Archive for February, 2017

50 Killer Tools You Need for Your Business Blogging

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

50 Killer Blogging Tools You Need for Your Business Blog

Want to blog for your business? Or maybe you’d like to build an entire business around blogging? You’re going to need some help.

Even if you have the greatest tech know-how and a natural talent for writing, you can’t hope to build a successful blog without utilizing some blogging tools. Luckily, there are tons for you to choose from. Here are 50 killer tools you can use to build a better blog today.

Killer Business Blogging Tools

WordPress

The number one blogging platform out there, you can set up a basic blog site using WordPress.com or create a more professional looking site using self-hosted WordPress at WordPress.org.

GoDaddy

Again, GoDaddy is one of the most popular destinations online for people who want to buy domains for blogs or other websites. The company also offers other services like hosting and email.

Bluehost

But GoDaddy isn’t the only web host in town. Others like Bluehost, which is especially popular among WordPress users, offer quality hosting service as well.

Laughing Squid

Laughing Squid is another hosting provider that’s popular with WordPress bloggers. It also has some options for more speciality sites.

Google Keyword Planner

If you want to blog, then you need to have specific topics and keywords in mind. The Google Keyword Planner is an online tool that helps you research and refine the best keywords for your focus and audience.

Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools is a portal you can use to find assistance and support for a number of different website related areas, including SEO, site testing and online courses.

Bing Webmaster Tools

Bing also offers a similar portal for people who want to ensure their sites run properly and rank highly in Bing searches.

Google Analytics

If you want to create a successful blog, then you need to keep track of what works and what doesn’t. Google Analytics gives you access to data about site traffic, popular content and more.

Jetpack

Jetpack is a popular plugin series for WordPress sites. Features include analytics, security and more.

Yoast SEO

Yoast is another popular plugin that focuses specifically on SEO. You can use it to update keywords, analyze your content and more.

BuzzSumo

In order to research your content ideas and monitor your content, BuzzSumo offers an online platform that lets you find trending topics and more related to your blog.

Photoshop

Most blog posts should include some type of photos or visuals. And if you want those images to look as professional as possible, you might find it useful to invest in some kind of photo editing program like Photoshop.

Canva

But you don’t necessarily need to make a huge investment in order to share great visuals on your blog. Canva is a free online photo editing and graphic design tool you can use right in your web browser.

GIMP

GIMP is another free image manipulation tool that you can download and use to edit photos and create works of art.

Flickr

Whether you want to share photos or find some Creative Commons images to include in your blog posts, Flickr can be a great resource for any visually oriented bloggers.

Shutterstock

You can also find stock photos to include with your posts using sites like Shutterstock if you don’t want to create your own images.

Death to the Stock Photo

For more stylish photos and videos straight to your inbox, you could also consider a resource like Death to the Stock Photo.

Piktochart

Infographics can also be powerful visuals to include with blog posts. And Piktochart gives you an easy way to create your own.

YouTube

Or you could create more in-depth visuals like videos to include with your posts. And YouTube is the top resource for hosting and sharing those videos.

MailChimp

To grow a successful business around your blog, it’s also a good idea to maintain some kind of email list. MailChimp is a tool with both free and paid options for managing those lists.

LeadPages

You can also use LeadPages as a way to gather leads online and to set up landing pages for promotions related to your blog or business.

Sprout Social

If you’re going to have a successful blog, chances are you’re going to use social media to promote it. Sprout Social is an online tool you can use to create marketing campaigns across various social channels.

Buffer

You can also use Buffer to schedule social content across different platforms as well as find inspiration for new content to share.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is another option for social media scheduling and management.

Quora

When you’re looking for inspiration for new blog posts, it can help to consider what questions people might have about your particular niche. Quora is a question and answer website that can give you lots of insights about the questions that people might need answered.

Quick Sprout

Looking at your blog analytics is essential to growing your traffic — but it can also be confusing. Quick Sprout is a tool you can connect to your Google Analytics and then use it to get actionable insights and tips for improving your website and blog.

Google Trends

Trending topics, or topics that are especially popular online, can also make for great blog content. And Google Trends is a great resource for finding topics that people are currently searching for.

Twitter Trending Topics

You can also turn to Twitter and look at the platform’s Trending Topics as a source of inspiration for new blog posts.

