All Articles Tagged "online"
Once upon a time (today included), there was a Queen Bey who reigned unchallenged over every facet of the pop star kingdom. Her unparalleled commitment to outperforming the lesser royals allowed her to outshine them all. Except in one dark area. Being larger than life alienated her from the masses.
Always looking to improve, Queen Bey set her sights on the Web. Other starlets had used social media to their advantage. Surely the Queen could as well. She launched a website! And a Tumblr! Sprinkling out glimpses of her life for the masses to consume, artistic candid photos and handwritten open letters to those that inspired her. Everyone ate it up… for the most part. Some complained. The Queen was showing more of herself, but she wasn’t really telling us anything about who she was.
Bolstered by the delight of fans or the criticism of detractors, Queen Bey decided to take her online presence a step further. She launched The Beyhive blog on Tuesday. She billed it as “my way of showing all the inspiring things I come across every single day… through my eyes.”
Here’s Where the Fairy Tale Gets Real…
Beyoncé’s latest endeavor satisfies the minimum qualifications to be called a blog. The Beyhive is “a frequent, chronological publication of personal thoughts and Web links” (Marketing Terms). The blog features: photo links to the star’s latest cultural and artistic finds, a collection of the notes she writes to newsmakers (previously found in the News section), street style photographed by her stylist, and an archive of fan art. All listed in chronological order.
It’s cute. But she could have just made a Pinterest board.
Let’s look at what other celebrities are doing with lifestyle blogs:
- Goop, launched by Knowles-Carter clique member Gwyneth Paltrow, features interviews as well as editorial heavy features on products, destinations, recipes, and more.
- Little Monsters, the brainchild of the only other performer allowed to make eye contact with the Queen, Lady Gaga, is a full-fledged social network for fans of the provocateur.
- Life & Times, spearheaded by husband to Beyoncé’, Jay-Z, is a full-scale online publication that runs branded video, op-eds, and accompanies all its images with at least a paragraph of text.
The basics of financial planning are pretty simple. Spend less than you make, save for the future, and make smart investment choices. Still, once our wallet gets to a certain level of fatness (or deteriorates into shambles) we often feel the need to turn to an expert for advice.
Unfortunately, a good financial advisor can be hard to come by. Most of the time they aren’t trying to waste their precious billable hours on folks making less than six figures. Plus, it can feel hypocritical to fork over thousands of dollars for advice that you could be using to improve your financial standing.
Cue the internet to the rescue! Just like the travel industry and tax preparation services before it, financial advice is being streamlined by technology. Instead of a human advisor charging up to $150 an hour to ask you hundreds of questions about your financial standing, monetary goals, and openness to risk in order to develop a unique plan, a computer program does the job for a flat rate.
Web alternatives can be easier to use than going to a person. Many allow you to electronically pull information from your financial institutions, saving you the chore of compiling the information manually. An action plan is then generated specifically for you, based on the principles financial advisors follow. Some services, like NestWise, will follow up via e-mail or video chat with a human being for an additional fee.
For some people, visiting a firm may still be ideal. In his defense of financial advisors for Forbes, Mike Alfred refers to top advisors as “a quarterback in their client’s financial life [to] help coordinate estate planning, tax planning, insurance coverage, as well as providing a comprehensive process to help the client understand their funding needs and life goals.”
But, that logic is based on the theory that everyone’s financial situation is unique, and requires a plan specific to her financial position. The truth is, most of us are in the same boat. We eat out too much. We need to pay off debt. We’re saving for retirement or a big purchase.
If your finances have quirks that the average person doesn’t deal with, by all means turn to a professional for their opinion. But, if you’re an Average Jill looking to manage her money better, the web may be an effective, cost-friendly alternative. Here are a few options to consider, depending on the level of guidance you need to whip your wallet into shape:
Basic budgeting sites are perfect if you need help managing your money day-to-day. These free sites give you tools to track what you’re spending, what you’re saving, and how your investments are doing. Most will automatically pull your financial information from all your accounts into one place.
If you want the full financial advisor experience, without that pesky human being charging you by the hour, there are a few options available to you. These services are not free, but they are substantially lower compared to traditional planners’ prices. For an additional fee, you can speak with a person via chat or e-mail to talk through your financial plan.
C. Cleveland is a freelance writer and content strategist in New York City, perfecting living the fierce life at The Red Read. She is at your service on Twitter (@CleveInTheCity) and Facebook (/MyReadIsRed).
