Why I like Blurb over Chatbooks and Shutterfly

Blurb is my personal choice over Chatbooks and Shutterfly. I have only just begun using Blurb on the advice of my friend Joe Chrvala. Joe has been doing some great photography over the years and I have seen the books he produced. Another friend referred Chatbooks and someone else recommended Shutterfly.

I invite you to check them all out if you have ever thought of producing a photo album or even something like an eBook to sell!

Blurb

  • Free program (Blurb BookWright) to create on your local computer
  • Use your own high quality images
  • Great templates, both free and fee based
  • Great pricing
  • Deliver internationally

Photo of Dad and Daughter

My daughter was married recently and will be moving to the UK shortly. I wanted something she could take with her that won’t take much space and that she could give to her new family. I remembered Joe talking about Blurb and called him to get the address. Wow! So easy to use. I created the book and ordered copies for the kids to take the UK, plus one for us of course! I could have delivered directly to UK for the same shipping cost but they were going anyway and I didn’t want to pay once for here and once for there.

If you ever thought creating a book to sell, they make it so easy! No, I’m not pitching this to you. You wouldn’t have any reason to be interested in this album other than as a sample. Click here to see the book preview.

Chatbooks

My friend said she found Chatbooks really cheap. If you only order the basic $15 book, she would be correct. For myself, I take way too many pictures and wouldn’t like to limit myself that much. Too hard to choose! Feedback I found online indicated that when people use the connection to social media to make the books, this seems to be optimized for Instagram, you run the risk of the images being too low quality when you produce a book.

Chatbooks offers a phone app to produce offline but that doesn’t help on my laptop. This is a big factor for me.

Shutterfly

  • Upload your own images or pull directly from social media (You control the quality)
  • Offers pre-formatted layouts
  • Offers service to do the work for you
  • Can be reasonably priced but watch out for add ons

I went to Shutterfly and set up an account where I tried to create a similar book but for a trip I did last year. I think if I limited myself to the same number of pages, pricing is only a little more than Blurb. I did like the layout options. I didn’t like the fact I couldn’t figure out how to work offline when creating the book. When I traveled on my bus commute to work, I couldn’t work on the book because the WiFi on the bus is really limited for upload and download. I gave up!

Blurb Wins! (For me.)

Blurb book coverI prefer Blurb because I can work locally with high quality graphics to produce a reasonably priced book whether in hard cover, soft cover or as an eBook. We all have different needs and I can’t choose for you but I hope this gives you a place to start. If you have ever thought of creating and selling a book, Blurb makes it easy including the “Store front” with a shopping cart!

When will you write your first book?

Make it a great day,

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for my friends, Blurb and Lenovo! What are you thankful for today?

Website Design, Are You Easy To Read?

Website design is fairly easy these days with hosting packages like Pure Leverage but are you sure everyone can read your writing?

Website Design

First, consider the design of the page. I use Pure Leverage and my site is driven by WordPress. There are many great templates available but you need to be careful. Be sure you choose a template that is mobile friendly. In the graphic below, you can see that one of my social media posts was mostly clicked on mobile. In this case, 86.5% of hits were on Facebook Mobile. Just as an aside, I love goo.gl for the insights you can get about who is clicking your links!

website hits by platform

 

Take the time to visit sites that are similar to your business and see what works. How do you feel when you visit those sites. But, be careful not to fall into the trap of just what you like to see. Have friends you can trust to be hones give you some feedback.

  • What is “above the fold”?
  • What is the message?
  • Are there too many or not enough graphics?
  • Can it be read by an electronic reader?
  • Are fonts and their colours friendly?

If you want to see what your page looks like on mobile, visit http://mobiletest.me/ and test it out. Visit http://aoda.ca/wcag to learn more about making sites more accessible and there are some links to useful tools to help you.

The Message

Who is your message aimed at? Now you have to think about your target. Who do you want to be reading your blog or website? If you take a look at the graphic above, you will see that there were hits outside of North America. Is it written in language they understand? I’m not referring to English/German/French etc. I’m referring to the ability to understand your words.

