The Starlit Path is about capturing shining moments and sharing them with you.
Occasionally, that includes a bit about what inspires me at the moment or what I can recommend you check out! (more…)
The Starlit Path is about capturing shining moments and sharing them with you.
Occasionally, that includes a bit about what inspires me at the moment or what I can recommend you check out! (more…)
Originally designed and built as a residential hotel in the 1920s, today the boutique hotel in downtown Washington, DC has the distinct presence of a private mansion where guests can retreat. With 145 GUESTROOMS, including 21 SUITES, the hotel prides itself on exceptional service in a discreet, intimate atmosphere.
My blog is very diverse, I have been on adventures since before I was a finalist for a presenter search on a travel show in South Africa in my early 20s!
Even before its finals in Mauritius, I had already been twice before to the exotic island, as well as to Singapore, the Caribbean, Thailand, Germany, Italy, Los Angeles + Great Britain with my family.
Now – after even more global travel – one thing I enjoy doing is featuring some awesome content of past travel stories, still relevant today. Every month I change up the featured content, so you to get a true cross selection of my travel reporting from tons of cities, just for you!
BaliBali is a women’s fashion store in the trendy “Kloof Street” of Cape Town. It’s part of the Lifestyle Centre which is home to the popular Wellness Warehouse. The store is next to Knead Bakery and Vida e Caffe. Fashion Designer Merrissa Lebetkin designs a lot of the pieces. She also ships in gorgeous collections of clothes, ornaments, lighting, home decor, jewellery, accessories, art and gifting goodies straight from the shores of Bali. Halle Berry is one of her customers… I think you should be too 🙂 If you’re from Cape Town, pop in next time you’re in Kloof Street. If not, put shopping here on your To Do list!
Here are 3 amazing facts about Bali, Indonesia:
+ Volcano Agung is considered the most sacred place on the island. All temples are built to face it and islanders sleep with their heads towards it. The Balinese believe that Mount Agung is a replica of Mount Meru, the central axis of the universe. Mount Anung last erupted in 1963 and is still active.
+ Bali is home to some very unusual black sand volcanic beaches. Thanks to the active volcanoes that dot the Indonesian Peninsula, tourists can get a glimpse of something very rare and magical when visiting. They’ve certainly attracted the attention of the world’s top designers, organising special photo shoots here with the likes of Cara Delevingne for their ranges.
+ Bali has the most expensive coffee in the world, Kopi Luwak. Prices for this coffee (made of civet droppings) can go up as high as $50 a cup! Kopi Luwak is a name for any beans collected from the excrements of civets. The tastes may vary according to the type and origin of beans ingested by the civet as well as the process subsequent to collecting the – the roasting, ageing and brewing. The ability of the civet to select its berries (and other aspects of his diet and health) also influence the taste of the coffee.
Your categories are the main sections or “magazine columns” that you feature on your blog. Your categories can be a drop down menu on your sidebar. They should be simple and logical. Use hierarchies to organise your ideas better. Try think of a catchy angle for them so you peak your viewer’s interest and stand out from the rest.
Keep your design simple and appealing. Make it intuitive and well-structured. People should intuitively know how to navigate your space. Make pages along the top for sections you want to highlight. Use a category drop down menu and a follow widget wouldn’t hurt. If there are other platforms you want your viewers to know about, include those widgets also. A direct link to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram invites viewers to connect with you.
+ Who you want to appeal to (age group, gender, interests)
+ What your content will be (which topics you choose)
+ How involved you’ll get in your articles (short, long, lots of resources)
Plan out each piece well. It’s always a good idea to think about a catchy title and invest time into each piece. Edit and format your posts and add great designs to them. Write in a natural tone and keep it simple. Decide on your intentions with each post. Publish often (weekly is great). If your favourite magazine missed a few issues, you’d eventually find a replacement.
You write and publish something once, but who’s to say you can’t share that post once per month on Twitter, a couple times a year on Facebook or every other month on Google+? Pinterest is a lovely fresh platform with a constant stream of ideas. It’s a great way to advertise your blog. Make a board dedicated to your blog and pin your stuff to it! It will make it easier for people to find you and re-pin your stuff. Due to the “timeline” nature of most social media platforms, if you only share something once, it will only be seen by a small percent of your followers. It’s also a good idea to make an advert with your heading and URL on for sharing purposes.
