May 052011
 

Wow… just discovered that the amazing “Genesis” theme framework for WordPress and ALL Genesis CHILD THEMES are available for the staggeringly low one off payment of just US$249.95.

Genesis from Studiopress -- the best WordPress themes on the planet

It’s called the Genesis Pro Plus Package – and until 11 May Studiopress – which is part of Copyblogger Media – is offering this comprehensive set of WordPress Premium Developer Themes for more than $600 less than purchasing the framework and 36 child themes separately.

PLUS you’ll automatically get access to all future Genesis child themes they create as part of the bundle. Bargain!

A must for WordPress web designers, online marketers and bloggers rolling their own sites

How much is having some of the world’s best professional WordPress templates at your fingertips worth? More than US$250 that’s for sure! One project and it’s more than paid for itself!

If you’re a web designer building sites using WordPress day-in, day-out, and you’re not already using Genesis, then you’d be crazy to pass this offer up. It’s an incredible deal.

Likewise if you’re an online marketer or affiliate and create your own sites to promote online products – Genesis gives you all the tools you need, saving you time and money.

Even if you just maintain your own WordPress blog, and create occasional sites for for family, friends or colleagues it makes sense just for the time it will save you.

I’ve used the Genesis framework on a few client websites now, and just built my own pet project the Ireland’s Wildlife website using it. It really is wonderfully easy to work with, simple to customise, highly flexible and stable… it just ticks all the boxes. I guess that’s why it’s used by some of the world’s highest profile bloggers – like CopyBlogger Brian Clark, ProBlogger Darren Rowse, and the inimitable Chris Brogan at Chrisbrogan.com

Support, when it’s needed (which isn’t often), is available via a dedicated online forum on the Studiopress site, and the answer to every question I’ve had so far has been there already… a quick search and the solution’s at hand.

Check out the Genesis Pro-Plus Package if you’re into WordPress… I’d highly recommend it.

Apr 062011
 

Screenshot of Web Content Consulting homepageQuick heads up that I’m using this blog mainly for personal writing / posts / rants etc. now, and posting business related topics over on my web content consulting business site.

Here are a few recent posts you might enjoy:

You’ll find plenty more good stuff over on the business blog. If you like what you see, please share it with your friends, colleagues and online connections, and don’t forget to stay tuned here for sundry bits and pieces on writing, wildlife and life in beautiful, if occasionally soggy West Cork.

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May 262010
 
Scale (negativo)

Image by fraunix via Flickr

I’ve been checking out this series of free online marketing workbooks from Dave Navarro’s “The Launch Coach” library.

Dave is a no-nonsense, cut the bull expert on turning what you do into a marketable, scaleable product that you can sell online.

What I particularly like about Dave’s stuff so far is the way he cuts through the online hype of more typical “web gurus” and delivers really valuable information right from the start.

One of the biggest problems with my online writing and consultancy business is the fact that it relies very much on direct input from me… and no matter how much I might wish for it, I’m simply not scalable. When I’m operating at capacity, that’s it – I can’t accept new business without letting go of something I’m already working on.

I’ve been thinking about how to change that business model a lot lately, and Dave’s Launch Coach Library, and regular product-launch related blog posts might be just the catalyst I need to take that crucial next step..

Why not Grab The Launch Coach Library workbooks for yourself? They’re well worth a read… and could make a real difference to your online business.

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Mar 122010
 

imageI’ve made a few changes over on the CJ Writing website to more accurately reflect the SEO copywriting and web content consultancy work I’m doing with businesses these days.

I’ve also included a business related, web-content focussed blog as part of the site re-vamp, and will be posting business related missives there, rather than here, from now on.

This will remain, as always, a personal blog that I’ll use to post all sorts of whimsical bits and pieces that cross my mind, and of course the occasional bout of spleen-venting when the Irish system gets even more frustrating than usual.

The business blog will have a much more practical focus, with hints, tips and suggestions on how to make your web content work harder for your business. I’m also experimenting with a pre-pay Web Content Audit service, and pre-pay Web Content Consultancy packages.

The idea is to help small to medium businesses to fine-tune their web content and keep control of their costs by pre-purchasing the advice and help they need… eliminating the spectre of looming invoices when cash-flow is tight. Of course it also means I get to spend more of my time helping my clients rather than chasing payments.

I think it’s a system that could work well for all concerned. I guess time will tell whether it will catch on or not.

Jul 162009
 
working from home

Image by gin soak via Flickr

Because this week’s column about working from home with children, was career related, I’ve posted it over on the new Career Moves blog, where you’ll find lots of other great career, jobs and recruitment related content from the Evening Echo Career Moves section and also stuff written exclusively for the blog.

Check it out, share it with your friends, and don’t forget to let me know what you think via the comments :-)….

