technology

The Importance of a Good Website for a Business

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What is the importance of a good website for a business? Website design company selection is the initial step to taking your business online. Your business website is very important as it is not just a necessity in today’s business world, but it is also a “virtual showroom” of your business. Just like it is very important to have the best showroom in the traditional business, it is similarly important to have the best website for your business. A stylish website attracts more visitors and hence a better chance of landing more customers for the business. But of course appearance is not everything, the content has to be managed in the proper manner as well as an appealing design. To create this kind of design and engaging content requires a great deal of creativity and business savvy.

web design companyIf you would like to invest in a website for you business, the first thing you need to do is to choose a recognised and trusted web design company. It is recommended to take into account the designer’s qualifications and experience, as you may not want to be working with an amateur to build your business website. You should ask for portfolio samples from your chosen agencies, and ask them questions about their past customer projects and how they work. Make sure you like what you see and hear, and they can really back up what they are offering with solid proofs and answers.

An experienced web design company will be able to produce proof for a good reputation. You can ask them for past clients references, and if any of them are willing to talk to you about their experience with the company. If not, at the very least you can look at the websites for the past customers which have been built by the web designer you are engaging with. You need to look at not just the design but how the overall websites works together, is it user friendly, fast to load, has high quality contens, etc.

If you run a business in Victoria specifically in Melbourne area, one of the best options that you could have is working with the experienced web design Melbourne company called iiWeb. iiWeb is Melbourne creative agency that specialises in website design and development for your business. They design beautiful and professional-looking website to develop a powerful and efficient corporate identify driving your corporate image to be one step forward. When you are looking to take on the market along with your business services and expand your company to create a great profit, hiring a quality web site design company is crucial for your business.

 

lifestyle

How to find a gift idea for a girlfriend

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pink bearNo matter how long a couple has been together and no matter how serious the relationship, there are some general guidelines to follow when it comes to gift ideas for girlfriend, fiancee or wife. This is different to finding best friend stuff you normally give to your ordinary friends. For many men, finding gifts for girlfriends comes with a tremendous amount of stress. When the relationship is new, they might worry about buying a present that is either too casual or too intense for the current level of their partnership. For couples who have been together a long time, a man might feel he is being too predictable, buying the same type of present for Valentine’s Day, birthdays and anniversaries. For guys who are currently struggling with gift ideas for girlfriend or wife, these following three tips should prove useful and put a smile on the faces of girlfriends everywhere.

Tip #1 – It Really Is The Thought That Counts

Often men find themselves trying to find the perfect gifts, but their definition of perfection falls somewhat short. Buying a name brand item or expensive treat might be a welcomed surprise, but only if there is thought behind it. Women are just as happy with simpler and more affordable gifts, as long as they reflect that you took time to think about what would make them smile. Unwrapping a gift to find the cozy slippers she pointed out the last time you shopped together can mean much more than an expensive bottle of perfume. Think of things she has talked about – if she complains about her feet hurting all the time, treat her to a pedicure or an at home foot spa, as an example.

Tip #2 – Make Sure You Aren’t Buying The Gift For Yourself

One serious error men can make when gift shopping for girlfriends or wives is when they choose gifts that are more for themselves. Buying a dvd player because you detest the quality of hers, always complaining about it when you are at her house, will be perceived as an insult the minute the present is opened. Buying her a tent because yours was ripped last summer is another example. One other hint, though many women love lingerie and romantic garments, you are stepping on dangerous ground if you cross a boundary. You could be inadvertently giving the message that she needs to dress more attractively or pushing her into clothing that she feels is solely for your enjoyment, not hers. Silky, feminine and attractive is a much safer route at gift opening time than surprising her with a garment that could send the wrong message.

Tip #3 – Try To Add A Touch Of Creativity

creative girlfriendOf course it isn’t expected that you spend weeks tormented by pressure over what gift to give your girlfriend or wife, but adding a little creativity or surprise can go a long way. This is especially true for men who are on a tight budget and feel pressured to extend themselves. Again, in happy and healthy relationships, it shouldn’t be the price tag that counts. Using the aching feet example, you could buy a few nice pedicure products and massage oils and make up 5 coupons for 30 minute candlelight foot massages performed by you. There is still a present to open, but taking time to be creative and thoughtful means much more than any dollar amount could bring. If you cannot afford to take her for her favorite lobster feast at an elegant restaurant, take time to learn how to recreate her favorite food items and make her a full lobster dinner at home.

