Author Archives: TBS
When I read in the Sacramento Business Journal recently about the Social Madness contest, I was intrigued. It is a social media contest, which allows participating businesses to show off their social media skills. Since TBS already had a Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn account, I qualified, along with all the other contest rules. I decided why not? I should participate! A little exposure never hurt any business, right?
Just last week, I learned that I was officially qualified and had been entered into the contest. The voting process starts at the local level (Sacramento for me) and then moves on to the national level. I figured at the very least I’d get some well deserved publicity for my business.
The contest is currently in the initial local voting phase right now, which runs from June 1st through June 19th. TBS is in the 1-99 employees category. My business is one person. So it almost seems unfair to be placed in the same category along with the likes of the Sacramento Zoo, Sacramento Magazine, and a multiple attorney law firm. After the first day of voting, I had three votes and was tied with multiple others for 24th place. What a nice surprise to see that after two days of voting I moved up to find myself in 12th place. Wow! Thank you to everyone who voted for TBS. Please keep the votes coming and show your support for the truly small business of Thomson Business Services.
Here’s where you can vote for TBS:
Also, while you’re on that page, you can click on TBS’ different social media sites and follow, like, and connect with us! All these different activities will help TBS move forward and hopefully on to the next phase of the contest.
Stay tuned as the contest continues, and thank you for your support!
I first heard about QR (Quick Response) codes during a CALI meeting I attended late last year. Another attendee handed me his business card, which had this odd looking symbol on it. Even though I now understand that QR codes have been around for awhile, that was the first time I’d ever seen one. I asked him what it was, and he excitedly pulled out his phone and proceeded to open up an app and show me how the phone scans the code and reads the information that it contains. The information could direct you to a website, provide you with information on something, or even directly call a number for you. I was quite impressed. Of course, right after that day, I started to see QR codes more and more. They soon became ubiquitous. I couldn’t open a magazine, newspaper, or even my mail without seeing one. A lot of people started putting them on their business cards. I kept it in the back of my mind that I ought to do something with QR codes.
Then, earlier this week I noticed a new Meetup group called Inspiring Change: Successful Business & Marketing Strategies. The topic for their first meeting was “What exactly is a QR code and how it can help your company.” I thought that would be a great meeting to go to and an opportunity to learn more about QR codes, and so I did. I learned a lot about the future of QR codes. There is a prediction that eventually we’ll just scan for purchases and the amount will automatically be debited from our bank accounts. Apparently, there’s also tracking software out there that can tell where someone scanned a QR code, whether that be from a magazine or business card. Anyways, after this QR code session, my interest was built up again to go out and generate my own QR codes for TBS.
There are plenty of websites out there nowadays that will generate a QR code for you. Simply search for “QR Code Generator” and see what pops up. The website I found and liked that easily generates a variety of QR codes is http://goqr.me/. I went to the “URL” tab, typed in the URL that I wanted to direct people to, and quickly created and downloaded this QR code:
When scanned, it should bring you to the TBS Facebook Page. While you’re there, be sure to like the page! (You can do a search for “QR Code Reader” on your smartphone to find plenty of free reader apps to download onto your phone. The one I use is called “QRReader” and it seems to do what I need it to do.)
Then back to http://goqr.me/, in order to create a contact QR code, I went to the “vCard” tab and entered in all the information requested. It’s really cool watching the QR code image change as the information gets inputted.
After I downloaded the file, the final step I wanted to do was embed my logo into the contact QR code. I’ve started seeing this more and more. After doing a search on how to do this, I found this website (http://qreateandtrack.com/2011/01/05/adding-an-image-to-a-qr-code/) that had probably the easiest explanation on how to do this. In fact, when I created my own, I didn’t even have to follow all the steps about the white space. That may be because my logo was smaller to begin with. I even used the less sophisticated MS Publisher to accomplish this task.
To embed the logo into the code was as simple as overlaying the logo on top of the QR code image, resizing the logo, grouping the two items together, and then saving the new image. The two important items mentioned in the above link was to make sure the logo does not touch the larger corner squares and to “test, test, test” the code as sometimes they may conflict with different devices. I only had access to an iPhone, so I’m hoping there are no problems with other devices. In any event, I couldn’t have imagined it would have been any easier to customize a QR code, and when I scanned the new image, it worked! Here’s what I came up with. Scan it and try it yourself.