“A Dollar and A Dream” spotlights low- and no-cost ways to build a better business. The economy may be lagging, but new resources are empowering small business owners like never before. Follow the series to learn how to take your dreams to the next level without breaking the bank.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” -Nelson Mandela
We’ve all heard soaring quotes about the value of an education. The poetry of these words has never been more practical. Today’s business world requires entrepreneurs to make education a priority.
More than keeping you on the top of your game, learning improves your bottom line. Whether you take a class in calligraphy or small business principles, growing your expertise will save you from spending money on consultants and cleaning up after your own mistakes.
With the ramifications of the student loan crisis looming, students and institutions alike are looking for better ways to signal knowledge and skills to employers. Educational institutions are rethinking the way they teach and experimenting with technology to democratize education. In the future, a resume may display a digital badge, showing the completion of an online course rather than a degree.
The debate on the future of education is nowhere near settled. In the meantime, entrepreneurs and life long learners can take advantage of the benefits coming out of the discussion. Class is in session with the best minds in the world, and tuition is free.
Online courses lack the intimacy of the classroom. Some websites offer assignments and quizzes to track your learning. But, don’t expect the same experience as an in-classroom course.
Online resources, like those listed below, will you give enough direction to refresh your skills or feed your interest in a new subject. Unlike traditional programs, online study can be easily tailored to your schedule and areas of interest. If you’re really feeling fierce, start a study group within your network to encourage one another and capture that classroom feel.
Coursera is a social entrepreneurship company that partners with the top universities in the world including Stanford, Princeton, and Emory.
Topics: A wide range spanning the humanities, medicine, biology, social sciences, mathematics, business, computer science, and many others.
- Grow to Greatness: Smart Growth for Private Businesses, Part II (Edward D. Hess, University of Virginia)
- Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies (Dr. James V. Green, University of Maryland, College Park)
30 Second MBA is an ongoing video curriculum, presented by Fast Company, of good advice from successful people in business today.
Style: Short, unfiltered videos
Topics: Business questions ranging from the practical to the philosophical.
If you are like 300 million other people, you use Google daily. So you have probably by now noticed the search engine’s new design.
The tweaking done by Google might hurt your business, reports Inc. Many businesses count on search engines to help drive traffic to the websites. But with the new design, the search toolbar is now at the top of the screen. It used to be on the left side.
“With the new design, there’s a bit more breathing room, and more focus on the answers you’re looking for, whether from web results or from a feature like the Knowledge Graph, “ according to Google. Though the Knowledge Graph element was launched in May, it now has more visibility. “Search for a movie star, for instance, and you’ll see an info box on the right with the actor’s birth date, picture, relationships, biographical information, filmography and related people,” explains Time magazine. Google’s iPhone app allows you to ask a question by voice, and a computerized voice reads back information from Knowledge Graph.
With the new layout, paid search ads are also more prominent. “Those ads now appear more prominently and closer to the left side of the page where the average user tends to look first,” reports Inc., with more attention drawn to the paid ads. Larry Kim, founder and CTO of WordStream, a PPC technology and search engine marketing software company, tells Inc. there is a reason why Google made the changes now. “I believe the decision to make Product Listing Ads even more prominent right before the holiday shopping season is no coincidence,” he says, “particularly after a disappointing Q3 2012 earnings report.”
Google says the new design is more adaptable for other digital devices such as smartphones, tablets and desktop web browsers.
Had you noticed the new Google layout? Does it bother you?
The silhouette of the 1950s pin-up has come to represent the golden era of American sex appeal. Curvaceous models forever frozen in naughty-yet-demure poses have taught generations of women how to find that sweet spot between hot and classy.
K.C. Washington, a San Jose, CA transplant that has called Brooklyn, NY home for 20 years, spotted a void among the pin-up genre’s ivory-skinned images. The beauty of Black women had been erased from history.
Noir A-Go-Go was born in January 2011 to fill that void. The online store offers black pin-up girl-themed gifts and accessories, with grinning models featured on everything from greeting cards to tote bags.
I sat down with Washington to learn how she turned an idea for a cheeky holiday card into a business, and how she juggles her passion project with her two other gigs as a published novelist and bartender.
Madame Noire: What makes your product unique among the many gift products out there?
