Kathryn Lively, Writer

With a K. And a Y.

Category: Clients (page 1 of 2)

Using Facebook Applications to Promote and Socialize

It’s not uncommon to see how many businesses have an official Facebook page in addition their main website. As this social network grows in popularity, so people are likely to first come upon your Facebook presence before they realize you are set elsewhere on the Web. The more you socialize with friends and fans on the network increases the likelihood of traffic, and conversion of visitors to customers/clients. But can it be done without looking like you are using your profile to spam others?

A client once remarked on the limited capability of the Facebook fan page – one can only customize it so much. If you look at a standard fan page, there are options for sharing photos and links, and one can import an RSS feed for content and maintain a message board for people to chat. Certain applications may be used on a page – a weather gadget for travel related sites, YouTube plugins to display offsite videos – yet page owners run the risk of applications throwing fatal errors or not working correctly. The best method for winning fans to your page remains being social.

Like other social networks, Facebook promotes a viral method of connecting like-minded people. If you have fifty people committed as fans to your page or profile, it’s through these fifty people that you must attract more. Engaging fans in conversation, and sharing informative links and notes with corresponding commentary may ignite the interest you need to compel fans to share your page with others. Note, too, that users of Facebook enjoy the release of entertainment options the network provides. How often do you log on to find friends have taken a multitude of quizzes? You just may be able to use that sort of thing to you advantage.

Say you operate a retail shop or other business. Use the create a quiz application to manage one about your company – pose questions about when you were established, what products or services you provide, how many locations you have, and so forth. Invite friends to take the quiz and watch for a viral reaction.

Do you have friends who like to collect “flair” for their Pieces of Flair board? Create buttons with your logo and URL and send them to friends. Perhaps they will do the same and generate interest in your site. For every application or game making the rounds of Facebook, there just may be a way to incorporate your brand and get noticed. Give it a try and see far your name can go through the social channels.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on search engine optimization and professional SEO writing services.

What to Look for in a Good Content Management System

You’re ready to take your business online, or perhaps you have an existing Web site and realize the need to upgrade the look and feel. While structure and ease of use on the front end is important for catching and keeping the attention of visitors, it’s equally vital to have a content management system (CMS) you can operate with little or no difficulty. You may find as you interview prospective Web designers that customized programs are available for your use. The question is, what should you look for in a good CMS, and what options are available to you?

Choosing the Right CMS for Your Website

Before diving right into the creation or renovation of a site, one must understand what a content management system is and does. The CMS of your website is where you, or your webmaster, handle the maintenance of the site. From adding new pages to editing current ones, setting up contact forms or widgets for social media, everything you do in the back affects what the actual site looks like. Think of the CMS as the fuse box in your home. You tinker with a few wires to make sure the lights are working correctly – so it is with content management.

Examples of Content Management Systems

Do you use Blogger or WordPress to maintain a weblog? If so, you are using a CMS. Every time you log in to write a new post you manage your content through a specialized CMS program. Other programs, like Joomla and Drupal, allow site owners to create and customize sites for a variety of uses. You may find some designers use these systems when working with clients, or they may create a proprietary program for your use. If you go with the latter, it’s recommended to find a system with these features:

Easy Web Access – You want to be certain you can get to your site from anywhere. The backend should have an administrator log in page and dashboard for maintenance 24/7.

Drag and Drop Features – For sites with lengthy menu sidebars and widget capability, it’s nice to have a CMS that let’s you easily position links where you want them to go. A drag and drop feature for positioning modules on a web template is ideal for the novice user.

Ease of Graphic Placement – Photos can be a bear to manage online, so having a good photo editing systems in your CMS can help you upload, resize, and position graphics simply.

HTML and WYSIWYG Editor Options – For those who aren’t very proficient in HTML, an editor designed to work like a regular word processing program can assist site owners in page creation. Having the HTML option as well is a plus, for one can use it to tweak font sizes and colors. When shopping CMS systems, make sure yours works both ways.

Instant Publishing Ability – If you need to get a page launched immediately, you want a CMS system that publishes with the click of a mouse. Consequently, if you need to remove pages, you should be able to quickly.

