Business Tools

girl feeling sad that she has no website traffic

Launch4Life writes about a variety of topics to help small businesses better market their products and services. This collection of posts fall under the category of BUSINESS TOOLS.


You Can Easily Create YouTube Videos Using Loom

You Can Easily Create YouTube Videos Using Loom

creating youtube videos

So you want to get started with using YouTube to market your business online. Smart choice. In this blog post, I’m going to introduce to a free and simple to use tool that shows you exactly how to create a YouTube video.

Before we get started, did you know that YouTube is the second most visited search engine on the internet? Yep. First comes Google, then comes YouTube.

Even more exciting, videos that rank well in YouTube also rank well in Google. This means that posting videos on YouTube will have a direct effect on your overall SEO.

It’s easy enough to grab your mobile phone and start making videos. However, what if you want to make more complex videos?

For instance, at Launch4Life we like making “how to” videos. Most of the videos we create involve over-the-shoulder walkthroughs of digital marketing and SEO tools. To teach these concepts effectively we need to make videos that show our screen.  That’s not so easy to do with an iPhone or other mobile device.

Loom: The Free and Easy Video Creator

That’s why we love using Loom.  The Loom app is an easy-to-use and free screen recording tool you can use on either a Mac or Windows computers. With the click of a button, you can quickly record a video of any length. Once you’re done, you can download the video to your computer and then upload the file to YouTube. Easy Peasy.

What we especially like about using Loom is that you can make simple edits after you’re done recording. That way, if your dog starts barking in the middle of your video recording, or you have a coughing fit – not a problem. You can simple cut out that part of the video. Awesome.

With Loom you have three different ways to record your videos:

  1. Screenshare + Camera
  2. Screenshare Only
  3. Camera Only

Loom places no limitations on how long your video recordings can be. So you can hop on and do a quickie video or talk at length. The folks at Loom generously allow you to store up 100 videos in your account. If you want more than that you’ll need to upgrade to the Pro version. But even that is not a big expense. 

If you’re curious to see how to get started with Loom, check out the video tutorial below that we created. When it comes to an easy-to-use video creation tool, that won’t cost you a cent, no other tool beats Loom.

Loom: Step-By-Step YouTube Tutorial

Launch4Life - Gillian Whitney

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Market Your Small Business With Graphics

Market Your Small Business With Graphics

graphic of women holding tablet and viewing Launch4Life website

Most everyone is familiar with the phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words.” That’s especially true when you are marketing your business. Whether you are tasked with creating marketing graphics for social media, blogs, or email newsletters, you need to use professional looking images. 

Graphics Make Your Business Stand Out

There’s no doubt about it – graphics capture attention.

Think about when you are scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed. What causes you to stop and read a particular Facebook post? Most likely it’s because there’s an eye-catching graphic, or even better, a video. 

Using interesting graphics helps your social media posts stand out from the crowd. 

Marketing graphics are an essential tool for promoting your business. Think about how a simple graphic, like a logo, can help make a brand recognizable. This is exactly why many businesses put so much effort into creating a logo for their company. 

Take a minute to look at these 4 logos below. Can you identify the company just by looking at the logo? 

 

logos of the Apple, Microsoft, Google, and McDonalds

Easily recognizable logos.

 

Notice there are no words. Just  simple images. These big businesses (Apple, Microsoft, Google, and McDonalds) have all created logos that promote instant brand recognition. As such, their logo’s displayed prominently on all their graphics marketing material. From social media to the website – their logo’s at the forefront. 

As an aside, McDonalds has done such an especially great job with their simple logo. You merely have to hear the phrase “Golden Arches” and you know exactly what people are talking about. Wow. 

 

Where to Begin?

Okay, so we get that graphics marketing is important. But, what do you do if you don’t have the tools or talent to create great graphics?

The answer is to start with baby steps.

You don’t need to be a graphics designer (or hire one) and you don’t need to purchase expensive software like Photoshop. Professional software programs not only cost a lot money, but come with a steep learning curve.

Luckily, there are lots of easy ways to get started along your graphics marketing journey. We suggest you start off with learning an easy-to-use graphics program. 

 

Beginner Graphic Design Tools

One of our favorite online tools is Pablo by Buffer. This free program will allow you to build awesome graphics in a snap. With just a few clicks, you can create a snazzy social media post that includes both text and graphics.

What’s especially nice about Pablo is that it includes a graphics database of 60,000 royalty free graphics. Using their built-in graphics search tool, you can search for any kind of graphic you’d like – snowflakes, mountains, flowers. Best of all, there is no fee for using any of the images.

To add text on top of your graphic, you simply click and type. And for those days when you haven’t a clue what to say, you can use Pablo’s automated quote tool. This nifty feature presents you with a wide range of famous inspirational quotes to choose from.  Social media posts that include quotes are always popular. And more importantly, are the type of posts people like to engage with – likes, comments, and shares.

 

Facebook Post made using Pablo By Buffer

Facebook Post made using Pablo By Buffer

 

While there are other great online graphic tools out there, Pablo is the tool we recommend the most for graphic marketing newbies. When you are just getting started with posting on social media, you need an easy-to-use program.

 

Pablo By Buffer – Demo

This short video contains a quick overview of how to use Pablo. This demo is an excerpt from our Marketing Your Business With Graphics course, we illustrate the process of creating a social media post using Buffer, how to download it to your computer, and then how to upload it to Facebook. 

 

Next Steps

It’s great that there are free online tools like Buffer to get you started with your graphics marketing. However, you will soon learn that the next step in your journey is learn some graphics basics and what other graphics tools are out there. Which is why we suggest you take a look at the course we created – Marketing Your Business With Graphics.

With our graphics course, you will soon be a pro at accentuating your marketing message with eye-catching graphics. You will learn new ways to use your graphics that will help showcase and sell your products and services.

The Launch4Life’s Graphics Course Will Teach You:

  • Where to find free graphics, use them, edit them, store them, and make awesome graphics.
  • The do’s and don’ts of using the right set of color and font combinations in your graphics that will either attract or repel your audience.
  • Understanding of why your audience will think you are an amateur if using kindergartner font styles. Find out how your content requires professional fonts complemented by the right combinations.
  • Tips on how to create presentation slides that will keep your audience involved in your story but can be re-purposed for use in a multitude of ways to continue marketing your message. PowerPoint presentations are a powerful message ally.
  • The graphic tools that will enhance your blogs and social media posts to attract new prospects and customers.
  • A variety of free online tools to build professional looking graphics, along with the links to these sites.

This online course will give you an easy to understand solid foundation. You will learn where to get the best graphics and the best tools you need to create graphics for all your online marketing needs. 

Launch4Life - Gillian Whitney

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Zappos Experience – Delivering Happiness

Zappos Experience – Delivering Happiness

lonely entreprenuer

Last week Gillian and I were fortunate enough to be able to experience a tour of Zappos, located downtown in Las Vegas. For those of you who may not be familiar with this company, it is owned by Amazon but is independently run. It focuses on selling retail products online, from shoes to accessories to clothing. Their motto is “delivering happiness”.

So why on earth would we want to tour Zappos?

Well, because Tony Hseih, the CEO runs his corporation like no other CEO we have seen before. Tony is famous for his entrepreneurial spirit and his focus on customer service. He has written several books. His flagship book that says it all is called Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose. 

The Zappos organization and its people are committed to delivering happiness to all of their online customers. In order to do that, Zappos created a culture that would foster that not only for their customers but also for their employees. Our goal in touring the company was to explore the culture and see how we could apply it to our business.

Here are a few lessons we would like to pass on:

Lesson #1

All Zappos staff must embrace the 10 Core Values*. That is a prerequisite. That is even more important than previous experience or skills. If you fail to embody it in the work environment, they will happily pay you (one month’s salary) to leave.

Every employee must embrace the Zappos Core Values.

Lesson #2

Each employee is empowered to make a difference to the organization in whatever way furthers the mission of Zappos but also enhances the happiness of their own position. Wow what a concept. Almost as if each person is an entrepreneur.

Zappos employees are free to dress up and have fun. Costumes, wigs, and hats provided.

Lesson #3

Different areas all over the Zappos property, which is the old Las Vegas City Hall, are set up to encourage people to engage and create conversations that would further the goals of Zappos and each of the individuals. From cafeterias to a fitness center, to napping pods, to shadowing other employees, to just hanging out on the patio for a coffee, all are based on the wellbeing of their employees and expressing their ideas.

At Zappos lunch is free each and every day.

Lesson #4

People are encouraged to create new services which embraces their entrepreneurship spirit. It also teaches employees how to create their own businesses.

Below are a few stories to demonstrate that culture.

Creating Your Own Job:

Jackie, was our tour guide, her full-time job. Zappos employees are encouraged to bring their dogs to work. Jackie recognized that often times people were so busy they didn’t have time to walk their dogs. So, she set up a dog walking business. Eventually that may become her full-time job as she is quite busy adding more dogs to her list to walk.

Your Passion is Honored:

We were shown a large wall covered with a mural by artist Miguel Hernandez. His story was that he had offered to paint a large wall to make the room more attractive. Before he knew it, his job became resident artist. His work is so appreciated that the Mayor of Las Vegas announced that Miguel would be honored for his contributions to Zappos and the Mob Museum on May 16th, 2016 as “Miguel Hernandez Day”. His entrepreneurial spirit was a contribution to Zappos and inspired his current role as “artist”.

The artwork of Miguel Hernandez, the resident artist at Zappos.

 

The CEO Practices What He Preaches:

Tony Hseih, the CEO once had a beautiful apartment on the penthouse floor of the building overlooking the Freemont area of Las Vegas. But about a year or so ago, he decided that he was becoming too removed from people and was missing the serendipity moments and collisions (opportunities to meet and collaborate). So, he decided to set up an airstream trailer park and moved into his own trailer with his dog and pet llama. Now Tony is happy as a clam.

The message is don’t remove yourself from your people. Stay connected.

We both walked away from our 90-minute tour feeling very inspired. We realized that we already embody those 10 Core Values and that we want to be known for “Delivering Happiness” and showing our customers a Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose. We want to work with online business owners who feel the same.

Here are the 10 Core Values of Zappos

1. Deliver Wow through service
2. Embrace and drive change
3. Create fun and a little weirdness
4. Be adventurous, creative and open-minded
5. Pursue growth and learning
6. Build open and honest relationships with communication
7. Build a positive team and family spirit
8. Do more with less
9. Be passionate and determined
10. Be humble

Launch4Life - Gillian Whitney

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

What is Slack and Why Your Small Business Might Need It?

