Support Networks in Recovery From Addiction

Support networks must be made a critical component of an addict’s recovery plan in order to prevent relapse and maintain and improve emotional, mental and spiritual health. Recovering addicts that do not have a support network often become depressed, withdraw from social interactions and eventually return to using drugs in order to self-medicate their emotional pain. Consequently, understanding how support networks can benefit a recovery program and what types of networks are available is essential for people who are battling the disease of addiction or alcoholism.

Support Networks: Why They Work

There are 8 primary reasons why support networks are crucial for people in recovery:

1.) Fellowship

The power of fellowship is felt in nearly all groups that gather for a specific purpose; especially groups with powerful missions like those dedicated to the recovery of addicts and alcoholics. Humans are innately social creatures that need to be around other people that share the same goals and interests. And while there might not yet be enough scientific evidence to prove it, for hundreds and perhaps thousands of years mankind has recognized the power of fellowship; it’s a call that all humans respond to and this may be even truer for addicts that need to know they are not alone in their struggle.

2.) Friendly Observation

People in recovery sometimes struggle with issues of honesty regarding their desire to use or their actual drug use despite recovery efforts. Having a strong recovery-based support network serves as a safety net in this regard, as people within the group can recognize issues and signs of relapse or impending relapse among others in the group. In this way people can “keep an eye on each other.”

3.) Environment of Understanding

People in the general public often find it difficult or impossible to understand the true nature of the disease of addiction and fail to recognize how powerful it really is. By creating a recovery support network, an addict or alcoholic can ensure that the people they surround themselves with understand addiction and will therefore be less likely to judge, admonish or “feel sorry” for others that they know have a legitimate, neurological disease that requires a daily effort to overcome.

4.) The Power of Sharing

There is a great deal of power in sharing and we see this in many different ways in society, from the individual talking to a therapist, to those who take part in groups and organizations, to people who open up to their barber or stylist, we clearly see that sharing helps people. Sharing can relieve stress, create stronger relationships and allow people to “let go” of emotional and other pain that they otherwise would allow to fester and grow. And according to Dr. Barton Goldsmith, sharing with others helps give us new perspective;

“There will always be problems in our lives, but sometimes we don’t have the capacity to handle them all by ourselves. Getting a 360-degree view is impossible when all you can see is what’s going wrong. And talking with another person can give you perspective.” (Goldsmith, Barton, Ph.D. Talk About Your Problems, Please Psychology Today March 3, 2011)

5.) Emergencies

When an addict has an “emergency”, it often means they are about to relapse. For some, this could prove fatal, so prompt action is required. Addicts that have good support networks are able to rely on people within them to come to their aid in the event that they feel drug use or a return to drinking is imminent. Additionally, a person in recovery may be empowered and enlightened when another addict asks them for help when they feel like using.

6.) Confidence

The confidence that a strong recovery-oriented support network can provide is significant. Many addicts report that just knowing there are people that they can talk to and others who are like them that they can turn to in the event of trouble makes it much easier to deal with the daily problems that often stress addicts and alcoholics out. When it comes to relapse prevention, confidence is one of the most critical components of recovery stability.

7.) Education and Resources

The more people an addict has in their networks, the more likely it is that new and useful information will be passed among the various members. And the more education and resources an addict has access to, the more likely it is that they will acquire the right combination of knowledge and tools not only to stay clean for life, but to help others do so as well.

8.) Entertainment

Being part of a recovery-oriented network doesn’t mean that there’s no fun or entertainment involved. People in recovery can still do all of the fun things they want to do, provided others in the group want to participate. Fortunately there are many recovery-sensitive groups and organizations that arrange outings, events and so on in order to provide clean entertainment for its members. Remember; it’s as important to share a laugh with your networks as it is to share emotional pain.

Types/Components of Support Networks

Each addict’s complete support network structure is unique. Some addicts consciously build their support groups, while others are unsure of what groups and networks exist, how to join and what the benefits are. The following are 11 different components that in whole or in part make up the support networks of many people in recovery:

1.) 12 Step Programs

Groups like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and NA (Narcotics Anonymous) have provided the fellowship and support necessary to help thousands of people maintain their recovery, “one day at a time.” Both groups are founded on the principle of the discussion and sharing of experiences, usually pre-empted by the humbling statement of;

“Hi, my name is so-and-so, and I’m an addict.”

Many rehab centers and drug treatment programs use 12 Step programs as a basis for the continued recovery program of their patients upon graduation. While these groups are not for everyone, they are convenient in that they can be found in virtually every area of the country.

