Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Content is KING!

Now that your website is looking good, design wise, what about your content? What are you going to have on your website for your potential clients to read and learn about? You know what the most important part of the content is don't you? Good Writing! And to keep people coming back for more, updating your content often. Now when we are talking about a website for a service like surrogacy I don't believe that visitors are expecting to have something new on your site every time they visit. If you actually have a gallery of available surrogates and egg donors then, yes, that needs to be updated each time you have an approved candidate come on board. IP's especially will continue to check in and see if there is anyone new that they may be interested in. However, if you are running your program in a way where Intended Parents and Surrogates have to call for information on available matches then you need to have another way to keep your site fresh. Some suggestions are to have an events calendar and list all related conferences and seminars whether you are planning to attend or not. You can list birth announcements or even birthday announcements with the permission of your surrogates and IP's. You can have a surrogacy or ART in the news where you have hot links to articles that may be of interest to your visitors. Will your agency hold luncheons? Holiday parties? Meet and Greets? Have a place on the site, with photos, for these events. Why not add a blog? Fresh content is always available if you know where to look.

What about the pages that will not change as often? Your About Us page, Contact Us Page, your Home Page with your Mission Statement? Are you going to have a page that lists your services? Will that page also have your price list? Are you going to have separate pages for Intended Parents and Surrogates? Keep in mind that they WILL read each other's pages. Are you going to have a page to list professional links? (This will be good to have so that you can have a link exchange for your continued marketing) Are you going to list medical requirements for your surrogates? And legal aspects for your IP's? There is a lot to think about and your website can have several pages before it's all said and done.

Yes, there will be more to come, but your homework now is to list out what content you are planning on sharing with the rest of the world! Happy writing!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Personal Power: Living From the Inside Out

I wanted to share this with you today because I feel that we often forget that we have "personal power"! We move through our daily life being pushed and persuaded in what we "should" think or what we "shouldn't" question or we may just be wandering aimlessly until "things resolve themselves".

Below is a great little article that may put it all back into your own hands and offer you some guidance in bringing back your own personal power. Take that control and know that you are in charge of your life, your hopes and your dreams. You have the Power inside you!

Sharon LaMothe

LaMothe Services, LLC

Personal Power:Living From the Inside Out

by Laura Belsten, PhD, MCC

Lao Tzu, famous Chinese philosopher living over 2500 years ago, stated that the biggest problem in the world is that individuals experience themselves as powerless. Powerless individuals feel helpless, negative, lethargic, frustrated, resentful, and often live in fear, enslaved by circumstances they perceive as beyond their control.

The opposite of powerless is an inner awareness, an internal state of being we refer to as “personal power” in the emotional intelligence field.

Personal power is an inner awareness that makes us feel in control of our lives. It is an inner knowing that we can achieve our goals, a calm conviction about who we are and our ability to get the things we want in life.

Quiet Confidence

People with a highly developed sense of personal power have a quiet self-confidence that they can set the direction of their lives, and they do. They are able to distinguish among circumstances over which they have some control and those they do not. They define themselves from the inside out (for example, their internal self talk includes messages like “I am a capable person, I can manage this setback, I’m good at managing conflict, I’m creative”)

The biggest barrier to success in almost any endeavor is powerlessness, negativity, helplessness and inertia. Mahatma Gandhi had no army, never held or accepted political office, never used violence. He was a small, frail man, yet he defeated the armed might of the British Empire, driving the British out of India without firing a single shot. How did he accomplish this?

Personal power. Personal power can move mountains. Personal power solves problems.

Dr. Laura Belsten is Dean of the Graduate School of Coaching, Master Certified Coach (MCC), and a national leader in the field of Emotional Intelligence. Personal Power is one of the twenty-four key competencies of the Emotional Intelligence Profile. Learn them all!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tips for Improving Your Donor Program By: Gail Sexton Anderson, Ed.M., Founder, Donor Concierge

I have exposure to over 60 donor websites and 14 years of experience working with intended parents in need of egg donors. I have recently been asked by a few egg donor agencies what they can do to improve their programs. My experience has taught me that what intended parents look for in donors, regardless of their ethnic background, is a healthy, bright, egg donor who comes across as wholesome and attractive.

Healthy means having a good health history with no serious illness, no addiction issues, no history of anxiety or depression, and no eating disorders. But it goes beyond the health of the egg donor herself. It also means no one in her immediate family has any of these issues. There should also be no cancer in her immediate family. While it is not unusual for a grandparent to have cancer late in life, it is alarming to intended parents to see cancer in the immediate family, especially with her mother or father, particularly those occurring before the age of 40. After the age of 40, while it still may be worrisome to many intended parents, it is not as likely to be of a hereditary nature. Other types of cancer, such as breast cancer on the maternal side, is more likely to be a hereditary issue if it occurs before the age of 40.

Adult onset diabetes in the donor’s grandparents doesn’t tend to be a big concern but juvenile diabetes in the donor’s immediate family is a major concern due to hereditary factors. Another major concern among intended parents is mental illness and addiction. Alcoholism in a grandparent is not necessarily a huge issue and is fairly common. What is of greater concern is seeing a pattern of addiction in the donor’s family. If the grandfather was an alcoholic, and so was the uncle on the same side of the family, that indicates there could be a pattern of addiction, which is a hereditary issue. If the donor’s parents have ever struggled with addiction, that is also a huge red flag for intended parents, and they are unlikely to ever choose that donor. The same is true of any mental health issues in the family such as anxiety, depression, bipolar, and schizophrenia. Unfortunately, there is a strong hereditary factor for all of these mental health issues.

I realize that all of these things are not terribly unusual. It happens in the best of families. In fact, many intended parents may have these same issues within their own genetic families. But if there were a choice to avoid serious health issues, mental health issues, and addiction, all of which have genetic components, wouldn’t you want to avoid them too?

It is often difficult for intended parents to truly assess how bright an egg donor candidate may be. But intelligence is a concern for most intended parents that I work with. Most of my clients are well-educated, having attended college and in most cases, graduate school. They have worked hard and truly value intelligence and drive, and are hoping to find these characteristics in an egg donor. They want to see a spark of intelligence that will help them relate to the donor and feel like this is someone they could like, someone who could fit into their family. With barely more than a few pages of information and a few pictures, intended parents have to make one of the most difficult decisions of their life. One of the most important aspects of this is to see if the donor has attended college. For the most part, most of my clients want to see a BS or a BA; some will consider an AA if the donor seems to have drive, but many really would like to see more.

The jury is still out as to intelligence being nurture or nature. Intended parents know that they can nurture, but will their child feel like they fit into a family of very bright people if the answer is nature? That is why intended parents want to see demonstrated intelligence. Intended parents are hoping to find someone that will remind them of themselves. These are people who have excelled in academics and value that drive in others. If they had the opportunity to get to know these egg donors personally, they might not care what kind of degree they have because they would already know the quality individual that they are, but that is not the case. All they have are a few pages of a donor profile.

Beyond health and intelligence, intended parents like to see wholesome girls. They are often trying to either see themselves or visualizing a future daughter. They don’t like to see egg donor candidates who look like they are trying to seduce the camera or worse yet, their husbands. They want the donor to look like a nice girl they could take home for a family dinner, not someone who would drink too much and wind up dancing on the table. Again, what they want is someone they can relate to, who will fit into their family.

