Author: Bonnie Harris

Occasionally I get a pitch from an Internet retailer asking me to write about their site. Usually, it's some poorly designed site that survives on tiny affiliate commisions, with barely any added value to the customer who shops there. But Market America, the online retailer that recently bought shop.com, seems to be a new type of shopping site - one that incents its customers by offering considerable cashback opportunities, often highlighted on the Market America Blog. The Greensboro-based retailer is banking on the newly-created frugal shopper by enticing what looks to be mainly baby boomers with "MA Cashback" ranging from 8 to 35%. Looks like the strategy is working - Market America just announced it will be hiring 40 new staff members in 2011. So just how does this work? A page called Market America Facts indicates the company is a direct selling enterprise that sells a range of products, from supplements to home decor through partners like Walmart. More than 3 million "preferred customers" make commissions and 180,000 distributors make retail profits based on the use of this retail portal. The company is growing rapidly with more than 500 employees currently - it's one of the success stories of the true "new economy" - a rapidly growing business that exists solely because of the Internet.

the Wax BlogI realized after 8 years in business I've seen some trends in how entrepreneurs kick off a new year. One thing I know I need to work on is calibrating the right sense of urgency in terms of all my goals and plans for 2011.  This seems to be an issue for many small business owners as well.  It's not easy to keep everything in balance this time of year - not burning out too fast OR taking too long to plan. See if you can identify any of your own traits in these characterizations:

Photo from fOTOGLIF
By Beth Graddon- Hodgson Any journalist will tell you that a headline; a simple few words, holds as much importance as the body of an article. When writing a blog, the headline or title is of equal importance. However, the approach needs to be different, because you’re not just looking to grab the attention of readers; you need to do that while grabbing the attention of search engines!

Harvey Mackay has written six New York Times bestselling books, two of which were named among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time – Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive and Beware The Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt. His latest book, Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door: Job Search Secrets No One Else Will Tell You , was released in February 2010, and immediately made the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller lists.  Harvey is a nationally syndicated columnist and has been named one of the top five speakers in the world by Toastmasters International.  He is chairman of the $100 million MackayMitchell Envelope Company, a company he started in 1960.

By Beth Graddon- Hodgson You might think that it’s only your actual blog content that is going to get people to stop by and read, but images play a big role, too. They can help make your blog posts appear more professional and attractive, but that’s really only a small portion of their benefits.
Photo from fOTOGLIF
For one thing, the images can drive traffic to your blog. People search for usable photos just about as often as they search for information online. When you post a photo and use your blogging tool to upload it with a title, relevant keywords and a caption, you’re creating another way for people to find you on search engines. This can encourage them to either read your blog content while they’re already found themselves on your site, or give you a link back if they decide to use your image on their own blog or site. (Quick note - I thought this was a great time to try out the Wordpress free photo plugin from Crestock. Works GREAT just search "free photo" in your directory or download it here.  Of course, photo usage needs to be done carefully, or you might find yourself at the losing end of a lawsuit. Not all of the pictures you upload on your blog need to be yours, but these are the guidelines to follow before you put a picture on your post: