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Business Marketing

Your Blog is You




Recently a blogger asked me to review their blog and requested some advice on how she could make it great. I am no expert, and I was flattered beyond belief that she would ask me. So, I took a crack at it. I gave her some technical advice, more along the lines of some of the things I had done. Nothing earth shattering but certainly helpful.However, the question of a great blog has been bouncing in my head since then. (There have been a few other very weird things bouncing in my head lately, so I’m a bit groggy at times). I’ve been asking myself what makes a blog great, brings visitors and results in business. After all, we’re all in this to make money (I’m the greedy mortgage broker Hillary is after).

In essence, what makes a blog great is a loaded question. Over the past two weeks I’ve been taking mental notes of why I visit some of the blogs I visit. I also went back to some of the blogs I don’t like to visit. During this time a theme has begun to emerge. And it’s not quite what I thought it would be and is quite contrary to the technical advice I gave the inquisitive blogger.

What has emerged is that for me it’s about the person behind the blog. For example, when I come across a new blog, I first browse through the content, then read about the person and then once I get a feel for whether or not it’s someone I want to “talk” to I subscribe or bookmark the blog. However, to make me want to come back on a regular basis I need to see a little bit of a fire in their belly. I like to know what makes them tick. Are they passionate about their work? Do they believe in what they are doing? Will they help me become more successful in what I”m doing? How will they reflect on me if my readers followed a link to their blog?

Things that easily turn me off and away from a blog is the issue of character. Character counts in my book and if I see disingenuous writing of any kind, I simply move on. Also as much as strong views count, strong logical construct with factual “real world” applications is equally important- because as history has shown, you can be passionately wrong about something (see Karl Marx and Mao Zedong).

That may seem like a lot to ask from a blog, but its exactly the kind of evaluation we make in any off-line situation. When we meet a stranger off-line we are instinctively seeking to like them, understand their thought process, their character, their business philosophy, how they treat others and their passion. So, I don’t think its unfair to extend that same thinking to the online world. Plus the blogs I visit on a regular basis have the right mix of the quality I mention above so I know it’s not an unattainable precept.

What’s my point you ask. What I’m saying is your personality and passion must shine through in your blog. When people see you for the kind of professional you are they will naturally either connect with you or never come back. I am not trying to toot my own horn here, but I don’t think its a coincidence that in the past three months I have received detailed “essays” from my readers. These multi-page “essays” are loaded with details of their financial and personal situation from top to bottom. It has everything from how much they make to why they divorced their spouses, and their kid’s day care experiences – way too much information in my opinion and certainly not needed for me to help them with their mortgage needs.

It’s mind boggling to me that someone would be so open with me in our very first meeting. I am an unknown blogger and really a complete stranger to them. But they feel connected to me and “know” me through my blog. So, it’s no coincidence that my online encounters are similar to my off-line ones. Plus if the steady rise in traffic means anything I should get used to reading these long, utterly honest and vulnerable e-mails asking for my professional services!

Writer for national real estate opinion column, focusing on the improvement of the real estate industry by educating peers about technology, real estate legislation, ethics, practices and brokerage with the end result being that consumers have a better experience.

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  1. Ginger Wilcox

    February 21, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    People are clearly connecting to you. Your personality does shine through in your blog, and in your responses to comments and readers. Character does count. I am tired of a lot of the negativity I see in some blogs. I also find that my offline encounters mimic real life – people attract like minded, like kind, so I do think that is important that the personality does shine through.

  2. Benn Rosales

    February 21, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Shailesh, this is a fantastic mirror for everyone to apply. It might be a worthy suggestion to have an honest spouse, neighbor, friend, co-worker read your blog and give you the honest truth- do you convey in your writing?

    It might also be a worthy idea to ask strangers how you convey. The truth will certainly lie in the middle but I bet a once a quarter or every other quarter could save you from writing from bottom of a bad mood and running your audience away- burn out reads clearly in a lot of writers right now, even in comments.

    I really really enjoyed this post.

  3. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    February 21, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Shailesh, I think it’s critical that you’ve taken the time to honestly analyze what brings you to certain blogs and turns you off of others and I think many people feel the same way. There are many authors that I read simply because I like *them.* I’m learning the hard way to minimize the noise and simply unsubscribe when I can’t personally connect with someone.

  4. Shailes Ghimire

    February 22, 2008 at 10:24 am

    Benn – I’m glad you really enjoyed it. I never thought of what you said. I’m going to try to do that. My main thing is I just want to be myself on my blog – not try to be anyone else or anything else. You know.