What is Slack and Why Your Small Business Might Need It?

Woman wonders what is Slack while looking at phone and computer

What is Slack? Listen up and I’ll tell you.

Launch4Life is excited about a communication tool we’ve started using called Slack. What is Slack? It’s an awesome program for communicating and collaborating with team members.

What’s cool is that you don’t have to be a large corporation to use Slack. It’s effective for small businesses and even solopreneurs. Slack allows remote team members to work together. So whether you’re small team, or a one-person shop with a virtual assistant or a family member that helps you run your business, Slack is for you!

 

But let me back up and tell you why we began using Slack.

Our Slack Story

Launch4Life will soon be offering some new services. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more details on that. While we are implementing these new changes we found ourselves in need of a better way to communicate with our team.

While email may work great for Janet and I, we discovered that’s not the case with everyone else we work with. Who knew?

Instead, we learned that instead of email, others prefer to communicate via text. Ack!

The rationale is that email has way too many distractions. Email inboxes can get cluttered up with… too many emails. What’s great about instant messaging is that it’s quicker and much more focused.

Okay, while that may make sense for them, it doesn’t work for me. I prefer email because it lets me keep our communications organized and in one central place.

While I do love my iPhone, I save it for personal use. While I may occasionally use it to text a client, or check email on the go, it’s not my go-to device for business. I‘m “old school” and prefer using my laptop.

So, what do you do when you have team members with different needs?

You build a better mousetrap. You look for one tool that meets the needs of everyone on your team. Which is why we are excited about Slack.

What is Slack?

Slack is an instant messaging tool for communicating with your team.

First up, Slack works on all devices – smart phones, tablets, and computers. So, everyone on the team is happy. Hurray!

More important, Slack is way more than a chat room. It’s a dedicated workspace that allows us to collaborate. With Slack, we can share files, links, and so much more.

 

what is slack and what is a custom workplace

Example of Launch4Life’s Workspace in Slack

 

Your Slack Workspace

How Slack works is you set up a private workspace for your company. Your workspace is a secure and dedicated area on the Slack server that comes complete with it’s own custom URL. You can access your workspace from any digital device using your URL and logging in.

While you can have Slack open in an Internet browser tab, I found it better to download the free Slack app. I like to have Slack always running in the background. If you want to use Slack on a tablet or smart phone, visit the applicable app store and download the free app.

Slack Channels

Inside your workspace you will set up different channels to stay organized. Think of these “channels” as you would think of folders on your computer. You then add people (i.e. members of your team) to those channels on a as needed basis. This helps you keep all the relevant information and people together in one place.

Public vs. Private Channels

Public channels are open to everyone on your entire team. When you first set up your Slack workspace you will have two public channels by default – #General and #Random. You have the option of renaming those channels and/or creating more. It’s your choice.

Whenever you type a message or share a file to a public channel, everyone on your team will see it. Also, all the contents of a public channel is searchable by everyone on your team. That way, if anyone on your team needs to find something they can search for it themselves in the archives. Sweet.

You can also create private channels within Slack. This is ideal for private conversations amongst select team members. Private channels are only open to invited team members. As a matter of fact, other people don’t even see those channels listed, so they won’t feel left out. The private channels you are a member of are distinct because they have a padlock next to the channel name.

Direct Messages

You can also send any team member a one-off direct message. This is useful for when you want to send one, or even several people, a quick private message. I believe that you can send a direct message to up to 8 people at once. What I especially like is that Slack lets you know who is currently on-line and off-line.

The direct message feature is especially good for team members that don’t have access to a phone… as you can send and receive direct messages from any digital device.

Sharing Files & Links

So what is slack doing the best? Collaboration.

Slack makes it so easy to share files with team members. You can drag and drop files right into Slack. Easy peasy. The type of files you can share includes: documents, images, pdfs, videos, and audios.

You can even copy/paste internet links into Slack for your team to access. So if you see something of interest on the web that you’d like to share with your team, you can do so using Slack.

 

what is slack and an overview of the opening screen

Example of Launch4Life’s Channels & Files in Slack

 

Search Feature

What’s great is that EVERYTHING you type or add to your Slack workspace is searchable. Finding messages, files, links, etc., is so simple. Simply type what you’re looking for into the search box… and voila it’s found.

Works Well With Others

The feature that sold me on using Slack was how well it works with other programs. At Launch4Life we use a whole host of online tools to run our business. From A to Z (Asana to Zoom) it looks like Slack works with every program we use. Awesome! The biggest integration bonus was Asana. If we had needed to give up Asana that would have been a deal breaker for me. By the way, if you are a big fan of Asana, check out this awesome article on how well they work together.

I am amazed at how many apps Slack plays nice with. In Slack’s integrations directory there were apps listed that I haven’t even heard of. Which makes this tech nerd girl very excited. There’s probably some cool toys for me to check out.

Your Own Little Slack Bot

If you ever need help using Slack, it’s nice to know you have a trusty slackbot to guide the way. Simply type a message into the direct message chat window and your bot will display the answer. How cool is that?

what is slack and direct messaging a slackbot

Example of Gillian chatting with the Slackbot

 

Customize Your Preferences

Slack allows you to customize your settings. There is even a Do Not Disturb setting that allow you to set your office hours. This means you won’t hear any bings or dings alerting you to new messages. This helps set boundaries around when you work and when you don’t.

Pricing

Slack’s free plan is one of it’s best features. They offer a free forever plan that is very generous. A small business with simple needs may find they never need to upgrade. Kind of reminds me of both MailChimp and Asana.

Free Plan

  • 10k Message Search
  • 10 Integrations
  • Two Factor Authentication
  • One on One Voice and Video Calls 5GB of Total Storage
  • Standard Support

So there you have it, that was my quick overview on what is Slack? I will report back in a few weeks and let y’all know how it’s going. In the meantime, below is a good video about what is slack and how it works.

To sign up for your own account, visit Slack on the web.

 

Launch4Life - Gillian Whitney

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Increase Productivity with This Free White Noise Generator

Increase Productivity with This Free White Noise Generator

Listening to white noise generator with computer headphones

Some people love listening to music while they work. Not me. Instead, I find it’s the sounds of nature I need for focused attention. So, when I’m in a place with distracting sounds I yearn for a white noise generator.

While silence may be golden, unless you live in the mountains, it can be hard to find. Right now, I have traded in country life for the big city. I am currently staying in Las Vegas where I’m surrounded by noisy neighbors. Summer in the city often includes the sounds of traffic, dogs barking, and lawn mowers.

City sounds can get on your nerves and interfere with concentration. Studies show that not all noise is bad. Ambient noises can help increase creativity and make us more productive. I’m excited to share an online white noise generator I recently learned about that creates ambient noises.

Meet Noisli a simple program that serenades you with a host of background noises. The 16 tracks span such sounds as the: rain, ocean, coffee shop, and more. Sound tracks can be solo or combined, allowing you to create the background that meets your needs. The background color changes to add variety.

Noisli white noise red

What I like about Noisli is its ease of use. No login or signup required. Check out their website and start listening to the sound tracks. With a click of the mouse you can toggle any of sounds on and off.

If you want to go to the next level, you’ll need to download the Chrome Browser extension. Sign up for a free account using an email address, Google ID, or Facebook account. Advanced features include saving sound tracks, a timer, and distraction free writing.

Noisli is also available as a purchased app for phones and tablets (iOS and Android). The price runs about $1.99 and does not include as many features as the desktop application. Save your money and use the computer version for free.

White noise generators like Noisli are ideal for anyone that works at home. Within seconds you can drown out annoying noises. Noisli’s sounds boost productivity and foster relaxation. It’s great to have an easy to use program to stay focused in a world full of distractions.

* Is Noise Always Bad? Exploring the Effects of Ambient Noise on Creative Cognition

Ravi Mehta, Rui (Juliet) Zhu and Amar Cheema
Journal of Consumer Research

Vol. 39, No. 4 (December 2012), pp. 784-799

 

Noisli White Noise Generator Mini-Training

Launch4Life - Gillian Whitney

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Starting a Podcast Has Never Been Easier

Starting a Podcast Has Never Been Easier

Have you ever dreamed of having your own radio show? I know I did. When I was a kid, I used to entertain my family for hours with my imaginary “Allen Brady Interview Show.” I always hoped one day I’d host my own show. Now that starting a podcast has never been easier, my childhood dream is totally possible.

Back in 2006, only 22% of U.S. adults had even heard of the word “podcast”. By last year, that figure had risen to 60%. People have not only heard of podcasts, but they’re listening to them on a regular basis.

According to Apple, iTunes now features more than 500,000 active podcasts, including content in more than 100 languages. Wow. Podcasts are popular.

What’s a Podcast?

Not quite sure what a podcast is? It’s kind of like having your own radio show. However, instead of broadcasting your voice live over radio waves, a podcast is an audio file that users can either stream or download and listen to.

People listen to podcasts using any digital device – a computer, tablet, or mobile phone. We’re listening to podcasts at the gym, in the car, at home, walking down the street, or sitting by the pool.

Last winter, the Launch4Life team looked into starting a podcast. However, after doing a little research we were in complete overwhelm. There seemed to be so many moving parts. Special equipment for recording. Software for editing. Not to mention the cost of finding a podcast host provider.

End result? We decided podcasting was way too complicated and expensive for us. Until we heard about Anchor.

Anchor.fm is an exciting new program that makes podcasting super simple. Creating a podcast episode with Anchor.fm is so easy, that anyone can host their own show.

Starting a Podcast with Anchor

To get started with Anchor, all you need to do is sign up for a free account. When you create your account, you can create a custom URL, where you can store all your episodes. You can even add artwork to brand your page.

You have the option of uploading existing audio or creating a live recording. Recording can be done using your computer, smart phone, or tablet. What’s great is that no special equipment is needed. Simply use your device’s built-in mic or attach an external microphone. It’s your choice. As a test, I used the ear buds/microphone that came with iPhone. The audio quality was great.

The podcast episodes you record are limited to one hour. And there is no limit to the number of episodes you can store. After you have recorded an episode you can save it as a draft or publish it immediately.

There are several different options for publishing. You can share it on social media (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram), embed it on your website, or distribute it to about 13 syndicated podcast sites (Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, etc.). Wow.

Of course, if you want to keep it easy-peasy, you can choose to only publish to your custom podcast page on Anchor. That’s what I choose to do as I am testing the waters.

