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What Makes You Distinctive? #BYOR30

The kittenAs day 2 of the Bloom Your Online Relationships 30 Day Challenge dawns, there was a note from the Story Bistro in my email to Be Distinctive.

Distinctive — is that the same as distinguished? That could be snooty? How will distinctive be expressed after yesterday’s starter of “Be a Goofball.”

BTW, the 30-Day Bloom Your Online Relationships Challenge is open for anyone to play along, FREE.  The intention is to put some more depth into the online relationships that are too easy to relegate into a ‘click & keep on going.’  More depth is just plain more caring — caring about people you will probably never meet in person or with whom you will never share a real cuppa.

Kaya Singer, Awaken Your Entrepreneurial Wisdom, wrote the ‘kick-off’ article, encouraging readers to be a little bit crazy and bring out the wild side to let some things show that we might squelch at other times.  Sometimes we use ‘wild’ or dramatic behavior and statements on our social media actually hide the real person. Kaya wants to be recognized as the ‘silver-haired, cronish but wise elder’.  That’s a great goal. Sometimes we can find a ‘fetish’ like Mary Kay’s pink Cadillac that triggers a note of recognition. Most of us won’t get that amount of recognition, but there is something within that makes us unique.  I’ve been reading and sharing at the 30 Day Challenge today; I’m just gonna drop it out there.  I am a nurturer. I take care of things; living things, broken things, plants, pets, people…it can be terribly distracting and often not profitable. Someone walks by (or chats past) with a little need and I’m off on their trail. Additionally, I walk with fairies…try it sometime.
Let ‘wild’ be that part not yet spoiled by confining expectations.  I perceive the encouragement to show the ‘wild’ side as a directive to set my spirit free and send my abilities out there into the world…drop the tentative and watch closely for fairies.
The very purpose of being distinctive by developing an unusual practice — stronger, deeper online relationships — resonates with the foundation of Nurture Marketing, one of my favorite processes. In a nurture marketing strategy, the clear focus is on maintaining connection with people.
Is it enough for you to ‘flash’ it today?  Or will you let your distinctive side be the dominant and long-term contribution to your online presence. Make someone smile, or solve a problem or lead out toward a goal. Distinctive qualities can be high quality.
How will online relationships develop into something more than ‘clickity-click’?  Will there be new ones along with more solid connection with the people we’ve already develed caring relationships with.  I believe we’ll know more at the end of the 30 days. #BYOR30

The kitten

Beany Spoon-Up Meatloaf Helped Me to Just Say NO to Baloney

ThomasRengerChiliConCarneImageHow did a favorite recipe reveal what I want to tell you about working with Bar JD for your Internet Marketing using Nurture Strategy and WordPress with a sprinkle of 1ShoppingCart?

We really like to use a base of Beany Spoon-Up Meatloaf for hot ground beef mix sandwiches, our own version of Mexi-Roni and just good old Goulash. (Recipe to follow!)

As I’ve made this recipe over many years, I’m the first to acknowledge modifications due to time, forgetfulness, ingredients on-hand and more forgetfulness. The last time — last Saturday, forgetfulness saved me!

I browned-up the fresh (browning is a modification), grass-fed ground beef, added my current favorite ingredients and tasted. Oh no! Heavy on the salt and spices…what to do? What to do?

Help me, Google! How do I dilute SALT. The dish is supposed to be spicy, but the salt could be too much and ruin it. That means ruining 2 lbs of that wonderful lean beef!

First I searched for ways to rescue food and get rid of SALT. No one really had an answer. The cooking blogs were willing to discuss ‘salt wrecks’. They danced around the issue. Talked a lot about too much spice. Said ‘lemon juice works wonders’…mostly said nothing.

The commenters were the most help. One told of a home-ec teacher who recommended making another 1/2 batch of the dish and blending the two, then freezing the excess. The commenters who kept saying “You didn’t answer the SALT question.” were my wake-up call about what I would want to say to clients with problems that I can’t answer right away. These people protested that the ANSWERS were not there….the stuff being written was BALONEY.