This all brings me to my final point; first impressions count, and when it comes to donors, it may be all that you have to get the intended parents’ attention. If intended parents don’t find an egg donor visually appealing, they will not look any deeper. There are some agencies that are very good at marketing their donors so there are things that you can do to present the donor at her best. Everyone has good hair days and bad hair days; just don’t use those bad hair day pictures. Choose the pictures that show your donor at her best. You don’t have to use every picture she sends you just because she sent it, and if the pictures she provides are not very good, take the time to shoot some pictures when you meet her. If photography is not your forte, send the donor to a studio or hire a photographer to take a few good shots for your site. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tips on Improving Your Egg Donor Site By: Gail Sexton Anderson, Ed.M., Founder, Donor Concierge

I work with over 60 agencies across the country, and they all have subtle differences that make them unique from the rest. Some are better than others, and there are extremes at both ends of the spectrum. Most, if not all of these sites, could use some general improvements. I have been asked by several agencies about how to best improve their sites, and I am happy to provide some tips. Many of these suggestions come from personal conversations with intended parents, and others are from my own experiences. Some sites are not very user friendly, and I know that if I find them difficult and cumbersome to search, you can only imagine how frustrating and discouraging they must be for the average intended parent. Most often, the intended parent is already emotionally frayed and desperately searching for the right egg donor. Hard to navigate sites exacerbate their stress and make the process more difficult for them.

Websites should be visually appealing, not distracting. It is probably worthwhile to keep your site looking fresh by taking a serious look at it every 5-7 years so that it doesn’t become stagnant or dated. Just as fashions come and go, so do website designs, color schemes, and technology. For example, at one point in time, most agencies used hand written applications. They felt that seeing a donor’s handwriting helped intended parents to form an impression of the donor. Today, hand written applications tend to make an agency’s site look small-time and unprofessional. Intended parents are far more sophisticated then you may realize. They have the opportunity to see numerous sites and as a result, they may worry when they see an outdated website. To them, it is a representation of a small mom and pop shop business. Even if you are a small agency working from home, which is how many agencies operate, you can present yourself as bigger than you are simply by having a fresh looking, updated site. It definitely makes a difference in how intended parents perceive your agency; I know because I hear their comments.

If you have more than 50 egg donors, you should have a filter to allow intended parents to find what they need quickly, without having to scroll through all of your donors. My favorite filters are those that allow the intended parents (and me) the ability to choose more than one option for each search requirement, i.e. eye color or hair color, by holding down the control key. I find that most intended parents are open to a range of eye colors and hair colors and having to search each possible combination separately can be very time consuming. The same holds true for ethnic heritage. Some Asian couples may only want to see Chinese donors, while others may be open to Japanese and Korean as well. Though lumping all Asian donors into Asian may be effective for the agency, it is definitely too broad a category and should list the donor’s specific heritage not just her race. Some of my favorite filter options are:

•Minimum Education = or < (College degree, Masters, PhD etc.)

•Hair color – Blond, Light Brown, Med. Brown, Black, Red (hold down control to choose more than one)

•Eye color – (hold down control to choose more than one)

•Age range

•Height range

•Repeat Donor (yes/no)

•Available (please, don’t show me who is in cycle)

•Race – Asian, African American, Middle Eastern, Caucasian, East Indian

•Ethnic Heritage – Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Irish, French, German, Persian, etc. (hold down control to choose more than one)

•Academic Achievers – (Only donors who meet the following criteria belong in this group: GPA of 3.0 and up in college, SAT over 1250 on old SAT over 1700 on new SAT, ACT of over 27, Masters level or better)

Don’t make it difficult for intended parents to see full profiles. If they have to contact you to get a full profile, they may just move on to the next site that allows them direct access. You must have pretty amazing donors, either visually or academically, for intended parents to want to contact you for full profiles. And chances are that you are missing out on possible matches by making them jump through hoops to see a full profile. Some agencies feel they are protecting their donors, but in most cases, the site is already password protected. Those who have requested passwords are usually serious about finding a match.

The most important way to improve your site is to have really great donors. Make sure they complete their profiles, and stay in touch with your donors so that you aren’t surprised if they have moved, changed their mind, or are in cycle with another agency. Your donors will feel more committed to your program, and you will be more on top of their availability to cycle if you stay in touch. There is nothing worse than having an intended parent express interest in a donor only to find that you can’t locate her. Young women move frequently and don’t always update you with their new contact info. Staying in touch with your donors can also help you to keep your site looking fresh by adding current photos. Some agencies are good at rotating donor photos and posting new pictures, which can bring new attention to the donor and possibly a new match for you.

Think of your site as a storefront. You want to keep it looking clean, fresh, and interesting. Pay attention to details and make sure the donors’ profiles are complete. If a donor ages out, remove her from your site. Very few intended parents are comfortable choosing egg donors over the age of 30, particularly if she is not a previous donor and has no children of her own. It is far better to have a site with 50 great donors than a site with 1,000 so-so donors.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Asian Egg Donors Are in High Demand: A Note to Agencies by Guest Blogger Gail Sexton Anderson Ed. M.

There is an influx of Chinese couples coming to the U.S. for fertility treatment in need of both egg donors and surrogates. Most Chinese couples want only Chinese egg donors but some are open to donors of other ethnic backgrounds. Make sure your egg donor profiles state the donor’s specific heritage, not just that they are Asian. This is too general and your donor will probably be passed over.

The couples who come to the U.S. for fertility treatment tend to be well educated and value education in the donors they seek. While some may be satisfied with egg donors who have a two year degree (AA), most want to see that the egg donor candidates have a four year degree (BS or BA) as a minimum requirement. This helps them to have some measure for intelligence and drive.

Donor blood type is very important to these couples since using an egg donor will, in most cases, be a family secret as egg donation is not culturally accepted by many of their families and communities. If you don’t know the blood type of your Asian egg donors, now is the time to have them be tested at a lab or donate blood since they learn their blood type while doing so. Otherwise, you may have difficulty matching your donors who are not aware of their blood type to Asian recipients.

Age is also a crucial factor. Asian woman tend to not respond as well as Caucasian women to fertility treatment. When it comes to choosing donors, they often ask for donors under the age of 25 to increase their odds. They may be willing to consider egg donors up to age 27 but usually only if these donors are previous successful egg donors. Unfortunately, many of the agencies I visit have Asian egg donors who are over 27 and even over 30. Most reproductive endocrinologist (REs) will not approve an Asian egg donor who is over 27 unless she is a blood relative.

I work with Asian couples every week and have worked with more than one hundred over the years. These are all common issues for Asian intended parents. I hope you find this helpful as you gear up to recruit more Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese egg donors as these factors are also true for many other Asian intended parents.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tips for Egg Donor Agencies: Fill in All the Blanks by Guest Blogger Gail Sexton Anderson, Ed. M.

In a perfect world each egg donor would complete every answer on her egg donor profile. I know this is a nuisance for the agencies who post the profiles to their sites when there are blanks but it is a huge frustration for the intended parents who might have been interested in cycling with an egg donor if she had completed her profile. I know from working with egg donors that sometimes egg donors may not always be cognizant of the fact that information on their application is their opportunity to be known as an individual and can make the difference as to being chosen or not. Sometimes egg donors may forget that this is not a cold and distant decision but a life changing decision for the intended parents.

The intended parents have already had to grieve the loss of a child that is genetically related to the intended mother. At this point the Intended parents are hoping to find someone that feel could fit into their family. Filling in all of the blanks helps to give life to a flat profile and enable the intended parents to have a window into who the donor is so they can say “I like her, she seems like someone who I can relate to.”