RSS Publishing – These days RSS feeds can be imported into Twitter and Facebook. If you constantly publish new material, you should be able to syndicate as much as possible, and have a CMS that does it for you.

While there are other bells and whistles one may desire on a Web site, ask about these features when you talk with your site developer. Your Web should be simple to weave.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on SEO writing services and local ppc management.

Letterboxing in Atlanta – Cobb County…Find a New Treasure

Parents interested in a family activity that involves mental and physical challenges should consider embarking on a letterboxing expedition with their kids. This time-honored tradition of “treasure hunting” combines use of the Internet, orienteering skills, and the desire to have fun and make memories. All you need is a notebook, a rubber stamp of your favorite design and an ink pad to get started…not to mention the clues to find the many letterboxes hidden throughout the Atlanta area.

How Letterboxing Works

The rules of letterboxing are simple. Find clues to available boxes on a related website like Letterboxing.org or AtlasQuest then follow them to the box of your choice. If you happen to be searching in a populated area, take care to ensure nobody sees – in the case of boxes hidden in parks, groundskeepers may confiscate them. Observe any precautions when hunting in the woods, and always leave the box in good condition, well hidden. Stamp your logbook with each box stamp you find, and you’ll have an impressive collection and fond memories of the thrill of the hunt!

Letterboxing in Atlanta

Whether you live in the Atlanta area or are visiting for summer vacation, it’s a good idea to keep your logbook and stamps handy. You’ll find a number of themed letterboxes, in urban and rural parts of this metropolitan city. Here are just a few treasures waiting to be discovered:

Cobb County Parks, North – Shy: This stamp is hidden in Sweat Mountain Park, near where the dogs play.

D is for Dog, W is for Walk: Near the ruins of an old youth camp, you’ll find two stamps off the beaten paths.

Lord Baden Powell: Named for the founder of the Boy Scouts, so it’s appropriate this stamp is hidden near a council center.

Hey Joe: Kennesaw Mountain National Park is host to a number of letterboxes, including these two which require a bit of hiking and orienteering to get to.

Mother Goose’s Dainty Dish: This box requires deciphering a puzzling poem to find. Can you find the clue on the proper website and solve it?

Should you befriend everybody on a social network?

An author friend once noted this advice on promotion via social networks from a book marketing professional: follow and you will be followed. Essentially this means one should set up a Facebook or Twitter account, then seek to follow and friend anybody with similar interests – an author, other authors and readers; a musician, others in the field.

While it may appear to be a good idea in theory, let’s look at the result: if you were to blindly select a thousand people on Twitter to follow, chances are a good-sized percentage will follow back. Sounds good, huh? In theory, you might think you can convert all these followers into customers or clients, but consider why many people are on Twitter in the first place: to market their own products. What is more likely to happen is that a thousand people will follow you with the intent of converting you to purchase their goods. A top turn-off for some who choose to follow Twitter users is receiving that initial automated greeting message – you know the one, there’s usually a URL and a pitch. You haven’t read one of the person’s “tweets” yet and already they’re on the hard sell.

In order to get the most out of social networks as a means of promotion, a few things you’ll want to bear in mind are:

It isn’t necessary to follow everybody who follows you. If you follow too many Twitter folks the chain of messages received becomes diluted. Posts from people you truly want to follow may get lost in the shuffle of numerous advertisements. True, you want people to follow you, so it’s important to set your profile up as one that contains pertinent content, yet doesn’t appear to constantly hustle readers. If, however, you are set on using Twitter to promote your business, set up a separate account for personal use.

To become attractive to Twitter users, be an expert. “Socialization” is the key to succeeding in any social media network. Not only should you use your Facebook and Twitter accounts to relay information on your favorite subjects, but you should interact with users as well. If you sell sporting goods, ask followers and friends what brand baseball bat or glove is the best, or who they think will win the Series this year. Put a personality behind the avatar and you may find people will recommend their friends to follow you.

Don’t be afraid to promote other things. If you see a news item related to your line of business, share it. Never feel as though you are helping “the competition” in any way. In fact, sharing this information could help you in a way, as it might inspire followers to “re-tweet” your findings and credit you. This in turn could lead to more followers, and perhaps more business.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on Virginia web design.