I like the idea of embedding podcast episodes directly on our website. It’s super simply. You just copy the embed code from Anchor and paste it onto any page on your website.

The possibilities are endless. We could sprinkle podcast episodes on various blog posts or on select pages on our website. Or, we could dedicate a Podcast Page on our website to store all of our episodes.

Here’s an example of a podcast episode embedded directly on a WordPress website:

P.S. Contrary to what I say in the podcast episode, you are NOT limited to 5 minute recordings. My bad. You can actually record for up to 60 minutes. Awesome.

If we didn’t want to mess around with copying/pasting embed code to our website. We could just direct people to go to our custom page at:  https://anchor.fm/launch4life

 

Here’s an example of a podcast published on our Launch4Life page on Anchor:

With Anchor, there are no fees. There’s no charge to set up an account. And there’s no charge for hosting. If you’re wondering what’s the catch? The folks at Anchor are being funded by a huge grant from Google.

Anchor even provides excellent stats, so you can track your podcast audience. Their newest feature is that they recently introduced an iPad version that allows you to edit your audio. Hopefully, that benefit will soon be available for computer and mobile users.

If you would like to try your hand at starting a podcast you should take a look at Anchor. It really doesn’t get any easier than this. If you decide to give podcasting a whirl, please let us know, so we can check out your show.

Learn More About Starting a Podcast With Anchor

 

Launch4Life - Gillian Whitney

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Best Way to Bookmark Websites

Best Way to Bookmark Websites

Here’s the scenario. You find something on the web that you need to access again later. While you could just bookmark it in your browser, if you use more than one browser then what? Some days I use Chrome, Safari, and Firefox, all in one day! And, what if you use more than one digital device to surf the web? You might find a great website on your laptop that you want to visit again using your tablet or mobile phone. As you can see, bookmarking websites can be a bit of a challenge. Luckily there is one method that solves all of these problems.

Meet Raindrop.io, a slick method for saving and organizing all of your internet bookmarks. Raindrop works across all internet browsers and on all digital devices. This means you can create a bookmark on one device and seemlessly access it later on another. Best of all, you can even share your bookmarks with other people. The perfect tool for working with your team.

Here are some features that makes Raindrop.io so great:

Free

There is no charge to use the basic version of Raindrop.io and it’s free forever. No credit is required and it’s not a free trial. To get started, you simply sign up for an account using Google+, Facebook, Twitter, or by email address. There are a few extra features offered in their premium version for $3 per month. However, after using Raindrop.io for several years now, I have never felt the need to upgrade.

Collections

You can easily organize your bookmarks into collections, which is Raindrop’s name for folders. There’s no limit on how many collections you can create. Even better, there’s no limit on the number of bookmarks within each collection. If you’d like to make a collection stand out, you have the option to create a visual icon. If you don’t like any of Raindrop’s 100 built-in graphics, you can always upload your own icons.

Search/Sort

It’s easy to find bookmarks using Raindrop’s built-in search utility. You can perform searches from within a collection or search through all of your bookmarks. To keep organized, you can sort your bookmarks in alphabetical order or by the number of bookmarks there are in each collection. You can also sort bookmarks by: date, name, popularity, or website.

Custom Views

There are four different ways you can view your bookmarks: list, grid, cards, or by moodboard. I prefer the “List” view, which provides a small graphic, title, brief description, and website URL. It’s nice that they provide four different options.

Mobile App

There is a free Raindrop.io app you can download for your tablet or smart phone. The mobile app is easy to use and allows you to easily access your bookmarks on the run.

 

In-App Reading

I like that you can read saved bookmarks from right inside Raindrop. However, if you later decide you‘d like to access the complete URL, a simple click of the mouse will send you to the bookmarked webpage.

Sharing

 My favorite Raindrop feature is that you can share your bookmarks with others. You can share a single link or an entire collection of bookmarks. Sharing is so easy, simply type in the email address of the intended person, and they will receive an invitation to access the link or collection. What’s really cool is that if you share a collection with another Raindrop user, the collection will be automatically added to their account, allowing them to add more links.

So those are just some of Raindrop’s top features. I highly suggest you check out Raindrop.io. I believe you’ll discover it’s a great alternative to traditional bookmarking. Raindrop looks good and will help you stay more organized. Best of all, you will finally be able to access ALL your bookmarks across all internet browsers, using any digital device. This means the next time you bookmark a website you’ll be able to find it later.

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Internet Tips for Business Travelers

Internet Tips for Business Travelers

Many of you know that Launch4Life has a mascot, Bob Launch. We took Bob on our trip to Spain and while we were there he told us that he learned some things he hadn’t thought about before our trip. He asked me to share three tips with you that he believes will make traveling a little easier. Whether you are traveling down to a coffee shop to meet a client, traveling to do a workshop in another city, or trying to connect with clients in other countries, these tips will save you some grief and time.

 

Tip #1 – Secure Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi is available at most places you visit, either free or for a nominal charge. But it won’t necessarily be a secure network. How you will know this? Sometimes you will log onto a particular website on your device. It will allow you to do some things, but not all. You will think that a link is broken. But it’s not. The website is trying to protect you. What you need is a Virtual Private Network. A VPN will put a security bubble around you while you are logging in to pay a credit card, your mortgage, or making a transaction with your bank account. In essence it creates a firewall. I discovered a VPN called Windscribe: https://windscribe.com/  The good news is that they offer a free version that was perfect for me for this trip. This idea is great even for someone who only travels locally. If you think you will need more than the free version, the first paid level is only $4.08 per month and provides unlimited bandwidth. But whatever your need, this VPN is something that will make your life easier and prevent hackers. Also, it will allow you to see the websites you visit in your own language, very helpful.

 

Tip #2 – Online Calendars

How do you reconcile your online calendar with different time zones? This is the one that really made me crazy. You can bet I made a couple of mistakes with that. But now I have it all figured out. Whether you use Outlook or Google Calendar, both have built-in time zone converters.

If you have a Google Calendar, here are the instructions to add a second time zone:

  • Go to your Google Calendar.
  • Click the settings wheel, top right corner.
  • Scroll down until you see time zones.
  • Add another one,
  • Click Save at the bottom of the screen.

If you have an Outlook Calendar, here are the instructions to add a second time zone:

  • Click the File tab.
  • Click Options.
  • On the Calendar tab, under Time zones, select the Show a second-time zone check box.
  • In the Label box, type a name for the additional time zone.
  • In the Time zone list, click the time zone that you want to add.

Now when you go into your calendar you can schedule the appointment in the time of where you are currently. It will automatically convert to the default time for your appointment. So much easier.

 

Tip #3 – Wi-Fi Booster

Many hotels and Internet cafes have Wi-Fi. But it may be sketchy and not secure. You can use your new VPN to create security. But your Wi-Fi might still have strength issues. Downloading files or watching videos may be impossible. If you are like us and use video conferencing, having a good network connection is imperative. We plan on purchasing a Hot Spot before traveling to our next destination. I have done some research. There are a number of them to choose from.

I think I like this one called Keepgo: https://www.keepgo.com. It seems to have everything we need. We can use it nationally as well as internationally. We can buy the pay-as-you-go option for the data after our one-time purchase for the HotSpot of $99. They have a 30-day money back guarantee, so I don’t think I can lose on that decision. I will let you know how it works. There are a number of choices out there to review for your individual needs.

Whether traveling down the road or traveling far and wide, knowing these tips in advance can save you a lot of headaches. If you are in a virtual business like us, the ability to “have laptop will travel” is a huge plus. Utilizing these 3 tips will make all the difference. Bob wishes you “happy travels!!!”

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

Project Management for Solopreneurs

Project Management for Solopreneurs

Whether you are a large corporation, small business, or solopreneur, organizing your tasks and projects may be one of the most important tools for business growth. While some of us can manage everything in our head, most of us are better served using a dedicated project management tool. The challenge is finding the right tool to help us better manage our projects, so we can be more productive. While there are a number of great project management programs available, most of them were designed for large organizations.

Recently, one of our clients asked if Asana was appropriate for solopreneurs? Our answer was – yes, yes, yes! Whether you’re a big company, small biz, or team of one, Asana is right for your business. Launch4Life has been a big fan of Asana for several years. We use Asana to manage both our personal and professional projects. We love Asana for many reasons. It’s easy to use, keeps us organized, and best of all… it’s free.

Asana allows you to take everything you’ve got going on in both your life and break it down into manageable pieces. With a click of a mouse, you can set up an unlimited number of projects. For each project, you can create a list of tasks and sub-tasks that need to be completed. If a task is time specific, you even have the option of setting a due date. Since Asana was initially built as team-based tool, you can assign tasks to team members in your organization and/or external partners/consultants. But, if you are a solopreneur you can simply assign all the tasks to yourself.

Asana is so much more than a well organized to-do list. It’s actually more of a business management hub for tracking tasks and managing your documents. Each task in Asana can include a wide range of file attachments: PDFs, Bitmaps, Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, and more. What’s especially helpful is that these files can be shared and/or revised online with other collaborators, or even with yourself. This feature ensures you will always be working with the most up-to-date file.

What I like most about Asana is that regardless of the number of projects I have, all my tasks can be viewed together in one area. By simply accessing the MY TASKS tab, I have a birds-eye view of everything on my plate. Better still, all of the assigned tasks can be segmented by due date: Today, Upcoming, and Later. This feature helps eliminate overwhelm when you are juggling several projects simultaneously.

Here are some reasons that you too may want to check out Asana:

Repeating Tasks – If you find you do the same thing each week (ex. write a blog post that’s due on Monday) you can set that up as a repeating task. Each week when you complete the task, once it’s been marked as “done”, the same task will be automatically assigned the following week.

Accessible Everywhere –  You can use Asana on a desktop computer, tablet, or mobile phone. Being a cloud-based tool, it works easily with Windows, iOS, or Android devices and can be accessed used any internet browser.

Drag and Drop – All of your tasks can easily be moved around using drag and drop.

Export Features – If you need to export project information out of Asana, you can do so using Excel or send it to a printer.

Customizable Workspace – Asana provides you with a customizable workspace. You have the option to color code projects, view tasks that are in-process or completed, and even view your progress. You also have the option to archive any in-active projects, which simply hides a project from view temporarily.

IntegrationsAsana integrates easily with a whole host of internet-based programs ranging from: Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, MailChimp, Toggl, Zapier, and more.

Cost – It costs absolutely nothing to get started using Asana. While there is a premium version, you might find you never need to go beyond the free version. Unlike other Project Management tools that offer a limited free trial, the basic version of Asana has no expiration. You just can’t exceed having more than 15 team members. If you are a solopreneur, having a small team shouldn’t be an issue.

