Cloud Storage and Computer Backup

People keep talking about “The Cloud.” How you should backup your computer to “The Cloud.” And sync your photos to “The Cloud.” But I’m still encountering many people who ask:

Where is this dang cloud?
How do I get my data on the cloud?

“The Cloud” is a tech buzz word that many people still don’t understand.

The good news is that you are most likely already using “The Cloud” and might not even know it. Your email typically resides on a cloud. Your facebook photos are on a cloud.

There are actually many, many clouds – not just one. Cloud storage refers to computer servers hosted by a third party that store and backup your documents, photos, videos and music online.

Once this is understood, the next inevitable question is…

Which cloud storage should I use?

So many choices. So little time.

As I write this, if you use google to search for “cloud storage” options, 648,000,000 results come up. You can whittle the search down significantly if you type in “online photo storage.” That search offers a mere 399,000,000 results.

I refine my search to “backup computer online” which brings me to 150,000,000 results.

Now I’m making progress.

Or not.

Choosing your online cloud storage backup service should be based on your personal preferences and specific features you need.

I looked seriously at Carbonite and SugarSync. I have used Dropbox and Box. Like most people, I like word-of-mouth recommendations so when I read that Mary Moseley, co-owner of The Memory Boutique, uses Backblaze, I added it to my list of backup services to research.

My criteria included:

  • Simple
  • Secure and reliable
  • Maximum storage space
  • Cross platform (Windows or Mac)
  • Affordable

Backblaze matched everything on my list and it’s the backup service I chose.

Click here to download a free trial of Backblaze

Create a Backup System

The best time to create a backup system is BEFORE you lose something important or your computer fails. If it hasn’t happened to you yet – yea! But we all know someone who has been devastated from losing years of photos or important documents.

If you still haven’t decided on a system and you are overwhelmed with your choices, today is the day to make a decision.

We recommend backing up your computers and other electronic devices (cell phone, tablets, camera cards, memory sticks, etc.) THREE ways:

  1. External hard drive – buy the most storage space you can afford; keep off-site in case of fire, flood, stolen computer, etc.
  2. Cloud backup storage – choose a reputable company within your budget
  3. Cloud backup storage – a backup of your backups on the off chance #2 goes out of business

Set a daily, weekly or monthly schedule and create a system that becomes a simple routine for you. Having multiple backups of your data is important!

For me, #3 is an online photo storage backup service. I’ll be glad to write about those options if you’re interested. Weigh in and give your opinion in the comments – be sure and share your choice of backup services so we can all learn from each other!

Photo :: Source

Disclosure: Backblaze is an affiliate link. We choose our affiliate links carefully and only if we feel comfortable endorsing their products. I use Backblaze as my own backup service because of ease of use and unlimited storage. All opinions are my own. You should do your own research before purchasing any product or service.

Memories of Loved Ones: Katy Samuels Hits the Road

Several years ago, Katy Samuels and her extended family took a unique business idea and ran with it — or drove with it as the case may be! Though the family works many and sometimes odd hours, together they make it work. I believe their real secret is the desire to serve others in both the best, and hardest of times. Find out more as I interview Katy to learn what MoLo is all about.

Tell us about your business, Memories of Loved Ones. Who do you serve and what do you offer?

Our products and services help people “celebrate life”. We showcase events such as a birthday, anniversary, graduation or reunion. Or perhaps a family is experiencing the pain of losing a loved one. We specialize in creating custom products – our core product offering includes custom designed and framed collages, slideshows that can be burned as DVDs or Blu-ray discs, and digital books.

Recently, we expanded our offering to include specialized products for weddings. We offer a complete package that includes everything from websites, logos, invitations, programs, table cards, collages of the bride and groom growing up, custom signature books, books telling the story of the bride and groom’s journey to their big day, signs at the event and more! We can even help after the wedding by showcasing wedding and honeymoon photos.

Part of your mission is to help families who are grieving. Tell us more about that.

Our funeral service is unique — we haven’t found a company in the US that offers anything quite like what we have to help a grieving family.

