Did you know that having a blog on your website can increase traffic to your site by boosting search engine optimisation? Fresh content is how Google thrives, and the more new content you put on your website, the higher you’ll find yourself in the rankings. A blog is the easiest way to ensure that you have new daily, weekly, or monthly information on your site – and using outbound links (as well as backlinks to your own content) will boost you even more.
But it’s not just about the search engines. Having a blog is a great way to develop relationships between you and your potential and current customers. It offers them an insight into how you work, allows them to comment and get involved, and blog posts are ideal for sharing on social media, which gets your name out there and pushes it further than it might otherwise be able to go. If your blog is full of helpful, interesting information then that’s where people will visit first, and each person who visits the blog is a potential customer.
And if a blog is something that you think might be of interest (or if you have any other copy writing requirements), please don’t hesitate to get in touch or check out my website (www.lisamarielamb.co.uk) for more information.
I like writing about all sorts of things; flash fiction, poetry, short stories, novels… And these pieces of writing are in various genres; horror, romance, children’s, literary fiction, mystery… With over one hundred different projects, either completed or in process, I like to think that I’ve managed not to repeat myself when it comes to plot and characters.
I try not to anyway.
But there is one thing that I do mention a lot, and I’m completely aware of it. It’s not always intentional (although at times it is integral to the plot), but whether I mean it to be there at the start of a story or not, ‘the woods’ often pops up.
What do I mean? I mean actual, literal woods. Deep, dark places full of trees and animals and scary things. Or peaceful places full of beauty and clearings of dappled sunlight and twinkling, tinkling streams that lead on to adventure.
I love to write about them too. Sometimes my stories are set within the trees. My recently completed novel, a children’s horror entitled The Waldgeist of Wanderal Woods, focuses the entire story in the magical world below a lush, green, leafy canopy. Another of my short stories is called “The Woods Today”, and is about a rather nasty teddy bears picnic. And another, “Miles To Go” details the shock and confusion of a man who awakes naked in a snowy wood.
Equally, some of my stories just touch on the woods. In “Fairy Lights” the protagonists camp by the edge of a wood, not daring to enter. “One Man and His Dog” has the eponymous man looking towards the woods, but eventually going in the other direction. “Careful of the Castle” involves a woman sitting on a hot, sandy beach; but she wishes she was wandering through the shaded woods of her home town.
There is something so fascinating, so elemental, so mysterious and exciting about woods, inside or out, that I find myself drawn to them. Of course, it helps that I’ve lived near one for almost all of my life. Or rather, near a few of them. The very first house I can remember backed onto woodland. I have a distinct memory of playing in the garden, sitting on a swing that my dad made and which hung from a big old apple tree, and staring, hard, hard, harder, over the back fence and into the woods. I wanted to see something move. I never did, unless wind-waving leaves counted.
A few years later we moved, and this time the garden was bigger, and at the bottom of this one was a large meadow on which horses roamed. That was nice. That was fine. But it was what was beyond the meadow, just on the horizon, that delighted me – a patch of trees that I was happy to call a wood. I even climbed over the back fence on a few occasions and ran across the field, dodging manure, to reach the trees. But fear of what (or whom?) I would find forced my back home. I never did go in.
The house after that, the one in which I spent my teenage years, had an even bigger garden, and this time woods came with the land. Just a little bit, but my excitement was at intense proportions, and I spent a lot of time at the bottom of the garden, just inside the woodland, daring myself to go further.
I still dare myself. My parents still live in the house. Every time I visit, I think about it. Maybe one day I’ll venture in.
When I married, we moved to a pretty little end of terrace in a village. And yes, right outside our front door, was a patch of woodland. It was beautiful, but we outgrew the house and had to move. I now live in an old cottage in the countryside and all around me is farmland. But just down the road are the woods. The real deep, dark woods.
Will I go in? Or will I leave it up to my intrepid characters, as I usually do? Maybe that’s why I write about the places so much – my stories let me do the one thing I’ve always wanted to do, but been afraid to actually go through with.
I am a ghost writer. And it’s not actually as spooky as it sounds (although, to be fair, my favourite genre is horror).
It’s one of many services that I provide as a professional freelancer, but what exactly does it mean, and how could it help you?
Ghost writing is the name given to the act of writing articles, blog posts, social media posts, books, stories, or anything else which is to be published under someone else’s name. I’ve produced hundreds of ghost written blog posts for various clients – many on an ongoing monthly basis – and it is their name that is seen when any reader clicks on the author link. Once I’ve written the piece (and, more often than not, posted it using the log in details I have been given), any ownership I might have had is gone; it all belongs to the site owner.
