Wednesday, September 29, 2010

More on Building Your Free Website

So, I’ve been working on my new website now for a while. After years of being unavailable, my domain name became available. I jumped on it as I had wanted it for so long. Having already set up my site for, I had mastered the tools pretty well, except they gave us a bunch of great new tools, like a blind contact form and easy to use mp3 media player. Lots of new stuff.

During this process, my friend Claire at wanted to switch to a Yola site too because she did not want to pay and wait for her web master to make every little tweak she needed. And, she wanted to be able to upload more audio to her radio archives. So, while helping her create a new free website, I began to refine the process into a logical format.

Meanwhile, I moved to the Albuquerque area and started thinking about what I could offer the community here. The idea to help people learn to build their own free websites came to me. So, I put together a class agenda, sent out some emails through new friends’ lists, and began my first “Build Your Own Free Website” Class. I offered the class to spiritual and alternative healing entrepreneurs, so there is a nice mix of compatible people.

I’ve done the first two classes now, and it’s going well, although there have been a few glitches in the process. It’s a learning experience, after all. Here’s a list of things I teach my students that may help you organize your website and get launched into the world market.

SignUp and Basics
•Buy a domain name.
•Create Free Yola account.
•Choose a template.
•Add basic template pages (Welcome, About Us, etc.)
•Explore Widgets, Properties and Yola help center.
•Create a Customized Banner, if needed using Paint.
•Identify content and navigation strategies.
•Learn to Use Text Boxes and Photo boxes.
•Paste content into Notepad for ease of formatting.
•Don't type directly into the sitebuilder. You could lose it before saving.
•Upload photos and files to File Manager.
•Add photos and text boxes to various pages.
•Save and Preview Pages, adjust as needed.

Search Engine Optimization
•Define your target market.
•Write Window Titles.
•Identify list of keywords or search words.
•Write a short two sentence page description for each page for search engines using your key words.
•Learn where to post the window titles, key words and page descriptions for

Refine Site
•Refine Your Design & Content, Standardize colors and font sizes.
•Explore Other Yola Sitebuilder Tools
•Links: add Page Links, File Links, Photo Links.
•Add a Blind Contact Form to your Contact Us Page to avoid email address being added to spider crawler spammer lists.
•Add New Pages and Photos.
•Rearrange your navigation bar if pages are not in order.
•Add specialty widgets to site (like audio player, html code, maps, etc., as needed for your site.)
•Edit Photos in free program: PicNik (linked to Yola photo boxes)
•Add PayPal Ecommerce, if needed (catalog, single product, donation.)
•Add "Buy Now" buttons where needed.
•Set up a Free Stat Counter that counts your visitors to the site and tracks where they come from, popular pages, lots of info. Post stat counter code in html box.

Finalization & Review
•Launch (publish) the website.
•You will have to redirect your domain to Yola if you did not buy your domain from Yola. (See Yola help.) Yola’s domains are too expensive for me. 
•Review the launched site on various browsers settings and refine as needed.
•Search Engine Optimization: Create Google Webmaster free account. Get your Google Webmaster Code and put it in properties to Scan Pages for Search Engine recognition. Yola offers a tutorial to walk you through the steps.

If that all seems too complicated, Contact Sandy to help you privately or to register for a class. For more info, check out

Feel free to send me some questions or post them in comments, and I’ll help if I can.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How to Help Out a Writer Friend

We all have friends who are writers of one kind or another these days. In fact, I am one of those, but this is not me asking for help yet, but I’ll remind you of these hints when my books is ready this spring.

  1. Buy the book as soon as it is released if you can afford it. Early numbers encourage publishers and other readers. Don’t ask for free copies because they are not free to the author.
  2. Personally recommend your friend’s book to your friends, family and everyone you know. Proudly claim the author as your friend but mention how great the book is too.
  3. Send out an email to your friends and post on Facebook or Twitter (or whatever social networking site you are on) a link to the Buy Now or Information page for the book.
  4. Ask your writer friend what to post on Twitter or Facebook, if you don’t know what to say that will help the most. They may have a marketing strategy with premade tweets that you can just copy and paste. Do this several times with different tweets because no one sees every tweet you do.
  5. Schedule a house party or private or public book signing with people you think will be interested in buying the book. If you have a business where that would be appropriate, let your business sponsor a book signing, you get dual publicity. If the author is open, make it an interview the author and book signing. 
  6. For books that may companion well with your business, buy up copies and give them away with a stamp on the front or back cover that says, “This book is a gift from ________ because you are a valued customer.” Again, dual publicity.
  7. If you have a blog, write a short post about the book and add a link to a purchase site.
  8. If you belong to a Meetup Group, and the book would fit well into the group, ask if the author can speak to your group and offer the books for sale. If you don’t, find a new group that you can offer the book/author to. But first check with your friend about scheduling.