2.) Recovery-Specific Groups

Recovery specific groups are those that gather for a particular purpose or activity in order to have clean fun together. Often there isn’t any structure to the groups in the sense of recovery-oriented dialogue or practices- in most cases these groups are just people trying to live normal lives but who all happen to be in recovery. Examples of recovery-oriented groups include the infamous 5th Chapter motorcycle club and Young People in Recovery.

3.) Connections Made During Treatment

When addicts complete drug or alcohol treatment together, they often form lasting bonds that become a key part of their support system. Of course, these relationships should only be maintained if they are healthy. These can be especially powerful relationships because the parties are essentially on the same “level,” and are likely going through similar experiences related to post acute withdrawal, issues re-integrating with society, etc.

4.) Recovery Forums and Websites

Recovery forums and websites provide an additional opportunity to develop relationships, discuss issues, share experiences, collaborate, meet and take part in activities together and much more. Forums are also an excellent way to gather information and resources and to easily develop a support system that might not be available in certain areas- especially very small cities and towns.

5.) Family & Friends

Family and friends that support the addict’s recovery are possibly the most important part of a strong support system. From old friends that bring understanding, history and loyalty to new friends that have been acquired along the path to recovery, often these individuals can provide more emotional support than others. The same is true of family members, but people in recovery must beware to limit relationships with family members that were enablers or those who do not suppo
rt or take addiction recovery seriously. In many cases relationships with family members are cited as the cause of substance abuse, so it’s important to choose the family and friends that are permitted into a support network carefully and honestly.

6.) Spiritual & Religious Groups

Even if you don’t take part in organized religion, there are often groups within groups among these types of organizations. For instance, AA and NA 12 Step meetings are often held at churches or other spiritual gathering places. In fact, some religious groups sponsor these programs because their ideals are largely aligned.

7.) Rehab Alumni Associations

For addicts that attended and completed a rehab program, there may be an opportunity to join an alumni association for that particular treatment center. This is an excellent way to stay connected to the people who were influential in the early part of a person’s recovery, and to meet new people who are also living a life free from drugs or alcohol, one day at a time.

8.) Community Outreach Programs

Many communities have outreach programs for the disadvantaged, and this can include drug addicts in some cases. Programs can be as simple as the provision of a place to gather and meet, or it can include funding for specialized treatment, groups, therapy and other benefits. In order to find out if your community offers such programs, your town or city hall is an excellent place to start.

9.) Healthcare Professionals

Therapists, doctors, nurses, dieticians, massage therapists, chiropractors and many other types of healthcare professional play a central role in the support network of addicts and alcoholics in recovery. In fact, most people in recovery probably underutilize this source and fail to recognize the benefits. However, this group is likely one of the most important parts of a recovery support system considering that these professionals help to maintain the physical, mental and emotional health of an individual. Consequently it’s vital that people in recovery are open and honest with their healthcare professionals and alert them to any issues that could indicate a relapse is imminent.

10.) School/Educational Resources

If you’re a student, it’s likely that your school or university has special programs available for people who struggle with substance abuse and addiction. These programs could consist of therapy or counseling, the hosting of recovery-related groups, resources to get outside help and possibly funding for treatment. Additionally, other students may become part of a support network, as they are almost certainly experiencing the same stresses and issues related to schooling, social pressures and so on.

11.) Volunteer Organizations

By volunteering for any number of a wide range of organizations, people in recovery can help to give back what was given to them in the way of compassion, understanding, advice, resources, financial assistance, etc. But perhaps even more importantly, the interactions between other volunteers and organizers can blossom into significant meaningful relationships that can one day become a key part of a healthy support system.

If you’re an addict or alcoholic in recovery and you don’t have a support network, it’s imperative that you take action now and get involved. You can start with a simple search in Google for recovery related forums, or you can check the Yellow Pages for the nearest AA or NA meeting. Remember; if you go to the same lengths to stay clean as you once did to use, you’ll very quickly develop a strong network of link-minded, recovery-oriented people that will offer a mutually beneficial way to keep fighting the good fight, one day at a time.

The Flavorful Delights of Israeli Cuisine

It figures I’m about to start a culinary journey on Israeli cuisine while being exceptionally hungry. In my mind’s eye (and a grumbling stomach) I can see the comfort foods of my youth; foods that might make some people in the world ask, what on earth is that?

There’s no easy way to pigeon hole Israeli cuisine, a blend of cultures from Eastern Europe to the shores of Northern Africa and the far reaches of Asia. Each distinct region has brought Israel to the forefront the very best of their tasty dishes, making the act of eating in Israel a vacation all its own.

Many of you might have already heard of some traditional Israeli dishes. Ashkenazi cuisine comes from the folks from Eastern Europe. These are the same folks that give us some wonderfully sweet pastries, yet gave us borsht and gefilte fish. Go figure.