Now I’ve got my new QR code (with embedded logo) containing the TBS contact information added to my Contact page so that visitors can quickly and easily add the information to their phone’s address book.
Isn’t technology great!?
According to Facebook, all pages will be converted to the new Timeline on March 30, 2012. Before then, however, page owners can preview their page to see what the new Timeline will look like and switch over earlier. When I previewed my page, I kind of liked the new Timeline look, so I decided to switch over early.
Facebook makes it so user friendly to figure out how to use everything. You simply need to hover over items to see what needs to be done, such as “Change Cover” or “Edit Profile Picture.” The first thing for pages is to add a cover photo. Facebook’s policy is that covers cannot include the following:
- Price or purchase information.
- Contact information.
- Calls to action, such as ”like,” “share,” “get it now,” or “tell your friends” links or information.
Page owners can now easily highlight posts and pin posts to the top of the page. My Twitter feed that I had embedded into a page previously was automatically converted over. However, now the Twitter link appears along the top row rather than on a sidebar to the left. I think it actually stands out more this way.
The two videos below are from Facebook’s YouTube page (http://www.youtube.com/user/theofficialfacebook), which are great easy starters on customizing your page and controlling your posts.
See what my page now looks like here: www.facebook.com/ThomsonBusinessServices, and if you like it, please like the page.
Stay tuned for my important upcoming milestone to be added to Facebook in a few weeks, marking my anniversary date for being in business.
I feel like I’m picking up on using WordPress pretty quickly (or maybe it’s just a really easy program to learn). This week, I worked on getting some great photos uploaded onto the website, figuring out how to display some in a slideshow, and fixing up the home page to embed the menu labels into the photos.
First, credit for all the amazing photographs goes to United Corporate Furnishings in Sacramento, California. I kept trying to take some of my own original photos, but kept discovering that I am a really bad photographer. I then remembered that I know Mark Hoag, the owner of UCF, which is a Steelcase dealer. (Many, many years ago, I used to work for Steelcase in their Canada facility.) And, since Mark’s in the office furniture business, I imagined that his website would be full of awesome photos. I was right. Mark gave me permission to use some photos from the UCF website to include in my own website. So, a big thank you to Mark! Anyone in the Sacramento area looking for some great office environments should definitely make a visit to the UCF facility, which is an incredible working showroom.
After choosing the photos from the UCF website that I wanted to work with, I went to work placing them on my own site. I always love going to websites that display a slideshow and I thought that would be a great way to show off my own up-and-coming website expertise. When I went to the WordPress.org website and did a search for slideshow plugins, I was given a list of 416 options to chose from. Wow. How does one deal with that? I started searching for ones that had a high download rate and a high rating and finally settled upon WP Photo Album Plus. I’m not sure if it’s the best one out there, but it sure was easy to figure out how to use it and it produced the results I was looking for. Here’s a sample of what I created with it:
Pretty fancy, wouldn’t you say?
Home Page Menu
I then set to work on my home page menu. Last week, I had started creating the photo menu links, but I had a problem when I looked at the site from my iPhone. Since there was no mouse to hover over the links, the user didn’t know what to do. This week, armed with great pictures, I selected four appropriate photos. Using Publisher, I embedded the appropriate page link name into the photo before uploading it. Voila! It worked! The look I was trying to create has been accomplished. Do you think it’s pretty user friendly?
Okay, that’s it for this week. Next week, I’ll take a side step and look at the new Facebook Timeline for business pages. Apparently, all business pages will be switched over at the end of this month.
See you next time!
I received an alert earlier this week that I had received a new comment on my blog. I immediately felt a huge jump of excitement. My very first blog comment! I figured it was probably from someone I knew, a friend checking out my new website. However, it turned out to be someone I didn’t know, someone who apparently had randomly stumbled upon my blog. That made it even more exciting. So, thank you and a shout out to Hailey at http://www.topsewingmachinesreviews.com for being my very first commenter! You made my day!