We start by meeting the family at our office or at their home in our MoLo Mobile. In either location we meet with the family and convert all of their memories to digital format. This can include loose photographs, photos in albums, newspaper articles, framed art, framed photos, 3D objects – such as collectibles, jewelry, clothing, medals, trophies – we’ve even included a car! Whatever the family considers a “memory of their loved one” we convert it all to digital.

We love to hear each person’s story. Our goal is that each collage, each slideshow we create, reflect the personality of a families’ loved one. We deliver everything to the funeral home, set it up (all collages are displayed in frames), and then pick it up after the funeral. We will even set everything up at a 2nd location if the family would like us to.

How did you come up with the idea to start MoLo?

In July 2004 my brother Scott & I lost a dear friend, Keith Noble. Keith’s wife made posters with photos for the funeral, but several years later they were misplaced. I decided to contact Keith’s family and collect as many pictures as I could and created “posters” of Keith for a memorial golf outing we hold each year. Our family and friends loved what we had done.

We researched to see if there was any company in the US that offered a service to help families put together and display photos at a funeral. We couldn’t find any! So, we sat down and brainstormed. In the beginning we focused on taking the burden off the family by preserving their photos, creating a beautiful personalized tribute to their loved one, and providing a high quality end product that would last a lifetime. We founded our company based on this simple concept — and boy have we come a LONG way since then!

What do you love best about what you do?

Every day I have the opportunity to put a smile on someone else’s face! A lot of people think our job is depressing. It’s actually the complete opposite. Yes, a family may cry while we are meeting with them. But they also smile and laugh as they share stories about their loved one. I love knowing that we are providing a valuable service that is truly helping someone in need. We go from being perfect strangers on the first day we meet, to feeling like we are part of the family just a few days later. It’s not uncommon for us to receive huge hugs (with tears) as the families thank us over and over again for what we did. It’s truly an amazing feeling and we are blessed to be a part of it.

What does a typical day on the job look like?

“Typical” and “MoLo” don’t go together very well! We love to meet for breakfast because it’s our one chance to be together and to share a meal. It’s not uncommon for us to completely miss a meal and go hours before we realize it! Our days are flexible, but also unpredictable. We make it a priority to put family first and work everything else around that.

Funerals always take priority in our job queue and we work our celebration jobs around them. We never know for sure when we will be in the office, out in the RV, or driving a child to and from school! We tend to work crazy hours and have even pulled all-nighters, but that is why our mobile office is very comfortable including several couches that are often used in shifts for naps!

What advice would you give to women who are thinking about starting a small business?

Be very passionate about your business concept because you will put more blood, sweat and tears into this endeavor than you can ever imagine. Do your homework up front. Research your idea thoroughly to make sure you understand what your competition is doing. Learn how to network in your local community and figure out how to market your idea. Know that you will make lots of mistakes but you learn more from your failures than your successes. Most importantly, follow your dream and believe in yourself. I truly believe that if you are passionate about what you do that anything is possible.

You can find Katy and the team at Memories of Loved Ones (theMoLo.com)

Love’s Legacy

We absolutely fell in love with this video and think you will too. If you are in the business of helping people tell their stories, take 4 minutes to watch and be reminded that what you do matters so much…

Be sure to click that “full screen” icon in the lower right corner of the video to really experience this beautiful story.

Please leave a comment and tell us what you think!

Finding Your First Clients – Part Three

This is part three in a three part series of how to find clients in your new business. We’re using photo organizers as examples but you can use this method in any business that offers a service. Decide what you’re offering and use this same formula. Click to read part one or part two.

Have your potential pig list in front of you?

Good job.

Today is the day you call your chosen pigs.

It’s not everyone’s lucky day at the pet store. You will be taking excellent care of your guinea pigs. But you also want to be sure that these guinea pigs are right for you and your business.

Examples of 3 Ideal Guinea Pigs:

Guinea pig #1 will be a fabulous test case for you to develop a system to organize, file and backup digital photos. Print the best, file the rest. Show this guinea pig how they can do it themselves every month. Better yet, they can hire you to come over and do it for them each month.

Record everything you do. How many pictures, the size of the hard drive, what you upload to the cloud, the service you use, cost of backup, cost of external hard drive, your time.

