build community http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/8391/all en-US Free Books: Little Libraries That Build Community and Save You Money http://www.wisebread.com/free-books-little-libraries-that-build-community-and-save-you-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/free-books-little-libraries-that-build-community-and-save-you-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/8084915987_55bd59f478_z.jpg" alt="Little Free Library" title="Little Free Library" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>One of my earliest childhood memories is standing in a parking lot in rural New Mexico with my mother, waiting for the Bookmobile to arrive. I loved the Bookmobile, which was a former delivery truck, outfitted with bookshelves.</p> <p>In pre-Internet days, the Bookmobile brought the outside world to towns too teeny to support their own libraries or bookstores. <a target="_blank" href="http://blog.roomtoread.org/room-to-read/2011/12/elephant-mobile-library-treats-young-readers-in-laos-to-a-day-they-will-never-forget.html">Bookmobiles still exist</a>, often serving as a library for schools in poor neighborhoods and as a books-on-wheels service for elderly readers with mobility issues.</p> <p>Alas, with all the state budget cuts, libraries across America are cutting back services or completely closing down branches. Due to soaring gas prices, mobile libraries face a financial double whammy. While some readers can still access a library via downloadable books, in many places, like on Indian reservations, the public library is also the Internet hotspot for the entire community. No library? No Internet, and no access to free books. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-why-you-should-support-your-local-library">4 Reasons Why&nbsp;You&nbsp;Should Support Your&nbsp;Local Library</a>)</p> <h2>Survivalists in the Post-Library Landscape</h2> <p>Putting aside all the amazing services and perks that public libraries provide &mdash; research material, Internet access, DVD rental, air conditioning &mdash; the big question for many people becomes: &quot;How am I going to afford my reading habit?&quot;</p> <p>Obviously, if you&rsquo;ve got the money, you can buy books.</p> <p>But most library patrons are frugal readers who prefer to pay for their books with their tax dollars, not their grocery budgets. Also, many places don&rsquo;t have a big enough local economy to support a bookstore. Sure, you can always buy books online. But, even one-cent books cost money to ship. And you have to pay for the Internet access that you use to download free books.</p> <p>Luckily, bookworms are a plucky bunch. Around the world people are creating their own <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-more-places-to-buy-sell-and-trade-books">book exchanges</a> and sharing their reading wealth with their neighbors.</p> <h2>Little Free Libraries</h2> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.littlefreelibrary.org/">Little Free Library</a> is a charity that started in 2010 to promote the construction of free book exchanges around the globe to promote literacy and build community. In August 2012, the Little Free Library movement surpassed Andrew Carnegie&rsquo;s record total of 2,509 libraries built!</p> <p>My friend Heather joined the Little Free Library as a Steward last year. A tax deductable $34.95 got her a start-up kit with all sorts of helpful information, blueprints, and instructions on how to build her own library out of salvaged supplies, book plates, a numbered metal plaque for her library, and a GPS listing on the Little Free Library global network. More importantly, Heather gets the pleasure of knowing that she&rsquo;s helping to subsidize libraries in poor areas, plus the accolades of all her neighbors.</p> <p>Interestingly enough, Heather&rsquo;s little library isn&rsquo;t cleaned out every day by book thieves or vandals. People really seem to grasp the concept that her tiny book shelf is a <em>lending library</em>. Heather&rsquo;s library patrons are remarkably nice about returning books they have &quot;checked out&quot; of her little library once they are through reading them.</p> <p><img width="263" height="350" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u921/little_free_library.jpg" alt="" /></p> <h2>Community Book Banks</h2> <p>If an actual lending library feels too overwhelming to manage, even at a miniature scale, or you lack yard space because you live in an apartment complex, you can join forces with a local coffee shop, hair salon, or car mechanic and curate a community book bank in a reader friendly private business.</p> <p>My local gym owner operates a leave-a-book/take-a-book style free reading exchange in the dressing room. Fact&nbsp;&mdash; the gym bookcase is actually where I get all of my trashy ladymags for free. While there is no expectation for people to actually return books to the gym, the owner and her wife make a point of keeping the shelf stocked with interesting reading material. If your local house of worship has a FREE box, you might ask if you can add a bookshelf in the same area. Books are more likely to be returned to book banks if people can make it part of their weekly routine.