Moving (On) Without A Sound




Credit


The leviathan glides on,
seeking some unknown
clearing of light at the end
of its solitary voyage,
a journey marked only
by the fearful spaces
of empty ocean.

And yet how can it survive?



The Last Leviathan, 
Ruel De Vera
The Most Careful of Stars



More Good Flicks You Might Have Missed...


By Jill Eisner

Greetings Everyone!

Things have finally settled down after the storm so now that you've got your power back, time to catch up on some good movies you might have missed!  Here are a few more from our collection that you might enjoy:


 

Carnage

Directed by Roman Polanski. Starring John C. Reilly, Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz, Kate Winslet.

Two pairs of parents, one whose child has hurt the other at a public park, meet to discuss the matter in a civilized manner. However, the evening becomes quite chaotic as the parents become increasingly childish.  2011, rated R. Comedy/Drama.            

 

Margin Call

Directed by J.C. Chandor. Starring Zachary Quinto, Stanley Tucci, Demi Moore, Paul Bettany, Kevin Spacey.  Set in the high-stakes world of Wall Street, Margin Call is an entangling thriller involving the key players at an investment firm during one perilous 24-hour period in the early stages of the 2008 financial crisis. When an entry-level analyst unlocks information that could prove to be the downfall of the firm, a roller-coaster ride ensues as decisions both financial and moral catapult the lives of all involved to the brink of disaster. 2011, rated  R.  Drama.  
 




[Cover]

The Young Victoria


Written by Julian Fellowes. Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee. Starring Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany, Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent. Historical dramatization of the life and times of Queen Victoria from her childhood to the first turbulent years of her rule. 2009, Rated P. Drama. 
Love those British period pieces!!

Hubris



Previously on Souljacker.


We were learning the ropes, and the once-sour relationship between me and the client had sweeten a bit. This morning, I just penned my first business proposal - to offer our skills in managing the website's wallflower social media accounts.

The team was confident it was doing well. The CEO just sent a congratulatory note last Thanksgiving for a "job well done." But then, life sometimes pull a nasty surprise when you thought you have figured things out.


We need you to immediately discontinue work for Green Eco Store, and send us the invoice for your work to date in November.  

We attempted to engage in a reasonable discussion about the October invoice and were unable to make progress in the allocated time.


Karma's a bitch and yours truly just got a gut-squeezing uppercut - just when it felt like the universe had shown mercy, and for a moment granted me reprieve.




Unfair Assessment



A conversation.

5. Mugen 23. Nov. 2012 - 04:08

by the way, you spoke to the boy?
6. X  23. Nov. 2012 - 04:11

we're friends. do you know him?
7. Mugen 23. Nov. 2012 - 04:13

yeah, I owe him an apology.
8. X 23. Nov. 2012 - 04:14

what for?
9. Mugen 23. Nov. 2012 - 04:15

For suddenly stopped texting.
10. X 23. Nov. 2012 - 04:19

why?
11. Mugen 23. Nov. 2012 - 04:21

He got too close.
12. X 23. Nov. 2012 - 04:22

too close to what? am i to ask you bit by bit about this?
13. Mugen 23. Nov. 2012 - 04:24

fine with me, my worry is I am distracting you. You're looking for hook-ups, I'm just here to watch. :)
14. X 23. Nov. 2012 - 04:29

(laughs) maybe it's best that you stopped contacting him. that guy deserves someone better. you're a kid in a grown-up's body man. grow up
15. Mugen 23. Nov. 2012 - 04:32

That's what I'm telling you. I stopped contacting him without telling my reason. He deserves a little honesty dude and since you're his friend, somehow the message will trickle back to him.
16. Mugen 23. Nov. 2012 - 04:35

I'm logging out. Thanks for listening Ricardo.
17. X 23. Nov. 2012 - 04:36

so you made a fool out of him. that's just great man. tell you what, only a few genuine guys here exist. we are rare. =) you had your chance, and karma is a real bitch you know
18. X 23. Nov. 2012 - 04:39

not talking to you again man. blocked.


Ricardo got me there. Yes, for making a fool out of someone, and for acting like a kid by doing a disappearing act when his friend began texting random stuff - things I don't even care like his whereabouts or the meals he had eaten. 

But more than getting too close for comfort and the emotional hang ups, there are three reasons I decided to make haste and drop the boy. First is because I'm already going out with someone, second is because I can't recognize a friend who looks down on men who act and think less masculine than him and third is because I've never been truthful from the very start.

He was looking for a discreet and straight-acting confidant. And while I can appear more butch than him. I no longer consider myself a resident of the closet. Remembering what he told me about his online pal he "nearly punched" during a meet up for being a faker, I wonder what would my fate be had he known I hug trannies and cross-dressers in gay clubs.

I wasn't able to defend myself, or relay my apologies to the boy. I don't even know how Ricardo could make sweeping judgments when he hardly listened to what I was trying to say.

Deserved or not, there is no doubt that I would be seen in different prism as I continue to stumble between companionship and intimacy. This is just the opening salvo to a saga that has happened long before this journal has been conceived. I would never know how my story book will be read tomorrow - or who I'd end up next. But just to set things straight and bring peace to someone. I'd give the discreet boy some answers and explain my sudden disappearance.

Before I lift off for my journey to outer space.

At the very least he should know: 

I maybe manly and all, but deep down, I'm already proud at heart.        




Sandy's Power Refugees Find Haven at SBPL (photos)






Finding Refuge at the Library

Library is Haven for SB’s Power Refugees


By Rosemary Gohd, SBPL Assistant Librarian

Libraries really do have the power to change lives!

No one knows that better than the hundreds of South Brunswick residents who were without power after Hurricane Sandy came through town on Oct. 29.

In addition to extended operating hours, the South Brunswick Public Library did what it usually does by offering a warm place for residents to gather, commune, use free WiFi, and of course access computers, books, movies, and the like.

For four days until the doors closed each night, South Brunswick’s power refugees camped out in every available open space in the library - on floors, tables and chairs – especially those spaces by an outlet.
“The Library has been a godsend,” said Dayton resident Bill Sullivan. “It’s kept us warm and occupied while we’ve been without power. The staff has been very thoughtful and helpful. Thank you.”
More than 1,700 people visited the Library when it reopened after the storm on Nov. 1 – many waiting in a line that wrapped the building for its doors to open. The building had been closed for three days following the storm, along with other municipal buildings.

More than double the average number of visitors poured into the Library on that following Thursday and Friday. As power began to be restored the number of visitors came down to just double the head count on a typical weekend.
Some patrons laughed about their predicament, saying they usually just come by the Library to pick up a book or movie, not to spend the day!

“I usually bring my book home,” said Dayton resident Laurie Sullivan of spending about 6 hours at the Library.

Library staff was out in full force to assist those needing help, especially with computer time. A color-coded paper pass system was created to give as many as possible time on its’ 36 computer stations.

Young and old filled every available chair and some even stretched out on floors and under tables, spending hours on end in the building warm with heat and togetherness. Despite tales of going to bed in winter coats and such, there was a strong feeling of compassion all around.
Words of gratitude poured out to staff and on the Library’s Facebook page throughout the week’s ordeal.

It was the place to find friends, family, and neighbors, and most importantly distraction and information. People came for the warmth, electricity, entertainment, and up-to-the-minute information about power and road restoration.

“Power’s back on in Whispering Woods!” a woman called out loud Saturday to anyone listening. People just wanted to help each other.