Flying Unicorns – When you mark a task as complete, you’ll sometimes see a flying unicorn shoot across the screen. While this isn’t really a necessary project management feature, it sure does make using the program fun.

The only caveat about using Asana is, just like any other software application, you need to put in some learning time upfront. While the program is pretty much intuitive, you’ll find you get more out of Asana when you learn all it can do. I highly suggest watching a few of their training videos. You will find that Asana‘s help topics and videos are fairly short and easy to digest.

No matter the size of your business, you will discover that Asana can help you stay organized. It’s a great project management tool that allows you to break down all of your projects into bite-sized tasks, assign due dates, attach relevant documents, and keep track of where you are in the process. Asana is one of the easiest programs we’ve come across and with a getting started price tag of FREE, it will definitely not break the bank for any solopreneur.

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Working With Clients Internationally

Working With Clients Internationally

While it’s fairly easy working with U.S. clients when you’re in the United States, it can be a challenge when you’re traveling abroad. Also, as your small business starts to grow, you may attract clients from other countries. Solving the puzzle of working with clients internationally is worth some thought.

A simple solution is corresponding by email or video conference. The Launch4Life team loves using Zoom video calls to meet with clients online. However, we still like to provide customers with the option of meeting by phone. That led us to look for a way to host telephone conferences without breaking the bank for either us or our international clients. After all, nobody likes incurring international calling fees.

For us, UberConference was the magic solution. If you’ve been reading our blog posts for awhile, you may remember we wrote a blog post about Uberconference before. UberConference is a cloud-based conference calling program that offers both a free and business plan. For quite awhile, the Launch4Life team was testing UberConference alongside of Free Conference Calling. We found them both to be great programs. We especially like that they both offer a free version, making it easy to try before you buy. After careful consideration, we agreed UberConference was the winner. And, just this past week we made the decision to upgrade to their business plan.

What we especially like about UberConference is that participants have the option of joining a call using their telephone (landline or cell) or VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol). VOIP is just a fancy way of saying using your computer’s microphone and speakers in place of a telephone. As a tip, it’s always a good idea to wear earbuds or a headset mic when using VOIP. You will find that it improves the quality of the sound immensely.

If telephone conference call attendees can participate via their computer on the web, it means anyone with Wi-Fi access can join a call. So, if you have international clients or you’re traveling abroad, you will not incur long distance phone charges. Yahoo! It’s hard to believe that joining via VOIP is a feature of UberConference’s free plan. Other free features include: instant or scheduled meetings, notifications and reminders sent by email or text, and unlimited free MP3 recordings.

You may be wondering why we bothered upgrading to UberConference’s business plan? Well, we recently discovered the business plan allows international clients to join by telephone for free. This means our international clients can use a local access number to dial into our meetings. UberConference provides international telephone access numbers in over 50 countries. And as a bonus for us, when we travel abroad we can use those very same international access numbers to meet with clients back in the United States. Sweet!

We’re so glad we took the time to test several conference calling programs before deciding on UberConference. Evaluating which telephone conference platform was the right tool for our business, meant a long and lengthy test drive. Luckily, we found several programs that had a free version. When we first began our research, we had no idea that it would be a need to work with clients internationally that would drive the final decision. Thank goodness all that research didn’t cost us a cent.

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

A Simple Way to Stay Organized

A Simple Way to Stay Organized

This weekend, we tackled a huge project – we moved from one webhost provider to another. What made it especially complex, was we had to factor in multiple domains, websites, and email accounts. Since some of the websites belonged to our clients, we also had to be mindful of minimal downtime.

We thought we were being clever scheduling this webhost migration on Super Bowl weekend. Maybe not such a good idea when your football loving husband is your IT guy. Luckily, he timed everything just right, so he could still watch the game.

Whilst we were in the midst of exporting and importing all the critical files, I constantly needed to log in to the various webhost providers, websites, and email accounts. There was no time to run around looking for the right usernames and passwords. Everything I needed was always at my fingertips.

You will probably laugh when I tell you what’s my secret for staying so organized. I use a recipe box. Yep, that’s it. Just a simple little 6” x 3” recipe box I bought at Office Depot. Inside is a stash of index cards. My cards are filed in alphabetical order and include details on everything needed to run our business. “Zoom” is the program we use for our videoconferencing. It’s filed under “Z” and includes: the website URL, our login information, details on our different meeting rooms, and even the dial-in number and pin for telephone attendees. Just one little index card contains everything needed to effectively use Zoom.

Up until now, my recipe box has been the best way I’ve found to stay organized. With so many different internet accounts to keep track of, having this easy-to-use system has been great. However, as much as I love my recipe box, I am now embarking on a change. This month I will be heading to Spain for 3 weeks on a working holiday. As I work from abroad, I will need access to all the note cards in my recipe box, but since I’m traveling light, the box has to stay home.

So now, I’m in the process of taking all the index cards in my recipe box and putting them online. To do this, I’m using the Apple Notes app. If you’re a Mac user, you might already be familiar with Notes, a standard program on every iPhone, iPad, and Mac computer. What you might not be aware of, is that Notes automatically syncs across all your Apple devices. Once I discovered that nifty feature, I began to see Notes in a whole new light.

The more I began using Notes, I saw it had some other features I wasn’t aware of. Like the ability to organize all your notes into separate folders. I learned that notes can contain more than just text. Notes can include photos, drawings, and even hypertext links. Also, if you’re a Siri user, you can have her type your notes. Simply activate Siri and tell her “Take a note.” Siri will ask, “What do you want the note to say?” Just start dictating and when you’re done, you’re even given an option to make edits. Cool huh? It’s like having your own virtual assistant.

The best Notes feature I discovered, is you can secure access to any given note by locking it. When a note is locked it can only be unlocked if you type in the password your previously entered or use Touch ID (if you have one of the newer iPhone models). Making a note secure is a really good idea if it contains confidential information you wish to keep private. As I’m transferring all my business-related index cards into Notes, I am making them all password protected.

It’s nice when you can find simple solutions to working with today’s complex technology. I have found that the more organized I am, the more productive I become. I count my lucky stars that I no longer have to scramble around looking for passwords and other key information. I guess you could say that my little black recipe box + Notes is the secret sauce for staying organized.

If you would like to learn more about working with Apple’s Notes, I highly recommend reading this excellent article: Notes App: The Ultimate Guide. It contains everything you need to know to become a Notes Ninja.

P.S. Just in case you’re wondering, the migration from one web host provider to another was successful. Although it was a lot more complicated that we thought it would be. The trickiest part was all the email accounts. Luckily, since it was Super Bowl Sunday, I think everyone was so interested in watching the game, they didn’t notice the down-time. Touchdown!

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Mastering Productivity, Discipline, and Focus

Mastering Productivity, Discipline, and Focus

Believe it or not, sometimes even coaches need some coaching. Which is why the Launch4Life team recently sought out a little coaching for ourselves. At the beginning of 2018, Janet and I decided we wanted to master something new. We wanted to create a resource to help people better understand digital marketing. We’re excited to announce we will soon be launching a marketing podcast dedicated to helping small businesses and solo-preneurs promote their business.

Being avid believers in the “baby steps” approach to project management, we began by researching what’s involved with starting a podcast. We quickly discovered that podcasts are a lot of work. As we began breaking down the project into bite-sized tasks, we wondered how on earth we were going to find the time to get everything done? After all, we already have a full load – working with clients, blogging, weekly newsletters, and the day-to-day tasks of running a small business. We realized we needed a coach to help us master our goal.

Meet our new “coach” The Mastery Journal. This beautiful hardcover daily planner is no ordinary business journal. Instead, it’s 100-day mission is to help business professionals master their productivity, discipline, and focus. Using this journal you will learn how to:

  • Become more productive by accomplishing the important daily tasks that need to get done to reach your goals
  • Develop better self-discipline by setting/executing a daily plan
  • Have greater focus allowing you to win the battle against obstacles and distractions

 

What’s especially unique about The Mastery Journal is all the support that is thrown in for free. Bonuses include: complementary audio book, fillable pdf version of the hardbound journal, and a private Facebook group. I like that the Facebook group admin is none other than John Lee Dumas, the author of The Mastery Journal and founder of the Entrepreneurs On FIRE podcast. John and his team work very hard to monitor the group, providing everyone with great support and guidance.

The Launch4Life team believes that by us both purchasing our own copies of The Mastery Journal, we will achieve the productivity, discipline, and focus needed to launch our new podcast. Today we began the very first step of our 100-day journey. We will be sure to post a complete update when we get to the end. Stay tuned for updates on our marketing podcast.

In the meantime, if you are interested in some coaching yourself, we encourage you to consider working with us. Check out the Work With Us page on our website. If you’re not sure if private coaching is right for you – we invite you to take advantage of our FREE 30 minute introductory coaching session. In just a half-hour you can evaluate if we’re the right coaches for you.

 

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Become More Productive With Google Keep

Become More Productive With Google Keep

I am one of those people whose best ideas arrive when no paper is handy. Whether it’s in the middle of the night when I’m in bed, in the shower, or in the car, I am constantly bombarded with great ideas when I least expect them. I used to tell myself, I’d remember to write them down later. However, more often than I’d care to admit, I usually forget. When I recently came across an awesome note taking app, I got very excited.

Meet Google Keep, a nifty program, that makes organizing random thoughts a breeze. There are so many things I like about this program, it’s hard to decide where to begin. First off, Google Keep can be used on any device – mobile phones, tablets, or computers. Like all other Google applications, Google Keep can be used with ANY Internet browser. So whether you are using Safari, Firefox, Chrome, etc., you will have no problem accessing the program. Most importantly, Google Keep is a smart program that automatically synchs real-time across all your digital devices. Nice!

My preference is to use Google Keep on my iPhone. I found that after installing the free app on my phone, Google Keep was ready to get to work. Now, anytime I new idea strikes me, I simply reach for my phone. Easy peasy. What’s really fun about Google Keep is that there are several different ways I can “note” my ideas. I can type out a note, draw a picture, take a photo, or my personal favorite… make a voice recording note. What’s awesome about recording a voice note is that Google Keep saves the recording and automatically transcribes my words. This feature comes in handy if I later want to copy/paste the text into another program… like in a text message, email, or Google Doc. Best of all, you can share your notes with others, this makes it a great tool for business or personal collaboration.

