Advice & Reviews From Sammy Jackson

You Need To Build A Website For Your Business

You Need To Build A Website For Your Business

One of the most valuable tools you can have as a small business owner who depends on local customers is a great website. With the growth and popularity of the internet, your business’s web page is likely the first experience most people will have with your company, and that first impression can be a long-lasting one, whether you run a restaurant, an auto repair shop, a boutique, or something else. Making a bad first impression with a poorly-designed website can be catastrophic in terms of the word of mouth it will generate, while a good website will enable potential customers to understand your business and connect with you. Avoid these three common pitfalls when local business owners build their websites and rest assured that you’re putting your best foot forward on the web.

1. Avoid Having Too Much or Too Little Content

When a web user first loads up your page, you don’t want them to be confused as to where on the page they should begin looking for information to understand your business. Place different kinds of information on their own, separate pages instead of trying to cram everything in on the front page. While you might think this would allow users to avoid having to hunt for the information they want, it could still become lost in a sea of too much text and too many graphics. A cluttered website will often lead to users simply navigating away to find another business to investigate. At the same time, however, do not make information about the core aspects of your business (a menu, the services you offer, etc) difficult or confusing to find. Place that information in an easy to access location near the top of the page so it’s visible and only a quick click away.

2. Don’t Go Overboard With Advertising

Create A Great And Effective Campaign

Create A Great And Effective Campaign

Good web hosting isn’t free, and it can be tempting to put some ads on your page to try and recoup the cost of your hosting through the traffic you get to your website. However, advertising on the Internet does not enjoy a good reputation, and many users not only employ browser-based ad blockers these days, but frequently find that websites which push a lot of ads to be very annoying. Not only can web ads annoy the users who visit your site, but they can distract users from the actual important content on the page — your content. Suddenly your website is competing with itself for the user’s attention. Avoid this by sticking with small, text-based ads like Google AdSense if you really feel like you have to run ads on your website. Otherwise, it’s better to simply budget for the costs of your web hosting.

3. Don’t Just Use a Generic "Contact Us" Form

Make It Unique... Stand Out

Make It Unique… Stand Out

Sometimes, a potential customer might have a question about a service you offer, or maybe they want to know if you’re looking to hire some new employees. Most websites have a "Contact Us" button on the top, but one of the worst things you can do is to build a contact page that just displays a form for the user’s name, email, and message. These send an email straight to your own inbox and are good for maintaining privacy, but from the user’s perspective, their message is disappearing into a hole with no indication of to whom it is going or if it will ever be read. These forms have a bad reputation online. Instead, make sure your contact page is updated with your business’s address, an email address dedicated solely to receiving inquiries, and if at all possible, a phone number for the business. Most users looking for contact information will be satisfied by a phone number, since they can then direct their question to an actual human, and you will have a much better sense of what your customers are curious about.

 It's Summer Time.. Go Out And Work Out

It’s Summer Time.. Go Out And Work Out

Summer is the best season to get motivated about fitness and work towards feeling confident in tight or revealing clothing in the heat. Depending on where you live or travel, there are many free or cheap options that will make sure you’re having fun and getting fit at the same time. Don’t slack off on your vacations! Often tropical getaways offer great recreation so you don’t have to feel guilty for ordering a decadent dessert later that evening! And even back home, parks and nearby activity centers have a variety of ways to get you motivated through out the summer. Working out doesn’t have to be difficult, and can be fun too!

Don’t Paddle Upstream

Don’t make working out into actual work, make sure it’s exciting! If you have any nearby rivers or lakes check out a wide array of river sports like kayaking and white water rafting. Even light canoeing can be a great way to get some fresh air without worrying too much about getting splashed or tipping as you would with white water. But if you can handle it, try to keep your activities extreme and exciting! Try new things and keep a positive outlook to help you stay motivated and interested in staying fit in fun ways. It doesn’t have to be complicated activities to do you good and get you some sunlight. 