These applications are the only way most intended parents can get any sense of what an egg donor candidate is like. If all an intended parent has to go on is a few clipped answers they can be left feeling no connection and no sense of why they would want to choose that particular egg donor’s genes to fill such a monumental role within their family. I have had many intended parents tell me they like the donor profiles were the donors have really put some thought into their answers.

As an agency it’s important to take the time to review every application before it is posted on your site to make sure the donor has taken the time to put a bit of her personality into her profile. It may take you more time on the front end but it will save you oodles of time and money on the matching end. You may not even be aware of how often a donor has been passed over for lack of information.

Gail Sexton Anderson has dedicated her career to helping intended parents from all walks of life to build families. She founded Donor Concierge as a compassionate approach to helping intended parents sort through the gauntlet of egg donor and surrogacy options. Gail has developed working relationships with many excellent egg donor and surrogacy programs, reproductive endocrinologists, fertility attorneys, and mental health professionals specializing in third party fertility counseling she has known and trusted for years.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A New Book by Sharon LaMothe for the Children of Surrogates: Surrogacy Helps Make a Family Grow!

I am thrilled to announce that my book, Surrogacy Helps Make a Family Grow!, is available on for those living and working in the world of surrogacy. This heartwarming story is written for the children of surrogate mothers who want to explain to them just how and why they are carrying a baby for another family.
I was a surrogate myself when my own kids were ages 3 and 13 and there were no books out there to help me explain this wonderful selfless act to them. Surrogacy Helps Make a Family Grow! is only 30 pages long and filled with colorful illustrations and makes a perfect 'welcome gift' from agencies, clinics and IPs. For women becoming surrogates themselves, this is a great tool to teach their own children about Gestational Surrogacy and how the whole family makes the dream of a baby come true for those in need.

Anyone wanting to buy 20 books or more please e-mail me at  for discount details!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tips for Egg Donors and Agencies: Profile Pictures by Guest Blogger Gail Sexton Anderson, Ed.M.

A picture is worth a thousand words, or so the saying goes. Yet, I’m still surprised when I see some of the pictures that egg donors submit to be published with their profile. Overall, I think the quality of pictures has improved dramatically over the last several years. Or, more to the point,agencies are choosing more wisely when they select which photos to publish.

Nonetheless, there are a few photo problems that happen often enough that I think they are worth mentioning. Most of these issues can be fixed easily without taking away from the integrity of the donors appearance and in fact would make her more appealing to potential intended parents:

1) Red eye, this is such an easy fix with all of the photo packages that come with most computers these days.

2) Blurry images that make it difficult to see what the donor looks like. If that is the only picture you have of the donor you have got to get more or take her off your site until she can supply you with better quality pictures.

3) Pictures with other people in them, try your best to cut out other people. I do before I send them on to my clients to keep from distracting from the donor.

4) If the other people are family members label them clearly

5) Pictures that are too small and that can’t be enlarged by clicking on the image. I love the images that can be enlarged and maintain high resolution. It makes for a much better impression of the donor.

6) Intended parents often object to party pictures where the donor has a drink in her hand.

7) Intended parents also object to the vamping/sexy pictures. You know the ones where the donor looks like she is going to seduce the camera. She should look like a future daughter not like a sex kitten.

8) Think about what is in the background of the pictures. So many donors take pictures of themselves with their cell phone in their bathroom or a messy bedroom or in one case in a public bathroom with a bank of stalls behind her.

9) Obvious tattoos and piercings. We all know these things are not hereditary but intended parents are easily distracted and may make unfair assumptions about the donor.

10) Only use good hair day pictures. We all have bad hair day pictures but do we want them posted? Even if the donor is blind enough to give you the pictures from the day she decided purple hair would be fun if she normally has brown hair leave out Miss Purple Hair, again distracting.

11) Try to have at least one or two childhood pictures along with the current photos. Intended parents like to see the donor at different ages.

Intended parents want to feel like they know the donor since they probably won’t be able to meet her. The pictures should help to tell a story of who this donor is as an individual. If you don’t already you may want to take a few pictures of the donor when you meet her. Let her know that she will be having her picture taken and ask her to apply light, natural makeup and to dress simply in a nice top and jeans in solid colors that complement her coloring. This way you can see her build in a tasteful way and prints will not detract from her face. It may be well worth it to have some professional pictures taken if you are not particularly good at photography. One of the nicest sights has three simple shots of each donor taken at the interview. It is simple, straight forward and tasteful. I find the intended parents respond very well to this sight. While it is nice to have more pictures it is possible to have too many 3-9 good shots are usually ample to get a sense of what the donor looks like.

Gail Sexton Anderson has dedicated her career to helping intended parents from all walks of life to build families. She founded Donor Concierge as a compassionate approach to helping intended parents sort through the gauntlet of egg donor and surrogacy options. Gail has developed working relationships with many excellent egg donor and surrogacy programs, reproductive endocrinologists, fertility attorneys, and mental health professionals specializing in third party fertility counseling she has known and trusted for years.

Monday, August 15, 2011

5 Reasons Why You Should Respond to Every Comment by Pat Flynn

If you enable comments on your blog (which I’m sure most of you do), then you obviously want your readers to interact by leaving comments after your post. Then why, I ask, does it usually end up being a one-sided conversation?

It’s like giving a presentation to a group of people and not responding to questions and comments from your audience. It just seems rude, but for some reason it has become standard for bloggers not to reply to comments made on their post.

So much for “interaction”.

For big-time bloggers with several comments on each post, it would obviously be tough to respond to each and every single comment. But you have to admit that it is nice to when the big names take the time to respond to some of the comments, right?

The truth is, most of us are not “big time” bloggers and we do have the time to respond. And yet – we don’t.

In Step #6 of 6 Steps To An Effective Guest Post, it mentions:

“If you are fortunate enough to get your site published, the work is not over yet. All your efforts should go into promoting that article and taking part in any comments that may be posted.

Why is this something that only guest posters should do? Every blogger should be doing it on their own posts too.

For the past several months, I’ve been doing my best to respond to each and every single comment on my own blog, just to see what would happen. The response has been nothing less than amazing. In fact, people have pointed out that they love that I respond to almost every comment, and some of my readers have even emailed me just to say thanks.

So what’s the real benefit? Why should you invest a few extra minutes to respond to your readers? Here are 5 reasons to do so:

1. It Encourages People To Comment

People don’t leave comments just so they can be left unread. By replying, you’re not only letting people know that you’re actively involved in reading the comments, but you’re encouraging them to come back and comment again later.

Furthermore, people who don’t normally comment may be happy to do so knowing that their comment will indeed be read.

2. It Adds to the Quality of Your Posts

A reply can often lead to side conversations within the commenting area that add to the content and overall quality of your post. Your points will be explained further, new points will be brought up, and questions that people may have get answered.

Also, new people will join the side conversations and add their own comments that they wouldn’t have normally made otherwise.

3. It Helps With Search Engine Optimization

Comments on your blog posts do in fact help with search engine optimization, although admittedly in a minimal way.

More comments, including your own, usually mean more instances of the keywords that you used in your blog post, which means you’re more likely to be found in the search engines for those terms.

Additionally, new terms that you did not use in your blog post will be brought up and discussed, which could potentially help you for those terms as well.

4. It Adds More Social Proof

Social proof is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when people’s decisions are influenced by making the assumption that surrounding people know more about certain situations than you do.

