How Will Google Wave Help Your Small Business?

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While Mashable was able to play with Google Wave and put out a fantastic review, there is still a lot left to be developed in the interface, and a few features that many have clamored for are yet to be implemented. So, it’s a bit premature to say exactly how small business will benefit from Google Wave, but I want to hear from you, readers, how you would implement this potentially game changing platform.

Most successful freelancers and small businesses depend on collaboration to get their work done. Whether it’s collaboration with their clients, suppliers, vendors, or other relationships, collaboration on a global scale is key. [Read more...]

But It’s Not Google: It’s Bing

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Bing has been all over the news since Microsoft announced its launch last week.  They’ve also done quite the commercial blitz.  Rumor has it that Microsoft has earmarked more than $80 Million for marketing their new search engine.

As a small business owner or freelancer, why should you care?

That’s a pretty tough question.

Google has made itself hella useful for business.  Since getting your company’s website to show up on the Google search results means more business for you, business owners love Google.  Can getting your website to show up on Bing help your business? [Read more...]

Review: The Savvy Freelancer’s Website Secrets

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This is a review of a low cost special report for freelancers written by our intern, Cory Huff.  Sparkplugging has not been paid to write this review but can earn commissions on sales made through our referral link.

Lexi Rodrigo’s Website Secrets is a great little guide for freelancers.  I spend most of my day consulting with clients about how to improve their online marketing, and the number one problem for small business owners and freelancers is that they are acting on bad information and they don’t have time to figure out on their own what works.

Over 50% of small businesses still do not have a website.  If you know you need a website, or a website upgrade, or are wondering if you need one, but don’t quite know how to get started, Website Secrets has everything you need.

While Website Secrets doesn’t go very deep into any one aspect of web design or marketing, there is no need for a cash strapped freelancer or small business owner to pay for an expensive web developer.  There is no magic bullet, but Lexi shows you how to use tools available for free online to create a site that will explain who you are, what you do, attract customers from the search engines, and do it all in a way that requires no technical skill, only time.

Dell XPS One Review

I am not being compensated for this review in any way, shape or form. Dell sent me a loaner XPS One that I will be (sadly) returning to them now that this review is published. :(

So, @RichardAtDell reached out to me a few weeks ago and asked if I would be interested in reviewing their new machine, the XPS One. Never one to turn away a chance to play with new gadgets, I said yes immediately. Had I known what I was getting into, I’m not so sure I would have said yes anymore – because I’ve completely fallen in love with this thing and I do. not. want. to. send. it. back.

Dell XPS One 24"

Dell XPS One 24"

First of all, this has got to be the sexiest looking machine I have ever laid eyes upon. I guess I really didn’t realize just how big a 24″ monitor is – it’s BIG. Big and SEXY. (I am going to use that word a lot in this post. Just warning you now). But it’s not just a big flat screen monitor – it IS the computer. That’s it – all of it – right there.

What’s funny is that Richard had asked me to review this machine from the perspective of a mom with kids, and talk about how we use it as a family.

I have a confession to make.

My kids haven’t gotten a whole heck of a lot of time to use it. :) We seriously fight over who gets to use it next.

I do think it’s mostly because it’s so big, the monitor is so bright and the colors are so saturated, it’s kind of hard to look at any other computer in our house and be happy about having to be stuck with it.

But this thing has capabilities we haven’t even been able to use yet because of wiring issues in my office. The XPS One is also capable of being a HD TV. If I could let this go, it would be a brilliant addition to my kitchen so that I could keep my kids entertained during snack time and I could use it to find recipes right there instead of printing them out (my *dream kitchen!*). For now, we’ve been at least using it as a DVD player and MP3 player – thanks to Dell I’m a new Amazon MP3 store addict.

So besides being sexy, looking great, being sexy, and us fighting over who gets to use it, what’s so great about it? In the end, isn’t it just another computer? Well, kindofbutnotreally – it’s one freaking fast computer that can handle pretty much anything I can throw at it – I always have 5-10 Firefox windows open, am playing music on iTunes, using Skype or AIM to chat or make VOIP phone calls, and always have Word, Excel, and either Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop open all at once. Plus it’s WIFI ready and Bluetooth enabled.

Ginsu Knives

Ginsu Knives

On my old laptop, it can handle all of this with my 2 GHz processor and 2GB RAM – but it slows things down a bit. On the XPS One, with a 2.33 GHz Intel® Core™ 2 Quad Q8200 processor and 4 GB RAM, having all these programs open at once is like slicing through butter with a Ginsu. I think I could be doing serious multimedia development and this machine wouldn’t bat an eye.

So, normally in a review I try to find something that the company should improve upon – as far as the machine is concerned, I honestly couldn’t ask for anything else. I probably wouldn’t normally buy something so big, as it seems like more machine than I would need. But now I’m hooked. I guess at a price tag of $1599, if I were actually going out to purchase a desktop computer, I’d probably try talk myself down to a lower priced machine because I’m cheap and it’s the holidays. If you wanted to add a Blue Ray DVD player, tricked out video card and triple the size of your hard drive to 750 GB, it would set you back $1899. But considering this thing is cable-tv ready, it’s like you’re getting a TV, sound system and computer all in “One” (OMG – I didn’t even plan that pun).

