Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How to Save Money on Home Renovations

By Mona Sabalones Gonzalez

We have been slowly renovating our home. At first, it was a project I did by myself. I would learn a lot by going to youtube and googling things. For example, when I changed the lanai French doors to sliding doors, I knew exactly how to install them by watching "how to" Youtubes. So when we'd hire people they would be surprised when I would tell them how to do it.

When choosing paint colors, I'd go to Google images and look around. Eventually, I started a Pinterest account so that I could get more ideas on what I wanted for the house.

But it was expensive, because since it was a one-woman job, I had no idea how much money to pay laborers and a job that could be done by one, would be done by three, making the pay higher.

That's why I'm so glad my hubby finally realized that if we were going to renovate, he'd have to help me out. He is VERY good at knowing how to deal with people and finding alternative solutions, and he will only pay the going rate.

Example: we wanted to paint the front of our house, but the surface is not smooth. It's not stucco, but the bricks are placed in a way to have different levels. It's pretty but its a dust collector, too.

I chose  a nice, Savannah Brown color, thinking it would also make dirt less visible. The workers, who dealt with Ed had HUGE suggestions.

1. To remove the dirt (because the surface levels, being uneven, are pretty but also a dirt holder) one said get a super strong sprayer. We'd have to rent the sprayer, use a lot of water, and get an extension cord which would cost a lot of money.

2. We consulted another laborer. He said we needed a carver machine to get the dirt out, since it's embedded. The machine would cost a lot to rent, again require extension cables and raise our electric bill. Plus, we weren't sure how safe a carver machine would be to use on our walls.

3. My husband asked around. The solution: Muriatic acid. That's all.

4. Naturally, the workers exclaimed it wouldn't work. They wouldn't get a cent if we used muriatic acid. They talked to our maid and insisted their way was right. So, I youtubed the use of muriatic acid to clean cement, and found one. I showed our maid, and she went back and said yes, it would work.

5. My husband saved thousands of pesos by just buying muriatic acid and safety stuff for the workers and some plastic bottles. THOUSANDS. They spent the whole day cleaning the front and when they were finished, it was so clean, it seemed the house didn't need a paint job anymore.

6. But I knew our savannah brown paint would be a good long term solution to "blend in" with nature's ways. Besides, the paint we got is a bit more expensive, but I've tried so many brands and this is the BEST. It even repels dirt.

Our house is a lovely Savannah brown, and the job was done in just two days. I'm not gonna photograph the house yet because we still have to do accent painting. But I love the fact that we saved so much money because my husband and I are now working in tandem. Guess he realized the house renovation is inevitable, so if you can't fight it, join it. Thanks, hon:).

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Ranting over Elance

I'm not going to go over the terrible experience I've been having with Elance lately. This was my first time to get a job on this site, and trying to withdraw my payment has been a horror movie. I'll get to the details later.

For now, let me say that I am not alone. After doing some research, I found other rants about elance. They are here:

My personal story will follow when this frustration I feel has settled down.

Before then, I will continue with my series on social media marketing.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Marketing on Social Media (2)

Note: This is a work in progress. As a result, it is not infrequent that as new information arises that gives more clarity to what I'm writing about, it will be incorporated into parts 1
and 2 to further explain each item in a clear, understandable and easy-to-follow format.

At the same time, to enhance clarity and present the info in an orderly fashion, pieces of info that may have appeared in part 1 may suddenly appear in part 3. I'm doing it this way so that the information I uncover can be presented in a more orderly way, making the content more user friendly and understandable.

Things that are useful to know about your ideal audience:

At this point, you may think you know your ideal audience quite well. However, the advantage of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest et. al. allows you to discover a lot more information than you could get from a conventional survey, and you can get the information a lot quicker, too. This unconventional information must be constantly updated in real time, as must the information you receive in your surveys. Use this to your advantage, as unconventional information can be useful to your marketing strategy.

Some things you can learn about your target audience through social media are;

Their likes and dislikes. Ask yourself: what does this information tell your about your market? How can you relate this information to your business?

Their values. For example, if you are selling a complementary health product, it will help to know that your target audience advocates alternative health.

Lifestyle. What do you know about their lifestyle? Do they live off the grid or are they city folk? If these people constitute your ideal market, it's up to you to figure out how to present your product in a way that fits into their lifestyles.

Knowledge. What magazines and web content do they read? What TV shows do they like? (Action, comedy, drama, history, others). This knowledge can give you clues to other social media sites that you can look into. It can also guide you on ways to present your business.

Product use. What aspects of your product/service are most appealing to your ideal audience? How do they use your product? This may sound simplistic, but coconut oil has many uses, and I use it primarily on my dogs after they are bathed, like a shampoo rinse. So I'm a regular buyer but I don't use coconut oil in the conventional sense. Also, know when they use your product or service. Is it on special days, or a special time of the day?

The better you understand your Ideal market, the better you can make your product/service relevant to their lives. Also, knowing your ideal market well will guide you when it is time for engagement (this will be explained in a future blog).

Don't forget to keep an eye on leads

You want to focus on your ideal market. But you also want to keep your eye on leads -- people who may not be your ideal audience now, but have the potential to someday be your ideal audience in the future.  

Your objective is always growth, so focus on your ideal audience; and when it comes to expansion, keep your eye on leads. Gather knowledge about them to guide you on the proper time to engage them, and how to engage them. 

Now that you have an ideal audience for your product or service, you can prepare to engage them in a way that is very subtle. This will come in my next blog.