Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A free month of advertising from AdWords Express

(Cross-posted from the Inside AdWords blog)

The holidays are a busy time for everyone, and small businesses are certainly no exception. To help businesses reach new customers this season and keep the holiday spirit rolling into 2013, we have a special offer for new AdWords Express users in the U.S. If you sign up for AdWords Express before December 16, 2012, you’ll receive a free advertising credit in January worth what you spend between now and the end of this year.*

Since AdWords Express launched in July 2011 in the United States, we’ve seen businesses from toy stores to tree farms use AdWords Express to get their businesses discovered online. After 16 busy months, AdWords Express has expanded its borders to 12 additional countries and 9 languages, so that gift shops in Germany, heating contractors in the U.K., and surf shops in Australia can get on the map in front of potential customers in time for the holiday season.

Watch these businesses talk about how they use AdWords Express to maximize sales in the busy season:

Remember, the sooner you start advertising online, the more holiday customers you can reach and the more free advertising credit you can earn, so visit today.

Happy holidays from the AdWords Express team!

*Terms and Conditions

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Gmail and Drive - a new way to send files

(Cross-posted from the Gmail blog)

Since Google Drive launched in April, millions of people have started using Drive to keep, create and share files. Starting today, it’s even easier to share with others: you can insert files from Drive directly into an email without leaving your Gmail.
Have you ever tried to attach a file to an email only to find out it's too large to send? Now with Drive, you can insert files up to 10GB -- 400 times larger than what you can send as a traditional attachment. Also, because you’re sending a file stored in the cloud, all your recipients will have access to the same, most-up-to-date version. Like a smart assistant, Gmail will also double-check that your recipients all have access to any files you’re sending. This works like Gmail’s forgotten attachment detector: whenever you send a file from Drive that isn’t shared with everyone, you’ll be prompted with the option to change the file’s sharing settings without leaving your email. It’ll even work with Drive links pasted directly into emails.
So whether it’s photos from your recent camping trip, video footage from your brother’s wedding, or a presentation to your boss, all your stuff is easy to find and easy to share with Drive and Gmail. To get started, just click on the Drive icon while you're composing a message. Note that this feature is rolling out over the next few days and is only available with Gmail's new compose experience, so you'll need to opt-in if you haven't already.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Note The Detail

At our writers’ circle meeting this month, our chairman ran a workshop called Showing the Detail. It was a look at how we can use detail to convey more information in our descriptions to the reader, whilst also trying to avoid using cliches. 

It doesn’t matter whether your write fiction or non-fiction - giving your reader a useful amount of detail is important. The reader needs sufficient information to understand and re-create the scene you are describing in their own imagination, however, they don’t need to be overwhelmed with detail that it stops the message behind your writing getting through.

In our workshop, we were given a series of bland sentences to rewrite in a more interesting and detailed way. Here are three that I had a go at:

The man had a bad smell. I rewrote this as: He needed air traffic control to co-ordinate the bluebottles in their stacking formation above his putrid, matted hair. 

Miranda was rich I rewrote as: Miranda stepped out of her Tuesday morning Porsche and realised it needed changing, for the tyres on this one were now dirty and it had lost that new-car freshness since driving it off the forecourt ten minutes ago.

And finally, instead of She cried I came up with: Once the first tear found her chin, others quickly followed to the lowest point of her face, gathering confidence as their numbers swelled, ready for the next leap.

Now, I’m not saying any of those are brilliant, but the extra information the reader has there gives them more to draw upon when recreating the scene in their own imagination.

Detail is useful for travel writing too. I recently marked a student assignment where they had written: We found an Italian parlour on the promenade, which sold the best ice-cream I’ve ever tasted

That’s interesting information, but with a bit more detail, it could prove so much more useful to a reader who might be going to the same destination. Think how much more practical the following is:

Look out for Fuscardi’s on the promenade near the pier, for the best Rum and Raisin ice cream you’ve ever tasted!

Not only does the reader now know the name of the ice cream vendor, but they also have a better clue as to where to find it and  that the Rum and Raisin flavour tasted good!

Next time you sit in a cafe, or somewhere busy, and people watch, make a better note of the detail. It could make your writing more interesting.

Good luck.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Five for Drive: Tips for Sharing and Collaborating with Google Drive

Editor’s note: In November, we’re sharing tips on how your business can get the most out of Google Drive. Our final post features 5 ways you can share your files. Previously we’ve featured Google Drive basics and tips for creating and editing the documents your business needs.