I also like that Google Keep integrates with all the other Google family applications. For instance, since I already use Google Calendar, my Google Keep notes can include date/time or location reminders that automatically display on my calendar. Since I am the kind of person that likes working with “to do lists” I appreciate how easily I can create lists with neat and orderly checkboxes. The checkbox feature allows me to “check-off” each item as completed.  And, instead of disappearing from my list, the checked off items are displayed as complete with a strike-through line. Psychologically, this gives me a better sense of completion.

Additional features of Google Keep include the ability to color code and/or label each note. This allows me to find notes quickly and easily. You have the power to move notes around in any order that even have the option of pining a note to the top of your list. When you are done with any note, you can either delete it or simply archive it to use again later.

I have been using Google Keep for a few weeks now and I have discovered that I am much more productive. I think it’s is a great way to jot down all my ideas and keep them organized in one place. Best of all, you can’t beat the fact that Google Keep is free. If you’re currently an Evernote user, you may want to consider moving over to Google Keep, and dumping their monthly/annual subscription fees. I suspect that once anyone starts using Google Keep they will feel like they’ve got their own virtual assistant working for them 24/7. In the future, whenever and wherever you get a great idea… you will have a quick and easy way to save it for later.

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Building a Better Bookmarking Tool

Building a Better Bookmarking Tool

Recently my husband wanted to show me something he’d found awhile back on the Internet. He became frustrated as he hopped from one Internet browser to another. First Safari, then Firefox, and then Chrome. Not able to find the “bookmark” he was looking for, he wondered where on earth he’d saved the link. Was it on his Macbook Air? His iMac desktop computer? On his phone? Or perhaps, it was on his computer at work?

Does this scenario sound familiar? You see something on the web that you want to bookmark, and later, you can’t remember where you saved it. In these modern times, it’s especially crazy because many of us are using more than one computer device to access the web. Doesn’t it seem like there should be a logical solution to this common problem? I’m happy to announce there is.

Meet Raindrop.io a better bookmarking tool. Raindrop.io is a great way to keep track of all the things on the Internet that you want to return to another day. This clever website allows you bookmark websites, pictures, articles, and videos, all in one convenient place.  A place that you can easily get to from any Internet browser on any computer device – computer, tablet, and mobile phone.

To get started with using Raindrop.io all you need to do is sign up for a free account. There is nothing to install. Just access their website, enter your email address, choose a password, and start bookmarking.  Best of all, if you want to organize your bookmarks, you can create folders to store all of your links. What’s especially fun is you can make your folders distinct by assigning custom icons.

So here’s a great example of using one folder to group several URLS. Say you are planning a trip to Spain. As you browse the web doing research, you might want to save some of the information you find. You might have links to Google Map searches, Trip Adviser reviews, restaurants you’d like to visit, and maybe even some videos. Now wouldn’t it be great to have them all together in one folder? Even better, what if you are going on that trip with a friend, wouldn’t it be great to share that folder with them, so you can both view the links and add more. Raindrop.io lets you do all that!

 

What is especially nice about Raindrop.io is that in addition to saving your links, it automatically creates a description, and most often even a photo. I find this much more helpful than just some vague URL. Since this data is automatically created with every link, you have the added benefit of being able to perform “smart searches” to find anything in your collection. You will find that this comes in handy when you forget where you saved something, or if you have a lot of unsorted links.

For anyone that already has a bunch of bookmarks set up in one or more of their Internet browsers, you might be hesitant to make the switch to Raindrop.io.  Have no fear, it’s easy to make the move to Raindrop.io because of their slick bookmark import feature. And, if you ever change your mind and want to use a different bookmarking system, you can easily export your bookmarks out of Raindrop.io.

Once I showed my husband Raindrop.io he was very excited and got to work importing all 7000 of his bookmarks. Yes, that’s right, he had 7000 unsorted bookmarks. Oh my! Now that they are all in Raindrop.io, it’s a breeze for him to search for any bookmark he wants to find. He was finally able to show me the bookmark he wanted show me the day before.  And, if he wants to take the time now to sort them into categories, it’s easy as pie. Bookmarks can easily be sorted into folders by using drag and drop.

Raindrop.io is really an awesome business tool I hope you will check out. Personally, I love it and have been using it for quite a while. A free program you can use on all Internet browsers – across multiple digital devices – is a great way to stay organized while surfing the web.

P.S. While this program is totally free, you will notice that there is an option to upgrade to their premium service. For less than $3 a month, you can gain access to such features as: nested folders, duplicate link search, a broken link finder, and more. Personally, I have not felt the need to use anything other than their free program.

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Why Aren’t They Using Zoom?

Why Aren’t They Using Zoom?

This past week, my son had an online job interview. I was shocked when I learned that the potential hiring company would be interviewing him using Facetime. While Facetime is a great app for chatting with family and friends via an iPhone or iPad, it’s not exactly the professional video conferencing program you’d expect a large organization to be using. As I watched my son interviewing, while trying to keep his iPhone propped up, I just couldn’t help but wonder, “Why aren’t they using Zoom?”

Zoom is one of the best web conferencing programs out there. With the click of the mouse, you can launch an online meeting with people face-to-face from anywhere in the world. The high definition quality of both the video and audio is incredibly crisp. In addition, you can even switch back and forth between video chatting and screen sharing during your meeting.  Best of all, if at anytime you wish to record a meeting in progress, you simply click the in-program record button. At the end of the meeting, you will have an mp4 video and a mp3 audio file that can be downloaded. Sweet!

So, I’m sure I know what you are thinking, “Zoom sounds awesome, but how much does it cost?” Well, this is the best part, you can start using Zoom immediately for free. Yep, that’s right. You can have access to this incredible web conferencing tool and all it’s great features without having to spend a dime. What a deal!

Here’s what you get on the free version of Zoom:

  • Host up to 100 participants in a meeting
  • Meeting participants do not need a Zoom account in order to join a meeting
  • Attendees can join from their computer, tablet, or mobile phone
  • Zoom works cross-platform: Mac, Windows, Linux, iOs, and Android
  • Meeting participants can attend meetings by dialing in via telephone
  • Zoom offers telephone dial-in number for 90+ countries
  • There is no limit on the number of meetings
  • Meeting can be scheduled or immediate
  • Multiple attendees can screen-share in a meeting and even allow remote access to their computer
  • Unlimited 1 to 1 meetings – meaning you can meet online with absolutely no time limit

NOTE:  The only “catch” with the free plan is that if you meet with three or more participants, your meetings will be limited to 40 minutes. If you find this to be a limitation, you may want to consider moving up to the pro version of Zoom.  The pro plan runs about $14.99 a month.
https://youtu.be/BGH1y70zSkg

 

The Launch4Life team has been using Zoom for several years now. With both of us living in totally different states, Zoom is our go-to program for business collaboration on a daily basis.  And, since we are both avid travelers, we often use Zoom to keep in touch, when one of us is abroad.

When we work together on Zoom, we often jump back and forth between face-to-face meetings and screen sharing. When we’re on a call, we often hit the record button to capture our brainstorming sessions, or to film our video training scenarios. Also, whenever we are working one-on-one with clients, we meet via Zoom, so we can send them a video recording of our session.  Clients appreciate not having to take notes during our calls, so that they are free to just sit back and focus on the content being discussed.

We highly recommend you check out Zoom. Once you give it a try you will be amazed at all Zoom has to offer. There really is no other web conferencing program works on as many platforms and devices as Zoom – that are free.  And, the very fact that Zoom is free, makes it the ideal tool for bootstrap business professionals.

By the way, my son did well on his interview, despite the clumsiness of having to use Facetime. If he ends up getting the job, I suggested one of the first things he should do is introduce his employer to Zoom. Just think how many job applicants they can’t interview, simply because they don’t have access to an iPhone or Mac computer.  After all, Facetime is not accessible on Windows or Android devices. With Zoom’s ability to be cross-platform on any device, interviewers have a better ability to accommodate all job applicants.

To learn more:

Register for a Free Zoom User Training

This free 60-minute user onboarding session with live Q&A will review features applicable to Zoom Meetings and using the Zoom Client software. They will discuss scheduling and hosting your events with an emphasis on best practices. This session is public and open to all Zoom users (you do not need a Zoom account to attend). Attendees will be muted and can submit questions via text.

Watch a previously recorded Zoom Training

Don’t have time to join a live Zoom training?  View a recently recorded Zoom training session.

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Need a Free Business Phone?

Need a Free Business Phone?

You have set up your business.  You are ordering your business cards.  You are setting up your Facebook Business Page.  You have an email platform. You are setting up a Yelp Page. So what phone number do you use?  Whatever your purpose, have you thought through what phone number you want people to call you on. 

Unless you have a brick and mortar store, most of us usually opt for our mobile phone.  After all, it will take calls from anywhere in the USA.    But one moment……….lets think through why maybe that is not such a good idea.

How will you answer the phone when it rings? Professional or informal. Only easy if you know who is calling.

If you don’t recognize the phone number you will probably let it go to voice mail.  You might have missed a potential customer.

Your voice mail won’t know the difference between a personal or business call.

You may only want calls during specified hours.  How do you determine if you should take the call?

What is the alternative?  You could have two cell phones.  That is a possibility but who wants to carry around two phones.  You could have a land line but that can be expensive and you can’t answer when you are on the road.  Here is my suggestion- get a free Google Phone.   You are going to love this.

  • Google will give you a real phone number (usually with your local area code).
  • You can have callers go directly to voice mail with a customized message.
  • You can get a transcript of the voice mail on your phone or email.
  • You can have calls transferred to your mobile phone (great during your working hours).
  • You can check your messages on your phone or in your email.
  • If you use your Google voice app on your phone, callers will see the caller ID of your Google number not the phone you are using.
  • You can receive and send texts to and from your Google number

When someone calls, you will identify immediately that it is a business call. The bonus, with these wonderful features, you will have unlimited free calling within US and Canada for up to 3 hours per call.

Check out this link to find out more details about Google Voice.  You can set it up from a desktop, android, or iPhone:  http://bit.ly/2xRny3X

You just need a Google account to set one up.  Easy peasy.  Here is a YouTube Step by step instruction video.

 

So if you want to keep your mobile number private and not be splattered all over your advertising, Facebook, and in your business cards, Google Voice can be your answer.

Always coming up with ideas to help you with your marketing on a shoestring budget. Save your money for things you can’t get for free.