</p> <h2>Catch and Release</h2> <p>If you&rsquo;ve ever traveled like a poor person, then you know that just about every youth hostel on the planet has a stack of random books in some corner that are free for the taking&hellip;often in more than one language. If you are a sporting type like me, you can actually track your holiday reading that you left behind in taxis, airports, and bus stops around the globe using <a target="_blank" href="http://www.bookcrossing.com/">bookcrossing.com</a>.</p> <p>My friend Gwen, who lives in Germany, rides to work on a Hamburg&nbsp;<em>city bus</em> that <a target="_blank" href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/morfydd/4816171873/in/photostream/">has a built-in bookcase</a>. (There&rsquo;s some joke about German efficiency to be made from this, one that I just can&rsquo;t think of right now). At any rate, that is some fine German engineering. Why Americans have not demanded bookcases on all public transportation, I have no idea, but it is just more evidence that we&rsquo;re losing the empire.</p> <p>International Catch and Release reading is always a treasure hunt, but it&rsquo;s also one of my favorite ways of pinching pennies, (or centimes, or lepta) when I travel. I used to buy guide books, but then I discovered that small hotel managers are usually more than happy to load me up with leftover <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/getting-around-the-guidebook-techniques-for-researching-your-trip-without-spending-a-fortune">maps and guides</a> because their bookcases are crammed with travel books left behind by previous guests.</p> <p>Also, when I did my semester abroad in Florence, I packed a bunch of books that were set in Tuscany so I could create mini &quot;book tour&quot; walks where I&rsquo;d try and track down all the literary locations I was reading about. I thought I was so clever until I arrived at school and discovered that generations of previous students had left behind multiple copies of&quot; The Agony and the Ecstasy,&quot; &quot;Portrait of a Lady,&quot; and anything ever written by John Ruskin on the school&rsquo;s lending library shelf. Book geeks. We all think alike. Place-specific literature is just one more thing I now leave off my packing list when traveling in book-abundant areas.</p> <h2>Host a Book Swap</h2> <p>On New Year&rsquo;s Day my husband and I host a <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-potluck-parties-that-help-you-share-the-wealth">book swap party and waffle extravaganza</a>. (My husband&rsquo;s waffles are legendary.) We invite all the readers in our life to come over with the good books that are taking up valuable shelf space in their homes. Everyone throws their books on the communal pile and takes what they want for free. People look forward to this party and actually &quot;save up&quot; their books for this event! Leftover books are donated to the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.lapl.org/get-involved">Los Angeles Public Library Book Drive</a>.</p> <p><em>How much do you spend on your reading habit and where do you find inexpensive books?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/free-books-little-libraries-that-build-community-and-save-you-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-audiobooks-about-money-you-need-to-hear">5 Audiobooks About Money You Need to Hear</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/21-personal-finance-lessons-from-harry-potter">21 Personal Finance Lessons From Harry Potter</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/another-one-for-the-readers-0">Another one for the readers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-easiest-ways-to-score-free-ebooks">5 Easiest Ways to Score Free eBooks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-tips-to-get-the-most-out-of-a-library-sale">5 Tips to Get the Most Out of a Library Sale</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entertainment Book Swap books build community libraries Mon, 11 Feb 2013 11:37:04 +0000 Max Wong 967600 at http://www.wisebread.com 25 Reasons Why It's Good to Know Your Neighbors http://www.wisebread.com/25-reasons-why-its-good-to-know-your-neighbors <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/25-reasons-why-its-good-to-know-your-neighbors" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/492693696_c1566581a5_z.jpg" alt="neighbors" title="neighbors" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="170" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Are you the kind of person who passes by the neighbors without so much as a wave or nod? Be warned, you may regret it when you need a helping hand. To help convince you to be a better neighbor &mdash; and go out of way to be nice to yours, even &mdash; here are 25 reasons why it&rsquo;s good to know the folks who live next door, down the street, and around the corner. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-deal-with-a-rude-neighbor">How to Deal With a Rude Neighbor</a>)</p> <h3>1. So You Don&rsquo;t Have to Run to the Store When You Just Need One Egg</h3> <p>Nobody wants to drive to the supermarket in the middle of making brunch for one egg or a cup of sugar. But if you know your neighbor, they&rsquo;ll most likely be more than happy to let you borrow an ingredient or two here and there &mdash; so long as you return the favor, of course.