Thursday, July 31, 2008

Size Matters with a Home Based Business

When companies look for outsourcing help, they often look to home based businesses. And although the term ‘home based' can imply one person working from a house, it can take on a different, larger dimension. And that's what many companies look for: a larger sized business operation.

What does that mean? In a word, reliability. For example, can you be counted on regularly? Or will there be times when you take on too much work or not enough, need to adjust accordingly – and then… what will happen to their projects?

Well now you can get a grip on your company size and handle workloads large and small. Here are ways that you can increase your home based operations without physically crowding yourself out of workspace or blowing your budget for future project handling opportunities.

Joint Venture - Team up with a partner, company or other entity and help each other. Combine a product with a service – something or yours with something of theirs. Then farm out work as necessary.

Interns / Students - Contact colleges, universities, high schools and other education centers in your area and ask about intern and student opportunities. Many places allow you to participate in their programs; fill out their forms, post flyers, actively recruit, etc. Keep some help on hand and put them to work.

Subcontract - Check with your local Chamber of Commerce, surf the Internet, post for help on forums, etc. Find companies for farming out some of your work and keep their information handy. Give them a try when you're not too busy, so that when you ARE, you'll know they are a good fit for your clients and you.

Helpers - Hire part time help. Place an inexpensive classified ad in the local newspaper and search for hourly help. Call the places that leave flyers on or around your mailbox or front porch and have them distribute ‘Help Wanted' flyers in your neighborhood for you. Call your church, fitness center and / or other organizations with which you participate and have them post a notice on the bulletin board. Get help and keep a list handy of those seeking extra income.

Profit Center - Seek help from others experienced in your chosen field of interest and set up a profit center or two to generate additional opportunities. Many can be automated today so that they are pretty much hands-on. They all you have to do is market. This way, when times get lean, you can increase your marketing efforts. And when times are too busy, you can ease up.

As the Boy Scouts say, "Be Prepared!" Don't let your lack of preparation be an excuse for being too small and unreliable.

(C) Writing Career

Are You Ready To Become Self-Employed?

If you are interested in starting a business, or taking over one, you face a daunting task that carries a level of risk and excitement not possible in the 'employee' world.

If the financial independence of self-employment appeals to you - no boss, no income limits as to time and wage, and the ability to let your personal drive determine your compensation - then you will no doubt be eagerly going over the many options available to release you from your current job.

However, the rush of financial excitement must be tempered by the necessary cost of time, money and effort in properly setting yourself up independently.

Despite income claims made by business opportunity companies, or competing businesses, you must be ready to accept the reality of not seeing personal income for several months - or even years.

Starting a self-employed business on the side, while keeping regular employment as your financial security, is a wise method of ensuring your income.

Another option is to have substantial savings that permit you the freedom to pursue your dreams unencumbered with other employment. However, the savings must also be capable of carrying the costs of developing a business along with providing for your material needs.

Do you also recognize the time that is required in starting your own business? In some ways it is almost unnecessary to bring up the point since your passion will likely drive you to spend many hours in your pursuits. If you have other obligations; family, job, social etc. then you will have to consider if you CAN devote the time needed to get your business off the ground.

Having discussed both money and time, you must recognize that there is much more effort extended BEFORE a business is profitable than at any other time in your business. Yes, once you are getting work and are satisfied with the income level you may be very busy indeed but you will then be compensated for it. When you are still cultivating your business - marketing, doing free jobs, searching for clients and customers - you may not be seeing any income, or a very meager one, which makes your EFFORTS seem immense.

Do not falter! If you come to the point when you are working your hardest and doing everything your business requires but still not seeing monetary results, you may hit a psychological wall. This is where truly entrepreneurial individuals see an obstacle to overcome as opposed to a dead-end to their hard work. Passion for their work and the strong desire to work for themselves overcomes any perceived barriers and moves them to keep going and ultimately becoming very successful.

By persevering you will certainly see the fine fruits of your labors and prove to yourself and others that the benefits of self-employment far outweigh the mediocre status quo of the typical worker's daily grind.

(C) Writing Career

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Finding Hidden Freelance Markets and Getting Clients

Whether you are just getting started in the world of freelancing or if you have been a freelancer for years, one thing that often comes up is how to get clients. Some freelancers loose sleep over their lack of new clients and they often try to look for hidden markets that they didn't know about before.

