Archive for the ‘Technical How To’s’ Category

How to Set Up Your Email for Marketability

Email Setup: Do This, Not This

I get a lot of emails from people in our industry. And I can’t help but notice some of the things they do in their email that is costing them trust, credibility, connection and ultimately business.

Some don’t use an email address on their own domain. Or, they have an email on their own business domain, but don’t have an email signature and just sign off with their name.

Here are some recent examples of the problems that are caused by ineffective email set-up:

  1. I had someone sign up for class with a hotmail address. This was someone I didn’t already know so I emailed her hoping to get to know each other a bit. I didn’t hear from her for over two months until three or four days before the class was to begin! And even then, she didn’t even know I had emailed her because the email account she signed up with wasn’t one that she checked. Lesson: This is just one reason you want to stick with one email address and use it consistently across all channels and accounts. If you are going to use an email in any kind of business dealing, it had better be one you keep on top of if you expect anyone to do business with you.
  2. I had someone email me with only her first name (for the purposes she was emailing me, her full name was needed). Her name wasn’t in her email address. She had no email signature block. It wasn’t displayed in the from field. And she used a burner email account instead of an email on her own domain. Lesson: If I’m a potential client, I am gone. I’m not going to waste a second of my time hunting around for these details.
  3. Same issue with another email. This one at least was on her own domain, but she had no signature block and when I went to her website, she had no last name anywhere on her site! Lesson: Your clients and business associates are not mind readers. How on earth are they suppposed to figure out who you are? They won’t. Because neither I nor your prospective clients are going to waste their time. And they’re going to wonder what is wrong with you that you are being evasive about your last name in the first place. You’ve just generated ill will and mistrust in your dealings with them.

Your email is an extension of you and your business. You should be taking as much care with the details and the image you are presenting in your email as you do your website, and you should be using your business email with EVERYONE and EVERYTHING.

Your email is a marketing and networking tool and generates traffic to your website. If someone, be it colleague or client, forwards one of your messages to someone else, you want it on your own domain and with a proper set-up and signature.

Worst case scenario, when they have no other information about you, an email on your own domain can lead people to your site whereas a burner email account tells them nothing and leads them nowhere.

Think about how your email and email address appears to your recipients. Take an inventory of your email set-up and if you’re missing anything in the list below, fix it pronto.

1. Set up your primary business email in your domain’s admin panel. I’m here to tell you that if you are stuck here, it’s stopping you up in other places in your business as well. I guarantee it. So get it sorted and figured out first thing so you can move forward with the rest of your business.

2. Be sure the enter your FIRST then LAST NAME where it asks for your name in the user account info when setting up your account up in your email client (e.g., Outlook). NOT your last name first and NOT your business name. This is what your recipients will see in the from field when they receive your emails.

From Field

This is super important for many reasons. First and foremost, when you are emailing, you are dealing with people, not machines. When you introduce yourself to someone in person, you tell them “My name is Jane Doe.” You don’t say, “My name is Doe, Jane.” When your email comes across their INbox, you want it to read like a human being, not a machine. This makes makes it more personable as well as easier for people to remember you. Second, you don’t want to use your company name first for the same reason. People do business with people, not nameless, faceless organizations. Having your email display your name makes it personal and facilitates rapport. And if you’re using your business domain, they will easily be able to see what your business and website are.

3. Create an email signature block that is automatically inserted whenever you create a message in your business email account. This should include your name, your company name and your address, contact information and links to your website and/or social networking accounts. This is important. People like at-a-glance information. They don’t like to have to hunt around. So even if your contact information is on your website (which it should be), you want to always be thinking about the convenience of your recipients by putting that info right in front of them. Likewise, do not rely on a VCF card. Lots of people don’t like them or use them, and they often get your emails caught in spam filters.

4. OPTIONAL: For double points, include a headshot and/or your company logo image hosted on your own domain servers. Email signatures with an image included can really bring life to your messages. Images create visual interest, rapport and increase memorability, all of which makes your messages stand out. You don’t want an embedded image because those often get stripped from your messages at the recipient’s end or can get your email caught in spam filters. Better to link to an image hosted on your own servers so that it displays properly and your messages reach your recipients without unnecessary difficulty. If you aren’t sure how to do this, refer to this article on “how to insert an Internet image in my signature.”

