In The Sphere: Social Comparisons

Published on Sep 30, 2011   //  In the Sphere

Everyone is trying to keep up with the Joneses. It’s just human nature and that’s the theme for this week’s tour of the blogosphere.

Darren Barefoot recently attended his 20-year high school reunion and naturally found himself comparing himself to his former classmates. Of the people he chatted up, he was the only one who was both married and childless. Is this indicative of a generation or simply of the people who choose to attend reunions?

Tyler Cruz has completed his $650 weight loss challenge with Paul Piotrowski. At the final weigh-in, both participants were able to reach their goals, but only barely. Along the way, Tyler has significantly adjusted his diet and exercise patterns. Here’s hoping he sticks to the new lifestyle!

LaToya Irby came across the 2nd Annual Freelance Industry Report and has provided us with some highlights. This considers freelancers as an aggregate — including everyone from writers to designers — but it says that the nearly half of the demographic earn between $20 and $59 per hour with 17% earning $100 or more per hour. Where do you fall on this spectrum?

Neil Patel previously wrote about the ROI on dressing well. Now, he’s talking about the ROI of partying. Paying for the overpriced drink at the club might sound like a waste of money, but it can be an investment if you happen to bump into the right people and talk shop. People are more likely to open up when they’ve loosened up with a couple drinks.

Trent Hamm takes a look at the other side of the comparison equation, outlining what you have that other people might want. Your time, skills, equipment and relationships are all of value to other people. You just have to figure out how to best utilize them in your favor.

Marketing 101: White Papers and Infographics

Published on Sep 29, 2011   //  Marketing Tips

Marketing can be a very complicated process, especially when your customers know that they are on the receiving end of the advertising. In the modern age of the Internet, fewer people want to be sold on something and more people want to be informed. That’s why while you still want press releases and killer product pages, you also need something more.

That’s why it can be a great idea to invest in creating a stellar white paper or infographic. This works almost like passive marketing, because it helps to establish you (or your company) as an expert in your field. You are providing the audience with useful or interesting information, and then they see that you are the source. This adds value and credibility to your brand.

In the case of infographics, good ones will oftentimes get picked up by popular blogs that report on your niche, whether it is related to automobiles, Internet marketing, the wedding industry, or any number of other areas. This again works as “free” advertising for your company, since your logo or brand name is attached to that infographic.

Best of all, you don’t really need to produce the infographic yourself. There are many freelancers on the Internet who are available to complete the entire process for you, including the background research, layout, typography, and more. Outsource to these professionals, have your name attached to the project as the official sponsor, and enjoy the passive brand awareness building.

WordPress Wednesday: Slick Contact Forms

Published on Sep 28, 2011   //  WordPress

Whether you run a blog as part of a bigger business or your blog stands on its own, it’s important that you have an ability to reach out to your audience and they have an ability to reach right back to you. The comment section is one way to do that, but not all communication is intended to be public. That’s why contact forms are so useful.

There are many different contact form plugins available for WordPress, but most require you to create a separate page for the contact form. That’s not the case with the Slick Contact Forms plugin. Instead, it uses jQuery and AJAX so the contact form can be rendered on any page. There is no page refresh needed.

The contact form can simply float or drop down as a tab. If you prefer, it can aslo be a sticky, slide-out tab. In any case, the contact form can be placed as a widget at all kinds of places around the web and includes three text input fields, as well as a text intro. To fight spam, it uses a “honeypot” mechanism with a blank input field hidden to users but visible to spambots. This is more streamlined that a Captcha-style system.

Learn more about the Slick Contact Forms WordPress plugin on Design Chemical, which is the site of the people responsible for the plugin. Screenshots, installation instructions, a live demo, shortcode information, and the free download link can all be accessed from that page.

Business 101: The Background Check

Published on Sep 27, 2011   //  Business Topics

As a small business owner, you will likely find yourself in the situation where you need to hire an employee or two. The hiring process can seem fairly standard, but things have changed in the age of the Internet.

Yes, you will likely still want to go through the usual process of collecting a resume and a cover letter. Yes, you will likely also want to conduct an interview, ideally in person so that you can get a sense of their demeanor and manner of conducting themselves.

However, you will likely also want to conduct some background checks. Depending on the nature of the job, you may perform a criminal record check, for instance, but the Internet can be a wealth of other information about just about anyone. Do a Google search. Look for the profile on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

The personal decisions of the prospective employee should not carry too much weight, but they will still fall under your consideration. At the same time, be willing to cut some slack, as we all have our moments of indiscretion that inevitably find themselves into Facebook photo albums.

Great Gadgets: Nikon V1 Compact DSLR

Published on Sep 26, 2011   //  Gadgets

What do you do when you want to get DSLR-like image quality and interchangeable lenses, but you do not want to lug around a camera of that size? There are many more options in this niche with each passing day, from the Olympus E-PL1 and other PEN cameras to the NEX series from Sony. The latest name to join this realm is Nikon.

Nikon is already very well respected when it comes to DSLRs, but the recently announced Nikon V1 and Nikon J1 bring that down to a much smaller scale. The size of these new cameras is comparable to a Panasonic GF1, making them appear like compact point-and-shoots. However, much like the micro four-thirds system, the Nikon 1 Series is equally adaptable with a powerful 10.1-megapixel sensor, ESPEED 3 image processing engine, and interchangeable lenses.

The ISO can go up to 3200 for low-light shooting and there is the ability to add in a flash for even more light capture, in addition to the integrated pop-up flash. It’s also notable that the Nikon V1 is capable of shooting up to 60 images a second if the focus is locked. It will also shoot full HD video and can capture slow-motion at up to 1200fps too.

It has been announced that the Nikon J1 will ship on October 20th for $649.95. That includes the 10-30mm kit lens. The higher end Nikon V1 will ship in the same window with the same kit lens for $899.95.

BlueFur Customer of the Week: Football Workouts

Published on Sep 25, 2011   //  BlueFur Customer of the Week

The professional players in the NFL have hit the gridiron for another grueling season, but what about your own league? Or even if you don’t play in league, you want to get yourself into tip-top shape right?

For that, it might be useful to check out Pro Football Workout, a blog that focuses on improving your play with football workouts and conditioning. Some of the more recent posts cover such topics as preventing dehydration, improving your kicking ability, and choosing the right football equipment.

As you make your way through the extensive collection of posts and articles, you can learn about everything from speed workouts to supplements and nutrition. It’s important to approach your football training from a holistic perspective and that includes what goes into your body before you hit the field!

Do you use BlueFur to host your websites? Let us know and we can feature you in a future blog post. Send an email message to blogfeature@bluefur.com with your name, website URL, and a brief description of what you’d like to see highlighted.

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