InternationalHaving taken in international students who have come to Canada to learn English, I have learned that we often use very confusing words. For example, I was talking to a person who speaks Spanish first, French second and English third. It was a beautiful day and I said “it’s days like this that I want to play hooky”. You should have seen the look I got! Total confusion.

Try your best to use plain language that is easy to understand. Plain language is not necessarily simple words. We often use unnecessary words or use slang when communicating. When you use slang language, understand that the message may be different than the one you intended to convey.

K.I.S.S. Keep it simple. Make sure your website is easy to read and understand.

Make it a great day!

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for all of my international students, new foods and Pure Leverage. What are you thankful for today?

 

Website, Does Yours Work Against You?!

Website. A page or collection of pages online that send a message or provide some kind of information. Does your website work against you?!

Website

website toolsYour website is your face to the world and in many cases, may be your first contact. The challenge for many entrepreneurs starting their business today is they have little to no technical experience in this area. A plumber likely doesn’t have a lot of time to create and maintain a page let alone do all the marketing for their business. You can’t just build a website and hope people see it. You need to spend some time marketing the page which then helps with marketing your business.

Click the image to the left for a video that explains how your website may actually be working against you. For example, let’s say you have your email on the site. Do you check it and respond in a timely manner? How would you feel if you sent an email and it took 10 days to get a response and you felt it was an emergency? Your roof or toilet is leaking and the professional you contacted was too busy to see your email and respond to your crisis. So much for the value of your website.

Marketing

Marketing is the activity of attracting people to your business. Some of the components may be:

  • A business website;
  • Business cards;
  • Automated email response;
  • Social media;
  • Video email;
  • Blogging
  • and the list could go on.

Salesman with a bull hornThe point I’m trying to make is your website isn’t actually marketing your business. It’s only a small part of a marketing strategy.  You need to actively promote your website so that it can promote your business. Some of the work can be automated. When it comes to marketing tools, Pure Leverage brings many together into one package saving hundreds of dollars and hours. Be sure to click the links in the bullets above for some tips on using social media and blogs.

Either do the marketing activity yourself or consider hiring someone to do it for you. For example, if you aren’t interested in building a website yourself, you can use the Pure Leverage suite of tools and have an admin person go through the video tutorials included. Alternatively, you can hire a service provider for that purpose. There are many people these days who will gladly look after doing your social media posts on your behalf.

In summary, your website isn’t a total marketing solution. The Pure Leverage Suite of tools can certainly make the job a lot easier! This is a package of tools complete with training videos to get you started.

Free Internet Marketing Coaching

 

Being and entrepreneur is like living on a roller coaster. There will be ups and downs along the way. Enjoy the ride!

Make it a great day,

Barry

Visit my other blog at https://barryclermont.com (Watch the video by Joel Therien on the right!)

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful my wife found Pure Leverage. I’m thankful I found my wife! I’m thankful for every new experience. What are you thankful for today?

DM or PM, How Private Is It?

DM (Direct Message) or PM (Private Message) is only as private as the sender and receiver want it to be. By the way, the same can be said for email!

DM (Direct Message) or PM (Private Message)

DM or messageFacebook and Twitter both have a DM option, Facebook Messenger or Twitter Direct Message.

One of the challenges is that both have the option to create a group message. Sometimes we forget it was a group message and use the same message to respond to an individual. Oops! Everyone saw that message. Make sure you know who is receiving it.

How private is it really?

Some things to remember:

Pick up the phone to arrange a meeting! Or, connect on FaceTime or whatever it takes to see the person you are talking to. I would suggest a phone call to win a face to face conversation would be best when something is really important.

Email

We sometimes forget that email is not really private. For example, many forget that if you send work related email through a personal account, it can be subject to Freedom of Information requests. NEVER, EVER send business email from or to a personal account. Just ask Hilary Clinton!

Even if you don’t care if your message is received properly, you should care that it can come back and be made part of the public record.

Words Matter!

My Own Meeting graphicCommunicate responsibly. Sure, there are times you won’t care that you offend or upset someone. They hurt you, why shouldn’t you hurt them? First off, two wrongs don’t make a right. Secondly, although we have freedom of expression, we don’t have the right to slander or libel someone.