I have also ghost written a number of novels, as well as writing my own. One of these is about to be published, but it won’t be my name on the cover – it will be my client’s.
So what are the advantages to you of hiring a freelance ghost writer?
Running a business is time consuming – there are many day to day elements that need to be considered and dealt with, and writing a regular blog might not be high up on the list, even though it is incredibly important. Hiring a ghost writer means that your web rankings can grow but you don’t have to lose your own precious time making it happen.
Once someone else is running your blog, the pressure is off you.
You Are In Control
Even though someone else is writing the content for you, you as the client are entirely in control of what that content is and how it is used. The writer puts it together for you, but you are the one who uses it to your advantage. This can be cost effective if you choose to re-use the blog post or article in a newsletter or brochure, for example.
Your skills lie in your business – whatever the niche, service or product you are selling, that’s where your talent can be found. You might not necessarily also have the talent to craft an interesting, readable, thought provoking, shareable blog post as well. A ghost writer will.
And when it comes to novels and stories, the same is true – you the client could have the most wonderful plot, fully formed characters, but trying to put them all together might prove difficult for you if writing isn’t your ‘thing’. Or you simply might not have the time to sit down and craft an entire novel.A ghost writer is the perfect solution.
If you feel that a ghost writer would be the ideal way to grow your blog and website, to publish an article, or to write that novel you’ve always known you’ve got in you, then please get in touch.
Perhaps the question should actually be: would a writer ever want to retire?
I don’t know. Currently, I can’t imagine ever not writing. What would I do with myself? Even if I’m not writing for clients (a rare event, granted, but sometimes my evening and weekends allow a little me time), I’m writing for myself. Novels, short stories, the occasional poem, even the odd blog post now and then (yes, it happens!)… It’s what I love to do the most.
Writing is a strange thing. As the old saying goes, even when a writer isn’t actually writing, they’re thinking about writing. They want to be writing.
So is there really any such things as a former writer? Someone who used to write for a living and now just doesn’t. And if these people do exist, how have they filled the void that used to be all about the words? Writing is, for many, a part of themselves. It’s not just a job, it’s a calling. And to give that up for something else, or to give that up for nothing at all, it just doesn’t seem possible.
One of my favourite authors, Stephen King, retired once. Guess what he did during his retirement from writing? He wrote. And then he was published. And then he wasn’t retired anymore (not that he ever had been, in my opinion). He just couldn’t help himself, and I, for one, am grateful for that.
But then, what about Shakespeare? In 1613 he just stopped. No more plays, no more sonnets. Of course, for some this is more proof of the astonishing, fascinating, and almost believable conspiracy theory that Shakespeare never actually existed in the first place (more on that in a later blog).
Charles Dickens carried out what can only be described as a ‘farewell tour’, travelling the country and reading his last novel, Our Mutual Friend. Only it wasn’t his last novel because when he died in 1870, he was halfway through writing The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Strangely, and rather wonderfully, this novel (half novel) was actually published in its unfinished state.
Let me know – could you retire? Would you retire? Do you know someone who has and are they any happier for it? Or do they still dip their pens into the ink every now and then when they think no one is looking? I am not sure that someone who used to write would be able to wake up one day and say, “No more. Today is the day I will not type a single word. And I never will again either.”
And what about other careers – are any of them really so easy to step away from? Contact me or leave a comment and tell me what you think!
You pedal and you pedal and you pedal… maybe you pedal some more, perhaps a little more after that. But eventually, finally, you get tired. You have to stop. Of course you do. It’s wearing and wearying and it takes up all your energy.
If you’re not getting anywhere, that is.
If you’re going nowhere after all that pedalling, it’s not only tiring, it’s frustrating and it’s saddening and it feels like a waste of time.
It can put you off pedalling completely.
You’ll sit on that bike, push one foot down with a sigh that hurts, and wonder why you’re bothering. Then you’ll stop and it’ll feel good. Really good. It’ll feel so good that you won’t want to start again, and you’ll continue your life without any pedalling at all, and you won’t mind.
Ever feel like that?
I do. Stories stick and chapters freeze, and when they do I keep writing because I feel guilty if I don’t. I keep typing one word after another, and it’s wearing and wearying and I know I’m not getting anywhere. I know I’ll just delete the words and replace them with fresh ones, or I’ll forget about it all together and consign it to the story graveyard of my hard drive. Not a great feeling, but a familiar one.
