Nov 282022
 

Christmas shopping is no longer confined to the local mall or an annual catalog that happens to find it’s way into your mailbox. Thanks to advanced technology, there is literally a whole world of shopping at your fingertips. The internet has revolutionized the way people shop and, besides, what better way to do your Christmas shopping than from the comfort of your own home. No longer must we suit up and weather the harsh winter days in the hopes of checking a few names off of our Christmas list. The store aisles, as we know them, are crowded and hectic.



But now, many store aisles are becoming virtual, a shopping cart is something you fill with images of a product and a checkout is something that you click on to confirm your order. Things have changed a lot in the past years and I wonder how many of us couldn’t even imagine what life would be like without the convenience of shopping on the internet. There are several tips for online Christmas shopping, which can make the experience a smooth and pleasant one.



Online Christmas Shopping Tip #1: Be prepared



It’s a good idea to start your shopping with a complete list. This will save you both time and money with having to go back and place a separate order later on. With most online stores, you pay a flat shipping fee. In some cases, if you spend a certain amount of money on your order, the shipping and handling fee is waived. It’s always best to get everything you want, all at once, to save on shipping. Before you commit to buying from one store, shop around and compare prices on both the product and shipping.



Online Christmas Shopping Tip #2: The early bird gets the gift



If you want to get the best selection, begin your holiday shopping early. Internet stores generally carry large quantities of every item, but even they can sell out. As Christmas draws near, it becomes more difficult to find the exact item that you’re looking for. There’s nothing like finding the perfect item and seeing the words, ‘Sold Out’ written under the price.



Online Christmas Shopping Tip #3: Shop Safe



When ordering anything online, check product reviews if available. Always shop secured websites because you will be entering your credit card, or banking information, for payment. You don’t want your financial information accessed by anyone else, which is why all secured websites let you know how they protect your data.



Online Christmas Shopping Tip #4: Wrap it up



If you’re like most, there’s not a lot of extra time around the holidays. If you need to save some time on wrapping, most online stores offer a gift wrapping service for a small fee. At some point during the ordering process, you may be asked if you would like to add gift wrap or a name tag. It’s as easy as the click of a button, which is much easier than trying to tie the perfect bow.



Online Christmas Shopping Tip #5: Check Delivery Dates



When placing your order, check to make sure that the item is in stock or will be delivered in time for Christmas. Many times, especially near the holidays, items will go on a backorder status. It’s not uncommon for an advanced order item to have a delivery date of January, so be sure to check the status of the items in your shopping cart, along with their expected delivery dates. Not only that, but it’s also a good idea to check on the company’s shipping policy and delivery time for in-stock items.



Online Christmas Shopping Tip #6: Christmas Cards?



With all the stuff going on in December it’s easy to forget to send out Christmas cards to family and friends. But if you forget to send traditional Christmas cards in time all is not lost. In fact, there are some great sites and services online that will send your christmas cards out for you (saving you precious time). You can find services that are both free and paid, and services that send both digital and tradition paper Christmas cards.

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Nov 272022
 

Copyright 2005 Wendy Owen

No matter which type of arthritis you suffer from, be it osteoarthritis, gout, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis or any one of the myriad forms of this disease, you need a safe and effective treatment. Attention is turning towards natural arthritis pain relief that is safe and viable for long term use.

There has been quite a scare recently due to the recall of Vioxx a Cox-2 inhibitor from the NSAIDS family of drugs. Vioxx was a major drug for arthritis pain relief. Sufferers are worried and wondering which drugs are safe and which one may be next to be withdrawn from the market.

All drugs have side effects, there’s no disputing that. The question is how dangerous are these side effects and are they worse than the disease they are supposed to help? In the case of Vioxx, the side effects were increased risk of heart attack or stroke. Deadly stuff!

Unfortunately some side effects will only show up in time. No matter how well a drug is researched and tested. The question “How many other time bombs are lurking out there?” is valid and is currently being investigated.

