Let’s face it, a lot of us are fans of horrible reality TV, including The Bachelor. But we if dive in a little closer, we can see that we can actually learn something from the “journey”…
Photo: © ABC
Lesson 1: Not everyone is your soul mate
The Bachelor has 25 amazing women to choose from. Of course, his connection will be stronger with some than with others.
So how does this translate?
- Not every client is your client.
- Not every potential sponsor is right for you.
- Not every guest blogger fits your aesthetic.
- Not every blog/website/magazine/etc is a good fit for your advertising needs.
It took me a long time to come to terms with this. It’s hard to feel comfortable with saying no! But in the long run, it’s in your best interest to know your business or your blog well enough to make an informed decision about who you should work with and where best to spend your time and money.
Lesson 2: The popular choice isn’t always the right choice
Remember Bachelor Jake? Polls showed that most viewers wanted him to choose Tenley, but he followed his heart instead and proposed to Vienna.
There will inevitably be a time where you have to choose a path for your business. Perhaps it’s a price increase, a geographic move, or a new product you want to introduce. Your decisions won’t always be popular among the masses, and that’s OK. If you have evaluated and determined your course of action – stick to your gut and believe in yourself, because what’s right in everyone else’s eyes isn’t always the right choice for you.
Lesson 3: Sometimes you just have to let go
Megan left Chris’s season of The Bachelor when she knew the “spark” wasn’t there.
One of the most difficult problems faced in business is when to let go – of an idea, of an employee, of a product line, etc. There is no right answer. It’s of course different in each situation, but the key is learning to recognize when it’s time to cut the cord, and when you make the decision, confront the problem directly, make an action plan, and follow through.
Lesson 4: First impressions are important
On episode 1 of Ben’s season of The Bachelor, the all-important initial first-impression rose went to Lindzi, who was also one of the final two ladies.
We all know the old saying “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”. It’s cliche, but it’s true. Most first impressions are now made online, when someone is researching service providers or reading past reviews of products. Potential customers or clients may find your Twitter feed, personal blog, Facebook page, and of course your website.
- How do you present yourself online?
- How does your website/blog reflect on your business?
- Is the branding consistent with your intended message?
- Is what they see representative of what they get?
Lesson 5: It’s OK to admit you were wrong
Even if you aren’t a fan of The Bachelor, you may remember the absolutely wild After the Final Rose where Jason broke up with the winner, Melissa, only to ask Molly to date him again. Jason and Molly have now been married for 5 years and have a daughter, while Melissa married a former boyfriend and has two children.
It’s inevitable that we will all make bad decisions. Handling success is easy, but handling failure and accepting our bad outcomes is so much more important, in life and in business. It’s OK to make bad calls, to admit you were wrong, and to try, try again.
Of course, there are many other life lessons we can learn from The Bachelor, most of which are quite obvious to non-reality-TV contestants! What have you learned from watching The Bachelor?
As small business owners, entrepreneurs, or hobbyists, if you are considering adding a blog to your business the first question that you should ask yourself is:
“Why am I blogging and what do I hope to gain?”
- Social media managers
- Intellectual property experts
- Graphic designers
- Advertising execs
- Marketing gurus
Blogging offers lots of amazing rewards but comes with a great deal of responsibility, and each time you put a post, a tweet, or an email out into the blogiverse you are representing yourself or your business… that’s a lot of pressure!
Sit down to think for a moment about the blog you hope to create, the audience you want to reach, and the true reason you want to start a blog. Make a pro/con list. Consult your business plan. Read other people’s blogs to get an idea of the audience you may want to reach and the network you want to join. Then ask yourself…
“Am I qualified to blog about _____?”
Whatever your chosen topic, you should be a subject matter expert in that field. Your field may be yourself. It may be your business. It may be your own taste. Clearly you are an expert in all of those! But let’s say you want to start a blog about gardening. What can you add to the gardening blog industry? Do you personally garden? What do you know about growing specific plants, vegetables, or flowers? Are you prepared to answer questions from readers and advise them on making their garden grow? If the answer to these questions is no, stop here. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200, and do not start a gardening blog. But if you’re a bona fide gardening pro, then the last and most important question is…
“Do I have time for this?”
For many of us, blogging is a full-time job (on top of our full-time job). It’s a huge commitment. You must take the time to realistically assess whether or not you will have the time and energy to devote to your site.
If you’re a brave soul and are ready to jump in feet first, I’m going to be doing a series of posts to help you get started building your WordPress blog. I remember vividly how it feels to be brand-new to the blog world and tackle the setup of a website, so we will go back to basics, answer all of your burning questions, and you will be blogging in no time.
If you’re on the fence, well, that’s OK, too. Starting a blog is not a decision to be made lightly, and we’ll have much more discussion on the realities and benefits of blogging, and why it may or may not be for you.
For all of you experienced bloggers reading, what other factors should those who are thinking about creating a blog take under consideration?
With our lives moving at an incredibly fast pace and our attention spans becoming ever more diminished, your website’s first impression is becoming increasingly important. Did you know that the average user forms an opinion about your site in 50 milliseconds? Or that the majority of readers spend less than 15 seconds on a webpage? So, as website owners, our challenge is to make a good first impression, and keep our content sticky.
How do you make a good first impression with your website?
A website’s first impression for me is all about the layout. The menu bar tells the whole story – it is where I like to see a blog’s main topics. From there, I like to be able to use tags to quickly find my way around to what I’m looking for.
I’m a self-professed design and lifestyle blog junkie. The first thing I notice about a site is the layout, design and photography. A blog that makes a great first impression has a simple, pretty layout that is easy to read and pleasing to the eye and showcases great photography. If one or the other is off I’m not likely to return.