For example, if you’re at the mall and you see a huge crowd of people around a particular store, chances are that you’re going to walk over and see what the big deal is. In a similar way, you might be more inclined to follow a certain blogger in a niche just because they have more subscribers and followers than others.

In most cases, your own comments will count towards the overall comment count of your post. Respond to 15 comments, and you’ll have a total comment count of 30, which looks more far more impressive and interesting to your readers and any new visitors to your blog.

5. It Helps You Build Authority and Credibility

Finally, by responding to each comment, you’re establishing yourself as a go-to expert in your niche. You become more “real” and are seen as someone who actually takes time to care for your readers, which adds value to you and your blog.

Because responding to comments is abnormal, you’ll stand out of the crowd like no other. And if you can leave thoughtful, meaningful comments, you’ll make that much more of an impact on your readers.

It doesn’t take very much extra time, and the return on investment can be phenomenal. So why not give it a shot?

Try responding to every comment and see what happens.

So What Do You Think?

How do you feel when a blogger responds to a comment you left on his or her blog? Do you think it’s worth the time and effort to do so, or are we just wasting our time?

Please leave a comment below, and tell me what you think.


About the Author: After getting laid off back in 2008, Pat Flynn has since created an online empire, starting multiple online businesses which earn him well over 6-figures a year in passive income. He writes about online business and blogging on The Smart Passive Income Blog. You can also download his free eBook, eBooks the $mart Way, which reveals all of Pat’s secrets to writing and automating a killer eBook for your blog or business.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It's Time to Plan Your ASRM Annual Meeting Agenda! Put These Suggestions on Your List!

Have you looked at your ASRM Program yet? If you have attended this great conference in the past then you know that all of the courses and roundtables fill up fast! The post grad course I am participating in is offered on page 15, Course PG1 offered on Saturday the 10/15. The Psychology and Ethics of Marketing a Mental Health Practice in Infertility. William Petok, Ph.D, and Jeffery E. Barnett, Psy.D. are also on the faculty with me! Not to be missed opportunity to learn about marketing your practice or business! Turn to page 50 and you will find #RTT19 Demystifying Gestational Surrogacy luncheon roundtable hosted by me as well! This is found under Mental Health! Remember these roundtables include lunch and are limited! This one is offered on Tuesday October 18th! I hope to see you there!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Marketing in Social Media is Not Off-putting to Users

You know, facts often speak louder then *my* words. I found this study (from 2009) below and wanted to share it with you because it pretty much says what I have been preaching all media is a GREAT way to get your company noticed! Read below and share with me what you are doing to become more visible in the infertility industry.....

Sharon LaMothe

LaMothe Services, LLC

More research has added weight to the assertion that social network users are receptive to brand marketing messages in their various social environments and are happy to recommend products or services themselves. by Helen Leggatt

The joint study, released this week by Performics and ROI Research, found that while sites such as Facebook and Twitter were primarily for socializing, branding and marketing content was widely accepted.

Not just accepted, it seems, but often acted upon. Many people took action after seeing a brand mentioned on a social channel. For instance, the study of 3,000 active social network users in the U.S. found that almost half (48%) of Twitter users who saw a brand's name mentioned on the site would go on to use a search engine to investigate further.

In addition:
- 34% have used a search engine to find information on a product/service/brand after seeing an advertisement on a social networking site,

- 30% have learned about a new product, service or brand from a social networking site,

- 32% said messages about printable coupons on social sites resonate with them,

- 28% said messages about sales or special deal notifications resonate with them.

So, marketers need not give social media a wide berth when it comes to disseminating brand information. The keys are to find the right "voice" and the right buttons to press to pique their interest and encourage further engagement and conversation.

"Social networks are creating a monumental shift in how people communicate with each other and with brands," said Michael Kahn, SVP of Marketing at Performics. "The results of this study can help marketers better understand where and how consumers interact with social media sites and what types of offers and communications engage them and motivate them to act.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Twelve Tips for Writing Better Marketing Brochures By Julia Hyde

Every year, thousands of online businesses fail. No business owner plans to fail, but they fail all the same. One of the main reasons for the high failure rate is an overreliance on one marketing channel: the Internet.

Marketing isn't about the medium; it's about getting and keeping customers. Internet marketing can help, but only if you use it in conjunction with other tools. In order to succeed, every company must have brochures and other forms of printed sales literature to hand out to customers and prospects.

A company needs printed marketing literature for two reasons:

Credibility. People expect a "real" company to have printed sales literature. Anyone can spend $60 on business cards and letterhead and call themselves a company. But if you want people to know you mean business, you need a brochure. Read more about the Importance of a Logo and Marketing Materials.

Time. People want printed material to take home and read at their leisure. Brochures also support other advertising, direct mail, and online promotions. In short, a good brochure sells.

Here are 12 tips on writing a brochure that will support your online marketing efforts and increase your sales.

1. Know what your reader wants. Write your brochure or leaflet from the reader's point of view. What are your readers' concerns? What do they need to know before they make a purchase? Try writing down all the questions you hear from your customers and try and answer them in your collateral.

2. Motivate your reader to look inside. The first page your reader will see is the front cover. Get it wrong and you will likely lose the sale. Start with the benefits of your product, or use thought-provoking statements that motivate the reader to pick up the brochure and open it. Tell the reader there's something inside just for them -- an exclusive invitation, a free report, a special discount, or advance notice of sales. Don't put just your company logo or product name on the front. That will not work.

3. List the contents. In brochures of eight pages or more, a table of contents is essential. Design it so that the table of contents stands out from the rest of the text. Use the contents to sell the brochure. Don't use mind-numbing words like "Introduction" or "Model No. A848DHGT." Use your key sales points in your headings.

4. List your product's benefits. Purchasers care about benefits, not features. To develop a list of benefits, draw up a list of product features and add the words "which means that..." after each point. For example, "The cake is made from an original recipe, which means tastes better." Or, "The car has a 300 horse-power engine, which means goes faster." Benefits are what sells products. Learn more about Copywriting Basics.

5. Make the brochure a keeper. Putting helpful information in your brochure will encourage the reader to keep it, refer to it often, or pass it on to other people. If you are selling paint, you can provide hints on color schemes, painting how-to information, tips from the pros, or other information. If you are selling skin care products, you can give your readers tips on how to combat pimples, dry skin, fine lines, and wrinkles.

6. Alter the shape. Who says a brochure has to be 8 ½ by 11? If you are selling sandwiches, design a brochure in the shape of a sandwich. Season tickets to soccer matches? Design it in the shape of a soccer ball. Use your imagination to come up with an original, eye-catching piece.

According to Direct Magazine, a recent mailing by CSi, a company that conducts customer satisfaction surveys for automobile insurance firms and repair shops, got a 15 percent response rate with a brochure delivered in a 32-ounce squeeze sport water bottle. The headline read, "Thirsty for more repair orders?"

Try tall and slim, square, oblong, whatever you like. The only limitation is your imagination, and, of course, your budget.

7. Make it personal. An experienced speaker talking to a large audience will pick out someone in the crowd, and talk directly to him or her. This connection allows the speaker to make the talk more personal. In a similar fashion, write your brochure with an imaginary person in mind. Why? Because writing in a direct "I'm-talking-only-to-you" style will increase response.