Sephardic foods come from countries like Spain and Morocco, food like the savory pastry known as bourekas, made with puff pastry filled with cheese and spinach, just to name a few.

I’m getting ahead of myself–I should’ve talked about breakfast first. It is the most important meal of the day, right? Most hotels in Israel are quite proud of their Israeli breakfast, which many promote in order to get you to stay there.

Oh no, my American friends, this isn’t your bacon-laden, side of home-fries meal. Look around, you’ll find bowls of fresh fruit, salads made with finely chopped tomatoes, fish, eggs, bread, and yogurt.

Now that I think about it, almost all of Israel’s dishes center on fresh produce. This even includes the ever popular falafel; fried ground chickpeas stuffed in a pita served with Israeli salad (tomato, cucumber, onion) and tahina.

Oh tahina, a sesame sauce that makes everything taste better. Not that the world’s best street food like falafel can’t stand on its own, mind you.

I think the only thing more popular than falafel is hummus. Made with ground chickpeas, often served with pine nuts or a smatter of olive oil, it is generally eaten with just pita. Hummus is so popular in Israeli cuisine it seems to be a culinary staple, no matter what meal it is.

Food in Israel might be fresh and tasty, but it means nothing if not shared with family and loved ones. That is, unless, you’ve gotten a Moroccan and Tunisian fighting it out over who makes better couscous, a dish made from semolina flour with lamb or chicken simmered with veggies on top.

One of the best ways to enjoy Israeli food with the family is a hafla. This is a traditional Bedouin meal of salads and kebabs with Bedouin pita (known as fatir) served as you lounge on soft pillows drinking mint infused beverages (like tea or lemonade).

Food is so ingrained in Israeli culture so that if you’ve been invited into someone’s home, they will try to feed you. And it’s an insult to refuse–so eat up.

Food even has its superstitions. One lady friend who was going to have a baby mentioned in passing that she was “craving” falafel, only to be handed an entire container of them by her Israeli neighbor soon afterwards, simply because it was “wrong” to refuse a pregnant lady any food she wished for.

You could go on forever talking about food in Israel, and spend another lifetime talking about beverages in Israel. Great, now I’m even hungrier than when I started.–someone pass the falafel, please?

Debunking 5 Myths About Why IT Leasing Is Bad for Business

Our previous article on the Top three worst excuses to avoid IT leasing exposed the most common excuses that we hear for not leasing IT gear from a policy point of view, but what about from a practical point of view? Are the reasons companies and SME’s give for not leasing really valid?

1. “Won’t it end up costing me more?”

No, monthly payments will pretty much always total up to more than the equipment costs to buy – but this is a very one-dimensional view. When it comes to business, the total paid doesn’t always equate to the total cost. Sounds like some weird quantum maths going on… However, when you take into account the differences in tax exemption between leasing and buying, the cost of upkeep and the expense of flogging your obsolete equipment on the secondary market, leasing tends to work out cheaper.

2. “It’s better to own my equipment”

Not true! Keeping in mind what’s best for business, the main problem is: What’s the real benefit of owning the equipment outright? In the knowledge that it will become out-dated in three years!

Intuition tells you that an asset owned is better than an asset borrowed, but in this case it is not true. In your industry, if you own the asset, the onus is on you to keep it in good working order and to shift it once it is redundant – a headache no one wants to deal with. Besides, do you have the technical expertise to refurbish the equipment for the secondary market or will it more likely end up in the skip? A Financial Services provider worth its salt will offer to buy your IT deadweight and dispose of your redundant hardware free-of-charge.

3. “I’d have less visibility over leased equipment”

Exactly the opposite! You are handing over the time-consuming and complex management and oversight to a supplier – but you see everything through one window, with IT leasing losing an overview is not the case. Software allows you to manage and keep track of your entire IT ecosystem, right down to the serial number and full spec of the PC, monitor and mobile device provided to an employee of the business. It allows IT managers to be the master of their own IT universe – tracking machine performance, updating schedules, usage, redundancy and so on.

4. “It is just another contract to manage”

Some services can consolidate and centralise all of your IT contracts and warranties with your various vendors.

5. “I thought going straight to the manufacturer would be cheaper?”

Manufacturers, such as Dell, do sometimes offer their own leasing contracts. It seems obvious that a lease direct from the manufacturer would be cheaper. However, in a more modestly sized supplier, there are actually fewer overheads and complex costings, which means a better price can be on the table over that of a manufacturer. You are free to choose any equipment you like, regardless of brand.