And it feels good to give up sometimes. It’s better for you, and for the story. Sometimes stories are just no good, and that’s okay because we’re not perfect, and not everything we do is brilliant or worthy of publication.
Not everything we do is going to be our best work. It doesn’t work like that – after all, how can you have best if you don’t have worst? There has to be something to compare it to!
Leave it long enough, though, and I have a feeling you’ll get back on that bike, and you’ll pedal again. Leave it long enough, and I have a feeling you’ll get somewhere.
Don’t push your writing – it’s no good for anyone. Enjoy it, and the words will flourish.
Lisamarie Lamb| 5th April 2016 0
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Please contact me using the information below; I’d love to hear from you.
A blog is an essential tool in ensuring your website is seen. I can create regular blog posts that will move you up the rankings and give you a better placement within your industry.
Have you ever wanted to write a novel, memoir or short story but don’t have the time? Do you have the ideas, but the words don’t flow? I can help. Contact me for a confidential chat.
I am happy to carry out research, conduct interviews, and write/edit articles of any length. Contact me for more information about my rates and services.
From your home page to your about me details and everything in between, you want a website that has snappy, interesting, high quality content. Let me create it for you.
If you have a product that you want others to know about, you need a sales letter that is going to get attention – and keep it. I can write that letter for you.
Are you thinking of starting an email campaign but don’t know what to include? Or perhaps you want to send a special email to that special someone, but you can’t think of the right words. Contact me and we can discuss exactly what I can do to help.
Selling products online can be an excellent way of making a business, but if your products sound boring and your descriptions are dull, no one will want them. I’ve written thousands of products descriptions, and I can make your products shine.
Copy Editing & Proofreading
Have you written something that needs that extra level of checking? With my years of experience I can proofread or copy edit your work so that it’s the best it can be.
Social Media Management & Digital Marketing
Getting your digital marketing and social media strategy right is essential. I can provide and implement a social media marketing plan that works for you. Contact me to find out more.
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Excellent work by Lisamarie, on time, great quality and constant communication. Would not hesitate to recommend and in fact use again as soon as opportunity arises.
Lisamarie was great to work with - she did a fantastic job that completely met the brief and was delivered before the deadline.
Quick and brilliant, nailed the brief! Will work with her all the time 🙂
Fantastic work A++++
It was a pleasure to work with Lisamarie, she adjusted to our workflow and process with ease and completed work quickly and effectively.
Lisamarie is a very good writer and is very easy to work with. She reacted well to my guidance and provided me with content I'm very happy to use. I look forward to working with her again soon.
Great work from Lisamarie, articles are exactly what we wanted
Brilliant work from Lisamarie. I would definitely retain her again and recommend her to others.
HELLO, I'M LISAMARIE.
I started writing in my late teens but it was only with the birth of my daughter that I decided to write more seriously, with the aim of publication. Since that decision in 2010, I have had over 40 short stories published in anthologies and magazines.
The idea of exercise is always a positive one. The reality, of course, is often far different. By the time we get home from work we’re often exhausted or too busy to do any meaningful exercise. And it’s not just in the evenings that we have trouble getting it done – exercise is the thing that most often falls to the bottom of the to do list.
Yet knowing how important it is and how it can actively improve your mental health might be what makes the difference and gives you the impetus to do just half an hour or so of good exercise each day. Read on to find out just what it is about working out that keep your mental health positive.
Stress Relief for Better Mental Health
Studies have shown that exercising is good for reducing your stress levels. Stress can take a terrible toll on your mental health, and everyone is stressed to some degree. Some stresses might be small, easily dealt with, short term problems, and these are completely normal.
But it’s not just physical problems that long term stress will cause. Your mental health will suffer too. You could develop depression or anxiety, for example. So ideally you will want to reduce your stress as much as possible, and if you can do it without taking medication then all the better.
Exercise is a great way to relieve stress. When you are concentrating on working out, playing sports, taking a brisk walk, or however else you want to exercise, you aren’t thinking of the problems that are causing you stress. Even if it’s just for a little while, your work issues, relationships, money worries, even your health situation, can be forgotten, and if you can do that, your stress levels will reduce.
Better Social Life
Loneliness is a condition that is bad for your mental health if it goes on too long (although a little ‘me time’ every now and then can actually help you feel better). If you join a gym or go to a regular exercise class, or if you go running and get to see other people, for example, you can alleviate that loneliness for a little while.