Your readers/clients have specific questions, desires and needs. You can start to figure out these needs by putting yourself in their shoes. What would you want to read about if you were them, visiting your blog? What tools can make things simpler for your viewers? Why do they come to your blog? Read more about figuring this out here.
Remember to keep your material current and up-to-date. Try cater for a blog audience while maintaining your brand goals and sanity. This is, of course, if you are operating your blog like a business.
The things you spend money on are the things you want to get value out of. The things you spend money on are the important things that you care about. The best things in life are free, but some of the things that help you create your best life cost money. Invest in marketing your blog online or elsewhere if you want the traffic that will get you money in the long run.
This means short titles, bullet points and headings. Also, it means blog posts which aren’t too long.
….One that includes suggested post dates and categories. Editorial Calendar WordPress plugin is great because I like a visual representation of when I should post. Without a calendar and some type of plan, you’ll get around to that one post about that one thing on the 10th of NeverEver.
Sponsored blogging (getting paid to publish promotional stuff) must be scheduled into your usual blogging routine. A lot of the time, clients/sponsors need a date for publishing. It’s good to plan ahead so you can give them an exact date.
Creative people are always thinking. Sometimes I have great ideas that pop into my head which I jot down. When I get around to writing a post, I’m always excited to publish it straight away. But I’ve learnt that it’s better to save the draft and give it an ‘incubation’ period in your head. Trust me, you’ll think of different things to add over a period of just 24 hours which will add value to your post.
Enjoy your own space online. Add photos of your life. Write the way you would speak in real life. See how you do this in my post Find Your Voice Online.
It’s a good idea to have quality photos of yourself. These will come in handy for your “about” page, as well as any articles you write where you have personal experience. Allow your readers to connect with you! Keep a professional flavour by getting nice photos taken. It’s good for you and will be a plus for the photographer. There’s power in collaboration!
That post you wrote three months ago? It totally needs a link to the post you published earlier this week because they’re heavily related and your readers will be happy to have guided/quick access to both. Always keep in mind that no matter what order you write things in, any post or page on your website has the potential to be the first post a visitor sees. P.S. Blog audits are also a great way to make sure you’ve included your affiliate links and product/service links in all the organic ways possible.
Make sure to double-check your articles.
No one likes a person who never responds to anything. Granted, you may be so “big time” that you can’t get to every blog comment or tweet, but none of them? I’ll accept that when you become the President of the United States. Even then, you can hire some people to help you out!
There may be a new blog post you’ve written, a new eBook you can sell, a problem you can fix or a service you can offer that is lingering in questions from readers. Cultivate community around your blog so people feel they are in a safe space where they are supported and encouraged. Grow a family around your blog. You do this by being attentive to your readers.
Once you have a healthy collection of quality content to lead people back to, pitch to some sites that fit your brand (or that are frequented by your ideal readers) to do a guest post. Think about larger online magazines and websites as well. These guest posting opportunities will help you build relationships and will lead new readers back to your site.
If someone else is willing to say some valuable and entertaining stuff on your blog, let them. Make sure each post fits your blog, fits your readers, and is the type of quality content you want your blog to be known for. Make sure to promote your guest authors and show them love. They will likely spread the word of their guest post, which can potentially give you lots of new readers.
We creatives like shiny new projects and get distracted easily. When you have lots of ideas racing through your head, stop and focus your energy on one thing at a time. Make a list. Lists are great.
Photo: Death To The Stock Photo
What you get out of your business in the form of personal satisfaction, financial gain, stability and enjoyment will be the sum of what you put into your business. So if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, in all likelihood it’s safe to assume that will be reflected in the success of your business–or subsequent lack of success. In fact, if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, chances are you won’t succeed.
You cannot expect to be effective and successful in business unless you truly believe in your business and in the goods and services that you sell. Far too many home business owners fail to take their own businesses seriously enough, getting easily sidetracked and not staying motivated and keeping their noses to the grindstone. They also fall prey to naysayers who don’t take them seriously because they don’t work from an office building, office park, storefront, or factory. Little do these skeptics, who rain on the home business owner’s parade, know is that the number of people working from home, and making very good annual incomes, has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years.