Making Your Blog Work for Your Business

Too often these days, we see advertisements on the Internet calling for bloggers to make “fast, easy money” through simply writing content. You post articles, maybe add an optimized link here and there, put up a banner on the sidebar and expect the cash to come rolling in the next day. Suffice to say, it doesn’t always happen, and while there may exist people who do bring in a modest income through regular blogging, one thing to consider when owning a blog is that in order for it to work well for you, it takes more than monetizing it. A blog needs to be visited and read by many, many people before you begin to see results.

If your primary function for the Internet is promote your business, it is imperative to have a web blog connected to your site. Whether you host the blog software on your domain or use a third-party host like WordPress or Blogger, regular use of the blog to optimize keywords for your main site can be of some help in boosting your search rankings.

What should you write? Regardless of the purpose of your website or business, the blog should have a down-to-earth, friendly appeal. Though it is to be utilized for promotion, perhaps alerts on sales and new services, it shouldn’t be constantly used as a means to hard sell visitors every time they come to read, lest they be turned off altogether. Keep a good mix of blog posts active; talk about what you do and what you offer, but take the time to hold an online conversation with visitors. Post about local happenings, use pictures or embedded links to related videos, and try to stimulate feedback from visitors.

Combining these efforts with social media networking can improve traffic to your blog as well. Open accounts with Facebook and Twitter, for two, and use them to refer people to new articles on your blog. Sign up for social bookmarking sites like Delicious and Digg, and save the URLs of specific articles and posts you feel have a wider appeal. The more “word of mouth” enthusiasm you can generate, the better for your stats, and business. You just may find that blogging can bring you a decent income as it leads people to your main site.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on Virginia web design.

Hunt a Special Treasure in the Outer Banks – Go Letterboxing

When one thinks of the Outer Banks as a potential vacation destination, the possibilities may seem endless. Between trips to the beach, landmarks like the Whalehead Club and the Currituck Lighthouse, and sightseeing for wild mustangs, one would expect a full itinerary. Yet, if the family is up for a bit of adventure, you may want to consider another activity that not only takes you to some of the most beautiful areas of the North Carolina shore, but is practically free. This summer, why not go “letterboxing”?

What is Letterboxing?

Letterboxing is an outdoor game of sorts – a treasure hunt that may involve deciphering clues and a bit of orienteering to reach the goal. The “treasure” in question is usually a box (most times plastic and water-tight) containing a rubber stamp, maybe some stickers or other small items for hunters to enjoy. The idea behind letterboxing is to find the box and enclosed stamp to imprint the design in a notebook. Hunters with personal rubber stamps acknowledge finding the “treasure” by stamping and signing a guestbook found in the box. The practice of letterboxing is similar to “geocaching” but does not necessarily require use of a GPS system to find boxes.

Who can go Letterboxing?

Letterboxing is a very family-friendly activity, a perfect way to spend a morning, especially when on vacation in the Outer Banks. You have the opportunity to come away with a unique souvenir of the area, and keeping a scrapbook of your stamps allows you to add pictures of the scenery to enhance the memories of your visit. Anybody with a yen for outdoor exploration and figuring out clues will enjoy this hobby.

Where to find Letterboxes

Enthusiasts may create and hide letterboxes in a variety of places: parks, attractions, beaches, and even urban areas. An Internet search for letterbox locations (Atlasquest and Letterboxing.org are two of the prime sites for collecting clues on whereabouts) will guide you to where you need to go.

In the Outer Banks area, for example, one may find special treasures on Knotts Island, in Coinjock near the famous Gravedigger attraction, and in Corolla, where several stamps celebrating the Wright Brothers’ flight and Outer Banks horses are waiting for new discoverers. If you want exact locations, however, you’ll have to try the aforementioned websites for clues.

The Rules of Letterboxing

Two things to know before you embark on a letterboxing adventure:

Be Discreet! Many boxes are hidden in high traffic area, especially in a region popular for tourists like the Outer Banks. It is advised when you find the box and collect your stamp, to return the box carefully and try not to attract too much attention. Boxes are sometimes at risk for being stolen and lost if not handled properly.