5. Include a call-to-action. A call to action is not a tagline or slogan. It’s an instruction that tells people specifically what to do next. If you currently have a free report, giveaway, ezine, blog or something that people can sign up for, put that call-to-action in your signature block (e.g., “Visit {YOUR SITE] to get your copy of my free report [TITLE]“). If you don’t have any lead generation mechanisms (which is what those free offers are), then your call-to-action should be telling them to visit your website. So you could say something like “Visit [YOUR WEBSITE WITH ACTIVE LINK] to learn how you can have/get more [BENEFIT] with my administrative support.”

That should get your creative juices flowing. Can’t wait to see your improved emails!

Gmail Just Took More Control Over Your INbox; Here’s How to Fix That

So I guess Gmail rolled out some significant changes to their email system that affect whether or not you are receiving YOUR email.

Apparently they have added new automatic “Primary,” “Social” and “Promotions” category tabs.

This means they are arbitrarily deciding how your email gets sorted and what email you get based on their protocols, not yours.

Not only are their efforts overzealous and big-brotherish, but there is going to be lots of legitimate mail—mail you WANT, including from clients and prospective clients—being blocked and rerouted.

Not good business.

To remedy this and make sure you get all your business email, here are two options…

OPTION 1

  1. Click the little X at the top right of your INbox next to the tabs and uncheck the “Social” and “Promotions” box, and click save. This will revert things back to the traditional Gmail INbox.

OPTION 2

Alternatively, if for some reason you want to keep the new tabs (though, God knows why you would, lol), you can do this instead:

  1. Go into one of the tabs and find a message from someone you WANT to continue seeing and hearing from.
  2. Drag that message over to the Primary tab.
  3. You’ll get an alert that asks:  “This conversation has been moved to ‘Primary.’ Do this for future messages from X?” Click YES.

And that oughta take care of things!

How to Fix It: Outlook Email Signature Image Won’t Display

Has this ever happened to you?

You set up an email signature in Outlook that includes an image.

Everything is working fine. Then one day you notice your image is no longer appearing. Instead, all you see is that familiar red “x” where the image is supposed to be.

You have images enabled so that’s not the problem. And you checked with your email recipients and they all see your signature image at their end just fine. What gives?!

This used to drive me nuts and I finally found the culprit!

It has to do with the Outlook Temporary folder and and here’s how to fix it if you’re on Outlook 2003/Microsoft XP (that’s the only place I’ve ever had this problem):

  1. Close Outlook
  2. On your computer, click on START — RUN|
  3. Type REGEDIT in the Run box that appears.|
  4. The Registry Editor will appear with a list of files. Double-click on the OutlookSecureTempFolder.|
  5. An Edit String box will appear. Select and copy the link that appears in the Value Data field.|
  6. Open Windows Explore and paste in the link. This will take you to your Outlook Temporary folder. Select all the files in this folder and delete.|
  7. Now, open Outlook and your signature image will “magically” be displayed again!

PS: My famous consultation guide (Breaking the Ice, GDE-03) is on sale now through Friday for only $47. This latest version is my best work yet! Just heard from a colleague who purchased it this week who says:  “I just had a consultation this a.m. that resulted in a retainer client signing on. I reviewed most of the video last night as well as the Guide, so I’m giving some credit there!” Check it out here >>

How to Create a Payment Page on Your Website

A colleague asked me how to procePayPal Pay Now Buttonss a client’s payment herself with PayPal. She had heard about my Credit Card Authorization Form, but wasn’t sure about the actual mechanics of processing credit card payments herself on behalf of her clients and whether she needed to be able to log into their PayPal accounts.

So, here’s what I explained:

Okay, so the credit card authorization form is an agreement between you and the client whereby the client provides you with their credit card details and allows you to keep them on file. This is so that when their fee to you is due, you can simply run the credit card yourself instead of waiting for them to do it.