Searching for the recipe found almost the exact same procedure and ingredients as I had first loved in a costly collection of recipe cards (remember those sets from the 1980s?). I added some more of my modifications — shredded carrot and chopped celery, then the ‘filler’ that goes with a good meatloaf — bread crumbs and egg. These items served to ‘thin’ the over-seasoning. Over the years, I’ve been leaving out the filler which was acceptable, but no longer. We found how much enjoy a silky texture that we’d sort of forgotten.

A wrong turn can often times be brought around and even be better than we expected. My guests were happy with their supper and I had learned a little business thing from BALONEY.

Smack My Head — I must commit to not hand BALONEY to clients. I have worked with many platforms and not touched others. I have a wonderful network of people who have experience where I do and where I don’t….if I don’t know the answer to a problem, I probably know someone who does. I am game to try things, but will keep you in the loop. No BALONEY!

I promised you the recipe for Beany Spoon-Up Meatloaf. HungryMonster.com had the recipe…but in case that site disappears, I will give you my modified recipe.

Beany Spoon-Up Meatloaf

2 lbs ground beef
1 can condensed bean with bacon soup
1 can pork and beans (I like beans)
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
2 slices of my sourdough bread, rubbed to crumbs
1 teaspoon beef bouillon
1 clove garlic
1/2 chopped onion
2 chopped hot onions (Walking onions from the garden) OR 1 can of chopped chilies
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
1 shredded carrot
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Dollop of hoisin sauce (optional)

Serve on english muffins or buns or rice.

Tangy sauces that are just the right little touch with the other spices

1/2 and 1/2 catsup and a bit of hoisin sauch (optional) and mayo/salad dressing
The other recipes use a chili sauce, but we like catsup
1/2 and 1/2 mustard and mayo/salad dressing

I brown the beef (the other recipe bakes in the oven), then add everything and simmer for at least 45 minutes for the silky ‘dippy’ texture we like. I think I like the brighter browned color compared to the typical gray/brown of meatloaf. There’s no tomato to help color up the loaf to suit us.

Thank you, Thomas Renger, for shooting a photo of your cooking and placing it in the Flickr Creative Commons.

WordPress Chick with WordPress and Social?


The WordPress Chick has been practicing “Get Social!” with shared information from other WordPress devotees at Facebook in particular. Along with the shared links, the posts have stimulated discussion — just the sort of thing that rocks social media marketing. Her blog post,“The Social Side of WordPress” explains some of the intent — to get her social media into reality mode and pay attention to the social part. That part that connects with other people…remember?

I’ve learned, liked and shared Kim Doyle’s updates today, most of which were around the blog posts and learning offered by other people. Turns out that is the intent she had — promoting someone else’s knowledge and ability is not a check mark against her (or my or your) knowledge and ability. Instead, it builds the community in many ways. Acknowledging someone else and either their views or experience on social media or through backlinks on a blog post honors them, boosts the SEO for all involved and gets the information out there for others to apply. The tips and hacks are not ‘top secret’ exclusive knowledge; the smart networker uses them to weave a stronger net!

I agree so very much that WordPress is the foundation of social activity…beyond the social media sites. My identity dwells at my websites, even though I stop at Facebook, Twitter and others for a chat from time to time.

A blog is an essential part of marketing — using WordPress for a website turns that site into a communication center with blog posts, landing pages, pages that tell the visitor more about you and the essential CONTACT information. People turn to their technology to find you; give them access and add some fun things to learn about you at the same time.

Are you blogging? Do you have a website with information about your business or interests or mission? I recommend WordPress as a platform for building your site and that you absolutely make it the go-to place from all of your social media efforts. You on social media is You in the herd….You on your own platform is ALL YOU for the people who are interested in you. That website should be at the base of your social media marketing strategy.

Branding | Real & Human Added to Virtual

Matthew Turner writes on MarketingProfs.com writes about branding our businesses in this time of speedy communications —Seven Pitfalls of a Modern-Day Brand

When virtual (as in virtual assistance) began to spread about 10 years ago. VAs were perpetually explaining what they did and how that worked. They were viewed with a bit of suspicion — “If you aren’t there in person, how can we be sure you are working?”

People were concerned about the entire virtual culture — relationships built by people who never see each other aren’t valid. Some even felt they were unhealthy because they could take the place of face-to-face. There was a struggle to determine how virtual professionals could identify or BRAND themselves. Names, colors, logos, statements were all pursued trying to establish individual, unique identity. Historical branding activities had different art forms, but were still applicable for online business. We were making every effort to be memorable.

