This Week In Business

These Two Weeks In Business: The Package Edition

It’s been said that hairdressers have the worst hair and the cobbler’s kids are the last to get their shoes. Growing up in a hardware family, we were often the last to get handy people at our house. Good thing my mom is pretty good with powertools!

Well, with web people, this idea translates to sometimes your web professional having a poorly maintained site (while still doing a pretty good job on yours).

While I do keep things up-to-date on my site, the list of little things to improve it end up stacking up until it reaches a breaking point.

Last week, mostly while I was avoiding creating a presentation, I did a lot of work on my own site. It’s not something you’d necessarily notice but mind if I give a little tour?

I created packages and then a chart to help understand them.

If you got to www.breakingeveninc.com/packages, you’ll notice a bunch of packages for businesses and non-profits starting at $200/month. I’ve asked a few business owners (and maybe they were just too nice to tell me) but they said the prices seemed fair and the packages were easy to understand.That said, if anything with my packages seems off/weird, please comment! If you’ve ever met me (and heck, even if you haven’t), I hope you know I appreciate it when people are honest with me. :^)

Basically, I calculated prices based on my hourly wage, since I know about how long it takes me to do something. Also by pricing monthly, I was hoping to make people understand a lot of this stuff is on-going and is something I am able to maintain/create on a regular basis that’ll add value to the business.

I am all about making things simple to regular people… so I made this handy dandy flow chart.

I was on vacation with my mom, who owns a business, when I showed her my service packages. (Admittedly, this is probably a pretty biased audience to start out with but I thought it was better than nothing!)

“These all look good,” she said, “but how do I know what I need?”

In the hotel room, I immediately began sketching a flow chart. When I got back home to Photoshop, I made the chart below and emailed it to her.

“Oh this is great!” she said.

When my friend Matt told me making an image map is ‘easy’ (i.e. making it so when you click on parts of the chart, it goes to different links), I gave it a shot. And you know what? It was. Now when you click on the package you need, poof!, you are taken to a web page with the package description and, in the future, example clients, testimonials, screenshots, etc.

So you can click on the chart to see it up close… Let me know if you find it easy to follow or if you see any improvements I could make!

My mom wanted to know how she would know what services she needed, because they all sounded good. How about a flow chart? I said. And guess what, it's clickable!

I sent out my monthly newsletter, and got tons more subscribes from it than ever before.

I got an email from my sister about a month ago about blogging software and, since I had practically written up a whole thing for her, I thought I would also send the information in my monthly email newsletter. To see my summary of some ‘free’ blogging technology out there, here’s the archive link to it. ‘You should put this on your website’ my friend Chris said. And I did, along with a way to subscribe to the newsletter. So if you want, you can subscribe on the main page of my site or on the Breaking Even Facebook page.
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Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

These Weeks In Business: Obama In Bar Harbor Edition

So the Obama family spent the weekend visiting my normally quiet corner of the world. It’s pretty much all anyone can talk about. Seeing the folks with signs sitting on lawn chairs near the bridge connecting MDI to the mainland was really sweet. Some people actually had the nerve to complain. I say the opportunities a visit of this magnitude presents far outweigh the small incoveniences to me. And I can say that with complete honesty because I live right in the thick of where the Obama family was visiting.

In case someone connected with them is reading this, thanks for coming to Maine. We were happy to have you!

These past few weeks have been really busy, which is always the case if I don’t post ‘this week in business’ one week. I’m working on several projects, most of which I can’t really talk about until they are more done so that I actually have something worthwhile to say.

For the first time ever, I have my newsletter done ahead of time.

Because I’ll be doing a little travel with my family next week, I decided to start the newsletter *gasp* ahead of schedule. It’s all about free and easy ways to set up a blog (for your business or just for you). Click here to sign up (or look right for the ‘Keep In Touch’ section)!
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Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

This Week In Business: The I Have The Power Edition

It’s been an interesting two weeks in the life of my company. The highlight (ok low point but viewed in an optimistic way) was when I took down my own website for about 12 hours last week.

Apparently, I am tech savvy (but I guess in this case, more tech un-afraid) enough to do semi-powerful things, like take my site down. Please note clients reading this: I would never do this kind ofexperimental behavioron your sites.

With a few frantic phone calls and text messages to people smarter than me, all eventually became right in the world. But these two weeks, I feel like not only have I had enough power to do some damage but to actually make some real headway in a few directions. Here’s what else has been going on:

I planned and executed my first solo workshop for Downeast Learning.

My friend Matt and I are on month three of our monthly technology workshops, which we’re branding as Downeast Learning. Matt is on vacation so I thought for the first solo workshop, I’d tackle Facebook for Business. This is a topic I’m pretty comfortable with, or so I thought as I started planning the slides.

