Saturday 28 November 2015

Everything slows down on the blogging front as Christmas approaches


I'm starting to put my blogs to bed now until the New Year. The fact that many io the areas I blog about slow down dramatically at this time of year only adds to the fact that people's attention is drawn away to other places and things. Christmas is on the way and all of my blogs drop significantly in readership from early December until the start of January. Subsequently I'm starting to switch the blogs off-

Estate agency
This really is a quiet time for estate agents as the market starts to shut down for Christmas. People who have sales going through now want to be in their new home before Christmas. Most solicitors close completely for over a week and everything goes really quiet.

And likewise with my How to sell your home blog - there aren't many people starting to look at selling their home at this time of year.

Retailers are the opposite of estate agents at this time of year - they are too busy to do much reading. My blogs would bypass many of my potential readers because they are all busy at this time of year.

Mystery shopping
This is another area that goes really quiet at this time. In the same way that retailers want to concentrate on sales right now, they don't want their busiest season to be interrupted by a major mystery shopping programme. And because of this, the mystery shop companies cut back their activity to almost zero until the new year.

You'll see less of me during the next month or so on all of my blogs.

Help comes in many forms - Adactus can be one of them


In my “245 days to go” blog I like to look at all angles of the startup business that I am putting together. I know that there are other startup business owners reading, so I think it’s wise to look at aspects of the business that can appeal to others as well. When you are planning and opening your startup business there are many issues to consider. One of the repeat issues I find when I speak to small business and startup owners is the fact that they can't always concentrate on what they are good at. Their skills sometimes go to waste because they are spending so much time carrying out other aspects of their business-

  •          Their accounts
  •          Their tax return
  •          Advertising and marketing
  •          Answering calls
  •          Preparing letters and invoices

There is help at hand for all of these areas, allowing you to concentrate on what you do best. Accountants are affordable for a small business, especially if you shop around,  and you can buy off the shelf marketing tools or use a local quality marketing company. And now you can look at a solution for your office.

Adactus ( is a high quality solution for a startup or small business that is looking for a virtual office.

What is a virtual office? I hear you ask.

The definition of a Virtual Office is a business location that exists only in cyberspace. A virtual office setup allows business owners and employees to work from any location by using technology such as laptop computers, cell phones and internet access. Furthermore it allows third party companies to provide call answering and secretarial services for the business.

And Adactus can do just that (and more) for your small business or startup business. Many startups are operated by one or two people to begin with and this can put a real strain on time. Time management is one way of looking at solving this problem and can be effective. Then another way is to get in more resources - but this comes at a cost. A great middle ground is to use Adactus to provide a virtual office solution for you. They can do the following things-

  •        Weekly mail transfer service
  •          Act as a secretary on your behalf
  •          Preparation of letters, offers, invoices and warning letters

These professional services by the virtual office will grant you a good reputation and earn your clients’ trust.

Having somebody else deal with your mail, your telephone calls and to draft your correspondence is a great weight off your shoulders and allows you to concentrate on other area of the business. After all, who wants to be tied down to paperwork when your best work can be done by spending quality time with your customers?

Check them out on their website and you can see what they have to offer. It can make the difference between success and failure and allow you to concentrate on all the things you are good at.

Monday 23 November 2015

See why every second counts - any how to make the most of them


I feel like every second counts both at (employed) work and at home currently. Having taken on full-time work at the same time as my freelance work has started to take off is a bit of a challenge. A "normal" day is-
  • Up at 5.45am
  • Update my website
  • Leave the house at 7am
  • Write a blog post on the bus
  • Start work at 7.30am
  • Lunch hour at 11.30am
  • Write another blog post
  • Finish work at 4pm
  • Write a blog post on the way home
  • Home at 4.30pm
  • Get half an hour of promotion work done
  • Dinner at 5pm
  • A couple of hours with the kids
  • Start writing, promoting, tweeting and investigating at 8pm
  • Finish and go to bed around 11pm

It all adds to quite a tiring day, and I'm at work tomorrow, pretty much the same routine but I'll leave the 8pm activity, and catch any of that up on Sunday.