Even for the most introverted of people, this brief moment of connectivity could be enough to make your loneliness disappear.
Some people have a problem controlling their anger, and this can make them become stressed which, as mentioned above, has a lot of problems associated with it. It can also cause problems with relationships, leading to loneliness, and it can make work difficult.
A good exercise regime will help to quell those feelings of anger, keeping them under control and allowing you an outlet for your emotions. When you get back to ‘real life’ you will feel happier, healthier, and find it easier to let things go rather than become angry over small issues.
If you find that your anger issues are more deep seated and exercise helps but only temporarily, then seeking expert advice is always the best course of action – your life is important and you need to be happy for as much of it as possible.
Exercise is something that we should all try to incorporate into our lives when we can. It might not be every day, it might not even be a regular occurrence to begin with, but getting started in the most important step. After that, as with anything, the more you practice the better you will get and the better it will feel.
Work takes up a huge amount of every day, so it makes sense that it should be a good place to be – you should enjoy your work, and your workplace, otherwise every other aspect of your life is going to be affected. You might even develop mental illnesses such as depression and stress, or your unhappiness might manifest in physical ways; heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, ulcers, and much more can all come about from working somewhere unpleasant.
Not enjoying your job is one thing, but what if you are actually working in a toxic workplace? This is when the situation becomes desperate, and finding a new job should be a top priority. Here are some of the signs that your workplace is making you not just unhappy, but potentially unwell.
You Dread Going To Work
On occasion (usually on a Monday morning after a lovely weekend at home), everyone is going to ‘dread’ going to work. But is it really a dread, or is it just a feeling of preferring not to? When you actively dread heading off to your workplace in the morning, and that dread is there every single day, then there is clearly a problem. Your workplace could be a toxic one.
You should never feel this way about your job. Life is too short, and there are many opportunities out there for you; you may have to retrain or think laterally about where your skills can take you, but being happy is the main thing and that is what you really need to consider.
You Don’t Feel Appreciated
Getting feedback at work is crucial for anyone to develop and become more successful. If you never hear a word from your boss about how you are doing, or you’re always the one doing the chasing when you want some kind of critique on a project or assignment you have been doing, then you are sure to feel under-appreciated.
When this happens, you might become less productive; what’s the point in bending over backwards if no one cares that you are working hard and going the extra mile? Something that you used to think matters will now how a much lower place in your heart and mind.
That’s not right.
You should be able to love what you do, feel appreciated, and feel good about the work you are carrying out. You should be able to work in a supportive workplace. Not even being acknowledged is a bad sign and one that you shouldn’t ignore.
Your Workplace Worries You Even On Days Off
When you have a day off from work, what do you do? Do you enjoy it, not think about work at all (or if you do it’s only to determine the next step and what you will start with when you get back to it), and relax? Or do you constantly worry about your job, finding it frustrating and irritating? Does it make you angry? Are you unable to wind down?
If the latter is the case for you, it’s time to get out. It’s true that work is important, but it’s not everything – you need to make time for yourself and your family and anything else you want to do. If work is taking up all of your rest time as well as your work time, something’s wrong.
If something feels wrong about your place of work, whether it’s something tangible or just a gut feeling, and if that place of work is making you miserable or even ill, you need to leave. Yes, that can be easier said than done, and finding a new job isn’t always easy, but if you don’t start the search then you’ll never find your next – happier – position.
Aldi teamed up with interiors star, Anna Ryder Richardson, to makeover a home in under two hours for just £300 adding an average of over £8k to the property’s value
One in five buyers say that hideous décor is one of the biggest turn-offs when looking for a house
Nearly half (44%) offered less for a property because the interior was not to their taste
New research released by Aldi has revealed that almost one in five (19%) Brits claim that dodgy décor can be one of the biggest turn-offs when house viewing. Aldi surveyed 2,000 UK home owners to celebrate their Kirkton House range, which features a choice of quality interior products at everyday amazing prices.
Following the research, Aldi challenged home interiors star, Anna Ryder Richardson, to add value to a property with a budget of only £300, and using just the Aldi Kirkton House interiors range. The three bedroom, semi-detached home in Dartford, Kent, was evaluated by three local estate agents, before and after the makeover, and the property’s value increased by up to £10,000 across each valuation* – simply thorough decluttering, furniture rearrangement and the addition of stylist interior accessories. Watch the video on https://www.aldi.co.uk/kirkton-house.