</p> <h3>2. They&rsquo;ll Watch Your House When You Go Away</h3> <p>Your neighbor can keep an eye on your place while you&rsquo;re away. Much cheaper than hiring a house sitter who&rsquo;ll eat all your food and leave a sink full of dirty dishes for you to wash upon your return.</p> <h3>3. They&rsquo;ll Collect Your Mail When It Accumulates</h3> <p>Your neighbor can fetch your mail so your box doesn&rsquo;t overflow while you&rsquo;re away.</p> <h3>4. They&rsquo;ll Shovel Your Snow and Mow Your Lawn</h3> <p>Many neighbors mow each other&rsquo;s lawn or shovel each other&rsquo;s snow from to time. If you&rsquo;re physically unable to return the favor, be sure to send at least a small thank-you gift to let them know that you appreciate the thought and effort.</p> <h3>5. So You Have Someone to Gossip With About All the Other Neighbors</h3> <p>In this case, it&rsquo;s best to know the neighbor who has been on the block the longest; he or she will have the dirt on everybody.</p> <h3>6. They&rsquo;ll Lend You a Tool That You Don&rsquo;t Have</h3> <p>When you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-10-items-to-borrow">don&rsquo;t want to buy an expensive tool</a> for one-time use, neighbors are a good resource.</p> <h3>7. They&rsquo;ll Give You a Break If One of Your Parties Gets a Little Loud</h3> <p>They&rsquo;ll let your summer bash slide if it gets too loud. Just make sure it doesn&rsquo;t happen often and that the neighbors are invited.</p> <h3>8. They&rsquo;ll Invite You to Their Parties and BBQs</h3> <p>Free food! Free booze!</p> <h3>9. If They Have a Pool, They Might Let You Swim in It</h3> <p>Why spend $15,000 on a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-places-to-go-to-beat-the-summer-heat">swimming pool</a> of your own when you&rsquo;ve got a perfectly clean one next door?</p> <h3>10. They&rsquo;ll Pet Sit for You</h3> <p>It&rsquo;s an expensive service otherwise, plus, if you know your neighbor, then so do Fluffy and Fido, which makes your absence a little easier on them.</p> <h3>11. They Can Recommend Service Providers You Might Need</h3> <p>Sure, you can find a plumber on Craigslist, but without references, you don&rsquo;t know what you&rsquo;re going to get. Your neighbors can provide solid recommendations for everything you&rsquo;ll need since there&rsquo;s a good chance they&rsquo;ve needed it before in the past.</p> <h3>12. It Makes Your Neighborhood Safer</h3> <p>Neighborhood crime is less likely to occur if the neighbors are friendly and look out for each other.</p> <h3>13. They&rsquo;ll Accept Your Packages When You&rsquo;re Not Home</h3> <p>You won&rsquo;t have to worry about your packages being jacked from your doorstep; your neighbor will keep them safe and sound until you get home.</p> <h3>14. They&rsquo;ll Bring You Food During Hard Times</h3> <p>When there&rsquo;s a death in the family or you&rsquo;re ill, your friendly neighbor will bring you sustenance to get your through the hard times.</p> <h3>15. They Can Let You in When You Get Locked Out</h3> <p>Probably the best reason to know your neighbors. If you give them a spare key, not only can they let you in if you forget or lose your keys, but if you forget to turn something off while you&rsquo;re at work or on vacation, your neighbor can take care of it.</p> <h3>16. Because It Never Hurts to Have Another Friend</h3> <p>Anybody who thinks otherwise should stay out of my neighborhood.</p> <h3>17. They Are a Good Source for Networking Opportunities</h3> <p>Your neighbors know a whole different set of people than you do. When you need a job, they might just be the folks who have the lead you&rsquo;re looking for.</p> <h3>18. They May Be Willing to Watch Your Kids</h3> <p>Drop the little buggers off and have yourself a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/from-5-to-30-date-ideas-for-every-budget">date night</a>.</p> <h3>19. You Have Someone to Share Coffee, Tea, or Wine With</h3> <p>Lonely? Invite over a neighborhood, and it&rsquo;s all good.</p> <h3>20. You May Be Able to Carpool Places Together</h3> <p>Maybe not to work, but you might be able to go to the grocery store or mall together.</p> <h3>21. They Can Give You a Jump If Your Car Battery Is Dead</h3> <p>Think about the alternatives if you didn&rsquo;t know your neighbors. It would be a costly hassle without your neighbor&rsquo;s help.</p> <h3>22. You&rsquo;ll Get Changes Made to the Neighborhood Faster</h3> <p>If you want to make neighborhood improvements, it&rsquo;ll be easier to implement them with neighbors on your side.</p> <h3>23. They Might Offer Produce From Their Garden</h3> <p>It&rsquo;s just one of those things that good neighbors do. Enjoy the tomatoes, and say thank you.</p> <h3>24. The Holidays Will Be Tastier</h3> <p>Friendly neighbors love to bring by cookies, cakes, pies, and wine during the holidays. It&rsquo;s not a bad circle to be involved in.</p> <h3>25. Life Is Just Easier This Way</h3> <p>Neighbors who dislike or mistrust each other often resort to childish, petty acts to make each other uncomfortable. Sometimes it can go so far as to make people feel like hostages in their own homes. You don&rsquo;t want or need that nonsense. Being nice to your neighbors just makes life easier.