Archive for January, 2010
And why should I care?
Good questions. First, here’s why you should care.
Unlike getting website updates or ezines by email, RSS feeds give you absolute, 100% complete control over the situation.
You don’t have to reveal your email address. If you want to stop receiving content, you don’t have to request to be “taken off the list.”
One click, and poof… the subscription is gone.
Plus, since there’s no email address involved, there’s no way a publisher can sell, rent or give away the means to contact you.
That’s right… no more spam, viruses, phishing, or identity theft. And best of all, no reason to put yourself at the mercy of the publisher’s intentions.
Again, if you don’t like the content, you can make it disappear as fast as you can change a TV channel. With just one click.
Pretty cool, huh?
That is cool! Umm… What the heck is RSS?
Alright! Now we’re ready to get to that part.
RSS is a simply an Internet technology standard that allows busy people to receive updates to web-based content of interest.
You might have figured that much out by now. But basically, that’s the essence of an RSS feed – you subscribe and then receive new content automatically in your feed reader.
If you actually want to know how RSS works, click here.
What the heck is a feed reader?
You may already be using a form of feed reader, and not even realize it. If you use personalized home page services like My Yahoo or My MSN, you’ve got RSS capabilities built in. That’s how syndicated content like news, weather and stock quotes appears on your personal page. You can also add content from any blog or other site that uses RSS to provide updates.
Other web-based tools are primarily dedicated to feed reading only. One of the most popular web-based feed readers at this point is Bloglines, and it’s also free and easy to get started with.
If you use the Firefox browser, you can also receive RSS feeds from your tool bar by using the Live Bookmarks function. The next version of Internet Explorer will add this feature as well.
If it sounds complicated, it’s really not. And things will get even easier when the next version of Outlook integrates feed-reading capabilities. So, you’ll have the same convenience that email subscriptions offered in the old days, without any of the terrible consequences of giving out your email address to potentially unscrupulous characters.
Sounds good. So how do I subscribe to a Feed?
First of all, look for the subscription or feed options (some bloggers make this difficult for some odd reason). You might see a variety of buttons (amusingly called chicklets).
If the site you want to subscribe to uses FeedBurner to aid in the subscription process (like Prosperous Massage Practice and many other popular sites), you’ll likely see the standard RSS icon, which takes you to a page that will give you an array of the most popular feed readers so you can select yours, and you’ll go from there. This is the new standard RSS icon:
Sometimes there will be a chicklet for your particular reader right on the blog that will take you to the appropriate subscription page. You may see these (among others):
Finally, you may also see little orange buttons that say XML or RSS. Often these chicklets will take you to a page that looks like code gibberish. In this case, you simply cut and paste the page URL from your browser window and manually paste it into your feed reader subscription function.
Hopefully this last method will soon disappear, never to be seen again.
In summary: RSS solves BIG problems.
So there you have it… RSS is being adopted at a phenomenal rate, because it’s a good thing for everyone.
The benefit to readers is obvious. And it’s good for publishers too, because we want to make sure that people feel comfortable subscribing, and that our message is not nuked by an overzealous spam filter.
If there’s anything here that is confusing, or you have a question, please contact me and I’ll be happy to help!
For those of you familiar with RSS and News Aggregators you can follow Prosperous Massage Practice via our RSS feed (located at the top right-hand corner of the website). Simply add it to your news aggregator and you’ll get notification every time something is published on Prosperous Massage Practice. Learn More about RSS and how to use it.
Get email updates by filling in your name and email address to the right of this post. I even bribe you by offering you a free copy of my ebook “Seven Success Strategies for Massage Therapists.”
Please note – your privacy is assured with either of the above options. I do not use your details for any other purposes than what you sign up for and details are kept private.
Just in case you haven’t heard of Yelp, let me give you a quick history…
What is Yelp
Yelp was founded by Jeremy Stoppelman and Russel Simmons in 2004. These two 20 somethings wanted to make it easier for people to find good businesses and avoid the not-so-good ones.
Yelp allows people to write reviews (good or bad) about businesses that they have done business with even if you didn’t add the page yourself.
If you want to take the initiative, you can add a page for your business. Here is an example of a page from one of my students.
How Yelp Can Help (or Hurt) Your Business
Reviews (at least good ones) can help you boost your business by 10% according to one business. Another business was able to stop advertising in the Yellow Pages because she was being found on Yelp.
Love or hate the reviews that customers write, you must know how to handle the bad reviews. Take a proactive approach in getting your customers to give you good reviews (particularly since Google is talking about buying Yelp, which will have even greater impact on local search for your business).
If you have friends who own businesses, do them a favor and give them a review. Then ask them to do the same for you. If you don’t have a Yelp account, set one up by going to Yelp.com. While you are there, invite me to be one of your Yelp friends so I can see what you are reviewing. The link to my profile is here.
Yelp is not another social networking site like Facebook or Twitter that will consume a lot of your time.
It is, however, a site to be reckoned with if you own a small business and you need to be on
top of what people are saying about you and your business.
