Monday, June 30, 2014

4 Great Social Media Automation Tools: It's Time for Small Business Owners to Save Time and Money!

After watching Beate Chelette's online course, Turn Your Talent into A Business in 12 Steps, on Creative Live, I've learnt a new phrase, social media automation. At the first thought, I would associate this phrase with something created by a robot, reminding me of the experience with the automated online chat with every customer representative. I wouldn't let my audience and customers feel the same way as I did. However, social media automation could be really useful in terms of time-saving after I've also learnt when and how to automate my social media accounts. From a small business owner perspective, we really do not have the money to hire a marketing consultant (and I really doubt the actual return of it since the how-to resources are so approachable nowadays) plus we do not have the energy to worry about the social media posting all the time while shipping our products personally. 

The 2.0 world is telling us that social media is so critical for scaling your business and I would have been swallowed by the massive professional marketing suggestions if I didn't launch a social media campaign. I have a Twitter, a Facebook Page, a Pinterest, an Instagram, a blogger, a Google+, a LinkedIn, a Tumblr, a Flickr, and a Wanelo to manage on a daily basis and feel like I'm posting almost the same thing on every and each account and I was so exhausted. Thanks to the next five social media automation tools, my time literally has been saved. I found those tool easy to use and, mostly, free. Before you apply any of it, please take a deep look at some articles like The Social Media Automation Strategy Every Marketer Needs , or How to Use Social Media Automation to Enhance Your Marketing Strategy to truly understand what you are going to do.
  • Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a social media dashboard that can manage most of your social media accounts and schedule the post ahead of time. You also get the easy-to-read data report, which is the main reason I recommend it to you. Now you can manage your social profiles on one dashboard. Same thing as Tweetdeck, a platform breaks down your Twitter activities, searches and lists into one interface.

Hootsuite Interface

  • makes sharing content super easy and it monitors your news feeds and RSS of your blog and automates them to all of your social channels. You specify source where you want to pick the content from and the destination where you want to put it. I like the fresh interface it has. Same thing as IFTTT, since a lot people have known it, I think you already figured it out!

  • Aweber
Aweber is a email marketing tool with automation built-in. Your subscriber will get your autoresponders and email newsletters when somebody subscribes. It provides you all the templets you need. Technically it is not a social media automation on the whole, but from what I've found out, a lot successful small business owners are using it.

  • Infusionsoft
Infusionsoft is an advanced social media automation tool, which helps you mange your overall marketing automation. I suggest that very-early-staged small business has no need to apply it unless your budget allows you to do so. Same thing as ontraport, they both have certain fees and require you to have business plans in head already.

To sum up, social media tools are just the bridge to connect you with your audience. What truly matters is whether you're providing what your customers need and solving their problems. Don't get addicted to social media automation. :D

Sunday, June 29, 2014

What to Share on Your Social Media - The Guide for Small Business Owners.

Photo by robayre
Since I've managed 5 different social media accounts for my Etsy shop for couple months, I'd like to share with you some ideas of social contents that you may get inspiration from.

Some people have said social media is dying, yet it is still a great opportunity for small business owners to interact with their customers and get potential buyers. For me, social media is all about engagement marketing; it builds consistent presence for you store and products and gets you instant feedback and eventually you know what your buyer want and provide value-added products.

  • Behind The Scenes 
The objective of posting behind-the-scene photos is to make yourself accessible to your customers and provide transparency of your shop. It also intrigues potential buyers to know the style of your shop further more.

photo by
Things to share:
  • A image of your workspace
  • A work-in-progress product
  • A tutorial of making or using your product
  • A photo of your employees
  • A shot of you working on your products

  • Inspiration
By showing your interest to other members in the same community, you will not only attract the potential buys who share the same thing in common but also gain respects from the community so people will repost or share your post later on.

Things to share:
  • A blog you follow
  • Movie you watch
  • Motivational quotes
  • A link to other's artwork you love
  • News you find related to your community
  • An artist who inspires you
  • An infographic 
  • A check list useful to your audience's lives 
The post from my Facebook page
The post from my Facebook page

  • Product Promotions
Indeed, this is the whole point of doing social media marketing. The ultimate goal is to bring traffic to your site and let people browse and purchase. Unless you want to make friends, there is nothing to be nervous about being aggressive in promoting your products. Well I didn't mean you post 10 times a day with the same product promotion. In addition, don't forget to offer free give-aways maybe once a month.

Things to share:
  • An image of your recent product
  • Your listing with the most views
  • A nice review from your customer
  • A link to your shop
  • An article that features your shop or product

My first review
Last but not the least, be consistent. It took me a month to get 350 likes on Facebook page not mentioning I started the ad for a week. 

For further information please check seller handbook

Day 9: Food Watercolor Illustration - What is in your fridge?

It was so interesting to find out the food in your fridge and it was even more interesting to draw them. 