So where does this leave the unfortunate person seeking arthritis pain relief? Well the best thing is not to get caught up in the hype in the press. Keep in touch with your arthritis doctor of rheumatologist to get the up to date news on what’s available and what’s “safe” to take at the moment.

Natural arthritis medication is a viable and safe option that can be taken with confidence while waiting for the dust to settle on the NSAIDS debate. Some people have experienced dramatic relief from taking these natural remedies and have decided that a natural remedy for arthritis is the answer to relieving arthritis pain while being free of the worry over dangerous side effects.

Acupuncture for Arthritis

Acupuncture is another natural remedy for arthritis. Acupuncture involves the use of needles to stimulate energy centres in the body for effective pain relief. Massage can benefit most types of arthritis, especially fibromyalgia, as it relaxes the muscles. Likewise the application of heat can have a relaxing and pain relieving effect.

Arthritis and Exercise

Exercise is great for arthritis as well. Gentle exercises such as yoga, pilates, swimming and walking are suitable. Stretch well before exercising and in the case of an attack of gout, wait until the pain and inflammation has subsided before starting.

So there is natural arthritis relief out there for those wanting to get away from drugs and their side effects or for those wanting more information on arthritis to expand their treatment options. Those natural arthritis treatments are safe, effective and put you in control of the disease. Always remember though to always seek professional medical advice at all times.

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Nov 262022
 

If you’re the least bit serious about promoting your website(s) online then you have probably heard the recent cry that one’s website needs links coming into it. Lot’s of links. And without these many, many links one is the proverbial billboard in the desert waiting to be seen by those thirsty for sustenance.

Well after these several years that I’ve been on the internet I too heard the call and have followed the many internet bandwagons that have rolled into e-town touting the next ‘latest and greatest’ snakeoil software to get one traffic that they won’t believe.

You know the cry… ‘The traffic explosion your favorite web guru gets – and it’ll only cost you $795 to attend this three-day conference to learn how to play with the big boys (and girls) online.’

Sound familiar? To most owning one or several websites it will.

But after being dragged around the reciprocal linking millstone over the last several months in a valiant attempt to obtain many reciprocal link exchanges and closely monitoring all completed link requests I can truthfully say that that job in itself is a bugger to track and stay on top of.

Why?

Because for the most part one has to rely on one common denominator in that equation… people.

I finally realized that this tactic of getting traffic ‘for free’ and having it prove itself as viable was indeed true. Link-exchanges do work. But they ARE work too.

But with me being the type of person who writes with my eyes closed (literally), I was told by a couple of e-friends that I should pursue ‘articles’ more vehemently. I didn’t know what they meant so what I did was find out about a couple of the bigger article directories on the Net and I submitted a couple of my writings to them. And then I promptly forgot about this process because it was extremely labor intensive.

And with me being a relatively lazy fellow at times I ‘moved on’ to other tasks that seemed more to my liking. And ease of use.

