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Original articles from Larissa Harris.
Don't Just Make Noise: Build Your Business With Social Media
A friend posed a question a couple days ago (on Facebook, of course): “How easy it is to get caught up in the NOISE of Social Media? Being more concerned with how many events you check in at and how many "mentions" you receive is a dangerous practice. One day you could look up and realize that you made a lot of noise, and never really built a business.”

Creative Survival: Working from Home with Kids
We’re halfway through the kids’ summer vacation and I’m nearly at the end of my rope. The kids cooperate mostly and allow me the NUMBER of hours I need to get my work done, but I never seem to have enough of the uninterrupted long periods of time that I need. As anyone who has tried to do this knows, your day is a series of stops to redirect your attention and back again.

Some Things Can Be Half-@ssed...Your Online Presence Can't
As a working-from-home-Mom, I certainly know that some things just have to be half-assed. Multi-tasking requires that you don’t give 100% effort to one thing, but instead give a percentage of that effort to several things at one time. However, we all know there are some things that really require our complete attention and effort.

Royal Wedding Social Media Inspirations
With all the hoopla of the Royal Wedding, I thought I’d take a moment to look at the event as the sign of the times that it is. It’s phenomenal how many people and how many media outlets are taking note of and helping to publicize the wedding of William and Kate. Not only can you watch it live on TV (we’ve been watching live TV for decades), but this wedding is actually a social media event.

Staying On Top of Social Media Trends
The urgency to stay on top of what is going on with Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and the relentless need for content to fuel blogs, is the most difficult part of social media marketing. Change is constant and the social media marketer must know as much as they can to get the greatest exposure for their clients.

How Social Media Can Save the Earth
There are many reasons why social media is important to the future of our planet. I know my carbon footprint isn’t as big now that I don’t ever drive over to any of my friends’ homes, but merely catch up with what is happening in their lives through a series of Facebook posts. Advertisers don’t have to print direct mail pieces to reach consumers; they merely start a Facebook page and start tweeting.

QR Codes or NFC?
Seriously, a REAL tattoo of a QR code? There was a man on the news Monday who had a QR code tattooed on his arm that was supposed to lead us to a website about his business. I agree that the designs can look kinda cool, but should people really embrace permanently scarring themselves for marketing?

Six Ideas For Marketing Online
Online marketing is a critical part of any marketing plan. But, you have to actually execute the plans to make it work. For that to happen, set time aside each day (or another regular time period) for marketing online. Mark your calendar for time each day now for the next six months. Use that time to execute Internet- based programs in your plan.

I'm Rubber, You're Glue: 3 Steps to Handling Negative Online Feedback
The power of social media marketing can’t be ignored anymore—even if you’re scared. Those businesses already embracing it know of the challenges AND advantages and that social media can be fickle! It’s great when customers are talking about your business, but what do you do when there are complaints? If you’re not careful, you’ll seem like a disgruntled business owner who can’t take a criticism.

Elements of a Great Website
When you’re thinking about the first website for your business or a redesign, work with your designer and start with outlining the elements of each page before you get caught up in the look and feel. Design is important, but if the visitor has no idea what you’re selling, or if they have no reason to come back, your website will just be screaming into cyberspace with no one to hear it.

Getting Paid the Freelancer's Way
Everyone everywhere wants to get paid for his or her work quickly and in full. With more professionals turning to freelancing as a new career path or to supplement income, it’s important to have systems in place to collect payment.

Four New Reasons to Love WordPress
WordPress is certainly my favorite CMS development platform for various reasons, mostly because of the usability on the back-end. I can quickly customize a great website with tons of features that clients can easily update on their own. This latest upgrade, WordPress 3.1, makes me love it even more...for various reasons.

Seven Steps to SEO Heaven
Achieving success with search engine optimization (SEO) is often looked at as voodoo. And if you don’t understand it, you might just not do it. You can’t just pray for the best when it comes to your search engine rankings; it’s way too important to leave to faith. If nothing else, address these seven issues with your website to get to SEO heaven.

