14 Fantastic Free Online Photo Editors to Replace Picnik

Free Online Photo EditorsAre you totally depressed since the amazing free photo editing tool Picnik stopped working?

Do you regularly need to make small changes and edits to photos and images for your website, blog, facebook page, emails and other marketing related activities?

Earlier this year my fear of Photoshop – its steep learning curve and even steeper price – made me start looking for alternatives to carry out the simple image editing I need for this Blog and other online ventures. I stumbled upon Picnik which at the time was regarded as one of the best online photo editing tools.

I was a happy bunny for a couple of weeks; then our friends at Google decided to buy Picnik and stop the service in late April. Reading through the blogosphere, it seems I wasn’t the only person who was devastated by this news.

There had to be an alternative…so I started to do some research and was pleasantly surprised to come up with a whole host of contenders to the title of ‘Best Free Online Phone Editing Tool’. Here’s a list of the tools I found along with a short description of each and a link back to their site: [Read more…]

Daily Deal Sites: Should Your Small Business be Using Them?

Daily Deal Sites

I’m sure you’ve heard of Groupon – undoubtedly one of the most famous and popular daily deal  sites (sometimes referred to as Group Buying Sites or Flash Sales) in the world. If you’re anything like me, your inbox is probably full of their tempting offers!

But do you know how these group buying sites work? Have you been tempted to promote your products or services through one if these sites?

If the answer is yes, then you’re going to want to read on as I explain what Daily Deal sites are and discuss some of the pros and cons of using them to market your products and services.

How do Daily Deal Sites Work?

They aren’t called group buying sites for nothing… basically, each deal promoted through [Read more…]

How to Backup Your Business’s Facebook Page

Facebook Page BackupImagine this scenario: You’ve spent months building up a substantial fan base on your business’s Facebook page, engagement levels are high, you’ve got lots of great content, photos and videos, and your page is sending lots of traffic to your website. Sounds fantastic doesn’t it? Now imagine that over night, you lose all the information on your Facebook page – an absolute disaster!

Because it’s the mighty Facebook, we tend to forget that we can lose the valuable information we’ve worked so hard on. A hacker, a user error, viruses, data corruption or sabotage are just some of the possible causes which can lead to a total loss of the information on your Facebook page. [Read more…]

Youtube Marketing: 8 Easy Ways to Optimise Your Videos and Increase Traffic to Your Website

Youtube Marketing

Are you using Youtube Marketing to try and get traffic – and potential customers – to your website? Are the videos you’ve uploaded to your Youtube channel struggling to get viewers and therefore failing to send visitors to your website? You’re definitely not alone… stick around and I’ll give you a few (9 to be precise) ideas on how to optimise your Youtube videos to get more views and to help you get more traffic to your website.

With more than 3 billion daily views, Youtube has become the world’s second largest search engine (no points for guessing which is the first 😉 ) and an opportunity for small businesses and entrepreneurs to increase visits to their websites. [Read more…]

7 Key Stages You Must Consider Before Holding an Effective Meeting

Effective MeetingsWouldn’t it be great if all the meetings you attended were well planned, kept to the allocated time and produced positive and quantifiable results?

As entrepreneurs and business owners, you probably experience your fair share of meetings during the course of a working week; however, many of these meetings will end up being a complete waste of time – and you know what they say: Time is money!

Let’s at least help you ensure that the meetings you organise and run with your teams are as productive as possible.

So what’s the definition of a meeting? For the sake of this blog post, we will use the following definition:

“A meeting can be defined as a gathering of three or more people sharing common objectives, where communication is the primary means of achieving those objectives”. [Read more…]

How to Prepare a Killer Sales Presentation: 4 Crucial Steps

sales presentationsAs a small business owner or entrepreneur, you will have had to make a few sales presentations during your business life! Are you guilty of spending little or no time preparing for these crucial sales presentations? You’re busy schedule probably doesn’t allow you the time you need for adequate preparation; well, hopefully this article will help you by providing a useful framework with 4 key steps to prepare for a killer sales presentation. Whether you are presenting to a large audience at a conference or to a small group of executives in your prospects offices, these 4 tips will help you deliver a better sales presentation which will hopefully lead to more business.