</p> <p><em>Do you have even more reasons it&rsquo;s good to know your neighbors? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-reasons-why-its-good-to-know-your-neighbors">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-dont-people-share-more">Why don&#039;t people share more?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-it-pays-to-be-friendly-with-your-neighbors">6 Ways It Pays to Be Friendly With Your Neighbors</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cooking-for-beginners-10-recipes-for-kitchen-newbies">Cooking for Beginners: 10 Recipes for Kitchen Newbies</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-evaluate-a-neighborhood-before-you-buy">How to Evaluate a Neighborhood Before You Buy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-awesome-uses-for-milk-crates">20 Awesome Uses for Milk Crates</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Lifestyle build community neighborhoods neighbors Mon, 21 Jan 2013 11:24:33 +0000 Mikey Rox 963740 at http://www.wisebread.com Life Is Like Investing in the Stock Market http://www.wisebread.com/life-is-like-investing-in-the-stock-market <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/life-is-like-investing-in-the-stock-market" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/3573894263_1fafd0afa1_z.jpg" alt="stock market" title="stock market" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Remember that famous quote in &quot;Forrest Gump&quot;? Forrest said, &quot;My momma always said, 'Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.'&quot;</p> <p>While I believe there's lots of truth to that statement, I'm going to modify that quote to try and get you to think differently. Here's my version &mdash; &quot;Life is like investing in the stock market. You'll go through your share of ups and downs. But as long as you're able to persevere through them, in the long run you'll come out on top.&quot; (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-invest-in-the-stock-market">Why&nbsp;Invest in the Stock Market?</a>)</p> <p>Let's review some stock market history. There's no doubt that investing in the stock market is risky. To illustrate, take a look at the returns from the <a href="http://www.moneychimp.com/features/market_cagr.htm">S&amp;P 500</a> over the past 15 years:</p> <ul> <li>2011: 2.05%</li> <li>2010: 14.87%</li> <li>2009: 27.11%</li> <li>2008:&nbsp;-37.22%</li> <li>2007: 5.46%</li> <li>2006: 15.74%</li> <li>2005: 4.79%</li> <li>2004: 10.82%</li> <li>2003: 28.72%</li> <li>2002:&nbsp;-22.27%</li> <li>2001:&nbsp;-11.98%</li> <li>2000: -9.11%</li> <li>1999: 21.11%</li> <li>1998: 28.73%</li> <li>1997: 33.67</li> </ul> <p>As you can see, in some years the stock market did really well. But in others, it performed horribly. How does this relate to life?</p> <p>I'm sure that in your own life, you've had your good days when everything seems to go right. But you've also had your bad days, where a lot of things seem to go wrong.</p> <p>How do you get through the hard times? Before I try to answer that, let's take a look at the stock market's approach.</p> <h2>Don't Put All Your Eggs in One Basket</h2> <p>The S&amp;P 500 is named as such because the list includes 500 of the biggest companies in the U.S. As we invest in the index, all of the companies work together to provide us with the wealth we seek.</p> <p>But not all companies perform at the same level. Companies that do well help carry the weight for other companies that perform poorly, so that the overall value of the index has increased over time.</p> <p>For instance, in 2009, MetroPCS opened at a price of $14.86 per share, but closed the year by dropping all the way down to $7.63. Amazon, however, opened the year at $54.36, and closed the year at an astounding price of $134.52 per share. Yet as a result of the contributions of all 500 companies, the S&amp;P 500 grew by an amazing 27.11 percent in 2009.</p> <h2>What's the Point?</h2> <p>Don't go through life alone. Just as the S&amp;P 500 can be seen as a community of 500 companies, you need to be a part of a larger community as well.</p> <p>Life can get hard. When it does, sometimes we need someone to cry with us when we cry. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-fun-practically-free-ways-to-make-new-friends">We need friends</a> to help bear our burdens.</p> <p>Other times, when life is good, we want others to celebrate with us in our victories. We want our friends by our side to thank them for sticking with us through thick and thin.</p> <p>Let's get back to the stock market. Looking at stock market returns year-by-year may cause you to lose sleep at night. But if you invested for the long haul, you'd end up a winner.</p> <p>Over the past 40 years, from 1972 to 2011, the S&amp;P 500 had an annual growth rate of 9.86%. This means that if you started investing back in January 1972 with just $1,000, by December 2011, you'd have $42,990!</p> <p>This shows the power investing through thick and thin, and having a long-term perspective.