What do these answers have in common? They both form their feelings about a site at the first moment they see it. If it’s cluttered, difficult to navigate, or not appealing to their eye, they aren’t likely to stick around. They may not have read a word and yet they are ready to leave.
Here are a few things that, as a reader, give me a great first impression:
- A clean, easy to follow, cohesive design
- Fast loading of information
- Quick access to relevant information
- An immediate clue about the blog’s main focus
And some things that make me click away:
- Difficult to follow navigation, or a large amount of clicks to get the information I’m looking for
- High-resolution photos that take several seconds to load
- Distracting elements, such as pop-up windows or flashing ads
What do you think makes people come back?
These are the things that keep me reading when I visit a new blog: clean layout, unique design that says who they are, good grammar, content that is obviously written with a wider audience than one’s family in mind, and posts that aren’t consistently about the banal things in life. The one exception to the banality rule? Those who can write about the mundane and make me laugh. If you’re one of those few genuinely funny people out there you can write about putting the groceries away or retrieving the mail from the mailbox and I’ll still keep reading.
Jenna is a reader that truly wants to engage with a blog author. If you are a follower of her blog, this won’t surprise you, as her own blog is personal and she has built a wonderful community with her readers.
Being personal isn’t just for “personal blogs”. If you are in the wedding industry, you no doubt know the name Lara Casey. Lara’s site and social profiles promote her business, but also gives potential clients and industry readers a window into who she is as an individual. She is branding herself as much as she is branding her talent, and people want to connect with her, as well as connect with her work.
A few things that keep me as a reader coming back to a blog:
- Consistent, informational posts
- Unique content, especially written with a distinctive point of view
- Posts that start me thinking—this could be a post about business philosophy or beautiful inspiration photos
What resonates with you when you read a blog for the first time? What makes you return for more?
Some of the most common questions people encounter as they begin blogging revolve around images: how to credit them, what the copyright regulations are, and general, proper blog image etiquette.
Images and the Fair Use Doctrine
First up, the legalities: images are copyright to the photographer. Unless you are the photographer, you have received permission from the photographer, or they have licensed their work for creative commons, you are using any images you post under the US government’s doctrine of “fair use”.
You should read this short page for the complete information about fair use but to paraphrase, there are four factors at play:
- The purpose and character of the use (commercial? non-profit?)
- The nature of the work itself
- The amount used of the work as a whole
- The effect of your use upon the market value of the work
As you can see on the copyright office’s page, the entire fair use area is gray. Here are a few things that are absolutes:
- Getting approval from the owner means you are in the clear to use the image.
- A creative commons license (which many bloggers who take their own photos provide in the terms and conditions of their site) means you are clear to use the image.
- If the owner of an image asks you to take it down, take it down. Period.
- You should ALWAYS credit the owner/photographer. Even if you have permission. Even if it’s creative commons. Unless it’s your image, or a stock image that does not require crediting (aka “attribution”), this rule should be followed 100% of the time. For example, the image above is a no attribution required stock image.
- Pinterest is never the source of an image. I repeat – your image credit should never be to Pinterest. There is a photographer/blogger behind that pin who brought the amazing content to light.
Tips for Bloggers
If you are a blogger yourself, it is a great idea to have a policies or terms page on your site, telling your readers whether or not they are free to use the photos (and content) that you have posted and in what manner.
When you post images that you do not own, I think it bears repeating that you should always credit the photographer. If you found the image on a blog other than the photographer’s, you should also credit the source of the information and any sources that they have named. It doesn’t cost anything to be nice and give credit where credit is due!
Bloggers and photographers, do you have tips to share on image etiquette or guidelines for usage?
As small business owners, even if you aren’t going to handle your own accounting, it’s important to understand the basics of your finances so that you can determine how your business is performing. Let’s start with some accounting language and terminology.
Photo: © kazoka / Shutterstock
Your accounting records are kept in what is called the general ledger. The general ledger is made up of several ledger accounts (also known as accounts or G/L accounts). Each ledger account is populated by journal entries. Each journal entry must balance to zero.
A journal entry is created for every transaction in your business, and each account is either debited (abbr: DR) or credited (abbr: CR).
Each ledger account is classified into one of five account types: Assets, Liabilities, Equities, Revenues, or Expenses. These account types all have natural balances that are debits or credits. The total of all of your G/L accounts must balance to zero.
The natural balances of each account type are:
Debits are not Additions and Credits are not Subtractions
Don’t think of debits and credits as additions and subtractions. Simply think of debits and credits as increases and decreases to the natural balance of an account.
A debit will always be a positive number. A credit will always be a negative number. Negative numbers are generally presented in parentheses. The total of the debits and credits in a journal entry will always balance to zero. This insures that you have recorded all aspects of the transaction appropriately.
Confused yet? Let’s do some examples from our everyday lives.
Example 1: Buying groceries
You go to Whole Foods and spend entirely too much money on baked goods (oh wait, is that just me?). You pay cash.
Grocery expenses are increasing, because a debit increases the natural balance of an expense account, and cash is decreasing, because a credit decreases the natural balance of an asset account.
Example 2: Financing a home
You find your dream home and go to the bank for a loan. The home costs $150,000 and you pay a $20,000 cash down payment.
||Payable to Bank
You are increasing an asset, your real estate account, by $150,000. But you now have a liability to the bank for $130,000 (remember, credits increase liabilities) and your cash balance decreased by $20,000.
Example 3: A customer pays you for an order
You sold someone a book for $20, they paid with cash.
Assets, with a natural debit balance, and revenues, with a natural credit balance, are both increasing in this transaction.
So what do you think—are debits and credits starting to make sense? Next up in this series, we’re going to chat about financial statements (excited yet?).