ZNZ Review

So what exactly is ZNZ? ZNZ, also known as ZipNada Zilch, works with Fortune 500 companies to help them acquire people to sign up for their free or low cost trial offers. These companies are willing to pay big money for this service with the hopes that many of these people will stay on as paying customers.

You’re probably wondering how you can make money with ZNZ? It’s very simple! You can sign up for a free account with them through one of their websites such as ZNZ One. Once you are signed up, you must then complete one of the trial offers yourself in order to be eligible to start making money online with them. Once completed you can then start advertising the link that they provide you with.

If you are promoting ZNZ One, you will get paid $20 (directly to your PayPal account or by check) every time a person signs up through your link and completes a trial offer. If you want to make money with ZNZ on a consistent basis, you will need some type of system that will do the work for you. What I mean by work is the selling, telling and showing. There are many systems out there but I would recommend finding a free system for ZNZ.

Using a free system for ZNZ makes it a lot easier to make money with ZNZ. If someone has to pay a monthly fee, they will be less likely to join. When searching for one, it must meet the following criteria: It should have an attractive capture page that entices people to want to submit their contact information to learn more about the system and ZNZ. It should then have an auto responder that automatically sends out follow-up emails. The system should also contain step by step instructional videos that cover everything.

Another thing to look for is whether or not the system provides any type of training and support. A good system will help you with your advertising by providing proper training and teaching you all of the various marketing techniques and strategies. Many systems will provide you with sample ads as well, that you can just copy and paste.

So hopefully this should answer the question, “What is ZNZ?” It is a legitimate company that is helping many people make money online. They have been around since 2007 and have paid out a total of five million dollars in commissions to date! Anyone can make money with ZNZ regardless of your experience level.

Top Tips to Remember on How to Make Money From Home Online

Life may be hard, but you have no more reason to slack and complain because there are lots of ways to earn if you only know where to look. The best part about this is that you can even earn during your spare time and while you are at home. You just need to learn more about the ideas and techniques on how to make money from home online.

You can opt to pursue various opportunities, depending on the time and money that you are willing to spend in the venture, your skills, capabilities and interests. You can begin an online business, start your own website that you will monetize or apply for jobs that you can do at home.

For starters who are still not adept with how things work in various online schemes, these are some of the factors that you ought to look into as you search for the kinds of ventures that you can take part of.

1. If you will be asked to invest money in an online business, you have to read everything about it and pay attention to how you will be compensated and how long it would take before you get a good return for your investment. The opportunity must be able to pay investors like you in cash. Do not settle for points or rewards, even though the capital is small.

2. If the opportunity involves marketing, you must not choose something that involves hard selling. You must also think like a consumer. With so many gimmicks and schemes that can be found in the cyberspace, many people are getting more cautious before participating in any of these. There may be many people who have benefited from internet marketing, but if you are not an expert in the field, it is best that you focus your efforts on tasks where you can utilize your skills and work hard on your earnings.

3. When you see opportunities on how to make money from home online that sound too good to be true, such as the types that offer high compensation for less work, you might as well skip these and settle for the types, where you are required to do tasks that are commensurate to the earnings that you will get.

To make it easier for you to spot the right and suitable opportunities on how to make money from home online, you have to limit your options on the types that you are willing and capable of doing. In the beginning, your goal may be to learn more about the process and pursue other opportunities that will give you higher compensation after you have gotten the hang of how things work in this kind of venture.

Shakespeare on Addiction: Sonnet 129

Something interesting happens every time I teach Shakespeare’s Sonnet 129. I’m reasonably certain the term “sex addiction” didn’t exist in his day – and neither did 12 step groups for it, with Elizabethans turning up in their flamboyant garb – but that doesn’t mean that the problem, and its attendant degradations, didn’t exist. Just ask Shakespeare about his Dark Lady.***

The expense of spirit in a waste of shame

Is lust in action; and till action, lust

Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame,

Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust,

Enjoy’d no sooner but despised straight,

Past reason hunted, and no sooner had

Past reason hated, as a swallow’d bait

On purpose laid to make the taker mad;

Mad in pursuit and in possession so;

Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;

A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe;

Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.

All this the world well knows; yet none knows well

To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.

Why am I thinking about sonnet 129? Shakespeare’s sonnets beg for interpretation, and it’s not just because they are formal masterpieces that we should, as intelligent folk, feel compelled to dissect for dissection’s sake. No, there’s more to them than that. His sonnets are relevant today and I’m going to show you why.