Is your business looking to increase internal collaboration and share files on the web? Below, you’ll find 5 tips on how you can use Google Drive to collaborate on your documents and share them with the right audience.
  1. Click on the Share button in the upper right corner of any document to make sure the right people have the right access. By setting the visibility options, you can share your documents with a specific group, anyone with the link, or anyone on the web. To give access to a specific group of people, you can add collaborators and decide if each person should be able to edit, comment on, or just view your files.
  2. Transfer ownership of a file or folder to let someone else manage it for you. The new owner can then add or remove collaborators, share the file with others, and change visibility options and access privileges.
  3. Download the Google Docs App in Hangouts to open, discuss, and add comments to a document, all while you’re in a Hangout. This way, you can review a file face-to-face in video chat with a co-worker, even if you’re away from the office.
  4. Publish your documents and get a URL that you can share with the whole world. Use the publish feature to email your customer base a link to your most recent newsletter or to send a presentation of your business’s most popular products to a potential client.
  5. Share files to your Google+ stream publicly or with a specific circle of clients, and let your followers flip through one of your business’s presentations or fill out a feedback form all without ever leaving the stream. For each document you share on Google+, you can set access rights so your audience can edit or simply view it.
Looking for even more tips about Google Drive? Check out the Help Center, the Google Apps Learning Center, or Drive’s Google+ page.

Monday, November 19, 2012

How Do You Keep Yours? - Update

Just a quick post to let you know that the article I mentioned in my blog posting of 12th November, has now been published on the Ezee Writer ezine.

So, for more information about the sort of data you might want to consider collecting when you submit your manuscripts, click on:

Feast your way through Google business tips

Want a feast this Thanksgiving without crashing into a tryptophan-induced slumber? Work your way through three courses of business tips that we’ve rounded up from our 10 in 10 series.

If you want more detail or links to learn even more, check out our full posts on ways your business can use Chrome, Gmail, Google+, and Google Calendar.

Posted by Jacinth Sohi, Google and Your Business Blog Team

Reader Churn

A readership isn’t always static. Yes, there are some magazines whose readers stay with them for years (I am one of the original subscribers to Writers News magazine, gulp!), but there are also some magazines whose readerships change quite frequently.

When a magazine targets a particular niche readership the end result can lead to it loosing those readers! For example, the core readership of Photography for Beginners are … er … beginner photographers. These readers are buying the magazine for knowledge and to learn a new skill.

There will come a time when the magazine is not teaching them anything new and, as a result, they will look for another magazine to move on to for further knowledge and skills. So those readers will stop buying Photography for Beginners and move onto Amateur Photographer, or Digital SLR Skills, or one of the many other photography magazines. And then, after a couple of years, they may stop with that publication and move onto Advanced Photographer or one of the other professional magazines.

What does this mean for the writer? It’s important to identify these types of magazines, because the editor will be looking for ideas and articles on topics they’ve already covered before, possibly as recently as 12 months ago, although they will be looking for a slightly different angle. For example, a photography magazine might want a winter article offering advice to beginners on how to take photos of snow. The following year, the editor will be looking for another article about taking snow photos, because there will be a bunch of new readers who weren’t around when the last article was run, but it needs to be slightly different for those readers who did read last year’s article.

In some magazines, once editors have covered an idea, they don’t want to return to it for several years (the frequency of the publication also influences this, too). A quarterly publication rejected an article I’d submitted because the editor had recently accepted another article on exactly the same topic. I did mange to sell that article to that same editor at the same publication, ten years later, because enough time had passed for the reader (which had a low churn rate).

Of course, one magazine’s loss is another magazine’s gain, although it’s not quite so cut and dried if you look at the bigger picture. Magazine companies often produce a magazine for beginners, intermediates and more experienced readers, so whilst the readership might churn from one magazine to another, the company tries to keep the readers amongst its own stable of publications.

Good luck.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Get Your Business Black Friday Ready with Google Offers

Is your business Black Friday ready? After a hearty helping of turkey and lots of sides, folks often have a hankering for some serious shopping. It’s a great time to showcase value and offer some irresistible deals. This year, Google Offers is here to help small businesses run deals and get discovered. Best of all, it’s a deal for you, too. Getting started is free.

Get Started 
It’s easy to make a Google Offer right from the Google Places for Business dashboard. Verified business owners already using Google Places for Business, skip on ahead to Create an Offer. Get started on Google Places for Business by entering your business’ phone number here.

Create an Offer 
Ready to create your offer? You can customize whether you want to offer customers a percentage off their sale, a flat amount of money off, or a free item. You’ll also need to know how many offers you want to make available, for how long they’ll run, and a few other details. We’ve got a gallery of photographs, too, to make sure your offer looks great.