What's in your fridge btw?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

4 Steps to Keep Focused: My personal experience and No BS

Have you ever read the articles like how to keep focused while working? Most of them address that you should allocate your time productively, choose lyric-free music, train your mind, answer your internal question, and the hilarious one, eat some brain food...After you've been reading them, did you really know how to stay focused? I mean their logic and rationale are not wrong but they do not actually tell you how. By asking the question like what I need and what is my goal to seek for the reason of being focused is unlikely to tell our brain what exactly to do next. I personally have tried different kind of methods of keeping focused and productive and so far I found four ways that are most useful and work well for me.

  • Clear all the distractions:
We live in a world where everything is approachable and attractive. The laziness and curiosity are determined by our human nature, so we are so easy to get distracted by massive information as well as procrastinated by the self-comfort of " not hurt to do it tomorrow", which is not wrong and so natural that we are not even aware of. The thing is that very time we encounter other's business we shall ask ourselves that DO I REALLY NEED TO KNOW THAT? Like the post of people getting married or having a great meal kind of thing on Facebook, do you really need to know it if you don't have access to your Facebook? What is the difference between not-knowing and knowing to your life? I mean if somebody really cares about you, they will text or meet you in person. To conclude, we do not necessarily need the junk information on any social media.

But how to get rid of that? Most of the suggestions are like not checking it frequently or training your brain. My method is just to block every news feed on my Facebook. If you are using Chrome, the extension called News Feed Eradicator for Facebook  is a really really good helper regarding getting rid of distractions. It's easy to install and the purpose serves well by showing a quote and hiding the news feed. You can still search people if you want to but now you literally do not have to know other people's life and focus on yours.

My FB screenshot
Unhealthy snack is anther problem that cause our distraction. I used to eat snacks while studying or reading. Not only gaining weight but also I found myself getting more distracted and depressed for some reasons. My normal meals were replaced by bags of snacks...I wouldn't say that keeping away from all the snacks because our goal is to stay focused and not dieting. However, when you are working, keep the snacks to where you are not able to see it. You'll become more focused and healthier.

  • Develop a Hobby:
Instead of passively searching for what do I want, try to create a hobby that could accompany you when you feel either stressed or happy. It worked really well for me to paint and jog. The time flies when I draw and paint. The minimum hour of each time I draw is 2-3 hours. I never will be keeping my hands on anything this long except for the thing I love. Friends of mine, by being focused, some cook, some rock climb and some throw knives. Somebody would say not to have a stupid hobby, why not? Just enjoy life and make it interesting!

  • Post-it:

I'm not going to advertise these little stickers but have to admit they changed my life. I used to set reminder on my phone and even though the alarm is on, I still cannot complete all of them on time. However by having a Post-it, I only set 3-5 the most important things I have to complete today because the sticker is not big enough to let me write down so much. After achieve one, just cross it. My life has become a lot more efficient than old days. You can carry it anywhere and stick it on anything. You won't have a gap between after you've done the last thing and before you don't know what to do next. You'll immediately be aware of the important things and the chance of procrastination has been reduced as there is no gray area to get distracted. You know what you want to do. Furthermore, if you like to develop a timeline of your week or month instead of just planning on each day. Go ahead, schedule and timesheet will never hurt.

  • Surrounded by people with same goals:

I've been giving you some good advice so far and it's time for you to choose. To quote from one of my fav mentor, Anthony Robbins, people's lives are the direct reflection of the expectations of their peer group. Your life experience will never far exceed the expectations of your peers, because to stay connected to them there is an unconscious contract that says we’re going to be within this range of each other. Now, on the other hand, if for some reason your friends have a higher expectation for life than you do, just to stay on the team you’ve got to raise your standard. And that's the beauty of life. So by choosing an awesome life, you need to choose a group of awesome friends who always stand by you, bring positive attitudes, speak the truth and never leave you. After you've surrounded by such awesome friends and they've motivated you, it's really hard to not to keep focused and achieve your objectives or goals.

I hope all my personal advice would help you for certain points and let's be focused!

Trip in Florida Part 3: Key West

Long Key
The last stop of my trip was Key West. Before we arrived the island, we had to pass through all the other islands nearby. Only one main highway connects all islands. The view on the way was beautiful, maybe not enough. It was at noon and the sun light was so strong, I mean, that could get you burnt if you don't put anything on your body. Along Long Key and Marathon, private yachts were on different side of marinas and RV is also a popular place to stay if you plan to visit here for more than a week. The seafood on the island was expansive and I didn't know why since they could just hunt fish next to their restaurants. Anyway, I had a yellowtail wrap at Island Fish Company & Tiki Bar and heading to the south.

at Island Fish Company & Tiki Bar
The road to Key West was a kind of mess. Constructions was blocking the way and pedestrians were everywhere. But the deeper I got into the town, the more I loved it. Residential houses have been newly painted and well decorated, and the blocks are full of plants and flowers. Visiting Ernest Hemingway Home reminded me of "Midnight in Paris". Honestly I don't like him. I normally don't like poets but admire them. They live in the different but unrealistic world and also being reminiscent. Hemingway raised a lot cats when he was alive. Even today, at least 20 cats are living at his home.