I tried not to duplicate any tips in Eileen Flanagan’s blog post, so for 10 more tips on how to help your writer friends, click below: 

If you Love a Writer by Eileen Flanagan

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Can Psychic Skills Improve Your Business?

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By Sandy Penny,

The first time I used my psychic skills in a business setting I was 24 and working as Secretary to the Dean at the Christ Church Cathedral in Houston, Texas. I had just finished reading “Think and Grow Rich,” by Napoleon Hill, and I was eager to try out the techniques he gave for creating what you want in life. I felt it would be as life changing for me as reading “The Power of Positive Thinking,” when I was 10 years old. At the same time, I was very concerned for my friend T who was out of work, depressed and looking for something new in her life. I knew I wanted a business, but I did not know what kind or how my skills would be most useful. So, I outlined my program to attract a business idea.

My first affirmation that I repeated many times before I went to bed was, “I attract to me and recognize an opportunity to create a business that uses all my skills, and supports me in doing what I love.” I wrote it down, put it on my mirror and read it while I brushed my teeth. I put it on my fridge and read it every time I opened the door. I put it on my visor in my car, and read it when I drove. At the same time, one of my activities before going to sleep was to send out good energy for family and friends. So, I affirmed that T would find work that she loved that would excite her and bring her more joy in her life. I repeated this every night for a couple of weeks. One night I dreamed that I had a new business. I didn’t see what it was, but I felt very strongly that my program had reached my subconscious mind, and was now feeding back the program to my conscious mind. I was excited by that, and it has since become a way of knowing when my program is working

Two weeks after I began my program, I was at work one day hosting the Lunchtime in the Garden program that I created to help the Cathedral draw more people to the church. A man I knew from my community theater group, where I had also met T, came into the courtyard. I didn’t really know him very well, but when he saw me, he made a beeline over to where I was. He began pacing back and forth as if something were bothering him. I said, “Are you OK?” “Well,” he scratched his head as he continued, “I don’t exactly know how to begin this conversation.” “OK,” I said, having no idea what was up with him, “I’ve found it’s best just to jump in.” “Well, all right then,” he said hesitantly. “I had a dream last night about a new business. I saw myself creating a business using local acting talent and musicians, and writing and marketing targeted scripts and stage productions to businesses. I can’t for the life of me figure out why. I’m a lawyer, and I have no desire for a new business, hell, I can’t even write. But when I saw you, a feeling came over me that I was supposed to tell you about it. I don’t know why, it just was kind of overwhelming.” “Hmmm,” I said, “That’s really interesting. I've been sending out vibes to attract a new business idea.” “Well, you can have this one if you want it," he said, "Maybe I can get it off my mind if you take it.” “OK, I’ll think it over. Thanks. I really appreciate it.”

Stunned by the odd conversation and its relationship to my program, I wondered if someone could just walk up to you and give you an answer with no knowledge of the question beforehand. What a concept. I was game to explore the idea though, and that’s a key, being willing to take the next step when you recognize a synchronicity. A couple of nights later, I visited T and told her about this strange meeting. She said, “I’ve often tried to think of a way to better use local talent.” Then she looked at me wide eyed and exclaimed, “Oh wow, you could write the scripts, and I could manage the productions. We could do this together. And, I’ve even got the name for it, “PenniWell Productions, a combination of our last names. I had not seen her so excited in a long time. It hit me that Houston being the oil and gas capital of the world, everyone would recognize PenniWell as associated with the oil and gas publishing company. We wouldn’t have to say we were connected, there would just be a subliminal name recognition.