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Apr 142009
 
The ten faces of the Doctor.
Image via Wikipedia

Appointments… a simple concept: you arrange a time and place to meet, both parties turn up as arranged, you do whatever business needs to get done and you both go on your merry way again. Easy, efficient and practical.

Easy, efficient and practical, that is, as long as it’s not remotely connected with the medical profession. The merest whiff of anything medical and the notion of fixed appointments morphs into something extraordinarily convoluted and apparently unmanageable. Why?

I’m writing this sitting in a doctors waiting room. My appointment was at 12:00pm, I arrived at 11:50am, it’s now 12:15pm and I’m still sitting here, surrounded by sick people, breathing in a noxious cocktail of contagious pathogens.

I have a business appointment at a hotel down the road at 12:30. I figured that half-an hour would be plenty of time to check out a lingering pulled shoulder muscle with the doctor. How wrong can you be? In business, if I make an appointment for 12:00 I’d better be ready to meet that person at 12:00, otherwise I can kiss their business goodbye. But somehow that logic manages to evade the medical mindset. Rather than a discrete and accurate sliver of time, appointments in the medical sense tend to be more of a fuzzy guideline indicating that you’ll probably get to see a doctor sometime that day. They’re designed, from what I can see, to keep self-important medical receptionists of questionable competence in work. The reality is that regardless of your appointment time you’ll be seen on a first-come-first-served basis, and frankly that’s simply not good enough. Continue reading »

Apr 142009
 
Clouds of Fire v2 / Nubes de fuego v2
Image by Sergio_One via Flickr

Losing your job can be one of the most traumatic experiences in your working life. Conflicting waves of emotion race through you: anger, frustration, disbelief, acceptance… even relief. You relive things in your mind… was it something you did, or perhaps didn’t do? Could you have changed something that would have spared your job? Most of all there’s the uncertainty and doubt about what to do next… where will you turn, how will you pay the mortgage?

There’s no doubt that losing your job is an incredibly trying experience. I know… it’s happened to me twice in my career, and when you’re living through it it’s not fun. But looking back now, I have to say that on both occasions being made redundant was categorically the best thing that could have happened to me, spawning a new chapter in a career that’s been interesting, diverse and rewarding.

The last time, back in 2001, I was working as a project manager for a start-up technology company. Being suddenly made redundant led me to take the plunge into self employment as a freelance writer. Since then I have become a columnist, feature writer, marketing copywriter and, most recently, an internationally published author. My first book, “Understanding Digital Marketing“, co-authored with Damian Ryan, was release in January by publishers Kogan Page in Ireland, the UK and the USA. Things are looking exceedingly positive for 2009, there’s another book deal in the pipeline, and several other projects that will keep me busy well into next year and beyond.

And the catalyst to all of this was losing my job.

If you find yourself caught in the cross-fire as companies battle to survive the recession, try not to despair. Yes, on the one hand losing your job is a potentially devastating blow — but only if you allow it to be. The first, and perhaps the most important thing to remember is that it’s your role, rather than you as a person, that’s being made redundant. The fact that your position is no longer required by the organisation isn’t a reflection on your ability to do your job. Secondly, remember that, at the end of the day, the only thing you’ve lost is a job. Unlike your family, your friends or your health, your job is a disposable commodity that can be replaced, often by something better.

Top tips for coping with redundancy:

  • Take stock: redundancy gives you a great chance to re-assess your career, your life and what’s important to you. Look at it as a potential catalyst to bigger and better things; something to force you outside your comfort zone and prompt you to take action.
  • Talk to other people: talking to people you know who’ve been through the experience will help. You’ll be surprised by how many of them look back at their redundancy in a positive light.
  • Get what you can: many companies only offer the statutory redundancy packages they’re obliged to under Irish law. Don’t let that stop you from negotiating for more: the more you get the easier the transition between jobs will be. If you’re affiliated to a trade union, see if they have negotiated preferential redundancy rates for members.
  • Sign on immediately: this is important to maintain your PRSI contributions, and the money every week will help supplement your savings while you look for work.
  • Start job-hunting: finding a new job can take a while, so start looking immediately. Your employer is obliged to give you time off during your notice period to look for work.
  • Tighten the belt: cutting back on unnecessary spending and sticking to a strict budget while your income is suppressed will help reduce financial pressure.

Most of all, try to stay positive, and look at your redundancy as a stepping stone to the next stage of your varied and interesting career.

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Mar 192009
 
Board meeting room
Image via Wikipedia

It’s difficult to think of anything that wastes your precious time more than attending meetings.

Working parents around the country lament the fact that they don’t have enough time to spend with their children. But if you add up how much time those same working parents spend travelling to, waiting for and sitting around in pointless meetings you’d be shocked at the results. A huge chunk of the working population waste days – weeks even – every year sitting in meetings. And for what? To talk about things that could have been discussed on the telephone or online, or to listen to things that don’t really concern them at all. What a waste!