We’ve come a long way — we’ve built relationships with one another and with our clients. We communicate freely. We accomplish the tasks necessary without physical supervision. We’ve begun to understand how we can help our clients nurture their customers, online and coming through the store front.

So much business continues in the online culture that we’re hearing from the customers that they do want a human factor. Virtual is no longer a mystery; the customer and client is familiar and believes that that ‘real’ element isn’t beyond reach. Or asking too much.  The human factor fits the nurture marketing concept to a ‘T’.

As discussed in Turner’s article at MarketingProfs.com, we’re able to communicate quickly with one another. We are capable of ignoring one another or we can interact with professional, compassionate good customer service. And the customers and clients want that! They want to see and read about us and they want to be treated with respect and to be valued. When we finally ‘get that’ and avoid any chance of being the ‘stealth online business’, we’ll see the relationships becoming as strong and loyalty for our BRAND of US. Customers and clients who refer to us as ‘my’ virtual connection.

The time is passing. The items mentioned in Turner’s article are good guidelines for online business to apply along with the art of BRANDING we loved yesterday. Just as we would have done if the customer were to walk into our office or store, we can show, through customer care and quality business ethics, that the unseen customer is what it is all about.

Do you crave some help with the online marketing plan for your business? Contact Bar JD using the handy form. With a short, free conversation, we can tell within 20 to 30 minutes how or if I can help you. Your information is always kept in strict confidence.

Virtual Assistants Must Plan for Work/Life Balance

Boundaries of All Kinds

Boundaries of All Kinds For All Needs

Tracey Osborne has a blog post at BusinessSolutionsMadeSimple.com that reflects and discusses a big thing in Entrepreneur Life — balancing work and family and just plain LIFE. 

Entrepreneurs in every field will encounter the Big Balance thing during their business development.  Some will begin their endeavors in a home office. Some, who work virtually as, dear readers, most of you do, have a perpetual balance project going on.  Tracey addresses the aspects of working virtually more in her post than the issues that other entrepreneurs may have.
One of the five points that are brought out in the blog post entitled “Go Away….I’m Busy!”  features SETTING BOUNDARIES.   The importance of setting boundaries for clients and team members  regarding office hours, delivery schedules, ethics and EXPECTATIONS.  These boundary items are all out-going in Tracey’s post. There are some in-bound things that can be real bug-a-boos or can make working from home really special.   Working virtually has a special appeal to mothers of young children because it combines work and daycare beautifully….on paper.
To many well-intentioned people, ‘working from home’ means not working or not scheduled.  This is not all the fault of the well-intentioned. I know people who drop in on me because they aren’t mind readers.  They are always accommodating to either check my flowers on their own for awhile or come back another time.
Plan ahead when setting boundaries for the family and friends — “I work from home; in fact that is what i am doing now.” to make yourself clear that even small errands require ‘appointments’.
“Yes, Darling Child, I can bring your forgotten lunch, but I’m going to finish a small project before I can leave.”  “No, Darling Child, you cannot count on me to take your friends to the mall right now.”
“Dearest Sister/Friend/Auntie, I will call you back at 2pm, but I cannot talk at the moment.”  Or tick the little key that says “I’m in a meeting” on your phone. 
“Dearest Dearest Neighbor,  Here’s a glass of sweet tea.  Enjoy watching the birds from the deck while I set up a recording. I may get back to you before the tea is gone. If not, it’s been great.  I would love to join you for a walk about dusk.”
None of those scenarios will work well for a baby or toddler.  When they need attention, they’re serious.  Most of the time,  Mom/VA can close the timer and go meet a ‘child need’.  Where do the boundaries blend for clients and calls and calling/crying babies?  Does the ideal client have a sense of humor and compassion for a little person?  Stuff — exasperating, exciting and unusual stuff happens when you’re an entrepreneur working in a home office.
Being candid with both clients and family about expectations and being realistic about delivery and performance would seem to be the best support for boundaries both for family and clients.  It can be no secret that we have a life…we have to ‘fess up and work things around that.  With a plan, delivery seldom has to be accomplished yesterday.  With a plan and decent notes and communication, an interrupted phone call can be taken up at a later time.  With a plan and scheduling, communication can occur during nap times or when someone else is available.  It is not WRONG to make arrangements for a ‘sitter’ to come by or to take your child for an hour.  I know of virtual professionals who do this quite a bit.  That boundary is where your family is part of everything that goes on, each and all in their place. That place might be with a sitter.  Choose a safe and fun sitter for a win-win.
Read more of Tracey’s commentary on other balance points entrepreneurs face at “Go Away…I’m Busy!
  • Boundaries
  • Office Hours
  • Family Time
  • Weekend Breaks
  • Put the Phone Down
  • Take a vacation
  • Delegate