A few years ago, I came across an hour long documentary made about Vancouver’s notorious downtown eastside. The area has been ravaged by an influx of drugs and its victims, earning it a reputation for being something of an elephants’ graveyard: it’s where addicts go to die. The film was called Through a Blue Lens and was shot, mostly, by two beat cops who wanted to portray the lives of the addicts living there. It’s not a warm and fuzzy film about drug addiction, but it’s not condemnatory either. Here’s an excerpt:

The plight of those living in that part of Vancouver became a minor cause célèbre in 1999, in part because The Globe and Mail published a photo essay of its denizens that left a lot of Canadians gasping. It made us aware, in a none-too-gentle way, that we had inner city problems just as bad as some cities south of the border. Vancouver’s port is a gateway for the drug trade and it seems at least some of these drugs don’t travel far: they form the lifeblood of those immiserated souls living in the downtown area.

So why look at Canada’s Skid Row when we’re talking about Shakespeare? It’s because his definition of addiction is one of the best I’ve ever read. It’s relevant today and that’s because when addicts talk about their suffering, they report (albeit less eloquently) many of the same things. And when I say things, I mean they report having many of the same feelings and experiences described by Shakespeare. Those haunting sounds of agony — the addict’s anguish — are distilled, painfully and thoroughly, in this poem.

It begins:

The expense of spirit in a waste of shame

Shakespeare believes we forfeit our spirit – our soul – when we engage in addictive behaviour. The expense, or the price of the addiction, is paid with it. Waste here is used literally (implying that lives are wasted by addiction) and also symbolically to denote a place. This double meaning is made obvious by the use of the preposition in, as “in” a waste of shame. Waste as a place bookends neatly with that other inferno, hell, mentioned in the closing couplet.

Lust is Shakespeare’s drug of choice and the belief is that it was aimed at the infamous Dark Lady, that promiscuous creature that had Shakespeare, and others, utterly intoxicated.

The expense of spirit in a waste of shame

Is lust in action; and till action, lust

Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame,

Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust

What are the signs of Shakespeare’s enslavement? The form of a sonnet is strictly prescribed: it is made up of three quatrains — three groups of four lines — and a closing couplet. The rhyme scheme tends to alternate lines, meaning the first line rhymes with the third, the second with the fourth, etc. The lines are usually made up of phrases that go towards forming sentences. However, in this quatrain, the last half is simply a list of adjectives or adjective phrases, enumerating Shakespeare’s agonies. And these agonies are stated strongly, with words like murderous, bloody, savage and extreme.

This is a man in the throes of an obsession, an obsession that won’t even allow him to form coherent thoughts; instead he spits out a list of adjectives to convey his feelings. Shakespeare the wordsmith created this list for a reason. It’s there to denote a burst of feeling that can’t be contained.

But does this fury of Shakespeare’s capture the state of those sad and emaciated souls wandering the downtown eastside? I would argue it does and the key word here is shame. Ask any active addict how they feel about their life and you are bound to discover, underneath the anger and street braggadocio, a deep and murky well of it. That shame is what keeps them using; it’s what keeps them from wanting to feel.

After Shakespeare establishes his narrative voice, he turns to the cyclical nature of his malady. In the second quatrain, he states:

Enjoy’d no sooner but despised straight,

Past reason hunted, and no sooner had

Past reason hated, as a swallow’d bait

On purpose laid to make the taker mad;

Here we see the structural and thematic rendering of the cycle of addiction. Let me translate: the addict no sooner enjoys (uses) her drug when she starts to despise its consequences straight (right away). However, beyond all reason she continues to hunt for it, and again, as soon as she consumes it, she hates it beyond all reason because she can’t stop. Then Shakespeare expands the subtle animal imagery and lays blame on suppliers and enablers. Her drug is like a trap laid on purpose and it makes her, the taker, mad. Mad here is being used in the British sense of the word, meaning insane.

It’s usually at this point in my class that I stop and ask students to think of an activity, any activity, they do to excess. Do they spend too much time online? Eat too much of the wrong kind of food? Text incessantly? And it’s also here that I tell them my own little story of addiction, the one that had me frequently rushing to the neighbourhood corner store, in Toronto, when I was a student.

I had an addiction and it was to Swedish Berries, those soft red candies that taste heavenly but are of no nutritional value whatever. These darlings came in handy at midnight when I had an essay to finish and needed a sugar boost. However, the problem was that I didn’t know when to stop. The store sold them in bulk and I didn’t have the discipline to buy only a few. My reasoning, as I stood in front of that bin and ladled in scoop after scoop, was that I would save some for later.

Right.

So I would eat them until I felt sick and this process, over the last two years of my undergrad degree, repeated itself more times than I care to remember. But it was the sequence of events in this process that was important. I would come to the realization it was late. I knew I had to keep working but didn’t want coffee. Then I would think: Hey! Swedish Berries! Great idea! And I would haul myself off to the store, come back and eat way too many of them. Only afterwards would I say to myself: “Did I really have to scarf down that whole bag?” Or: “Good idea? What was I thinking?”