Heather Marquart of Monmouth Junction brought her children to spend time with others in a warm place while she did the same. “It’s good to get out of the house and reconnect with friends.”
“It’s very helpful,” said Monmouth Junction resident Tracy Allen of being at the Library. “If it wasn’t for the Library I would be sitting in the cold.”
Many also came to the Library to set up remote office stations. Flooded buildings in and around Manhattan forced many forget commuting in favor of the “home office.”

Kurinchi Arumugam of Monmouth Junction couldn’t have been happier with the setup. While she worked on her computer all day her parents enjoyed friends and reading materials in the World Language Department while her children watched the continuous movies played in the Children’s Department. “There’s something for everyone to do.”
“I actually have power but I’m still here,” said Kendall Park resident Abdul Rahman, explaining that he was bored working at home and needed a change.

In the two designated Teen rooms, South Brunswick High School seniors studied for the rescheduled (because of the storm) SATs.

“There are too many people at my house,” joked Tina Rullo, saying that her family was helping others who did not have power.
Recent high school graduates Vaishnavi Kannan, Sarah Maher, and Archana Bottu shared a table in the Teen Lounge, happy to be reconnecting with old friends from SBHS.

By far the most popular activity next to reading and being in a warm place with a working computer was charging! Phones and other mobile devices that the 21st generation has come to depend on were plugged into every available outlet throughout the Library.

Everyone counted their blessings for a Library that didn’t quit in the wake of a hurricane.

Home Remodeling For The Office

When it comes time for home remodeling of your office space, you may think that this is an easy job to do. After all, you just need some paint and new furniture for the space. However, there is a lot more that can go into this type of project to make it a success. Every individual needs to take into consideration what his or her needs are, but hiring a professional to give you ideas, times and guidance may be well worth the investment. Often times, you will learn how to tailor this space to fit all of your needs for years to come.

Configuring the Space

One of the first steps in this type of home remodeling task hs to determine what this area needs to provide. Is it where you work for your job? Do you spend time here reading? What does it needs to serve as for your specific needs? By answering these questions, you can begin to see what your options are in creating a successful space for you and for anyone else using it. The remodeler will ask you questions about this, including what types of tools and resources will be housed here later.

Designing Furniture

One of the best things about upgrading this space is picking new furniture. Everything from built-in bookshelves to stellar hardwood desks can make this space very professional and elegant. You may want to discuss the style of the space to ensure that you choose the right types of furniture to create the theme or decor that is right for your needs. You also want to focus on selecting the layout of the space based on the size of the features you plan to add.

Considering the Details

One of the main reasons to work with a professional is because he or she is going to help with those fine details. For example, if you will be placing a computer on the desk, where will the outlet need to be? How many outlets do you need? Where should lighting focus? What about privacy shades on the windows? You may want to work with this professional on flooring choices as well as wall coloring and decor. There is plenty to think about, but with the help of a professional, you do not have to worry about any detail.

Home remodeling can be a great way to add value into the business, but only if you invest enough time and effort into it. If you want nothing more than to paint the walls, you may not need a professional (though that is still a good idea too). However, for more advanced projects and a more tailored finish look, turn to a professional instead. 

Home Improvement Products For The Kitchen And Bathroom

The kitchen and bathroom are considered the most valuable rooms in a home. Home improvement products that can create a better and more modern look for these rooms are good investments. They increase the value of a home, and they are items that will be used every day by everyone in the household. The products are available in every price range.

Kitchen and Bathroom Fixtures

In the kitchen and bathrooms, the fixtures are one of the most important home improvement products that can be purchased and installed. When a bathroom has a sink, faucet or shower that is outdated or in poor condition, the home’s value is severely affected. Installing the latest fixtures can be done by the homeowner, and they can often be purchased for a reasonable price.

In the kitchen, the sink, dishwasher and countertops are vital to the modernity of the room. Home improvement products that can update these features can add thousands to the value of the home. Home improvement websites can provide everything from the tools needed to install fixtures to the latest appliances.

Flooring for the Home

The flooring that you have in your kitchen and bathrooms speaks volumes about how up-to-date the home is. Updated homes often use tile or wood flooring in the wet rooms. Home improvement products available online can make it easier to lay tile or to install wood flooring. Some of the popular flooring styles are made to be easy to install for homeowners. With grooves built into each piece, they can simply be slid into place by anyone, regardless of their home improvement experience. Many brands of wood flooring come with a tongue-and-groove system that make it fast and easy to lay flooring.

Adding Personal Touches

In addition to the fixtures, appliances and practical items that every kitchen and bathroom needs, many people want those rooms to be personalized. Home improvement products like towel racks, wall shelves and even art work can be bought online and used to create exactly the room that moves you.

Paint, spackle and trim for the walls are all home improvement products that can transform the look of a room. A new paint job that keeps the room sporting the latest trendy color is an inexpensive way to update a room. Trim added to the baseboards or to the ceiling makes a room look completed. Often, these are the only items needed to take a plain, unmemorable bathroom and change it into a modern room that reflects the personality of those who live there. The rooms that you use every day should be attractive, useful and modern to make every day a little more enjoyable.

Your Home Improvement Loan

When you need cash, you borrow some from a bank or any other lending institution. These days it’s a little bit more complicated than before. There are personal loans, secured loans, credit loan, car purchase plans, and home improvement loans, flexible loans, all of which are available from a wide range of lenders and at dramatically different interest rates.

Home improvement loans will provide you with a dependable groundwork to build on the home you have been dreaming of home improvement loans play a very important function when your financial position is tight and you want Home improvement to be done.

Home improvement loans are functional for any kind of improvement or home extension. Home improvement loan can be availed for double glazing, new conservatory, heating system, new kitchen, rewiring and plumbing or any home remodeling that you can think of. The cost of home improvements is generally paid by savings or revolving credits like credit or store cards. Credit cards imply no borrowing. In many ways it is idyllic for there are no repayments to be made. But credit cards can be an expensive option especially if the borrowing extends beyond the credit limit.

So in every circumstance a personal loan for home improvement is a more disciplined and cheaper option. Few important tips before you apply for home improvement loan:-

Spring is the perfect time to start home improvement projects and interest rates make home equity loans attractive, but don’t commit to anything until you’ve done a proper investigation first.

Home improvement loan can add value to your house; however, some improvements pay off more than others. A few facts have to be kept in mind before you decide how much to spend and what part of your house be spend on.

Renovation of your kitchen can add up to 150 % of the cost of the project to your home’s resale value. If you add second bathroom your resale value will increase by 90 percent of the project cost, and an addition of room, such as a family room or an extra bedroom, provides a 60 to 80 percent return. Few other improvements, such as new windows and doors or replacing the cooling or heating system, may be practical but they don't necessarily translate into resale profits.

So in every circumstance a personal loan for home improvement is a more disciplined and cheaper option.

A few important tips to keep in mind before you apply for home improvement loan:

Spring is the perfect time to start home improvement projects and interest rates make home improvement loans attractive, but don’t commit to anything until you’ve done a proper investigation first.

Other home improvement loan options:

Home equity lines of credit — a variable rate line of credit with the ability to lock in up to three fixed rates.

Home equity loans — a fixed rate loan using the equity in your home for those large home improvement projects.

Personal line of credit — this revolving line of credit provides quick access to funds and is an intelligent alternative to using a credit card.