So, we began, and it was amazing how we could get access to top level executives with just a phone call. They all seemed to think they had heard of us. Soon, we had clients, and I wrote my first play, “The Toys’ First Christmas,” for the opening of Greenspoint Mall. It was the mall’s first Christmas, and this was a 15-minute puppet show that could be performed in during the Christmas season to draw more shoppers. It was fun, and it was a hit. I even made the puppets. We went on to create roasts for company executives, awards ceremonies for sales groups and scripts for trade show models. After a while, we both felt it was time to move on, and I began managing a secretarial service.

After five years managing the service, I was bored and ready for a change. I had also gotten very immersed in metaphysical studies and wanted to do something that incorporated more of that lifestyle into my daily life, and my inner entrepreneur was begging to be set free. So, it was time to write a new program. Once again, I didn’t know what kind of business to start, so here’s how the program went: “I am creating a business that uses all the skills I like to use, my graphic design background, my writing, my spirituality, that serves the greater good and supports me and my son with enough money to live our comfortable lifestyle.”

At the time, that included a car note, car insurance, daycare, health insurance, a house note, all the utilities required to support a home, and of course, food, clothing and entertainment for me and my son. Also, I wanted to start my business before the end of the year, and I had no money to invest. It was September when I wrote the program. My programming techniques had evolved through further studies, and instead of just repeating and repeating, I visualized having this business in a meditative state. One day I heard in meditation, “You are the daughter of the Rising Sun and this shall be your symbol.” I asked what that meant, and heard, “You’ll know when to use it.”

Around Thanksgiving, I was doing readings at a psychic fair, having now recognized my psychic abilities and developed them through the Chapel of Prayer with Eleanor Button and many others. Attendance was down, and it seemed that everyone was complaining that now that the “Common Ground” metaphysical events calendar was no longer being published, there was nowhere to advertise events and classes. Attendees at the fair were saying they missed knowing what was going on. Twenty people must have come up to me and repeated the same thing.

Suddenly, a light bulb went on over my head, and it was like hitting the jackpot on a slot machine, ding, ding, ding, ding. A simple thought formed in my head, “I could do that.” And then, “Wow, I could do that.” I spoke with Eleanor Button about it, and she was very excited and encouraging. But, I had never started a newspaper, and I didn’t know quite where to begin. Obviously, a newspaper would let me use my graphic design skills, my writing, my sales experience, everything on my list, but would it support me?

Eleanor had an old copy of “Common Ground,” and I took it home with me. I was inspired to call their phone number to see who answered and just talk to them about starting something new. I reached Catherine Shugert. She was their answering service, and owner of Pilgrim’s Path Bookstore. She said, “Come over and meet me, and let’s see what we can do.” Obviously, she also needed a place to advertise her bookstore. It turned out that she had the entire client list and was the person who called clients for advertising. She gave me the list and said she’d love to be my answering service. She became that and much more to me, one of my longest term spiritual teachers and a lifetime friend.

After browsing through a stack of old “Common Grounds,” it became apparent that I would need to add some articles to expand interest, and because I wanted to write them. This could provide me the opportunity to meet every spiritual teacher in Houston and get to know what they were offering. It became my fast track to spiritual growth. Then I realized that obviously the “Common Ground” was not meeting its community’s needs if it went out of business while clients were begging for a place to advertise. How could I find out what they wanted that they were not getting? I wrote a few articles and borrowed some ads from the old paper and made up a dummy of what I planned to offer. I knew the name had to be “The Rising Sun” from my earlier meditation.

I then got the brilliant idea to call every advertiser and invite them to a party to discuss creating a new community newspaper to serve them better. About 50 people came to the party, and by the end of the gathering, I had sold enough ads in this non-existent newspaper to pay for printing the first issue. With checks in hand, my no investment criteria had been met. I also had a notebook full of ideas for future issues. The day after I published my first issue, my boss at the secretarial service fired me. She said it was a conflict of interest. Now the newspaper had to support me ... and it did.

The theme throughout this part of my life was trusting the intuitive information enough to take steps in the direction of what I wanted as ideas surfaced. That built my foundation on leaps of faith based on my intuition. I now use that same skill to help others do what they want to do in their lives.

Whether it’s business or personal, the process is the same. Your life is an integrated experience, and your business should support you in a way that is in harmony with your overall life goals.