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The push and pull of blog promotion: Part 2

After making progress with the art of pushing blog content to readers, it was time to drag more people directly to my blog. I required readers on my blog in order to increase the odds of collecting valuable feedback about the writing content, and to build momentum for future advertising revenue opportunities. To drag readers to my blog, I employed the strategies of pull marketing, with a ’social’ flare.

Social-izing Pull Marketing

Including the post link in a communication is intended to pull viewers directly to your content. An interest-sparking headline or lead-in prompts the reader to click to follow the content. If the writing fulfills its promise, visitors might be motivated to read other posts and become dedicated followers. If there are ads on the site that entice, viewer clicks may earn income for blog ads that represent a revenue source.

Pulling readers to your blog site provides the opportunity to create more loyal followers and potential for ad clicks. Since most advertising deals pay per click, more volume equals greater revenue. Once a viewer is on your site, they may also ‘like’, ‘share’ and ‘tweet’ your content so that other members of their network learn about the blog. Referrals are a great way to gain new readers. Having the credibility of the source contact increases the odds of connecting with their network audience.

The downside of pull marketing is relying on continued revisits from your readers. Since they will not be receiving an email or RSS feed notifying of the new post, their loyalty must be relied upon. This strategy requires them to make a decision to view each time they see notice of a new post through social media. To increase the odds they will continue to make an affirmative choice, quality post announcements are essential.

With pull promotion, the pitch that entices a reader to click must be enticing and succinct. For example, I recently wrote a blog post asking for opinions about telling my 8 year old how the Easter Bunny really delivers goodies to our home. The other option I have to deal with the truth is waiting until she hears something at school and decides to ask me. My actual question to readers was, “Do I tell my daughter the truth about the Easter Bunny?” My social media pitch, along with the blog link was, “Do I tell?”

Both are truthful, which is vital. A pitch that suggests something untrue about the content will make the reader feel they have been tricked into visiting your blog. The second pitch is more tempting for a wider audience of readers. If a reader is not interested in weighing in on the Easter Bunny decision, there is still the opportunity to entice them with another post on the site, since the pitch pulled them to your vast collection of content.

To push or to pull – that is the question. The answer is both. A balanced combination of both strategies will maximize the outcome. The size and quality of the promotion investment will be reflected in the results. The cost of marketing your blog content is almost entirely human resources. It takes a significant amount of time on the social media sites to organically develop relationships that are authentic.

Each site has its communication methods, language and etiquette. Social media experts debate the pros and cons of repeating content on multiple social media platforms. One point all social savvy individuals seem to agree on is the inevitable importance of these platforms for any business to compete.

 

Next column: Tweet to Compete

Living by the 80/20 rule

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that so much of life these days is about “more “: do more, live more, work more, be even more than what everyone expects. One hundred percent is not quite enough.

I have seen this, too, in how some people approach their diet, or in how they think they need to be approaching changes toward a healthier lifestyle. There is merit in being able to embrace a lifestyle concept entirely and live by it with full force but it is a rare individual who can go cold turkey from old habits. It can be quite stressful to do a complete overhaul; rebound binges may occur and guilt becomes yet another emotional hurdle to overcome. It can also be socially restrictive, preventing someone from being able to enjoy an evening out at a restaurant or at a friend’s house for dinner.

I like to support the 80/20 rule of living, especially when it comes to diet. The idea is that most of the time (this can be anywhere from 80% to 95% for a given period of time), I eat very nutrient-dense, clean food such as organic produce, cold-water fish that is simply prepared, and creative vegan meals. For a meat-eater this may also include organically-raised chicken or grass-fed beef. I stay hydrated with filtered water or herbal teas—my current favourite is Tulsi/Holy Basil. I can honestly say that I really enjoy eating this way and I certainly feel better for it. Over years of steady transition from what is the Standard (North) American Diet, my palate has adapted so that these foods are what I crave most.

The other 5-20% of the time, I am able to enjoy some of life’s indulgences. Here’s my confession:  the neighbourhood bakery makes really delicious, sinful brownies so I treat myself to one every month or so. I relish times spent with friends over some wine and a meal that they have lovingly prepared. There are also those nights, usually once a week, when neither my husband nor I are in the mood to prepare a meal so a local restaurant serves up a nice break from cooking.

The catch of course is being honest with yourself about on which side of the dividing line your choices lie. Is your 80/20 more of a 60/40 right now? That’s okay. As long as you know what your goals are and what your true starting point is, you can get to 80/20 by making small, steady changes over time. Then you CAN have your small piece of cake and eat it too.

 

 

 

 

Domestic living

If you had told me a couple years ago that I would be happy going to the gym, swimming and making lunch with a boyfriend, I would have told you that you were insane. I probably would have said something about how I am a wild thing and I’m almost certain that I would have quoted Samantha from Sex and the City.

This weekend Boyfriend and I did just that though. We went to the market, we went to the gym, we made lunch together and then walked around the city in the sunshine and not once did I feel like I’d given up a piece of myself to be the somewhat domestic gal.

The thing that makes Boyfriend different is that I never feel like I’m losing myself in the domestic bliss, nor is it boring or typical. We go swimming in an effort to relax after a workout and he ends up tossing me around the pool and pretending he’s a shark. (Okay, I was the one pretending to be a shark.) We make lunch while I sing country songs and he makes fun of me for doing so. The little things that I thought meant the death of a relationship, the simple pleasures, make me happier than any deeply thought out and planned date with the Big Ex ever did.

It’s simple really: it doesn’t matter what you’re doing when you’re with someone that makes you smile. You could be skydiving or arguing over who gets to chop the vegetables for the salad, but as long as you’re with someone you love it’s fun.

Like most girls, I claim to hate rom-coms but I’ve seen my fair share of movies starring Katherine Heigl or Reese Witherspoon. And while I regret watching them after the credits roll, I go back to them like a piece of chocolate cake that I know is bad for me; the sugary sweetness is sometimes exactly what you need even if you know deep down that when you stare at that plate of crumbs you will feel terrible about yourself. Deliciously terrible. Rom-coms are sometimes exactly what I need: mindless entertainment with a happy ending, but the problem with that is that afterwards I’m always wondering why I don’t have a relationship like that. No man has ever told me he loved me via cue cards in the snow at Christmas; I’ve never been in a Thai prison, so I’ve obviously never been saved by a gorgeous British man from said Thai prison; and most importantly no man has ever said, “As you wish” to me, not really anyway.

So I’m in a relationship that will never be worthy of a rom-com, because just being happy without question is not the stuff great movies are made of. But I get to date my best friend and for that I am incredibly grateful. Besides, if life gets too easy and domestic I’ll just get a puppy and introduce that madness into our lives.

Exploring Toronto’s artistic side to improve your home

Toronto is full of colour, culture and creative flair. If you are in the process of finding the right painter to decorate a new pad but are stuck for artistic and interior design ideas, Toronto is known for its vibrant side, which offers creative inspiration to its residents and visitors all year round. Here is a look at some of the points of interest in Toronto to look out for.

The Art Gallery of Ontario

This towering structure houses 80,000 exciting exhibitions from works which celebrate the past to modern performance pieces and sculptures. It is one of the largest art museums in North America and was expanded further in 2008. The new building alone – designed by Frank Gehry – offers interior design ideas and inspiration for your own pad, including how to manipulate more natural light into a space using the right material.

Toronto International Art Fair

More than 100 fine art galleries take part in Toronto’s annual art fair, Canada’s only contemporary visual art event. Its exhibitions include the NEXT gallery, which showcases emerging artistic talents, and FOCUS ASIA, which, as the title suggests, focuses on ornate, traditional and modern Asian art.

The great outdoors

Take advantage of Toronto’s beautiful surroundings to transfer to your own space, inside and out.

From classic topiary and geometric shapes at Edwards Garden to unspoilt landscapes in Toronto Island Park, have some fun picking out natural colours and bold plants. Cross over to the Beaches neighbourhood with its mazes of stylish colonial houses with planted sidewalks as well as beachside views. Nearby is the lush Kew Park and Gardens, with a myriad of planting ideas for your garden.

Markets

St Lawrence Market is a must-visit moving landmark in Toronto. This farmers market is a perfect chance to pick up some great kitchenware whilst having a bite to eat and partaking in some people watching. Alternatively, have a wander around the little boutiques and outside stalls at the Kensington Market, a colourful bohemian hub by Spadina Avenue. Be warned, parking is nonexistent.

Shopping

Where better to find new decorative items than in the safe and sure environment of a mall? Toronto boasts many malls which have little boutiques alongside recognizable larger stores including the Eaton Centre with more than 320 stores in Downtown Toronto as well as the Yorkdale Shopping Centre which has rave reviews from past visitors. If you are looking for bespoke, designer interior design items, Toronto has premium stores dotted around its streets including Made which showcases young, fresh designer items and the larger Kiosk store which has floors of inspiring furniture collections.