Some lenders provide the facility of transferring an existing home improvement loan to a new loan with better interest rate and flexible repayment options. This is also known as refinance of home improvement loan. Some lenders also have insurance cover for their loan through payment protection plan, thereby securing the loan for the borrower and making him stress free from the financial burden. So remember to compare, choose and save! For your best suiting option, before closing down the home improvement loan deal, visit us online. 

Hiring The Right Home Improvement Louisiana Contractors

At some point, homeowners will require major renovation or improvement to the house. And for any home improvement or renovation projects, it is important that the right contractor is chosen to carry on the renovation works. This is to ensure that everything in the renovation plan is followed and carried out. Whether it’s a bathroom renovation or changing roof or construction of additional space or structures, an experienced contractor should be able to manage the renovation works professionally and without delay and unnecessary wastage.

Hiring the right renovation contractor from the many Louisiana contractors can be a difficult task especially if it is the first time you are undertaking such a task. But some people can help you. Ask for referrals from people you know. One of them must have done some home renovations in the past and know some contractors as well. You can check local directories or phone books. Online directories can also give you a list of contractors specializing in home improvements. You can check some names and make online research about their background and experience. 

You should look for Louisiana contractors that specialize on the type of renovation work you need for your home. If you are renovating the entire house and not just replacing wood floors or electrical wirings, you will have to find a general contractor. They will be in-charge of providing you with all the services you need for the renovation of your home. They will provide you with the electrical contractor, carpentry contractor, plumbing, etc., and make sure that all the components of home renovation are complied with according the working plans. Essentially, the general contractor will be your supervisor-on-site as they will be managing the daily activities on the construction site.

In order to be assured of the credibility and integrity of the contractor you wish to hire, it is important that you check their licenses, permits and insurance for validity. The contractors should be able to provide you with copies of the licenses, permits and insurance certificates. When all the documents are properly checked, request a written and detailed estimate of cost for the project. Their estimate should include details on specific materials to be used and construction methods used (if applicable) and estimated completion per phase or stage. The estimate or quote should also contain payment terms. There should be no lump-sum payment. Negotiate for payments to be made after completion of each construction stage. And allow for a retention fee that you will keep until a specified time. This retention fee should cover for incidental expenses or repairs that might crop up after the project is completed.
The last part of the process is signing the contract. But before any document is signed, have a lawyer browse through the terms of the contract to make sure there are protection clauses for both parties and not just for one. The contract or agreement should also clearly spell out the specific responsibilities of the contractor with respect to the implementation of the renovation plan. 

Home Improvement Products

Home Improvement Products cover a wide variety of needs and uses. The basic idea behind shopping for these items is to create a better home that is personalized, comfortable and attractive. Home improvement items can be DIY items that allow homeowners to upgrade their homes or simple items that just make a home look better.

Home Convenience

Many home improvement products are created to make daily life more convenient. Storage items such as storage ottomans, closet organizers, shoe racks and shelving are made to give members of the household a better way of storing items. With things put away in their own space, it is possible to find things quickly and to keep the home less cluttered.

Convenience items include under-counter shelving that makes it easier to store cleaning products. It also includes over-door organizers, Lazy Susans for the cabinets and extra shelving that can create more storage space in closets and pantries. With the right convenience products, the entire family can help keep the home organized with less effort.

Home Décor Items

Home décor is more than just a necessity for keeping a home’s value steady. It is one of the fun parts of having a home and, for many, buying these items is an engaging hobby. Décor items include window coverings, lighting fixtures, art for the walls, rugs and other items that make each room more enjoyable.

Shopping for décor products often begins by looking for items that are missing from each room. Are there areas that are bland and unused? Are there spaces that could be better utilized if they were prettier and more comfortable? For some rooms, an accent furniture piece may transform it into a space that is usable for more than one activity. A craft organizer in the dining room can create a space to do crafts as well as to eat. A bench in the bedroom can give you a conversation area without taking away from the sleeping space.

Outdoor Living Products

For many people, their outdoors spaces aren’t as well taken care of as their indoor spaces. To improve your outdoor living areas, look for home improvement products that will enhance both the home and your style of living. A hot tub is a large investment, but it will be both fun to use and will add some value to your home. Other popular outdoor improvements include outdoor lighting, patio furniture, awnings and flowerpots.

Outdoor landscaping significantly improves a home’s value, and that can be accomplished with a few simple gardening tools and seeds. Items such as flowerbed edging and garden statues can be purchased online for the final touches to your landscaping.

Home Remodeling And Home Renovation

There comes a time when your house needs some good refreshing renovation. Regardless of the fact that homes need regular maintenance, home remodeling can have a great impact on your spirit and can change your mood tremendously. So whether it’s because the old kitchen, bath or living room is in bad shape and out of fashion, or just because you feel like it, what you need next is to find a good home contractor whom you can trust and with whom you can work on your home renovation project.

Choosing the right home contractor for complete home renovation is a serious decision. The things one should check for when looking for a reliable home improvement contractor are primarily: good references and recommendations, good standing with the CSLB, and of course the license and insurance. 

With creativity in design you can make your home look rich, comfortable and fun to live in, even with a limited budget. The choices of good materials for any home remodeling project are extensive, and a good home contractor can show you how you can achieve the home of your dreams even within your budget and without compromising the quality of the home improvement job, be it a kitchen remodeling, bathroom remodeling or a totally new home addition.

As a general contractor I meet many home owners for home remodeling estimate. Usually they are referred to me by clients with whom I worked already and recommended me for the job. In my experience, weather it’s a kitchen remodeling, room addition, garage conversion or you name it, home renovation can be a very simple experience once you make up your mind on the style, materials, colors , appliances and your budget . A good home contractor should work with you patiently on every detail and provide a good advice every step of the way. It is a big investment and a long term one which can also benefit you in terms of the resale price for the house if you plan on selling in the future, so follow the golden principles mentioned above and every thing should work in your favor. 

Ninang




Masayang nagsasayaw si Bunso kasama si Shattershards malapit sa stage nang mapansin ko ang lalaki sa aming likuran. 

Maputi ang binata, nasa mid-twenties ang edad at ang mga mata nito'y nakatingin sa aking inaanak. Ramdam ko na siya ay naaakit. Hindi nga lang nito alam kung paano magpapakilala.

Nahuli ko ang binata na pilit inaabot ang balikat ni bunso. Magalaw ang kanyang pagsasayaw kaya't hindi nito napansin ang pagdampi ng kamay ng tigahanga. Umulit pa ang lalaki ng isang beses, ngunit ito ay muling nabigo. 

Sa pagkakataong iyon ay ako na ang kumuha sa kanyang kamay. Ipinatong ko ito sa balikat ng aking kasama sabay pihit ng buong katawan nito upang makaharap ang binata. 

"Go dance with him," utos ko na may pilyong ngiti sa mukha. Sunod-sunuran naman si Bunso na tila alam na walang patutunguhan ang kanyang pag-kontra. 

Nagsayaw ang dalawa at sa aking kinaroroonan ay mukhang bagay na bagay sila. Magkasingtangkad, guwapo, at parehong may ipagmamalaking katawan. Sa piring ng usok at laser lights ay naaninag kong magkadikit ang katawan ng mga binata. Bumulong ang lalaki sa kanyang kasayaw. Si Bunso naman ay sabay turo sa akin, na tila nagpapahiwatig na ako ang kanyang kausapin sa kanyang binabalak.