8. Add atmosphere. You don't want your brochure to sound aloof. Let your reader share your feelings. A brochure about a wood-burning stove does not need to go into the ins and outs of how the stove works. Tell your reader about rainswept winter evenings and snowbound afternoons. Let your words show them how warm and snug and they'll be when they purchase one of your stoves.

9. Start selling right away. Not everyone needs to know about every aspect of your product or service. Don't waste their time telling them about things that don't convey a benefit.

10. Address your reader's needs. Don't get carried away with your own interests. Talk about your reader, not yourself.

11. Give directions. Organize your brochure so readers can flip through the pages and easily find what they want. Provide clear signposts or headlines throughout the brochure and make sure each one says "Hey, pay attention to me!"

12. Ask for action. Regardless of how you organize your brochure, there's only one way to end it. Ask for action. If you want your reader to respond, include an 800 number, reply card, or some form of response mechanism. In fact, to increase your brochure's selling power, include your offer and a response mechanism on every page.

Julia Hyde is an independent copywriter and consultant specializing in advertising, search engine optimization, and search engine marketing services. To learn more, visit her Web site at or email her at

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July! From LaMothe Services and Infertility Answers, LLC

Happy Independence Day From All of Us at LaMothe Services, LaMothe Surrogacy Consulting and Infertility Answers! Have a safe and happy holiday weekend!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How to Build a Sound Marketing Plan for Your Small Business is a great site to find marketing (and other ideas). Listed below is a great article on marketing...and I can't stress enough that you NEED to market! You can't just sit in your home office and think that people are going to "find" you on the Internet of that your favorite RE is going to send you all his clients. You need to do the work! Get started!


How to Build a Sound Marketing Plan for Your Small Business

Not unlike a business plan, a marketing plan can play an important role in the success of your small business. While the plan is primarily for your own purposes, it should include:

*Your products and/or services
*Your demographic audience
*Methods of selling
*Your budget
*Your geographic market
*Your competition and your competitive edge
*An overview of the marketing tools available: Media outlets, PR possibilities, community activities, conferences, potential speaking engagements, and so on.

The final objective of your marketing plan is to define who you are trying to reach, what you are selling, how you will reach this audience, and how much it will cost to do. You will then devise a means of communicating your message to your audience.

Just as you do in your business plan, you will need to pull the many pieces together to demonstrate how you will reach your target audience. For example, if your plan is to increase the sale of your brand of healthy popcorn to a teen market, you might show how you will distribute samples at school activities, sponsor a series of events for teens, and propose articles on the health benefits of your popcorn to teen-oriented magazines and Web sites.

Within your marketing plan show how you will use diverse methods to get your message across, including different forms of media, product samples, sponsorship and so on. Also, maintain a level of marketing at all times. During slower seasons you may just want to keep your brand in front of your audience, while in busier seasons you will need a more aggressive approach. Define such a strategy in your plan.

As a small business, you can make a big impact by seeking out media that appeal to your niche market. Keep in mind that marketing is a long-term effort and slow and steady typically wins the race — or in this case, the customers.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

6 Tips for Successful Networking

I feel like now is the time to at least take a look at networking. Maybe you have told quite a few people what you are planning to an agency. That is NOT considered least not in a major way. You are a 'service based' business. No matter where you go and what you are doing YOU ARE NETWORKING. I don't mean that you have to wear lipstick and heels to the local Albertsons or Safeway but you never know when someone will ask you what do you do. Being confident, observant, friendly and having that business card on hand really is a start. Networking at the ASRM conference is easier because you do have a target audience there. Putting yourself 'out there' again and again is how you are going to build your business whether by phone or in person and knowing these 6 tips really will help. Again I am looking at (I like to give credit where credit is due!)

Sharon LaMothe
LaMothe Services, LLC

6 Tips for Successful Networking
Here are some networking tips that could help you have a little bit of fun, as well as generate more business and profits for your small business.
Radiate Confidence

Even if you are shy or nervous, keep your poise and have a confident attitude as you walk into any meeting or conference. This will attract others. As you do so, you need to be prepared to carry on an intelligent discussion.
Study what is going to be discussed during the meeting. When people understand that you are serious about participating in the discussions in a meaningful and useful way, they will respect you and seek you out.
Do Not Dismiss Small Talk
Small talk is a vital part of business communications. By making small talk, you will make other people feel comfortable in your presence, and also slowly build up a level of trust with them.
You can start your sales ‘pitch’ after you have come to know something about the likes and dislikes of the other person. Serious discussions and negotiations will eventually be conducted, but small talk has its place in interactions between business people.

Observe the Other Person

When you are talking with other people, observe their reactions and their body language. You might find that a particular person is more interested in hearing details about you and your small business. You can then focus on that person, since you will have already captured their interest.
This strategy will save you from wasting time on people who are not interested in your company or your products. Limit the amount of time you spend trying to convince someone, before you move on to the next group or person.
Wasting your time on someone who is clearly not interested in what you have to offer will only leave you with less time to converse with others.
Keep Your Business Card Ready
You should not give your business card to each and every person, but you should give it to anyone who displays even the slightest potential of becoming a customer.
Follow-Up Is Important, Too
Call, email, or fax the people you’ve had a good interaction with during your meeting. This will indicate to the other person that you enjoyed meeting him or her, and that you are now interested in conducting serious business.
Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained
Do not be afraid of what the other person might think about you. You can expect to have a few misses before you find an approach that works. Until then, keep on trying and attend as many networking events as you possibly can so that you can meet a wide variety of people. A few setbacks should not stop you from meeting new and interesting people that can help advance your business goals.
Use the above tips to better networking, and you will turn into a networking specialist in no time. In addition to getting increased business, you might also make some new friends - and it is this combination that makes networking fun and profitable.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The First Step~Considering Your Business Choice

So you have been a surrogate or Intended Parent and think that you can do just a good a job as the other professionals that assisted you with your surrogacy journey. (or could have been an Independent and feel that others can learn from your mistakes or your success) you have friends who come to your for advice and childless couples who ask if you know anyone that would consider carrying for them. You can do this kind of "connecting 2 and 2" and actually make 4, however that is not all the ingredients needed to have your own surrogacy business or ANY business for that matter.
I am going to use this section of my blog to spoon feed potential new agency owners. Some of my advice is from making a success of Surrogacy Consultants of Florida, LLC and the mistakes that were made as well. (I hate to admit mistakes but if it will help YOU...)
Lets start with the basics. Do you have the business plan, money, ambition, time, compassion, connections, education, experience, flexibility, ability to network and the support from those around you? A 'NO' answer to any of these things sends the first red flag! Do you know the first people who suffer when you start a service based business like a surrogacy/egg donation agency? Your Family! Your Children! Something to think about. Unless you are doing this matching 'thing' at your own expense I suggest you don't expect to get your first pay check for a year or more. The business comes first and therefore any money coming in at first must feed the business. (more on that later).
I really am NOT trying to talk you out of this wonderful enterprise. Being an agency owner is fulfilling, exciting, a wonderful way to meet great people and work with others who have the same goals and desires BUT it is a commitment. And that's the first step....
Sharon LaMothe
LaMothe Services, LLC

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lessons From The Wizard of Oz: by Will Craig

Most of us are familiar with the story of Dorothy and the friends she meets on her way to find the Wizard. The Scarecrow who felt he lacked a brain; the Tin Man who didn’t think he had a heart; and the Cowardly Lion who wished he had courage.

The Wizard (a man whose heart was in the right place but whose ethics needed some work) actually exercised some effective coaching skills at the end of the story.