LinkedIn Pulse

For more professionally focused blogs, you can also turn to LinkedIn Pulse for a way to discover content and influencers that can help you determine new subjects to explore in posts.

Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator

Just don’t know what to blog about this week? Hubspot offers a Blog Topic Generator that you can use by filling in a few quick fields and then receive a custom post suggestion.

Evernote

Blogging requires you to constantly think of new ideas and even refine posts on the go. And Evernote can be a great tool for keeping all of your thoughts and notes on upcoming posts organized.

Trello

Trello is another great productivity tool that you can use to organize your thoughts or even work with a team around your blog.

Google Calendar

For organizing your post schedule and other tasks, Google Calendar is a free online tool that can help you stay on track.

Editorial Calendar

You can also use a WordPress plugin like Editorial Calendar to manage your upcoming post schedule right from your blog dashboard.

Dropbox

Need to share or store large files for your blog? Dropbox is the go-to online service for this function.

Click to Tweet

When you’re trying to promote your blog online, it can help if you get your readers to do some promotion for you as well. Click to Tweet is an online tool that you can use to create snippets of your blog posts that are easily tweetable.

Post Planner

Post Planner is another socially focused app. You can use it to manage and discover content on Facebook and more.

Grammarly

The last thing you want to find on your blog after publishing a post is a myriad of grammar errors. Grammarly offers a browser extension and online tool that you can use to check for grammar and spelling errors before posting.

Hemingway

Hemingway is a more sophisticated online editor that you can use to identify areas where you can improve your writing style.

PayPal

If you plan on accepting any payments on your blog or website, PayPal is an easy way for you to get those payments.

Dribbble

Your blog design is an important part of the overall reader experience. If you want to find a professional designer or some design inspiration, take a look at Dribbble.

Behance

Behance is another online portfolio site where you can find designers and other creative professionals.

Upwork

If you want to outsource any of your content or other aspects of building your blog, Upwork offers a marketplace for professional freelancers.

Gmail

It’s also essential that you have a simple way to reach out to blog sources and collaborators, and for people to reach out to you as well. Gmail offers free email service as well as reasonably priced custom domain addresses.

Skype

Skype is another great way to stay in touch with people. You can use it to video chat with your team or even call people for blog interviews.

Disqus

If you want a more sophisticated or customized commenting system than what automatically comes with your blog, consider using a comment plugin like Disqus.

Feedly

To run a successful blog, it’s a good idea to stay in tune with what others in your niche are covering. Feedly is an online reader that makes it easy for you to follow lots of different blogs.

Bloglovin

Bloglovin is another online reader that you can use to follow blogs and promote your own.

Desk

If you get distracted easily while writing blog post, consider Desk. It’s an app for WordPress and MacOS that eliminates outside distractions on your screen while you write.

CoSchedule Headline Analyzer

Headlines are hugely important to successful blog content. And the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer can give you an idea of how strong your headlines really are.

Blogger Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “50 Killer Tools You Need for Your Business Blogging” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Bulgaria’s Ex-Ambassador to US ‘Caught Stealing in Duty-Free Shop’

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

The former Bulgarian Ambassador to the United States has been detained at the airport in Warsaw for stealing cosmetics in a duty-free shop, according to Russian agency RIA Novosti.

Citing Polish radio EMF, the agency reports the goods concerned were worth the equivalent of nearly USD 400.

Bulgarian magazine Club Z quotes the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry as saying that, while Poptodorova has not worked at the diplomatic service for the past year, information is being required from Sofia’s Embassy in Warsaw.

Elena Poptodorova was Bulgaria’s Ambassador to Washington until the summer of 2016, her term having been extended several times.

Source

Three Bulgarian Police Officers Indicted over BGN 2.3 M Theft of Cigarettes

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Bulgaria’s prosecuting authority has indicted three police officers who allegedly stole hundreds of thousands of cigarette packs used as an evidence in an investigation.

The prosecution believes BGN 2.3 M worth of cigarettes were unlawfully taken by the police officers from an Interior Ministry-owned warehouse in north central Bulgaria.

Emil Hristov, Denislav Marinov and Ivan Damyanov allegedly committed the offense in 2014 which resulted in 367 218 smuggled packs of cigarettes missing from the warehouse.