3 Steps to [Really] Using Your Email Marketing Statistics
Email marketing is the most popular and one of the most effective forms of marketing used today. It is quick to set up, offers immediate and highly measurable results and provides excellent customer segmentation and personalization. Successful email marketing programs require planning and analysis. Take a look and see what worked, and what didn’t. Then use that data to make a plan to take your email marketing to the next level. I advise my clients to do this every couple of months if not more often.

Work-Life Balance for the Home Office
Work-life balance is too important to be left in the hands of your employer. Working from home can spell failure, however. You need to be able to walk a fine line to ensure that you have time for your family alongside running a successful business in your home.

Color Theory and the Graphic Designer
On Monday, I had to explain to my daughter why she couldn't wear green and yellow socks with her red and pink Valentine’s Day outfit. She whined, “It matches!” I remained calm and controlled my urge to explain color theory to my six-year-old and said, “Trust me, I know what matches. They pay me to know what matches.” She still didn’t believe me. Color theory, mixing colors to achieve desired effects, is a vast and subjective topic that could and does fill many thick textbooks.

10 Steps to Creating Great Content for Your Website
You can accomplish relevant content with social media, video clips, pictures, and text to explain and promote your products. The most important component of a website, however, is the copy or text—but although good copy can work magic, it doesn’t just appear like magic. Creating copy has stopped many a website’s production in its tracks. If you don’t have the budget for a professional writer, follow this course of action for creating good copy your visitors AND the search engines will like.

I Have a Website—Now What?
Marketing is the single most important activity in running a small business. After you’ve made that uber-important step of getting a website for your small business, you must begin to embrace advertising online. If your customers can't find you, they can't buy from you. If you focus on the basics, you can develop an affordable online marketing plan.

What NOT to Expect From Your Independent Creative Professional
I realized after I outlined this article that it might sound as if I’m bitter. I’m not. I love what I do. I love it so much that it upsets me when a project is tabled because the client can’t commit or will not cooperate enough to see it to completion. The idea for this piece came when I began to think about my dream client and how the process could work if only they gave as much attention as I do to my projects.

“It’s What You Learn After You Know It All That Counts”
Continuing education is possible if you make it a priority. Don’t let the excuse that you’re too busy cost you future jobs. Take the steps necessary to keep your skills current, and it will pay off.

Four Essential 'Must-Follow' Graphic Design Rules
When I was little, I hated when the instructions for a project from school included “Use your imagination” or “Be creative.” To me, this meant that I had no rules to follow, and then what happens to my grade if I take the project in the wrong direction? Is the teacher being lazy and won’t take the time to tell me or write out what they want? It’s amazing that I became a designer. And probably a really good thing that I didn’t become a teacher! I discovered that design has rules to follow, a direction, a path, a course; it even has trends! That’s when I began to love design. I found that if I designed information a certain way (and followed the rules), that information became easier for the audience to understand. How cool is that?

Small Business Owners—Get Online!
I’m often amazed that small business owners question whether they need to have a website or Facebook page. The bulk of their business is on a local level and they could OWN their markets. Even if they don’t sell online (which is so easy to do now), they must establish an online presence.

Stay Out of Court: 4 Essential Elements of a Freelance Contract
Not having a contract in place to protect your interests will put you at an immediate and distinct disadvantage in settlement negotiations -- or even at trial.

Is Your Company on LinkedIn? Create Your Profile in 3 Easy Steps
Networking on LinkedIn is an effective way to get to know others in your field, find information about the people you may know, and ask questions of those in your field. For a freelancer, it’s a great way to find out about a company you might be interested in working for or with. A LinkedIn company profile should be a part of your social media strategy along with your company blog, Facebook page, and Twitter account. Company profiles have been available on LinkedIn for quite a while now, but the system is running in beta as new features are added.

It’s Time to Embrace Content Management Systems
In an economy besieged by downsizing, many companies don’t have the luxury of employing someone on staff who knows enough about programming to keep their website up-to-date. They can hire a good company to design and develop the site, but when it comes to adding new content, they often have to go back to the developer. Organizations that produce ads leading back to a website need to back those ads with a solid, current web presence; they also need to be in control of the content that appears on the site.