But after getting relatively burned out with this link-exchange stuff and dogging real live people to honor link exchange requests after I had ‘nicely’ place an unexpected link to their site on my site, I was tired of this whole process.

~~~~COMMENT~~~~
Yes, I know there are automated processes and software out there that will do this linking stuff for one, but again, I’ve also read how the SE’s are ‘onto’ these tactics and reciprocal links aren’t as effective as they used to be.

But they are still effective, that’s why I still honor the odd link exchange request I get. I just don’t spend all my time doing this anymore.

But getting back on track to the actual subject of this article…
~~END COMMENT~~

Back a couple of months ago, I somehow received an email about a new software program that would do ‘article submissions’ almost automatically.

But let me first digress somewhat and tell you what ‘article submitting’ is.

Article submitting may sound kind of formal and only for ‘writers’, but it isn’t.

Essentially, anytime one writes something of extended length, even a longer webpage, they’ve written an ‘article’.

Think about it. If you have a website that you’ve personally written, then you have written articles related to the subject of your website.

So, if your website is all about the best way to burp babies, then you have a whole bunch of ‘articles’ that you’ve written about parenting, specifically, burping babies.

What you can then do is submit these articles throughout the WWW and get yourself known as a baby burping expert.

But even more importantly, you can take each of the webpages you’ve written on your website and turn it into an ‘article’ – add a link BACK to your site in the footer of the article – and voila! you have written an article and ALSO obtained a link back to your site whenever someone else uses that article.

And all this without having to hassle with e-chasing that non-compliant link partner to honor their link exchange with you.

Sound cool? It is.

Now, like everything else, there is a downside to all this article writing.

It takes time to do.

First you have to have written YOUR OWN articles/webpages. And then you have to personally submit them to any of several hundred article directories floating around in cyberspace.

And of course there is the whole idea of you having the motivation to do this submission stuff too, so let me share a little bit of motivating statistics with you.

Remember how I mentioned earlier about having piddled with submitting a couple of stories/webpages I had written to several of the major article directories? Well, that was about 14 months ago. And remember how I told you that I did this and then promptly forgot about all this article submission stuff?

Well, over those 14 months since I did this, which by the way only took about one hour to do, I now have about 300 STATIC, incoming links to my site from those two articles being posted around the Internet. Yes, 300 incoming, NOT reciprocal, links.

And so what I did was after I received that email from someone touting this article submission software was to do some research on this whole article submission automation software process.

What I came out of this research with was that as of now there are two main article submission software programs that allow one to automate most of the process of doing this sometimes laborious task.

And since it is so repetitive and sometimes painstaking to do manual article submissions I thought that this would be one way to get me back into this process that I think is well suited for the way I like to promote my business online. With words, that is.

After much mental deliberation, and financial detailing, I opted to go for an article submission software that was released during the summer of 2005. Besides it being almost one-third the price of the other main player in this article submittal software e-competition going on, it also appeared to have a lot going for it with a money-back guarantee and a manual and good developer-support.

So I bought it several weeks ago and have been using it everyday to promote several of my websites by submitting ‘articles’ I’ve written to the several hundred article directories included in the automatic submissions this software does for the user.

And to say the least, the results, so far, are extremely impressive.

One little statistic. Remember those two articles I submitted 14 months ago and obtained over 300 incoming links from doing so? Well, I’ve used this software to continue submitting them to other article directories included in the software program.

And now that 300 incoming links number now numbers almost 700. Yes, 700 incoming links from just those two articles. An increase of approximately 400 incoming links, in just five weeks.

To me, those are some GOOD results. Especially without having to chase other humans to reciprocal link with me, building link webpages, tracking linking emails, checking links, buying tracking software, and all that stuff that goes along with the reciprocal linking process.

So, if you’re tired of buying links and chasing other website owners for reciprocal link exchanges, do consider using content you’ve written as a way to get links, and eventually traffic, into your site.