It is much easier to find hidden freelancing markets with an open mind and with the muscle behind your dreams to make it happen. What muscle? The muscle you need to develop: the ability to ask for work and clients. If you want to find new markets for your talents you will need to ask around, either to your freelancing friends, to your existing clients or by cold calling or cold emailing.

Myth: Finding Clients is Hard
There are many myths about freelancing but the worst one is that finding clients is hard. The reality is that if you don't ask for referrals from your existing clients and if you don't put yourself out there, you might struggle to get clients. But potential clients are out there just waiting for you to appear into their life and solve their problems.

Fact: Taking Action is Necessary
How do you develop this muscle that helps you ask for clients and ask for work? You simply put it into practice. Start with emailing the firms and clients that you would like to work with. Tell them in a short email who you are, what you do, how much you charge and how you could help them with their business needs. Sometimes you might be able to tell them that their competitors are doing something that they haven't done yet and you can guide them through the process.

Don't be afraid to send out cold emails. These companies or potential clients are always looking for freelancers and they might just be short one freelance designer, writer or programmer at the exact time that you write them. Otherwise they might decide to put your name and contact information in a file for when they are short of freelancers in the future.

Putting yourself out there through cold emails and by asking your existing clients if they know anyone else who might use your services is hard. It takes developing your muscle, and that takes practice. You will get rejected at some point. But the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.

So what are you waiting for? Get started on your freelancing business today and send out some emails to your existing clients or to potential ones. May you find the clients you have always wanted.

(C) Writing Career

Saturday, July 26, 2008

What Started Off as a Joke, Became the World's Largest Internet Challenge

After reading about a challenge to write a complete novel in 30 days, a Melbourne entrepreneur, (as a joke) decided to apply the same idea to his love of the Internet... and accidentally started the world's largest Internet challenge.

The aim of this challenge is to make your first $1 online without spending a single cent... and after a modest start 4 years ago, like all things on the internet, it went viral and has become the worlds largest internet based learning program/challenge with 30,000 people from places such as Manchester, Melbourne, Spain and India all taking part.

"I was in New York on business and picked up a book about the National Writers Month, where people from across the USA would try their luck at writing an entire novel in 30 days", explains Ed Dale "I thought it was a great way to build a community and have some fun, so I applied the same concept to my love of the Internet and with the help of a few friends the first Thirty Day Challenge was born."

"I still scratch myself every year, as it gets bigger and bigger" said Dale "We've even had 8 past challenge participants go on to become millionaires. It's just incredible."

It all starts again this year on August 1 and you can find out more information at

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Blog Set Up Service Ends Technical Nightmares For Bloggers

Blog Setup Service (, a cutting-edge blog services company, was launched on July 21st 2008 with a mission to help more people become bloggers with their own domain. There are many potential bloggers who are technically challenged which stops them from owning and starting a blog.

A growing number of bloggers require more than what free blog hosting services can provide. They want their own identity on the internet with their own blog URL and unique design.

"Meeting the growing demands of bloggers, we offer much more than blog installations. We saw the need to offer professional designs with technical configurations so that the blogs attract traffic. The blogs we create rank well in the search engines which is what the majority of bloggers want. Training on how to blog is also provided" says Alan Cheng, the founder of Blog Setup Service.

"With our service, people can forget about the technical issues of setting up a blog with their own domain and can concentrate on blogging", explains Cheng.

For more information visit and download the free book "How To Blog And Get Thousands Of Visitors Every Month."

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Abolish Your Writer's Block

In almost every writer's forum, the deplorable perennial problem of writer's block has always been brought up by both professional and amateur creative writers. Some discussions have gone as deep as defining the nature of writer's block. In case a writer's block (a.k.a. "fear-of-the-blank-page") should come up in the middle of the deadline, the writer will be able to hopefully do something about it.

But what is a writer's block? On the surface, it is simply a period of non-activity for the writer. A writer or a poet may attempt to write something based on the need to write something, but then they come up with absolutely nothing! What causes a writer's block and what can be done about it? Here are some thoughts and suggestions:

1. The fear of coming up short from their last project - Collectively speaking, most artists and writers have an obsessive compulsion to concretize and materialize, through their works, abstracted thoughts and ideas. Once they start at some project, there is always that fear of producing something despairingly short of what they have intended to create. Thus, they become disappointed in themselves. If artistic or writer's block does not happen prior to the start of the project, it may also very well occur while the work is in process. This explains why several writers may work on different projects at the same time and jumping from one unfinished work to another. Some even abandon previous works altogether for a new one but ultimately end up not accomplishing anything in the end.

