Author Archives: Guest Post

How Social Media and Tea Threw Me a Lifeline

Introduction from the Editor: We are fortunate and grateful that May King Tsang took the time to write this incredible blog post. Please make the time to put the kettle on, make a cup of tea or coffee, sit down and read this fantastic guest blog post. Thank you May King for writing this.

May King Tsang

Social Media has the capaciTEA to do great things and I am currently the recipient of that. Let me explain. Hello there. My name is May King Tsang. My first name is May King and I am the founder of MayKing Tea. My husband was given an opportuniTEA to relocate to Australia three years ago and I followed. I had already started my business in the UK and moving over to Brisbane and starting my business again from scratch was daunting but a challenge I was willing to accept. I didn’t know a single person in Brisbane before moving over and had used Twitter to chat with like-minded business owners to start building relationships.

I was taught on the Chinese culture side of me (I’m a BBC: British Born Chinese ), that everything must be conducted in balance and so I didn’t put all of my eggs in one basket. As well as using Social Media I also went to Networking groups to build those relationships. After listening to many, I decided to go onto Facebook to help raise awareness about me and then my business. After learning about FB, I created a group called Queensland Business Group to see if I could help other business owners in my adopted home. I worked hard to help other business owners; encouraged the sharing of great content and supported collaborations within the group. To date, the group has over 3100 members who Help, Share, Collaborate.

Queensland Business Group

After two years of building MayKing Tea and Queensland Business, unfortunately my husband asked for a divorce; had informed Immigration of our marital status and I had 5 days to tell Immigration what I was going to do or risk being asked to leave the country. Due to the voluntary work I had bestowed on business owners, I appealed to them for assistance. The money for my visa application was raised in 24 hours and they never stopped giving. “Pay It Forward”: never a truer word spoken.

As you can see from my story, Social Media is a fantastic facilitator for small businesses when it comes to relationship building. But the real source of the power is in its execution – it has to come from the heart. You see, whilst many business owners are aware of Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, many business owners are not embracing the concept to its fullest. Business owners often practice winning friends and influencing people with an end goal of making money and for me, this is not true relationship building. A genuine desire to help other business owners should be authentic, true and with no set expectation other than to help someone else.

For three years I helped other business owners on the Social Media networks mentioned above about #tea, #business or issues that the Social Media communiTEA needed assistance on that I could help with. Sometimes I wasn’t able to help, so I did a Share or a Retweet or just a Like and I did the best that I could with no expectation from the help I give. A year after applying for my own visa (August this year), unfortunately Immigration rejected my application and so I asked my network again for assistance. It was very difficult for me to ask for help as I’m normally the one that helps others and always thought I was bullet proof and could resolve things by myself. How wrong I was!! As well as Queensland Business, I have built a great communiTEA of tea business owners (I don’t believe there is such a thing as competition); Twitter followers, Facebook fans, Google+ friends, LinkedIn Connections and Pinterest followers and others. My tumultuous journey (thanks for that great word Caroline) of 8 days in trying to figure out what to do before risk being kicked out of the country is captured on YouTube (videos containing the hashtag #maykingfairgo). It was a huge success and for right now I have a little reprieve, and can stay in the country until my court hearing for my appeal.

So there we are. That is my story about the power of Social Media. I could’ve bored you with statistics and global reach. I could’ve bored you with the finer details of what happened in those 8 days, but I just wanted to share from the heart, how Social Media has helped me. Many followers of mine went through my immigration journey including the wonderful Andrew Emmett who very kindly shared my petition amongst his networks to help me to stay in beauTEAful Australia. (Thank you Andrew). I will leave you with a final message. If you want to use Social Media effectively for your business, I would say, just get into the conversation. Be social (Social Media: remember the clue is in the title) and be part of the communiTEA. Help others with no set expectation because you never know when Social Media Karma (Thanks Jasmine Birks for sharing the Social Media Karma arTEAcle with us on #QBG) will conspire with you to help you in your hour of need. Be authentic, true to yourself and have fun! It really is that simple. The money for your business will come later as it has mine and you can continue to follow my business success if this is your cup of tea on any of my Social Media links above. Thank you for listening.