"Puwede ko ba siya i-kiss?" Paalam sa akin ng binata. Ako naman ay tumango sabay turo ng aking hintuturo sa aking pisngi.

"Sa lips..." Paglilinaw niya. Muli ko naman diniin ang daliri ko sa aking pisngi.

Walang nagawa ang binata kaya't patuloy na nagsayaw ang dalawa. Makailang ulit na hinalikan ng lalaki si Bunso sa pisngi, habang ako naman ay nagsawalang bahala. "Trip-trip lang," sa isip ko. Tutal, pati ang Ninang ay ipinaris rin naman sa inaanak ng iba. 

Ngunit sa tuwing ilalapat ng lalaki ang kanyang labi at makikita kong umiiwas si Bunso, naroon ang mumunting pag-aalala. Paano kung maka-iskor ang binata samantalang hindi naman ito ang ibig ng inaanak ko? Paano kung sa biglang paghawi ng mga tao ay dumaan ang prinsipe na aming hinahanap?

Hindi nagtagal at ako na rin ang umakbay kay Bunso, at sa muli ay pinihit ko ito paharap sa akin. Walang nagawa ang kasayaw kundi bumalik sa kanyang mga barkada. Bakas ang disappointment at pagkabitin sa kanyang mukha. Party Pooper man kung titingnan, pero sadyang may limit lang talaga ang flirting lalo pa't hindi naman gusto ng isa ang kanyang kapiling.






Black Friday=never again.

So my Preston's little brothers wanted to get a taste of the "Black Friday Fever" so naturally the only kind of strangers we would want to spend any extended amount of time with over night was Cabelas. So indeed, we (Preston, his brothers, their dad, and I)  got to Cabela's around 10:30 PM on Thanksgiving and began the wait. In the beginning it was fun, then we began wondering why on earth we had thought this was a good idea. Soon we realized that Yes- the first 600 people in line got a prize. What we failed to realize that there was only ONE rifle, ONE smoker, and pretty much the best after that was a hoodie. It was too late to turn back, at about 1:30am the folks from Cabela's had about a dozen heaters going, had s'mores that people could make, and hot dogs, all for free. That made it a little bit better. (luckily I had planned ahead and brought a flask. just saying) Soon the people around us got a little bit excited, as the 4:30 hour came close, that is the time when they started handing out the prizes, the crowd got excited and so did we! Maybe after all this we'll walk away with something good! So we pack up our sleeping bags, and chairs and wait. They start handing out the prizes (little things where you peel back a part of it and it shows what you won) they went down the line, and since we had gotten there so early we didn't have to wait too long. Right before the man got to us they said the rifle had already been won. Boo. When we got our prizes, $5 dollar gift cards and 1 $20 dollar card, we realized a few things. Black friday is not something I ever want to do again; My Grandma and Great Grandma loved doing this, I never really truely appreciated the things they went through for us, and also if there was a situation where we needed to bunker down for any extended time, It would be at Cabelas- after being outside and tired with them for about 7 hours I realized the people who shop there are the people I would want around me in the situation of the end of the world.

Anyways, not too much done on the house, but we are hoping to finish the guest bedroom by next weekend.

Finding Home Improvement Jobs For Your Business

All of the paperwork has been filed, licenses have been approved and insurance has been purchased. Now, all that are needed are jobs. Getting a business up and running is tough enough, but the most important part, getting jobs and making money, can be daunting if you don't know where to look. Finding home improvement jobs doesn't have to be stressful.

One of the most crucial elements of any business ownership is networking. Getting out there, meeting new people and letting them know about your services is how any great business gets its start. Nowadays, with the help of the internet, it's easier than ever to connect with potential clients. There are tons of sites dedicated to matching customers with the services and businesses they seek.

Some sites allow contractors to list their business services and contact information, even including a place to link their own business websites. Most of these sites, unless supported solely by advertising, will require a fee from the contractors in order to find customers. These sites charge contractors the fee in order to keep the site free for potential clients, thereby enticing those in need of a service to sign up and create an account. This makes clients easily accessible without worrying about spamming or other ineffective advertising methods.

Merely typing in the words "construction leads" into any search engine will produce a ton of results. Weed through them quickly by seeing how much each site charges for membership. Create accounts with websites that offer a free trial period so you can get an idea of how the site works and if there are enough leads to make it worth your time and money. Some sites offer more bang for the buck so shop around to find one that works best for your area and needs.

Additional features may include message boards, subcontractor searches and customer feedback ratings. Most sites will provide various membership pricing options to fit all kinds of budgets. Finding home improvement jobs can be easy by using one of these great online services!

Home Improvement Marketing

According to Webster's, the definition of advertising is "the action of calling something to the attention of the public using paid announcements." Most of the time when people hear this term they think of billboards, magazine ads, and television ads.

Advertising has taken on a new form thanks to the growth of the internet. Most websites, regardless of what their primary purpose may be, will have some type of advertising spot available.

A local newspaper site will have advertisements from different car dealers and restaurants. A sporting goods store may have a website that includes advertisements from the area coaches offering summer clinics. However, a lot of these advertisements get the same kind of treatment as their print counterpart; they are ignored.

How many times have you seen a billboard or magazine ad and completely blew by it without remembering what you read? Have you ever bought a major good or service because of some ad in the newspaper?

Most people rely on the recommendations of friends and family when purchasing almost any significant item. That's why it is so important to have a comprehensive website for your home improvement business. Posting pictures and videos of completed jobs will let people see your handy work.

But having a spot for happy clients to leave comments and testimonials will give you more credibility than any advertising. This type of uninvited authentic recommendation from customers is the heart and soul of any successful contracting company trying to win in a down economy.

Business Development Ideas For Home Improvement Business

The home improvement business is an interesting line to be in. Less chaotic situations and the special nurturing of the place by the residents makes it an even more tempting line to be in. Yet like other businesses, you want to grow and, therefore, require business development tips, which is exactly what this articles intends to provide you.

What is the first thought that strikes you when you think about developing your business? Development or growth is indicative of higher profits, more customers (rather satisfied customers), and expansion in both reach and income.

How do you achieve these growth parameters in your home improvement business?

Well to start with, review your existing marketing efforts. Are you waiting for customers to look for you, or have you established a channel of communication whereby they can easily locate you? Develop an online presence if you already do not have one. Create a website that takes the prospective parties through a road map of how things would happen and how exactly you can help them. If possible, let it be an interactive site wherein the seekers can drop in their queries and you can contact them accordingly. Start a question-answer section on your site where you can provide some quick tips about home improvement. If your customers are happy with your tips, they can give you huge business as an award. Make a picture gallery that depicts the old and new pictures of some of your works. Do not forget to add testimonials, and if possible, a few happy faces.

Don't just sit back because you now have an online presence. Send out your pamphlets and do a basic market research to understand your competition's offerings. If time and resources permit, carry out a neighborhood survey to see if anybody requires such services. You might not get business directly by this means, but leaving your card and pamphlets while conducting this survey can get you few referrals. Send out cards or mementos to important clients and seek referrals through them as well.

Another way to grow is by adding to the portfolio of your services. See what your competitors provide and maybe start doing few things complimentary. To further increase your presence, you can also advertise in various women's or home-related magazines. Being present at trade shows organized around home products always helps you generate business. It is then up to you to convert initial interested seekers into concrete clients.