For each of Dorothy’s three friends, he fostered a sense of belief that they, indeed, had those things they sought so desperately. He convinced the Scarecrow he was smart by giving him a diploma. The Tin Woodsman received his gift from the Wizard and knew he now had a heart because it was breaking. The Cowardly Lion became instantly courageous when he received his medal for bravery.

Believing in Yourself

When Dorothy saw her friends all get what they wanted she was in firm belief she could certainly have what she wanted. Glynda, the Good Witch, had Dorothy repeat, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…

Each of them, as it turns out, already had inside of them the answers they were seeking. Ironically, they had the potential and the ability to grant their own desires from the very beginning. The only thing missing was belief.

The beauty of The Wizard of Oz is that we are all able to identify with the characters and their challenges along life’s path. Doesn’t it make you think of the fantastic life you could have if you really believed you could?

Sharon LaMothe
Infertility Answers, Inc.
LaMothe Services, LLC

Monday, May 23, 2011

Expand Your Business With Blogging

I obviously feel that blogging is important…I own several blogs myself and write for others…I design blogs for those who don’t have the time and I teach the ins and outs of posting, comment moderation and content writing to people who want to be independent and share their own ideas. This post below really hits home to the WHY of it all…blogs are here to stay so embrace all of the possibilities and open the door to Your World……and see who enters!
Sharon LaMothe

Expand Your Business With Blogging
Statistically speaking, you're likely reading this outside of normal business hours. Am I right, or am I right? Why? Because if you have a life (okay... admittedly many people don't) the majority of your time is spent away from the office and outside of normal business hours. Usually, when the sun goes down you are already out the door. Frazier has left the building.
But the sun never sets on the internet. It operates 24/7/365 for online and offline businesses both. There are no doors to unlock and no lights to turn on. The doors are always open and the lights are always on. No brick; no mortar; no time clocks.
There are so many important online tools for both marketing (presenting your company and product to the market) and sales (trading that product/service for revenue)... if you're not using them you're soon to be extinct.
Even the US government figured that out. Filed any corporate taxes lately? Most companies now do it online (it is called EFTPS, if you're at all curious).
Low-to-No Cost
Many of the online resources available for your business are usable with no cost and can offer great results. Calculate the ROI on that: small investment (mostly in your time) and great results. Infinite ROI? No, not quite. But as a business owner if you use these available tools correctly it will make a difference in your business.
Put another way, if you are not using online tools for your business, the wolves are at the door and your house is made of sticks. Not brick and mortar; sticks.
Blogging is increasingly being used to effectively to present businesses and products to the market. Websites like Blogger and Wordpress make it possible to share value - your knowledge and experience - through blog posts.
Helpful blog posts on relevant content establish you as a leader and creates a relationship that your consumers don't normally get from just visiting your website. Just today in a phone conversation a client said, "I was so glad to see you are a real person!" The personal touch works.
Need a great example? Go look at 3PAR's company blog called "StorageRap" ( No, I'm not associated with 3PAR in any way. But Marc Farley is awesome at what he does for the data storage industry. Take special note of the value that he delivers. Yes, it comes with a heavy dose of opinion, and more than a bit of controversy, but that is the whole point of blogging! Ever read a boring blog post... more than part-way? I rest my case.

About the Author: Brian Moore is a business coach and mentor that assists serious entrepreneurs in building a profitable online business with multiple incomes streams. Brian and his team have assisted hundreds of people in generating profits that exceed $250K or more in their first year. For more information and to contact Brian, visit:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Marketing in a Recession? YES!

Below is a topic close to my heart! I have several clients who KNOW that they have to DO SOMETHING to keep up with their competition....and that includes new marketing strategies. The good thing is that you don't have to pay out a lot of money to get results! No matter what you do though, marketing is key!
Tell me what you are doing to keep your business front and center for everyone to see!

Marketing in a Recession? YES!

Is the current tough market the right time to be slashing your advertising budget? Not if you want your business to survive the economic downturn and lay the groundwork to thrive when the economy improves! Tough times may actually provide us our best opportunity to reach out to our customers with little or no competition because so many of our competitors are doing just the opposite of that in an attempt to save money.

During good times everyone has the money (and bravery) to seek out clients, creating an atmosphere of extreme competition where reaching the consumer with your message proves to be exceedingly difficult. NOW is the time to have faith in your product or service, to reach out to your customers and to secure your success now and into the future. And there are easy and cost effective ways of doing so.

There are some simple things that you can do. Everyone knows about the internet, but not everyone knows the free ways to get exposure on the internet. You can write an article about your industry, or a product, and submit it to one of the many sites that accept them. At the end of your article, you mention your business and have a link to your website. Each site has it's guidelines on how the articles are to be written, so make sure to follow them. This will help establish you as a leader in your industry as long as the information you share is helpful and not self-promoting.

Guerilla marketing is great in slow time. Have some flyers or postcards made. One of your employees or friends can design it or you can find an affordable place to do it for you. During your slow time, have your employees go to a busy area and hand them out. Now you are putting your message directly into the hands of prospective customers. Make sure you have an attractive offer that will entice people to visit your business. Obviously, this is mainly for businesses with a store front, but you can do guerilla marketing online as well.

Guerilla marketing is done differently online. With blogs and social networking sites, there are opportunities to market your business in a different setting. You can create blogs and check the response you get from each entry which can help you check what the market is interested in at any given time. Or you can find blogs that have an issue that your company can help with. Respond to the blog with your company information. You can set up an account with a social networking site, giving more information about your business and connecting to other businesses to network and exchanges leads.

Cross promote with other businesses, in other ways. If you're feeling the pinch of the economy, most likely other businesses in your area/industry are feeling it as well. Find other businesses that don't compete with yours and see about exchanging some flyers or a banner promoting each other's business. Or if your business is online, do a link exchange with other businesses. Do not over due the link exchange or Google may lower your organic search results. Be selective in who you work with both online and in the brick and mortar world.

Press Releases can be a very effective way to bring attention to your business. If you have something that impacts the community, then you can have someone write a press release for you. If you hire someone to do it for you, make sure they know how to write and distribute it. Again, remember the topic must be something that impacts the community and not just a self-serving piece promoting your business.

These are just some of the ideas that will help your business grow in any economy. There are plenty of marketing options out there. You just need to find the ones that work for you.


About the Author: Rob Bedell is an expert in the media industry and has worked in the industry for over 15 years. He has worked with some of the largest media companies in the world, Tribune and Knight-Ridder, as well as helping restructure and rebuild other companies in the Los Angeles, CA Metropolitan area. He now owns a marketing company that helps small to medium sized business, making sure that their marketing pays them back.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

LaMothe Product Review: The Wellgate Women’s Slimfit Wrist Support

I had been feeling a little bit of pain in my right wrist and just thinking to myself that it will go away if I just rest it more when into my in box came a request for a product review from Wellgate for Women. Like manna from Heaven I said SURE! I’ll give it a try never thinking that it may just actually work! Before I say any more let me give you a few tips fromThe American Physical Therapy Association to help women avoid getting Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

• If you're typing, only move your fingers and keep your wrists straight. Consider using a keyboard pad to rest your wrists during breaks.

• When typing, maintain good posture to reduce strain. Make sure your spine is flush with the back of the chair, your shoulders are relaxed and feet are flat on the floor.

• Make sure your computer monitor is at eye level so you don't have to bend your neck.