Planning every aspect of your home business is not only a must, but also builds habits that every home business owner should develop, implement, and maintain. The act of business planning is so important because it requires you to analyze each business situation, research and compile data, and make conclusions based mainly on the facts as revealed through the research. Business planning also serves a second function, which is having your goals and how you will achieve them, on paper. You can use the plan that you create both as map to take you from point A to Z and as a yardstick to measure the success of each individual plan or segment within the plan.
The lifeblood of any business enterprise is cash flow. You need it to buy inventory, pay for services, promote and market your business, repair and replace tools and equipment, and pay yourself so that you can continue to work. Therefore, all home business owners must become wise money managers to ensure that the cash keeps flowing and the bills get paid. There are two aspects to wise money management.
A home business entrepreneur must always remember that marketing, advertising, or promotional activities are completely worthless, regardless of how clever, expensive, or perfectly targeted they are, unless one simple thing is accomplished–ask for the sale. This is not to say that being a great salesperson, advertising copywriting whiz or a public relations specialist isn’t a tremendous asset to your business. However, all of these skills will be for naught if you do not actively ask people to buy what you are selling.
Your home business is not about the products or services that you sell. Your home business is not about the prices that you charge for your goods and services. Your home business is not about your competition and how to beat them. Your business is all about your customers, or clients, period. After all, your customers are the people that will ultimately decide if your business goes boom or bust. Everything you do in business must be customer focused, including your policies, warranties, payment options, operating hours, presentations, advertising and promotional campaigns and website. In addition, you must know who your customers are inside out and upside down.
One of the greatest myths about personal or business success is that eventually your business, personal abilities, products or services will get discovered and be embraced by the masses that will beat a path to your door to buy what you are selling. But how can this happen if no one knows who you are, what you sell and why they should be buying?
Self-promotion is one of the most beneficial, yet most underutilized, marketing tools that the majority of home business owners have at their immediate disposal.
You have but a passing moment to make a positive and memorable impression on people with whom you intend to do business. Home business owners must go out of their way and make a conscious effort to always project the most professional business image possible. The majority of home business owners do not have the advantage of elaborate offices or elegant storefronts and showrooms to wow prospects and impress customers. Instead, they must rely on imagination, creativity and attention to the smallest detail when creating and maintaining a professional image for their home business.
One of the biggest features and often the most significant competitive edge the home based entrepreneur has over the larger competitors is the he can offer personalized attention. Call it high-tech backlash if you will, but customers are sick and tired of hearing that their information is somewhere in the computer and must be retrieved, or told to push a dozen digits to finally get to the right department only to end up with voice mail–from which they never receive a return phone call.
The home business owner can actually answer phone calls, get to know customers, provide personal attention and win over repeat business by doing so. It’s a researched fact that most business (80 percent) will come from repeat customers rather than new customers. Therefore, along with trying to draw newcomers, the more you can do to woo your regular customers, the better off you will be in the long run and personalized attention is very much appreciated and remembered in the modern high tech world.
You should avoid getting overly caught up in the high-tech world, but you should also know how to take advantage of using it. One of the most amazing aspects of the internet is that a one or two person business operating from a basement can have a superior website to a $50 million company, and nobody knows the difference. Make sure you’re keeping up with the high-tech world as it suits your needs.. The best technology is that which helps you, not that which impresses your neighbors.
No one person can build a successful business alone. It’s a task that requires a team that is as committed as you to the business and its success. Your business team may include family members, friends, suppliers, business alliances, employees, sub-contractors, industry and business associations, local government and the community. Of course the most important team members will be your customers or clients. Any or all may have a say in how your business will function and a stake in your business future.
When you have a problem that needs to be solved, do you seek just anyone’s advice or do you seek an expert in the field to help solve your particular problem? Obviously, you want the most accurate information and assistance that you can get. You naturally seek an expert to help solve your problem. You call a plumber when the hot water tank leaks, a real estate agent when it’s time to sell your home or a dentist when you have a toothache. Therefore, it only stands to reason that the more you become known for your expertise in your business, the more people will seek you out to tap into your expertise, creating more selling and referral opportunities. In effect, becoming known as an expert is another style of prospecting for new business, just in reverse. Instead of finding new and qualified people to sell to, these people seek you out for your expertise.