A home improvement business is a place for the creative minds. Development in this field comes from your own hard work. One happy and satisfied client can help you add many. So, pay close attention to your existing projects and see them turn numbers for you.

How to Make a Great Website For Your Home Improvement Business

When people are planning on making home improvements to their houses, they usually do an online search to find a good company to do the work. Whichever websites are found on the first page of a Google or Yahoo listings, these companies will usually get the phone calls and requests for quotes.

When choosing a domain name it helps in the search engine rankings to use your town's name in the domain, for example best SanDiegohomeimprovements.com. Once you have registered your domain name, you'll need to sign up for web hosting. Host Gator is a very reliable web hosting company, and their hosting will only cost you five dollars a month.

Next you'll need to find a good HTML template. Just do a web search for "contractor HTML template" and have a look at the results. You should be able to find a nice looking one for 40 or $60 or maybe even free. Then download it and save it to your computer and open the index file with your HTML editor and add your company's information. Be sure and fill out the title tag with your town and state and specialty of your home improvement. Also, fill out the meta tag descriptions and keywords as these are very important in having your website rank well in the search engine results pages.

Here's a killer tip to set your company apart from other home-improvement businesses, have someone help you make a one or two minute video of you talking about what exactly your business does and why your prospects should call you and upload that video to youtube.com and then embed the code onto your index page. People will be impressed and you certainly will get more calls to your business.

Marketing Your Home Improvement Or Handyman Business

Each and every aspect of your home improvement business is important. However, if you don't market your business with the goal to produce sales, then you won't have a business for very long. This article will take you through the important process of marketing your business and your services to prospective customers.

A typical sales process for a home improvement or handyman business follows these steps:

   * Marketing
   * Qualifying
   * Selling
   * Getting Hiring!

These sales process steps are typical for most service type businesses. This article will discuss the first step, marketing, in greater detail.

Marketing Your Service Business: According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, marketing is defined as the process of promoting and selling a product or service. Marketing a service-based business is more difficult than selling a product. When a customer buys a product, it is tangible - something you can see, touch, or hold in ones hand, and that can usually be returned if the customer is not satisfied. With a service business, however, your customers are buying something that is intangible and once performed, not returnable. One of the greatest challenges in marketing your service business is persuading people to buy something they can't see, smell, touch, or return. You are selling both yourself and your skills, and selling the value of the services that you and your business provide.

Marketing is the single most important skill needed to be successful in the home improvement business. It involves promoting your company and its services to both immediate and potential customers, and selling your services to those that have found you through your advertising efforts. You will also market your home improvement business by providing quality work and a high level of customer service, which will encourage repeat customers and word-of-mouth referrals.

The primary objective of your marketing efforts is to have a steady stream of current and prospective customers contacting you. Your goal is to be able to sell your services to those customers.

The words 'marketing' and 'advertising' are often used interchangeably. Advertising is one aspect of the marketing strategy that helps you promote your business in the marketplace. Various advertising strategies, as well as strategies to market a home improvement business, are available to handyman business or other service business owners. It is important to keep track of each of your strategies and have a mechanism to both review and evaluate the effectiveness of each of the strategies you employ. That way you can discard ineffective strategies and keep the ones that work to grow your business.

Improvement Tips For Your Home Improvement Business Lesson 1

Lesson 1: Why it's important to charge more, rather than less.
Charge more? Yes, you heard right - you should charge MORE for your services.

You deserve it. People like Donald Trump and Richard Branson charge more for their services every single day, and there are many people out there who are willing to pay their outrageous fees, and why is that? Because the perception is, they charge more because they're great at what they do.

When people get ready to buy something, they often buy out of emotion, not logic. No matter whether you are a contractor, a plumber, a realtor, or an architect, companies who charge more are generally considered to offer a higher quality of service, while those that undercut are perceived as being more likely to do a shoddy job.

Think about it: Would you rather do one job for $10,000 or ten jobs for $1,000?

That is the real key to charging more - sure, you'll get more customers going elsewhere for their projects, but those that accept the higher rates will make up for that loss of income, and you will be doing LESS work.

In short, you will be working smarter instead of harder.

Of course, charging more does not mean you should swindle your customers, or get outrageous with your fees. If you plan to charge more, you must also offer more value for the customer's dollar. Offer them little things - small improvements in quality that they might not have expected, a little extra work beyond the brief, maybe even just a smile and a kind word when it would be easier to keep your head down and stick to the task at hand. Sure, it's extra effort, but it's MINIMAL extra effort, considering you're bumping your rates up considerably in return.

When you decide to take the leap and increase your rates, try adding 15% to your usual fee for a month. At the end of the month, evaluate your profits and see whether you think you could raise your rates even further without losing work.

Remember though, you must offer the product you have promised at the price you have promised. Customers won't be back if you are not offering a top of the line product. Do not underestimate your customer's intelligence level. They will know if they are being taken and not receiving the product they should, but if you do give them what you said you would, at a high quality level, your customers, even your regulars, won't mind paying that extra cash for your great service. And in fact, they'll probably tell their friends about you.

You work hard. Because you work so hard, you should dedicate yourself to becoming the best professional you can be. That means learning along the way. Taking the initiative to si up for this short course shows that you would like to better yourself. The better a business professional you become, the more you can charge your customers, and if you step up to the gold standard, customers will not only pay a higher rate, but they'll beat a path to your door.

The next lesson in this series will help you understand how to close the sale while charging more money. This quick two minute read can double your income instantly, so keep an eye out for it!

Improvement Tips For Your Home Improvement Business Lesson 3

Lesson 3: Advertising To Increase Your Bottom Line

Learning how to advertise your business will help direct customers to you which will generate more revenue for your profit margin.

Most people love what they do, but they hate advertising. It's no wonder, too, because it can be difficult to write good advertising copy and to find a place where consumers you will actually want to work for will see your copy and give you a call. Moreover, placing good advertisements can get a bit expensive.

There are, though, several easy ways to advertise that will increase your customer base.

Your Vehicle: You spend a lot of time moving from place to place in your work vehicle. People see your vehicle in front of your customers' homes. Why not turn it into a moving billboard? Put your business name, phone number, and website on the doors and back of your vehicle. Be sure to make is large enough for customers to read. This is a fairly inexpensive way to get some quick, yet effective advertisement. You can even purchase inexpensive magnetic advertisements if you feel like you might want to remove them for some purposes.

Free Publicity: Consider some pro bono work to increase your visibility. This could include donations of product to the less fortunate or helping out in times of need like natural disaster. Some community papers allow you to submit your own press releases detailing the work that you have done. You might also consider printing some fliers for your business advertising the free work you have completed to give to your current customers.

Internet Marketing: With the explosion of the internet, there are a number of business with websites. In fact, no business should be without one. Once you have a site, though, there are several things you can do to increase your traffic. First, consider search engine optimization. Search engines work by finding particular words and directing customers to sites based on a ranking of the number of words on the site matching the word searched for. Optimizing your site for particular terms related to your product will increase your ranking and the likelihood that customers will be directed to your site.

You might also consider reciprocal linking. A reciprocal link is text or a banner ad on one site that links to another site with a link back to the original site. Reciprocal links are a commitment between parties that tell customers "I like and trust the content on this other site." It also involves an element of trust between the sites. You must remember not to bury your reciprocal links where customers cannot find them.