</p> <h2>Your Own Growth</h2> <p>Similarly, you can experience tremendous growth in your own life. If you're at a low point in life right now, you can position yourself for a brighter future. How?</p> <p>Seek the help of friends and mentors. There are lots of people who have been further along on the road of life than you. They've faced the same challenges you're facing. And the good news is that many of them are willing to offer guidance and help you get out of your rut.</p> <p>I'm also a big advocate of reading good books and learning valuable skills. The <a href="http://personalmba.com/best-business-books/">Personal MBA reading list</a> is a great place to start. If cost is a concern, you can always borrow these books for free from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-why-you-should-support-your-local-library">your local library</a>.</p> <p>If you take action now, I'm sure that good things will come to you later.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/darren-wu">Darren Wu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/life-is-like-investing-in-the-stock-market">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/learn-how-to-invest-with-these-5-stock-market-games">Learn How to Invest With These 5 Stock Market Games</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-8-small-cap-value-investments-are-on-fire">These 8 Small Cap Value Investments Are on Fire</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-easiest-way-to-invest-in-the-worlds-biggest-companies">The Easiest Way to Invest in the World&#039;s Biggest Companies</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-boring-investments-that-are-surprisingly-profitable">10 Boring Investments That Are Surprisingly Profitable</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-essentials-for-building-a-profitable-portfolio">5 Essentials for Building a Profitable Portfolio</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment Personal Development build community stock market support Tue, 09 Oct 2012 10:24:41 +0000 Darren Wu 954801 at http://www.wisebread.com Improving Your Online Community http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/improving-your-online-community <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/technology/article/improving-your-online-community-glen-stansberry" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/technology/article/improving-your-onlin...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/improving-your-online-community" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000005539144XSmall.jpg" alt="Friends at a computer" title="Friends at a computer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Business News Daily</em> outlines an <a href="http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/study-local-economies-thrive-on-resident-attachment-0723/">interesting study by Gallup on local economies</a>. In the three-year study, 26 American cities were researched on factors of GDP (Gross Domestic Product). The study had a crucial finding that pertains to those of us with small businesses online (and offline): &quot;Communities with highest levels of resident attachment &mdash; a person's passion for where he or she lives &mdash; also had the highest rates of GDP growth over time.&quot;</p> <p>&ldquo;Our theory is that when a community&rsquo;s residents are highly attached, they will spend more time there, spend more money; they&rsquo;re more productive and tend to be more entrepreneurial,&rdquo; says Gallup deputy director Jon Clifton.</p> <p><strong>How to Apply the Study to Your Website</strong></p> <p>There are some key concepts that translate from this study of local communities to our site's communities. After all, community <em>is</em> community, whether you're online or off. Your site is (over time) going to get the most boost from &quot;regulars.&quot; Regulars:</p> <ul> <li>Share your articles with friends and social networks</li> <li>Provide comments and insightful conversations</li> <li>Send you encouragement, ideas, and advice</li> <li>Most importantly, continually buy your products</li> </ul> <p>When it comes to small business, often your &quot;rabid&quot; customers and fans are the ones who continually buy your products. So if you want to improve sales and overall interaction on your website, attracting more of a local feel is a fantastic method. Here are a few ways to do just that:</p> <p><strong>1. Immediately provide ways to join the community</strong></p> <p>As soon as a visitor lands on your site, you want to provide them with ways that they can join your little community. Obvious newsletter subscriptions forms, boxes for joining Facebook pages and groups, even subscribing to RSS feeds give the casual visitor a way to instantly turn into a &quot;member&quot; of your community. While it's never a good practice to clutter your design with too many choices, make it clear right away that you want them as part of your community, and make it as easy as possible for them to make the first step towards joining.