With these tips in mind, buying presents for girlfriends and wives should be less stressful both mentally and on your budget. Most women merely want to feel loved and appreciated, knowing that you took time to put thought into the gifts that you give. So take a little time to think about who she is, what she needs and what she likes. Add a little additional creativity and you will have a large selection of perfect gift ideas for girlfriend, fiancee or wife.

business

Virtual Assistant Jobs From Home

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Virtual Assistant Jobs From Home are probably the most common type of legitimate work from home jobs. If you have heard of websites like oDesk or Elance.com you probably already know what virtual assistant is. This is one of the fastest growing industry of workforce hiring in the last couple of years. There are more and more companies all over the world now adopting this approach.

Virtual Assistant Jobs

Hiring a VA (Virtual Assistant) is basically the same as hiring an employee, except that the VA will work from their home. You can find most positions that you could imagine on oDesk: administrative jobs, accounting jobs, IT jobs etc., as long as the job can be done using a computer. Of you will not find a plumber on oDesk. The main benefit of hiring a VA for the employer is a lower cost and a huge talent pool, while main benefit for the VAs is they can work from their home and don’t need to commute to the office.

I read a story some time ago about some companies who gave up their multi-stories office building and moved into a small office room, basically cutting down a big chunk of their expenses and outsourcing most of their work to their VAs from the other parts of the world. It was probably not a good news for their employees, but the global trend of hiring workers has shifted gradually. Distance seems to be less and less an issue in today’s work and life.

The platform that is provided by VA resourcing website such as oDesk has improved a lot in the recent years. I would say oDesk has probably the best platform to hire quality VA workforce today. Employers are able to sharing feedbacks on the performance of the VAs. This community feedback model is a win-win solution for both the employer and the employee. Potential employer would be able to find quality VAs easier based on the feedbacks of other employers who have hired the candidate before. The higher the rating the more likely the candidate would be doing a good job, and the more likely he/she will get hired again. It is also an incentive for the employees to take their “virtual” jobs seriously, as they know if they maintain a good performance they will get more positive feedbacks, which means more projects and more job offers will come knocking on their door.

virtual assistant servicesThere are two models of “employment” in oDesk. The first one is a short-term “fixed price” job, which is a one-off project. This is normally the model used by employers when hiring someone for the first time. It is also used by many individuals to find someone with expertise that they need with a low price. The hourly rate could go as low as $6/hr for VAs from countries like Philippine! This makes it possible even for individuals like you and I to outsource some of our tasks to VAs.

The second model is a more permanent type of job model. Employers who have employed their VAs and satisfied with their work could rehire the VAs to do more jobs for them, and bill them hourly on a monthly basis. At the end of each period employers will look at the number of hours billed and may compare the actual work result with the expected result. If it turns out that there is an issue with the result eg. high number of hours billed vs low productivity, employers can log into their oDesk account and check the captured screenshots of the VAs during the billed hours. This is the beauty of oDesk platform. To sign up as VA it is compulsory to install a piece of software on the VA’s computer. Every time they start doing some work for their employer, the software will start capturing their screenshots every couple of minutes and send them to the employer’s account on oDesk. If the employers are not happy with the result and file a complaint to oDesk, then oDesk will take action based on the proof of captured screenshots. Most likely the VAs would not be able to get more projects or could potentially be banned.