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Nov 252022
 

Ah, potty training!



Go to a local bookseller and you will find dozens of books on the subject. Search the Net and there are thousands of websites with information on how to do it stress free. There are even people who are capitalizing on a parent’s frustration with potty training by offering to do it for you, for a hefty sum! I honestly can’t imagine anything more unseemly than paying someone to teach my child to “go”.



Ewwww!!!



I have successfully potty trained 3 kids so far using this method.

I seem to be the envy of the playgroups when other Moms see that my 3 year old son has been in whitey tighties for over a year. My oldest was also 2 when he potty learned.



For me, potty training starts with a newborn. Now don’t get me wrong…I do diaper my babes (unlike the native African mothers who wear their babies on their backs and who, to avoid being soiled on, learn to read their babies’ cues so well that they know when their newborn needs to be held over a bush…no, I’m not kidding!) but I have always used cloth diapers, which encourages babies to train early. I’m not a longhaired, barefoot, off-the-grid hippie (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but you’re more likely to find me in Doc Martens than Birkenstocks!) but I have been cloth diapering since the beginning.



It has saved me hundreds and hundreds of dollars, but I also like the fact that my babies begin to make the association with the uncomfortable wet feeling and the knowledge that they can prevent it. Most babies will wake up dry in the morning at several months of age, demonstrating that they are physically able to “hold it”. In my opinion, Pull Ups are evil and yet another invention that some clever businessman came up with that parents now think is a necessity. Along with formula, baby swings, and the like. Pull Ups just enable a 5 year old to keep soiling himself. Research has shown that cloth diapered babies potty learn several months earlier than disposable diapered babies.



So here’s Grandma’s recipe (and I do owe it to my Mother, like most of the good stuff I know about parenting) for easy potty training, even if you choose not to cloth diaper.



Let your baby come into the bathroom when you go. That way, they know what’s going on in there. You don’t have to get graphic, just talk to them about what toilets are for. If you are a woman at home all day with boy children, encourage Daddy to show ’em how it’s done. You don’t want them thinking that if they go on the toilet their equipment will fall off, like Mum’s obviously did. Strange, but true…some tots will come to this conclusion.



Buy 3 or 4 of those cheap little molded plastic potties and put them around the house. At least, one in each bathroom and one in the kitchen or the room where you spend the most time with your child. Stick a towel underneath for the sake of your carpet if said child is a boy. Speaking of boys…you can take advantage of nature here by keeping an open mind. I know at least one boy who was trained when his Mom let him go off the side of the deck.



The summer that your child is closest to two, take two days and don’t leave the house. Let your child run around naked from the waist down, with a big tee shirt on top so that private parts stay private.



Every 10 minutes, place the child matter-of-factly on the pot. DO NOT ASK inane questions like “Do you need to go potty sweetie pie!?” We are talking about dealing with a two year old here! Just do it like it’s the thing to do, and don’t ask permission. Don’t force it, and if he/she wants to get up right away, let him or her.



If you have a resistant child, set a timer to go off every 10 minutes. It’s amazing what a child will do when the power dynamic is taken away. When the “potty timer” goes off, it’s time to sit on the pot!



Use praise but don’t go overboard. Act like this is the expected thing. Be cool. Say “You put peepee in the potty, just like Mommy and Daddy (and big brother, and your older play group friend…3rd parties are gold here!!) do.



Don’t make a big deal out of what’s happening. Don’t spend hours reading potty training books or videos to the child. Again, be cool. If you make it into a big deal, your child will be more likely to dig in and resist.



Have some “big boy shorts” or “big girl panties” that you know your child will like, perhaps that you have picked out together, ready for the end of the two days. Your child will be less likely to have accidents if s/he is going to mess up their new undies.



When the inevitible accidents happen, don’t scold. Be patient and gracious. This is part of the job. Remember that even if you decide to spring for carpet cleaning, you will still come out ahead if you don’t have to buy diapers for another year or two!

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Nov 242022
 

Have you ever read those reports on the cost of raising a child?



The last time I checked, I was told that it would cost the astronomical figure of $430,470 to raise my baby… and that didn’t include college tuition!