• At home, take frequent breaks from activities that require repetitive motion. For example, if you spend a lot of time in the kitchen slicing and dicing, be aware that all that cutting can put a lot of strain on the wrist.

• Consider using a wrist brace at night or when playing sports to keep the wrist in a neutral position and allow it to rest.

I wish I had read this a few years ago! Needless to say that I have been trying out this Wellgate Slim Fit Wrist Support for about two weeks and it really does work. Not only is it comfortable but I actually like wearing it to bed. My wrist feels refreshed and everyone who knows what I do for a living understands that if your wrist is in pain the work just won't get done.

I highly recommend Wellgate’s Slimfit Wrist Support. They use memory foam and soft fabrics to provide comfort day or night, which is important as orthopedists often recommend wearing a brace to bed to help speed recovery which is exactly what I do.

Give it a try and tell me what you think!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Are You Ready for National Infertility Awareness Week? April 24th through April 30th

What a great opportunity RESOLVE has created in maintaining NIAW! Professionals in the field of collaborative reproduction can take the initiative by offering discounts, free services, and resources during this week to highlight their own businesses as well as their willingness to educate and assist those suffering with infertility. Take a moment to check out the RESOLVE website and see what you can do to make this week successful for everyone!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Egg Donors Verses the ASRM: Antitrust Class Action Suit Filed

Yes, you read that headline right! Lindsay Kamakahi has sued the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), and the Pacific Fertility Center for "price fixing and reaping the anti-competitive profits for themselves". You can read all about it here in the Courthouse News Service and here is the actual file.

So the question is do egg donors have a case against these parties? I am not an attorney but in general I doubt it. However, this case is bound to shine yet another spotlight on what an egg donor is paid and how the infertility 'industry" is going about self regulation. Comments have been made that egg donors need to be protected and that they might be exploited however there are a lot of educational tools available not only within clinics, agency's, and not for profit sites but all over the Internet as well. But how does someone put a price on their own genetics? What kind of guidelines are being offered? The reality may be is that no one wants to think about selling their genetics...that's why it's called egg 'donation'. The compensation comes into play for the medical trauma and inconvenience of the donation itself. At the end of the day the Intended Parents maybe the ones who need protection. They are the people, after all, that will have to pay the upwards of $10,000.00+ bill. Perhaps the word donation will be removed from the third party family building vocabulary. We will all have to wait and see......

Thursday, April 7, 2011

It's Time to Register for START ART (formally SMART ART)!!

Infertility is a challenging and rewarding field of nursing, and one that is evolving rapidly and dramatically, requiring nurses and other healthcare practitioners to constantly remain current with the latest state-of–the ART technology. Those in practice, as well as nurses in transition, accept that this ever changing arena requires an ongoing commitment to pursue new information, techniques, and best practices. And, equal in priority, is the IVF nurse’s sensitivity to parents’ quest to create families and the fragility of early embryonic life.
The Annual REI Nursing Congress: Scientific & Therapeutic Approaches To Assisted Reproductive Technology (STARTARTSM) provides a unique and comprehensive educational opportunity, featuring critical updates on the latest advances in reproductive medicine, from procedures and protocols to psychosocial and legal issues. The goal of this Congress is to provide late-breaking information and cutting-edge techniques to improve ART outcomes - a goal that is matched by the IVF nurses’ skills, compassion, and caring that make this field so remarkable. (This is a great educational tool for all agency owners too!)

SO if you haven't already heard, START ART (formally SMART ART) is scheduled for August 4-6 at the Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel in Las Vegas. The same place SMART ART was held last year. If you haven't experience this conference then I highly suggest that you consider it especially if you are a surrogacy or egg donation agency owner because I have always found the legal and mental health segments to be excellent. Its also great to know what some of the clinical aspects are in Assisted Reproductive Technology as well. Here are the program objectives:
  • Summarize recent advances in hormonal treatments and regimens involved in assisted reproductive technology (ART)
  • Distinguish strategies for modifying stimulation protocols to maximize outcomes
  • Describe clinical and laboratory features that predict response and prognosticate outcome with ART
  • Explain advances in laboratory techniques for oocyte preservation
  • Review impact and strategies for managing male factor infertility  
  • Discuss strategies to preserve fertility in cancer patients
  • Identify mental health, legal, and psychosocial issues encountered by infertile couples
  • Summarize various psychosocial issues and support strategies that clinicians can employ in working with infertile couples
  • Highlight recent advances in the fields of molecular genetics and proteomics as they impact the clinical practice of preimplantation genetic screening and diagnosis
  • This activity is intended for the education of nurses, nurse practitioners, and other healthcare professionals specializing in reproductive medicine and assisted reproductive technology.
The beauty of this seminar is that it has been totally underwritten! This means that registration is FREE! Enrollment is limited and available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Tuition has been underwritten by an educational grant from EMD Serono and includes all scientific sessions, a course syllabus, CNE certification, and planned meal functions. (EMD Serono Inc. is an affiliate of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany)
I hope to see you in Las Vegas at START ART!


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Don’t Use Twitter Like a Wet Cracker By Joshu Thomas

Crackers – The drier the better! Am sure you would never go shopping for a wet cracker. Then why use a twitter account the same way?

Twitter is a marketing bomb if used the right way. I have been using twitter for more than 2 years now and have been benefited only when I discovered the right way to use it.

Just like many of us I usually blindly do 2 things:

Blindly follow as many as suggested twitter accounts to follow.

Blindly tweet every single post on my blog using the retweet plugins.

I can for sure say these two are the biggest mistakes that could get your cracker wet.

The major pattern you could see on Twitter is:

You get followed back by many if you follow them

People subscribe to auto-follow tools to increase the follower counts

Your Twitter dashboard is flooded with tweets if you leave it un touched for 10 minutes

As soon as you tweet you see few new visitors from twitter landing on your website / blog

Is that what Twitter is all about – a few extra visitors, lot of blind tweets, flooded dashboards and huge chunk of followers to show off?

Now let me share what I learnt the hard way and something that could really help you benefit.

I created another twitter account and followed a different strategy that the one I used to use and many of us still use.

I had the new Ground rules this time:

Only follow who I really wanted to

Will try to keep the follower to following ratio unequal

Have a straight forward profile Bio (simple words about me and what I do)

Have a real profile pic (preferably not a graphic unless you are a huge brand)

Respond to direct messages

Visit / Reply to interesting tweets and if good, re-tweet.

Meet / interact with real people and build contacts

How this was different from my previous approach

With my old profile even though I had 8000+ followers on a retweet I used to get 120 -150 new hits on my blog posts. Then what are the 7850 followers for? Spamming you? I guess you have got the message I am trying to send across.

Here is a snapshot of my account: ( I have 60 people I follow and 1794 followers)

Take Home: Twitter is all about real people and real contacts – build them and you would be rewarded.

About the Author: Joshu Thomas is a Blogger from India. Blogging and web development helped him become independent, and that is why loves it. You can read more from him on his website,

Thursday, March 24, 2011

3 Ways to Make Your Writing Clearer and More Engaging By Bamboo Forest

Your ideas may be superb while floating in your cranium. Once they get to paper, however, if they’re difficult to understand or blandly presented, their impact will be compromised. Blogging’s at its best when ideas are expressed clearly and compellingly.

The following three strategies will assist you:

1. Move confusing sentences to a clean page

Ever been whistling along with your blog post when suddenly you arrive at a thought you’re trying to express on paper, yet it’s being completely uncooperative like a toddler who refuses to eat his brussels sprouts?