Virtual Assistant jobs from home are probably the easiest legitimate work from home jobs that you could try. All you need to do is sign up with oDesk and start bidding on the projects based on your expertise. At start you might need to lower your hourly rate a bit until you have gathered several good feedback ratings and slowly build a good rapport with the employers. Once you have done this for some time and have gathered a good number of positive feedbacks, your confidence will improve and you could start increasing your hourly rate. If the employers are happy with your work, most of them would not mind to keep hiring you with higher rate as long as it is still in a fair range for the advertised position.

writing

Develop Your Ideas To Write Children’s Books

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In this article we will discuss how to develop your ideas to write children’s books. Let’s begin with a simple test to determine what exactly you feel passionate about. Once we have that, you can start polishing a story idea.

passionImagine you walk into a bookstore with a large magazine selection. Where do you go first? Crafts magazines? Photography? Sports? Cooking? Your answer will give you a tremendous starting point for your first story. Start with your passion and writing will seem much, much easier!

Combine this passion with what we’ve just learned about age groups and you might start seeing a clear picture of your first manuscript. Is it middle grade story about a young photographer? Or a chapter book about a boy who dreams of being a famous chef? Or maybe a picture book about a little girl who idolizes race car drivers and wants to be one? It’s all up to you!

After you have explored your interests and discovered that you’re drawn to picture book biographies for example, or middle grade novels, or silly easy readers, you’ve probably got some ideas itching to be developed. So the next step is to see if they are really ready to be turned into books.

First, sum up your idea. Write the general concept for your story or nonfiction book in one to three sentences. You are not going to get every nuanced relationship or plot point into those three sentences, but you should be able to convey the essence of what makes your idea unique. You may not know much about your idea at this point, so write what you know. Maybe you know your main character and his/her problem, and have some ideas about how that problem might be solved. Perhaps you read an article about new research being done on how dolphins communicate, and think the topic would make a great picture book.

Sum up your idea in a few specific key points that give your idea some shape. “Dolphins” is not specific enough. “How dolphins communicate, and new research that suggests dolphins actually have a meaningful language” is a starting point for a book. “Jeremy gets a new baby brother,” is not anything special. “Jeremy tries to sell his new baby brother at the neighborhood garage sale” is the basis for a plot. If you’ve been reading books for the age group you’re interested in writing for, now you can compare your idea to published books and judge if it is right for your audience. Does your picture book idea lend itself well to many different action scenes and illustrations? Or does it rely heavily on dialogue and internal character development that is best expressed through thoughts and emotions? If the latter applies to your idea, it’s better suited to a novel.

ideaSince it’s still just an idea (and not the whole first draft of your manuscript), you shouldn’t be too invested in keeping it exactly as it first came to you. In most cases, published books are the result of ideas that have evolved past the initial spark of inspiration. So now is the time to brainstorm and play with the concept. Ask, “What if?” What if the main character were a boy instead of a girl? What if I used my idea as a springboard for a more complex story for young adults? What if I changed the time period from the present to 1975? What if I took my serious topic of global warming and added some humorous sidebars? Or, what if I created a child character to “host” the book, who lives in the future after many of the climate changes have taken place? What if I wrote the entire book as free verse? What if my picture book looked like different pages from a character’s web site?

Think big. Get weird. Reach for the most outrageous concept you can, then dial it back until it makes sense. The one thing that will keep your idea from ever getting published is if it is ordinary. A predictable, safe, run-of-the-mill book simply won’t justify the publisher’s substantial financial investment to bring it to print. Your book doesn’t have to be shocking, or violent, or disturbing, but it does have to be fresh, interesting and surprising. It has to be something the editor’s never seen before. And chances are, your first idea won’t fit these criteria.

Study authors who have charted new ground with their books. Look at Piratesby David L. Harrison, illustrated by Dan Burr (nonfiction picture book for ages 8-12, written as a collection of poems); Ttyl
by Lauren Myracle (young adult story of three high school girls written as Instant Messages); Lincoln Shot: A President’s Life Remembered, illustrated by Christopher Bing (written as a commemorative edition of The National News one year after Lincoln’s death, the entire book looks like a 19th-century newspaper); or Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants chapter book series (each book a combination of story, comic strip, and Flip-O-Rama). All these books embodied themes and ideas that had been touched on before, but packaged in a new, exciting way.

writing

Choosing The Right Age Group for Children’s Books

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The world of children’s literature is divided along age lines. Become familiar with the standard categories and read from each of them. Before long you’ll find yourself gravitating toward one or two of these. That’s how you’ll know how to choosing the right age group for children’s books which you are best suited for.