I'm really enjoying it all, work is a promotion as well as a change to full-time so I'm managing a team, coaching and training. These are things I'm good at and well practised in. The frustration is the amount of new team members and the fact that business is heavy at this time of year in retail. It doesn't give me a lot of time to develop and train the team into the group of people I want them to be.

The freelance work is fitting in around all of the other bits that I'm doing. I've mentioned before that I sometimes write pieces on my iPhone on the Park and Ride bus on the way to and from work. I find that this gives me the opportunity to switch off from work, and I've also found time in my breaks to do the same. I can put together a large part of what I need and then re-read and edit it down when I get back onto a PC at home.

It's really good to be busy all the time and the fact that most mystery shopping companies stop the amount of mystery shops available in December (see here) means that this is a good time to be doing more at my employed, paid work.

Watch this space!

Tuesday 17 November 2015

See how I'm using mass blogging sites, multiple blogs and social media to grow an audience


I've been looking at different ways to increase the views on my blogs this week. The amount of people that read my right blogs is relatively low, in terms of the big online sites and I want to grow real views and clicks for three main reasons-

1- to have people view my estate agency blog that are interested in estate agency. This will increase my traffic for any blog on estate agency on my own website when the business is set up.

2- to have people interested in the Spennymoor property market as a ready-made audience for when I open up an estate agency in the town.

3- to have good click figures for potential buyers when it comes to selling my fiverr gigs to people who want exposure for whatever they are selling.

See my fiverr profile here-

The ways that I have started to look at this include mass-blogging sites, featuring the blog wording on other sites and trying to increase my social media following.

Mass-blogging sites
The idea with these is that it takes my single blog on its own site and puts on a site that people will visit to read blogs. The plus side is that my blog suddenly appears somewhere that readers are expecting a blog. The down side is that I'm now faced with the competition of hundreds, thousands of other blogs.

Some of the sites I have tried include-

  • Blogarama
  • BlogFlux
  • Super Blog Directory
  • Blog Listing
  • Bloggio

Basically you out in your blog RSS feed details and it will automatically feed any new entries to the respective sites.

It's only been around ten days but I can't really report any great increase in my readership as a result of this so far. I'm sure that in time it will add readers as my blogs gain traction but I don't think that it will change the world for me. I'm sure that every click counts when it comes to content and content marketing though, and I'm happy that I've done it.

Featuring the words on other sites
I've set up Wordpress sites of each of my blogs so the wording can be found in more than one place.

For the estate agency blog I've also uploaded some of my blog posts on an estate agency networking site. These for me are about establishing a presence and increasing networking. Apart from the links within the text, there's no actual prompt to read the initial Blogger blog in any of these. So my concern is that it may dilute rather than increase the readership. These are an even newer development than the mass blogging sites so I'll have to keep you posted in my progress here.

Increasing my social media following
I've been trying to naturally grow thew following I have for all of my Twitter accounts. Each account focusses on a different area of interest and I'm looking to quadruple the amount of followers I have on each. I am doing this by trying to follow people who have a similar interest and that tend to follow people that follow them. I'm determining this by the amount of followers and followed they have - if the figures are roughly similar then I believe that there's a good chance of being followed back. I'm trying to stay aware of Twitter's rules and they will block any accounts that routinely follow hundreds of people sat once. I'm following people with similar interests and only 15-50 per day at the most.

I find that Twitter gives me the best traction for my blogs on social media, although I maintain Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr accounts and sometimes upload my blog posts to LinkedIn.

As usual, I'll keep you updated with any progress or otherwise that I make.

Onwards and upwards!

Sunday 15 November 2015

A bit of everything has been happening all at once this week


A bit of everything has been happening all at once this week. It's one of those occasions where I don't really know which way to turn so I've turned all ways at once! Let me explain-

I've been offered the chance to  step up to the next level until after Christmas. It means going full-time for a few months and this impacting on the available time I have to do other things. But I've  accepted the offer in the basis that many of the other things I do at this time of year will start to tail off.

I came home to 4,500 words of fiverr writing on Friday night. It's mice to get regular sales on fiverr and it means that my gig explanations are hitting the right notes. I'm relatively new to fiverr and I'm finding out that Friday afternoon seems to be the time for buyers to instruct you. About 60% of my gigs have been commissioned on a Friday afternoon. I set aside two hours on Saturday morning to complete the gigs and I've had the first drafts sent off for approval.