It’s funny when you have to teach something how much more about it you have to learn. Those times where you have to do something ‘just good enough’ and think ‘I’ll look it up later’. And it was finally time to try all the ideas I’ve wanted to do on my own Facebook business page, or at the very least think about step by step how I would do them.

Eleven people came and I think most everyone was pretty happy about how things went. I know I had a really fun time doing it. Based on feedback we’ve gotten, the next workshop will either be about Business Blogging or Google Analytics. If you want to sign up for email alerts when we have these sort of events, go to www.downeastlearning.com.

I wrote my second largest proposal.

It’s always interesting to get an RFP from a potential client, especially a larger business or organization. So much potential yet so many ways you can mess it up if you don’t know their bottom line, who is looking at your proposal, or some other detail that could give you a bit of an edge.
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Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

This Week In Business: The Too Much Information Edition

Do you ever ask yourself what you think is an innocent question involving a bit of internet research only to find two weeks later, you know way too much about what doesn’t work and why?

I researched different web conferencing software packages including GoTo Meeting, Teamviewer, WebEx, iLinc, DimDim, and MegaMeeting. (I am only listing them here to make myself feel like I did something during that seemingly wasted work time!)

Besides doing a lot that didn’t work, here’s what happened:

I found Skype (with the Mikogo add-on) was perfect for holding free and productive web conferences.

I was looking for a cost effective (read: free or cheap) way to hold virtual meetings. It began with Skype until I realized that I couldn’t share my screen on a group conference call. After this, I tried all kinds of different web conferencing solutions including the ones that didn’t work above. They were either cost prohibitive ($50 or more per month) or they lacked in an important way (like having a 2.5 second sound delay). + Read More

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

This Month In Business: Running on Coffee And Enthusiasm Edition

It has been a crazy insane month in my life. I’ve joked that if all this movement was actually running, I could run a marathon by now!

The big theme of the month was diversification. I mean my client base is growing at a steady rate but it’s really important to have a few related streams of income. This way, I’m not counting on one check to come in or one other person to decide to buy my services.

How I’ve been doing this is creating more in-person seminars. I love public speaking and people seem to enjoy my presentations so the question was, how can I make money doing this? How can I help more businesses? Here are a few things I did this past month:

I planned a whole new program to help small businesses learn about the internet.

Hugo Diaz, who is a local web developer in my area who normally works on really high end projects, took a lot of his time to help me develop the Downeast Internet Incubator Program (DIIP). The basic idea is to take business owners through the process of setting up social media and a basic CMS (content management system) website in small groups online which will 1) cut down on costs, 2) allow me to help more people, and 3) get more business owners in my area comfortable with using the internet and help build future capacity for my services.

The kickoff for the program is Saturday afternoon at the Maine Grind. I’m charging $10 for the program orientation because while some of it will be about the program, most of it will be about how to use Skype and DimDim to have remote meetings. I figure whether or not people like the program, they’ll definitely get their $10 worth.

There’s plenty of spots. To register, click here.

I presented at the Deer Isle Stonington Chamber.

Deer Isle-Stonington is a beautiful part of the county I live in and one of my old clients got me a speaking gig with the Chamber. It went well and I even got a client out of it. She says if I do a good job, she’ll tell everyone. Great!

I negotiated regular rent at the Maine Grind.

If I was going to set up regular seminar experiences, I needed a venue. Leslie, the owner of the Maine Grind was my first client ever so I’ve always had a soft spot for her. Even before I started working with her though, I loved her coffee shop with its free Wi-Fi, local art, and an upstairs room with good light (not to mention food and drink on site). + Read More
Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

This Week In Business: Lack Of Sleep Edition

It’s been an interesting week here at Breaking Even Communications and in my life in general.

I’ve had a hard time sleeping, which is uncharacteristic of me. Most of what’s on my mind was thoughts of my grandfather. It was confirmed yesterday that he has liver cancer. He is one of my favorite people in the world, and one of my role models as far as being a good person.

I used to think that there would be times in my life that would be easier and times that would be harder. The older I get though, the more I realize that most times in life will be sort of mixed, and there is importance and even satisfaction in just moving forward. So onward for Pepere, and myself…

Here’s what’s been going on businesswise this week:

Matt and my workshop went really well…and we’re already planning another.

Besides running out of time and not having a good system to answer people’s questions, things went smoothly last Saturday. We have been asked about follow-up workshops, not only by people who came but by people who heard about it.

We decided to use our common website to post information about upcoming workshops and how-tos about the topics we didn’t get to. If you want to check it out: http://www.downeastlearning.com. We’re planning one in May about making websites search engine friendly. Stay tuned!

I gave a talk about blogging at my local library.

Last night, I gave a talk with a fellow local blogger at the Jessup Memorial Library. Four people showed up, which was a lower turnout than I was hoping.

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Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.
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