It’s best for clients who pay you a monthly retainer or any other usual or set amount on a regular basis. This is an excellent way to take another detail off of your client’s plate while ensuring you are paid on time every month. And it really doesn’t matter what credit card processing service you use. My client’s love it and I never pay myself late, lol. ;)

With regard to PayPal specifically, there are a couple ways you can process the payment. The first is that, yes, you can log into the client’s PayPal account if they wish to provide you with that information. However, it’s not necessary and for many reasons I really don’t recommend this.

There needs to be a great deal of trust there already for a client to provide you with their PayPal account info. That level is usually only established with clients who have been with you for several years, and you don’t want to get blamed for any problems with their account just because you are the only other person who happens to have access to it. Know what I mean?

I recommend the second option, which is that you simply process the payment as a guest. As a guest, you don’t need to log into a client’s PayPal account to process their payment. As long as you have their credit card details and the proper legal authorization form on file, you can process any payment without the client even needing an account.

Here’s how to set up a payment page on your website. Here’s an example of my payment page from my old website:

paymentpage

  1. Create a dedicated web page on your site. You can simply call it “payment” or “submitpayment.” Include the link in your navigation, site map or otherwise make it clearly visible and easily found on your site (perhaps as an image graphic in a sidebar on all pages).
  2. Get the HTML code to place a PayPal “Pay Now” button on the page.a) Log into your own PayPal account and go to the “Merchant Services” tab.

    b) Click on the “Create Payment Buttons for Your Website” option, then click on “Create a Button.”

    c) Select the “Buy Now” button type.

    d) Since this is going to be a generic button, leave the “Item ID,” “Price” fields blank. If you want to give a name, call it something like “Submit Payment” or “Pay Now.”

    d) Under the “Customize Button” section, click on “Customize text or appearance.”

    e) Under “Select button text,” select “Pay Now.”

    f) Read through the other options so you know and understand what’s there and change anything you need to accordingly. You also have the option to use your own button graphic if you choose.

    g) Once all that is done, click on “Create Button” and the HTML code will appear. Select that code and place it in the HTML section on your Payment page where you’d like the button to appear.

  3. Publish your new Payment page.

So now, whenever you need to process a payment on behalf of a client, you just go to your Payment page and click on the “Pay Now” button. When the PayPal page appears, click on the option where it says “Pay with your debit or credit card as a PayPal guest” and then enter the amount due and the client’s credit card information.

Simple as that!

How to Select All in Microsoft Outlook 2010

I’m really not a fan of the 2010 Microsoft product “improvements.”

There are a few significant irritations I have, one of which it that whole ribbon thing.

It was a pointless reinvention that didn’t improve anything.

What used to be simple, straightforward and all in one place that you could easily use out-of-the-box, now is needlessly convoluted and requires more time and effort to get set up. What you could get to in one, possibly two, quick clicks, has now become a Rubik’s cube of a maze with all kinds of twists and turns and clicks needed to do what you want.

It’s a pain in the ass, if you ask me.

Anyhoo, when I got a new laptop, I was forced more or less to install/upgrade to the 2010 Office Suite.

One of the things that would drive me crazy was that I couldn’t find any of my usual, frequently-used commands anymore, one of which was “Select All” (formerly under the Edit drop-down list).

After pulling my hair out for a few months, I finally figured out where Microsoft had hidden it.

If this has been driving you, too, batty, here are the steps to add it back into your command options:

  1. In the top left of Outlook is the Quick Access Toolbar. Select the little arrow icon to “Customize Quick Access Toolbar.”
  2. Click on “More Commands” in the drop-down menu.
  3. From the list that appears, select “Commands Not in the Ribbon.”
  4. Scroll down until you find “Select All,” highlight it and click “Add.”
  5. Click “Okay.”
  6. You will now see a new option up in your Quick Access Toolbar to “Select All.”

Now, whenever you need to do a select all (such as selecting all the spam messages that accumulate in your email inbox so you can move them over to the junk mail folder in one fell swoop), just click on that “Select All” command button.

Hope this helps restore some mental health for someone!

How to Properly Juice Up Your New Laptop Battery

From the “you learn something new every day” file:

Maybe you all know this, but I just learned how I should be using my laptop battery and how to charge it properly the first time.