The people who come up with these figures must not be very creative. Some of the best things you can do for your child are free or very inexpensive. Here are some tips for raising kids on the cheap.



1) Breastfeed



You can save roughly $1,000 in formula costs alone in your baby’s first year by breastfeeding. Check out this report: http://www.natural-moms.com/cost_of_baby_formula.html



This figure doesn’t include the extra costs you would incur from Doctor visits and medications. Breastfed babies are less likely to need medical care and don’t get sick as often as their formula fed peers.



Formula feeding increases a baby’s risk of both acute and chronic health problems not only during childhood but well into adulthood. If you’re a working and breastfeeding Mother, you’re less likely to miss work than if you were formula feeding.



In addition, a breastfed baby can go straight from the breast to an open cup, thus eliminating pacifiers, bottles and sippy cups.



Even baby food is not necessary. The healthiest first foods for baby are fresh fork-mashed avocado, banana, sweet potato and the like. If you’re breastfeeding, you may be able to delay the introduction of solids until as late as 8 or 9 months.



2) Use Cloth Diapers



All I am saying…is give cloth a chance!



The modern cloth diapers are nothing like Grandma’s. The nicer ones are made from high tech materials that wick moisture away from baby, and utilize snaps or velcro to close instead of pins.



They save you a lot of money especially if you save them and use them again for subsequent children. You can buy them cheaply at thrift stores, online auctions, and diaper services (check your phone book for listings). Or ask for cloth diapers as shower gifts.



3) Rethink your Needs



Think about what you REALLY need to raise your baby. A lot of the expensive items sold in baby stores are completely unnecessary and some are even harmful. Most of the people raising children on the planet today do so without cribs, walkers (which Pediatricians recommend against anyway!), playpens, changing tables, swings, “educational” toys, etc.



Many Moms have found that a soft cloth carrier or baby sling was the only gadget they really needed. Baby is happy, stimulated by your activities and entertained. And Mom can get stuff done!



The best toys are simple and classic and require imagination. These are often the least expensive too! And most kids do best with few toys that are rotated. Think back to your own childhood…what were your favorite toys? If you can even remember them, they were probably not loud, flashy electronic battery powered gadgets. Your best childhood memories probably come from activities…playing in Grandma’s backyard, going places with Mom and Dad, the simple things.



For the baby stuff you really can’t live without…



4) Buy or Obtain Used



Let friends know that you welcome hand-me-downs and you’ll be blessed with all sorts of great stuff!



High quality clothing and baby equipment generally doesn’t wear out from just one child’s use. For safety, check to make sure items haven’t been recalled and get the owner’s manuals from the manufacturer’s websites. (The one exception would be child safety seats. Always buy those new.)



Shop at thrift and consignment shops and online auctions. Some of the very best deals can be found at regional consignment sales. Check local parenting magazines and websites for the locations of these.



Personally, I prefer used clothing because much new clothing has been treated with flame retardants and other scary chemicals that can be absorbed into children’s softer skin.



Being a frugal parent minimizes the impact on the environment, saves you money and models a healthy lifestyle to your kids. Teach your kids what really matters in life…people, not things!

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Nov 232022
 

This is a question that many homeowners find themselves in. With cable television costing so much these days, people are looking for a better solution. Is Direct TV that solution? While there can be a case made for both sides, the Direct TV options can be numerous. When you analyze this question, you will want to talk about price but you’ll also want to consider ease of use, availability of programming, and high quality technology. So, who wins the battle of Direct TV versus cable?



Cable



On one side you have cable. This is the standard choice for many because it is what they know. Cable was around for a long time in mainstream television and therefore you go with what you know. Cable now offers many more channels than it once did. You can get high definition systems as well as such products that can record shows for you. Cable programming is versatile, taking in many of the various needs the consumers have. But, the price of cable is something that throws many off. To get the good stuff, you’ll have to pay for it.



Direct TV