KC Washington: I am a huge fan of the 1940s and 50s. I love the style and glamour, and I collect a lot of pin-up girl memorabilia. Every time I bought something I would think, “I love this but I wish they made black versions.” The pin-up girl genre is extremely popular and most women I know instinctively gravitate towards the fashion as well as the hot strength of the women of that time period, be it Lana Turner or Dorothy Dandridge. But, unless the woman was a famous actress and you actively sought out old Jets or Ebonys, you never see black pin-up girls.
MN: What impact do you hope your products will have?
KC: Everyone knows about the Civil Rights Movement and the struggle, but rarely is the glamorous side of black life and black women from that time period highlighted. As I was thinking about the design for my 2010 Christmas card it occurred to me that it would be really cool if I started my own line of black pin-up girl greeting cards and postcards. My slogan is “Noir A-Go Go puts the black in the magic that is 50s Americana!”
MN: Was there something specific that pushed you to turn your idea into a business?
KC: There are two things actually. I am a bartender, and two years ago when I turned 40 I was looking for a way to change my life. I wanted to do something creative but that also gave me the autonomy that I was used to. Although I didn’t have any experience in the stationary/gift industry, I love novelty gifts and love to make my own Christmas cards and bookmarks. I’m also big on manners and going that extra mile. I’m that girl who sends thank you cards after a party. So, basically I decided to combine my nerdy love of crafting and nostalgia with a need to change jobs (eventually) and Noir A-Go Go was born.
MN: How did you accommodate for your lack of experience in product development and production?
KC: I learned and continue to learn about it by reading both magazines and books as well as going online. I also attend tradeshows and expos like The New York International Gift Fair, the National Stationery Show, and general Chamber of Commerce meetings. When my novel was released, I did a lot of readings and learned how to put together press releases and information packets which has helped me tremendously with the company.
MN: What challenges did you encounter launching your business?
KC: The biggest challenge/surprise, which in retrospect was more challenge than surprise, is how many hidden costs there are. For example, all of the website companies that say how easy it is to setup a site fail to mention in the bold print that you can set one up for say $9.99 a month, but you can’t sell anything on that site without an SSL certificate which insures that your customer’s credit card information is safe. The certificate can run you over a hundred dollars annually.
It’s super easy to setup a pretty site, but it won’t matter if you don’t invest in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) which helps your ranking on the search engines like Google and Yahoo. Otherwise, your company may not appear in a search until the fifth page, if you’re lucky. So the cost of setting up that “1-2-3” website suddenly goes from $9.99 to $1,000 once you’ve added your shopping cart, domain name, SSL certificates, SEO, etc. Thankfully I’ve never met a budget I didn’t like and always overestimate the cost of things.
MN: What accomplishment are you most proud of since launching?
KC: One, creating a product that I am still in love with two years later; two, getting into several NYC stores my first year; and three, teaching myself design. I had never used PowerPoint or Photoshop until two years ago when I started the company. I am still learning, of course, but I taught myself everything by taking tutorials online, reading books, hunting and pecking, and asking questions. My biggest lesson is always back up and never work from the original, both of which I learned as a writer.
MN: How do you come up with the concepts for your products?
KC: Classic pin-up girls like Betty Grable and Betty Page inspire some of my images. Others come from old movies and magazines. The thing about the pin-up genre is that it is very specific. It’s all about the “Victory Roll,” which is the classic hairstyle with the thick curled bang and long wave in the back, the pencil skirt, and the angora sweater, as well as all things polka dot. One of the aspects I love most about Noir A-Go Go is the homage to black culture. That’s why a lot of my sayings like “Trust Me Sugar, I’ve Overcome” are a play on common black expressions and/or history.
Regardless of your industry, it is no longer a question of “if” your small business should have a social media presence, but “how” those platforms should be used. According to the 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 85 percent of businesses that have a dedicated social media platform reported an increase in their market exposure, and 58 percent reported an increase in sales.
Your social media accounts can do much more than serve as an outpost for your website. Social media is a great way to establish your brand as a thought leader in your industry. It also can be used to build a community of evangelists, involve your customers in your creative process, and reach new audiences.