A home business must have a clearly defined unique selling proposition. This is nothing more than a fancy way of asking the vital question, “Why will people choose to do business with you or purchase your product or service instead of doing business with a competitor and buying his product or service?” In other words, what one aspect or combination of aspects is going to separate your business from your competition? Will it be better service, a longer warranty, better selection, longer business hours, more flexible payment options, lowest price, personalized service, better customer service, better return and exchange policies or a combination of several of these?
Top entrepreneurs buy and read business and marketing books, magazines, reports, journals, newsletters, websites and industry publications, knowing that these resources will improve their understanding of business and marketing functions and skills. They join business associations and clubs, and they network with other skilled business people to learn their secrets of success and help define their own goals and objectives. Top entrepreneurs attend business and marketing seminars, workshops and training courses, even if they have already mastered the subject matter of the event. They do this because they know that education is an ongoing process. There are usually ways to do things better, in less time, with less effort. In short, top entrepreneurs never stop investing in the most powerful, effective and best business and marketing tool at their immediate disposal–themselves.
We’re living in a time when we all expect our fast food lunch at the drive-thru window to be ready in mere minutes, our dry cleaning to be ready for pick-up on the same day, our money to be available at the cash machine and our pizza delivered in 30 minutes or it’s free. You see the pattern developing–you must make it as easy as you can for people to do business with you, regardless of the home business you operate.
You must remain cognizant of the fact that few people will work hard, go out of their way, or be inconvenienced just for the privilege of giving you their hard-earned money. The shoe is always on the other foot. Making it easy for people to do business with you means that you must be accessible and knowledgeable about your products and services. You must be able to provide customers with what they want, when they want it.
A good reputation is unquestionably one of the home business owner’s most tangible and marketable assets. You can’t simply buy a good reputation; it’s something that you earn by honoring your promises. If you promise to have the merchandise in the customer’s hands by Wednesday, you have no excuse not to have it there. If you offer to repair something, you need to make good on your offer. Consistency in what you offer is the other key factor. If you cannot come through with the same level of service (and products) for clients on a regular basis, they have no reason to trust you . . . and without trust, you won’t have a good reputation.
Pushing product features is for inexperienced or wannabe entrepreneurs. Selling the benefits associated with owning and using the products and services you carry is what sales professionals worldwide focus on to create buying excitement and to sell, sell more, and sell more frequently to their customers. Your advertising, sales presentations, printed marketing materials, product packaging, website, newsletters, trade show exhibit and signage are vital. Every time and every medium used to communicate with your target audience must always be selling the benefits associated with owning your product or using your service.
Always go out of your way to get involved in the community that supports your business. You can do this in many ways, such as pitching in to help local charities or the food bank, becoming involved in organizing community events, and getting involved in local politics. You can join associations and clubs that concentrate on programs and policies designed to improve the local community. It’s a fact that people like to do business with people they know, like and respect, and with people who do things to help them as members of the community.
Small-business owners cannot waste time, money and energy on promotional activities aimed at building awareness solely through long-term, repeated exposure. If you do, chances are you will go broke long before this goal is accomplished. Instead, every promotional activity you engage in, must put money back in your pocket so that you can continue to grab more attention and grow your business.
The ability to negotiate effectively is unquestionably a skill that every home business owner must make every effort to master. It’s perhaps second in importance only to asking for the sale in terms of home business musts. In business, negotiation skills are used daily. Always remember that mastering the art of negotiation means that your skills are so finely tuned that you can always orchestrate a win-win situation. These win-win arrangements mean that everyone involved feels they have won, which is really the basis for building long-term and profitable business relationships.
Carefully plan and design your home office workspace to ensure maximum personal performance and productivity and, if necessary, to project professionalism for visiting clients. If at all possible, resist the temptation to turn a corner of the living room or your bedroom into your office. Ideally, you’ll want a separate room with a door that closes to keep business activities in and family members out, at least during prime business and revenue generating hours of the day. A den, spare bedroom, basement or converted garage are all ideal candidates for your new home office. If this is not possible, you’ll have to find a means of converting a room with a partition or simply find hours to do the bulk of your work when nobody else is home.
