Social Media Tips for 2018

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

Whether you are doing it for your stay-at-home business or just for personal branding, you should make sure you are approaching your social media in the right way. What the “right way” actually means in practice is another matter. The right way for you will be different from the right way for someone else. You could spend a great deal of time learning and applying best practices, but ultimately it comes down to making it work for your specific goals. However, there are a number of steps you can take as you’re perfecting and learning to get a better handle on your social media accounts. 

Buy Likes
One of the biggest factors on practically any of the social media platforms is likes and interactions. As long as you are getting likes, you will find that you are also gaining followers and interest, and that is ultimately what you should be going for here. However, it can be hard to get many likes early on especially if you don’t yet have many followers. There are a number of things you can do, and you might be tempted to simply buy likes. When you buy Instagram likes, for instance, you may find that other people suddenly like you more. This is an inflated number and likely isn’t going to help you reach your goals, especially if the accounts are quickly closed or obviously robots. Buying likes is great for an ego boost and terrible business practice.

Consider Using Social Media Management 
A good social media management tool will save you time and give you better insight into how your posts perform. The Social Report lets you schedule posts, actively listen, gives you sophisticated analytics, custom reporting and more. With Social Report you can track the performance of everything from your Facebook pages and Twitter profiles, to business reviews, website site performance and blogs. Easily schedule and post on as many social networks as you wish. Social Report is by far the easiest and the most feature rich way to publish on social media. Plus, you can automate specific tasks to save time.Here’s a sneak peek at what the platform looks like for cross-channel engagement:

Additionally, you can see a deeper analysis of platform-specific metrics using Social Report.
One more feature worth highlighting is the Growth metrics:

Use Many Platforms
It’s a good idea not to limit yourself to only one platform, as that is essentially the same as limiting yourself to only one room of people in the real world. Instead, you should identify where you want to spend your time and if you are trying to achieve business goals, where your ideal customers spend time and create profiles on those sites. Don’t assume that twitter and facebook will always be the belle of the ball in the social media world. Keep an eye on up and coming social channels and at the minimum consider reserving your name or brand name on those as early as possible.

Provide Varied Content
Pay attention to what you are posting. Don’t always be selling or always be negative. Try to have a reflection of who you are and what your brand stands for if that is applicable to you. Try not to duplicate content on all platforms and pay attention to the social norms for each space. DO your research and pay attention to the subtle differences for each channel. Be authentic and engaging and work to grow your audience organically. 

Over time you will develop a practice and voice that achieves your goals. You should absolutely be open to changing tactics and even channels to make sure you reach the audience you want to reach when you want to reach them.

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Florida More than Just a Spring Break Destination

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

Florida is one of the most-visited states in the USA, and it’s easy enough to see why. The state offers a wealth of delightful experiences, from huge theme parks to sandy beaches so beautiful you’ll never want to leave. We particularly loved our visit to Destin when our daughter was about six months old and our trek to Key West years before.

However, Florida is also a state that you have to negotiate carefully when booking a trip. If you get it right, your vacation memories will last a lifetime. But if you get wrong, you could be in for one of the worst kinds of memorable trips, one with horror stories. 

“Summer” is not necessarily the best time to visit
When most of us are planning a vacation, we plan for the summertime. Students are out of school and the annual summer vacation is something the vast majority of families plan the year around. However, summer is not a particularly great time to visit Florida.

The reason for this is simple: hurricanes. July through to September is generally considered to be the hurricane season, so it’s best to avoid the state during these times. While the chances of getting caught in a massive category 5 storm like Hurricane Irma are low, you could still find yourself vacationing during lower-category hurricanes and tropical storms. These might not be life-threatening but will prevent you from enjoying your vacation to the best of your ability. 

So when should you visit? May or October are considered the best times to visit Florida, so keep this in mind when booking your trip.

There’s more to Florida than Miami and Orlando
Miami and Orlando are the choice destinations for most family visits to the Sunshine State. To an extent, that makes sense— Miami is a vibrant, wonderful city that is hard to overlook, and Orlando is the home of Disney World. However, there’s more to Florida than these two cities.

If you want to avoid the worst of the crowds, then it’s worth considering a change of destination. Spend a couple of nights at a hotel in Tallahassee, taking the time to explore the local museums or visit the beautiful St. Mark’s Lighthouse during the day. Alternatively, head further north for a stay at the Jacksonville Marriott, giving you the opportunity to visit the wonderful Museum of Science and History. Florida is filled with alternative cities whether you prefer a beach vacation, a museum-centric vacation or a little bit of both!

Be prepared for the humidity
The Sunshine State promises plenty of sunshine, but you also need to be prepared for the humidity. Due to its near-tropical climate, Florida is easily the most humid state in the USA. The humidity can make the air feel much warmer than the actual temperature, and many visitors struggle during the hottest points of the day.

There’s relatively little you can do about the humidity itself, but you can follow these tips for dealing with high humidity to ensure you stay as comfortable as possible.

If you’re looking to book a vacation to Florida soon, keeping the above in mind can help improve your holiday, and ensure you and your family have an experience you’ll remember for all the right reasons!

Freelance A Job, Not Your Finances

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

Freelancing has a range of benefits. Of course, there is the flexibility of picking your working hours and getting to complete projects from home. A downside is a financial aspect. As a solopreneur, it is your responsibility to ensure all of the details are attended to and all of the requisite items accounted for in your paperwork. Otherwise, you may be quite surprised come tax day. Keeping your books in order from the start is your best bet.