Mystery shopping
This does really start to tail away at this time of the year when retailers really want to concentrate on serving customers and making money.

There have been a couple of mystery shops and a gambling success but few and far between-

Book sales
I've been using my blogs to promote my books more and more recently, especially-

I'm finding that books sales are steady and that interest in the blogs is increasing well at the moment. From here I hope to produce a solid regular income for when the business opens.

Thursday 12 November 2015

Follow your dreams....and your taste buds!


As regular readers of my blog will know, I’m attempting to startup my own estate agency. I like to look forward to all aspects of the estate agency business, and look back in some ways to the times when I worked for an estate agency before. Estate agents are known for their "work hard, play hard" ethic. Having worked with estate agents for years, they work long hours but do their out of work activities to the maximum as well.

There are estate agents I know that have attempted the Three Peaks Challenge-

And the Christmas parties and awards ceremonies that estate agents attend every year are a sight to behold!

I think it's just that estate agents like to live life to the extreme. And this also counts for their food. If I had to think of a food that typifies estate agents then I think I'd go for Mannys Sauces. There's a choice of sauces but it's the spice and heat that reminds me of estate agents. It's reminiscent of the spice and heat the they carry out their jobs with.

And if I had to choose just three of Mannys Sauces for estate agents to try, then it would be-

The Original Piri-Piri Sauce
This is the classic - and you don't mess with a classic! It's a taste that has to be tried to be believed. It mixes the heat of the chilli with the depth of flavour that you require from a sauce or marinade. In fact, Manny guarantees that it is the tastiest Piri-Piri in the land. Try it and you won’t be disappointed.

Curry Sauce
Make the most delicious and healthy curry in your own home, without any hard work or effort! Whether you use beef, lamb, chicken, fish or seafood, add this sauce to create the most delicious and flavoursome curry.

Meat Marinade
Excellent marinade created to marinate any meat, but can also be used with fish or seafood. Make the best BBQs, roasts, or stews. The contents of a 250ml bottle will marinate 3kg of meat.
Mannys Sauces were founded by Manny and here is his story-

“As any other person in the world, I had a huge dream - to open the first Piri-Piri Chicken Restaurant in the world, and then spread this dream to every corner of the planet. It wouldn’t be easy to achieve, but neither was it impossible. I had the will, the courage, the faith and family support to make it come true. Early in 1985, I sold my home to open the first piri-piri chicken restaurant outside of Mozambique. CHICKENLAND was the chosen name and Johannesburg, South Africa was the birth place of my dream! After a short while, I was making, bottling and selling a range of 5 different Piri-Piri Sauces and Marinades. After a slow start, the business was a stunning success! The name quickly spread across the city and everyone was talking about this new food place that was taking the food industry by storm.

The business success was proven! The next step was expansion to other parts of the city, country and abroad, and many people tried to get financially involved. Expansion included a need for capital and people, and so in 1987, I sold some of my business shares to two young men: one of Portuguese origin and the other, a South African of Jewish origin. Shortly after they joined, the business name was changed to NANDOS. Chickenland was a nice name, but according to marketing experts at the time, it was felt that the business should be backed by a personal name before the expansion took place. Between MANNYS and NANDOS, I was out-voted two to one, and the latter name was chosen. Despite a few initial problems, the expansion started taking off and now more than ever, the success was tremendous!

A few years later, the rug was pulled out from under my feet and I was forced to leave my business. I lost my dream; one of the best things in my life after my family. After this happened, I opened a few other restaurants including Chickenland in Portugal, but these weren’t my dream. It was a way to make a living, but it wasn’t my passion. It took me a long time to recover from what happened, but I was determined and pushed through until another dream emerged; to make the best sauces and speciality food products in the world! MANNYS SAUCES is now my new dream! Once again I can see this new dream taking shape and growing strong all the way to the TOP! The passion is back and I again have the will, the faith, the support of my family, and the support of so many loyal customers that know and appreciate the high quality products that we make. I am forever grateful to my family and my customers for their support and the divine forces for showing me the way.
Manny x”

Don’t forget the selection of cured meats. Paio is a great selection and is made of pork fillet with a maximum of 5% fat.