Here are the categories, along with some classic books to check out:

childrens picture books* Picture books — In its broadest definition, a picture book is a book in which the illustrations play a significant role in telling the story. Under this umbrella are several types of books:

1. Baby Books – For infants and young toddlers, these books are generally lullabies, nursery rhymes, fingerplays, or wordless books. The length and format varies with the content.

2. Toddler books – Very simple stories for ages 1-3 (under 300 words) familiar to a child’s everyday life, or concept books (teaching colors, numbers, shapes, etc.) Books are short (12
pages is average) and the format can be board books (sturdy paper-over board construction), pop-ups, lift-the flaps or novelty books (books that make sounds, have different
textures, etc.) See the “Max” series of board books by Rosemary Wells (Dial).

3. Picture books – Traditionally, picture books (also called ”picture story books“) are 32-page books for ages 4-8 (this age may vary slightly by publisher). Manuscripts are up to
1500 words, with 1000 words being the average length.

Plots are simple (no sub-plots or complicated twists) with one main character who embodies the child’s emotions, concerns and viewpoint. The illustrations (on every page or
every other page) play as great a role as the text in telling the story. Occasionally a picture book will exceed 1500 words; this is usually geared toward the upper end of the
age spectrum. Picture books cover a wide range of topics and styles. The list of Caldecott Medal winners, available here, is a good place to start your research. Nonfiction in the
picture book format can go up to age 10, 48 pages in length, or up to about 2000 words of text.

4. Early picture books – A term for picture books geared toward the lower end of the 4-8 age range. These stories are simple and contain under 1000 words. Many early picture
books have been reprinted in the board book format, thus widening the audience. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (Philomel) is an example.

* Easy readers – Also called “easy-to-read”, these books are for children just starting to read on their own (age 6-8). They have color illustrations on every page like a picture
book, but the format is more “grown-up” — smaller trim size, sometimes broken into short chapters. The length varies greatly by publisher; the books can be 32-64 pages
long, with 200-1500 words of text, occasionally going up to 2000 words. The stories are told mainly through action and dialogue, in grammatically simple sentences (one idea per
sentence). Books average 2-5 sentences per page. See the ”Amelia Bedelia” books by Peggy Parish or other “I Can Read” books published by Harper Trophy.

childrens transition books

* Transition books — Sometimes called “early chapter books” for ages 6-9, they bridge the gap between easy readers and chapter books. Written like easy readers in style,
transition books are longer (manuscripts are about 30 pages long, broken into 2-3 page chapters), books have a smaller trim size with black-and-white illustrations every few pages.
See “The Kids of the Polk Street School” series by Patricia Reilly Giff (Dell) or the “Stepping Stone Books” published by Random House.

* Chapter books — For ages 7-10, these books are 45-60 manuscript pages long, broken into 3-4 page chapters. Stories are meatier than transition books, though still contain a lot of
action. The sentences can be a bit more complex, but paragraphs are still short (2-4 sentences is average). Chapters often end in the middle of a scene to keep the reader turning
the pages. Look at the “Herbie Jones” books by Suzy Kline (Puffin) and the “Ramona” books by Beverly Cleary (Morrow).

middle grade books

* Middle grade — This is the golden age of reading for many children, ages 8-12. Manuscripts suddenly get longer (100-150 pages), stories more complex (sub-plots involving
secondary characters are woven through the story) and themes more sophisticated. Kids get hooked on characters at this age, which explains the popularity of series with 20 or
more books involving the same cast. Fiction genres range from contemporary to historical to science fiction/fantasy; nonfiction includes biographies, science, history and multicultural topics. Check out some middle grade novels from the list of Newbery Medal winners to get you started.