On the other side, you have Direct TV. While the equipment to use Direct TV may be more expensive, it is often offered at discounted price or even offered for free when you subscribe to the right options. Direct TV offers a lower price then. And, it does offer more channels as well. Does that mean that they are going to be ones that interest you? We still think you’ll find that with 135 channels, there is still “nothing good on” at times. You also can get into digital options as well as high definition quality.



The Bottom Line



The bottom line comes down to the fact that you can get more from Direct TV than you can from standard cable and it will likely cost you less. Is it the right option for you? Check out the pricing plans that are available to make that final decision on Direct TV.

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Nov 222022
 

Do you have to sacrifice all of the creative and artistic elements of your web site to rank in the search engines? Later in this article I’ll show you a real case scenario and the design and SEO approach used.



Thanks to the birth of professional search engine marketers the top ranks are saturated with the pages of companies that can pay for such insight. That said, it’s certainly possible to employ high ranking tactics in your own website. Actually, the most basic tactics can move you up from an 800 position to a 300. However, it’s the top of the scale where efforts seem almost inversely exponential or logarithmic, you put a ton in to see a tiny change in rank.



How do you meld the ambitious overhauls required to attain significant ranking and NOT compromise the design of your site?



Design Can’t Be Ignored



If you have an existing site, you’ve probably tied it into your existing promotional content. Even if you’ve allowed your website to cater to the more free form of the net, it should still be designed as a recognizable extension of your business.



The reasons for doing so are valid, and can’t simply be ignored for the sake of achieving a first age position, can they? If your research into search optimization leaves you shuffling around thoughts of content, keyword saturated copy and varying link text, you are correctly understanding some of the basic pillars of search engine optimization.



And, you aren’t alone if you have this disheartening thought—If I do all this SEO stuff and reach number one across the board, who would stay at my site because it’s so stale and boring I’m even embarrassed to send people there!



There are two ways to successfully combine design and SEO. The first is to be a blue chip and/or Fortune 500 company with multi million dollar advertising and branding budgets to deliver your website address via television, radio, billboards, PR parties and giveaways with your logo.



Since chances are that’s not you, and certainly not me, lets look at the second option. It begins with some research into your market, some thoughtful and creative planning, and a designer who is a search engine optimizer, and understands at least basic CSS and HTML programming techniques. Or a combination of people with these skills that can work very well together.



Design is for brochures, instant results are for the web



That’s not the whole truth, but it will help compare and contrast design and SEO. In reality, SEO needs the quantity and detail of supporting text that a brochure has, but good web design has to catch a viewer’s attention in 5 seconds. It’s pretty difficult to read and absorb the content of an entire brochure in less than 5 seconds.



Search engines need rich, related, appropriate, changing and poignant content. And for them to rank you, all of that must be on your pages. But if it’s not well organized and broken down into bite size chunks, no one is going to bother learning about what you’re offering.



Construction 101- Attractive Design and SEO



Sadly, it’s very difficult to optimize a site without completely overhauling it. You’ll soon understand why. Design and SEO must be strongly rooted into every aspect of each other, possessing a true, symbiotic relationship. Lets look at a simplified example of this. Lets say you are optimizing a page for the keyword phrase, “pumpkin bread recipe.”



From a design standpoint “Pumpkin Bread Recipe” would be the heading for the page, in a nice, readable font with the words perhaps an orange-brown color. And lets add a fine, green rule around it.



There are many ways to create that simple, colored heading. However, there is only one way that is best for both design and SEO. That is to use Cascading Style Sheets, or CSS. In addition, that line of code containing “Pumpkin Bread Recipe” needs to be as close to the top of the page as possible (which CSS also allows).



To a viewer, the recipe text might be read more if it were located to the right of a photo of a buttered piece of pumpkin bread on a small plate next to a lightly steaming cup of coffee.



SEO needs to read that ingredient list and baking instructions. Search engines now understand on a rudimentary level that the ingredients are indeed related to the optimized words- pumpkin bread recipe.



Additionally, it would take many extra lines of code to make a table in this example if you didn’t use CSS. Search engines don’t like extra code. In fact, given enough times, that “extra” code will make the keyword phrases seem less important and hurt rank.