The investigation they were used in as evidence was one into a purported smuggling case dating back to 2009.

The three will remain in custody for 72 hours, the prosecution says.

Source

Bulgaria’s Deputy Chief Prosecutor Brought to Court over ‘Pressure’ on Investigator

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

An investigator has filed a BGN 26 000 claim against Borislav Sarafov, the Deputy Chief Prosecutor over alleged “pressure” on him.

Strahil Kamenichki, who works at the National Investigation Service, allegedly spoke to Sarafov at a work meeting.

The prosecutor purportedly told Sarafov he was a coward for not pressing charges against the two train drivers involved in the tragic incident in Hitrino last December.

Sarafov threatened Kamenichki with launching disciplinary proceedings which, he falsely claimed, was entitled to start with the Supreme Judicial Council.

The two drivers were subsequently indicted.

Source

Does Performance-Based Pay Really Work?

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Is Performance Based Pay Effective?

Small business owners who don’t want to give employees permanent pay increases may be using performance-based pay — such as bonuses or profit-sharing arrangements — to reward employees without putting too much stress on their business finances. But it turns out this type of pay arrangement may have unintended negative consequences for employees and the business as a whole, a new study reports.

Is Performance Based Pay Effective?

Trends in Performance-Based Pay

During and right after the Great Recession, many business owners couldn’t afford to give employees raises. Even if they could afford it, the downturn had lots of entrepreneurs shell-shocked and fearful of committing to additional monthly payroll expenses. So many businesses turned to pay arrangements based on either the employee’s performance (such as bonuses) or the company’s performance (such as profit-sharing or employee stock ownership).

While this arrangement does have many benefits, there are also some downsides, according to a study published in Human Resource Management Journal. The study looked at three different types of “contingent pay” — performance-related, profit-related and employee stock ownership — and how they affected employee attitudes such as job satisfaction, commitment to the company, and trust in management.

Here’s what they found:

Only performance-related pay (in other words, pay based solely on the individual employee’s performance) positively affected all three of these employee attitudes. Pay arrangements related to company profit, or employee stock ownership, either didn’t affect employee attitudes or affected them negatively.

But even performance-related pay isn’t all good. The study reports that although performance-related pay positively influenced workers’ attitudes, it also tended to stress them out to a degree that might negate the beneficial effects. Employees in this type of arrangement are more likely to feel they’re being encouraged to work too hard, which decreases their job satisfaction. Ultimately, the stress can lower their productivity — giving performance-based pay the exact opposite effect that was intended.

Making Performance-Based Pay Work

This doesn’t mean you should write off the idea of performance-based pay altogether — but you do need to take some precautions to make it work for your business. Try these tips:

  • Strike a balance. Try setting “stretch goals” — performance goals that aren’t easy to achieve, yet aren’t so difficult that employees feel defeated before they even start. You could also set different bonus levels for different levels of performance so that not everyone feels they have to aim for the highest possible level.
  • Make it proportionate. Don’t make employees work incredibly hard for a small reward. It’s important to ensure a balance between employee job demands and the reward, the study says.
  • Pay attention. Regularly check in with employees and managers to see how your performance-based pay system is working. Do employees seem stressed and overloaded? Perhaps the bar is set too high.

If you do use a pay structure that is tied into company profits rather than individual effort, be sure that the opportunity to earn profit-related pay is distributed across the entire company. If only a small percentage of employees are eligible to receive this type of incentive, the study found that the business as a whole suffers from lower job satisfaction, decreased commitment to the company and less trust in company management.

As for employee share ownership, if you’re not already doing this, the study suggests it’s not worth trying: It negatively affected job satisfaction and had no effect on employee commitment or trust.

What has your experience with performance-based pay been? Does it work for your business?

Performance Review Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Does Performance-Based Pay Really Work?” was first published on Small Business Trends

Source

Anadolu Agency: Balkan Turks Slam DPS’s Nationalist Candidate Pick

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

The Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) has come under fire for nominating two former members of far-right Ataka party for the upcoming general election in Bulgaria, Anadolu Agency writes.

The DPS is not an ethnic party in itself, but purports to represent minorities (including that of ethnic Turks and Roma) in Bulgaria, and its election tickets and leadership are normally dominated by Bulgarian Turks. Ethnic parties are barred under the Constitution.