  5. Vicki Moore

    February 23, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    I have to add my two cents. I also really enjoyed this post. I think you have hit upon the true heart of blogging.

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Business Marketing

Coworkers are not your ‘family’ [unpopular opinion]

(MARKETING) “I just want you to think of us as family,” they say. If this were true, I could fire my uncle for always bringing up “that” topic on Thanksgiving…



family coworkers

The well-known season 10 opener of “Undercover Boss” featured Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar. Brandon Landry, owner, went to the Lafayette location where he worked undercover with Jessica Comeaux, an assistant manager. Comeaux came across as a dedicated employee of the company, and she was given a well-deserved reward for her work. But I rolled my eyes as the show described the team as a “family.” I take offense at combining business and family, unless you’re really family. Why shouldn’t this work dynamic be used?

Employers don’t have loyalty to employees.

One of the biggest reasons work isn’t family is that loyalty doesn’t go both ways. Employers who act as though employees are family wouldn’t hesitate to fire someone if it came down to it. In most families, you support each other during tough times, but that wouldn’t be the case in a business. If you’ve ever thought that you can’t ask for a raise or vacation, you’ve probably bought into the theory that “work is a family.” No, work is a contract.

Would the roles be okay if the genders were reversed?

At Walks-Ons, Comeaux is referred to as “Mama Jess,” by “some of the girls.” I have to wonder how that would come across if Comeaux were a man being called “Daddy Jess” by younger team members? See any problem with that? What happens when the boss is a 30-year-old and the employee is senior? Using family terminology to describe work relationships is just wrong.

Families’ roles are complex.

You’ll spend over 2,000 hours with your co-workers every year. It’s human nature to want to belong. But when you think of your job like a family, you may bring dysfunction into the workplace.

What if you never had a mom, or if your dad was abusive? Professional relationships don’t need the added complexity of “family” norms. Seeing your boss as “mom” or “dad” completely skews the roles of boss/employee. When your mom asks you to do more, it’s hard to say no. If your “work mom or dad” wants you to stay late, it’s going to be hard to set boundaries when you buy into the bogus theory that work is family. Stop thinking of work this way.

Check your business culture to make sure that your team has healthy boundaries and teamwork. Having a great work culture doesn’t have to mean you think of your team as family. It means that you appreciate your team, let them have good work-life balance and understand professionalism.

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Business Marketing

These tools customize your Zoom calls with your company’s branding

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Zoom appears to be here to stay. Here are the tools you need to add or update your Zoom background to a more professional – or even branded – background.



Zoom call on computer, but there's more options to customize.

If you haven’t had to deal with Zoom in 2021, you may be an essential worker or retired altogether. For the rest of us, Zoom became the go-to online chat platform around mid-March. For several reasons, and despite several security concerns, Zoom quickly pushed past all online video chat competitors in the early COVID-19 lockdown days.

Whether for boozy virtual happy hours, online classes for school or enrichment, business meetings, trivia nights, book clubs, or professional conferences, odds are if you are working or in school, you have been on a Zoom call recently. Many of us have been on weekly, if not daily, Zoom calls.

If you are the techy type, you’ve likely set up a cool Zoom background of a local landmark or a popular spot, a library, or a tropical beach. Comic-con types and movie buffs created appropriate backgrounds to flex their awesome nerdiness and technical smarts.

Many people have held off creating such an individualized background for our virtual meetings for one of any number of reasons. Perhaps it never occurred to them, or maybe they aren’t super comfortable with all things techy. Many people have been holding out hope of returning to their offices, thus seeing no need to rock the boat. I’m here to tell you, though, it’s time. While I, too, hope that we get the pandemic under control, I am realistic enough to see that working or studying from home will continue to be a reality for many people for some time.

Two cool, free tools we’ve found that can help you make your personal Zoom screen look super professional and even branded for business or personal affairs are Canva and HiHello. While each platform has a paid component, creating a Zoom background screen for either application is fairly simple and free.

Here’s how:

Canva is the online design website that made would-be graphic designers out of so many people, especially social media types. It’s fairly user-friendly with lots of tutorials and templates, and the extremely useful capabilities of uploading your own logo and saving your brand colors.