The key to staying organized is not about which type of file you have or whether you keep a stack or two of papers on your desk, but it’s about managing your business. It’s about having systems in place to do things. Therefore, you wan to establish a routine by which you can accomplish as much as possible in a given workday, whether that’s three hours for a part-time business or seven or nine hours as a full-timer. In fact, you should develop systems and routines for just about every single business activity. Small things such as creating a to-do list at the end of each business day, or for the week, will help keep you on top of important tasks to tackle. Creating a single calendar to work from, not multiple sets for individual tasks or jobs, will also ensure that jobs are completed on schedule and appointments kept. Incorporating family and personal activities into your work calendar is also critical so that you work and plan from a single calendar.
The temptation to work around the clock is very real for some home business owners. After all, you don’t have a manager telling you it’s time to go home because they can’t afford the overtime pay. Every person working from home must take time to establish a regular work schedule that includes time to stretch your legs and take lunch breaks, plus some days off and scheduled vacations. Create the schedule as soon as you have made the commitment to start a home business. Of course, your schedule will have to be flexible. You should, therefore, not fill every possible hour in the day. Give yourself a backup hour or two. All work and no play makes you burn out very fast and grumpy customer service is not what people want.
It’s difficult for most business owners not to take a hands-on approach. They try to do as much as possible and tackle as many tasks as possible in their business. The ability to multitask, in fact, is a common trait shared by successful entrepreneurs. However, once in a while you have to stand back and look beyond today to determine what’s in the best interest of your business and yourself over the long run. Most highly successful entrepreneurs will tell you that from the time they started out, they knew what they were good at and what tasks to delegate to others.
Constant contact, follow-up, and follow-through with customers, prospects, and business alliances should be the mantra of every home business owner, new or established. Constant and consistent follow-up enables you to turn prospects into customers, increase the value of each sale and buying frequency from existing customers, and build stronger business relationships with suppliers and your core business team. Follow-up is especially important with your existing customer base, as the real work begins after the sale. It’s easy to sell one product or service, but it takes work to retain customers and keep them coming back.
Photo: Death To The Stock Photo
This past couple months has been very busy. On the Skybok front, we filmed a couple awesome places to add to our database of online video profiles showcasing South Africa. Scoot on over to our blog here and read about them. This includes work not only showcasing places here in Cape Town, but also work done at the Durban Travel Indaba. Read about it and see pictures here. I’ve done some voice work at my favourite studio, West Beach Studio, which is run by music producer Frank Smuts who also happens to be one of South Africa’s top triathletes! I did an awesome interview with Grootbos Nature Reserve who recently hosted me to blog about their 5-star luxury resort. Check out the interview here and read my article on the place here. Concurrent to that, I did an interview for HotelsCheap.Org on what to expect when travelling to South Africa – read the interview here. On the PR / Social Media Management side of things, the RetroAfrika Bioscope has received some stunning news regarding their digitally remastered 1980’s South African film Joe Bullet; that it’s to be premiered at the Durban International Film Festival in July this year. Check out their press received here and their gallery of behind-the-scenes at the Waterfront Film Studios here. Up in Johannesburg, The Art Meets Fashion event took place at Constitution Hill and showcased some stunning work by local fashion designers and artists, following in the footsteps of its partner event up in New York. Read about my involvement as an ambassador for this cause here. International collaborations to strengthen ties between South Africa and the rest of the world in order to move us forward in the global arena in any and all creative spheres is something I feel passionately about. I feel we have a pool of undiscovered talent here. Modelling wise, I did a great hair shoot with Sarah Keogh who is an asset to her craft and always produces strong images. I’m looking forward to the BWA Awards (Business Women’s Association of South Africa) in which I’m a finalist in the category of “Emerging Entrepreneur” and whose ceremony is at The Crystal Towers here in Cape Town this week. On the blogging front, an exciting enterprise coming up is a campaign I’m taking part of with City Lodge Hotel Group, where they’re sponsoring me to travel to their hotels around the country and blog. Looking forward to a busy month ahead with lots of different projects! Hopefully I can provide you with some entertaining stories 😉
What have you been up to? Are you in the film industry here in SA?
Thailand is one of the best places for South African travellers – airfare is affordable, night markets offer bargains and you can find good food in both fancy hotels and street-side stalls. Phuket is Thailand’s largest island. You won’t have trouble getting around! I spent New Year’s Eve in Thailand once. It was fantastic because it took me totally out of my comfort zone which I loved.