If you’re dealing with a bratty sentence that doesn’t want to be clear and concise, don’t let it just sit there misbehaving. You have to discipline it. To do so, move the disorderly sentence away from your post, onto an empty page.

Once you’ve pasted the confusing sentence into clear, white space, begin formulating a new sentence underneath it. By moving the confusing sentence outside of your post and onto an empty page, you won’t be distracted by the rest of your writing. The singularity of focus gained will help you create a better, clearer sentence.

Sometimes it’s helpful when pasting the confusing sentence to include the surrounding sentences for context.

2. Replace a word used in consecutive sentences when it’s monotonous

I’ll use an example from a blog post I wrote that uses a river as a metaphor. Pay close attention to how the word ‘rushing’ is used in two consecutive sentences.

Here’s the original segment:

“Do you hear the sound of the water rushing over the rocks? Tell me… when you hear the rushing water, when are you hearing it; in the past or the future? Neither. It’s only possible to hear this precious sound in the now.”

Do you notice how the word ‘rushing’ used in these consecutive sentences sounds monotonous? Using this word consecutively dulls the delivery because it’s repetitive to the reader’s ear. Instead, it’s best to replace one of the usages of ‘rushing’ with a synonym or something close to it.

Look at the improved version with the second use of ‘rushing’ replaced with a new word:

“Do you hear the sound of the water rushing over the rocks? Tell me… when you hear the babbling water, when are you hearing it; in the past or the future? Neither. It’s only possible to hear this precious sound in the now.”

Much better sounding prose, no? In the aforementioned example, replacing one of the usages of ‘rushing’ actually fosters a more vivid picture in the reader’s mind. A thesaurus can help you come up with a good replacement for a word that’s detrimentally used twice in a row.

3. Don’t over explain

Our writing often gives enough information so that the reader will understand what you’re conveying even if you didn’t specify every last detail. If you’re determined to give information that your readers will discern without your help, you’ve bloated your writing and slowed its delivery.

In the book On Writing, Stephen King reminds us, “If I tell you that Carrie White is a high school outcast with bad complexion and a fashion-victim wardrobe, I think you can do the rest, can’t you? I don’t need to give you a pimple-by-pimple, skirt-by-skirt rundown.”

The above principle applies equally to non-fiction.

Earlier I told you that when you’re dealing with a confusing sentence, you should move it onto an empty page and construct a clearer sentence underneath to take its place.

I also added this:

“Sometimes it’s helpful when pasting the confusing sentence to include the surrounding sentences for context.”

You’ll notice I didn’t specify how many surrounding sentences you should include because that’s something you’ll determine yourself, right?

When writing for your audience, always make clarity and engagement the highest priority.

About the Author: Bamboo Forest created Tick Tock Timer, an online timer that helps bloggers increase their focus and get more work.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

5 Ways To Network Your Way To Blogging Success By Steve Roy

Networking has become a buzzword over the last few years and with the explosion of social media, it has become “the way” to build a business.
We all know the vast power of social media and the role it can play in your success as a blogger. However, there are still many, many blogggers who are not taking advantage of this phenomenon.

When I say taking advantage of it, I don’t mean posting your weekend activities on Facebook or tweeting out random thoughts you have throughout the day.

What I’m talking about is using social media to build relationships with your peers and with those who are in social circles that you want to be a part of

The Power Of Networking

Networking is especially important for a new blogger. If you think you can go it alone and see the same level of success, then by all means try it. However, if you want to speed up the process of building traffic and gaining new readers and subscribers, then you need to leverage other bloggers audiences. This is where networking comes in.

Great content is the starting point for a successful blog, but when you are just beginning, nobody is going to read it because you have no traffic. Building significant levels of traffic takes time and that’s part of the blogging process, but why not help yourself and begin networking with bloggers who have already achieved what you want?

For example, I have a fitness blog which has been running since 2008. It has never received more than 300 visitors in any given month. Why? Because I have not networked one bit. I have written my posts and done nothing to get people to read them.

Now take my current blog, I have focused my attention on building relationships through networking and have had much greater success. Here some of the things I have done which have helped grow my blog quite rapidly:

1. Use guest posting.

We have all heard that guest posting is a great way to reach out to more readers and build traffic. A few important things to keep in mind when using this method are:

Find a blog in a similar niche.I see a lot of bloggers who want to submit their post to a high traffic site even though it is in a completely different niche. Big mistake. Even if you get some traffic from it, chances are that they will have little interest in your topic. There is no point to driving traffic to your blog if nobody wants to read it or opt in to your newsletter.

Interact with those who comment on your guest post. Don’t just reply with a “thanks for the comment”, ask them questions and get them talking to each other, that’s how you will get them to come to your blog and become your readers too.

2. Use Twitter.

For months, I was resistant to Twitter because I thought it was a glorified chat room. When I was finally convinced to get on board by a friend, I discovered its potential. In my opinion, Twitter is themost powerful of all social media streams. Just in the last month, I have been in contact with “A” list bloggers and gotten their radar, formed relationships with very successful business owners and bloggers, and made several friends in the process. When used correctly, Twitter can be incredibly powerful and can have a huge impact on your business.

3. Be Useful.

Anyone can self promote and send link after link promoting their own stuff, but the real potential for massive traffic is when others start doing it for you. I can send out 20 tweets about my own most recent post and get a few visitors.

One tweet from someone like Pat Flynn, Brian Clark, or Yaro Starak will send 50 or 100 times the traffic that I could promoting myself. How do you get these big names to promote you? You need to get their attention. Email them something that will interest them, sell their products as an affiliate, send them a personal and unique Tweet, but you HAVE to provide value.

Successful bloggers are incredibly busy people and inundated with emails, calls, and everything else all day every day. You need to stand out, be different, and NOT be looking for a handout. “Please RT this” will not work with these folks.

4. Make Friends.

I have been lucky enough to meet a few people on Twitter who I can now call friends. It just so happens that these friends have blogs that are MUCH more successful than mine.

My intention is to build on those friendships and hopefully learn some things about blogging along the way. If you have a hidden agenda and are just using your “friendship” for your benefit only, it won’t last too long and you will have burned a very important bridge.

If we constantly ask our network to promote us, it will most likely ruin the relationship. However, if we are providing a good resource for people and our content is high quality, we may find that we get promoted without even asking. Just being mentioned in a high profile bloggers blog can send hundreds or thousands of visitors to our sites. The important thing here is to focus on building a network of friends, not promoters.

5. Give, Then Receive.

If you can adopt the philosophy that you need to give before receiving, you will be in a much better position in the long run.

If you can consistently promote high quality sites and valuable resources to your network, you will find that you will begin to build credibility and trust. These two things are absolutely critical to a building a successful blog.

People love to share information. It’s our job to share high quality and valuable information. If you find a new blogger who seems to have great ideas, by all means, send out a tweet. If you come across a fascinating article, share that too.

Don’t worry about others promoting you right now, that will come in time (assuming you have good content). Your focus should be on providing helpful resources and offering that information to your network. Over time and with a little luck, you may get the attention of the people whose blogs you have been promoting. That’s when great things can happen.

If you are not building your network in some capacity every day, you are severely limiting the growth of your blog. Make a commitment to building relationships with those in your niche and start building mutually beneficial relationships today!

You will be amazed at the difference it can make.

About the Author: Steve Roy is the owner of, a blog dedicated to helping people get out of their miserable jobs, build an online business, and live with passion!