Conversation through comments?

Are you the type that likes to evoke a response from your readers? This is akin to being recognized by your peers. The difference being, it is an opportunity to learn something from your readers. It also gives you a way to expand on your original idea.

Number of people visiting your site?

You need people to come to your site in order to achieve any of the above objectives. Does the number really matter to you? Should it be a way to judge success?

There are many more ways that success can be determined. How do you judge your success? What is the most satisfying part of working at home for you?

Related Posts:
The Dreams and Realities of Working at Home
I'm an Official SOB

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Unwanted Solicitation Calls


Beware: Big Rant Ahead!

Yesterday I got a phone call from Corporate Solutions on my cell phone that lasted 11 minutes. In my State it is against the law to cause undo cost to the consumer for a solicitation call. I answered some of their questions, 3-4 times I said they were calling on my cell phone and costing me money. They kept on pitching, saying it was a Free offer.

The pitch was a Free $1000 Online Shopping Spree. Along with that was an offer of 5 Free Magazines of my choice (they only had one in which I was remotely interested). All I had to do was pay for Shipping and Handling at $9.95 per month.

I asked to speak to a supervisor, and they complied. Then, HE Started Pitching me on the same offer saying I could put it on my credit card. Of course I said no, and reminded him they were calling on my cell phone.

At that point he said I could pay be check, or a bank transfer. Again I said no. I wouldn't give a credit card number or bank info, but they kept pressing asking me to confirm my address (which he mysteriously had).

I asked how they got my personal information, he said I provided it. I hadn't given anyone any information other than confirming my name being Joseph. I persisted in my refusal to provide the information they wanted, and pushed to find out how they got my name, phone number and address.

That's when he asked "Why did I waste their time?" and hung up.

I called 800-556-1537 which was on my caller ID and Corporate Solutions voice mail was full. I still have no idea where they got my info.

Around 6 months ago, I may have given some of the same information to a few survey sites I had applied to, but I wouldn't have used "Joseph" since that is one way for me to identify business from personal accounts. Another identifier is the fact they called on my cell phone, also used specifically for business.

I have kept personal and business accounts totally separate for this exact reason.

This leads me to the possibility that some of the affiliate advertisers I am, or have been associated with may not handle personal information quite the way they should. I have an idea at this point which company may have released this personal information (since they are now out of business and could profit by selling a list). Rest assured, if I find out for sure , you will know.

This is the main reason for keeping your personal and business information totally separate on the Internet. (It's a good idea offline too). Make sure you have at least 3 ways to identify the difference between accounts.

Have any of you run into similar situations?

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Critique of My Website


Jesse Skinner from The Future of the Web* Blog has offered to critique the HTML, CSS and the overall presentation of various Websites and Blogs. He is proficient in various languages that most sites are written in.

I took him up on his offer yesterday, and now I have a good idea of some ways to improve my Website. As I have professed in many previous posts, it's about the reader, the people who visit my sites.

One of the things Jesse mentioned is the presentation of the first page. Actually, Clair of Freelance Pro** had mentioned in comments on the Comparison of Polls*** post that she had to scroll sideways to see the content on the website. First Impressions are the only ones you get on the Internet.

So, that becomes a priority, if it doesn't look good, people will not bother going any further as the average visit is less than 60 seconds.

Another consideration is the fact that it is not easy to navigate the pages within the website. I have the pages listed in the sidebar with descriptions of each so people know what's inside. Jesse suggests putting the pages on the top so as to make navigation easier. (I'm working on how to do that).

There are a few more things I need to address, on the Website and the Blog, and will continue to try to make your visits both pleasurable and worth returning.

So, if you have ever been to my Website, look for some changes for the better. If not, stop by to see what is happening with the updates.

I do appreciate the feedback I get from all of you, and want to let you know, I do listen.

Update: I have made some of the changes to the Website that Jesse suggested and think they will be an advantage to the navigation of the site in general.

Referenced Sites:
*
The Future of the Web
**
Freelance Pro
***
Comparison of Polls

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Intra-links


Most things that you have to deal with running a Blog or Website have many different approaches. As a matter of fact, the approach will probably be different within your own domains.

Intra-links are important within Websites to get from one category to the next (even on the same page). They are also the preferred way of getting from one page to another. Whether you realize it or not, you use them even when you use page1... page2... etc.

Probably the most effective way of using links within you site, is to use a Title over the link. Instead of having page2, use whatever the name of the page is eg. Articles or Resources. This way people can navigate to the information they need without having to "surf" your site.

They are just as important if you have a Blog. Again, there are many different ways of using intra-links. Most Bloggers I see use links by having them within the content of the post. I personally don't subscribe to this method, although I have utilized it in the past.

