Sunday, May 17, 2015

Travel Blogging

Travel. Blogging. Do these two words belong together?  In the view of thousands of people who are busily blogging about their travels, they do! (Disclosure, one of these people is my wife).

Lets look at it from different points of view.

The Travel Industry. Think about the Hotels, the Tourist Boards of hot destination spots, the cruise companies, and so on. They use to host all sorts of junkets for the travel agents trying to get them to steer traffic their way.  But, as travel agents go the way of the dodo bird, the tourist promotion people are not sure what to do. They alos use t host lots of travel writers for different magazines but as the number of magazines and newspapers continues to shrink, they are again left looking for their new media for travel promotion.

The Audience.  Travel is a huge industry and people want to be informed buyers. They want to be educated about where they are going and what to do there. Of course, the first stop is usually Wikipedia or a travel guide but they tend to be strictly the facts or overly professional in their descriptions.  The travel bloggers tend to give readers a much more impressionist feel for the experience of visiting. Also, traffic bloggers write about some of the most interesting and surprising things. For instance, France in Miniature.  Notice the kids on the left side that give you a sense of the scale of this version of Notre Dame!
Miniature France

The Travel Bloggers.  What's not to like? They like to travel anyway and as travel bloggers, they get additional attention and often access to preferred tours and information. It also provides an agnle to the travel which makes it more ao f thoughtful visit. Of ocurse, it's alos an awful lot of work. Great photography is key to a good travel blog and the best pictures seem to require getting up at before dawn to be in position or at sunset which requires excellent timing.

Here's my favorite posts:

France Miniature Theme Park

American Colony Hotel, Jerusalem

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Credit Card Processing, Recurring Billing, and Card Not Present

I sometimes think that the deck is stacked against me.  I am an online educational subscription service.

In other words, I'm a vendor of an intangible good sold with the card not present on a recurring billing basis.  The fact is that in a customer dispute or chargeback situation, the desk is stacked against me.

Nevertheless, we have a great business model. As long as our customers love our service, they let us bill them every month.   Granted, it's not as good as a gym who bills people monthly so that they can feel guilty about not going which keeps them from cancelling. That is an amazing business dynamic.

In our world, the partnership from the credit card processor is all important which is why I follow a blog called which has just started a series of articles about  recurring billing with card not present.

Click for a  Analysis of BusinessSubscription Recurring  Model Metrics

My online social media identity is a mess!

I run a company of some size, we have over 50 full-time employees. However, I do not sit in an office removed from the day-to-to-day fray.  At this size, I think the president should still be part of the team and helping with key messaging, building blogs, and social media.

Well, I might be wrong on this and maybe it's time for me to be a little more strategic and less day-to-day. So I'm beginning to rethink my own online strategy.  

Twitter. My biggest day to day involvement is having my own Twitter account:   @VSpellCityMayor
While the Twitter account is not listed on any of the four major product sites that we run, it does have over 750 followers (started it for real in October). I do get some help with retweets from the people who tweet on behalf of our different product lines.  The two product lines that I'm closest to with this account are:
VocabularySpellingCity - 6770 followers
Science4Us - 470 followers

Facebook. I also, under my role as VocabularySpellingCity Mayor, have a Facebook account which I do not do much with. I've thought of having my Tweets automatically feed into my Facebook account so that it has some activity.  I also have a personal Facebook account but I think I keep that separate from work and have it private so only friends can see me. I'm not sure however. 

LinkedIn. This part is pretty well done. Each of our four major business units has its own linkedin profile and my profile links to each of the four.

Forum. At this point, our most active public forum is for the parents of our homeschooling students.  We also maintain a private forum for our home school high school students called Time4Friends.  Our forum for non-religious homeschool parents is also big.

Blogs - I have a number of blogs on different blogs. 

Wearing my small business technology hat, I write this blog covering issues like online marketing techniques, financial management, HR and benefits, issues of investment, and cashflow.  

I have other blogs on other topics such as credit card processing, my sports life as an over 50 athlete, and  homeschool online education.  

Friday, April 10, 2015

Scanning with my phone. Tax time!

AT tax time, there's paperwork and signatures going around among the family and to and from the accountant. For years, this involved endless technical hassles trying to get the combined printers-scanners to scan. Generally, the drivers or connections or something isn't working and it's a hassle.

Starting about a year ago, I just print, sign, and photograph all docs with my cell phone.

No more scanning!
Now it's taken me awhile to get the lighting right so there's no shadow on it. It's best before the sun comes up when I use one light in my office which is across the room. This way, when I lean over to take a picture, there's no shadow.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Chrome Books in US Schools

Recently, schools in American started buying more Chrome Books than either iPad or Android tablets.  I think they are also buying more Chrome Books than computers but I ahven't seen that stat.

This is the most popular Chrome Book sold by Amazon.

Here's the info that I'm citing from Google:

Google sold more Chromebooks to US schools than Apple did iPads in Q3

According to the latest data from IDC, Google, for the first time ever, has overtaken Apple in United States schools. The research firm claims that Google shipped 715,000 Chromebooks to schools in the third quarter, while Apple shipped 702,000 iPads to schools. Chromebooks as a whole now account for a quarter of the educational market (via FT).
IDC says that the lower cost of Chromebooks when compared to iPads is a huge factor for school districts. Chromebooks start at $199, while last year’s iPad Air, with educational discounts applied, costs $379. The research firm also says that many school corporations prefer the full keyboard found on Chromebooks instead of the touchscreen found on iPads. Some schools that use iPads, however, supply students with a keyboard case as well, but that only further increases the cost of iPads compared to Chromebooks. IT departments also tend to favor Chromebooks because they are simpler to manage when compared to iPads.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Many More Readers!

I just took a peek at the statistics relating to the views and readers of this blog.

Last week, I noticed that we had 99,854  page views.
Today, it's 100,126 page views!

That's a lot of new page views over this weekend. I'm thrilled and humbled.
Given all those readers,  I'll dig down and find some more interesting insights to share with you.

But right now, I'm watching the Oscars.

And looking at one of my other blogs that has no readers, I think I'll do a call out to my blog on homeschooling education, scope and sequence.  

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Blog Readership Statistics

Would it be wrong for me to share the popularity of the social media forum blog's progress with my readers? Here in fact are my stats from Blogger.

I think the blog readership data is interesting since I'm closing in on 100,000 page views! Is there a blog club of people that I get to join when I cross a 100,000!!!!

Pageviews today
Pageviews yesterday
Pageviews last month
Pageviews all time history

Friday, February 20, 2015

Twitter for Education with Emoticons

People like Twitter.
People like emoticons!
Did you know that they can be used together?
I just learned that there are lots of emoticons that be used for Twitter~!

I call them Twittercons!  :-> ��❤   ��

So follow my tweets: I'm @VSpellCityMayor
Here's my most recent tweets....