 

Old flames

I started talking to City Boy again recently. You know, the boy that I was supposed to fly off to Shangri L.A. with last summer, except that definitely didn’t happen and I met Boyfriend a month and a half after I didn’t fly anywhere.

I’ve thought about what this would be like, because I was so incredibly into him and he broke my heart, but we fell into conversation like we hadn’t missed a day and for once it didn’t bother me that we didn’t work out. There was a little flirting and I know he misses me, but we weren’t good for each other and I’m so much happier now than I ever was trying to make a long distance relationship work.

Before Boyfriend I worried that I would carry a flame for City Boy forever because we never had any closure, it was over as quickly as it began and nothing felt dealt with; but after talking to him I feel like maybe we can be friends.

When you find someone you can love, really love, the old relationships and hurt and broken hearts don’t disappear but they suddenly matter less because all the ones that came before weren’t right you just didn’t know it at the time. I’ve fallen for many men before and I still wonder about the Big Ex or what would have happened if my first love hadn’t died, but the pain that used to accompany those memories is faded and distant now.

The best part about finding that perfect person for you is that he’s perfect for you. He could be strange and weird but he’s strange and weird in a way that matches your own strangeness. City Boy was always too into work to ever really be with me and even when I thought the Big Ex and I would work out my friends knew better.

I wouldn’t trade all the second chances with old flames in the world for the happiness I have now. If City Boy told me he wanted to try it all over again I know I’d say no and do so happily. Maybe there wasn’t any closure to that whirlwind romance but I don’t need it because I have something better: I have someone who makes me a priority instead of an option.

It’s taken me a while to get to this place, it’s taken so long for me to find something that is healthy for me and makes me happy that sometimes I think it’s a dream.

I’m not one for giving advice, because I’m a bit of a mess of insecurities and craziness myself, but if I could offer anything to the single girls out there it would be this: don’t settle, it isn’t worth it. Find someone who doesn’t make you wait forever, someone who doesn’t think all important conversations should happen over BBM and someone who doesn’t fly off without telling you. There’s someone out there who won’t make you want to pull your hair out… at least not in a bad way.

Dinner with the parents

It’s official: tomorrow evening my mom will be in town with her husband and Mr. Unexpected and I are joining them for dinner. What else is official? I’m nervous.

My mom is a lovely lady, she’s fantastic and I’m so lucky to have her in my life, but the last time she met anyone it was the Big Ex and he left me a clichéd pile of tears and Ben & Jerry’s six months later. I’m not worried that Mr. Unexpected will leave me, we’re solid. What I worry about is that my mom still doesn’t trust my taste in men, I worry that she thinks I’m still the silly young girl running off to the most Northern parts of Ontario and I worry that she’ll put all that pressure on him.

Is it even normal to freak out about introducing a new man to your family? Do most people just think of it as a typical part of the dating process? I wonder about these things pretty much constantly. Never having been the commitment type, a lot of the standard dating behaviour feels foreign to me.

The funny thing about all this stress is that the thing that will keep me most calm is the exact same thing that is causing me stress. Mr. Unexpected knows how to calm me down in almost any situation, just having him beside me makes me feel less stressed out and more myself. He takes the edge off better than a shot of tequila.

I’m sure that mom will love him. In fact, she’ll probably start planning the wedding by dessert—not because she’s pushing me to get hitched any time soon but because she’s never seen me date a “nice boy.” According to my dear mom I have a bad habit of dating emotionally unavailable, damaged, broken and rebellious boys. Actually, I think whenever I tell her about a new boyfriend she pictures me on the back of a motorcycle in some kind of black leather get-up. Or maybe I’m exaggerating her strong dislike of everyone I’ve ever dated. But I’m probably not.

A friend of mine told me recently that I seem like a calmer, less high-strung version of myself lately and she attributed that to my relationship with Mr. Unexpected. While I’d love to take credit for the person I’ve become over the course of the past seven months I think she’s probably right. While I’m still the loud, slightly strange, sometimes crazy always moving lady that I’ve been since forever, I don’t let things get to me the way they used to. I don’t try as hard because I’ve found someone who likes me for my quirks rather than liking me in spite of them. According to him he’s learning to speak, “Wild Shannon.”

When tomorrow comes, after a glass of wine, I’m sure I’ll be fine because he’s not just another guy in my life, he’s not just another fling, he’s something real and the woman who knows me better than anyone will surely be able to see that. I hope.

CONTEST: Win a $300 gift certificate to Harry Young Shoes!

Love shoes? Want to support a company that makes a positive contribution to society? Well, you’re in luck because we have the contest and company for you. This October, Harry Young Shoes will donate $5 to the Daily Bread Food Bank for every pair of Munro shoes purchased at the store. And now, Women’s Post and Harry Young Shoes are offering one lucky winner the chance to win a $300 gift certificate to the store. Get your feet moving and enter today!

Contest Rules & Regulations:
Contestants must reside in Canada (excluding Quebec) to be eligible to win
Contestants must be 18 or older
Contestants are eligible to enter 1x daily (further entries will not be counted)
Contest closes on Thursday, October 31st, at 1 p.m.

 

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED, THANKS FOR ENTERING

CONTEST: Win a Christopher Kon bag from the Saddle Bag!

Want to get your hands on the hottest selling bag this season?  Well, Women’s Post and The Saddle Bag are giving you the chance to win this Christopher Kon leather beauty. Plus, as an added bonus, all contest entrants will receive a 15% discount coupon to use towards their purchase of a new handbag at The Saddle Bag (valid until November 30, 2013 and excludes LeSportsac). Support Canadian entrepreneurs and enter today!Contest Rules & Regulations:
Contestants must reside in Canada (excluding Quebec) to be eligible to win
Contestants must be 18 or older
Contestants are eligible to enter 1x daily (further entries will not be counted)
Contest closes on Monday, October 14th, at 5 p.m.

 

This contest is now closed, thanks for entering!

Women of the week: Maryam and Nargues Mansouri

I meet the Mansouri sisters in the presentation gallery of the Perry. Stunningly gorgeous, it is a great illustration of why they are the builders to watch in today’s condo market.

Maryam and Nargues Mansouri are easily recognizable as siblings, sharing a cup of tea and playfully interrupting each other throughout the interview. But this familial dynamic does not affect their work environment. In fact, as the sisters tell it, it helps.

“Siblings bicker here and there and I think as part of the work experience and work life it’s easier to tell your partner how you feel about certain situations rather than keeping things pent up and inside.”

“We’re really honest with each other. It’s not rivalry though, because we’re all on the same team, trying to get to the same goal,” Nargues says.

“We have a really good dynamic and fit,” Maryam adds.

As co-vice-presidents of Mansouri Living, they take on a company created by their father, Sharok. According to the sisters, it was “really natural” for them to join the family business. As children, Maryam and Nargues were often taken by their father to sites to see what he was currently developing. “We were always surrounded by it growing up,” Nargues says.

Both are heavily involved in every step of the Perry’s development, yet each sister chose to explore different areas of the field academically and focus more on the areas that hold their strengths. This was a choice made with solid logic as, as Maryam explains, “You have an incredible mind when it comes to business and numbers and finance and legal so you get it when I don’t, and likewise.”

Their great dynamic and combined grasp of the overall process is vital, given the competition they are up against. Toronto has an oversaturated housing market, with more condos under development that any other city in North America.

“From the beginning we knew it was going to be an issue, so we really tried to make the Perry different. It came down to the finishes, the scale, the location. Just the details we put into every single suite, regardless of the size,” Nargues says.

The result is a design that encapsulates the word elegance. People who come to live in the Perry get beautifully designed suites furnished by Poliform, a membership to the Perry’s executive concierge service, Quintessentially, and access to the building’s incredible extra features, which include a piano lounge and the serenity garden.

What’s a serenity garden? This feature of the building was designed to serve as an oasis to today’s busy business life. The logic behind it: “Take 10 minutes to relax and that makes all the difference,” Nargues says. To businesswomen who spend so much time in the concrete jungle, it is the ideal escape.

As well, the Perry was designed with sustainability in mind. This, the Mansouris stress, was very important. Plumbing and lighting choices were made to create an environmentally-sound structure and green products were (and are) used throughout the building.

In such a competitive market, it is fantastic to see two women rise above the pack and create an all-around quality condo residence that people will be happy to call home. Watch for the Perry as it joins the ranks of successful condo developments. And watch for Maryam and Nargues Mansouri as they join the ranks of real estate titans.

Two tickets to La Lupi

Dying to see a performance that makes you say olé? Women’s Post is offering one reader the chance to win a pair of tickets to see La Lupi, courtesy of the Toronto International Flamenco Festival. This is your chance to enjoy the show from the best seats in the house. Intrigued? Enter today for your chance to win.

Contest Rules & Regulations:
Contestants must reside in Canada (excluding Quebec) to be eligible to win
Contestants must be 18 or older
Contestants are eligible to enter 1x daily (further entries will not be counted)
Contest closes on Monday, October 14th, at 12 p.m.

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