The Extra Mile
A lot goes into pricing a job. As an employee, it’s hard to see the small and large details, but, now, you have to be aware. A budget is one thing, but a comprehensive plan is essential to avoid debt and underpayment for your work. With that in mind, always think about tax contributions as well as health policies and the cost of labor and production. One more thing to add to the list is retirement. You probably don’t want to be freelancing well into your retirement years. Putting a little bit aside helps, so think about the future when you set a price for your goods or services.

Separate Business Account
Organizing money is hard enough without dealing with two sets of income. Therefore, a business account is essential as it prevents confusion. With a fund that runs parallel to your personal one, everything that goes into it should be business-related. So, it has nothing to do with life outside of work and can’t mess up your finances. As a rule, open a new account for different aspects of the firm. Of course, you should work with a financial planner and accountant to determine exactly what is best for you and your specific business.

Proof Of Payment
The evidence is something that will help with the organizational side of being a freelancer. Receipts are imperative, and a check stub maker can churn them out online. Along with evidence from your online banking, they should be enough to cover your back in a crisis. Store files on a computer and offline to ensure nothing goes missing or disappears.

Emergency Fund
Additionally, do not forget to plan for an emergency fund. This isn’t for personal use but the company. Yes, things are going fine and there seems like there is no need to be cautious yet that’s why they call it “unforeseen circumstances”. No one sees bankruptcy or debt coming and they still have to find the cash somehow. With a contingency plan, there should be plenty to cover the majority or part of the payment. Even with the latter, it will buy you time.

Is That Stock Worth Your Money?

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

As a solopreneur, every dollar is allocated for and every expense planned. Saving and growing your wealth is likely one of the last things on your mind, but it shouldn’t be. Take some to plan a strategy for saving for the future. Part of the plan should be investing in the stocks as part of a balanced portfolio. 

Ask Your Financial Adviser
In theory, the easiest way to ensure that the vht vanguard stock you’re interested in is actually a good buy is by asking your financial adviser. This should work fine if you choose a reputable adviser, but what it won’t do is teach you about the stock market and what is best for you. You absolutely should develop a relationship with a financial advisor who has your best interests in mind. This provides you a resource while you get started learning more about investing yourself. 

What’s the Price?
The first thing you should ask yourself is how much a stock is selling for and how much it has been worth in the past. Looking at historical values over time will give you a good idea of the trajectory for this specific stock option. Then you should look at similar stocks and make a comparison. This will let you make a more informed decision than just deciding you like a stock and guessing. Of course, there are no certainties in the stock market, but this is certainly a good indicator.

Growth
Stock prices will generally only rise of there is growth within the company they are attached to. So, do your homework and check out the revenue of the company and how successful it has been in the past and appears to be right now. If the general trend is upwards, and this especially applies to the last quarter, then it’s more likely to be a good pick. Read the disclosure statements and reputable news stories on the company and future predictions. 

What is the Dividend Yield?
A lot of companies will give back a share of their earnings to anyone who holds shares in their company, which means if you decide to invest, you will be paid a small amount for every share you hold – this is known as a dividend and is generally paid each quarter. Knowing that a stock will yield dividends for you on a more regular basis is a good indicator it’s worth your investment.

Follow the Experts
Of course, one of the best ways to work out whether you should invest in a stock is by following those people who are experts in the field. Obviously, many of them don’t disclose which stocks they hold and which stocks they sell, but many are not and if you can find someone who is more open about their investments and you can learn from them. 

To underscore a few points, this post is to be taken from a perspective of learning how to diversify assets as a solopreneur and should not be taken as financial or investing advice. Only a licensed financial advisor can provide you with specific investing information.

 

2018 ecommerce tips

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

Are you the type of entrepreneur who is struggling under their own weight? You’re not alone, every startup and even fully established companies are struggling to keep afloat now. There are, of course, many different reasons for this, but when you are in an ecommerce industry, competition is fierce. If you’re going to stay in the black, you need to develop an ecommerce campaign that is direct, premeditated and effective?

Personalization
The user experience is key to developing that bond with the customer, but if you have an ecommerce platform that is not particularly user-friendly, it’s time to make this the first thin you update. You need to make sure that your user experience stays away from the click bait questionnaire boxes, but you should also work with website designers and marketers to create an online personality that your customers want to visit.

Diverse Platforms
If you haven’t spread out your operation to cover as many different platforms as possible, this should be step two. The user experience has morphed into something more sophisticated than the standard laptop and mobile experience. It’s now social media, Instagram photos, YouTube clips and an entirely seamless experience across platforms. Creating a comprehensive, thoroughly diverse plan for each channel that emphasizes your brand. 

Product Review Aggregation
Yes, various services specialize in ecommerce data, but providing aggregation of product reviews helps customers to see the bigger picture. Customers can do their own research online when it comes to shopping for products that suit their needs. While it’s not always possible to provide all of the reviews in one handy place so your customer can make a guided judgement, you can use third-party solutions, so the customer service experience is greatly improved.

Improve Your Analytics
As customers are savvy when it comes to finding the best prices, you need to be ahead of the game in this respect. Using big data and analytics to stand out from the crowd helps you to provide competitive pricing. This becomes a commonplace procedure in ecommerce, so this is something to implement now so that you can get a better idea of where you are in the market, but also where your customers are going if they’re not coming to you.

The virtual shopping experience is improving with every passing day, and while we are about to see the user experience changed forever with the introduction of virtual reality, right now the ecommerce platforms we use are important to retain and maintain relationships with our customers. Startup companies may not be able to afford sophisticated tech, but they can afford to cement solid relationships with new and current customers. This is the key to surviving in 2018 before the market changes into something we all don’t recognize. Being ahead of the curve is a full-time task, and in the ecommerce industry, where competition is considerably tough, always think about your options and how important your customer is to you.