What Makes a Good Blog Great? (Blogging Tips)

What makes a good blog great? (Blogging Tips)It takes skill to write a great blog but it can be learned and this article will give you some helpful blogging tips by looking at the techniques used by great blogs. Good blogs have the power to bring readers back regularly for more information. Great blogs, in addition will attract growing numbers of readers. This post has some tips to help you write a great blog. By putting them into practice you can grow your skill at writing blog articles and hopefully your blog will be not just a good blog, but also a great blog.
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Advice on Including Advertisements in Your Blog – Here Be Dragons (And Alternative Monetizing Ideas)

Including Advertising In Your Blog - Here Be Dragons
Do you want your blog to pay its way? It is a reasonable expectation to earn some income from your blog even if just to cover the hosting charges or to treat yourself for all your effort. But how can you do this?

If you are a blog owner and regularly publish blog posts you will know that it can take considerable time to research, draft, review, seek feedback, rewrite and finally publish your articles. Then you have to invest some time and effort to promote them, attract readers, respond to comments, deal with spam etc.

If the blog is just a hobby, and the joy of writing and publishing your articles is reward enough, then that’s fine. You don’t have to monetize it if you don’t want to.

On the other hand, if the blog needs to generate some income in order to put it on a sustainable footing there are some techniques you can use. An obvious and easy one is to simply add some display advertisements to your blog. There are advantages and disadvantages to this method which you, as the blog owner, need to be aware of. Display advertising is covered below. There are also alternatives that might be more financially rewarding and better for your blog’s reputation. Continue reading

Win-win Fundraising Idea for Charities, Non-profit Organisations, Good Causes and their Supporters

Fundraising for Charity

Is there a better way to raise funds for good causes?

Mary unintentionally lets out a sigh of resignation as again the fundraising committee ask her to join another fundraising effort. It’s the sixth one this year, but she knows that demands on the charity’s services have increased and funding from state sources has been sharply reduced due to cutbacks. She has tried raffles, sponsored walks, cake sales, you name it – she’s tried it. Mary dislikes having to ask her family, friends, neighbours and work colleagues (who sometimes feel the urge to avoid her) yet again, for donations, so soon since the last time. Some of them have little or no spare cash, and feel embarrassed to say no.

Some fundraisers are so-called “sales”. Mary feels guilty about asking supporters to buy things which they really don’t need or want and which are overpriced because it’s all about fundraising for the worthy cause. Mary is passionate about the charity and the people it serves. Her family, friends, neighbours and colleagues believe that donating to it is worthwhile, but never speak out the inner thoughts in their mind that “there must be a better way“.

Then Mary discovered Vendexo, and learned that her charity could connect with merchants and businesses who would pay a commission on sales referred by the charity. All the charity had to do was to set up a page on its website containing shopping links. The charity could decide which merchants to work with, for example, merchants selling gifts, beauty products etc. – products which the supporters of the charity would be buying anyway for occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, weddings etc. Mary’s favourite charity wouldn’t have to clutter its website with advertising, but simply let their supporters know that when they wish to purchase such products, they do so via the shopping links on the charity’s shopping page, and the charity gets a sales commission. The products purchased are no more expensive than if purchased without using the charity’s shopping page.

That’s a win-win situation. The charity raises funds using the collective buying power of their supporters and with almost no effort and no bucket shaking. The supporters of the charity feel good because the charity is benefiting from a purchase which they want to make, and don’t pay any extra for. The merchants benefit because they get extra sales. Customers which might be hard or expensive to reach using other forms of advertising are delivered to their online shops by the charity, so that makes good business sense.

The Vendexo System keeps track of the numbers of visitors referred and the sales which result. These numbers are visible to the charity via a control panel on the Vendexo website. Vendexo also pays the charity the sales commission earned. As an example, if the sales commission earned is 8%, and 1,000 of the charity’s supporters purchase €300 worth of products over a 12 month period, for birthday gifts, Christmas etc. then the charity would earn €24,000 from this. All for something which is easy for them to set up.

Donate as you shop

Donate as you shop

The Vendexo System is FREE for Mary’s charity to join and to use. For almost no effort, the charity now has another income stream, and that reduces the pressure on Mary and she feels better about that.

If you are associated with or fundraise for a charity, non-profit organisation or a good cause, and you would like to activate another income stream which is easy to set up, requires almost no administration and for which there is no charge to join or use, then contact Vendexo today.

Commission rates can vary from program to program, so actual rates may also be higher or lower than this value.

Grants of Up to €2,500 Available For Online Trading & Digital Strategy Development

Online Trading Voucher LogoIf your business is based in Ireland, and you wish to enhance your website with the ability to trade online, take orders, bookings & payments online then your Local Enterprise Office (LEO) has announced a New Call (May 2015) for applications. Check your LEO for the deadline, but the ones we looked at appear to be around mid-May.