After pig #1 finishes hugging you and doing the happy dance, create a package for exactly this type of service. Ask pig #1 to tell everyone how you helped them. Let her sing your praises and do some marketing for you. For every referral she sends your way, offer an hour of backup service. (Or one hour of whatever service she’d like.) Let her bank the referrals. Keep a record to let your pig know she has a year to cash in on your services. Win-win.

Pig #2 needs your help because the milestone graduation, wedding or baby’s birth has been overwhelming her with a zillion other details. How to organize and display the pictures has been low on the list. She’s tired. You are here to gather all the photos from various people and cameras and get them all in one place. With pig #2’s input you will create a plan.

You might suggest a photo storyboard, or two or three suitable for framing. A canvas print for that one favorite shot–you know the perfect place she can hang it. A digital album completed and uploaded so family and friends can order a copy. Throw in a digital slideshow on dvd or uploaded to a web service so everyone can watch no matter where they live. Don’t forget the final step of backing everything up in 3 places. Again, record each step in your business pricing strategy notebook just like you did with pig #1.

Same ending for pig #2–offer a referral program and ask her to share with everyone she knows. No limit for this referral program. 12 new clients means a year of free backup services from you. Win-win.

Pig #3 has a box of photos and memorabilia. Maybe they are old black and whites or irreplaceable prints or slides that need sorted, organized and preserved pronto. Walk through the organization process. Spend time with her reviewing and choosing the best of the best. Get them scanned and labeled and stored properly. Make a traditional heirloom album or a modern digital album with the heritage photos. Or both. Back up to the cloud. Show her how other family members can have access. Create a slideshow. A framed print. Work with her to capture the stories before they’re lost.

Same ending–ask for referral names. Explain your referral program and other services you offer so you can work together again. You may consider giving the introductory rates exclusively to your guinea pigs for the first year. Creating these strong marketing partnerships can be invaluable as you grow your business!

Now what?

  • Send each guinea pig a handwritten thank you note.
  • Be sure to give them a stack of business cards, flyers or postcards so they can give people your information.
  • Ask them if they would be so kind as to write a testimonial about you and the services you provided.

Congrats!

High five yourself. Fist bumps all around. You have just completed 3 significant photo organizing projects. You have created a marketing team of 3 raving pigs fans who will mention your name every time someone takes a picture, talks about pictures, shows pictures on their phone or iPad. You get the picture. 😉

You now have photo organizing clients under your belt. You have experience. You can create meaningful packages with solid pricing because you kept track of the time it took for each of these projects.

Now…call some potential clients today and tell them about your fantastic new business!

Read part one of this series here
Read part two of this series here

Finding Your First Clients – Part Two

This is part two in a three part series of how to find clients in your new business. We’re using photo organizers as examples but you can use this method in any business that offers a service. Decide what you’re offering and use this same formula. Click to read part one and part three.

Before you can call your guinea pigs, there is something very important we need to talk about.

Pricing

It’s the elephant in the room.

Photo :: Source

One that can squash your guinea pigs new clients before you even get started.

We need to talk about introductory vs. regular pricing in any new business.

Now is a very good time to figure out your pricing strategy. This is often the first obstacle that shows itself in new business. You know what you want to charge. You know what you dream of earning in your new business. But…

…what if people won’t pay.

…what if you’re not worth it.

…what if they find someone who charges less?

A whole lot of “buts” get in the way of pricing your services. Your goal should be to provide extraordinary service to each and every client. That has nothing to do with most or least expensive. It has to do with quality service.

BUT…

You do need to make money. You need to price your services competitively in the market you live in. You need to be paid for cost of goods sold AND your time.

That’s where the guinea pig strategy comes in. It’s your beta test to help you figure out your pricing. It’s also the best opportunity to communicate what your prices will be and what your introductory prices are for your guinea pigs. It’s the perfect time to give these special pigs an extra special deal!

Your introductory rate could be 50% off your regular rates. Plus your cost of any supplies and materials.

Or it could be free. Plus your cost of any supplies and materials.