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

From Dropbox to Box: My Cloud Storage Story

From Dropbox to Box: My Cloud Storage Story

When Dropbox was introduced in 2007, I was one of the first people to sign up.  It was revolutionary to have a way to store and share your files in one location on the web.  Gone were the days of having to email yourself a file from one computer to another.  Now you, and any people you share files with, could access a single copy of a file live to make all your changes.

For ten years, Dropbox has been my go-to application for cloud storage, but lately I have been looking for another program that better meets my needs.  While I love Dropbox, I found that I quickly outgrew it’s 2 GB of free storage.  Even though their refer-a-friend program netted me an additional 3 GB of free storage, 5 GB just isn’t enough space for all my documents.

In addition, one of the worst features of Dropbox is that when you collaborate with other Dropbox users and share folders and files, that “shared storage” is subtracted from both your accounts.  As of this writing, my partner and I, are currently using 3 GB of shared space in Dropbox, which leaves me with only 2 GB for any of my personal files.

Now most people might be fine with only 2 GB of cloud storage for their files.  However, I recently made the switch from a Windows HP laptop to a MacBook Pro laptop computer.  While I love my new Mac, the hard-drive it comes with is about ¼ of the size of my Windows computer.  To make the transition from my old laptop to my new laptop required finding a place to store the majority of my files.  Since my Dropbox storage was maxed out, I needed to find an alternative place to store my files.

Enter Box.com, another key player in the cloud storage industry.  Box’s personal plan comes with 10GB of free storage, which is 5 times greater than Dropbox.  It allows me to share files with users and doesn’t even require they have a Box account.  Better even still, if other Box users share folders or files with me, the shared space does not effect your storage space.  Bottom-line, you free 10GB is all yours!

There are a few things that Box does that makes it even more attractive.  First of all you have the option of synching your files to your computer with Box Synch or just keeping all your files in the cloud with Box Drive.  Since I rarely work off-line and my Mac has modest hard drive space, I am choosing to store all my files in the cloud.  This allows me to access my files from any of my digital devices (laptop, tablet, phone) and share them with others.

What is especially nice about Box is that the free personal plan comes with all sorts of great features including:  online editing, SSL encryption, mobile and desktop apps.  The only limitation I have found is that file uploads cannot exceed 250 MB in size.  This would only effect me if I was trying to upload a really really large file… like a 4 hour video.

While I still plan to continue using Dropbox with my business partner, I have now moved all my personal files into Box.  To access any of my files, that are securely stored in the cloud, all I have to do is click the Box folder that sits patiently on my Mac’s desktop.  If I am doing work on my old Windows computer, I can access my files.  If I am using my iPad or my iPhone, I can access my files.  Right now I am only using 3.5GB of my 10GB of free storage, so I can relax knowing that I have plenty of space to spare.

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Modern Method of Telephone Conference Calling

Modern Method of Telephone Conference Calling

Using a computer for conference calling

I have been a fan of telephone conference calling for many years.  As a work-at-home entrepreneur and living 90 miles away from a major city, I prefer to attend meetings virtually.  I recently learned of a slick telephone conference program called UberConference.  It has a free plan, that allows for up to 10 participants, which is all I usually require for my business meetings.  So if you’re like me, and are interested in a teleconference service for small groups of people, you too may become a fan of UberConference.

The first thing I liked about UberConference is that it is so simple to use.  When you sign up for a free account, you will be assigned a unique telephone number and URL to use for all your conferences.  While you don’t get to choose the telephone number (it is automatically assigned), you can choose your URL.  Your custom UberConference domain, allows you to design a unique URL to complement your business.

As the conference host, I have the option of starting a conference immediately or scheduling a conference later at a specific date and time.  I like programs that allow for flexibility between now or later meetings.  You can schedule one meeting in advance, or a bunch of meetings.  There is even the option to give each of your meetings a unique name.  Nice.

Conference calling clock used for UberConfernce

To invite participants to a meeting, you simply type in their telephone number or email address.  Once a contact has been entered, they will now be in your address book for future meetings.  If use invite participants via a telephone number they will receive their invite via text.  Email invitees receive their invitation via email – which can be saved to their online calendar.  For meetings scheduled for a later date and time, invitees are sent a 5-minute text and/or email reminder.  How cool is that?

What I especially like is that invitees have the option of attending the teleconference either by using their telephone or using their computer’s built-in microphone and speakers.  This feature is especially nice for people who are outside the United States.  Attending the conference using Wi-Fi, allows participants to never worry about long distance fees or international mobile phone data charges.  This is great news for business professionals on a budget.

With regards to how long your conference calls can run, currently the maximum length is 5 hours.  I don’t know if I would ever want to attend a business meeting that ran that long.  However, it’s nice to know the option for marathon meetings does exist.

If you ever want to record your conference calls, it’s so easy.  Simply click the record button (via the web dashboard), or dial 00 on your telephone.  After the conference is over, the host is emailed a copy of the recording, which can be listened to online and/or downloaded as an mp3 file.  You can even just forward a copy of your recording email to anyone you’d like to access the call.

Recording data from UberConference conference calling

One thing that I especially like about UberConference is that you can see (via the web) who is on the call and know exactly who is talking.  The host always has the option of muting callers and/or even ejecting participants from the meeting.  Finally, to keep your meeting secure, the host can lock the meeting by clicking the lock meeting button (via the web) or dialing ##.

To access your UberConference meeting, your attendees can use any type of telephone – cell phone or land line.  To access meetings via the web, meeting attendees must use the following internet browsers:  Chrome, Firefox, or Edge.  Sorry, Safari is currently not supported.

As an added benefit, conference hosts can facilitate meetings from their mobile devices.  There is a free app (iOS and Android) that allows you to run meetings with ease.

A feature that I especially like is that UberConference has really nice pre-conference hold music.  There are several different tracks that you can choose from.  Or if you prefer, you can opt to have no music playing and instead greet participants with the sounds of silence.

Last but not least, UberConference allows web-based attendees to participate in screen-sharing and group chat.  While it doesn’t allow for video conferencing, it is still a neat feature to be able to combine audio and screen-share functions in a group setting.  Best of all, participants do not have to download or install any programs to use these advanced features.

I believe the free version of UberConference is an awesome and professional telephone conference tool.  Down the road, if you find you need additional features (ex. allow more than 10 participants, international telephone numbers, a toll-free access number, custom local phone number, etc.) it’s good to know that you can upgrade to a premium account.  In the meantime, for any business on a budget UberConference  the free version is a great way to meet anyone’s basic telephone conference needs.

Launch4Life - Gillian Whitney

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

The Best-Kept Marketing Secret

The Best-Kept Marketing Secret

Shhh, want a hear about a great way to market your business online?  Want to discover a little known marketing strategy that won’t cost you a cent?  Ok, here it is.  The best-kept marketing secret is… SlideShare.  Owned by LinkedIn, SlideShare has over 70 million visitors per month, which makes it one of the top 100 most-visited websites in the world.  And yet, despite it’s incredible global reach, most businesses are NOT using SlideShare to market their business.  According to Social Media Examiner, “Since few marketers consistently upload content to SlideShare, there’s much less competition than on the other social channels. In fact, SlideShare is the only major content marketing platform left where you can generate some nice content exposure from day one.” (7 Ways to Use SlideShare for Your Business by David Waring)

SlideShare is an incredible tool any business can easily use to share their expertise with a large audience.  Simply upload a presentation, infographic, document, or video, and you’re off and running.  While you do have some leeway on the type of content you can upload, the majority of SlideShare presentations are your typical PowerPoint style presentations.

 

In the event that you would like to take advantage of this best-kept marketing secret, here are some best practices for creating a stellar SlideShare presentation:

1. Focus On Your Audience

Before you even begin designing your presentation, think more about what your target audience needs and less about what you want to say.  Your SlideShare presentation should help your viewer.  Always try to avoid just selling your stuff.  Remember, you want your customer to know, like, and trust you.

2. Use Presentation Software Tools

While SlideShare does allow you to upload ANY type of PDFs, not all PDFs look good.  So, instead of creating a traditional 8.5 x 11″ PDF using Microsoft Word, it’s better to use PowerPoint, Google Slides, Keynote, etc. to create your presentation slides.  When you use a traditional presentation software program you automatically build slides at the optimal size (600×800 pixels) for easy reading online

3. Keep it Brief

While there are no set rules on the ideal length of a SlideShare presentation, less is best.  Try to keep your presentation short and to the point.  According to SlideShare, research shows 45% of the presentations uploaded have 10-30 slides and that the average number of words per slide is 24.

4. Use Images

The best presentations shy away from slides with lots of text and/or bullet points.  Instead, engaging presentations strive for minimal text and vivid images. Try to use high quality photos, simple charts, and eye-catching illustrations.  Studies show that visuals are processed 60,000x faster than words, and can increase a viewer’s comprehension by 89%.  Some of the most popular SlideShare presentations contain just one idea or thought per slide.

5. Font Suggestions

Aim to use a font size that’s large enough for viewers to easily read your slides from all digital devices – desktop and mobile.  Font size should be no smaller than 24-30 point size.  Also, it’s a good rule of thumb to only use two fonts styles.

6. Choose your colors carefully

Much like your choice of fonts, you want to use colors sparingly.  It’s a good idea to use your brand colors to maintain consistency in your marketing efforts.  When in doubt, try to use a contrasting color scheme, so your text stands out from the background.  A good rule of thumb is to use 2-4 colors max.

7. Add Hyperlinks

While creating your SlideShareSlideShare presentation include hypertext links that lead back to relevant pages on your website. You have the option of inserting hyperlinks in both the description of your presentation and directly on your slides.

8. Include a Call-to-Action

Always be sure to include at least one call-to-action in your presentation.  With SlideShare you can embed hyperlinks, or simply add your phone number, email address, blog, social media channels, etc. on the last slide.  In addition, remember to fully complete your SlideShare profile so viewers can learn more about you.

9. Search Engine Optimization

Use relevant keywords in your SlideShare presentation’s title, description, and tags.  Doing this will make it easier for people to find your presentation while doing an internal search on SlideShare, and also when they do an external search engines like Google.  Keep in mind that over 80% of SlideShare’s viewers come from searches, with at least 20% coming directly from Google.

10. Promote Your Presentations

Be sure to promote your presentation across all of your social media platforms (ex. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest).  You can even connect your social media accounts to your SlideShare account so your social media audiences automatically see any of your updates.  Another idea is to break your presentation up into multiple images and share with a link to your social media programs and/or your email newsletter.

So, are you ready to start using this 100% free marketing tool?  I sure hope so.