According to the survey, quick upgrades can make a big difference for 34% of home buyers who say that stylish furnishings make them more likely to buy. The kitchen came out on top, with almost three quarters (72%) stating it’s the most important room to look good during a viewing. Real estate turn-offs were dark rooms (50%), awkward layouts (36%) and overgrown gardens (32%).
After seven viewings sellers consider making changes to their home to help shift it, with desperate owners splashing out on average £900 to finally make a sale. When it comes to age, image-conscious 18-34 year olds are spending over five times more (£3,131) than the thrifty 55+’s, who on average part with just £543 to shift their property.
Home interiors star,Anna Ryder Richardson, comments: “Together with Aldi, we’ve proven that you don’t need to break the bank to spruce up your interiors and help make that sale. We spent a third of what home buyers think they need to spend and increased the property’s value by an average of over £8k! It’s easy to invest a small amount and make a big difference. Here are some tips from the makeover to try at home:
Define the space in each room. A beautiful woven rug can indicate how a room should be used and brighten up a space in one easy step – try placing a colourful option in the centre of the living room to create a fun colour pop like the Aldi Kirkton House flatweave rug in navy blue
Make sure your rooms look spacious, appealing and homely. Consider the layout of the room and whether it feels welcoming to walk into – decluttering is a must and try shuffling the furniture around to experiment with different arrangements. Aldi’s Kirkton House Adjustable Desk Lamp will help to light up any room and add a warm feel
For house viewers, the kitchen is key – make sure your dirty plates aren’t still in the sink and set-up table places and crockery to show viewers what your home would look like to really live in it. Aldi’s wide range of quality Kirkton House cutlery and dinnerware can help to set the scene
Think about the overall interior design in your house – do you have personal items on display that perhaps don’t match the décor? Take down a few personal pictures here and there for a slicker look. Aldi’s Kirkton House storage baskets will come in handy here!
Make first impressions count and don’t forget your hallway! Place a nice welcome mat down and tidy-up shoes lying around in the space – Aldi’s Kirkton House Designer Lounge and Hallway range has hallway-specific show stoppers from a stencilled, geometric-design mat to a fun cactus hallway doorstop
Make the most of your outside space and opt for bright colours for the garden – colourful, patterned cushions and garden dining ware will come to life against the organic backdrop of green grass and bright flowers. Aldi’s Kirkton House Printed PVC Tablecloth in lemon print and decorative glass balloons will look fantastic in the sunshine and spruce up any garden”
Julie Ashfield, Managing Director of Buying at Aldi, said:“As the housing market is so uncertain, we’re happy that we can offer the security of consistently low prices in the Kirkton House home range. With a choice of quality and everyday products, the range can help you upgrade your home on a budget.”
Lucy O’Byrne and Mark Moraghan are to join the cast of the quirky off-Broadway hit musical Little Miss Sunshine for its UK tour which begins at Churchill Theatre, Bromley on 16 May 2019.
Irish actress and singer Lucy O’Byrne will star as Sheryl, the matriarch of the eccentric Hoover family. Lucy shot to fame on The Voice (BBC) in 2015 and was the runner-up that year. Her theatre credits include Eva Peron in the Evita UK tour which ran at the Churchill Theatre in July 2018, Fantine in Les Misérables (Queen’s Theatre – West End), Maria in The Sound of Music (UK and Ireland Tour), River Woman in Therese Raquin (Park Theatre) and Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof (Gaiety Theatre-Dublin).
Mark Moraghan will be Grandpa (the role that won Alan Arkin an Academy award). Mark recently appeared as Tim Richards in Emmerdale and is perhaps best known for his roles as Adrian Mortimer in Coronation Street, Owen Davis in Holby City, Ray Wyatt in Dream Team, Greg Shadwick in Brookside and Eddie Quinn in London’s Burning.
It’s been a while since I last posted anything on my blog, but I do have a good reason (excuse?) for that… I have a new job.
Although freelance writing is what I love to do, it just doesn’t pay the bills, plus it has meant that I haven’t written any fiction – my favourite thing – for a year or more. So I had to find something else to do; something that would suit my lifestyle, allow me to continue to write, and (hopefully) bring in some more money. Because, let’s face it, as much as we might like to, we can’t live without it.