What are some of your balance management techniques as a virtual professional or entrepreneur in other fields?

Podcast Launch | John Lee Dumas, author | Belongs in Your Library


podcastcoverWhen I began reading Podcast Launch, it was another business book, part of a group recently installed on my Kindle Fire. I thought it sounded kind of interesting. I work with clients who do podcasting and I enjoy listening to the broadcasts at BlogTalkRadio as well as participating as a caller on the live programs. Boy, did I get a surprise. Author John Lee Dumas is a podcast enthusiast; before I had read far, I was too. I was traveling while I read and though I made a determination to look deeper and more seriously into podcasting when I got home, I developed allergies that interfered with impulsive and immediate plans. This has been fortunate because I am taking the ‘quiet time’ to develop a sound plan, practice and follow a reasonable and sincere plan to be ready with all things in order.

If you are at all interested in podcasts or have questions about how they work, Podcast Launch will be helpful. The author uses his experience with podcasts, first as a listener, then as a broadcaster and coach to newbie broadcasters, to illustrate his recommended process.

The step-by-step examples, related in a conversational manner, are joined throughout the book by links to resources and the Dumas websites where he has additional video tutorials that readers can use. I liked the book from the beginning, but was doubly impressed when I went to the author’s website and listened to the podcasts he has available. His style involved an interview with an entrepreneur within a consistent process. The same points are covered for everyone, with the individual stories making the difference. Dumas keeps the information conversational, yet flowing.

When I went to Amazon to write a review, I read some of the 280+ reviews. I found even more helpful information there on some positive and profound reviews. My review on Amazon: “Helped me Turn a Corner Toward a New Direction“.

Learn more about John Lee Dumas and podcasting at EntrepreneursOnFire.com


Hello world!

Welcome to Bar JD.  We’re down, but not out as we go forth in a new redesign and reinvention!.  Join us for the trail ride. Or make yourself comfortable in the rocker and absorb the view.

It’s going to be a hot day today.


NickLoperBookI am so honored to have my discussion of this book as a review atThe Naked VA, where Ruth Martin of Maplewood VA , offers interviews with other members of the ‘virtual world, mentors other virtual professionals and now has added a book review section. JudyAnn Reads: A Virtual Assistant Assistant: The Ultimate Guide to Finding, Hiring and Working with Virtual Assistants.

I wanted to read the book and discuss it with other virtual people from the time I first downloaded it to my Kindle Fire. I read it, understanding the book was written primarily for clients, because I wanted to learn any tips I can use to improve my own virtual assistant practice.  Additionally, I found information and points that will be important when I’m choosing to work with a specific client — or not!

Author Nick Loper discusses the Big Three and more as he explains his perception of a good VA/client relationship. Lopers experience with VAs has led him to build a referral directory of VAs for potential clients to sort through when looking for virtual help — The Virtual Assistant Assistant.

The Big Three:

Rates: While there is no doubt that rates are important and we all know the differences in standards of living can lead to some lower and higher rates, I wish he hadn’t used numbers. Figures change constantly and the numbers he used can become a ‘standard’ that new business people expect when beginning to work with virtual assistants. Loper also implies it is common to hire someone at low rates, but only barely discusses the point that the lower rate people may also be offering services that have demanded a lower investment in time and equipment for them.

Interview Tactics: He recommends asking the virtual assistant applicants to do some tasks as an experiment. These are not free work, but a test where all applicants have the same tasks. He uses the term resume and most virtual assistants use the term profile, but I believe this isn’t a deal breaker once the need is defined. Virtual assistants must be transparent about experience regardless of the terminology. Clients need to know where and how a virtual assistant has or has not worked.