Some even use the here and (here) method with no real explanation of what here is. Although if you follow the link, it will probably take you to a previous post, usually related to the current article. A better way would be to describe the previous post in some way. Using the Title of the linked post is recommended.

Even though the above approach is widely used, I think it distracts the reader from whatever point you are trying to get across.

I have recently started using the Title in Italics with (*) to denote a reference at the bottom of the post. This way, the reader knows there is additional information and can follow the links at the end. They don't lose their train of thought, and can always get further information when they are through.

Even when you don't have any links within the post, you should always try to give some links to related articles you have written. Intra-links are a service to your readers, use them.

What is your approach to Intra-links? Do you use them?

Related Posts:
Link Exchange Requests
Weblog Empire Link Exchange
Trackbacks

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Posting Frequency


How often should you post?

There are almost as many answers to that question as there are people who use the Internet for Business. The real answer is between you and your readers.

I have written a post daily for 6 months, missing only one day and double posting on more than one occasion. I feel it is necessary on this type of Blog, one that deals with Working at Home. There are new ideas and ways of doing things coming to light every day.

On the World Politics Blog*, if I post once a week, that is not too bad. Unless there is something important that I feel needs to be said. There, it is more of a way to fulfill my need to speak my mind than to placate anyone.

With the Working at Home Website**, I try to update as often as I find new information regarding Scams, Resources or any Headlines that are pertinent to Home Business.

In all cases, try to satisfy the expectations of the readers.

Since I post daily on the Work at Home Blog, the readers expect something new every day. Researching and trying to find new information is one way I endeavor to do this. I have tried to keep everything interesting and fresh. Hopefully, I can continue to keep people interested in what I write.

With the PolBlog*, it's more about the conversation on current events regarding world governments and the internet. There is a lot to talk about, but it has to be two way. The more people comment, the more often I reply to keep the conversation going.

On the Website**, it is more about disseminating information. There is almost no reader response, unless I have a poll or open a forum at some point (just did). Therefore, I have to depend on statistics (pageviews) to see which page people most often visit to try to determine their preferences.

Each type of site will determine, at least to an extent, how often you should post. If you have a good reader response, or new information becomes available, try to keep up with what your readers expect.

Your readers will thank you.

How often do you post?

My Other Sites:
*World Politics and the Internet
**Working at Home on the Internet Website

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Today's Good Reads


Normally, I would read these posts and try to bring something of interest back to this Blog. I couldn't find a way to express these ideas any better than the original authors, so thought I would just share the links with you.

The Red Tape Chronicles-Bob Sullivan... His take on the real threat to the internet: the ease of lying and the ramifications.

How Domain Name Servers Work-Marshall Brain... Explains the Real way the internet actually works, long but answers a lot of questions.

Blood Boiling Blogging Practices-Darren Rowse... Darren has a rant about some recent experiences with spammers.

Photo Content Checklist-ME "Liz" Strauss... Part of a series on "Eye-deas" This is about how to use photos to enhance your posts.

Internet Explorer 7 Preview Review-David Canfield... If you want to find out about IE7 in easy to understand terms, check here first.

Optimizing Your Title Tags-Aaron Brazell (Technosailor)... Guest writing on ProBlogger, Aaron explains how to best use Title Tags on 3 different platforms.

These are just a few of the sites I visit daily to try to bring you the best ideas to enhance your Work at Home experience.

Please, let me know if you thought these were helpful...
Joe

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Ad Placement


After you make the decision on which Ad Type and Advertisers to use, you have another decision to make. Where do you put them?

How you determine what is best for your site depends on the type and style ad you choose. There is no set criteria for placement, and is a topic for debate in many forums.

There are hotspots that have been found by AdSense that will give you an idea of where people are more likely to click on an ad (right).

Left of the page seems to be the most prominent position followed by above and then bottom of your post.

Usually, on the left in the sidebar you would use a skyscraper type ad. If you opt for the top or head, you will probably use a banner ad of some type. You could use the same type at the bottom or foot of your post.

It seems more and more often, publishers are utilizing ads within the contents of the post itself. The reasoning behind this is, the ads are more prominent and more likely to get the readers attention.

In most cases, but not all, you should try to keep the ads above the "fold" (page break). Statistics show that most visitors to a site only stay an average of 60 seconds or less. So, if it is hidden below the fold, most visitors will never see your ads.

Another spot that is not usually considered is in the comment section. If you have a lot of readers and contributors to comments, why not give them another chance to click on an ad?

There are a lot of different thoughts on the subject of ads and how best to use them. Darren over at ProBlogger has an 8 part series on AdSense Tips* that is very useful and adaptable to other types of advertising online.