Sometimes in any business you need the face-to-face collaborative communication that only a meeting can provide. But the truth is those occasions are much rarer than you might think. These days days, thanks to the internet and the wonders of digital communications technology, there’s usually an alternative that would work just as well, if not better, would be quicker, and would prevent participants having to travel long distances to attend. Ireland just hasn’t been open to exploring the opportunities. Continue reading »

Mar 052009
 
The Passage of Time
Image by ToniVC via Flickr

Time… there’s never enough of it these days!

You’d think, being linear, that time would be an easy thing to manage — sixty seconds in a minute, sixty minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day, seven days in a week, 52 weeks in a year and so on. It’s steady, predictable, and one of the few things in this world that really is a constant. But the reality, of course is that managing time is anything but simple.

The human mind is an incredibly powerful piece of kit — and nowhere is that better illustrated than in the way it takes the steady, linear progression of time and warps it into a convoluted mess that leaves us wondering what day of the week it is.

Time stretches out…. time compresses… time stands still… time accelerates. Time is, indisputably, a constant, and yet our perception of it is anything but. It’s fluid, dynamic, and it drives me insane.

Take this morning for example. I have several deadlines to meet — this column, for one, and I can guarantee that because I have something I need to get done by a given time, this morning will zip along at breakneck pace. Hours will evaporating faster than I can tap keys on the keyboard. But if I was waiting for something then the tables would turn… each second, minute, hour would draw out to eternity.

Why can’t we just see time as the constant it is? What cruel twist of evolution instructed our brain to twist it so? To what end? How is it helpful in the slightest?

The one consolation I guess is that this happens to everyone. There’s never enough time when there’s something you need to get finished, and there’s always too much time when you’re waiting around for something to happen. It’s a universal illusion that affects the entire human race. Time marches along its merry way at the same pace regardless of what’s happening in our lives, but somehow knowing that doesn’t seem to help.

Our perception of time fluctuates enormously, and that’s never truer than when you have children. They imperceptibly steal huge chunks of your day: getting them ready for school, helping with homework, resolving the inevitable disputes and, occasionally, averting all-out-warfare all take time. Some days it seems that I only have to blink and it’s bedtime, and another huge chunk of time falls into the temporal black hole that is parenthood.

With work, jobs around the house and the inexorable demands of parenthood to deal with it’s little wonder that 2009 is disappearing fast. I hardly seem to have drawn breath since Christmas, and without warning it’s March. How did that happen? To say it’s been a blur would be an understatement, but the real issue looking back at the first two months of this year is that I can’t really remember spending quality time with the family. A stolen hour here, an afternoon there, but certainly not enough, and always with the distraction of a busy life lurking on the periphery of my subconscious.

I’m self employed and work from home… a conscious decision to give me the flexibility to spend more time with my family. Somewhere along the line the pressures of earning a crust and the duplicitous nature of time have contrived to steal that away. It ends here!

If you can’t make the time to go to the beach with the kids, to take an hour in the evening to read with them, to play the occasional mindless game just for the hell of it… to share in the boundless fun and enthusiasm of their childhood… then what’s the point? We can’t control time — but we can control how we make use of the time we have, and it seems that it’s time I re-aligned my priorities. How about you?

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Jan 232009
 
Merry Christmas Happy New Year

Image by kajvin via Flickr

I was reflecting recently on the Christmas and New Year break.

Over the holidays I took some time off, like lots of people, but as well as taking time off work, I also found myself paying little attention to the various blogs I look after (this one included). Family, friends, children and the like took precedence… which is only right and proper.

So why did I find myself feeling guilty for not blogging?

As I pondered this question I had to ask whether a line been crossed somewhere in my subconscious. When had blogging taken on such a level of gravity in my life. How could I possibly feel even the tiniest twinge of guilt for choosing to spend time with my family instead of posting stuff online?

It’s a fine line… and while it’s obviously important to keep a steady stream of content flowing on the blog(s) there are many, many things in life that are far more important.

Sometimes I look at the flood of posts from prolific Irish bloggers like Damien Mulley, Alexia Golez, and others in my feed reader and despair. Between work, family and other commitments I don’t have time to read all this stuff, let alone write my own.

But then I realised that it doesn’t really matter… not in the grand scheme of things. Different people have different priorities, are at different stages in their lives and are blogging under vastly different circumstances. A missed post here, a sparse week there… so what!

I enjoy writing the blog – that’s why I do it – but feeling guilty for not posting isn’t an acceptable part of the equation.

I purposely didn’t make a new year’s resolution this year… but in hindsight I think I probably will take up a belated one: I WILL NOT FEEL GUILTY FOR NOT BLOGGING!

In 2009 I’ll post here and elsewhere when I can, when I want to and as time allows… without any guilt, remorse or regret for failing to maintaining a punishing posting schedule.

What about you?

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