Ernest Hemingway Home

 Keeping going to the south, I found no beaches in Key West. There is a popular attraction called southernmost point, where plenty of tourists waiting there and taking pictures with a not-pretty monument. There is a butterfly museum near to it and you will thank for it after walking 2 hours under the sun.

South Key West

Butterfly Museum

The old town there is located near the pier. Bars, restaurants and souvenir stores are over there also. Every building has unique exterior characteristic. Key lime pie is the most recommended dessert in South Florida, so Key Lime Factory is basically selling key lime products. 

Old Town

Key Lime Factory

Key West Museum of Art and History

So here I highly recommend a dessert restaurant called Better Than Sex. I wasn't expecting to visit there until I saw it on the street.  The restaurant was very dark inside and they gave you flashlight to see the menu on iPad. The basic light was provided by candle-like bulbs. The wall was red and the floor was black. Nude photographs were hanging on the wall. So far so good. They only offer dessert, wine and coffee. Every drink will be dipped chocolate around the top of glass or cup. Most of the Dessert have special names. Despite the price, it is definitely a romantic place to go!

Better Than Sex   PC: Internet 

PC: Internet 

Due to the deliciousness of my meal, we didn't catch up the beautiful sunset on that day. We were supposed to wait at Molly Square, the perfect spot to watch sunset. I didn't have any regrets or anything plus I've seen several amazing sunsets in Hawaii. But my point is that sometimes feeling the moment is much better than capturing it. You can't imagine how happy I will be just by watching the sunset glow sheds on people's face, the roofs, the leaves, the clouds...for me, it's just perfect.

Before we left from there, we got the chance to watch the sunrise. The place wasn't perfect either but still beautiful.

All the photos taken by iPhone 4s
All rights reserved by Artist Day 1 to Day 100

Friday, June 27, 2014

Trip in Florida Part 2: Miami

Downtown Miami
Have you guys ever watched "Burn Notice", an American TV series about a spy got burnt and trying to find out who is the bad guy in Miami? I was just so eager to visit Miami since the all the movie scenes of Miami attracted me and not all downtowns could stand next to the beach in the U.S. We stopped at Midtown to see the Art District full of graffitis on the walls, cars and fire hydrants..which was really interesting. There weren't like New York or Austin; there were more like the combination of those two cities filled with teenaged spirits and creativity.

Next day we headed to the Little Havana and had a great lunch at Versailles restaurant, a popular place in Miami serving authentic Cuban food. I guess I had the best Lamb Shank and Key Lime Pie ever.

Lamb Shank
Key Lime Pie
Little Havana is a neighborhood of Miami where Cuban immigrant residents live. The districts are clean and organized. A tree with red flowers on is everywhere around the corner of the street. As Florida became the Spanish colony, most people here speak Spanish. I had no ideas what they were talking when I ordered my meal to the Spanish-speaking waiter...

Little Havana

In the afternoon, a big thunder storm attacked the downtown and people was leaving from the Miami Beach, which was good for us because we could enjoy the peaceful beach where normally are full of travelers.

Miami Beach
We drove around on the South Beach, a "gay friendly" island at the east of Miami Beach. The nightlife there looked so entertaining and crazy especially at the time of World Cup..

To be continued..

All the photos taken by iPhone 4s
All rights reserved by Artist Day 1 to Day 100

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Trip in Florida Part 1: Tampa-Clearwater-St.Petersburg

Delta Fight in The Air

So I decided to visit my friend in Florida couple weeks ago and here I am. My first stop was Tampa. Tampa is not a city full of travelers but quiet and neat. Downtown Tampa is not a big either when you oversee it from one side of the Tampa Bay.

Downtown Tampa

First Dinner at Wok Chi
Next morning, we were heading to Clearwater Beach which turned out to be my favorite place during my trip. 
Clearwater Beach


Asian Scallops and Sunset Salad at Palm Pavilion
On the Way to Honeymoon Island

Near Clearwater, there is a small island called honeymoon island. We actually took the ferry to another tiny island that has a natural beach on it. I couldn't say more I loved this place. My Hawaii trip of last year was amazing but only the natural beach with few people was my cup of tea. Since I saw this kind of natural view again here, I was so excited to jump into the water and took pictures of the beach from the ocean.

June and July are the rainy season in Florida. As you drive, rainbows are everywhere. By the night of the third day, we arrived at downtown St. Petersburg. I had to say that uptown was a bit scary as the homeless were walking like gangs. Other than that, you can smell the history of the city, old castles, churches, theaters...but also you can feel the artistic development here, Salvador Dali Museum, St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts...Most of the museums are located next to the Tampa Bay area, so the streets are clean and the environment is relaxing.

Salvador Dali Museum

Dinner at La Vi
Next day, We were going to Everglades to see dolphins and wetlands. It was such a human habitation. If the captain didn't tell me the diversity of all kinds of animals living there, I would just assume that there were nothing under the water...I got bitten by tons of mosquitos when we were deep into the swamps.

Crab Cake Salad and Gator at Joanie's Blue Crab Cafe

To be continued..

All the photos taken by iPhone 4s
All rights reserved by Artist Day 1 to Day 100