Using Canva, first create your free account with your email. It functions better if you create an account, although you can play around with some of the tools without signing up. The fastest way from Point A to Point B here is to use the search box and search for “Zoom backgrounds.” You now can choose any one of their Zoom background templates, from galaxy to rainbows and unicorn to library books or conference rooms. Choose an inspirational quote if you’d like (but really, please don’t). Download the .jpg or .png, save it, and you can upload it to Zoom.

To create a branded Zoom background in Canva, it will take slightly more work. It was a pain in the butt for me, because I had this vision of a backdrop with my logo repeated, like you see as a backdrop at, you know, SXSW or the Grammys or something. Reach for the stars, right?

OK, the issue with this was that I had to individually add, resize, and place each of the 9 logos I ended up with. I figured out the best way to size them uniformly (I resized one and copied/pasted, instead of adding the original size each time (maybe you’re thinking “Duh,” but it took me a few failed experiments to figure out that was the fastest way to do it).

Once you have your 9 loaded in the middle of the page, start moving them around to place them. I chose 9, because the guiding lines in Canva allow me to ensure I have placed them correctly, in the top left corner, middle left against the margin that pops up, and bottom left. Same scenario for the center row.

Magical guide lines pop up when you have the logo centered perfectly, so I did top, middle, and bottom like that, and repeated for the right hand margin. Then I flipped them, because they were showing up in my view on Zoom as backward. That may mean they are now backward to people on my call; I will need to test that out! Basically, Canva is easy to use, but perhaps my design aspirations made it tricky to figure out.

Good luck and God bless if you choose more than 9 logos to organize. Oh, and if you are REALLY smart, you will add one logo to a solid color or an austere, professionally appropriate photo background and call it a day, for the love of Mary. That would look cool and be easy.

HiHello is an app you can download to scan and keep business cards and create your own, free, handy dandy digital business card. It comes in the form of a scannable QR code you can share with anyone. Plus, you can make a Zoom background with it, which is super cool! It takes about five minutes to set up, truly! It works great!

The Zoom background has your name, the company name, and your position on one side and the QR code on the other. The QR code pulls up a photo, your name, title, phone number, and email address. It’s so nifty! And the process was super easy and intuitive. Now, If I took my logo page from Canva and made that the background for my HiHello virtual Zoom screen, I would be branded out the wazoo.

Remember there are technical requirements if you want to use HiHello on a Mac. For example, if you have a mac with a dual core processor, it requires a QUAD. However, on a PC, it was really simple.

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Business Marketing

Finally: A smart card that manages employee spending with ease

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Clever credit cards make it easier for companies to set spending policies and help alleviate expense problems for both them and their employees.



Spendesk showing off its company credit cards.

Company credit cards are a wonderful solution to managing business expenses. They work almost exactly like debit cards, which we all know how to use, am I right? It is the twenty-first century after all. Simply swipe, dip, or tap, and a transaction is complete.

However, keeping up with invoices and receipts is a nightmare. I know I’ve had my fair share of hunting down wrinkled pieces of paper after organizing work events. Filling out endless expense reports is tedious. Plus, the back and forth communication with the finance team to justify purchases can cause a headache on both ends.

Company credit cards make it easier for companies to keep track of who’s spending money and how much. However, they aren’t able to see final numbers until expense reports are submitted. This makes monitoring spending a challenge. Also, reviewing all the paperwork to reimburse employees is time-consuming.

But Spendesk is here to combat those downsides! This all-in-one corporate expense and spend management service provides a promising alternative to internal management. The French startup “combines spend approvals, company cards, and automated accounting into one refreshingly easy spend management solution.”

Their clever company cards are what companies and employees have all been waiting for! With increasing remote workforces, this new form of payment comes at just the right moment to help companies simplify their expenditures.

These smart cards remove limitations regular company cards have today. Spendesk’s employee debit cards offer companies options to monitor budgets, customize settings, and set specific authorizations. For instance, companies can set predefined budgets and spending category limitations on flights, hotels, restaurants, etc. Then they don’t have to worry about an employee taking advantage of their card by booking a first-class flight or eating at a high-end steakhouse.

All transactions are tracked in real time so finance and accounting can see purchases right as they happen. Increasing visibility is important, especially when your employee is working remotely.

And for employees, this new form of payment is more convenient and easier on the pocket. “These are smart employee company cards with built-in spending policies. Employees can pay for business expenses when they need to without ever having to spend their own money,” the company demonstrated in a company video.

Not having to dip into your checking account is a plus in my book! And for remote employees who just need to make a single purchase, Spendesk has single-use virtual debit cards, too.

Now, that’s a smart card!

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