Reference:
Adsense Tips for Bloggers

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Monday, March 20, 2006

Using Ads on Your Blog or Website


If you work at home on the internet, you probably have either a Blog or Website or Both. I did a poll not long ago and it seems to bear out that fact.

Some people overlook an obvious source of income. Ads on their site. If you have your own products to sell, why would you want other ads there?

You don't want to compete with yourself, but you can use them as additional income streams. Most have options to opt out competitors, so only useful but non-competitive ads will be shown.

There are a few types of ads that you may find useful.

Affiliate Programs... AdSense, ClickBank, Chitika, Text Link Ads and Commission Junction all offer these type programs. I did a comparison when I first started using them, but things have improved over time for me.

KeyWord Ads... AdSense and YPN (Yahoo) use this concept, they use keywords in your posts and overall theme to feed relevant ads to your site. I personally like AdSense, but have no experience with YPN for comparison. Make sure you check the TOS because you can't use them on the same page.

Mini-Malls... Chitika is the only one I have experience with. They offer options to pick the type ads that are displayed, and can, in most cases be used with AdSense. Check TOS to be sure you are using them correctly together.

These are the Advertisers I have experience with, they are by no means the only options out there. You will have to experiment to see which type works best for your situation.

Tomorrow: Ad Placement

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Overcoming Isolation


Something that creeps up on anyone who works at home is the problem of isolation. This is especially true of people that have little contact with other people, whether it be kids, spouse, or coworkers throughout the day.

More often than not, you can find yourself getting distracted by the most mundane of things. You sit down to work and somehow or other something will come up that takes priority. It shouldn't, you know it, but it does.

This could be caused by nothing more than that age old culprit: Isolation. All human's are social by nature, which is why most can't be alone for any length of time without interaction with other people.

When you feel yourself getting to the point of distraction caused by being alone most of the day, you should try to get out of the house for a time.

Walk the Dog... If you have a dog, take it for a walk. Go to the park, there are probably others there doing the same thing.

Join a Spa... One benefit is the exercise, but another possibly more important benefit is the interaction with others.

Go to a local Coffee Shop... There are usually people at this type of establishment, and if you go often, you will probably get to know some of them.

Get a Laptop... Sometimes just getting outside, taking in some fresh air while you are working can make a big difference.

Meet a Friend for Lunch... Call a friend and just have a good conversation over lunch. They may need a break too.

Get a Hobby... Find something that you like to do that has nothing to do with work. You could build models, volunteer at an organization, paint.

The options you have are limitless. The important part in overcoming isolation is to socialize in some way. You don't really need to interact, but you do need to be around other people. At the very least, distract yourself from the daily grind in some way by doing something you enjoy.

How do you overcome isolation in your work at home life?

Related post:
Refresh Your Mind

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Naive, Inexperienced or Just Plain Stupid?


This is the 177th post I have written for this Blog. Working at Home on the Internet is still a work in progress. And I hope it continues to improve with the experiences I have had over time.

Again, I have been looking over what I had written ( I do this often) after researching new perspectives on Owning a Home Business, Working on the Internet, Using Computers for Business, etc. and not finding anything "new".

I bring this up because, as attested to by my first few posts, I was naive, inexperienced, OK, just plain stupid in my expectations. I'm not going to link to them, instead I'll just Show You. They are short enough.

10/5/05 There is a way to improve yourself...Work online...Make money...Find the Freedom you want. If you work on a computer & have access to the internet...Contact me by Clicking on one of the links below...

That was the extent of my FIRST post... It gets worse...

10/6/05 Second day of posting, and I'm waiting for anyone to Comment.I went to MagMoney.com & became an affilitate, there I found out that I can work from home on my computer through their programs.If you would like to try this and make money from home, Contact me...

What was I expecting? Instant results, like cooking oatmeal in a microwave?

At that point I didn't even know the importance of any of the Basics*. I didn't even use Titles, much less know why I should. I had no clue what RSS**, MetaTags***, Keywords+ or SEO++ meant to circulation.

I did persist, and after some time, researching, reading, joining some forums+++, visiting other like minded sites and learning in general, I finally got a focus. I formed a game plan, and continued all of the above.

I work continually to try to help improve your prospects (and my own) through my experiences, good and bad. This is why I put links to previous posts or other sites I have found important to running a Business from Home on the Internet.

Related posts:
*
The Basics
**RSS
***Meta Tags
+
Keywords and Watch your Keywords
++
SEO
+++Forums

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Friday, March 17, 2006

Your Story Sunday Opens This Weekend


I have my own perspective on Working at Home. If you read the post My Trek to Working at Home* you pretty much know my story.