Or you could tell them they can wait until you are finished and then pay you whatever they think your services were worth.

Or you could offer to let them pay whatever they could afford.

The point here is to customize your introductory offer based on regular rates that you say out loud. The guinea pigs need to know the value of your services with a dollar amount from the very beginning.

It could be a package of 10 hours at $50 per hour which is $500. When people buy a package or block of time from you, they get 20% off which means the package will be $400.

For the guinea pig, the introductory package might be just $200.

You ultimately decide on the introductory pricing based on your relationship with each guinea pig.

Here’s some sample dialogue:

You know the new business I just started? I need a few guinea pigs to help me in this start-up phase. While I know my rates will be competitive and fair, right now I want to work out my systems with people I know, like you! Will you help me?

Now, stop and listen. Watch their body language. Don’t overwhelm them. Answer their questions. Assure them that you will keep things simple throughout the process.

“I’m so excited you are going to let me work on your ___________ (fill in blank with project related to your services.) For you, I’ll do this at an introductory rate of _________.

Once they say YES, what’s next?

Schedule a specific time for the next step. You have your calendar in front of you, right?

Here’s the conversation when setting up your first appointment:

“Let’s schedule the first step right now. What’s a good day when I can come over and get all your pictures in one big box/off your computer/from the wedding? I’ll sort them, organize them and then make a couple of surprises for you. Promise it won’t be hard and you will LOVE the end result.”

If your guinea pig has control issues then change the conversation to this:

“I’ll come over, sit beside you and walk you through each step. I’ll help you make decisions about the pile/the box/what’s on your computer.”

Be sure to set some urgency to start working immediately. You are not offering for them to be a guinea pig in 6 months or a year. You need their help right now.

“I need to do it in the next week or so. Once I really get the business going, I won’t have the time to help my relatives/friends. Take advantage of me now! If you really can’t, then I’ll ask someone else. But I’d rather do it with you. I’m only doing this with 3 people so I can do all my research and create the best packages for new customers.”

Tomorrow you will be ready to put all this into action. Stay tuned.

Read part one here
Read part three here

Picture Amy at Work

Amy Brooks Hoffmann is a small business owner who balances work alongside of family. I’ve known Amy for years and have always been impressed with her ability to plan strategically, envision a business that is relevant to the time, and network within her community.

Most recently, Amy added photo organizing to her existing business and rebranded with a new name — Fleur de Lis Photo Solutions.

Enjoy my conversation with Amy as she shares a few tips and explains how her business has evolved.

Tell us about your business. What made you decide to become a photo organizer?

A lot has changed with the way we take photographs! Digital photography was introduced in the early 2000s, allowing us to be free of film and photo processing. The good news? You can take so many photographs with a digital camera! The bad news? You can take so many photographs with a digital camera!

More and more often I was asked to create commissioned albums for my clients. The time seemed right with our family’s schedule – so I added the service of photo organizing and digital album creation to my existing business.

You have been a Creative Memories consultant for many years. How has adding photo organizing to your existing business been a benefit?

Expanding my business from Amy Brooks Hoffmann, Creative Memories Consultant to Amy Brooks Hoffmann, Fleur de Lis Photo Solutions broadens my client opportunity.

People and organizations who would never have anything to do with the preconceived idea of a “crafty” business are now interested in working with me as a business consultant for all of their photo needs. Flexibility is the key.

I am working to make sure that current clients, members of my church, school and social communities know that I have expanded my business and offer more services that might benefit them. My current business goal is to expand the business to see what opportunities are available with small and large corporations. I’d love to organize the photographic archives of businesses throughout my home town.

What do you like most about what you do?

I love talking with people, learning their stories, and seeing those experiences in their photos. I have come to the conclusion that most families are really the same – we all have hopes and dreams for our children, challenges with our professions and celebrations throughout the year. I’m convinced that we all have similar experiences and concerns. Most people love their photos. Most people want to enjoy them. Most people have no idea how to transform their “mess” of photos to “masterpieces.”

That’s where I come in.

What advice do you have for new Photo Organizers? Or for someone who is adding photo organizing to an existing business?

