Make it Viral: The Secrets of Web Video Success

March 12, 2012 by

One trillion. Not only is this a number with a whole lot of zeros, it is also the number of playbacks on YouTube in 2011. And those viewing numbers are not getting any smaller — in fact, online video’s explosive growth will probably add a few more zeros with this year’s roll out of Internet-enabled Smart TV sets (not to mention the new high-resolution iPad). This growth in online video offers unique opportunities for small businesses and freelancers. Unlike advertising on television, you do not have to buy “air time” for online video. Neither do you have to confine yourself to the 30-second spot or to selling within the conventional commercial format. On the Internet, a small business has a much greater chance of attracting relevant eyeballs and winning new customers in a cost-effective way. And video advertising can take varied and creative paths (witness the iPhone in a blender commercial). Successfully marketing with video requires more than just clicking on YouTube’s “upload” button.  It takes careful development and focused execution at all stages, from planning to production to promotion. Here are some pointers for success during each phase. Planning your video content Know who you want to reach. How well do you know your customers? If you don’t know what they like, dislike, or what interests them, start with a bit of research. Make it shareable. To get traction online, you have to cater to your target audience's interests. On top of that, you need to inspire them to share the video with their friends. You want them to say, “I have got to send this to someone else!” Carefully analyze your target customers to determine what they want to watch. Then make … Read Full Article

5 Tools For Managing Your Business Cash Flow

February 21, 2012 by

Maintaining a positive cash flow is the number one challenge your small business faces. While this is nothing new, post-recession reality has made the task considerably harder. Many businesses and contractors are caught between clients who are slow to pay and creditors who are quick to demand repayment. If you are struggling to stay on top of your balance sheets, the following roundup of five free cash flow management tools might be just what you need. SCORE Cash Flow Template SCORE, a small business resource and mentoring organization, has quite a few free Excel templates available for tracking everything from 12-month cash flow to profit and loss projections. Tip: Protect your bottom line by keeping expenses at a minimum. One way to accomplish this is by purchasing equipment used or on sale. Only pay full price when there is no other option. Google Docs Cash Flow Templates If you prefer Google’s spreadsheet app over Excel, then you will be glad to see this collection of business spreadsheet templates submitted by other Google Docs users. All the templates are free, so if the first spreadsheet you downloaded does not mesh with your needs, try another one. Tip: Be brutally realistic (and maybe even slightly pessimistic) when you enter data into your cash flow forecast. Overestimating income and underestimating expenses will set you up for financial failure. Mint.com Data entry can be a towering obstacle in the quest to stay on top of your cash flow. Eliminating most of that entry work is where web-based Mint.com really shines. This app automatically pulls data from your linked bank accounts — all you have to do is login and track your income versus your expenses. The downside of Mint is that … Read Full Article

Why Aren't We All Freelancers?

February 16, 2012 by

Investors typically hold a diverse portfolio of assets, with the goal of reducing risk. So why don't more people hold a diverse portfolio of jobs? oDesk Staff Economist John Horton explores some potential economic explanations for why the portfolio/freelancing approach is not more common. Read Full Article

Beyond the Tweet: 4 Unusual Ways to Use Twitter

February 15, 2012 by

Twitter is a quite a versatile tool — within 140 characters you can connect with thought leaders, find jobs and build your brand identity. But the power of the tweet does not end there. From managing data to fielding live webinar questions and joining Twitter chats, new and innovative uses of Twitter are continually being discovered. Here are four unusual ways that your business can make use of this always-changing social network. 1. Conduct an Interview Nicknamed the “Twitterview”, an interview via Twitter can be a great way to engage your followers. As you participate in a question and answer dialogue with your interviewee, your audience can virtually tune in, ask their own questions and retweet the exchange to their followers. Here is how to do it: Choose someone to interview who is interesting to your target audience. If your audience or your interviewee promote the interview to their followers, you will receive even more publicity. Promote your interview in advance. Talk about it on all your social media outlets — not just Twitter. Design questions that fit within Twitter’s space limitations, and give your interviewee the questions ahead of time so they can also design appropriately short answers. Use a hashtag so people can follow along. Encourage your audience to chime in with comments and questions. Include a live Twitter feed on your blog so that even non-Twitter users can follow along. 2. Hold a contest If you are looking to get some brand exposure, try running a contest via Twitter. An example of how this could work: Offer the chance to win a … Read Full Article

5 Business Productivity Apps for Your Tablet

February 1, 2012 by

With a tablet in tow, your office can become more portable – and with this lineup of business productivity apps, it can also become more productive. Here are five useful business apps for each of three different tablet platforms: Apple's iPad, the BlackBerry Playbook and Android-based tablets. Read Full Article

How I Killed My To-Do List

January 31, 2012 by

Whether you are a freelancer juggling multiple projects for different clients, or an entrepreneur trying to build your business and manage a growing team, your time is one of your biggest business assets and you need to manage it effectively. While to-do lists may seem like the best way to prioritize your time and attention, they are inherently flawed - instead, try a calendar-based approach. Read Full Article