So too goes the cycle of addiction: there is the chase, the consummation and the aftermath. In other words, the anticipation, the imbibing and the remorse. This cycle will be expanded upon in the next quatrain.

Mad in pursuit and in possession so;

Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;

A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe;

Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.

The first quatrain establishes, through the use of enumeration, Shakespeare’s lo
ss of control. The second establishes the cyclical nature of his addiction. This last is significant because it does not provide new information. However, it does repeat the three part cycle and repetition in Shakespeare is always significant: he uses it to let us know we need to pay attention. Here we are told, again and with more emphasis, that an addict is mad while chasing the drug and mad while consuming it. And of course it is that madness — that inability to reason — that starts the cycle all over again.

But take a look at the second line. Shakespeare reverses the order of the cycle: he starts with the aftermath: had, moves to the consummation: having, and then moves to the first stage of the cycle, the chase: in quest to have. He does this to create the impression of a back-and-forth motion: the addict moves forward and backward, forward and backward, ad infinitum. Why? Because that’s what happens when one becomes addicted: life stalls.

At the start of this article, I said something interesting happens every time I teach this sonnet. Here it is: after I read it out loud, I tell my students to look closely at the panhandlers, especially the young ones, when they pass through the Atwater metro, the metro that services Dawson. I almost always get the same reaction: the class goes silent, the flow of air in the room stops, and these young people, with their futures ahead of them, pay closer attention. This suffering, rendered so poetically by Shakespeare, is only steps away.

And it happens elsewhere. When I drive home, I stop at a busy intersection leading onto the highway. That’s where I often see a young woman, her blonde hair in dreadlocks, holding up a sign asking for spare change. I always give her some and now she knows to come to me. If the traffic light permits, we may even exchange a few words.

I’ve been criticized for doing this — “she’ll just spend the money on drugs” is what I hear — but I don’t know what else to do. I don’t know how we can stop people from “committing suicide on the installment plan,” as a good friend of mine puts it.

Shakespeare didn’t know either, but luckily for us, that didn’t stop him from looking deeply into that darkness and writing about it anyway.

***I will be, for the sake of brevity and compression, be referring to the narrator as Shakespeare.

Understanding Your Landing Page

Trends in the marketing and advertising industry are ever-changing. They evolve depending on the developments of target markets and consumers. Before, promotions are centered on traditional media. Businesses invest in print advertisements in magazines and newspapers. They also pay for television and radio advertisements when they want to reach a wider range of market.

Nowadays, though, a new line of advertising and marketing strategy has emerged together with the rise of the online industry. As the target market becomes considerably larger online, businesses become more focused on their promotional strategies. The audience online is so vast that businesses find difficulty in actually reaching out to their market, let alone encouraging them to become actual clients.

This is why a lot of businesses now focus on creating good sales copies and engaging websites for their online market. They have even opened work from home opportunities for content writers, web page designers, and other skilled individuals. One of the best strategies that these businesses employ is the use of landing pages.

A landing page appears when you click through a search engine result or an online ad posting. Usually, these are stand-alone pages that only contain a link to the official website if the reader gets more interested. A comprehensive sales copy is commonly featured in landing pages. Often, they are made for specific advertising purposes or when there is a particular product that a company would like to give emphasis on.

Landing pages may also appear as the result of a link from a social networking account or a specialized marketing campaign. These are the pages that you get redirected to when you click through a badge from the sidebar of your Facebook account or from a blog that you are visiting. You may also reach this through a promotional message sent to you via email.

There are two general types of a landing page. One is the reference type, wherein you only get to view information and content displayed for you. This is the kind that you put up for the purpose of direct promotion. In this type, visitors of the page are given outright the information that they need. The other type of landing page is referred to as transactional because it requires visitors to enter log-in details for them to be able to view the content of the page.

In creating landing pages, you must be able to consider a few essential factors to ensure that they reach the objective for which they are made for. One of these factors is the accessibility of your page. You have to ensure that when a potential client decides to peruse the landing page for your product all of its contents are easily accessible. The information must all be displayed in a well-organized manner to display transparency and encourage understanding of your brand and product.

You should also be able to consider the relevance of your content to the immediate market that you may reach. As the Internet is a wide market, this page will likely be visited by various people. However, only those who find your content relevant to their needs would be interested enough to read through and even click to be redirected to your actual website. This is why you have to ensure that your content would prove to relate to your audience, regardless of their needs and statuses. They have to be able to see some benefit, however remotely, out of the product that you are offering them.