</p> <p><strong>2. Make your visitors feel welcome</strong></p> <p>This isn't easy, but it's very important. If the user hasn't been to your site before, you could provide them with a message that says you're glad they're here and where they can learn more about what your site is all about. On a more aesthetic front, take care of the design of your site. Is it easy to navigate? Is it cluttered? Does your site look good in all current browsers? You'd be surprised how often site designs are broken in different browsers. <a href="http://lifedev.net/2010/06/lost-potential-subscribers/">I lost over 200,000 potential subscribers</a> because I didn't pay attention to how my site looked in some browsers. Utilize services like <a href="http://browsershots.org/">BrowserShots</a> to ensure your site design is consistent for every visitor.</p> <p><strong>3. Give them responsibility</strong></p> <p>Communities thrive because they provide ways for members to get involved. This provides a sense of ownership and makes a strong tie to your brand. You never know what each community member might find satisfying. Some might have a &quot;civic duty&quot; and find it their call to moderate comments. Large online forums often have moderators who are key to the community. Most of these moderators aren't paid for their work, either. They do it because they are so deeply-rooted into the community. While every website is different, there are plenty of opportunities to give your community members some responsibility.</p> <p><strong>4. Stop trying to please everyone</strong></p> <p>Trying to please every site visitor is a terrible idea, but it's a mistake almost all of us small business owners make. Not everyone is going to stay in your community or will want to join in the first place. You <em>have</em> to stay true to your community. <a href="http://www.digg.com/">Digg</a>&nbsp;is a social news website that has faltered greatly because over time they stopped trying to please their core community (technology fans) and branched out providing news for wider audiences in hopes of bringing in more eyeballs. The result: Digg is sliding, losing core community members left and right. Just like a tiny knitting shop isn't going to appeal to the whole town, your site isn't going to appeal to every person on the Web. Embrace your niche, and foster your little community. It will grow on it's own, without shifting your focus.</p> <p><strong>5. Appeal to the community</strong></p> <p>Every once in a while, communities need a goal or something to rise up against. What's a good community without a little activism? Showing that your organization does more than make widgets is powerful. <a href="http://www.charitywater.org/">Build a well</a>&nbsp;for a real-life community without clean water. Pool resources to <a href="http://www.ijm.org/">fight slavery</a> (yes, that still exists in the world). The goal is to accomplish something <em>as a community</em> that couldn't be accomplished by an individual.</p> <p><strong>6. Reward them!</strong></p> <p>This should be your favorite thing to do. Give back to your faithful community! Coupons, rewards, free products or downloads, anything you can give away. When they sign up for your newsletter, give them something. When they reach a milestone, give them something. When they're not expecting anything, <em>give them something</em>! Think of your site like a local bar. There's always a contingent of regular customers who come in on a daily or weekly basis. These return customers are the most valuable to any bar, and the bartender knows this and will often reward them with cheaper drinks. You can't afford to be stingy. Your generosity will be&nbsp;<a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/innovation/article/how-a-14-gift-increased-sales-by-669-percent-glen-stansberry">rewarded many times over</a>. There's no better PR than goodwill.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/glen-stansberry">Glen Stansberry</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/improving-your-online-community">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-paid-for-paying-early-with-the-plum-card-from-american-express-open">Get Paid for Paying Early with The Plum Card from American Express OPEN</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/freelance-your-way-to-more-income-and-flexibility">Freelance Your Way to More Income and Flexibility</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-ways-to-get-a-small-business-loan">10 Smart Ways to Get a Small Business Loan</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center build community business website customers small business Fri, 10 Dec 2010 19:40:21 +0000 Glen Stansberry 358931 at http://www.wisebread.com Make the Most of Your Local Chamber of Commerce http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/make-the-most-of-your-local-chamber-of-commerce <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/managing/article/make-the-most-of-your-local-chamber-of-commerce-joanne-berg" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/managing/article/make-the-most-of-your-...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/make-the-most-of-your-local-chamber-of-commerce" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000006793796XSmall.jpg" alt="community" title="community" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Are you a member of your local Chamber of Commerce?