The key to a dynamic social media presence is good content. Satisfying Internet users’ insatiable appetite for content can seem daunting. But, most brands are sitting on a gold mine of stories to share without realizing it. Here are a few ways to find those stories:
1. Get employees involved.
The people who make your business work are the best resources for content. Social media should be a part of everyone’s job description. Ask employees to create guest posts, or ask for regular updates on clients, corporate culture, and other under the radar developments that you can share online. Making employees visible online humanizes your brand, and they offer a unique perspective that is compelling to readers.
2. Offer behind-the-scenes access.
Everyone likes to feel like they have access to something exclusive or rarely seen. Give your fans and followers that feeling of privilege by offering something extra that they wouldn’t be able to find on your blog or website. Share slides from presentations, videos from events, or a sneak peek at a new product or service.
3. Set a Google Alert on keywords that impact your business.
Narcissism isn’t attractive in person or online. Don’t just talk about yourself, talk about what’s happening in your industry. A reputation for sharing important content will make you a thought leader in your field. Google Alerts and RSS feed subscriptions are especially helpful if you don’t have enough time to produce original content of your own. Direct your followers to good content that’s already out there.
4. Spotlight your customers.
Share the spotlight with the people who use your products or services. It will not only showcase your success but also give exposure to your customers, something they will appreciate. Promote your clients when they do something noteworthy, and they will do the same for you.
5. Build a community.
Social media is not a one-way channel of communication. Posting content without engaging audiences may work for some large brands, but small businesses need to make friends online. New friends can quickly become new customers. Customers don’t want to be advertised to, they want to be engaged. Ask questions and get feedback on the work you’re doing. Contests and promotions are also a great way to keep fans and followers excited and coming back for more.
Has your small business found success leveraging social media? Share some of your favorite tactics in the comment section.
In this day and age, the definition of cheating has required a lot of stretching to include the shady behavior people partake in due to technology. Oh how sexting has broken up a lot of relationships and conversations and photos posted on social media hasn’t made things any better either. And in general, social media has allowed us to not only interact with people we might not have had access to in the past, but it’s also allowed us to have large audiences to rant to, and an opportunity to be more nosey about our partner’s every day comings and goings than we used to be able to be. So with that, there’s a lot of things people need to be more careful about when it comes to how they handle themselves on the computer when they’re in a relationship, specifically on social media. Monitoring yourself can save you a lot of drama…
- Sharing the Details of Your Relationship Online: I’m sure you’ve seen those people who get in a fight with their boyfriend or girlfriend, and then jump on social media and call that person everything BUT a child of God (as my pastor would say). Not only that, but they only tell one side of the story to individuals online and use their Facebook and Twitter to vent and say, “___ ain’t s**t!” It’s best to keep your squabbles with your partner to yourself, or learn to talk these situations out because you need to for the betterment of your relationship…not because you got caught talking reckless in your Tweet ;last night, and now all hell is breaking loose…
- Sharing Scandalous Photos of Yourself or Taking Them With Others: I’m sure you love your new Instagram account, but I hope you understand the importance of not taking scandalous pics of yourself in the bathroom mirror, on the bed, or any other random place you can think of and posting it online. Nobody likes seeing their girlfriend or boyfriend’s profile picture being ogled by strangers online who make creepy demands (“Can I see more of that???” but in more broken english). Nor should you be at parties or events with friends of the opposite sex all hugged up and getting way too friendly. If you decide to do so, expect some drama to ensue if your partner comes across it.
- Entertaining Random People Who Try to Contact You: Everyone enjoys a compliment from time to time, especially if you’re not getting it from your partner as often as you would like. But having back and forth correspondences with the cute guy who direct messaged you is not a good idea. Especially if Mr. Man is a stranger. I’m sure you have no real plans to meet this person or get to know them further (or at least I hope you don’t), so I wouldn’t recommend messing around and getting caught flirting with someone you won’t remember or care anything about a month from now.
- Saying Things to Folks You Wouldn’t Say in Front of Your Significant Other: This one speaks for itself. If you wouldn’t tell a person “You could get it” in front your mate, you might want to choose your words wisely online. People like to think that because you decide to delete something it’s gone and all proof of what you wrote is gone, but once folks see it, it’s out there (and probably out there to stay if word spreads fast–that’s why celebs struggle on Twitter). Anything you had to do a double take behind your back to make sure no one saw you type might warrant you keeping things PG. Hell, G actually.