2. A comeback after a long time off - Vacations and some time off taking care of familial/domestic or personal matters can only have two extreme results: either it rejuvenates, recharges and inspires the writer for the next project, or it completely diminishes or finishes off whatever is left of a prolific and fecund mind! Let's face it, even professional writers are, first and foremost, human beings before they are writers. And, as humans, writers too are bound to lose footing once they have taken some time off from writing, if not inspired and recharged, as mentioned.

3. Insecurities - Lack of formal training...Being a newbie...The writing style...a friend who's a better writer...etc., etc., etc., these can all spell one thing: insecurities. Our insecurities can really work nasty for writers. We know there is no other way out other than a paradigm shift or a change in perspective for the writer. We know that there will always be other people more educated, more renowned in the creative writing field. We know there will always be writers who are relatively better than us, other trends and styles in writing which the we can become unfamiliar and intimidated with. However, the bottomline is that it is just a matter of gritting your teeth with some decision-making: to write or not to write?

4. Bills to pay, daily tasks, and other small details - Where do I get the money for the bills? Who brings and fetches the children to and from school? For writers with actual day jobs and many deadlines to meet, who can still think of writing? These concerns, to mention only a few, hampers the writer's writer's sensitive thoughts. These are practical things that need to be done on the daily basis. On the surface, these concerns may seem harmless to an aspiring writer. However, eventually, these daily concerns will dry up the creative writer's reservoir that needs constant nurturing. This is not to say, however, that children, career and domestic chores and other concerns should no longer be tended to in order to write. Being a great writer does not necessarily entail shunning away from daily practical concerns, in the same manner that a person with no other daily duties does not guarantee a prolific writer. Difficult for the right-brained writer as it may be, time must be managed. Schedules and systems must be established in order to attain the perfect juxtaposition and equilibrium of work (chores and responsibilities) and play (writing).

(C) Writing Career

Five Steps to a Successful Job Search

Starting a job search can be an overwhelming and stress-provoking experience for some people. But it doesn't have to be for you... Not if you approach it in the right way. You CAN have a successful job search, using the tips and advice you will find in this article.

Step 1: Know Where to Look for the Great Jobs

When most people begin a job search, they start with the Employment section of their local newspaper. But that is not the best place to find your dream job. Why? Simply because the best jobs are seldom found in the newspaper.

You may not want to hear this, but many times you can find the best jobs by tapping into "who you know." Networking is absolutely the best way to locate a job. When you do a job search, talk to everyone you know about what you're looking for. It's hard to predict who might give you that valuable lead to your next job.

Recruiters or staffing consultants are also a great way to find a job. Many times, employers will outsource recruitment to a staffing firm. So those jobs are never listed in any public venue... only the staffing firm knows about them!

In today's technologically-oriented world, the Internet is another way to conduct a job search. You still won't always find the best jobs listed online, but you can get a much broader exposure by registering with a few online job search websites, such as Yahoo Jobs or CareerBuilder.

Step 2: Know What the Employer Wants

Employers care about more than your skills and experience. They'll also want more intangible qualities, such as the ability to work as part of a team, creativity, and organization, depending on the job. They may also be looking for qualities unique to their corporate culture or employee expectations. Make it your business to find out as much as you can about what each employer is looking for before you begin your job search.

Step 3: Put Together a Powerful Resume and Killer Cover Letter

Once you've located a job you want to go after, you will need a resume and cover letter that will attract enough attention to make the employer want to interview you. You need to think of your resume and cover letter as a sort of "sales tool" that will convince the employer that you are the only one for the job.

There are many resources for writing resumes and cover letters on the Web and at your local bookstore and you are encouraged to learn as much as you can on this topic if you want to succeed in your job search. Or, if you prefer, you can always hire an expert to write them for you.

Here are a couple of quick tips. Your resume should be written clearly, simply, and to the point. Use lots of bullets and action words to highlight your accomplishments, rather than long paragraphs. Focus on quantifiable results, such as "Made a suggestion that streamlined operations and saved company $2500 in the first quarter".