The next lesson discusses how quality copywriting in all of your materials can help generate customers for you. This quick read could help you increase your revenue. Be sure to watch for it!

Now that you’re on the way to a healthier business, be sure to visit the HomeHammer website and sign your business up in our directory today.
We are the world's largest home improvement site, and the way we stay large is by making sure we have the most extensive database of contractors and home professionals around, so make sure you’re on that list!

How to Promote Your Home Improvement Business

#1- Network with a home insurance company
and ask to be their recommended vendor. Since they deal with homeowners (a.k.a. your customer base!) everyday who better to have your card then a home insurance agent? Contacting a local agency is your best bet. However, you may also want to contact a online home insurance company who can list you in their free online home improvement directories. Try searching some out online if need be.

#2- Get to know your local real estate agents- Many homeowners decide to upgrade their homes when they are getting ready to sell. A real estate agent will typically recommend a list of upgrades that should be performed before the home goes on the market. So, introduce yourself to some of the top real estate agents in your community and you might pick up some great new business.

#3- Follow-up with your Existing Customers- One of the best ways to get new business is to stay in touch with customers that you have already performed work for. Don't assume that just because you updated their bathroom last year that they are going to think of you when it's time to remodel the kitchen. Get strict about keeping all of your customers contact information and once every few months send out a direct mail piece such as postcard. Or, stop by their home and drop a note in their mailbox. Not only is this great customer service, but it might also get a few more projects on your schedule.

Top 10 Methods for Advertising Your Home Improvement Business

People often ask us the same question: "What's the best way to advertise my Home Improvement business and gather leads?" We've compiled a handy list of the 10 most useful tools to advertise your business and see results.

1. Build a Good Online Presence

For what may seem like an obvious necessity for most, some companies still don't value the importance of a good website. While most companies do have an online presence, it may not be attractive or user-experience optimized. A good website should convey the businesses' goals, experience, qualities, and services in an easy to read way. There should be a blatant call to action, and sufficient information for the viewer. If the potential client can glance at your page and get all the important information needed, you are that much closer to reeling them in.

2. Search Engine Optimization

Many people think that SEO is solely related to building links and advertising your website link. A large part of search engine optimization is related to the way your page is set up. Are you taking advantage of meta keywords and titles? Are you using headers properly? Does your site have a large amount of unique content optimized for targeting certain keywords? These are all important things to consider.

3. Craigslist

Craigslist is a great way to advertise your services. You can hire a designer to create a small ad for you to embed into your Craigslist post, or simply use HTML to format a nice, easy to read, eye-catching advertisement. Re-post as per Craigslist's guidelines and keep your business's name out there.

4. Adwords

Google provides a great PPC (pay-per-click) advertising system which will target related websites that use Google Adsense to display your ads. You can target your chosen demographic, choose how much you'd like to pay for every click, and modify the appearance of your ad. They offer text ads, image ads, and rich media ads (flash, animation).

5. Social Media

These days social media is becoming the leading the way for advertising and creating a "friendly" relationship with your clients and fans. Create a Fan page on Facebook, establish a Twitter account, or create a blog. these are all great methods to attract your customers.

6. Blog Commenting

Find blogs related to your industry. Search them out, and post meaningful, relevant comments in the comments section. Be sure to add a link to your website, with a keyword that you'd like to target in the search engines. Slow and steady is the key to seeing results; keep at it on a daily/weekly basis and in due time you'll see results.

7. Local Advertising

If your business is based locally, an ad in a local magazine or newspaper is a great option. Some companies provide direct mail advertising, which allows you to localize your advertisement in a demographic of your choice.

8. Content is King

Creating and publishing unique content will provide your website visitors with an interesting read, a potential link-back, and will improve your chances at getting picked up by the search engines. Google is beginning to heavily penalize websites with unoriginal content, and content of poor quality. Don't get cut by the search engines. Keep your content interesting, unique, and greatness will follow.

9. Word of Mouth

Sometimes in these technological days we forget the importance of word of mouth! Don't ever underestimate the power of a good recommendation. Treat your customers with respect and handle their job with excellence and you just might get the good word passed on.

10. Physical Ads

Physical advertisements such as billboards, bus benches, and other sign-age are often expensive, but they are generally high-profile and attention-getting. If you have the marketing funds available, give it a shot and see how it works. Create a marketing campaign and if the results are lower than you expected or needed, try another route.

While there are many methods that businesses use to market themselves, these are the top 10 ways to achieve positive results in this ever-advancing technological age. Try these steps for yourself and watch your business rise to success!

Internet Marketing Methods to Grow Your Home Improvement Business

Last month 22,200 people searched online for "Home Improvement contractors New York" and 33,100 people searched for "Contractors New York" indicating a strong demand for home improvement related services. The fact is another Contractor in your local area is ending up with this business. Most Contractors entered into the profession thinking that they would open up a business and the business would generate from word of mouth and referrals. This may be true for a select few Home Improvement businesses, but it is more likely that if you want to compete, you need to market your services.

Traditionally, Contractors are not marketers! But if you do what I recommend in this article, you can not only stay competitive, but you can also potentially blow away your competition. According to the Wall Street Journal, only 4% of Contractors market their business, and most are NOT doing it effectively. The key to Home Improvement marketing is to acquire, retain, and re-market. If you do all 3, you will have a steady stream (or even a flood) of leads coming into your Home Improvement business.

The best way to grow your Home Improvement business is by using Internet marketing. Forget TV ads, expensive Radio, or Newspaper advertising. We know very few Contractors for whom these marketing mediums have actually ever worked for. In fact, their lack of accountability, measurability, and limited geo targeting capabilities will leave you wondering where your investment went. You need to be where your prospects and clients are, which is online searching for the products and services they need.

Marketing Methods:

Conversion Focused Web Design

To effectively market on the internet, you need a conversion focused web site. What you DO NOT need is a website that collects dust. Think about it, just about every home improvement business has a website of some kind. Most are poorly conceived by graphic designers or stock templates, and were implemented with no strategy, no calls to action, and are basically just like brochures. A brochure is not going to cut it as we move forward into a more competitive marketing space on the internet. Most of your competition has a brochure, but to convert traffic into prospects and then into customers, you need a much stronger pull to get the prospect to want to do business with you.

An internet marketing consultant can help design and organize your site to move you beyond a simple brochure to a highly productive lead generation machine. Also, an effective web solution should put you in control of your site and content. Make sure your site is built with a Content Management System (CMS) that will allow you or your control staff to make simple edits without having to hire your designer at $100+/hr for each little web change needed.

Organic Search Marketing

Organic or Natural Search Marketing is similar in concept to Pay Per Click, but for organic search marketing results you do NOT have to pay per click. It is a much longer and slower process, but it is where 80% of your prospects are going to find you. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a process by which your site is engineered to show up for certain keywords in the search engines. Organic search results can lead to a consistent stream of leads for your practice, but patience and time working on your site (and off of your site) is required to take advantage of this strategy. Make sure if you outsource your SEO work, you deal with someone who understands your business, will not spam the search engines, and is someone you can trust with your message and reputation. One wrong move here could leave you black listed by Google and the other major search engines.

A solid SEO strategy is rooted in delivering good quality keyword rich content to your site. Writing content for the web is a lot different than writing content for a brochure or off line marketing collateral. Make sure you work with an SEO team that understands the complexities of search engine optimization, can create a realistic plan, understands your business, and can measure the results.