If you have jumped into this profession, you probably have worked with your own photos and family memorabilia.  Realize that the work you have done with your own photos is a perfect “apprenticeship,” preparing you to work with clients. When working with a new client, Be Confident in your ability to bring an outside, objective view to the new project. Your clients will express nothing but gratitude and relief as you assume the responsibility for their project.

You have kids at home (2 smart and active boys!) How do you make it all work?

“Making it all work” is a lofty goal by anyone’s standards. Is it really possible to integrate a smooth home and professional life every day? We try at the Hoffmann household. Often succeeding. Sometimes failing. The greatest challenge for me as a Mom and home-based business owner is time management. I often over commit to professional and philanthropic projects. That leads to panic, frustration and can obliterate a well planned schedule.

Keeping my family’s schedule in mind, I always discuss a deadline (or series of deadlines) with my clients. Accountability to the client keeps the project on pace and moving forward while putting my family first.

A second word of advice: find a “desk” for yourself. This was a really big transition for me after I decided to become a stay-at-home mom 12 years ago. It is frustrating to  have “stacks” of paper and projects throughout the house. You need a landing spot/clearing house for the paper and information that comes into your home. I keep my to do lists here, along with project files. It is a daily challenge to keep my space clutter free…but that is a discussion for another blog post, I’m sure!

Amy Brooks Hoffmann can be reached at Fleur de Lis Photo Solutions
She is an Appo™ member.

The Lonely Entrepreneur

empty canoe
Recently, our friend Susan shared this phrase with us. We know firsthand how it can feel to be working all alone.

It can be lonely.

The internet has opened up a whole new world of choices about how and where we work. Working from home has its benefits. As does the ability to log on to a computer, iPad or cell phone and send a few emails, pay bills and do a host of other things while you are anywhere with WiFi.

Does all of this instant access make us more productive?

I would argue that it can get in the way of being productive.

More importantly, it can get in the way of being successful.

We can all claim adult ADD. (And some of us really do have it.) I just know that all the internet conveniences often get in the way of focusing on the most important aspects of building a business.

I have talked to countless business owners who get stuck and feel isolated when they work from home.

It’s lonely.

I’m not discounting that real relationships can be forged online. But we are deluged with our online connections. Social media and “talking” to our online friends and business colleagues means the convenience of an instant answer, help for a specific problem or someone to vent to when we get frustrated.

Pinterest gives you great visuals. Facebook gives you connection. Twitter gives you bite-sized communication. And after you spend a day on these time-sucking, fabulous sites you are on information overload and forgot to work on getting a new client or two or three and it’s dinner time and you don’t know what you’re making…so you go back to the computer to “quickly” search for a new recipe.

And you go to bed at night realizing that you didn’t actually talk to one human client. Or even a potential client.

Live, Real Time Start-up Sessions

There is nothing that will ever replace real, live human connection. This is why our Start-up Sessions are designed to be interactive small groups with accountability and networking that will take you and your business to the next level.

It’s a small investment in yourself and your business. It’s that little push you need to really take control of your business strategy and work closely with a community of like-minded business owners.

We’re starting with a focus on the emerging service business of photo organizers. It’s a natural fit since we’ve done it ourselves. But if photo organizing is not “your thing”, stay with us because our tips are appropriate for all small business owners. Only the details will change.

Tiny Sidenote: There is still time to register for our preview training call we’re offering tomorrow, June 28 at 1:00 pm eastern.

Our commitment is to help anyone in small business with concrete information and specific tools that work.

We’re here to help you sift through the noise of the internet, make being an entrepreneur a little less lonely and share relevant information on the blog and in our Start-up Sessions.

Here are 3 great links to help you today:

A Tip…
Dealing with Copycats – Don’t fear competition, embrace it and stand out!

A Tool…
When it’s okay to be Anti-Social

A Little Inspiration…
An Open Letter to Moms

What are your top three things you need right now in your business?
Don’t be shy, leave a comment.
We want to close the gap on being lonely.
We’re listening.

Promise.

The Business of Memories

I love spending time with small business owners. I revel in asking questions, finding their passion, learning what they most enjoy doing and what they could change. Not long ago I had the opportunity to talk to a group of of professionals who help Seniors downsize from homes lived in many years to more accessible housing.