How to Write or Design on Command
I had a conference with my daughter’s teacher yesterday and learned that she was having trouble with her writing assignments. I can totally relate—I get writer’s block, creative block, and even paperwork block! So I did some research and wrote down some of my own methods to get past the block and write on command.

8 Steps to Good User Interface Design
The User Interface Design principles here can be applied to websites or applications. The design and layout of information is critical to the success of your website or software. Obviously, you should hire a UI design expert if possible, but any designer or developer can use these tips to create a website or program that is functional, attractive, and easy-to-use.

Six Tips for Getting Started With Email Marketing
As you can tell by looking at your overflowing inbox, we are at the height of the email marketing season. But many businesses ignore this intimate method of contacting their customers. 1) Choose Your Email Marketing Solution. Use an online email marketing provider like Icontact, ConstantContact, MailChimp, ExactTarget, MyEmma, or VerticalResponse (just to name a few). They offer a wide range of pricing and services to help you. Just do an online search and research which one is best for you. Some charge by the number of people in your list; others charge by the number of emails you send.

Confessions of a Social Media Hypocrite
Recently, I have been forced to recognize that my approach to social media has included some disdain. I post frequently on Facebook and Twitter, I check-in, update my LinkedIn profile, participate in online discussions, and of course, I blog. But I was thinking all the while that much of it was useless. You see, I thought the typical social media user was not searching for the type of content I was sharing.

How to Find the Right Designer
If you make widgets, you know widgets. And if you have a small business, you don’t have a full-time marketing department. You need an expert, and you have to enter into contract with someone to create your Website, social media strategies, or design your print advertising material. Most small business owners don’t have the technical know-how to talk the talk when hiring a designer. So how do they decide who the best person or company is for the job?

Online Directories: Is It Worth the Time?
Increasing visibility and boosting visitation to your website are the basic goals of any online marketing strategy. Directory postings will increase your site rankings, offer the consumer a place to find reviews of your business and provide pictures, and video about your business. But is it worth the time it takes?

How to Appear Professional Working in Your Pajamas
You can lead a productive life working from home; however, it shouldn't take over your life. Follow these tips to take control. Don’t work in your pajamas. Shower first thing in the morning to get refreshed, then put on clean, nice-looking clothes, even if no one will see you. You will feel and act productive. Work the hours your clients do. A new client might be trying to reach you. Join a local professional group. If you have a regular lunch meeting with other professionals, you will be in the habit of networking and speaking with other professional people.

Four Steps to Branding With Design
Design combines understanding, creativity, and wisdom to meet user needs and drive business success. Creating a brand is the company’s chance to build something that is recognizable and different from its competitors. If the designer does a good in the branding process, the company can build loyal customers which would equals success for the company. The process begins with researching the competition to see what they are doing right and wrong. Then, you’ll need to incorporate the vision and plan of the company’s officers into what you feel is a good brand identity design plan.

Marketing Your Business on Facebook
You’ve already started your very own blog. The next step of your business’ social media strategy should be to customize your Facebook page. Creating a “Fan” or “Business” page is fairly straightforward. You merely click the link at the bottom of the left column of any other business page that reads “Create a Page for My Business.” This will get you started with the basic tabs available: the Wall, Info, Photos, and Video. Now the fun begins. To start, create an appropriate-sized image for the left column. Facebook does limit the size, and 200 by 600 is the largest one I’ve seen. You can set which page is the default landing page by clicking “Edit Page.” Then choose your default page under “Manage Permissions.”

Six Tips for the Beginning Freelancer
I’ve been a freelancer my entire career, even when I have had a full-time job. This is the second time I’ve made it my full-time career. My husband is a home builder turned stay-at-home dad thanks to today‘s economy. If you are attracted to the freedom of working for yourself and controlling your own destiny, you might find that freelancing is the right gig for you, too. Here are six tips for the beginning freelancer.


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