I really have no concept of what it is like to run a Home Based Business with children (my son is 30 yrs old) in the picture. I do have stories of parenting and the trials and tribulations therein. But since my son is grown and on his own, I don't run into the everyday obsticles that you may encounter.

I read articles all the time about Work at Home Mom's, but not everyone has the same situation. A lot of people have stories about their circumstances, but not everyone has an opportunity to share it with others.

So, I am going to open Sunday's as "Your Story Sunday".

It doesn't have to be anything much, just what you run into in your Work at Home Life. It doesn't have to be about children specifically, it could be a funny story about your pet, dealing with household duties or anything that strikes you as interesting.

You could also tell about problems you have run into that you think could be pertinent to others who are trying to Work at Home. I have made a similar offer before (below**)

So, if you are interested in sharing Your Story, E-mail me with a brief description of your idea for details on how to submit your article.

Related Post:
* My Trek to Working at Home
** Guest Write for Working at Home on the Internet

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

It Has to Start Somewhere


There are many types of people who work at home, and there are even more that want to work at home but can't find a way to do it.

Since I do most everything on the computer, it was easy enough to find something to do. Consulting mostly, which has turned more or less into an advice Blog. I get asked questions (offline) all the time about fixing some problem or other on friends computers and/or systems. Doesn't pay much, as I can't really charge friends and relatives.

Being on the internet is a good way for me to reach people around the world, but it doesn't pay much either, as international monetary exchange can prove difficult. So, I depend on people finding the Ads I have on the site useful and patronizing the advertisers.

I am quite sure some of the decisions that you have to make can't be much easier. You need the money, but you have to weigh the benefits against the cost of making the move to Working at Home.

Some professions are more adaptable.. writing, editing, freelancing photographer, than others, but what about the "regular guy"? The person who has the desire, but not necessarily the skills to pursue a career on the internet or any other type of home based business.

The answer is... Everyone has some skill or capability they can turn into a Work at/from Home Business. I have written many times that what it takes is the desire and a lot of hard work to succeed in any endeavor you pursue.

What about your cooking skills? The lady who started that big cookie company started in her kitchen. How about the guy that started that computer company that turned into your desktop? He started out working for IBM. So did the other one that wrote all your software.

The biggest difference between them and us is not where they started, it was the idea they had that was unique. It was their desire and determination that helped them find success.

We can all succeed in a Work at Home Business, but it has to start somewhere... An Idea...

What is YOUR Idea? What makes you think it will succeed?

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Comparison of Poll Results


The results of the Poll regarding visiting my Web page were actually quite unexpected.

You may have noticed that 80% of the people who read the Blog Never visited the Website. The other 20% didn't know where to find it. That leaves 0% who ever went to the Website.

Another supprise is the results from the corresponding Website poll. 57% of the visitors there had viewed the Blog. Only 14% never visited and 29% didn't know where to find it.

This could show that the people who visit the Blog already know what they want, and expect to see certain information on the Blog. They may be looking for ways to advance their Work at Home Business.

Conversely, it could show that visitors to the Website are either searching for Work at Home opportunities, or are just surfing and investigating to see what's out there.

Either way, it gives me an idea of things I must improve to address the needs of my readers.

Do you think the results were supprising, or do you think they were to be expected?

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Refresh Your Mind


On a beautiful day like today (75 degrees F), I like to sit outside on the patio and go over my old writings, thoughts, designs and ideas.

While I was designing the Web Site*, I did it all on paper. It seemed like a good way to visualize how it should look. Drawing on paper can start out as just a doodle, and get as graphic as I want or need it to be. All done sitting on the patio.

Actually, when I work like this it is relaxing. It's almost like I'm not working at all. It's a good way to get the thought process going.

Most times, while I am going over stats or trying to find ways to improve my business while inside I get so involved I can't see the forrest for the trees. I start to stagnate. So, my way of reinvigorating is to work outside to clear my mind.

I feel that by taking a break from the mundane and tedious tasks inside, it is much easier to accomplish what needs to be done. When I am refreshed, it is easier to complete the work at hand.

With spring coming on, I will be able to spend more time outside. The biggest problem I run into is, I work on the computer. If I could afford a laptop, I would get one so that I wouldn't be tied to the desk (top). So, I'll just have to adjust my schedule so I can spend more time outside to get fresh air and rejuvenate.

How do you rejuvenate and refresh your mind to accomplish more?

Working at Home Website*

If you have a laptop you intend to discard, contact me... I could really use it.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

The NY Times, Wal-Mart and Bloggers


There is a little something going on here. I'm not sure what it is.