I have a great deal of respect for these business folks who provide a much needed service with knowledge, kindness and care.

I asked several of the Senior Move Managers if they ever came across boxes of photos and memorabilia.

“Oh yes,” they said, “all the time.”

“What happens to the photos?”

I asked.

The group looked a bit sheepish and told me that most of the time the photos are thrown away. There isn’t anyone willing to take the time to go through them.  And even when someone does sort through the pictures, they’re not quite sure who is in the photos, when they were taken, or what to do with them.

Real Customer Service

What I know is this: if even a few of the photos thrown away were instead scanned, framed or even put in a box organized along with the story, they would become family heirlooms instead of garbage.

If you are somehow in the business of memories — whether as a photo organizer, a senior move manager, a professional organizer, a photographer, a framer or even a caregiver — take time to educate your clients about the value of their photos. If time is short, ask them to pick out even a half dozen to showcase along with a few stories that explain the pictures. Ask if they have a favorite photo or memory you can help to preserve.

“What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”
― Karl Lagerfeld

This is what real customer service is all about.

To touch someone’s heart by caring.
To share and preserve a memory.
To make a new one.

To create something that has real meaning in a world where everything is changing and every moment is fleeting.

If you are in the business of memories, how have you helped someone else preserve theirs? We’d love to hear your favorite story. Just leave a comment below.

Two Free Calls to Kick Off Big Picture Coaching

This is our our official kick-off week! Thanks to all who “liked” our facebook page and subscribed to our blog.

We’re focused on helping women in small business. But if you are a man, don’t leave yet. We don’t discriminate!

Our commitment is to help everyone in small business by bringing together a community of like-minded business owners. From Start-up Sessions for newbies, to Mastermind groups for more seasoned business owners, we’ll continue to add services that match what you need.

Small Business Owners Work Together

Finding the right business coach and plugging into training is a great step towards working together for success. We offer coaching that complements your existing resources. We also give you the chance to connect with smart, real women who understand exactly where you are and will help you capitalize on your strengths.

Since we’re Appo™ certified photo organizers ourselves, we’re starting with the emerging service business of photo organizers. We knew that Cathi Nelson had a great idea when she created Appo.  Appo members are passionate about photo organizing and work hard to find ways to grow their business.

Yesterday, Laura and I were featured on the blog, Your Homebased Mom. With years of experience herself, blogger Leigh Anne Wilkes writes,

“There was no such thing as a digital camera when I started teaching classes on photo organization and computers were only something that big corporations had. It is a different world now.”

The digital generation has changed the way we take photos and print (or don’t print!) our memories.

Free Call #1 ~ Got Photos? Get Organized!

free small business call

Photo :: Source

Our first call next week (Tuesday, June 26 1:00 pm est) is for anyone interested in some simple tips about how to organize and enjoy their photos.
Click here to get all the information for the call.

Free Call #2 ~ Find Clients & Make Money

Our second call next week (Thursday, June 28, 1:00 pm est) is a sneak preview of our brand new training series for photo organizers. On this call we’ll share tips on how to introduce your business, find new clients and develop your focus.
Click here to get all the information for the call.

Disclaimer:
Maybe photo organizing as a business isn’t on your short list of new business ventures. OR, maybe your photos are perfectly organized. They’re printed and displayed in beautiful albums and frames. And all your images are backed up 3 ways. (Really? Totally impressed!). Either way, Laura and I would still be delighted if you joined us on a call. It might just be the time and place to spark an idea that could lead to something really BIG.

If you’re not into the “group thing” or the times don’t work for you, just click here to send us an email and we’ll schedule a one-on-one complimentary consultation with you. It’s all about customizing the experience to meet your needs!

One more thing…it’s okay if you want to be on BOTH calls because you are nosey curious and interested in tips for your own photos…and maybe thinking about photo organizing as a business.

Short 30 minute calls — but so much information. Get registered today!
Call #1 ~ Got Photos? Get Organized!
Call #2 ~ Find Clients & Make Money