Keeping Cool And Keeping Fit

Go Out And Try Wind Surfing

Go Out And Try Wind Surfing

Water sports are a great way to stay fit and have fun without getting overheated. If you’re lucky enough to be near a beach or plan on visiting one be sure to take advantage of all the fun water sports! Trying surfing or wind surfing. If you can go on a boat, water skiing and wake boarding are also great ways to build core strength and have a blast. Evening tubing helps build arm strength as you hang on and get pulled around the water. And most activities end in swimming, which is arguably the best and easiest sport you can take advantage of in summer. 

Swimming Is The Best Full Body Workout

Swimming is a great workout for the entire body and gentle on your knees, which many people trying to loose weight have trouble with. The low impact nature of swimming combined with it’s full body workout focus makes it a great way to stay in shape. You also don’t notice if you’re sweating, as water is incredibly refreshing in the heat. A lot of people who don’t like to exercise enjoy swimming anyway because it’s a very different feeling from other types of working out. 

Walking and Jogging Destinations

Go For A Walk.. And Stay Fit

Go For A Walk.. And Stay Fit

A simple summer activity anyone can enjoy is just walking around town. You can go to cheaper parking lots a few blocks from your destination and take time to enjoy the beautiful weather. Small changes add up just as much as big workouts. Take a walk down to beach or just to the store to get coke. Find an excuse to get out the house. Go to a nearby park and stroll with your headphones. Any destination that will get you out and about is worthwhile. Get motivated by nice weather and challenge yourself to go outside more often this summer.

Play Your Favorite Sports Outside

Team Sport Are Good For Fitness And Fun

Team Sport Are Good For Fitness And Fun

Whether you like dodgeball or tennis, summer is the time to take your game outdoors and get some fresh air while you enjoy playing sports. If you’re not into intense physical games or don’t have enough players, grab a friend (even a furry one) and a frisbee and go to a local park to throw a few rounds. Even light activity is an important step in improving your health and reaching your health goals. Don’t define your required activities too much, just try doing different things and seeing what you respond well to. Have fun with it, and don’t put stress on yourself. It’s just as important to approach fitness with a healthy mind and feel good attitude to succeed. Stress will send yourself the wrong message and condition you to be overly concerned and worked up over quotas and results. Relax and commit to a lifestyle instead of counting everything out tit for tat and expecting results over night. 

Avoid Wasteful Purchases

Avoid Wasteful Purchases

If you’re on a budget, especially if it’s a tight one, it can be a huge challenge to stick to it some days. You might even be aware that you’re your own worst enemy when it comes to saving money, but you still feel powerless to change it. Instead of dwelling on your failures to save money, refocus that energy in another direction and work on building up good, simple habits that will keep you on budget and saving money for the most important things in your life. Remind yourself each time you might be about to spend money of one of the following five tips, and watch as your savings pile up.

Make Yourself Wait for Big Purchases

A good rule of thumb when it comes to practicing restraint over impulse buys, especially large ones, is to wait one day for every ten or twenty dollars that an item you haven’t budgeted for costs. For example, if you want to buy a new MP3 player that costs $100, you should be waiting anywhere from five to ten days after you initially think about it before you actually make the purchase. If you still want the item as badly as you did before you waited a week or even more, then you should consider figuring out a way to get that item fitting into your budget. More often than not, though, you’ll find that after you wait, you will realize you don’t actually need it so much after all. Doing this consistently will force you to think about every big purchase you make until it’s second nature, and you’ll be saving more money than ever before.

Don’t Deviate From Your Grocery List

Make A Detailed List And Stick To It

Make A Detailed List And Stick To It

When you get ready to go up to the supermarket for your weekly shopping trip, sit down and make a detailed list of everything you’re going to need beforehand. Not only that, but you should also only go shopping after you’ve eaten a meal or at least had a snack. Shopping on an empty stomach is every budget-minded person’s worst nightmare, as impulse purchases can stack up quickly if you aren’t paying attention. By making sure that you’re following your list to the letter, you can only ever spend the money you’ve allotted for groceries, and avoid running over into other areas of your budget.