As any good estate agent will know, it pays to be found, and Mannys Sauces can be found at-

Sunday 8 November 2015

I started writing, got half way through a piece and just stopped.....


I've got half way through a writing piece this week and stopped in my tracks. It's not really happened before but I do t really know how to finish what I've been writing. It's not writer's block or anything like that, it's just I don't really know where I want to go with it. The current text is the second sample blog for my estate agents blog that I let you know about recently-

And the text I have do far is-

"Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England has hinted that interest rate rises will happen later rather than sooner-

The global economic situation means that inflation is less likely to rise and interest rate rises are less likely to be needed.

But what does the phrase 'interest rates' mean?

When newspapers, television news and websites say interest rates, they mean the Bank of England base rate. This is still at the lowest it has ever been. It has stayed at 0.5% since the credit crunch of 2009, and there really hasn't been much sign of it changing since then. And it's this Bank of England base rate at half a percent that goes on to influence the interest rate you pay on your mortgage. A consistently low base rate gives confidence to the banks to offer low mortgage rates.

But what does that mean for home buyers in Yourtown? What does it mean for customers of estate agents in Yourtown?

Well, a second statement from the Bank of England this week sheds a little more light on this-

The Deputy Governor states that the Bank of England base interest rate should not be used as a tool to control the housing market. This should mean that house prices in Yourtown follow a more natural curve of demand and supply, without a large intervention from outside sources. This gives you an idea that changes in interest rates are made to control inflation - not to control the price you pay for your next home.

The best way to know about your local market us to keep a watch of your local market. Register with home estate agents and we will send our freshest properties on the market to to your email inbox. To have the latest homes for sale in Yourtown sent directly to you when they are released puts you at the front of the information market. If you speak to is then we can let you know what is available to you and what the asking prices are for the type of property you want.

And it's by understanding what you want that you can get to grips with your local housing market."

 As I've said, I'm not unhappy with the current content, I'm just not completely sure if how I finish it. I'm trying to create several things at once-

  1. An SEO-optimised piece that will boost an estate agents search engine rankings.
  2. Something that their customers will read all the way through.
  3. Something that prompts the customer to action.
  4. Something that creates customer confidence.
And I think that this piece so far creates points 1 to 3, but I'm concerned that it borders on infringing point 4. Interest rates are a touchy subject and I don't want the blog piece to put customers off buying a home because they fear interest rate rises. The next step in the blog will have to be a careful one as I want to say more about how my estate agents can help clients but without causing any fear. I'll think long and hard about it and post any updated version on here.

It's a strange feeling to not finish a piece of writing, but it's come to this here. Hopefully it's a one off!

Monday 2 November 2015

See how the half-term time off didn't stop all the startup planning


It's half-term week and roughly-speaking a week off from many parts of the startup planning. I've not switched off completely and sitting as a passenger in some car journeys along with other spare time gives me the chance to write a few blog posts, tweet some marketing links and check my fiverr gigs. It's important to keep an active present with things like this and most of my gigs offer services that I can produce in less than half an hour on my smartphone. Even if I need to conduct some research then a smartphone can take care of that. In fact, there's little that I can't produce at short notice.

I think that a slow build of what I do is the way forward. I've written and self-published several books now and I'm starting to sell my writing services more on fiverr. And writing is something that I really enjoy. If writing my books brings in a good income and writing for others can supplement that whilst I'm running an estate agency then I'll be very happy.

But it's getting to that next level that is taking that time. My reviews on fiverr have all been five star and my clients have been incredibly happy with my writing. I need to be able to turn a few gigs every now and again into several high-paying jobs a week. With my trust levels at their highest, I promote my gigs in my blogs and on Twitter to keep up the exposure levels. It's gaining exposure that will help to keep things moving on.

And it's research into this marketing exposure that's at the front of the thoughts in this blog. I have started to look at different ways if getting my blog exposed to a larger audience. For example, I've applied to have my mystery shop blog featured on the blogs section of mumsnet. Also my estate agency blog is featured on real-estate network. It's by having these extra outlets that I feel I can get my work noticed. By having my work noticed I can get more readers, more orders, more happy customers and the cycle continues. And that's how the theory goes.

A short blog today, but keeping the thought processes moving and the words flowing will always help.