Secondly, have fun! Letterboxing provides a great opportunity to explore the beaches of Currituck and enjoy the companionship of fellow treasure hunters.

Okay, here’s a hint for you if you’re interested. Check out this list of available Outer Banks letterboxes. Happy hunting!

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on the Outer Banks.

Haunted St. Augustine – The Ghosts of Old City

Seems no historical destination is without its skeletons in the closet – figuratively and literally! Visitors to St. Augustine can enjoy a number of odd attractions in the Ripley Museum and the Fountain of Youth, but the especially adventurous may also wish to embark on a ghost hunt through Old City’s cobblestone alleyways.

Top St. Augustine Haunts

Where’s the best place to find a ghost? Purportedly there are a number of landmarks and buildings where people have claimed to see or hear something not of this realm. If you’re feeling lucky – and brave – you may want to add these sites to your vacation itinerary:

The Casablanca Inn: In the early part of the 20th century, the Casablanca was the place to go to imbibe in a time when buying alcohol was illegal. To alert bootleggers of law enforcement, the owner would wave a lantern from a window to signal their boats. It’s said you can still see those lights to this day.

The Old Jail: It’s said if you listen closely, you can hear the mournful wails of long-dead inmates, and heavy footsteps dragging ghostly chains around the building.

St. Augustine Lighthouse: There’s talk the former land owner on which the lighthouse sits haunts the property, or perhaps it is one of the house’s first light keepers, who fell to his death while painting the tower.

Safety in Numbers

If the idea of a solo hunt spooks you too much, there are a number of supervised ghost tours operating throughout town. Arrange a group of friends to come, or tag along with a crowd of other enthusiasts as you see St. Augustine in a different, ghostly light. Just a few operators to try include:

Ghost Tours of St. Augustine: This frightfully fun group offers three options for ghost seekers: you can ride, walk, or even sail the bay on the schooner “Freedom.” Each tour is led by a licensed guide ready to regale you of Old City’s otherworldly history. Prices vary according to the season, and check their website for discounts.

GhoSt Augustine: Tour favorite “haunts” of St. Aug locals – dead or alive – on the group’s hearse pub tour. You’ll ride in an actual hearse through town, stopping at different landmarks and open pubs for a unique look at the town’s paranormal history. It’s the only way to travel!

Ghosts and Gravestones: Hop aboard the trolley for a “frightseeing” tour of town, complete with costumed guides in need of your help to find the fabled Book of the Dead. Search for clues on each stop as you’re treated to tales of St. Augustine’s haunted past…and present.

Are You at Risk for Identity Theft?

These days, it isn’t unusual to hear stories about people who have had their identities stolen, credit ratings trashed, and reputations put at risk. The Internet, unfortunately, provides a forum for making identity theft easier and more expedient. However, there is no need to panic, for one can take measures to decrease the possibility of this happening to you. Common sense and vigilance are the keys to keeping your identity – and consequently your finances and future – safe.

Good Steps to Take to Prevent ID Theft

If you are concerned about private, sensitive information being exposed for thieves to use against you, there are things you can do to maintain your security, especially on the Web. Here are a few suggestions for keeping your ID your own.

Shred Important Documents and Receipts: Once you are finished with invoices, credit card statements and anything else that has personal or financial information, make sure it is shredded thoroughly. But watch for personal shredders, because even the craftiest white collar criminal can piece together strips. Look in your area for community shredding events, where professionals will take your paperwork and shred it with an industrial strength machine.

Be Careful When Shopping Online: Buying products and services via the Internet may be easy, but if you give credit card information over an insecure website you risk exposing that information to hackers. Look for the lock icon on your browser when you shop, and only make purchases from sites you trust. If you receive e-mail newsletters from vendors, be wary of clicking through to websites unless you have opted-in to a specific mailing. Many times scam artists disguise e-mails to look like a legitimate company advertising to you. Sometimes hovering your mouse over the links will reveal a dubious address.

Change Passwords Periodically: If you are the type to use the same password for a multitude of protected websites, consider mixing it up a little, and changing your password from time to time. Do not use a password closely associated with you – children’s names, phone number, etc. – that somebody could figure out.