Your cover letter should not be a rehashing of your resume, but it can and should highlight specific points or expand on certain areas. Cover letters should always be customized to the employer and the job you are applying for. That is the single factor most likely to get you an interview.

Step 4: Prepare for Interviews Thoroughly

The interview is your opportunity to make a strong positive impression. It is essential that you prepare for it if you want to succeed in your job search. Take time to research possible interview questions the employer may ask and think carefully about how you plan to answer. Be prepared to discuss what you have to offer the employer.

It is also a great idea to have questions of your own for the recruiter. So take time to research the company before the interview. This is usually easy to do if they have a website. Think of some related questions about the company and about the job that you can ask and that will show your sincere interest, not to mention your thoroughness.

One set of questions you should always ask is what the next steps are after the interview. For example, how many other applicants do they have for the position, when do they expect to make a hiring decision, and will they let you know of their decision, one way or the other?

Step 5: Follow Up!

One of the most effective job search strategies, and one that is sorely underutilized by most job seekers, is following up. When you follow up consistently at different phases during the job search, you demonstrate your professionalism and your interest. As long as you are polite and considerate of the recruiter's time, follow up should not be viewed as "annoying."

After you submit a resume, application, and/or cover letter for a job opening, feel free to follow up within a reasonable time period to check on the status of your job application. As a rule of thumb, a week or two should be plenty of time.

After an interview, always follow up by sending a letter (or at least an email) to the interviewer to thank them for their time and for the opportunity to learn more about the job and the employer. This is also a chance for you to emphasize again what you have to offer the company.

And, if you haven't heard about the employer's decision on the job within a reasonable time frame (depending on what they told you about their recruitment process), it is perfectly permissible to contact them and ask.

Follow these five steps, and you are guaranteed to have a more successful job search.

(C) Writing Career

What Qualities Do You Need to Start Your Own Freelance Business?

Statistics tell us that over 45% of freelance businesses fail within the first two years of starting up -- on the other hand, millions of self-made business owners have gone on to become millionaires. So what do you need to become one of the successful ones? Don't worry if you don't have everything it takes. Training can develop many of the so-called essentials. All you really need to know are which ones are your strengths and which are your weaknesses. Here are some traits you'll need. It's up to you to decide if you've got them, or if you'll work on getting them.

• Common sense. If you're not sure whether you've got it, ask your family. It's the ability to make sound judgments about all manner of life issues. It can be a combination of past experience and knowledge and will help you get to the core of a problem by simplifying it.

• Specialized knowledge of your field. It's no use jumping into something about which you know nothing. Most successful businessmen have gained much valuable experience in their trade well before they went into business for themselves.

• Self Confidence. When you start out in freelance business, the buck will usually stop with you. You are the one who has to make difficult decisions and wear the consequences. This is not always something you either have or don't have. You may have it in one area or situation and lack it in another. Training will help you to get it.

• The ability to get things done. This is actually self-discipline. It's no use deciding to take the day off because it's sunny and the surf's up. There are things requiring your attention and if you leave them they won't get done. On the other hand, it's no use being on the job if you fritter the time away on menial talks that should be delegated.

• Creativity. Sure it's been done that way since Adam, but there could be a better way to do it - one that will save you time and money.

• Ability to lead. Do you get along with others or is there a long line of dissatisfied staff, customers, clients, friends and relatives behind you? Your ability to lead and get people to do great work is paramount to your success in business.

• Self reliance. If you can't rely on yourself, whom can you rely on? You need to be able to set goals and do whatever it takes to reach them. Sure you'll have others under you – eventually, but many freelance business owners need first to rely on themselves.

If you want to start a freelance business, the best thing to do is get in there and have a go. You can learn as you go, but make sure you listen to others advice, even if you don't always follow it. Being open to new ideas and advice is important too.

(C) Writing Career

Sunday, July 13, 2008

What is A Home-Based Niche Market Anyway?

You are interested in starting a home-based business. You also want to use the Internet for your work-at-home idea. However, you are not sure if you can make money online. To make matters worse, you are confused about what home-based business opportunity to pursue.

If this sounds like you, rest assured that money can be made online with a home-based business. You don't need to study for years until you can reap rewards. There are sound business concepts that have been taught and proven to be true by some of the most highly successful marketers in the world. What is the top sound principle that will ensure your success? It is choosing the right niche market.

You might be wondering what is a niche. A niche is simply a group of people with similar interests and needs. They are very passionate about their topic of interest. Think of a small pond packed with starving fish and you have the bait specific to their needs; they will like what you have to offer the best. This, in essence, is a niche.

Why a niche market? Well, unless you are a huge corporation with bottomless pockets, niche marketing is the way to go. You see most of the large corporations blow off niche markets because they are not trying to make an additional $1000 to $15000 per month like many home-based business entrepreneurs and other small business owners. They are seeking to make millions per month, which is good for you because you don't have to compete with those companies that have massive marketing budgets.

It really is easy to find potential customers in niche markets. Here are some examples:

Motor Home Owners
Carpet Cleaner Business Owners
Restaurant Owners
Winter Camping Enthusiasts
Siamese Cat Owners
Landscape Company Owners

You get the picture.

Before you decide which niche market to target for your home- based business, here are four important points to consider:

1. Is the market easily defined and reachable? Do you know where they hangout? What kind of trade journals or publications do they read? Do they have clubs or are members of particular organizations?

2. Is the market small enough that you will not have tons of competitors, but still large enough for you to make a good profit?

3. Does the market have the money to spend?

4. Does the group have an insane passion for their hobby or topic of interest? Do they eat, sleep, and breathe their hobby? Are they constantly seeking more information related to their subject? A great example of this would be golfers and NASCAR enthusiasts!

Doing research related to these questions will help you pick the perfect niche market for your home-based business.

As you think about starting a home-based business and what market to target, follow the above suggestions and you will be way ahead of many other home-based business opportunity seekers who want to start a work-at-home business.

Word of Mouth Marketing for Your Freelance Business

It's no secret that the best form of advertising is word of mouth. Always has been and always will be. Even in today’s information age, where it's nearly impossible to shield ourselves from the daily blaze of information coming at us through various media channels. Mass marketing communication has pervaded pretty much all areas of our lives, but still it lacks the power of good old word of mouth.

The direct selling and network marketing industries were built upon this foundation and both are thriving these days. One of the reasons for this is that as we are bombarded with mass communication messages, the value of a more personal message from a trusted source increases. Traditional companies are starting to pick up on this and are trying to implement programs to stimulate word of mouth by their existing customers. For many companies this transition proves to be slightly more difficult than they anticipated - hardly a surprise to those that have been successful in that area. The approach to using good word of mouth advertising differs very much from regular advertising.

Even though there are many differences between regular marketing and word of mouth, there are also some important similarities. One of them is the power of the use of a third party. Of course it's nice if you say how great your company is and how wonderful your products and services are. But that's kind of like your mother saying you're such a nice person. It's not that it's not true. It's just that the source isn't considered to be very objective. A third party is. It doesn't necessarily mean that the third party is completely objective but at least it's considered to be at least more objective than your mother, or your company, or you.

In everything we do, we seem to have a natural tendency to follow the people around us or people we look up to. Since the latter aren't always present we usually reside to the people around us. Another tendency most people have is to distrust the seller or at least question the truthfulness of what they're saying. These two tendencies combined lead to a situation where almost all our purchases are driven largely by what the people around us say and think about certain products and services. When the selling party advises you on a certain purchase he or she usually has an interest in making a sale and therefore may not be completely objective. When a neighbor gives you advice, you don't worry about this and therefore you find it easier to trust him. Your neighbor just served as a third party.

We generally tend to like testimonials better than commercials, probably because they don't involve hard selling, or at least not to the same extent. The impact of a good testimonial is a lot bigger than that of an advertisement. Especially when it is delivered by someone we know and respect. So the point is to find a third party that can endorse you or refer people to you - preferably someone that has credibility. This point is well understood by many network marketing companies. After decades of aggressive growth this industry still deals with something of a credibility issue. Of course to anyone that has done their due diligence, the validity and opportunity of network marketing should be crystal clear. Unfortunately for many individuals in the industry, most prospects haven't done their due diligence and wouldn't even know where to begin. That's where the importance of third party credibility comes in.

Some network marketing companies have earned endorsements from people that are widely recognized as successful and are using their influence to boost company growth. They know how people will react to an endorsement by a world famous millionaire or even billionaire; "If successful people like that say it's OK, it probably is...” This phenomenon can be seen in every business, in every country and in every city. The opinions of the movers and shakers in any area just seem to have more effect on people. The point is whether you're in network marketing or in a traditional business, using third party credibility can greatly improve your results. Unfortunately very few people seem to actively use this strategy.