Make a List of Things You Want to Buy

Similar to making yourself wait for a purchase, whenever you see something that makes you feel like you just have to have it, write it down on a list of similar items. Keep this list updated with what you want, but don’t purchase things from it. When you’ve saved up enough money that your budget allows for some discretionary purchasing, then you can go and refer to the list you’ve made and select an item or two off of it. You might even consider simply using this as a wish list to provide to people who are asking what you might want to receive for your birthday or one of the winter holidays.

Don’t Spend Money Just Because It’s a "Good Deal"

If It Is Not On Your List... Don't Buy It

If It Is Not On Your List… Don’t Buy It

Big sales can be a huge temptation and also a huge danger to your budget. Don’t purchase frivolous items which otherwise might have gone on the list you’re making because it’s Black Friday and the item is discounted at 50% off. It’s still going to be a purchase that you haven’t planned for in budget, which is going to mean that that money has to come from somewhere else. Don’t get suckered into spending money you don’t have just because a store has done a good job of advertising its sales to you!

Drive Only When You Need To

Even though you’ve probably budgeted for gasoline expenses, they can still add up to more than you expected, especially during the summertime when gas prices usually shoot through the roof. If you can, take public transit instead of driving your own car, especially if you’re just going up to the grocery store. By conserving fuel wherever possible, you’ll probably have extra money at the end of the month that you can either sock away into your savings account at the bank, or use to make one of the smaller frivolous purchases that you didn’t make during the month.

Find Something You Have In Common

Find Something You Have In Common

Nothing is worse or more awkward than a terrible date. You had high hopes – or at least mediocre hopes – for the night, but it’s going terribly and you want to escape. Or, on the other hand, you know that things aren’t going well but you want to try and turn it around. Nobody wants to deal with a date that’s going terribly, especially if you’re really interested in the person you’re dating. If you find yourself sitting through a terrible date, here’s what you can do to try and save it from being terrible beyond belief:

1. Switch up the Conversation Topics

If your date isn’t going well, it might be time to try and change up the conversational topics. If you’re chatting about something insufferably boring, then you might just want to change it up and try something more exciting. Talk about your hobbies or what movies you’ve just seen. Stay away from boring topics like the weather or something more controversial like current events, or politics since a controversial conversation isn’t good for a date either.

2. Take Your Date Somewhere Else

If The Environment Is Not Working In Your Favor... Go Somewhere Else

If The Environment Is Not Working In Your Favor… Go Somewhere Else

If your date is turning into a flop, it might be because of where you are. If you’re stuck in a boring movie, ditch it and go do something more exciting! It might be just what you need to really save the day on a boring date and turn it into something exciting and worth your time. There’s no need to sit through a boring date if you can think of somewhere more exciting to go, so make sure to take your date somewhere else if it’s starting to seem like a wasted night.

3. Relax and Take It Easy

It might be going poorly because of your nerves, so make sure to lighten up and relax a little. Nobody wants to date a Nervous Nellie, so try to calm down and remember that it isn’t the end of the world. This might be enough to save a date from becoming truly horrible. Rein in your nerves if you feel like you’re the type of person to get easily flustered or awkward when you nerves kick in.

4. “Coincidentally” Meet up with a Friend

Meeting up with a friend is a great way to save a date that is truly catastrophic. You might need to text them under the table to get them to show up, but it will be worth it. When they show up, you can either use them as a way to escape or you can try to incorporate it into the date to become a more casual event. This is only something you should do if you’re not interested in the person you’re on a date with, since it can pretty much ruin the romantic spark, if there was one at all.

5. Get Them Interested in Something Else

Change The Topic Of The Conversation

Change The Topic Of The Conversation

If your date is being awkward or making you feel uncomfortable, try to get them to focus on something else. This may mean driving the conversation away from you and more towards them, or it might mean taking them somewhere to get them distracted and focused on something else. Don’t put up with a creepy date, make sure to get them interested in something else besides you. It might not be easy, but it’s important to take this step when you can.