Last week, Kamen Petkov of Ataka and Slavi Binev – who left the party in 2011 to join the Patriotic Front in a few years – announced they were now on DPS tickets.

Binev’s former organization, the Patriotic Front, supported the previous government, which hinged on its votes in the legislature to secure a majority. The PF has repeatedly lashed out at the DPS, labeling it as a “pro-Turkish party” alongside DOST, which was formed by ex-DPS head Lyutvi Mestan last year.

Anadolu quotes Zurfettin Hac?o?lu, president of the Balkan Rumeli Turks Confederation, as saying the nominations were “the biggest insult” to Turkish and Muslim communities in Bulgaria.

“These people are nominated from the area where our Pomak brothers are living…“Nominating former members of [Ataka], who are hostile to Turkish people, by the votes of Turkish people, is another way of saying to them ‘Do not vote for this political party’.”

Anadolu’s publication comes against the backdrop of the first parliamentary election in which the DPS and DOST are to compete for MP seats directly.

The DPS sees DOST, whose leader Mestan has met Turkish President Erdogan more than once over the last few years, as close to the ruling party in Ankara.

DOST, on the other hand, is highly critical of the DPS which it portrays as a tool of the oligarchy, a symbol of the status quo and a force seeking to push Bulgaria away from its Euro-Atlanticist path.

Source

4 Simple Ways to Improve Your Customer Service (INFOGRAPHIC)

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Check Out These 4 Simple Ways to Improve Your Customer Service (INFOGRAPHIC)

Have you ever been so infuriated by a company’s customer service that you broke your phone? On the other hand, how incredible is it when a company has fantastic customer service?

While the Comcasts and Verizons of the world might be able to get away with treating their customers like indentured servants, serving customers well is essential for the vast majority of companies. In fact, as many as 66 percent of customers will spend more with a company with great customer service.

To illustrate this point, visual communication and design agency Column Five created an infographic for customer service software company Zendesk called “Convert With Convenience: Good Customer Service is Good Business.”

Ways to Improve Your Customer Service

The infographic shows four ways you can improve your customer service, and thus improve your overall customer satisfaction:

  • Go mobile. Customers using a mobile app are more likely to make a purchase, with 85 percent inclined to make same-day purchases and 70 percent ready to purchase within hours.
  • Have self-service options. 70 percent of customers expect companies to have features like FAQs, contact information, product comparison, and personal account controls.
  • Offer live chat support. By helping customers immediately, live chat increases sales as well as average order size.
  • Be responsive on social media. 72 percent of customers tweet when they have a complaint, 53 percent expect a response within an hour, and 71 percent are more likely to recommend a brand after getting a response.

Moral of the story? The better the customer service, the more successful the business.

Check out the infographic for more information on improving your company’s customer service!

Check Out These 4 Simple Ways to Improve Your Customer Service (INFOGRAPHIC)

Republished by permission. Original here.

Images: ColumnFive

This article, “4 Simple Ways to Improve Your Customer Service (INFOGRAPHIC)” was first published on Small Business Trends

Source

Bulgarian Resort Sunny Beach – the Cheapest Tourist Destination in the World

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Bulgarian resort Sunny beach again is the cheapest tourist destination in the world, shows the international travel portal Hoppa. It compares prices for a night in a hotel room, alcohol, coffee and other components in popular resorts worldwide.

Due to popular demand, this year’s report covers a much wider range of destinations, analysing a total of 84 places across the globe, compared to last year’s 46. They’ve also added in a few new features, including comparing the cost of a cocktail, a sightseeing bus pass and the cost of some of the most popular attractions around the world.

Tourists in Bulgaria will need an average of slightly more than EUR 44 per day if they want to relax in Sunny Beach, compared to Zurich now takes the number one spot for most expensive destination at GBP170.43 per person for one night’s stay (including meals, drink and entertainment),according to the authors of the study.

The cheapest place to go for a three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant is Antalya in Turkey. On the other hand, if you’re visiting Dubai you could be in for a shock with the average price of a bottle of wine coming in at GBP 30.64.

Another example of this part of the world – a cocktail in Bahrain is worth EUR 21.5. Except in Bulgaria, cheap alcohol can be found in Manila. The capital of the Philippines offers a beer for EUR 0.45.