  1. Be Prepared for your Sales Presentation

  • Appearance is important; you need to create the right impression for your prospects, so make sure you are dressed adequately and look the part. [Read more…]

Using Article Marketing to Increase Your Website Traffic: 3 Things to Keep in Mind

article marketingWhat is Article Marketing?

Good question. In its most basic form – and the one we are going to be discussing in this post – Article Marketing consists in writing an article related to your business or specific niche market and then submitting it to – one of the many – article directories available for this purpose.

That’s a very simplified version but, to tell you the truth, it’s all you need to know at this point.

How can Article Marketing help you gain more traffic? 

  • Article Directories get a lot of traffic from people searching for specific information; this information is archived under specific categories, for example: Sports, Business, Health & Fitness.
  • Article directories like Ezinearticles.com tend to rank well in Google (They used to rank better before Google’s Panda update, but that’s the topic of another blog post) and other search engines. If you choose your keywords well, your article could get some good visibility and generate traffic due to its high ranking. [Read more…]

Why Am I Losing Clients?

losing clientsIn today’s tough economic climate, many small business owners and entrepreneurs face an uphill struggle trying to keep their business afloat. It’s all too easy to blame the loss of clients or declining sales figures on the state of the economy; however, there are often other more basic reasons which we tend to overlook in these situations.

Yes, it’s difficult to find clients and even harder to keep existing ones; you’re faced with competitors who slash their prices and desperate businesses who are willing to resort to all types of sleazy tactics to keep afloat. Sometimes, you have to look beyond this mayhem and go back to basics by reviewing the core essence of what your business is about. Let’s take a look at a couple of areas which may be to blame for the loss of clients and business:

Don’t Ignore Customer Complaints

When you’re bogged down in paperwork it’s easy to lose track of basic everyday issues such as dealing with customer complaints.

It’s possible that some clients who receive poor service will simply “defect” and go elsewhere; however, most will try to bring their issues to your attention in the form of a complaint. This is where things start to go wrong as these complaints are ignored or often badly handled; guess what? You’ve just lost a customer!

Use these “opportunities” to analyse your internal systems for handling customer complaints. You need to listen to complaints and determine whether they are justified or not; if it’s the former, you’ll have to analyse the situation and introduce changes to ensure that such complaints are avoided – or at least reduced – in the future.

Don’t forget that a big part of successful customer complaint handling is to make sure your employees are adequately trained in how to handle customer complaints. It’s not rocket science and if you follow 5 basic tips (see link), you and your team will be able to handle the most difficult of customer complaints.

Make Sure Service Levels Live Up to Customer Expectations

This relates closely to the above point on customer complaint handling; if you’ve set certain expectations – through marketing, branding, advertising, PR – but your customer experience is not aligned with these expectations, you’ve got a problem.

Before spending money on expensive marketing, make sure you understand your target market and you’re company’s limitations. It’s much better to offer less services or product features and be able to deliver excellent service than to promise the world and only deliver on part of that promise; all that will lead to is negative word of mouth, customer complaints and ultimately, loss of customers and business.

These two tips may seem simple and obvious to many; however, when was the last time you took a good look at the customer complaints you receive? Have you made sure your customer expectations are being met by aligning your products and services to these expectations?

I’d love to hear your thoughts…feel free to comment below 🙂

Photo Credit: Latente

Preparing for an Interview – 3 Things You Need To Consider

Preparing for an interviewAs a small business owner, manager or entrepreneur, chances are that you will have to conduct an interview for new employees at some point in your career.

Without proper preparation, any employee selection interview is pretty much doomed to failure. You owe it to yourself to spend some time preparing for an interview as it’s an integral function of the recruitment and selection process; believe me, the time spent on adequate preparation will safe you time and money in the future.

There are, of course, many people who are content with hiring the first person available – “They’re not exactly what we were looking for but we’re desperate to hire someone” How many times have you heard that excuse? This type of attitude – hiring the first semi respectable candidate that comes along – can be fatal. Don’t be complacent and lazy and don’t rush things; invest in proper preparation.