6. Go for Drinks

It might just be that you both need to loosen up when you’re on a date that isn’t going well. Sometimes nerves can get the best of you, which means you need to relax a bit. Going out for drinks after your dinner or movie might be a great way to do that. Make sure not to go too crazy and get totally sloshed, of course – that’s not going to leave a good impression on your date. Just have a little bit of a drink to help you loosen up and relax and be yourself. It’s a good way to ensure that your date goes more smoothly.

7. Make a Break for It

Of course, sometimes there’s just no saving a bad date. It might be best to just give up and accept that it’s not going to turn out well. If this is the case, try to get a friend to help bail you out and feign an emergency if that’s what you need to do to escape. Otherwise, just tell your date something came up at home and you have to go attend to it. It’s not worth it to put up with a terrible date, so sometimes you just need to make a break for it.

Reddit Is The New Trend Online

Reddit Is The New Trend Online

The hunt for interesting, engaging, and exciting content on the Internet is one that never seems to stop, especially if you have reason to spend a lot of time in front of the computer, surfing the web. However, when you encounter a new site that offers content in a format you’ve never seen before, it can be confusing or even intimidating to begin using it. Reddit is an interesting community growing in popularity that offers a new form of social content sharing, where users can submit text posts, images, or links which other users then vote on. When you visit the site, you see the most popular content. If your initial experiences with Reddit have you interested, but you’re confused about how to get started on the site, follow these simple tips and enjoy your browsing experience.

Customize Your Experience and Pick Your Subreddits

The best part about Reddit is the fact that you get to define what content you see. Content is organized into "subreddits," which are both categories and communities. These subreddits could be full of anything from pictures of cute baby animals, vigorous political and social discussion, or even a portal through which you can ask actual historians questions about the past or real scientists about something that interests you. You "subscribe" to these subreddits, which means that when you navigate to the main page of the website, you’ll see all of the most popular posts from the subreddits you are subscribed to. You can then individually navigate to each one if you want to see what posts haven’t quite risen to the top of the heap yet. Reddit can be whatever you want it to be, whether that’s just pages and pages of funny pictures, or a stimulating intellectual hub you feel engaged to participate in.

Leave Those Subreddits You Don’t Enjoy

Unsubscribe From Any Subreddit  You Don't Enjoy

Unsubscribe From Any Subreddit You Don’t Enjoy

Reddit starts every user off with subscriptions to a number of default subreddits whose content runs the gamut of what’s available. However, if you’re looking to completely customize your Reddit experience, you should take a careful look at all the various default subs and decide which ones actually have content which engages you. Unsubscribe from any subreddit at any time to stop its content from appearing on your page. It might be a good idea to unsubscribe for many of the defaults which are very popular and broad in category, because the people who frequent these areas might not be as kind as in a subreddit that’s only used by about a thousand people, or even less. Don’t ever hesitate to unsubscribe from any subreddit which isn’t meeting your expectations.

Get a Browser Extension to Enhance Your Experience

Reddit Is Fantastic

Reddit Is Fantastic

If you find that you like the site and you plan to keep on using it for a while, getting yourself a browser extension that adds functionality to the website might be a good idea. One popular extension is called Reddit Enhancement Suite, and it adds a lot of great features that are very helpful. These include the ability to toggle Reddit into "Night Mode," where the primary theme is switched from light colors to darker colors; the ability to "tag" users with notes so you can remember things about them; and a better method for saving and retrieving posts that you’d like to look at again or share with your friends. It’s quick and easy to install, and best of all, it’s even free.

Don’t Feel Pressured to Join in Discussions

A big part of what makes Reddit so lively is the comments section that appears for every piece of content submitted to the site. Here, users can join in discussions about the content, ask questions, engage in debates, or make silly jokes with each other. While the site is dependent on users sharing and discussing content, you shouldn’t feel pressured to join in right away, or even at all. It is perfectly acceptable to be a "lurker," that is, someone who accesses the site and enjoys the content but who doesn’t see a good reason to get involved in the commenting part. In truth, you might even find that you choose to skip out on the comments threads altogether, in favor of simply experiencing your favorite content in a vacuum.

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