Well, since my new website went live last week, I’ve been experimenting a little more this week with WordPress. I decided to work on my Home page, which is my landing page. I keep hearing about how important a website’s landing page is and that a call to action is needed. I first experimented with some different color schemes but wasn’t coming up with anything that really grabbed me. I eventually dug up a book I remembered having purchased for a college class assignment. It’s called The Complete Color Harmony, Expert Color Information for Professional Color Results, written by Tina Sutton and Bride M. Whelan. It’s a great book that shows various color schemes, colors that compliment and contrast each other, and gives the themes interesting names such as “moving,” “welcoming,” and “trendy.” The book is a great tool for anyone doing any kind of design, and I’m now glad I held onto my copy of it. If you want your own copy, you can buy it out on Amazon:
My website’s current color scheme falls under the book’s category entitled “professional.” I liked that it included the color of my business logo, which I had already designed awhile back. I’m not sure I’m 100% satisfied with my colors at this point, but they will do for now and I can always keep experimenting with colors. What do you think about the colors I’ve chosen?
I also made an attempt this week to create a custom banner/header for my website. I did this through Microsoft Publisher. When I needed to size the header, I looked at the WordPress settings, which said the standard header size is exactly 940 x 198 pixels. I realized I had no idea how big pixels this was in comparison to inches, which is how Publisher sizes the documents. I did a quick online search and found the website http://auctionrepair.com/pixels.html. Here, using their conversion boxes, I was instantly able to convert pixels to inches and create the appropriate size header for my website. I’m sure there’s a magic conversion formula out there as well, but I’ll stick with the easier method. (As an FYI, it converted to 9.79 x 2.06 inches on my monitor size.) Next I’ll have to figure out how to place different headers on each page. In case you don’t remember, here’s what the original header looked like:
The third thing I wanted to work on this week was the pictures on my Home page. I’ve seen some websites out there that have pictures to click on to get to another page rather than the typical menu. I took some pictures with my camera, but I’m definitely not a photographer, so they will eventually all be replaced. However, I came up with four temporary pictures in order to try this out. I thought I did a pretty good job of laying them out in a table. When my mouse hovered over each picture, the display indicated what page the link went to. I was pretty impressed with myself, I must say. However, when I then looked at the website on my iPhone, I realized those same named links didn’t appear because I didn’t have a mouse to hover over the photo. Therefore, the user didn’t know what to do. So next week I’ll try editing the pictures to embed the page name link on it. Also when looking on my iPhone, my nice colored page border didn’t show up, which made my chosen color scheme kind of drab. Boy, there really is so much to consider when working on all of this website stuff.
Anyway, for now, I will continue experimenting with colors and pictures and WordPress. It’s a good thing I’m enjoying it! If you have any suggestions on how to pretty-up my website, don’t hesitate to let me know.
Back When It All Started
I started my virtual assistant business almost 18 years ago. Back then, it was called a secretarial service business. I did a lot of transcription, targeting any business that I knew generated a lot of paper documents. At that time, there was no e-mail and no Internet as we know it today. In order for me to obtain clients, they had to be located close enough to me that I could drive to them to pick up the tapes, some of which were those large standard cassette tapes. Some people may not even know what those are, so I’ve added a picture of one. I also remember at one point when I signed up for dial-up Internet access. That was pretty exciting!
I am still in awe of all the changes that have occurred since then, including the Internet, social media marketing, and even digital audio files. Some of my clients today I have never even met in person. I have to admit though, that I fell behind a little bit on all this technology. I formerly had a static website, which I didn’t really pay too much attention to since initially all my clients were local and always knew how to reach me. I’ve heard more than once over the past few years that in order to get and keep my name out there, I needed to start blogging and keep up with all the social media marketing. However, I never could really think about what to blog about. What did anyone care or need to know about transcribing recorded statements and performing mail merges?
Over the past year, I’ve been working on getting my business involved in all the social media marketing venues. I find everything about it to be an exciting challenge, although it seems to be an endless impossibility to keep on top of all of it. I think about a week ago something went off in my head and I finally knew what I wanted to blog about, which will be my ongoing experiences and challenges in keeping current with all the technology. The main focus will be learning all the ins and outs of WordPress, so this website will change frequently. I’ll also be looking into Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, ConstantContact, MailChimp, HootSuite, StumbleUpon, 1ShoppingCart, Skype, Google+, and everything else that comes along.
Send me a comment to let me know what you think. Also, join my mailing list and follow along as I experiment with widgets, plugins, colors, and pictures!