Last week, the NY Times had an article by Michael Barbaro* basically lambasting Wal-Mart for it's use of Bloggers in it's PR Campaign. In it he lumps Bloggers together, using quotes from Bloggers (I counted three) making it seem like everyone just cuts and pastes their posts and never give credit to the original author.

ME "Liz" Strauss, over at Successful Blog** has written a very good editorial on the subject. In it she includes rebuttals from other Bloggers involved. Apparently, Mr Barbaro did some selective research for his article, showing only the results he wanted. I think if he checked a little further, he may have gotten a different result, and a different article.

I, personally, don't like being labeled as second class. If the Main Stream Media thinks Bloggers are just going to go away, they should think again.

Head on over to Liz's blog, read the article and leave a comment.

Sources:
NY Times*
Successful Blog**

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Dreams and Realities of Working at Home


Just imagine... No more crowded buses, No more traffic jams, No more suits and ties, high heels, dull meetings or office politics. Just you and your computer. Alone, all day.

If this sounds idyllic, read this before you rush out and quit your job. I hope this dispels a few myths about working at home.

The Dream:
Extra time to spend with family, exercising, or recreation.

The Reality:
While you won't spend time commuting, you probably will spend more time working all hours of the day and night. Be sure to set regular hours. Separate work time from home time.

The Dream:
You are invisible to clients over the phone and on the computer.

The Reality:
It is true that you can't be seen and can lounge around in the buff if you want. The fact remains, you need to maintain a professional demeanor, that is difficult if you are in your bathrobe.

The Dream:
No more office politics.

The Reality:
It gets lonely home all day by yourself. You may have a pet to talk to, but that probably isn't very rewarding. Try to set a certain time of the day to get out. Go get a coffee, meet clients, go to the gym.

The Dream:
Quiet time, so you can get some work done.

The Reality:
Sometimes, it gets too quiet( see previous entry), and other times the phone keeps ringing with sales calls, or someone knocks on the door trying to convince you to change your cable provider.

The Dream:
You don't have a boss looking over your shoulder all day.

The Reality:
Look in the Mirror. You are the Boss. It takes a lot of intestinal fortitude to push yourself to make sure the work at hand gets done. Being the boss means taking on all the responsibility.

The Dream:
No more sharing office supplies.

The Reality:
No more sharing office supplies, printers, copiers, fax machines, not to mention a computer. There is no IT guy to fall back on, it's up to you if your system crashes. Make sure you have good equipment, with a good support system.

The Dream:
Tax write-off's.

The Reality:
This isn't too far fetched. You will get to deduct some office space, equipment and services. This depends on the area in which you live. In this area, we need to pay an Estimated Tax on what we feel we should earn, and the deductions go against your next filing (which still has to be paid in advance).

Don't let any of this dissuade you from starting your own Work at Home Business, these are just a few things to let you know what you may be up against in your quest. I, personally, feel the rewards far outweigh the drawbacks in owning your own business.


Some related posts I have written:
Work at Home Pitfalls
Working at Home, More Popular that Ever
Snapshot of Working at Home
Working at Home...Easy?

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Saturday, March 11, 2006

My Trek to Working at Home


Working at Home on the Internet is not the way I started out. Mine has been a long trek, ranging from moving furniture to cutting down trees. The only thing they all had in common was the independence.

In the Beginning

Of course, I had "regular"jobs, working in an office (which I hated) and sitting at a desk in front of a computer. I did, however, learn a lot about computers in that job (that I liked). I started as a bill collector, learned the system the company was using, and ended up being a manager running an auto-dial interface with their mainframe.

The thing that was always missing, even while I was a manager, was the independence. So, I started my own part-time business collecting medical bills. I got "involuntarily resigned" for having a competing business.

Being fired was actually the best thing that ever happened in my business life. I started consulting for the same company that fired me, and they paid me a lot more than when I was an employee.

I still consult for them, but on a limited basis, since they changed computer systems.

Enter the Internet.

I had been using the internet for research and the like, and since things were slow consulting, I started trying to find ways to make money on the Web.

I tried everything. I Read E-mails, did Surveys, Auto-surfed, anything I thought I could make a living doing. That's when I (virtually) met *Sean Gum, of **Magnificent Money infamy and I got involved in their affiliate program.

From that I started Blogging with no real direction in mind. I had his affliliate links on the Blog, but never made any money from them. In trying to find a way to consolidate my consulting skills and Blogging I started Working at Home on the Internet (original name: Self Improvement by Working at Home).

That leads to today.

I do have some affiliate links, and advertisements on the Blog to make money. But, my main emphasis is trying to give people an insite into what it takes to Work at Home using their computer to make a living.

How did you decide to start Working at Home?

Related Posts:
* Sean Gum
** Magnificent Money

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I'm an Official SOB


It's Official, I am now an SOB.