If you’re interested in the machine, be sure to check out the 3D view and the photo gallery. It comes in a few colors (wishing they sent me the Product RED version, personally). And I am seriously considering just sending Richard a check and keeping the darn thing…

So this is how they pump up holiday sales – tell us to just “try” it knowing they will never see the thing returned again. ;)

Update :: Since several of you asked, here’s a picture of the Dell in my office:

Dell XPS One

Dell XPS One

Elite Retreat in April 2008 :: An eMoms at Home Review and Recommendation

Some of you may remember a really big day I had last year, when I won a $5000 ticket to Elite Retreat. That day my head almost exploded with excitement and I had to scramble to get myself across the country in just a few days. Although I got the ticket for free, my little secret was that of all the learning opportunities I was researching in early 2007, Elite Retreat was at the top of my wish list for attending, and was working on a way to pay to go anyway. But make no mistake, I was unbelievably grateful to win that seat.

The experience brought more than just learning and increase revenue for this site. It also gave me the chance to meet some really amazing people, including Jeremy Schoemaker, Lee Dodd, Darren Rowse, Guy Kawasaki, Aaron Wall, Kris Jones, & Neil Patel (The 2008 Elite Retreat lineup is slightly different, though equally impressive). I’m still friends with all of them today, and they have helped to open some amazing doors for me since that time.

Many of you also know my policy of not promoting internet marketing programs unless I am willing to stake my name and the eMoms brand on the fact that it is both legitimate and a good investment. I can tell you from the bottom of my heart from first hand experience that Elite Retreat is worth every penny, and I would have paid to go if I hadn’t won that ticket.

I live blogged the entire conference when I was there in March of 2007. Please feel free to read through them to get an idea of what this conference is like, though with new speakers and modified topics, the 2008 Elite Retreat will be a slightly different experience.

The reasons Elite Retreat is so unique is because:

  • This is a two-day hands-on conference in an intimate setting that completely allows you to ask questions, get feedback, and interact with the presenters. There are also no sponsors – just pure information, networking, and in-depth advanced-level sessions.
  • Jeremy Schoemaker is running the show and he is the most down to earth and great guy around. I really trust him and would do just about anything for him for the help he has given me both during and since Elite Retreat. He also REALLY KNOWS HIS STUFF.
  • Jeremy offers a MONEY BACK GUARANTEE of not only the $5000 tuition, but also for your airfare and hotel costs if you don’t believe the program is worth what you spent on it. Try to find that in any other program out there.
  • This program isn’t for everyone, in fact, they limit attendance to 35 people and will only choose the most appropriate individuals to be in the room. The reason that they do this is because they teach pretty advanced level stuff, and if they don’t think you have the basics of internet business implemented, they won’t sell you a program that you won’t be able to use.
  • Elite Retreat offers one-on-one attention and follow up support, so not only do they teach theory, they help you apply it to your own unique business model.
  • There is no upselling or sales pitches while you are there. There’s nothing I hate more than paying for information only to get re-pitched to spend more money! In fact, we got some freebies from them that we would have normally had to pay for!

Elite Retreat 2008

Elite Retreat only happens once a year, so if you think you need this course, then jump on it now, because 12 months is a really long time to wait for another one!

Boost Your eBay Home Business with SaleHoo

One of the best internet home based businesses is being an eBay seller – unfortunately, it’s not my area of expertise, although I know a lot of you are interested in learning more about it. I’ve seriously considered hiring an eBay expert to write around here on a regular basis. Until then, I have to say I’ve come across a pretty interesting site that caters to eBay sellers, SaleHoo.

The SaleHoo Grand TourSaleHoo is a product sourcing site that offers a directory of wholesalers, drop shippers, manufacturers and liquidators. They screen their suppliers to ensure they are legitimate, plus there is a community-based rating/reviewing system to help Sellers find the best sources for goods.

I’m quite impressed with their extensive help section, with beginner level eBay tutorials to advanced level eBay Arbitrage. This kind of info is sold in quite a few info products on eBay selling, so I give them kudos for making the info easy to access to really help their customers succeed. Another great perk is that they require that their suppliers cater to home businesses, ensuring that sellers can order in low quantities.

Technically this isn’t just an eBay sourcing site – you can literally sell this stuff anywhere, Amazon, retail, or even on Craigslist (I’m not sure I would go the Craigslist route… but hey, if you can pull it off, more power to ya!).

I have to say they seem to have some really quality products in their marketplace, with an impressively wide range of stuff, from action figures to textbooks, PDAs to plumbing supplies. I swear if I had come across this site 6-9 months ago, I would have been sorely tempted to drop the blogging gig and jump on the eBay wagon train. And I’m not saying that just because this is a paid review – this site is really useful! (Remember I only do paid reviews for products or services that I can honestly say good things about – and I turn down about 75% of advertising and review requests every month).

So, while I am on the subject of eBay – I’m serious about finding an experienced eBay seller to write for eMoms at Home – what do you think? I have had some readers express interest in the subject – what do you want to learn about it?

How can I help you be more successful in your eBay business, or in learning how to start?

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