Finally, in creating a landing page, you must also consider the level of interaction that it promotes. Online users are usually more enticed when they get to a page that tries to interact with them because they feel significant to the purpose. You must make your readers feel this way so that they would be encouraged to visit your website and, eventually, become actual clients. Interactive landing pages may include forum questions, online promo contests, and information exchange.

Landing pages are really beneficial for website owners especially to those who are managing work from home opportunities. They do need not to compile all information in just one website. Just always remember to put in your landing page all relevant information for your brand to gain the trust of your immediate market.

The Key To Successful List Building

In this era relationships and relationship building are what we are all about.

Certainly, doing business successfully online or offline requires a good deal of relationship building in terms of not only your prospects and customers but also your affiliates or referral partners.

It’s a fact that even in today’s fast moving technological world, when it all boils down to it. People still buy people, and that is why building list building the right way is so important to the level of success that you will enjoy in business both online and offline, but especially online.

People don’t like to be sold to but they still like to buy. They don’t want to be pursued and interrupted but they are happy to be involved in a non threatening relationship with someone who can give them lots of value for free and then, once the trust has built up… they will be ready to buy.

The downside is that this list building and relationship stuff takes a little time but it’s worth it because, once you have established trust and credibility you will sell more, more often and for a higher amount on each transaction so the effort is worth it. So let’s talk a little more about the specifics of list building.

OK, well we have discussed the reasons why and the benefits to both you and the customer, so how about discussing the how of effective list building?

Well, firstly you need to decide on an autoresponder and there are a very many choices out there so it pays to do you due diligence and check out the options thoroughly before making a decision on which autoresponder to use.

But just important as which autoresponder to use if the knowledge of how best to use it. There is a way to communicate via autoresponder that is the right mix of free high value content and sales offers. This ration is typically 80/20 in favour of non sales high value information. So, typically out of every 5 emails you send out to your list just 1 would contain an offer of a paid product or service, the rest must ideally offer free value and lot of it.

Here’s how it should work…

You get a visitor to your website or squeeze page and he or she opts in to your email autoresponder list as a result of the free report or whatever that you are offering in return for their email address, or their name and email address. By the way… don’t go for too much information at this early stage as you are just beginning your relationship with your new subscriber and they probably don’t trust you too much just yet. I would recommend no more than just name and email at this stage.

OK, once that has been done, your new subscriber should receive 4 to 5 email from you which support the free value he or she has received and adds some more to it. Now the 5th or 6th email from you should make an offer for a paid product or service that is ideally related in some way related to the free offer they accepted from you at the outset. Remember that is what brought them in at the outset so you know this is a point of interest.

Too many internet marketers completely ignore this advice and just offer some paid product that he little or no relevance to the initial product taken by the subscriber and as such, experience many unsubscribes because the content has no interest to the person who has opted in. It’s a crazy practice and yet I see so many doing it.

To be honest… until I really understood this stuff myself I was doing it too!

It’s really not rocket science though. Just keep feeding your subscribers new content that is related to their area of interest and occasionally drop them an offer for a paid product or service related to that area. Use your free report of whatever as the lead generator that brings these people into your list in the first place and keep driving traffic to that lead generation.

Bear in the mind that the industry standard comes in at about $1 per name on your list per month. In others words, for every 1000 people on your list you should at least $1000 per month.

Can you see why it would be a good idea to build your own list now?

Remember, Google may slap you and Facebook may kick you in the teeth by changing the way it does things, but no one can ever take your list away from you. You control you list at all times and it is by far the biggest asset you will ever build in your business. So I urge you to start list building now… your better future depends on it!

Upscale Down Town Large City Parking Structure Onsite Auto Detailing and Car Washing

Over the years I’ve had mobile car washing and auto detailing companies ask me about working in large Metro Area parking structures, offering services to company employees in the building. Sometimes folks contact me about setting up services at Airport Park and Fly’s. The other day someone asked about a 1,000 parking space parking garage in the high-rent district. Okay so, let’s say you were putting together a business plan for something like this – how many car owners are really going to be interested in your services? Let’s talk.

It has been my experience that you get 15% peak at the 6th week point providing the quality is “excellent” in the first-fifth week. The first week expect perhaps 5-7%. Now then, generally if you offer 5-day week service you get the most business on Thurs-Fri for weekend, so at first the Monday-Tuesday business might be dismal. These numbers “assume” that you have pre-announced advanced notification, flyers, faxes, or notification from the property manager of a new service which everyone considers trying. You should get 8% of the people getting weekly washes after that 6th week, and the rest getting add-on services for the total of that 15%.

