What’s a Widget?

A widget is a small utility working in the background, looking for specific information for you on the Internet and aggregating it in a specific location. For example, the weather forecast for the next week in your city, currency exchange, digital clock, your favorite stocks ticker, TV broadcasting and so on. Almost everything that you need to have current. In technical language, widgets are small JavaScripts applications running a widget engine on a user computer under MS Windows or Mac operating systems. Originally called Konfabulator, they were recently acquired by Yahoo! and now widgets are commonly known as Yahoo! Widgets.

How Do You Use It?

First of all, you need to download a widget engine from Yahoo and install it on your computer. This will allow you to access more than 3,000 different widgets created for this engine. There are several designed specifically for photographers, and particularly for those who are actively selling photos to stock and microstock agencies.

There are several widgets for iStockPhoto such us iStockWatcher, iStockDash and iStockphoto-PC Widget. All of them are free. iStockWatcher works under the Yahoo! Widget engine only and has an iStockwatch Lite version with some limitations. This watcher gathers information such as last selling, statistics, personal message notifications, new forum and blog topics, news and so on.

iStockDash is Dashboard Widget for the Mac operating system only. There are no big differences in functionalities from the one mentioned above.

In contrast, iStockphoto-PC Widget is an MS Windows version that contains everything you need to work autonomously. In other words, you do not need to install the Yahoo! Widget engine first, but rather everything is inside this widget package, so you just download and install it, and it is ready to work.

There is another one that covers all of the above and more. I’m talking about MicroStock Watcher. This widget keeps you up to date on iStockPhoto, Dreamstime, Fotolia, Shutterstock, Stockxpert, and LuckyOliver. And the list of microstocks is growing. But, this widget is shareware with a trial period.

For those who are only interesting in photos themselves, there are several widgets working with photo sharing Web-sites like Flickr. They’ll show you recent photos in selected categories, travelers’ stories and so on. To find out more try to make a search both in the Internet and Yahoo widgets page.

Focus! Your Business Depends On It

As an entrepreneur you have to wear multiple hats. Some days the positions can range from Researcher, Webmaster, Accountant, Inventory Manager, Distribution Manager, Customer Services Representative, Sales Manager, and on and on. All these hats can make it hard to complete tasks and focus.

One way I try to stay on track is creating a daily list of goals. For some strange reason some days I spend more time on one task and less (or none) on others.

One particular day I was asked “How long do you spend on a task like research?”

Well, that’s a good question but I followed it up with a bad answer, “until I am done”.

This was a bad answer because there was no time frame attached. Though I had many tasks on my list that day, I spent the better part of the day researching (basically surfing the net from one site to another) neglecting the other tasks on my list.

I had to find a way to focus. To make sure I was only spending a set amount of time on each activity. To complete all the tasks on my list otherwise my business would suffer.

After all what was the point of setting my daily goals if I could not stay focused?

To aid in my quest to focus my attention I needed to automate my daily list of goals then limit and track how long I was spending on each task.

For this I turned to Yahoo! Widgets. Yahoo! Widgets is a free application platform for Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows. These Widgets help you save time with an at-a-glance view of your favorite Internet services right to your desktop. Be careful you can loose focus just searching through the Yahoo! Widget Gallery because they offer over 4,000 desktop Widgets that do almost anything from displaying a weather forecast to playing a game.

Widgets generally sit on your desktop and don’t look like applications as we’re use to seeing them in a standard window. Instead, Widgets tend to look like small pictures or animations.

Here are four Yahoo! Widgets I used to boost my focus:

1. JC Sticky Deluxe

This Widget is just like any sticky note / post-it note / memo taker. It has a ton of cool and powerful features like; multiple stickies, customizable fonts, colors, background themes and the ability to print stickies.

2. Job Timer

This Widget counts up instead of down. It is useful for timing how long a job, presentation, or any other task takes. You can name your task so you can actually time 5 simultaneous tasks at once.

3. Generic Countdown Timer

This Widget is a simple countdown timer. You can set the time in hours, minutes, seconds and an alarm will ring once the counter reaches zero. You can choose to initialize the counter with a default time when the Widget starts, which is convenient when you always need a countdown for the same amount of time.

4. DailyBilling

This Widget is a time tracker for sorting and accumulating time spent on projects. Multiple projects and multiple hours may be tracked each day. Data is written to a file each day that can be referred to at the end of the week when you compile your time and can’t remember what projects you worked on last Tuesday.

By using technology more effectively, you will get more done and stay focused. Your business depends on it!

Business Ads: Use a Strong Call to Action

Just as in the title of this article, keep your copy short and use a strong Call to Action. We will discuss how to accomplish this to make your ads successful.