Pay Per Click Marketing

Thousands of potential customers are searching online every day for Home Improvement contractors and related services in your local area. With the right message and a conversion focused Pay Per Click marketing campaign, you can get immediate leads and new clients into your practice. Pay Per Click marketing delivers ads in the search engines to prospects that are not only local to your business, but looking for exactly what you are offering at the exact time they want it! It is highly targeted, and a highly measurable marketing technique unlike anything else in existence.

The problem is Pay Per Click marketing, or PPC, is extremely competitive and you really need someone who knows what they are doing to make it successful. If you are going to invest in PPC, you need to make sure you track conversions (emails, phone calls, web forms, downloads, etc.). Without tracking this data, you will not know how effective the campaign really is. Also, PPC marketing needs to be constantly monitored and optimized every day to avoid stagnant and lack luster results. If you do this, you will not only compete in your market, you will dominate.

Landing Pages

Internet marketing for Home Improvement business is competitive, and if not done correctly, you can squander your marketing dollars pretty quickly. Developing a custom landing page is a technique to develop a small 1 or 2 page website focused around a very specific service (Plumbing, Roofing, Kitchen Remodeling, etc.), and developed around a strong call to action.

By utilizing a focused page to send targeted traffic to, you are properly aligning what someone is searching for in the search engines with the exact result they are expecting to see when they click on the pay per click ad or organic search result. Conversion rates can increase 100% or more using a landing page strategy. Landing pages tend to work best when used in conjunction with a Pay Per Click marketing campaign. When it comes down to it, effective marketing is all about doing it better than your competition. Landing pages, when used correctly, can dramatically accelerate your lead generation efforts and squeeze more out of your Pay Per Click budget.

Social Media

Social media sites are where your prospects and customers are spending a lot of their time. So how come most contractors are not utilizing this marketing strategy? It is most likely due to a lack of time and lack of knowledge on how to use Social Media to your advantage. Get on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, and at least start engaging with your prospects and customers. Post relevant articles and quick tips on troubleshooting your AC unit, or post excellent bathroom tips for remodeling and renovating your bathroom. You can realistically post whatever you want to talk about that helps present you as an expert. Social Media is all about engagement. Also, Social Media can help your organic search results, build your email marketing database, drive more traffic to your website, and help with reputation management.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is a great strategy to use for retention and re-marketing, and a way to present yourself as an industry expert. You need to stay in front of your existing customers and potential prospects every month. The average prospect needs 6-7 touches from a business before they actually do business with them. Mailing out letters is not the answer and it is very expensive. Email marketing is quick, measurable, and extremely effective. Keep your customers engaged and aware of all the services you have to offer and any new exciting breakthroughs in the field of home improvement.

When developing an email marketing strategy, you need to plan it out carefully and make sure every campaign is created with a strong offer or call to action. Don't be too pushy or overburden people by sending out more than one email campaign per month. Email marketing is a key piece to the internet marketing puzzle and can help maximize all of your marketing efforts.

If you are a Home Improvement contractor, I encourage you to implement all of these proven marketing strategies into your business today. The longer you wait, the more your competition will gain a larger share of the market (and their friends, family, co workers, etc.). All of these strategies need to be worked on and improved upon over time, so do not think that what worked today will always work tomorrow. Create a clear strategy to maximize your internet marketing investment and set realistic expectations. With the right plan and execution, internet marketing will not feel like you are taking a risk by spending your money on it, and hoping for something in return. Internet marketing is a tried and true investment that will deliver consistent returns for your business.

Improvement Tips For Your Home Improvement Business Lesson 4

Lesson 4: Why Good Copywriting Can Improve Your Bottom Line

The power of the written word is phenomenal. Whether it be your website or brochure, benefit-oriented copywriting can improve your profits.

Your writing decides how your enterprise is viewed no matter where the writing appears. If you have poorly written text, it could break your business. Well written text can encourage readers to make the first step in hiring you - contact.

Benefit-oriented copywriting is your best bet on all of your materials. Your customers want to know what is in it for them. Describing your business in terms of the benefits they will receive will only help you connect with them. The human brain is designed to consider the needs of the self first. Describing the benefits your customers will get form your business will help them read all of your texts with themselves in mind. This can only help direct them to you to meet their needs.

More than anything, your copy should tell potential customers a number of things.

o You and your product are trustworthy and deserving of their attention.

o You will speak to your customers directly, and they will be handled by a professional.

o You will give your customers all of the information they need to make an educated choice about the product you are offering.

While there are no hard rules for copywriting, at the heart of it all, be sure to make sure your tone resonates with customers and reaches out to them. You should also make sure that your message seems trustworthy. Finally, be sure your content focuses on the benefits of hiring you for the product.

One of the most important things to remember for good copywriting is to be sure you are using the English language appropriately. Watch for grammar and punctuation errors, as this can send customers to another service provider.

Your excellent copy will send customers to you and help you reach people you never thought possible. This is great for your profits.

The next lesson discusses why using links to build your website will help send customers in your direction. This quick read could help you increase your revenue. Be sure to watch for it!

Now that you’re on the way to a healthier business, be sure to visit the HomeHammer website and sign your business up in our directory today.

5 Reasons Why Your Home Improvement Business Should Be Online

Why Your Home Improvement Business Should Be On The Internet

1. It's much more cost effective that yellow page ads that only serve one area. A website can serve your entire county for less than the price of a basic yellow page ad.

2. Cost less and is more environmentally friendly than printing glossy brochures. Think about how many people ask to see your portfolio of your craft. A website can display your pictures over and over again with no extra cost.

3. Having a website brands you as an expert. Think about two businesses with everything being equal except one has a website and one does not. Who do you think most customers will go with? Well a website will brand your image in the head of your customers.

4. Out of town customers can reach you. Yes I realize that if you work in Alaska it is no value to have someone see your website in California....or is it? YES it is because what if someone from California was about to move to Alaska and needed some Home Improvement Done?

5. It's cheap these days to have a website. It no longer cost thousands of dollars to make a nice looking website. Most small trades people can have an attractive website for about $200.00-$300.00 with yearly maintenance and hosting running about $120.00. So when you add it up that is less than $1.00 per day. Most trades' people will break even if they got 1 extra customer in a year. Yes one extra customer will pay for the website entirely.

Kris Koonar is President Crack Marketing, and elite SEO firm that provides such services such as Link Building Services.

Promoting a Home Improvement Business: The Basics Plus Two New Powerful Tools

Because the economy is struggling, more small home improvement businesses are struggling to stay afloat. If you are looking for new ideas to promote your business, this article is for you! I will list many of the tactics that I have used to promote my three businesses over the years, as well as two of the newer ones I have found to be very effective!

For those of you who are looking for basic proven Ideas to promote your business, I have listed 10 tried and proven methods below. No one method is going to successful promote a business. Several used in coordination with each other will build a customer base, brand your business, and allow you to gain the new clients that you need.

Proven Traditional Marketing

1) As you run your business day-to-day use well-developed stationary i.e. business cards, letter head, envelopes, and promotional materials with your URL, phone number, and email address on them.

2) Give free, no obligation consultations and estimates to as many potential clients as possible. Even if they do not hire you it will promote referrals.

3) Giving out promotional items (such as pens, hats, and jackets) is a staple promotion for most small home improvement businesses. Get these items, as well as your business cards, in as many hands as possible. Talk to vendors you work with and give them your materials. Post cards and fliers at supermarkets etc.