Looking at the average price of taxi journeys, Zurich once again is taking the top spot for priciest ride at GBP16.20. For a cheap trip from A to B, hail a cab in Cairo for just 89 pence per 3 kilometres.

If you decided to go to the Universal film studios – they are the most expensive attractions in the study. To see places where they filmed movies like Jaws, Terminator, you will have to spend EUR 150 per person. With EUR 13.5 the Royal Palace in Bangkok is the cheapest offer in this category.

Source

European Commission: Proximity to Sofia Does Not Guarantee Economic Opportunities

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

In the European Union there’s a development model with many centres, where strong metropolitan areas and those around larger cities are key drivers of competitiveness.

Such examples can be observed in Northwest Europe, compared with Eastern and Southern Europe, where this is not valid, according to the Third Edition of the Index of Regional Competitiveness for 263 EU regions, for 2016.

The gap between the capital region and other regions is particularly wide in some countries, for example, Romania, Greece, Slovakia, Bulgaria and France. A big gap between the capital region and the rest of the country is generally a reason for concern as it puts substantial pressure on the capital region while it may leave some of the resources in other regions underutilised.

In Bulgaria, for example, the proximity to the capital – Sofia, is not sufficient grounds for neighbouring North region out of the latest places in EU development.

Under the Regional Competitiveness European Commission understands the ability of a region to offer attractive and sustainable environment for businesses and local residents.

If for 2016, the Southwest region with centre Sofia is ranked on 207th out of 263 regions in the EU, the Northwest region, located only a few kilometres beyond Stara Planina is on 258th place. According to the purchasing power per capita, the Northwest region is last in the entire European Union. It ranks 263rd with an indicator which is 29% of the average for all 28 EU countries.

Where does Sofia standing the Southwest region?

The RCI is composed of 11 pillars that describe the different aspects of competitiveness. They are classified into three groups: Basic, Efficiency and Innovation. The Basic group includes five pillars: (1) Institutions; (2) Macroeconomic Stability; (3) Infrastructure; (4) Health; and (5) Basic Education. These represent the key basic drivers of all types of economies.

According to the data, the most competitive Bulgarian region (South) indicate that it is on 207th place in the overall index, ranks 187th by GDP per capita and the purchasing ability of the population is 75% of the EU average.

Its strengths are also education and training (88th of 263), business sophistication (103), innovation (131) and efficiency of the labour market (152).

According to the authors of the study, areas which are similar to the Southwest region of Bulgaria include Murcia, Madeira and Castilla-La Mancha Spain, the French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe in the Caribbean and South Yorkshire and Cornwall on the UK.

Source

Three Bulgarian Films in 21st Sofia Film Fest’s International Competition

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

For the first time in the history of the most prestigious international festival in Bulgaria three films created by Bulgarian authors and with majority domestic funding will be presented before the international jury, which traditionally awarded the Grand Prize of the festival Sofia – City of Film, provided by Sofia Municipality.

Receiving Locarno Film Festival’s “Golden Leopard” and two awards in Sarajevo, as well as the “Golden Rose” prize in Varna, Ralitza Petrova’s Godless (2016) is “a groundbreaking study of the human spirit in his longing for purity and redemption.” The story follows a nurse involved in traffic of the ID cards of demented patients. Driven by easy cash, and an addiction to morphine, she struggles to keep tabs on her emotional void, and a growing fear of punishment.

The second feature film from writer-director Konstantin Bojanov is poetically titled Light Thereafter (2017). The film tells the story of 16-year-old Paul, emotional and sensitive young man who dreams of becoming a disciple of his idol – the enigmatic French artist Arno. Like Ave,  Bojanov’s new film is also a story of journey: the path leads Paul to meetings with interesting people, to self-knowledge and maturity. Light Thereafter is a co-production between Bulgaria, Belgium and Great Britain.

The third Bulgarian title in the main competition program is the feature debut of Grigor Lefterov and Todor Matsanov - Hristo, started as a project at Sofia Meetings 2013. In the film Hristo is a homeless boy who is doing everything possible to lead a normal life. But of course, there are things you would not do. And the price of “normal” life can be too high for him. Hristo was also selected for the competition of the Warsaw Film Festival 2016.

Base ticket prices – BGN 8.00 / BGN 6.00

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