* Young adult – For ages 12 and up, these manuscripts are 130 to about 200 pages long. Plots can be complex with several major characters, though one character should
emerge as the focus of the book. Themes should be relevant to the problems and struggles of today’s teenagers, regardless of the genre. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton defined
young adult when it was first published in 1967; the Newbery Medal award list also contains many worthy titles. A newer age category (10-14) is emerging, especially with
young adult nonfiction. These books are slightly shorter than the 12 and up category, and topics (both fiction and nonfiction) are appropriate for children who have outgrown
middle grade but aren’t yet ready for the themes (fiction) or who aren’t studying the subjects (nonfiction) of high school readers.

In the next article we will learn Step 3 in how to write children’s books – Developing Your Ideas.

 

writing

How To Write Children’s Book

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So, you want to learn how to write children’s book ? Awesome! Writing a children’s book is one of the most rewarding and enriching experiences imaginable.

In this guide, we will share 11 steps of how to write children’s book with you, and provide great information that will make your journey enjoyable, easy and fun. We hope you will be inspired and encouraged by what you will learn here. We also hope that you will make the big step that has lifted many people from “wannabe” status to being successful authors.

children books

So, let’s jump into the steps.

Step 1: Get the Right Mindset

If you dream of writing for children because you see it as a route to fame and riches, it’s time to be honest: That’s probably not going to happen. Sure, it could happen – J.K. Rowling’s doing it quite nicely. But the vast majority of children’s writers do it for love, not for money. They have a passion for sharing ideas and connecting with young readers that means more than wealth or recognition. If you have that passion, than all of the lonely hours of writing and the occasional rejection letter are just small prices to pay for the opportunity to create something wonderful and (hopefully) lasting.

So let’s start our journey by looking inward. You will need to answer some questions before you start. Take whatever time you need and answer them honestly. Here are the questions:

  • Why do you want to write for children?
  • What unique viewpoints, experience or wisdom do you have to offer young readers?
  • How well do you deal with criticism and rejection? If the answer is “not so well”, are you willing to develop a thicker skin?
  • Do you regularly read current children’s books, or is your knowledge of the children’s book market largely based on your own childhood experience, or from being a parent years ago?
  • Are you willing to learn, and invest in yourself to become a better writer?

This isn’t a quiz, and there are no right or wrong answers. But there are some things you need to understand before we proceed:

girl reading bookWriting takes time. Anyone who tells you that you can knock out a children’s book, send it off to a paying publisher and see your book on the shelves in a couple of months isn’t being truthful. You’ll have peaks and valleys on your journey that will require patience and perseverance.

It is not easy. Contrary to what you may have been told, writing children’s books is not easier than writing for adults. Yes, kids’ books are shorter, but that just makes things more challenging. The author Mem Fox put it best: “Writing a picture book is like writing ‘War and Peace’ in haiku.”

Craft is Everything. There are two kinds of writers – those who say “I’ve written my story. Where do I send it?’; and those who say “I’ve written my first draft. How do I make the plot smoother, the dialogue better and the characters more believable?”. Can you guess which author invariably succeeds?

Writing is an art. Mastering it offers the same challenges and rewards of mastering the violin, or skiing or painting. Take your time, sharpen your skill, learn to love the journey. Publishing will always be out there but, if you really want to make it, worry more about being a skilled writer. The rest will take care of itself.

Don’t Preach. You have a message you want to impart to kids? That’s fine. But chill. No one, young or old, wants to read a story that practically bangs them over the head with a “moral”. Skillful writers know how to subtly incorporate their message into a compelling read. Until you master your craft, stick to making kids laugh, or gasp with fear or swoon with romance before you try to tell them something “important”.

Relax. For all its challenges, starting a children’s writing career is a truly wonderful adventure. You’ll meet amazing folks along the way, learn more about yourself than you ever imagined and, ultimately, make your mark on the life of a young reader. That’s pretty cool. Just remember to have patience, stay the course, invest in learning to sharpen your skills and keep on writing no matter what. The payoff is certain to be worth it!

Now go back and look at the answers you provided to the questions above. Do they fit with what we have just covered? Are there some areas that will require a bit of attitude adjustment? Let all of this sink in a bit and revisit those questions later. You might just find that you are very much prepared for the journey ahead.

We will look at the second step of how to write children’s book in the next article – Choose Your Age Group.


© 2014 Wendy Palmer’s Blog.

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