4) Asking your clients for referrals and permission to put a sign in their yard is a good promotion.

5) Send direct mail: Even small businesses do direct mail campaigns. This can be a costly way to get new clients, but keep it in mind as a proven tool. There are many mailing lists available if you would want to purchase one. Just run "direct mailing lists" with your city or state in any search engine to find the companies selling lists in your area.

6) Newspaper ads and magazines do sell. This is another promotion that costs some investment but usually has a reasonable return.

7) Telemarketing is a dying industry, but it is still used successfully for local business. It must be done in a low-key, low pressure way. I would be very leery of hiring a third-party marketing company now days, but it may be something you would have a few people do from their home.

8) Promote what is unique about you, your business, and your expertise. This should be the basis for your promotional campaigns.

9) Network with others doing similar work in your area.

10) Paint your company information and promotional material on vehicles.

Ways to Promote Your Home Improvement Business Online

Over the last few years I have taken my business promotion largely online with major success. Anyone can master several simple ways to promote any produce, service, or opportunity online. Most potential customers will at least jump online to check for a website and basic information before making any large purchase. Because of this, small businesses that do not have an online presence are getting pushed out of business. All of the promotional techniques below are either free or can be done for a very minimal investment.

Here is a List of Basic Ways to Promote Your Business Online

1) Set up a website for your business

2) Set up a blog. There are countess free blogs or you can build your own.

3) Write articles on free online services such as Ezinearticles.

4) Post on online forums and discussion groups concerning your business

5) Press Releases. Two free ones are PRWeb and PRleap.

6) Advertise on free directories online. There are hundreds of them.

7) Use social networking such as Facebook and Twitter

Another Tool I Have Recently Found

I have recently come across what I believe to be a great promotional tool for any small business. The business is called SentOutCards and you can Google it to find affiliates selling a membership package. It allows small businesses to easily send post cards and greeting cards out to their customers. It's a great way to get referrals, and promote any small business.

I hope this article has provided you with some concrete ideas. I have learned and implemented about 15 ways to promote my business online over the last year. I do it all for free! If you have some spare time and would like to learn how click here now! I will personally show you what I believe to be the best internet marketing training available. It has over 700 hours of training. Learning to build websites, blogs, and use social networking is much easier than I ever thought.

5 Home Improvement Businesses You Can Start

One of the secrets to starting and operating a successful business is to offer products or services that people not only want but also need. If you combine this idea with the fact that most people consider their home to be their largest and most important investment, you soon realize a home improvement business can be one of the best types of business to go into. Here are five different home improvement businesses you can start, along with some of the best reasons to do so.

1. Water Feature Design and Installation - Businesses that design and install water features such as fountains, fish ponds, waterfalls, and water gardens are incredibly hot right now and, if marketed properly, are likely to have more work than they can handle. Numerous popular home improvement shows on television have featured many of these projects and, consequently, demand has gone through the roof. An individual or a couple of partners can start off with smaller jobs and work their way up to the larger projects as their knowledge and skills increase. Any business that does this would be wise to take pictures of every job and use them in their marketing efforts.

2. Home Staging Consultant - While it is no secret the real estate market in the U.S. is the weakest it has been in a long time and the number of frustrated people who have been trying to sell their home for many months is on the increase, it is still a fact that the best houses sell quickly. What these sellers need is a home staging consultant who can turn their home into one of the desirable ones that will sell quickly. A home staging consultant gets much of their business from real estate broker referrals, but works directly with the seller to get the home in peak selling condition. Most consultants usually price their jobs by quoting a flat or hourly fee, plus expenses. Some consultants also market their services to the seller via direct mail and to real estate professionals via direct mail and personal contact.

3. Deck Builder - Drive through almost any neighborhood in the country and notice how many homes have an attached deck. Now consider the fact that at least half of the rest would love to have one and you will have some idea of the amount of potential business just waiting for the right company to come along. Smart builders work to show their customers how adding a deck can pay for itself in increased value, provide many years of enjoyment, and can be just the thing to sway a new buyer when it comes time to sell. This is another business where you will want to photograph the work you do to use in the marketing of your services.

4. Wooden Fence Installation - A chain link fence may provide security but it certainly does not look very attractive or provide any privacy. Many homeowners today would rather go with a wooden fence, if given the choice, and that provides us with another choice for a great business to start. Whether for security, privacy, or to prevent young children from wandering off, many homeowners would like to have a fence installed and a wooden one is more durable and attractive than any other. Try to offer a variety of styles such as post and rails, picket fences, and privacy fences to your repertoire.

5. Painter -
Painting is one of the easier skills to learn, and a house painting business can be started with very little in the way of equipment and supplies. In fact, many successful house-painting companies have started out with one or two people and increased their equipment and workers as the business grew. Painting is a home improvement task that most people need done but also one most people hate to do. Take advantage of this and open your own house painting service and turn your dreams of owning your own profitable business into a reality.

One of the secrets to running a successful business is to choose a business that is in demand no matter the economy. This is why owning and operating a home improvement business can be a smart move for the right company. In good times and bad, a person will spend more money on repairing and improving their home than on just about anything else. Take advantage of this by starting your own home improvement business.

The Easiest Way To Start A Home Improvement Business

If you've always loved working with your hands and making your home look better than when it was first built, you may want to start a home improvement business. This can be a fairly complicated undertaking, however. In order to be successful, you need to choose a focus in terms of what you want to improve about the home. You also need to build a name for yourself to attract more and more clientele.

Instead of trying to take on everything on your own, you can opt for a franchise business. This doesn't mean you have to give up your hopes and dreams of a home improvement business. You can simply choose a franchise that deals in home improvement products. This will give you the focus you need for your business as well as a brand name that people already are familiar with.

Purchasing a home improvement franchise can consist of various different options. You can choose a company that deals in flooring, cabinets, bathroom remodels or virtually anything else. Depending on whether you like to work indoors or out or even where your interests lie will dictate which kind of franchise you want to buy.

When you are looking into a franchise business, it's also important to see what you're getting for the money. In many cases, you will pay a flat fee for the rights to the franchise. This will include the rights to use the name as well as many other things. Some franchises have a website and will add your location to the website. Others will provide you with equipment, product lists, letterhead and much more.

You have the option to choose the franchise business that is most advantageous to what you are trying to accomplish. Some of the franchises will give you some creative freedom while others are very black and white. You need to take the time to review these options to ensure you are able to run the business the way that you want.

Having a home improvement franchise can allow you to be your own boss and work with your hands on a daily basis. As the boss, you get to determine how involved you want to be on a regular basis. You can choose to be in sales, management, installation or any other aspect. Then you hire staff to handle the areas you don't want to be regularly involved in.

If you were to start your own home improvement business, you may find it more difficult to take a backseat to what's going on. The reason for this is because, as a new business, there's a lot more to be done. You will have to work hard to get your name out there. You will need to do a lot of the ground work on your own. With a franchise, however, that's already done for you.

A home improvement business isn't a fad. This means you have a better chance of being successful with this kind of franchise than just about any other franchise opportunity out there. Regardless of the state of the economy, there are always people who will want to make improvements to their home - be it adding carpet, updating cabinets or replacing tile.

Starting a business can be difficult. However, if you take advantage of a home improvement franchise opportunity, most of the work has been completed for you. Take the time to check out the options around you and you may be able to become your own boss faster than you ever thought was possible.