Meet New Customers
Your new customers will be able to discover nearby offers on Google Maps for Android. We’ve got some offer management tools, too, so you can see and control the duration of your offer. Offer going well? You can extend the offer, or, limit its availability if needed. You’ll also be able to see how many people have redeemed or are planning on redeeming the offer. Happy savings!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Five for Drive: Tips for Creating and Editing in Google Drive

Editor’s note: In November, we’re sharing tips on how your business can get the most out of Google Drive. Our second post features 5 ways you can create, edit, and enhance your files. Previously we’ve featured Google Drive basics. Check back next week for tips on the many ways you can share and collaborate on the documents in your Drive.

Businesses looking for pointers on documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and more, keep reading! This week, we’re sharing 5 tips on how you can use Google Drive to create and edit the documents you need to keep your business running smoothly.
  1. To create a new document in Google Drive, simply hit the ‘Create’ button to choose which type of file you’d like. To collaborate on your business’s existing documents like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files, you can upload them to Google Drive for easy editing and sharing.
  2. Use a template to create the specific types of documents your business may need, such as letterheads, sales presentations, inventory trackers, or customer feedback forms. Browse the template gallery to find examples best suited for your business.
  3. Make your presentations more compelling by embedding YouTube videos into your slides. You can play the video from directly within the file as long as you have an internet connection.
  4. View the revision history of your document, spreadsheet, or presentation to see the changes made by you and any other collaborators. You can also revert to earlier versions of a file and see edits made to any of these versions.
  5. Use other apps in Drive, such as Forms, Drawings, and Fusion Tables. You can also download third-party apps from the Chrome Web Store that allow you edit images and videos, fax and sign documents, manage products, create flow charts, and more.
Looking for even more tips about Google Drive? Check out the Help Center, the Google Apps Learning Center, or Drive’s Google+ page.

Monday, November 12, 2012

How Do You Keep Yours?

I mentioned last week the importance of keeping accurate records, and Maxi commented that some tips would be useful. So I thought I’d share a couple of my tips here:

BBB (Bloody Barclays Bank)
I call this my triple B tip, because it goes back to my time working for Barclays Bank. I spent many years as the Open & Close Clerk (Barclays weren’t very creative with their job titles) which involved … opening and closing bank accounts on the bank’s mainframe computer. Despite the fact that I could do it with my eyes shut and didn’t need an aide mémoire, EVERY account being opened or closed HAD to have one of these checklists. I had to initial a series of boxes to acknowledge I’d undertaken every step necessary to either open, or close, an account on the system.

When you do something for so many years, it becomes ingrained. Despite having a computerised database of my records, I also have a paper checklist (a single sheet of paper) for every project, which I initial to ensure that every step is actioned to keep my records correct and up to date. So, whatever your record-keeping system is, consider creating your own aide mémoire for you to check off at every stage of your project.

NAD (Next Action Date)
I like to have what I call a ‘Next Action Date’ - by this I mean a future date when I need to do something. So, whenever I submit a piece of work, I put in a future date when I might consider chasing the editor, if I haven’t heard back from them, by this time. For example, if I know a publication takes 12 weeks to respond to a submission, I’ll but a NAD of 13 weeks time. When a piece is accepted and I’m asked to forward an invoice, I’ll set my NAD for when the invoice is due to ensure that I’m paid when I should be.  Most days, I check my database for any NADs, and chase as necessary. It enables me to keep on top of everything, as these jobs become due. Of course, it only works if you set a NAD in the first place!

Ezee Writer
In a couple of days’ time (probably Thursday) the November issue of Ezee Writer will be out, which includes an article where I discuss the sort of information you might like to record when you submit your work. More information can be found (later in the week) at

Good luck.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Five for Drive: Tips for Getting Started with Google Drive

Editor’s note: Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing tips on how your business can get the most out of Google Drive. This week, learn the basics, and check back for our next posts highlighting some of Drive’s key apps and features.