  1. When you first get the battery, don’t charge it and don’t plug in the power cord. Instead, immediately snap it on the laptop and use it until it runs out of life completely.
  2. THEN, plug in the power cord and recharge the battery in full. As soon as it’s fully charged, unplug the power cord.

I was told that if you’re going to use your laptop, use either battery power OR electrical power, not both together. Big no-no!

When you do that (which I’ve always done in the past, bad laptop user that I am, lol), it destroys the battery cells and you won’t get as long a life of use from it.

That means, if you’re going to use electrical power, you should remove the battery whenever you have the power cord plugged in. And vice versa: If you’re going to use battery power, unplug the power cord from the laptop entirely.

With my laptop batteries being relatively pricey to replace, I’m definitely going to follow this advice from now on.

I did get a good two or three years worth of use from my last 10-hour extended life battery, though, so not too bad! But I plan to take better care of my next one.

Hope this is helpful to you!

What Folks Have to Say About My Value-Based Pricing and Packaging Training

Besides not charging properly, another reason people aren’t earning well in our business is that they are selling hours instead of pricing for solutions. This is called value-based pricing and it’s a methodology I introduced to our industry back in 2004 and have been teaching since then.

I recently conducted this class in June and I wanted to share with you the exciting testimonials I received from some of the attendees:

“Your classes are always fun and informative. I have been on calls before for webinars, and it seemed as if I was the only person on the call. But not with you. You give such awesome information and examples that it is hard not to get excited about how you are going to apply all that you have learned. You make it easy for everyone to ask questions and not feel as if “oh, that was a stupid question.” That is why it is hard to get off your calls. I learn a lot from the other people on the call as well as the information and templates you provide. I now have a clear picture of why I should have packages instead of charging by the hour.” —Tracy Carson, Te L – Us Business Solutions, LLC



Thank you so much, Tracy! I was especially thrilled by Tracy’s feedback because I know she is a very discerning customer and has been disappointed in the past by other teleclasses she’s attended from others, which makes her feedback even more meaningful. I’m so glad I was able to help, Tracy! There is nothing better than that!

“This program is amazing, and I am so glad I was able to participate.  I dreaded spending the time for billing each week because it took up way to much time that I could be spending with my family.  Since participating in the webinar and implementing the pricing plan with two new clients, it has taken all the stress out of billing.  That alone has made this program worth it.  I have advised all my clients that as of the new quarter (August) all billing will be switched over to this program, and even a few are excited about it.  Not having to worry about weekly billing and increments of 15 min they, too, feel it will be less stressful when trying to read their invoices.  I have one client who decided to not wait and we are working on his support plan to get him started right away.  Thank you for sharing you knowledge and simplifying the trials and errors that you have endured to create the impossibly easy billing!  I can’t wait for your next webinar because I will make sure I have signed up for it to attend.” —Teri Williams, Sidekick Assistants



Oh, what wonderful news to wake up to!! This is just so thrilling and I am ecstatic for Teri and her business! What I love even more is that she was fearless, took action right away and just DECIDED to implement things (and didn’t sit around waiting for clients’ permission).

She knew it would help her and she knew it would definitely benefit her clients and help them see that they could both be more focused on the client’s goals and dreams and achieving objectives instead of counting hours. I so LOVE THIS!

Now here’s the bad news… The class I held in June was the last live class I planned on doing on this topic. I have many more new and exciting projects I want to focus on, as well as a big adventure I’m planning to start late 2013 or early 2014.

The good news is that you, too, can get the entire training RIGHT NOW with my comprehensive Value-Based Pricing & Packaging Toolkit.

Click on the link and you will be taken to the product information that will let you know all that is included in the guide, some sample images and a video explaining why pricing by the hour and selling hours is killing your business.

I am proud as punch of this program, and as evidenced by all the testimonials of customers and attendees, it has really and truly transformed the income and businesses of those who have purchased the toolkit!

Dear Danielle: How Can My Clients and I Transfer Transcription Files?