Here’s a great collection of SlideShare presentations to help you learn how to master SlideShare like a pro:

  • Introduction to SlideShare for Businesses

https://www.slideshare.net/Slideshare/an-overview-to-slideshare-for-business

  • Getting Started With SlideShare

https://www.slideshare.net/Slideshare/get-started-with-slide-share

  • How to Make Awesome SlideShares: Tips & Tricks

https://www.slideshare.net/Slideshare/how-to-make-awesome-slide-shares-tips-and-tricks

  • 10 Ways to Win at SlideShare SEO & Presentation Optimization

https://www.slideshare.net/Oneupweb/slideshare-optimization-oneupweb

On a final note, if you need some help with creating engaging PowerPoint presentations and eye-catching graphics, stayed tuned next week for more information on our new Graphics 202 online course.

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Build Your Own Website Today!

Build Your Own Website Today!

Do you want a website to help promote your business, but the whole idea of building one is just too overwhelming?  Building a traditional website is a lot of work.  You must purchase a domain name, sign up for a web hosting account (which can be very costly), and then either pay a professional web designer to build your site, or fumble around on your own.  While having a website is critical for most businesses, it’s easy to understand why so many business professionals find this marketing strategy too hard.

Well, what if I told you there was an easier way?  That anyone can build a simple website with just a few clicks.  Well, it’s true.  Meet About.me which is a nifty web design service you can use to build a personal website for free.  Folks, it doesn’t get easier than this!

It takes literally no technical skills to build your own simple one-page website.  You simply choose your layout and colors, type in some text, upload a photo (optional), and add your social media links.  Due to it’s simple design, an About.me website allows you to pinpoint who you are and what you do.  I like to think of it as an online business card.

Once you have created your About.me website, you can use the URL in all of your marketing efforts.  Add it to the bottom of your emails in your signature.  Or, post it to any of your social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

Here’s a run down of the basic features included with an About.me webpage:

Bio

A text block that allows you to write a little about your background and your business.

Spotlight

Create a Call To Action (CTA) button for your audience.  Options include: Read my blog, Attend my event, Hire me, Book a consultation, View my listings, Visit my store, Schedule an appointment, Sign up for my newsletter, Take my class, etc.

Photo

You have the option of uploading a photo to make your page more personal.  You can adjust the size of the photo to be full-size in the background, or just a small photo.  And, if you don’t have a photo that you’d like to use, you can select one from the About.me gallery of photographs.

Design & Color

There are two different layouts to choose from.  Plus, you have full reign to adjust the colors of your page, texts, links, etc., to create a color scheme that reflects your brand.

Details

You have the option of adding information that helps your viewers learn more about you.  For example, you can include your: location, interests, occupation, education, and contact me details.

You can also add any of your social media links: Facebook personal profile, Facebook Business Page, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, etc.

Email Signature

You can quickly create an email signature with a link to your About.me page.  You even have the option of including your site’s photo.

About.me is a great little program that has stood the test of time.  This easy to use personal web hosting service has been around since 2009.  It’s very easy to use and allows literally anyone to build a simple one-page profile that looks personal and professional.  Allowing you to have an online presence for free.  Down the road, if you decide to take your profile up a notch, you can secure a custom domain name for your About.me site at a nominal charge.

However, for now, I suggest you simply sign up for a free account and create your own one-page website today.

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

To Yelp or Not to Yelp?

To Yelp or Not to Yelp?

To Yelp or Not to Yelp?  Do You need a business Yelp Account?

Everyone has heard of Yelp.  Did you know it is one of the most powerful social media sites out there?  Based on Google Analytics, every month there are 84 million average desk top users, 73 million mobile web users, and 24 million Yelp app mobile viewers.  68% of views are done on a mobile device.

That is a lot of people.  The big question is – should viewers be seeing your business on Yelp?

Many business owners don’t think of Yelp for their business.  Some think if they don’t have a restaurant, why do they need to be on Yelp.  They may be missing a great opportunity as viewers are doing their homework on a number of businesses on Yelp.  In fact, Restaurants are listed as #2.  Shopping is #1, and Home and Local Service businesses are #3.

Here is another surprising fact:  Who are the consumers using Yelp?  According to a Media Metrix Multi-Platform report in February 2017, #1 age is 35-54, #1 education level is college, and #1 income is $100K+.  Do your clients fit those categores?

So how do you know if your business should be on Yelp?  Well here is how to test that out.  Go to the Yelp business site either through the website www.yelp.com or the Android or Apple app.  Next step, type in businesses types similar to your own – a personal chef, an insurance agency, a real-estate agent, attorney, physician, even social media marketing.  Second step, add your location.  As you type in the specialty, different options will be displayed in the drop-down box.  More businesses than you thought, right?  They still need to add a few like coaches and authors but not today.  But check to see if your business is one of their categories.

 

Why would you benefit by having a Yelp account?  Here are a few reasons:

  1. A Yelp account for your business is totally free.
  2. Claim your own business so no-one else does, particularly if someone has a name similar to yours.
  3. Your Yelp business account will be displayed in Google if someone is “googling” your business. The more your business shows up, the better. Being able to be “googled” is what social media is all about.
  4. Since Yelp has opened they have now received 127 million reviews from their viewers.  When people are on their Yelp app, they research reviews.  It’s all part of their decision-making process, being an educated consumer.
  5. You can buy advertising on your Yelp account. Now I will warn you, it is expensive.  But the results can be profitable.  But know that buying advertising is entirely optional.  A free account will still work if you are on a Shoe String Budget.

I have set up Yelp Accounts for businesses and have found the process fairly easy.  There is a specific process.  First you claim your business by going to www.biz.yelp.com.  Once Yelp has verified your business, they will email you a link so you can get started filling in your account details. Lots of great customer service if you get stuck.  They welcome calls to their 800 line.  You will need a few pictures and a short bio of your business, the details of how people can reach you, like your address, phone number, email, hours, and website if you have one.  If you don’t have a website use your Facebook Business Page

Once you are up and running let your clients know you are on YELP and welcome them to give you a review.  Do know that you are prohibited from incentivizing them to give you a review.   But posting a notice on your website or your store saying you welcome a review on Yelp is totally ok.

Having a Yelp account is one more way to grow your Social Media marketing.  See if a Yelp Account is right for you.

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

Easiest Web Pages You’ll Ever Publish

Easiest Web Pages You’ll Ever Publish

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to create a quick and disposable webpage on the fly?  Wouldn’t it be even nicer if no tech skills were needed and it was as easy as 1-2-3?

This week, I came across the coolest website that allows you to create webpages with your email.  Publishthis.email lets you create and publish a simple webpage in literally seconds.  All you have to do is type in your title and content into an email, and then send the email to page@publishthis.email.  Within just a few minutes, you will receive an email with the link to your new webpage.  If you don’t like it, you can delete it, and start over.  How easy is that?

What’s especially nice is that you can fancy your disposable webpage up by formatting the text, adding graphics, and hypertext links.  This means that you can include a bulleted lists, numbered lists, bold text, italics, etc.  Very cool.

Step 1

Click the Try It! button.

Step 2

A new email opens with instructions.

Step 3

  • Type the webpage name in the Subject field.
  • Type the content in the body. NOTE: You can add graphics, format your text, and/or add hypertext links.
  • Click the Send button.

Step 4

You will receive an email in a few seconds with a link to your new webpage.

So when might you want a quickie web page?

  • If you want to publish an article on the web and you don’t have a blog.
  • If you want to create and publish a quick list of weblinks.
  • If you want to display a list of products you have on sale.
  • The sky’s the limit!

I think this feature would be great as a follow up resource to a Facebook Live session that’s hosted on your Facebook Business Page.  For instance, say you talked about a few products that you think your viewers might want to check out on Amazon, you could create a quickie webpage and then post the link to your webpage in the comments of your Facebook post.

I encourage you to try this program yourself… it’s an awesome tool.  Best of all, it’s absolutely free and you don’t even have to sign up for an account.  Visit Publishthis.email to learn more.

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Want to Save Something to Read Later? Then Put It in Your Pocket.

Want to Save Something to Read Later? Then Put It in Your Pocket.

Every once in awhile I come across a nifty tool that is so cool, I’m compelled to share it with others.  The Pocket program, is one of them.

I am just passionate about reading.  With the wealth of information on the internet, I often feel like there is “so much to read and so little time.”  Pocket solves that problem for me.

When I’m surfing the web, I often come across articles, websites, news stories that look so interesting… but I don’t have the time at that moment to stop and read.  In the past, I have tried to save something for later by saving it to my bookmarks, and hoping I will remember to read it later.  Unfortunately, what usually happened is that I soon forget about it and when I do remember, I discover the article is now lost in a sea of bookmarks.

Pocket is such a smart web tool.  It creates a temporary list of bookmarks to be read at a later time and can be removed when you no longer need them. Adding an item to your reading list is easy, all you have to do is click on a bookmark in your web browser’s toolbar to save the page.  Then, when you finally have the time for some leisurely reading, you can simply bring up any item from your saved list.  You can either configure Pocket to automatically remove items once they’ve been read, or remove items manually one at a time.

One thing I really love about Pocket is that it copies your reading list down to your computer, allowing you to read offline.  This is especially handy for people who own laptops and/or tablets and often find themselves in a place with no internet connection. Pocket synchronizes your reading list with other computers and mobile devices.  Which means if you save an article while using your desktop, you can read in on your tablet, or smart phone.

And, even if you are not a reader, you can also use Pocket to save videos, images, and other internet content. You can sign up for a free Pocket account with your email address or Google ID.

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

PrintFriendly and Keep the Trees Happy

PrintFriendly and Keep the Trees Happy

I hate it when I send something to my printer and discover (usually when it’s already too late) that the one page of text I need is surrounded by ten pages of junk.  Let’s face it, while some websites strive to create printer friendly pages, most of them don’t.

Awhile back I discovered there are several web-based programs dedicated to printing web pages.  Who knew?  After checking out a few of them, I decided that PrintFriendly was the best.  While the other applications still “got the job done,”  PrintFriendly was by far the easiest one to use.

PrintFriendly lets you take any web page and create a clean page for printing.  You simply copy/paste the desired web page into the URL box.  Ta-da!  Gone are all the advertisements, comments, sidebars, etc.  You have the option of printing with or without graphics.  And, you even have the flexibility of changing the font size of your text.  I also like that you can “click to delete” any sections from your document that you don’t want.  Slick!