Note: In the page code, a few thousand characters more than you need to get all of that content organized would normally just add to your page load time, and might be acceptable. But to a search engine, that time can really add up. It wont read through page after page, site after site, billionth after billionth character of unimportant code to find the relevant text. Therefore, the less code, the better your chances. Moral- Less code, more content.



SEO usually means REDO



In the previous pumpkin example, CSS will eliminate the need for almost any extra code at all, and provide the means to place the text to the right of the photo.



Now, imagine that someone had already created this page, but done so using other programming methods. The page could very well be W3C compliant, well programmed and got the job done. However, without designing and programming for optimization as in the above illustration, the end result would have no significant rank compared to others that do.



You can be sure that there exist at least 30 web sites built to rank for the keywords “pumpkin bread recipe”. Note- why did I use the number 30? It’s safe to assume if you’re not on the first three results pages of a search, you’re not being seen.



While this is a simple example, hopefully you understand that it would be impossible to optimize this simple page without redoing it. This isn’t always the case, but extrapolate this into detailed, multiple pages in an entire website and the issue is greatly magnified.



Aesthetic Importance vs. Traffic



Everyone has an idea of what they want their site to look like. The pretty factor- splash pages, cool flash and graphics must now be justified as to their importance to the bottom line. If you want/need to establish an online presence, you will have to make some compromises in these areas.



Understand exactly the role your site should play in your company marketing.



Ask- What is the goal of your website and who is its audience? Is it for existing clients to see? Is it to reach new clients? To venture into yet untapped market segments?



Ask- How strongly do your other marketing efforts promote your site?



Ask- Is your website an extension of your existing collateral that must reflect the same graphical look?



Ask- Is your website meant to assist to your sales force or is it your sales force?



Chances are you wont have any single answers. That’s ok. It will give you some meat for your designer/SEO to digest and develop a solution for you.



Real case of Design balanced with SEO and salability



If you sell jewelry solely online, you must have a catalog of exceptional photography and detailed, high-resolution close up images. But, you must be optimized and rank well if you want to sell any of that jewelry.



If such a company approached me with this project, my recommendation would be this: If you sell a product, people have to see that product. Lots of good images. The site should be slick and sheik and easy to navigate. The home page has to capture the buyer’s attention. If it’s very expensive jewelry, the site should have a lot of class and elegance. If it’s home made jewelry, the site shouldn’t look home made.



However, as you have no store front, if the online community can’t find you, you’re business will fail. So I’d have a very optimized home page with some discussion of the quality of your product, the history of your company, etc. This is also great sales copy. Ad a few special catalog pieces with descriptions below some smartly placed gifs, jpegs and readable type graphics built out of CSS and you’ve got a cool to look at, content rich, well optimized layout.



I’d make the link to your catalog very obvious and prominent. Note the catalog is not the homepage. I’d also include subsequent well written, in depth pages about the history of some specific pieces. Load them with targeted keywords and a few images. Again, make your catalog link very prominent. In doing so you’re creating relevant content for search engines AND providing additional pages that can rank.



The catalog can be database driven, simple and changeable, and you have the foundation to build your search rank.



Planning Your Site



If your designer is not a search engine optimizer, hire one to work with your designer from the initial development stage of your site. If you would like a visible presence that is not dependant on traditional marketing efforts to get your name around, then you will have to optimize.



However, with advances in html and css, text itself can be a very flexible and attractive design element with endless possibilities. Site optimization consists of some rigid, unbendable rules. It can be intertwined successfully with very creative and attractive design. If your Designer and SEO aren’t the same person or company, make sure they have the same, close working relationship.

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Nov 212022
 

Copyright 2005 Kathy Gulrich

Amazing thing, overwhelm!

You don’t usually see it coming. It just kind of creeps up on you, doesn’t it?