3 Essential Gadgets for Small Businesses

As a small business, you’ll want to make sure you’re investing in technology which will help you to grow. Fads and gadgets come and go but, if they don’t offer value for money and render themselves obsolete in a matter of weeks, they’re simply an unnecessary, shiny, multi-buttoned waste of your hard earned cash. Remember minidisc players? No? Well exactly.

It’s just plain smart to make certain you only splash out on powerful gizmos with real longevity, but you also need to ensure you’re not languishing in the Dark Ages while your competitors stride ahead with all the latest kit. We all know about the great advantages technology can bestow upon us; a smart piece of gadgetry can streamline processes, cut costs and improve your internal systems. That’s why it’s so important not to let your competition get the upper hand. If you only invest in three new devices this year, here are our top picks:

Mobile Printers

Every white collar worker worth his or her salt has experienced printer woe at some point in their lives. Oh the indescribable frustration when you hit print and nothing happens for no good reason… Mobile printing won’t necessarily cure your business of moments like that, but it will make things much speedier. You can hook a mobile printer up to any device, directly networked or not, via the Cloud. Your team can then print from their tablets, phones and laptops or on the move while out of office. As BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and at-home, ‘virtual office’ working becomes increasing popular, this technology is indispensable and definitely here to stay.

Projectors

A screen is functional but projectors are the future. Not only are they portable and storable, they also offer high quality, (very) big screen images to businesses looking for smart tech for meetings and presentations. Hooking a TV screen up to a laptop can be a wire-heavy, clunky process. Connecting wirelessly to a projector from the networked device of your choice is seamless and far more impressive than diving under a desk to faff around with plugs and connectors.

DVD Players

Tired of fuzzy, half-buffered YouTube clips in the office? Whether you’re showing training videos, promotional material or even treating your team to a post-work movie night at the end of a profitable month, a High Definition Ready (HD Ready) Blu-ray DVD player will ensure the viewing experience is of the highest quality. DVDs may sound a little ‘early 2000s’ but, as a tried and tested format, they still provide the highest quality images available in any medium. To impress clients, customers and colleagues with slick video, check the specifications and instructions for your DVD player to confirm you’re using an up-scaled, HD Ready piece of hardware for the best video quality out there.

About the guest post author: Cherrie is a journalism graduate who now specializes in writing about tech, fashion and beauty.

Tips for online shop owners and contributors

This blog post provides a juicy selection of tips for people who run online shops.

Online shops are everywhere these days! You turn a corner on the internet high-way and someone is trying to sell you something! A major problem, especially for small business owners, is properly presenting their products and services in their shops, and providing the read details and features. I hope this blog post gives you some useful tips, which you can apply to your online shop.

 

Use high quality product or service descriptions created.

Often copywriters are hired who have no clue what they are writing about, and rely on limited information such as a brochure, or even resort to searching online for details, to help them understand the sector, and produce the sales material! You don’t want to end up with some nonsense. i.e. MadMax X two-stroke ISO-L-EGO synthetic oil, brings 21st know-how to 20th century technology, that is akin to nectar for your lawnmower engine. That was a fictional example, but you should get my point.

Instead make sure the descriptions have been written for the typical customer, providing the details they require.  Speak to your sales and distribution teams, and look at prospect enquiry emails. Then without breaking data protection laws, support the person who is producing the product / service descriptions, by providing them with information they require.

 

Use high quality images.

I don’t know about you, but once I leave the major online shops, I struggle to find half decent product photos. Often product photos are too small, don’t show enough detail and due to lighting issues or photo manipulation, the colours are not correct.

I appreciate not everyone can afford to bring in professional photographers. However simple techniques such as using a tripod, taking a photo when there is enough light, using suitable locations, and making sure you take a photo using the camera’s higher possible quality setting, can help. Then when you need to crop and resize a product image, you should still end up with a decent product photo.

 

Create useful FAQs for your prospects and customers.