I joined The Good Estate Agent, and I’m now covering the Sevenoaks area. Here’s a little video of what I do:
If you have a job that you don’t feel appreciated in and you feel that no matter what you do your efforts are just not noticed, you will begin to feel as though you shouldn’t bother working so hard anymore. You will feel as though you should even look elsewhere for a job where you can work with people who will appreciate you more. If you are an employer, this is not something that you want to happen; you want your employees to stay with you and help your company grow. To do this, they need to feel valued, so here are some ways to ensure that they do.
Talk To Them
One way to ensure that your employees feel appreciated and valued is to talk to them. This can include work details, of course, but that would happen anyway – to go the extra mile you need to talk to them about themselves. Find out about their family and their hobbies away from work, where they live and what they enjoy doing. When you speak to them again, remember what they said and bring it up in conversation where possible. This will show that you listened and that you took in what was said – and, of course, that you remembered it all.
It can also be beneficial to organize days away from work where you can get to know your employees better. These team building days are great for discovering exactly what your team is really like, and what they can do, plus they’re fun and can be seen as a reward.
It’s all too easy to just accept that someone has done a good job and then give them something else to do without saying much (if anything) about it. However, that won’t leave them feeling very valued, and can even make them think that you are taking them for granted. Therefore, when someone does something good, praise them. This could be simply saying well done, and acknowledging that they have achieved something, or you could go further and include the good work in a newsletter, or award employee of the month or similar.
You can also share good client feedback about a member of the team. Although it’s great to get praise from a manager, for example, it can feel even better to get it from someone from outside of the company.
Give Them Challenges
Another way to show someone that you value their input into the business is to challenge them. Giving them easy work to do all the time can get rather boring after a while, and if they don’t feel happy doing their work because they are bored, they may still want to look elsewhere. If you can give them a challenge out of their usual remit such as cold calling customers, or even designing a page on the website, they will feel as though you value them because you believe in them enough to ask them to do something they wouldn’t normally do. On top of that, they will learn something new too – and that is never boring.
Running your own business isn’t always all about what you want to do; sometimes (most of the time) it’s about what your customers want, which means that you need to work out how to give them everything they need in such a way that they will return time and again. Offering something of added value, whether online or in a physical store, is one way to do that.
Giving your customers added value will be hard work initially, but once you have done it (and you have systems in place to allow you to continue to do it) you will make more money, have better profits, and your business will thrive because of it. Not only that, but you will be ahead of your competition, which is always a good thing. Take a look at the following ways of adding value to your business and see which ones you can implement.
Quick And Efficient
It used to be the case that people were happy to wait for whatever it was they had ordered. It could take weeks, perhaps even months, for their purchase to be ready and for it to be dispatched. Today, no one wants to wait that long – no one really wants to wait at all. Therefore, when someone orders something from you, whether it’s a product or a service, they expect it as soon as possible. Some even require it on the same day, and most would prefer next day delivery where they can get it. If you can promise that you will deliver on the next working day, your business will stand out and you will find that more people choose to use your services.
What will really add value for your customers is getting this speedy service without having to pay for it. Whereas some companies will charge for next day delivery, you could take on those costs yourself. Although it would be a higher initial cost, over time you will find more customers so it would be canceled out. It’s important to do this because you are equating your business with efficient, inexpensive service.
The Best Quality
It’s not always possible to beat your competitors when it comes to pricing; if you start to price your goods too low, you will stop making a profit (and you might even make a loss). So if you can’t stand out due to your pricing, you will need to look at other ways to do it and the best way is to provide items or services that are of exceptional quality. If you do this, the higher price won’t matter because people will be willing to pay for something that is above average.
Remember that determining something’s quality is all down to the customer; if something is of high quality it is because the customer believes it to be do. Therefore, you will need to carry out market research to work out what it is that your customers want (and need).
Give Them A Gift
Everyone loves a free gift and if that gift happens to be able to do some advertising for you at the same time, then it is doubly useful. You don’t have to give something away to every customer who buys something from you, but if you choose to give, for example, iPhone cases to the customers who spend the most with you, or who refer their friends, or even who write a glowing testimonial, then they are going to receive even more value for money. This will go a long way and although you will need to spend at first, the return you get on this kind of investment should be excellent, and well worth the initial cost.
Choose something that has your name and logo on it, and the more the gift is used, the more your name will be noticed. This adds value to the process for you too, which will help you with lowering your marketing costs.
If you can be available as much of the time as possible, you are automatically offering your customers even more added value. You will need to be as responsive to emails as possible, and reply to comments on social media as quickly as you can. Answer the telephone within two or three rings and this will all ensure that your business appears to put the customer first. These may only be small acts when you look at the big picture, but these are the ones that can make the biggest difference.