Even those of us who love juggling a million projects at a time get overwhelmed once in a while. And if you’re happiest with just a couple of projects on your plate? You might be looking at overwhelm a bit more often.

No matter how we like to work, I’d be willing to bet that all of us have been there at least a couple of times. And that we didn’t much enjoy it….

So today I’ll be sharing some practical ways to get out of overwhelm – fast – the next time you’re right smack in the middle of it.

SO WHAT, EXACTLY, IS OVERWHELM?

Overwhelm is not having too many projects on your plate. It’s not getting a really tough assignment. It’s not having to juggle several things at once. Overwhelm is not being uncertain about where to head next.

Overwhelm isn’t about the “what.” It’s about you.

No matter how many, or how crazy the projects you’re working on, they’re only a problem when you feel out of control … or overwhelmed.

So what happens when you’re overwhelmed? It’s a bit different for everyone, of course. But overwhelm does come with some fairly common side effects.

Take a minute to think of the last time you felt overwhelmed. Which of the following did you experience:

• Physical reaction: upset stomach, headache, tiredness, sleeplessness, lack of energy, wired, etc.

• Mental activity: lots of ideas, pros and cons, worries, plans, possibilities, etc. bouncing around in your head

• Emotional reaction: upset, angry, sad, worried, irritable, detached, needy, etc.

However different our physical, mental, or emotional reactions to overwhelm, we usually end up in one place: stuck!

Which brings us to the next part of this article…

ONCE YOU’RE STUCK IN THE MIDDLE OF OVERWHELM, HOW THE HECK DO YOU GET OUT OF IT?

Well, there’s no easy answer to this one.

I think the best strategy is to have lots of strategies. Then, when you’re totally stuck, you can hopefully reach out and find something that’ll work for you!

So here goes….

1 – Do something! Anything.

Find one thing that you can do, right away, to get one of the projects moving – and do it.

The key here is that It doesn’t have to be a big thing, or an important thing. Just take one small step, right away.

Choose the pen you’ll write that article with. Turn on your computer. Fill your water pitcher. Anything you do will help get you out of overwhelm, and into action

2 – Stop at three

I love to have lots of things on my plate. So one of the ways I used to get overwhelmed was to start too many projects at once.

Now (well, most of the time…) I’ve learned to limit myself to a maximum of three big projects at a time.

If there are more than three things I really want to work on, I choose three to start – and tuck the rest away in my “idea box.”

Two benefits from this one.

First, I can avoid overwhelm by limiting the number of projects I’m working on at any one time.

Even better, I always have something to look forward to. And that’s a great incentive for me to finish my active projects!

3 – Prioritize

Hey, I know, I know. When you’re overwhelmed, prioritizing your projects may seem next to impossible.

So I’m not suggesting that you work out your priority list for the next several months – or even then next couple of days.

Keep it simple.

Just decide which project you’re going to tackle first. You don’t have to actually do anything. Just decide what you’ll do first.

You’ll be totally amazed at how much energy that’ll free up for you!

4 – Toss something off your list

Which projects can go?

Someone once suggested a rule to me that’s worked pretty well, so I’ll share:

Every project you work on should have at least three benefits to you or your business.

For example, this newsletter helps me build the smART artist community, and it gives me the opportunity to write regularly (I love to write, so that’s a personal benefit).

It’s a great way to share information with fellow artists.

And the newsletter also provides a forum for announcing whatever new stuff I’m working on.

So those are my three (okay, four…) benefits.

Next time you’re overwhelmed, look at the projects on your list. Which will benefit you in at least three ways? They’re the keepers.

And the projects that don’t have three benefits? Toss ’em!

Once you’re out of overwhelm, come back to the projects you put aside, and see if you’re perfectly happy without them – or if you’d like to tweak them so they do have three benefits for you.

5 – Come back from the future

Ever notice how overwhelm is usually all about the future?

What you’ll do after…

What’ll happen when…

How you’ll feel if you can’t…

How horrible it’ll be if you don’t…

How soon they’ll find out that you…

Stop, stop, STOP!

Take a deep breath, and get a feel for where you are now.

Where are you sitting? What’s around you? Are there any particular sensations in your body? Are you warm, or cool? Can you see outside? Are you alone? With others?

Notice what’s going on right now. In this moment.

And from this space, think of the projects you’d like to work on. (Chances are they’ll be a lot less scary, and not at all overwhelming.)

Where would you like to start?

From “now,” you can go absolutely anywhere you like!

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