I have a tendency to write long missives. Through screenwriting and writing short stories and copy, I have learned to edit myself and make things short when needed. One place this skill is needed is in writing business ads, whether for written copy or audio and video. There are certain key points you must remember:

1. Keep it short. You must remember that you only have 10 seconds to keep your viewer’s attention. If you fail this your ad will have no benefit. After all, if they do not see your message, they cannot do what you tell them to do. By making it too long, they may get bored, distracted, or just not get your point. Think of the ADD market when planning your ad. The segment of the population that identifies with ADD is growing all the time. Even people without ADD may have short attention spans and get impatient as life is happening around them.

Screaming kids, making dinner, getting ready to go out, reading on their break, or other short time constraints work against you if you make it too long. A well planned 15 second ad can be more effective than a 60 second ad. Never make your copy more than 2 minutes and shoot for a minute and a half. Even half hour infomercials are cut up into short segments with powerful and impactful content in each segment. Make it short and fast.

2. Make it clear. You need to make your point clear and definitive. If you want to sell widgets, give them the Who, What, When, Where, and most important, Why as fast as possible.

SAMPLE: “Hi, this is Joe from Joe’s Best Widgets, the most important widgets in your life. You may not know that widgets are the part of your car that make it run, the best cat toy you will ever find, and come in many colors and flavors. Now is the time for best pricing and selection, before people buy them all for their summer fun. We are your premiere source in Templeton, California, for all your widget needs. Call us toll free at 800-555-1212 and ask for Joe. If you don’t have your own widgets, you are tempting fate and may embarrass your family. Don’t widget without the widget you really need. Call us before you end up widgetless, or you might regret it! Click on [LINK HERE] NOW!” (add your own link to the text)

I don’t tell them to go to the site, I tell them to click on the link to cut out one or more steps they need to take to get to the widgets. See how I move you through the process and keep your attention along the way? Don’t you feel like clicking the link? The formula I follow and information is clear, and the call to action is compelling and at the end.

3. Quantify your call to action. Time is of the essence. Once they click away from your message, you are done and the call to action will never be seen. You must get them to click on your link or call your number with a compelling reason. Have you seen ads that throw a timer up on the screen and say, “For the next 30 minutes, you can get this amazing offer!” You know there is no way for them to start and stop a timer, and you can call at any time. There are people that see that and figure they must call now. The advertiser can guess what time their ads are running by the response. Make time important.

Offer a bonus, discount price, extra information, or disappearance of the item they must have if they don’t act now. It may not be available after this. Not sold in stores. Exclusive. All these qualifiers make it necessary for the customer to contact you. You can see in my example above I tell them they may miss out because of summer rush and not being able to get this important item if they don’t do it now. I even throw in that people are buying them for their summer “fun” so people will have an association with pleasure. In the old days they would tell you to be the first one on your block, don’t miss out, and act now. These are no longer compelling enough in today’s marketplace. Make time important or you may lose the sale.

4. Make it the last thing they see. When you read and listen, the thing your bran processes most effectively is the last thing you see or hear. You need to be sure your point is the last thing in every paragraph as I have done above. In addition, if you add information after the call to action, they will continue to read right past the call to action and may not go back to it. You can see in my example above that it is the very last thing you see. Check out the two examples below and see which one makes you act. Both are exactly the same information.

Example 1: This widget is the ideal selection for every need. If you clean your home, drive your car, or feed your pets, you cannot do without these widgets. CLICK [LINK HERE] now to see how it works. You may be surprised! (add your own link to the text)
Example 2: This widget is the ideal selection for every need. If you clean your home, drive your car, or feed your pets, you cannot do without these widgets. See how it works. You may be surprised! CLICK [LINK HERE] NOW! (add your own link to the text)

Any notes here? You can see they both have the same words and same call to action. The difference is, in Example 2 I put the call to action last. Anything written after your call to action takes the sale away.

You will notice that I did not keep this article short. That is because I knew from the title and the opening paragraph, both short and to the point, that I had your attention and you would be interested in this topic. That is how you need to write your ads and scripts. Once you know you have their attention, you can lead them down the path you want to take them. The process is to capture them, show them, lead them.

Remember that if you do not capture their attention, they will not read on and a call to action will be useless. Make your call to action strong, quantified, and definitive. Make your copy and call to action short and interesting to the reader or viewer. Compel the reader or viewer to do what you tell them to do. Keep your call to action at the end so it is the last thing they read.

So, now you have the formula to successful use of the Call to Action. This should fuel your efforts to get your customers’ attention and cooperation, and increase the effectiveness of your efforts. If you have any questions, you can always visit my Business Consulting site to read more tips and articles I provide there or to ask for our help. If you live in or near San Luis Obispo on the Central Coast of California, I will be happy to visit your business to help. This is how it works:

The smartest way to achieve what you desire before you miss any more customers is to move forward NOW. Before you do anything else, contact me at http://www.GeraldLCraigConsulting.com!