- But In the End, Don’t Spy on Your Spouse Through Their Social Media Accounts: Crazy, right!? But hey, I wouldn’t recommend being “Big Brother” over your own partner’s social media pages. From going through the conversations posted on his/her pages (and doing background checks on the people who they were talking to), to trying to get the password to their accounts and starting fights over what folks posted on that person’s wall, just calm down. All you can really do is trust your partner and hope that your significant other isn’t out there being scandalous (or that they don’t have an account with a fake name to allow them to act a fool), but letting social media create a rift in your relationship is not a good look. So don’t let it.
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So, you’ve found a guy online who has potential and you’ve agreed to go out with him. Great! Pressure’s off until you meet in person, right? Wrong! Follow these rules to make sure you don’t do or say the wrong thing before your first date.
1. DO be yourself. Communicating authentically is the only way you’ll get to know each other. Letting your guard down helps him open up and feel comfortable talking, e-mailing and texting with you. Being yourself is attractive and shows that you’re comfortable in your own skin.
Want more? Visit YourTango.com.
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Beyoncé launched her new website to an avalanche of media buzz. Most of the attention went to the collection of intimate photos featured on the notoriously private star’s Tumblr blog launched on the same day. However, the real news is the superstar’s savvy in recognizing the importance of having an online presence that reflects her brand.
Before the revamp, Beyoncé’s web presence consisted of a Twitter page she never used, and a website managed by her label that offered news and photos a day late and a dollar short. Beyoncé decided to do something about the problem last year when she issued an urgent brief to agencies – she wanted “a site that looks like who she is an artist, someone who likes fashion and art and photography and travel,” said an executive close to the Knowles team. “She has all sorts of interest and wants to communicate that.”
Some may wonder why Beyoncé even bothered. Awareness isn’t a problem for her. But, revamping her website isn’t about awareness; it’s about giving access to her fans while maintaining control over her image. Beyoncé has long showed signs that she wants to be the only one running the show when it comes to her image – from ending her father’s management of her career to releasing the first photos of her daughter through a personal blog. Her new website is a hub for her to disseminate information.
Beyoncé’s seeming perfection on stage and in interviews has brought her criticism for being robotic. Her website addresses these concerns as well, creating a sense of intimacy, complete with hand-written notes. The photos she includes on her Tumblr show her at her most human – no makeup, surrounded by family. The site also features a peak at what inspires her via her blog, and a fan section allows her “beyhive” to see themselves on her site, and show that their Queen Bey sees them.
The pop diva is off to great start. She’s already updated her blog – and garnered headlines – with penned notes to Sade, Basquiat, and the First Lady. Hopefully she’s in it for the long haul, because building a website is only the first step to creating an effective online presence. Here are 9 easy steps you can take to build an authentic web presence of your own:
- Start with a solid strategy: Define the goals of your website and what components will be created to address these needs.
Read the rest of this entry »
A credit score is a scary number for some people. Con artists use that fear to trick you into taking part in their scams. Once you fall into the trap, they either con you into giving them money or into giving them the information they need to steal your identity and make a big ‘ol mess with your money. The best defense against a scam is knowledge. Once you know what to watch out for, you can recognize these common credit report scams on sight.
Paying for A Credit Report
Each year, you can get a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus–TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. Many companies claim to give you those free credit reports but require you to sign up for a service or pay a membership fee. These offers are misleading. The only places you can receive your official annual free credit report is through each of the previously listed agencies or through the government’s annualfreecreditreport.com website. Anything that tells you otherwise is a scam.
Hiring Someone to Fix Your Credit
There are advertisements for “credit fixers” everywhere. Sometimes they claim to erase your credit mistakes or raise your credit score a certain amount of points. When these offers don’t steal your money outright, they perform simple credit score corrections that anyone can do for free. For example, you can look at your credit report yourself, locate entries that are there mistakenly, and contact the agencies to have them removed. You can do this on your own without hiring a company.
Submitting to a Credit Report for a Craigslist Job
Craigslist has replaced many newspaper employment classifies and has become the go-to search site for many jobseekers. However, it’s also a hotbed for scams. A common one works like this: A scammer places a fake job ad on the site. When you respond to it, he sends you an email saying the job requires a credit check and points you to a credit check website. In this scenario, the scam is to either capture your information in a fake site or to sign you up for a service the scammer receives a percentage of. While it’s possible that certain jobs require credit checks, it’s usually not necessary until the final stages of the hiring process, along with the drug test and background check.
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