Yelp offers fantastic marketing opportunities when used properly. I’ll cover that in more detail in future posts.
What do you think? How do you use Yelp? Has using Yelp helped your business? Post your ideas, suggestions and comments below.
Welcome to Motivation Mondays. Here is your quote for the week:
“The man who loves his job never works a day in his life.” –Confucius
“Intelligence is not to make no mistakes, but quickly to see how to make them good.” –Bertolt Brecht
New research shows that intelligence can be boosted. Brain scientists divide intelligence into two different aspects, fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence.
Fluid intelligence is the ability to step outside of our beliefs and use information which does not fit into our previously accepted view of reality. It is the ability to find meaning in confusion and to solve new problems, independent of previous knowledge.
Fluid intelligence helps us to solve problems. It was previously believed that this ability couldn’t be enhanced. However, new research shows that carefully designed brain training tools can improve this ability.
Tests results showed that those who trained more showed significantly more improvement compared to those who trained less. The research suggests that training branches up cells and form more connections between them.
Fluid intelligence is connected to the short-term memory. Programs that aim at boosting fluid intelligence, also try to improve the working memory.
Forget about brain age: current research shows that we can improve intelligence at any age. Here are some ways to help you improve your intelligence:
1. Become an early adaptor
Do you sometimes feel left behind by new developments? Take the Internet as an example. New trends appear just about weekly. Just think of the development of social media.
There are two groups of users, early adaptors and late adaptors. Early adaptors learn about new trends, study them and try out new software or gadgets. Late adaptors wait until the mainstream culture has caught up with a trend.
A way for your fluid intelligence to improve is to become an early adaptor.
2. Think Outside the Box
Whenever you want to solve a problem and can’t find an answer, search for a solution outside the box. If you do that, you become an agent of change. DeBono’s technique of Six Thinking Hats may be useful. (Please note: I have not read this book.)
3. Learn new skills
When did you last learn a completely new skill? It’s easy to become complacent with skills we have mastered in the past. However, it’s essential for brain growth to learn learn new skills. Because learning allows the brain to create neurons and new pathways.
4. Practice brain gym exercises
Fifty years ago, gyms that focused on strength training were unknown. Nowadays we know that it’s important to exercise our muscles and boost fitness at any age. However, it’s less accepted that we need to train our brain regularly as well.
You can check out how an exercise to boost visual memory works.
Another highly rated program is MindFit. It has been endorsed by leading neurologists, but I haven’t tried it yet myself.
Find more good ideas on how to exercise your brain in The Sharp Brains Guide to Brain Fitness. (Please note: I have not read this book.)
5. Learn to meditate
One of the reasons meditation helps with brain fitness, is that it trains attention. That is, the ability to focus on one thing for a prolonged period of time. Obviously, this is useful when training the working memory. If someone says their name and your mind is elsewhere, there is no way you will remember it!
We can support brain health by good nutrition:
- Increase your water intake
- Eat natural antioxidants such as blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, spinach, Brussel sprouts, red peppers, avocados, etc.
- Include Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, found in deep-sea fish and fish oil.
As you can see, there is much we can do for brain fitness. The most important factor is the attitude we have. If we keep a positive outlook and keep on being willing to learn, our brain will develop, no matter what age we are.
Welcome to Motivation Mondays. Here is a motivational video for the week.
By following Feng Shui guidelines and techniques, you can design and build a business website that is not only visually attractive but attracts wealth and prosperity as well. The elements that are part of a business website are somehow equivalent to the objects distributed through a working space since the website is the electronic version of the actual business’ offices. Therefore, the website design and the elements that will be in it should follow Feng Shui guidelines in order to be properly balanced.
The colors used to design your website are very important and you should choose them carefully. If you want a website which feels lively and active, it should contain yang elements, while if you wish it to be quiet or passive, it should have yin prevalence. Yang colors are all the bright and cheerful ones, while yin colors are all the dark shades. Therefore, a website with predominance of a light and bright color would be more yang than a dark or off colored one where yin would have prevalence.
It is important that you keep the general appearance of your website clean and tidy. A messy or cluttered website would not only make the user feel overwhelmed but it would also be an obstacle for your business prosperity.
Your business website should be designed having its graphics and written content clear and organized. Besides this, the general appearance should be as natural and easy to follow as possible. Anybody who visits your business website should feel welcome and comfortable in it. This should be achieved by providing a clear and welcoming main page and allowing an easy navigation through the entire website.
The lines you use for your business website and its graphics are also important regarding Feng Shui harmony. Straight lines and shapes with cutting edges are not natural and when having too many of them it can be harmful to the prosperity of your business. Therefore, you should try to use as many curved and smooth lines as possible, since this would not only help you adding nature inspired elements to the website but also bring wealth to it.
Need a fresh set of eyes on your website? Find out what 3 things you can improve with a $99 website critique.
Welcome to Motivation Mondays. Here is your quote for the week:
You are so amazing and brilliant.
You shine like the brightest firefly in an indigo sky.
This is your time to explore,
this is your opportunity to be.
If you hold the possibility to be amazing
- in this moment -
then be in completion with all that holds you back.