Once you’re happy with your document, you have the option of: sending it to your printer, creating a PDF, or sending it as an email link.  The folks at PrintFriendly have even created a bookmarklet (ie. a little icon) that you can drag on to your internet browser’s toolbar.  By installing this nifty little feature, you are one click away from using PrintFriendly any time you need it.  Plus, launching the bookmarklet automatically formats the webpage you’re currently viewing.

Really, it just doesn’t get any easier than this.  PrintFriendly is a free web-based program.  There’s nothing to download, and they don’t even require you to set up an account.  So if you’re sick and tired of killing a forest every time you print something, I suggest you take a look at  PrintFriendly.  The trees will thank you.

PrintFriendly in Action

Here’s an example of a PrintFriendly PDF.  It is a nice, clean, 3 page document.

Without using PrintFriendly, the same URL printed out to a messy PDF that was 10 pages long.  Wow, what a difference!

P.S. If you are interested in reading about the 10 Books Every Leader Should Read to Be Successful, check it out at: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/287517

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Need a Little Nudge? We’ve Got You Covered

Need a Little Nudge? We’ve Got You Covered

The word “nudge” is such a sweet verb meaning: “to push against gently, especially in order to gain attention or give a signal.” While from time to time we all could use a little nudge in our lives, how about with your email?  Absolutely.

Think about how many times you have received an important email that you know needed to stay in the forefront of your mind.  Up until now, our only way to keep it from getting lost in some email folder (or even worse, deleted) was to have it clutter up our in-box. So, what if there was a way for you to receive that same email at a time/date that better suites your needs?  There is way to do this and it’s called Nudgemail.

Here is how Nudgemail works.  You receive an email. You then forward that email to Nudgemail and setup the time/date you want to receive the email. Pretty slick huh?  Wouldn’t this be great just for airline reservations?  I know that whenever I am flying anywhere, a day before I am supposed to leave (usually at the time I am needing to “check-in” online), I am scrambling around trying to find my airline ticket confirmation. Sigh.

You can set a Nudgemail for:

Another thing Nudgemail can be used for is sending yourself a reminder and then having it delivered back to you on the day/time you specify.

To use Nudgemail you do not have to register, sign-up, or download any special software. The program works with all computer devices – Windows, Mac, Blackberry, Android, iPhone, iPad, etc. And, works with all email clients – Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, etc.

And yes… it’s absolutely free.  However, If do enjoy using, the developers hope you consider showing your appreciation with their “Pay As You Want” plans.  So what is not to like about this cool this program?  I nudge you to give it a shot.

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Penzu Review: Tracking Your Thoughts in an Online Journal

Penzu Review: Tracking Your Thoughts in an Online Journal

I recently stumbled upon a cool program for tracking my ideas, dreams, and musings.  It’s kind of like having a private online diary.  Penzu, is a free web-based program that you can use to help you record what’s going on in your head or what’s going on in your life.  What’s nice is that the program is totally private.  It’s not a social networking tool (like Facebook) that makes announcements to your friends, families, and the rest of the universe.  Instead, it’s a place just for you.

Like a traditional journal, Penzu records whatever you want on a day-by-day basis.  It’s great for anything… your business ideas, goals, and inspirations.  In addition, you can even import graphics to complement your entries.  As they say, “a picture’s worth a thousand words.”

Even if you are not a “journal writer”,  this program is a great way to keep track of anything you do by date.  For instance, you could record: your business expenses, your “wins” for the day, or even what you eat.

While there are many websites that allow you to create an online journal, what’s different about Penzu is that you can set up email reminders to prompt your entries.  For instance, you can customize the program to send you a reminder email – every day, every other day, once a week, or once a month.  It doesn’t get easier than this.

Even though Penzu is a web-based program, you can also access the program on most smart phones and tablets – making this an ideal choice for journaling on the move.  I also like that you can revise or delete old entries.  While the program was built with privacy in mind, if you would like to “share your thoughts” with others, there is the option to do so by creating a public link to that specific journal entry.  There is a lot of flexibility with Penzu.

Finally, there is even a built-in Penzu Podcast.  This free on-demand audio resource provides you with weekly tips and tricks from a slew of journaling experts.  You can listen to episodes online or subscribe via iTunes or Soundcloud.

So if you are looking for an interesting way to track your thoughts you might want to give Penzu a try.  While it’s usually a “Penny for your thoughts”, with Penzu you don’t have to pay a cent!

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

To Do Lists: Nice, Easy, & Wunderful!

To Do Lists: Nice, Easy, & Wunderful!

One of the key ingredients to running a successful business is finding a way to stay organized.  Entrepreneurs have a lot on their plate, so it’s great when we discover tools to help us manage our time more effectively.

I have found that the best way to get more done is to create “To Do” lists.  A few years back I discovered a website that allows me to create these lists online.  Introducing Wunderlist… which in my opinion is absolutely “wunderful”.

Wunderlist is a free and easy to use task manager.  This web-based tool allows you to create a simple “To Do” list for anything you need to get done.  From marketing tasks, to project development, to packing lists, to uncluttering your office.  Whatever list you need to create, Wunderlist can handle it.

When you create your “To Do” lists with Wunderlist, you can choose a date for when each task item needs to be completed, or no due date at all.  Plus you can add a note with additional details for any task on your list.  If you are the kind of person that has multiple “To Do” lists (and who isn’t) you will appreciate that Wunderlist has a nifty feature that allows you to see EVERYTHING you have do… Today, Tomorrow, Next 7 Days, Later, and No Date.  It’s a great way of having a birds-eye view of everything on your plate.

What I especially like is that because it’s web-based you can access it anywhere.  Even better, your lists automatically sync across all computer devices, so you can use your mobile devices (iPhone, Android, iPad, etc.) to manage all your lists.

Wunderlist also gives you the ability to share your to do lists with other people.  So whether you wish to collaborate with your work team, family members, or friends, you can share specific tasks or an entire list by email.  Wunderlist even helps you to stay on task by sending you a friendly reminder when you’ve got tasks that are overdue.

I really like Wunderlist.  It’s clean, simple, and easy to use.  Best of all … it’s free.

 

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Achieving Your Goals Requires Tracking Your Habits

Achieving Your Goals Requires Tracking Your Habits

We all have goals we want to accomplish, but reaching our goals is often easier said than done.   Jim Rohn, an American entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker once said: “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”  Therefore, it is not enough to just set goals; instead we need to track our progress towards reaching those goals.  Tracking that progress requires paying close attention to whether our habits, both good and bad, help or a hinder.

A great tool I recently discovered is a mobile app specifically designed to monitor goals and habits.  Meet HabitBull.  This free program can help you build good habits and break bad habits.  HabitBull is available for both Apple and Android cell phones, and also runs on tablets.  Setting up an account is very easy, simply register using your email address or Facebook account.  You even have the option of using the program without registering for an account at all.  How cool is that?

There are two types of habits you can track using HabitBull – yes/no habits and number habits.  Yes/no habits record whether you succeeded or failed (ex. Went to the gym today?).  Number habits record the frequency of occurrence (ex. Number of cold calls made today?).  HabitBull allows you to track simple or complex habits so you can check-in daily or weekly.  It’s nice to know you can even customize a week to include specific days (ex. Monday and Wednesday only).  My favorite feature is the ability to set up a customized notification, with or without sound, to remind you to record your progress for each habit.

To make the program available for free, you will notice that you are limited to only 5 habits. Personally, I’ve found that tracking 5 habits is more than enough.  However, if you do want to track more habits, you can upgrade to HabitBull Premium for a one-time fee of $4.99.  The premium version allows for up to 100 habits, and also provides cloud backup and multi-device syncing.

For those folks that like to be part of a community, you can join the HabitBull community.  You can discuss habit tracking with like-minded people in the discussion forums.

Recalling how Ben Franklin took the time each night to record in a book his progress on attaining his goals… I cannot help but think how much he would have loved using HabitBull.  Of course, the big question is if Ben was alive today what kind of cell phone would he prefer?  An iPhone or a Droid?  Luckily, you can use either device to access this really cool habit tracker.

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Tracking Your Time: Free Online Resource

Tracking Your Time: Free Online Resource

Where does the time go?  I can’t count the number of times I have uttered that statement by the end of the day.  Some days just literally zip by.  The setting sun each evening serves as a constant reminder that another day has come and gone.  So to me, finding a way to keep track of my time is important.

Awhile back I came across a website that allows me to track my hours.  With just a few clicks of the mouse, I can start a clock, that records the length of time I am working on specific tasks.  Since my business requires working with multiple clients, I needed a time-tracker that would allow me to record the date and time I worked for each client.  In addition, since I work from home, (where you’re subjected to frequent interruptions through-out the day), I needed a program that would allow me to hit “pause” when needed.

Let me introduce you to Toggl, whose motto is: “Track Your Time Anywhere”.  First of all, Toggl (and yes that’s really how they spell their name – it’s not a typo) is a free web-based program.  There is nothing to download and nothing to install. You can use it from any computer (Windows or Mac) or mobile device (iPad, iPhone, Droid, etc.).

All that you will need to get going with Toggl is an email address to set up an account.  Once you login to Toggl, you simply type in the name of the task that you are working on and click the Start button.  With that, Toggl will begin recording the seconds, minutes, and hours you are dedicating to the task at hand.  Toggl then will continue to run in the background, while you busy at work.  As a matter of fact, you can even close the Toggl program and it will still keep recording your time.  Once you have completed your work, you merely launch Toggl and click the Stop button.  With that, your total time (including when you started and when you stopped) is displayed.

Another good thing about Toggl is that it has a built-in reporting feature.  That way you can get a real birds-eye view of where all your time is going.  These reports come in handy when you want to invoice clients at the end of each month or the end of a project. Toggl even allows you to see how much time you spent doing the same task across multiple dates.  I like how it even adds up all the time for me.  No math skills required.  Hurray!

As an FYI, while there is no cost to begin using Toggl, you will notice there are options to upgrade to more advanced versions.  Quite frankly, I have been using this program for several years now and have never had a need to go beyond Toggl’s basic features.

So whether you need to keep track of your time for business, or pleasure, Toggl is definitely a program worth taking a look at.  Finally as an added note, for those of you that are running your own business from home, Toggl can be configured to sync with QuickBooks.

P.S. Here’s some cool timer programs that Toggl makes available for free without even setting up an account:

#1.  Online Timer

  • Turn your computer screen into a full-screen online timer

#2. Tomato Timer

  • Pomodoro method-like timer

#3. Timer Tab

  • Countdown, Alarm, or Stopwatch in browser tab

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

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