Dear Danielle:

I am just starting out and one of my main specialties is transcription.  I have thus far been transcribing for two companies where I sign onto their secure server to obtain my digital recordings, load them onto my desktop, and then proceed to transcribe and then email the completed product back to them. Since I am setting out on my own, I am wondering what some options are for obtaining the digital recordings from other clients, if they do not have a server set up where they load their recordings.  Do you have any thoughts or suggestions? —LB

I think DropBox may work quite well for this. I tell ya, I have found DropBox to just be so completley indispensible in my work with clients. It’s easy to install and simple to understand, and I find new ways to use it all the time. And, not that I’m the advocate for everything being free (quite the opposite!), but it does just happen to be free so there’s that, too, lol.

What you could do is set up a shared folder for each client and then create an IN folder for incoming transcriptions and an OUT folder for completed transcriptions.

As I’m sure you’re aware, sound files can be quite large which makes them not well-suited for email delivery. Email is not exactly secure either if you are dealing with confidential information.

Plus, if you have frequent large attachments like that going in and out on a regular basis, your ISP might get testy. Sure, you could zip them up, but that’s an extra step at both ends. And anytime you can eliminate extra steps, it sure makes things a lot more convenient.

So here again, a secure cloud storage solution like DropBox where you can transfer and share large files such as this is a perfect solution.

For other transcription tools, be sure to also check out the ACA Free Software Directory. Of particular interest, you will find ExpressScribe which is another brilliant tool that is so indispensible, it’s a wonder they don’t charge for it. But they don’t, and it’s free.

This isn’t particularly transcription related, but another tool I use extensively in my work with clients is Airset, which also happens to be free.

This service is what is known as a shared collaborative virtual office where you can set up a private/separate account for each client you work with so that you have a central location in which you both share documents, keep track of work requests and projects, share calendaring and many other features.

I only use the shared calendar feature because it has the best and most extensive reminders feature of all the shared virtual office suites I’ve used (and I’ve used just about ALL the main ones out there). For my needs, I don’t find it stable enough to make use of any of the other features, however, they do have them and perhaps they will work well for you. Check it out!

One caution about using free tools… just because something is free doesn’t make it the right solution. Often things that are free come with strings or are not the most stable or secure. These services I mention in this post are rare exceptions of excellence. If you do use free tools, be sure they have the capabilities to grow with your needs as your business and client roster grows. And remember that bumping up to the next level of features, stability, capacity or security often requires you to move to a paid plan (and rightly and fairly so). Just some things to keep in mind.

Hope that helps!

How to Create a Split-Screen Video Call Recording on Skype with Supertintin

I had a bit of a saga trying to figure out how to get a split-screen recording for some video interviews I wanted to do via Skype. To save you some trouble, I thought I would share with you what I learned.

The first thing you need to know is that Skype on its own does not render a two-person video call at equal size, side by side. Only group calls of three or more people work like that on Skype. Instead, what you will see on a two-party video call is the other person in the larger, primary position and you will be in a much smaller video inset.

That’s fine if you are just having an informal video call. But that doesn’t work if you are wanting to record a formal video interview that you want to share with others for one reason or another.

Third-Party Software Needed

In order to record a two-person split-screen video call where both people are on the screen side-by-side at the same size, you need some third-party software. These are the two I recommend:

PC UsersSupertintin ($29.95)
Mac Users: ecamm Call Recorder ($19.95)

Both of these softwares create the dual-screen, side by side video for your interview style format and will record both the audio and video all in one. You won’t need any other equipment or software and they are so completely quick and simple to figure out how to use and operate. You won’t need a phD to use them, lol.

How to Use Supertintin

Supertintin is super easy to use. Here’s a quick video to help you get going quickly with your split screen video call recording:

Other Tools

Below are a couple more options that will give you split-screen recording. These are more expensive because they do a lot more than just split-screen recording, which is probably overkill if all you’re trying to do is obtain a simple one-on-one video call recording. Their interfaces are also a lot more complicated so it will be more time-consuming learning how to use them.

VidBlaster
VodBurner

Free Tools

There are lots of services out there that will faciliate video chats. You will find several listed on our Free Software page.