This is one acronym I do like. It means I am a Successful and Outstanding Blogger according to ME "Liz" Strauss over at Successful Blog.

This is the type of award that means more (to me, at least) than winning the Bloggies. I think being recognized by someone of Liz's stature in the Blogosphere is the best reward.

Thanks Liz,

Joe

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Friday, March 10, 2006

Watch Your Keywords


While going over some of the articles I use for research, I came across something I found both amusing and disturbing.

The article in question is about Working at Home. It really turns out to be a positive post on the subject of finding a niche. But I think the use of Keywords leaves a lot to be desired.

Excerpt from: Work at Home Is A Reality…Don’t Give Up!

Ads by Goooooogle

Karen's K-9 CareDaycare.
Grooming. Boarding. Trng. Our passion drives our service.www.karensk9care.com

Pet Supplies at PetSmart
Exactly what great pet parents need That's Smart - PetSmart.www.PetSmart.com

"First of all, in order to get an online business going you will need to find your niche. Have you considered what you would enjoy doing? Take a subject or product that you have some knowledge and/or interest in. You wouldn’t want to be selling pet supplies when you can’t stand animals and have no knowledge of their care. Or your hobby is daily target practice at the neighbor’s cat! It really is difficult to sell something you know nothing about or don’t care about."

Not only does the Ad not reflect the theme of the article, it doesn't even reflect the tone of the paragraph it was derived from... hobby is daily target practice at your neighbor's cat... I don't think the advertisers had that in mind.

It is important to use keywords in articles, but make sure they are pertinent to the subject you are really writing about.

When using AdSense, don't forget that the ads are computer generated. No one reads your copy before sending the ads to your site.

Now, I hope I don't get Ads for Pet Food after showing you this. Please let me know if I do...
I used the < 'h' > tag to help in identifying keywords.

Update:

The < 'h' > tag didn't work, as I'm sure you noticed.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Keywords and Old Posts


One way of attracting readers to your site is by using Keywords in the Titles of your posts. Another is using them within your content.

While that is an advantage to new visitors, it doesn't provide real access to the same content to your regular readers. There are as many ways of displaying older posts to current readers as there are Bloggers and WebMasters.

There is the default Archives, but that just shows the month it was written. It doesn't give Names, Dates, Previews or anything else that would help someone find what they are looking for.

Some other options are linking within posts to older articles, provide a list in the sidebar, use a drop down menu (also uses archive format), or installing a search bar for your site. These options depend upon which type of site you own, and your preferences.

Since I use Blogger, this blog is limited in which options I can use. But, I feel it is important enough, I need to include some type of link to older posts to provide you with access to things that are relevant to you.

In reviewing keyword statistics, there are some posts that stand out as landing pages. In other words, what people are searching for in their quest to run a Work at Home Business.

So, there will be a list of most requested pages in the sidebar as soon as it is compiled. It will take some effort to rearrange the sidebar, but I think it may be worth it to provide better access to those who want to read some of the most requested posts.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Lost Art of Editing Yourself

I was reading a post by ME "Liz" Strauss over at Successful Blog this morning and it got me thinking about different approaches to editing posts and how many people don't seem to bother reading their own work.

One of my pet peeves is reading posts on sites written by professionals that couldn't pass a 5th grade English test.

Spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc. seem to be a forgotten art. Most can't be bothered with writing a complete thought. "BTW", "IMO", "LOL" have become the norm.

If you depend on the written word to get your point across, be professional, use proper terminology. If your business uses acronym's, give a definition at least once, early in your article.

You should proof-read your own work. Use spell-check. Have someone read it for you. Read it yourself. Try to ensure your work is presentable, something you would find enjoyable reading yourself. No one wants to read something they feel needs to be corrected.

In one of my polls, not long ago, I asked how many of you worked strictly on the internet (67%) and how many worked mainly on your home computer (33%). The reason I bring that up is... How do you handle your own editing and proof-reading?

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Parallel Super Highways for a Fee


The other day I read an article by Reuters about broadband providers wanting to charge additional fees for high-speed services. I just got DSL not that long ago and think my fees are high enough.

At present I can access anything I need to conduct business on the internet. Speed is not a problem at this point. But some Broadband, Cable and DSL providers want to charge extra for additional speed. They want to create a parallel internet and charge for it's use, through their services. If you need to download videos and the like, you may have to pay more.

Years ago, the inventors of the internet found it is cheaper and more efficient to have one superhighway. Much like having a freeway and building a parallel highway, it would be easier and cheaper just to add more lanes to the existing road. The same is true of the present internet, just upgrade existing services.