Of course, you can’t possibly be around 24 hours a day to answer emails and comments quickly, and this is where you can utilize new technology to your advantage. You could include a chat bot on your website so that questions can be answered at all times of the day and night, or you could make an app that is intuitive and allows customers to work through the process without having to get in touch in the first place (another bonus for them).
Added value comes in many forms, and one of those forms is being able to fix problems when they occur. No one is perfect, and issues will arise through no one’s fault (or sometimes a genuine mistake has occurred). What the problem is is far less important than how it is solved and what happens afterwards.
Every company is going to work hard towards fixing any problems that occur, but will every company offer something to any customer who has been inconvenienced by the problem? The answer is probably not, but you can and that will make you stand out and give your customers added value. You could give them a discount on their next purchase, or coupons that they can use or give away to their friends, for example. You might go even further and ask them to come in to take a look around your workspace to see how things are done, if that is something that would interest them.
If you truly want to retire, you will need to pay off all of your debts before you stop working – if not, you may have to delay your retirement plans and continue to work just to service those debts. When you reach retirement age, you will want to enjoy life and see and do as many things as possible – the things you couldn’t necessarily see and do when you were working. So being debt free is something you should work towards. Here are some ways to do it.
The simplest way to pay off your debts is to save money. Open up a separate savings account and put all your ‘spare’ money into it. When you have enough to pay off a loan or credit card entirely, you can take the money out and do so. At the same time, you will need to stop borrowing, so lock the credit card away (for emergency use only) and don’t take on any more finance or loans, otherwise as quickly as you pay one thing off, you’ll have something else to save up for. It’s far better to buy things outright, even if you have to dip into your savings to do so, than it is to borrow because when borrowing you will have to factor in interest, and that can make things very expensive.
Once everything is paid off, continue to save and use that money to fund your retirement plans. If you start early, you will have plenty of money to enjoy some exciting trips and start some wonderful new hobbies.
Investment is another good way of paying off debts and funding your retirement at the same time. If you do your research first and learn as much as possible about what you are doing when it comes to investment, you can make a good return on your initial payment, and pay off your debts much more quickly. You can invest in almost anything including stocks and shares, property, and other businesses. Once you have decided where you want to put the money, finding a broker is a good idea so that you can make the most of your investment.
If you own a property and you’re paying a mortgage on it, will that mortgage be paid off by the time you come to retire? This can be the biggest debt you owe, but you may not consider it a debt and it may not figure in your plans. However, if you’re not working, are you going to be able to continue to pay your mortgage? If not, downsizing is a good option. When you downsize, you sell your current home and buy something cheaper (and usually smaller). That way, if you choose wisely at the right time, you may not have a mortgage left at all – and you might even have money left over, which can be used to pay off any remaining debts.
Having a motivated workforce can make a big difference when it comes to how profitable and productive your business is. It’s your job as an employer to ensure that your team is motivated and happy. There are a number of different ways that this can be done, and here are some of them to consider. Not all will work for all people and all businesses, so take a look and decide for yourself what will work for you.
Be A Supportive Leader
In many cases, good leadership can be a huge factor in employee motivation. If you are going to be supportive you need to work closely with your team but also allow them some freedoms to work on their own initiative. Getting this balance right can be difficult, but once you have found it you will discover that it definitely helps with your employees’ motivation levels.
A good leader always holds themselves to a higher level of accountability and will own up to any mistakes they make (which they will because, after all, no one is perfect). That means working with a data loss specialist to prevent devastating losses, and it means taking responsibility for errors made within the company when it comes to customers, for example.
When an employee feels empowered and valued as an individual, they will work harder for their employer. Make sure that you allow your entire workforce to the chance to show what they can do. Even if they don’t quite manage it as you might have liked, giving them the opportunity is what really counts and it will make them work much harder in the future too.
Have A Positive Workplace
With so much time spent at the office, the working environment needs to be as positive as possible in order to get the best out of people. If it’s dull or uninspiring or even uncomfortable in any way, your employees will simply want to leave at the earliest opportunity and it’s unlikely that they will look forward to returning in the morning. This is not conducive to great work.
Making the office a great place to be by ensuring it is well decorated and has everything that your employees might need such as tea and coffee making facilities, a comfortable break room, even indoor plants and pictures, can really help to push them to do their best.