Words, whether in a DM or face to face can hurt deeply. At least when we are facing someone, we can get a better perception of their intent giving us a chance to clarify before something gets blown way out of proportion.

When your message is important, do it face to face. Too far away? Travel digitally. There are many tools these days that can bridge the gap when you can’t go and physically knock on the door.

Communication isn’t that difficult in a technical sense, the greatest issue is having the guts to face someone for a difficult conversation. DM me to get my attention, call me to arrange a meeting, look me in the eye so I can see your whole message.

If you ever want to talk, DM me! Click the image below to get to my other site and use the social media links from there!

logo for barryclermont.com

Make it a great day,

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for you! I’m thankful for online conferencing. I’m thankful for every new day.

What are you thankful for today?

Sales and Service: Land of Promises and Land of Broken Promises!

Sales people are forever making promises and service people always let them down. We need to remember how much we need each other or we will all go broke!

Sales: The Land of Promises

Have you ever worked in sales and had to work with the service department to keep customers satisfied with your post-sales support?

I have been in sales for a number of years. I learned, sometimes the hard way, just how much I needed the service department’s support in order to be successful. Here are just a few things that can make a world if difference:

And those are just a few.

When I was designing small to medium business technology solutions, I would often spend time with technicians in the service department bouncing ideas off them before making a pitch to a client. That feedback prevented me from embarrassing myself or them in the eyes of the client.

sales information exchangeThe salesperson is the public face of the company. They are expected to:

  • Identify need;
  • Clarify need by asking probing questions;
  • Handle objections;
  • Help client make a buying decision.

It’s when this process breaks down that the land of broken promises starts to develop. One unanswered or unasked question at a time.

Land of Broken Promises

In an ideal world, the service department is your before and after sales support that gives you good decision making information before the sale and then keeps the customer satisfied with your solution after the sale.

When we land in Broken Promises, it’s usually because of at least one of these things:

  • Bad technical information;
  • Poor Communication;
  • Unexpected problems during delivery;
  • Unrealistic expectations;
  • Dishonesty.

person cryingInformation and Communication

Bad technical information isn’t necessarily the fault of your technical/service support. You may not have asked the right questions or truly understood what the client needed. You need to ask enough questions that the client almost starts to become annoyed. Then you have to do the same to your technical/service support people!

It’s better to have a client tell you they are not willing to go through the pain to achieve their objective, or a technician to tell you your plan won’t work, than you have to go through the pain of resolving a conflict with the risk of having an unsatisfied client out there telling everyone their experience. It takes 10 client success stories to make up for the one that got away!

Unexpected problems are usually the result of not asking enough questions. There could be a mixture of generations of technology and the client forgot how old something was but it is an important part of their business. This caused a problem with your solution but guess what? You’re the professional. You are supposed to know everything. At least, that’s what the client believes.

Expectations

Clients may have unrealistic expectations. You did such a great job “selling” your solution, they expect it to solve all their problems without a hitch. This is a good place to pre-handle objections. For example, I had a client ask me if I could I could guarantee they would never have a problem with me or my company. My response was that this is a long term relationship and I can guarantee that we will face a challenge at some time. The difference is that I won’t hide from or run from a problem. Note earlier I used the word challenge? There is no such thing as a problem!

Set expectations up front. How will cost be handled? Build in a bumper and be clear it’s to allow for the unexpected. Oops! I guess that’s expected now. Be clear that you are willing to face up to disagreements as long as they are handled with respect, and so on.

Dishonesty is a real problem. Many times it’s the client that is guilty. They knew about a potential challenge but hoped it wouldn’t show up. Out of embarrassment, they may try to transfer the guilt to you. Don’t get caught up in the blame game. If you made a mistake, own it and ask forgiveness while proposing a solution that shouldn’t really cost your client. If it’s the client, don’t apologize but recognize this is one of those “challenges” you expected you might face. Offer a way for the client to save face with as little cost to them as possible.

The Land of Broken Promises is a horrible place. Try your best to stay out of there and help your team support people stay there with you. You are the leader. Lead!

Make it a great day,

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for great teachers. I’m thankful for great clients. I’m thankful for opportunities to learn. What are you thankful for today?