</p> <p>If so, are you getting your money's worth? If not, what are you missing out on?</p> <p>Chambers exist to serve their members and help them to be more successful. They are supported by membership dues, which are usually based on the size of your business. Your dues are tax deductible as a business expense.</p> <p>It is a rare business that does not benefit in some way from membership, and small businesses often benefit dramatically from the power of joining together with their peers in this way.</p> <p>Here are some of the things that local Chambers do for the business community, along with some suggestions for getting the most from your membership.</p> <h2>Government Relations</h2> <p>Chambers represent the viewpoints of their members in front of governments and advocate for their business interests when necessary. Your dues support the efforts that the Chamber makes on your behalf to make your community a better place to do business. This alone is a reason to become a member! If you're interested in getting more involved, most chambers have a Governmental Affairs committee that members can join.</p> <p>Be sure to attend Chamber forums and events featuring political candidates and elected officials. You'll often have an opportunity to meet them, ask questions, and perhaps even give them your opinion about important decisions that impact your business.</p> <h2>Networking</h2> <p>For many of us, it's important to be visible. Chambers sponsor social events and networking groups that are designed for members to meet and do business together. If your business depends on local-business generation, this is an opportunity that you shouldn't pass up. Even if your customer base is not local, the connections you make can be an invaluable source of local goods and services for your business needs.</p> <p>Also, check out your Chamber's Ambassador Committee if you'd like to have a built-in opportunity to welcome and meet new members.</p> <h2>Advertising</h2> <p>When you're a member, you'll be listed in the Chamber directory, but your opportunities for promoting your business don't stop there. Chambers have websites, newsletters, newspapers, brochures, and more. They sell advertising in most of these, and you have to be a member to advertise. The costs are generally modest, and if your target market includes other Chamber members, the ROI can be fantastic.</p> <h2>Education</h2> <p>Many Chambers really shine in this department. Training yourself and your staff can be expensive, but it's important to keep up with new developments and continue improving everyone's business skills. Chambers offer classes, workshops, and seminars, taught by member professionals, at a low cost to members. These professionals go out of their way to do a great job since their community reputation is at stake. Recent topics I've seen include social media training, patents and trademarks, OSHA regulations, sexual harassment training, human resource issues, tax law changes, etc.</p> <h2>Referrals</h2> <p>Businesses and residents that are new to a community frequently call the local Chamber of Commerce for referrals for the goods and services they need. Guess what? If you're not a member, Chamber staff can't refer you. Take the time to get to know the staff of your local Chamber, and make sure that they have the information they need to send business your way.</p> <h2>Committee Membership</h2> <p>Volunteering to serve on a Chamber committee that fits your interests or expertise creates leadership opportunities, helps you become better known in the community, and can help position you as an expert in your field. For example, I served for many years on my local Chamber's Business Resource committee, which was a great source for business leads and ultimately led to a seat on the Chamber Board of Directors. In addition to the Governmental Affairs, Ambassador, and Business Committees, many Chambers have Education Committees, and if you're interested in green business techniques, many Chambers are now forming Green or Sustainability Committees.</p> <p>Every Chamber is different, and there may be other opportunities in yours that I haven't mentioned here. If you're not already a member, I encourage you to find out more, and if you are a member, take another look at what your Chamber offers. You may be pleasantly surprised!</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/joanne-berg">JoAnne Berg</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/make-the-most-of-your-local-chamber-of-commerce">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-small-business-mentors-you-can-access-for-nearly-free">6 Small Business Mentors You Can Access for Nearly Free!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-inspiring-stories-of-normal-people-building-a-thriving-online-store">4 Inspiring Stories of Normal People Building a Thriving Online Store</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/coworking-spaces-the-office-alternative">Coworking Spaces: The Office Alternative</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship Small Business Resource Center build community business advice chamber of commerce small business Thu, 02 Dec 2010 18:13:30 +0000 JoAnne Berg 293799 at http://www.wisebread.com