Policies: It is sweet that he recommends appreciation, bonuses, and fair pay practices for the virtual assistant. Loyalty is fostered by clients who take the time to inform, involve virtual assistants and who respect the person they do not see.

The author wins me recommendation because he devotes a large part of the book to ways an entrepreneur can sensibly take charge of business and the virtual assistant relationship. The leadership people I’ve worked with have been other virtual assistants as a subcontractor. Clients right out of the box have not been able or willing to do this and it has left me at a disadvantage more than once.  Beginning at the beginning, Loper recommends working out a mission statement for the business, then building a management manual so that the plan is all worked out before the virtual assistant comes on board. The plans are all living and expectations are for change, but there are fewer surprises with a system of some sort in place.

I found the book to be sensibly structured from first learning what a virtual assistant is and that outsourcing is not a dirty word through the analysis of need and the structure of a sound leadership plan that doesn’t leave anyone hanging.  Even as some details may become more dated or obsolete, there is a useful foundation in the book for readers. I’m glad I have it and recommend it as a useful foundation resource. I’m sure I will be referring to parts of it in the future. I will be writing reviews of the book at GoodReads.com, and at Amazon.com.

Say “Cheeze!” | Newz about Getty Images!

compact_camera_400_clr_8668Have you heard about Getty Images’ new EMBED option? I first learned about it through a message from StudioPress Themes for WordPress referring a link to TheVerge.com and a post that goes into the thoughts behind this new wrinkle for Getty Images.

There have been horror stories all over the internet of the hostile correspondence from Getty Image with a bill for the unauthorized use of an image. I’m sure these ‘pay-up or be sued’ billings are justified in many situations. But the ones that aren’t working for Getty are the ones that are non-profitable blogs and websites for whatever reason — places where a $750.00 bill is impossible. Some are truly for pleasure-not-profit. Some are blogs by authors or artists that may appear to have profit goal which hasn’t been achieved. People who admittedly know quite a bit about copyright for their type of work, but truly don’t ‘get it’ about images on the ‘free’ Internet. know a starving author who took a boring image from someone else’s blog whice she felt had application on her post and who travels in the ‘dummy lane’ about images on the internet — that is until she got the bill from Getty Images. At the last update, she had tried the ‘dummy’ story with apologies and removal of the image with pleading explanations of her profit-less status, while contemplating spending money she didn’t have to spare to consult an attorney for stress relief OR spending money she didn’t have to spare to cave in and pay the billing. If she were going to pay, I wish she had used a more interesting image…a simple glass of non-fizzy, non-alcoholic beverage such as you might have at lunch seemed such a waste. The sort of thing that is easy to set up with your own camera! And very much the sort of thing that seemed kind of silly to get excited about the copyright.

Back to Getty Images’ new way of treating this issue to the benefit of all. The Embedded Viewer is a handy, dandy option, but you should be aware of ‘side-effects’. The images can be removed from the Embedded Viewer, leaving your blog post high and dry….this could be taken as a ‘sign’ that the content is stale. When an image ‘disappears’ you’ve received a signal to delete the stale post or page content. Your use is limited to a blog or website or ,interestingly, a social media platform…sharing on Facebook and Twitter. BUT, as I understand this, we can’t mess with the images, especially making them part of a frame or meme without express written permission. That covers the paid images too and is a fair boundary that Getty Images chooses to set. The Embedded Viewer can and will be tracked by Getty Images or a 3rd party. There may be some ads involved (I haven’t tried embedding many images to see where this goes.)

Images on our blog posts give character to the story we are trying to get across. They are pleasant eye candy and distraction. The image adds that ‘bit of spice’ for both reader and writer. ‘Bit’ is a serious word here because it is still only a bit of spice and to pay for an image in a blog that is ‘gamble marketing’ or simply a journal of thought, either or both without traceable ROI. I use my own cameras for many images and have accumulated several DVDs of excellent images from Serif.com. I subscribe to PresenterMedia for graphics that fit the posts.