Oovoo is one I’ve used a few times to get that two-person, same-size, side-by-side, split-screen video recording for interview purposes. Personally, I don’t prefer the format, I found it a little glitchy and unstable, and the free version is a little restrictive as far as functionality. However, it will do in a pinch until you are able to get one of paid tools listed above.

Hope that helps!

How to Change Your Twitter Name without Losing Followers

Someone recently asked me for the link to an article we published in our old ezine, The Portable Business (discontinued October 2011), on how to change your Twitter name without losing followers.

At the time, I was changing my Twitter name and found this wonderful information from Alicia Cowan. Here is a reposting of that article for those of you who need to change your Twitter name and want to keep all your followers. It’s brilliant!

* * *

How to Change Your Twitter Name without Losing Followers

By Alicia Cowan

I recently decided to change my Twitter username and wanted to do it in such a way that I wouldn’t lose my followers or access to my current profile. I’ve built up a great community on Twitter and want to preserve it. Besides, what if someone decided to use my current name once I’d changed it? One day I may decide to reinstate it!

This quick article takes you through the simple process I used. I retained all of my followers and other important profile settings–lists, favourites, tweets and people I follow. It’s a foolproof strategy and the smartest way to switch while retaining your profile.

Why do it this way?

It’s very easy to change your Twitter name. You can do it through the settings area of your profile. BUT WAIT!

If you just switch your name to something new, what happens when someone makes contact with you using your old name? They may not realize you’ve changed your name. The problem is, you won’t receive the message. It will be lost because your old username account no longer exists and that person will never know. What if someone follows you using your old username? They may have received a recommendation to follow you but they won’t know you’ve moved your profile. You could lose countless opportunities to engage with others interested in your product or service!

For this to work you need 2 things in place first:

  • A new available profile name. This bit can be tricky. My chosen name @AbsoluteAlicia was about 10th on my list of desired names!
  • An email address that is not currently associated with any of your other Twitter profiles. Each Twitter account needs a separate email address. You can’t have one email address associated with two or more accounts so you’ll want to make sure you have an email address in place before starting this process.

OK, here’s how you do it…

Step 1:

  • Change your current username to your new one in the settings section of your account.
  • Once you’ve added your desired name, Twitter will check to see if it’s available. If your chosen name isn’t available it will say so and you’ll have to pick another.
  • Once you have your chosen name scroll down to the bottom of the page and SAVE CHANGES.

Step 2:

  • Notify all of your followers that you’ve changed your Twitter name. Do this by sending an update message telling them your new username.

Step 3:

  • Next up, create a new Twitter profile using your old Twitter name. This is when you will need another email address.
  • Enter all the account information required for your new account, including your previous username. It’s important to do this step straight away to prevent anyone else taking your profile!
  • Once the account is created, skip all of the ‘find people to follow’ stuff and go straight in to settings to recreate your account adding your profile picture, email, web address and old Twitter name.
  • In the bio, explain who you are, that your profile has moved and where people can find you. By adding your new username in the bio, it will show up as a link taking people directly to your updated profile. Remember to save changes!
  • If you’ve got a custom Twitter background you can add that in too in the Design area of settings.

Step 4:

  • The next step is to send out a message on your new account with your old username. Don’t expect to get any followers here but just in case people come looking for you using your old Twitter name, you’ll want to make doubly sure that people know where they can find you. For the time being at least, this message will remain at the top of your profile ready to point people in the right direction.

I recommend that you come to check this account periodically, especially after the first few days of switching your name because you will get messages from people who don’t realize you’ve changed usernames, or they’ll forget, or people may follow you too. You can send them a message explaining that you’ve changed your name and where they can find you. If you using any apps on WordPress (Tweet this or @Anywhere) remember to change the settings there too.

And that is it! That’s the whole process, really simple–it takes 5 minutes and it prevents you from losing any contacts you’ve made through your old username and will ensure a smooth transition from one to the other!

RESOURCE: Check out my video version of this article. If you want to learn more about using Twitter to market your business, check out the fabulous e-book Twitter Your Business by Mark Shaw, for tons of practical tips, plus I’m a featured case study!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alicia Cowan helps small businesses use online and social media to market themselves effectively and efficiently, so they stop wasting time and start increasing profits! You can find more tips on her blog.