Businesses wanting to streamline their files and folders, look no further. With Google Drive, you can instantly create new documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and more. This week, we’ve got 5 tips on how your business can use Google Drive to store, edit, and share all of your documents. Learn about how you can access your files from anywhere and collaborate with colleagues in real-time.
  1. Install Google Drive on your computer to free up space on your hard drive and keep all of your business’s documents in one place. Simply drag and drop all your files and folders into your Google Drive folder to begin syncing items. Any file you sync to your Drive will be accessible on the web via your Google account (in My Drive) as well as on any phone or tablet where you have Drive installed.
  2. Download the Google Drive app for your Android or Apple device to access your files on the go. Any changes you make on one device are automatically synced with the rest of the places you have Drive installed, as long as you have an internet connection.
  3. Use the share feature in Drive to share files or entire folders with anyone. You can share a document with just one co-worker, or make it accessible to an entire group. You can also set editing rights and choose whether others can view, edit, or comment on your stuff.
  4. Work simultaneously on the same document with colleagues, and see changes appear as they happen. Use the Comments feature in documents, spreadsheets, and presentations to add notes and discuss content with your collaborators. In documents, you can even chat about a file in real-time.
  5. Set up offline access using Chrome, so you can continue working in Google Drive even when your computer isn’t connected to the internet. This way, if you’re on the go and find yourself without wifi, you can still view documents and spreadsheets, move folders around, and make edits to documents. When you reconnect to the internet, your changes will automatically sync to all your devices.
To get started with Google Drive, visit Looking for even more tips about Google Drive? Check out the Help Center, the Google Apps Learning Center, or Drive’s Google+ page.

SMB Hangouts on Air: Is My Ad Showing?

AdWords Specialists hosted a Hangout on Air yesterday as the first of two installments of the SMB Frequently Asked Questions Hangouts On Air series.

During the Hangout, we talked about how you’ll want to use the Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool to see if your ad is running. We also gave you some common reasons why your ad might not be showing: budget, ad rank, location targeting, and approval statuses.

Here's the full 25-minute Hangout on Air, from the Google Business YouTube channel:


To learn more about how to get started with AdWords, visit our Help Center, check out the AdWords Community forum, or call us at 866-2-GOOGLE if you already have an AdWords account.

And remember to tune in to the live stream of our next Hangout on Air at 11 a.m. PDT, November 15th, when we discuss how to diagnoses causes of performance fluctuation in your AdWords account.

Stay tuned!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Oops - We All Make Mistakes!

A friend of mine happened to mention the other day that he'd mistakenly sent the same piece of work to two editors. Thankfully, one had rejected the piece, so at least he's not been put in the embarrassing position of having two editors accept the same work at the same time. (A complete NO NO!) He's not sure how it happened, but he's now updated his recording system to make sure that it doesn't happen again.

We all make mistakes, and I'll admit that I've accidentally done this in the past too. It's easily done, until you find a monitoring system that works well for you.

However, there's another reason why you should keep on top of your submissions, because we writers aren't the only ones to make mistakes. Two weeks ago another friend sent a text congratulating me on my short story, Flower Thief, which had just been published. I was puzzled. If my memory served me correctly I hadn't had a decision on the story yet. But, my memory not being what it once was, I decided to log onto my database and check it out. When I did so, my database still had that submission sitting at "Awaiting Decision". Perhaps I'd failed to update my records. Anyway, I went out and bought a copy of the publication to confirm that, yes, there it was in print.

Two days later, I had an email from the editor apologising profusely for the delay in notifying me and confirming the good news that my story was in the current issue and (more importantly!) that a cheque was in the post!

Whilst this was a lovely surprise (it made my Monday morning, that's for sure) it highlights a problem that could happen if any writer inadvertently submits the story to two different publications at the same time. Suppose both markets had published and there'd been a delay in notifying the writer? That could have been interesting, with both publications thinking they'd bought the first rights to publication!

So, make sure you have a robust system for recording your submissions and that you use it. And just remember that whilst writers lead busy lives and forget to update things, it can happen to editors too. It also suggests that it's useful having good friends who'll tell you that they've seen your published work!

Good luck!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Help Desk Hangouts: Get Your Business Online

Editor’s note: Each week on the Google+ Your Business page, we’re putting you in touch with Googlers and users who can help you as a business owner get the most out of our products and features.

In our latest Help Desk Hangout On Air, we chatted with the Get Your Business online team. We talked about how important it is for businesses to have online presences, and the team highlighted a special promotion. U.S. businesses can set up a free website for a year with Get Your Business online with just a Google account. The team also walked us through how businesses can accelerate their online presences after making this website.

Miss the event? You can watch the whole thing on the Google and Your Business YouTube channel.

Check out the video description on the YouTube page for a minute-by-minute breakdown.

Some of the questions we answered during the Hangout:

What is Get Your Business Online?
Get Your Business Online was designed to make it easy, free, and fast to for any business to get online. We think that small businesses are vital for the future, and we want to see small businesses connecting with customers using modern technologies. Get Your Business Online gives small businesses the opportunity to grow through creating an online presence.

How can I get my business online?
Just visit in the United States and get started right there. We’re offering a free domain name and hosting for a year, so all you need’s a Google account. You can use the Intuit site builder to make your business’ website, so there’s no HTML knowledge required. Don’t forget to publish your website after building it!

Can you share some tips for jumpstarting your online presence?