I found the post at The Verge highly informative about this process and the possible goals of the Embedded Viewer. Because so many blogs are for informational pleasure and not profit, there is seldom any funds to be tapped by Getty Images. Since the images are being used anyway, Getty Images saw the handwriting on the wall for images which reads similar to the message left for the music industry. The Verge sees the new move as an effort to stay ahead of that train wreck, keep potential customers and have a way for the images to ‘work’ for the copyright holders other than a purchased use license.

The Embedded Viewer is attractive. It permits the resource a label saying “Getty Images”, names the photographer and offers social share buttons for Twitter and Tumblr. Plus the embed code is available from your blog to anyone else who wishes to have that image on their blog. Getty gets to serve up images without having every user log in and find images and the blogger benefits. The links may create some small SEO gain. Risks include the tracking, the removal of the images (disaster for a post that is nothing but images), general ‘link rot’ across the Internet from the impulsive shares and other uses. Link Rot is already a part of the Internet due to sharing videos and images from YouTube, Twitter, Twitpix and maybe Instagram. Then, there are the pictures on Flickr and Picasa which are ‘sorta public’ and shared with a link. Anytime someone removes a file from any of these services, there is a potential down the line for a hole in blogs. The best solution is to shoot your own images or use paid images that you can download and save to your computer for future use. It really isn’t something that lies at the top of most bloggers’ minds.

Getty Images has a policy in the terms of use to let copyright run both ways. They will get serious about someone abusing their copyrights or those of the photographers and graphics artists who license images with Getty. They will also listen if you find someone has added YOUR work as their own to the Getty files. When I’ve gotten a good camera shot or graphic put together, I try to name that file so that any use will put my name out there along with the image. There are other identification options for images, but the file name is the one that is most inconvenient to change and one that is most often missed or ignored. The use becomes a situation of “Go ahead and talk about me; just spell my name right.”

I commend Getty Images for their creative approach to a potential lifetime of small courtroom experiences when they would much rather be looking at pictures. Not all of their images are available through the Embedded Viewer, but the ones I’ve seen are very good. I’m sure the selection is generous for the needs of most bloggers.

A Game of Good Numbers | Social Media Strategy

When I’m looking at my own Facebook Business page and working with clients for strategy on their pages, I first encourage them to concentrate on Good Numbers. That may be large or high numbers, but perhaps not.

Bar JD | Marketing

In order to accomplish a culture of quality without pressure on quantity, we concentrate on building community. When someone becomes active on Facebook, the list of personal friends is a trusted group. We talk about the best place to build the trust because the natural reflex is to post on the personal page. Personal pages are fine to add to the mix, but we really want to be adding updates to the business page encouraging the trusted group to interact with the business page even more than the personal page. “Why?” you ask.

In the beginning days of Facebook, we did a lot of ‘business’ conversation on our personal pages because they were our only choice. We made added colleagues and clients to our FRIEND list along with family and classmates from the good old days. When Fan Pages became available, we were torn between changing our style to put business information on the Fan Page (Today’s Business Pages) and try to keep most updates on our personal page ‘family appropriate’. The Business pages are followed by search engines. The more activity that goes on there, the better for us. We can add a good link to our website and write a HUGE description, add tabs and keep the conversation focused on our business purposes with transparency and authenticity about ourselves to keep the community connection growing. Activity is a priority to attract the search attentions of Google and Facebook. To get the kind of Activity that works, those who LIKE the page should really CARE about the page.

Large LIKE numbers made up well-intentioned people who’ve exchanged LIKES with us through special groups at Facebook and other Social Media resources, but who really don’t give a hoot about us can actually hurt us in the search game. The same for those who will party with us on Fridays or Mondays or whenever someone begins a Like Day Party. The greatest thing you can do for your page and for your client’s pages is to put some decent information on them that make people want to be part of your community and learn more about what your have to say.

There is little that gratifies as much as checking your page and finding an organic ‘LIKE’ from someone who found your page and is interested.

To keep your delightful LIKES engaged, offer them information…not stupid, boring INFORMATION, but a touch of YOU. A bit of your essence telling your community about YOU and your business. Make it so good that they tell their friends and share or comment about you on their personal pages or business pages. Nothing sugars the LIKE cookie as much as having people ‘talk’ about you.

Three things to do to increase quality of LIKES and increase the chances of winning the Game of Good Numbers: Engage