Now then, the people’s cars will still be clean from the original 1-2 weeks, so the second and third week, expect slow growth, less than the first two week, but things then progress. Some folks choose not to use the service regularly because of cost, or kids at home washing cars, DIY crowd; by week six you should peak or plateau at 75% of your future maximum future volume as you slowly win over folks who budget you as a fixed expense.

What about pricing?

Okay so, with all this said unless your buildings contain high-end clientele and is in the downtown financial district – lawyers and other financial type businesses – then your price should be fair and honorable for the middle class. Remember most of your customers will become – if you do this right – weekly executive in-and-out washes at let’s say $15-25 each. Then once per month quick express wax at $40-50. Then, every other month max detail $100+.

You should not forgo the single-mom secretary with the beginner entry point BMW, she’s your very best word of mouth, don’t price her out of the market! Or give her a “free exterior only” wash with tire-dressing if there are 5-or more per office that sign up.

Let’s say you are working with luxury buildings, not condos, I am taking about luxury office buildings with enormous parking structures; if this is a mega-high-end crowd it’s okay to keep your higher price points perhaps one-third or half again more, those higher prices might survive, although I am sketchy on that, economically speaking in the present period. You can always bundle extras rather than lowering price, and you can always bump the prices up a few more dollars once you prove yourself.

What if a property company has 10 or more buildings?

This is common in downtown districts as one company is in charge of many, many, buildings and parking structures. They want amenity type services in all of them. Still, don’t take all the buildings at once, work into it, over committing might be unwise, labor constraints issues, and customer service managers, very challenging working in such a controlled chaotic environment – at first, that is. You’ll get used to it. You have to get it right the first time or your reputation will be trashed for a long while, you could lose 10s of 1,000s of dollars in sales the first six months trying to overcome a poor start.

Indeed, I hope I’ve at least answered some of the questions you might have. Still, please remember all this advice are merely my preliminary thoughts, but I’ve been asked about this now so many times that I thought I’d just put it into an article to save my time in the future. Every circumstance is different, and to do this topic justice I’d really, really need more details on this to better accurately guestimate for each potential circumstance. Please consider all this and think on it.

Planning A Trip? Choosing The Best Puerto Vallarta Hotels Whether You Want To Pay A Little Or A Lot

If you’re looking for a one of a kind vacation, there’s nothing like relaxing on Puerto Vallarta beaches. However, if you’re planning Puerto Vallarta travel, it’s important to thoroughly research where you’re going to stay! Some people are looking for a luxury hotel that offers every type of amenity while others are simply looking for a clean, safe place to sleep in between Puerto Vallarta tours. Here are some of the different options for Puerto Vallarta hotels that will fit within nearly any budget.

Staying On The Cheap: Inexpensive Puerto Vallarta Hotels

The Sun Suites and Hotel is an extremely budget-friendly option. Rooms can be found as cheaply as $15 a night and can go up to about $45 USD. This is a combination hotel and hostel, so make sure to let the staff know which part you’d rather stay in, especially if you’re planning a vacation for two. The hotel does take both Mexican pesos and U.S. dollars, but does not accept credit cards. The extreme budget nature of this hotel means that there’s no complementary breakfast, but the hotel’s owners do have an agreement with a locally owned restaurant nearby to provide guests with an inexpensive breakfast each morning. The hotel and hostel do have a privately owned pool for guests to use and they’re located close to a taxi stand, restaurants, shops and the beach.

Looking For Luxury

If you’re planning a luxurious vacation, the Dreams Resort and Spa is the place for you. This is an all-inclusive resort that offers something for guests of all ages. Many guests report that they are asked to participate in the resort’s timeshare presentation, but that it’s easy to decline if they’re not interested. The resort has a private beach, a pool with a swim-up bar and multiple restaurants that are all included in the price of the room. However, expect to spend more to take advantage of this luxury — rooms here start around $200 a night. Consider booking a room in the Preferred Tower if you’re looking for an extra special vacation because these rooms offer more amenities.

Finding A Mid Range Hotel

If you can’t quite afford the luxury of the Dreams Resort and Spa, but you want something a little nicer than a hostel, consider staying at the Casa Magna. This is a Marriott property and rooms here start around $100 a night. Many of the rooms have a view of Puerto Vallarta beaches and the property offers amenities such as adult and children’s pools, a swim-up bar, a fitness center with both cardio and weight machines, four restaurants and even a small deli with sandwiches and desserts.

There are many, many other Puerto Vallarta hotels — these are just three that vacationers can choose from. Before you plan your vacations, spend some time on travel websites to make sure you’re finding the best places to stay, things to do and the best prices. Doing this can help ensure a great vacation, no matter where you go.