This grant seeks to help businesses who do not yet have a website, or whose website is very basic, to develop their websites and put in place a digital strategy. According to LEO, only 23% of small Irish businesses are engaged in any meaningful way in e-Commerce sales. Furthermore, the Irish people are continuing to increase their online spending, but an estimated 70% of this spend is with overseas businesses. The funding for this scheme is coming from the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, and is administered by the Local Enterprise Offices.

There is a limit of 2,000 on the number of applications which will be approved for 2015.

Eligibility Criteria

  • The vouchers/grants are up to a maximum value of €2,500 or 50% of the eligibile expenditure (excluding VAT), whichever is less
  • Voucher approval must be obtained before incurring any expense
  • Own labour is not an eligible expense
  • Only third party costs will be considered
  • All third party/supplier invoices must contain proper business details, e.g. Tax/VAT registration number, business registration details etc.)

Eligible Businesses

  • The business must have no or a very basic/limited online trading presence prior to application
  • The business must have less than 10 employees
  • Turnover less than €2 million
  • Business must be registered and trading for at least 12 months
  • Must be located within one of the LEO areas covered by the scheme

Ineligible Businesses/Projects

  • Companies with a charitable status, semi-states, not-for-profit organisations, trade associations etc.
  • Professional service businesses specialising in IT who are already capable of online trading
  • Conferences and seminars
  • Projects which are contrary to or conflict with public policy
  • Duplication of support for projects which would be eligible for assistance from other State Agencies of EU funded Operational Programmes
  • Projects which are deemed capable of proceeding without scheme assistance
  • Projects essentially comprising importation and distribution

The Online Trading Vouchers Can Be Used For

  • IT Consultancy expenses
  • Development or upgrade of an e-commerce website
  • Implementation of online payments or booking systems
  • Purchase of Internet-related software
  • Purchase of online advertising (this cannot exceed 30% of the approved voucher costs)
  • Development of an app, or multiplatform web pages
  • Implementation of a digital marketing strategy, i.e. social media marketing
  • Consultation with ICT experts or early stage adopters of online strategy
  • Training/skills development specifically for establishing and managing online trading activity

The Online Trading Vouchers Cannot Be Used For

  • Development of brochure websites, that is, websites which are informational only, with no online trading functionality
  • Purchasing non-Internet-related software
  • Spending on anything other than a product or service directly related to the implementation or management of online trading

If you wish to trade online, improve your e-commerce capability, accept online bookings/sell tickets online then Vendexo can help. Contact us today about taking advantage of this Online Trading Voucher Scheme.

Boost your Online Sales with an Affiliate Program

Daffodils Well, Spring has sprung, as they say, and nature has begun its growth spurt. If you are a business owner, you’ll want your business sales to enjoy a growth spurt too – but how to get the extra customers?
Have you considered an affiliate programme? This is where other website owners send you visitors who are interested in what you have to sell.

These other website owners are providing interesting content and have a pool of visitors who come to read it. This content may be articles, reviews, new product announcements, comparisons etc. In order to help fund their websites, such content writers are often open to showing advertisements for or suggesting certain products or services to their visitors if they feel that such products and services would be of interest to them.

By partnering with such website owners/content writers, you get a chance to get your message in front of their visitors – people you want to reach as they are potential customers.

The Vendexo Affiliate Network brings together merchants/advertisers and these content writers and website owners such that both parties can benefit. Vendexo provides the technology to underpin the relationship, tracking visitor numbers sent and the sales resulting from such referrals. It also takes care of the administration and handling of commission payments.

For further information and to see how such an Affiliate Program could work for you and what is involved, contact Vendexo — we look forward to hearing from you.

Online Merchants: Are you offering Gift Vouchers this Christmas?

Gift voucherIt is a relatively easy thing, especially with a Vendexo online shop to offer gift vouchers for sale. At this time of year, in the run-up to Christmas, friends & family like to buy a gifts for those they love and care about. For a lot of people this can be quite a challenge. How to know what to buy? Many fear that why they buy will not please the recipient or may not be quite what they wanted. This is where the Gift Voucher can come to the rescue. If you know that the person you are buying for is interested in fabric and sewing, for example, then a gift voucher for the favourite online fabric shop will surely please. They have the freedom to buy something nice, of their choosing, from a merchant that they enjoy buying from and can use it as part of their hobby or interest.

In this case, the recipient is happy – they can use the gift voucher to purchase something which they like. The gift giver is also happy, because they know that the gift voucher will be put to good use and exchanged for something which the gift receiver enjoys. The merchant also benefits because for him/her it represents a sale and therefore revenue.