Fees for access to a free internet are contradictory to say the least. This type of setup could outprice small and startup businesses on the internet. That could force some who Work at Home on the Internet out of business.

How would this affect your online business?

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Monday, March 06, 2006

The Balancing Act... Work and Home


One of the most difficult parts of Working at Home can be where to draw the line between Work and Home.

You have to be aware that because you Work at Home, you can't necessarily combine the two. Any home based business needs to be separate from home life or you could find yourself disillusioned and unhappy with both.

One key is to keep a separate office space from the family space. You can do this by putting your office in a spare room, garage, basement or the like. If you don't have all that much extra space, then try to find the least used room and set up there.

Communication is another factor that needs to be addressed. The telephone should be kept separate from the home phone. Make sure you have a line dedicated to the business, and that no one uses it to call their friends. If it is tied up, clients can't get through.

If you have only one computer, make sure you have all your work related files separated from the the household accounts. Password protect your work files, especially if you have children that use the computer. The last thing you need is to have a game downloaded over your latest project.

Set up a Business E-mail account. That way you can assure that there is no way of getting an e-mail from Aunt Bertha mixed in with client communications. You should also look into getting a Post Office Box for any snail mail you expect to receive, it helps in keeping your home address confidential.

Lastly, set regular hours for work. There is always something that could crop up, but if you have a set time dedicated to working, you should find it easier to follow through. Set a regular starting and quitting time. Let the family know that this is your work time and you are not to be disturbed. After quitting time, try not to let work interfere with family time.

These are by far not the only factors in balancing Work and Home, but they are a good starting point.

Do you have any other ways to help keep the balance?

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Between the Two


The poll for this week is to see if anyone who reads this Blog has visited my Website. There is a corresponding poll on the Website to see if anyone there has visited this Blog.

I want to do a comparison on the usefulness of each type of page. There are different reasons for having either one or the other, or both, but I want to find out if they are comparable and/or compatible.

So, please respond to this poll as it will help me determine where I should concentrate my efforts.

Thanks,

Joe

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DOS... Why?


Beware... Rant Ahead

Something I just really don't understand is why.

Why do people feel the need to direct a DOS (Denial of Service) toward certain Websites and Blogs?

Is it jealousy? Because their sites happen to be affiliated with another Network.

Is it Envy? Their sites rank higher than someone elses.

Is it Vindictiveness? Just to get back at someone for a particular post?

Is it to be mean? They don't like that person for some unknown reason.

Is it just because they can? They know they can do it, so they do.

I don't know the reason for doing such things to other sites. I know it is annoying to me, because I like to visit places like ProBlogger and cre8d design blog. I'm quite sure it is not only annoying to them, but it surely costs them visitors and revenue.

To me there is No Reason to do such a thing. If anything, these sites should be commended for the services they provide. I know they have both helped me, and didn't even know it.

I learned a long time ago, if someone is better at something than you, try to emulate them in order to achive the success you need, want , desire.

So, if you are the one doing this and happen to read this post... STOP IT.

Get a real job or find something more constructive to do with your time.

I know there are probably more sites that are having the same problem, but this is twice in one week that ProBlogger and cre8d design happen to be getting hit at the exact same time.

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Saturday, March 04, 2006

Don't Be Fooled


"You can fool some of the people all the time, you can fool all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time". Abe Lincoln

This is very evident if you try to find a way to make money on the internet. Every day I see people looking for the fast buck on the internet. Easy money. Something for nothing. Free.

Now, this article can go two ways. So it will.

The first direction is this: Investigate.

When you see something on the internet or in your E-mail, be skeptical. You will get offers of things you never wanted nor asked for, so don't bother with them. The offers will range from "Free Trial" to "Limited Time to Apply". You probably already know these are catch phrases, so don't be baited into something.

You will also see things to "Invest in Your Future", for a small investment, you will make $fillintheblank$. They will promise you a large ROI (Return on Investment). The only one going to make the Big Bucks and get the Giant ROI is them.

I have written about different companies I feel are Scams and which I think are legitimate. There is a list of them on my Website. Visit there if you have questions about certain companies.

You can also check them at the Better Business Bureau's Online site, or try typing the "Company Name Scam" in any of the Search Engines.

These companies are only throwing something at the wall and hoping that some of it sticks. Check them out thoroughly before jumping in with both feet and getting in over your head.

The second direction is: Work Hard, Nothing is Free.

Form a game plan. No viable business, online or otherwise will succeed unless you have a direction you want the company to go. Most times it takes a lot of research to find what you are looking for.

You need to have an idea of what you want to do, your customers needs, where you want to be in a given amount of time. Before you start make sure you have direction.

Use the Search Engines, look up the type of business you have or want to start. See what the competition is doing. How are they advertising? What keywords did you use to find them? Do you have a better idea, product, service? What did you like (dislike) about their setup?

Use this information to your advantage. Select keywords that are relevant to your product or service. It is difficult to be original, but you know your company better than anyone else, so use a description that fits your unique style.

Design your Webpage with the same concept in mind. It is difficult to be unique in the multitude of websites on the internet, but think of what best fits your style. If you need to hire a website designer, it could be money well spent. If you can do it yourself, then by all means do it, but look around to see what's out there.

When you are trying to conduct a Work at Home Business, don't look for an easy way out. There is no easy way out. There are a lot of get rich quick schemes, lots of "opportunities" and empty promises. But, the only way to succeed is through Hard Work.

Don't be one of the ones that are fooled. Period.

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Friday, March 03, 2006

Loss of Readership


For some reason readership has dropped 75% since the beginning of the week. I have found the same drop in the FeedBurner subscriptions. I doubt it was because of the polls, but you never know.

The only difference is that I added the HaloScan trackbacks around the same time as the drop off. It doesn't seem to work too well anyway, as none the trackbacks I have tried showed up. I have heard scuttlebut that the service interferes with Search Engines, but that the problem supposedly was fixed.

Guess not... I'm going to give it a few more days, just to make sure because I like the new comment feature. Maybe I can use just that and forget about the trackbacks until the problem is fixed.

Besides, the Forum that they have for such things never gives a response. The only thing you see there is other people having problems. And they never seem to get any answers either.

I don't really want to bad mouth HaloScan, but there is either a very big coincidence, or I'm just plain boring. (I hope it's not the latter).

Have any of you tried HaloScan? Are you having similar problems?

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No More Polls (for now)

I guess I should have listened to you.

Even though the poll was 50-50 I guess the ones that didn't want the polls, just didn't come back after the next one I put up.

I'm going to cool it with the polls until I can come up with something interesting.

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Snapshot of Working at Home


A recent press release from SonicWall Inc. gave the results of a Work at Home (remote worker) Survey. It apparently shows that the greater freedom of out-of-office workers helps keep workloads up-to-date and reduces bad tempers.

Here are some of the results of 941 participants world wide...

Productivity:

76% of employees surveyed said they were more productive.
61% of their managers agreed.

Security:

88% stored passwords in easy to find places.
12% used encripted passwords.
56% relied on memory.
4% used the same password for all their devices.

Personal Habits:

39% of both sexes wear sweats
12% of males wear nothing
7% of females wear nothing

44% of women showered
30% of men showered
33% of men shaved

18% of men take a break to do chores
38% of women do the same

Couldn't do at Office:

35% eat and drink at various times
45% listen to music
28% watch TV
21% take an afternoon nap
12% take a longer lunch

Accessing Work:

80% never lost temper with support staff
40% experience problems accessing corporate network
50% access applications other than E-mail
50% accessed corporate network daily
86% accessed corporate network several times a week
22% used cell phones or PDA's

What does all this show? I'm not really sure, but I saw myself in a couple of the catagories, so I thought it was an interesting snapshot of Working at Home.

How many of the catagories will you admit to being in?

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Importance of Statistics


There is an interesting conversation going on over at ProBlogger. Darren asks his readers if they could only check one statistic, what would it be?

I thought about that for a little while before I added my two cents. Anyone who runs a business of any sort on the internet, has to depend on statistics in order to get an idea of how well their page(s) are doing.

A while ago, I didn't think statistics were all that important. I think the reason was I had No Real Staistic to speak of. That combined with a Page Counter that really gave no pertinent information, tainted my view on the value of keeping stats.

Since I changed my PageView service to StatCounter, I have seen the value of stats, mostly because there is value in the information they provide.

Probably the biggest advantage to StatCounter over my last service is that I have stats for all 5 of my pages in one place, with only one log-in. I can compare one page to another without having to log-out, write it down, re-log-in for each page.

The biggest drawback is that you only get 100 pageviews to determine what is working. That sounds like a lot of pageviews, but the more popular your page becomes, the smaller the number seems. (You can upgrade for a fee).

I don't want to start sounding like I work for them, but I am happy with the service at this point.

The reason for this whole thing is to try to explain that Statistics are important, they are the way you can get a feel for your prospective clients. You can track where they came from, what keywords were used to find you, how long they stayed, which pages they viewed, what city.

These are all ways to target your audience. You can concentrate your efforts in some of the weaker areas. Or you can put forth a greater effort in areas that are successful for you. How and where you advertise depends on what you know about your prospective clients, and statistics are a very good way to determine the best strategy for targeting them.

Now, I pose the question to you. If you had only one statistic on which to base your strategy, what would it be?

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