Here are 3 things you want to keep in mind when you are preparing to interview candidates for a job:

1)      Do You really need to hire a new employee? I know, I know, that seems pretty obvious; however, sometimes it’s just easier to go out and find a replacement when a job vacancy becomes available. You might just want to take a step back and assess whether can be an opportunity to distribute responsibilities to other positions without the need for a new hire.

Don’t forget that the business environment is constantly and rapidly changing and that there may actually be no need for that job anymore; maybe you can use technology to cover, at least partially, the vacant position. Think it through; you could save yourself a salary!

2)      Prepare a Job Description – Are you filling an existing position or are you creating a new one? Either way, you need to make sure you have a proper job description for the new position. If you already have one, make sure you check it in case you need to make any changes to it; you may need to add new requirements and responsibilities.

With the Job Description, you’ll have a tool that will help you determine exactly what you are looking for in a candidate and you will also be able to paint a realistic picture of what the new job will entail, that way the candidate will be able to determine whether or not the job is a suitable fit for them.

3)      Establish Job Relationships – You need to decide where your new employee will fit into the company hierarchy. Who will be their immediate boss? Will there be employees reporting to the new hire? Make sure this is clear and that the rest of the team are aware of their roles and responsibilities in relation to the new employee.

Be sure to remember the above points next time you have to do an interview; it’ll take you a little longer to prepare but it’ll be worth it. What about you? Do you have any tips to share?

Employee Motivation – 5 Key Points to Help You Get the Most Out of Your Team

Employee MotivationAs an entrepreneur or business owner, you are quite likely to face the all important task of motivating employees. Whether you only have one personal assistant or a team of 100 employees, you must master the skill of employee motivation; it’s vital for ensuring the growth and success of your business.

So what is “motivation”?

The following quote sums it up nicely: “That which makes a person act in a particular way; an inner impulse”

Anyone who is in a managerial position and is responsible for the day to day management of a team plays a key role in influencing their employee’s level of motivation.

Here are 5 key points you want to consider when tackling the complex, but vital task of employee motivation:

1)      One size does not fit all – Individuals have specific needs and requirements. Some may be motivated by career growth and ambition and others are motivated when they are able to satisfy the most basic of needs; providing food and shelter for their families. You, as a manager and leader, need to pay attention to each individual’s specific needs. Yes, it’s more work, but imperative to ensure success of an employee motivation policy. Take time to listen to your team and try to understand what motivates them, both in and out of work.

2)      The Power of Appraisals – You need to ensure regular feedback. As a manager, you time is, literally, money; however, you must make time to sit down with subordinates to discuss performance. Some companies have formal performance appraisal policies and procedures which require managers to meet with each individual on their team on a regular basis; this is great if possible but even informal meeting and chats can serve the purpose of increasing motivation. These meetings are the perfect time to provide positive reinforcement for a job well done and also to discuss possible weaknesses.

3)      Invest in Training and Development – offering employees the opportunity to learn new skills that will help them to advance in their careers is a great way to motivate your employees. Whether it be onsite or offsite training initiatives, effective and focused training can lead to high returns for both company and employee. When a company has taken the time and effort to train their employee and has spent money in organising training courses, the employee feels valued.

4)      Empower your team – Empowerment is a key aspect of motivation. By encouraging contribution and input from your employees, you make them feel valued and important; if you then add to this by allowing them to make their own decisions, the results are even more powerful. Start off by delegating tasks you don’t need to accomplish yourself; let them take charge of easier tasks to begin with and as they gain confidence, hand over more important and sensitive tasks.

5)      Recognise their Achievement – It’s important to mention that this recognition does not have to be financial. Yes, money does motivate, but it tends to be a short term motivator. Try simpler – and cheaper – methods such as handwritten notes, verbal recognition in front of peers, or a simple thank you for a job well done; you’ll be amazed at how effective these techniques can be for achieving short and long term motivation.

I could go on for hours about the importance of employee motivation. There’s no doubt that a motivated workforce will always outperform one that isn’t; the above points barely scratch the surface of what you can achieve by applying motivational techniques to your management style; however, they will certainly help you on your way to increasing your team’s output.

What do you think? Do you have any specific techniques you use to motivate your employees?