Reward Good Work
The best employees are the ones that want to work hard for you, but those who are doing so, and getting results, without hearing anything from you in response are going to become demotivated very quickly. Therefore, you need to look out for good work and reward it where necessary. This could be as simple as calling a meeting to praise that employee, or you might want to give them something such as vouchers or flowers. It’s these small touches that will keep an employee motivated for longer.
Whether you’re in Portugal for a vacation or a business trip, you’re going to want to eat out at least some of the time you’re there (and the food is so good in Portugal that you might even want to eat out for every meal). If that’s the case, then it’s important to know the right Portuguese restaurant etiquette so that you can be comfortable and relaxed knowing you’re not making any faux pas that could embarrass you, your guests, the other diners, or the staff themselves. Here are some of the most important pieces of etiquette to be aware of.
Should You Seat Yourself?
The short answer is no, you shouldn’t, unless you’re in a café or bar. If you’re in a normal kind of restaurant then it’s better to wait by the counter or the ‘to be seated’ sign if there is one and look for a waiter or waitress to help you. Busy restaurants mean that if you seat yourself you won’t always be spotted which results in long waiting times for you and frustrated staff because they didn’t realize you were there.
In Portugal, just as pretty much everywhere else, there isn’t really any such thing as free food. However, you would be forgiven for assuming that you have been given something for nothing when, after getting you seated, your waiter or waitress brings out a plate of what is called ‘entradas’. They won’t have asked you what you wanted, or even if you wanted something, but unless you tell them otherwise, it will be brought to you. This is an appetizer and will be added to your final check so be aware of this before you begin to question what is on your bill. Remember, though, that dining out in Portugal is not an overly expensive thing to do, so it shouldn’t cause too much of an issue on your budget and won’t eat into the loan (or emprestimo) you got to fund your trip.
You Don’t Have To Order Extra Vegetables
When you look at the menu of a Portuguese restaurant you’ll notice that there is very little description for each dish. Whereas in the States you’ll get lots of fancy phrases and plenty of information about exactly what comes with the meat, fish, or vegetable dish you are ordering, in Portugal it’s different. There you will find that people assume each dish will come with the right accompaniments. For example, fish tends to be served with boiled potatoes or a salad, and meat dishes will often come with white rice or fries; it will all depend on what you order and how the particular restaurant you have picked works.
Look For The Plate Of The Day
When you’re choosing your food at lunch time, you should look out for the plate of the day (the pratos do dia). This will often be handwritten on a piece of paper and stuck to the window or menu board, so it could be easy to miss if you’re not looking for it, and that would be a shame. The plate of the day consists of whatever was caught fresh that morning by the local fishermen, and it will be something different each day; even if the fish is the same, how it is prepare will vary. It is always worth trying because it tends to be cheaper than other dishes on the menu and is always something interesting.
Order The House Wine
It can be a little embarrassing to order the house white or red in a restaurant at home because that wine tends to be inexpensive and not always that pleasant. In Portugal ordering the house wine makes a lot of sense because it is going to be locally produced and sourced, great value, and it will compliment the dishes you have ordered perfectly. The restaurants in Portugal take pride in being able to match their wines to their food. Ordering the house wine is what the locals will most often do, so it just shows you what a good idea it is. Don’t forget to note down the name of the wine so that you can look out for it elsewhere too.
Don’t Ask For Substitutions
In many restaurants in the States and in other places in the world you can choose a dish from the menu but ask for it to be made with this or that ingredient instead of one of the ones mentioned in the description. You might want extra cheese, or you might want the dish without capsicums, or any other changes that take your fancy. This is not the done thing in Portugal, and what you see on the menu is what you’ll tend to get served to you. Even if you do ask for something to be changed in most cases it won’t be, so it’s best just to order and enjoy rather than trying to get the busy chef to make substitutions.
Unless you specifically ask for it, water won’t be provided to your table, so if you want it make sure you mention it to your server. You’ll have a few choices when it comes to your water, and one of these is not something you are likely to come across at home – you’ll need to choose whether you wanted the water chilled (fresca) or at room temperature (natural). In Many European countries the preference is for room temperature water, even on the hottest of days, so make sure you do ask for fresca if you prefer your water colder. You can also choose between sparkling (com gas) or still (sem gas).
In Portugal it is seen as bad manners to use your hands to eat, even if you are enjoying a burger or a pizza. Therefore, it’s much more polite for you to use your knife and fork. This may feel a little strange, but if you don’t want to stand out you should try it – you’ll soon get the idea.