In Ireland, employees can receive tax free, a small gift, which can be a gift voucher, from their employer, up to a maximum of €250. This can be a great way for employers to say “Thank you” to their staff members at Christmas time or during the year to acknowledge an important target being met or some exceptional performance.

So merchants, if you don’t already offer gift vouchers, now is the time act. Give them a prominent position or notice in your online shopping pages. Present them in a visually attractive way – they do represent your brand. If you send the gift vouchers to the recipient via the postal system, use attractive paper/card and well designed layouts and packaging to elevate your brand. You could also include some suggestions for products/services that the recipient might like to exchange it for. The more personal the better.

Online Advertising Without an Advertising Budget

no advertising budgetAre you a small business owner?
What is your marketing strategy for the new year?
The range of options has never been so wide, but most of these options are ruled “out” because they require large up-front payments for an uncertain return.
Now with the Vendexo Internet Marketing Platform, you don’t need to go to the bank for a business loan to do your marketing – you can build brand awareness and grow sales on a pay-as-you-grow basis. And the best part is, that you choose how much you want to pay.

To find out more, watch our 3 minute information video for merchants/advertisers.

Dublin City Enterprise Board Online Trading Voucher Scheme – PILOT now open

The Dublin City Enterprise Board (DCEB) has announced that in cooperation with the Irish Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, it will run a pilot scheme to assist small businesses to develop or upgrade their online presence, e-commerce and digital marketing capabilities.

In the first batch, 25 applications will be approved, with a further 25 in 2014.

The Minister Pat Rabbitte T.D. acknowledged the enormous opportunity for Irish businesses in the online space and warned of the significant risks for them if they do not develop an online trading capability.

Irish comsumers are increasing their online spend, with 3.7 billion Euro spent online last year, of which 70% was spent outside Ireland. Clearly Irish businesses need to do more to get a bigger share of this spend.

Vendexo, an Irish software business which provides businesses with the software technology to trade online and to grow their market share, is ready and able to help Irish businesses meet this challenge.

The deadline for receipt of applications by the DCEB is 12:00 noon, Friday 15th November 2013.

More information about the DCEB online trading voucher scheme.

Merchants can get up to €2,500 to set up online trading, Minister Rabbitte announces

Minister Mat Rabbitte T.D. announced on Budget Day 15th October 2013 funding of €5 million to set up a national trading-online voucher scheme aimed at getting 2000 small Irish businesses trading online.

“There is an enormous opportunity for Irish businesses in the online space and significant risks if they do not develop online trading platforms” Minister Rabbitte said. Irish consumers spent approximately €3.7bn online last year, of which 70% was spent outside Ireland. Less than 1 in 4 small Irish businesses are trading online. Research undertaken for the European Commission indicates that traditional businesses which have a meaningful online presence grow twice as fast, export twice as much and employ twice as many people. “In Ireland, where the digital economy represents 4.4% of GDP, there is a real opportunity for small businesses to grow. My ambition is to ensure that a much greater proportion of the online spend stays in Ireland, supports Irish businesses and creates jobs in this country. For that to happen many more Irish businesses need to offer services online”.

Src: Statement on Budget 2014.

To this end, vouchers of up to €2,500 will be provided to small companies to help them develop an online trading presence. These will be administered by local Enterprise boards, with an initial pilot being run by the Dublin City Enterprise Board targeting small businesses which employ less than 10 people and have a turnover of less than €2 million per annum. For more see DCENR.

Vendexo.com is a provider of e-commerce software to help small businesses sell online. Our solutions cost well below €2,500, so Irish merchants looking to set up on online 24×7 trading presence can do so without delay, either with or without one of these vouchers. For more information see Vendexo.com – Irish Software powering E-commerce for Business.

Support for Stripe Payments is available in Ireland

Stripe Payments

Vendexo is pleased to announce that merchants in Ireland can now accept Visa, Mastercard and American Express credit/debit cards as payment methods in their online shops using Stripe Payments. Card numbers and security codes sent directly from the customer’s web browser directly to Stripe Payments, who are PCI compliant and audited to ensure such information is handled in a secure way.

The Stripe Payments system has a number of advantages for the online merchant:

  • The merchant is not required to be PCI compliant as the merchant never sees the customer’s credit card details. This responsibility is handled by Stripe Payments.
  • Stripe Payments’ fees are competitive. See Stripe Payments Pricing for more information.
  • The merchant does not have to have a “Merchant Service Agreement” with a card processing bank (also known as an “acquiring bank”) which can be expensive and slow to set up. Stripe Payments will send funds to the merchant’s normal bank account 7 days after the customer transaction.

Stripe currently supports merchants located in Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Vendexo provides a low-cost hosted e-commerce system for merchants to want to trade online, and now has support for Credit/debit cards via Stripe Payments fully integrated.