If you are in business for yourself you can at least see if you can take advantage of this. Get some testimonials from your existing customers, especially from those customers that seem to have some influence in the community.

Try to find out what kind of person would be good match for your prospective customers. Determine some characteristics and then search your existing customer base to see if you can find any people meeting these criteria. If you do, simply contact them and ask them if they would help you out by sharing their story. In most cases you won't have to compensate them for this, but it wouldn't hurt if you did a little extra to make it worth their while. After all, you're asking them to help you out.

If you can't find a suitable candidate amongst your existing customers, try the rest of your network. Perhaps you can find some people there that aren't buying from you yet, but would be happy to become your customer and endorse you. In this case you would probably have to do a little more in the form of compensation to sway them.

Perhaps you could throw in a discount or provide a part or all of your service free of charge. Yes, this will cost you some money, but it's probably a lot cheaper than running an ad in the local newspaper. And it will probably generate a lot more business for you. Publishes Over 10,000 How-to Guides on Business Advice (, a how-to site for businesses to find and share advice on critical business topics, has achieved a major milestone, surpassing 10,000 how-to guides. The site now offers one of the broadest repositories of original business how-to solutions anywhere on the web.

The guides on provide practical answers to the business challenges posed by everything from new social media technology (Facebook Basics for Your Business) to tough economic times (Small Business Microloans.) has built a reputation as a trustworthy online resource for business leaders and entrepreneurs looking for clear, concise business guidance. The site has garnered over 1 million unique visitors by covering hot topics like Learning Search Engine Optimization, Twitter for Business and Green Business Travel. also allows members to write and publish their own how-to guides in addition to creating a personal or business profile page. This can be a cost-effective way to build both personal and business visibility online. During times when professional development budgets may not allow for travel to conferences or online marketing budgets may be shrinking, offers an attractive option for businesses. In fact, over 1,000 members have contributed guides in their areas of expertise. offers a free weekly newsletter from editors with their finger on the pulse of top business trends called WhatWorks. Every week, newsletter subscribers get cost and time saving tips from links to guides like 60 Free Web Development Tools & Resources for Entrepreneurs, Sample Business Plans and Best Payroll Practices. To sign up and receive timely business advice in your inbox, visit

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Finding the Holes in Your Freelance Business

OK, so you have been working your business for a while but yet you seem to continue having issues with your business planning. Have you considered that you might have holes in your business plan?

What are holes? Glad you asked. Holes are those things that may cause you to lose money unaware or along potential business clients to slip through your fingers.

Some examples of holes are as follows:

Income funnel not present: an income funnel allows you to build your mailing list while also allowing you to upsell your products to your mailing list.

Missing outsourcing opportunities: outsourcing opportunities allow you to hire others to handle tasks that would be more financially reasonable for someone else to complete.

Not holding teleseminars: when you hold a teleseminar, you can also record it so that you can sell the audio or transcript as a product via your website.

No financial plan: in order to understand where you business is going financially; a plan must be in place. The plan will help you by showing when you should make changes in your business too reflect growth.

Lack of a crisis management plan: having a crisis management plan in place will help you be ready to handle tragedy when it happens. Examples of tragedies are computer failure, fire destroying office equipment, or flood damage to office.

The above list is just a short list of holes that you might find in your business. Regardless of what type of holes that you find in your business, you need to take action to fix them.

One final area that would be considered a hole is not have a business mentor. A business mentor is some who provides sound advice and direction to you as you manage your business. Some of the characteristics of a good business mentor are:

~ Ability to give you constructive feedback
~ Successful in own business
~ Experienced at mentoring business owners
~ Able to be real and truthful to you
~ You are open to receiving their feedback
~ You respect their opinion

These are just a few of things that you should consider when looking for a business mentor. Just keep in mind that a good business mentor will fit well into your business plan. If the mentor does not fit, you need to give more thought to whether you want to keep them or get a new one.

So be an undercover agent and work to find the holes that may be holding back your business.

(C) Writing Career Transforms Blogs Into Mainstream Media has introduced an entirely new information network that connects people with the most interesting, up-to-the-minute stories in the blogosphere, as well as the bloggers behind the trends.