Declare your possibilities
and the actions you plan to take
in this moment, in this year
is a step in the right direction.
Repeat After Me
Today I am finding my direction
by declaring my possibilities.
Today I am being amazing in this moment.
–Jill R. Stevens
Recently someone posed a question in one of the massage forums about whether or not a website was important for your massage practice. There was a lot of discussion about it, so I thought I would put my two cents in by writing this post.
Here are 15 reasons why your massage practice can’t do without a web site:
1. You compete in a global marketplace
With a web site your massage practice is not limited to the area in which you are located. Your practice becomes an international venture generating interest from customers worldwide. When I had my practice, I would regularly get Gift Certificate orders from other parts of the U.S. and one as far away as England for recipients in my area. If I didn’t have a website, those people would have never found me and I would have lost that business.
2. A Web site is a cost-effective marketing tool
Including your web site address in all of your advertising, business cards and other marketing materials allows people to take action right away. Visiting your website is so much easier than driving to your location or even telephoning you. When visiting your website, a potential customer can take their time and enjoy finding out about your services (or products) without the pressure of having a salesperson floating around in the background.
3. You Can Tell Your Story
People like doing business with people they know, like and trust. A web site gives you a chance to tell your complete story and why someone should come to you for a massage instead of Susie Q down the street.
4. Your website is open 24/7
A web site allows your business to be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There are millions of people, from all over the world, online at any time of the day. Many of them are looking for your services (or products). If you run a conventional brick and mortar location without a web site, you can only attract the people who walk or drive past your practice, in any one day. Having a web site allows you to attract new customers that would otherwise never find you – and they can do so when your shop is closed! A well designed web site also gives them a reason to revisit the site in the future.
4. Web sites increase consumer confidence
A professional, well designed web site, with the right content, easy navigation and quickly accessible contact details, greatly increases customer confidence in your massage practice. A well designed web site shows people that you are forward thinking and customer focused, much in the way a well designed business card did in the past, which is an important factor in any buying decision that they have to make.
5. Websites increase customer referrals
What is easier to remember, mymassagepractice.com or 703-851-9572? A web site address is much easier to remember than a telephone number. Sending an email with your web site address to a friend is a lot easier than finding and faxing or mailing a brochure. So it stands to reason that having a web site increases the likelihood of referrals – and let’s face it, referrals are one of the most important sources of new business.
With your own web site you can ensure that you offer the customer a very professional view of your massage practice.
A fully functioning web site enables your customers to contact you anytime of the day or night even when you are not at work. You can even have people schedule appointments with an on-line scheduling feature.
8. Your Competitor has a Web site
People use the Internet to find everything these days. A small competitor or start-up gains instant credibility with a well-constructed web site. If your competitor’s web site is the only site found, that’s who your potential customer will go to. Don’t let your competitor be the first to construct a web site. It can take months for a site to become visible in the Search Engines. Get off the blocks first!
9. Customers look for you on the Internet
Using Google to find a person’s or company’s phone number or address is very popular. Tt’s called “Googling.” Make sure you’re there when you or your company is “Googled.”
10. Customers investigate before making contact
The anonymity of the web has given the customer an advantage. They can investigate without personal contact and avoid repeated sales calls or giving away information through personal queries. They can visit your site and decide if you have service (or products) that they want. This also means that the customer who makes contact is “pre-qualified” – they already know you have what they want, making your job easier.
11. Web site sales
Your web site is one of the most impressive sales presentations that you will ever have. Allowing your customers to buy you and your massage services (or products) or services without you having to say a word. Spending thousands on advertising simply doesn’t compare to investing in a long term marketing solution – or a well designed web site!
12. Web sites promote future business
When a someone calls without making an appointment, they are basically a dead prospect. When someone views your well designed web site and doesn’t make a schedule straight away, they can easily revisit anytime to schedule in the future. On top of that, you can use your web site to collect the email addresses of visitors and send them periodical promotional emails, newsletters or updates on your product or service. So although they may not buy first time around, you have more than one opportunity to close the sale!
13. Web site ROI is much better than brochure ROI
When the cost of creating, printing, distributing and updating a brochure is taken into consideration, your more-easily-maintained web site is a better investment. A brochure can be important, but, if you have a brochure you should have a web site. If you don’t have a brochure, you should create a web site first.
14. A Web site makes your business card more effective
A business card is low-cost and gives your customer a way to remember you. But, the most common information kept is the email address and the web site address.
15. The Bottom Line
Every business needs a web site. This may be most important for a small business such as your massage practice that cannot afford missed opportunities and needs the most efficient way to conduct its affairs.
So there you go, what are you waiting for? Don’t waste time – get a well designed web site now!
What Should You Do?
Already have a web site?
Don’t have a web site?
If this article makes business sense to you, to find out more about getting a well designed web site.
Welcome to Motivation Mondays. Here is your quote for the week:
“Do just once what others say you can’t do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.” -James R. Cook
What have people told you that you couldn’t do, or that was impossible that when you decided to do it for yourself, you succeeded?