Networking Organizations We’re a Part of: Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce

Cape Ann was founded by pilgrims in 1623 and was named after England’s Queen Ann. Currently, Cape Ann offers big-city culture while maintaining a small-town charm, and its four communities consist of Essex, Gloucester, Manchester-by-the-sea, and Rockport. With such an amazing location and so much to offer, it’s no wonder why we have been a part of the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce for two years.

As a member of this organization, we are able to express the great benefits that come from being a member – from networking and training to adding value to your business. The following are just some of the many benefits Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce offers:

In their membership directory (both print and digital), help coordinate ribbon cuttings for special business occasions, host networking events (seminars, speaker programs, board meetings, etc.), sponsor and advertise business events in publications or online.

Gain insight into their affinity program. Here your business can save up to 25 percent on constant contact discount and gain access to a variety of health plan options and providers through Health services Administrators. Your company can even save on credit card processing!

Contribute to the community. By being a member your business can contribute to Business Education Collaborative to enrich the education and career development of students, to Businesswomen’s Committee that helps create a strong network group for women, to Government Affairs Council in creating a healthy business climate for the community, and to the Tourism Council, which works to promote Cape Ann as a premier visitor destination.

Gain access to other exclusive benefits like access to over 900 chamber members, office referrals, Cape Ann certificate program, and Discounts on local media advertisements.

To find out more about these benefits, or others, or if you are interested in being a member visit their website here

Plugins We Like: Events Calendar by Modern Tribe

The latest version of the Events Calendar by Modern Tribe is Sperling Interactive’s go-to calendar plugin for our clients’ website. When researching the features of this calendar you may find a lot of great aspects including: its saved venues and organizers, its inclusion of Google map, the list of upcoming events, the option to export events into Google Calendar and iCal, its responsiveness from mobile devices to desktop, and its availability to internationalize and translate the descriptions.

Of course, when researching anything you may come across many positive and negative reviews, so I decided to ask one of our developers, Andrew, what he thought about the plugin to get more information.

When I asked Andrew how he felt about it, he said it was the best calendar plugin out of the other free options. He also said that aside from reviews claiming that it is a highly customizable option, it isn’t as customizable as one would think. “It works well as a template and it’s customizable in the way you view the events and the different templates options,” he said, “but making small changes to the templates can be a difficult.” According to Andrew, in order to make changes to those templates many other plugins need to be incorporated.

When I asked Andrew what were some things he liked about the events calendar he mentioned how once the plugin is installed it immediately incorporates the existing theme or color of the website. He also likes how the pieces to customize the calendar are all there, even though “getting them to where you need them takes more work.”

Overall, Andrew said he would recommend this calendar plugin to others because “for a free plugin it’s extensive” but to “be weary that needing super extensive things might be a little more challenging.”

Unconventional Tips for Content Creation

When creating content, whether it’s for a blog, social media, or anything in relation, we may get stumped or get writer’s block more often than we’d like. Many times, when it happens, we tend to just write down anything we can come up with and end up creating content of  lower quality than we’d like. Because of this we have searched and come up with some tips to help free our minds and make space for more creative ideas. If interested in these unconventional tips, continue reading.

Tip 1: Recite what you want to write before writing it.

Many times, when we recite the next sentence we want to write down in our heads we end up forgetting or “losing our spot” in between. By vocally narrating before writing we can keep track of what we are writing and get our complete thoughts down. Using a recording device or app can help with this tip.

Tip 2: Notice what sparks ideas throughout the day.

When doing regular day activities there are times when certain ideas strike us at random. Paying attention to what actions or things trigger those ideas can be helpful; it may help spark future ideas.

Tip 3: Save the editing for the very end.

When you’re on a writing streak, stopping in the middle of it to go back and edit something can make you lose focus on what you are writing and take too much time switching back and forth from editing mode to writing mode. Writing down everything that comes to mind first and saving the editing for the very end is a more efficient way of getting the job done.

Tip 4: Get on a writing schedule.

Focusing on your daily rhythm and the point of the day where you are more energized and focused can help you create a writing schedule that is more efficient for you. This can also help you create quality content!

Tip 5: Take short breaks while working.

When working for long periods of time we can get bored and lose focus or concentration on what we’re working on. This is why taking few minute breaks throughout the day can help improving your productivity and help you creating quality content.

Tip 6: Create an outline.

Create an outline and work backwards on it. Start with the point of your post and develop an outline from that point. This way the content you come up with can connect to the overall purpose of your post.

Making Business Decisions with Analytics

If you aren’t using or paying attention to your analytics when making business decisions, then you may not be making the best decisions for your company. Analytics are extremely important for knowing and understanding your customers. They can help us assess the outcomes over target standards and goals, the relationships between factors and outcomes, and understand what improvements and changes need to be made. Let’s look at the ways in which analytics can help make better business decisions in details below:

There are different types of analytics that focus on different areas of our businesses to help us better understand our business overall. They help us determine what our business objectives are, translate those data into goals and create project assessments and new plans.

Predictive Analytics is a type of analysis that assesses all current and historical facts of our business to help us predict what our future outcomes will be. It identifies patterns through record numbers to help identify the risks or opportunities that may come to rise. This is called Data Mining. It also helps model the relationships between the different factors that can be of risk or bring opportunities for our business.

Descriptive Analytics looks at past data information to help assess and understand why there was success or failure in our business’ strategy. This is important to help us learn of areas where improvements or changes need to be made in our strategies.

Overall, having the right analytics tools can be crucial to our business decisions. Not only do they help us to better understand our clients and business but also, they are extremely useful for creating reports and summarizing the overall data. They collect the initial data, describe them, and help verify the quality of the data. By using analytics you can save half the time and effort in creating reports.

Industry Specific Sites: Dribbble

Welcome to the first blog post of our newest blog series where we will be reviewing industry specific social sites. If you thought the only social mediums important for your business are just Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn then you are wrong. If you weren’t already aware, there are many other social sites out in the virtual world that are specific to your business’ industry and can be much more important in placing your company in that industry’s map.

For the first blog of this new series, we will be reviewing Dribbble. Essentially, Dribbble works as a “show and tell” platform for all digital designers. Designers of all types (web designers, graphic designers, illustrators, icon artists, typographers, logo designers, etc.) use this social media platform to share their work with others. Just like other social media, Dribbble helps connect other designers and employers of the industry all around the world. Designers can, not only share but also, promote their work and discover and explore new designs!

As you may be wondering, some of our own team designers use Dribbble to share some of their works as well. The way it works is, designers submit the work they are most proud of or what they are currently working on onto the site everyday. They describe the design and can share the color pallets used on the work. Other designers can then share that work or comment and give advice on the design. Overall, this social site can help designers find jobs and companies find talent.

Originally, Dribbble began as a side project and then developed into what it is currently – a small, bootstrapped and profitable company located in Salem, Massachusetts helping designers around the world get noticed!

If you are interested in learning more about this Designer industry specific social site, or are interested in creating your own Dribbble account, visit the site for more here.