Give as Little Information on Yourself as Possible: Social media is a popular trend right now, with millions of people using Facebook and Twitter to connect to friends. If you feel the need to be social, don’t give out too much information about yourself. Use an e-mail address with a gender neutral ID and try not to volunteer geographical information if you can.

For more tips on Internet identity safety, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is a good source, and the site of the Federal Trade Commission offers good tips for consumers and businesses. The more you know, the better you can protect yourself, and your identity.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on Virginia Beach shredding and Virginia web design.

Top Micro-Breweries of the Mid-Atlantic Region

Perhaps you know the craving. You may be enjoying a healthy-sized plate of hot wings or succulent barbecue ribs, and you suddenly desire a cold beverage to help savor the enjoyment. No fizzy soda or plain glass of ice water will do – you need a beer, frosty and sharp with the right amount of flavor to compliment your meal. Why settle for a standard name brand, though, when you can try the unique taste of a drink brewed regionally? If you live in the Mid-Atlantic area – Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland, you’ll find a host of micro-breweries to try.

So where are the best lagers? Next time you’re browsing a specialty liquor store, or on the road and looking for an interesting attraction to tour, consider making the following stops along the way:

Weeping Radish Brewery – Outer Banks, NC

For over twenty years, the Weeping Radish has been the place to go for beach brewed goodness. Visitors to the Outer Banks can tour this working farm and eco-friendly brewery, where you’ll find delicious pale ales and full-bodied lagers created in the old German style. Grab a case of homemade root beer to go, too, and try a cold wheat beer at the brewery’s restaurant with some authentic Carolina BBQ.

Starr Hill Brewery – Charlottesville, VA

Based near the rolling hills and valleys of Shenandoah, Starr Hill is known for its award-winning tastes and trippy-looking labels. Beer connoisseurs may enjoy the Dark Starr Stout, described by the brewery as a liquid equivalent to “Grandma’s pumpernickel bread,” or the Festie, an Oktoberfest style lager.

Clipper City Brewing Company – Baltimore, MD

Organic beer? You bet! This Maryland brewery offers two varieties of organic beer – a traditional amber ale and a bold raspberry wheat. For others tastes, Clipper City has Holy Sheet, brewed in the manner of the old Belgian Abbey monks, and Peg Leg, a dark chocolate stout, among many others.

If the craving for a unique regional beer hits you, try any of these Mid-Atlantic brands. Just remember to drink responsibly and in moderation.

Enjoy a Golf Vacation in St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra Beach

The sunny beaches and succulent seafood of St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra, and Vilano Beach are certainly popular draws for visitors to Florida. If one had to pick another reason to spend a lengthy vacation along this stretch of Atlantic shore, the prospect of a great golf game might just be the ticket. It’s no secret that professionals and casual golfers enjoy the lush greens of Northern Florida golf courses, and if you’re the type to plan your trip around eighteen holes St. Augustine is the place for you.

Where are the best courses to play? Here are a few suggestions to “link” you up to a great golfing vacation.

A World of Golf Awaits

Imagine if Disney World had been built specifically to showcase golf…that pretty much describes the World Golf Village in St. Augustine. This is perhaps the largest and most luxurious golf resort in the state, with two par-72 championship courses and an official PGA-recognized golf academy on the premises. When not out on the greens, you can tour the World Golf Hall of Fame or catch a show at the on-site IMAX theater, and for non-golfers on the family there is a full-service spa, swimming pools, and easy access to historic St. Augustine for a day trip.

Play Where the Tiger Prowls

Situated in beautiful Ponte Vedra Beach, just north of Old City, you’ll find one of the best known courses in the south: TPC Sawgrass. These greens are home to the annual Players Championship, and when Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson aren’t battling for top honors, the public is invited to try their hands, and clubs, at the challenging course. In order to play either of Sawgrass’ two courses, you must be a guest of the Sawgrass Golf Resort and Spa or else reserve a tee time two weeks in advance of your visit.

Pack up your clubs and your best golf shoes (no metal spikes for Sawgrass, please), and watch the cool Florida breezes as you prepare to tee off. A golf vacation in St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra Beach is perfect any time of year.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on southern vacation destinations, including St. Augustine and the Outer Banks.

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