Another major failing of many small business eCommerce websites is a lack of FAQs. Simple questions are often not addressed: Do you ship to my region? Can I arrange delivery on a Saturday? Can I track my delivery? Anyone who has been involved in sales, even for a short period of time, should know a handful of questions that are regularly asked. These questions should be in your FAQs, as well as addressed in your product descriptions.

 

Keep your online shop updated.

A person visits an online shop at nine at night, and they think they have found a product they wish to buy. However the site looks dated, no blog posts for a year, and no way to check stock level. If that person is eager to buy, they might head elsewhere as they could be unsure the business is still trading, let alone has their product in stock. You need to make sure your online shop, as well as your website in general looks fresh, and is kept updated.

 

Don’t be afraid to migrate to more feature rich solutions.

Many business owners try to take a short-cut when setting up an online shop. Often the ‘quickest’, ‘least complex’ and ‘cheapest’ solution is most appealing. Only to discover later on that coupon codes, stock levels, different shipping types and many other features that they wish they had, are missing from their current setup. Make sure you are using an eCommerce solution that meets your requirements, rather than limping on with a solution not right for you.

About the guest author: David is a website expert, and especially enjoys setting up online shops.

Free time over Christmas? Ideas for improving your website

This blog post is for those with a bit of free time over Christmas. Personally I have no intention of working over the Christmas period, unless needs must. However I know many people who will spend a bit of time, working on their websites over Christmas, so I am writing this post with those website admins and contributors in mind.

 

Build a better image library

I learnt a long time ago to be better prepared when it comes to my website’s image library. When I need a ‘featured’ image, or just an image to brighten up a blog post, I make sure there is already a selection of images available. Don’t get me wrong, often I will use an image just for one blog post or web page, but I also make sure there is a prepared collection available.

Tips for building your media library:

  • Regularly take photos throughout the year, to build up your own library.
  • Make sure all images are already cropped, uploaded and website optimised.
  • Use a naming convention, such as ‘featured_X’, ‘thumbnail_X’, to make finding images easier.
  • Always keep original images backed up, ready for use in the future.

Also you might want to use some of those images, to help enhance your social network activity. For example you could liven up your Facebook page, by regularly changing your cover photo. You could also promote blog posts on Facebook with the help of images, by uploading an image, and then including an overview of the article, as well as the blog post link in the image description.

 

Automate the backup of your website

Many people ‘wing it’, when it comes to website backups, and rely on manually backing up their website. Personally I think that is a disaster waiting to happen. However with the help of a ‘cron job’ or a backup plugin, you should be able to automate either all or part of a website backup. Even if you just have your website’s database sent to you via email, it is better than nothing.

Tips:

  • Make sure you regularly backup your website database.
  • Don’t forget your ‘media library’ and other files which you might not have multiple copies of.
  • Also it is wise to backup your website theme every time you make a change. Even an ‘off the shelf’ theme is often modified on a per site basis.
  • You do need to have ‘full backups’, just in case your site is hacked or another site-wide issue occurs.
  • Don’t store your backups on the same server which hosts your website!

 

Change contributor privileges

It never ceases to amaze me how much access website contributors are granted, even if they are just submitted website blog posts. A quiet moment is an ideal time to assess the level of website access people have to your website, and adjust if necessary. That way if their access is hacked or they become disgruntled, hopefully the damage that can be caused is reduced. With that in mind you should also make sure your contributors are using unique, and complex passwords, which they securely protect. i.e. don’t have written down in a notepad file, or a password book!

 

Access your website performance

It is easy to lose sight of website performance over a year. A logo is replaced with a large new version, a few new plugin are installed, blog post are uploaded which might not be website optimised, and before you know it, your website’s performance has been hit. There are numerous ways to improve website performance, and a good way to start is to actually find out how quickly your website loads using http://loads.in. If your website is slow, then a good ‘starting’ point is the following:

  • Perform a plugin audit.
  • Assess whether any images used in your website’s theme can be optimised.
  • Setup a website cache if you’ve not already.

Always make sure you perform a ‘full backup’, before making any chances, and never jeopardise the security of your website.

About the guest post author: David is a website expert, and especially enjoys setting up eCommerce websites.