The company, which was originally launched in February as a blog directory to help readers find better blogs by topic and popularity, has now created a news portal for "the rest of us." It amplifies voices across the blogosphere by hand-picking the most compelling stories and organizing them by relevant categories, such as technology, business, entertainment, sports, politics, etc. The team actively monitors trends, news, and interesting information, then updates the stories as they happen.

Not only is a unique and valuable destination to find interesting content, but it also provides a full directory of blogs that covers almost every topic imaginable, each rated, reviewed, and ranked by the people who read them as well as by the company's internal editorial department. Through a strategic alliance with MatchMine, readers can also discover new blogs by automatically matching and recommending related sites based on the blogs that they browse.


Half of Business Professionals Seek "Greener Offices"

According to a new Office Depot survey, "green" has gone mainstream in the small business community. Half of all respondents are interested in making their offices "greener," according to a survey of 2,500 business professionals commissioned by Office Depot, a leading global provider of office products and services. The survey also found that cost and understanding are the two primary factors preventing businesses from going greener at the office.

"It is encouraging to see such strong interest in going green among small businesses," said Yalmaz Siddiqui, Director of Environmental Strategy for Office Depot. "The good news is that creating a greener office is simpler than ever. Not only are there more high-quality, low-cost greener products available than ever before, but the range of solutions to help reduce waste and energy has also grown significantly."

Although more than half (55 percent) of the survey respondents stated they do not associate going "green" with saving money, this is a common misperception Siddiqui said. "There is actually a range of cost scenarios that a business could face when deciding to go green," he explained. "Some choices, like remanufactured cartridges, cost less; some require an upfront investment but come with long term cost savings, like compact fluorescent lights; some products entail no price difference; and some green ideas do cost more. The trick is to understand the different options and not assume that going green will always result in higher costs."

To help business professionals understand how simple and cost effective it can be to go green, Office Depot has created Small Steps to Your Greener Office: Saving Money while Taking Care of Your Business and the Planet. Available at, the free online guide outlines a simple way to think about going green, and helps any workplace – be it a home office, a small business, or a larger company – become more efficient and less wasteful.

To get started, Siddiqui suggests four key steps:

1) Ask Why Green? Each organization has a different environmental impact, as well as its own business priorities and practices. The key is to decide what to focus on. If the desire is to save money, then choosing green ideas that deliver cost savings should be prioritized. If the organization is concerned about climate change or toxic chemicals, then the focus should be on those actions that reduce fuel and electricity and non-toxic alternatives to current product choices. And if the focus is on simply saving money, businesses should rethink the products they are buying and habits they are practicing. The important thing is to step back and think before embarking on a greening program.

2) Buy Green. Once a business is clear on its priorities, deciding how to allocate dollars to greener product choices is the next question. Within the office environment, historically "going green" meant just buying recycled paper. Today, greener choices go far beyond recycled paper and include items with a range of green benefits, such as:

Reduced waste and pressure on resources, including remanufactured cartridges, rechargeable batteries, pen refills and recycled products;

Reduced energy and greenhouse gases, including Energy Star qualified electronics and lights, and items powered by renewable energy; and

Reduced harsh chemicals, including Greenguard-certified furniture, non-toxic writing instruments, supplies and cleaners, and bio-based or biodegradable packaging and dishware.
Office Depot offers more than 5,000 products featuring environmentally preferable attributes, all available online at Additionally, to make buying green even simpler Office Depot recently introduced a new brand of green office products named Office Depot Green.

3) Be Green. Being green is about changing your everyday practices – whether they be at work or at home. Simple changes in habit such as printing less paper and defaulting double-sided printing can both reduce waste in an office and save money. To help reduce waste even further, replace disposables with reusable coffee mugs and water bottles. Another step organizations can take is to implement a recycling program (i.e. recycling paper, ink and toner cartridges and technology). For businesses interested in saving energy, money and greenhouse gases, an effective step is to install power strips with switches and encourage employees to turn technology off when not in use.

4) Sell Green. New green thinking is all about encouraging small steps in a greener direction without using guilt or demanding sacrifice. By "selling" the idea that employees can personally benefit or feel good by participating in greener office program - they are more likely to join than resist. Start communicating green by developing an "identity" for your greener office effort. Using posters or other daily reminders can help reinforce your organizations commitment to go green.

For additional tips and advice from the Small Steps to a Greener Office guide, go to